Christmas Crackers

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house, nothing was stirring, no, not even us. Our movements were confined to Northenden. Much excitement to be had on bin day when I only had to take out five wheelie bins instead of the usual nine. We think we’re one of only two flats occupied in our block at the moment.

I fancied a quick snack, as is often the case at Christmastime. Well, not just Christmas, of course, but this was a particularly Christmaslike desire for a snack. I thought about some ridiculously delicious delights, since I’m one of those people who doesn’t have time for the mediocre. Scrumptious somethings for me, a double-or-nothing food lover, because my fancies are tickled by serious baking. I found some crackers, savoury biscuits in the cupboard. I topped them with a range of cheeses so outrageously indulgent, I couldn’t help but giggle in blissful, unbridled merriment.

There is some sad news though. We said goodbye to our old toaster this week. Its left-hand slot hasn’t worked well for quite some time. But at least, we can dispose of it safely. The bonus is, I didn’t have to get rid of all its crumbs, an exercise guaranteed to leave us walking on crunch in the kitchen for days afterwards, no matter how careful I am and no matter how diligent I am in sweeping up the mess. In the old days, cleaning the toaster was an exercise conducted out in the garden, much to the birds’ delight.

Local strolls took us to the river and through the woods, along our High Street, Palatine Road and very slightly beyond.

Brinkmanship

As described a couple of weeks ago, the seagulls are still playing brinkmanship by the weir.

Liesel – the bollard relief service

Traffic is no longer allowed along this little road. But someone decided to take shortcut. This is why Liesel volunteered to join the bollard replacement scheme. Conversely, the bollard was lying down in the road a few yards away, where Liesel often takes a nap.

In the great ongoing war between trees and fences, this tree recently won a minor battle.

Tree 1 Fence 0

The big astronomical event of the week was the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, appearing close to each other in the night sky. Usually we can’t see anything interesting in the sky because of the thick layers of cloud, but on the day before the closest approach, we were met with clear blue skies. So, just after sunset I looked southwest and saw the two planets. It took a while to convince myself that it wasn’t just the headlights from a passing aeroplane, but hooray, I saw the two largest planets in the solar system. I tried to take a picture with my phone, it’s obviously not the best picture taken of the event.

Conjunction photo – fisrt attempt

Next time, I hope to be better prepared, and maybe my photo too will show the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter, like this one I saw on Twitter.
[I would like to credit whoever took this picture, but aarrgghh, I can’t find it]

Someone else’s photo of the conjunction

On Christmas eve, I was surprised by and delighted to see a nice sunset again, with clear blue skies once the orange red tints faded. I used binoculars to see the two planets, now a bit further apart, but ours aren’t strong enough to show any features. I did manage to take a clearer picture with my phone, through the binoculars.

Phone through bins

Liesel did a fabulous job of putting up our Christmas lights again. There’s no space really for a tree in our luxury apartment, but the shelves in our living room will do.

Christmas decorations

We’ve enjoyed a lot of online enetrtainment this week, all of which we would prefer to see in real life, in the flesh. But then, we wouldn’t go out three or more nights in a row.

Phil Cunningham holds a Christmas Concert every year but this, the 15th, was online only. In fact, there were two shows in the end. During one, Eddi Reader performed In The Bleak Midwinter, my favourite Christmas tune, I think. And in the other, she sang Scarlet Ribbons, my first ever favourite song, and one that always reminds me of my Mum.

Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson, Phil Cunningham and many others

Tuesday evening is Jessica Lee Morgan evening. She and her partner Chris keep us entertained for an hour while those of us watching exchange pleasantries and bad jokes in the chat box.

Jessica lee Morgan and Christian Thomas

Christmas eve, after dark, we were entertained by O’Hooley and Tidow singing songs for us, along with their little one, Flynn, who joined in a bit.

Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow with baby Flynn

I think the consensus amongst all these performers and audience members is, we can’t wait to get back to live gigs again. Until then, we’ll be walking around the highways and byways of Northenden, commenting on high the river is, how fast it’s flowing, enjoying the sunshine on our backs once in a while.

Every time we walk through the woods, I regret not bringing my tools. This fence has been broken for as long as I can remember, and I reckon I can fix it with a few nails and a couple of cable ties. Oops, I just remembered, I’ve passed on most of my tools. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.

The fence keeled over

The Christmassy tree is looking better and better. There’s even a parcel or two there now.

The Kenworthy Lane Woods Christmassy tree

We passed the Winter solstice this week, so in theory, the days are getting longer again. But this week was also the first time we went for a walk while it was still frosty. I was persuaded to wear trousers. Trousers: they’re like shorts, but they cover whole legs, all the way down to the shoes. They also feel very strange.

Frosty
9½ hours I’ll never get back!

My achievement of the week was completing the biggest crossword I’ve ever attempted: 1284 clues. It was an app, with a few annoying adverts but good fun and quite challenging at times.

Yes, I sent off for and received a magnificent certificate!

If you want to have a go, and I would highly recommend it, here’s the link to download it.

Christmas isn’t the same without children, is it? I can still remember the sense of electric excitement I felt leading up to Christmas day. I relived it with Jenny and Helen growing up and now we see it in William and Martha.

The night before Christmas with Martha and William

On Christmas day, we all got together, online. So much fun, but definitely not as good as actually meeting up, playing with the children’s new toys and reading their new books.

Martha, Oma, Grandad and Auntie Helen

We were watching something on TV on Christmas day afternoon when Liesel suddenly exclaimed ‘It’s snowing!’ And it was. Everso slightly. Everso lightly.

Mick! It’s snowing!

And then, within five minutes, it had stopped. Hardly a white Christmas. Maybe next year. Or, if meteorologists are to be believed, it’s more likely to snow at Easter time.

Oh, the cheese and crackers mentioned above? We now have more outrageously indulgent cheeses from the Cheese Hamlet in Didsbury to enjoy with the scrumptious quartet of biscuits.

In the end, I didn’t do a radio show this week. But all the others are still available if you would like to catch up. And look out for a major re-launch of radio Northenden soon!

We’ll be back next week. Next year! Cheers!

Author: mickandlieselsantics

We are a married couple, one American, one Brit, one male, one female, neither of us as fit as we would like to be, well over 100 years old altogether.

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