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Evening, all.

When I was little, Christmas Eve had a pretty well-established pattern. To be honest, it still does, although this year was a bit off-point as ChrisC and I only rolled into Darlington mid-afternoon. But one of the parts of the pattern when I was small was to go into town for the Crib Service and (either before or after) to potter across the market place to the town clock.

Grouped around the base of the town clock were the people the mother always referred to as "the holly men". They were not, in fact, some kind of sinister shadow force written into existence by Mr Gaiman, but a small group of guys selling holly. Not fancy wreaths, or arrangements, just holly. We'd buy a bundle and bring it home to tuck sprigs behind pictures and - if at all possible - for general decking of halls.

The Problem of the Holly )
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I have been a total posting failure of late, despite interesting things having happened. So instead I present three words:

Winter. Spiced. Ribena.

Spotted in the Co-op on Thursday. It's the Ribena version of mulled wine, and it is fabulous.

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So, Christmas-time. It's pretty traditional round here, as you may recall. We have little in the way of innovation. However, in the course of decorating the house this afternoon, the mother requested I do something that (within my memory) has never been done...

Hoop-la! )

So, decorations up, log fire burning, turkey giblets on the stove making stock for gravy tomorrow. Several yards of Cumberland sausage linked, some turned into pigs-in-blankets, stuffing made up, a bit of advanced vegetable peeling done. That's Christmas eve round these parts :)
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Christmas Eve? It must be time for the annual bulletin from the north.

Rain, baubles, sausages )
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I briefly looked over recent Christmas write-ups to see what I said, and was gently boggled. Even by my standards of Christmas being the same each year, we seem to have excelled ourselves on similarity. Even down to the "famously loquacious" friend of the mother's whom we narrowly avoided as we left the butcher's on Christmas Eve last year.

(This year we did not avoid her. We left the butcher's, weighed down by giant turkey, and she caught us fair and square. I am now very well informed on the state of her largeish family.)

The tree? Well, that looks pretty much like it did last year. I have again shoe-horned all the baubles in the world onto it, including the costume-jewellery Maltese cross that used to be the "star" at the top of the tree when I was a kid. It's now been replaced by a silver snowflake, but I found it lurking at the bottom of a box and squeezed it onto a lower branch. ("Oh blimey," says the mother. "That was Ann's when she was a teenager". Ann is a schoolfriend of hers. Erm, so what is it doing in our Christmas decorations box? This seems unclear.)

ChrisC (bravely risking my family Christmas for the third year running) has mostly been looking about in confusion all day. Apparently he barely recognises Darlington without the festive snow, and has been asking rather anxiously when it's going to arrive. I considered explaining that Darlington isn't really that far north and the last two years have been aberrations, but it seemed safer just to assure him the snow would doubtless be along tomorrow. It'll be delivered by a magical polar bear just after midnight. Won't it?

Merry Christmas to all, and to all goodnight.
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Gosh. It's snowy up here in Darlington. Apparently it wasn't particularly snowy up until we were about twenty minutes away last night, whereupon the sky threw snow around madly for around twenty five minutes. We arrived in appalling driving conditions, then the weather promptly settled down into a smug, festive, picturesque backdrop.

Popping to the shops... )

... and putting up the tree )


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July 2017



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