Thursday, 22 December 2011

Malaysian Joy - Christmas Treats

I truly love my job. Today I found out the names of 6 of my lucky students being given the opportunity to carry out their industrial placement next year in Malaysia. What a great Christmas present I've been able to offer them this morning. I was so pleased to be able to email them all this morning informing them the Company who wanted them and where they would be working and offering them this great opportunity not only to expand their degree knowledge but to live and work in a fantastic exciting country for a year on the other side of the world. The younger generation of today are so very lucky to be given the opportunity in Higher Education to do things like this. This type of thing just wasn't available when I was their age. I hope they grasp the opportunity with both hands fully. Malaysia is a fabulous country, the people are friendly, gracious and very helpful. I know the students who have been and are currently there, have a once in a lifetime experience and what great memories to have when they grow old. Lucky them and lucky me to be involved in such a privilege as this. Happy Christmas everyone, joy to all. :)

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Budgie's first love!

Just a little ditty to relate regarding one of my 2 budgies. Having done the usual daily change of water and seed for my 2 guys. I noticed Max the older of the two was attempting to bathe himself in his drinking water. Having tried the budgie bath in the past which he pointedly ignored I had given it up as a bad idea, now I thought I'd try the budgie bath again as he seemed quite keen to have a wash! I fitted the bath to the front of his cage but couldn't quite close the door, thus I left him to his own devices, thinking he may not want me to see him partaking of his ablutions and left the door open for him to fly around and dry himself off. Never known him to be so keen to have a bath and freshen up before - strange??

When returned from work Max was nowhere to be seen. I knew the place was closed up tight so he had'nt gotten out. I looked in all his usual perching places but no nothing. I checked the Christmas tree several times and the presents that lay at it's foot but no luck. One more check of the Christmas tree revealed he was there after all. How could one miss a blue budgie on a Christmas tree twinkling with lights and full of tree decs? Easy when you don't expect to see him cosying up to the fairy on the top that's how!! (Ah Hah - here lies the possible answer to Max's desperate attempt to bathe in his drinking water methinks!!) The fairy had a smile on her face but Max looked crestfallen at the possible rejection of his advances. Ah well the path of true love never did run smooth even at Christmas!! I just wish I'd taken a photo - next time may be. Must remember to keep the bird bath available for his next attempt at courtship with the Christmas Tree Fairy.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Arabian Nights (Where?) Party

Having worked hard all year, our little group of Stop Smoking Counsellors usually treat ourselves to a well-earned Christmas do. This year the organiser thought an Arabian Nights theme would make a change. Hmm interesting but worth a try. We ventured out on a wintry night excited at the prospect of an enchanting evening. We discovered we were one of 30 tables attending the event, our table being at the back of the dance hall. We had been ribbed for months we would need to be able to belly-dance amongst other things - the mind boggles - or should I say the tummy wobbles - and not necessarily in all the right places!! The tables were set up beautifully, the food was decidely English but good to eat. The bar was free drinks all night but as I don't drink, one can only take so much soft drink before the bloatedness starts to appear. My colleagues excitetedly tried the cocktails "Sex in the Sahara" or "Sex on the Magic Carpet". What did they consist of? Supposedly Vodka & Archers for the Sahara Version or Red wine and Cointreau for the magic Carpet. Surely they must be good? Well they would've been if they hadn't been two thirds fruit juice and lemonade my friends retort! The entertainment was NOT what we imagined nor was the decor of the dance hall. Expecting to be served by men and ladies in traditional costume, we were let down by the fact they wore the usual black and white serving uniforms; the belly dancers numbered 2, whom we never saw from our vantage point only their two heads and four hands, no bellies, nothing else. The decor consisted of 4 cardboard cut out palm trees, 1 very large stuffed woolly camel, 2 white cardboard cut out camels and one white cardboard camel driver!! As my colleague mentioned "not a lot of atmosphere here is there"? Well we had a good laugh about it, spent the evening letting it all hang out on the disco dance floor and were glad to see that some of us oldies could still out-dance and out-move the youngsters of the night and were still standing at the end of the evening enough to remember, what we ate, what we drank and who we went home with!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas Tree Dilemmas

