Friday, December 31, 2010

 

New Year's Eve

Perhaps we should have done last night on this night.
New year's eve - the night for partying ...... and yet it felt right to have had a good time with family on a night that was ours and nobody else's.
This evening is a time for reflection - looking back over the year and recalling past new year's eves.
It is a time to look forward too - to a life full of the things we value and an attempt to discard the things we don't value very much.
Like many, I begin the year with various good intentions. I am wise enough now to realise that I shall not fulfill many of them; not even the ones with regard to my eating, and those intentions really do have my own good at the heart of them.
Poor body is not happy right now - wheat can be so good to eat and is such a mainstay of the British diet that it is hard always to discard it. But it should go.
There is one new years resolution that I first made in 1962, when only 18 years old. Bill and I were at a dance - somewhere on the industrial estate. In those days we all went to dances - not clubs. The music was live - a three of four piece band. We were with others from the cycle club. I think I had won a bottle of gin in a raffle.
At midnight there were the usual hugs and kisses and I resolved to spend the next new year's eve with the boyfriend (Bill) that I had been with for a short while.
We have been together for every subsequent new year's eve since then - 48 years of them.
I am sure that Julie was there at the dance at the end of 1962.... her Roger too? Not sure.
Last night we were with them again.
There were 10 family members together last night - once again it was the older, retired half of the family.
I was very happy to provide a background for them all to be together to talk and laugh and eat and drink.
Bed time was not until about 2 o'clock.
So, today has been quite a lazy day. There was washing up and vacuuming to be done and I did some ironing, whilst enjoying The Sound of Music on TV.
Now for some Monk family portraits - a chamber of horrors?


Lesley




Pictures of Julie.

Not the best picture of Pam - but it sums up the evening quite well!



Bill.
When I saw the one on the right, I realised how much like Jane he looks.




Nephew, Antony.




Julie's Roger.


Lesley's Peter.


Jane.


Paula.
All over the country people are gathering and have begun to celebrate the passing of 2010.
Jamie, 6,000 miles away is soon to wake up, already in 2011.
Our niece Lisa, in Australia, has already had a wow of a new years eve party.
Other family and friends in USA and Canada will soon get together and start their celebrating.
Wherever you are we wish you well for 2011.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

 

Waiting for this evening.

The main event of the day has not happened yet.
I am sitting by a table decked with food and some other bits have to go into the oven to entertain as many of Bill's family as can make it.

This morning we got up late and went to Wetherspoon's in the town for breakfast.
Very relaxing.
Then we went to buy goodies for this evening in Asda.
It wasn't too crowded.

If you would like a little more to look at, try Jamie's review of the year:
http://jamie-monk.blogspot.com/2010/12/jamies-phuket-highlights-2010.html

Tomorrow I am sure I will have some pictures of this evening.

Enjoy the last day of 2010 everybody.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

 

The days between Christmas and New Year.

We are tired.
Perhaps our bodies are craving normality.
Yesterday, though, I admit I was feeling a bit flat. The weather was damp and murky, I didn't want to do shopping, but I thought it would be good for some jollity and activity to continue.
So I was very pleased when Jenny and Mike called round.
And then pleased again when Julie and Roger invited us to join them yesterday evening.
Oh, but I was tired.
It is time to put myself back onto an eating regime that enables me to feel more alive and energetic.
I have enjoyed cakes, pastries, titbits, chocolate and so on - and my digestion is pleading with me to treat it more kindly.
Bill seemed even more tired and run down than me and I guess we weren't very good company. Nevertheless, we were out until half past midnight - so we were able to wish Roger a happy birthday.
We slept well - indeed we didn't wake up until about 10 o'clock.
Despite the tiredness I wanted more to happen.
The weather looked very uninviting - fog and dampness. But I wanted to be out.
There was some shopping to be done and I decided that a trip down to Asda at Brighton Marina would be fun.
I think half of Sussex and beyond had decided that The Marina was the place to be.
We found a place to park and went off to find some lunch.
There was not a free table in Wetherspoons. What should we do?
Maybe do the shopping first.
Then we thought we would try one more time to eat - found a table but we were told that people were having to wait three quarters of an hour for food.
Frankie and Bennie's was just as bad.
So, OK - back to the car and round to the Asda car park.
It took us 20 minutes to get out of the car park.
We had had enough.
Shopping can wait until tomorrow - in Crawley.
This evening we have enjoyed 2 sorts of turkey meals - one Chinese in style and the other Thai. It looks like there is enough for tomorrow.
Lets have an early night now - we will be late again tomorrow.
There will be a Monk gathering at our house.

