The Christmas hols, even though brief in reality, seemed to go by at a very leisurely pace. It’s my custom to chauffeur on Christmas Day, Cook’s Husband’s Mother (97) to wherever Cook’s family happens to be staying for the Christmas break. This is invariably somewhere in Norfolk, a county that I always think that I would like to live in but know that it would spoil the treat. There’s something about its isolation and the sparseness of population that lends parts of the county an almost 17th Century feel; you half expect to meet Oliver Cromwell round the corner.
My charming lady butcher (see: The Mutinous Cell) provided a capon for Christmas lunch. I wasn’t aware of what a capon actually was until she explained to me that years ago, young male cockerels were injected with a ‘caponising’ drug. This was the poultry equivalent of putting bromide in their tea and (like castration – the alternative method) rather put the lid on their sexual urges and generally stopped them fighting amongst each other. All they did was sit down and get fat. The chemical treatment has since been outlawed and castration is the norm but, I gather that capons are not particularly fashionable and their production is not on an industrial scale. Anyway, the capon was absolutely delicious – more flavoursome and moist than a regular chicken and not as strong as a turkey. A real treat.
We all got wrapped up for the Boxing Day hike and this year we visited Sheringham Park. I’d never been there before and found it an absolute delight not least because the whistle and chuff of the steam engine on the Holt to Sheringham railway came drifting through the trees as we sauntered along. It’s not terribly clear in these pictures but the sea is always a presence, albeit in the distance, as are the rhododendron bushes which are quite clearly everywhere.
All this was far removed from my next Christmas treat which was to spend a day gliding. I haven’t flown for a few years and the thought of getting back in the air has more than once crossed my mind – gliding seemed to be an inexpensive and accessible option.
Although I wasn’t up for very long; 2 flights amounting to about 15 minutes in total (not a lot of lift about) it was enough to tell me that I had somehow moved on and the thrill of being in the air just for the sake of it, had been largely extinguished. I dare say that an hour or two chasing thermals might have put a different light on the exercise but having once earned a living in the stimulating world of the airshow business, flying for fun doesn’t really cut the mustard anymore. It confirmed to me that at the time I stopped flying, my thoughts about my horizons becoming parochial and the fact that it was often a lonely business – especially in a single-seater – were correct. Still, the tug pilot turned out to be an old acquaintance from those airshow days and although it was jolly cold – as airfields always seem to be – wall-to-wall sunshine was the order of the day and I really wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
Accompanied by The Ambassador’s Daughter, a splendid lunch in Norwich with my own family, rounded off the celebrations for another year.
I think I was drilling some holes for the rear cockpit brace before all this distraction…