New Years Eve Eve

ingredients

countdown to year end

Another very relaxing start to the day. Toast with M&S spiced seville orange marmalade for breakfast with glass of milk and a second cup of tea. Radio 4 and the dulcet sounds of Desert Island Discs on in the background together with the dishwasher. The dishwasher is just running a “self clean” routine and is a little louder than normal but it doesn’t detract too much from the ambience.

All I really need to do today is fix some of the kitchen chairs. The joints are loose and need glueing. Happens every few years. Crap really but there you go. The furniture in the conservatory also needs a bit of a once over but that will wait, if only because it’s bloomin cold in there.

Did some initial work on turning the diary into the book yesterday and came across a little issue. It’s already around 183,000 words. That would result in a 700 or so page book even without images. I’m going to have to turn it into a 4 volume set I think. Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. That works for me. The eBook can just be the one volume. Also realised that at 83,000 words the 3rd Law is also big enough to publish. I had thought it needed to be a lot bigger but I can get on with that. It needs editing to take out some of the very time based (ie obsolete) stuff like references to the use of the Nokia N97. I wrote it a few years ago now.

Cold start again. Looking out of the kitchen window it looks like drizzle but it may just be the mist. Today is very definitely a day for staying inside in the warm. Also feels like a Strugglers early doors day. Fire going in the hearth, chink of glasses, great atmosphere etc. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord beer. Nuff said.

Was late to bed last night on account of watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. When it came to the news at 11pm and the realisation that the film didn’t finish before 12.30 I decided to call it quits. We have it on DVD so I may watch the rest this morning. Been meaning to have a Harry Potterathon sometime. Must get around to it.

Very refreshing shower and shave. Needed to get a wiggle on because I have had a request from the favourite daughter for a lift to her bezzy mate Lois’ at 10.30. They have some shopping planned. This is following their stint downtown yesterday, albe that a cultural visit to the Usher Gallery followed by lunch at Cafe Portico. And then the shops. And then dinner somewhere. Wildwood. Do it while you can I say.

Made some filling to go in a pie for New Year’s Day using up the last of the Christmas Day beef. Looks ok. Simmered it for two or three hours. Then watched the end ot the HP from last night – on DVD. Couldn’t play again on ITV. Then glued some of the kitchen chairs, oh and posted a card. Post Office in the Bail. Lots of people around although it really is damp and miserable out there. Also have compiled an album entitled Food of 2016. Totally unedited at 1026 photos but I may go back and trim it down a bit. 1k+ pics is somewhat over the top. Hey

Am thinking Struggs for early doors but none of the boys have replied to my text. Perhaps they are trying to tell me something. Coops did answer that he is in Chester so that’s no good. I said if he set off now he’d get there in time. Problem with the Strugs, and particularly in this yukky weather is that it’s a 20 minute walk. If I set off there and find that none of them are in then that would be a waste of time. Of course it isn’t likely to happen. For example the chance that Ian won’t be there is pretty miniscule. It’s his second home.

pic is the beef pie before it became one.

29th December 2016

roasted tomatoes

fine cold morning

Late up. 9.15. Luxury. Cold out there. Minus 3. Made the tea at 7.45. Good kip assisted by the few pints I had with Tom and Nige at the West End Tap last night. Lift down off anne, taxi back. Hansom Cabs. Been out to get kindling from the bottom of the garden and fire is going. 9.44 and put the two remaining sausages on the stove. There is also bacon. Still holiday season.

Today is a day of relaxation. Nothing on the agenda. The odd job has been written on the back of a brown envelope. An emerging list. Not looked at it but can’t imagine it will be anything too onerous. Going to do some Anne’s Vans website stuff today – get the pricing sorted for the new season. Plan the marketing campaign. So on and so forth. Etc. ac yn y blaen. Quiet time in prospect tonight. We have venison burgers with a bit of salad. TV probs. Family time.

Deep mid winter it very definitely is. The sun is at its lowest. Doesn’t get very high in the sky and difficult to drive into. We missed a turn on the M62 when going to pick up dad from Liverpool John Lennon Airport at Speke. A while ago now. Sue made the same mistake taking him back. Slife. Garden is frosty though melting. You could clearly hear the ice cracking on the trees as it melted in the sun. Almost like Spring in Yosemite, I imagine. Naked trees.

