Christmas 2016

The first thing to say is that this is like no other Christmas:

1. The children aren’t here

2. We aren’t here

Matt has made the trip to Ireland with Mo…

“I must admit, I was a little worried about crossing the Irish Sea in storm force seas, luckily, the captain of the ship, while acknowledging that it would be “very bumpy” ( I knew what he really meant) signed off that it would be “nothing to worry about of course”. These are the words that all captains of all ships should sign off with.
So, we emerged from the breakwater and yes, it was instantly like being shot up 100 feet in the air and plunged down 100 feet and doubling your weight and all that. However, the boat didn’t rock from side to side, it only rocked front to back which was much better. I’ve been on boats where it does the side to side thing and it’s not nice thinking about capsizing for three hours.

Anyway, all in it was quite fun because the insanely large swell only lasted for half of the journey and after that it was just a steady rough journey with the occasional sound of screeching metal as the hull wrangled with the stormy waters below.”

This was as a result of Storm Barbara which mainly affected the north of the country just where Vee and Matt were headed.


Mo with green hands and a country walk near MO’s house in Ireland.

VJ made the journey to Sheffield luckily in advance of Storm Barbara and the other two boys are in Taipei where they live with wife and girlfriend where the weather was bright and sunny.  We travelled to Bexhill to visit my mum in her new apartment and Flora the cat came with us as I could not bear to think of her locked up in the cattery.



Peak District near Bakewell and Flora in a box!

It was the first time that I haven’t cooked Christmas dinner and prepared like mad for 30 odd years so quite a big change but very relaxing, I recommend everyone should try it at least once.

The folks in Taiwan celebrating Christmas!

We left Bexhill on the morning of the 27 and mum went up to London for a drinks party and to stay with my sister. Matthew had an equally hellish journey back from Ireland as their flight was diverted from London City because of the fog and they had to catch a coach from Manchester, the entire journey taking 16 hours!

Well it’s almost the end of the year, we have Donald Trump to look forward to and Brexit will supposedly be triggered. Our house goes on the market and we will hopefully be in Scotland! A happy new year, it can’t be any worse than the last one.

A Good Excuse

A friend of mine is soon to return to China so we are having them to supper tonight. Having friends round is always a good excuse for clearing surfaces and putting away all those bits that have mounted up over the weeks, otherwise known as clutter! 

It’s also an excuse to dig out some old recipe books and compose a menu. As we have been to Italy a couple of times this year we are having two deserts from Italy. The first one is a Scicillian Orange and Almond Cake with orange cream and the second is a favourite of mine, bread and butter pudding with apples and oranges. We have so many apples at the moment it’s good to find a different recipe that makes use of them. The Bread and Butter pud has yet to be baked so it’s not looking particularly alluring at the moment.


I’m also doing a venison pie with roast spuds and Brussels sprouts cooked in butter with chestnuts and lardons. The chestnuts are from the garden, it’s so lovely to pop outside and gather what you need!



Let’s just hope that I don’t burn anything!

Moving House

Both Laurence and Verity have moved house recently, one in Taiwan and one nearer to home, in Bath. I was not able to help Laurie but he had his brother to help instead. I didn’t think that Verity needed me either as she had taken my advice and got some professionals to do the job but inevitably she had several car loads to move on top of the van load that had already been delivered so I was happy to go to the rescue. I stayed overnight so that I could take her to work the next day and get rid of the packing material that threatened to take over the house.

Matt is in Budapest for a short holiday and seems to have done very well with the apartment they have rented. Gwilym and Fiona have passed their Taiwanese driving test and are intending to purchase a car. Laurie has been camping recently and Gwilym and Fiona intend to do the same once they have transport.

Last week Hyw and I acted as polling clerks for the first time. It was a long day but it was bearable and I am looking forward to the money. Sadly the election result was a shocking win for the Conservatives with Labour and Lib Dems losing loads of seats to UKIP and the Conservatives. The result is that the SW is totally blue with the exception of the Exeter City ward. Lots of good people lost their seats and Nick Clegg and Ed Milliband have both resigned.

  

    

  Laurie’s new flat

  

  Verity’s new place

  Gwilym, Fiona and Laurence

 Laurence and Fiona 

Verity, Matt and Mo came down for Easter and we went to Dartmouth

     Dishes I created, thanks to Verity buying me a box of goodies from the spicery.

   
       

New Year, bad habits.

We are already into 2014 by quite a few days and I realise that I haven’t made a blog entry since before Christmas!

Flora has grown quite a bit since my last entry, she is very muscular and likes nothing better than some rough and tumble with Hyw. I try to stay clear of her when she is in fighting mode as even in fun, her claws draw blood from me very easily. I have been taking her into the garden everyday for the last week. It is really fun to see her discovering everything for herself, climbing right to the top of trees and then having to pick her way down again. I have to go with her to make sure she is safe with the road but more importantly to make sure she doesn’t run into any of the big males (cats) who slope around the village.

