My Mum and Dad didn’t keep alcohol in the house. Most likely because they knew if it was there my Dad would drink it! Usually he’d go to the pub and get a skin full on a Saturday instead!
The exception to this was at Christmas when “drink” as it was referred to had to be brought in.
The back hall of our little house would be stuffed with food and cans of lager, beer, stout and a bottle or two of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry and Black Bush Whiskey. As soon as anyone walk through the door a drink would be offered!
No wine was ever bought apart from the Sherry and a non alcoholic specialty called Clove Wine that could strip the skin of the roof of your mouth.
This was the sixties and seventies and working class people just didn’t drink wine! All this changed though as I got older and started mixing with the middle classes.
These friends parents drank wine and went to foreign parts for vacations. At parties we’d drink wine in copious quantities. One particular popular “vintage” of the era was called Blue Nun.
These same pals ate exotic dishes like stroganoff which to this day I still couldn’t spell without autocorrect! For Christmas instead of trifle they had kirsch soaked Black Forest Gateau or Pavlova!
Of course I started insisting we get wine too at Christmas and I will never forget the look on my Dads face when he tasted the Blue Nun! Let’s just say he stuck to whiskey!
My Mum drew the line though at the exotic desserts she said if I wanted them I could make them. This was attempted on a few occasions with little success.
Yesterday we ate from my Mom’s dinner service a very traditional roast beef dinner served as she would have served it but with a glass or two of wine to wash it down. It was followed by a Pavlova for dessert that ironically Mom came to love and ordered often when out for dinner but never did make at home!
Blessing #199 – Enjoying the Best of Both Worlds
A poem sometime captures your heart.
John Betjeman’s Christmas did that for me many years ago.
Hope you will love it too.
Wish you every happiness for your Christmas Day.
Blessing # 198– Poetry
Trends in baby clothes have changed a lot over the years. This became all too obvious this week as we unpacked souvenirs from Ireland including baby clothes from several generations.
First we found my Dads baby clothes that his Mom had kept so long ago. They’ll officially be antiques in December 2020!
Next my little dresses and christening robe that my Mom had carefully packed away.
Finally Aarons little jumper that his aunty Hamsa had knit and sent him from India.
All these lovely things are reminders of how fashions change but how we treat our newborns hasn’t really changed at all.
We still swaddle babies just as Mary did for Jesus all those years ago. Today there is even evidence to show this bundling may have certain benefits.
It’s a reminder too that we all start out in life the same, wearing absolutely nothing.
The garments we will later wear have no long lasting impact on ourselves or on others.
As Saint Paul said in his letter to the Collosians « let us clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience and above all else clothe ourselves with love » just as the baby in the manger did for us!
Blessing # 197 – Baby Love
It isn’t fun traveling around the festive season and hitting a delay.
The recent events at Gatwick with the drones and in the USA with the storms brought memories flooding back of some adventures!
These include diversions to Iceland for an onboard medical emergency, to Gander Bay for technical issues and to the Azores, for a refuel because of a weather related rerouting. Alas none of these required even deplaning!
A cancellation on a connection at Newark because of snow did call for an overnight in NYNY which wasn’t so bad. We got to unexpectedly see the big tree and the wonderland of Central Park.
Often end of year meetings called for travel to Switzerland in December and one thing that was always a joy was to stay at the beautiful Hotel du Lac in Vevey.
This is, apart from the Taj in Mumbai, tops on my best hotel ever list. They send you birthday wishes, they give you little boxes of chocolate on departure and they have the most divine aroma all over the place. It’s magical just like stepping into a Christmas movie!
The beautiful bouquet has an exotic yet fresh heavenly sort of nature and just this week it hit me right in the nose!
While shopping for gifts a few candles were being sniffed and bingo there was that special sent.
It turns out it is OUD!
Of course that little light is now chez nous and is not going to anyone else’s home because it was, amongst about one hundred other candles, the only one with OUD!
So now my boys are on a mission in every candle selling establishment in the region to OUD it out!
Blessing # 196– Scentsation!
The intention today was to have a good lie in but there was no sleep to be had after five o’clock.
With mania in full swing, the boys all asleep and no Zumba till 8:15 the energy was taken out on grooming.
There is only so much time you can spend in the shower so out came the scissors. The bangs as they say here in the USA or the fringe as we’d say in the UK had been growing for six months. It bit the bin in sixty seconds around six thirty.
After Zumba and a bit of texting with the bestie in Belfast the mania was still in full swing. So Dibley got trailed down the street before Aaron even left for work.
The fresh air did the trick though and brought the idea of going to see Bohemian Rhapsody. A quick check on the show times listed only one starting at 10:55. So Krishna who had yet to drink his OJ let alone his coffee got his marching orders to hurry up and get ready.
While he was busy with that the need to keep busy was still rampant so there was still time to throw together the lasagne for tonight’s dinner.
Lesson of the day! Never ever try to make cheese sauce in a rush. There were so many lumps in it a strainer couldn’t hold them!
Off to the cinema we go. Listening to Christmas songs, laughing all the way about who goes to the cinema at this time of day except people of advancing years and of course reminiscing about the untimely demise of dear Freddie.
