Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Cards I Like to Make

Hope everyone had a good Christmas. Ours was good but not quite as planned. Our son was over both Christmas Day and Boxing Day when he and I managed to fit in our traditional game of Scrabble - he won on both days! Janie and family were set to come over for Boxing Day but Oliver and his Dad were sick so Janie drove over with Rebekah for lunch but did not stay the day, wanting to get back to the family. It was unavoidable but such a disappointment not to see Oliver over Christmas, especially as Janie is back to work on the 4th, her maternity leave having ended, which obviously means there is not the opportunity to see the Grandchildren so much.

So what does one do between Christmas and New Year? My intention, yet again, was to do lots of 'house keeping' on both my computer and blog. Have I begun yet - no! Have I had the long walk planned for every day - no! We began on the two days immediately after Boxing Day with two really good walks but the weather deteriorated into constant torrential rain which has cramped our style somewhat as rain and COLD together is not conducive to walking. What I have managed to do apart from getting up late is make some greetings cards.

This one I made for my 90 year old neighbour. I think she must have been celebrating too much as later in the day she was screaming down the phone and laughing and giggling that it was the best card she had ever seen!

This one for a friend who has undergone extremely invasive back surgery over the Christmas period and is at present in constant excruciating pain.

The rest for birthday or anniversary celebrations

Instead of getting distracted with numerous other things I now plan to at least do some housekeeping on my blog - a new blog roll for a start and then maybe get to begin with the sorting and filing of masses of files and photos. I wonder if anyone remembers that this was a task I set myself last January - I am trying to forget that!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Our Golden Wedding Celebrations

Just a few non-too invasive photos of our Golden Wedding celebration. Considering so many people over the last couple of weeks had been ill with colds, flu, bugs (I have never known a winter like it)and the treacherous road conditions of snow and ice, all our guests made it to the party - 40 in all.

Our daughter Jane organised and planned everything and she and our son Peter ( with a little help from a couple of friends) prepared everything on the day. Peter and Jane also paid for all of it. We were also blessed to have the on-line food delivery arrive on time as due to the weather there were cancellations.So thank you so much Jane and Peter - you are stars!

Having decorated the house the food preparation began. As guests arrived there were delicious minature finger foods like Brie and Cranberry Filo parcels, Beef Wellingtons, Shepherds Pies and more. The main meal was a delicious buffet followed by minature deserts. Chocolate cups filled with various creams and fresh fruits, Pastry Spoons filled with same, and Cranberry, Almond and Fruit tarts. Later in the evening there was Champagne and Wedding cake.

Oliver who had never stayed up late before thoroughly enjoyed himself being the 'doorman', opening the front door for each guest. As each group of guests arrived he would run to me and say 'Grandma, you have more friends' which eventually turned into 'Grandma, you have lots of friends'. After the speeches there were lots of 'fire cracker poppers' after which Oliver came to me with some concern and said, 'Grandma, the people have made a big mess'. Eleven PM found him with a dustpan and brush having great fun clearing some of it up.

We received some nice presents (not something we had expected)but will mention just two. A number of local friends had collected together and gave us a voucher to stay in our favourite hotel on the beach in Aldeburgh. Looking forward to going sometime in the Spring as at present the whole place is being refurbished so that is an added bonus. We also received a voucher for high tea for two at a very nice Christian restaurant in the countryside. Another fun gift was a 'Golden Wedding' rose bush.

Here we are attempting to cut the cake alongside photos of our original wedding cake and our 40th anniversary cake.

Alan seen here giving his speech

I'm recounting how I first met Alan and how we spent our first year on a ship at sea, to the amusement of everyone

The toast

The card I made for Alan

The following day we had our House Church Christmas party followed by Carol Singing in the neighbourhood (last post) then as the snow began to thaw we had a very heavy overnight frost and we woke to a frozen wonderland seen here in the garden.

I had thought that our time between our anniversary and Christmas was going to be quite quiet and uneventful but that was not so. As the weather deteriorated even further it made everything an effort and there were elderly neighbours to help out. There was so much disruption everywhere. Shopping entailed long queues to get into car parks and then difficulty finding a space followed by slipping and sliding everywhere. Yesterday we had torrential rain which froze immediately it hit the ground so it felt like we were walking on an ice rink. Snow is nice but a mixture of snow, frost and ice and rain is not. The authorities did their best but the weather kept catching up with them. I also found it difficult to get into the Christmas mode having been so taken up with our anniversary. My tree did not go up until last evening, the 23rd.

Frost has a completely different look to the snow

Shrubs outlined in frost

Nearly there. Looking forward to having our son spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day when Jane and family will be joining us too. It's her in-laws turn for Christmas Day this year. I'll take the opportunity to wish all my readers and blogging friends a Very Happy Christmas and a Very Blessed New Year. I'm planning to visit everyone over the holidays.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Santa Came Carol Singing

"Snow has fallen snow on snow"! Conditions treacherous with heavy snow, sheets of ice after slight thaw, more snow on top, more ice, snow, freezing fog. Travelling chaos, four London airports closed, with Heathrow cancelling all but long haul. Eurostar cancelled after 5 trains were stranded under the channel for a night (variation in temperatures between below freezing and warm air in the tunnel), normal network trains cancelled or delayed, cars abandoned in places, A & E departments overloaded in some places due to the number of breakages and fractures in people slipping on ice. Chaos at the ferry terminals as people try to catch ferries to Continental Europe instead. All in all, not a good time to be travelling.

