31 December 2009 21:43
When I think of the Hogmanays of my childhood I always seem to be up to my elbows in cleaning stuff. My mum insisted that the whole house had to be turned upside-down and scoured from top to bottom in the traditional Scottish way. As I am the youngest by far, it fell to me to do it all.
This is one tradition which I never had any intention of keeping going and if there is some dust from 2009 still in the house, who cares, not me anyway.
I think it will be a quiet Hogmanay for us this year, although you never can tell until we get there.
As promised in an earlier post, I’m going to be rejigging my blog for the new year. At the moment, it’s very basic as I wasn’t sure if I would carry on with it, but as I’ve had lots more visitors than I had anticipated having, I’ve really been encouraged to continue. It doesn’t seem to matter that I don’t have a post every day, I’ve always prefered quality over quantity in anything.
Look out for a Scottish cliche at ‘The Bells’.
31 December 2009 00:34
As I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to be making a Girdlebuster Pie for my husband’s birthday cake, I thought you might like to see how it turned out.
I would be the first to admit that the photograph doesn’t look great, the ice-cream bubbles to the surface in places making a strange effect but crucially, it tasted yummy.
I used tiramasu ice-cream as I couldn’t get coffee flavoured but it worked really well anyway. The great advantage of this dessert is that it can be made so far in advance and frozen until it is needed.
It is very rich and I would say that it is enough to give 12 portions. Five of us managed to get through half of it, and the rest I put back into the freezer until next week.
The recipe can be found at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1059850/Girdlebuster-pie.html.
30 December 2009 00:22
Every now and again I like to read something quite different from my usual diet and this one fitted the bill.
It’s an alternative history which has Sitka, Alaska as the Jewish homeland instead of Israel. The lease on the land is running out and with possibly as few as 1 in 5 of the inhabitants being allowed to stay on there, they are all having to apply for permission.
The book is a murder mystery which follows the tried and trusted formula of the hard drinking detective, with a failed marriage in the background.
I would have liked a glossary as there were lots of Jewish/Yiddish words bandied around and I sometimes had to guess at their meanings. I suspect some of them were made up. I used to know a lot of Jewish words as I read a lot of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Chaim Potok and such as a youngster, but I’ve forgotten a lot. They always had a glossary.
There were characters called ‘boundary mavens’ who rigged up poles and strings along the neighbourhoods so that Jews worried about breaking the Sabbath when they carried things or walked their dogs could get around the Jewish rules. This strikes me as being so typical of the religious zealots who always seem to spend a lot of time bending rules to fit their consciences. Well, I found it funny.
The novel got rave reviews, which is a bit of a mystery to me. It was entertaining but it wouldn’t be on my – one to read again list.
I quite enjoyed this book except for the odd bit of – what can I say?
27 December 2009 23:53
Well, Christmas came before we were ready for it, mainly due to the weather being terrible and not being able to travel to see people. It was the most disorganised that we had ever been – which is daft really because it’s not as if we have much to do for it now that the family has grown up.
However, despite that we all agreed that it was a great Christmas, everything just seemed to be in harmony and we all had a really relaxing time.
We all had a bit too much to eat but only one bottle of wine was drunk between all five of us. I didn’t actually have anything to eat at all until 3 o’clock – not even a bit of chocolate, I just didn’t feel like eating. The result is that I am still weighing in at 9 stone exactly, even although we haven’t been able to get out for our customary hour of walking each day, due to the weather.
All in all a jolly good time was had by all. Now for Hogmanay!
23 December 2009 23:38
I hate the cold weather and it has been below freezing all day today. Tomorrow it is going to be -6c and it’s getting beyond a joke. The snow is just piled up everywhere and each morning we just wake up to even more of the horrible stuff.
We haven’t been able to get to our relatives to give them their Christmas presents either so Christmas is going to be delayed this year, until the roads are safe to drive on again.
Winter has come, the snow has fell,
Wee Josie’s nose is froze as well,
Wee Josie’s nose is frozen skintit,
Winter’s diabolic – intit!
I thought that I would inflict a terrible piece of Scottish doggerel poetry on you, just in case you weren’t feeling bad enough!
22 December 2009 22:34
Yesterday was the winter solstice and I had intended writing this post then but my computer started making scary noises so I thought I had better turn it off and give it a rest for the night. Anyway it seems to be alright now.
I always look forward to the winter solstice, it is the time that we should really be celebrating instead of Christmas. Now I can look forward to brighter days ahead and even if we are in the midst of a horrible freeze, I still feel that we’ve got to the top of a really steep hill and we’re freewheeling along to the spring now.
Scotland has loads of standing stone sites which obviously had great significance for our ancestors and they are really interesting, atmospheric places to visit.
Take a look at the Maeshowe website if you want to find out more.
