Mine’s An Eggnog (a humorous look at Christmas and warning: tits are mentioned)

 

 

  naughty santa

So that wonderful thing called Christmas is looming towards us. You can’t escape it. Radio presenters are already playing those ‘throw up into your handbag’ Christmas songs, although thankfully most of them banned Cliff Richard.

cliff

I’m scared to turn the radio on. Not that I hate Christmas or anything it’s just all that stuff that goes with it. If you’re organised like me then you’ll be turning the house upside down trying to find those sodding Christmas cards you bought for half price last year along with that cheap roll of Christmas wrapping paper. Not to mention the sellotape and scissors. Where do they hide themselves at Christmas? The continuing conversation in our house when Christmas wrapping is ‘Do you have the sellotape? What happened to the scissors?’ Mind you, they’re not needed much these days are they? When I was a kid I got presents. What happened to that? When did presents get replaced by money and vouchers? My sister insists on giving us a cheque each for twenty five quid and when asking what they would like (wrong thing to do by the way. Never ask what someone what they would like for Christmas because you’ll always get the ‘Oh don’t get me anything,’ and should you take this literally … Yes, you’ve been there right? How many friends have you lost?) Anyway back to my sister who responds with ‘The kids prefer money and we’re sending you a cheque.’ So we end up giving them a cheque for twenty five quid each, plus another two for the kids of course. I’m not good at maths but even I know that doesn’t work out fair. I can’t help thinking it would be much easier if we just said ‘Go and treat yourself to something for twenty five quid and we’ll do likewise, saves on the postage sending the cheques.’  But of course we don’t do that do we because we wouldn’t go and treat ourselves to something for twenty five quid because it’s more sensible to put it towards the heating bill. So cheque exchange we continue to do. Although I can’t help feeling short changed somehow with us not having kids. Anyway, the fifty quid we’ll receive we’ll put towards the heating bill. Get my point?

pre

 

It’s the time of year when we sit in endless traffic queues trying to get into town and find ourselves in the same car park we always use only now it’s free. The barriers are up. Except you can’t get bloody parked can you? Not unless you get there at three in the morning. Then for some odd reason it is presumed we forget how to use the car park at Christmas as there are now bossy men telling us where and how to park. ‘Over there mate,’ they say pointing to an obvious space. It seems the powers that be deem us to be brain dead at this time of the year. Well we must be if we eat Brussels sprouts and drink hot wine. Do you ever drink hot wine any other time in your life? Precisely, but at Christmas you consume tons of the stuff don’t you? Not to mention that Eggnog stuff. When do you see that at any other time? When have you ever been in a pub and heard someone say Mine’s an Eggnog? I rest my case.egg

And why do we have to eat so much? It seems it isn’t Christmas if you don’t eat enough to make yourself sick.Do you know how much we spend at Christmas? No, I won’t tell you otherwise you may end up another Christmas statistic. Because, of course, it is that time of year when suicides rise apparently. It seems more people are prone to putting their head in the oven as opposed to a turkey. I’d do the same but it’s an induction one and I don’t think I’d achieve much. Think of the poor turkeys and pheasants though. It’s mass murder for them. Seriously it’s poultry genocide however you look at it. Still, don’t let me put you off yours.

turkey

 

 

