(1) I arrived back at the old homestead and promptly collapsed on the sofa in exhaustion. The severity of my prostration is illustrated by the fact that on Sunday (21st) afternoon I retreated to the comfiest sofa in the room with the Christmas tree and open fire (albeit sans chestnuts) and was too tired to read my carefully selected tosh novel. I therefore retreated to David Eddings.
(2) I maintain that David Eddings has written two good books. The first is The Diamond Throne, which has a relatively taut plot, characters plausible within the conventions, and some quite impressive atmospherics. The other is the book that he has liberally spread across 20 other novels. I stopped reading at the one with the cat. I also read The Ruby Knight, but didn't get as far as The Sapphire Rose due to being diverted (and diverted) by Venetia and not being able to fit it in my suitcase. It waits for me when I am next in the North.
(3) Christmas itself was great fun. In addition to the aforementioned model balloons, there was some disastrous betting at Wetherby racecourse on Boxing Day, the sole day of fine weather in the entire fortnight. Possibly the best moment in the day, though, was the announcement of some pre-race entertainment "Come and see our whippets and lurchers" (and some other less amusing dog).
(4) There was in addition to good food (and drink), much good converation. Honourable mention must go to the 90 minute discussion (around midnight) with my father about fanfiction. Television was less impressive. What is it about Christmas specials?
(5) In what was definitely my most entertaining New Year's Eve ever (though I have to admit the competition isn't strong), I visited azdak and family (and pets) in Austria. It was very cold there, too, though this was buffered by excellent company, wine, extensive discussion of things Wimsey and other fandom-related (I now need to do lots of research into Viennese opera singers), and my first episodes of Man from Uncle.
(6) Back in Blighty, I met a friend in York. Alas, said friend being male I only 50 minutes before meeting him in order to race round its rather superior clothes shops. I hope I managed not to be too sarcastic on meeting A. and discovering that he had grown a beard whilst in Russia. I did manage not to say that he looked like a caricature of a revolutionary poet in the country of your choice. Only the beret was missing.
Following all this, I came back to Oxford on the 5th (all hail the four-day week) feeling considerably more chipper about a New Year, specifically work in a New Year, than I have for a while. My personal goals remain much the same as they have in recent years, the chances of meeting them being better in some cases and much the same in others. Life still needs revolutionising in many ways, but I am at the moment in the mood to plough forward.