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It was our first Christmas without Mum and it did feel a little hollow.

Christmas Eve
A mild day weather-wise – no frost, no snow, no rain – just mild, although it did turn cold when we went for our afternoon walk around 2pm. The day began early, as I drove to M and S to pick up the Three-bird Roast. For such an early arrival (7.30am!), M and S was packed, but their queuing system for Christmas orders had been finely-tuned within an inch of its life, and I was out in just under fifteen minutes. Then it was off to pick-up Lee and then on to Asda to buy some more of their pineapple roulade (that we’d purchased on impulse a few days before – and has turned out to be the most delicious cheese I’ve tasted in years!)

Christmas Day
M and S Three-bird Roast
Tasty Bird x 3

The day also began early as I popped the bird into the oven around 7.30. Why so early? Well, we’d re-arranged Christmas Day to fit around Denis’ recent short-stay at Hotel NHS as part of turning him into the Bionic Man! He’d been admitted on the 23rd, and discharged on Christmas Eve. Long story short then – we cooked the Bird here as well as the rest of the Christmas meal, packed-up the serviettes, crackers and everything else Christmassy and headed in the direction of Heckington, for this year’s relocated Christmas Lunch!

Chhristmas Lunch 2014
Almost Ready for Christmas Lunch at Denis’

It’s not easy cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen, but Ann did a great job, and just before 12.30, we all sat down to a full-on ‘Chrimbo Feast’ and that included Denis’ fave pudding – Christmas Pudding with custard with extra thick Double Cream with optional Brandy Cream!

By 1.45, it was all over for another year. and after tackling the washing-up, and leaving Dennis with an immaculate kitchen, we settled down for a cuppa and a chat before gathering up all our pressies and heading home. In my excitement for ensuring we didn’t forget anything, I also managed to REPACK some of the pressies we were supposed to leave behind – a rare ‘numpty’ moment, but I blame the three glasses of wine with lunch!
Open-mouthed smile

There was hardly anything on the roads coming home and we got in just in time to catch the second half of Strictly before settling down for the rest of the evening in front of the TV.

Boxing Day
Well, here we are at Roger, Jane and Oliver’s. We’re here until after lunch tomorrow. We had a good journey down here although there was plenty of traffic on the road, especially on the A1, where they all seemed to be heading for the shops!

Lego in 2014!
Lego – Not as Simple as it Looks!

On arrival, Oliver was in the middle of constructing a Lego version of an Imperial Star Destroyer – Lego has certainly changed a lot since I was a sprog – a feat that was to prove challenging even for his young mind (and his Dad’s!)

After a quick coffee, we all took-off for for a bracing walk around the iconic Hanbury Manor, just a few hundred yards away – we haven’t been here since Oliver’s christening back in April 2007, and it was good to see the place again.

Image result for hanbury manor
Hanbury Manor

That prepared us nicely for the rather superb lunch – Soup, Pork Ragout followed by Trifle and/or Chocolate Log (‘and’ in my case!), all washed-down with some excellent wines. It was a long slow lazy lunch (perfect!) and then followed by the highlight of the day for Oliver (and maybe this adult!) – opening presents! This year, I’d donated my Android Tablet to Oliver, and he was soon testing out its capabilities – with a game of Candy Crush!

Mega Feast!
Mega Boxing Day Feast at Roger, Jane and Oliver’s

With the presents ceremony over for another year, it was then time for a cuppa and an even lazier afternoon. We showed off our photographs from Malta, and then Roger surprised us by putting-on a 35mm slide-show of the Gambles-family-through-the-years. Fascinating and moving in equal measure! Ann’s Mum was certainly a stunner in her younger years and I can see where Ann got her good looks from! (It’s times like this, when you absolutely DO want you other half to read your blog!)

With the show over, there was just time for some more food – turkey rolls – before calling it a night.

We slept in – a rare treat for us – until 8am! Another lazy morning plus another walk put us in the mood for lunch – cold cuts and chips followed by a welcome re-appearance of yesterday’s desserts. Yummy! And then, it was all over. After a short tech-session with Jane to help Oliver with his homework, we were defrosting the car, and re-packing the boot. We said our goodbyes, and headed off in the direction of the A1 North. By now, the weather was deteriorating – rain into sleet and back to rain again.

Predictably, it was a perilous drive home in places, but we made good time. Once home, we caught up with the last few Christmas Cards that had somehow been delivered whilst we were away. And then, we began to pick-off the recordings on the Sky-box – our normal post-Christmas routine.

Christmas goes so quickly doesn’t it? For me, the build-up seems to last for months, and then it’s over in a heart-beat. The extra nice thing about this year though, was catching-up with some of the family – and spending some quality time with them – tinged with sadness, because Mum wasn’t around.

Now all that’s left to do is to eat our way through what’s left in the fridge (but we might need some serious help – why did we buy all this food?)
Sick smile

Everyone was so generous (AGAIN) this year with gifts – and increasingly, the introduction of ‘Christmas Lists’ for some of the family has ensured they get something that they really want. My Christmas Pressy list is HERE.

Christmas Past

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