I Was Swallowed By A Hippo

Castle life, Aga strife, slummy mummy, average wife

Nemesis

We are branching out into weddings this year which is a Very Exciting Development for us. The old place lends itself perfectly to small, intimate ceremonies and it’s amazing how good it looks once a few truck loads of toys have been cleared away.

Practically minimalist. By Channel 4's standards.

Practically minimalist. By Channel 4’s standards.

This venture has also forced us to clear out the dreaded Billiard Room which has been used for decades as a dumping ground store room for things-that-no-longer-serve-a-purpose-but-you-just-never-know-so-best-keep-it-just-in-case. We got excited a few months back when Channel Four got in touch regarding a documentary they were planning to about helping poor unfortunate castle-dwelling folk de-clutter their vast spaces. It was all looking very promising but sadly we were ultimately rejected as the room was bizarrely deemed to be not enough of a shit-hole for them.

Empty Room

It’s just screaming, ‘roller-rink’ at me.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, that room is now completely empty thanks to a sterling effort from my husband and father-in-law. I am particularly proud of the latter who after much gentle persuasion, managed to throw out a mountain of 40yr old paperwork, 3 boxes of video tapes (the kids were all like, WTF are THOSE??) and several redundant vacuum cleaner parts . The rest of the crap has been rammed into two upstairs rooms to be dealt with later, ideally by another documentary team. (Come ON Channel 4 – we’d make great telly).

I got a bit above myself at a meeting with the chef (who incidentally is also the nurse, the school bus driver, a mother of four and a farmers wife, which is a career in itself. She makes Miss Rabbit from Peppa Pig* look like Waynetta Slob.), and found myself volunteering to make a dessert for the wedding feast. I chose a Chocolate Nemesis which I vaguely recall making years ago in a previous incarnation as a cafe worker in Edinburgh.

chocolate nemesis slice

Picture stolen from internet but mine wasn’t far off this tbh.

Luckily I had the foresight to do a practice version as the helpful world wide web informed me that it, “famously never works” and was the “the ruin of a million mid-Nineties dinner parties”.

There are only 4 ingredients but you need a bloody truckload of each:

  • 675g dark chocolate
  • 10 eggs
  • 425g sugar
  • 675g butter

My practice version involved a mercy-dash to a neighbour for eggs and chucking in a bit of cheapo cooking chocolate as I’d underestimated the dark chocolate situation.

It’s pretty easy:

  • Melt butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water
  • Beat eggs and sugar in a 40yr old Kenwood blender, keeping an eye on 3yr old child who has a tendency to add random items to the bowl**
  • Slowly fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs mixture and pour into a lined 27″ spring form cake tin. This sits in a Bain Marie of water.
  • Panic when you realise the top of the Aga is too hot and the bottom oven is too cool.
  • Have a “fuck it” moment and leave the bastard thing in the bottom oven all night
  • Retrieve it in the morning and, as you remove from the tin, marvel at how clever you are to produce such an amazing looking  ‘notoriously difficult’ dessert.
  • Two hours later, curse yourself for not putting the twatting thing in the fridge as it collapses in a gooey heap on the plate, and your kitchen begins to resemble that scene in Trainspotting when Spud tries to conceal a nasty accident***
  • Hurriedly scoop it into ramekins then belatedly leave in fridge to set before distributing to in-laws and neighbours
  • Collapse into sugar/cocoa coma as you realise you’ve ‘accidentally’ ingested at least half of it.

Simples. It was all alright on the night, luckily, as I remembered to do the fridge thing and plates came back satisfyingly empty.

UPDATE: Have literally just this minute retrieved another one from the Aga for today’s wedding and it’s all looking good. I think this could really become a thing. Nevermind the documentaries (that aren’t happening), get me my own cookery show.

 

 

 

 

*if you are hitherto blissfully unaware of the heinous Peppa Pig franchise, you are a lucky, lucky bastard.

