The past ten weeks could be described as almost uniformly exceedingly dull, if the weather was the only factor involved. Contrary to expectations our November cruise to the Canary Islands, though very enjoyable and worthwhile, especially for the warm, dry weather, quite failed to have the desired effect of shortening the Winter for me. The almost non-stop wet weather here at home, which had already spoilt a great deal of 2012, seemed to go on and on for much longer than a normal winter and ruled out any hope of catching up with garden tidying in December and January. The short spell of bitterly cold weather that followed was little better but some progress was possible. It is a measure of how difficult a season it has been that I have done an enormous amount of reading during recent months and even undertook, without being prompted, some interior decoration – desperate times indeed!
But there have been some bright spots to break up the damp and gloom. Christmas was fun as always, not the least because of our great family gathering at daughter Jennie’s house. Then Jennie decided that the period from Christmas to Easter was just too long so she announced that there would be a second Christmas at her house on February 24th. So four generations of the family duly assembled, ranging in age from nine months to 93 years, for another wonderful lunch complete with Christmas crackers, paper hats, silly jokes and all the other trimmings.
At last we are seeing better conditions outdoors, if only for the odd day or two at a time. Henry, our tortoise, awoke early in February and now waits with commendable patience for the outdoor temperature to rise sufficiently for him to enjoy the garden again for an hour or two each day – his accommodation in the meantime being his specially customised rabbit hutch which has invaded the space normally occupied by my painting equipment in my study. This is a very pampered tortoise!
The Morris Minor has emerged from hibernation as well. On an unusually dry day recently, when the local roads were temporarily free of salt, a leisurely tour of the neighbourhood was in order and once again I found the Morris very lively. Much as I would like to keep it, I cannot justify the expense of two vehicles so it will have to be sold later this year. Meanwhile it will provide essential transport while the Volkswagen campervan gets some attention.
The VW had a major service at the local Main Dealers recently, a couple of months later than I anticipated last autumn – that is the sort of winter it has been. The outcome included a list of recommended additional work which was useful but hardly a cause for celebration. Over time, I want to return the VW to as near new condition as I can while keeping it on the road. However, although the local main dealer for VW has been excellent, they have also been very expensive. I quite understand that they have large, expensive premises and probably outlandish business rates to pay but I cannot afford to contribute to the tune of £90 per hour for their workshop services so have had to find an alternative solution. This has come in the form of a strong recommendation to try a small garage not far from my home where, I am pleased to say, the initial impression has been promising and work on the VW will start this week.