Boxing Day Anniversary

It’s Boxing Day here in the UK. I gather from my step children that this is not celebrated in USA.

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses[1] or employers. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and other Commonwealth nations.

In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. In Ireland and Italy, the day is known as St. Stephen’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) or the Day of the Wren (IrishLá an Dreoilín). In many European countries, including notably Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and those in Scandinavia, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.[2]

However my reason for this post has nothing to do with Boxing Day Holiday except that it was a year ago today that I first began this blog. In other words I am celebrating one whole year of this blog.

During this year I have made new blogging friends. Renewed other online friendships and shared my world with people in my every day life who have learnt more about me and my life than they would do normally.

I have married my Owl.

We had our honeymoon in California which I was then able to share with you through this blog.

I have celebrated my sons’ achievements.

I made a start at serious writing (on hold at the moment but watch this space)

We have shared the extremes in weather from the harsh cold long winter complete with unusual amounts of snow to the unexpected un British heat in the summer months.

We have also mourned the passing of our faithful cat.

Ending the year with various preparations for Christmas.

2013 has been a year of extremes, extreme happiness as well as extreme despair.

In a few days we will be celebrating the start of 2014 which I hope will bring with it a more relaxed year.

Maybe I will even manage to write something that I can do something with.

How would you describe 2013 for you and what are your hopes for 2014?

This Christmas

Every year I vow to be ore organised next year.

This year I have wrapped all but one of my presents (usually end up doing that for hours on Christmas Eve evening) and we still have two full days to go.

The food was delivered last night, later I will be in town picking up the few bits I forgot to order.

The cake has been sitting in all it’s white glory in the corner of the kitchen for a week.

Mince pies were made last night with more to follow tonight along with cocktail sausage rolls.

The tree is semi decorated

Pug is home from University

Statto will arrive on Christmas day with my mother.(Prodigal won’t be with us this year but we will see him on Boxing day).

Today I have to make sure that everything is ready for Wednesday as for me tomorrow will be a lost day.

Tomorrow (Christmas Eve) I shall be leaving the house by taxi at 6.15am to keep an important appointment with some very special people. People who instead of being at home with their own families are  making sure that people like me have the surgery that we need. I am only having a small procedure and should be home some time in the afternoon. However this does mean that I have no choice but to sit back and relax on Christmas day whilst Skater and Statto between them cook Christmas dinner with help from Pug and guidance from Grannie. (Owl will be on washing up duty).

Am I looking forward to Christmas day?

Yes with some reservations (I hate not having any control over what is happening).

 

It’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas

It has taken a while but it is beginning to feel like Christmas is on it’s way.

I made my Christmas cake back in October and finally this weekend got around to icing it.  It had taken me weeks to track down any marzipan in the shops but finally I found some.  Having spread apricot jam all over my cake before covering it with the ready rolled almond paste I set about making the icing.

I am not very organised when it comes to things like this, I knew I had two packs of icing sugar but didn’t realise until I started my preparations that I didn’t quite have enough icing sugar. By this time I had separated the egg whites, it was Sunday evening and I had been having a rare PJ day as I had been feeling off colour earlier. I didn’t fancy going out to buy more icing sugar at this stage. I could have waited until Monday and bought more sugar, but I didn’t want to wait. Mostly because it is getting close to the big day now and time was/is running out. With egg whites in small glass bowl and icicng sugar in large china mixing bowl I set to the business of whisking the egg whites. By this time I had realised my mistake. The egg whites should have been in the large bowl and the icing sugar should have been in my medium bowl (which has vanished).

Never mind I would find a way to do this. Have you ever tried to whisk egg whites vigorously without  letting them slop over the sides of a bowl that is far too small? …No well I don’t recommend it.

Once I had achieved soft peaks I started to slowly stir in the icing sugar, one spoon at a time. Still taking care not to let the mixture spill over the side. Eventually I reached the moment where I had to change tactic.  Carefully pushing the soft white powder to one side of the large china bowl (you know the type, smooth and white on the inside and patterned in a caramel glaze on the outside). The next step was to gently tip the egg mixture into the side of the bowl that was now nearly empty before then spooning the soft white sweet powder into the small bowl that had previously held the eggs. Now I was able to continue spooning the sugar into the egg mixture  until it was all mixed in to a shiny white runny gloop.