**I was making a pavlova and turned my back for 30 seconds. The Kenwood started emitting a hideous clunking sound and the 3yr old was looking a tad sheepish. I retrieved a 3″ screw from my fluffy mixture.

***Don’t google it.

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Full House

Essential items for a weekend in the country

Essential items for a weekend in the country

We are bursting at the seams this weekend after the the staggered arrivals of every member of my immediate family, including the New York contingent with my brand new baby niece. I have been beside myself with excitement all week as well as stressed up to my eye balls planning meals, baking cakes and making beds. Hell, I even dusted.

There was a momentary panic mid-week when I realised I already had a 3 week old pineapple so that when my mother inevitably produced one from her selection of cool bags there would be two of the bloody things decomposing in the fruit bowl. Luckily it was a play group day so I hacked the thing to pieces, cleaned off the bloody bits (this is why I don’t buy pineapples – lethal things) and served it up to flabbergasted children who failed to hide their disgust. “WHERE ARE OUR TWATTING JAFFA CAKES????” they shrieked as we mums dodged pineapple missiles from behind our tea cups.

My parents duly arrived with enough Prossecco  to float the titanic (AND a pineapple, of course, plus seven avocados), followed a day later by my big sister, her gorgeous new fiancé and her fabulously sparkly new engagement ring that was wafted subtly in our faces at every opportunity. Tense negotiations were conducted in the drawing room regarding the wedding plans as bride and groom went head to head with the financial backers (mum and dad). Having been through this ourselves, my husband and I nervously paced the floor outside, waiting for raised voices, profanities and/or tears. Sadly there were none of the above and the date and venue were duely booked without even a mention of catastrophic landslides or fruit kebabs. (Don’t even ask.)

The U.S. faction arrived the following day and the family reunion was complete. It was wonderful to be together again and we had plenty to celebrate – the engagement, several birthdays and most importantly of all, the birth of beautiful baby Harper Hero who didn’t mind at all being passed from cooing aunties to doting granny as well as random unrelated inlaws and broody friends of mine.

This occurred

This occurred

They are ensconced in the holiday flat downstairs for a whole week which is fabulous. Lots of head-sniffing (of the baby) is occurring as well as blatant kidnapping of her older sister who loves spending time upstairs with her ‘big’ cousins. I have them all to myself as mum and dad departed earlier in the week (with the pineapple) as did my loved-up big sister, although her wedding continues to be the main topic of conversation.

After the successful negotiations with our parents, it looked as though her biggest issue would be keeping the peace between her ugly sisters as we fought over who will be chief bridesmaid. Luckily for her, after several hours in the outdoor sauna, interspersed with some ice-cold plunging, we were sufficiently bonded to call a truce and will be walking down the aisle as equals, although one will be a significantly shorter and fatter equal. My bad.

I’m trying not to focus on the tearful departure and being separated from my gorgeous nieces. It won’t be for long as the wedding of the decade will bring us back together again in a few months and in the meantime, there will be hours of Transatlantic FaceTime spent fighting over peach or purple taffeta dresses. Meringue anyone?

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Farewell 2014

Me on Christmas Day

Me on Christmas Day

Christmas was wonderful although already it’s a distant memory of over-indulgence, Downton Abbey’s tortuous Christmas special and an epic two-hour Playmobil assembly session (hungover) that began at 5.30am.

We are now back home and preparing for the next Big Event of over-indulgence (but thankfully NOT Downton or Playmobil) – Hogmanay. We are hosting again this year as its easier with the kids and is a great excuse to use the posh room*. Also, there is the welcome bonus of being inundated with kind offerings of booze which kept us going until spring time last year.

As I fret over smoked salmon blinis (I think that plan will be shelved as I’m not entirely sure what they are) and Parmesan biscuits, I’m trying to steal some moments to reflect back on the past year.

