Sorry, been getting really behind with all this, Oblivion (the game) seems to have become my new life! ;) Anyway, back to Christmas eve quickly, after zooming around in Colin (who was being very badly behaved and not starting when we wanted him to) dropping off the last few pressies (mostly in and around Dorking) we went to see the Christingle service at St Martins church - - then back to Flyingpops' folks house for double duck dinner - - (which was delicious) and then a few drinks (only one more sleep to go!)...the morning arrived with a bump almost before I knew it and we tore open our stockings and drank hot tea in bed, then downstairs before the hour of eight to open all the rest of the gifts (pics for those involved on flickr), then back into Colin for the drive to my folks for lunch where preperations were already well advanced - - for a feast of roast goose with all the trimmings - - followed by Christmas pudding, then on to the *second* haul of presents of the day! - Full and happy we settled down to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening watching TV, DVDs, listening to gramaphone records - - and then at about half eleven we all piled out to Colin, put the stereo on far too loud with all the subs pumping and managed to break the back seat...hehe...great day! ;)
We slept over at my folks on Christmas day night, then the next morning helped little Alexander (who can now say "No" and "Ta") to open his presents, then drove to Flyingpops' grandpops' place for some cold cuts, drinks - - and to watch little Emily open *her* presents (and baby Oliver dribble disinterestedly at his), play "pass the parcel" and then finally back home for some well deserved rest (but not before drifting off at Flyingpops' folks when I collapsed into the chair), kids can be such hard work...! ;)
So yesterday we popped down to Worthing with Colin to drop off the last Christmas pressie - - (after spending most of the morning trying to get him started, and failing miserably, first time he *really* hadn't wanted to start), finally called the AA out and the guy adjusted the tick over (up a bit) discovered that the distributor cap had somehow been installed back to front(!), the battery was half the power required to start our size of engine and one of the HT leads wasn't connected to the spark plug...He said it was frankly amazing poor Colin ever managed to start at all! He showed us a trick with the leasure battery where we could jump start him without another car and set us on our way, and with all the cylinders now firing, and not all firing back to front you can imagine that the engine now sounds rather a *lot* better... ;)
We bought some industrial jump leads and a 96 Heavy duty battery to replace the 44 that was in there, but Colin is staying at home for New Years as we really don't have time to re-wire him now...
Today, we are setting off for Cornwall (5-ish day break, see how it goes), back to Hedley Wood for their New Year celebration, almost certainly no Internet access, so this may well be the last you hear from me until 2007! :(
Had lots of the family round last night for a lovely meal (half curry/half Chinese and one McDonalds for good measure) and drinks...got an excellent haul of gifts (including) - - some beer from Harrods - - a restaurant quality roasting pan (woo hoo!) - - an extra life (might come in handy!) - - and an XBOX 360!!!!!!!! Premium pack too, so the hard disk and wireless controller etc. were in the box! Awesome!!! So spent *all* of the rest of yesterday playing Gears of War (amazing graphics!) and Oblivion (incredible game!)...also got some *excellent* books, the new Jamie and Hugh efforts, a really nice shirt and tie (be perfect for the upcoming wedding), a Dalek shower gel, a Viz subscription for next year (cool!) and loads more...
...and...Christmas is tomorrow!! We're just loading all the pressies into Colin now...hope he doesn't break down! ;)
(Scroll down if you are here for the recipe alone ;)
So, perhaps foolishly, we went to finish off the last few bits of Christmas food/drink shopping (£183!!!!!!!), okay, mostly drink, and lots of cheese...got a big bacon joint to cook up too...conditions in Tesco can only be described as "absolute bedlam", a totally chaotic nightmare, I estimate one aisle in three had at least one abandoned trolley clogging it up, tempers were fraying...amazingly though, the shelves were stocked almost as normal, the only thing we couldn't get from our list was a bottle of Malibu (I'll live)...
