Christmas was nice, but, as we all know, there was something missing, that being our beloved dog Lilu. Christmas morning was always full of fun and excitement with her and Harper opening their presents. Indeed Mazikeen did join in, but it was not the same, and I know over time Maz will replace the fun on Christmas day. M and I had bought each other far too many presents, about 40 each. Now don’t get me wrong, we went for volume rather than cost, so most things were cheap trinkets, for example, I had got M 4 different packs of Top Trump cards, tapestry needles and other little things, and he did the same for me. We decided not to bother with a “big” present as neither of us needed or wanted anything, although I will confide in you my dear reader, I did break the rules and bought M a GoPro action camera with all the bits and bobs that go with it. It was on offer, so I thought why not. As it was my birthday a few days before Christmas I know that he had spent a lot of money on me, so I decided, what the hell, rules are to be broken. We had three sessions of sitting down opening presents as to do it in one go would have been vulgar (I say this with tongue in cheek).
Most Christmas’s we start the day with a glass of champagne and orange juice, but this year we decided that we wanted to have clear heads. Needless to say, we ate far too much but did not really drink, we had a bottle of wine with dinner, then sat in the lounge far too stuffed to even think about consuming more, but towards the end of the day, we did manage to have the obligatory turkey sandwich.
Boxing day we took the dogs out for walks and pottered about, watched a film and read books. Wednesday we decided since the weather was dreadful we would have a movie day. It was torrential rain outside and the temperature was 1c, so why it was coming down as rain was beyond me as a lot of the country was getting snow again. I know I go on about the lack of snow, but it really does annoy me, it’s down to the microclimate we live in and that we live on the coast.
I decided to make my yearly glazed ham. This year I boiled the 2kg join in water for 10 minutes, poured the water off and filled the pan with orange juice an onion cut in half with a clove in each, four bay leaves and a touch of pepper and simmered it for three hours. When the time was up I then removed the skin/rind and made diamond patterns in the fats, put a clove on each diamond and then drizzled it with my glaze that consisted of honey, wholegrain mustard, juice of an orange and the zest, pepper and orange marmalade, then baked it for 40 minutes. It was delicious, and I served it with pickled red cabbage and apple sauce.
Today I have made another trifle and am currently roasting a huge joint of beef, the smell is divine and I cannot wait to eat with some roast potatoes and veg.
I finally managed to finish one of the many books I am reading, Captain Scott by Ranulph Fiennes, it was quite an interesting history of Scott’s last expedition to the South Pole, and I found it quite sad to read the extent of suffering and the conditions of his and his colleague’s deaths. Although I knew of the story, and who doesn’t, but Ranulph Fiennes wrote in detail of all the backstabbing and character assassinations other authors had done in the past, one particular author Roland Huntford, had made lots of rubbish up and was taken to court by Scott’s son, needless to say Scott’s son won, but the damage it had done to Scotts reputation was quite alarming, and this so called text by Huntford was taken as gospel, only in later years has it been acknowleged that the man knew nothing and his life, like his book, was lies, even his name was not his real name. It says a lot about a person who assassinates someone’s reputation in order to give themselves a so-called good name.
Christmas is now over and the New Year heading towards us at speed, tomorrow, the last day of 2017. We have taken down all the Christmas decorations, apart from the tree that is, which may go tomorrow. I will be glad to get the house back to normal if I am being totally honest. I love all the decor we have during the period, but once boxing day is over, I am ready to box it all up again until the next December.
