I thought this autumn was a bit dull. I’ve seen many autumns now but it never ceases to depress me when daylight shrinks to a couple of hours at lunch time, worsened by the grey and wet weather. However, looking back, a lot of things happened in September, October and November 2015.
The long discussed kitchen project was suddenly done. It started faster than I expected – one day I came home and a wall of my kitchen disappeared. It finished slower than I wished – all the usual delays. But it did mean we had to host an evening with friends in a half demolished house and my non-English speaking mother had to deal with Geordie builders during her visit from China. She was enjoying herself though.
Talking about my parents, all of September was taken up by preparing for their visit and by entertaining them while they were here. We had to book trains, hire cars, hire wheelchairs, look for “Miles without Stiles” walking routes for my semi-disabled mother in the Lake District etc etc. Yes best thing of all, we spent a whole week in the Lake District, for this reason I wished they could come every year. I only managed to post about Day One and Day Two of our stay so far: Fairfield Horseshoe and Catbells. More to come. We also had a day trip in Yorkshire, with a visit to Bettys Tea Room in Harrogate and a walk in Fountains Abbey. I also proudly took my parents to our very own concert hall in Newcastle (well, Gateshead), the Sage for a classical concert (Mozart, I vaguely remember).
In preparation for Christmas, more precisely, for the wanted and un-wanted presents, I started a new series of throwing-things-out sessions. A few invisible drawers and shelves were closely examined. All the stuff is dumped in a corner of a room. The area of that corner is taking up more and more space. I can only move things to charity shops a couple of bags at a time. I really wish people who put charity bags through the door would actually come and collect their bags!!
Talking about Christmas presents, there is a new hope this year called “wish list”. I discussed with my very British husband about this idea long time ago, but apparently this was a very un-British thing to do. So I wasn’t going to risk it since I was ultimately an outsider in this area. But this year, a website called Giftster came to rescue and this whole very un-British thing was camouflaged by the disguise of a Secret Santa. So the family is finally going to get what they really need/want for once. Hooray!
We went on a brief trip to Northern Ireland. It took me seven years living in the UK before I set foot in Northern Ireland, can you believe it. It was all because a friend from that part of the country told me that “there was nothing to see, go to Scotland instead”. So I did! But it was a lovely place which I’d love to go back with walking and camping gear.
If you’ve been following, you probably have seen the post about the Weekend Away in Scotland this year. It was a bible teaching weekend for International students from our church. But I missed all the talks and discussions, spent literally all hours in kitchen save sleeping, and a quick trip to the village shop for some clingfilm and kitchen foil. I heard complaints from people that they had to go on diet after the weekend. Great fun!
I joined our church choir this year for Advent Carols (finished) and Carols by Candlelight (coming!). I’m officially inviting you here if you’re around. Here is all the information you need to know: www.carolsbycandlelight.org.uk
Entertainment for the season:
Nodame Cantabile is a wonderful Japanese TV series – I wrote a whole essay about it here. Atsu Hime (Princess Atsu) is another Japanese TV series, a historical drama, beautifully produced. It has 50 something episodes, which sounds ridiculously long compared to the usual BBC production, but it was worth the time.
I watched a lot of films too: the annual Detective Conan film – Sunflowers of Inferno (cheesy but can’t miss), The Flowers of War (disturbing), The Hundred-Foot Journey (light-hearted, for food lovers), Julie & Julia (also for food lovers; I love Julie’s flat interior), God’s Not Dead (as it says in the title), Goodbye My Kindergarten (cute and unnecessarily tear-inducing), The Hobbit 1 (still prefer the book).
I scanned through three more books from Keigo Higashino, The Miracle in the Grocery Store, Dream Flower, When the Curtain of Prayer Descends. That’s enough from this author for me for now. I finished reading the Hobbit, loved it thoroughly. See my observations on this little book here. I’m in the middle of the second book of The Lord of the Rings books. I don’t like it as much as the Hobbit – big people are way too serious… I also finally finished reading Every Good Endeavour for the second time and I’ll try my best to write a post about it. Writing helps me to “solidify” the knowledge…
New recipes I tried include lamb tagine, veg lasagne, salmon coulibiac, mango chicken, banoffee tray bake, and lemon posset etc.
A big regret: I didn’t organise any portrait for autumn when all the leaves were golden on the pavement. It was too wet! (And I was too lazy…)
Looking very much forward to December!!