Arriving in good time we queue to order our tickets only to find the showing is at 10:55 PM!
Now that is definitely not the time for us! We’ll just wait for the DVD! But we did have a little fun going round in circles!
Blessings # 195- Cruising with Your Honey!
When we lived in Connecticut we went to a yard sale one day and spent a fortune on art!
We paid the princely sum of one whole dollar for a little oil painting on canvas of a red barn.
This little painting was lovingly framed by Krishna, made its way from Connecticut to Ireland and has now returned to the USA.
My attachment to this little red barn is difficult to explain but it is truly one of my favorite things.
Today it was hung in pride of place where it will be seen everyday by our family and anyone who visits.
Its above the Chinese cabinet that holds the Willow Pattern china. On top of this cabinet a lot of other little treasures can be found including beautiful gifts from Nestle and from Nestle colleagues, a little porcelain pig purchased for a pound at a sale at my Mums nursing home and my first ever teddy.
They look so well together like they just popped out of that barn to take the air and stretch a leg!
Blessing # 194 – Finding the Fit!
Yesterday a guardian angel was doing double duty watching over Aaron.
As you know he has been having a hectic time. First all those birthday celebrations, then up very late on Monday for the furniture delivery and to top it all off end of term tests at school this week.
When he was very close to home yesterday he says he was feeling really tired. He swerved coming round a bend, over corrected and ended up in a ditch.
All this happened about a quarter mile from home. He was stuck deep down in a neighbors yard.
Fortunately no people, pets or other cars were about. He missed a tree stump by inches and even though the ditch is deep he braked so hard the car did not roll over. The only damage was a broken water sprinkler head and tread marks in the grass.
He called home immediately and his Dad took the call. I was out so Krishna called our neighbor Mike who once more came to our rescue. He quickly got a garage to send a tow truck to hawl Aaron out.
The truck had arrived and was busy working with Aaron to get the car out into the road when I came home. My heart almost stopped when I saw Krishna and Mike standing on the side of the road.
We feel so very fortunate there were no injuries only a big break and a wake up call.
Blessing # 193 – Good Neighbors
The biggest gift my Mom and Dad received when they married in March 1952 was a Willow Pattern dinner service.
It was given by my Moms employer Down Shoes Factory Banbridge where she was a much valued supervisor on the production line.
This service was stored away in the top of our kitchen cupboard and surfaced only at Christmas and Easter.
Inevitably over the years a few little breaks happened so today we have five cups instead of six and the odd chip on a plate or two.
When my Mom went into sheltered accommodation I decided to keep the dinner service. It stayed in our house in Ireland where we inflicted a few more dings and dents on it!
Who could have dreamed that this typical Chinese patterned China would one day end up in a really old Chinese cupboard purchased in Shanghai China that is now placed in a kitchen in Ohio.
The plate that was clearly used most held the roast potatoes for each festive meal over many years.
Since roasties absolutely had to be kept hot till we were about to sit and eat it is, like myself, well wrinkled but I love it to bits!
Blessing # 192 – New Home for Dear Old Things
Last night our furniture from Ireland was delivered. The removal men had another job cancelled so asked if they could come between 4:00 to 8:00 pm. They arrived at 8:10 but we were so glad to see them.
I lost the will to do anything other than have an extra large stiff drink by the time they left at 11:15!
They built our bed and unpacked the furniture very nicely but didn’t build the wardrobe as “basic” set up includes beds but not reassembling wardrobes. Watch out for that and have it clarified if you are planning a move.
We all worked hard over the course of the evening so I was really delighted we had everything visible to organize today.
One of the first things uncovered was that Black Bag of Granny Barr’s and a Brown Bag of Mummy’s.
In the Black Bag was Granny’s confirmation card dated 1898. That makes it 120 years old and it is truly in pristine condition.
In Mummy’s bag there was the first Christmas present my Daddy ever bought her. It is a lovely compact for face powder but clearly she treasured it so much she never used it. So it too is pristine.
The same cannot be said for all the items but they are all much loved and there’ll be more on them in the days ahead.
Blessing # 190– Reunions
My Mom started to loose her memory in her mid eighties and by 88 had to move to sheltered accommodation. She passed away at the ripe old age of 96!
Mom was a great eater and tucked into her food with pleasure and much enjoyment. She always ate a lot!
In her latter years she tried but struggled to eat by herself and ended up having to take liquid dietary supplements.
For years I’d worked on developing these supplements. They certainly have an important role to play and are carefully designed and of excellent quality but even in the industry we had a saying that The Fork is Mightier Than The Straw.
Thanks to Sandra, who works with dementia patients, I heard of a new discovery that is so simple and encouraging.
Scientist in the UK have found that by switching from a white plate to a bright yellow one encourages people with memory loss to eat more. They believe the contrast in color of plate and foods helps people focus more sharply on what they are eating.
A whole new range of crockery called the Freedom Range is now offered with not just color but also spill proof design elements.
Great news for anyone with family or friends going through this stage in life today. Whoever said we eat with our eyes was spot on!
Blessing # 189 – Appetizers