I have decided to make a few New Years Resolutions, and one of them is not to buy any more books. Our house is like a library and we have quite literally thousands of books, and hundreds that I have not got round to reading, so it seems silly buying more when there are so many queued up waiting for me. I have made a few other decisions along with a diet as I need to lose weight, I have just weighed myself and am 14 Stone 8 Pounds, so have quite a bit of weight to get rid of. I am going to publish it on my site, and hopefully, this will spur me on to shed it. I am not built for speed, so will never be skinny, but I do not intend to be that way. I have Scandinavian ancestry, basically, I am from Viking stock, which explains why I am not tall, being 171cm which is the typical height of a Viking man, I have the same build as the average Viking too, not built for speed, but for hard work, I have blond hair and red in my beard, oh yes, I have a beard and have had since I was 21, I am 48 now, which is a typical trait of a Viking. Also in common with Vikings, I have Osteoarthritis, am a bit of a fighter, very argumentative and have a temper that goes from zero to explosion in an instant. Yes, I do sound like a delight! Anyway, weight loss is on the cards for the new year.
This evening I am going to attempt to finish this bloody sweater. It feels like it has taken me forever to make, but there has been a lot of changes at home as posted, but I really really want and need to finish it, after all, there are so many projects I have my eyes on.
In the new year, I aim to read 24 books. One year I managed to read over 50, but lately, I seem to purchase huge tomes that have thousands of pages, so watch this space. This year I have only managed to read 19 books which is poor. When I was in my late teen’s early twenties I could read a novel in a day. I would get my book, lie on the end of my bed, with the book on the floor and me hanging over the edge, and I would not move until I finished it. These days life is too busy to get the chance to do such things, but I am not complaining.
My final decision is to spend less, save more! I know a lot of people have this as a resolution, but I have everything, and I really mean everything I want and need, so there is no excuse for spend spend spend! Unlike the usually broken resolution of joining the gym and then giving up within a month, these are things I really want to do. I have them on my iPhone, so no escaping it.
In case you were wondering the photo is one I took a few years ago whilst visiting the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth. I have visited it many times, and spend many many hours on the moors. A beautiful part of the world.
All that is left to do is say farewell to 2017.
Well, that’s not all that true, the dogs are running about playing with cardboard tubes.
I have been cooking and preparing all day for tomorrow. My turkey is so big (too big) that it has taken close to 6 hours to cook. I have made my traditional sage and onion stuffing, not the rubbish you get in packets. I started making my trifle yesterday with the jelly and amaretto biscuits, this morning I made the custard, tomorrow I will do the cream and add the chocolate to the top. I decided not to prep my veg today as I did a few years ago and ended up with veg that had split.
The table is decorated and laid out too, so all I have to do is relax and wait for Santa to arrive. I now have a spatchcock chicken in for our dinner this evening.
When I first met M he always insisted on putting out a carrot for the reindeer and a glass of milk and mince pie/cake/cookie for Santa, this happened every year, and year on year the milk was drunk, the carrot and other offerings were eaten. When M got up he always headed to the lounge gasped and smiled as Santa had been and eaten the fair that was left for him. He knew it was me, we were the only people in the house, but he never said anything and neither did I. One year he left a note and Santa replied to him. This must have gone on for 10 years or more, but stopped as we had just got Harper and leaving food and milk on the hearth for Santa was not going to happen as she would sneak out and consume it all, and that was my job. It was a magical time, although we both knew it was me and M was in his 30’s that did not make a difference, it was something fun. I am hoping that he starts it again, I will just have to make sure I get up in the middle of the night to do my part.
This will be our first Christmas in this house without Lilu, but our first with Mazikeen.
Tonight whilst watching rubbish TV and drinking good cheer I will be finishing off my sweater. I have been doing the neck and want it to be quite long so it can be folded back and make it even warmer. With a bit of luck I will have it finished, then I can sew it up and wear it finally. I have attached the front and back at the shoulders and picked up all the stitches I needed to make the neck, but it weighs a tonne so finishing it off is taking quite a bit of manoeuvring about, but it will be worth it in the end.
Well, with that, all is left for me to wish you, one and all, to have a very Merry Christmas.
