25th: We walked over Wanstead Flats. When we lived in N16 North (the ghetto) it was just like a normal day; in E7, I thought Xmas might be different, but there were still shops open. We even saw one woman delivering pizza leaflets. We cooked nut roast, drank English wine, watched Xmas TOTP for the first time in 25 years.
26th: Driving north for Boxing Day reading James Woods' essay on going home, deliberate exile, secular homelessness. But even though I can appreciate the village where I grew up, now glittery with lights (not gaudy, never that), I haven't considered this home for a long long time. Unlike school-friends who tweet that it's good to be home in their childhood bed, more and more, I feel the north is not for me. The best bit of the day was picking out the notes to Oh Susanna on the piano as my nephew "played" the same on his keyboard.
27t:; Christmas-on-sea in Lincolnshire, a walk on the bright and brilliant seafront followed by a look around Sue's Curios, not so much a treasure trove as a place you'd not want to get stuck in overnight in case everything came alive.
We drive over the Wolds, icy windmills moving steadfastly through the snowy air, crispy white grass, brackeny hedges tarted up by twinkly frost, Dickensian corners on windows. Through little leave-voting Lincs villages rimed up with frost, their subsidised PV panels whited up, bare trees in diaphanous white sleeves, bushes stalagmited by the weather, cabbages in fields turned cauliflower, ice-white swans on a mirrored stream.
28th: A long day of relative and friend visiting, driving across Nottingham four times, setting off for the motorway as the day is falling, lights curl off into the Monet-ish grey distance, the diamond and gold of the tailback. We follow a stream of red down the hill to Cambridgeshire, like the Magi after the star. There is a murmeration of sparrows in the pink twilight, the birds joyfully whirligigging; people like seeing kestrels or hawks by the sides of roads, but this is better. At the end of the A1, the misty city rises out of the motorway like Oz.