Season of treats and unexpected gifts

Since returning to land-living (three months ago now) some new and unexpected treats have come our way.

The 2022 cruising season is remembered for those blazing day-time temperatures and hot nights, for the many river swimmers and paddle boarders, for the threat of low water levels, for the frustration of lock stoppages – and for the Captain’s increasing difficulty in moving around the boat.

So this is a picture of an early Christmas present for the Captain – a new left hip…

‘Robotic walking’ and ‘leg lifts’ are part of his daily routine now so as to get boating-fit for the Spring.

Another more obviously boat related gift was this – a beautifully painted Buckby water can, hand painted and personally delivered by Amy Tillson, a present orchestrated from Oregon by Jaq, formerly of nb Valerie.  Thank you both again for an amazingly beautiful gift. Come the spring it will be bringing a brilliant splash of colour to the top hatch of Cleddau’s engine room.

“Oh yes we can,” was the declamation at the end of November, when after a 90 minute cross-country drive the Cleddau crew pitched up in Chipping Norton, there to liaise with the former Tentatrice crew. Ahead was an afternoon of sheer unbridled joy as Dick Whittington’s adventures were followed in a show geared for family audiences. Traditional features of panto were all there, the cross-dressing, the slapstick, song and dance routines, absurd jokes, out-sized props, slick set changes, crazy costumes… and even audience participation. (Ever tried synchronised swimming along with synchronised singing without bashing your neighbour in the eye…?!)

Throughout the summer set designer Pip Leckenby had worked her magic from nb Oleanna. To have been moored alongside her while she constructed her 1: 25 scale model (pictured on display at Chipping Norton Theatre) and then to see her vision translated up to full scale into a theatre auditorium … Genius! Sets and props are created and painted in miniscule on the boat and then created for real in an intensive five week pre-production period. The audience loved it – as did those four boaters of a mature age comfortably seated in Row C of the stalls…

Four weeks later and there was another panto experience – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, at Milton Keynes Theatre, this production starring Lesley Joseph as the Wicked Queen. There was a loose narrative thread, some staggering costumes and some incredibly funny scenes. These companions, total panto novices, enjoyed it too.

A text message received early on 17th December from Cal Son said something to the effect of “Sending you an early Christmas present.” It brought huge delight and eager anticipation. There on screen was a photo of Cal Gal (16) and Cal Guy Jnr (12) at San Diego Airport, ready for their Really Big Adventure to “do a British Christmas”. After a 10 hour flight they landed in the UK, their first visit since 2018. Careful plans had been laid for visits to both sets of grandparents and a reunion with the Cheshire Three.

The last face to face meetings with the Cal Clan had been in Southern California in November 2019. Then 9 year old Cal Guy Jnr  measured 0.88 granny;  three years and a pandemic later the now 12 year old is measured at 1.02 granny…

Tramping through snow isn’t usually a Christmas option for San Diego residents but it was this year in the UK!  Playing board games, making chocolate brownies and drinking hot chocolate were wish list requests readily granted.

From her suitcase Cal Gal produced some San Diego Christmas tree ornaments and fridge magnets – and all was joy and perfect until another gift arrived, a Covid positive reading for the Captain…and then for Cal Guy Jnr too…

Plans needed drastic adjustment but all is well now, both Cleddau Covid patients recovering and thankfully the infection not transferred to the other grandparents.

Cluedo had been played often in those pre-Christmas days. Should the game be relaunched for Covid times?  Instead of trying to work out who was the murderer, what was the weapon and which room in a grand house was the crime scene, perhaps a board which features various locations (supermarkets, railway stations, airports, A&E departments), various infections (colds, flu, Covid) and various carriers (incoming passengers, taxi drivers, coffee stand salespersons, etc, etc…) could be devised…  Players would have to identify the source and time of infection…

Techno Son-in-Law has a track record of providing surprise gifts of dubious taste. Two of these were bought, one for his north Cheshire parents, one for the Bedfordshire “outlaws”. Installed it had to be, displayed for public viewing. For three days Inflatable Santa has bounced around outside the front window, one guy rope lashed around a tree, others attached to pegs in the ground.

2022 is drawing to a close. Reams of Christmas gift wrap paper have been sifted and sorted before correct disposal in appropriate places.  What has NOT been disposed of, though, are the hundred glorious memories of face-to-face exchanges, of games, of walking together on ice and snow, of silly and thoughtful presents shared. Christmas 2022 was always going to be different and special – if only Covid hadn’t pitched up at Heathrow too…!

Here’s wishing all readers a safe and happy New Year.

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Nidia says:

    Lovely wrap up of your Christmas 2022. Gorgeous Cal kids and loved the granny measurements.
    Continued rapid healing wishes for the hipster Captain.
    Greetings, hugs and here’s to 2023, from an almost 100 degrees (in old currency) Perth “Ozstraya”. About to hit the beach.

  2. Jaqueline Biggs says:

    I saved this post as a special treat and indeed is has been just that! I am so pleased that the Cal crew made it to experience a British Christmas, everyone survived Covid, and lovely memories were made. Cerys and Haydn sure are growing up! There are changes afoot here which I will detail further in an email.

    Love and Biggs big hugs,
    Jaq xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.