Christmas 2016 – looking back and looking forward…

Like many of you, for our family it has been a year of highs and lows. Sadly our family lost both my Dad and my Aunt and the world lost many great artists, so before we step into the new year take a minute to remember all those who touched our lives and who we loved.

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My Dad – Eric, on his 88th birthday this year, a man who will be remembered for his humour and ready smile and for the way he loved his family. Died 13th July 2016 and my Aunt in September.

As we all know – life goes on and so did we. There were still grandchildren to take to school, houses to renovate, allotments to tend and families to love and support. So what follows is a testament to the legacy that my Dad helped create – all our efforts and our family bonds that helped us through these last few months.

A big hurrah for Ikea! Despite making two large bookcases for the study space it became obvious that the Bloomfield-Shortle mania for books needed a bit more shelf space, so a contrasting insert was ordered from the Swedish giant and it now houses Chris’s Sci Fi collection. Along with this came a filing cabinet for all those papers that are contingent upon a modern life! More assembling for Chris …

Great! All done and …. not dusted yet but certainly getting cleaner and tidier.

Meanwhile, Christmas preparation was underway, with delicious Delia Smith vegetarian mincemeat made with Orange Liqueur. This year I made homemade Piccalilli (it always reminds me of Christmas time) and this rather tangy BBC Goodfood recipe was delicious, behind are the bottles for the Limoncello and Elderberry Vodka.

Having had the idea for a separate Music room for Chris which meant creating two new rooms on the ground floor and also making a hallway to run from the front porch to the back of the house, it was time to get started. Everyone had an opinion about the space but finally the decision was made to create two rooms – here goes! In the photo Chris is making customised shelves for all his precious vinyl, audio equipment, DVDs, Spanish paraphernalia and VHS tapes (yup, I know!)

Chris assures me that all these tools are completely necessary for the job – I have to agree when I see the finished article. Well done, Chris, it is not only fit for purpose but good looking too – not unlike my husband!

So, the great divide begins – the new Music room on one side and the first wall of the new hallway is put in place and insulated before being plasterboarded. Several electric sockets are in place and the new doorway is framed up.

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Time for some help – Madeleine becomes the ‘cable puller’ as Chris re-routes TV and Wi-fi cables. Looking good.

In the meantime, I run up some new curtains for the just about to be ‘walled’ sitting room and make some Christmas stockings, wreaths, Christmas bunting and cute ‘odds and ends’ Christmas trees ready for raising some money for a charity in December. Along with our neighbours we raised £60.00 for Hull Homeless and Rootless Project as well as having a very jolly afternoon of drinks and nibbles.

Hmmm, we still needed to knock through and create a doorway from the new hall in order to access the rear of the house, so Brother Sledge (the Sisters’ sibling) chipped, chiselled and drilled his way through the wall. He had to put in place two concrete lintels as two doorways were affected.

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Eh voila!

We were not to remain so chipper and upbeat for long as my Mum having just recovered from a very nasty cold and cough decided to go to see Matthew in his Cross Country Run at school on November 15th. All was going well until she stepped off the pavement opposite Prospect House and landed in the road face down. Fortunately a very nice man stopped and helped her to the house but that was when her luck ran out as she had broken both ankles and her knee, as well as bruising her nose and cutting her cheekbone. I would call that a full house! In less than two weeks it was Stir Up Sunday – a family tradition is to all stir the Christmas Pudding mix and make a wish – so here goes!

Well done family and three cheers for Great Grandmama!

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More progress on the Music Room. The chimney breast and alcove painted and the hideous wooden ‘shelf’ removed from above the fireplace. New photo frame all ready to hang and look – all the tools have been cleared away!

The Christmas cake had been made and was already marzipanned and ready for completion – Oh Starry Starry Night!

As if Christmas preparation, house renovation and parent home-care was not enough, Madeleine wanted to support the school’s Great Baysgarth Bake Off. So here are the young bakers, Madeleine and Joanna, busy making a Co-op recipe for a Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding Cake.

With the bake off in mind the girls then cleaned and ‘painted’ holly leaves with dark chocolate ready to decorate the top of the ‘pudding cake’ for a professional look.

The finished article – from ‘cake bomb’ to beautifully wrapped. As you can see, there are no chocolate holly leaves. It seems that the chocolate layer was too thin and it cracked easily, so Plan B was implemented – good old green sugar paste holly leaves. The girls achieved a very creditable second place – well done!

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Most of you will recognise these three little Christmas Cuties as I used this photo for our Christmas card this year. Santa “eat your heart out” – these are my helpers.

Madeleine was really keen to give her school friends a handmade Christmas present so she set to and made small ceramic robins and stars which she painted and threaded with shiny string. Another Tony Hart in the making, hey?

Whilst all the fancy make and bake was going on, Chris kept on working and here he is constructing the stud wall and drylining it ready for the new sitting room wall and the other side of the hall. I particularly love the modern ‘industrial’ light fitting – right on point!

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The work must go on despite the weather – note the rather inappropriate ‘sandal type’ footwear!

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Oh well done Chris. Almost finished – now only the floor to lay, the shelf to put in, the mirror to put up and the lights to fit and it’s done!!

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Happy birthday, Daisy. December the 10th and 5 years old. Apologies for the quality of the photo it really is my terrible mobile phone camera.

The weekend before Christmas is just the right time for the three old’uns to be out filling the ruts in the road and I notice that my neighbour, Ursula is just managing to slide by unnoticed! The ‘fill’ for the road was left over rubble from our renovation so it was an excellent way of levelling some potholes as well as getting rid of some ugly rubbish – also a good workout for the old blokes!

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Homemade preserves as gifts for our lovely neighbours.

And so to Christmas – some lovely photos from a great family Christmas shared with some lovely people.

A taste of our lovely family Christmas – James was busy taking photos so he is not in them! Heather and David joined us late on Boxing Day and the fun continued. Thank you all for such a brilliant week.

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Thank you for following my blog throughout the year, as you can see, we are still busy and there will be more next year. We would like to wish you all a very happy, peaceful and prosperous new year. All our love xxx

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