Went from there into Redhill (still loaded down with the shopping), spotted this (which I hope isn't a portent for tomorrow) in the market- - then home to cook dinner, decided to have my annual naughty Christmas Swiss Cheese Fondue (all to myself as Flyingpops doesn't like it...what a terrible shame... ;) Anyway, if you want to enjoy this awesome and very naughty treat (I *do* only have it once a year) you will need the following -
A clove of garlic (chopped in half down the middle)
Half a pint from a nice bottle of white wine (fruity Hardy's Chardonnay works a treat)
A teaspoon of the juice of a lemon
A tablespoon of Kirsh (Willisauer is ideal, but any clear cherry liqueur will do)
A teaspoon of cornflour
110g/4oz emmental cheese grated (per person)
110g/4oz gruyère cheese grated (per person)
Half a French stick (per person)
Get a non-stick saucepan (or if you have a cast iron fondue bowl, put that on the hob) and rub the garlic half all over the inside, push hard, get plenty of flavour all over the cooking surface
Put the cornflour into a glass and pour in the Kirsh, mix well, if it doesn't look like you will be able to easily pour it out then add a splash of tap water, mix again and stand next to the hob
Pour the half a pint of wine into the saucepan and add the lemon juice then bring quickly to the boil
Turn down the heat (a little) and *slowly* add the cheese, stirring *constantly* with a wooden spoon, waiting until each batch is melted before adding more
Pour in the Kirsh mixture and stir well (this is when it all comes together!)
Pour the whole lot into your Fondue bowl, light it up and sit (on the floor) dipping tiny cubes of French stick into the glorious sweet sticky yum sauce, curling up the trails of cheese so as not to make too much of a mess before popping into your mouth, washing it down with much, much more of the wonderful wine...
Got the beers in from the shed ready for my birthday meal tomorrow... ;) Had to refrain from actually putting them in the drinks fridge until Flyingpops went upstairs though as Santa seems to have chosen that cupboard to use as a store room... ;) Oh and quick update on the detox, I fell yesterday and had an ice cold beer watching "The Muppets Christmas Carol"...so I made it, what was that? Almost 9 days...not too shabby... ;) Really ready for the festivities to start now... :)
Oh and another bit of news, off to New York again in February (BRRRR!!!), but more on that when I get details...
Okay, so here is what my work colleagues bought me for my birthday gift...(this is what came inside the jiffy bag) - ...and this is the contents of the blue box - - (with give-away sticker obscured)...Looking closer at the object itself, it takes a single AA cell for power, has just one switch (with two settings), a small red light and what looks like a small microphone on the top - I twigged what it was rather quickly... ;)
So, can anyone guess what it is? Answers on an IP packet... ;)
(Obviously those already in the know, please refrain from commenting!)
So, we got up pretty early on Sunday (as we seem to do quite often!) and headed over to Dorking to try and get a wreath for the front door (and perhaps a little something for the living room wall at the weekly car boot sale - - it was a gloriously sunny day (and thus *absolutely* freezing) - - but it seems the blue skies were enough to tempt about half of Dorking to either buy or sell (or come along for the walk, and maybe get a new bear to chew on, if lucky)... ;) Spotted a new stall (seems to be, Dorking Car boot sale is becoming more and more like a market with each passing week) selling fresh fish (actually smelt quite good, i.e. non-fishy, but then, the environment *was* close to refrigerator temperatures) - - and a good number of house clearance type removal van types - - must only be about 50% actual car boots on offer...
Still, succeeded in our mission, got a jolly nice wreath and on a whim picked up a live tree for Flyingpops' mum, who had been bemoaning the visual appearance of the huge old fibre optic tree they bought a few years back (fetched from loft and dusted down)...so we spent a couple of hours over there eating a spot of breakfast and assisting with the erection and decoration (200 lights!!!) of the new one - - then we zoomed around Sainsburys' in Redhill for a few bits and bobs (for me to eat while I am off on holiday), popped up to the Priory Farm shop to pick up Flyingpops' festive feast (all lovingly hand-made) which we had pre-ordered last week, and then home...
