Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Punished for being a Grinch

I was about to write a piece about what a miserable Christmas Day I had but before doing that I thought I'd remind myself where I was up to last time I wrote so I went back for a read.  Crikey Moses what a moaning Minny!  No way can I inflict more of the same on you.

Suffice it to say "Do not be a Grinch.  It will only rebound on you"

In our wisdom - yes 'we', not just me, decided not to do Christmas at all this year.  The decision was knee deep in reasons.  

No decorations: we took part of our Christmas decorations to the UK a couple of years ago as we would always be in the UK for Christmas (!) and the rest we had given away.  It seemed utterly doolally buying more.  

We are thousands of miles from any friend or relative, so would be entirely on our own and neither of us 'were bothered'.  So off we toddled into a normal Wednesday with a lunch of lemon chicken and rice.

All I can say is it is decidedly weird.  It is like quitting smoking or something.  You have this 68 year old habit of one day a year doing strange stuff because everyone else does it and then there you are doing nothing.

I already know that I don't especially like Christmas away from the UK because I can't fulfill the essential requirements of a Marilyn Christmas but, believe me, even a partial 'foreign' Christmas is better than none.

So take note anyone intending to visit us here next year.  The travel plans right now are:

October and November in Naples, December in Bury, January February March in Naples.  You will have to fit in that time frame I'm afraid because during Christmas 2014 I shall be doing the following:

Decorations up mid-month including a tree (used to always do that on Xmas Eve).  The decorations have to include stuff that goes back years;  a weary Santa in a car that was my daughter's when she was three and she insisted was wheeled out each year and a wooden Xmas tree candle holder that I bought with my kids from Ikea for example.

Christmas cards from everyone in all in one place and enjoyed at Christmas instead of March!
A tin of Roses or Quality Street

Christmas day begins with a boiled egg and soldier breakfast - why? - because it always does; followed by chocolates while I unwrap gifts with a background of Carols from Kings.

Lunch at 1 pm comprising delicious M & S comestibles - some terrific starter conjured up by M & S and/or Tesco Finest; a luxury bird of some sort so it is different to the rest of the year, King Edward spuds and goose fat to roast them in, chipolatas, oxo for my gravy - can't get any of these things here. (mind you I do like their corn bread stuffing!)

Several puddings which need to include a trifle, Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, mince pies with brandy butter, lovely cheeses and chocolates, Christmas crackers.  Again these are all things I can't get over here. 

The Queens speech after lunch with a port and lemon and nuts in shells so they make a mess with cold weather outside the window, so that being snugly is even nicer.

An evening of rubbish TV like a Downtosh special (aka Downton Abby) with masses of nice nibbles to go at all day and night so you're too full for tea.

A boxing day buffet - (no boxing day in America) with M & S to thank for buffet type eats plus pork pie, sausage rolls (for Ken) pickled onions and a zillion other condiments, an iced fruit cake, none of which exist on this side of the pond.  

Anyone who knows me wasn't surprised this was all about food!

I hope your Christmas was loaded with good stuff that fits your psyche and makes you feel comfortable in your skin.  Thanks for joining me for my virtual Christmas 2013.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Our resident frog

Just a quick note to share something with you.  We have tree frogs galore in Naples and one likes to live by our outside lamp.  Presume he stays warm through the night and gets to snack on all those night-time critters attracted by the light.  

Today I put the Christmas decorations up and I tie a red velvet ribbon round the lamp to support a wreath.  He moved about four inches up the wall to let me do that then returned to his 'perch' before I had even finished - talk about not bothered.  He now resides on a velvet bed.

He's not the prettiest of creatures and even if he is a prince I still think I'll give it a miss!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Start as you mean to go on

Day two in Naples and I have the glums!  Absolutely and utterly senseless.  I really wanted to come this year - there are all kinds of nice things waiting for me here - or will be when our post arrives on Monday.

It started well.  I did an eleventh hour trip to the docs on Wednesday (3.30pm) to check the latest batch of antibiotics for my gammy leg.  Yet another doctor looks at it - what ever happened to continuity of care? - and decides it is cellulitis  and bangs out a scrip for another lot of antibiotics.  Looked up cellulitis and it is worrying to say the least - basically I have a poisoned leg which can do all sorts, not least of which is kill me.  I am now on month two and course five of antibiotics - talk about lack of concern on the medics part.  I actually feel dreadful - not an ounce of oomph in me - typing this is like weight lifting.

So any way I was declared fit to do a long haul without the leg exploding and here I am.

The flight was as good as any flight can be.  We had to take Premium Upgrade seats as that's all they had; so no hardship there.  We got to Orlando about 3.15 pm their time (8.15 pm on the body clock).  Checked into a motel and went off to our usual buffet dinner at a great place P and S found a while back.  Stuffed myself silly and pretty much staggered back to bed.

Up bright and early as I was still running on UK time and off to the same buffet for a never ending breakfast.  I think I probably had four breakfasts.  This is especially easy to do when you sit near Americans having breakfast.  They are usually eating off two or three plates at the same time.  Seriously.  At least mine was consecutive and not concurrent.

