Linda and I enjoy a joke as much as the next man …but

One Card???

I can’t decide whether you’re determined to have the last laugh this year or I forgot to give you the address where Linda and I will be staying for Christmas (Batsom Farm, Withypool Somerset, TA24 7RG – if there’s still a card left in your box).We can take a joke, usually.

In making the following observations I take into account that I have spent the last eight years hibernating from society’s ebullience by hiding on a Scottish island. We went to the Bicester Outlet Centre. OMFG – what a mistaker to maker.

Wandering along its tinselled precinct, with deeply unhappy-looking women and men clutching braces of plump bags, waltzing right across my path without so much as a Pardon-me – I wasn’t looking where I was going, I felt bewilderingly out-of-style to notice that shops with names like Oscar de la Renta, Ermenegildo Zegna and Vile brequin meant nothing to me. What merchandise do they offer, I wondered? Walking past Door-Security l Forest-Gumped in to find out.

If the stuff they were offering for sale was in a Salvation Army Hall it would fetch 10, maybe 20 pence – yet here it flies off the shelf at £200. Visitors literally can’t get enough of it – and then rush home to leave bragging reviews about what a bargain they’ve just snapped-up. Do you ever feel like you’re on the wrong planet? If the Sally Army had better lighting and employed surly, airbrushed, centre-fold staff who sneered at all new arrivals in their shop they’d raise all the money they need in an afternoon.

Prêt A Manger was my favourite. I didn’t buy anything in there because the prices were so high – but I had the pleasing sensation of recognising the goods they were selling.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have just this morning finished the job of designing and preparing the ‘Building Regulations’ drawings for our house. Doing them myself has saved me a fortune. (Do you see a pattern emerging here?) If you’re planning to build yourself a straw bale house but can’t be arsed to do the design yourself – don’t hesitate to ask …but we’ll need to be on your christmas card list if you want to curry that sort of a favour.

I arrived back on Exmoor this week. Spiritually I mean – we’ve been coming and going for months. I went up to the trig point on Court Down (SS915297 for those of you who know about these sorts of things) and I climbed onto it for the first time in 17 years. Last time I surveyed the hills beyond my parish from its vantage was when we were building the boat, and I begged it to let us go. Tired of its folds I wanted to see the country more at large.  This time I asked if it would have us back …I am not one of its native sons, but adopted. That same day we got an email from the National Park telling us they recognised as locals, giving us the right to live on the plot we’d bought.

Need a christmas prezzie for someone who has everything? Excuse my merciless advertising, but I guarantee they won’t have one of these: Don’t worry about Christmas posting times – I’ll get it to them on time if I have to deliver it myself by Tall Ship. You’d be well-advised to invest now – but if you miss this, there’ll be one more chance – I’m going to rent a unit in Bicester Village for the January Sales and I’ll be offering my wares for five times their usual price.

If, wisely, you only buy from bonafide retailers try this and this.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS! Thank you for following this blog – without you being there all would be wasted. I wish you and everyone you love a fantastic Christmas, and a prosperous and successful new year.

At the time of writing, in 33 hours summer will be on its way.

Summer

Summer

Justin.

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