Sunday 26 December 2021

Boxing Day

Our Christmas was calm and cosy, exactly what I wanted.  MrFF’s insistence that he would forage for our Christmas meal late on Christmas Eve was a success, he came home with a duck crown with stuffing and plum sauce reduced to half price.  My culinary skills decline in proportion to the amount of Prosecco I drink so I need something foolproof, this was easy and delicious.

Beautiful gifts from family, my brother and sister in law must have remembered me telling them that when we returned to the penthouse after 13 months I spent an hour looking for my George Forman grill before realising I don’t have one here.  They gave us just the right one to replace that which never existed.   Candles and smellies, food and drink treats and pretty scarves all made me happy.

MrFF managed the £5 stocking challenge.  Despite many forays to the charity shops with much moaning that he couldn’t find anything and was sick of looking, I received a very nice water bottle so I can hydrate on my power walks, books and a sort of advent calendar of pretty stud earrings, 12 pairs in total.

It was just the Christmas I wanted, no over consumption, no extravagant gifts, plenty of recycling, much peace, messages from Italy.  What more could I ever need.

It’s Boxing Day, we have a white world outside and it’s very quiet in the building, we shall have a lazy day and be thankful for what we have and where we are.   I hope your dreams came true this Christmas.

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Happy Christmas

When I called in at the local craft shop at the weekend I was gifted these two comes of yarn.  They are acrylic which I don’t like but for my purpose they were fine.

The wreath is models own, made by my sister in law

I have knitted 7 of these tiny sock decorations, a pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits, which I returned to the shop to be sold for charity or gifted to good customers.  Of course I should have thought about doing this months ago not a few days before Christmas, remind me in June to start again as I still have a lot of yarn.  I might even make a few more now and do a secret Santa round our building.

This week we visited my brother briefly and safely after negative covid tests to exchanged our gifts.  We also saw two of our grand nieces which was lovely even if they got over excited about their parcels and did a lot of squishing.  I asked the 11 year old is she was pleased that Emma Raducanu the young teenage tennis player had won the tv sports personality of the year award.  No she replied I wanted Tyson Fury to win, if you don’t know he is a heavy weight boxer from the travelling community.

So we are set for Christmas apart from buying food which isn’t a major concern, it will be the two of us as usual so we shall have a piece of beef or I might bake a ham. And it may be time to stop the mince pies.  I got on the scales this morning and seem to have added a few pounds, maybe making up for last year’s deficit wasn’t such a good idea

Have a happy and peaceful Christmas, keep safe and well

Thursday 16 December 2021

The LORE of gifting

I am definitely not one of those sanctimonious people so keen to tell you how to live, they irritate the life out of me, but would like you to know that I have made a special effort this year with my Christmas shopping.  All the gifts I have bought have had to meet at least one of the following criteria

L local  I have tried to support local independent businesses of which we have many around us

O organic clothes of organic and sustainable materials 

R recycled new items made from recycled products or used items from charity shops

E ethical items from companies that respect the environment and treat their workers fairly

It’s taken much more effort than an online order to Amazon, which I wouldn’t consider given the hideous warehouse they built not so far from us in Italy that contributes nothing to the street scene and forces workers to travel out of town to their low pay jobs. There has been a lot of useful information with links on other blogs and in the press that helped me take this route.

I’ve also used recycled wrapping paper and ribbon and made all my gift tags from old Christmas cards. 

Now all the shopping is over, phew, I am pleased with the effort I made.  After the disappointing non Christmas we had last year I have managed to resist the temptation for over consumption, except for mince pies that is. I’ve already eaten enough of those for 2 Christmases and I’m not finished yet.   And in case you are wondering, despite rising prices MrFF and I have kept to our £5 budget for gifts to each other.  

Sunday 12 December 2021


When we returned from Italy in August we submitted to our Ilkley doctors details of our covid vaccinations which they confirmed had been added to our records.  We planned to have our booster doses while back here for winter and tried to book them at the end of November.  However bookings could only be made a few days before the expiry of 6 months after the last jab so we waited until the end of last week when the first appointment we could get was in a months time.