Christmas seems like an age ago. It was very wet at times but other days we had sunshine for a spell. Mum came by coach the Thursday before Christmas, Matt, Mo and Verity came on the Sunday. I had seen so many cooking programmes before Christmas that I couldn’t make my mind up what to make, so I made them all! Tom Kerridges turkey roll, orange and almond cake, Christmas ice cream, plum sauce, brussels with pears. Tom Kitchin’s stuffed Parma ham with goats cheese etc. Glynn Purnele’s monster sausage roll and my own recipe for north African lamb. Although there were only 6 of us we were all together for quite a few days so we seemed to get through masses of food. Mo left us to visit her family in Northern Ireland on Boxing Day afternoon. She got there just in time as they had quite a severe rain storm. The weather was pretty good so we came back via Topsham but it was changing as we got there so we didn’t stay for long. On the Friday we went to see The Hobbit, not bad but somehow I was underwhelmed by it.

By the following Monday, Verity, the last to leave us was gone but only until the next day as we went up to Bath for New Years Eve. We went to The Star and later to St James Wine Vaults where we played bar billards, then down to the abbey for 12 o’clock bells and a few fireworks. We drove home the next morning as it was torrential rain so there was no hope of going round the shops or anything.

Gwilym’s month long stay from his birthday until the beginning of December seems even longer ago. Whilst he was here we went to The Nobody Inn for lunch, had several nail biting moments sending off various forms for his visa etc, that got lost in the post, spent the day choosing wedding rings and then decided to get them online. In fact they were such good value I got one for myself at Christmas! Gwilym and I went to Bexhill to see nan, and had a riotous lunch with Thelma and Peter and their friend. Gwilym went to Bristol to see Verity again and of course she and Matt came here to see him. All too quickly it was over and he was off to HK for his wedding!

I think I’ve caught up everything now, time for another Strepsil to sooth my sore throat.

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The 5:2 Diet

I have been doing the 5:2 diet since December last and find that it has just become part of my normal eating pattern. I started the diet after watching a Dr Michael Mosley tv programme and thought I would give it a try. My initial aim was to lose weight and I have to say that in that respect the diet is a failure for me, having said that, my husband has lost a stone in weight, I guess I am just a slow responder! My secondary aim, which has become my main aim now that I’m not losing any weight, is to live longer and become more healthy. I can’t say if I’m going to live longer but I certainly feel fitter and have taken up going to the gym.

It was much easier for me when I was doing it on my own, I could feel virtuous and generally pleased with myself, I set myself little goals. Since my husband joined me it doesn’t feel so good because I’m not doing something that feels special anymore but that’s my problem and I should just get over it!

We fast two days a week, usually Monday and Thursday but we aren’t slavish about it, we swap days if we need to and don’t fast on holidays. We drink water, black coffee or tea and have all of our calories in an evening meal of roughly 5-600 calories. Quite often I don’t have breakfast the next day either as by then I’m not hungry. Hyw is always hungry and throughout the fast he will be asking if he can have some fruit or what’s for supper!

I go to the gym on Monday mornings ( and Tuesday and Wednesday ) but I can’t say as I notice the lack of food, after all, its only breakfast I’ve missed. For our evening meal I usually cook a piece of fish in paper, in the oven, and serve it with some flageolet beans, tomatoes and salad. Hyw will often have a no fat yoghurt as well.

The rest of the week we eat normally. I’ve cut down our portion sizes, don’t eat bread or potatoes much ( Hyw does) but we still drink wine and Hyw has beer and spirits which I don’t like much. We certainly don’t binge or make up for lost time with our eating but I think we could certainly cut down more, but …

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Floods Again!

The rain has been endless again, so much so that the journey to get the kids from the station yesterday turned into a massive trek to the west (Okehampton) before heading east towards Exeter. All in all we had to travel in excess of 60 miles, there and back, in order to find a route that was open. The trains aren’t running past Taunton and Matt’s journey was further delayed by a fire somewhere near Reading. I think next year we will have Christmas somewhere warm! Its endlessly grey outside now but at least the rain has held off today to give us a breather before the next onslaught which is expected tonight.

The Christmas tree looks lovely but so far my attempts to photograph it well have been disappointing so I’ll wait until I can get a decent picture before I post it.

Catch up

Loads of things have been happening in the run up to Christmas, too numerous to go into detail and much of my time has been spent painting, but here is the run down of the other things.

Felting – we had our last session and I was quite pleased with the felt I made which was from a variety of local Jacobs Sheep, with some Merino mixed in. I did a fairly basic pattern but its quite effective. I intend making a cushion cover out of it.

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We had to make one more pennant each, so I did a seaside scene!

We went to an exhibition this Thursday, at Mortonhamstead. It was a relatively new gallery which has been set up in the old school building and very smart it looked too. The exhibition was of felting and was interesting. The artist has been making coffins from felt. It sounds bizarre but they were very beautiful.

Matt and Mo came to stay the other weekend, we paid a visit to Topsham and on the Monday, after a short walk, we went into town prior to them catching their train. It was a very quick visit, despite staying for a long weekend, but it was good to see them just the same.

Went to supper with the Butts last night and tonight we have just watched the last episode of ‘The Killing’. I’m sure other things have been happening, but really I’m too tired, so I think I’ll call it a day.