Morning all, a slightly damp day so I’m at the keyboard. The eChristmas card is written and the car club magazine near completion. The cats have settled and the log box is topped up. What is it about boxes and cats? A friend who works in Edinburgh Zoo confirms that big cats are just the same, although obviously they need much bigger boxes. And green earphone cables…not green string which I was sure Custard (mother cat, lower of the two) would prefer, no it has to be thin green wire. We’ve got a weird or is that a wired cat?
The new cats are multi coloured like tabbies, but patchy rather than striped, apparently owing to some Y chromosome variation they are classified as tikkety, no tacketty…I’ll have to look it up…Calico. That’s it. Not a breed as such but a female only type of colouration. Cute as a button (so the daughter is called Button) and difficult to see in poor light, like most cats I guess. These are quite stocky with thick fur and sturdy feeling bodies, so there’s another variation from Maggie and Errol, these are sort of solid like a Scottish wild cat or a boxer. (Don’t mention that reference if you meet them) but not particularly big.
Button, the daughter at the top and Custard the mother below
    Anyway, while the cats are getting used to us and the house they’ll be indoor cats for a month, probably a bit boring for them, so they are finding lots of different places to sleep. There’s no Christmas Tree this year, cabin fever and dangling decorations don’t mix well, especially when they like to explore at night.     The original purpose of having a cat was for deterring the mice. I find the occasional snap of the mouse traps rather sad, but otherwise they eat the wiring and plumbing.
    Before taking the cats in we squeezed in a holiday in Devon. My cousin Rachel had organised a Hoolie-do so we went down in a petrol driven car, of which more later, and hired a cottage in Bantham (between Plymouth and Torquay) for a week, brought Mum along from Winchester and visited Anne and Peter. All in all a very pleasant break and probably the highest concentration of Hewletts in recent history. We had to go straight past several friends and relations, to whom I apologise, the schedule was constrained by a number of factors beyond our control.
Hopefully the electric car charging infrastructure in Devon will be a bit more extensive by the time we try that trip again, although I think we could have managed to go EV with a bit of route planning. The real restriction was time, Devon lanes were somewhat slow, narrow, dark and poorly maintained, and the eNV200 isn’t small. Having said that we met plenty of much bigger road users in the form of tractors and articulated lorries. What happens when two artics meet I don’t know, but it’ll be slow to resolve.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Belringer
Getting back the weather was actually warmer than when we set off. Not as warm as Devon of course, but really quite mild, if a bit damp.
The weather here probably wouldn’t be too attractive to the cats at the moment, sleet and rain with the occasional snow fall and rather short days, still the evenings have started getting lighter and the days will start getting longer on the 22nd. We’ll have to wait until the beginning of January for the mornings to start getting lighter, a rather complicated pattern to do with living on a sphere I think. Still, it may get colder or snowier, but it is getting lighter.
On the general health front we both seem to be holding up. I was worrying about the reemergence of sciatica, an old injury from when we were putting a new roof on. However that turned out to be a muscle cramping over a nerve - probably not helped by long driving hours. A couple of visits to our local osteopath sorted that out and, as there were a few minutes of the session left he loosened my neck as well. It really is worth getting the occasional check up if you have any problems like that, I put up with it for far longer than necessary as I thought I knew the cause and didn’t fancy the surgery. Later I lashed out another £15 on a crumbling molar where a 1960s filling gave up. Not bad for 40 year old repairs I suppose, but there are probably others.
Minor ailments apart we still seem in good health, and Fiona drags me on a ‘quick walk’ to the top of the big bing fairly regularly. It can be quite hard work on the fasting days, but practice seems to keep everything going so I’ve no complaints there. 
The Midges and the MX5 are safely tucked up in their garages while the worst weather, and the road salt, get behind us. I run the engines for a bit now and then and shuffle them about to stop the brakes from binding, but otherwise they just doze through winter. I should sell a couple of the Midges, but each has its own excuse for staying put at the moment. A decision for Spring perhaps. 
    Thursday 20 December. I was asked to play Santa at the local primary school, that seemed to go quite well, or at least nobody cried. I’d post a photo, but frankly the only identifiable bits of me were the backs of my hands and my eyes. The costume covered the rest, which is odd since I thought I was selected because I had a beard and white hair, I guess my eyebrows were partly visible. The children were remarkably polite and well behaved - though I don’t know if there were any pre-emptive exclusions, and fortunately the elves had labeled each parcel clearly. I received what I think is a box of chocolates and, in preparing for the role, found and polished up a pair of leather boots. Nice quality and at size 41 (metric presumably) a good fit…but how they turned up in my boot box is a mystery. Perhaps the other real Santa dropped by early, or perhaps he forgot them last year.
    The political processes have taken much of my attention for most of the year, not that I've had any influence on them, but perhaps it'll look better in spring. Most of our more important bits of the year have been covered by my rather sporadic newsletters, and the day to day has been just that, but seem to have filled out the diary enough to mean we are occasionally double booked, what with the support group, driving and general pootling. I have had enough time left to find a couple of new authors, one of which turned out to be Tom Holt writing under the name of KJ Parker. I’ve taken to using the Kindle because it’s that or build another bookshelf, and I'm running out of wall-space. I have reverted to reading as TV doesn’t have much of worth on it, but I have started listening to podcasts like BBC Inside Science and The Infinite Monkey Cage. Some are on radio and most can be accessed through the internet. I suppose it's been the complaint of every generation since we stopped telling stories around the camp fire, but there does seem to be a lot of dross in the media, so I've started being a bit more selective.
    On the subject of media, I know we've been reassured none of the known 'device' generated electromagnetic radiation is harmful, but I still tend toward the 'better safe than sorry' side. Recently I noticed I wasn't sleeping as well at home by comparison with elsewhere,  it seemed a bit odd so I started looking for other factors. I noticed the internet router was just the other side of the wall from my pillow and put a timer switch on it so it is off during the night. Things seem to have improved, but whether that's just a psychological effect I can't tell. In the meantime it uses a bit less electricity, so I'll keep it like that. Probably a classic  conspiracy hypothesis, but that's what they said about anthropogenic climate change, leaded petrol, smoking and the church....you'll have to decide for yourself.
Have a Happy Christmas, see you next year.

Photo by Jeff Belringer