Right, I'm nice and clean now, though there was only just enough hot water, so I didn't have the long soak and frequent top-up I'd normally enjoy. It's been a pretty busy last few days, but it's been great spending some truly quality time with Katy - and we'd better get used to each other's company hadn't we?!
The journey to Farnham on the Tuesday before Christmas wasn't a good start, however. There had been a major, if apparently non-toxic, chemical spill on the southbound M1, the extent of which only really became clear when the police closed the entire motorway and dumped us hapless motorists in the joyous urban centre that is Luton, with no advice on how to escape. About two hours later, I reached glorious Dunstable - and have never been so glad, believe you me... A full four hours after I'd set out I finally arrived at Katy's - breaking our "record" for the journey - and thankfully I'd been able to warn her of my delay and to have plenty of hugs waiting for me! Not only hugs in the end, but a most timely all-expenses-paid trip to the local Miller's Kitchen - becoming a popular haunt, and by no means a cop-out option with their excellent new menu.
This isn't going to be a blow-by-blow account, if only because frankly I can't remember everything from the last week and a half, but I'll do my best anyhow!
Christmas Eve I'd agreed to take Katy to Frimley Park hospital - made famous recently by the Countess of Wessex of course - to see her ENT consultant about her ongoing illness, and that I duly did. Not that he had anything terribly enlightening to say, unfortunately, and - after popping to see her GP yesterday afternoon - Katy's now waiting for another appointment with the over-subscribed neurologist to see if they can shed any light. Thankfully these problems didn't overshadow our time together and with our respective families too much, though it obviously remained a worry at the back of both of our minds, and Katy did suffer rather more than she let on, it would appear in retrospect.
We spent Christmas Day with Katy's parents, her grandmother, sister Rachel, brother-in-law and nephew. There were a fair few people at church in the morning - perhaps reflecting the number of people not travelling elsewhere this year - and a suitably festive time was enjoyed, with sherry and mince pies afterwards! Lunch back at Katy's parents' was traditional, although tea was far from being so - more of a Chinese finger buffet! - and in between there was plenty of time for exchanging presents, game-playing, the Queen and so on. The only downer of the day was when Rachel, already rather unwell, left her handbag behind, and they had to drive most of the way back to Farnham again to collect it. I don't believe I have ever seen her looking quite so drained.
Boxing Day Katy and I travelled to Hom Green, just outside Ross-on-Wye, where my parents had already been based for a couple of days. The journey was fine, and I still had my maps and instructions from when I was there last year. The weather was pretty foul most of the time we were there, but in those five days - only three whole days really though - we got out for a couple of walks, did a bit of shopping, ate and drank well and played plenty of games. Katy and I visited my sister and family on Saturday, with Katy proving a big hit with the younger girls in particular, as I had fully expected. We also met my sister's friend Chris for the first time, and he seemed to be fitting in very well. On Sunday, Ali, Chris, Pete and his fiancée Kim visited for the morning, with my parents in particular dead chuffed at having all three of their offspring under one roof with happy partners in tow, something that has never happened before!
Katy and I returned to Farnham on Tuesday, when the let on the cottage expired anyway, enjoying a bit of time to ourselves before the fun of New Year's Eve the following day. We were quite glad to have declined going to the "main event" of the evening, which attracted about fifty people apparently, instead opting to go to a gathering of no more than half a dozen or so - and mainly spent flopped out watching The Two Towers extended edition DVD. We'd not expected to make it through to midnight - instead pondering the idea of celebrating with Moscow, or somewhere similar a few time-zones to the east! - so the idea of the DVD was a good one indeed, after my initial hesitancy...
But today it was time for us to part, and to wind down before preparing for our return to work on Monday. Yes, Katy's scheduled to go back also, for the first time in well over a month now. She's not sure how she's going to get on, but the ENT consultant's advice on Christmas Eve was that it's best for her to try and get on with doing things, albeit in moderation. Katy's GP seems to concur, whilst suggesting that Katy negotiates slightly different working arrangements - with the "threat" to her employer that she could very easily be signed off again... I get the impression her employers are a reasonable lot, thankfully!
Overall though, despite the difficult circumstances, an excellent time was had by all, and it was great to be able to be with so many of those we love and who will be joining our respective families in somewhat under six months' time now!