Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 17 - Toys & Games

Each week there are prompts which require answering.

Week 17 - Toys & Games

I still have a teddy bear which I received on my first birthday that I fondly loved for many a year, but I cannot remember my FIRST toy or game. I have recently moved the rest of my belongings from my parents old house including a bag of my dolls and bears, which I need to decide what to do with.

I remember having lots of toys as a child and here are some of them:
  • A plastic toy garage
  • Play mats of towns and cities to use toy cars on
  • Lego
  • Craft sets to make candles and knit things etc
  • Lots of teddies and dolls, but some favourites were Sophie & Herbert

Growing up we used to play lots of board games especially on wet days, when we couldn't play outside. Our favourite board game was Monopoly which we played to death, now this is a board game we rarely touch (probably because it was overplayed when I was a child).

My husband and I found love over playing the board game Settlers of Catan and since then have bought many more expansions and other games which we love to play with friends of ours. For Christmas this year we received a new expansion for Settlers of Catan which will re-kindle our love of the game for another year at least.

I have a cuddly toy owl which my great aunt once gave me, she is no longer with us so it is a good memory of her,  but other than that I can't think of any other old toys I have of either my parents or grandparents.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

December's Interesting Blogs

FindMyPast - New Parish Records Available To Search

Want to search parish records, see what's new on FindMyPast.

The Armchair Genealogist - Transform Your Family History Into A Book

Technology to use to publish that book about your family.

British Newspaper Archive - Friday the 13th

What has the world said in the past about Friday the 13th?

The British GENES Blog - Surrey & West Yorkshire Electoral Registers on Ancestry.com

Looking for relatives in West Yorkshire and Surrey, you might now be able to search them on the electoral registers on Ancestry.co.uk

British Newspaper Archive - Your BNA Family History Stories - Millers, Bakers, Blacksmiths and Firemen in Lincolnshire in the 18th and 19th Century's

A really interesting tale of someone's ancestors from Lincolnshire by using the British Newspaper Archives.

Friday, 27 December 2013

20% off BNA subscriptions

British Newspaper Archives are also promoting themselves with a 20% discount on their subscriptions before Monday 6th January 2014.

Use the code: TREASURE on the British Newspaper Archives site.

Lots of opportunities for cheaper holiday researching to be done!

Free Credits for FINDMYPAST.CO.UK

Finding that during the holiday season you have plenty of free time on your hands?

Why not do some family history researching on FindMyPast.co.uk as they're giving away 30 free credits with the promotional code: XMAS13.

I've signed up for mine, make sure you get yours before 2nd January 2014.

They're also doing a 20% off subscriptions with the code: SANTA13.

Go on you know you want to!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 24 - Christmas Eve

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

As a child, Christmas Eve was when the festivities really kicked off. We would arrive at the house of my grandparents or they would arrive at our house with lots of bags and parcels. Sometimes if my mum was busy tidying the house for the arrival of guests, my dad would be given the task of keeping us occupied, which often involved a long walk to tire us out enough to sleep well on Christmas Eve night.

Today, I often end up working Christmas Eve so the festivities do not begin until after work, a time when I can put up my feet or finish off the little bits that need preparing before the day itself arrives, including last minute Christmas wrapping!

We rarely went to a Christmas Eve service at church, although I think we'll go to a midnight one this year, as we are at home and our home church is putting a service on.

This year, I am working Christmas Eve morning, so will go out for lunch with my husband, before coming home to sort the last minute jobs and then we have some friends coming for dinner and a board game.

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 16 - Message in a Bottle

Each week there are prompts which require answering.

Week 16 - Message in a Bottle

I love the thought of finding someone's message in a bottle, but I'm unsure whether I would like to send a message in a bottle. The thought of details about me floating about in the ocean for years to come is not particularly appealing, I would want a response more immediately and would get impatient waiting. I would always wonder where it would be, I think it would be a great task to do with children, as they may be even able to develop a pen-friendship with someone somewhere in the World.

I do not live near the sea but we are within a few hours drive of both the east and west coastlines of northern England, so it would be a feasible task, but it's not something I am going to do imminently.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 23 - Meaning of Christmas

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Christmas means so much to me in so many ways. 

Firstly, Christmas is very important to me from a spiritual perspective. I am a Christian who believes that Christmas is a time to reflect on the birth of Jesus, a very special baby who was born in a stable to perform miracles and teach about God's character before eventually dying on the cross so that I am forgiven and free. It is a time to remember love, peace and joy and to reflect on what this means in my life at present.

I also love Christmas due to the coming of the New Year, so it is a great time when there is time and space away from the usual weekly routine to reflect on where I'm going in life and over what has happened during the last year.

