I seem to have entirely avoided talking about Christmas and New Year here, but I have been very much immersed in the festivities in reality. I've actually been celebrating Christmas and it's joys since at least a couple of weeks before Christmas Day, so I thought I'd tell you a little about what I've been up to.
Back at the beginning of December, somewhere around the 8th, W and I had been planning on going to the Enchanted Parks event at Saltwell Park, Gateshead. We'd booked our tickets a while back and were looking forward to it as we hadn't managed to get to it last year because the weather was so awful (deep snow and temperatures of -9C). Unfortunately there were huge gales on 8th December and Gateshead council decided to cancel the Enchanted Parks event for that night. We were disappointed, but the disappointment was short-lived as we were offered alternative tickets for the Saturday evening.
I met W outside the park, having gone in Taz on the bus. This made much more sense than W traipsing all the way over to Newcastle and then coming on the bus with me as she lives not too far from the park. I hadn't been sure how long it would take me to get there on the bus, and in fact I was a little early, but I sat chatting to the nice folk manning the gates while I waited. You could see from the outside that something was going on in the park, and the sky above the big field was lit with searchlight-like strobes that made me think how things might have been during WWII ... perhaps made all the more evocative by my reading a book at the time set during WWII.
Anyway, W arrived and we made our way into the park, which was far from war-like. The main path up to the ticket office had its trees lit in multicolour, and there was a sense of party and celebration from all who headed up towards the event.
The event was a show of light and sound and sculpture, taking the viewer through the darkness of the park and surprising us with what was presented. Here are few of the highlights:
It was a very enjoyable evening, and thankfully not too cold. However, Taz hadn't been completely charged up when I'd set off as I'd gone out earlier in the day, so I almost didn't make it back. Taz's battery indicator was flashing on one red bar by the time I got home and I nearly came to a stand-still before getting home. Thankfully turning Taz off when on the bus allowed it enough of a break to see me home and parked up in the living room, but it was a very close call, and Taz only just crawled into place.
So that was the Enchanted Parks.
On 16th December W and I had Christmas together. She came over to my house in the afternoon and we had Christmas dinner consisting of a vegetarian loaf thingumy I'd made with lots of sagey flavours, and of course we had all the roast dinner accompaniments - roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, sprouts in sage and lemon butter, and homemade crab apple jelly. This was followed by a time of present swapping and 'slump and grunt', before W prepared pudding in the slow cooker and we went out to Gibside in the evening. Gibside is a National Trust property, and every friday night since the summer they've apparently been doing a beer tent and open fires between 6-9pm. On 16th December they also had carol singers and had a stand for hog roast and mulled wine. Neither W or I were up for the hog roast (I'm vegetarian, I'd probably have been allergic to it anyway, and both of us were stuffed after Christmas dinner), but we did have a drink - I had a Fentiman's lemonade whilst W had a half pint of Legless Santa :oD We sat around one of the fire grates, warming ourselves from the icy cold (we had a white Christmas that day) as we drank our drinks and soaked up the atmosphere, listening to the carols. We were only there for about an hour, but it was very festive and a lovely thing to do on our Christmas Day together.
When we got back to mine we had just enough space to squeeze in our chocolate puddings with melty middles. That is that the chocolate puddings had melty middles, not us ... we had rather bloated middles from all the yummy food. Unfortunately we had both forgotten to buy either cream or ice-cream to go with the puddings, but W had the fantastic idea of drenching the puddings with Bailey's instead. Marvellous! Delicious! Very, very scrummy!
On 21st I came up to Edinburgh to have actual Christmas with my mum and step-dad. I've been having a very lovely, very quiet, very relaxed time. To be honest, I haven't been 100% well (when am I these days?) with some mild lurgies that I think I picked up at the carol service at church on 18th - which was fantastic, by the way. My lungs haven't been very happy, and I've had very disturbed sleep with lots of coughing and wheezing every night, but I've been very well looked after and have thus far avoided needing any medical intervention. I think I've got through the worst of it now, so hopefully I'll be able to stay out of hospital throughout this lurgification.
I'm going home today. My train is at 9pm. I'll be sad to go home as I've had such a lovely time here, but before I go I get the pleasure of seeing my older brother and his family as they are about to descend on my mum and J for five days and we have a few hours of cross-over time. I'm sure it'll confuse O (5) and D (3) no end that I'm here, as they found it hilarious when I told them that I was their daddy's sister, so they'll probably find it difficult to comprehend that Grandma is also Aunty Becky's mummy.
Actually, I'd probably better sign off before they arrive. They're due almost imminently, so I shall brace myself for an invasion of boystrous energy.
Next stop, New Year's Eve at a friend's house. I think it's going to be a relatively quiet and civilised evening ... far from what I expect of this evening before I head off home.