20 December 2009 23:52
Fankle is the Scottish word for tangle. It is a word that always seems to be in use at this time of the year. Inevitably the Christmas tree lights are always in a fankle when you dig them out of the box that they have been living in over the past year.
It seems that no matter how carefully you pack them away after the festivities are over, the lights have obviously spent their time dancing the nights away like sugar plum fairies. The desperate cry goes up over the whole country – They’re all fankled up! How does it happen?
Other things that get fankled or in a fankle are hair, particularly mine in the terrible winds that you get here coming off the North Sea. And of course people here don’t get their knickers in a twist when they are panicking about something. Their knickers get into a good old fashioned fankle.
20 December 2009 00:07
I’ve been finding it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit this year, partly I think because there isn’t anything going on around here in the way of traditional celebrations. It’s all about parting everyone from their cash really, which is a shame.
Although I can’t say that I’m in any way religious (quite the opposite really), I still think that the mad commercialisation of Christmas is a complete pain in the neck. Let’s face it, the shops are full of tat at the moment, and expensive tat at that! And people feel the need to spend and spend and spoil their children rotten, even when they know that the kids get more fun out of simple things, like big boxes they can sit in and pretend that it is a car, bus, train or whatever.
Some people are still paying for Christmas by the time the next one comes along. I wish we could get back to the time when people just made something for their friends and relatives, if they feel the need to give something.
I must admit that we have never exchanged presents amongst our brothers and sisters as there are just too many of us and it is much simpler to give to the young people only, and our parents of course, (when they were alive).
So what has all this moaning got to do with Haworth in Yorkshire? We visited Haworth for the first time in the summer and we really enjoyed it, although we didn’t have enough time there. So we thought we would definitely go again and I did a bit of research and discovered that the good people of Haworth are up to all sorts throughout the year. The place really seems to be jumping and if we lived a bit closer I would definitely be visiting the Christmas market and going to see exactly what holly scroggling is. Singing carols at Haworth would just be perfect, I’m sure that you couldn’t stay ‘bah humbugish’ for long there.
I really fancy going to the vintage fair which they have later in the year, well it’s all recycling isn’t it, and wouldn’t it be great
to dress up in a 1940s tea dress for the 40s weekend that they have every year.
Have a look at the Haworth Village site to find out more.
18 December 2009 23:14
As ever, there is some controversy over how this word is spelt. I have seen it written as haiver, however in The Proclaimers lyrics for I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) it is written as haver.
So, haver just means to talk nonsense or rubbish. It’s very useful if someone is being particularly stupid, annoying and long winded about something, then you can use just one word “Havers!” to deflate them and succinctly tell them what you think.
Or – What are you havering about now? gives the distinct impression that the speaker is ALWAYS talking rubbish.
When The Proclaimers released their single 500 miles, in America, it caused a bit of consternation as the Americans got it into their heads that havering was something rude so they were thinking about banning it. In Britain banning anything usually makes it an instant hit. Anyway, the Americans were reassured that the sky wouldn’t fall down if Craig and Charlie sang the word haver and it has been their biggest hit ever.
17 December 2009 23:23
I HATE tea. I really wish that I could like it and I have tried really hard over the years to find a kind of tea that I could stomach. Common or garden tea, green tea, herbal tea, fruit tea, Earl Grey and many moons ago Lapsang Sou -whatever it is. The trouble is they all taste of tea and I even dislike the smell of it. My husband feels exactly the same about it, we are strictly black coffee people – no sugar.
I wish I loved it and it’s really strange to me that I don’t because both my parents were tea addicts as were my husband’s parents. The thing is that I love everything to do with tea, which is why I’ve persevered with it over the years. It’s all so very British and twee, as are all the accessories that go with tea making.
Teapots and military crested ware
Tea cosies and accessories
As you can see, I have quite a collection of lovely teapots, tea cosies and caddies which I inherited from a great aunt. Tea seems to have got the older generation through desperate times in their lives. The first action in any disaster seemed to be to put the kettle on, I think the process and ritual of tea-making must have had a great calming effect on people’s nerves.
My father-in-law was in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regiment during WW2. He was mobilised in 1939 and was in it for the whole duration of the war. He was one of the poor souls who had to wait on the beach at Dunkirk to be evacuated, whilst being bombed and shot at by the Luftwaffe, and he said that the first thing that they did whenever they pitched up somewhere new was to get the tea brewing. After that things didn’t seem so bad.
So you can see why I feel that I’m missing out on something here. Strangely, both our ‘boys’ are keen tea drinkers, quaffing quantities of the stuff in the ordinary and green varieties.
If anyone can advise me on obscure tea types which might tempt me, I’d be grateful. I’m still willing to try and my pinky finger is just ready to tweek to a jaunty angle whilst drinking from a bone china cup (hand-painted of course)!