Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Been a good busy day today. Our daughter Kerry (above left) drove over from Cambridgeshire with her son Tom, and our youngest daughter Liz (right) drove from London with her daughters Georgia and Beth and her son Matthew. They both arrived at about eleven this morning. We had a very good lunch of leftover cold meats, roast vegetables, boiled potatoes, and pickles. For pudding we had a year old Christmas pudding made by our good friend Neville Poole (whose death I recorded on my blog of 3rd December). His Christmas puddings were THE BEST and we always kept them for a year before eating. This year we (as usual) poured brandy over the pudding, lit it, and when the flames died down ate the pudding with cream; but this year as the pudding flamed we drunk a toast to Neville's memory before eating it. I think the girls had planned to stay a little longer, but at about 3.30 p.m. Liz noticed that the afternoon was becoming foggy, so they both set out for home whilst a little daylight was left. Didn't really want to break up the party, but I think they were wise to go when they did. Nearly seven now, so I've nicely time to do a little tidying and work in the workshop before bed. Will wish you all a goodnight now.
Monday, 27 December 2010
This morning senior granddaught Sophie came down looking very elegant in her favourite Christmas present - boots with five inch heels. I expressed grandfatherly admiration and a hope that she never falls off them. We played another game of scrabble then had a light lunch of leftovers and a very pleasant risotto that Sarah had knocked up, before waltzing round the kitchen with granddaughter Lucy (not sure what led to that) then heading for home a little after two p.m. . Stopped off at Bury St. Edmund's to do a little grocery shopping for tomorrow. Arrived home about five, and both agreed that we couldn't remember a pleasanter Christmas.
Ann's just gone up to bed, so will wish you all a very good night, and join her.
The rather ugly looking contraption above is the basis of a river steamer that Guy and I have been building for a while out of my boyhood Mechano set and steam engine I gave to Guy some months ago, and, on the afternoon of Boxing Day, we finally fired up the steam engine and had it running. Owing to the dire weather, a direct result of which was a complete absence of outdoor unfrozen water in (I should think) the whole of the South Midlands, we were unable to launch and test it, but I think it will perform quite well when we do. We think we'll have to lower the stern wheel about an inch in relation to the hull, and do one or two minor adjustments, but apart from that, all that needs doing now is for Guy to build the superstructure. He tells me he plans to do this in light plywood and card (to keep the weight down); he also seemed to appreciate the need for the superstructure to be easily removable so that the boiler and fuel burner can be filled and lit. His capacity for building models is remarkably good for someone who's just eleven. We've had great fun planning it and finding (and adapting) illustrations for him to work to.
Should add that after supper, Ann, Sarah, Mikey, and I had a very pleasant game of scrabble. Mikey and Sarah are both good players, and made Ann and I really exert ourselves. Good end to a lovely, relaxing sort of day.
On Boxing Day morning Kieran, Mikey's brother-in-law, who is a WHIZZ at computer's, called in to try and repair Sarah's lap top. It is poorly (or sulking !), which is why Sarah's blog has been thin on the ground of late. Kieran's ministrations were eventually successful, so we may hope to see more of Sarah in Blogland.
View from the same room of part of Frank and Jane's garden. Jane is a first rate cook and gave us a very traditional Christmas Dinner of roast turkey with absolutely everything traditionally associated with the bird (including chestnut stuffing and bread sauce). A superb meal followed by a Christmas pudding, flaming with brandy, and cream and/or custard. After coffee an afternoon walk/nap (according to choice). Then (in the evening) a light supper with the children (who behaved perfectly) eating in one room, and the adults (who did likewise, I'm glad to say) in another. We got back to Sarah and Mikey's about ten p.m. and retired for the night shortly afterwards.
We spent Christmas day with Mikey's parents, Frank and Jane, who live in the same village, and whose daughter Sarah, her husband and two children had also been invited, so that we were fourteen, all told. It was very hospitable of them. Earlier in the year when they heard of Great Gran's death, and having heard that Sarah had invited us to spend Christmas with her family, Jane and Frank immediately invited us ALL to spend Christmas Day with them. We thought this very kind, and Jane said that as her father had died last year she knew how Ann felt. We've always been good friends, and the children always love getting together with their cousins.
This Christmas (and it's the first one that we've spent away from home) we went to spend with our eldest daughter Sarah and her family - husband Mikey, grandchildren Sophie (21), Amelia (19), Lucy (13), and Guy (11). Took above photo to demonstrate wintry conditions in their area, a few miles before arriving at their home, on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
Thursday, 23 December 2010
This is our Christmas tree. We've had it for ten years or so. The lights change colour constantly. It is fascinating to watch - it was a good buy. The next few days are going to be busy; I'll try and remember to take lots of photographs. In the meantime we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Our very warm regards to all our readers - from Ann and Mike.
This morning decorated the cake that Ann had made, and was disappointed with it - hands a bit shaky- next year (D.V.) Ruth and the girls will be here and I shall leave it to them. This afternoon we went (by invitation) and had a cup of tea with our good friends Sue and David. I told them that I'd decorated the cake and wasn't very happy with it, to the extent that I didn't intend to photograph it this year. Sue then asked me to blog it so that she could judge for herself - so here it is Sue, and I'm sure that you will see what I mean !!!!!