But Christmas is special isn’t it, and who does it fall on? Yes us women. There is just so much to do isn’t there?  No point sending the men out for the sprouts and stuffing is there? By the time they reach the supermarket they’they’ve forgotten why they’re there and they get side-tracked and of course their mobile phone is always out of signal. No best to do it all yourself. This probably means you end up in bed with a Christmas migraine on Boxing Day but at least everyone is having a good time right? And someone is bound to bring you up a turkey sandwich.Then there is the tree. That’s a project on its own isn’t it? I mean, when else would you have a tree sticking out of the back of your car and no one bats an eyelid? And when else would you move your whole house around so you can put a tree in it? Then there is the whole debate of where to put the sodding thing so the cat won’t constantly jump up to catch the baubles while at the same time having it in prime position. By the time ’you’ve done all this and managed to hide the wiring of the tree lights you’ve got pine needles every bloody where, on the floor, on your jumper, under your jumper and I don’t know about you but I certainly had a few stuck in my tits. Also have you noticed how at Christmas you suddenly discover more friends? Where did they come from? Christmas cards drop through the door from people I barely know, and they’re all signed lots of love. Every week I have to buy more cards to keep up with these people. I’m now realising that Christmas cards are a bit like Facebook Friends. Let’s see how many we can get. Then all our other friends (the real ones) will see how popular we are. That’s mature right?

 

Seriously, when else would you wear a silly hat while you’re eating dinner and feel it is perfectly normal, while reading out cheesy jokes from your crackers? That’s another thing have you seen the price of bloody crackers? If you want your guests to get a decent little something from the cracker these days you have to take out a bank loan. I bet the banks love Christmas. You can almost see them rubbing their hands in November can’t you, totting up their Christmas bonus no doubt. The thing I find most worrying is how we are all so afraid to be alone at Christmas. You have to be with someone or have someone come to you. I’m just as guilty of this that I spend most of November trying to sort out where we will go or who will come to us that I eventually have too many invites and everything gets more complicated as I untangle myself from it.

 

But best of all, we break all the rules don’t we? We drink to excess, eat to excess and talk about the after Christmas diet, which I don’t think anyone ever starts do they? Finally, the best part about Christmas where rules really are broken are with the children. Ask little Johnny what he did today in town.

 

‘I saw Santa, sat on his lap and told him where I lived and what presents I wanted.’

 

Bloody marvellous. No one has a clue who the guy in the Santa outfit actually is right? He could be your local paedophile on a protection list. Even the employer at the store wouldn’t know.  All year we tell our kids not to talk to strangers but at Christmas what do we do… we actually take them to see a stranger and encourage them to talk to him and even allow them to sit on his lap. So remember kids, as long as the stranger is wearing a costume of sorts, calls himself Santa and says he will go up your chimney it’s perfectly okay to chat to him and sit on his lap. I mean, why not, it’s Christmas after all.

Picture 370Dedicated to my lovely dad who loved Christmas and dressed as Santa for his grandchildren every year.

 

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A holiday in a Bangkok jail. Well, almost…

I should have known a trip to a place like Cambodia would not go without a hitch. After all I am Lynda Renham-Cook right? I expect you have been waiting for me to dish the dirt. Well, here it is.
The question is where do I start? Okay, let us start at the beginning. After all it is a very good place to start isn’t it? But which story first? The Construction work or negotiating the monks loo? Possibly the best one was when the boat we went in to visit the floating village started to sink.

