Showing posts from December, 2009

Honest Scrap

One of the most interesting gardening blogs I read is from James at Federal Twist .  He has tentatively tagged me for a meme called "Honest Scrap".  I seem to have been blogging for so long that I don't often do memes any more as I can't imagine there is anything much left to say about myself but I so like his blog and am so surprised and pleased that he thought of me that I will give it a go (except I may cheat and not pass it on.)   These are the rules. You have to first list 10 honest things about yourself (and make them interesting). Second, present the award to seven other bloggers. I have addresssed a conference of tax professionals at a hotel in Las Vegas followed by a four course dinner at a casino which looks like Paris in Springtime. I gave up ballet at the age of fourteen when it was clear I was never going to be good, however often I read Noel Streatfield's "Ballet Shoes". I can swim in a slow and stately fashion for miles (my father on

Christmas - so how did it go?

Cake: The home made marzipan was delicious, just lemony and almondy enough to kill any oversweetness.  I had intended the icing to be the classic rough snow version.  Sadly it was just not thick enough and ran gently over the cake and settled into a mildly rumpled appearance like the creases on a baby's brow.  Fortunately we have a month old  baby right here so we can regard the cake as a tribute to Joseph.  Tastes good too (the cake, not the baby). Pudding: it was yummy, served with a choice of white sauce, with extra sherry, for the traditionalists or cream for me.  A dark and rich chocolate log made by younger daughter was an alternative for those who don't like Christmas pudding, or an extra for the determined and enthusiastic eaters amongst us of whom there are plenty. Turkey: I leave this one to older son who said "I think this must be the best Christmas dinner ever".  How can this be?  It is the same meal every year so should come out roughly the same, but

Christmas - where are we up to?

Cake: made , fed lovingly with brandy every week, but not yet marzipaned or iced.  I used to think I hated marzipan until I discovered that what I didn't like was very sweet, shop bought marzipan.  I love home made marzipan with lemon juice and ground almonds so need to get on and make some. Pudding: made, sitting in the pantry, wrapped in the muslin it steamed in. Turkey: ordered from the butcher to be picked up along with the gammon and the sausagemeat on Wednesday morning.  I need to remember that giving myself half an hour to do this will not work.  There will be conversations going on the butcher which is also a post office and a deli which will mean the whole operation will need double that amount of time. Other meals: planned, sort of.  I have a rough list of things to cook which is waiting the arrival of the first of the returning adult children.  Son and daughter in law have offered to cook a meal or two over the next few days so they may have a look at the ingredien

New life and the year ends

A few days down with my daughter and son in law and the new baby.  Sometimes time folds in on itself.  It feels simultaneously a long time since I was in a house with a very new baby and no time at all since that baby was mine.  This must be why mothers and mothers in law are famed for interfering and telling new parents how to do it.  It feels so fresh and recent.  You pick the baby up and he settles into your shoulder just like his mother did but this time you feel calm and confident, not desperate and all at sea as I did the first time round. But these new parents really don't need any telling what to do.  The house has become sleepy and milky and running to baby time, his feeds setting the pace and the shape of the day.  They look very at home shushing and settling him and changing his nappy, very unfazed when he is temporarily cranky, carefully noting down when he feeds and sleeps but in a matter of fact way, without panic or obsesssiveness.  It is wonderful to see them, alr

Christmas carols with the male voice choir

Tonight we sing at the service of nine lessons in our local church.  So it is tights under black trousers, thick socks, thermal vest under white shirt and a few deep breaths. I am not sure I would ever have sung with a choir if we had not come to Wales.  I am not particularly musical and have a voice which only works at all if there are other people around who can hold the tune.   I sing soprano because I find it easier to keep to the familiar tune but the very high notes are really beyond me and from time to time I am just opening my mouth.  But I absolutely love it, surrounded by the music, riding a wave of sound. The choir is a male voice choir, with rich bass voices that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.  Once a year for Christmas they invite the women from the village to join them for the Carol Service and I got swept along on the very Welsh assumption that every one can sing really, despite my protests.  For six weeks we have rehearsed on a Monday evening, t

Christmas - let's just all calm down a bit.

Now I know this is my fault.  I don't have to read magazines and perhaps I shouldn't, especially not in the run up to Christmas.  I don't have to read weekend papers and watch television but, heck, I like all those things.  I am a real newspaper addict, love my particular magazines dearly (Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Woman and Home, Gardens Illustrated and The English Garden since you asked, with occasional diversions into Red) and while I don't watch a lot of television, what I do like are things that make me laugh like  "The Thick of It"  and cookery or gardening programmes, particularly ones like River Cottage which talk about growing and cooking the kind of food I like. So I don't really want to turn into Mrs Grumpy and give up my usual pleasures during the run up to Christmas but I am plodding through my usual reading feeling that the country is running mad.  Do people really give each other £900 headsets from Swavorski or is it a joke?  Do t

Moving out of the city

In November we hit four years of living here. I think we can now safely say that we are not going to get cold feet and run away back to street lights and cinemas and delis. I think we are going to stay put. A friend asked me the other day what we felt about moving out of the city and whether we felt we had made the right move. I could tell she didn't quite get it. People come up here and some say "You are living my dream" while others are too polite to say so but go away clearly thinking we are nuts. I am in list making mode today having been making Christmas lists as an alternative to actually doing something so here are Things I miss about the city: living round the corner from a really good delicatessen. the view from Waterloo Bridge. slipping out for a curry. that sense of being at the heart of things. and some things I don't miss: dirt, rubbish blowing the streets. crowds, especially on rush hour tubes, where you end up crushed up against somebody's armpit.