Hmmm well there was no going back now but the icing mixture was far too runny, perhaps I could just add a little caster sugar to thicken it up. I have in my cupboard, demerara sugar, soft golden sugar, dark brown soft sugar, or granulated sugar but no caster sugar. So granulated it was. My icing is now complete and crunchy.

Whilst I was battling with my icing Owl was having a battle of his own. He has now put up our 6′ pre lit Christmas tree. Having done this  we are now waiting for the decorations to magically appear among the artificial branches. Skater had got the tree and a large box of decorations down from the loft days earlier but it seemed that not all the decs were there. I wouldn’t allow Owl to go up to the loft himself so we had to wait for Skater to be available. Last night Skater obliged us and we now have all our decs in boxes and bags on the living room floor.

Our table is littered with gold and silver parcels after my mammoth wrapping session on Saturday evening. Once the tree has been dressed in it’s silver and red strings of tinsel along with baubles and other decorations also in the red and silver theme, I shall be able to place my parcels under the tree.

There have been many conversations with family members about who wants what for Christmas. Pug has booked his train ticket and will be arriving home on Friday evening. I won’t see him until later because Owl and I will be out having Christmas dinner with friends. Prodigal is promising to visit on boxing day with his better half in tow.

I am beginning to get the feeling that Christmas is coming, I just need to get Christmas eve out of the way first. I have booked my early morning taxi to get me to hospital for 7am. Hopefully I am near the top of the theatre list so will be home not too late (one benefit of being diabetic). I am looking forward to a Christmas day where I shall be looked after by my family and my sons won’t have too many disagreements over who is head chef for the day. Both Statto and Skater are looking forward to cooking for us.

Now I really should get some cards written before it is too late.

How are your preparations going?

I’ve got it!

I have been thinking long and hard to find it.

Today I got it

Today I decided on a working title for my book.

From today my book will be known as

The secrets of No 15

In other news I had a lovely visit from Statto and his girlfriend over the weekend. They arrived late on Saturday evening. In the morning I took them to the station so they could travel to Portsmouth. Statto was taking part in The Great South Run.  He did it in  78 minutes.  Later we went for a meal with my mother, my husband and my youngest son..

I also made my Christmas cake on Saturday.  For those of you non Brits this is what I mean. Traditional Christmas Cake

Next week I shall be having a minor surgical procedure at our local Super Hospital. Unfortunately my husband is unlikely to be able to take me, so some of my colleagues  have kindly volunteered to take me and pick me up. Thank you ladies.

Making progress

 

Here goes, my first attempt at writing a post on my ibook, if this works bearing in mind that I am using an old version of safari on a wired connection, there will be no stopping me.

 

So here is the latest news from this crazy part of my world.

 

I am really looking forward to seeing Statto next weekend. He is staying with us on Saturday night in preparation  for taking part in The Great South run on Sunday morning before joining us for Sunday lunch. Not only am I looking forward to seeing my boy (who will be 23 this week) but he is bringing his girlfriend with him. It will be the first time we have met her so I am a little nervous, for all of us.

 

On the garden front I have been getting my daily fix of bird warching, sparrows, tits, starlings a plenty and my little Christopher Robin has been hopping around. He was investigating the garden at length which got me thinking maybe I should put up a Robin nest box. 

I have been making progress with my writing. I am thinking about persuading one of my characters to take up keeping tropical fish. To this end I have been researching the topic. I took my husband and my son to a local aquarium to see what is on offer. I am astounded by the amount of enthusiasm shown by both. They both think it could be a good idea but they are less than nonchelante about it.

Whilst out I picked up a Robin nest box which is now in situ.

The scene I am currently writing is now 3000+ words and developing a mind of its own. The characters are developing nicely and I am no long scared of writing conversation.

