Wednesday, December 30, 2009
We decided to go out fairly early and grab something to eat on the hoof, we were both pub Stock Controllers at the time who looked after pubs in Leeds so we thought we pop in on a few of our charges, say hello and bag some free drinks before buggering off and spending our money and disgraceing ourselves in pubs that belonged to other breweries! At about half nine we decided that we should take ourselves to places where our antics would not make the jungle drums news and headed up to Greek Street and into the Old Monk. We were congratulating ourselves on a sucessive trip to the bar which took less than 20 minutes to be served and our delight upon finding an empty if not filthy table. The fact that the table was adjacent to a group of 5 not bad looking lads was a bonus and as I used to be a bit of a flirt with a drink or two inside me it didn't take long to strike up conversation with them.
A few drinks later and a lack of Auld Langs Syne I might add, I found myself chatting away with a handsome young chap. We seemed to have so much in common. He'd been to university in Nottingham, my home town and it transpired we'd been to the same clubs, gigs etc. He'd even been to a few Forest matches when he'd been bored and unable to get to Leeds games. We found out in those couple of hours that we liked the same music, read the same books, both liked football and had had this weird parallel existance between Leeds and Nottingham.
It was soon kicking out time and I naturally invited him back to mine, now before you all label me a brazen hussy, I only lived about 3 miles away from the centre of Leeds, future t'husband was about 20 miles and Catherine about 13, so I suggested that we all go back for more drink and to peruse my record collection (yeah, yeah that old chestnut....). The journey home did not pass by uneventfully though, oh no. The city centre was packed and for the first time ever they had installed one of those outdoor ice rinks and a fair. All the pavements and roads were crowded with people and you couldn't move for tripping over someone. However, I was a little bit shocked to be headbutted right on the bridge of my nose by some miniature Chinese girl (actually she may not have been Chinese but she was Asian...), cue lots of blood and quite a bit of pain. A broken nose! Off Chinese/Asian shortarse sauntered, unaware of her causing me actual bodily harm into the crowd and I was left a trifle embarrassed. Any coolness that I had feigned evaporated immediately. Still he stayed and endured a two hour wait for a taxi (we could have walked it in less than an hour), and obviously he called a couple of days later for a proper date.
Fast forward a few years, a long distance relationship, living in our Guesthouse with both customers and a grumpy business partner, an unplanned pregnancy, two miscarriages, money troubles and home sickness - all hurdles that we've overcome and I am proud to say that none of those have put even a slight dent in our relationship.
Tomorrow we shall be raising our glasses to another 9 years.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Merry Christmas everyone, or as they say around these parts Bon Nadal - hope you all have a very special day. VBH xxx
Be careful big guy don't knock back too many sherrys, brandies, whiskeys etc, you're carrying my boy's precious cargo. There's a mince pie here with your name on it and a carrot for Rudolph. xx
Today's window is the most talked about vegetable, well at this time of year anyway. The Marmite of the Brassica world if you like, there are no in-betweeners and I am in the 'hate' camp, needless to say I will be peeling and crossing them for those who love 'em and then cursing the after effects!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
It's warm, it's spicy, it's, well actually I don't think it's that nice but still... Here's to a perfectly good bottle of red ruined, otherwise known as Mulled Wine.
Photo from www.waitrose.com
The King of Cheese makes a late appearance, yes of course it's Stilton. Obviously not available here in Spain and sadly the last time the in-laws tried to smuggle some into the country via a Jet2 flight they had it confiscated at the check-in desk, due apparently to the then recent outbreak of foot and mouth. Quite what the check-in clerk at Leeds/Bradford Airport thought we were going to do with the cheese is beyond me. I had hoped to eat it, with port, but maybe they were worried that I would take the cheese and crumble it up and deposit it around known livestock areas, who knows? Can you tell I'm still bitter? This year the in-laws have decided (read chickened out of) not to try to smuggle any through this year so we are having to make do with Roquefort, so not the same!
The next window is causing me to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat of pure panic.