A breakfast of bacon, mushrooms, tomato and fried bread with toast has been consumed. At this time of year it is the right thing to do. Fuel up the boiler. Fight the cold. Stay warm in front of the fire. Doing it all. Luxury. I’m sorry if this is not you. Not everyone has a fire, or food or home even. Lunch is a chicken dish that Hannah is preparing and I am delighted to eat with her.

The kitchen is now awash with soups, so to speak. We still have beef and ham stock left. More pea and ham soup is in hte making and it looks like carrot and coriander too. The roasted tomatoes (4 pence from the reduced counter – bargain) look as if we might also be in for a tomato soup. All very warming.

So yesterday’s group hug was successful. Almost 40 likes/loves and 74 comments plus replies to those comments. It didn’t work perfectly. I did consider that there might have been a scenario where lots of people hugged others not already in the thread and it snowballed into a big event. People tended to hug back but not propagate the hug to others. I didn’t want to make it too obvious that hugging others was the thing to do. It was fine. Had lots of hugs off friends. A good thing to have at this time of year.

The fire is slow going. Not enough medium sized bits of wood. It will be ok. Just a matter of time. In the meantime I am wearing a thick pullover. Pullover, jumper. Good words. Sweater just isn’t the same. It’s nice that it is cold enough to have to wear a nice warm pullover, although it wouldn’t be necessary if the fire properly got going.

We live in a big house. Joe is away at Charlotte’s at the mo but there are still five of us here and although I occasionally hear the others, especially Anne, they are invisible. This is partly because the living room door is closed. Ok entirely because the living room door is closed but I’d probably not see them anyway. Enough.

It may be seen that the fire did get going in the end.

Hugs r us

logs

Facebook group hug

Nobody wanted to go out for a beer last night. I guess it was everyone’s first quiet night for a few days. Nige set off from Brighton at 1pm and had only made it to Heathrow by 5. M25 was stationary. In the end stayed in and watched some TV with Anne. Christmas University Challenge, a documentary on Elephants, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire again.

Bed at 10.30 but woke at 3am and only slept fitfully after that for some reason. Now down having breakfast.

Downtown with Tom to the bank and now home watching my group hug develop.  This is an idea I had a few days ago. Lots of people getting involved. People hugging people. There’s nothing quite like a good hug. Tucking into the box of Fox’s Chocolate biscuits and mince pies.

After lunch we had a family spin out to Chambers Farm Woods. Was quite late in the day when we got there so we did a short route. Not a nice afternoon after the brilliant sunshine of the morning. Now doing stuff whilst watching Kelly’s Heroes (again) on Channel 5. It’s a classic.


Sad times

philosopherontap logo featured image

the Christmas kid handover

Stopped at the Sainsbury’s petrol station in Cheshire Oaks. There were two cars there not filling up. A dad was returning two small girls to a mum, presumably having had them for part of the holiday. Passing over child car seats and so on. Made me feel very lucky to have a settled and happy marriage.

Low sun and cold morning

low sun

all is well

It’s been a great family Christmas. Waved goodbye to dad and Sue last night after another successful meal (gammon chips and peas for 9 – mass catering that amount of chips takes planning) and now up at around 8 for a bacon sandwich. Taking Sarah back to the Wirral this morning.

Sarah’s hostel is within spitting distance of the Cheshire Oaks outlet village and it would be a shame not to drop in there for a skeet. CO is famous for providing good stuff like Timberland for not a lot of money. Otherwise it’s a long day. At least 3 hours each way. Joe is also going away for a few days at Charlotte’s in Storth in Cumbria. Her dad is a season ticket holder and is taking him to watch Liverpool play Stoke at Anfield.

It’s looking like a colder morning out there. Been very mild over Christmas. Currently 1℃. As it should be at this time of year. We want cold. We want well wrapped up and come home to sit around the warm fire. Don’t do chestnuts mind you. Noses should glow.

We are still holidaying, it being only the 27th December, but are already looking forwards to the relative austerity and sensibleness that January brings. The belt tightening, making sure that our supplies make it through to the next harvest. Etc.