Thank heavens then for Facebook’s clever ‘Year in Review’ feature as my memory seems to stop at two weeks ago. My vague recollections were duly confirmed: it was a bloody great year. The pictures, randomly selected by the algorithm, perfectly displayed a year of precious moments with friends, family, the kids, the puppy and an enormous catfish (WTF Facebook?). I couldn’t help thinking that something was missing though, that it was all a bit rose-tinted, and frankly, vomit-inducing so I turned instead to my status updates which gave a much more honest view of 2014.

Here are some of my favourites:

fb7fbfebturdfb3fb2fbjulyfb4fbdec2

I’m not going to bother with resolutions for 2015 as I failed miserably at last years  (dust regularily?? Was I on drugs??) but I can only wish for more of the same happy, special moments, although I can live without the gigantic catfish, if I’m honest. See you next year!

*i.e. the only one that hasn’t been trashed by the kids. Yet.

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Puddings and Panto

When shall we three meet again? Next week for wreath making of course!

When shall we three meet again? Next week for wreath making of course!

The Christmas Countdown is ON and I can already tick Christmas puddings off my festive to-do list. A lovely morning was spent with two pals, pooling our ingredients, weighing, measuring and blatantly guessing before chucking it all in a giant toy tub (sterilised) before taking turns at stirring. I stayed faithful to Delia as she’s never let me down before but we doubled the recipe as we were aiming for four puddings. Stirring help was drafted in from the Inlaws downstairs and auntie and uncle from across the way and everyone had a wish or two. It was very special and reminiscent of the times I used to make the puddings with my granny. We’d always have a stir, then a wish then a wee kiss and a hug.

They smell a lot nicer than they look

They smell a lot nicer than they look

We made four puds altogether which were cooked in two batches in the Aga and the kitchen smelled Christmassy for days. The cooked puds have now been parcelled up in foil and distributed accordingly. I’ve stashed our own one in a cool cupboard in the dining room where it will no doubt sit, forgotten all about for decades until my grandchildren unearth it in a clear out in 2045. A wee reminder nearer the time would be appreciated.

Nothing says Christmas like upcycled blankets and crochet balls.

Nothing says Christmas like upcycled blankets and crochet balls.

Homemade decorations have also been achieved along with several hand crafted presents for some unlucky recipients (I can almost hear the audible mutterings of “why can’t she just go to Lush?”). The reason for this crafty flurry is that our youngest now goes to nursery five mornings a week allowing me three whole hours of festive-fannying-around-time. It’s sheer bliss and I intend to enjoy every second until I am forced back in to work by my husband who keeps subtly hinting that whilst my woolly stars are very nice and everything, they won’t mend the leaking roof or load the boiler.

This. Sort of.

This. Sort of.

As if I didn’t have enough to do with unfinished, mediocre crafts, I only went and got myself involved with the local pantomime which is being directed by Martin Scorsese my mother-in-law. Due to my almost global (3-mile radius) reputation as a kid’s face painter, she asked very nicely if I’d do the make up for the production of Dick Whittington. Of course I jumped at the chance – chiefly because it gets me out of the kids’ gruelling bedtime routine (which is, in itself, a pantomime) for three nights.

Curtain up was last night and the smell of the grease paint and roar of the crowds* will stay with me forever (well, give it a couple of days). I am watching the matinee today with the kids and am hoping the littlest one won’t have an epic freak-out when she sees Grandpa prancing around the stage dressed as a giant rat. As a precaution, I have volunteers on hand to escort her off the premises because as we thespians say, the show must go on.

*this is a small village. It’s all relative.

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Muddy Puddles

It’s my favourite time of year again already – the clocks have changed, the days are shorter, everything is a little bit soggy (and that’s just inside) and my ironing pile is dwindling by the day as bookings finally start to slow down.

