Thursday, December 27, 2012


So Christmas came early to Ballarat, with the arrival of Matthew, Belinda, Sage and William on their way to spend Christmas Day with Belinda's mother in Kaniva.  It was a bit odd, really.  We had spent most of Sunday doing Christmas Eve type things. We had done the big shop at Wilson's and at the Supermarket.  We had survived the scrummage that was Dan Murphy's opening its doors (but not till 10:00 :-S). Then when Matthew and co arrived we settled in to what felt like Christmas Eve activities.  We had a magnificent dinner, outside. We ate and drank convivially. And the next morning we had  a present exchange and Sage and William had a go in the Christmas Lucky Dip.

The Lucky Dip had evolved weeks before, when I was pondering what to do about Christmas presents for my nieces and nephews. I started gathering silly children's toys, but still wasn't sure what to do about them. Then I thought we could maybe have a bran tub.  Then Lindsey found a big bucket. And Emily suggested we use shredded paper from the paper shredder. So Lindsey and I went out and got lots more silly children's toys, wrapped them all up, chucked in some Christmas chocolates and there we were - with a very successful Christmas activity!

Anyway. Matthew, Belinda, Sage and William continued on their way to Kaniva and we reverted to doing Christmas Eve activities on Christmas Eve.  Lindsey, The Builder and I headed down to Melbourne and laid in supplies for a Festive Steak Night (it was, after all, Monday).  Stella and Tony motored up from Mount Martha and met us at the flat, then we all took ourselves off to Simon's place where we were enthusiastically greeted by Noodle. Tony and I took Noodle for a walk in the park, which was all very lovely until Tony tripped over a grating and went flying.  Alas - he doesn't fly very well and ended up all grazed and bloody.  Fortunately, I have a packet of moist tissues in my pouch so we cleaned him up and trundled back to the house. No real harm done! Simon came home from work. Ian and Emily came down from Ballarat. And we had a good steak night on Christmas Eve. Then everyone except The Builder and I went back to the flat.  The Builder and I stayed at Simon's place where the two boys mercilessly attacked a whisky bottle.

And then it really was Christmas Day.  Simon, The Builder and I went to the flat where we all had a breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs and pancakes and had a present exchange.  Then Simon went home, Ian and Emily went to visit Ian's mother, Lindsey and Tony came back to Ballarat in Lindsey's car and I drove Stella and The Builder back in Tony and Stella's car.

Then there was a period of calm.

Right. We need to set the table.  We will be 18 this evening. How are we going to organise this?  Stella stayed out the way, reading her book in the lounge room. Tony went for a rest.  We decided to move the startlingly heavy snooker table out the way.  The Builder and Ian at one end, Lindsey Emily and me at the other end --- and we managed to drag it back far enough so that we could put trestle tables up.  I applauded our mighty endeavour - and was told off for making too much noise cos it would wake Tony up!!!  (If us moving the table hadn't produced enough noise to wake him up, then me clapping certainly wouldn't!!)  And so - The Builder peeled a mountain of potatoes; Emily set the table; Lindsey made a mighty salad; Ian organised turkey, ham and crayfish. We were all ready when the hordes arrived. More presents. Backyard cricket. Lucky Dip. Food and wine. Snooker. Music. People gradually peeled off and went to bed - if they had beds. It is fortunate that Lindsey and Ian have a large house. If not beds, there was at least floor space and mattresses for everyone.

People gradually came back to life on Boxing Day.  Lindsey produced a mountain of pancakes for breakfast. And then people started to drift off home.  Lindsey and Ian, Stella and Tony, The Builder and I and Noodle took ourselves off to the Lake, where Stella sat in the sunshine reading her book and the rest of us set off to walk its 6km circumference. Ian turned back after a bit, to acquire coffee and to keep Stella company. The rest of us carried on. I am heartily relived that when Noodle decided to jump into the lake, it was Lindsey who had control of the lead and not me! Fortunately she was dry when we got back to the cars and Simon turned up to collect her before heading home with Yvette, Bethan and Jacob. Stella and Tony went back to Mount Martha after lunch.  Now all Lindsey and Ian need to do is to figure out a way of getting rid of us - and their life can go back to normal! Ian and Emily didn't help in this endeavour when they produced between them mini zucchinis, the flowers stuffed with crayfish mousse and delicious chicken and tabouleh wraps for dinner.
Click on Santa for the Christmas album

Oh - and the gingerbread people.  I did make them. But try as I might, I couldn't convince them to stand up on the trays.  Then The Builder suggested that maybe the kitchen was too hot for the icing to set. Things might be better if I moved into the study, which is air conditioned - and my Christmas park and Christmas ice skating rinks worked a treat.  Possibly so would the gingerbread houses if I had done them in a cool room.  But no matter. Lots of people had gingerbread houses at Christmas.  How many had parks and skating rinks?

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