Week 313

21st December, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice and welcome to the first week of the Blog’s seventh year on the longest night and shortest day. It is one of the oldest winter celebrations known to man (and woman) and celebrates the rebirth of the sun and beginning of winter. In ancient Rome, the week-long feast of Saturnalia honoured the sun god Saturn. They’d have a job here because the sky is grey and heavy. At least it’s all downhill from here. Already looking forward to Week 364 this time next year.

22nd December, 2014

Already the days are getting longer. Optimism abounds and we look forward to the Spring. This morning we were up at 6.00 am and shopping in Tesco at 7.30 am. Even so, it was very busy. Pauline is cooking for nine on Christmas Day so this morning was sourcing of final preparations. Christmas does very little for me and I often feel that we are going through the motions. On Christmas Eve, all nine of us are going out to Valentina’s – an Italian restaurant in Weybridge and then we will have the traditional meal in West Byfleet on Thursday. Pauline and I then try to eat and drink as little as possible after Boxing Day because the next celebration is on December 30th which this year will mark our 36th Wedding Anniversary followed the next day by New Year’s Eve. Found a couple of delightful, sparkling wines in our French vintners. They are from New Zealand. One is a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc and the other is a delicious Pinot Noir-Chardonnay blend.

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In England the sell at around £14.00 a bottle and in France they cost just under half that.

Unfortunately, immediately after all the Christmas and New Year festivities, I have my annual INR and Diabetic reviews. I need good numbers in spite of the alcohol so must go easy. For the first time, my reviews will be conducted over the phone with my doctor. That’s an economical first.

23rd December, 2014

A lovely sunny and mild day opens on this Tuesday. We were warmer than Athens and Sifnos yesterday and are pretty much the same today. I bet the new owners of our house are using the underfloor heating in the evenings now. Pauline is busily preparing things for the Christmas meal. Cranberries have been stewed and bottled. Three sorts of stuffing – sage & onion, forcemeat and chestnut have been prepared and set aside. The Christmas cake and Christmas pudding were completed and ready long ago. An orange sorbet and a lemon posset and meringues are in the process of being made ready. The turkey will be delivered tomorrow, prepared by Pauline and then set aside for Thursday morning.

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I just sit by quietly and ‘taste’ on command.

It’s still touch and go whether the Greek Government will reach the required 180 votes for their Presidential candidate in the final vote. They need to bribe another dozen and still rely on the mad men of Golden Dawn. Even so, Samaras has had to promise early elections before the end of 2015. Going to be an interesting holiday!

24th December, 2014

Christmas Eve has opened a little grey but mild. Phyllis & Colin are coming round this morning to deliver the turkey. Pauline will dress it and give it back to them along with the Christmas cake and puddings. We are picking them up this afternoon to take the to Valentina’s Italian Restaurant in Weybridge for a family meal. I might have pasta for the first time in two years. We’ll see. Maybe that’s a step too far.

Just been contacted by friends to say that my old school which I left nearly six years ago and which was demolished and reborn as an Academy has just been put in to Special Measures after the injection of something like £6 million. Nothing really changes. No amount of money really redresses inequality. We’ve been trying to do it all of my working life. Happy Christmas!

25th December, 2014

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Click to animate the graphic.

Exactly six years ago I wrote:

Welcome to the Hellas Blog on Christmas Day 2008. A particular welcome to all the Sanders Family and those closely associated with them.

We’re still here and will be for as long as there’s breath in our body. Long live the Blog!

Lovely day with lovely company and many nice presents but my favourite was from a little lad who I have called ‘bumface’ since he was two years old. This morning he presented me with a bar of soap which has the word BUM on one side and FACE on the other. bfsoap

You are supposed to use each side to wash the appropriate part, he tells me.

26th December, 2014

Boxing Day is great when you’ve got everything you need in the world. Everyone else is out struggling for ‘Bargains’ on the High Street while I am stripping the turkey and making stock. Pauline cooked the most wonderful meal for all nine of us yesterday. It really was the best ever. We had:

  • Baked cured salmon on a bed of beetroot puree and dressed with parsley and garlic oil.
  • Turkey with three stuffings – Sage & Onion, Chestnut and Forcemeat. This was accompanied by pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, baby carrots and green beans and completed by cranberry sauce and apple sauce.
  • Sweet was her fantastic Christmas Pudding with custard and clotted cream and/or Lemon Bavois with fresh raspberries and/or Orange Sorbet.

Now in the aftermath of Christmas Day, I’m thinking of Turkey Stock and Turkey Soup. I love it. I think I’ll open another bottle of Champagne.  Well, it is Christmas.

27th December, 2014

We haven’t had the heating on and we stepped out into a lovely, sunny morning to go shopping although it was bitterly cold in the breeze. The news bulletins were full of last night’s snow which hit Wales, the Midlands and the North of England. Liverpool and Leeds airports were closed for a while; motorists were stranded on the M1 in the Midlands.

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Phyllis hates shopping so much that she has taken desperately evasive action. She has jumped off the stair and broken a bone in her foot. Not good for an 89 year old. Still, it will save Colin some money! We, in the meantime, are off to the gym and then back to the (Turkey) soup diet. Looking forward to it.