Friday 31 December 2010

The Tailor

This is my Maternal Grandfather. I don't have many pictures of him (sadly) and he left this  mortal coil about twenty years ago. I loved him. A lot.

He was a master tailor - and re-knowned here in Sheffield (scroll down the page to see some lovely comments)for the best suits. When I was a little girl we would go down to his shop to see him and there he'd be - fag in hand (always) tape measure around his neck and a piece of tailor's chalk in his pocket. He was a lovely man. He was a bit of a rogue - and left my grandmother for somebody else (which was practically unheard of in those days) but together they had four lovely children, My Mum and her twin sister, My Uncle Anthony and my Uncle Nick.

He had a big car and I remember breaking the electric windows by pushing a three-penny bit down the glass whilst sitting eating crisps and drinking pop outside the Three Merry Lads pub on a sunday afternoon. He used to take us to Endcliffe Park to go stickelback fishing.

He would buy us the best Christmas gifts - always expensive and wonderful - and when I was about five he took me to Manchester on the train (what an exciting day out) - to a toy shop - and let me choose a toy! I chose a Spirograph (remember those?) and to this day remember going for lunch with him in a posh hotel.

He made our overcoats when we were small - my brothers had a camel wool overcoat each and I had a matching cape. We looked simply divine!

Last night I was out with Jayne and we were chatting to one of Sheffield's most successful businessmen. For some reason the subject of my Grandad came up - and he was delighted to find out that I was his grand-daughter.... (he said I look like him!) He told me that the best suits he ever owned were made by my Grandad...and funnily enough - nearly every male I have ever spoken to (over the age of about 45) remembers with fondness their 'Billy Mackley' suit.

I loved my Grandad with all my heart when I was a little girl  and I'm sad that he's no longer here. When he passed I was honoured to be by his side - and later on we all sat in the waiting room of the place he died and drank whiskey to his memory. He liked a drop of Whiskey you see.

It's nice to know that he is still remembered so fondly by so many gentleman in this city for whom he sewed a suit.

God Bless Grandad. Sleep tight X

Tuesday 28 December 2010

It's not so difficult - now is it?

Today I purchased (with my Christmas cash) a slow cooker. Nothing special about that I hear you say...well if you bear in mind that I used to have one about ten years ago and haven't used one since - you'll realise that it's a monumental day.

When I lived with Voldemort (shudder) he was into cooking in a big way. He'd spend hours slaving over a hot stove, making a god-awful mess and 'pretending' that it was all rather difficult. He'd use every utensil and every pan...and the result was ...well....okay...but I have to say - nothing really special....If I cooked anything he would stand over me to 'make sure I was doing it right' (pillock).

Anyway - I downloaded this recipe - went and bought the stuff - bish bash bosh - and it was bloody lovely. Not difficult at all. Really...and if you remember that I created a delish Xmas lunch for eight people last week for the first time in about 25 years....well - I really can't see what all the fuss is about.

Jam-making (again)

This morning we went to Meadowhell. It was full of people, and then some. But we had to go so that I could go to 'Lakeland'. I know it's sad - but I wanted to spend my Christmas money on stuff to make jam.

I made jam last year in another life - and really enjoyed it...God only knows why it appeals so much - but I think it's because you can give it away. I know that might not make much sense - but I know what I mean.

Anyway I know have 4 dozen jam jars, labels and lids, a jam thermometer and a jam funnel. I also got a weighing scale (for the kitchen) a ladle, and a slow cooker.

Right now my cider, apple and chicken casserole is slow-cooking away nicely....and tomorrow - tomorrow I shall be boiling jam.

Perhaps I should get out more.

Sunday 26 December 2010

We had a lovely day:)

It was so nice to spend Christmas day with people who love you. Family, friends and lovely food, great booze and much merriment.

I had a lovely, lovely day....