It's not the cooking of per say, although I am sure that Christmas Eve will bring it's own share of nightmares about that, but the actually buying of the bird. Because the Spanish traditional have suckling pig there isn't exactly a huge demand for Turkey. I have put off buying my Turkey until either later today or tomorrow, mainly because I didn't want to have to freeze it for a couple of days and then defrost it and because I don't actually have any room in my freezer for it. I am hoping and praying that there are still some about as every supermarket I've been into has only had one or two birds in at any time. Worried, moi? Yep!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Oh my it's Sir Cliff of the Richard....
You cannot mock the man, well you can obviously, but he is up there with the big guys at Christmas, you know, Jesus, Santa....
I LOVE Mistletoe & Wine and also have a bizarre soft spot for Saviours Day, probably because of the pure ridiculousness of them and the heavy swaying in the videos, but for the VBH household it's an absolute must to hear at least one of these tracks every day in the build up to the big day!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Get in there! It's only Quality Streets! Everyone has their favourite, mine is of course, as pictured, the purple one. Sadly these seem to be losing favour nowadays with these new fangled boxes of Celebrations and Heros (thanks Liz at Living with Kids for the tweet when my mind went blank) being the 'in' choccies for Chrimbo. Now don't get me wrong, I love a Celebration, perhaps maybe too much. Actually thinking on, I will happily scoff a whole box of Celebrations or Heros, even the Bountys but I can exercise some restraint with Quality Street. This means that QS gets even more bonus points for being better for your waistline. Tenuous I know....
So, what's your favourite?*
*this last line to be read in a cheesy voice-over style.
Just realised that I should have called this feature The Very Bored Housewife Countdown Of All The Things She Can't Actually Get Or Really Misses About Christmas In Spain, because today's window is none other than Carol Singers.
For the record I am a fully signed up Atheist but I LOVE Christmas carols, cannot think of a single one I don't like. There is nothing more lovely than a knock on the door in late December and opening it to see a group of people of all ages singing God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen. Would like to reiterate late December, a group of menacing looking teenagers in early November does not have the same effect.
Now I have been treated to a snippet of carol over here, bizarrely in our village (and neighbouring ones too) they have some kind of tannoy system with speakers positioned on various buildings in the village. It announces (very loudly) at random times of the day, well, announcements, mostly it seems to be who the village football team are playing, where the poet recital will be (seriously), the lottery numbers etc. It is usually done to a background of 1940's style music, think Vera Lynn but in Catalan and you're there, which I still find very odd. Our friends' village announcements have Chariots of Fire as their musical accompaniment which I think is much cooler.... anyway, sorry, back to the carols... This past week the village announcements have been done to a Catalan version of Oh Come all Ye Faithful, it doesn't quite muster up the warm fuzzy feeling I am used to but beggars can't be choosers.
A word that has been banded about blog land a fair bit lately.
Will the UK get a white Christmas? Probably not but here's hoping you do. It has even snowed here in Spain. OK so it's only a light dusting on top of the mountains near us but it's not a landscape my eyes are used to seeing. However it looks as pretty as it does surreal. I will try and get some pictures before it melts.
You will all be pleased to know that my new Delia Christmas Book has arrived. God Bless Amazon and all who work for it. I immediately looked up her mincemeat recipe, now I'm not sure how many people Delia has around her gaff for Christmas, to be fair it is probably quite a few, I know I'd be hankering after an invite if I was even distantly related to her, but surely no-one actually needs to make that much! So armed with a calculator to divide her recipe by about a billion I set about making my mincemeat.
I then had to make a dash out to the local 'English' shop to buy pretty much all of the ingredients as you can't get them in regular supermarkets, I purchased a very expensive bag of currants, €4 for 500g, only for them to disappear off the face of the earth when I got home. I'm sure they will turn up come January. All was not lost though as I had a brainwave to replace them with dried cranberries instead. The mincemeat tastes delicious, t'husband can vouch for this as he ate a substantial amount of the stuff, hmm maybe that's why Delia makes so much? I just hope my pastry will do the filling justice later today.