It is a great opportunity to spend time with family as most people all have holiday at the same time. I love my family and do not have enough opportunities to catch up with them.

I love the giving of gifts, by being able to show my gratitude to friends, family and colleagues for all they do for throughout my life. Giving should not be about expectant receiving back, but about showing someone how much you truly appreciate them, whether thats by giving time or money or your skills, it doesn't matter, but I believe we have grown a little too materialistic about Christmas. If I have enough time, I love to make presents for people and love the opportunity to be creative.

I also love receiving gifts and am blessed in abundance each year, by my friends and family.

I love the feeling of warmth that Christmas brings, where it is cold outside and being able to snuggle up and play games or watch films in doors with the family sitting around a snug fire, I love the way in which Christmas brightens up the darkest days of the year.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 22 - Christmas Homecoming

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

I have travelled home from university to my parents house in years gone by at Christmas and as a child we sometimes travelled to my grandparents for Christmas. 

In 2004, I spent Christmas away from the family in Brazil which was hard but we had a Christmas Day planned phone call home to speak to everyone. 

My brother currently lived overseas with his young family and it would be lively to see them come home for Christmas although not this year, but I am sure they will in the future. I intend on Skype-ing my brother on Christmas Day to wish him a very merry Christmas. 

I miss my grandparents (who passed away 5 years ago) at Christmas and would so dearly love them to come home for Christmas. I remember a good many magical Christmas' with them when I was a child, those memories I store closely in my heart.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 21 - Christmas Wishes

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

I rarely make a Christmas wish as such, but I do like to spend some time reflecting at Christmas.

I like to think about where I've been and where I am going in the year ahead, and as a Christian I spend time with God reflecting.

But a Christmas wish is not something I generally do.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 20 - Christmas Parties

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

I usually love a good party.

My husband and I at my RED party
As a child there would always be the Church Christmas party with the same old traditional games each year, including a visit from Santa with presents for the children given under the Christmas tree. I remember as a small child my dad's parents would often put on a New Year's Day gathering (not a full party as such though) with their family and close friends.

In the past when nothing much has been happening at New Year I have thrown a small New Year's Eve party at my home, but sometimes that can be hard work, so we try and find something to do out and about instead.

I once held a Christmas house-warming party in early December with a red theme, to match the colour of my new living room but also as my initials used to be RED before I married. I remember that being a lot of fun.

I always love a good work Christmas party as well and try and go to one if I can.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 19 - Christmas Gifts

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

We always give gifts to our immediate family - parents, siblings and partners, nephews and nieces. We try to be creative if we can but that is always time consuming, so some years we do not have the time.

Image Link - www.ContainsModeratePeril.com
We also buy for some of our close friends and work colleagues but often something small and if we can creatively homemade, this year we made....ooo I can't tell you yet its not quite Christmas!

We always have some nice Christmas wrapping paper but do not go all out with the ribbons, etc as it would take us hours to wrap all the presents. I prefer wrapping presents than buying bags for them though, as it is fun sitting with the Christmas music blasting whilst we wrap.

My husband and I have a stocking each which we both fill with lots of lovely small treats.

We tend to buy many presents from our family's Amazon wishlists, but they generally consist of books, DVDs, CDs, toys for the kids (and some of the bigger kids too!), mugs, candles, chocolate, pretty nicety's for the girls etc.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 18 - Christmas Baking

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Now, Christmas baking is always really important to me. I love baking and cooking and would eat Christmas treats all year round if I could as I love the winter spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves etc. Although I am yet to make a real fruit Christmas cake, but one year I will be organised enough to give it a go.

In the future, I would like to attempt making my own Mince Meat for Mince Pies and Cranberry Sauce, or interesting cranberry cakes, as well as a traditional Christmas cake.

Spiced Bramley Apple Cupcakes
Each year we try to make some creatives presents for people which often involve edibles and Christmas baking. I cannot tell you what we have made yet this year for it will spoil some people's presents, but watch out for some post-Christmas blog posts about Christmas present treats which I've made.

Last year we made and packaged lots of homemade cookies with Smarties in them to give as presents.

I will be sharing the recipes after Christmas on my other blog These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things, so watch this space!

About a month ago I did make some delicious Spiced Bramley Apple Cupcakes which were a delicious winter treat . . . for the recipe see Foody Friday - Spiced Bramley Apple Cupcakes.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 17 - Christmas Stories

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Every year I read the story of Jesus's birth in the Bible from the Gospels and also what was prophesised about Jesus's birth in Isaiah. As a Christian, I feel it's important to remind myself of this story each year and spend some time reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas around the hussle and bussle of buying presents, and creating the perfect meal.

I rarely read many books so I guess I don't have any favourite stories, but I remember as a child the story of "Papa Panov" the shoemaker by Leo Tolstoy was always around at Christmas. I have never read any of the classics such as A Christmas Carol although I know the stories from films and theatre productions.

