Thursday, December 29, 2022

Off to the Theatre

 Another day in London.  Hannah had booked for us to got to a steak restaurant called Flat Iron.  The menu was limited but suitable for our needs.  Instead of bread rolls as starters they served pop corn in enamel mugs and side dishes were served in small enamel dishes. The only thing the children would touch was hot chips but then there were ice cream soft serves at the end so that was good.
 Aaron and Rick had time for a bit of a catch up. Rick is looking the ‘proper’ English gentleman with the cap he is wearing.

We still had time in hand before theatre so Aaron treated the children with a visit to McDonald’s so more feasting for them.
 The reason for the trip to London?  Dad wanted to take the children (and Nana) to see the stage production of Frozen (lady in the background not part of our group).
 All set to go.  It was a great production. They asked the audience not to sing along.  A group of people behind us knew the story well and found it hard not to do so. The audience response for curtain call was so enthusiastic.  A great night was had by all.
The next challenge was getting home - a taxi ride, delayed train trip and another taxi and it is was extremely cold. Getting home at 11.30pm was quite a highlight as far as the children were concerned (Nana was a bit grumpy but never mind, we all a got to sleep in next day.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A Walk Down Country Lanes

 Yesterday dawned crisp and clear.  If it was not for it being late December one could have almost imagined a warm summer’s day.  However, the temperature was mild and Rick and Hannah thought a walk in the country would be a good idea.  From where they live they can take any number of walks in the countryside.
 Magnificent old oak trees along the way.
 Stand alone cottages from another age.
 I can only imagine how pretty this country lane would be in spring.
 To further my education narrow pathways or lanes in this part of the world are called twittens.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas Everybody!

 Aaron decided that he should tell 9 year old, Anna-Clara, that Santa Claus is not real.  Anna-Clara did not believe her father and went off and did her own Google research.  She came back convinced by Google that Santa was for real.
 Last night she made up her own little Santa table laden with a glass of milk, assorted biscuits along with carrots for the reindeer.  The remains of Santa’s feast only goes to strengthen her belief that Santa is still for real.

I started my day by listening to King Charles III giving his first Christmas message which I thought was not too bad for first time around.

Merry Christmas everybody - belatedly to all of you Down Under.

Sewing, Cooking, UNO?

 Tucked away in my small suitcase I managed to include a set of charm squares.  Anna-Clara thought she would like to make a blanket for the cat she is hoping to get for her next birthday when she will be 10.
  Caleb, at 7, thought he would like to get in on the act as well.
 Progress is being made.  She has two more rows to go and she thinks the blanket will be big enough.  Anna is already asking whether a sewing machine might be a better option.
 Baking a cake was a special request.  Caleb put in a pretty good effort.
 Anna wasn’t so much interested in making the cake but wanted to help with the decoration. The recipe said to spread apricot jam before putting the icing on.  Anna was not at all keen on that idea but once the cake was completed there were no complaints.
 Although they gave the cake the big tick Anna told me that the chocolate ganache was too bitter. We had made it with 90% dark chocolate.  Please could we make it with milk chocolate next time.
 Milk chocolate was purchased and so we embarked on a second cake.
 The milk chocolate ganache was not as firm so we had an overflow but the children were happy enough.
 The favourite toys lined up to help with the eating.
The children were happy with the outcome.  I am not a fan of chocolate cake but I did like this one. Thanks Mary Berry for the recipe.
 I also brought the UNO card game with me and this is proving to be a new favourite for Caleb.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Wandering Around Epsom

 Epsom is one of many markets towns in England and they have market stalls here every Thursday and Saturday.
The clock tower is the centrepiece for the market stalls.
 Fresh vegetables abound.  Lots of Brussel sprouts here.
 It’s been a while since I have seen turnips in abundance.  Plenty of variety ready for the Christmas dinner plate.
 This butcher has done well here over the years and is quite vocal.  There is a fishmonger in the background.
 Anna-Clara told me that they bought a bird feeder like these but in the end if was the squirrels who benefitted.
 What would a wander around the shops be without spying some Christmas decorations.
 All too soon the Christmas decorations will be put away for another year.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Another Revisit

