Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Friends and family

April 17, 2019

It’s not often that I get together with more than one sibling at a time but last week we managed to meet up with two of my brothers.

Steve & Les were staying with John & Jude for a couple of nights so we went in to join them one day.

We all went into Whakatane to get a few things for dinner that evening, but first we had to check out a couple of bike shops as Leslie was getting a new e-bike. Once we had viewed and checked out what was on offer, it was lunch time.

John and Steve waiting for lunch to be delivered. Note, we were sitting outside in glorious sunshine but within 10minutes we were running for cover as the heavens opened, and thunder and lightening crackled and crashed overhead. Then another 10 minutes later we were back in sunshine.

It was then back to the shop of choice for Leslie to have a test ride,

whizzing along

Back to John’s place where Steve had volunteered to cook up a seafood paella or two for our dinner using not only a paella pan that John & Jude brought back from Spain last year, but also some paella seasoning.

Steve with two pans of paella on the go. Seafood paella which included prawns, shrimps, mussels, squid, and scallops.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished dishes, but I can assure you they looked as good as they tasted. And it was very good too, in fact both John and I reckoned that it was much better than the paella’s we had tried in Spain!!!

sitting in the lounge relaxing after dinner.

Roy and I headed up to Tauranga and the Mount for a day of visiting. First was to see niece Jenna and her new arrival, baby Ashlyn.

getting a few cuddles in.

From there it was over to Mount Maunganui where we were meeting up with one of our ex staff members Margaret and her daughter Suzy along with a few of their friends.

Margaret and I deep in conversation (I think I was sorting out her tablet issues for her).

Roy and Ian solving the worlds problems.

Please note the venue though, the house is right on the beachfront and it was a glorious day to sit out on the deck.

Lunchtime, conversation and company, a lovely afternoon.

But we did note some strange creature in the sand dunes in front of the house…..we presume that they were making a film.

the making of a movie?

We had another call to make to Roy’s friends Bill & Estelle who moved to Papamoa from Auckland a couple of years ago. We caught up with them over a cuppa before heading back to Matata.

parked up in the sunshine at Matata, our last day here before moving on. The weather has been very kind to us for our two week stay and with Easter very nearly upon us, it usually heralds a change in the weather. Let’s hope we still get plenty of sunshine before we head to the northern hemisphere.

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Moving on….

March 10, 2019

We are very good at changing our plans. Initially we had intended to move on from Shakespear a week ago on Sunday BUT we heard from Gary & Marg that they were coming down to Red Beach to look after their grandkids so we thought we would delay our departure for a few days and take the opportunity to catch up with them before we head out of town.

Meanwhile we are trying to get a few jobs done that we have managed to put off until now….isn’t that always the way, put off the inevitable until we have to do it!!

Our last weekend was a very busy weekend again with campers, with some lovely lovely people in. Some even shared their spoils…

yes, we had fresh fish for dinner that evening.

Inevitably it was time to bid farewell to everyone at Shakespear, after a lovely farewell from the Rangers and some other volunteers we finally headed out of the park on Thursday. But we weren’t going too far as we still had a few chores to get done. So via the LPG filing station at Dairy Flat where, when a truck pulled out from in front of us revealed this special pairing.

I have no idea what it is exactly but obviously it stands upright as there are hydraulic rams on the side near the base. I couldn’t ask the driver either as he was out of there a moment after I had taken the picture.

We headed off to South Auckland heading first to the dump station at Bruce Pullman Park in Papakura. Then it was off to the friendly fellows at VTNZ in Takanini for a COF where we had to wait in line for some time before we had our turn. By this time it was lunch time and time for a cuppa and a bite to eat whilst we waited. We soon had our COF and it was back to the dump station. Why return to the dump station? Because we had half filled the black and grey water tanks with fresh water to slosh around whilst we drive around which helps clean them out a bit, especially required after sitting for so long in one place they needed a good clean out. That all done it was off to a busy Ardmore to park up for a few days.

I had forgotten what it is like to park in a place with other vehicles so close to you, as well as parking on gravel. Give me grass any day but needs must. We are here for a week as we have booked the van in to have the underneath sealed next week, a necessary maintenance job to prevent any rust on the chassis as we so often park near salt laden sea air.