Meantime the government reduced the time between 2nd and 3rd jab to 3 months and stressed the importance of the booster.  Presently 30 year olds are being called for their 3rd dose, we are both 73 and classed as elderly and vulnerable.  We were concerned as our 6 months would be 7 months by the time we were treated, at Christmas we hoped to see family but wouldn't feel safe doing so without up to date vaccination and the latest variant is causing alarm as cases rise.

I went on line to find an alternative venue but it was impossible to book anything, I clicked for booster but the only options were 1st and 2nd jabs.  MrFF tried too and got the same result, we then realised our records must not be up to date and we were considered unvaccinated.  We spoke to our doctors and they said the records were up to date, we spoke to the NHS who said they were not and that we would need to travel to Peterborough, a round trip of almost 300 miles to update the database.  

So this morning we went to a walk in vaccination centre not so far away, no appointment required.    Fortunately it wasn't such a cold morning as we queued outside for about 1.5 hours.  When we arrived MrFF had taken the precaution of speaking to one of the stewards outside directing us who took our Italian certificates inside and after consultation confirmed we would be OK.  We were accepted and very grateful to be treated.  

I know its complicated because we were vaccinated in Italy but we have the certificates with batch numbers dates etc it shouldn't be difficult to record these here.  Incidentally at the walk in centre MrFF got into conversation with a couple who were in exactly the same situation, they too had been told to drive to Peterborough, we could all go together.

And speaking of boosts, we had at the weekend a message from Mario that everything at our house is fine with this photograph attached.  Grigio dining in the hotel Splendido.  Mario said he didn't have a snap of Enrico who he hadn't seen that day but had seen 3 days before.  I am missing them, I hope they are keeping cosy as its very cold and a little snowy in Lazio.  

Thursday 9 December 2021

Over illumination

Having expounded in my last post the desire for festive lighting this year I fear some retailers are taking this too far.  My concern was first alerted when I saw light up bottles of alcohol in the shops.  Generally the concoction in the bottle isn’t anything I recognise so I wouldn’t buy it, various fruit but possibly chemical flavoured spirits.  I like my gin to taste of gin and I certainly wouldn’t want the bottle to illuminate.  

Since I first saw the booze I’ve noticed a trend.  Light up biscuit tins, light up boxes of chocolates.  I have no idea how these novelties work, presumably there a smallish battery somewhere.  But aren’t we all supposed to be reducing waste and pollution, I bet these light won’t last much beyond the festive season and the containers will be relegated to the bins in the new year.  

Having said I won’t be buying any of the above, I hope I won’t be receiving any.  I always get annoyed by the shelves of ‘party food’ at this time of year. Over packaged unnecessary fussy mouthfuls of neither wholesome nor nourishing food but I think this Christmas things have gone a step too far. I know I’m back to bah humbug but really where will it end, light up sprouts anyone.

Saturday 4 December 2021

Out of character

This is our lounge today,  spot anything unusual like a little Christmas tree?  Yes it’s just the beginning of December and we’ve done the decs.  I think it’s the effects of our Italian lockdown non Christmas but this year I couldn’t wait to get the boxes out of the loft, after all I hadn’t seen them for two years.

On our way from a walk last week we stopped to admire a garden full of twinkly lights. We were peering through the gate when the lady of the house came out, she was going to make a video to show friends.  We congratulated her on such a magical effect, all the plants high and low in the front garden was covered in lights and you walked up the path to the front door between them.  She said she’d asked her husband if it was too much, he had replied not yet, but they were both worried that a flight for Leeds Bradford airport might be confused and land nearby.  

She said that Christmas last year had been so disappointing she was determined that by 1 December she’d have her lights on.  The houses we look down on, literally not socially, have already started decking out their gardens too. I’m think most people feel we need this festival of light especially to drive away the darkness as the covid situation worsens once more.  We have our less traditional tree in the hall.