Family traditions?

There’s a family get together this weekend – it’s in Yorkshire. I’m travelling up there to be with family, my parents are travelling down from Scotland. It’s a surprise party for an aunt and uncle. My Mum is doing most of the catering, because that’s what she does.

My only role is to bake Parkin. Yorkshire Parkin. I used a recipe today that had been recommended online. I had to make enough for 30 people. So, that meant trebling the recipe. Halfway through baking it, Mum asked if I was using the family recipe…oops. No, it’s not my Gran’s recipe, it’s another. I don’t have Gran’s recipe.

With the cakes (three of them) in the oven, the aroma starts to permeate around the house and it’s gorgeous. It also takes me right back to Bonfire Night when I was a child. Toffee apples, bonfire toffee and Parkin. All homemade. All yummy.  Seasonal treats. All steeped in tradition as they are made.

Mum is making toffee apples and bonfire toffee for the event, so I had a look at recipes for toffee. Comparing the online recipes to ‘our recipes’ was interesting. All the online recipes recommended the use of a sugar thermometer to check the toffee as it’s boiling (to get the right point for ‘crunchy or chewy’ toffee. I don’t remember my Gran or Mum having one of those. We used a jug of very cold water to test the toffee. You simply drop a teaspoon of the (still boiling, liquid) toffee into the cold water and then you test it. Simple.

I’m quite lucky that I come from a family steeped in tradition. Baking is relaxing. It’s part of what makes me, me. It’s tradition. Family tradition.

I’ve made my Christmas cakes (one rum, one brandy and one whisky). I’ve made Parkin for bonfire night. What’s next??

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Mac vs PC

I’ve long waited for my old laptop to die. It’s been giving up the ghost for months. About a month ago, I backed up all the data, including all the email files, ready for it to go to the big electronics graveyard (i.e. the dump). Then, my darling BF gave me a present. He bought me a MacBook. Out of the blue. Well, it’s for Christmas, but I’ve got it early.

I love it. It boots in a second. It is awake in a second.

I am now utterly frustrated by my work PC, my home PC and my phone – all of which are Windows based.

My BF says it won’t be long before I’ve got an iMac, and iPhone and I change my home WiFi to be Apple.

He might just be right…

Christmas shopping

It’s that time of year, when I start looking for appropriate gifts for friends and family. I work out what I think people would like, and what I think they might need. My BF is quite difficult in many ways, as he buys what he needs as soon as he needs it. The trick is to buy him something that he doesn’t realise he needs…but I’ve never really been successful in that…yet!

But, this is also the time of year when I feel guilty and sad. My Gran is in a home in Yorkshire – close to the extended family – where she wanted to be, but no-one is taking her out of the home for Christmas. She’ll be on her own. That’s terrible. No-one cares enough to go get her, spend the day with her and share the family day with my Gran. I wish I lived closer. I would pull the stops out to show her the kind of Christmas that she deserves.

I also feel sad that the family is so spread out. My sister is in Berumda, and my parents are in the North of Scotland. My boyfriend and I live in Surrey. My gut tells me we should go home for Christmas – to Ardchroskie – before it is sold. But, it’s never that easy is it?

I don’t actually know what to do for the best.

My sister (the wise one, you know), says I need to do what’s best for me. But, I’ve never done that.

Next year, Sis and I have a plan to make sure we’re all together somewhere. I hope that will include dear old Gran, but I might be hoping for too much.It depends on a lot. My sister living closer; Ardchroskie not being on the market; BF having a definite answer about the boys; and various sets of parents being fit to travel.

Christmas is such an important family time. It really is…

Panic over

Despite Christmas not being the traditional affair I’m used to, it was lovely. I had lots of help to prepare the lunch and still I managed to forget the brussels and the little sausage things wrapped in bacon…hmmmm. Could that have anything to do with a subconscious mind working away? (I’m actually allergic to anything pork, and I don’t like brussels…though I do eat them).

Yesterday, we went out for a walk to Windsor Great Park. We didn’t walk particularly far, it was bitterly cold, but had a lovely wander through the park to the statue and back again, snapping away with the cameras as we did so. We even found a Starbucks that was open (on the way home) and enjoyed a very hot latte out of the bitter winds. The only part of the day that wasn’t so good was a text from Mum. She and Dad had driven to Yorkshire to see Gran – and when they got there, Gran said it had been so long that she thought they had died. OMG. Poor Gran.

She’s now been without a hearing aid for two-three weeks, which puts her in a bigger isolation than normal. It’s terrible. What part of ‘care home’ is caring? I’m beginning to wonder. I fought to get her a place there so she could be cared for while having the extended family around her, but the home fails to get her diet correct, fails to replace the hearing aid that broke recently, and fails in so many other ways. OK, so I’m being harsh, they are good in so many ways…Gran has medical support on hand 24-hrs a day for her seizures etc. and there’s special equipment to help her get showered, bathed even, and to make sure that she can be lifted easily if she falls. 

But, my Mum sent a text last night to say “I hate leaving her there”.

I can only agree.

Sing-along-Mamma Mia

OK so not everyone’s cup of tea, but what a laugh. On Christmas Eve the cinema was hardly packed, but sing-a-long we did. With tickets at £2 a pop, it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours winding down ready for Santa to arrive.

I was a little shocked that there were small children there too…Hmmm…what’s that about?

When I was a small child, I couldn’t wait for bedtime to arrive so that I could fall asleep early, waiting for the noise of sleigh bells…

My first Christmas…

on my own!

Yep, I’m nearing and big 4 0 and for the first time in my life, I’m going to be on my own for Christmas. First. Time. Ever. OK, so let’s just caveat the ‘on my own’ – technically, I’ll have BF, his parents, sons and brothers, so not really on my own. The real difference is I’ll be without my mum, dad and gran. 

Gran is in Yorkshire and will be with Tuck and his family. Mum and Dad will be in Scotland, at home in the Glen. Wierd. Bizarre and very, very odd.

My wee sis even sent a text saying ‘I can’t believe we’re spending Christmas apart, we’re actually all in the same country.’

Many of you are thinking, why is it so weird. Well, Christmas is about family. It’s about tradition. It’s about what you do together and how you do it.

I’ve never woken up and not gone to wake my mum & dad. Since being a little girl, Christmas morning has been about waking them & gran, preparing buck’s fizz, eating Quality Streets in bed, and then the present giving…my sister and I taking it in turns to hand out gifts.

So, what happens this year? I don’t know. 
The big risk is that I’ll drink all the bucks fizz on my own before anyone gets here.