Our sinking boat
Oh, I feel myself shudder at the memory. Or maybe the story of the German who insisted I download his document on my computer.
‘You vill download,’ he had snapped. Okay a slight exaggeration but when have I not exaggerated? Better still is the story of the two weddings we got involved in and how I ate A Cow’s stomach. But I am straying away from the beginning as usual in my excitement to share all.
I started the holiday with a massive headache, which I still have now actually. It came and went on and off for most of the holiday. So, if anyone knows a cure for these constant headaches, do let me know as my body is taking a hell of a battering from painkillers. Talking of which I went to Cambodia packed like someone who was delivering medical aid, except the medicines were all for me. Andrew took one look at the suitcase and sighed.
‘Did you forget I was coming too,’ he said caustically. Okay maybe not caustically. More with a sardonic smile I suppose. ‘You’re supposed to take a first aid kit, not a first aid suitcase.’
Honestly, such sarcasm from my husband when all I am doing is being cautious.
‘Well, we will need another suitcase anyway for the Christmas presents,’ I argued. He picks up my three toiletries bags and sighs. Yes, okay, so I took a lot of pills with me. But you can’t be too cautious in a place like Asia can you? The web page even advises us to take toilet roll as they apparently don’t use it out there. What they do use I dare not think about really.
‘My son still uses it I hope. As we are staying with him I imagine there will be some.’ Andrew argues.
I am about to tell him that maybe his son cannot purchase toilet paper and that who knows what new habits he has acquired now but I stay quiet and just insist we do not take any chances. So I pack every pill in sight. I’m not going to go down with a stomach upset, I say. Famous last words. So, finally we are ready for the off, with enough toilet roll to bring down the plane. Talking of planes, what fun we had at the airports. We arrive in Bangkok after flying for ten hours and go in search of our luggage. Of course, I presumed it would just go straight on to Cambodia with us but it seems BA did not arrange it that way. We discover to fetch our luggage means we have to check out of the airport even though we have a connecting flight. This takes forever and our eye is constantly on the clock. We go through three passport control ports and each ones takes almost thirty minutes. We get lost and I feel my head throb even more. I am bursting for the loo but we don’t have time to stop. It’s just that in Bangkok I think they have toilet roll. We finally trace our luggage, grab it and fly to the next security check. By now I am so fed up that when the alarms go off I am almost expecting it.
‘Open the bag please,’ demands the official.
I frantically try to remember what is in my hand luggage. Are there medications in there too? Oh my word, I won’t get thrown into Bangkok Hilton will I, for carrying Co-Codamol? I feel my heart thumping as I open the bag. What other pills did I pack? I find myself looking around for dogs. With shaking hands I open the bag and watch with a thudding heart as they open the small make up bag. Visions of shackles on my hands and legs float through my mind and I quickly try to remember my solicitor’s name and then realise I don’t have one. I feel faint and quickly close my eyes. I open them to see the man holding up my tube of Nivea cream. Oh, what a relief. He pops it into a bag and ticks me off. But thank God, I am not going to prison in Bangkok. I smile at Andrew and grab his hand so we can quickly escape. Ten minutes later we are heading past Duty free on our way to our connecting flight when Andrew asks.
‘Where is your hand luggage?’
What! Oh no!
‘I left it at the security desk,’ I squeal, already legging it back. I mean, honestly. Only I would do something so stupid. We heave a deep sigh of relief to find it is still there and Andrew gives me a ‘What is wrong with you,’ look. I just shrug.
Two hours later and we are on our flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia. On the plane I debate whether to eat the food I am given. I read that the water is poisonous and can kill you. As for the food, well let’s just say I was preparing myself to lose weight rather than risk the food. An overpowering thirst wins, however and the water goes down along with the ominous looking sandwiches, which I figure I may as well eat now seeing as I have drunk the deadly water, along with two painkillers. One hour later and we arrive. The hot air hits me instantly and my head throbs even more. I will be glad to climb into the taxi and drive to James apartment. He meets us and directs us to our transport. Good lord, what is this. He surely does not expect us to get into a small rickshaw thing with our luggage and everything? Yes he does, oh my goodness. We all climb into the Tuk Tuk and I try not to cry out as my foot gets cramp. We seem to fly along the main roads, the dust flying into my eyes. I am sure I whimper as the wind whips at my face making my head throb even more. Good god what am I doing in this God forsaken country?
‘Are you okay?’ asks Andrew adding before I can reply. ‘It’s great isn’t it?’
Oh yes, fab.
‘The Tuk tuk is the only way around,’ says James.
Is it? Oh dear. I would later come to love the Tuk Tuk and the Tuk Tuk drivers who waited outside the apartment. I would come to adore the food. In fact I would come to adore Cambodia so much that the wish to return becomes unbearable. But as usual, I digress. Twenty minutes later we arrive at James apartment and in the dark I cannot see the outside very well but the inside is lovely and guess what? he has toilet paper and an en suite bathroom too. We have an oversized bed, air conditioning and plenty of bottled water. Perfect, except we also have a construction site next door.
‘Oh, that won’t be a problem,’ I say.
Why are there a lot of famous words in this here post? Off to bed we go, exhausted and already feeling some jet lag. The next day is the beginning of our holiday and is Boxing Day. We will open our presents and then go into town later for a look around and to get some dinner. Of course, the construction work won’t be going on, not on Boxing Day so it should be peaceful. More famous last words. I soon learn there are no holidays in Cambodia, only work. I wake to banging and drilling. A holiday nightmare. I tell myself it can’t get any worse…
TO BE CONTINUED.