Friday 24 December 2010

Felicitations of the Season

Hello ! Just got back from Tesco...was in there running round with the trolley at 7am (Madness). It wasn't too bad apart from the fact that they had run out of goose fat...can you imagine? Whoever is in charge of ordering needs a stern word. I bumped into a lady who had full make-up on and hair done and everything. I had my pyjamas on under my coat and woolly hat to disguise the horrific bed-hair. I managed the whole thing in 40 minutes and was back home by ten to eight - after an altercation with a bin lorry (why do they think that they own the entire road?).

Dan is still asleep - and I need to get on with things - I have vegetables to peel and everything. I admit to being a bit nervous about cooking the turkey - but it will either work out or it won't! I am not doing sprouts because I don't want the whole house to smell like a giant fart. And, what's more I can't think of anybody who actually likes sprouts... I certainly don't.

Just wanted to wish you all a very Happy Christmas with your families / friends and I hope that Santa brings you everything your heart desires.

Merry Christmas XX

Tuesday 21 December 2010

To my friends....

I know I'm always going on about this - but I just wanted to say it one more time before the end of the year. I'm talking about luck. My luck. I am one of the luckiest people alive. This year has shown me what truly lovely people are all about. I am so very very lucky because amongst my sphere of influence I have some of the nicest people alive.

Dan is home at the moment and I just simply adore her. She makes me laugh so much - today - we've been to Fiona's to help with the present wrapping and make our food shopping lists. We watched 'It's a wonderful life' and just never stopped laughing, at each other, with each other and at the world and the situation in general. Fiona has been my absolute rock this year - together with Liz, and Su. I must almost mention Mrs Morris who has dried more tears than should be legal and listened to me droning on and on every Friday night since the early spring....the eyes are now dry and the droning has been replaced by laughter - and I hope that our Friday nights continue until we're too old to go out without assistance. This week also I have been the grateful recipient of a massive act of kindness. I am so very, very grateful to know who you are.

Also on my 'Thanks to You' list is Jopa, Bill, Ches, Nicola , Katie, Christian, Victoria, Helen and Andrew, Helen and Ernie, Kim, Moya and Lisa and Lisa, and many, many more.

Every single day I am surrounded by love, warmth and kindness from all of these lovely folk. All of them have been there for me when I have needed them. Without question. I am amazed by the love.

My dearest friends...I want to thankyou from the bottom of my heart for being there for me this year and I want to wish you all a very very happy Christmas.

List Day

Well - today is list day. Let me explain. I am responsible for cooking a Christmas lunch for eight people this year. I have no bloody clue how that came about apart from the fact that I had a moment of weakness, felt sorry for my dear old Mother and decided to take the reins. I have an aged Aunt and Uncle who would have had to stay by themselves - so invited them too. Add to that mix my dear friend Su who is coming up from Birmingham - and that means a grand total of eight. Problem? Well, apart from the fact that I have a dining room table that seats four - six at a squeeze - and not enough crockery or cutlery - and you can begin to imagine what I'm facing. Couple that with the fact that my bathroom pipes are frozen and my wash hand basin hasn't emptied since Saturday...and the fact that I haven't cooked a turkey for over 25 years...and you can see why I might need to make a list....and that's just the start of it.
So - later today I'm off to Fiona's - we're going to sit down with pen and paper and create a shopping list - I don't have to buy the turkey or the pork - somebody else is bringing trifle and Christmas pudding - so all I have to buy is vegetables, milk and bread, oh yes - cranberry sauce, butter, bread, cheese, fruit, cream (double and single), custard...and so on...
Much concentration required - so we're making the list while drinking wine and watching 'It's a Wonderful Life'....

Sunday 12 December 2010

Tears in lay-by

Well - the title kind of says it all doesn't it? Let me explain. Today I was due to meet La Famiglia for Sunday lunch. Dear Uncle Nick and his lovely wife were coming down from the North East to see us all - and so it was planned. The venue - a wee public house in Bradwell. How far is Bradwell?...well you pop along Woodseats, along Abbey Lane - through the lights..up to Bents Green - turn left at High left down Hangingwater...up to Crosspool - round the back - down Hagg Hill..along Rivelin - and out the other side to Bradwell. Fifteen - twenty minutes max.

