Bliss with a Twist

One of life’s pleasures is curling up with a good book to the sound of rain beating against the window pane. Bliss.

Now there are a certain few tweeks to make this pleasure absolute bliss.  Firstly the coffee it has to be a blend which you enjoy, this is definitely not the time for “it will do” blend.  Secondly the mug.  It has to be big enough to hold a warming amount of coffee but not too big that the mug itself is hard to lift.  Thirdly one has to be comfy. Perhaps a quilt to throw aIMAG1015[1]round the shoulders or over the knees.  Perhaps a throw or perhaps that old warm roomy jumper that has survived so many mishaps.

 

 

Of course the most important choice is that of a book.  This is the time for the latest book by a favourite author.  Perhaps this is the time for renewing the warmth one feels from a favoutite book read so many times that the cover has that well thumbed look.

Easter Monday dawned to the sound of rain battering the windows.  Grey skys enveloped the area cutting the house off to the rest of the world.  Small streams were already forming as yet again another year had passed and the drains had not been cleared.  Rain dripped from the forlorn looking trees.

I went through my mental list. Dinner?  Left overs from Easter Sunday Lunch. Snacks? Leftovers from Easter Sunday and Easter Eggs.  Kitchen? Spick and span.  Oh yes, mental list checked off.  This day had all the makings for an uninterupted reading day.  Sheer Bliss.

I found myself in my favourite chair, my quilt folded beside me, in my comfy clothes and footrest in place.  Not knowing quite what book I wanted to read I had a selection.  Ruth dudley Edwards “Matricide at St. Martha’s”, Donna Leon’s “Earthly Remains“, Noel Dorr’s “Ireland at the United Nations” and Daisy Thurbin’s “The Radziwll Leagacy“.

A tray beside me held toasted hot cross buns my husband had made, a sliced apple and a pot of tea being kept warm with a tea cosy.  Beside it sat a small china mug with images of the London Olympics bringing back happy memories.

Yes I was all set.  Still there was something amiss.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.   Something just wasn’t quite right.  What was preveinting me from settling into one of my favourite pastimes.  Standing up and looking at the space I had made for my reading day it took a while for the incongruity to emerge.

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I sat down a little stunned. I was reading with a pot of tea!! For those of you who may not know me I am a coffee holic.  I love coffee and it hurts when I purchase or make a bad cup of coffee.  Realisation slowly dawned upon me that since I had had a massive allergy attack I had not sipped a drop of coffee.coffee.

Yikes. Nóilín minus a mug of coffee?  What a weird notion.  But it was no longer a notion it was a reality.  During the previous thirteen days I had not had a drop of coffee but what was really weird was that I had not missed it.  Nursing a cup of tea I pondered this new situation but the call of a book soon interupted these musings.

It wasn’t long before Ruth Dudley Eadwards had me laughing at the antics of the heroine and the question of why my body was rejecting coffee for tea was soon forgotten.  The rain continued unabated while I read and savoured being warm, having books to read while listening to music of the rain on the window.

It certainly was absolute bliss but with a new twist.

Generations

I was sent a short video to mark International  Women’s Day and it showed three young women who basically blamed all their ills on the previous generation. It was brilliantly put together and very funny.

However it set me thinking. Was this the way, that women who gave up paid employment in order to look after their family full-time were in fact being judged?

Since becoming one of those women back in the 1990’s, I found that society but to a greater extent working women saw me as something to be derided, belittled or totally ignored. I was told that “I was a pariah on society, taking without giving” .

I have been privileged to have met so many women mainly in the 50 plus age limit who are strong women. These women cared for elderly relatives, reared children, were and some still are active in their churches, started voluntary bodies which have since been taken over by state bodies, supported schools and worked unpaid for all their adult lives.

They have enabled others to have choices and they are still supporting their families with many of them taking on the childminding roles for the next generation. Some are finding  a new source of education through the next generation.

I was talking with a seventy year old lady recently. Dympna was inspired by a young twenty year old woman who communicated, read, interacted all through her mobile phone. Dympna now uses her mobile for everything from emails, to bill paying to basic phone calls. In turn she is now teaching it.

I am firmly of the opinion that there is so much to learn from every generation. No one generation is better than another but just think what can be done when the minds of different generations come together with respect.

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

Today I really noticed that Mother’s Day cards were abounding.  Ads for what to get “your Mother” are everywhere to be seen.

Mother’s Day is such a complex day.  Ok, on the surface it celebrates the roles of mothers with cards perhaps lovingly made in schools and a handmade present.  Perhaps the Dad or another relative has reminded the teenage child that a card is essential.  Perhaps they all cook a meal and celebrate the day together.

Perhaps for some women who have never experienced the privilege of motherhood, Mother’s Day is a day for curling up underneath the duvet and indulging in chocolates while allowing the tears to flow freely for those hopes and dreams which were never to be.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is another reminder of the child who is missing.  The hopes for the future again unanswered.  Perhaps a child has distanced himself, mentally/ physically or both.

Perhaps for the mother whose child has died, Mother’s Day is a public reminder of  the void that can never be filled in her heart.

Perhaps Mother’s day  is a reminder to a mother, that because of illness she is no longer able to be a mother and sometimes her child has to be her carer.

Perhaps the mother doesn’t recognise their child as a result of illness.  The laughs which would have been shared can never be shared as the mother retreats from the world.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is a reminder to a child, even an adult child, that the mother who should have nurtured, cared for and protected never existed  for that child.

On the morning of Mother’s Day, I always raise a cup to those mothers who are suffering that little bit more because of the day that is in it.

Perhaps we as women could go a little farther this year? Perhaps we could send a card, ring or call to a mother who is hurting on this year’s Mother’s Day.

