On the 14th December I drove up to Sheffield to pick up Sarah and Nan for transportation to Harborough, in readiness for the coming celebrations. I arrived midmorning to find Nan was just leaving to have her hair done and I wasn’t due to pick Sarah up until mid- afternoon. I watched the TV and waited. On Nan’s return we went to Whiston for lunch before returning to Thurcroft and loaded up the car with her bat-mobile and bags of other stuff. As I had finished, Sarah rang and we set off to pick her up. Surprisingly she was ready and with the car jammed to the gunnels, we had a quick and uneventful journey home.
The following week was cold and miserable (weather wise), I know because Nan complained the house was too cold, though we did have the central heating on and a log fire, and I found the lounge too hot to stay in at times. They say your blood thins when you get old, not looking forward to it! On the 21st, I went with Roger to Beryl Bowler’s funeral. She was a past colleague at Farndon Fields, an excellent teacher though rather heavy on the school’s art resources. It was quite a cheery affair (we were asked not to wear black) and it was nice to chat to old friends. Roger and I didn’t go to the funeral tea as I had to pop around to see Charlotte and he was keen to get back to Fran (just in case she tried to escape back to Yorkshire). I guess there must have been a lot of present buying going on during the week as people kept disappearing in mysterious circumstances. And, when contacted by phone to inquire as to where they were, the replies were always evasive and there always seemed to be a tune in the back ground (similar to that you hear in shops).
On the Thursday I joined in the celebrations at the Catholic Club. It is traditional that a small group of friends that I play snooker with, each bring some food on the last Thursday before Christmas to have a party. As usual it was a very pleasant and amiable affair, a nice way to finish the year.
The Rothwell’s and Jamie arrived for Christmas on the Friday. The house became a much livelier place. I found my study to be a haven of peace and tranquility, until Ellis discovered it. I cooked a curry for every one on Friday night and Charlotte made an exquisite Chinese meal on the Saturday. Suraj had made me new computer (faster, dual core Pentium) to run some video editing software I use. When I managed to escape E & L I spent my time loading the new machine with software and testing it.
Christmas Eve: As everybody was here and the weather was quite warm, I found the house to be quite tropical in atmosphere. Not surprisingly, I picked up Ellis’s cough and cold. I crossed my fingers it would not lead to a repeat of last year where Sue and I spent most of Christmas ill in bed. Luckily it didn’t. During the morning I made Chestnut Soup in readiness for tomorrow. It is custom to spend the evening ten-pin bowling in Kettering, but this year we did it at home on the Xbox. It was thought that Ellis was at that age where he was too young to take and too old (and too fast) to stay at home with Nan. We had a family knock-out tournament and I was beaten on the last bowl of the evening by Sarah by one point! Well, it wasn’t the real thing was it and everyone knows that students spend more time drinking and socializing than studying! Magically, just as the little ones went to bed, Santa arrived and the presents appeared around the tree.
Christmas Day: I was the last to get up out of bed (streaming nose/dry cough and glued eyes). Everyone else was clearly excited, dressed in red and had eaten breakfast, a fire had been made and the little ones (with adult help) had made a start on putting the presents in little piles for distribution by sledge. After a drinking coffee I found every one sitting in their chairs with Christmas music CD blaring out of the stereo, I took my seat and Santa’s little helpers started their deliveries.
Pretty soon the elves (Ellis & Lucas) got fed up of delivering everyone else’s presents and Sarah and Suraj took over and things sped along nicely. However, Santa seemed to make a mistake with some of the presents as I only got ONE bottle of beer this year, and I am sure I put quite a few on my list.
Usually, during the afternoon, we watch TV and played with the children’s toys. However, this year one of Santa’s more mischievous helpers had given the irresponsible members of the family some Space Putty! I remember it being called Silly Putty when I was a lad. A new game of sticking it to the ceiling above one of your family members, so that a some random time in the future it would plop onto them, became popular. As did forming it into a ball and lobbing it around the room whist looking the other way. One family member tried moulding it into the shape of an ear in a rather unfortunate way:
Boxing Day: After a late breakfast we drove to Salcey Forest for our Christmas walk. Ellis had woken up with a nasty cough so on the way the Rothwells diverted via Corby to get some medicine from a chemist. Not to be out done I misread the SatNav and diverted onto the motorway south of Northampton and added another 22 miles to my journey! Surprisingly, no one said a word in the car when I did this (even Jamie), though someone did mention that we could do some shopping in Milton Keynes as we were already there. The Forest is quite a popular place on Boxing Day and the car park was full, however as we arrived, luckily a car was leaving and I bagged the vacant spot. The day was warm and the walk was pleasant. Nan even managed to get up onto the Tree-top Walk.
