Dot writes: I started writing this a week ago, but now we have the whole Christmas holiday to look back on I need to change my strategy a little. Blow by blow is just too battering at this stage. So, some highlights of our rather quiet Christmas, spent in Dublin in our own little house, just the four of us (five with Pepper, but Natalia had gone back to Valencia).
1. Having the rector and his family round to dinner. This sounds staid, but I get on extremely well with Tara (Mrs Rector) and they have a young son who’s in the same class as Frank. It was all done at very short notice – arranged after church on the Sunday before Christmas, time set for 6pm that evening. I spent the afternoon shopping and cooking and then we had a lovely convivial evening.
2. Hugh and I picked the Christmas tree – he was off school with a cough – and I brought it home and put it up myself. This is one of those uncomfortable jobs involving lugging things around and being physically competent that I normally delegate to Ken, so I was proud of myself.
3. Several gorgeous beach walks as a family. On Christmas Eve we went out to Skerries to drop some beer with a friend and, as we thought, visit him, but it turned out he didn’t want to be visited. So, slightly miffed but trying not to show it, we went to Skerries beach and it was actually rather nice in a cold kind of way. On the 27th we went to the Bull Wall end of Bull Island, investigated some of the ponds that have formed at that end of the island (and which I’d become rather excited about on an earlier walk by myself), and walked up the wall and on to the beach. Today we decided on another walk and Hugh wanted to walk over the wooden bridge. This time the tide was out, and we went down onto the wet sand and walked below the wall almost to the Realt na Mara statue. The sun was low by the Dublin hills and the sky was clear and gathering its sunset colours. It was absolutely beautiful and, wonder of wonders, there was no whinging. Almost no whinging. The pictures from today’s walk are on Ken’s phone but here are some from the earlier two.
4. On Christmas Day I made the whole family go to church, Ken and all (he is always quite meek and obliging about this, happily), and I sat with him and the boys in the congregation rather than with the choir. I briefly regretted this decision when the rector had all the children up at the front for the sermon and Frank was seen sneaking around behind him and trying to blow out the candles. Fortunately the choir is full of assertive grandmas who admonished Frank. Meanwhile Hugh paid rapt attention to the sermon and eagerly answered the rector’s questions, thus maintaining the family honour.
5. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without any presents, as we know, and thanks to our dear family, each other and the good people at Amazon there were plenty of them. The boys were touchingly delighted with the Skylanders they got from Santa and Frank spontaneously offered to give me his chocolate orange. There was much excellent lego. Frank was thrilled by his new Incredible Hulk toy. People sent me lots of CDs. And Ken and I had a particularly good year in choosing things for each other, which, after nearly ten years of marriage, is rather creditable (because we are well through the “A philosophy book! How well you know me!” stage by now). I got him a little radio kit – which he has made into a radio, hooray – and a pizza stone – with which he has made excellent pizza. And he got me a Gotye t-shirt and a very lovely watch.
Hope you had a happy Christmas too, and best wishes to all for 2015.