Late yesterday afternoon, we received the most wonderful surprise. One of my Yorkshire nieces and her husband had sent Meg and myself a wonderful bouquet of flowers, through the post. According to the instructions, these will be at their best within 48 hours after they after they have been revived with some water and specialist plant food. So I emailed my especial thanks to my niece immediately with the promise that when the flowers were fully open and at their best, then I would send on a photo so that they could see how they turned out. This morning is the start of the shortest day of the year – the exact turning point being 3.27 in the morning. So from now on, the days should be gettung a smidgeon longer but generally we have to wait until after the Christmas festivities are well and truly over before any difference in the daylight is at all discernible. This morning is the day when our domestic help calls around and she was intrigued and then agreeably surprised with our new settee. Actually, yesterday, I did pop into the AgeUK store when I was on Bromsgrove High Street and was glad that I did not buy the other settee on offer which looked somewhat tired and pedestrian. The one I did purchase was actually a very marked improvement over the one in the store and last night, I put the finishing touches to a freshening up of the fabric as a whole – not that it really needed it but I felt it ought to be done. I thought I had noticed the slightest hint of a grubby patch on the front panel and gave this some remedial treatment so now all looks restored. I now have the settee in its final location so that the standard lamp which we purchased some time ago actually sheds light on some of the organ controls on the one hand whilst also affording some extremely good reading light for the settee on the other.
This morning after we had exchanged all kinds of chat and Christmas cards/gifts with our domestic help, we set off for Droitwich expecting to find the town pretty busy, which it was. We needed to get some cash out of the ATM and also acquire a copy of ‘The Times‘ but Santander and W H Smiths are next door to each other so this made life quite easy. Then we progressed on towards the cafe and were slightly dismayed when, upon reaching it, a crucial nut fell off Meg’s wheelchair meaning that one of the arms had detached itself. We had our normal ‘bacon butty’ and then progressed slowly back to the car, keeping my eyes peeled in case the errant nut would manifest itself (it did not) As I was getting Meg into the car with a little difficulty, a passerby helped me to get Meg into her seat. I explained the nature of Meg’s illness and was amazed to receive a hug from a complete stranger. On our way home, I popped into our local hardware store and managed to buy several nuts of th appropriate size (only 8p each) so that I can quickly do some running repairs to the wheelchair before I use it next. When we got home, I decided to use some of the haddock pieces that I had purchased yesterday to make a risotto. Although I only made sufficient for Meg and myself, our domestic help cannot resist a portion of my risotto and so I found a container for some so that she can have some for her tea when she gets home. I inadvertently then dished some up into a bowl which still had its boiling water in it to heat it up and when I realised my mistake, this evidently had to be jettisoned. The point of this story was that it seemed to be one of the nicest risottos I have ever made even though the quantities had been diminished somewhat but I may repeat this dish next Sunday which, being Christmas Eve, is obviously the day before the big culinary onslaught which is Christmas Day. Meg and I generally have on Christmas Day that which we really like which is a nice piece of beef and Yorkshire pudding. I discovered in Aldi when I went shopping some Winter Roasted vegetables which are carrots, parsnips and onions with a thyme and rosemary glaze so this will be a wonderful accompaniment to our beef when we cook it. Incidentally, I remember several decades ago that I used to grow parsnips in the long garden attached to our house in Wigston, near Leicester. I always reckoned that these were much tastier when we had a hard frost beforehand (and in purely chemical terms, some starches are converted into natural sugars) and I can remember the delight in digging up some nice huge parsnips ready for preparation the following day. In practice, I still do this preparation on Christmas Eve and make sure that the pasrnips have a good squirt of lemon juice to stop them discolouring overnight. Parsnips with my roast Christmas Day beef is one of the delights of life and I am afraid that I do still prepare and cook many more vegetables for the Christmas Day lunch than is strictly necessary.