Monday, 20 December 2010

Malmesbury, the final frontier....

...thanks to my dear friend, S, and an urgent dental appointment for K & H, I cadged a lift to Malmesbury through the snow and the hail.  It was a pleasant trip - the countryside looks lovely at 10 miles an hour and there were hardly any cars on the road.

I spent more in Malmesbury in an hour today than I think I have in the last twelve months and my nearest and dearest have done very well.  I shall shop locally more often but perhaps give myself a couple of visits as my bags were laden and I hadn't worn the right shoes to cope with the slush-covered pavements.

All we need now is Tesco and the turkey to turn up and Christmas will happen.

Do you remember the episode of  'The Good Life' when Christmas didn't come in a van?  I can feel a Margot moment coming on....

Saturday, 18 December 2010

speaking too soon....discuss

Having rambled on yesterday about anxious food shopping, I now find myself looking out onto at least five inches of snow, no prospect of getting to Londinium as planned and several gaping holes in my Christmas shopping.

Is this bad karma or just weather?  When has it ever been like this just before Christmas?  It's normally damp and slightly warm.  It's never arctic and freezing.  It looks pretty though and if I ever get out of my pyjamas I might go for a toddle round and avoid being a snowball target.

Not to worry - good job I bought those frozen sprouts.  I think there might be some chicken thighs in the freezer too. 

Friday, 17 December 2010

snow what?

I have visited several supermarkets this week, exchanging various loyalty points for essential Christmas items such as amaretto, sherry and fine wines (there is a theme, I'm sure you can see it).  The supermarkets are packed.  I have checked opening times for said supermarkets.  Tesco for example closes at 7pm on Christmas Eve and opens again at 10am on Boxing Day, totalling 39 hours. 

There is a palpable aura of frenzy at the chipolata counter and a nervous twitching around the sprouts.  In fact, I'm so twitchy about sprouts, I bought some frozen ones JUST IN CASE.  I had to leave the shop shortly afterwards as JUST IN CASE can be used to rationalise any purchase.  Luckily I was in Sainsbury's, not Jigsaw or Toast.

Christmas Day is a week away.  Is everyone planning to hunker down and stay in the house for over a week?  This, I believe, will cause more trauma if we all pop out on the icy roads.  There are several possible scenarios:

- family A will have had a huge row and no-one will be speaking to each other by the time FC readies the reindeer
- family B will run out of a) wine b) sherry c) wrapping paper and feel inadequately prepared and furies of blame and shame will heap upon the family member who didn't buy enough
- family C will watch so much TV and eat so much quality street that the sofa will break, necessitating a trip to DFS

I know it's snowing heavily in lots of places and I know that everyone wants to have a lovely, lovely Christmas but isn't it time to get a grip - especially in the North of Wiltshire where the BBC's weather forecast says nothing but 'white cloud' for the next three days?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

too much, a little too late....

I have learnt something since going back to college.  I take on too many things at the same time and it is time to stop. 

I won't bore you with the details and it's not as if I'm running a country or an international mega-brand but I have no space in my head or my hands for anything else.  I know that other people seem to manage to spin 1000s of plates and multi-task their way through life but I can't do that without feeling exhausted or grumpy or, worse still, inept as I try to do too many things and end up doing most of them quite badly.

I am determined to spend the next couple of weeks with my family, having a lovely festive time and then it's time to have a think. 

Tonight we're off for a family shopping trip.  I have a list and I'm going to tick it.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

a lovely time was had by all....

...until the red wine hit the cream sofa.

And it was me. 

It was a very slow-moving spillage but a spillage nonetheless.  Our divine hostess, the glorious Dr L, was about to sit to my left.  I moved to my right and before I knew it, my arm had shook/moved and the offending liquid was liberated on to the sofa and also on to my dear friend G's beautiful skirt.

Things moved quickly afterwards.  White wine was tipped, salt was scattered, stain remover found, the coverS (!) were stripped and soaked and the washing machine was on before anyone could say 'I'm glad I/my wife didn't do that'!

My friend and hostess were both very gracious and calm.  I was not.  I think I may have to give up red wine or parties or both.

I am also, as anyone would be, mortified but am pleased to report that I must have done some good in a previous life as the clean and wholesome covers were back on the sofa by 10.30am when I popped over to help with the washing up, apologise profusely and offer to sacrifice my cheque book.  The washing machine gods smiled upon me and all is well.

I imagine any New Years Eve party invitations will suddenly dry up or be addressed to The Worker.  It's going to be a cold and lonely end to 2010!  I think I'll stick to pinot grigio and sit very still in the living room.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

whoops, I did it again...

...I had a flurry of Christmas shopping in November just after a friend told me she'd done all hers, wrapped it, written the Christmas cards and put stamps on them.

Consequently, I now have an incomplete collection of Christmas presents, wrapping and paper and I now need to a) do something with the ones I have b) work out what I haven't done and go to the shops IN THE SNOW c) wrap them, write them and store them. 

I wish I didn't sound like such a Christmas grump because I actually love Christmas.  I love the part where everything is done and I get to sit about for several days reading books I've had my eye on for months.

I love the part that involves cooking and drinking sherry whilst cooking.  I love making things I don't make all year - especially cranberry sauce with real cranberries and port and orange and spicy spiky star anise.

What I don't really love is the organisation of it, the pre-empting of it, the sorting of it.  We have our flurry of birthdays in the autumn and I arrive at the end of November thinking that we've already had quite enough for one year and we should embrace the Condem's austerity measure and make do with a few satsumas and perhaps a handknit scarf.  Thinking about it, I wouldn't like that either.

I am fortunate that the Worker likes Christmas shopping.  Those of you that know him will find this laughable as he is shop-averse January through to November.  He loves doing the kids' presents and I have to say I let him.  He also offers to cook Christmas dinner every year around 22nd December.  I do not let him do that and I inform him, each year, that his offer is most welcome but, well, far too *(*&^^%%& late in the day to be taken seriously. 

The Worker's Christmas shopping, however, is a wonder to behold and one of my favourite parts of Christmas is our morning ritual.  FC has been and I'm always amazed how thoughtful and attentive he has been to three of our family.  Special little gifts emerge and three of us gasp with delight.  My stocking, is in fact a sack - I made the other three smaller on purpose - each year I point out that any member of the family is at liberty to make me a smaller stocking/sack for next year.  Ho ho ho!