Day 195

Level 2 Chi Kung.

Nick is almost always the last to bed and hence is the one to settle Sherlock down for the night. But last night I stayed up putting the finishing touches on the ginger crunch and doing other bits and pieces. When I was about to go upstairs, I gave Sherlock a cuddle, urged him onto his mat, and turned the lights off. Before I had even reached the stairs, Sherlock was whining piteously and body-slamming the kitchen door. I went back in, cuddled him again, made sure he had his chewy stick and left again. Whining and door thumping followed me up the stairs. Nick was sound asleep but, as the racket from downstairs continued, I felt I had no choice but to wake him and get him to go down and do whatever he does that keeps Sherlock happy. He’s not an easy man to rouse but, eventually, the noise from downstairs got too much for even Nick to ignore and he staggered downstairs to the dog. He gave him a quick cuddle and said goodnight and was back within two minutes. Not a peep out of Sherlock the rest of the night. Obviously just missing Daddy!

Nick did the second coat on the log cabin floor, then we dressed everyone warmly and set off on our customary Christmas Eve trip to the zoo. A real treat this year as we got to see the baby gorilla born two weeks ago. The mother was cradling the baby in her arms and stroking his head. You can say what you like about zoos – and I was very dubious before I had children and somehow found myself a regular zoo visitor – but you can’t doubt that the people at ZSL believe in what they are doing and genuinely care for the animals. Katie really enjoyed stroking the African pygmy goats. They were very cute – especially the friendly one that tried to eat my carrier bag. I asked a keeper about their unusual (very rounded!) shape and he said that they are simply fat and also full of wind – he says he sometimes feels like he should just give them a firm squeeze…

We had booked for Katie and Dash to visit Santa’s Grotto and it really was the best Santa I’ve seen. Beautiful costume, snowy beard etc, cut glass accent with just a hint of brogue, everything said in verse (including answers to the children’s fairly random questions). A photo was taken of the children with Santa, then Santa urged me to join in the next photo (I was reluctant). As we left, we were skilfully herded to the photo counter, and given a choice between the photo of just the children, and the one with me and the children. I was about to say ‘just the kids’ when Dash piped up and said he definitely wanted the one with me in it. The shop assistant expressed surprise, saying that kids mostly wanted the photo without a parent in it. I said, ‘I guess my kids like me’ and she said, wonderingly, ‘Yes, it’s so sweet.’ I still would have preferred the version without me in it but I thought, under the circumstances, it would be churlish to insist.

Beautiful sunset and a really bright, sharp sickle moon on the way home.

Home and an hour of frantic activity before the arrival of our lovely Madalina who stayed for the evening and was to have had dinner but ended up having to make do with cake, on account of having unexpectedly turned vegetarian! Lovely Skype with Aunt Betsy.

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