Monday, December 27, 2010

 

Boxing Day in Wiltshire

Yesterday was Boxing Day.
The day began early for us - we aimed to leave home by 7 o'clock.
But by the time ice was scraped from the car and we were on our way, it was later than that.
The temperature as we left was minus 6 and we kept an eye on the gauge in the car - at some points we were driving through minus 11. The sun was up and the dawn light was quite magical on the trees, really heavy with sparkling frost.
We failed to meet up with Simon and Nicki, who also opted for an early start and were already on their way to Worcester, when we arrived at Roger and Sue's.
We had a restful morning - not sure if Sue did, for there was much entertaining to be done.
I prepared a few sprouts.
We exchanged some presents between the 4 of us before others arrived.
I knew I had something special for Roger and was so pleased that he could now have something that I have been enjoying for many years.
Finally I passed over Great Grandad Frost's chair.
But he knew that was coming.
He did not know of another special item. In the summer I was able to buy an Eric Ravilious print, when we went to the exhibition - in fact I bought 2 of them. Bill framed one for me, which has been on the wall since August.
The picture shows the artist's impression of the South Downs just above Furlongs Farm - Ravilious was there often in the 1930s.
In the 1950s the Frost family were there - camping on the side of the Downs; the very spot is in the middle of the picture.
Little did I realise that the agricultural implement ( a Cambridge roller) was made in Market Lavington - Roger's home.





I took a few pictures from the house - too chilly for being out for long.


I was glad to be there to greet great nephew, Charlie.
What a boy!
He was busy and active almost all the day and, despite lots of folk he barely knew, he didn't yell or cry at all.




But, of course, I couldn't monopolise the little dear. He enjoyed time with his Grandad.




While Meg sorted out cups of tea for us all.
It is an unwritten rule that I happily embrace that when people visit, the first thing you do is offer a cup of tea.


Charlie also enjoyed with time with Tom - his proud Daddy.
Charlie utters "Dad Dad" lots - not sure he realises it has anything to do with his father yet, but I am sure he knows how much it pleases people.

Then it was lunch time.
Turkey from Christmas Day, gammon, masses of vegetables, sauces and gravy.

My plate was piled high.
No wonder I felt able only to eat a sliver of Christmas pudding.


At last Granny Sue has a chance to spend time with Charlie.




Roger then posed in the Frost chair.
He was sitting just like Great Grandad Frost was sitting in a picture taken over 100 years ago - see it on the screen to one side.
Great Grandad was crippled with arthritis.

Mummy Meg has time with her boy and and an all singing, talking, caterpillar.



Later on we were joined by folks who almost feel like a part of my family.
We have known Sue's sister, Pam and husband, Alan for very many years and seen their children grow to adulthood.
Before tea, there was an attempt to release a hot air balloon.
Not many of us ventured outside.

Roger and Pam and Alan's Tom tried many times to get the thing lit - but it was windy and matches didn't stay lit for long enough.


Most of the family gathered at the window in hopes of seeing the lit balloon.


It might have looked like this.
This is one that was lit and released on Christmas Day.

And so we all sat down to a tea table laden with goodies.
First there were crackers to be pulled. I got a bottle opener - useful; not sure what Bill will do with squirting chocolate!

Awful cracker jokes were laughed or groaned over.
What is the name of the bad lion tamer? Claude Bottom!


Savoury goodies were moved aside, for mince pies, chocolate cake and of course Christmas cake.
I don't bother with one these days - we rarely have hordes to come and consume it for us and so the two of us would be eating it until the end of February!
Sue would never abandon her cake making.

The lit candles were lovely - we shouted out "Merry Christmas" and all blew the candles out.


Roger cut cake for everybody.
We left at about 9 o'clock. The temperature had risen - at one point on the journey home it was even plus 4 degrees.
Home exhausted by 11 o'clock.
There are many more photos than this. I hope perhaps Roger and Sue have had a chance to see the 47 that are on facebook.
We could send a disc.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

 

Welcome to our Christmas Dinner

Join us for a Christmas dinner.
It has been a peaceful day - which has included some dozing.


This was our turkey joint, with stuffing and bacon.

Some might be appalled at my potato roasting pan.
It has been providing us with delicious roast potatoes for over 45 years now - and they seem to get better the longer the tin keeps going.


Obviously the turkey was easy to carve and there is plenty left for at least a couple more days.

Let's be honest we don't normally bother with eating meals at the table - not now there is just 2 of us.
But we dressed the table today and it made a change - still managed to throw gravy all down my blouse!


Cheers Bill!
The vegetables were sprouts, carrots and swede and with the potatoes were honey glazed parsnips.




On with some gravy.


The happy couple.


Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all family and friends.
I have a Christmas pudding. I decided that 6 minutes in the microwave would be a lot more suitable than 90 minutes being boiled.
In the event we didn't cook it at all - we just couldn't eat any more.
So our bargain Harvey Nicholls Christmas pudding (one pound 50) waits for another day - or even another Christmas.
We have eaten very little more since our 3 o'clock dinner.
I had a small cake - that's all.
Obviously we have chatted with our sons - also enjoying a Christmas with just their own families.
Jamie took his family to the Beach Bar - yes, I could have really enjoyed that. They had chicken with cashew nuts amongst other things - I do love that meal.
Ashley and his family, like us, were looking forward to the Dr Who Christmas special. They had beef today.
Hope your day, even if you are not a celebrator of Christmas has been all you would wish for.