Our son Antony lives just around the corner from Ardmore so it is also a good opportunity to catch up with him, oh and utilise his cooking facilities.

It’s that time of the year again, pickling and preserving time, and first on the list was to make some sauce and soup.

two pots on the boil

And the resulting spoils

Along with the plum sauce I made a few weeks ago, the store cupboard is becoming full again. That should keep us going for some time.

A Japanese night out

February 25, 2019

We had to go over to see Antony in Papakura to drop off a few bits and pieces and to help him move a mountain of grass clippings that had accumulated over time. That done, we decided to go out for dinner, I thought down to the local pub, but no, Antony had booked us into Izu, a Japanese restaurant right in the heart of the Papakura town centre.

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with Auckland suburbs, Papakura is not known to be one of the trendy suburbs, more at the other end of the scale. So it was a very pleasant surprise to find a first class restaurant in town.

We all chose our dishes and waited for the arrival of the first plates

Top left Snapper carpaccio x 2, below it was my amazing crispy tofu and mushroom dish, on the right a tuna ceviche.

Clockwise from top left: Chicken, Beef, Lamb and a nigiri & sushi selection.

And to finish the blokes had the chocolate mousse, we girls were too full for dessert.

We will certainly be back here as the menu options were varied and there are some other dishes I’d like to try.

It’s all go here!

February 11, 2019

Tuesday last week and we were expecting friends Wade & Lindsay to arrive for a few days R&R and they would be staying in our guest wing. Sure enough they arrived late in the afternoon.

The guest suite is our tent….and it’s not doing too badly for an oldie but goodie as we think the tent is at least 26 years old and still going strong!!

It has done us very well over the years and continues to give us good service. It’s a nice sized tent, perfect for a short break away and easy to put up.

I was all organised ready for our guests to arrive, we had put up the tent a day or two earlier and had also inflated the bed. It only seemed right that I should lie on the bed for an hour or so, just to try it out and make sure it was comfortable. And just as well I did as the bed seemed to go down a little over the hour or so I was testing it therefore it was on’y right that we tried to find out if there was a leak. This involved me rolling around on the bed, feeling along all the seams to check for a pesky leak. Nothing to be found anywhere, so we turn the mattress over to check the underside. What’s this? I can feel air escaping on my cheek….but where is it coming from? On closer inspection I found a tiny wee scrape, the size of a small pinhole where the air was escaping, so it was out with the repair tape and cover it over. Perfect.

I had also been organised with what to have for dinner – Bao buns with slow roasted Pork belly and an Asian slaw, plenty for left overs too. However, the left overs would be dwindling somewhat as we also got a call from friends Pat & Steve, could they come and stay the night in their caravan on their way south? oh and they had a large box of plums for me off their tree. Sure we said, rock on up, we’d love to see you and catch up, and there’s dinner for you too!

Shortly thereafter the phone goes again, it’s Keith & Deb, they are 20minutes away. Fantastic, we can have a great time together and yes there is plenty for all for dinner.

I couldn’t wait around to meet and greet everyone as I had to race off to the specialist as it was time for my post knee surgery checkup…..more on that saga in another blog post though. By the time I returned, everyone was settled in with a drink in hand for happy hour, and what do you know? Yep, I forgot to take one single picture!!

We had a great evening catching up, with lots and lots of chatter going on into the evening. Pat & Steve were off the next morning to continue their journey south whilst the rest of us relaxed as best we could over the next few days! It’s a hard life but someone has to do it.

The next couple of days were spent reading, swimming, relaxing, talking and eating, oh as well as keeping an eye on campers. I even managed to make a couple of batches of plum sauce as well.

Wade and Lindsay’s daughter Caroline lives not to far away so she came for a visit or two before it was time for Wade & Lindsay to leave. Lindsay assured me that the bed was very comfortable and it was the best nights sleep she’d had in years, just as well I found the leak through my extensive testing regime😂.

clockwise from front left: Lindsay, Deb, Keith, Bernice and Wade

Next my niece Rebekka and her husband Paul came to stay for a couple of nights, some of you may not know but Rebekka is Keith’s youngest daughter from his earlier marriage to my sister. Paul & Rebekka arrived with some friends and we all had dinner together…I again forgot to take any pictures but the following morning the six of us had breakfast together.

From left clockwise around the table, Deb, Roy, Rebekka, Bernice, Paul.

