I Was Swallowed By A Hippo

Castle life, Aga strife, slummy mummy, average wife

Post Match Analysis

Christmas 2013 is already a distant memory of bubbly and presents and sprouts and pudding and my first ever turkey which, after weeks of worry and panic and dread and fear was actually really delicious and not “dry as old Harry”*, in the slightest. It was a wonderful day and I’m quite sad it’s all over. We are still eating the turkey, of course and the (fake**) tree is still up but people keep leaving and soon there will be no tolerant relatives left to amuse the children. I might have to start interacting with them again. They particularly miss my dad who, over the course of a week, was cajoled into being a dog, Joseph, ‘baby Olivia’s daddy’, a hospital patient and a donkey. They are also missing morning cuddles with granny, as am I. How I enjoyed shoving them through that bedroom door at silly o’clock whilst I snatched another hour of precious sleep. I also managed to avoid the dreaded ‘bathtime’ for five nights thanks to fabulous auntie Ya Ya, which gave me plenty of quality time with mum to argue about pineapples.


The main event

I have bonded with the Aga again after my triumphant turkey and graciously forgiven it over the burnt croissant and Parmesan biscuit incidents on Christmas Day. It really was pretty easy and not at all stressful. I put my trust in Mary Berry and she didn’t let me down. The operation began on Christmas Eve, whilst other family members enjoyed a late night church service or the Two Ronnies Christmas Special. After stuffing the poor bird up to the gunnels with whatever was to hand, I slathered it in butter, coated it in bacon and blasted it in the top oven for half an hour. It’s ordeal continued in the lower, cooler oven, where it sat, encased in tin foil, for a further 13 hours, totally oblivious to the Santa-induced carnage going on elsewhere. I released the traumatised bird from its torrid prison a couple of hours before lunch and left it to rest whilst I got drunk on prosecco and made the gravy. My epic turkey was eventually put out of its misery by my father-in-law and his expert carving skills and was laid to rest on all our plates beside it’s festive chums, the sprouts, the roasties, the bread sauce and the cranberry. Delicious.

The rest of the day is a merry blur of bramble wine, Christmas pud, charades, chocolate, Toy Story, and snoozing. I vaguely remember the Queen’s speech although I may be getting confused with an episode of Peppa Pig. I wish it could be Christmas every day.***

* ©Granny (1912-2013). We never found out who poor old Harry was.
**I don’t want to talk about it
***I really don’t


Santa: nil, Baby Jesus: 1


Wise men and glitter fun

The turkey has been ordered, the Christmas cards are on their way around the world and the staircase has been garlanded.  There is still a big Christmas tree-sized hole in the hall but I’m trying not to nag Niall about it, even though this is his ONLY pre-Christmas task whilst I have written 150 Christmas cards, bought and wrapped all the presents (including my own from him), stressed myself silly about turkey and engaged the children in countless Christmas crafts involving glitter. I might allow myself a small nag*.

We have had several encounters with “Santa” this week, with varying degrees of delight and horror. India, aged 2, is justifiably terrified of the white bearded figure in red who has been popping up all over the place, and worst of all, at playgroup. The mere sight of him entering the hall, sack in hand, induced prolonged hysterics which would not even be stemmed by a present. She can not be bought. Her big sister faired slightly better in that she willingly accepted the gift but insisted on a go-between (me) and refused to make eye contact with the jolly fellow. Weirdly though, they both seem comfortable with the idea that he is going to enter the house on Christmas Eve via the chimney, scoff a mince pie, leave some gifts then bugger-off to re-join his sleigh and flying reindeer he left on the roof.

I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about the whole Santa-lie that we are forced to perpetuate, year on year until some cheeky gob-shite at school blurts out the fateful words, “it’s just your mum and dad”**. I hate the commercialism of Christmas that Santa reinforces and have started my own campaign to drill home the true meaning. The children love the nativity story and baby Jesus gets a lot of air time around here. Last year Zoë and I cuddled up to watch a film of the Christmas story, complete with circumcision, a traumatic birth scene and a gruesome beheading. It was screened a 2pm so I assumed it would be suitable for a nearly-3 year old. She thoroughly enjoyed it though so I’m hoping it will be on again.

The Christmas activities really snowball*** this week with the pinnacle being the school concert, complete with the nursery nativity and rendition of Five Tubby Snowmen. Zoë is playing an angel and I predict that I will be in pieces, either with laughter or tears or perhaps both. Term ends on Friday and then the excitement will really start to build. I mean my own, of course and I hope I won’t be burned out by the 25th and be too knackered to enjoy it. I will perhaps slow down with the glitter activities and focus on more important tasks such as getting the sprouts on and decorating the tree*.

Ten more sleeps!!!

**in my case it was my big sister. I can still recall the brief devastation followed by reluctant acceptance.
***see what I did there…


Seasonal Blackmail

My every waking moment continues to be occupied with all things Christmassy and I can’t help but wonder, what did I do before, when I wasn’t drying oranges, making play-dough stars, crocheting snowflakes or playing God with my Christmas card list? I’m starting to dread January, when there will be NOTHING TO DO. I’m so ahead of myself that my clothes are already too tight and the gluttony hasn’t even begun. Having said that, I STILL haven’t ordered the bloody turkey…


Blatant child exploitation

The biggest tick off my Xmas to-do list was our Christmas card which is now one of those traditions that must be upheld, come hell or high water. It began, innocently enough, when our first-born was a baby and we thought how cute it would be to stick a tea-towel on her head and snap her surrounded by toy sheep, dressed as a biblical shepherd. People LOVED it and it stayed on many a mantelpiece well into the spring. The following year we upped our game with the convenient arrival of our second daughter who was type-cast to play baby Jesus. With the addition of a few tin-foil props and some shoddy PhotoShop(tm) effects we triumphed once more and there was no going back. As they are still little and not yet jaded or cynical, it’s relatively easy to get the children to play along but I realise that eventually they will rebel and refuse to be part of this shameless act of child exploitation. I think we have another two years, maximum. I am delighted with this year’s effort though, and for the first time we’ve splashed out and had it properly printed. This means no blank card and pritt stick marathon for me which will free up at least three evenings to thread up my dried oranges and hang the paper chains.

The children are almost enjoying the preparations as much as me and are just young enough not to be demanding of every toy in the Tesco Gift Guide but still old enough to properly enjoy all the glittery, crafty homemade stuff (when my blood pressure is low enough for me to let them join in….). They are also at that truly wonderful stage where they respond brilliantly to Christmas blackmail. I have been shamelessly wielding the threat of Santa not coming and disallowing advent sweets for petty misdemeanours. Behavior has been transformed and mealtimes are almost bearable. This is another reason to dread the new year. It’s a long wait til the Easter bunny and I don’t think he has the same clout.

In other, non-festive news, we have waved off our last lot of WWOOFers, I have successfully catered a lunch for 22 people and best of all, I have become a Guest Blogger! Happy days.