Work continued to be hellish at the start of December, the pain and mobility of my hip continued to get worse and my winter blues had well and truly established themselves, so I was feeling a bit low. But there were things to do and people to see, not to mention a Christmassy spirit just waiting for me to get into it already, so there was no time for gloom.
The first weekend of December we had the Yorkshireman's sister and her other half over to visit us. Sadly our little mid-terrace is not built for two fully grown couples to cohabit in, so they stayed at a hotel in the city centre. It was freezing cold and snowed quite a bit, but the city was looking festive with its Christmas lights and the Continental Market outside the City Hall.
We again got to play at being local tourists for the weekend, with some of our endeavours being more successful than others. Hint to others: showcasing your city to visitors on the busiest shopping day on record is not recommended - it took us twenty minutes to get to the front of the queue for a cup of coffee! The Yorkshireman also wrote about our day trip up the coast, which despite my gammy hip impeding me a bit, I really enjoyed. Also the day ended with another great meal in Northern Whig, followed by a couple of hours spent listening to live jazz in the plush surroundings of Bert's Jazz Bar at The Merchant, which I absolutely adore. It was a great weekend, as my credit card bill certainly reflected!
After that weekend, the festive season well and truly took off for us. We did a spot of volunteering at The Giving Tree at Marks and Spencer and tried to resist the urge to play with all the toys ourselves rather than give them to underprivileged children.
We had a (rather early) Christmas dinner in the Kitchen Bar with our friends and family, complete with Secret Santa, which is always fun. Again some gifts were more successful than others but I think the Yorkshireman's present for sister dearest and her present for him (they got each other) won the prizes for the gifts most suited to their recipients, as she ended up with (amongst other things) a mini cupcake maker and a huge box of beer, while he ended up with a Sweep puppet (as in off of Sooty and Co). Sweep was the main star of the show that night, with revellers from other parties insisting on borrowing him for a quick photo.
We also spent some quality time with friends, family and colleagues in various different guises, including evenings spent chatting over a bottle (or four) of wine, exchanging Christmas presents, enjoying even more Christmas dinners, and going to see Arthur Christmas (which, by the way, was freaking awesome and immediately went on the list of my favourite Christmas movies... a distinguished achievement given how many of the things I've seen!).
Unfortunately for me, mixed with this festive joy was quite a bit of pain. As I’ve mentioned already, I’d injured my hip at the gym at the end of November (another piece of advice for you, dear reader: do not attempt to run at 6.30am three days in a row without a sufficient warm up). I was hoping it was just a bit of a pulled muscle or something but the pain kept increasing and my mobility kept decreasing as time went on. By the time I went to my GP about it I could barely move.
Nice locum GP put my poor leg through its paces, including a test which, I kid you not, is called the Flamingo Test (where you stand on one leg). That made me laugh a little. He then prescribed me some strong anti-inflammatories, some lovely opiate painkillers, banned me from the gym for the foreseeable future and sent me off for an x-ray the next morning. Having been suitably radiated they sent me home to wait for a week(!) for my results. Gee thanks!
In the middle of December we had some more visitors, as it was the Yorkshireman’s dad and his other half’s turn to stay. It was lovely to see them again but it was less of a successful weekend than we’d spent a couple of weeks before. It was mostly a timing thing really – they didn’t have much time here and with it being so close to Christmas, there weren’t many events running that weren’t centred around shopping or children. It was also bloody freezing. Plus it didn’t help that I was in agony and on crutches either, which I felt bad about.
We did some good stuff though. We had a pint at White’s Tavern, which they seemed to like, we went to the Ulster Museum and we had an early Sunday dinner at Northern Whig with my family before they went back to the airport. I think they might have enjoyed the Crues game we brought them to a bit more if it had been more of an exciting game and if the temperatures hadn’t been akin to those at the Arctic Circle. There was also a rather disasterous dinner incident, from which I shall give you yet another piece of advice: Wetherspoons on a Saturday night is just a big no unless you are a complete chav and proud of it. But hopefully we didn’t scare them off too much and they’ll come back (for longer next time) when it’s a bit warmer and we live somewhere big enough to offer them a bed!