Tuesday’s Child… Busy week again this week. On Tuesday I had to go to the hospital again for my heart scan. So for all those who think I do not have a heart, it turns out I do have one. The lady who did the scan said that recorded the extra and missed beats, and that the speed of it is at the upper level of fast and she would add all that to her report for my cardiologist. I am there again on Monday to get another 24-hour monitor fitted, then again on Tuesday to have it removed and downloaded. One thing I like about this hospital is it is efficient and all the appointments are on time every time and the fact that it is a specialist hospital dealing with hearts and chest only. Unless there is a major problem, I do not think I will know much this year.
Road to Your Soul… Wednesday I went out with my friend E. I first met her when I started working for her when I was in my mid 20’s, now in my late 40’s we are still friends and have a great laugh with each other. We went to one of our favourite restaurants which is situated about 6 miles away. We started with large Tanqueray gins. Starters ordered, and we moved on to a rather fine Italian Rioja, which was delicious, especially with the queen scallops and black pudding stuffed pigs cheeks. Main courses, E had a Christmas Turkey roast dinner as she will be in Mexico for Christmas, so will not have a traditional dinner. I had tender liver in a red wine sauce with creamed potato and carrot and turnip. Another gin at this point arrived as we had finished the wine. Desert for me was cinder toffee Eton mess which needless to say was amazing, E had coconut rum and raisin, not my idea of a desert but she enjoyed it. Next was a couple of amarettos and a cheese board, followed by more amaretto. We paid the bill and moved to the bar, and E started messing about with the reindeers on display, madness ensued and we had a laugh. More gin, this time Hendricks then I went onto the Jack Daniels. After several, we decided to call it a night and got our taxi cabs home.
Only One Reason… Amazon finally sorted themselves out, apologies quite a lot and added a few free months to my account. They spoke to the transport team and started an investigation as to why so many of my deliveries are lost or majorly delayed. I received all the refunds that I should have had and an assurance that it would never happen again. The latter promise I have taken with a pinch of salt as I know they will screw up again, but I really hope that they don’t as I could not deal with all the problems again. Tomorrow will tell as I have three things coming to the house.
Dream Now… Finally got my 7mm circular I can now finish making my sweater. I have sewn the shoulders together and picked up a load of stitches so I can now do the large ribbed turtleneck. I was going to do some tonight but decided to do it tomorrow as I want the light and to get it right from the start. I had to pick up a collection of stitches that were divisible by 6 + 2, for example, 62 stitches. If I get an early start I should finish it by the end of the day, and a big YAY to me if I do. After sewing the shoulders together I opped it over my head and M said that it looked really nice and expensive too, which is great news. Once I have finished it I will post some photos of it.
Pieces of Our Hearts… All the presents are wrapped and under the tree, all the essential none perishable items have been bought and are in the larder awaiting the big day. Mazikeen is a little too interested in the presents under the tree, so much so that she stole one and ripped it open, one of mine to be exact, however, M got to it fast enough that I did not see what it was, but it was a lovely box it was in, whatever it is. Harper keeps looking at the stuff under the tree, and since there are about 60 items there is a lot to look at. I know what she is doing, she is looking and sniffing to see if she can see something for her. Her and Maz have a lot of things to open, but we have them upstairs out of the way, or they will end up stealing them. Lilu loved Christmas and on the big day she knew it was her time to open lots of presents (we spoiled her), she taught Harper how to open them over the years, both of them experts. This will be the first Christmas in this house without her, so will be a little odd, but she will be with us in spirit.
Blind Lemon Sam… The pup has started growing at an alarming rate. I was a little worried as she just seemed to be the same size for over a month, but this week she has had a growth spurt, and when I came home yesterday evening she seems to have increased by 50% since last seeing her just 10 hours earlier. I bought her an elf sweater for a small dog, that would have done a week ago, and it is quite tight on her, she looks adorable, but a little snug in it. I wanted to get Harper one, but they did not have one big enough, shame really. Mazikeen has only had a few accidents lately and seems to be getting better with her toileting. I have taught her more tricks which is funny to watch, and she now can get onto the sofa with no problem, although still cannot get on to our bed, it is really high.
