Monday, 29 December 2008

Bowling For Christmas

It used to be the tradition that we would all meet up for something to eat between Christmas and New Years, often at someones house for a buffet. The last few years we have not been bothered to do it, for one thing or another, but this year, it would return.

Michelle would be over in England for Christmas and excuses made & a meet up arranged. This year we would be eating out, and then later, bowling. The eating part had been added at the last minute and so not all could meet that early. Fortunately the eating place was only round the corner and so walking to bowl easy. A slight delay in seating and a shoddy service at the eatery made sure that those waiting for us at the bowling had to join us for a beer at the eatery. Now we are all together, names can be revealed.

Me, Michelle, Sandra, Gillian (Sandra's sister), Kieran & Lee.

Bellies full of Mexican digestables, we waddled our way over the road to view the Vue, and bowling for Christmas. Having paid money and exchanged our shoes, our lane awaited. I had only been bowling the once before, and Lee had been a few, the rest of us were innocent in the kind of fun that would follow.

3 games, many hurling of bowls, Lee having Wii arm, silly strike dancing, beer, my winning of the 1st and last game, Gillian the winning of the 2nd game, lots of hillarity, applause at strikes, Sandra being crowned the gutter queen, and me having the highest overall score.

With this all said and done, we heading back into Blackburn for a few more well earned beers. Sadly Kieran was to go home before more drinking, but it did not stop the rest of us.

Maybe we will do this all again, sometime.........

Sunday, 28 December 2008


In some ways i was quite dreading this christmas, that being the first without my father, and wanted it out of the way and onto the new year as quickly as possible.

Carole, Mark and Connor would be joining myself and my mum at my mums to celebrate this year, Mark had expressed his intent to cook dinner, and so with no argument from the rest of us, his duties were allocated. No sooner had he arrived, he set to work, it was then up to the rest of to make sure we all had enough to drink, and open presents.

As my brother was not going to be joining us, new father and all that, we set up my camera to record the grand present unwrapping, and so with lots of ripping crinkling and oohs, this was accomplished.

Mark busied himself with food preparation and soon the table was laid and filled with an assortment of festive foodstuffs. Roast parsnips, sprouts, roast spuds, carrots, turkey, sausage in bacon and champagne. Toasts were made to us all and my late father, even Connor was allowed a small glass of champagne. My dads last bottle of red wine opened and was quickly consumed, hmmmm, good choice pops.

No sooner that we had started eating, it was all over with, crackers pulled, dodgy jokes told and strange gifts puzzled over. The table was then removed and the grand sitting began. Christmas TV does not improve with age, but selectively it has its high points. Couple hours later more food is laid out for us to gorge ourselves, more wine is drunk, and we are also.

Slowly all begin to succumb to the days excesses and sleep beckons. Despite the dread, i think we had a good day, thanks to all who made it so, and a special one for Mark for a lovely dinner.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas, bring on 2009

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Barcelona - December 2008

As Michelle was to spend Christmas in England, an end of year visit to Spain was formulated and executed. After having had to change my flight time a couple of times and using that ricketty bone shaker of an English train network, I arrive early afternoon at the airport. No hassles, no delays later and I am standing in Barcelona airport. Train to the city, one to Sabadell and I am meeting Michelle.

Greetings exchanged and we are off to the supermarket, a rough outline of what we intend to do for the next few days dictates our requirements. This all done and dusted we proceed to drop everything at home then we are are off out again, this time to eat and be entertained. Taditional salad for me and a lasagne, and for Michelle soup and sausages (not together, that would be......hmmmm).

Now for the evenings entertainment, an Arabian Orchestra, at a venue where you are actually allowed to smoke, and smoke some people do. The tell tale sweet smell of a herbal kind permiates the air, while the band entertains with all kinds of emotional Arabic soundscapes. many pictures are taken and some video shot. They are most enjoyable, and different, a refreshing change at the end of a rather hectic day.

Next day, Michelle is working, so I sleep in, mooch about the place and wait until Michelle gets home, beer and chat follows.

Friday is a day of work for both of us, Michelle has the day off, so we set to work tidying up the patio and stockpilling logs. Wood is gathered for laters BBQ. A BBQ in December you may question the logic in this, but it was a glorious day, we had bought suitable supplies the previous day, and so we set about grilling it all before the sun went down. Spanish black pudding, ribs, goat and some bacon, hmmmmmm. Many beers are drunk before darkness decends, and the wind ends our time outside.

Saturday was a trip to the city, for I had a personal mission to complete. My mum had asked me to take some of my dad's ashes and to place them in the sea, he was a sailor for 10 years after all, so some part of hime belonged there. A suitable place was found and a moments reflection undertaken and it was all done. We had intende to eat in Barcelona, a traditional Paella, so many visits I have made here, and never have i sampled this traditional dish, but all was in vain, as the restaraunt we had intended to eat at was so busy, we had to leave it for another time.

So it was off back to the Sagrada Familia, that magnificent cathedral never fails to impress me. As it was the beginning of December a market open just outside the cathedral, selling all kind of Spanish Christmassy wares, logs with faces, figurines for your nativity scene, and the obligitory little shitting man, 'The Caganer'. I had to treat myself to one, so bought myself a little shitting Yoda. We had hoped to bump into Gabi's brother Luca, as he usually has a stall on here, but unfortunately he was not around, but we managed to track him down to a local cafe, so we joined him and had a coffee.

So we left the city behind and headed back home to treat ourselves to a takeaway pizza. All wa going well until Michelle found a nail clipping in one of them, not nice. So we were down to one pizza, which was consumed with care and washed down with sangria.

Sunday was my last full day here, so we had a bit of a lazy day, lounged around the house, took the dogs for a local walk, finished off the meat we had bought, and generally did nothing.

Next day, hassle free flight, home sweet home.

click here for more pictures