Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Christmas - from the Frozen Wastes of a Waterless West Waterford

Happy Christmas - Cake with fondant and royal icing
We are after the coldest Christmas Day in my memory - it was -11Centigrade in Dungarvan on Christmas morning according to the weather widget thingy on my laptop - and I'm not going to argue with technology. It is now +6Centigrade, so that's an improvement and we were due a thaw over the coming days. Hopefully it will suffice to thaw the frozen water pipes that have returned us to bush living (without the tropical heat) over the past week or more. It's been quite an experience having no water over Christmas and our house has been full - there were eight of us for Christmas dinner and it was a lovely day - I was made sit down after dinner while the kitchen was blitzed by the gang and everything left pristine.
After the first slice!

Little and Large - cake for son on left - loaf-tin baked
 We've been drawing water from the Spout, a spring near the town, by Lismore Castle, and it has been seeing queues of people for the past week, as there are so many households and farms without water. So we are relying on the kindness of friends for washing clothes, and offers of showers and people are really helping each other out at this time. We've had New Year's Eve parties for the past few years which have been great fun, and a nice way to meet up with everyone over Christmas - but this year's looks in doubt unless a miracle happens and water returns well before then.

  Years with water shortages in Africa were the norm for us, but there you are prepped for it and it seemed less hassle. We had a pit latrine for starters - that's the biggest drawback for flush loos - the water supply should be reliable. (That old adage from Meet the Parents comes to mind - "If it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down"!)
Lismore Canal on Christmas Eve

River Blackwater at the "Kitchen Hole" - N72 Cappoquin-Lismore road - on Christmas Eve

Jan and me with his internet radio
 I iced our Christmas cakes disgracefully late this year - I put the marzipan on two days ago and the white icing last night - and we've already had a slice. The "proper" way to do Christmas cakes according to the purists is to bake them in October, do the marzipan in late November, wait a week or two and then put on the fondant or royal icing at least a week before serving. Oh dear, I breached each and every one of those guidelines - and there's me preaching with my recipes on Facebook and the blog! So like nurses are the worst at looking after their own health, I guess bakers are somewhat similar - not practising what they preach! In any event, the cake is delicious and the slightly softer-than-usual marzipan and half-set royal icing is actually very tasty. So sometimes breaking the rules isn't so bad after all!
My Outnumbered DVDs - with teen daughter

Sofia and her sit'n'ride rocker - and her godmother
 We'd a lovely day as it was Sofia's first Christmas and she got lots of presents, and Santa came back to the house after an absence of some years - luckily he hadn't forgotten the way. I got some lovely pressies - jewellery from hubby Jan, a gold necklace and matching earrings - the whole series of subversive comedy Outnumbered from the boys, and another DVD from teen daughter - Evelyn with Pierce Brosnan, while clever Sofia gave her granny a Swedish DVD - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - which I read last year for book club! Santa brought Philip Roth's Nemesis - much coveted - and friends gave me more books - chicklit writer Jennifer Weiner's Best Friends Forever from my own very literary BFF in New Jersey, and next month's book club choice (real world, not bloggers!) Winter Bones by Daniel Woodrell. from another friend.
Sofia and her dad

Design son with book
 A family DVD was watched last night - Les Miserables' 25th Anniversary show from London this year - brilliant performance which was live-streamed to cinemas globally and which Shayne and Jany went to see in Dungarvan's SGC cinema at the time. So I will be busy for the coming weeks. Hubby's pressie from me was a Roberts Internet and DAB radio which will give a lot of pleasure - BBC World Service will be crackle-free and round the clock instead of erratic and fadey and non-existent in Ireland - not far enough away to need the World Service on longwave but not near enough to have it on FM the thinking! I believe there are about 10,000 stations globally available - that's gonna need time to navigate!

Sofia got a rocker/sit and ride toy from us, and lots of other toys including her own baby zimmer frame - a push activity toy. Designer son got graphic and typography books, and sporty son got sporty gear and a heart-rate monitor, teen daughter a lavender new mobile phone, while Jany got a sewing machine and books, and Shayne got books and games. All this after Mass and before the turkey dinner, and we went to visit Ma's grave before dinner as well, in the brilliant winter sunshine, as we're thinking of our first Christmas without her.

Here are some photos of the winter wonderland scenery around this Christmas with snow and ice - and frozen rivers, and some of our Christmas day pressie pics. Have a great holiday season and Happy rest of Christmas and New Year!
Jany with Singer sewing machine


Brownieville Girl said...

And all that managed without water .... I take my hat off to you!!!

Delighted you had such a wonderful Christmas, and wishing you an equally good New Year.

Stephanie V said...

Oh, well done you! I can't imagine having a houseful of people at Christmas without water much less accomplishing all that your family managed. We do become so dependent on our easy life, don't we? Glad to know Santa never loses his way - Christmas is so much more fun with a little one. Your cake looks - and sounds - delicious!

Lily said...

Happy New Year Catherine, Lovely photographs and recounting of your Christmas. We have water but the houses on the opposite side of the road don't so its a case of each house adopting a house, which is working well.

Rudee said...

I don't know how you did it all without water, but I am really impressed. Your family photos are lovely. Thanks for sharing them all.

T. said...

What a lovely Christmas! I keep track of the weather in Westport on my've certainly been pounded with the cold weather, again this year. Yikes. It was nearly 60 degrees (fahrenheit!) in Seattle yesterday. Downright balmy.

Winter's Bone is fantastic -- albeit rather grim.

Cheers from the Northwestern U.S.!

Mimi said...

Happy Christmas, Catherine, and family.
It was an extraordinary one, wasn't it? You were fantastic to manage without water, I think I'd cancel visitors if that happened to me, but it's nice when everyone helps out.

Marilyn Miller said...

That cake looks more amazing seeing the insides too. Wow! I would love it.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had a lovely Christmas (apart from the lack of water). We have been lucky this year and kept ours although my mums has been off since Thursday.
I also failed with the December much going on to think about looking for it :(