My day started in Muswell Hill, driving in circles around the roads behind Colney Hatch Lane where the parking spaces are free... But a little hard to find. On my third pointless revolution around the block I had a little hissy fit, gave up and slung the car at a parking at a metre nearer the shops, which set me back about a fiver, but it was worth it for the lack of hassle.
I headed to Snappy Snaps to complain about the quality of the photographs they'd recently developed. In the light of day, they looked even worse; a bit blue and very gloomy and dark. Some of my friends look like they have bruises all over their faces, which is really unsatisfactory when the original snaps looked so lovely. The man behind the counter pretended to be perplexed and gave me all the excuses about decent exposure being in the eye of the beholder and the fact that when you look at a photograph on a computer screen you're looking at an image that has been lit from behind. "Oh come on, mate" I said, "You and me both know I've been coming here for ten years... I know about photographic prints and I know what you're capable of creating!"
In the end we made a compromise, and he re-printed 38 of my favourite shots with more colour saturation and less general gloom. The new results weren't perfect either, but I was grateful for him for trying.
I wandered around Muswell Hill panic-buying last-minute presents. I never give enough credit to a beautiful shop called W Martyn on the High Street, which must have been there for about 100 years. They sell teas, jams, dried and jellied fruits and home made biscuits, and at this time of year they stock all sorts of wonderful goodies for grown-up stocking fillers. They roast coffee in the window, so it always smells divine when you walk past. It's funny: I love the smell of coffee, but absolutely hate the way it tastes.
The rest of the day was spent back at Till Towers, preparing for what's set to be an epic five-day jaunt around the country. There was so much to do. We wrapped gifts, did washing, got a bit ratty with one another and tidied the house (cus God knows you can't leave an untidy house for the burglars.) We were going to put a Christmas tree up, but have made the decision that this will need to be the year that Christmas forgot. We simply haven't had the time to even think about decorations, so went up into the loft, rifled through our Christmas boxes and pulled out a miniature clown, a wind-up snowman and a Santa and a 30 centimetre-tall plastic fir tree on a little hessian mount which we have displayed on our television. It's a fabulous modern-day version of a nativity scene!