Lunchtime meet - scheduled for 1.30pm. I left the house at 1pm - set my sat nav with the postcode and went off down Chesterfield Road towards town....down by the Railway Station and out along the Whicker.

(If you don't live in Sheffield you will have no idea what I am talking about...but suffice to say It's like setting off north on the M6 if you're trying to get to London).

I went past the Northern General and was almost in Ecclesfield before I realised that I was going in completely the wrong direction.

I phoned my brother - no answer. I phoned our answer...Then I turned around and had to come all the way back to Hillsborough Corner..and then I realised that my brain wasn't working and I was hopelessly lost.

It's ridiculous because I do know the way - I knew where I was and I knew where I had to get to - but my brain just completely emptied of all factual information relating to destinations...I parked in a lay-by and waited and thought. For about ten minutes. Then my brother called me back and we decided I was in Stannington. Talk about a blonde moment:)

He came to get me in his car - and in the meantime - while I was waiting I sobbed my socks off. I won't tell a fib - this year has been absolutely my annus horribilis...I've had a crap year full of sadness, stress and worry - and it was as if the fact that I couldn't get around my home town and reach my destination - was the very last straw. I sat and cried, and cried, and cried some more.

Eventually he found me - we went to the restaurant and had a top afternoon with all my lovely family - but just as I sat in that lay-by for ten minutes - all alone and hopelessly lost - I honestly thought I was finally losing my mind.

How weird is that?...because everybody who knows me - knows that I actually lost it a long time ago!

Sunday 5 December 2010

Another good read

I am reading a lot of late. Probably because the dire weather prevents many adventures outside the confines of my four walls. Only necessary journeys. No popping out to do mindless things of no importance. Staying home and doing mindless things of no importance is the order of the day (or the week).

I have just read this book. I didn't even know I had it in the house. While scouring my book shelves for something entertaining - ie not some crappy self-help book about the pangs and yearnings (and how to deal with them) of middle aged ladies...but something light...and laughy...and witty...without too much thinking to occupy my time and mind...I stumbled across this. I must have bought it some time ago because I really didn't recognise it.

Anyway I read it - and am truly delighted that I did. Apparently it's been turned into a film. Not that I'll be watching it - not a fan of books made into films...they just never seem to get it quite right.

Anyway - the book is lovely. Truly lovely. Marks? 9 out of 10.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Weather Report

We are gripped in the midst of the worse winter weather for over 100 years. Over the last 48 hours Sheffield has been blessed with over 12 inches of snow. Fortunately for me my lovely big tonka truck can get most places in the snow - so I have been doing my bit for care in the community!

Tuesday saw me driving all around Sheffield rounding up the aged relatives who were going to Las Vegas and needed to get to London. They were going to drive down - but we booked them on the train - then the problem was getting to the station...mission accomplished - eventually - and off they went.

Yesterday was spent collecting a few friends and taking them to Tesco. Christian lives on a hill in a place where a gritter would never venture - and they had about a foot of snow. He did advise not even trying to drive down his road - but I did - and it was a success. Off we went to Tesco and stocked up on groceries....I nearly killed a few pedestrians - but then discovered the car horn and quite enjoyed blasting it at people on an ongoing basis. Mind you - you should have seen the looks I got!

I was at the point where 'showing off' was the order of the day - that was - until I got well and truly stuck in Fiona's next door neighbour's drive while attempting a three point turn. Two shovels, twenty minutes and two knackered daft old bats later - and finally I was free.

Came home - cooked tea - lit a coal fire and watched the weather on the news!

This morning I'm off to Dronfield to collect Helen who hasn't opened her shop for two days.....

More snow forecast for today and tonight........

However - I do love the snow - I love the disruption - I love the way thet people just get on with it and do whatever they need to do to carry on....and let's face it - without the British Weather...what on earth would we talk about??

Beautiful New life