George Michael’s Careless Whisper has just turned itself on the SONOS next to my ear in the living room. It was almost certainly Jose. It’s OK actually. Not too loud. The 2 new SONOS acquisitions have been results. Made an impulse buy on the 23rd and they arrive the next morning thanks to Amazon Prime. One is in the kitchen and the other in the TV room. My plan is for the TV room SONOS to be ceiling mounted in the bathroom but we shall see how we go with that one. I don’t have a bath that often and my idea was that it would provide me with tunes whilst in the bath.

The low sun is blinding me through the conservatory windows. We have moved on to some Norah Jones, Tragedy. V relaxing fair play. Playlist put together by Jose. Funnily I can only hear the others in the room. The sun is so blinding that I can hardly even see John who is sat next to me on the settee. I am almost touch typing.

That’s it fer now. Gotta get ready to head NorthWest. More later if there is any.

Back at 5pm. Anne drove the return leg. Sarah got more excited as she approached Meadow Lane and was off like a shot once her bag had been lifted out of the boot. Anne and I had a sandwich in the Horse and Jockey down the road and then headed for Cheshire Oaks outlet village. That didn’t last long. The queues to get into the car park were horrendous. We called it quits, turned around and pointed the car towards Lincoln.

Boxing Day

meat thermometer

early up on Tom’s birthday

It’s that time of day again. 06.24. Precisely. Went to bed at 9 o’clock so no wonder really. I wasn’t the first to go. Sue and dad went and then Tom. I was knackered after cooking the lunch. Fortunately there as help at hand to clear up afterwards. The beef was a big success as were the parsnips in parmesan and the honey glazed carrots. Only niggles were the fact that I over did the yorkshires and totally forgot to cook any peas. Trivia.

We had a great Christmas Day overall. Tom invented a new board game called Chinese Exchequers that proved to be great fun. Joe, John and Hannah entertained us with Christmas carols on the joanna, sax and flute. The TV was brilliant – Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special 1976, Blackadder Christmas Special and the Dad’s Army where they accidentally shot a turkey. All repeats but all totally watchable.

Santa was good to us all so we must have been good during the year. Now the space around the base of the tree is bare again. Today I’ll be wearing my new FatFace campervan socks.

I’m picking dad and Sue up at 9.30 this morning. A little later than yesterday. We are unlikely to do a big breakfast as we did yesterday. For one I am still feeling full and we finished lunch at 4pm yesterday. I expect I’ll manage a bacon and mushroom sandwich (on white with HP obvs) and a glass of milk, with perhaps some fresh orange and a little grapefruit:) Oh and tea of course.

This afternoon it will be roast gammon plus the leftover beef, of which there is plenty. It will also go in sandwiches over the next few days. There’s nothing quite like leftover roast beef as long as it’s not too overdone. Leftover gammon is also great. I over calculated on the veg too yesterday in order to make some available for today. Maybe I’ll cook some peas too 🙂

It will be Sarah’s last day with us. She asks about when she is going home around once every half an hour. Sarah has down’s syndrome and lives at a hostel on the Wirral. The hostel is great and she loves living there which is good. She has easily slotted into the team at Wragby Road whilst she’s been with us.

I can hear cars on the road outside. There were none yesterday when I went to pick up dad and Sue. A couple of female runners out in their brightly coloured lycra. Makes a lorra sense to me.

The news on the wire this morning is that George Michael died yesterday, or last night. A lot of famous people seemed to have gone in 2016. He was only 53. I am 55. Brings things into perspective.

I like the number 55. It’s a nice round number.

Only 5 more diary entries after this one. I’ve got into the routine of doing it now. Don’t know whether I’ll continue into the new year.

The kindling has been sourced and the fire lit again. Really roaring in the grate. Means it will have warmed up by the time I go and pick up dad and Sue. I’ve not had to use matches for a few days. Only burning wood too so the ashes will go well on the raspberry patch. Also written Tom’s birthday card. A double celebration over Christmas and Boxing Day. He’s had some sort of posh light bulb for use when he does his vids. Sarah is up and awaiting beans on toast. Someone is in the shower, we know not who.

There will have to be a trip to Tesco this morning. We need eggs for a birthday cake and we will need more bread. No doubt something else too.

Featured image is the meat thermometer in the beef – slightly more medium than perfection demands but the meat turned out well.

