When the alarm went off on Friday 17th December it was still dark and cold – I didn’t want to leave the comfy bed!
I read in the Vietnamese news that a
shopping centre had been closed due to Corona, in Ho Chi Minh city, more here:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/business/20211217/retailers-withdraw-from-shopping-malls-over-coronavirus-flare-up-in-ho-chi-minh-city/64763.html
Becca, Steve and I got an early bus in to town so that I could pick up a few things on my way back to Mosborough as we were off for a family meal. None of us could be bothered to shop really so when we got to Marks & Spencer’s (the shop I have missed the most) we just mooched around and I (who had a bad stomach from cheese and wine last night) used the facilities and the free WiFi.
When I got home I waited for Dad to finish in the shower so that I could get ready, then we all walked to The Mosbrook. I wore my new boots and my feet stayed warm and dry, the walk was mostly downhill but I found I was still rather slow at walking. When we arrived the staff were busy so we had to wait a bit to be seated, Gayle & Neil arrived shortly afterwards and seemed a bit flustered on account of Neil being late and on the cross-trainer, instead of getting ready. We waited a while to order drinks and I’d already decided I would be having pork for my dinner so I ordered a cider. The festive menu was available as well as the regular one so we each did whatever we fancied. Dad and Neil had pâté, Mom chose squid, Gayle had prawns and I went for butternut squash soup for our starters. For the mains we had the following; ma – Asian duck salad, Gayle – sea bass, Dad – Turkey dinner, Neil – steak, me – belly pork. It was bloody lovely and mine was so big a portion that it took me ages to eat it. In fact I ended up leaving some because everyone was fed up of waiting for me to finish my dauphinoise potatoes and wanted a dessert. There was no way I could manage a pud so my mom had my Christmas pudding, Dad had the same, Gayle had a lemon cake and Neil just a coffee because he had to go and pick up one or both of the kids and transport them about. After a lovely family lunch we decided to go back to my parents’ where Neil would join us later at the micropub if we could get a table. I tried to book in but it was full so I rang them and a walk-in table was still available. Mom was a bit embarrassed about going again, after Mad Monday, and she only drank coke, the bar man checked how long we planned on staying and we only managed 2 drinks before going back to my parents for another impromptu party/nightcap with Neil on taxi duty once again. It was a lovely family day and we had a really good laugh and catch up, it was nice to be able to be with my family when I know so many people who can’t be with their’s this year – I felt extremely lucky indeed.