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 15 - SNOW

Each week there are prompts which require answering. 

Week 15 - SNOW

I grew up in the south Pennines in the UK, so most winters we would have one or two good snowfalls, which we could enjoy.

I suspect I would have been very young when I first experienced snow but I had no first memory of snow. 

A fresh snowfall a few years ago from our kitchen window at night
When it snowed as children we occasionally had a day or two off school, or play days at school watching videos in the school hall if not all the staff could get in. We would always find time to go sledging in the park and rather than build a snowman we would opt for an igloo (not that we ever made one particularly successfully!), but it was fun at the time. We would be allowed to help my dad clear our paths and the elderly neighbours paths as well. If snow fell on a Sunday morning, on the way to church dad would pull us along on the sledge. I still have a sledge in my basement with which my father made for us. It needs some TLC now though. 

I hate snowball fights for at school people would just blast you with them at full force ignoring the fact that they had often created ice balls and bloody well hurt if they hit you.

Up to a few years ago, snow on a weekday filled me with dread as I had 30 mile commute in the car across the Pennines to work, but now with a lesser commute it is less frightening.

If it snows on a non-weekday though I would drop everything to go and sledge on the miniature golf course at our local park with our friends. I bought an expensive sledge for my husband one Christmas which is really fast and he lives it.

I love waking up to see a fresh covering of snow, as it makes the world feel a much brighter place. Everything looks clean and fresh and smooth as if the world has been cleansed. I love an early morning walk in the park whilst most people are snug in their beds, through the fresh crunching snow under your feet. I love wrapping up really snug and warm to go out.

Last year in January, my husband and I went to see the Lion King musical in Manchester, but whilst we had been in the show it had started snowing very heavily. We live in Bradford and had to get home and got stuck on the motorway near Rochdale for a few hours. We got home eventually at 2am and it was beautiful seeing the world so fresh and white long before anyone else would wake up. You can read a blog post about this at RuthHogan.Blogspot.co.uk.

View from the top of Porter's Ski Field, NZ

We both love skiing and have enjoyed a number of holidays in the snow of the Alps in Europe and in the ski fields of New Zealand (to read more about our adventures in New Zealand see my other blog RuthHogan.blogspot.co.uk). In fact we plan a trip to Germany in January 2014 to see our newest niece, Amelie but also to get some winter skiing in there as well.

Lake Coleridge from the top of Porter's Ski Field, NZ

Monday, 16 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 16 - Christmas Travel

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

The song "Driving Home For Christmas" by Chris Rae always reminds me of Christmas travel to see family.

As children, we always had Christmas at our house or at my maternal grandparents house. I remember if my grandparents came to stay with us my grandmother would always worry about it snowing and that she would not be able to travel home again. The journey to my maternal grandparents was only an hour drive so not far away and I have very few recollections of the actual journeys.

I remember coming home from university at Christmas, that was always fun. We would save decorating the tree until we were all home for Christmas. Since, I have moved away from the childhood home I have still rarely travelled far for Christmas but we often visit my parents-in-law during the festive season and the journey there is always fun, an adventure...and for my husband a chance to DRIVE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 15 - Christmas Tree Decorations

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

My parents always used the same Christmas decorations every year, especially on the tree with perhaps a couple new additions each year. We had some really beautiful little wooden sleighs and angels which hung on the tree and were really pretty, alongside some multicoloured Christmas lights, which were either on or off, not like the tree lights you can get today which flash with different options. There were a few angels for the top, a few of them we had made as young children, so we had to choose which one would decorate the top every year. We had lots of glass baubles and stained glass Christmas shapes which hung on the tree as well, with gold and silver tinsel.

Since, my husband and I married we have inherited some of my grandparents old tree glass baubles and we bought a very special angel in New Zealand which always hangs somewhere on the tree. It is made from Paua shell and sparkles purpley/blue. It is so beautiful. In time I hope we will acquire a few more to make the tree bring memories of previous years. This year we have not put a tree up as we are trying to sell our house and do not have any space for a tree, which is sad but in the future we will put one up.

Our New Zealand angel made from Paua shell (photo from 2012)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 14 - Christmas Cookies

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

I think this must be a very American prompt for in the UK we do not have Christmas cookies as such, so I have no memories of this.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 13 - Christmas at School

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Christmas at school was always fun and interesting which makes this post hard as there are sooo many memories!