Again it was a hard couple of days of relaxing, swimming, eating and drinking. Can you see a pattern developing?

Rebekka and Paul also stayed in our guest suite, they are seasoned campers but they have very small tents so staying in our larger tent spurred them on to buying a new tent.

Of course they had to try it out and gain some experience at putting it up. We “grownups” enjoyed sitting back and watching the young ones put up their new tent, with a few helpful pieces of advice coming from the spectators of course. Their new tent should see them right for a few years to come and hopefully it will last as long as ours has.

Farewells and other bits

February 26, 2018

Our farewell dinner with Ian’s family was held at a local Vietnamese Restaurant. We have been warmly enveloped by the Denny family and we were looking forward to getting together with them again. There were Ian’s parents Barry & Christine, his two brothers Matt and Mike, and his cousin Julie & Brian. They are all so easy going and fun to get along with, we were assured of a great evening.

Back row: Matt, Ian, Antony, Alex, Mike

Front row: Chris, Bernice, Julie, Barry, Brian, Roy

Let’s just say that the food was great, the drinks flowed and the Sambucca shots that seemed to keep coming at the end of the evening made for a fun end to the night!

Matt channeling his inner Vietnamese.

They all decided that Christmas 2019 would definitely be celebrated in New Zealand with all wanting to experience a totally different type of climate for the festive season. They are all saving madly in anticipation of their big adventure to the antipodes.

We didn’t always go out together as a family, Ants and Alex met up in town on a few occasions and then we would get some random collection of photos to let us know they were having a good time.

these two out for cocktails and silly indoor golf!

or I get random photos of…guess what we are having for dinner?

And it’s not all gourmet food…..check out this one that Antony and Ian sent to us when they were left home alone after having been at the football all day!

who knew that there was such a thing as “chicken dinosaurs”? Let’s just say that boys will be boys and will do anything to get a reaction out of Mum!

A lot of cooking was done at home over the time we spent in London with Alex doing a bit of baking as well. One day she decided to make Neenish Tarts, just like Grandma used to make. For those of you who don’t know what these are they are a sweet pastry base with a creamy lemony filling and iced with half chocolate and half white icing. They are an antipodean delight and one of my favourites. I can attest that Alex’s version were fabulous and every bit as good as her Grandmas.

Alex channeling her inner grandma!

We also went along to watch Alex play netball on numerous occasions, wrapping up against the biting cold and at times it was not at all pleasant and I hankered for NZ summer weather…..but now we are back and in the searing heat wave and humidity we are experiencing I can now confess that I am hankering for those chilly days where we can rug up against the cold, enjoy a hot toddy or two and cheer from the side lines. Her team mates made us feel very welcome and we even enjoyed the odd night out with them too. Oh and yes, you guessed it, I didn’t take one picture at the netball!

Our last few days were all a bit of a whirl, with us all pretending that our departure date was not imminent.

Then comes those dreaded goodbyes, they don’t come any easier and even though we have plans for future meet ups to look forward to, it does not make it any the less emotional. All in all, we have all had a great time creating lots of wonderful memories.

Family reconnections

January 12, 2018

We had set aside a few days to visit a couple of family members so with trains tickets booked, contact made we set off to make our way north. It was a journey of many links, we took the bus from Alex’s home at just after 8am which then required a relatively short walk to the train station in Erith. The train from Erith to London Bridge takes about 40minutes then a walk from London Bridge station to the underground which took us past Borough Market where we resisted the temptation to visit, after all we were on a schedule! Then it was the tube to Euston station, then another walk to the train station at Euston to catch the train to Bletchley. The train to Bletchley was a short 35 minute trip via fast train, and on arrival we took a taxi to Bletchley Park as we were uncertain as to how far away the station was from the park, it turned out it wasn’t too far and we could have walked. We then spent the next 4-5hrs wandering around Bletchley before being picked up by my cousin Jackie and her husband Hossein. Phew! Most modes of transport covered today; bus, tube, train, taxi, car and shanks’ pony.

NB. A separate blog entry on Bletchley Park will follow.