Christmas

It is Christmas morning. A rainy mild Christmas morning. No one is stirring and there is a stillness about. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that this is an adult house now.

It is lovely to savour this slower beginning.,to remeber some of those warm precious memories of other Christmas mornings.

On this mild Christmas morning it is wonderful to have the time to be thankful.  To be thankful for the memories others have provided over other Christmases.

As a friend said to me one ” to be able to savour an experience is something very precious”. And she was totally right.

I hope you are able to savour this day and add it to your memory bank.

Traditions

 

Have you found Christmas Traditions have changed over the years?

 

If you have been fortunate like me to have become a parent then those traditions most certainly have changed.  A few years ago, I would have been sad about those changes but now at this stage I am glad that those changes have occurred.  It shows that life is being lived and for that I am very thankful.

 

However, there are still somethings which still herald Christmas.  Preparing and making the Christmas puddings, Christmas cake and the Christmas mincemeat are signals that Christmas is coming.  The first indication I have that Christmas is very near is when I post those first Christmas cards.  The next indication is when I arrive home with Christmas purchases.  These are small items which are either made or bought then wrapped and put under the Christmas tree for distributing among friends and family.

I met someone recently who told me that she detests January and February as the weather is usually awful, people are grumpy as they have little to look forward to and she has named them the BLAH months.  Last year she changed things and started making Christmas items which could be given to various friends and charities.  For her it extended the feeling of Christmas giving.  And in a very practical way it relieved the Christmas stress that she was normally under.  Next year as Easter is early, April 1st 2018, she intends to use her three least favourite months of the year to make Easter gifts.  A new tradition for her.

 

I like the idea of new traditions and I have to agree with her that very often people seems to be rather glum in January so perhaps extending the gift of giving to Easter is a good idea.  Those charities which we may support at Christmas I am sure need support during the rest of the year. Perhaps its a tradition which more of us could embrace?

 

Stir Up Sunday

Over many years we have been fortunate to have celebrated “making the Christmas Pudding” with our son and various nieces and nephews.  Whether they enjoyed it I will leave up to them but these are memories which I cherish.

This year we celebrated “making the puds” with the next generation.  I can’t believe that around the table were three of my grand nieces and one of my grand nephews.

Coming into the seomra suite and seeing them engrossed in their tasks was just such a precious sight to behold.  Each and every “mixing memory” came rushing back.  Luke with “Delia Smiths Christmas” propped open to keep us on the right track; Jack and Katie with their incredible laughs; Sarah and Jessica with the phone images; Zoe Adam, Kaela and Clara (keeping watch with Luke) ready with the wooden spoons.

However I don’t think I am going to live it down that the only job I had with Jessica and Sarah was to put the flour into it the puds before steaming…..Yes you guessed it I left out the flour and on Christmas Day when the pudding was turned out it was pure liquid.

Another year with Jack and Katie, I totally forgot about the puds in the steamer and I ended up having to make them again as they the first ones were totally inedible.

The one thing which is common to all these memories is mixing all the ingredients once the stout has been added.  The enthusiasm, the laughter, the mess and last but definitely not least, making that important Christmas wish is the highlight of the occasion.  Eyes scrunched up while saying “I wish, I wish I wish” and silently making that wish.  It still gives me goose bumps.

Christmas PudWhen I was growing up the puds were made immediately after Halloween.  The latest date for making them was the Sunday before Advent in the Christian church.  The Collect for that day starts “Stir up we beseech thee O’ Lord”.  Hence the name “Stir up Sunday”.

I love the traditions of Christmas but sometimes traditions need to be adapted.  Perhaps with the use of Skype or similar, Stir up Sunday next year could include the grand nieces and nephews from farther afield around the world.

I am privileged to have been given so many Christmas Pud memories and to those who gave them to me, thank you.

Christmas puds

Cherished Recipes

Early morning and yet again no sleep so think it is time for root among my cookery books. I really enjoy reading cookery books. I especially enjoy learning where the ideas for recipes have come from.

The most delicious recipes are very often those recipes which have been handed down through generations, with every generation adding a slight tweak.

I started to flick through some of the cookery books and immediately I was transported back to when I had bought them.  Wow I had totally forgotten I had the Food Aid Book.

Do you remember Band Aid in 1984? It was founded by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for the fight against famine in Ethiopia.   On November 20th the single “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was recorded and five days later it was released.

In 1985, while watching Live Aid Delia Smith got the idea that the food industry including chefs could also give or donate to the fight against famine.  The seed of an idea for a cookery book grew.   Together with Sir Terry Wogan and within two months the book was selling off the shelves in 1986, having been published by the BBC. The book  however, was different form the norm in that it is made up of cherished recipes donated by the people both famous and not so famous.   Some recipes were sponsored by food industry with the recipes themselves being wide and varied.

The first recipe was provided by Dian Princess of Wales.   However, the majority of recipes are from ordinary individuals willing to share a cherished recipe.

My favourite recipe is a recipe for a ham sandwich devised by the comic Ronnie Barker and which finishes

 

“Place £5 in envelope and whisk off to Food Aid .   Enjoy sandwich knowing that someone will eat with that £5 note.”

My recipe for soda bread was given to me by my Aunty Mary Dan and hasn’t changed. Our Christmas Pudding Recipe has changed from the heavy dark pudding of childhood to a lighter pudding which at this stage cannot be altered or it is no longer “our” Christmas pudding. Of course we have “drinky” biscuits, so-called because our son would have half the batter drunk before the flour had been added to make it into biscuits.

Do you have any cherished family recipes or new ones which you have devised and are now part of the family repertoire?