Christmas Day

ph1l0soph3r0nt4p

It’s been a great build up to Christmas. Seems a long time now since it actually started with the Davies family Christmas Market Party. First weekend in December so an early kickoff to the festivities.

The next event is the London Christmas Party, long since known as trefbash although this year it was officially lonapbash. This year’s was a stunner with the theme of “What I was wearing when the Titanic went down.” Son Joe Davies sat in with the band with his horn. The following day we had a great family day out in London. V&A museum, The Parlour at Fortnum & Masons, cocktails at the Waldorf and finally margaritas and fajitas at Cafe Pacifico.

The build up continued with parties lunches and beers in pubs with the climax really the Carols and Jazz night at the Morning Star. The singing was terrific and the jazz, supplied by Colin Dudman, Joe Davies and John Davies, was outstanding. I have avoided stepping onto the scales. That is something for the New Year.

There is something wonderful about this time of year. All the kids are home, dad and my sister Sue are here and sister Ann has also been up for a visit so we had one day where we were all here. Also Anne’s sister Sarah is with us.

The pile of presents under the tree continues to grow. There is something not quite right about this but I’m not going to rock the boat. As we all get older and more people have sources of income other than the bank of mum and dad the individual abilities to contribute has increased. The fact that we have a great time does make me think about people who are no longer around to be with us. Mam and Anne’s parents Rene and Keith. We think of them and miss them.

They have been a huge part of making what Christmas is all about for us. I realise that the notional reason is the celebration of the birth of Christ. For me that’s a side show. I love singing carols but I like them for the tunes and memories they evoke rather than anything to do with the sentiment of the words themselves. Carols are part of my childhood and memories of Christmas time, the exciting wonderful memories of being a part of our family. Christmas is a family event supported by our long traditions.

These traditions even come down to little facts such as that on Christmas morning we have tinned grapefruit segments for breakfast. Never at any other time of the year. Maybe grapefruit segments were rare delicacies when my parents were kids. Probably. It would have been during the Second Word War. We don’t only have grapefruit. Usually there is something for everyone on the table.

I am writing this on Christmas Eve as the house will be chaotic on the day itself. At this time the veg has already been peeled and chopped by Sue and John. The parsnips are precooking ready to be coated in parmesan cheese and flour and then stuck in the fridge until needed on Christmas Day. Anne has taken Sarah to church with John and Hannah is preparing sticky toffee pudding as an alternative to Christmas pudding. Joe and Tom are sat in front of the fire playing a board game they have just invented. The house is at peace. We may pop out to the Star for a swift un or we may not. (we did and got the big table in the corner on the right – result).

Christmas Day itself I’ll be picking dad and Sue from the Lincoln hotel early. They are coming to us for breakfast instead of having standard hotel stuff. Then we will open the presents. In times gone by this would have involved a frenzy of flying wrapping paper. By now we are probably more civilised. At noon we have some friends coming around for drinks for an hour and then I’ll be in the kitchen. I’ll already have put the meat in at 9am or so. 5.5kg of prime beef rib. The rest of the day will go much as at any other household. A combination of over eating, drink and sleep. There will be chocs and brandy. We may watch TV. I doubt we will watch the Queen.

Not everyone will be doing this. There will be many people on their own and some without a home to go to let along a dinner on the table. Some families will have very recently lost a loved one and Christmas will involve significant sadness for them. For this I am sorry. 2016 has been a particularly turbulent year. Wars around the world seemed to intensify. Political decisions have gone in directions that I and many others have disagreed with but have been unable to do anything about. Trump. Brexit. Based on this is it easy not to be particularly optimistic about things in 2017 at least on a global scale.

On the personal front you have to have optimism. Life is there to be grabbed. As we come towards the end of 2016 and head into next year all I can say to you is do stuff. Do something that gives you a sense of satisfaction. If you disagree with what our political leaders are doing shout out about it. Don’t let them get away with it.

Just to finish off I’d like to wish all my friends and family a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Thanks for putting up with me and my ways in 2016 and I hope I am able to adequately return your friendship in 2017.