Jackie is actually my cousin Hilda’s daughter, and tomorrow we would be catching up with Hilda. It can become a little confusing at times as my Mums name is Hilda, and it is on Mums side of the family that we are connected, with my Mum and cousin Hilda’s Mum being sisters. It gets even more confusing as Mum was the 17th of 19 children and Hilda’s mum was number 2, which makes for a lot of cousins as well making the age range in cousins rather extensive.

Back to the original story. Jackie and Hossein live just outside Milton Keynes which is not too far from Bletchley, so we didn’t have too far to travel. They had kindly offered to host us for the night in their lovely home. After lots and lots of chat, it was time for dinner. Hossein had prepared for us an amazing Persian feast, and I mean, a feast.

entree was a selection of delights which were accompanied by Persian bread.

I cannot remember the names of the dishes, but they included yoghurt, salads, herbs, aubergine, cheese, nuts, and spinach prepared in many different ways. There was also the traditional drink Doogh which is a fermented yoghurt drink.

Jackie, Bernice and Hossein

Bernice, Jackie and Roy

Talking and catching up continued through the meal, so much so that none of us remembered to take a picture of the main course, which was an amazing array of dishes including chicken, lamb, two rice dishes one of which included barberries, potatoes, vegetable and herb side dishes all of which were delicious. It must have taken hours of careful preparation for which we were extremely appreciative.

Jackie then presented us with a Persian dessert of cream, cream, rosewater and pistachios. It was very refreshing at the end of the meal, and I did remember to take a picture of that!

dessert

After dinner, we relaxed in the lounge and over sweetmeats accompanied by Persian tea we talked and talked until the wee small hours, time for bed – it had been a long day.

The following morning Jackie took Roy and I back to Bletchley so we could finish off what we had not covered the previous day with arrangements made for Jackie to pick us up at 1pm. Then it was back to their place to meet up with Jackie’s sister Dawn who was bringing Ken & Hilda over for a visit.

Back row L-R: Dawn, Jackie, Bernice, Roy with Ken and Hilda in the front.

Cousins Bernice and Hilda

Over lunch and into the late afternoon the talking continued as there was much to catch up on since our last visit in 2010/2011. However, all good things come to an end, and with fond farewells it was time for us to leave.

Jackie took us to Milton Keynes train station where we caught the train to our next destination, Droitwich Spa near Worcester this time a one and a half hour train trip. This trip required just one change in Birmingham, and with times already tight between journeys it was just our luck that our train was delayed just out of Birmingham with signalling problems, it meant we ended up having just 3 minutes to change platforms and trains! However, we made it just as the doors were closing for the final leg of the journey where we were met at the station by Susan.

Sue’s father and my father are cousins which means I’m getting to visit cousins on both sides of the family. We had also met up with Sue and her sister Veronica last time we were here, and as well Sue and her husband Martin had visited us in NZ in 2011.

We headed off to Sue & Martins farmhouse out in the countryside where we were greeted by a lovely warm house and a beautiful dinner. Again we ended up talking and laughing until late, cosy at the table in front of the Aga stove.

The following day I spent reading, as in reading the heap of files of family documents that Sue has which include a pile of letters written by my Mum to Sue’s parents, Sydney and Vera, over the years since the mid 1960’s. As well there were letters from my grandpop and great aunts and uncles, a wealth of information for me to go through and take photos to add to our records. Most of the letters contained an insight into daily life for our family and brought back many memories. Sue also found a stash of photographs that she thought she had lost which included pictures of my great grandmother as well as the rest of the family over the years. There were lots of ooohs and aaahs as I recognised people and places, putting dates and names to some of the unlabelled photographs.

Bernice, Martin and Sue

After another superb meal in the afternoon, it was time for us to head back to London, reversing most of our train travels from the other day.

I have to add here that from both sides of the family, the Womersley and Coatham lines, there is an obvious family propensity to being fantastic cooks that has managed to work its way down through the generations and across the globe.

Our return journey was uneventful and with Alex picking us up from the train station in Erith, we made it back ready to make the most of the week ahead.

Borough market

January 9, 2018

It’s hard to believe that just six months ago the Borough market was the scene of a terrible terrorist attack but here we were at the market which was a hustle of activity and people all happily going about their business. The market is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in the UK. Borough Market has existed in one form or another for around 1,000 years. Its precise start date is impossible to pin down: there was no official opening, no ribbon-cutting ceremony, not even a brief mention in a chronicle. The best date available, and the one used as the basis for the Market’s millennium celebration, is 1014.