On return to the car park, we put the child seats into my car as we were taking Nan and the kids home while the rest of the tribe went into Northampton to do some shopping in the sales (recession?) They returned laden with what we were assured were necessary bargains.
Greyhound Day: (27th Dec.) Each Christmas it is traditional to try our luck at the races, so we got to the dogs in Peterborough. Harley arrived around 9am to accompany us. We set off 1/2 an hour earlier than usual and it paid dividends as for once we were at the front of the queue. This meant we had the pick of the tables to sit at (next to the start) and first in the queue for food and drink. By the time the first race had started, we had eaten, had a drink and placed our bets. We took it in turns to take Ellis and Lucas to see the greyhounds and we all gave our money to the bookies and not very frequently, we returned to receive our winnings. Harley won big on the last race of the day. The drive back appeared to be quite long, though I followed the SatNav. The Rothwells went via their place to check up on Pepper (cat).
Museum Day: (28th Dec) Jamie and Suraj went into work. Sue, Charlotte, Lucas. Ellis and I went to the New Walk Museum in Leicester. We had taken Lucas before to see the Dinosaurs, but unfortunately that department had been closed for renovation. This time it was open.
Pantomime Day: (29th Dec.) Jamie was at work during the afternoon but he managed to get time off to accompany us to the Panto to see Dick Whittington at the Corby Cube. Unlike last year, we had managed to secure seats downstairs in the stalls for a much better view. It was an evening performance and the journey there was quite a damp. It was a very entertaining performance but the consensus of opinion was that there was too much singing and not enough slapstick humour. As a result Ellis was quite fidgety and Charlotte and Suraj had to take him out a couple of times to prevent him disturbing the others, perhaps he was a bit too young to have taken him. It really was raining on the return journey.
Family Lunch Day: (30th Dec.) That morning Lee came down to stay for as couple of days. It is usual to go out for a meal as a family over Christmas. In the past our winnings from the greyhounds have funded it, but this year that wasn’t going to happen. After driving to a pub in Middleton for lunch and finding it shut, we diverted to the Red Lion at Weston by Welland and had a very nice meal.That night Suraj set about making pizza for the evening meal. Much to Sue’s concern she gave her kitchen over to him. He had disappeared late in the afternoon to the supermarket to get ingredients and came back laden with all sorts of goodies, I suspected there might be a bit of a mess in the making, so I snook off to my study and busied myself with busy things. I had heard from Charlotte that he usually turns the kitchen into post nuclear strike zone when he cooks. I didn’t want to be part of the fallout! What a surprise, each time I passed through the kitchen I saw him tidying up as he went along and what he was making looked quite appetizing. When the bell eventually went for the meal, the kitchen was clean, and pizzas were assembled and cut ready to be eaten. And……. they tasted lovely! Phew!!!!!
New Years Eve: Sarah was working at the rugby club that night at a private bash so Lee left late that afternoon to return home. Charlotte and Suraj were going to a party, which left Sue, Nan and I to look after the kids as mum and dad weren’t coming back until the following day (I knew this sort a thing happened to grandparents) and they left in the early evening. Ellis fell asleep and was in bed for 7pm and Lucas fell asleep watching Pirates of the Caribbean with me. We were all fast asleep for 10pm (can you believe it?) Harborough usually turns into a war zone at midnight on New Years Eve (Fireworks), and this year was no exception, it failed to wake up the kids or Nan, what does that tell you? I promptly fell back to sleep to be woken by Sarah coming in at 2.30am.
New Years Day: Nearly everyone returned for lunch. Charlotte and Suraj looked washed out and refused any liquid that might contain alcohol. Jamie failed to make it, though he is still alive and somewhere in Harborough. Later that day the Rothwells returned to Rothwell (all of them) and peace once again returned to Willow Bank.