Sometimes I have driven down to my destination in London in three hours. Everything goes smoothly and there are no hold-ups. However, this time, getting there took four and half hours and getting back took the same. Going down, there was heavy rain and motorway spray followed by a sluggish crawl on The North Circular Road. Coming back, it was just the sheer volume of traffic heading north. Mysterious but brief stops then back up to 40mph. Congestion. Clint had to keep his wits about him.
Down there at Ian and Sarah's house in the west London district of Fulham, I didn't have access to a computer and of course I am not in possession of nor possessed by a mobile phone. The way that Ian and Sarah view television is different from ours. They rarely look at terrestrial channels and they have little appetite for the daily news.
Consequently, some of my established habits were effectively blocked. It was cold turkey time in a vegan household. No blogging. No photo checking. No visits to news channels or football updates. No BBC teletext service. Yes I was out of it and you know what? I enjoyed that. Being off grid in England's sprawling metropolis. Five days of heavenly peace.
It was a lovely time with Ian and Sarah, Shirley, Frances, Stew and Little Phoebe. Together we watched Disney's "Moana". What a beautiful film - visually, musically and narratively. On the big sofa, Little Phoebe curled up in my warm embrace. Ian worked hard to make a wonderful Christmas Day vegan feast and on Boxing Day we all went on a family walk in the sunshine.
Down to The River Thames then up to Hammersmith Bridge and down the other side to Putney Bridge before heading back to the Christmas house. At one point I asked the others to gather for a riverside family photo. Phoebe had fallen asleep in her pushchair. I considered the fact that many thousands of such images are missing a key character - the photographer. He or she will forever remain invisible - the hidden one who pressed the button. And time will move on and things will change but the photo will remain as the evidence of a lovely day, frozen forever. Something to look back upon and remember.