I put dinner on, was really looking forward to a nice quiet evening, and at a convenient (hrm...) moment in that process Flyingpops and I decided to take a quick look at the toilet (which has had a trickling leak from the base of the cistern for a while now), we took the lid off and promptly managed to break the arm off the ballcock...leaving the toilet in constant "I need to be filling myself up" mode...a hectic and very wet five minutes later I had the thing wedged back into "I'm full" mode using the arm from the ballcock and a VW Beetle wall ornament...not ideal, but better than holding it with my finger, however, there was just no way we could risk leaving it like that overnight...
Flyingpops rang her dad for emergency assistance and he said he was "Coming right over", so while the cavalry were on their way we threw as much dinner down our throats as possible (before it went cold). As it happens Uncle Al actually drove Flyingpops' dad over and the pair of them (after calling for "Tea please!") had the whole thing locked down almost before the kettle had boiled...! Amazing!
Only bad thing as a result is no flushing toilet for the time being...we are awaiting a plumber to come today to take a look, but no sign yet...so my hopes of anything happening today are dwindling...For now, a bucket rests beside the toilet to do the flushing for us (which does the job for now, if inelegantly)...but why do these things always seem to crop up right before Christmas, eh...? ;)
Oh, and just before I go, a quick detox update - Day #5 now, mucked up a bit on Saturday (had a Big Mac and some Chicken Nuggets), but everything else is still going 100% and as it's been easy and rewarding I think there may be a related New Year's resolution in the pipeline ;)
Update - Plumber came, and apart from a few minutes on his mobile and a few ticks drinking tea, he was in and out within about half-an-hour! We now have a leak-free, flushing toilet...phew... ;)
There we go, nice and simple this year, Flyingpops decided on static white lights and an array of *mostly* silver decorations (with a few flecks of colour, here and there) - Detox going well, day three now, and apart from Christmas lunch in the office it's been super healthy so far, drunk absolutely gallons of water, no alcohol, eaten mostly pasta/veg/salad/fruit as planned (had lean beef with mushrooms and boiled broccoli last night instead of the usual pizza!)...I'm actually feeling better for it already (tummy feeling much improved) so a good incentive to keep it up... ;)
Not that there haven't been temptations placed in my way, not least some suprise birthday drinks thrown by the team in the office yesterday at work (birthday on the 23rd and yesterday was my last day in the office until 2007 (Woot!))...and I had water...so ner... ;)
Oh, and the team got me a *very* cheeky birthday gift, but more on that later as it merits a post all of it's own... ;)
Amazing sunrise this morning, still had Flyingpops camera in my bag from yesterday so grabbed a quick snap...got into London Bridge to wait for the 17 bus and when it turned up it was an antique single-decker! How everyone squeezed on is quite beyond my imagination, but as I was near the front of the queue I made a mad dash for the fire exit seat (it of the extra leg room)...so I was alright at least... ;)
On another note, and I'm not going to blame the Christmas lunch yesterday as I was feeling a bit on the tender side before I even tasted it, but had a bit of a stomach ache since yesterday morning, decided, as we are on the run up to Christmas, and rich food and drink is going to be the order of the season, that I am going on a pre-binge detox, so until my birthday, which is on the 23rd of December, I'm going to lay off the booze and eat pasta/vegetables and drink plenty of water...well, that's the idea anyway, I'll keep you posted... ;)
Let the happy cry ring out across the land - "Not quite as bad as last year!"... Spuds were cooked well (totally un-crunchy, but we can't ask for miracles here), sausages tasted a little odd, turkey was dry and chewy (but turkey-ish), stuffing was burnt to a crisp and the peas and carrots were "out of a tin"-style (so Flyingpops would have been happy!)...appraisals around the table peaked in their positivity at "It's alright?" (from KP, with a shrug) and bottomed out with Renemie's "It's awful!"...but it was, at least, better than last year, as I said already... Plenty of cheese left (!), so I had a bit of stilton and some smoked cheese (which were pretty good)... ...and got a wonderful moulded blue F-14 in the cracker, which I left on the table, abandoned along with everyone else's collected cracker wonderment (to be swept into the bin)...
