24# – Coughing Around The Christmas Tree


This week has had its share of good and bad points I have to say. My wife has had a bad cold over the past few days which has led to a lot of days in bed resting. Despite this, however, we managed to attend a Christmas party at church yesterday as well as the annual festive meal today.

The party was good although there weren’t as many people there as we expected. There was a lot of sticking and glueing as well as glitter, paint and all kinds of mess. Everyone seemed to have a good time and the buffet lunch went down well.

Sunday was the annual Christmas lunch at church. This year’s mean was sausage with mash and cheesy leeks. Not what you would call traditional, but certainly yummy. However, there were crackers and lots of good company thrown in to round off an upbeat week. It actually put me in a bit of festive spirit which has been lacking this year.

I also had some nice news from the Wisdom Hospice that my daughter and I helped to raise money for. They want to put our efforts in their newsletter which is amazing. It was a modest effort, but am effort none the less. The Just Giving page is still open for anyone who might want to help those in need of care.

My anxiety was a little high today, mainly because of being in such a close social situation at the dinner. But it was manageable which was a nice change from other episodes lately.

Anxiety Level 5



23# – Another Mince Pie You Say?


I must admit that at this time of year, a lot of my favourite foods are available. This includes mince pies, Christmas pudding, Roses, Quality Street (other makes of chocolates are available).

My main weakness is mince pies, I think that I have sampled all of the shop brands so far. I do this every year in the name of research you see. It is quite amazing how they can differ between them and from year to year. I might even have to write a book about it one!

Of course, some supermarkets are selling them all year round now, although I never eat them except at Christmas time. That’s just as well because I would really have to watch the waistline if I did.

I already have to limit myself to one per day, after an unfortunate incident when I ate a whole box of ASDA Extra Special mince pies in one day.

That said, with a Christmas party and meal coming up this weekend at church, I am sure that I will be able to help clear the plates.

My Favorite YouTube Channels – [1] The Great War

I watch a lot of YouTube, mainly because I have a 10 year old daughter that loves Minecraft and all things associated with it.

But, occasionally, I get to watch a few of my own things, and I thought why not spread the love and recommend a few channels that I enjoy.

There are a few, and I don’t have them in any particular order, but I am starting with a channel called The Great War

It deals with the issues in World War One in an imaginative and unique way. They produce a weekly episode in which they tell you about what happened the corresponding week during the first world war.

I love all things history, and I like the way they give you all the facts in nice easy, digestible pieces. They also have other episodes where they concentrate in a particular individual or event during the war.

They are currently up to week 124 (as of writing) so there is plenty of content for the history buff. I have been an avid watcher since the beginning, and it will be a shame when they get to the end of this amazing journey.

#22 – 12+1 Sleeps to go Till Santa


As I wrote that title, I got the overwhelming feeling that I didn’t want to put the number that makes 12+1. I’m not overly superstitious as a rule, but it was a feeling I just had to go with.

In essence though, I am not ready for Christmas this year. It isn’t just a matter of getting presents or sending Christmas cards, it’s a distinct lack of holiday spirit.

Of course, this is understandable given the year we have had so far, but this year, I am really craving a curl up on the sofa with cliche Christmas telly and snacks. I am normally fairly easy when it comes to where I spend my holiday period, but this year, my own four walls would be perfect.

I am finding myself feeling a little militant about the traditional things as well. I sat in front of the TV the other day, thinking that maybe as a change, we should just have a nice piece of gammon instead of turkey. I have never entertained such ideas before, but thankfully, my feelings toward Quality Street and Roses haven’t changed. (though don’t get me started on the size of the tins!)

The odd thing for someone like me who always likes the status quo, is that I am feeling a sense of liberation from wanting to do things differently this year. Is it any coincidence that my anxiety levels have been low as well?

I will sit here and ponder that as a kitten tries to ab sail down my leg!



#21 – Coffee and Go Nuts


I am probably more excited than a grown man should be, but we are going to be getting a new coffee machine. We already have a Nespresso, but it is a few years old now and is in need of some TLC.

We noticed a new deal they had to subscribe to the club. For the monthly fee, you get a new Nespresso machine and credits towards pods. I have to say that I love my coffee and when I saw it I nearly fell over.

I had hoped that it would be here today, but it has been a little delayed. Never mind though, as we have received the pods in readiness for its arrival. I have even been watching the Nespresso YouTube videos to see how best to use it. I didn’t know for example, that you could adjust how much hot water it dispenses. It will teach me to read the instructions next time.

There will of course, be many pictures of the new inissia machine when it arrives….along with me looking happy.

In other news, there has been another attack on the nativity under the Christmas tree. There are many casualties and the two perpetrators have fled the scene.


#20 – The Tonsillitis Chronicals


If someone was to document the number of times my daughter had tonsillitis this year, it would undoubtedly spread into several volumes.
It is made more difficult by the fact that she is in the Canterbury Cathedral Youth Choir. She has had to miss a couple of practices already because of it, which has upset her and caused her to miss a concert.