Borough, then as now, was a place defined by its position at one end of London Bridge—for centuries, the only route across the river into the capital. It is likely that London’s first post-Roman bridge was constructed here in the mid-990s, partly to bolster the city’s defences against Viking raiders who routinely sailed up the Thames to kick seven shades of wattle and daub out of the locals.

Borough Market with the Shard in the background.

Amongst the produce on sale are fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, meat, game, baked bread and pastries, sweet treats, honey, fresh fish & shellfish and much much more.

It’s a place where you can wander around for hours and then go back another day and find even more stalls. Amongst our finds was a stall selling a huge selection of alcohol including rums and gins. Rum selection

Gin selection

And yes, I did have a test of a few samples, purely for research purposes of course although I did buy a London gin for imbibing over the festive season.

All that wandering was making us hungry but what were we to choose? Roy was eyeing up the oyster bar with a choice of varieties of raw oysters from England and Europe served in their shell, or maybe something warming on this chilly day.

a Bellini each to start

so what did Roy choose? It’s hidden under its tinfoil cover.

scallops of course. We did get chatting to a Japanese family who came to share our table, they were enjoying a selection of oysters as each in Japan so they were enjoying the small ones that they got at the market for just a couple of pounds each. I didn’t dare tell them that they are known as the pest of the sea in NZ and people gather them easily.

There has been a running joke in the household that Roy has a bit of a cheese addiction, he buys and tries cheese wherever and whenever there is an opportunity, in fact he has been told he cannot buy anymore cheese until he has finished the pile already stored in the fridge at home!

but what’s this? Caught again in a cheese shop trying a few samples, but he was good…he only bought one!!

It’s a fantastic market and no doubt we shall be back again soon.

Lunch at the Curlew

January 5, 2018

Alex had time off between Christmas and New Year and one of the things we wanted to do was to go out for a nice lunch to The Curlew in East Sussex, a restaurant where the head chef Gary is a friend of Alex’s and is a restaurant that is gaining a very well earned reputation.

Mr Google told us it was just over an hour to get there, but of course we had to factor in traffic so allowed ourselves plenty of time, perhaps enough time to visit Bodiam Castle which was nearby.

Unfortunately, traffic held us up a little, and also the fact that we took a slight detour….the scenic route of course. When we arrived at the castle the queue of traffic to get in was lengthy, so instead of visiting the castle we went to the pub across the road for a quick one before we went back down the road to the Curlew for lunch.the Curlew

And what a lunch we had, cocktails to start with, I had the hot gin & tonic cocktail and delicious it was too and perfect to warm you up on a chilly day. We made our choices of what to have for lunch and then sat back to enjoy the following 2 1/2 hours.

inside the restaurant

First the canapéssmoked salmon gougère, goats cheese tart, beef tartare.

Every morsel was delicious and whetted our appetites for what was to come. Entrees –

Clockwise from top left; goats cheese, Cod cheeks, pigeon breast, pork belly.

Sorry but I cannot remember what was with what, except to say that every single morsel was deliciously outstanding.

Moving onto mains –

Roy had venison

Antony and I both had partridge

Alex had halibut and lobster

Each plate was not only beautifully presented, it was an amazing selection of flavours all served on piping hot plates a particular thing that I have an issue with as there is nothing more annoying than having a hot meal served on a cold plate. We all chose a wine, an English white for Alex, an English red for Bernice and a French red for Roy.

Antony was the only one to have dessertChocolate heaven

But of course Roy had to have a cheese board

It not only included a selection of English cheeses but also a variety of breads and crackers accompanied by a walnut chutney, pickled apple, quince paste and charcoal celery.

Alex and I had a coffee and a tea which came with a selection of sweets

coffee fudge, lemon posset and pâté des fruits

At the conclusion of the meal, we thanked Gary for his innovative and delicious menu before we set off on our journey home where, we all agreed that we didn’t need anything for dinner.

Theatre, rugby, party, football time

January 3, 2018

Friday 29 December:

We headed into London on Friday afternoon aiming to eventually end up in the Westend as we had booked seats to go and see a show. Alex, Antony Roy and I made our way into town via train and tube with Ian joining us later once he had finished work. But first we all need to have something to eat as we hadn’t had lunch at it was by now nearing 5pm and the hunger pangs were starting to gnaw away.