 Where there is a church there must be a town.  So, so many grand churches in England, even in the smallest of villages.
Today, however, we were in Kingston on Thames.  Very nice suburb alongside the river Thames and not at all far from Hampton Court.
The church courtyard was covered with a giant size marquee.  Inside about 30 market stall holders selling their Christmas wares.
 From there we moved to one of the largest shopping centres (Bentall) I have seen in a while.
 Those nutcrackers - they seem to be following me everywhere.
 If Santa ever decides to change the colour of his cloth then I go for pink.  So much more gentle on the eyes.
 We spent quite a bit of time in Waterstones bookshop and Aaron bought the children a calendar each of their choice. Caleb chose garden birds and Anna-Clara, a cat calendar.
This morning we lined up to have a good look at the calendar and the cat and monkey toys insisted on being there as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Revisiting London

 What would a trip to London be without a visit to the heart of London.  Here was I on the train, all rugged up for the below zero temperatures but the lady across the aisle from me was obviously feeling quite differently about the temperatures.
 One of the sphynx’s faithfully guarding Cleopatra’s Needle along The Embankment.  Last time we were here The Embankment was being pulled apart to make way for a cycle way.  Much mutterings from London cabbies about this then and even now.  The cycle way is now complete.  I was there mid morning and not much in the way of bicycles, but I understand, in peak hour times it can be very busy. It certainly took a long, long time for the On Off Bus to make it’s way from one end of The Embankment to the other.
 The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben were as splendid as ever.
 The trees of Hyde Park still holding on to their autumn leaves.
 I always enjoy a visit to the National Art Gallery.  I did not realise they put up market stalls in the forecourt for Christmas.
 There was a mini exhibition featuring the paintings of JMW Turner and in particular featuring the use of yellow in his paintings.  Apparently he was a prolific traveller and sketched many thousands of landscapes during those times.
 Ah, what would a trip to London be without hanging around Trafalgar Square
 And touching base yet again with these magnificent lions.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Christmas Carols with a Difference

 Last night was the Christmas service where Aaron and Marcele attend church.
Their 2 children were to be involved in the Christmas Nativity and so the church had requested they be there early for rehearsals.
The timing of the church service actually clashed with Aaron’s interest in the final of the FIFA World Cup.
Aaron decided we could, at least, watch the first half at home.  By doing that meant we left home later then usual, got lost on the way in spite of Nav Man, which made us even later, but somehow, in the end, that did not matter.
The church singing group were practicing singing carols for the service so I was happy enough to be singing along with all of that.
Once practice was over, much to my surprise, they began streaming secular music, beginning with Last Christmas by Wham.
There was about a 45 minute break until the service started.  Aaron had decided he was going to wait until he got home to see if he could watch a replay of the second half World Cup but another member of the congregation arrived and began to give us his update.  
Next thing we knew the big screen from where we had been reading the words to Christmas Carols came alive with the penalty shoot out and the congregation were cheering Argentina on as if we were in a pub (but with no beer).
That over, a 5 minute countdown popped up on the big screen and then the actual service started.
The children did well in their participation of the nativity. Overall the carol singing was good and, with the service finished, mulled wine and mince tarts were offered to the congregation before we left for home.
I think I will always remember this as Christmas Carols with a difference.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Back to Brighton

 Not the first time I have been to Brighton but previous visits have always been in the summer months, so there was no wandering down to the beach front in the midst of winter.  Brighton is well known for the unusual and this pub would be no exception.  Not my personal choice, I prefer the old style pubs with arrays of hanging baskets and beautiful flowers, but this is Brighton.
The skies were clear but I doubt that the temperature would have risen above 2 degrees all day.
 Rick spotted a whiskey shop and while he discussed various aspects of the whiskey world with the proprietor I wandered amongst the graffiti that decorated the walls.
Prices for 25ml of whiskey varied a lot but the bottle that sold shots for GBP6.50 was a lot more empty than the others that sold shots for GBP13.50.
 Who knew that Brighton might be the place to go for some genuine Italian pizza?
This was exceptionally good, made from scratch on the premises and worth waiting for. This was large dinner plate size and most people were eating them one pizza per person.  I did not think I could go for that so Rick was generous and shared his with me.
 Rick tells me there is aa trend here towards the five pound (money not weight) doughnut in England.
These doughnuts, very poshly displayed, are very popular and founded by an Australian company apparently.
 These very posh Italian leather shoes were being used to decorate the shop’s Christmas tree.

 Rick asked me what I thought was the happiest moment of the day for me.  I wasn’t sure, until I saw this photo he took of me. I had not realised how happy I was to be in the midst of all this fabric.
 I found a basket amidst all the many bolts of fabric and ended up with a few samples to take away with me. I thought they could be some pieces I could give Anna-Clara to play with.