Friday, December 24, 2010

 

Christmas Eve 2010

I started our Christmas Eve activities not knowing what the day would bring.
Our plan was to deliver a Christmas cyclamen plant to some neighbours, old friends and family.
There were not very many - it could have been a very short day.
But, it was ten hours after we started out this morning that we finally returned home - and still had some Christmas cyclamen plants!
The people we visited were mostly at home and invited us in.
We have enjoyed cups of tea and chat with all sorts of people.
We have been with our neighbours, Rose, Frieda and Isobel and delivered a plant at the house of our neighbours Colin and Lisa.
We were a couple of hours with Rose. We tried to explain to Frieda about the easiest way for her to control her heating. I used Isobel's computer to find her an accurate conversion of a Gas Mark temperature to a centigrade oven temperature.
We popped into home for a half hour - another cup of tea and a little something.
Then we went to see Den and Ru - Mr and Mrs Sayers as they were known when Bill was young and growing up in the house next door.
They are now in their 80s.
We don't see them very often really.
Another cup of tea was enjoyed.
As we left we were able to chat with the family who have very recently moved in at No 14 - Bill's old home. There are 5 children in the family and it was lovely to see a large gathering of children at the front door - almost like the old days when a family with 10 children were the occupants of the house.
It was by this time close to 5 o'clock - we could see that there would not be enough hours in the day for all that was planned.
We decided to go and see Bill's brother Michael and his wife, Bev.
We were admirably entertained and we chatted for ages.
I spoke with Bill and mentioned that perhaps we would abandon ideas of cooking anything this evening.
At this point, Bev suggested that we stayed together and get a Chinese take away.
So off went brother, Michael and our nephew, Michael to join the queue of others with similar ideas.
Wine was opened.
It was a lovely evening - spontaneous and good.
I know it helped Bev unwind.

We actually came home with more than we took out.
Young Michael is a dab hand at finding things in the work's skip. Bev was keen to get rid of an unneeded office chair.
Other things he has "found" have been kept.
Now we have the office chair - and it might fit in front of Bill's computer.
If it is not suitable I am sure we can find a good home for it.
We also have cat food - their cats refused to eat one sort they had bought. Harry has tucked in very well to his first meal of it.

I reckon this has been a good Christmas Eve.
It is has felt fun and friendly and we have felt at ease being ourselves.
It feels so much better for me to be able to throw myself into Christmas present and ignore all the pulls of Christmases past.

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.
I hope that tomorrow and subsequent days feel good, peaceful and contented.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

 

Dorking on the day before Christmas Eve.

Today has been a lovely day - just the sort that I like.
Breakfast was late again - but why worry?

We got ourselves ready and drove to Dorking.
Firstly we needed to do some food shopping - that elusive beef wellington remained elusive.
Waitrose - the Dorking branch is just a small store - was, of course, quite crowded.
But certainly there were no ready prepared beef wellingtons.
So that treat will be part of 2011 at some point - beautiful fillet steak and pate wrapped up in a golden puff pastry.

Therefore, amongst the crowds we had to change plans - turkey is now on the Christmas Day menu. We have a large crown of turkey breast rolled round some lovely looking stuffing and wrapped in bacon.
Mmmm! Roll on Christmas Day!

But first there was today's lunch to consider. Our venue was The Spotted Dog - a simple, basic pub in South Street.
Bill ordered steak with a bacon and brie crust, which looked good.
But I had been savouring another jacket potato with coconut and mild chilli prawns.
It was really good.
We sat by the window between a roaring open fire and the radiator.



Dorking is blessed with a wide range of small independent shops. We passed really only a few, but most had superbly decorated Christmas windows.

Bill took some photos.

We called in at the shoe repairers because Bill needed some shoe laces.





This one was taken from within The Spotted Dog.


And here is the same Father Christmas watching the world go by.


This was part of the nativity scene in another shop window.
It is impossible to avoid reflections.
I loved that donkey.


A tree in a very good independent little stationers shop.

Easy for this shop which deals in fancy dress items.

And now back into West Street.

Simplicity amongst the shoes.
Shoes that I would not - could not - ever consider wearing and most definitely would not pay the price for.
Enlarge the picture and shock yourself!



And back to Pilgrims Antiques Centre.
Yes, that's me inside!





Bill couldn't resist the train set in the window of James Roberts, opposite Pilgrims.

We then spent a busy couple of hours in Pilgrims helping Jill and Hilary and laughing a lot.
Today has been a very good day for sales.
One couple came in and obviously thought that their Christmas dinner table could be better dressed and spent £150 on a dinner service, being sold by Jonathon. That took some wrapping.
Monika came in too later in the afternoon.
It was so good to be busy and with people we share our lives with.
One more day to now. We have deliveries to make tomorrow - the small gifts we want to give to those we can in our own neighbourhood.
It could be a quick process or it could take all day - depends who is at home and who invites us in.

Hope last minute preparations, big or small, feel good for you.

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