Wednesday 19 December 2012

The Old Familiar Road

This Christmas has been organised to within an inch of its life. Anyone who knows Liz will know that she loves a good 'list', so the laptop has been humming to the clicketty click of keyboard as lists of ingredients, shopping lists, menus, thawing and cooking schedules are laid down. She's making a list; she's checking it twice?

Unlike Liz, who often wakes up during dreams and is able to recall them and talk about them, I very rarely remember any of mine. One, a couple of months ago, had me waking up in a cold sweat and able to remember vividly, because in it I'd been doing the weekly shop in Lidl and had somehow managed to spend €185.89 so was trying to explain the amount away to Liz (panic!). I'd long forgotten this dream but today, when we put the hard-pressed Laser card to work doing the Big Christmas Shop it started to look like it might come true, and Liz said she'd have "laughed and laughed" had the total hit that magic figure.

Tuesday the 18th sees us driving down to Silverwoods on that old familiar road - Castlerea, Roscommon, Athlone, Tullamore. We did that every day for that first week in Ireland, a year ago this week, and then every weekend through January, Feb, March and April, driving down on the Fridays grimy and exhausted from a week's buildering, and then back up again on the Monday all clean, fed, dried out and with the car loaded with cleaned laundry. We still thank the Silverwoods mightily for their hospitality, hot water and food, keeping us going through the caravan-living, renovation phase. We'd intended to come down to see at least one of the 'smalls' in their Nativity Plays, but we managed to miss M's (14th Dec) before we even planned the trip, and R's was early morning Monday (17th) before we could realistically get there.

We settled for a visit and catch up instead on a day when Mr Silverwood was working from Home (so we'd see him) and by coincidence, the two older girls were off sick from school with flu or Winter-Vomiting bug. We left the house at 09:15 with the dogs loaded up. The dogs love it down there, especially the pups who love to see their birth-Mum and Dad and their first human 'Mum and Dad' plus the kids. They charge about trying to meet everyone all at once and get completely exhausted in the process, so that they sleep soundly all evening. It also meant we could sneak a load of parcels into the car for the journey home which certain small children do not need to know about but may expect to appear in their bedrooms on a certain day coming up soon. Nuff said.

There was very little spare space in the Fiat for the return journey, and even less when we shipped the two 5-gallon fermentation bins which are part of a wine-making "starter kit", part of our Christmas present from the Silverwoods. My family will know that I was mad into wine-making when a boy and at one stage had 36 demi-johns arrayed around the shelves in my bedroom and brewed an amazing range of non-grape flavours from barley wine, apple and elderberry, citrus, birch-sap, blackberry, pear etc - anything we could get hold of the fruit for and pretty much do for the price of the sugar and yeast. Happy days!

Some of you out there listen to me, and bless Pud Lady who takes note of my comment about increasing our number of tree decorations year by year and includes in our Christmas Card, three lovely 'angels' for the tree. Thanks, Mum!

For now, our cold snap seems to be well and truly over and the mild weather with rain is back. This has been the wettest year anyone locally can remember so we are all hoping for no repeat of it in 2013. The warmth, though, has encouraged some first daffs to break the surface of the ground - these being the bulbs from the huge net which Steak Lady gave us way back along with numerous cuttings from rampaging plants in her own garden. We love 'rampage' - we have the space so little prissy things get lost in our big spaces, but these various bits have gone into the Steak-Lady bed with the hundred or so mixed narcissus and daff bulbs planted beneath them. It should look nice down in there between the tractor-tyre planters and the hay barn roses.

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