More in a min. Mike.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Normally mince pies are made in individual or tartlet sizes, but this is a large one Ann made this evening. It would give eight to ten people a decent portion. I was allowed/requested to make the 'holly leaf and berry' decoration in the centre from left over pieces of pastry.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Saw this tempting advert on a flower stall beside a back lane near Bury St. Edmund's a few weeks ago, and we agreed that Handy Cycle men at £1.25 a pot were something of bargain, so bought Ann a couple of pots, one of which is still in flower. If we go that way we always keep an eye out for this stall, as the stallholder's ideas on floral nomenclature (?) are always refreshing, but I think this is the best she's come up with yet. She's completely unselfconscious about her spelling of flower names, and makes some brave efforts. She also keeps goats, and as we used to breed them, it's always nice to have a natter about them. The lady keeps a billy goat that she says is of the 'Old English' breed, but I think there's a strong strain of Aurox in him. He's massive! Don't know how she controls him. I'll try and get a photo of him next time I meet him, and if he's in a good mood. Weather's been thawing slowly today, but the meteorologists say there's more snow on the way. Hope they're wrong- they sometimes are, but have to admit they've got the last two lots of snow dead right.
Bed time approaching, as we've an early start a.m., so - Goodnight All.
Monday, 20 December 2010
Snapshot from back bedroom window. I was in our surgery at nine a.m. and having a winge about the very cold weather (ice ferns on the inside of the bedroom windows and an inch of ice projecting from the top of the milk bottle having lifted the cap off). The doctors' receptionist said that the temperature last night went down to minus 16 degrees centigrade. I found this difficult to believe but somone else at the counter supported the receptionist and said that the max/min thermometer in her garden recorded the same temperature - minus 16 degrees centigrade. Well it's now 9.34 p.m. and I've just checked our outside thermometer and the temperature has already dropped to minus 5 degrees centigrade. Hot water bottles tonight I think !!!!!! Good night all.
Sunday, 19 December 2010
This evening we walked in to Church to sing at the carol service at 6.30. We got there at just before five, so as to get a good choir practice, at one point of which our Choirmistress called out to me "Michael you are singing TWO octaves below what you should be singing. It's impressive, but not what's on the score". I thought I was singing an octave lower than the score (which was set uncomfortably high for a natural basso profundo). Amended my ways, and got a "There, you see, you can do it" from our revered Choirmistress. Got nearly an hour's (much needed) practice in before having tea in church. Partly because of the weather conditions there were only twelve of us in the choir, but all went well, and I think we were in good voice (the congregation said so afterwards, anyway).
Stayed on for a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie, then walked home in company with a neighbour of ours, a fellow chorister who lives about three hundred yards beyond us further out of town. In fact we walked her to her home because she's having hip problems, and was a bit nervous of the icy pavements. At nine o'clock Ann realised that we hadn't had a hot meal today, so made a large bacon and mushroom ommelette (never could spell that word so it looked right!!), which we split between us. Bedtime now, so -Goodnight all.
Saturday, 18 December 2010
Snapshot taken through kitchen window at about 6.30 p.m. We had planned to walk into town (in coats, woollies and wellies) to attend a concert by the Choral Society, but Hilary has just 'phoned to say it's been cancelled, so I think we'll spend a quiet evening by the fireside, with a glass of sloe gin. I can think of no better way of spending an evening, and I wish all my readers as good a one.
Had started to eat supper when I remembered to take this snapshot. It consisted of (from bottom centre of plate) tenderloin of pork, french beans, spiced red cabbage, and saddle backed (?) roast potatoes (an idea that Ann picked up from an American colleague of Ruth's in Sweden). It was, in my opinion, the perfect meal for a cold winter evening .
Very cold this morning. Minus 5 degrees. At 10.30 we met up with the Salvation Army Band (well, a few members of the band) and sung carols in The High Street for an hour. A good many friends stopped to thank us, and the general comment was along the lines of "What a lovely sound from such a small number". Fairly well balanced though (in terms of Soprano, contralto, tenors and bases) which always helps. Afterwards Ann and I went off and wrapped our hands round a very welcome mug of coffee. Towards the end of our singing it started to snow and was still very cold, but I noticed that it didn't feel nearly as cold as last year, when it rained throughout our performance. Snow didn't settle. Went to scrabble club this afternoon. It started to snow again at about four p.m. and now (at around seven p.m.) there is a good three inches of snow, and it's still snowing. More in a minute (blog, not snow, although there'll probably be more of that, too).
Friday, 17 December 2010
Took this photo of Chelsworth Hall and Church about a year ago. The weather was just like today's - bright and very cold. Went to Cafe Church this morning, everyone was very glad to see Ann home again. Sandwich lunch then Ann went off to a committee meeting, and I went upstairs to change into my workshop scruff. Before I had time to change the 'phone went and a friend/customer asked if I would be in for the next half hour as she wanted to call and collect a blunderbuss she is buying her husband for Christmas. That gave me nicely time to make meself (and the workshop) decent before she got here. She'd just been to the town on various errands, so she was glad to stop and natter for a while. The blunderbuss is to be a surprise for her husband, so I suggested that they come and have a coffee with us after Christmas so that I can tell him all about, how it worked, and how to look after it. He has seen and much admired it before, but doesn't yet know that he's getting it for Christmas. I don't quite know why it should be so, but at Christmas, the season of peace and goodwill, I seem to sell a good many guns and swords.
Must knock off now and clean me boots, as we - several choirs and the Salvation Army Band- shall be singing carols in the High Street in the morning. So- Good Night All.