Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Wishing you a very merry christmas!

Today is my last day of working in despatch before Christmas.  There is very little work to do so – time to send you a blog!
The campus is very quiet, the car park empty and all is still covered in snow.   It feels very strange having our Christmas arrangements so unpredictable while we wait to see what the weather will be like.   We cancelled our family get together in West Sussex on Sunday; it seemed mad to try driving so far in such adverse conditions.  Instead I spent the day catching up.  We finally got to writing Christmas cards – yes I know I am really late, especially for Australia!   I find it really difficult to get in the mood and think of what to write any earlier – I like to do all my Christmas stuff in December so it feels really festive and that bloomin’ assignment took up far more time and energy than I wanted.  Writing cards in November to post overseas seems just too early for me!  I finally manage to make edible mince pies that we happily munched while we wrote.
I love the family traditions of Christmas which I have passed onto my own children.   When I was a child, on Christmas Eve my Dad would drive our family into central Melbourne to look at the shop windows.  As we drove the twelve miles, my brother and sisters would have a ‘counting the trees’ competition,  half counting Christmas trees on left side of the road, while the other half counting them on the right. It did get a bit raucous at times!  By the time we reached the city centre we were all very excited and would rush to Myers, the big department store, famous for its Christmas story windows.  We gazed in silence, transfixed by the moving figures and the beautifully constructed scenes.  My parents would have to drag us away bribing us with the promised of special treats when we got home.  We’d count trees on the drive home and then rush in to munch on shortbread, chocolate and mince pies while we prepared the carrot for the reindeer and the brandy for Father Christmas.  Before we went to bed our last task was to select a sock and tie it with sting to the ends of our beds.  As we got older we would play tricks on Santa; hanging a glove, tying a knot in the sock, hanging a pair of tights; all to try and confuse him enough so we’d catch him.  He was so clever, we never managed!
I was once of six children and we always had very simple presents, often home made.  One year Dad built us a playhouse. Our family house was built of wood and rested on stumps set into the ground.  Where the ground sloped away from the front of the house it left a space underneath.  Using second-hand wood, Dad boarded and floored a corner of it to form our playhouse which gave us years of pleasure as we made it into different settings – a shop, a place, a house.  Another year he built us a swing that seated at least two and a see saw,  while for another Christmas he made a set of table and chairs out of fruit packing cases.  All of our dolls’ furniture was made by my brother or my dad while Mum and Grandmas would make us dresses, aprons and petticoats and beautiful doll’s clothes.   My sisters and I learnt to sew and knit and would make each other all sorts of strange gifts! These home -made presents are the ones I remember the best.  They cost so little but were made with such love and care.
After such wonderful reminiscences it is time to come back to the end of 2010 and wish you all

Friday, 17 December 2010

School’s out!

Well dear reader, I survived- and I have the battle scars to prove it!!
Getting that assignment in was extremely traumatic and I am still exhausted.
I guess it wasn’t the best idea to have our Open House mulled wine and mince pies on Sunday but – you know what – sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!  I had cancelled everything for two weeks and slogged away at that essay re-writing it three times and still not getting nowhere so I thought I may as well pile on the stress, have a great party and then concentrate on that deadline!  I was very disciplined on Saturday, concentrating really hard on writing; not even taking a teeny tiny peek at Strictly Come Dancing on YouTube!  I allowed myself the little treat of putting the Christmas tree in its bucket and putting the lights on.  I’d left everything else to do on Sunday – cleaning, cooking, decorating before the party started at 2pm.  Luckily my Kate came early and helped dress the tree.  It is always such fun unpacking the family decs built up over the years. Pride of place is taken by Kate’s little felt stocking and her brother’s ‘loo roll Santa’ made when they were about five years old.  That was in the 1980’s!  I then began to make mince pies, but with all those veggies coming thought it would be a good idea to make the pastry from vegetarian suet…..BIG mistake….take notes Jamie!!  You know those dog chews made out of dried up hide?  Well …now you know what our mince pies turned out like – great for jaw exercise but not much else!
Next, I thought I’d do gingerbread bikkies.  I followed the recipe precisely.  As I had no gingerbread people cutters, I decided on an Oz theme and made maps of Australia, koalas, kangaroos, Opera Houses, and Sydney Harbour Bridges.  Well they came out of the oven having spread all over the place.  The koalas and kangaroos looked like road kill and the others looked like amorphous blobs.  Meanwhile the serene, organised he who-knows- about- these- things (HWKATT) had cooked two great big casseroles, one veggie and one meat that turned out completely perfect – just typical!! 

Luckily the mulled wine turned out well so everyone had a fantastic time and we got to bed at 1am after finishing all the cleaning up.  I couldn’t do much writing on Monday as I was working on the Maritime campus as an ambassador for a visiting school. I enjoyed catching up with the others from the events and educational liaison teams and the school kids were much better behaved than the last lot thank goodness! I really had to get cracking on the essay that evening but I was too tired to get much done.  Gone are those days when I could stay up all night working!  I finally finished by midnight on Tuesday.  The deadline wasn’t until the next day but I really wanted to get it in before I went to sleep.  I kept trying to submit it until 1.30am with no luck so finally gave up and collapsed into bed.  The next day I learnt that there had been a technical fault in the system – aaahhhh! It was finally fixed at about 10am and it was with great relief I pressed that ‘submit’ button! I went into uni early to hand in my placement manager’s report placement because it is hand written and needs to be signed.  I celebrated by having turkey roast dinner with all the trimmings in the Dome – a bit sad but it was yummy!!

That was our last day in college before Christmas and I came home to a house that looked like a hurricane had been through it -papers and books strewn everywhere.  Instead of doing the sensible thing and spending a day sorting everything out ready for the new term, I chucked it all in one room, shut the door firmly and began to prepare for an annual event in my calendar - the Christmas Sweat Shop!

This is when my friend Chloe comes over with fabric and ideas for Christmas pressies.  I have to then figure out how we’ll make them and we then set up the production line. I do all the machining and  issue instructions about what to pin cut, iron, trim etc.  We made four retro style aprons, a cushion, and cupcake shaped pincushions and the kitchen was covered in pins, sequins, scarps of fabric and stuffing when HWKATT came home.  He promptly picked up the shopping list and recycle bags and headed off for a bit of retail therapy in Sainsbury’s!!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Panic Mode!!

The most used key on my computer
After being stuck in so much of last week with all the snow outside, one would think I’d be completely on top of all my work; totally organised with a serene expression of smugness on my face.
Well…no…that was the intention but it just didn’t quite work like that. I battled away with my assignment due in next Wednesday but it just got worse and worse.  The more I wrote the more muddled I got.  Trouble is – we aren’t given a title and the subject is me!  It is a professional log meant to be about my professional development though these first few months. We are supposed to incorporate all the elements of the course with lots of theory that relates to it and at least 25 references aaahhhh! We are meant to have a theme and I just haven’t got one.  I finally had a proper melt down on Saturday afternoon and he-who-knows-about-these- things copped it big time, poor thing.  He sat me down with a cup of tea and listened to my tale of woe and despair then became the glorious voice of reason and declared that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.  He then told me to pack it all away have a night off and start again in the morning.  That was good advice and  after sleeping on it, I managed to cobble something together  on Sunday and Monday.  Although it doesn’t need to be handed in until next week I am so busy between now and then I really want to get it in asap. I have not started Christmas shopping and we are having our mulled wine and minced pies Open House on Sunday.  We only just sent out the invites and I still have to get the decorations up, muck out of the house (yes it does look like horses have been living here!) and make the mince pies. I know I could buy them but they just don’t taste the same….

How I would like to be...