What was tipped to be the biggest reunion booze up in Sheffield ever on Saturday 18th December had begun to reduce as fast as the Corona cases were increasing. So much so that what had been a possible wild night out turned in to a very tame, but wonderful, day. The virus was definitely having a massive impact on plans with friends and family being either cancelled all together or moved to something more sensible, in efforts to avoid Corona for Christmas. After my buttered toast and English tea I got ready to meet at a nearby spacious, airy and empty venue. Paz was unable to meet tonight but came to meet me for a hot beverage in the bar area of Mosborough Hall hotel, a short walk from my parents’ house. When I got there, a bloke from the previous night’s party tried to talk to me and mentioned he had been up drinking until 5am, had meant to have gone back to Wales but had booked another night as he was too drunk to drive home. I kept my mask on and my distance then went to order a pot of tea while Paz arrived. When she got there it was brilliant to see her, she looked so well and fresh and I noticed her hair was lighter – we couldn’t stop smiling and it felt good after all this time. Time went too fast but we decided the venue was a good place for us to perhaps organise an afternoon tea when I’m next back in Sheffield, so I popped that on the potential plan list for summer 2022.
When I got home my parents had their hairdresser over and mom was still getting her hair dyed so I had to wait a little for her to finish so that I could cadge a lift to the tram stop. I was off to Kelham Island to meet Luan & Paul for a couple of drinks in the afternoon. They’d also invited me to the cinema but I wasn’t bothered about that and thought it would be nice to watch the Strictly Come Dancing final with mom, I don’t usually watch it but when there’s an English ballroom dancing competition between a deaf soap actress and a gay male TV presenter it’s worth watching just to see my Dad’s confused face!
On the tram I bumped in to Luan and Paul who were just getting back from Wolverhampton and were pretty done in, this meant we could all call to Luan’s for a nice cup of tea and a natter. I’d prearranged to get the 6pm tram back so we changed our venue to go for a nice ale at Salt (used to be the Stew and Oyster) and was just round the corner. It was a nice pub and I really enjoyed the real ale without any side effects and we were non-stop chatting in the short time we had together. It was lovely to see them both looking healthy and happy together, they were so pleased to be able to be going to gigs again too and they told me of a great one next year that I’d love to go on too, as I have missed proper gigs! We all got the tram from Kelham Island, they went to town and I continued to White Lane where mom came to pick me back up, as she was also giving my sister a lift later too.
That night we had fish and chips from Tony’s chip shop and watched the Strictly programme. The fish was great and the portion of chips was enough with 2 portions between the 3 of us because I had to put my lounge wear on soon after snaffling it all. Next, Mom let me add some essentials on to her shopping order which was being delivered on Monday and I went a bit mad ordering slow cooker sachets, Henderson’s relish, sweets and some gluten free cherry bakewells. Dad and I shared a bottle of red wine and I was quite glad the day had been a lot quieter than the first plans as I was pretty tired and wouldn’t have wanted to be too worn out for the Sunday plans, either.

I was excited to have my mom cook me a bacon sandwich for breakfast on Sunday 19th December. I can get bacon in Turkey but it’s not as good and it’s expensive with it being a Muslim population so I don’t have it often. While it was cooking I did a lateral flow test which was negative so we were all relieved about that and my nose was getting used to doing them. I got told in Vietnam that if you breathe out through your mouth (or even say ah) as the stick goes up to the end of your nose it is more bearable.
In the news, Vietnam had reports of the spread of the omicron variant, more here:
https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20211219/omicron-cases-doubling-in-15-to-3-days-in-areas-with-local-spread-who/64793.html
After my delicious bacon sandwich I spoke to Captain Caveman who was doing well, keeping busy, but was missing me now and I was him. My mom needed some bananas so she gave me a lift to my lunch appointment, Ma & Pa had been invited but they were trying to limit going out a bit more because of the operation and not wanting to be ill for Christmas either. Kerrie, Paul, Thomas and Jack were already at the British Oak having been to Disney on Ice earlier and it felt weird not hugging each other. I’d missed her hen do and wedding so it felt amazing to finally get to see her and the family. They were all so happy and it was fantastic to have a shared love for good food (pie for the girls, lamb for Paul and a massive Sunday dinner for the kids) as we chatted on about all sorts of things, including how much I love Henderson’s relish. I was so full that I didn’t order the sticky toffee pudding that I fancied but I did try a bit of Kerrie’s and it was gorgeous. The pub was quiet for a Sunday but customers were spaced out and the staff were really good so I felt it was one of the nicer meals I’d had in there. I got a lift back home with my mask on and I was sad that they couldn’t come in to see the finished house my parents were renovating when they last met but we hoped for a BBQ in the summer instead. I was so stuffed and just sat and watched a bit of TV, my Mom made a curry for dinner just for the 2 of them as I wasn’t hungry. Later though, I had some really nice treats; fruit cake, cheese, chocolates, crisps, dates and some wine with my parents. It felt like I’d never been away as we tried to keep up with Ronnie O’Sullivan on the snooker and watch the Sports Personality of the Year – I took my eye off what channel we were on and thought Ronnie had won the latter! Before bed there was more news that plans for tomorrow were going to be changed again and some friends who might have been coming to Sheffield could no longer make it, there was definitely a sense of people being concerned they might get stuck if a lockdown got announced and of course no one wanted Corona for Christmas.

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