After a late start to the Feast of Stephen it was time to head for the shops, and the discovery that not all were yet open for the 'sales', as if they weren't permanently in sale mode this year end. Owain and I headed out of Cardiff by car to walk up the Garth in the mist, while the rest walked along the riverside to town. After days of intermittent rain, the ground was saturated and extra muddy due to the number of walkers about. I did a spectacular slide off the track and gently ended up flat on my back, my jacket and trousers covered in mud. After supper, an evening dominated by board game favourite Europareise.
St John's Day was marked with a family visit to St David's Hall for an afternoon performance of Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake' by the Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia. It was utterly beautiful, and the musicianship as excellent as the dancing. It was just amazing to see the prinicipal ballerina taking the past of Odette/Odile dancing her dual roles with a different quality of movement displayed in each persona - the roles were perceptibly acted out within the highly limiting formal convention of classical dance convention.
Afterwards, we visited John Lewis' store for refreshments, and to purchase a new office computer for Anto, to give him a fresh start for the New Year, and a more inherently secure stable system to work with, following his Trojan virus attack on the day they set out for Cuba. He got a good deal on a well equipped Compaq that's more than adequate for the needs his daily workload, and is ten times quieter than his five year old workhorse. Best of all, it only took half an hour to get ready for use, suitably protected with up to date security measures.
Today, Holy Innocents' day, I said the morning Mass at St German's, and returned again after lunch to officiate at the wedding of the couple I prepared last Wednesday. The groom was in his best dress Army uniform for the occasion, as were half a dozen of their guests, one of them in RAF uniform. The bride wore a deep blue satin cloak over her white wedding dress for arrival, to fend off the wintry winds and resembled a mediaeval image of Mary of a noble princess, radiant with happiness. After the ceremony it was too cold to pose for photos outside so they took them all in the church, its beautiful sanctuary and reredos bright with afternoon sunlight.
I had to drive out of the churchyard through the side gate, as I was blocked in by parked cars and needed an early exit to be punctual for my next engagement, a hour's skating on the ice rink outside City Hall with my daughter and grand-daughter. It's three years since Rhiannon was last on ice-skates, and we were very impressed with how quickly she picked up the technique and stayed upright, even if for the most part she wanted to hold her mummy's hand. Clare and Owain came along and took photos, and we all drank hot chocolate together afterwards. Clare said she'd tried the mulled wine, but found it disgusting. This is not good news given Cardiff's growing pretensions to gastronomic grandeur.
A visit for supper from Kath's friend Kath tonight, followed by more board games tonight. I was feeling too tired for the latter, but I couldn't resist watching a biopic called 'Mongol' about the early life of Gengis Khan shot on location in the Altai region that covers the parts where North China, Kazakhstan and Western Mongolia touch each other. The landscapes were so beautiful, and empty of habitation except for tents and horses. I was reminded of my visit to remotest Northern Mongolia in 1999. It's a region I'd love to return to, but sadly I think my visit was one of those one-in-a-lifetime occasions, only afforded because of the enquiry I was commissioned to carry out there. Such good fortune.