Sunday, 19 December 2010

Walking in an urban wonderland

Yesterday's original plan would have seen us Blakesley Hall, a local Tudor manor house dating from 1590, to experience an afternoon of general Christmas-iness. There were going to be carolers a-caroling. We might have wassailed, providing someone could expressly tell us what was involved and whether special equipment was needed. There was to be mulled wine and cider.

I was particularly excited about this last bit.

But it was not to be. From first light the heavens chucked inch after inch of snow at us, and by early afternoon it was strangling most attempts at travel. Blakesley Hall's Christmas event was cancelled due to snow.

Welcome to Britain, where even the weather has a well-developed sense of irony.

Instead we retired to the house of Chris and Karen. There was no wassailing. However there was wine (mulled and non-mulled), beer, chilli and cheese-based snacking opportunities. Throughout the afternoon we would, in ones and twos, wander up to the window to watch the flakes continue to drift downwards in the way snowflakes tend to do. The realisation dawned on us that our eventual return home was going to be a bit tricky, given that all taxis had probably disappeared into a black cab black hole. So we did something really unusual.

We walked home.

I know. Weird isn't it? But apparently, these appendages at the lower extremes of our bodies - the ones we normally use to press down accelerator pedals - can be used for another form of forward motion.

And you know what? It was great.

Freed from the usual five-minute Toyota Carina-bound bubble, we went at our own pace - literally - scrunching through the snow in our sensible clumpy boots.  Double-lined coats, gloves and sensible headwear insulated us from the cold. We could see the city - well, a little bit of it - in a whole new way.

As we walked along Church Road to the Swan Island, the streetlights played games with the colours. I stopped for a moment to think about Swan Island, named after a pub that was 'redeveloped' (razed to the ground) some 20 years ago, removing a focal point on which to, um, focus.

We crossed the underpass, the main Coventry Road quieter than I'd seen in years.

"This is quieter than I've seen in years," I said to Katie.

"Don't repeat yourself," replied Katie. "Look! There's a snowman outside the Chinese takeaway."

We trudged on, feeling suitably lifted. The odd car passed us, drivers edgily making their way home. Then we saw a sight to warm the cockles.

"Now that looks quite inviting, actually. Never really noticed it before now. Fancy a portion? My treat."

"You know how to show a girl a good time. I'm full of Karen's chilli, otherwise I'd be in like Flint. Coo, look at that."

The car dealership was selling featureless shapes, arrayed in row after row like a frosty army. We moved on.

"Nearly home now. It's only taken us 30 minutes or so. You know, we should do this more often."

SPLAT! A snowball thudded into the back of my head. I turned to see Katie, an evil gleam in her eyes.

"You're 7 years old all over again, aren't you?"

Sometimes you need things to be obscured before you see them as they really are.

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