The photo of the mince pie is from www.mincepieclub.co.uk - I kid you not, a club for mincepies, whatever next?
Monday, December 14, 2009
However, I am back now and full of renewed vigour, well kinda, it's too cold and miserable outside to consider doing anything but wile away an hour or so on my blog.
Well if I had planned this all better this would have been a more logical time to start my Christmas countdown. Pre Joseph days I wouldn't have even given Christmas a passing thought until now and then I would have been in a blind panic trying to rush around to get everyone's gifts in time. Actually that last sentence makes me sound like I am in complete control of Christmas this year, all the presents have been bought, wrapped and distributed. Christmas cards written and sent and the food shopping list at least compiled if not half bought. Sadly none of this is true but I have at least got today's window covered...
Yes our tree has been up since the 2nd of December. Sadly most of the baubles on the bottom half of the tree have since been broken or moved around by little hands so it's bare on one side and leaning perilously to the left, the chocolate Santas are varnishing at a disturbing rate and we also seem to have bought the only artificial tree that loses it's needles.
Today's window is something close to many of our hearts as our little darlings tread their first tentative steps on the boards. The Nativity Play. I have enjoyed reading other peoples recent reviews of their Oscar worthy offspring, especially this one and I'm a little bit jealous that Joseph's school doesn't do them. Apparently there is a carol service at the local church on the last day of school but it not the same as watching the apple of your eye dressed up as a donkey singing 'Away in a Manger' now is it. Especially not when it's in Catalan anyway.
Way back when I was growing up you had to go out the fortnight before Christmas and buy not one, but two TV listings magazines. These days you get them free in your Sunday paper so no need, but there will also be a special place in the Christmas countdown for the Radio Times and TV Times. Looking back it's hard to see why they were so big, they only covered 2 channels each and of course nowadays it's hard to understand why when there are hundreds of channels to chose from you can't find a decent film to watch on Christmas Day. Ho hum.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Ahh wondered when that was going to make an appearance. Christmas isn't Christmas without the Office Party.
Picture from www.guardian.co.uk
From photocopying your arse to getting off with the boss in the stationery cupboard, the annual office party usually yields enough gossip to last well into February. I get very nostalgic when I think of past office parties, I used to work for a very large pub company and our Head Office dos were extravagant to say the least. Huge marquees set in the grounds of stately country homes, with buses to ferry you to and fro from your hotel, expensive and often bizarre entertainment ranging from comedians to exotic dancers and the traditional knees up afterwards with some cheesy disco. There would be drink stands from all our suppliers, copious amounts of wine flowing with the meal, bottles of liqueurs on the table and even cigars for those who partook. We did have to sit through a monologue of the company's achievements for the past year from the MD but that was back in my smoking days so I'd always try to pre-empt this and head off for a fag just before it started.
The thing about working in the Pub trade was that no-one frowned at you when you got absolutely bladdered, infact it probably heightened your chances of promotion depending on your boss. Many an extra martial, inter-departmental affair was reported to have begun at one of these soirées, fuelled by alcohol and a free hotel room, although not me I hastened to add, I was the one asleep on the bus back to the hotel, dribbling and snoring after hovering around the Advocaat stand too long avoiding the mistletoe.
Yes it's at times like this that I really miss working, I don't miss the hangovers though.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Ah great! Mistletoe! In case you can't tell I am being sarcastic. There aren't too many Christmas things that I don't like but this is one. I HATE MISTLETOE. I hate that it means that some horrid snivelling man thinks he can lurch at you, tongues wagging expectantly for a snog or a slobbery pucker. Bugger off! Hideous stuff. I won't have it in my house.
I've looked up a few sites about mistletoe to try and understand why we have it and what the relevance with kissing is, they all told me different answers and none of them seem very plausible so I won't bother retelling them. One of them had something to do with bows and arrows and Norse gods which bored me to tears by paragraph two so I am non the wiser and to be quite frank I don't care. You can stick it where the sun don't shine!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Day 9's window is beckoning me like a beacon in the night, what or who will it be this time? Ah ha, the one and only Delia Smith! There are many contenders to the throne for the ultimate celebrity chef but when it comes to the classics and the traditional meals you really can't beat Delia.
