FROM the time it took Major Tim Peake and his two chums to fly from Kazakhstan to the International Space Station, my spirits rose from the bowels of the earth to the door of Heaven.

Melodramatic? Perhaps, but on Tuesday morning the journey to Oxford was wet, roads were congested and movement restricted to a couple of ambulances flashing coloured lights and heading for hospital with some unfortunate people.

In Cornmarket Street, patience seemed in short supply with young and old, many declaring that Christmas had gone on too long and it was still 11 days away. I tended to agree.

The sight of someone huddled in a blanket in the doorway of a vacant shop failed to persuade me to be thankful for my lot.

Then it happened.

BLAST OFF 1103 hours: Harry was two-and-a-half and bored with waiting for his mother to finish business in a cosmetics shop. He wandered to the window and gazed out.

He pressed his face to the glass and this attracted Amy, aged three. She walked up to the window and planted a kiss on what would have been Harry’s lips had the glass not barred the way. The boy smiled, the girl chuckled while her mother June declared her daughter was a dreadful flirt. For me, it was lift off.

ZERO GRAVITY 1140 hours: Three young students from Oxford College moved in and, smiling, asked if I “checked my boobies”.

They were helping the vital Coppafeel! Campaign. Breast cancer was not restricted to women, they emphasised and handed me a sticker and advice literature that should be read. They also offered a badge – but I declined on the grounds that wearing a metal disc bearing the word “Boobs” might draw critical comment. ORBITING: 1408 hours: “I owe you a drink.” The admission came from former postman Winston as I looked at some of the wonderful items on sale at the Christmas market in Broad Street.

I couldn’t remember the occasion when my refreshment account moved into credit, but to refuse would have been churlish. Winston led me to a stall where a cheerful young woman poured two generous cups of delightful mulled wine. It fortified me for the journey ahead.

ETA minus 50 minutes: Back home, the telephone rang. It was three-year-old grandson Arthur, spluttering with excitement. Eventually he announced he had won a badge (not a “Boobs” one my daughter confirmed!) for good behaviour at nursery school. It was his first in 18 months.

“Too much like his grandad,” she murmured.

That could be true, but pride bristled.