Nathan had his first full day off in about sixteen years today and we celebrated by having the mother of all lie-ins before treating ourselves to breakfast in Muswell Hill. I say breakfast... We might call it lunch.
It has literally done nothing but rain all day. Rain, rain, rain. One of the windscreen wipers on the car has broken - fortunately on the passenger side - but as we drove along the motorway, with the rain pounding on the window, it all got a little hairy. I kept slamming my foot down on an imaginary brake because I couldn't tell how far the car was away from anything else on the road. Fortunately Nathan was driving, and is unflappable in these sorts of situations.
We were driving to see the parents in Thaxted, and had a big old drama in the country lanes around Stansted Airport as a result of extensive flooding. A man in a passing car indicated for us to stop and wind the window down, to tell us we'd never get through to Thaxted and that he'd just been forced to turn around at Haigh's Farm. It was all rather Winter 1963, but we drove on regardless because we're reckless and macho like that.
At Haigh's Farm, we were greeted by a scene of carnage. A river appeared to be running through the farm itself, and the road was covered in deep, brown water. A cluster of men in hi-viz jackets were very helpfully stopping cars and telling them that their best chance of getting through was sticking to the left hand side of the road in a sort of "you didn't hear that from me" sort of way. And so we ventured forward, walls of water spraying up the sides of the vehicle. At one point the car started losing power and Nathan went uncharacteristically dramatic and said "that's it. It's over..." Fortunately it wasn't, and we crawled through the flood, and on to Thaxted where a wonderful open fire and a brilliant meal was waiting for us.
Ah! The joys of Thaxted. The cozy smell of wood smoke, the endless cups of tea, the chocolate cakes, occasional lamps, and all the tins and boxes filled with all sorts of useful objects like scissors and bits of string. The parents were on great form, and my Mum was looking almost regal in purple and olive green.
My Dad has bought himself a brand new poppy-red mini, which is a thing of great, great beauty. We watched the Strictly Come Dancing results show, marvelling at how everyone attempts to maintain the illusion that the show hasn't been recorded the night before. "Oh look!" Said my Mum, sarcastically, "Mary Berry's come to see the show for a second night running. In the same clothes. And she's still sitting next to Dave from the Hairy Bikers!"
Barry Manilow sang Copa Cobana. Frankly, they weren't going to have him on the show to sing anything else. My Dad maintained that Manilow doesn't have any other songs, which felt a bit unfair! A string quartet of pretty, skinny blonde girls was miming in the background. The rest of the musicians on stage were men. When will the BBC learn that this sort of musical gender stereotyping is the stuff of 1999 and should have died with Westlife? How about we show that musicians can be all kinds of shapes, sizes, ages and colours? God forbid we should see a female drummer, bass player or trumpeter. God forbid we actually get these musicians playing live. (It's the same MU rate after all!) And when will female 'cellist realise they look horribly tacky playing in mini-skirts with their bare legs wrapped around the instrument?! Pet hates! #angry'cellist!