So here we are all again and it is now day four of the party. I have been looking back over photographs of Christmas past and I came across a gathering we hosted in Tring in 1984 just before David and I left for Houston for two years. It had all happened very quickly. We had moved into our little house in the May when David moved from Liverpool with his job to a new cable television division that had been set up. Unfortunately we had only been there six months when the powers that be shut down the division and made David redundant. A bit of a shock to say the least.
While we were in the process of making plans for the future his previous boss rang and offered David a very different prospect. Two years in Texas responsible for sales for the United States. It was really a no brainer, there were only two of us, the money was great and all we had to do was sell our house which we did quickly thank goodness.
We were leaving early January and wanted to see as much of the family as possible. Despite heavy snow falls our visitors arrived on the 24th of December. David’s parents came from Ireland, my parents and brother from Portsmouth, David’s uncle from London – with only three bedrooms it meant that David and I camped out on mattresses in the dining room and my brother had the conservatory. Money was a bit tight but David brewed up a keg of beer – twice – because the first one was sampled a couple of weeks before by friends who came over to play darts!!
Nine of us crammed around the dining room table and we had a wonderful day with charades in the afternoon which disintegrated into a hilarious debacle. Everybody stayed on until the 27th and then we put all our belongings into storage, except for two suitcases of clothes, and flew off knowing we would probably not see them again for at least two years. Two replete diners my father-in-law and his brother David who thought the home brew was spectacular!
A great Christmas and when I look at the photos I realise how easy it is to let those memories fade when actually being together and the laughter was more important than fancy food and presents.
Day four is officially 28th December: The Feast of the Holy Innocents – when prayers are said for the innocent baby boys that Herod allegedly had killed in his efforts to overturn the prophesy that had been passed on by the Magi. They terrified Herod with the thought that the King of the Jews, the baby Jesus would take his throne. There has been much research into this massacre and theologians and historians are fairly sure that it did not take place. It may well be that around that time there could have been an epidemic that took the lives of many infants and someone put two and two together and got five. Herod’s marketing department may have taken advantage of a natural event to instil fear and loathing into the king’s subjects and it seemed to have been effective.
Anyway, perhaps it is a time to remember all young innocents who are taken before their time, as just the loss of one young life is always a tragedy.
FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS
There is much debate about the origins of ‘Four Calling Birds’ but in fact the original was ‘Four Colly Birds’ and this meant that they were grimy and sooty and actually referred to Blackbirds.. Even more confusing was that they were not really Blackbirds but Thrushes…I suggest that you go directly to the drink section and partake of a very pleasant glass of champagne and forget the four birds of whatever origin all together….
The humble carrot is a vegetable most of us take for granted. Carrots have an ancient history originating in Afghanistan. The Greeks and the Romans ate carrots and in fact, the Greeks called the carrot ‘Philtron’ and used it as an aphrodisiac. Don’t all rush to the supermarket! In Asia, the carrot was an established root crop and was then introduced to Europe in the 13th century. It was the Middle Ages before the carrot became better known and doctors of the time prescribed carrots for numerous ills including snakebite! In those days, the carrot was available in far more radiant colours including red, purple, black, yellow and white. They were cultivated together and over time, it resulted in the orange vegetable we know today.
Carrots eaten as a fresh, raw and unprocessed food is full of nutrients including Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into Vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium. Of all of the nutrients, Beta-Carotene and latterly Alpha Carotene are seen as the most important properties of the carrot. As far as the eyes are concerned it is the Vitamin A and the Beta-carotene which are the most important nutrients. Vitamin A, helps your eyes adjust to light changes when you come in from outside and helps keep your eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist. Follow the link to the full version. There is a recipe for glazed carrots later in the post.
We all love some sparkling wine at Christmas and if really pushing the boat out then buying the finest Champagne can not only add some luxury sparkle to your celebrations but also add quite a bit to the housekeeping bill….
Some supermarkets now bottle their own Champagne and the budget stores of Aldi and Lidl have had some really good press in recent years.
Here in Spain we tend to drink really good Cava rather than Champagne and even some of the best brands are less than 15Euro. Cordornìu Cava and Freixenet are great buys at the high end but we also have some smaller vineyards that produce very enjoyable Brut Cava for around 5Euro.
When we lived in the States we got the taste for Korbel Champagne and can highly recommend
To be honest I am very partial to a drop of ginger beer at Christmas (as you will have gathered from the earlier comments we enjoy beer at Christmas) but I am delighted to have found that our local supermarket stocks Crabbies …
It is now time to meet some more party guests – both of whom have exceptional blogs as well as creative talent. One a writer and the other a superb wildlife photographer from Tofino, Vancouver Island.
My first party guest today is a crime thriller author who has just embarked on The Storm Trilogy with the first book The Coming of the Storm published earlier this year. He is also a blogger and you will find some fascinating interviews on his site with some of the most successful people in the news such as Olympic Gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave, MBE and artists of the stage, screen and music industry.
When I asked Matt for his music choice he replied with this note that I thought was worth sharing as it mirrors my own views.
‘I’m a fan of Christmas songs in general but I guess I have to go with Do
They Know it’s Christmas by Band Aid 30. They’ve come under fire a bit
recently because their lyrics are supposedly corny and I understand one of
the front-liners in the fight against Ebola called it cringe-worthy. But
really – it’s a pop song, it has to sell. That’s the point of it. And the
writers are experts at selling music so who are we to criticize? The more
sales, the more money goes to charity. And it all goes to charity, not
just a percentage. Of course the participants will get some publicity from
it – but great: I mean don’t we all want a bit of legacy to our names? To
be able to say, ‘I participated in Band Aid’ shows you did something good.
The problem is that people jump on the media bandwagon without really
knowing why. It’s like getting on a bus just because it’s going somewhere.
It’s the same over immigration, the economy, and yes: charitable causes.
So use your own minds I say! Buy the song, save some lives.’
You can find out more about Matt and his work at
RECIPE FOR GLAZED CARROTS.
I large carrot per person – Peeled and sliced lengthwise into 2 inch sticks.
4oz of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste.
1 Place the carrots in a large broad based pan. Dot with the cubes of butter and sprinkle with the sugar and a little salt – you can always add a little more later to taste. Gently pour in sufficient cold water to come to about 3/4 up the carrot sticks.
2 Simmer, partially covered, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want them to burn.
3 Alternatively you can roast the carrots in the oven having parboiled for about 7 minutes and then added the glaze with a brush – take about 20 minutes and can be put in while your Turkey is resting.
My second guest today is Wayne Barnes of Tofino Photography who spends all his time behind the lens of his camera than in front so in lieu of a profile picture I am using one that he sent me recently of a Wild Christmas tree mysteriously decorated by someone who will be nameless! He also has sent me the link to a tongue in cheek version of The Twelve Days of Christmas – Canuck Style.
You will find some wonderful images on the two Sunday Shows that Wayne starred in earlier this year and also a link to his site with thousands of images of the beautiful wildlife and scenery of Tofino.
LINKS to more Tofino Photography
And finally at the end of the meal it is time to pull the crackers and to find which horrible joke you have been graced with….
What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?
Tomorrow we are at the Five Gold Rings stage of the party with more guests and music…. I hope you will drop by.
The Previous Days of Christmas can be found here…
This post qualifies for the Free Book promotion.
I would love to give you a copy of one of my E-books of which there is seven available. I am giving one a day away until Christmas Eve.
Please remember before you comment to check out which book you would like to receive if your name is drawn out of the hat and mention in your comment….
- Visit my books link
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