Today saw the official start of my Christmas Holiday - in terms of me.enjoying myself. And what a way to start!
My day started with my drive from Dorset to Essex. I set off at just after 9am with my chosen "Road Trip" music on standby. This time it would be the Haynes Dad's Guide To Rock - a 3 CD compilation including the hits of such rock legends as Journey, Toto, REO Speedwagon, Europe, and Alice Cooper. I didn't treat myself to this audio feast until I hit the A303, when I knew I would have relatively straight roads and could enjoy both the driving and the music.
I made good time - I have discovered that I can get 90mph out of my little car - although at that speed, the whole car was rattling so much I was finding it difficult to see. Still I was genuinely surprised when I reached the halfway point of my journey - Fleet Services. It didn't feel like I had been driving for that long.
One 90% foam Cappuccino (Costa is SO much better) and a skinny Blueberry muffin later, I was back on the road.
Side note: as I walked out of the building at the Services to the car park, I held the door open for three foreign gentlemen who were approaching. I cannot be certain of their heritage, but wherever they were from, ignorance is rife. They saw me holding the door open for them, and blatantly ignored me, opening a door to my left for themselves. Unfortunately, people like that do nothing to help change the perception of many people in this country towards those of different ethnic origins. I wasn't expecting these men to come through the door just because I was holding it open, but a small amount of acknowledgment - even if followed with a no thankyou - wouldn't have hurt.
Anyway, I was soon back on my way and 90 minutes later I reached my first destination.
To my eternal shame, I have not visited the cemetery where my parents are buried, since I moved to Dorset. Today I stopped off, and said hello again. I was worried that I wouldn't remember where they are buried - but as soon as I got there I knew. It's been 24 years since my mum died, and 12 years since dad passed away. The headstone is faded in parts (the lettering for my mum is coming off - or at least the dark bits of it are), and as I read the inscriptions for both mum and dad the realisation that I still need their guidance washed over me. I asked them to watch over those people that are dear to me - both in my life now, and those who have been a part of my life in recent years. I also.asked them to help me make the right decisions - or at least steady me when I make the wrong ones. As always, I told them that I loved them and missed them, and that I always will.
I stayed a little while and then headed on to my sisters. On the way, I saw a strange warning sign. It was a traffic sign - one of those triangular ones, but it was strange because of what it said. It simply said "WILD ANIMALS!".
Now I've seen traffic warning signs about animals before, but they are generally quite specific. They either have a picture of an animal (airated stag is common in Dorset) or they might actually name the animal e.g. 'Horses'. However, just having "Wild Animals!" is both rather vague and worrying. What was I to expect? A Bengal Tiger to leap out onto the bonnet - or a Killer Whale to breach over the barrier right in front of me? They definitely need to clarify what they mean on that sign!
Nonetheless, I made it to my sisters - but I wasn't there long. I had made plans to catch up with some very important and dear old friends. In fact a whole family of wonderful people. It was an old flame of mine and her three children. I hadn't seen them for 12 years near enough, and they had all grown up so much. The youngest daughter had a child of her own, and both girls (the daughters) were in relationships. The son, was also doing well - working for the local council, and moonlighting as a magician. He showed me a few tricks, and they were amazing. I had no idea how he did them.
I had a truly wonderful night with these people - and even had a snog with my old flame when I said goodbye. Circumstance took our lives on seperate paths, but there is still a lot of love there. And I have a lot of love for her children too. It was so lovely to see them all again, they will always have a special place in my heart.
And now I am back at my sisters house, writing this blog. It is 12:52am and I should be in bed. Tomorrow I go up to London to catch up with my old work mates. I'm fairly sure I won't get a snog there - but you live in hope.
This is already a wonderful Christmas.