We headed to a restaurant by Covent Garden called Ping Pong, for a dim sum feast.

Alex reminded us that we had actually been here before when we last visited London, except that time the restaurant was Spanish tapas bar and our company at that time was my niece Fran and her now hubby Clive. I’ve looked for the photo of us having dinner together then but I cannot find it amongst the few thousands of pictures we have!

From there we headed across to the Westend Theatre district where we were set to see a show, called Mischief Movie Night, an improvised movie live on stage. We first had to meet up with Ian before the show, we then settled in to watch the show.

the scene is set

What happens with this show is that you suggest a genre, location and title and Mischief Theatre’s improvisers bring the show to life, complete with rewinds, fast forwards, directors cuts and a live score. So when it came time to call out suggestions for genres, a few were called out and picked then we had to vote for which one we wanted….Alex’s choice of Kung Fu movie made the cut as did Roy’s suggestion of Spaghetti Western with Roy’s suggestion winning out to popular vote. Other extra things that were added to the plot was the classic gunfight scene, the setting was an old picture theatre and a dinosaur had to make an appearance!

Much hilarity ensued, with the cast at times unable to contain themselves when things went awry and ended up in fits of laughter. We all thoroughly enjoyed the humour and it was a really great night out, with a train journey home to wrap up the night.

Saturday 30 December:

We were all going to Twickenham to watch a rugby match, including Ian’s parents Christine & Barry, their cousin Julie & Brian, Matt and Alex’s friend Helen completed the group. First we headed to the Campden pub to meet up with everyone for a bite to eat for lunch before making our trek across the city, oh and this was the same pub we came to on Christmas Day. At times it was like herding kittens.

The train journey meant we had multiple changes to make and platforms to find, but we got there in plenty of time to then make the trek from train station to the rugby grounds.

walking along the streets with the crowds.

getting settled into our seats

It was a packed stadium with nearly 78,000 people in attendance, but with clear views of the pitch, a huge screen at each end of the stadium and smaller screen directly in front of us, we were guaranteed not to miss a thing.

The ball delivery was a little different as well with a high wire stretched across the top of the stadium and a guy bouncing along the wire to the middle to deliver the ball dropping it from the great height. I have to admit that I could not watch him as it made me feel rather ill.

in both pictures above, you can see the tightrope walker in the screen and if you look carefully you can also see him in the little piece of sky peeping through the top of the stadium. In the lower picture, the ball has just been dropped which you can see in the tv screen. Please note that I took these pictures by not looking and just pointing and clicking!!!

We enjoyed the game and the crowd was very good. Rugby crowds are very different to football (aka soccer) crowds here. Apparently football supporters are kept very separate from each other with lots of police and crowd control in evidence. In many matches, one group of supporters is locked in the grounds whilst the opposition supporters are let out, and usually in totally different directions so they never meet! A little different to what we experience and what is experienced at the rugby where everyone is mixed and friendly banter ensues. I am told that rugby is for “posh” people in the UK, the ones that go to the right schools, don’t ask me if it’s the public or private school as the two types of school are labeled the opposite of what we know them as in NZ!

A few of the many food stall at the grounds, we had a drink or two and a bite to eat whilst we waited for the crowds to dissipate.

We managed to stay together and retrace our steps home.

the rabble on the train.

Oh and if you were wondering, the Harlequins won 50-21.

Sunday 31 December:

A few of Alex & Ian’s friends had organised a dinner at an Indian Restaurant, aka a curry house in this neck of the woods, for a group of us to go to on New Years Eve but first they all descended upon their house for an afternoon of watching the football and trying out a few gin based cocktails as we somehow seem to have managed to put together a reasonably large selection of gins.

looking up recipes?

From here we then went to the Curry House for an evening that proved to be brilliant on many counts. First the company was great, second the food was amazingly delicious and very very different to the NZ versions of curry, and thirdly there was entertainment. And believe me when I mean entertainment, I mean we were thoroughly entertained.

The entertainment was one guy on a key board who we must admit that initially we had serious reservations regarding his competence, however after a couple of songs, which included local improvised lyrics, wigs hats and glasses were continually being added for dramatic effect, we were all soon into the swing of things. With the refreshments flowing, he was being helped along by our vociferous table (albeit except me as I had woken that day without a voice), but I did try!!!

doing his Elvis impression.

