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!


  1. Hello Kirk,
    I have hamper envy - such a sweet gift!! The cake looking good and your tree, magical... Really like the picture and frame also. Wishing you and AGA a Merry Christmas as you must be leaving soon - hope the weather stays mild for driving!
    Best wishes Ivan

    1. Dear Ivan,
      Thank you for dropping by and your kind comments.
      Yes we leave on Friday - I guess it will be okay travelling via the Chunnel. . . The cake will travel with us of course, and I shall probably ice it there. Mince pies will also accompany us. I love Christmas food!
      I hope you both have a wonderful Norman Christmas!

  2. If you stay put it is hard work and if your travel it is also hard work - there are no soft options at Christmas. My biggest anxiety at this time of year is the weather. Here, it is glorious at the moment, wonderful sunshine, but it can all change within no time.
    I must say that your Christmas cake looks absolutely splendid. I did the icing and decorated mine yesterday. Just a very minimal looking cake.
    What a wonderful hamper from your sister. You should be able to keep finding delights in there for many months to come.

    1. I am impressed Rosemary - your cake is all done while mine is loitering about the kitchen like a bored teenager.
      I hope the weather stays as is in your neck of the woods and we will be heading in that general direction in a few days time.

  3. Your Christmas cake looks delicious! I wasn't with it this year, and didn't make a fruitcake. I made a rum cake, which was nice and boozy, but I missed the month-long anticipation leading up to that first slice of a truly alcoholic fruitcake.

    Enjoy your holiday trip!

    1. Thank you Merry Wife,
      Rum cake - I have never tried to make that myself and I agree with you, that first slice of Christmas cake which you eat after lunch and a long walk, is definitely something to look forward to.

  4. Hello Kirk

    I am most impressed by your baking skills. This Christmas cake brings back fond memories. I am sure it is delicious. The hamper from your sister had me peaking inside. Your Welsh Christmas sound delightful and I will be looking forward to reading all about it.
    Meanwhile wishing you both the blessings of Christmas and goodness and joy in 2013.

    Helen xx

    1. Thank you Helen,
      Yes I am looking forward to Wales. Both AGA and I have ancestors from this part of the world and really like visiting there. I am looking forward to going by car too as we can take all that is needful without worrying about what security at the airport will say!
      Thank You for your Christmas blessings and I wish you the same.

  5. The Christmas cake looks wonderful. A blogger friend from London sent me a traditional old English recipe for mincemeat (no suet) that is incredibly good -- I do mince pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas and our friends are crazy for them.

    I like it that you're making/finding your own tradition in terms of ornaments.

    1. Dear Will,
      Thank you for your kind comments.
      My mincemeat recipe does not have suet in it either. I put in coconut fat instead: It tastes just as good.

  6. Hello Kirk, I am not sure what is meant by a Welsh Christmas, but I am looking forward to finding out.
    --Road to Parnassus

    1. Dear Jim,
      A Welsh Christmas will be one spent in a small self-catered cottage on the banks of a river in the middle of Wales.
      I can't wait!

  7. Kirk, hello. It all seems to have been 'go, go, go' for you guys. Just as well the internet was down, otherwise that glorious cake would still be unmade!
    Now Wales would be somewhere special to be at Christmas. I hope it's suitably snowy.
    Here, as I write, the cicadas are shrilling, the air is oven-warm and it is, of course, approaching the LONGEST day.
    Happy Christmas, my friend,

    1. Dear Faisal,

      It has indeed been go go go! It has been an interesting experiment to have had no Internet. I think that it was good for us although I am still glad we have it back again.

      Cicadas - that always makes me think of late summer evenings in outer Melbourne.

      I agree that Wales will be fab for Christmas. There are elements there that are reminiscent of the VIctorian High Country.

      A very Happy Christmas to you, and to Zara too!


  8. Dear Kirk -

    Congratulations on getting your computer back up!

    A Christmas cake with both marzipan and icing sounds awfully good, and I can see by the photos that your cake will turn out perfectly.

    Marzipan has a special place in my heart because that was a yearly Christmas present to my mother, who always associated it with her European childhood. But Americans are not so familiar with marzipan, and every year I would have to describe it in detail to grocers — even when they had stocked it!

    Have a wonderful Welsh holiday!


    1. Dear Mark,
      Thank you for your kind comments! It is good to be able to stroll around cyber space once more.

      Marzipan is super easy to make. You mix it with your hands and afterwards that wonderful bouquet remains on them. I'll give you the recipe if you like!


  9. Now that I have read this, I am truly in the Christmas spirit! Your Christmas cake looks to be perfection, and I am a wee bit envious, I must admit. Marzipan has been a Christmas tradition in the Darling household for generations. There was always a little box of it in our stockings when I was growing up, usually decorated with lurid painted colors. It was only as an adult that I first tasted truly marvelous Marzipan, and it was a revelation how delicious it was. I had no idea! Funny how quickly one's ornaments (and other things) can become "vintage." I have some pretty German ornaments from the 1980s that I am sure would be sold as such today. Perhaps I should, since Boy has banished them as being unsuitable, favoring truly vintage ones from the 1920s through 1940s. Joyeux Noël!!

  10. Thanks Reggie,
    Dont get rid of those oldish decorations. If you truly love them then keep them - perhaps they could decorate a small tree or a branch, in a guest room...
    Un tres joueux Noël, et bénédictions a vous, Boy, et le beau Pompey!!