4  years with no sleep is starting to take it's toll

4 years with no sleep is starting to take it’s toll

On the social front, however, this time of year seems to have the most going on of all the seasons as numerous events provide excellent excuses for a party. Halloween kicks it all off and great fun was had (by me) carving pumpkins, face-painting witches and vampires and baking sundry ghoulish items for the playgroup party. We even managed some guising this year as the kids are a wee bit older – downstairs to granny and grandpa and across the lawn to Aunty Carol’s. Zoe’s well rehearsed joke* earned her yet more sweets to add to the enormous haul she’d brought home from school, blatantly undermining the patronising A4 leaflet we’d been handed recently about healthy snacks.

Sugar levels were still fairly catastrophic for the next big event a few days later – our youngest’s third birthday party.  Learning from previous experiences, I did things slightly differently this year and served alcohol. Not to the kids obviously, but as the grown-ups considerably out-numbered the little ones, I thought it was only right. It certainly took the edge off it. When pass-the-parcel descended into the usual hysterical chaos (and that was just the winner) we just knocked back some more prossecco and topped up our glasses.

Chuffed with this effort

I’m improving

I wasn’t really planning on a theme and my heart sank slightly when India demanded a Peppa Pig cake but a quick search on Pinterest (at 3am, thank you insommnia) revealed some less challenging options. Basically a round chocolate cake with some plastic figures stuck on it, surrounded by chocolate fingers. Easy peasy. I decided to continue the theme with some of the games and laboured for hours on a papiér mache Peppa Pig piñata. It was a work of art but then I decided I couldn’t bear to watch the little ones bash the crap out of it so I turned it into a treasure hunt instead. We also had musical muddy puddles and pin the glasses on daddy pig, but to be honest by then we’d all drunk far too much and forgot to actually play them. The kids went home happy and the mums were driven home tipsy so all in all it was a huge success. By the time her actual birthday came around two days later, even India herself was a bit over it and squawked, “why am I STILL getting presents???”. Quite.

"Isn't that Bubba's favourite chair???"

“Isn’t that Bubba’s favourite chair???”

An estate bonfire party concluded the celebrations and was a lovely occasion to gather everyone together for the first time in ages. And more importantly a chance to rid the castle of some lingering items belonging to the in-laws. Luckily it was dark when they arrived so my dear old father-in-law was blissfully unaware that his eBay rug which had seen many, many better days had been cremated along with other broken pieces of furniture and empty gadget boxes that had long outlived their original contents. I just have to pray that he doesn’t come looking for the box that once contained the analogue portable telly that was scrapped years ago or the three legged chair that succumbed to woodworm in 1986.

Now we are almost midway through November and I think it’s safe to start mentioning the C-word. (Not THAT one, although since my mother used it in a surprise outburst on a family holiday in ’98, it has definitely lost some of its potency). I’m loving the Christmas Countdown twitter feed and my excitement is building by the day. Next week I have a whole day of Christmas pudding making with my ‘Good Life’ chum, Tracey. We’re doubling Delia’s usual recipe so should end up with two large puddings each. Last year it took a team of five just to stir it but was such a wonderful activity to mark the start of festive loveliness and there’s nothing quite like a homemade plum pud on the day.

It’s probably a tad too soon to start hassling Niall about Christmas trees but I’m looking out my festive playlist and will have no qualms about blasting out a bit of Mariah Carey whilst mixing up the pudding. 44 more sleeps!

*”Why was the sand wet? Because the sea weed.” You’re welcome.

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One Year On

Happy.

Happy.

Tomorrow (or three weeks ago by the time I get around to hitting ‘publish’) is/was our one year anniversary of moving in to the castle. It has passed in the blink of an eye as life tends to do so I am feeling very pleased with myself for keeping up this blog, all be it sporadically, so I can see how far we’ve come. The achievements have been many. My husband has successfully installed a bio-mass boiler, refurbished two castle apartments, planted an orchard in the walled garden, installed a wood-burning hot tub and sauna for our guests and held down a full-time consultancy job. I have learned to fold fitted sheets and pick up dog poo without gagging. Big pats on backs all round.

It has taken a year, but I am in a good place with the Aga at the moment – as long as I steer clear of toast and roasted aubergines. I have mastered anything that requires slow cooking, bread and scones. My burns are healing nicely and the scars serve as a helpful reminder to don heat protection gear when retrieving cremated items. I’m definitely getting the hang of it.

I have been warmly welcomed into the snug bosom of the village and have made some fabulous friends who I loved dearly immediately and who keep me sane. The nursery run quickly became a highlight as it offers the opportunity for normal conversation in amongst surreal toddler chit-chat and pretending to be professional on the phone to prospective customers. Occasionally it all gets a bit muddled and I find myself screaming down the phone at a random, “no you can’t have another bloody Jaffa cake” whilst calmly informing two year old India that she can of course hire towels for the small cost of £1 each and dogs are more than welcome. One day she will turn around and shriek, “A POUND??? FOR A FUCKING TOWEL??? Get my twatting Jaffa cake.” I’ll only have myself to blame.

Not much to moan about really.

Not much to moan about really.

I’m very relieved, but not surprised, that the children have embraced rural life so positively. It was the perfect age to uproot them from suburban life, being eighteen months and three and a half. Certainly the little one won’t remember anything from civilisation and the older one has never once demanded to go to a soft play centre or questioned the diminutive numbers in nursery and play group. Standards of grooming plummeted fairly quickly with hair-brushing becoming a non-occurrence and bath-time an occasional event if and when I can be bothered. I clean out the hens more often, if I’m honest. They have a pretty wonderful life really (the kids, but actually, also the hens, come to think of it…). They have dogs and grandparents on tap, their own beach a short (and yet, still whiny) walk away, acres of space to run about in and a steady stream of visiting friends and relatives to play with, as well as their own little local gang. It’s not far off being perfect.

With a year under our belts we are starting to plan new goals for the future and top of the list is expanding our wee family. Fortunately not with a baby, although sometimes in moment of exhaustion-induced madness I think, well I’m getting fuck-all sleep anyway I may as well be up with a newborn. These thoughts are swiftly followed by a self-inflicted slap and what we are actually hoping for is a chocolate Labrador puppy. The girls have even named it and more shockingly, I love their choice. I thought I’d made a huge mistake letting them pick a name, assuming the so far, non-existent pooch would have Peppa Pig for a namesake or something ridiculous like Margaret,  but they came up with the adorable moniker, Crumble which is perfect for a boy or girl and goes very well with his or her New York canine cousin, Pudding. We can’t wait to meet the furry little chap and hopefully won’t have to wait too long. I found pregnancy excruciatingly dull (right up until the drama at 33 weeks and an early appearance from my firstborn) so I’m banking on the puppy process taking a lot less than nine months.

Here’s to the next 12 months and the pitter-patter of tiny paws!

 

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All Work and Some Play

No more galavanting for me for a while. It’s been a blast but lovely to be back at our little hideaway off the map, and, as the holiday season officially begins, time to stop reminiscing about nude male models and hot tubs and GET BACK TO WORK.

hooverThe big news is I have been rewarded with a promotion and have gone from being a mere laundry assistant to actual HEAD of Laundry. I can now fold fitted sheets and everything*. Even more exciting is my new role as Assistant Housekeeper which involves cleaning the holiday cottages on change-over days, under the watchful eyes of Head Housekeeper, Hayley. She is also a very good pal which makes the work most enjoyable and of course I get to dump the kids on their granny for a few hours. Everyone is a winner. Except poor granny perhaps. Who knew cleaning could be so satisfying? I might even try doing it at home, instead of merely spraying Pledge(tm) around and leaving the hoover in the middle of the hall so my husband trips over it and thinks, “Ah, Emma must have dusted and hoovered. What a lovely wife I have who takes such pride in our wonderful home.”