So, although admittedly, the police haven't released all the details, from what I have read at least *one* of the (now 5) victims was suffocated in some fashion, so why on earth is the press calling the killer "The Ipswich Ripper" (apart from the obvious prostitute connection)?
Surely, if the press had thought about it, it would have been "The Suffolk Strangler"? Much more catchy and appropriate! Someone in the press has really dropped the ball...*unless*, as I said, we have some more details to be presented with by the detectives in question and the press are keeping their muzzles on, for some reason...wouldn't be the first time...
On the same note, and on the more "interesting" side, I was sat watching "Watchdog" on the BBC this evening, and the female presenter was wearing a white shirt with the word "NO" clearly emblazoned in massive black letters across her breasts...I can't help but wonder if this is anything to do with it...and I'm sorry, but there is no way that wasn't deliberate *and* for some very good reason (even if I am a little off the mark as to exactly why) - Update - As of the 14th December issue of the Metro, they are now calling him, lo and behold, the Suffolk Strangler... ;)
Hope you appreciate this, had to go out in the frost last night to take these... ;)
I did really need some better pictures of the lights though, so first up is the promised shot of the santa lights given to us by Vodqueen - - and a better shot of the fairy lights - - and these are the standard LEDs that illuminate the speedo etc. on the dashboard, but they are also lights, so they do merit an appearance... ;)
Another really frosty day today, almost looked like snow when I pulled back the curtains, 'twas not to be though...we got up *fairly* early, I had a lovely hot soak in the bath, there's no radiator in the bathroom so everything steams up like a sauna when the weather is chilly... ;)
Colin (against all odds) spluttered into life when Flyingpops optimistically tried him (had to gun the throttle for an uncomfortably long time though before doing so), so we took him shopping to Tesco as a reward (and thank goodness we did, as it turned into a bit of an epic "job" day, did the booze shopping for Christmas, went to Crawley business park "Next" for Flyingpops to get a new work shirt, then over (for a cup of tea) with Vodqueen and Al (scored a mini Christmas light santa and reindeer to join the other lights on Colin's dashboard, pic later) and Al took a little look at some of Colin's tender bits, to which he said he would minister in the new year...(we'll come to some sort of arrangement for repayment in kind... ;)
Anyway, got virtually into the estate on the way home and Flyingpops suggested heading up to Priory Farm shop to sort out her (now traditional) hand crafted stilton and wallnut Christmas favorite, as the one they do up there is rather good, and with a bit of chat, and a cheeky smile you can normally get them to make you one up, and freeze it before they cook it up for the deli counter, then we hang onto it to do all Flyingpops' dinners over Christmas (as she is of the vegitarian set)...however, we didn't escape that easily, the plait ordered (we can collect it next weekend)...we went over to the garden centre, where a small forest of Christmas trees has sprung up out the back... - we picked a nice one (bumped into my Sister and Dad, and Charlie and her fella while we were there too of all the strange coincidences) - loaded the tree into Colin (how easy?)...heh, nice having a bus... ...and the tree is in the back garden in a bucket of water now, waiting for us to bring it in and decorate it next weekend...We got home (finally), I had about an hour on "Broken Sword - Angel of Death" (I'm a bit stuck trying to break into the Vatican at the moment - this nasty nun keeps foiling my attempts), then I did a lovely roast of Silverside of beef (Flyingpops' folks came over) and off to the Belfry in Redhill - - despite the wind and rain(!) - - was a bit odd being in the Belfry at night, but the industrial-scale decorations looked amazing without the massive flood lights turned on - - way over a thousand people came (including another bumping-into, namely Dawn and Darrell, who are good friends of my folks), then I croaked my way through about 10 Christmas carols intersperced around a modern rendering of the story of the birth of Christ... - and the sound of hundreds of children running amok calling the lifts to all floors while running around screaming - - great night though... ;)
Sat on my arse now watching TV ("Housewife, 49") and drinking Chardonnay...nite nite... ;)