After an hilarious evening out we headed back home to continue the celebrations including watching on TV London putting on an impressive display of fireworks.

Monday 1 January :

It was a slower (and later) start to the day today, by late morning we were all up ready for the days activities. Alex and I went off to do the grocery shopping whilst the blokes went off to the local football match, supporting Welling. Apparently Roy is becoming known as an honorary long distance supporter, as I think this is his third or fourth game he has been to!!!

The ground for the game against Dartford

Meanwhile Alex and I had a quiet day at home before everyone returned for dinner then we all settled down in front of the TV to watch the darts final live. I know, who would have thought that I would want to watch men throwing darts at a dart board? But after having to watch a number of games surrounded by some very avid and vociferous fans, I became a little interested! And yes, it was a good final.

All in all a busy and fun few days.

Christmas in London

December 29, 2017

Plans were made, orders placed and lists drawn up in readiness for Christmas Day. Alex and Ian were hosting Christmas Day festivities this year and for Ian’s family this would be a little different from their traditional fare. Tables were arranged so everyone could be seated comfortably, seating plans were made, cutlery and crockery were borrowed, Christmas crackers were made, the menu drawn up and we were all set for the day with a bit of a kiwi twist put on it all.

The English were nearly outnumbered by Kiwis though as Alex’s friend from Oamaru days, Kaz, who also lives in London came to join in the fun. However, it was not all going to be Kiwified, one English tradition for this family is that you all head to the pub around midday for a couple of hours, to meet up with friends, celebrate over a couple of drinks before heading home for Christmas dinner, it was in fact good fun and a nice way for everyone to catch up with friends before going off home for family time. It also happens to be one of Ian’s mates birthday on Christmas Day and there is a long standing tradition of him opening his birthday gifts from his mates whilst at the pub…..let’s just say that I have no idea where these guys found the gifts but let’s just say they were hilarious (and some were very definitely x rated!!).

Once back at home, Alex and I got into cooking mode, although there wasn’t that much to do as we had prepped just about everything before hand, so it was just the last finishing touches to do.the table all set ready to go

We all settled down with a festive drink and some nibbles before dinner was ready, Roy had made a delicious duck pistachio and cranberry terrine which with a few pickles and some nice bread went down very well. Then it was time for entree and our homage to turkey, in the form of turkey bonbons with a port cranberry sauce. Apparently roast turkey is the usual main course in this part of the world and to deviate from having a turkey was unheard of. So as not to disappoint those who wanted turkey we came up with this alternative, turkey breast pieces in a spicy rub encased in phylo pastry made to look like Christmas crackers or bonbons. They went down a treat. Then it was the main course…..Beef Wellington using ribeye beef, and it looked and tasted fantastic I have to say, and along with all the trimmings it was a great success. You will note a lack of photographic evidence of the food….some of us were working too hard to have remembered to take any pictures!! However here are a few of us enjoying the meal.

Once the main was out of the way it was time to adjourn to the lounge for another variation on Christmas gift giving, our version of secret Santa.

everyone was told to buy a gift to a nominated value, wrap in newspaper and bring it along. Everyone then draws a number out of a hat to determine the order in which you choose and open a gift, once opened, you can then opt to either keep the gift or swap with another opened gift. With much hilarity gifts were opened, kept, swapped and swapped again.

Christine opening one of her gifts with Julie & Brian watching on

who bought that, we all wondered?!

Antony and Ian discussing the pros and cons with the rest of us laughing along

Roy and Alex

It was all rather hilarious with some inventive wrapping and packaging also in evidence, and everyone received a really good present. I think that the English members of the family were quite impressed with the whole idea and it certainly makes life a lot easier rather than buying small gifts for all.

The gift swapping took a good hour and a half to complete and then it was time for dessert, a pavlova of course and a chocolate roulade as well as a small Christmas pudding for those traditionalists.

There was a planned cheeseboard for afters but by this time we were all well and truly full, so it was time for trying out some of those gifts, generally chat and look back on the day. The outcome? Well, the English have decided that Christmas 2019 will be held in New Zealand with our turn to host……hmmmm, does that mean we shall have to find ourselves a base? We shall see!!!