Ms Smith was showing us all how to stuff Turkeys when Master Jamie Oliver was still in nappies and what Delia doesn't know about pastry just isn't worth knowing. So much so that when I heard she had brought out a new book focusing on cooking for Christmas I rushed out immediately and bought it. Eh? Sorry, forgot where I was for a minute, I immediately logged on to Amazon and ordered it. I am almost giddy with excitement for it's arrival.
The lovely Delia disappeared from our screens for a while and then re-surfaced into the public spot light after an incident involving drinking too many snowballs*, enquiring about the whereabouts of her fellow Canaries (Norwich city supporters to you non footballing people) during half time at a match against Manchester City, lambasting 'the best football supporters in the world' and demanding to know where the 12th man was? Comical to say the least but there is nothing funny about Delia's sausage rolls.
Let's be having you! Come on!
* It probably wasn't snowballs as it was in February not at Christmas.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
How to make one? Well that's easy. Go to your spirit cupboard (or your parents' depending on your age) pull out the bottle of Advocaat that has been there for at least a decade, shake bottle, open bottle, smell contents, discard bottle - the stuff goes off you know!!! Buy new bottle, pour a generous glug into a glass and add a shot of lime cordial and then fill up with lemonade, stir vigorously until it goes all foamy, or if you really want to be flash chuck it all in a cocktail shaker and have it shaken not stirred, it doesn't really matter. Finish off with a glacier cherry. Voila.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Oh I say, Onward Christian Soldiers it’s only the Salvation Army.
Obviously the Sally Army are an all year round organisation but they are the ones braving the howling wind and driving rain most Saturdays near your local market, belting out your favourite Christmas tunes to collect money for good causes.
I have very fond memories of the Salvation Army, they used to come round our local boozers on Friday nights collecting small shrapnel from the inebriated drinking folk in exchange for a copy of War Cry, I think they had a little race with the Cockle & Whelk man to see who could hit the pubs first and claim the most bounty. Ah happy days…
The Salvation Army do a huge amount of great work for charity, including the homeless. Their work is especially poignant at this time of year, so regardless of your religious persuasion chuck a few coins their way this Christmas. They are also having a Christmas Present Appeal asking for unwrapped Christmas presents to give to the young and old alike.
Check them out.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a bit of sparkle from some fairy lights now would it. There once was a time not so long ago that only Chavs would plaster the outside of their homes with a billion garish bulbs and tacky decorations but nowadays even the most cultured of the middle classes are stringing up a few fairy lights around their matching bay trees. I for one love it, even the really over the top ones, it so nice to see when it's cold, wet and miserable outside and dark at 4pm, warms the cockles of even the most cold hearted of bah humbugs... Until you get the leccy bill that is!
The humble tangerine or is it a satsuma or maybe a mandarine? Who knows, who cares really? They are all much of a muchness except one of them has pips in.
Time to put in a serious note, please, please, please check that your bags of tangerines/satsumas/mandarines are from Spain. The Spanish economy is on it's knees and unemployment is running at 18%. The Spanish farming industry has been hit badly in recent years, especially fruit farmers by the cheaper imports of Moroccan fruit, oranges in particular. So I pleading with you to check the label if nothing else they will have less air miles attached to them so have better carbon footprint.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Day 4’s window has been located after much searching (there’s always one you can’t find isn’t there?) and is waiting eagerly to be opened…
The Compilation Album.
OK, so it’s not just a Christmas occurrence, Mothers Day and Fathers Day spawn some pretty dire versions of the compilation album as well, my particular stereotype favourites are ‘101 Housework Songs’ for her and ‘DIY Songs’ for the him in your life. I think though that the marketing bods have missed a trick at Christmas, yeah they have titles such as The Best Party Album Ever, Ever, Ever, Even Better than Vol 321,Vol 322 etc and there is obviously the Dad market with The Driving Anthems (because women don’t drive), but where are the following titles?
