Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas gifts that keep on giving - and Happy New Year 2010!

I got some lovely presents for Christmas - silver jewellery from hubby, DVDs of the Irish TV series Pure Mule which is a parable of the Celtic Tiger and it's demise - Monty Python's live stage show and Michael (ex-Python) Palin's Pole to Pole from sons, and some nice baking and cookery things - Neven Maguire's new book Home Chef, and a nice pastry template cutter and a brownies book with storage tin and silver boxes from oldest son and girlfriend and some nice toiletries from teen daughter. I like the thought that went into the presents and that matters more than any monetary value - I will get lots of use from the cookery books and I have alread tried one of the cake recipes (Lime and Coconut Meringue Pie) and used the pie template cutter for our New Year's party.

I am wearing the jewellery over the Christmas holiday period as I am off work for a whole week and a half; I have the DVDs to look forward to - I can't see Pure Mule as something the whole family will enjoy as it has probably more girlie appeal, whereas Monty Python suits the boys' humour and Pole to Pole will be something hubby will enjoy too, as we met Michael Palin in Lismore when he was the main speaker at Immrama 2005. Also Pole to Pole has a lot of nostalgia value for us as he goes through Tanzania to Kigoma and on the Liemba ferry to Zambia - we lived near Kigoma for years in Mishamo refugee settlement and spent a lot of time in Kigoma and we too went to Ujiji - famed for the "Dr. Livingstone, I presume" encounter between Stanley and Livingstone.

So, despite the recession, we had a lovely Christmas, culminating in a nice low-key New Year's Eve party last night. We had a gathering of friends and with all the family together (except my mother who is in long-stay care for a number of years and sadly has dementia) it was a lovely evening, with nice home-cooked food and desserts, and good company. We went to a lovely wedding of the daughter of old friends the day before New Year's Eve, and enjoyed the reception in the Park Hotel in Dungarvan, where we had a delicious meal and danced off the calories to Dale Haze and the Champions - who (along with Gina) were stalwarts of the showband era and my dancehall days back in the 70s!

What more could we want? We have a lot to be thankful for in so many ways - we have good health, our first grandchild due in February and live in peace and comfort, compared to so many in the world living in conflict and poverty. We never put huge store by material wealth and try to live within our means (which might prove challenging with the imminent pay cuts in 2010!) and as we were happiest in our "good life" days in Africa and Asia when we really did have a simple life, we are liable to be philosophical about the excesses of life in Ireland in recent years. It reached the point of vulgarity and tacky conspicuous consumption at the height of the Celtic Tiger, and that unsustainable bubble had to burst at some point.

I'll stop now before descending to mawkish reminiscence and say Happy New Year to you all out there in the blogosphere and here's hoping that the downturn will be reversed before the first year of this new decade is over.

The photos show us at the New Year's Eve party, some of the Christmas presents and resulting tarts (Apple with Blueberries, apple with cloves) and the cookery books. and my starter at the wedding - chicken and mushroom vol au vents - yummy!


Rudee said...

Your pies look beautiful. If times get tough, maybe you could sell those. I know if I were close I'd buy them!

Happy New Year, Catherine. May you have a peaceful and blessed year. It must be such fun to be preparing for a babe in the home again!

Irene said...

Congratulations on becoming an Oma and an Opa soon. How exciting! You shouldn't show all that delicious food when a person is hungry!

Catherine said...

RUDEE - thanks for the compliment! Maybe I could take them to the Farmers' Market here if things got tough! Though there are so many stallholders there it gets a little territorial and hard to break into new ground. Anyway I enjoy making them for friends and family and that's enough for me right now. Happy New Year to you as well, I commented on your post about the loom. Looks good!

IRENE - Thanks for the congrats - yes it is fun to be looking ahead to being opa and oma - I don't feel at all like oma though. That's not saying I'm not ready - I am, but I feel young at heart - oma has a certain gravitas to it that makes me think I should get a bit serious and grow up a bit! As for the food - I enjoy it in small quantities and yes it is tempting! Try it sometime - you'd love it! Hope you had a good and happy New Year!

Niamh Griffin said...

Trying to commment!

The cakes looks great and what a lovely pile of gifts! Have heard a lot about Pure Mule but didnt get around to watching it yet:(

Ann said...

Loved your post! Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year! Pies lookd delicious. Never could master the pastry thing myself. I admire those who have!

Catherine said...

NIAMH - glad that you were able to leave a comment - it works from Thailand (you are still there I think? Or maybe you are home - must check!) The gifts were nice alright, loved them - and this was a recession Christmas! Pure Mule is pure class - in a totally bogger way! It's unashamedly rural and sends up the whole small town/bogger mentality in a dark Irish way - all the social misfits are there - but it's great acting and some of the emerging actors have gone onto other drama - especially Charlene (can't think of her surname). She is in Raw, another TV series set in a restaurant, and she was brilliant in the drama-doc on the Lourdes Hospital scandal (Neary) in Drogheda - Whistleblower. Did you see that? It was a 2 part documentary. I am looking forward to an evening by the fire for a marathon session!

ANN - Happy New Year to you too - the pies are lovely but I doubt you couldn't master pastry - I use the food processor now which is really easy, saves all the rubbing in the butter to the flour which is where things can go wrong (overhandling warming it up) and the cutter for the templates is just a fun thing! Hope you have nice snow there - we have none here only skiddy roads all over the place - all the side roads aren't gritted and they are like glass - I had to go up Ballyguiry/Strikeshill outside Dungarvan today and it was horrendous coming back down - had a couple of skids, no damage though!

Glennis said...

Those pies look very inviting. Nice Christmas girts.
I hope you do well in the blog competition, this is worthy of doing well.