 

 

 

 

All in Dortmund

Last night my family were all in Dortmund (Germany)

That is not strictly true, Statto was somewhere in London, Pug was in Oxford. Skater was at home with me and Owl and my mum was at her home. But all of us were online watching a live stream from Dortmund. My eldest son Prodigal and his band New Desert Blues were playing the last date of their mini European tour.

Here are a few photos from their trip.

Hamburg

Hamburg        BrusselsBrussells and finally Dortmund DortmundHe tells me this was the best one yet.

They also played Paris and Berlin.

I am very proud of my son and his friends to have pulled this off. I just hope that something comes of all this.

I find it amazing that all of us at home were  able to watch their performance simultaneously all in our different places.

to find out more here is their facebook page

Chapters

I’m thinking about new chapters.

Partly I am thinking about new chapters to be written. I have 2 chapters under my belt so far. My plan is to write a collection of chapters each of which could be a short story on its own. But using the same characters will allow me to later put them together, fill in the gaps and turn them into one longer story.

On another front it is time for new chapters to begin for my family.er

Number one son (Prodigal) is trying to break into the  music world on a bigger scale than ever before. His current band New Desert Blues are starting to get radio play time as a new emerging act. In the coming weeks they will be playing a variety of gigs in Europe. Later this week they will be in Bournemouth. Followed by Manchester at the Deaf Institute on 24th & on 27th they will be at Bristol’s Start the Bus, along with Australian Band Cloud Control. Mad dash through the night will next see them playing the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg on 28th.

A day off before they start again, Paris, Brussels and Berlin, again all with Cloud Control . Finishing their stint in Europe in Dortmund where they will share the stage with Birmingham Band Editors.  I wish him luck in this new chapter in his life.

Number two son (Statto) has recently moved to a shared house in South London. He has graduated from Uni and is working doing what he loves, working with football statisics. Whilst looking for and applying for his ultimate career. I wish him luck in this new chapter in his life.

Number three son (Pug) has moved to Oxford to start his degree in Philosophy.  He will be making new friends, learning a new way of life and laying the foundations for his future. I wish him luck in this new chapter in his life.

Number four son (Skater) is continuing the chapter he began last autumn. He is now in his second year of studying creative media at college.

So our household is once again reduced to 3 plus our cat. My husband’s health is improving. I am no-longer the sole driver in our family. I am managing to spend more time writing.

So all in all we are all starting new chapters.

C is for cancer

Months ago I decided that from time to time I would write a random post following the letters of the alphabet. I did A here and B here now it is the turn of C.

Now I could write a list of things beginning with C but I have chosen to write a short post concerning Cancer.

Earlier today I read this on facebook.

NEED WASHING
A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Wal-Mart. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence.

It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout.. We all stood there, under the awning, just inside the door of the Wal-Mart.
We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day.

I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.

Her little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, ‘Mom let’s run through the rain,’
She said.
‘What?’ Mom asked.

‘Let’s run through the rain!’ She repeated.

‘No, honey. We’ll wait until it slows down a bit,’ Mom replied.

This young child waited a minute and repeated: ‘Mom, let’s run through the rain..’

‘We’ll get soaked if we do,’ Mom said.

‘No, we won’t, Mom. That’s not what you said this morning,’ the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom’s arm.

‘This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?’

‘Don’t you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, ‘ If God can get us through this, He can get us through anything! ‘ ‘

The entire crowd stopped dead silent.. I swear you couldn’t hear anything but the rain.. We all stood silently. No one left. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say.

Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child’s life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith.

‘Honey, you are absolutely right. Let’s run through the rain. If GOD let’s us get wet, well maybe we just need washing,’ Mom said.

Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They got soaked.

They were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing.

Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories…So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories every day.

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.
I HOPE YOU STILL TAKE THE TIME TO RUN THROUGH THE RAIN.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them.

This reminded me of one morning probably about 10 years ago.

One of my boys was feeling too poorly to go to school. Skater and I were talking about Statto never having a day off from school. Skater turned to me and said…..

Mummy you don’t get ill either you just had cancer.

To me that was incredible.

