It has been quite a busy New Year this time around.
The computer died and the CPU was so dated it was going to cost less for my brother Nigel to replace the entire machine as to try and do something with the old sockets on the mother board.
Now that the new machine is up and running I can get to writing again. First off then the Winter Fair at Estrée Crécy which is just up the road from where I live. It is only a small village but for a few years now it has been running a medieval fair in the run up to the holiday.
It was a bit miserable that weekend so I drove the few kilometres at midday whilst we still had some light. It was a bit quiet but folks were out in their costumes and the stalls were in keeping with the period - electricity, credit card readers and that sort of thing !
It is actually a nice setting for the forty rustic stalls which are gathered around the church and the merchants had a variety of goods for sale - a lot of them edible, including some very good slices of coffee flavoured Yule Log and hot wine.
A chap was there blowing glass and it was probably the warmest place in the street. He was making it all look very easy as he puffed, coaxed and stretched the molten glass.
The local alpaca society were there with their woolly sheep and we had a small group of donkeys looking to get some of the attention as well.
Next year I will take a better look before tramping off to Arras in search of bits for presents.
Having spent Christmas day with Sandra and Peter doing important things like watching Doctor Who and eating very well but not too much, I spent the next few days catching up with people on the phone or via e-mail. The number of cards sent this year seems to have reduced as the price of buying and sending them becomes prohibitive. I remember when I used to send dozens but with the pound at parity with the Euro that was never going to be the case this year.
I wasn't expecting to be doing a great deal over New Year and JJ had already left for his cousins' at Auxi. However a call from the Canche had me driving over on a very cold evening.
Sandra pulled out all the stops and we had a meal of roast pheasant and lots of trimmings. Hilary joined us for the opening of the festivities and at midnight on the dot Eric and Stellie (the Dutch couple from Magnicourt) arrived bearing yet more food and drink.
Stellie had prepared dates stuffed with cream cheese which were very good but only on a stomach that has those special straps you see on suitcases to allow them to expand even more.
Much to their amusement we the Brits insisted on watching the events from London at what was for us one in the morning. Let's be honest new year is not officially New Year until Big Ben says so. The fireworks along the Embankment were terrific and for me, brought back memories of 2000 standing on Westminster Bridge.
It was a cold drive back at three o'clock but we were to see colder. The following Monday morning after the Méteo had been warning us for days we woke to find that it was snowing.
We got a good couple of centimetres of it and unusually, by the evening it was still there. In fact it stayed for ten days in these here parts.
And the temperature nose dived. I popped across the water to pick up the new toy from Nigel and have a birthday pint with Anton and the family. It was chilly in Kent but the snow had gone.
Coming back down the coast from Calais I noticed that the temperature had fallen to -5c which is as low as I have ever seen it. I was just at the point of wondering if that was in fact as low as the car would display when it dropped to -6 and then -7 and continued to drop until I reached home at -11c.
The following day it touched around -14c and it got so cold in the basement that the freezer gave up and defrosted. Thankfully I noticed and got a small fan heater onto the fridge to get it all to switch back on again. An Irish idea that - heat the freezer to make it go cold !
Over on the Canche Peter was telling me that one morning he had 16cm of ice to drill through on his fish ponds.
The Russians know a thing or two about all this and I invited Sandra, Peter and Hilary over for a Russian night to celebrate the old Christmas and New Year (The Orthodox Calendar being 13 days behind the rest of us).
We had two goes at the evening as Hilary discovered that she had frozen pipes in the house and emergency treatment was required. So I eat all the nibbles on the Saturday night and they came over on the Sunday. It was getting milder but still good enough to be able to leave the vodka outside to keep it cold.
The evening was filled with Russian music, mushroom soup, borscht, chocolate and vodka. You can't say we do not take these things seriously. Hilary will have to knit herself a hat for next year.
Next stop Burns night and we already have the haggi in (I think that is the plural).