Christmas 2009

I think like a lot of people I was looking forward to the end of 2009. Besides both Sue and I officially being retired and in receipt of our Teacher pensions before the whatever government is elected in the spring, takes away any benefits or extends the date at which it can be claimed. The summer of 2009 was rubbish, though in fairness, the end of the year was at least seasonal by being cold with a bit of snow.

Sadly, Aunty Anne died the week before Christmas. She was over 90 years old and had been in a home for the last 3 years. She had got quite confused towards the end and really didn’t recognise anyone anymore. I liked Anne, I saw more of her than many of my other relatives. She used to live in the row of houses that you can see regularly in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. When I was younger I used roam around many of the locations used in the series. I was always  pleased when I knew we were going to see Aunty Anne. Never saw Compo or Foggy though. I was in Thurcroft on Tuesday, especially to take Nan to the funeral and pay our last respects. However, the snow arrived on Monday night and we woke to 30cm+ of snow. The funeral was cancelled as much of South Yorkshire was gridlocked. We were informed that it had been put off for a couple of weeks. As the forecast was for more snow I decided to attempt the journey home. It took 4.5 hours (usually just over an hour). Last night I heard that the funeral was to go ahead today. Nan is going, but I shall not, the forecast is for more snow in the North.

As usual we had a very busy Christmas. Everyone was here the day before Christmas Eve, so there was no rush to get to Kettering for our traditional Christmas Eve, Tenpin Bowling. Nan stayed at home (watching TV) and Sue came but didn’t play this year because of her operation. Usually, you have to book  a month or two ahead as it is a very popular evening, this year you could tell the recession id biting as half of the lanes were empty. Lucas loved it and was a live wire despite the lateness. His perpetual motion slowed only slightly as the clock approached midnight (I used to have that amount of energy, once). There were two memorable moments:

1. A bunch of girls were playing in the lane next to ours and I was watching one of them bowl, when she forgot to let go of the ball on the outwards sweep and released in on the backwards arc. I watched the panic as her friends scattered in an attempt to avoid the Barnes Wallace Bouncing Bomb. I am afraid I found it so funny that I was besides myself with laughing (tears streaming!) that the unfortunate girl noticed and was mortified. I tried to stop, but it just seemed to make it even more funnier.

2. The younger members of the family always prat about when we go anywhere, and I have to admit it is usually very funny. Jamie needed a strike and was really concentrating on bowling his next ball. Charlotte was quietly stalking him down the lane as he was preparing to bowl and shouted out ‘Jamie’ as he released the ball. We all hooted with laughter as Jamie went spinning down the alley after his ball. He didn’t get his strike and was gutted when his ball was guttered.

Lucas fell asleep in the car on the way home and we all helped putting the presents around the tree, with Lucas tucked up in bed, before we retired ourselves. Christmas morning was opening presents and trying to make sure that the wrapping paper didn’t get everywhere. Lunch was exceptional this year, Nan had brought a Turkey Crown (whatever that is) and it carved perfectly and tasted fantastic. In the afternoon everyone played with their presents or read instructions, and I disappeared to the garage and made Lucas a sledge out of some old wood and curtain rail. The excitement was dampened slightly when on his 3rd go he slipped and squashed his nose on the icy driveway. It must be genetic that this Nation is rubbish at winter sports and also accounts for why the country comes to a standstill when two flakes of snow fall from the sky.

We watched Dr Who (it was rubbish) and Top Gear (it was funny).

On Boxing Day morning we went to Salcey Forest. It has a tree-top walkway (22m high) through the trees with spectacular views over Northamptonshire. The path to the walkway was absolutely lethal!!!! Sheer ice. Nan bravely walked with us hanging on to my arm, but I didn’t have much grip. The others pratted about throwing snowballs! It was a lovely morning walk and we made it safely back to the cafe where we all had large mugs of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows, what a brilliant combination. We decided that we would return again in the summer. Afterwards, Nan, Sue, Lucas and I drove back to Harborough and Charlotte, Suraj, Jamie and Sarah went to the sales in Northampton.

The following day we went Greyhound racing in Peterborough (another tradition). Jamie’s girlfriend, Harley, came with us. I couldn’t repeat last years massive win, it was the turn of other family members. One race had just finished and depressingly I was considering the form of the hounds for the next race when suddenly a lot of squealing and screaming came from behind me. It was Sarah and Harley, they had decided to have a ‘Trio bet’ (pick the first 3 dogs in the right order). They had both picked the same dogs and had realised that they had won £64. It was several minutes before they stopped squealing, much to the amusement of all the spectators.

The next day, Nan Lucas and I went on the train to Leicester to see the Dinosaurs at New Walk Museum. It was a lovely,exciting trip on the train and despite only being able to see the Dinosaurs through a doorway as they were being cleaned, Lucas was fascinated with the Natural History exhibits.  His questions were endless and I am glad that Nan and Jamie were there to share them. Nan bought him a plastic dinosaur in the shop. When we returned in the afternoon, the others were out, Sales shopping again.

Suraj had to go home the following day as their neighbours were going on holiday and could not longer after the cats. Charlotte and Lucas  stayed for another day and then returned home. Nan stayed for New Years Eve and I took her back a few days later, via Newark to drop Lucas’s sledge off, as they had left it behind. Luckily it then snowed, a lot.

I did manage to take Roger for a walk around Pitsford Reservoir one afternoon, in the snow. Very enjoyable, especially as we only saw a couple of other people doing the same thing. Roger had only been out over Christmas for his Christmas lunch, and during the main course had broken his tooth. The only other time he left Braybrook was to have the tooth pulled out, I wonder if he kept it for the Tooth Fairy?

Nan and I went to see David and Genya at the Unit in Rotherham. Link: They had failed to phone or visit during the Christmas period and explained that some youths had thrown a brick through their van window as they were passing under a bridge. Though David managed to chase and catch them, they denied it and the police were powerless to do anything without other witnesses. He had been without transport until a few days ago. Nan told him off for not phoning and letting us know. He mentioned that he may be returning to Bulgaria in February (could be chilly).

Fingers crossed that 2010 will be a better year for everyone.

Wish one: All bankers are shot

Wish two: All MP’s are shot

Wish three: All OFSTED inspectors are shot.

Wish four: All terrorists are shot.

And finally, Sue and I were treated to an especially nice Christmas present. We have learnt that we are again to be grandparents. Charlotte and Suraj broke the news on Christmas Day. Quickly followed by what are we doing in August? Having had practise at this sort of news, it wasn’t such a shock. Life gets ever so interesting as you get older!

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