1 January 2024


Well our Christmas visit to the UK didn’t quite go to plan!

We arrived about midnight on 17th December after an uneventful journey and spent the next few days sorting three domestic disasters.  Things always seem to come in threes! The Rattly Old Peugeot (ROP) wouldn’t start.  Halfords came out with a new battery the next day, the two lads that fitted it looked about twelve years old!

Two fence panels had blown down in the strong winds and B&Q delivered replacements, their van full of fence panels!  We were not the only ones with that problem!  Fitting them was not going to be straightforward as the posts are not square so Nick had to modify them.

And, last but not least, the six year old AEG dishwasher had gone for a burton (a phrase often used by my dad).  We were not impressed at having to do the washing up by hand over Christmas!

The only person we were to be entertaining on Christmas Day was to be my brother, who was coming on Christmas Eve and staying for as long as he liked.  We had planned a light midday meal in case he arrived in time for lunch and a nice lazy dinner for the evening.  His son usually came too but was to be spending Christmas with his mum, my brother’s ex wife.  We had various other social visits organised from 27th onwards, including lunch out for our wedding anniversary on 28th.  Twenty nine years!

As is often the case, plans changed last minute when our nephew decided he would like to join us for lunch on Christmas Eve, arriving with my brother in the car and getting the last afternoon train south to Leicester where his mum would pick him up.  The catering was hastily rearranged and Nick volunteered to stay sober and do the run to the station.  
We had a nice, relaxed Christmas Day with just the three of us then early on Boxing Day our nephew sent a text to say he had tested positive for covid and hoped it hadn’t been passed on.  With us all being so close on Christmas Eve, both in the house and the car, we thought it unlikely that it hadn’t.

I googled it.  Guidelines are vague and essentially advise avoiding "vulnerable people " if you have it.  At our age that includes a lot of our friends and family who are not young any more, or coping with a variety of chronic diseases.  Research also said that people who have covid are most contagious 1-2 days before symptoms appear and a positive test.

So that was our Christmas over. We cancelled all of our socialising and my brother left before lunch on Boxing Day.  He tested positive the day after.  Ordinarily we would have hunkered down and sat it out, delaying our travel back to France for as long as needed, rearranging our socialising with friends and relatives for later.  (Meeting up with them was, after all, why we were in the UK in the first place.)  You can still change bookings with a standard Eurotunnel ticket - for a fee, of course.  But we had Yvonne to consider.  Our newly rescued cat was languishing in the cattery in France and the cost was not inconsiderable!

The only thing we didn’t cancel was our anniversary lunch, testing negative that morning.  Although we needn’t have worried as we were almost the only diners there. We spent the rest of the day erecting the new fence panels and taking delivery of a new dishwasher.  

So, with a fridge full of uneaten food, we packed up in a hurry and made a run for it on the 30th.  The journey back was long and hard work but straightforward, arriving home just before midnight.  Interestingly, most of the other cars on the train were non UK registered; French (as is ours), German, Belgian, Dutch and Spanish.

Our first job was to collect Yvonne from the cattery.  I had all sorts of fears about putting her in a cattery so soon after she had been rehomed; that she might not recognise me, might be stressed and think she'd been abandoned again, or that she might react badly to Hugo again after they had been beginning to get along much better.

I needn’t have worried about that either.  She meowed all the way home but instantly settled back into her routine, picking up where she left off two weeks before. The four of us; me and him, Hugo and Yvonne, spent a cosy New Year’s Eve together and retired early after a nice dinner of what we brought with us and what was in the freezer.

We haven’t done another covid test as there doesn’t seem much point.  We’re both suffering mild but annoying symptoms and can keep ourselves to ourselves until they pass.



  1. Oh I'm so sorry everything went haywire. How very frustrating - but at leat Yvonne was glad to see you! 2024 can only get better from here on in...

  2. Hippo Gnu Era....
    Bonne Année, Bonne Santé et Meilleurs Voeux à tous.... surtout Bonne Santé!!
    Will see you when you are no longer lepers... and contact Dr. Labbé for your next booster...
    Just emailed an update on Pauline's health, too.

  3. I hope 2024 is a good one for you and yours

  4. We had friends coming to stay over for New Year BUT they spent Christmas in the UK - 22 hours before they were due to arrive he tested positive to COVID, she has shown signs today! All the food and snacks I had prepared as far as possible on Saturday, I had even laid the table. We now have a fridgeful of food and the deep freezes are both fairly full.
    Happy New Year and all the very best for 2024.
    Cheers Diane and Nigel xx

  5. Sorry to hear about the intervention of Covid, it’s giving family gatherings a whole new dimension at the moment. My mother succumbed just after Christmas but, touch wood, if anyone has caught it from her they appear to be asymptomatic or keeping quiet.