The Pearl Fisherman… Well that it so far for my update, fingers crossed I can get back to posting more and reading everyone’s blogs, which seems to have been put on hold, but I will catch up and read everyone’s posts over the past few months. Just have to get next week out of the way, and I think normality will be resumed.
The Empty Dancehall… In case anyone was wondering about the titles and the name of my post, it is from a group called All About Eve, the album is Scarlet, and other Stories and the bold are titles of songs. I went to see All About Eve back in 1989 in Liverpool and totally loved them, and have spoken to Julianne Regan many times, she even recommended that I read ‘On Ther Periphery’ about David Sylvian, which I loved reading.
I ordered an item 2nd December for next day delivery, however, due to a royal cock-up, my item ended up Avigliana, which is over 1600 miles away from where I live, so I contacted them due to their messages which meant it was now lost, no kidding! I finally got my money back today.
Due to this loss, I decided to order a replacement that was exactly the same item, but cheaper on 8th December along with a circular needle so I can finish my sweater, a couple of DVD’s and another present for M. These were all on Prime, and therefore next day delivery, but when I went to pay it changed from Saturday to Monday, so with a sigh, I decided that would have to do. Monday came and at about 4pm the two DVD’s were delivered, but the other three items were nowhere to be seen. I contacted Amazon and was told that they would be here on Wednesday now. So much for one-day delivery! I fired off an email and this morning got an email saying that they were getting delivered today. Rolling my eyes I thought to myself, well this is better than Wednesday, and since we are having -10°c I can finish my sweater. But, and there is always a but, Amazon messaged me through their app “From Amazon Shipping at 11AM today; Unable to locate address. Please contact Amazon with more address information. Amazon Shipping is having trouble delivering your package to the address provided.” WTF! The same delivery office managed to deliver my DVD’s yesterday to that same address, yet today cannot find it. The thing is they cannot miss the place as it is three-quarters of an acre, and there are huge signs with the name of the place all over them and at night it is lit up, so again you really cannot miss it. On the delivery address, I even put a note saying that it is on the corner of two roads as it has a name and not a number, so really there is no excuse. I can only presume that the driver could not be arsed delivering the item or is Stevie Wonder.
I called them again today and was told that it was impossible to deliver again tomorrow due to the location and postcode. I wanted at this point to reach into the phone and rip his throat out. I told him he was as useless as the delivery drivers as the depot was only 45 minutes drive from here and that I have ordered things at 11pm and night and had next day delivery, yet he insisted that it was impossible. I questioned his ability to do the job and told him I wanted to speak to the manager, he told me that he would get him, but, as with everything Amazon, this was to be drawn out. He came back after a long time on hold to tell me that the manager was not available today! I said firmly “What?” he then decided that he was available today, but would have to call me back sometime, and could not give dates or times as to the return call, so that meant they did not give a shit and I could go swing for it. I hung up at this point as I was ready to kill someone.
I then received an email, quite a pitiful email from so-called customer services giving piss poor excuses as to the shabby treatment, but in essence, its message was this; tough shit, we do not care, but thanks for your money.
One other thing that really pissed me off was that they charged me twice for the circular needle. Only £5.81 overcharge, but it is that, an overcharge. His reply to the email was that I was mistaken and that it was only taken once. So I did a screenshot of my bank showing the two payments and sent off to him demanding that my items are delivered tomorrow and a full investigation be made as to why all my items are lost or delayed and that I want some form of compensation and my money back of course. The compensation was mentioned in my first email, which he decided to ignore, and I told him that he had not read my email fully, and to have respect and answer all my points and not cherry pick what he could be bothered with.
It is shocking how we are expected to pay £79 a year for a service that is never fulfilled.
So, in essence, I hate Amazon.
