We visited Rob and Kirsty for lunch. After lunch, we all rode the Bluebell Line from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and back. First, we visited the engine shed to view the locomotives on display, and of course the shop. The shop, as well as featuring the usual tourist merchandise, also had plenty of model railway gear, and anorak magazines to purchase. We didn’t have time to see the museum, we will have to leave that for another day.
The trip to East Grinstead was mainly uphill, stopping at two stations on the way before arriving. The engine uncoupled and moved to the other end of the train, and we set off on the return trip as the sun set on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Soon the mist started to form in the valleys. On the East side of the track, there were several large vineyards.
After the weeks of rain, it was decided not to allow unnecessary vehicles on the shooting field. Instead, we would meet at Ludgershall village hall and be transported to the field by a vintage tractor (1980 Fiat) and trailer. Two trips were required. We can thank Jim for arranging this mode of transport. It was a fun start and end to the shoot.
Awaiting us at the shooting ground we had five stands of ten birds each. These were beautifully set up by Brian and his team, along with festive Christmas names. This was also the first outing of new safety cages, strong and light. As you can see from the picture, the field was truly waterlogged. Despite the cloud, there was no rain to spoil the fun. The breeze did add a chill to the air, 8C feels like 5C.
After the tea and coffee break, (please remember to bring your mug), we had a flurry shoot. Teams of three were randomly picked and shot the flurry. Deceptively slow at first, putting you at ease, until two fast, demanding flurries at the end. The final two stands of the fifty bird shoot then completed the shoot. In all 36 members and friends shot.
Village Hall and Lunch
Back at the Ludgershall village hall lunch had been prepared. An excellent buffet meal of meats, salads, baked potatoes and desserts. A big thank you to Celia, Shirley and Ann. After the meal, the prize giving.
We had our usual Christmas this year, complete with our countdown meals, all planned on a handy Excel Spreadsheet. One change was made, a meal was swapped around because the original was deemed too complicated for a Friday pub night.
Our Christmas Eve had Phil and Selina over for our usual cheese fondue. The fondue set is one of the few possessions I brought to the family, which still exists. The set must be more than 40 years old.
Christmas Day had Julian join us for our traditional Christmas Turkey lunch. (I cannot get them all to agree to a swap to a goose.) Nothing was forgotten, except the amount of gravy made was somewhat lacking, so there was no gravy in the sandwiches on subsequent days. Traditional Christmas pudding was on offer, with Jack Daniels Butter, along with Christmas Pudding Ice Cream,
Leftover food kept us going for a week in various reincarnations. No turkey curry, and somehow the bread sauce found its way to the back of the fridge and was not discovered for well over a week. (I think this deliberate on R’s part.)
New Christmas tree this year. Gone has the natural tree with falling needles, and now a metal and plastic affair which should see me out.
Selina had originally bought me the Michael Eavis and Emily Eavis “Glastonbury 50” book for Christmas. It would have been a brilliant choice. Unfortunately, I had already bought it back in November. R had not communicated this fact to Selina when she had asked if I had purchased any books recently. Luckily, Rosemary told me that Selina was enquiring about my book purchases, so I reminded her of “Glastonbury 50”. Quickly she phoned Selina, but it was too late; Selina could not cancel the order. No matter, it was passed on to Ravi, one of the friends whom I took to Glastonbury.
During Christmas Day, I read several tweets from Glastonbury fans who had received multiple copies of the book. Several with two copies and at least three had three copies of the book.
Thankfully we had voted by postal vote, so did not have to rush home from Norwich. Instead, we headed to Essex for the Election Night. Horrible drive in torrential rain. The horror of the drive was the precursor for the awful night. The hospitality of Andrea and Richard was fabulous. It was good to meet up with Jon, over from South Africa for his mother’s funeral. The horror of the night was the election result. The closing polls were almost spot on predicting a Conservative majority of more than 80.
Visited Norwich for a couple of nights. The main purpose was to hear Liz sing in the Carol Service held at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist. This was not a service, no prayers, just singing Carols. Some audience participation with popular carols. There were other obscure and complicated pieces which were sung exclusively by the choirs. The Carols service was performed by three choirs from The University of East Anglia. They are The UEA Choir, The UEA Chamber Choir and The UEA Community Choir.
During the day we walked over to the UEA buildings and visited the Sainsbury Centre to admire the sculptures on display, including an Antony Gormley. Spot it in the pictures!
Visited Upton House to see it dressed for Christmas. We try a different house each year, staying clear of the busy Waddesdon Manor which has the cheek to charge National Trust members.
The house was nicely decorated and had been done by the National Trust volunteers. Nice to know our money is being wisely spent. We must look to see where the baubles come from, they seem so much better than the ones sold in shops.
We also ate lunch in their cafe. This was rather disappointing. Previous meals have been good. I could not fault on quantity, my baked potato with tuna could have fed a family. It must have had a least two cans of tuna, and a huge potato. The potato was stale, presumably from another day, the tuna lacked enough mayonnaise and also lacked chopped spring onions. Nope, I did not finish eating it, unappetising and far too much. Rosemary did not fare much better.