I felt that my young child knew that his mother had been very ill with Cancer but had survived so for him the word Cancer was not as scary as it is to many people.

He is now 17 and not quite so blaze about this word which makes grown men cry.

A Mother’s Day

Now that we are married I need to get my name changed in all sorts of places. My driving licence and passport are currently residing with DVLA along with one of our two marriage certificates. If anyone needs proof of my identity in the next few weeks it will have to be a utility bill plus marriage certificate. Neither of which have my photo and actually since we moved in together I don’t pay the utility bills any more. For several weeks prior to our marriage I have been trying to make a call to my local bank to sort out the paperwork etc that goes with changing my name. I have left several voice mail messages for someone to call me back to make an appointment.

So yesterday (Saturday …the day before Mothers’ day) I set of to visit the bank. I try to avoid the multi storey car park as the way in is one of those spiral ramps not so easy to negotiate in our Chevrolet Blazer. There are two places I could park for a limited time for free. Having queued to get in to town I managed to get in to the first car park, but spaces were a thing of dreams on this Saturday morning. Refusing to rejoin the traffic in the centre of town I took a side street that led away from the town centre. Circumventing the town I arrived at the local Tesco Extra (not the one near to my mum’s house).

Of course I was not the only driver searching for the elusive space. Finally as I was rounding a bend at the far side of the car park miracle of miracles a 4×4 was leaving and by chance I was the nearest vehicle. My luck had changed, I was in. It was a short walk in to the town centre from here (I was planning to shop here later). The bank in this town closes quite early on Saturdays so that had to be my priority. It was on my walk towards the bank that I realised, in my hurry to get out of the house I had forgotten to bring the remaining marriage certificate. I continued on my way as I had a rare cheque to pay in. Whilst there I managed to make an appointment for next week.

Back at Tesco (not my usual shopping venue) it was still heaving with humanity. I don’t think the car parking in town was this bad even at Christmas. I won’t bore you with a detailed account of my shopping. But when I got home Owl had been wondering where I had got to.

Next week Skater is going on a trip to Cardiff with his college, he needs a suitable bag to take with him, his brother Statto had agreed to lend him a bag. We were going to visit Statto last weekend but he was away so we decided to make it this Sunday. Being Mothering Sunday Statto booked a table for four for lunch. I was surprised he was able to book a table at such short notice. We arrived at the house he shares with four fellow students, at about 11am. There was time for us to have a well needed cup of tea and a chat with 2 of  his friends before setting out for our 12.30 booking.

Oh what fun we had, I have obviously been to Statto’s house a number of times in the first year he lived there(last year he was living and working in Sheffield for work experience). However I have never driven in or around the city itself. Owl on the other hand has lived there but many years ago and things have changed. Statto has spent 2.5 years there but doesn’t drive. Can you imagine the confusion of driving through busy streets trying to be in the right lane at the right time in a very unfamiliar place being directed by two people who knew different ways around. Anyway we made it, managed to park in a street close to where we were going to be eating.

I had been somewhat alarmed when Statto had told me he had booked a table in an Argentinian Restaurant. I didn’t know we had such a creature in our fair country. He hadn’t been there himself but had heard good reviews. To be honest it was very different to any restaurant I had visited before. There were people of all ages there, it isn’t the kind of place where you can have a quiet conversation with your meal. Some of the walls were adorned with white corrugated sheets, probably a heavy duty plastic, others were painted with blue sky and fluffy white clouds. There were large squares of grass (obviously not real but prints) on the ceiling among the large chrome lights.

The food whilst not cheap was not over priced, we all chose different items from the menu which heavily featured steak of one type or another. Both my boys tried something that was new to them. We all enjoyed our meal, even above the noise we managed to chat about a variety of subjects. All too soon it was time to leave, Statto was due to play football in the afternoon and we wanted to get back home.

If you get the chance to eat in an Argentinian restaurant I can recommend it as a good experience. When we got home I received a card from Statto and Skater and discovered messages from Pug in snowy Norwich and Prodigal in New York.

Menu from restaurant