We then stopped by my favourite clothes shop - look at what I got for $59! (£36)

Left to right:  
A no-button cardigan and matching short sleeve jumper in a lovely cotton mix fabric.  They aren't sold as a 'twin-set' but they match perfectly - same fabric, same dye. 
Three-quarter sleeve light weight cotton sweater in white.  Really useful.
Button through cardigan in a mix of two nice blues.  
Back to the lime green and a pretty floaty blouse for warm days and crops.

The outlet price for them was $166 total which is great, but then they had 50% off because the shop is closing (aaaarrrrggghh!) making them $83.  Then I had a $50 Groupon coupon for which I'd paid $25; so, as I said, I parted with $34 in the shop and the $25 already spent on the coupon making a total of $59.  My kind of shopping.  Incidentally Ken bought the Groupon coupon  on his phone while I was in the shop and they took the details from the phone.

We then pootled on back down to Naples after the compulsory stop at Smokin' Joe's for Ken's ice cream (water for me). Our GPS calls it Smocking Joes which gives it a whole other image.  Not much smocking going on when we were there.

So far, so good.  We did a bit of grocery shopping, had dinner in Cracker Barrel and so to bed.

Then it started to kick in.  Saturday wasn't a particularly fraught day - bits and bobs of things not going quite right as always when you are settling back in.  No internet connection and debate as to why not; TV up the swanny etc .  We did the grocery shopping, going out in the sunshine - a blue sky and 85 degrees should cheer anyone up but I was already feeling scritchy. I put it down to being tired - jet lag - being woken at midnight and six in the morning for flipping pills doesn't help, plus I know that either the poisoned leg or the pills are having some effect on me.  I have read that a lot of antibiotics stop thyroxine working so that could also be a factor.  Any way on Saturday put my long face down to general physical iffyness and looked forward to a better Sunday.  I got up this morning laden with gloom!!

I was cooking our Sunday dinner - a simple roast chicken dinner and begab thinking about how much it isn't our Sunday dinner. No goose fat, so no decent roast potatoes.  The chicken is different - fatty and super soft and falls into shreds.  Tesco Finest it aint!  I went on to ruin the usual corn bead stuffing by experimenting and making a spoon corn pudding thingy that's eaten here.  Imagine savoury bread pudding made with corn bead and sweet corn.  It serves - like a bread pudding does - slightly sweet and eggy and flopy doppy.  This is not at all yum yum with your roast.  Knorr stock cubes are probably a delight when you use them all the time but they are distinctly not Oxo.  When Oxo is what you've eaten for 68 years everything else tastes odd and Knorr is VERY salty.  So rubbish gravy.  My grumbles begin.  

Whilst in the realm of cooking - I wanted to make my daughter a (gluten fee) cherry cake - no such thing as ground almonds, I think their granulated fine ground is the equivalent of our castor sugar, but I'm not sure and when it came to glacé cherries I just got blank stares and was offered maraschino.  When I said I wanted the cherries cakes I was told - yup, that would be maraschino!!  See what I mean.  The simplest flipping thing and I know I am in a foreign country.  Nothing wrong with the country - Naples is lovely, the people are lovely etc etc etc BUT it is foreign.  Americans would feel just the same stuck in England.  I just stood in the kitchen and tried not to either (a) cry or (b) moan at Ken and (c) realised that this is how it will be until March 14th.

I apologise for whingeing to everyone who doesn't get this.  I know how petty and peevish and just downright contrary this seems.  I can't offer an explanation that makes sense, even to me - I just know I want to be home.  Ken reckons it is just a stage of getting old and maybe he is right.
Another cheering thought!

So what brought me to this point since I last wrote to you in November ......  there was a lot of hospital and care home and sorting out aunty J stuff which I could actually kill you with if I elaborated - people do die of boredom.

I did get to a dolls house show at Pudsey on 9th November which Id normally miss.  So that was a good day out and not much money spent.  

My birthday arrived on the 12th and I was spoiled rotten by all and sundry.  So nice to be home for my birthday - probably the first time in 13 years! We celebrated in grand pensioner style with lunch (not dinner!) at a local restaurant that we like and sloped off to the afternoon movies to see 'Philomena'.  A gem of a film - small but perfectly formed.  Ms Dench acts up a storm as usual and even the, for me loathsome, Steve Coogan  was excellent.

A few days later on the 16th and we were living the high life at Château Impney in Droitwich.  We did an overnighter to get in a DH show the next day.  I had an all round lovely couple of days, courtesy of my other half who said it was compensation for having to miss the Philadelphia show weekend.  What a star.

I don't blather on about the shows here because some folk read pretty much all my blogs and it would a be a pain for them and for me, to repeat everything ten times over.

Threaded through all this was lots of time with chums and meals out in favourite spots -all in all a life which suits me very well.

I am sure I will soon be distracted by the visit of my daughter and her chap and then the usual visit of our two friends P & S.  When other folk are around you have to get a grip of your knickers and just get on with it.  I just wish I could explain, or better still control, this need to go home.