A not for the faint hearted. A fun, Round Robin Christmas message.

( We hasten to add that the following bears no resemblance to anyone we know either alive or dead. If you recognise them, let us know and we can do our best to avoid them…)

Dear Friend
Well, it’s a while since we sent out the familiar Christmas update. In fact, it has been a whole year hasn’t it? And what a year it has been! So much to share about the Cook household. First, little Johnny passed with honours his grades, 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 in trumpet.

Johnny and his trumpet... Bless.
We are so proud. And on top of that, for his school project Johnny chose to travel to Libya (all on his own!) to train as a freedom fighter and single-handedly captured Colonel Gadhafi’s chief bodyguard. We are so proud. He came home safely, albeit having lost an eye, but hey, it was for a good cause and he has another and we give thanks for that.

Mike has also had an excellent year, after gaining an A, B, a pass in P.E. he was offered a place at Oxford. We are very proud and he very much enjoys being part of the team at the Oxford High Street branch of McDonalds. Not that it’s been all work and no play, Mike spent a fascinating four weeks working holiday in Pakistan, where he formed a tight network of friends and has since shared his experiences in the training camp there. Now Mike is taking a night class in chemistry and has grown a beard that looks quite fetching. He has matured so much this year he is like a different person. He has become a lot less materialistic and for Christmas only requested a large rucksack which we were

Mike, cycling back to Pakistan with his new rucksack. So proud.
happy to purchase for him. At last he seems to have found his way in life and we give thanks for that.

Sharon has very much matured this year. You would never think she has just turned sixteen. Sharon made some wonderful socially challenging friends in Tottenham this summer and we were so proud when she appeared on the Ten o’clock news! Imagine our delight when she came home the next morning with a wide screen TV under her arm, and a wonderful new boyfriend called Clyde. Clyde is very responsible and at age 35 a little older than Sharon but we think he will be a responsible influence as he often helps the police with their enquires and all the police in the area know him. We are thrilled that Sharon has this year landed

Our Sharon, looking good.
on her feet, she is really blooming these days and in the past three months has gained quite a bit of weight and has finally recovered from her sickness bug.

In April we did manage a wonderful week in Japan. It was so exciting and exhilarating. We had no idea it was such a busy place and was an experience of a lifetime. We both came back with such an amazing sun-tan, which we still have now. And for that we give thanks.

The view from our hotel in Japan.

We are very excited as In October Lynda was approached via email by a wealthy Colonel in Africa. It transpires that she is to inherit a large sum of money from a recently deceased dictator. It seems that her past good works have paid off. We took out a loan to pay the expenses that they required and are now waiting for the funds to be transferred to Lynda’s bank account which should happen any day now. And we give thanks for this extraordinary good fortune that has come our way. We will be donating a large sum to charity of course.

Sadly Uncle Jack passed away this year after a bout of MRSA following his overnight hospital stay with a severe migraine (hangover). At age 46 he had had a good innings and we give thanks for that.

Our last picture of Uncle Jack. He will be sadly missed.

Mother is doing very well after her fifth amputation, second triple bypass, liver transplant and Botox surgery. She is looking forward to her skiing holiday in January.

Mum, having fun as usual.