Following on from my other Christmas blog. I bought a Christmas tree this weekend, very much the traditionalist, I still love the smell of pine in the home which always brings back memories of Christmasses past. On my way back from a Christmas shopping trip I saw signs for Christmas Trees chopped or rooted. Intrigued I followed them only to find a Christmas Tree nursery virtually on my doorstep which I never knew existed. As mentioned in my other blog, I just wanted the usual Christmas tree but oh no that's too easy!! I was met with a large field of several different tree plantations of trees, not just the bog standard Norway Spruce which we all know and love here, but other alternatives, were Blue Spruce, Normanndian (I think that's how it's spelt!!) and so on and so on!! Some drop needles, some don't, some hightly scented, some not. Different labels on different trees indicating the price you would need to pay except "a yellow label which you can't have because someone has already reserved it". Oh Lordy how much more confusing is this going to get! You could dig up your own, chop it down yourself (tempting to chop down the biggest on the plantation but better not) or get someone else to chop it down.I only wanted a little itsy bitsy tree for somewhere to put my presi's around, but I was faced with trees several metres tall!! I asked the very kind lady wearing the Santa hat who was trying to look Christmassy with a bit of tinsel around her sleeves and a bell on her head but very muddy butterfly boots (huh!!), "Do you have any small trees?" She looked at me blankly and said oh yes and pointed to one that was almost 5 feet tall!! Is it me? I'm thinking, "Actually, no I mean really small trees you know about 2 - 3 feet tall?" "Oh I don't know, we don't have much call for small trees these days" At which point I'm thinking yes it must be me or else she thinks I really tight-fisted and have no Christmas spirit at all!!

She takes me to the plantation owner who as a favour lets me choose from a plantation of nursery trees with the retort, "It's O.K. me duck, we try to please all our customers, you just choose the one you like". Oh relief, I'm then faced with the decision of a dropping needle or not, a blue or not oh I give up!! I resort to getting one chopped down whereas I always had a rooted one, but at this point I just wanted to get a tree and get it trimmed up with decs. Having chosen a very prickly blue spruce upon espying a colony of ladybirds over-wintering on it's top, decided I couldn't resort to damaging the wildlife being an eco-friendly type of person and had to choose another and went for a Normanndian. Get me out of here quick. At least the lady with the bell, hat and tinsel was offering treats of a mince pie, chocolates and/or some Damson Gin. Thus didn't have to decide on a mince pie, there was only one on offer but had to make a decision on the chocs., wasn't a problem just dived in and took my favourite before the beady-eyed little elf standing next to me pinched it!! Aah the joys of Christmas time!! :)

Grumpy Ole Woman - Christmas Choices

Today I'm putting on my Grumpy Ole Woman hat! I usually love all things Christmas, decorating, lights, carols, shopping and scrummy food! I am wondering this year "is it me?" In my childhood, Mince Pies for example only appeared a day or two before the big event, usually made by Mother's own fair hands with a little help from me - well those that ended up in the patty pan and not on the floor that is! Christmas Puds were made at least a year ahead and stayed in the pantry in it's ceramic bowl fermenting and soaking up all the wonderful juices that went into making Christmas Puds so special. The Christmas cake too had been made well in advance and only iced perhaps the night before to make it fresh and sweet. Small Stockings were hung up with a minimum amount of goodies in them usually an orange or tangerine in the foot of the stocking with an assortment of nuts, one or two little trinkets and that's about it. It gave me so much joy!

Now going into a store one is faced with the biggest array of food, toys, decs., cards etc., it sends the mind and eyes askew. For example, I'm not a great mince pie lover but thought this year I would treat myself to a few not having the time to make them these days. What was I faced with? About 20 different types of mince pie, from minis, alcohol laced, non alcohol laced, iced, unlidded, lidded, crimped, uncrimped, decorated, undecorated, children's pies, etc., and so the list goes on. All I wanted was a bog-standard mince pie for goodness sake and only a few not boxes of 9,12,16, 24, 48 - oh go away please! I like mince pies even less now!!

No wonder the world economies are in trouble with so many choices Christmas has lost it's purpose and it's meaning for many, many people. I'm convinced if we went back to limited ranges of everything, we would not be tempted to buy things we cannot afford or need right now because the choice just wouldn't be there. Food or other objects would not be wasted so much and the pressure would be off of all, for all sorts of reasons.

Bah humbug I hear some shout!! No not at all. Don't get me wrong I love my Christmas time as much as anyone else, the fun, the laughter, the over-indulgence and the pig-out factor that we suffer from but secretly delight in!! But let's get a grip and remember the true meaning of it and what it is meant to portray. Particularly when on the other side of the World half are starving and suffering through lack of the basic necessities of life. Happy Christmas everyone :)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Adding to the Gallery

Just adding to the Gallery in case you want something to look at today, some of my earlier efforts. The animal picture is a composite from photographs taken when privileged to go on a once in a liftime trip "On Safari" in Kenya,great memories and what an amazing place. Pic no. 2 is Cotswold country in the U.K. & Pic No. 3 is off the coast in the U.S.A. I consider myself really blessed to have visited some wonderful places in the World and hope to be able to continue the journeys, God willing:)