Top Tunes to Get Leathered on Cider to and Spend the Entire Night Crying at the Bottom of the Stairs at Someone’s New Year’s Eve Party!
Gushy Numbers to Try and Get off with the Bird Who Works in Accounts at the Office Party!
Songs to Make You Forget That You’ve Just Drank a Year’s Worth of Alcohol Units and Eaten Your Bodyweight in Carbs in Just 3 days!
Really Scary Heavy Rock Anthems to Drown out Those Bloody Carol Singers!
50 Songs That Have Bugger All Relevance to Anything but Make For an Easy Present for a Distant Relative?
I think they have a certain ring to them, whadda ya think?
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Oooh look – nuts!
Only ever eaten at Christmas, actually scrub that, only ever bought at Christmas! They usually come in a nice wicker basket with a free nutcracker that will somehow get lost before the nuts actually get eaten, they must do otherwise I’d have a kitchen drawer devoted to them.
What they should come with is a pair of safety goggles because unless you are an expert in cracking nuts, you will send shards and fragments of nut shooting off into the air at break neck speed. Hazelnuts are the worst culprits.
They will of course still be gathering dust come January, because let’s face it we all prefer our nuts either covered in chocolate or so much salt that after eating just a handful your lips shrink and shrivel so much that you resemble a 70 year old with a forty a day habit.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
So another day, another window to open in the Very Bored Housewife’s Virtual Advent Calendar.
You will spend at least a tenner on them, probably much more.
You are bound to have received at least one already.
Your kids will be given many, many more than you.
They will help you find out the names of various random people only for you to forget them again by Hogmany
You will realise how many people don’t actually know your name. Or your husband’s, or your kid’s.
You will get at least one addressed only to your house number.
They will piss you off when they all blow over every time somebody opens a door or window.
Your husband will allocate the writing of them to you.
You will buy a nice new pen, maybe gold or silver ink and start in your neatest handwriting, you will be fighting the urge to scribble in a blotchy biro, ‘to No. 42 from No. 15’ by the thirtieth.
You will scorn the people who send you the really cheap flimsy ones that don’t stand up or god forbid curl up at the edges.
You will receive at least 5 at late notice from people who were not on your list, you will of course have run out of your cards by this time or it will be your last day of work.
You vow that you will buy next years in the sale in January.
You will actually buy next years at full price with very little to choose from in late December, again!
Of course... It's the humble Christmas card.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
but you can put it in the washing machine....
Oh yes! I can't tell you if it looked any different coming out than it did going in as I didn't exactly wash said turd on purpose, in fact I have no idea where it actually came from, hmm well that's clearly not true as I do have an idea, it may have come from a certain small boy's bottom (if not then I think me & t'husband have some marital difficulties ahead) but quite how it ended up in the washing basket and in the machine is a mystery. It came out fairly intact though I needed to use about half a pack of Kan-do wipes on the rubber lining of the door to clean off the residue. Needless to say the laundry was put on again just in case you were wondering, luckily I was washing a load of brown and black clothes - how convenient!
Also whilst we are on the subject and it's something that I hinted at on a previous post, but did you know that poo makes a very good blu tac substitute? Now I recommend that you don't continue reading if you are of a sensitive nature or are eating your breakfast/elevensies/lunch/dinner but only a certain type of poo can be used as poo tac. It's the hard, small ball kind, you know the ones, look a little bit like rabbit poo. Apparently you can squash them flat and then stick plastic discs to your bedroom wall, s'alright Mama & Papa won't go mad or anything because they will be too busy peeing themselves laughing and asking the whereabouts of the Tena Lady to be angry. However, this trick only works twice, after that the novelty goes and they don't like it so much....
Anyway, as part of the countdown to Christmas I aim to bring you a little hint of Christmas everyday by showcasing some of the lovely things and people that we have all come to associate this time of year with. A bit of a virtual advent calender if you like, without that sickly cheap chocolate though! So without further ado let's open the first window...
Picture from news.bbc.co.uk
Yes, ladies and gentlemen I give you the one and only (and only ever seen at Christmas) Mr Daniel O'Donnell.