It's that time of year again. We've had Black Friday and then Cyber Monday, and Amazon is emailing me ten times a day to tell me about its fabulous 'holiday toy deals'. Never mind the opening of the Advent calendar, the first of December means online ordering kicks in and UPS and Fedex vans, the modern day Santas, are out in full force.
This time last year I was writing this and bemoaning the fact that the London postman NEVER delivered packages, even if you were in, but put a note through the door asking you to go to some god-forsaken depot. Here it is a little different. Packages are delivered, and the delivery guys don't bother to ring the doorbell, even if you are in; they just leave the packages sitting outside on the driveway.
Now, I realise that this is probably testament to the low crime rate in the town where I live, and this has to be a Good Thing. But it never ceases to amaze me. This morning we had a huge wooden play table delivered, and it was just left outside by Fedex, despite the fact that I was here - I can't even carry the thing, so there it will stay until The Doctor arrives home later today. Then a UPS man appeared with another heavy package and just shoved it into my arms and ran off as I was walking up the drive with the Littleboys. (The boys, of course, are incredibly curious as to the contents - so far I've got away with pretending it's 'something for Daddy').
Walking past another house on the street, I saw the most enormous object sitting by the front door - it must at the very least have been a tractor in a box. Our neighbours had a laptop delivered once, and that was just dumped outside with a note. If there were any criminals, they'd be having a field day.
The postman (I really should refer to him the carrier, as that's how he instructed me when we first met) on the other hand, is lovely. If I see him coming up the drive, he brings the mail up to the door instead of putting it in the box; we pass the time of day and have a good chat, and he waves at me when I drive past him in the car in another part of town. (I'm still waiting for him to exchange his uniform of shorts for winter trousers; surely he will when it snows?)
If there's any mail not for us, he keeps it back - I can always tell when he's been away as random letters for previous occupants start appearing. And best of all, here you can leave letters in your own mailbox to be posted, rather than making a trip to the mailboxes in town or the post office. All so much better than my experiences with Royal Mail, although the queues (sorry LINES) at the Post Office for purchasing stamps are just as long.
Now if only I could find some Christmas cards that don't have naff Santa-themed envelopes.....