See ya soon 🙂

 

Christmas Eve 2016

toasted bacon and mushroom sandwich

all is well

A day to go. Christmas Eve. Has a good ring to it. Christmas Eve. Kids everywhere will be getting excited. In our house the excitement levels used to reach fever pitch. Traditionally Christmas Eve was always the easiest day to get them to bed early. Except the one year that one of them, who shall remain nameless, refused to go to sleep in case they woke up in the night to go to the loo and bumped into Santa.

Then there was the year I bought a TV for the first time. The kids were all in our room. John was first downstairs and came running back shouting “there’s a TV in the front room”. Tom would have been 13. We watched it with a poxy internal aerial that day as we didn’t have a proper TV antenna on the chimney outside.

The year we bought the kids a trampoline was a challenge. Anne took them out for a walk whilst dad and I assembled it in the garden. Was a miracle that none of them saw it afterwards. We had shut all the curtains at the back of the house and it does get dark very early at this time of year.

These were all presents we bought over and above those delivered by Santa of course.

I’m not particularly excited right this moment. It’s before six am. I was awake so thought I’d come downstairs. It has got to the point where nobody particularly wants to rush to get up early on Christmas Day itself. A lie in is the more attractive option. There’s an element of this being down to a late night on Christmas Eve.

Before we had kids, and certainly as a single lad in the Isle of Man, it would always be a bit of a night out on Christmas Eve. We might even find a party somewhere, although who on earth would want to have to sort out their house after a party on Christmas Eve.

Then it became an early start with visits to the Morning Star for early doors. The pub would quickly fill up and the atmosphere was great. Lots of people coming home for Christmas and visiting their old haunt. We always had something pre prepared for dinner that night to make life easier for ourselves. Tonight Joe and Tom are cooking chicken fajitas. I’m assuming Joe made it back ok from his open mike stint at the Joiners Arms. The curtains have been drawn across the front door which is usually the sign.

Tom arrived at around 9.15 last night. He came on the direct train from London and is the last of the family to arrive. They had a bit of bad news at the flat in London. Burgled. Broken into at least because the burglar gained entry but didn’t take anything. Odd. Even unwrapped a present that Hannah had left for Ben but didn’t take it. There will be fingerprints all over the place. What they didn’t bank on was that Tom, Hannah and Ben are only early on in their working careers and don’t have much cash. Nobody had left a laptop and for some reason they left Tom’s camera. I guess they are after specific items they know will be easily shifted. In a pub maybe. Not a pleasant incident but one that could have ended up a lot worse.

We were burgled here a couple of years ago and as a result have put in cctv and upgraded the alarms system.

Not much to do today. Most of the shopping has been finished. Hannah has as usual wrapped my presents to Anne. Worrawonderfuldaughter. There will inevitably be some things we need to get. I know we are short on olive oil and loo roll. We could live without the former… Probably need to get bread as well and Joe and Tom need some ingreeds for tonight. There you go. A new word. Official. Ingreeds. Its an abbreviation we use at home. I can’t believe nobody else uses it as well. So it might as well become an established word. All it needs now is for the OED to pick it up.

It is now 06.26. Normally I’d stop here and go and make the tea. However today I don’t sense any pressure to do this. We can have a bit of a lie in and get up when the body tells us it is time. This is totally apart from the fact that I am already up but I will be going back to bed for a cuddle. My reward for making the tea. It’s the best part of the day, the early morning cuddle. News on the wireless.

It’s a funny thing, having the news on. I totally switch off listening if the article is something I have no interest in. Then Anne might comment about it and I will have no idea what she is talking about despite my ear being two feet away from the radio. Less probably.

We could do with a new bedside radio. One with preset volume levels. If Anne is doing something in the bedroom during the day she ramps up the volume. This volume will be too much for the early morning and so I find myself twiddling the dial to get it down to an acceptable level. However this is an imprecise art, finding the right volume. What we need is a preset. A button I can press to toggle the volumes. I doubt such a feature exists on any radio. It’s a bit niche. Maybe I’ll take a skeet around the sales and see what’s out there.

