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2024 - Christmas Catch Up & Pre First Trip

I’m not sure that starting a New Year of blogging after more than a whole bottle of champagne is a good idea but heigh ho and let’s go.


So, this is ‘Tweny tweny fore ‘as Karl Minns would say, and I find myself sitting in Upper Class on a Virgin jet bound for Los Angeles but more about that in tomorrow’s blog.


The end of 2023 with Christmas and all that entails has now gone by and been packed away. And what a Christmas it was. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I bloody love Christmas. We had a simply super time although as every year we have marked out areas for improvement for next year


Probably going to see three shows in four days in London followed by Thursford was overkill. The first show (Christopher Eccleston in A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic) was really good. The second (on the same day) was Elf the Musical at the Dominion) was not bad but was free through an investment we had made in the production company. The last one was Peter Pan at the Palladium a few days later with Graham & Jo was entertaining but I did feel for Graham who really does not enjoy these types of events. Still, I hope he enjoyed the whole day out.


We also saw another version of A Christmas Carol at the Norwich Playhouse which was a blend of Folk Music, Clog Dancing and Hip Hop. It was the third time we had seen the show and we still cannot decide whether it was great or a pile of crap. Karen said afterwards we probably need to go one more time to make our minds up.


We had some lovely meals out with friends and family at various pubs and restaurants like the Parson Woodforde, Sugar Beat and Salhouse Lodge. In terms of food the best was easily Benoli’s with my Golf friends in a private room.


The most ruckus Christmas night was the meal we had at the Unthank on the night of their Christmas Carol Service. It is just a jolly good old-fashioned pubs knees-up and I will book a big table for whoever wants to join us next year.


Of course, amongst all this we mustn’t forget it was Elliemas during December as well. We were privileged to be able to take her and the boys to Yalm for a lovely evening to celebrate.


The run up week to Christmas also included some church services. After feeling disappointed with our local church last year, this time we chose one of the Salvation Army services (Thanks Grimmy for the invite), the St Peter Mancroft lunchtime service for shoppers (a tradition and short) and then one of Norwich Cathedrals Carol Procession Services (lovely but cold). It wasn’t’ until we attended these that I felt the true spirit of Christmas as it reminded me what it is really all about.


My own faith with the church is one I still wrestle with. Why do I only feel the need to go at Christmas? I do so enjoy it then with the whole feeling of togetherness, community and belief. The Christmas Story has elements we can all take things from. I kid myself that it is the fact I cannot make a regular commitment but I just don’t know. My logical mind says that it cannot all be true but then there are truths and learning to be had for everyone from the parables. Can that be a bad thing? I do respect others’ beliefs but find it strange that so many conflicts take place around the world because of opposing views. Why do people want to either convert or eliminate other who believe differently?


For us as a family the actual celebration of Christmas always really starts with a visit to the Crematorium to visit my Mum & Dads tree. It is always very important to me and it is important to the boys as well. It is not solemn but a short period for us to almost say to them that they are with us and never forgotten. I still miss them both so much and barely a day goes by without them being in my thoughts. I wish they could see the boys now; they would be so proud.


Of course, it sadly also the time to pay my respects to my big sister Jill who we lost a few years back. This year Karen and her brother Kevin also came with us and they put a wreath on their dads and Nanny’s plaques. We followed this with a round of drinks at the Black Swan which was very nice.


Christmas Day itself was just lovely. After our usual full English Breakfast Prepared expertly by Karen, we opened many presents before Karen, Neil & I went to visit Karen’s Mum in the care home. This was the first year for over 25 years that she had not been at ours for Christmas Dinner. Practicalities regarding her mobility amongst other things meant it was impossible for us ot get her out for the day. Karen had dreaded telling her but she seemed to have understood and accepted that fact herself. She was pleased to see us and enjoyed Neil helping her to open her presents.


We went back home to allow Kareen (with Neil’s help) to prepare dinner whilst Kevin went to the care home and we waited for Barry & Ellie to arrive. We had told old them to take their time as we know how difficult it is trying to split your time between families.


Dinner was great and Karen excelled herself again.


After this we opened the rest of our presents with Barry & Ellie. As ever I was amazed by everyone’s thoughtfulness and care. I always say all I want for Christmas is time with people I love and I received that and so much more.


Then we played some of the many new games that we had we had received for Christmas> Ellie and I both love playing board games and sometimes have to cajole the others into playing with us. Everyone did have a lot of fun playing these intermittent with Karen’s sweet plate for the rest of the day.


Boxing Day saw Barry & Ellie go home after lunch whilst Neil & settled down to watch Norwich lose yet again on the TV. We made the best of the evening but it seemed quiet without Barry & Ellie with us.


The following day both Neil & Kevin went to their respective homes and the house was again quiet. I hated it. I love having a full bustling noisy house.


During the Twixmas period we took Neil to Ikea and had a walk around Felbrigg of which we will remember the most the slow-motion slide fall that Karen had into some deep and slippery mud and suction of which seem to hold her in when we tried to help her up. She was covered in mud from chest to toe but genuinely and surprisingly didn’t make a fuss about it all.


So, this brings us into 2024 which we saw in around Glenn (for the last time before his impending move). We had a lovely time even if wasn’t as boisterous as ones of old at Pinebanks.


Now this trip of which the blogs begin tomorrow see us away fpr a month in Fiji/New Zealand/Hawaii. We will be glad to escape the weather but I will miss being home terribly but more of that later.

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