This year has seen a new man in Catherine’s life – Jonah; and he generously invited me to join Catherine and the family to join him for Christmas Day. I was made to feel very much at home and it was far from a last minute thought, as his daughter Carly and husband Paul, and her mother and her husband must have known I was joining them as they both gave me presents when greeting me with Christmas wishes, making me feel extremely humble, as I had been aware that Carly and Paul would be there, and guilty that I had not thought to bring them anything.
We were all in the lounge barring Jonah who had his red Santa pinny on and was busy putting the finishing touches to the banquet that was to follow, away in the kitchen, but he did break off to welcome me. My entrance seemed to be the catalyst that started much activity on the present distribution and unwrapping front, followed by much oohing and ahing, and wows from twin grandchildren Holly and Poppy, followed by hugs and kisses.
The lighting was as warm as the atmosphere, as we all began chatting, and I learned Barry was guitar-playing Folk Singer, and Carol was a teacher, Paul was in Banking and Carly helped disadvantaged families within a London Borough. Much of the conversation revolved around memories of travel across Africa and the Far East, and this continued when we all were summoned to the Dining room and the sumptuous meal of beef, turkey, pigs in blankets and all the trimmings.
Two sets of crackers were pulled, one hand-crafted and one bought, the latter with the obligatory riddles, accompanied by the customary groans, Jonah was the last to join the table and was praised and thanked for the delicious spread before us. Whilst still in the Dining Room after eating our fill, we did attempt a new Trivia Game, but soon decided it was better played in the lounge, but to begin with, our ability to fathom the rules was no better in the new venue! There was much hilarity and good-humoured frustration, but we then decided on a change, and it seemed as if more time was spent trying to understand the rules than was actually involved in playing the game. Setting time limits was not universally accepted as being fair, and was a source of much banter and recrimination, and after both games, I think I was on the losing side, but it was marginally less hostile than playing Monopoly!
Teas and coffee followed on and peace and relaxation took over; all too soon Carol and Barry were saying their goodbyes, and later I made the opening gambits towards leaving, and after more hugs and kisses, I thanked everyone and with Catherine acting as lookout I drove out of the gate, taking her directions to reach the A505 and set off for home. Most shots in the gallery were taken at 5000 ISO with very slow shutter speeds at almost full aperture; often at no more than 1/15th of a second!