I had a plan - I wrote it down and everything. I would start in Kings Heath and do what I needed to do there, then get the 50 to Moseley and the 1 into town, pick up my concert tickets from Town Hall, do the German Market and then work my way back to Moor Street to get the 50 home again.
So, firstly I got up later than intended because I was tired. 9.30am, but still. When Paul rang to say he was still on the bus (he'd left an hour earlier) because there'd been a big crash at Lancaster Circus which was holding up the traffic. I conceded to get up nonetheless, put in a load of washing, and put the PC on to check traffic news online and see if there'd been any progress.
I was then quickly browsing Facebook before going out, when the PC decided to freeze because it was trying to download Vista updates (for about the 17th time this week - I wish I was kidding). After 15 minutes of perpetual "working" cursor - I managed to minimise my IE window but very little else - I turned it off manually, and restarted. It attempted to start in Safe Mode but at least I no longer have a stupid USB keyboard so could actually tell it not to. It then proceeded to install updates. When I finally turned it off again properly about 10 minutes later it had YET MORE updates to install, presumably because I didn't let it finish downloading the last lot.
So yeah, at this point I was already more than a little aggravated.
I went to the bank, my first port of call, and all was going swimmingly until their friendly computer system popped up offering me a loan extension AGAIN (i.e. the loan on the joint account with the ridiculously low interest rate, which only Paul is paying back), but thankfully our usual account manager happened to wander past and saved me from having to argue with them.
Then I headed to the butcher to order our turkey. £15 deposit put down (no idea how much the final price will be) and a 10-12lb fresh, free-range bird has been ordered for collection on 23rd December. That's an awful lot of turkey, but it should taste nicer than a frozen one. I estimate it'll take around four hours to cook, but will have to weigh it when I get it. Hopefully it'll fit in the oven or I'll be doing a disection job on it.
So, after that I wandered up the High Street to look in Naquiba - didn't get any presents in there but as ever made a mental note to go back there for interesting nail polish / hair dye. Then I waited for a bus.
The realtime info thing said there was a 50 due in about 25 minutes. When it says that I normally take no notice because sometimes they roll over but don't roll back again. Turns out it was actually accurate. At one stage a bus appeared as "Due" and then vanished off the radar again. Finally, a 35E turned up which was rammed, and only going as far as Moseley...
Once I got to Moseley I rang Paul to ask if it was even worth my trying to get into town, as I'd seen 15 million buses coming out of Birmingham and not a single one going in. He said he'd check online for traffic updates and ring me back, and whilst I was waiting a 1E then turned up so I got on it... only went as far as Five Ways, obviously, but better than nothing.
So, I finally got into Birmingham, picked up the tickets from Symphony Hall (only one teller available and I was stuck behind the most inquisitive man ever; I think it was the first time he and his wife were buying tickets at THSH, but nevertheless, there was a queue forming!) and then made a start on the shopping.
Of course, I got there right in time for the lunchtime rush. I got a couple of presents from the German / craft markets, but most of my ideas for gifts from there were scuppered by everything being horribly overpriced. I got a hat for my grandmother, which hopefully won't be too small - I didn't think to try it on at the time and when I got it home discovered it to be childsized... I think she might have a small head, and if not I suppose she can use it as patches or take the lining out of something...
We got Paul's mum a folding fruit bowl which doubles as a trivet (trevit?), both aesthetically pleasing and functional. :)
After that I called into Muji, Evolution, Blue Banana (conversation with friendly staff lady in there where she said there'd apparently been another crash after the first one due to impatient drivers being stupid - not sure of the truth in that, but it wouldn't surprise me), Waterstone's (GAH, books are expensive!) and the Works (less expensive books, hurrah), then on my way home through the Pavillions after a quick stop in HMV I discovered:
(a) Past Times has apparently re-opened; and
(b) There's a lovely Indian shop on the floor below.
I have no idea if Past Times has actually re-opened or if I just managed to somehow neglect to notice it for the past six years or so, but in any case, I struck lucky in there getting presents for both Alex and Dina (Paul's mate and his other half) and Jen and Dave - the same for both couples! A set of cushions reading "Lord of the Manor" and "Lady of the Manor". Silly, but good quality.
In the Indian shop I managed to pick up a gift for Lisa, a lovely set of wooden coasters inside a model house, for a fiver. She did say not to do presents this year but we wanted to get her something anyway. I also picked up three peacock feathers for a pound, because they're so hard to come by.
And then, finally, I headed home, organised what presents were for who and collapsed on the sofa.
The only remaining bits to get are for my uncle (Robin), Paul's sister-in-law (Andrea) and his nephew (Patrick), plus some extra bits for Paul's mum and my grandmother (just to make up the cost). We've already got a book for Patrick but need to get him something else, and I have no idea what to get slightly geeky 13-year-old boys...
We normally get Robin something Beatles-related, but... there's really only so many biographies / photo books / compilation CDs you can buy. He does have other interests, they're just mostly music-based (jazz, ELO, etc). It's a shame, he was very interested in the Beatles Rock Band game but doesn't have an X-Box and... yeah, if we could afford to get him one that would be ideal, but alas we are skint...
My grandmother's fairly easy. I got her the hat because she mentioned wanting one. No idea what to get Andrea, either. I also need to pick up some champagne truffles from Hotel Chocolat for David, but they can wait until the last minute so they're still vaguely fresh...
I have also finally allocated which of the gifts I've bought are for Paul's birthday and which for Christmas, so I could figure out his spend limit on me. I've spent FAR too much money on his birthday (especially considering last year was his 30th...) but I'm hopeful he'll like everything I've chosen. Bloody men are impossible to buy for. ;)
The remainder of December looks like this:
Saturday 12th - meal at Jen and Dave's.
Monday 13th - get stuff in post / hand out cards.
Wednesday 16th - support team lunch
Thursday 17th - visiting grandmother after work
Friday 18th - south team lunch (I'm going to be fat by the end of the month)
Sunday 20th - Christmas concert
Tuesday 22nd - Asda shop
Wednesday 23rd - pick up turkey, family over
Thursday 24th - at work until 2.30 (amount of work pending) and then pubbage
Friday 25th - CHRISTMAS! Off until January!! YAY!
*checks* Nope. Amazingly... still not stressed. Aside from that little glitch yesterday, anyway.
Right, that's QUITE long enough. *stops rambling*