This is also the start of Visitor Season which began in earnest last week with my parents popping down for a few days. Mum arrived with, amongst other food items, her obligatory pineapple which I must confess was very welcome and completely delicious. I felt bad for not giving the Christmas one a chance. The girls immediately found a willing swing-pusher in my dad and he spent several hundred patient hours indulging them. The man is a saint.

tardis

Very wishful thinking

The next batch of guests arrived amidst great excitement and immense fatigue, from New Zealand. Niall’s sister and her three children are over for ‘untle Tenny’s’ wedding in May and are here for nearly five whole weeks. My littlies had never met their antipodean cousins and were beside themselves with anticipation. Their initial refusals to make eye-contact or speak lasted about 12 minutes and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Despite the age gaps and gender divides – they are two boys aged eleven and six and one girl aged nine, the bonding was instant and I’ve hardly seen my girls since they arrived. It’s lovely to witness these life-long friendships blossom and maybe one day there will be a New Zealand trip on the cards for us, when the girls are old enough not to be a total nightmare on a plane for 26 hours.
I live in hope that continental drift will one day shunt it a bit nearer or that some clever person will invent a T.A.R.D.I.S. type craft that can magically transport people to the other side of the world instantly. Failing that though, there’s plenty time to start stockpiling prescription sedatives.

*youTube it. It changed my life

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Goals

All in all, 2013 was a good year. Aside from two huge losses, one slightly expected, the other a devastating shock, lots of wonderful things happened and it ended it exactly where it started, at a party in the castle, with me trying to avoid kissing 50+ people. It’s just NOT hygienic. The big difference this time was that we were hosts rather than guests, which had the surprise benefit of putting me off drinking too much. It was a strange but welcome sensation to wake up on January 1st with a clear head.
I do love a new year. It’s like a second chance to right the wrongs, to pour all your energy into good intentions and draw a line under the previous year’s fails. Naturally, I fully expect things to go to shit by February 1st, but here is a rough breakdown of my goals and expectations for 2014:

No more of this sort of thing.

No more of this sort of thing.

The Aga

  • I will build upon recent successes and host regular dinner parties for family and friends. I will not poison anyone, including myself.
  • I will not walk away and leave toast unattended then blame the Aga for the subsequent charred mess
  • Similarly, I will not leave my ‘moonblush’ tomatoes longer than the necessary 4 hours, and I will definitely not completely forget about them until I put something else in the oven the following day. Ditto decorative chillies, roast aubergines and bacon

Weight

  • I will put an immediate stop to the slippery slope I seem to be on, back to last year’s size. Having done pretty well at managing to shift a stone, it all went wrong after the summer and I’ve regained 9lbs. This is Not On and I will get back on track immediately. Consequently:
    • I will not eat between meals
    • I will not finish entire chocolate oranges/bags of tablet/ selection boxes, in one sitting
    • I will not mix carbohydrates and proteins. (It’s tragic, but it works)

    Hopefully these monumental small sacrifices will result in a slimmer, healthier, more fabulous me, just in time for my fortieth birthday, whereupon I will be comforting eating donuts and drowning my sorrows in Sauvignon Blanc for the rest of the year.

Family Life

  • I will not swear at the children within earshot. Of my husband.
  • I will nurture their creativity and not get stressed when they add onions to cake mixture or paint the furniture.
  • I will not resort to fish fingers more than twice a week
  • I will listen avidly to my husband’s chat about the biomass boiler and aim to understand the general workings of it which I can then share with interested parties, should I encounter any
  • I will listen graciously to my mother’s parental advice and not regress to my teenage self and slam the phone down on her

General

  • I will not neglect the chickens
  • I will read challenging and stimulating novels at bedtime, as opposed to playing Candy Crush relentlessly
  • I will dust regularly
  • I will memorise the family history so I can stop talking bullshit to visitors

I think that’s enough to be going on with. Now pass the carrot sticks and humous. *wails uncontrollably*

Happy New Year!

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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.

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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

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Santa: nil, Baby Jesus: 1

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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!!!

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

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