Monthly Archives: December 2011

Alone Once More

So the Christmas  festivities are behind us once again …

It was nice to have family visiting over the holiday, as usual: Mother-in-Law for a few days over the weekend, The Daughter and The Boys on Boxing Day and overnight, and Rosemary and Mervyn the following day.

Traveled up to Garstang on Friday 23rd to collect Mother-in-Law and pick up the pre-ordered food items from E H Booths. Driving conditions were pretty foul both ways, but the volume of traffic was not great, so we managed good journey times; lucky escape coming back, when the traffic came to a dead stop just at J16 of the M6 — we just made it off on to the A556.

Saturday was a quiet day, making final preparations and drawing up my catering plan for the big day.

Christmas Day went to church at St Luke’s for the 9 o’clock service (bit thin on the ground, congregation-wise); then home to implement my master plan for roast goose with usual accompaniments, followed by Xmas Pud. It all went off remarkably well, if I do says so myself.

Boxing Day we were up in good time to await the arrival of Anna and Matt with The Boys: predictably they had a slightly delayed start, but were with us my 12:30. A buffet lunch was followed by present-opening and general mayhem, as might be expected. After tea/evening meal of salmon with asparagus and new potatoes, and once the kids were settled, Anna and Matt went off to the pub with Lucy and Paul.

Tuesday, R&M were here in time for coffee, while The Ricketts went across the road for an hour or two. Buffet lunch and Prezzies again; then Anna and co departed. Haunch of mutton for our evening meal was a success, followed by a couple of puds provided by R&M, accompanied by a very good pudding wine.

Mother-in law was up betimes on Wednesday and ready for the off as soon as breakfast was done. Waved them off about 10.00 and spent the rest of the day putting the house back to normal.

As I said, it’s lovely to have family at Christmas time … It’s also nice when there’s just the two of us again. 🙂

Next week, Chris and Phyl — but that’s another story!

Joseph and the Aliens

To Pen-y-ffordd last Monday, to watch the Nativity play at our grandson’s school.

It was a slightly unconventional production, involving not only the usual participants – Mary and Joseph, shepherds, angels, wise men and a star – but also a new element: aliens !

Here is not the place to go into details about how the aliens were involved in this particular production; but I was interested by the reaction when I posted about this on facebook: nobody expressed surprised. I guess we have all come to assume that school nativity plays will “adapt” the original story to accommodate their own situation — mainly I suppose, on account of the number and range of participants that have to be accommodated.

A couple of people actually seemed keen to validate this particular adaptation. One reminded me that Chris de Burgh has been here already (see youtube). The other pointed out that the mystery of that wandering star might be best accounted for by alien involvement

So here’s my deep thought for today –
The annual juggling act of finding (or manufacturing) a part for every child in the Nativity Play is perhaps a reminder that even the oddest or apparently insignificant of us can have a contribution to make to the rich tapestry that is human life.
Poetic or what?!

On a lighter note, I am also reminded of this thought from Milton Jones:
Sometimes I feel like Joseph at the inn in Bethlehem holding a crib of straw and saying “No – I asked to see the manager!”

Northumberland 2011

Day One

Up the M6 to Penrith, then A686 over Hartside Pass and across Alston Moor to Haydon Bridge; then A68 and B6320 to Otterburn, and so via Elsdon and B6340, B6342 through Long Witton and Nether Witton to Long Horsley, and at last Linden Hall Hotel.

Excellent dinner in the Dobson Restaurant.

Day Two

Up the A1 to Lindisfarne, Holy Island.

Slightly hairy crossing on the causeway (wondered if I’d mis-read the tide tables, but other folk were in transit, so guess it was just the high winds that caused the sea to be up a bit high).

Walked to the castle and then on round the island to the bird hide. In retrospect, since we saw no significant bird life, it might have been better to just go back to the village and do the Priory; still the exercise, fighting the strong wind, must have been good for us!

Stopped at The Barn At Beal once back on the mainland — nice cup of coffee and HUGE scone with home-made strawberry jam

Home via the coast road through Bamburgh and Seahouses. Weather turned rather unpleasant.

Persuaded the hotel to serve us the Pub Menu in the restaurant (pub is closed for winter refurb). Somewhat stuffed after very large mussel starter; lamb steak disappointingly tough.

Day Three

A1 towards Alnwick then cross-country to Craster (of kipper fame) and a nice walk along the coast to Dunstanburgh Castle. Nice morning, despite the forecast, if a bit breezy. Got quite close to a seal on the rocks near the castle — hard to tell if it was stranded or just lazy (hopefully the latter).

Back to Alnwick, and a look round Barter Books, the Second Largest Used Book Shop in the UK (or some such claim to fame) in the old station: a very interesting place.

Out to Alnmouth and down the coast road to Amble; then back across country to the hotel.

Another enjoyable meal in the restaurant; complete change of staff, seemingly.

Day Four

Home along B6138 following the line of Hadrians Wall; spotted the Wall a number of times, but it was too cold and damp to make a close inspection! Never-the-less, a more enjoyable ride than taking the A69 with all the rest of the traffic.

Stopped at Cranstons Cumbrian Food Hall on the edge of Penrith to buy butties for lunch; picked up pork cutlets for tea, steak for Saturday and a pork shoulder joint for Sunday.


Very enjoyable few days.

Impressed with the coastal scenery, the castles, the dead straight roads, the countryside in general, and the hotel (despite the feeling it could do with a bit of capital investment).

Few snaps here