This latest bout has lasted two weeks and we are now into our second bottle of antibiotics. The problem this time however, is that she has a carol concert at the end of the week. Although the doctor said she could sing, we are worried that her arch nemesis will get worse and stop her from performing.

When I was a lad, they would go in and whip out your tonsils in a flash, all the while proclaiming that there was no use for them whatsoever. Now however, they have discovered that they do actually do something, so you now need a royal proclamation to get them removed.

All the parents outside the school gates swear blind that having them removed as a child never hurt them. They say this as they struggle with their bronchial pneumonia or laryngitis, turning blue as they struggle to breathe.

No doubt there will be many more tales of this annoying infection in weeks to come, be sure to wait for the movie coming soon. I hear Peter Jackson is interested in directing it.

#19 -More Carrots Vicar?


Sunday saw us trying to cook for the monthly film club at church. We had decided that we would do a semi-Christmas lunch for the kids instead of their usual pizza. This was a bigger task than we expected, but it all turned out fine in the end.

We arrived early to start preparing the food. The vicar had bought some chicken thighs for the dinner and we managed to fit them all into the oven without casualties.

The day before, my wife and I had gone to get the vegetables, she was adamant that we needed seven bags of carrots about the same number of potatoes. We were only catering for about 20 people, so it seemed a bit too much.

When we arrived, my wife proceeded to empty all the carrots into a large pot to boil. Bearing in mind that this pot could quite easily hold a mans head it was that big, the carrots filled it to the brim. Every time someone came in, their first comment was ‘got enough carrots there?’

In fact, there were so many and so much water was needed that it didn’t come to the boil for over 30 minutes. We were discussing whether carrots was a good  thing to serve for a pudding when it finally started to cook.

Everything else went surprisingly well, everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, and the film Paddington went down well with the kids. There was a brief interlude for hot chocolate, then it was back for the second half.

We have been helping run the film club for a couple of months while the church found a new children’s minister. It has been great fun helping out, but I think they will be better off when the new person starts next month.

#18 – One of Those Days


Today has been as the title says ‘one of those days’. The kind of day that makes you wonder whether all your hard work is worth it.

My daughter’s school continues to be a difficulty for us. We are thankful that there are only a few months left before she goes to secondary school. The worst part is that I feel totally helpless to do anything about it. It is very frustrating, especially when no-one understands how your feeling.

As I type this, I can see a picture of my mum. This is the first troublesome day that I have had since she died, and I feel the loss, even more, today. It was at time’s like this, that I could ring her and have a good rant about what was wrong. I think she understood more than anyone else that sometimes I needed to get things off my chest. The best part was that she would always understand and agree with me, even if I later realised I was wrong. It’s that no questions asked, support that a parent gives that is the biggest loss for me.

There are good days and bad days, and this will be the case for some time to come, but until then, we have to go on and endure.

It feels odd when this feeling hits me, the only way I can describe it, is like hitting turbulence on a plane. You are going along just fine, then all of a sudden your heart drops like a stone. Little things like coming across a photo of mum on my phone or seeing her name on something triggers this drop.

But like turbulence, it will get easier, and it will eventually pass.


#17 – The Christmas Tree is up, But For How Long?


Well, we finally dusted off the Christmas tree after it’s 12 month holiday and began the long, time-consuming task of decorating it.

In actual fact, it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Each year that passes, my daughter gets better and better at decorating the tall, plastic edifice. Gone are the days now, when we had to wait for her to go to bed to rearrange all the baubles. She had an uncanny knack of placing them all on one branch.

This year, we haven’t had to do any redesign at all. The tree looks great with its hundreds of LED lights. I remarked to my wife that it is so much easier than when I was young and had to help my uncle put his tree up.

Every year, I had to go over to his house with my mum and put up their 5 feet tall Christmas tree. It was very old-fashioned, complete with lights that had coloured flower shades and tiny screw in bulbs. The problem was when one of the bulbs blew (which it did every year), they all went out. There I was, standing at the window like a surgeon, holding each bulb up to the light to see if the tiny filament had broken.

The only shop that had replacements for these ancient lights was Woolworths. But with each passing year, even they started to replace them with new ‘push-in’ bulbs. My uncle was against such new-fangled technology and  persevered with them until it became easier to source an AK-47 then get any replacement bulbs.

dsc_0369As for us, I am hoping that our tree will survive the attack of the killer kittens this year. They have already started a systematic testing of its weak spots in hopes of bringing it down, but I wasn’t allowed to lay mines around the base.

Our knitted Mary is already nervously clutching the baby Jesus after it was kidnapped last year by one of our older cats. We also lost the donkey that year, which sadly has never been found.

My wife is considering hanging some very breakable figures on the tree, but I am trying to talk her out of it. Only because I know what will happen, and who will have to clear up the broken pieces afterwards.