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Dec. 18th, 2009

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We're on the edge of the big snow. It started falling just as we were about to set off to collect the in-laws for their diamond anniversary dinner. It was a little scary. Getting to the venue was one thing, but what about getting back? I salted the in-laws' sloping drive in readiness. As it happened, that first flurry was just about all our district was hit with- and our return home was trouble free. Elsewhere, across the country, roads were blocked and airports closed.

The Fat Loaf is on Keith and Ruth's patch. It's a proper restaurant with proper food. I had kedgeree, a mixed grill and Christmas pudding. I also finished off Ailz's onion soup for her. In its early days the Loaf was run in a Heston Blumethalish spirit of culinary invention- serving up weird dishes and weird combinations of flavours. It's sobered down since, but it's still a class act.

We sat with John and Jake. They entertained us. Jake was showing us that thing you do with your hands where you steeple your fingers, rotate your palms 60 degrees and then waggle your middle fingers- one on either side of the arrangement. I tried and I tried, but no way could I master it.

Neither of us slept well after all that food. And then the new smoke alarm (only installed last year and supposedly good for a decade) started cheeping in its sleep. In the end, after trying to ignore it,  I climbed a stepladder, ripped it from the ceiling, cocooned it in bubblewrap and threw it in the kitchen cupboard. With the older alarms you simply change the battery- and they'll last for ever and a day- but this one is a sealed unit.  After that I had a cup of tea, went back to bed and dreamed I was in Prague.

I rose late. It's now coming up to 11 and the snow is falling gently.

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