Alastair and Ishie arrived this morning with mum and dad. Auntie Jean and Uncle John couldn't manage as they had to return south after their visit.
It is always good to have helpers to decorate the house at Christmastime.
My Christmas tree decorations go back many, many years. Each one has a story. The ones that have survived tend to be the cloth ones as seen here. Thanks to IKEA this year it is to be a fabric tree (photograph on a 2 metre piece of cotton) which has served our purposes perfectly. (Christmas without a tree, for me, is unthinkable!) So this cloth one that I suspended from the pulley in spare room - playroom - workroom kept them busy with ornaments suspended from safety pins stuck in at strategic points on the 'branches'.
The supervisors who look like they have had one too many glasses of mulled wine!
Alastair lives in hope .... It might be called "doubling your chances"!
Liz and I were at the Glasgow Cathedral Choral Society concert last night. The heating in that vast place had broken down but they (through Historic Scotland) had taken a leaf out of the pop concert people's book and brought in 4 heater-blowers to help things along. The good news is that we were warm but the noise of the fans did not help the sound of the choir and orchestra... a small price to pay! And anyhow, we just had to sing the carols more lustily!
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And where does all this leave the Christmas correspondence?
Migrated to the floor while coffee and scones took over the dining room table.
Another day, another publication off to the printers.
This stunning photograph of a yacht on the Clyde taken this year by Shona Shields was my absolute favourite of all the photos that were submitted by the Clyde Cruising Club members for the 2012 Photo Competition.
I use it as my screen saver on my computer; I think it is fab!
"SB 20 raising as the sun sets on east patch" by Shona Shields
Alastair and Ishie at their own kitchen counter icing Christmas cookies that I had baked earlier.
Of course, there is the sampling "to make sure it [the Betty Crocker icing] hasn't gone off" ! It's a sort of ritual we have: the knife goes into the container first off and then a lot of licking goes on ... then we get down to business!
A whole cherry on the top goes a long way to brighten up the serving plate. The kids love to carry the plate carefully about the room, offering their wares to the admiring adults.
And the SHOPPING ........
Off we go to the shops for that last Christmas present. In this case we headed to Duncan's Yacht Chandlers for something for (big) Alastair. Exactly what we wanted was there on the top shelf all packed nicely in its box. Santa's elf, all 6 feet of him, was, as always, very obliging in an establishment where we have been customers for many, many years!
And lastly ... the CHRISTMAS CARDS .......
Mairi brought over gifts and Christmas cards from them all. Here is Ishie's (nearly 6 years old) on the left and Alastair's (nearly 5 years old) on the right.
Ishie's printing is on the top card: letters well formed and making sentences. Alastair's been learning his letters and is now putting them together. He appears to really enjoy the physical process of holding and pencil and "drawing" the shapes. He takes his time. I wonder if he will form an interest in drawing, or maybe calligraphy? And he is not even 5 years old yet! (Ishie is more bizz, bizz, bizz - let's get this finished!)
Advent is about waiting. We are all doing a lot of waiting these days: the traffic is busier than ever with delivery vans everywhere (parked on every double yellow line) and the shops have queues building up as people prepare for Christmas gift-giving.
However there is waiting and waiting I have decided. Last week I was waiting in the queue in Marks and Spencer's at Bearsden Cross. The lady in front of me was with her 3 year old girl at the check-out. The M&S lady turned to the little girl and asked "And what would you like for Christmas?"
Without missing a beat, the little girl replied "A Real Baby"!
Well I laughed and laughed! Yes, I guess Christmas really is about A Real Baby and its arrival which Started It All, you might say.
We all remember coming up 6 years ago when Mairi was expecting their first baby at this time of year; it was all very exciting! And, indeed, Baby Ishie arrived just before the bells on December 31st!
Now it is that time of year again with her 6th birthday soon. But ... wait for it ... we have another bit of excitement: Ishie and Alastair ... and the rest of us ... are going to be getting A Real Baby! No , not for Christmas but nonetheless, a wonderful Christmas present: Mairi is expecting a baby in June!
So while we wait, here is the line-up of the grandchildren's stockings:
At our Wine and Dine Dinner a couple of weeks ago, I selected 2 wines from the list and have now stocked the cupboard with a purchase from our local Majestic Wine store.
They are Coteaux du Giennois, Domaine de Villargean 2011, Sauvignon Blanc from France. The label says it is 100% Sauvignon Blanc which, as my friend David W. points out regarding Australian wine, in Australia when the label says Sauvignon Blanc, the grape content need only be 80% SB. So I guess that is why the French put the "100%" information in.
This region is next to Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé therefore is similar wine but not as costly.
The other wine is Viñalba Selección Torrontés 2012 from Mendoza, Argentina. I had never tasted this grape before. I see on their website that the winemaker is originally from Bordeaux and seems to be doing great things in Argentina. Again, nice wine, not as expensive as the taste would lead you to think.
What's the funny-looking tree? It is an IKEA 2 metre long by 1.5 metre wide piece of cotton fabric with a photograph of a Christmas tree printed on it. I hung it from the clothes pulley and draped it over the ironing board... viola! This coming week the kids can help me decorate it!
Tis the time for Craft Fairs and Christmas Sales of Work.
Inger was through for the Norwegian Ladies Coffee Morning and Craft Fair. The church hall was packed with everyone wanting to taste the waffles and homemade jam as well as the traditional biscuits, cake and open sandwiches.
My eye fell on these beautiful woolen mittens! They were knitted by Inger's long-time friend Ragne so I was doubly delighted with my purchase.
Winter has arrived with a repeat pattern of the past 2 years - very, very cold, then snow, then thaw, then freezing temperatures. We are back to sliding on ice everywhere we walk.
There is nothing for it, but to get off the wet clothes, dry out the boots and draw up a chair in front of the fire. Time for a glass of gluhwein from Germany. (I heat it in the microwave for 10 seconds then add a few plump raisins.)
The Bearsden Fiddlers held their Annual Rally on Saturday. Having been given some complimentary tickets a friend and I went along and enjoyed a great concert given to a full hall.
Some of our youngsters from the Junior orchestra turned out to play. This included some of our present players (as we have finished for the season) but also some who are away at uni but came back to do a solo spot or play just for this concert.
And the old guard are still there both present members and visitors who come every single year since they first started having these "rallies'.
One of my favourite people spends much of her spare time playing her fiddle for different charities. She has now produced a CD and all the money goes to the Cleft Lip and Palate Association, a cause she knows all about as she was born with a severe cleft lip and palate and has had many, many operations in her young life. I wrote about her playing here in 2008.
And to top off the evening I won a bottle of Grouse whisky in the raffle!
The best jokes are the ones I get from Jane in Canada:
An Arab sheik was admitted to hospital for heart surgery, but prior to the surgery, the doctors needed to store his blood type in case the need arose. As the gentleman had a rare type of blood, it couldn't be found locally, so, the call went out.
Finally a Scotsman was located who had a similar blood type. The Scot willingly donated his blood for the Arab.
After the surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman as appreciation for giving his blood, a new BMW, diamonds and US dollars.
A few days later, once again, the Arab had to go through a corrective surgery. His doctor telephoned the Scotsman who was more than happy to donate his blood again.
After the second surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman a thank-you card and a box of Quality Street chocolates.
The Scotsman was shocked that the Arab did not reciprocate his kind gesture as he had done before.
He phoned the Arab & asked him: "I thought ye' might be a wee bit generous again; that you would give me a BMW, diamonds & money...
But you only gave me a thank-you card & a box of chocolates.."
To this the Arab replied: "Aye laddie, but I now hae' Scottish blood in ma veins".