The 12 days of Christmas 8: Fireworks

2016 is dead, long live 2017! We’re currently graced by the spontaneous presence of my aunt, uncle and cousin, who’ve popped over from Amsterdam to live the high life in rainy Herefordshire. As part of our rowdy New Year’s celebrations yesterday (read: quiet celebrations conducted at 11pm), my uncle produced some fireworks.

There are certain situations in which you don’t want to hear the phrase “Who needs instructions?”, and a home-grown firework display is one of them. I’m still recovering from the terror excitement of the evening, but despite some flagrant breaches of common-sense health and safety protocol, nobody suffered any permanent damage. To be honest, I think we got off lightly…

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The 12 days of Christmas 7: Return of the Festive Spirits

I know it’s customary to get roaring drunk on New Year’s Eve and spend the first of January as an abject puddle of misery, but this year I’ve shaken things up by having my hangover early. Today has been a day of pain and remorse, and I can assure you that tonight I will not be drinking anything containing even a smidgeon of ethanol.

The reason for yesterday’s overindulgence is that it was my final pub shift and, as Dad put it, I became “the victim of much generosity”. Last time I left the Royal Arms for a full-time job, I wrote a post about how much I love working there, and that still applies; it’s been great going back. However, the aftermath of my sendoff was such that I’ll be glad to avoid drinking establishments for a while. There’s nothing like lying awake at 4am with a pounding headache to remind you why you don’t normally do shots…

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The 12 days of Christmas 6: We whisk you a Mary Christmas

Before you get all uppity about the appalling puns in the title, bear in mind that I’m ill, so you have to be nice – and anyway, bad puns are the very essence of Bakeoff, which is the theme of today’s post. I’ve already aired my thoughts on the loss of Bakeoff from the BBC so I won’t bore you with another rant, but it was a slightly odd experience watching the Christmas episodes. For one thing, there just isn’t the same tension when it’s not a full series; the stakes are lower, and it’s less exciting as a result.

What’s more, based on the suspiciously abundant foliage glimpsed through the tent windows, I’m pretty sure the “Christmas” episode was filmed in July, making the festivities seem a bit forced. This begs the question of whether the Bakeoff stars knew at the time of filming that terrible, terrible changes were afoot… If anyone has the answer to this, I’m genuinely interested to find out whether they were faking their festive cheer, or whether they already knew that the beating heart of the show was about to be ripped out and stamped upon. I’m not bitter, really.

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The 12 days of Christmas 5: Wrap up warm

Just an uber-quick one, because I’ll be late for my shift at the pub otherwise. I went sales shopping with Mum today in the hope of finding workwear for my new job (ooh, snuck that one past you subtly, didn’t I). I could write an essay about unflattering lighting, bad music, crowded spaces and ill-fitting trousers, but I don’t have time right now to go into just how much I loathe clothes shopping.

I’ll just share one particularly wintery bugbear: one-size-fits-all gloves. Why is it assumed that although all other clothes come in a bare minimum of three sizes, all gloves will magically fit all women? I have size 9 feet (a whole nother story lies therein) and hands to match. I have friends with size 3 feet, and hands to match. The same pair gloves will not fit both of us. 

Long story short: I found a pair of very stretchy gloves, which will do for now. But my normal trying-on experience is depicted below:

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The 12 days of Christmas 4: Oh Christmas Tree

We’ve already reached the bit of Christmas where I don’t feel very Christmassy at all any more… there are no more presents, my clothes are feeling tight from days of overeating, and yet another cold has overwhelmed my puny immune system. The one thing still twinkling with festive cheer is our frankly excellent Christmas tree, selected and decorated by me and Mum.

We often get our Christmas tree from a local family who’ve been growing and selling them at eminently reasonably prices for years. The thing is, they’ve been growing and selling the same trees for some years, with the result that most of the remaining ones are a little on the large side. Since part of our house is a converted barn, we almost decided to make the most of the high ceiling and plump for a mighty  30-foot colossus of a conifer. But in the end we considered the size of the car, saw sense, and looked elsewhere for a slightly smaller model.

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The 12 days of Christmas 3: An ice day out

To celebrate the fact that global warming has removed all possibility of there ever being real snow at Christmas again, I went ice skating on the temporary rink in Gloucester today. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’ve retained a passable ability to stay on my feet and move in the direction of my choice – in fact, not one of our party fell over, and it was all very seasonal and jolly.

However, there’s a major problem with ice skating, especially during the Christmas holidays, and that problem is Other People. They mess up the ice, they get in your way, and they frequently put your life at risk. Some are just dangerously bad at remaining upright/steering/concentrating on their surroundings, while others have the greater misfortune of being children, a condition which renders the sufferer terminally inconsiderate of those around them.

I suppose when you’re small enough to bounce unscathed off a rock-hard surface of ice, it’s easy to forget that the adult whose knees you’ve just dive-bombed may not be so resilient. Call me a grinch, but the number of ways in which children can endanger themselves and others on an ice rink provides a pretty compelling argument in favour of an age restriction. After all, we don’t let five-year-olds drink or drive; why should they be allowed to hurtle around at high speed with knives strapped to their feet? Fun? Festive spirit? Bah, humbug.

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The 12 days of Christmas 2: Typewriter

Boxing day is upon us already. For many, it’s a day of reflection: on how the time flies faster each year, on how we miss the friends and family who aren’t with us this Christmas, and on how we probably shouldn’t have eaten our own body weight in chocolate and roasties yesterday. It’s also a day of gloating over whatever new acquisitions we’ve made through the eternally wonderful tradition of gift-giving.

img_20161226_170844Taking pride of place in this year’s haul for me is a fully-functional 1940s typewriter from my parents. I’ve been wanting to buy this piece of aesthetically pleasing but obsolete technology for a long time, but couldn’t quite justify spending actual money on it. My hope is that by persuading someone else to buy the thing for me, I’ve made the whole business a tiny bit less obnoxiously hipsterish…

I do have half-decent reasons for wanting a typewriter, honest. I can type much faster and more legibly than I can write by hand, and I don’t like staring at a computer screen if I can help it, so what could be more practical than a keyboard with inbuilt instant printer? The only real issue with this solution is that the machine isn’t massively portable, and I have a feeling that sitting in a café writing on a noisy typewriter might make me even more reviled than your average millennial wifi-scrounger.

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