Before the in-laws departed they suggested that maybe if I couldn’t actually walk or even sit on certain chairs without wincing, getting four buses and sitting on a rickety office chair for 8 hours every day was not a great idea. When I woke up on the Monday morning in agony once again I heeded their advice and called in sick. Bad timing because evidently my new boss was starting that day and there would be no-one else there to show him the ropes. Luckily I’d already arranged for his workstation, computer and phone to be set up for him and had prepared a pretty thorough induction pack, so he could keep himself amused until I returned. Why wouldn’t his manager be training him you ask? Ha! If only things worked quite so straightforwardly in our office!
So for the next week I sat on our big office chair at home in living room, taking my drugs every four hours religiously and watching Christmas movies and Judge Judy all day. It was not quite as relaxing as it sounds and every bit as boring. I was almost itching to get back to work and actually use my brain but in the end I wasn’t quite mended enough to return until after the Christmas holidays.
On Christmas Eve Eve, the Yorkshireman, sister dearest and I went to spend the evening with our lovely and equally insane amigos at one of their houses for Christmas movie night. As is the norm when we all get together, we were too busy chatting, laughing and eating to actually concentrate on the task at hand; we paid attention to most of Elf, marginal attention to Scrooged and didn’t even get around to watching Santa Clause The Movie. It was a great night. Also? White chocolate and cranberry popcorn is so very yummy!
Next up it was Christmas and this year it was time to spend it with my family (we take turns). It was the usual family affair: great presents, good company, fabulous and far-too-plentiful food and drink, rubbish TV and the inevitable bickering over board games. If it hadn’t been for my injury making me grouchy most of the time it would have been perfect but as it was even grumpy old me had a good time.
On Boxing Day the Yorkshireman and I headed home to get showers and dressed appropriately for the Crues game against Cliftonville. I had just gotten into the shower and was leaning forward to turn the cold tap down a bit, when all of a sudden all the strength went out of my sore hip and I went plummeting down in the bath, hitting my face off the side as I went. The Yorkshireman rescued a rather teary me from the bottom of the bath and I finished getting showered and ready to go, nursing my poor jaw and hip simultaneously. By the time the football finished I had a gorgeous red bruise on the bottom of my chin and an ominous looking yellow one on the side of my jaw. I looked like I'd been in a punch-up, which wasn't out of the realms of possibility given the crowd who attend the North Belfast derby match on Boxing Day!
Luckily I had 27th December off work to lick my wounds a bit more but when I finally returned on 28th with my (now purple) bruised jaw, limping and on crutches, I don’t think there was much doubt that my reason for being off had been genuine!
Eventually after a few calls to my GP I established that the x-ray of my hip hadn’t shown up anything big and scary but apparently that doesn’t actually mean nothing is wrong, so I’m now shuffling around on a crutch and continuing to down the drugs while I wait for an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist and likely also some physio. Fun times. At least I’m down from two crutches to one now and I only have a hint of a limp left, so it seems time is indeed a healer. Well, that and the drugs!
And so after a few days back at work where I finally got to meet my new boss and deal with about a billion problems that had arisen during my absence, it was thankfully time for another mini break over New Year’s.
The Yorkshireman and I have always spent New Year’s Eve with family, be it his, mine or the other side of mine. We also don’t really get very excited about New Year’s Eve, so this year we decided to spend a quiet one in. We had a nice dinner of pie followed by pie (judge ye not til you’ve tried a pie double header!) and then sat down for the annual tradition of Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. We both happened to be on Facebook, as did one of our lovely-yet-insane amigos and shortly afterwards sister dearest. Before we knew it were having some kind of impromptu online New Year’s Eve party, discussing the virtues of pie and snarking about the acts on TV. It was weirdly an awesome New Year’s Eve, and not only because I could wear my pyjamas (although it certainly helped).
With 2012 officially welcomed in, I sent myself to bed, in denial about the sudden arrival of the month of gloom and doom that is January. Apart from darkness, coldness and a lack of money, what would it have in store for me this year..?