Took a quick look but there is nothing obvious. I think you have to go to a store to see a range of devices to see what they can do. What I did note was that Amazon Prime deliveries are now quoting December 27th as delivery dates. That’s a “3 day next day” delivery. Totally understandable but interesting nonetheless. Delivery drives deserve the time off 🙂

The Christmas cards have been flooding in. Not sure whether that’s the appropriate metaphor but it’s what you got. One from an old school friend said he’s taken voluntary redundancy. It’s amazing how many people of my age have been leaving their jobs. Looking for something new. Did it meself really three years ago now. Strange thing is I’m starting to do more work than I’ve done for a while but hey, you gotta go with the flow and it’s all good stuff.

Off to make the tea now. Ciao bella.

Jobs to do today (in no particular order)

Get veg out for peeling –  delegate the actual peeling

Prepare trifle jelly base

Firm up on timings for tomorrow’s food prep

Last minute trip to Waitrose –  loo roll, olive oil, soft drinks, bread (? – might make some), croissants ice, anything else

Make sure drinks that need to be chilled are in fridge

Pick up dad and sue

Make sure we have enough kindling brought in from woodpile

Buy coal

Find the lindt chocs I hid but can’t remember where – check tree chocs –  some buggers have been pinching them

Make brandy butter

Check if gammon soaking required for boxing day joint

Storm Barbara shook the trees on us a little yesterday and moved on. Now they are talking about storm Connor moving in on boxing day.

A simple toasted bacon and mushroom sandwich with HP sauce (obvs) for breakfast cooked on the George Foreman grill to let the crap drip off. Second cup of tea and a glass of semi skimmed milk to accompany. The good things in life. I have some Fosters dry cured back bacon for tomorrow. Better than Curtis’ tbh and the latter is a specialist pork butcher.

“Dad I don’t want a bike for Christmas any more. Why not son? I just found one behind the wardrobe.” 🙂 The old ones are always the best.

The fire is lit, the last shopping list has been compiled, dad has been retrieved from the Lincoln hotel and I’m just waiting for Hannah to get dressed. In the meantime I have an idea for another post. How to hang a toilet roll. Toilet rolls are on the shopping list.

Couple of sonos play 1s have just arrived thanks to Amazon Prime. Ordered them yesterday when one of the kids mentioned that he was fed up with moving the play 5 from room to room. Quite right. One is going in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. Anne isn’t totally sure about this but it will be fine.

I’m going squeeze one more post in today but in case I forget have a wonderful Christmas 🙂

PS the featured image is my seasonal take on breakfast.

The correct way to hang a loo roll – Christmas special

toilet roll

short instructional post on how to hang a toilet roll

There should be nothing contentious about how to hang a loo roll but for some reason people often get this simple thing wrong. Toilet rolls should be hung with the loose end on the outside, away from the wall. This makes tearing off a strip with one hand much easier. This post discusses the subject. Note this dialogue only goes as far as the dispensing of the paper from the roll. We do not discuss the subsequent use of the product.

There are only really two aspects to the purchasing and dispensing of a toilet roll that should be considered. The quality of the paper itself and how it is detached from the roll prior to use. A good quality toilet roll as sold in bulk bags from all supermarkets is fine. Choose a price point that suits you. It is usually best to avoid those that claim additional padding or quilting because the thicker paper will mean fewer sheets on the roll with questionable performance benefits. On the other hand you don’t want cheap thin stuff. It doesn’t take long to home in on a product with which you are happy. If Izal is offered don’t touch it with a barge pole, let alone your backside. Mind you I don’t think you see Izal in the shops anymore.

When hanging the toilet roll it should always be done with the loose end facing away from the wall. This allows you to tear off a strip using only one hand. A quick snappy tearing action works really well. In this way you avoid unravelling half the roll. You might occasionally find it useful to rest the edge of the hand on part of the roll whilst tearing with the same hand.

Industrial packs that provide individual sheets of toilet paper should be avoided. Not only are they generally not sold in supermarkets but require special dispensers that look silly in a domestic toilet or bathroom. These dispensers are far from perfect. It is sometimes difficult to extract a sheet if the previous one was not properly removed.

A friend of ours called George once worked for a pharmaceutical company and had a garage full of large rolls of the kind used in pubs and other public toilets. When he left that job he kept his samples and the toilets in his house had large dispensers on the back of the doors. It took two years to use up the supplies before operations could return to normal.

I have nothing else to say about toilet rolls. If you do by all means leave a comment but please keep it clean:)

Below is a demonstration of the correct way to remove paper from a toilet roll.