Happy Christmas friends, family and followers. Welcome to the emoji-free world that is the Tilley's Christmas newsletter. We may have the odd run in with an apostrophe but that is as crazy as it gets round here.
In the whole context of death, famine, pestilence and destruction we had a good year. Several jobs were changed, some members of the family got permanent ones for the first time, the live Countryfile Twitter feed now comes from our front room of a Sunday night and if you add that to M5 south Gloucester Services opening and offering revival and rehabilitation services to mother-visitors it was pretty much a win, win, win, win. Nobody died, no main teams were relegated (sorry Leamington FC but you were always the bridesmaid) and nobody got elected to Diocesan, or any other, Synod.
Liz left Cargo. Or maybe Cargo left Liz. Whatevs. Still, after just shy of twenty years and a million driven miles she found that tethers do indeed have an end. After two days of unemployment she heard the call of the bright lights of Bath's mixed metaphor and became a part-time shop assistant again, using the rest of her time to recover energy and visit friends (some of whom remembered her). Liz now works for Lakeland. Based in Kendall, the distribution chain is currently as underwater as the name implies. Most of her colleagues spent a few weeks thinking she was the undercover boss. She has to wear yellow. This has never been a good look for her and she changes before leaving faster than a public school kid who walks home through the inner city. For reasons best known to someone other than a person with fashion instincts the yellow shirts are accompanied by a red apron, reminding some of us of West Brom's short term-fling with such in a late 80s away strip. OK, one of us.
For those who are interested, the reward for nineteen and a half years service was not card, leaving do, gift, thanks or clue given that if she hung in there there would be redundancy money because the company was closing. Which adds up to why she left and why she now looks fitter, weller and keeps having ideas for how her husband might use his time better.
Steve became sixty. This surprised people, not least the morning crew at BBC Radio Bristol who were so amazed they could barely continue with the show. He now has to show ID to get concessionary rates but has saved £4 so far this year. Trendlewood Church made generous donations to Falcon Camps in honour of the moment and the lovely Sarah made a great cake (pictured). Liz can call her husband 'old man' for one further month.
Whilst claiming no credit for growing a church and multiplying it these two things seem to have happened. And it turns out to be quite complex and time-consuming to do all the legal stuff that such church growth implies. Easier to close them than open them? Couldn't possibly comment. Steve is now familiar with the following terms:
None of which will ever be used in proper public.
We found the Lost Gardens of Heligan by using sign-posts. Not that lost then.
We joined in the second Trendlewood Community Festival which made money this time. We donated it to the appeal for a new Skate Park. How many communities do you know who would raise over £100,000 for a new skate park for its teenagers?
Nailsea people are lovely, unless you nick their car-parking space during the rush five minutes. Then they go feral. It's a long drive to the other three car-parks. Lidl tried to move into town. Since that would mean a short-term loss of some unneeded car-parking spaces they were chased out again. It was deemed an unacceptable sacrifice for 47 new jobs. Newcomers are welcome in Nailsea as long as they assert their amendment rights to park cars for nothing.
We did Malta and Gozo as usual. We met an Italian Professor of Literature who we rescued from getting the wrong ferry (easy mistake in The Maltese Islands) and eventually took out to lunch. Most stylish dining companion we have had for ages. She discussed, in her third language, in greater depth than we noticed there was in our first, some of the books we have read. She wouldn't have let that sentence pass without comment.
At our favourite Gozitan restaurant, after fifteen years of visiting, we persuaded manager Joseph to show us the wine cellar. It contained wine. No surprise there. Oh, and a twenty-four seater banqueting table. The guest book was signed by Brangelina, Benjamin Netanyahu and Francois Hollande amongst others.
Apparently the Pitt/Jolie party brought their own wine. Which seemed rude given the quality on display in the glass-fronted, temperature controlled vaults but Joseph said 'It was rather good'. For him to say 'very good' would involve a four figure price. Can't imagine him ever saying a wine was 'excellent'.
We queued for three hours to spend an hour at Dismaland (or Weston-super-Mare, to use its more common name) where Banksy messed with our heads by not signposting which was the art and which was normal people. Brilliant. Had a highlighter pen confiscated on the way in.
In late news Jon and Carys decided to move out of London and before you could say hang-on-a-minute-where-will you-live? they had moved in. Available space at Vynes Mansions just went down, the washing machine has to be booked and there are piles of shoes in the hall once more. Positively, the spice cupboard absolutely rocks and other people cook of an evening. We are a stopping off point on the way to New Zealand, apparently. Drinking lots of their sauvignon blanc as preparation. Steve can see the piano but the route to it is blocked by stuff.
We got a VW diesel. Have now been invited to join a class action to claim damages but strangely we don't feel particularly damaged. The rest of the world should sue us.
It has been noted that several pints of Butcombe can make people quite closely related to noxious emissions. Talking of which, The Battle Axes at Wraxall is now a main entry pub in the Good Pub Guide and we got no credit. The Old Barn has gently merged its Halloween decorations with a new Christmas grotto. In other beer-related news the Wild Beer Company continues to provide services to you-put-what-in-it? We recommend Wildebeest as a Christmas dessert wine.
The Pony and Trap at Chew Magna gets our top restaurant vote again.
May your sleighbells include decibel limiters, your holly be fairly-traded and all night-time fancily-dressed visitors fiddling with your stockings have good intentions.
Moderately pleased with this year's effort. Do offer feedback. Until next year.
St and Liz