I love the snow, and each year we have to go and look for it, and this year is no exception to the rule. The whole of the country seems to have snow, be it think 12″ or just a smattering of the white stuff, but here, in our little microclimate we do not have a drop, not one flake has fallen, and as I look out at the sky whilst writing this in my office, I see blue sky with some white clouds, well quite a lot of cloud, but the point is, I see blue sky. I can see my twitter stream flying by on the side of the screen and everyone is posting about #UKSnow but not here in our little village.
Yesterday I went to the next county to get produce from Booths, and it was snowing there, only 9.5 miles away, there is a market town which is only 8.2 miles away from my house had snowfall, but again we missed it.
The last time we had snow here was in 2010, and the whole country had it and no one escaped, and that was such fun. Our car was buried under 2 foot of snow, and we had temperatures in the night of -18° c with daytime ranging from -5°c to -10°c. We went for a very slow walk in the village and met so many people all chatting and having a really nice time of it, enjoying something that is rare here. At the time we only had Lilu, and she loved it, although I did have to make a pathway in the garden for her and it quite literally buried her when she went out in it.
I have checked with the Met office and so far we are going to miss all the snow again. Talk about Bar Humbug!
Here are some Pictures from 18th December 2010 when we last had snow.
Busy, yes, I think that sums up the past 3 weeks. In fact, I could go one further and say bedlam, mmm, yes, I will stick with bedlam.
Obviously, the pup has been keeping us on our toes, but we have had so many appointments to fit in including puppy days at the vets, Mazikeen getting her final injections, then back for worming then again for kennel cough vaccination, then Harper with all hers. Add to this cardiology for me, helping out a friend with her business, and life zooming along at a million miles an hour that is it in a nutshell.
Once Mazikeen could go our a week after her final vaccination we took her to the forest, which she loves. Picking up sticks to carry with her, meeting other dogs and people that just want to fuss over the both of them, and who can blame them, they are both very cute. We have not taken her to the beach just yet as the weather has not been very good to us. The near freezing temperature is fine, we all have winter coats and the dogs have lovely matching ones, it’s just the constant rain and high winds that make it near impossible to be on the coastline. Mazikeen’s training is coming on very well and the breeder was very surprised that she does so much on command at such a young age, as she is only 3 months old today.
I have managed to finally finish The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt, and given that this is his first novel, I thought it was well written, and kept me interested throughout, although the end was a little anticlimactic. So with the end of one physical book, I have started another one, this time “Breakfast with the Borgias” by D.B.C. Pierre. The title and cover intrigued me, also last November I was in the Borgia Apartments in the Vatican, so it felt like I had to read it. I mentioned it being a physical book because I have so much I am reading on my Kindle including among others Captian Scott by Ranulph Fiennes and Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, this is the second time I have read this.
I have not managed to do any more of my sweater, and I really need to finish it, I’m getting cold.
Christmas is close at hand and with that comes more running about and buying presents for M and the dogs. I have done my cards and bought some presents for M, but more are on the way, and I have managed to get something for my niece but still looking for my nephew and my parents. This year I have found it really hard to get things for M. I have not been inspired by anything and being honest, I thought that the hateful black Friday may give me some ideas and bargains, but nothing at all, everything that seemed to be on sale were things that we already have. There was one thing that I saw but was too late as they had run out of stock. I am sure you can tell that I am not a fan of BF. I think it is just a way for the shops to get us to buy crap that we do not need, but the fact remains that over 60% of goods on offer on that day can be bought cheaper either before or after the so-called deal day.
I had a little accident this week and managed to fracture my nose. I have broken it many times and I am a tough cookie if I am honest, and I just get on with it. I have smashed many parts of my body in through the years and ended up in the hospital far too many times. This time I was cleaning the inside of the back window of the car, I have an X-Trail and it’s quite a big car, and with that quite a big hatch. I stepped back and to the side after cleaning and pulled it down with a lot of force, but had not stood back enough and brought the corner of the door/hatch down on the bridge of my nose. Pain and seeing stars was then followed by lots of blood pouring down my face, needless to say, I looked a bit of a mess. I have a little bruising today, but nothing worth talking about.
That about sums it up.
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