Andrew was promoted this year to work under the COE following his PhD after HR (AKA the CTO) realised his potential. However in March he contracted ADD when a close friend was given an ASBO, and was AWOL for some weeks. His BP went sky-high and he lost his GSOH eating nothing but BLT sandwiches. After a lot of TLC from Lynda he was back at work ASAP.
We hope you have all had a year like ours and wish you a very merry Christmas and best wishes for 2012
Love Lynda and Andrew
xx

White Christmas and missing cats

Every year I think how nice it would be to have a white Christmas. The thought of opening my eyes on Christmas day to heaps of crisp, fresh white snow has always seemed so romantic. Snow piled up outside the front door.
Of course, when having these dreamy, diamond glinted snow fantasies, boats and planes and trains and of course shovels, (to dig the car out, not for killing my husband) don’t quite enter into them. Come to that neither did City Link and my longed for parcel. I also never envisioned paying a cab driver £25 for the luxury of taking me to work because I was too afraid to attempt driving my car up the steep hill that gets me out of the village. But, at last here it is, my wonderful romantic white Christmas. So, how romantic has it been so far?
Saturday afternoon as the beautiful white stuff fell I looked longingly out of the window. Tomorrow, I will go for a walk and take photos. Speaking my thoughts aloud I turned with a glow on my face to see my husband dressed in his flying suit.
‘Good lord, you can’t fly in this.’ I said stupidly.
Immediately the romance of my lovely white Christmas was wiped out in a second by his next words.
‘I am taking my car down the hill today while it is not too cold. I should be able to get to work on Monday if I take it down there now.”
Work, hill, oh no. My stomach churned and the snow no longer seemed so pretty.
I watched him leave as though watching him for the last time as he heads off into the Antarctic.
‘Be careful and text me.’
I get the look. You know the type of look that says, ‘I am only going to the next village for goodness sake.’
I begin to think about work and then tell myself to enjoy the weekend. After all it will be gone by Monday. Yes, well as we can all see it has far from disappeared and any white Christmas I had hoped for now looks like a reality. What also looks like a reality is that I may not get to my in-laws for this wonderful white Christmas.
So, just what is the reality of a white Christmas with snow around the door and a nice roaring fire inside the house? The following are some of those wonderful things you can look forward to.
1) You cannot get a flight to anywhere as they cancel most flights and you spend the best part of Christmas in Heathrow’s departure lounge, just hoping to depart.
2) You cannot get a train for hours as they have cancelled most of them and you queue for almost eight hours in the vain hope of catching one to get you home.
3) If you live in a tiny village you cannot catch a bus because they have cancelled those too.
4) The roads are not gritted so you cannot get to work, or the Christmas party or even get your present in the secret Santa.
5) You may spend hours on the motorway getting to your loved one for Christmas.
6) You get trampled or beaten up in Sainsbury because everyone seems to think it is the start of a food shortage. Although I have to admit our house is starting to face such a very shortage.
7) If you are like me and have ordered your presents online and late at that, then you are unlikely to get them in time.
8) Your house is bare of Christmas cards because the post cannot be delivered.
9) You lose your cat in the snow, well ok, I have. All hopes on him coming back though. Periods of the day are spent calling him.
10) You cannot even get a taxi to work, well; ok I can’t, as nobody will attempt to drive up the hill into the village.
11) Worse of all, and seriously this is important stuff, my diet food is not being delivered. A white Christmas could result in me getting fat.

So, will I be wishing for a white Christmas next year? I think not. Lovely as it looks it is freezing. I have frozen bread and frozen cooking oil. I now found myself longingly remembering the one Christmas I spent in Sydney and how I complained of the heat when cooking a Christmas dinner.
So, here I am, with two extra heaters on and wearing enough layers that I resemble a Michelin tyre and treating the kitchen like a room possessed by a poltergeist. I fly in there, grab what I need and fly out. Icicles hang down above the kitchen window and back door like Christmas decorations and drip monotonously onto my head as I call the cat. I try to think of past summers but they seem like a distant dream. I imagine, one day, this will too. In the meantime, off to call the cat and make another hot cup of tea.