Highlight of the holiday season: getting 111 points at Scrabble from a single word. That word was 'Sheriff' - using up all my seven letter tiles, getting a triple word score, and the 'S' completing 'Zones' as well. To use another seven letter word: 'Respect'!
And the downside ... failing to capitalise on a near invincible position in Risk, and when my son successfully invaded my Australasia bastion, I capitulated.
The magical aspect of the sprucing up a few years ago of Blackfriars station - the overground one, not the underground - is that the platforms are now over the Thames. Yes, they are on the bridge - and you can exit on north bank or south. I always get a thrill when travelling by overground across the river, but never more so than at Blackfriars.
Modern London took a long time to wake up to the majesty of its river - to clean it up, to develop riverside walkways and to design decent river-facing architecture. But it's got there. And I firmly believe that any city without either sea or top-rank river (sorry Delhi!) just doesn't make the top grade.
The damming work on Hampstead Heath (it's supposed to be a flood prevention scheme, but when this is one of the highest points in the city, what exactly is the flood peril?) is making quite a mess of the 'model boat' pond and surrounding area. But some curious relics are being uncovered after decades under water.
What is that you see in this picture? Yes, it really is a car - coming up for air after many waterlogged years in NW3.
True car afficionados may be able to make out the model (a Cortina, possibly?) - all I can say is that the scrap value could well be very modest And how did this car get to the bottom of a Heath pond? Someone, somewhere, must know more.
This mud-coloured sedan is even more of a talking point on the Heath than the heron, the parakeets, the ever-declining standard of cappuccino at the cafe. And the big question - will it be hauled out and junked, or once more consigned to a watery resting place when the flood prevention work is done?
To St Martin's in Gospel Oak this morning - one of the very few Victorian parish churches to be Grade I listed - for a packed service to mark its 150th anniversary. I reckon there must have been 200 people there; it was wonderful to see this magnificently eccentric church (I am talking about the design) so full. The distinctly evangelical Bishop of Edmonton presided ... the local MP Sir Keir Starmer was there ... Michael Palin was in the congregation ... but it was very much Chris Brice's show. He's the minister - a busy, attentive and always-on-the-go local vicar. who clearly loves St Martin's and managed to get its fairy tale turrets and pinnacles restored with lottery money
The church is not in the posh part of Gospel Oak, bordering Hampstead Heath - it's on the other side of Mansfield Road, squeezed between the beautiful enclave of Oak Village and the less enchanting post-war housing estate. The figures for local deprivation, which the bishop recited in his sermon, were alarming. This is not gentrified north London.
Most memorable at today's service were the memories of those with an association with St Martin's, and it's now demolished sister church of St Andrew's on Malden Road, stretching back in one instance to the 1940s. Amid the churn and upheaval of a modern capital, St Martin's is about community - a constantly changing and reinventing community, but a community all the same.
Another nice element: an impromptu rendition of 'Happy Birthday, Dear St Martin's'!
And in case you are wondering - I'm the token atheist who occasionally makes up the numbers at St Martin's, not least because I like beautiful old churches and I'm happy to see at least some of them keeping to the original line of work. Hallelujah!
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