Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Its nearly here!!!

This month seems to be flying by. I have finally finished the shopping and everything is wrapped and ready to go. Tom and I took a trip into St Albans and had a look around the Christmas Market in the grounds of the Cathedral. It was very pretty, lots of little stalls and lots of nice little shops to look around. It made for a very pleasant Sunday morning trip.

The market in the town centre was a general farmers market with the added bonus of a stall selling mulled Cider. It was very nice and warming!! 
Tomorrow will be the last one at work until next year, I must say I am looking forward to having a break. I suspect that it won't be too relaxed! The plan for tomorrow is to have our 'old' friends around for nibbles and alcohol. I like to go to Mass on Christmas eve, so rather than waiting for Midnight we are aiming to get to the 8.30 carol concert followed by mass, we should be home for 10pm!! I don't want to miss Father Christmas!!

I have had a great night out recently, I went to see the lovely Paul Hollywood, He of the Great British Bake off!!! My friend Karen, (in charge of all ticketed events!!) managed to get us tickets, we were expecting a 'restricted' view but it was in fact a perfect view!! Paul was quite an entertainer, kept a whole bunch of mainly women enthralled for the evening!! I think we were all so taken with his performance that it wasn't until afterwards that we realised that he only actually cooked one thing!! The rest of the show was Blue Peter Style...... here's one I made earlier!!!! That said it was a great evening and I actually managed to try a bit of his roulade Oooo errr Missus!!!!

The month of December is filled with nights out. I have had a fair few of them with friends. Our girls night was at The Crooked Chimney again. The pub is quite nice but the food is hit and miss. I went on line before we arrived and found a couple of vouchers, one offering free mulled cider and one offering £10 off the bill!! Our favourite waitress was there and looked after us well. A few years ago when we booked our annual Christmas dinner they were at pains to tell us that they would not be providing any table decorations or crackers, so that started our annual tradition of decorating our own table!! This year was not different, although we were provided with crackers!!

This month I decided to upgrade my phone, a foolish thing to do. It was the lure of a new iphone as the current one was doing what all iphones seem to do,that is reach the grand age of two and start to slowly die. The battery stopped holding the charge and I found that I was having to charge it overnight and during the day just to keep it going!! So stupidly I decided to swap service providers from O2 to Vodafone. I have been with O2 for years but they couldn't match the voda deal. I had really hoped that the transfer of my old number would go easily but  that was wishful thinking!!!
After speaking to half the people in India the swap finally happened today a full 10 days after they promised to transfer the number. Of course expecting that to go to plan was optimistic in the extreme!! Tonight by way of a change I ended up speaking to a chap in South Africa who finally sorted out the voice mail issue. The whole experience is not one I want to repeat in a hurry!!

I wish you all a happy and safe Christmas. May New Year bring you all health and happiness.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Decs are UP!!!!

Well it seems an absolute age since we were in Hamburg, where does the time go at this time of the year?? Last time I was stood in this spot the pavement was terrible covered in snow and ice. This time we managed to get away with it weather wise.

The markets were wonderful with lots of great stalls. Sadly a lot of the stuff we couldn't get in our suitcases, like the bunches of mistletoe on the above stall!.

We were lucky enough to have quite a spacious room, after a couple of drinks it seemed to grow big enough for us to stage our own 'strictly come dancing' contest. There wasn't really any competition, Sandra and Sue won hands down with their very expert version of the Argentine Tango!!!! 

Just look at the expert footwork and the wonderful line of their arms, I would have given them a 10!!!

All of the city was beautifully decorated with Christmas decorations and trees everywhere. On the last day we found the very best place to buy mulled wine, a small stall on the market which looked as if it was a permanent fixture year round. The lady sold polystyrene cup of piping hot mulled wine. We were a little peckish so we had some chips with mayonnaise and sat out in the freezing cold waiting for Santa to arrive!!

Last Sunday was the first anniversary of Mums passing, Tom and I went to Mass with Dad at 8am, where they remembered both Mum and my sister Val. We then went a laid some flowers on her grave. It was a strange day, a time to remember the good times and try to forget the sad times at the end. 

During the week we had a pre Christmas meet up, Madeline, Sandra and Sue, we tend to have our Christmas dinner at a local pub, where we know the waitress very well, so before we headed off I checked out the Internet and found a selection of vouchers which she applied to our order, so we ended up with a nice three course meal, a bottle of wine and four mulled ciders, only we managed not to pay for the cider and we had £10 knocked off the bill!! Result !!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Hamburg at Christmas.

After what seems like a few hectic weeks we finally arrived at Thursday and out weekend break to Hamburg. This time we were prepared having been there before. We had a plan of action!!

Tom dropped us off at the airport around 11.30 am, we had asked for special assistance because walking the huge airport distances is difficult for one of the party. As usual Luton can up to scratch and just inside the main doors we registered with the special assistance counter and our bags were whisked away . We went through security, two of us set off the alarms with our metal hips (we are so edgy, no drugs or guns for us just good old NHS replacement hip joints!!!)

Once on the other side we could relax and start our holiday!

Well, it would have been rude not to have had a quick Christmassy drink or two!!

We returned to the pre-arranged place and were loaded onto our special assistance 'truck' or as Gracie likes to call it 'The Pussy Wagon' in honour of the great show 'Come Fly with Me' 

The flight was a quick 75 minutes with just enough time for a drink and a pop to the loo, before we arrived in Hamburg. We were met at the other end by a very fit 'Red Cross; man with a wheelchair who loaded Madeline in and then set off at a heck of a pace while the three of us run along behind!! We retrieved our luggage and went outside to find a taxi. Sandra this time won the prize for the lightest suitcase, weighing in at a very skinny 9 kgms. She wanted to leave room for all her shopping!!

We arrived at our hotel and checked in. Sandra and Sue had exactly the same room as before, we had one around the corner!
We decided to drop our bags and head straight to the supermarket and stock up on essentials for the next few days (mainly wine and amaretto!!)

We went out for dinner at a nearby restaurant and had a warming mulled wine to protect us from the cold ! We planned the following day, we decided to head for the markets around 10am after breakfast and make a day of it. We also decided to take things as easy as possible so that we didn't over do things. We planned to build in lots of Mulled wine breaks!!!

Hamburg main square.

One of the many beautiful stalls

At one point we were so cold that we had to give in and go inside for a mulled wine, it was bitter. Most of the weekend the temperature was 0 on in the minus, if you added the wind in it was freezing. 

We had a fabulous time, I will share a few more photos and stories tomorrow.