Thursday, 20 December 2012

Let's hear those sleigh bells jingling . . .

By the time you read this I shall be . . .

That sounds like the start of a 'Dear John' letter.

What I meant to say was that this time tomorrow I shall be somewhere on the coast of France,

And on the following morning - early -  we shall be aboard the train and heading deep underground.  Under the sea in fact (!)  as we take the Chunnel train to Blighty.  Then we shall be up in the daylight and off, streaking across the countryside - heading for Wales.

For two weeks we will have no computer, no internet no . . 21st century communications.

What we will have is:
Feet for strolling around in (possibly clad in boots)
fabulous food
and the company of each other.

For one week we will be ensconced in the depths of the Welsh countryside.  Spending Christmas there before journeying to the site of a famous medieval battle on the English side of the border.  There to spend New Year.

And then all too soon we will be back here and the holiday over

But what a trove of memories we hope to have.

So it is that I bid you all a fond farewell for the moment.

Have a very Happy Christmas time and I wish for you the best of things for 2013.

I pray a blessing for each of you.

See you in two weeks!


Monday, 17 December 2012


Yes, well may we sing 'Gloria'!

Because thanks to the very nice man from Deutsche Telekom, the Internet is restored and we are once more in touch with the world.

In the interim we have been somewhat busy, what with Christmas fast approaching and the holiday Season soon to be upon us.

So what has been happening?

Well, the snow gradually disappeared:

The Squirrels were happy and kicked up their heels:

We lit the third candle on our Advent Wreath:

 A Fabulous Christmas hamper arrived, courtesy of my wonderful sister, Mme. Gibcus:

I got cracking with the Christmas cake which had been sitting idly by, getting tipsy on the brandy I had been feeding it with since its making:

Gathering together these ingredients:

I made the marzipan and covered the cake with it.  Now it is sitting silently slumbering, wrapped in plastic, awaiting the moment when it is covered in royal icing:

Then it was time to put up the Christmas Tree.

I admit it is a fake tree with electric lights coming out of the branches.  We are most often away at Christmas time and so having a real tree, in this apartment, seems somewhat wasteful.
Am I being gauche if I say that when we grew up in Melbourne my parents had a wonderful, huge, fake Christmas Tree make out of thick, silver tinsel covered wire?  Our first year in Australia saw a housing strike and we were forced to live for a long time at the Migrant Camp in a place called Broadmeadows.  Christmas was spent there as we waited for the strike to be over so that they could begin building our house.  My Father (who always held Christmas very close to his heart) went out one night, crept into the nearby army artillery range, cut down a small pine tree and brought it back so that we could have a tree just as we did in England, but the heat caused a lot of the needles to fall out and so my parents decided that in future, fake would be better.  
AGA's family always had a real tree in a pot.  After Christmas it would be transported to their place in the country, and planted, which I think would have been great fun to do, but I must say that I really loved that fake, silver tinselled Christmas Tree of ours!  It holds many happy memories for me.

We don't have any vintage decorations for our tree. Instead we are creating our own for the future!  We have bought our Christmas Tree ornaments from Christmas Markets here in Germany, in London and in Paris:
This glass Church ornament was bought by my Mother when she was in Paris a couple of years ago:

The goose is a lead ornament from Copenhagen.  The teddy bear was made in a sheltered workshop in Prague, and the reddish oiled glass balls come from Vietnam::
Finally we have this hand-coloured German print of the Christ Child riding a stag through the snowy forest.  It comes the 1920s I think and sits in a rather wonderful frame that we had bought seperately:

I hope that our carefully chosen Christmas decorations will become the vintage ones that our nieces and nephews will inherit and enjoy - if they are good to their ageing uncles!

SO that it what happened when we were without the internet.
And now we are even busier.  I have mince pies to make for respective workplaces as well as some for us.  We have bags to pack and preparations to me made as this year we will be having a Welsh Christmas.  I can't wait!

Monday, 10 December 2012

An old fashioned weekend

We have had an old fashioned weekend - old fashioned in the sense that we have no internet access...

It looks like we are going to have an 'old fashioned' week too - until we get the problem sorted out.

This has severely curtailed my ability to 'blog' and so, in the interim, we will have a series of wintery scenes for your amusement:

My walk home on Friday:

The view from our front door:

Our balcony:

What I needed after a sub-zero degrees visit to the shop just around the corner:

After a day of 'snow chaos' the clouds blew away:

The sun came out and the sky turned a brilliant blue:

 White bread - Yorkshire style.  I make two loaves every weekend:

It is 'a la Yorkshire' because it is made with milk.  Probably there are other names but having a largish Yorkshire component in my family I rather like that name. I made a lot of mince meat this weekend too and finished the Christmas Cake so all is sorted, or as they say in Germany: 'in ordnung'.

And finally this photo, taken from the sitting room window on Sunday morning:

I can still occasionally get online to view other people's blogs during my breaks at work.  Hopefully I will be back online very soon!

Sunday, 2 December 2012


Today is the first Sunday of Advent and it is a tradition to prepare an Advent 'wreath' the day before.  Containing four candles, it marks the Sundays leading up to Christmas Day.  This year I am joining with quite a few people here in Germany by submitting a few photographs of it to Markus at Teacup in the Garden. I am excited because he will be posting them next Sunday.
Despite a dreadful cold at present, I have soldiered on regardless and finished it in good time.

However, I still wanted to share my wreath on my own blog.

So here it is:

This year I started off with an old copper jam making pan, a large ceramic dish and the Advent Candle Stand:

I left the outside of the copper pan uncleaned as I wanted to retain the tarnished 'look'.  That way it didn't scream out 'look at me everyone, I'm a newly polished pot!' It is taking a much more muted, secondary role in this particular production!

I then packed in some florist foam and tried out the wreath frame and the candles:

Unfortunately, I could not get any purple or pink candles this year in our village which was a shame as these are the traditional colours for Advent.  I purchased three red candles and one ivory one instead:

The reason for the three-and-one-colours?  The three same-coloured candles are known as 'the Prophet', 'the Bethlehem', and 'the Angel' candle, in that order. The single-coloured candle is the Shepherd Candle which is lit third in succession. 

So first the Prophet, then the Bethlehem, then the Shepherd, and finally, on the Sunday before Christmas Day, the Angel candle.

Usually I use branches of fir for my wreath.  They always look very 'proper'.  This time I wanted the finished product to look a little 'wild' and untamed, when placed within the context of our sittingroom; and so I chose cedar and left the branches untrimmed.

Then some reddish/purplish Christmas decoration which are somewhat similar to the pinecones one finds on a Korean Fir.

I also scattered some gold stars to represent the Star of Bethlehem.

Most of the greenery is cypress but I wound some larch branches around the base of the candles because it provides a contrasting shade of green:

And when I had finished the wreath, it looked like this:

I hope you like it!

I have been experimenting with watermarking my photographs.  I am not sure that I like it.  It looks much better when others do it. . . Maybe next time I shall just put my blog name on it.

The first candle has been lit: