Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Big Chill

Well it looks like at long last the snow is really gone, but according to some people the winter isn't over yet. Well knock me down with a feather - its the 15th January and the winter isn't over yet - would you credit it!

Is it just me or do the reporters on the tv have a strange perception of what the weather should be like? I'm growing increasingly frustrated with some of them, especially those on regional news bulletins, who will report on the cricket in South Africa and then make a comment about how lovely and hot it is there when it's all snowy and cold here - well that's because its winter here and summer there. In this country we have generally cold damp winters, occasionally for a few weeks we will have snow further south than Scotland and even more occasionally the snow will cause problems. Africa on the other hand......

Why do they all think that we want to live sub Saharan conditions? Some of us like living in a country that defined seasons. Cold in winter, mild in spring and autumn and warm in summer. As a rule we don't experience huge fluctuations in temperature, life threatening tornadoes or monsoon summers (ok I'll give you that one)we have a temperate climate which makes us get very over excited if it doesn't rain for a week when we go camping in the Lake District in June!

But the thing that really makes me mad is when we are told half the story, for example, this week we were told that Melbourne had had one of it's hottest night with recorded temperatures of 37 degrees at midnight. The accompanying film was of young people sitting on the beach in the dark and a father in shorts and t shirt pushing his little baby along trying to get it to sleep in the heat. At the end of the piece the reporters just said that 37 was probably 'a bit too hot' but wouldn't it be lovely to feel warm again. What they didn't tell you was that across South Australia trains were cancelled because over head lines had melted, people without air conditioning were flocking to shopping malls, 43,0000 of them in one mall in Melbourne alone and In Victoria 30,0000 people were without electricity.

So instead of brrr Britain cold and bad, hummn Australia warm and good maybe our dumbed down news reporting could be a little less simplistic and just give us the facts. And don't get me started on the weather presenters, their constant over exaggeration of the snow these past few weeks would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic. Last weekend with snow on the beach as well as the pavements and roads, Dave and I took the dogs out and started chatting to a fellow dog walker. We were all sensibly dressed for the cold and agreed that with the clear skies and light breezes it was a perfect day to get out and about but if we'd taken any notice of the weather reports we would be huddled in front of the fire dreaming of holidays on a tropical island.

I love this country, I love the crazy weather, but I'm beginning to think that 'media folk' want to be any where else but here.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Christmas present and past

Christmas 2009 was the very first year that we've spent the whole of Christmas day in our own home.

When we were first married we used to travel up to Liverpool to spend Christmas with my family. Even when the kids were little our Christmas Eve was spent crawling up the M6 trying to explain to them that Father Christmas thought that it would be a great idea for us to stay with Nan and Granddad because we didn't have a chimney on our house.

I had reached the grand old age of 35 before before I'd even attempted to cook Christmas lunch in my own kitchen. Only months earlier we had uprooted and moved North and were now only 20 odd miles from my parents and had arranged to drive over to meet up with everyone on Christmas night.

This set the trend for the next 19 years and our Christmas memories were of very early mornings watching excited kids burying the dog under mountains of discarded wrapping paper before they breakfasted on chocolate, me working away in the kitchen preparing the lunch while Dave took the kids round to the neighbours to deliver presents and have the odd gin and tonic along the way (Dave that is not the kids!), then after lunch was cleared away persuading everyone to get changed into their party clothes before loading up the car with presents and food for the party in Liverpool.

We had some great times and could never understand when people would say they had had a 'quiet' Christmas. Ours were always frantic and chaotic and even after Mum and Dad died the tradition of a family time at Christmas was carried on, the first year in Ian's and since then at Annita and John's. Like most extended families it wasn't always practical for all the family to be there but as many of us as possible would get together on Christmas night to exchange gifts, eat, drink and be merry (in my case only on copious amounts of tea - I was the designated driver!)

But this year we spent Christmas in our new home and with the best will in the world I didn't fancy driving the 600 mile round trip on Christmas night. We had a lovely time, eating too much, drinking something other than tea, having the time to prepare a lunch a la Delia with smoked salmon and prawn mousse; roast turkey with all the trimmings, including freshly made cranberry and bread sauces; and to finish off two puddings, the traditional Christmas pud with extra rum and a very potent rum sauce and for those who prepare a lighter touch a lemon and mascapone trifle made with Lemoncello. After all that food it was either fall asleep or get some fresh air, so Dave and I braved the elements and took the dogs down to the beach for a bracing walk along the sea front just in time to see the sun set.

Our day mightn't have started quite as earlier as it used to but the dogs still got buried under the wrapping paper and James and Lesley convinced Claire that it was a family tradition to eat chocolate coins for breakfast. We had a lovely time singing Christmas carols while Clare accompanied us on her new key board and everyone was far too polite to criticise my singing (or maybe they were just worried that if they upset me I wouldn't feed them) and we spent the evening slobbing out, admiring our presents and watching daft movies. We had a smashing day but we did miss seeing all the little ones (who aren't so little any more) but we did raise a toast to them and all those happy memories of Christmas past.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Happy New Year

It seems to have been months since I've written anything. No special reason apart from the computer out in the conservatory has decided to have a hissy fit and refuse to acknowledge the fact that we are paying BT a King's ransom for broadband.

Claire thinks that it may be because there are too may walls between the box and the computer I take the non techie approach and try and fool it by quietly moving the dongler around until I get a signal then hurriedly stick it in position with Duck Tape. At the moment it is attached to the arm of the chair in front of the desk and providing I don't move, swivel or try and type the signal looks pretty good....dear god I am a loss to the world of IT help desks.....

Rather than swear and curse at the screen and resort to 'rebooting' the thing by fiddling with the plug (Dave's favourite method of computer maintenance) I have decamped with the laptop to the comparative warmth of the front bedroom and now all I have to put up with is Jess the cat walking across the keyboard, Murphy fast asleep on the bed snoring away and Bella sitting on the floor looking suspiciously at the strange dog in the mirrored wardrobe doors.

I hate those doors and I'm looking forward to the day that I can take a sledge hammer to them. They have really strange mirrors, just like the ones in the old Hall of Mirrors in Southport Fair. They make everything thing look twice as big as it really is, for instance I look a right little pudge in them when in fact I am a svelte 29 year old. They have to go!!!