Fortunatly we have no reason to travel but are still very aware of the difficulties some people have found themselves in, particularly those travelling with children. Yesterday found us close to home, first at our house church Christmas party where Alan was Santa again. The young children did not seem to mind that his robe was being used by the carol singing Santa and accepted that sometimes he may just turn up in his grey shirt!

After the party it was quick change into thermals and woollens etc to go carol singing in our neighbourhood. The snow here does not look much but it is solid ice.

We do not collect money but hand out gifts of chocolate to all the children that come to their front doors.

All in all people were very appreciative and expressed their joy saying how much they missed hearing carol singers these days. By the time we had finished most people were glad to be invited into the home of one of the carol singing families to enjoy some warmth along with mulled wine.
Golden Wedding post yet to come

Thursday, 17 December 2009

One of Those Weeks

It began with the installation of this nice white shiny sink. Sixteen years ago when installing a new kitchen we chose a dark brown sink. All the rage at the time. One of the worst things we ever bought. They very quickly have the ability to never look clean, so I was thrilled to at last be able to have this new one installed.

We were also fortunate in being able to have a new 'set top box' installed for the television which gives us lots of programmes in high definition. Like this most of course for the nature and wild life programmes.

I finished making my Christmas cards - every year I say I will start in the Summer but never do, always last minute. (Don't know why the photo looks blotchy because the cards certainly do not)
I have not had a cold in several years but the very week I did not want one, I developed one, and a nasty one at that. I had to miss our Christmas Quiz night, church and the making up of the Christmas hampers that we give out to needy people in the neighbourhood.
I did however manage to get to Pilgrims Hall Christmas meal. We were doing something different this year and putting on a buffet for all the helpers and counselors, along with the team and trustees.
The week will end with our Golden Wedding Saturday, House church Christmas party and carol singing in the neighbourhood on Sunday. We have severe weather forecast with heavy snow which could add to the ambience of the carol singing very much. Alan was asked if he would play his trumpet but he has neglected practicing recently so no trumpet, just guitars. Hope their hands don't freeze in the icy weather and snow.
Next week in the lead up to Christmas should be quite quiet and restful so there should be time to post on events.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Queen Victoria and our Modern Christmas

Kate Williams writing in the Mail on Sunday today.

The article was part of a write up on the upcoming Christmas edition of the TV series 'Cranford' written by Elizabeth Gaskell. The Christmas traditions that Gaskell praised were invented in her lifetime. At the time of her birth in 1810, the day was hardly observed and cards and gifts were not exchanged.

After their marriage in 1840, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who came from Germany, began celebrating Christmas in the German style - with a rich meal, a decorated tree and garlands of holly around the house. Their subjects followed suit.By the middle of the century, families had a fir tree in their parlour, adorned with dried fruits, gingerbread and glass ornaments.

In 1843 Sir Henry Cole, weary of greetings letters, decided to create a seasonal card. His idea caught on and in 1880 more than 11 million Christmas cards were sent.

On December 25th, after a church service, Victorian families dined on goose or roast beef. For dessert, they tucked into plum pudding stuffed with silver coins.

In the evening, there were parlour games and carol singing, with roasted chestnuts and perhaps mulled wine for the adults.Until Santa Claus became fashionable in the 1870's, children received gifts from their parents, dolls, clockwork toys and books.

The luckiest children had Christmas crackers, invented by confectioner Tom Smith in 1847, after his crackling fire inspired him to combine wrapped sweets with a popping sound.

Even the poor celebrated, eating a meat pie, building a fire for the evening and exchanging cheap gifts such as hand carved toys or nuts.

By the time Gaskell died in 1865, the Christmas traditions we know today had become firmly entrenched in British culture.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

On The Ocean

In going through 50 years of photographs for a slide show to show at our Golden wedding I came across many that would be fun to post over time. Here I begin with photographs of my first year of married life, at sea with my husband, sailing up and down the Eastern Seaboard of Canada, America and Mexico, sailing to many ports on the way. Just a random few and quality not too great as they have been scanned from old transparencies.

The full ecstasies and agonies of this trip are told in a chapter of 'My Story', found by clicking on same in the right hand sidebar under 'labels'.

Yes I am steering the ship - but not for long!

Sailing past The Bahamas

The Mexican Gulf

Lifeboats were good for sunbathing!

On the beach in Mexico

Dolphins love to dive ahead of the ship

Taking a noon time sight of the sun - for navigation

The Queen Mary passing us on it's way into New York Harbour

The tranquility of Nova Scotia

These are the aunt and uncle of the second mate on the ship who lived in White Plains, New York State. When they heard that there was a lady on the ship they invited us to stay with them every time we docked in New York. No sweat shirts and fleeces in those days - suits and suits only!

Linda on the right was the daughter of the ship's agent and her friend on the left. They travelled from Halifax to spend some time with me.

We swam regularly in a disused quarry in Nova Scotia

Mississippi river boat

Yours truly with the second mate and his aunt

Seaplane gas station on the Mississippi

So much time spent gazing ahead (until the camera showed up!) Beleive me the sea was not always this calm, especially when there were hurricanes around!

Beautiful Fall in Nova Scotia but unfortunately faded in the ancient photo

The husband, Alan who was Chief Engineer on the ship. Alan had always been on large oil tankers but when I met him he was again at college studying for 9 months. In order to earn some money when we got married he took a posting on a small cargo ship.

The ship high and dry in the Bay of Fundi where the tide goes out for 3 miles.

This is a very small cargo ship and it would be hard to describe what it was like being 'hoved to' in the middle of the Atlantic in the worst weather Alan had ever experienced in 9 years. It took us 3 weeks to cross the Atlantic from the East of England, then around the Northern tip of Scotland to Nova Scotia.