After spending the morning yesterday sorting out my tax for 2015-16, I took myself off to Thaxted, where my parents were staging an "at home". Guest of honour was Helen Acton, who'd driven down from Norwich to be with us, but Sally and Stuart and their clan were also there. We sat around a glorious open fire, gorged on vegetarian sausage rolls and a brilliant lasagne, and then played board games long into the night. And I mean long into the night. It was 1am before I finally left, at which point we were deep into a conversation about existential psychotherapy. It was about as perfect an evening as evenings get!
I drove home through deserted country lanes. Fog was hovering in all of the dells in a most sinister sort of manner. It was one of those mists where you half expect to see ghostly men on white horses hovering above the hedgerows, or Herne The Hunter in the middle of the road. I didn't pass a single car until I reached Stansted Airport. The whole experience rather put me on edge.
Today's been about finishing my tax return which is, of course, the most accursed and boring task in any year. This year I'm basing everything on bank statements rather than receipts. I'll miss out on everything I paid for in cash, but it's worth it for the relative ease of not having to pore over thousands of tiny pieces of rolled-up paper. As a result of all this, I'm actually going to try to go as cash free as possible in the future.
This evening, Nathan and I finally managed to sit down together in front of the Christmas tree to finally open all the lovely cards and a few of the presents we've been sent over the past month. As usual, Christmas has caught us entirely off-guard to the extent that we've decided to send New Year cards instead. These, of course, appeal more to our brutally atheist sensitivities.
It was lovely to read all the messages inside the cards which included a beautiful note from young Kitty in the cast of Brass who wanted me to know what an important part of her year Brass had played. Lovely.
We had some very thoughtful presents as well, including a book about the River Nene from Abbie, which I'm ashamed to say I didn't know existed! There are pictures inside of the old Wharf at Higham Ferrers, which I hadn't realised was such an industrial area. There were all sorts of tall chimneys stretching into the mist. It's funny how you can think you know a place - and its history - so well. I'd built up a mental picture of the Wharf in Higham which revolved around it being a rural idyll with a charming pub where people swam. This picture has entirely shattered that illusion!