I went to a church primary school so there would always be some kind of nativity performance at the local Anglican church. I remember one year doing a performance of the alternative version of the 12 days of Christmas in the school, I was one of the 7 swimmers swimming, my younger brother was some kind of punk rocker or something?! I remember also doing a play when I was very young about trolls and being some kind of farm animal in it. Another year I remember doing a Lancashire themed evening where I dressed up in traditional Lancashire costumes and sang local dialect songs, but whether this was a performance for a different time of year or at Christmas I cannot remember. I was quite shy so never played a main character but it was fun all the same. The nativity plays at the church and the plays in the school we would be able to invite our family's to come and watch. As I was older I was often involved with the music in some way, whether it was recorder or clarinet or drums or something. Although I remember, the memories are all a bit vague and higgledy piggedly in my mind. 

At Primary school, I also remember enjoying the Christmas school discos as well and all the Christmas crafts, some of which I must have kept somewhere. We would make presents to give to our parents and cards or calendars. There were lots of days coming up to Christmas with lots of art and glitter and mess for the teachers. There would always be a Christmas school meal with turkey and the trimmings where all the school sat in the hall together and festive music would blast out of the speakers.

Later in Secondary school, Christmas could pass you by without too much interest. I was involved with music quite heavily at school so there was always some opportunity to perform somewhere with the school orchestra or wind band. I remember many visits to nursing homes and other places to perform. The music teacher often had us out of other lessons near Christmas to practice a performance or to visit a nursing home, but it was always great fun. I am not sure you could get away with some much time out of standard lessons now, like you could when I was at school. One fond Christmas school memory was of performing "The Snowman" with full narration and music, I loved it.

If I searched high and low I could probably find a photo or two but at present I do not have time.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 12 - Fruit Cake - Friend or Foe?

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

I am a BIG FRIEND of fruit cake, I love it!!! But there is one condition, it has to be served with cheese and if it was my grandad speaking it would have to be Red Leicester cheese, but I prefer Mature Cheddar. Yes, this might sound odd if you've never tried it but it is AMAZING!!! It is a good Yorkshire tradition to eat fruit cake with cheese.

Unfortunately, I've never made a fruit cake, but I intend to find a good recipe and attempt it one day, and I wish I had asked my grandma for her recipe before she died as well.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 11 - Christmas at Church

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Throughout my life, I have always involved with a church which made the Christmas period so much busier but fun.

I always loved being involved with the Christmas carol services whether I was doing a reading or playing some music or singing. A Christmas Carol service always gets me into the festive spirit.

As a child, the church I grew up in would have lots of interesting services and events leading up to Christmas. There was:

  • Carol service
  • Children's nativity play
  • The choir would sing a festive musical
  • Christmas Day morning service 
  • Christmas party. 
Some years we would visit local nursing homes to sing to the elderly residents or perform a little play. 

As I got a bit older I was involved in the church band and choir so there was always lots of things to practice in the lead up to Christmas. 

The church I attend now is very creative and we try to do something different every year with the surrounding community. Last year we took people on a Christmas nativity journey through the park with various scenes acted out along the route. This year I'm involved with the puppets performance of A Bethlehemian Rhapsody, as well as a Winter Fayre with the local museum. There is always a Carol service, Christmas Eve midnight service and a Christmas morning service as well.

A few years ago the adults dressed up as the nativity and we drove round the area on the back of a flat-bed van singing Christmas Carols and giving out chocolate. Lots of fun things for the community to come to and join in with.

Christmas Nativity 2010

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 10 - Christmas Traditions

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

I do not feel that I have many Christmas traditions now but as a child we had traditions although I have not kept many.

Christmas traditions we had as a child are:

  • eat turkey with vegetables (inc sprouts & parsnips), potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffing, bread sauce, Yorkshire puddings and lots of gravy with Christmas pudding or Christmas cake for dessert
  • watch Queen's speech at 3pm
  • play a board game or two
  • spend Christmas day with my maternal grandparents
  • go out for a Christmas day stroll
  • go to church Christmas morning
  • go to a Carol service at some point in the lead up to Christmas
  • open our presents on Christmas morning

Christmas traditions I like to keep:
  • eat turkey roast as above (but this is dependant on who's cooking)
  • play a board game
  • spend Christmas with family members
  • go to a Carol service
  • open our presents on Christmas morning

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 14 - Special People (Family)

Each week there are prompts which require answering. 

Last weeks post when I had to plan a dinner party but could not include family I found it quite difficult as there are so many of my ancestors I want to meet, so I have found this weeks post much easier.

For my dinner party this week I would invite:

  • John Davidson (c1800-c1838), my great, great, great, great grandfather - he his a puzzle and brick wall in my family research, which is one of the main reasons I want to meet him. He was a musician in the Royal Marines, so I want to know more about his time with them. I want to know how, why and when he died, who his parents were, where was he born, had he lived in Woolwich, London as a child? I want to find out more about the origins of our Davidson ancestors, were we of Jewish origin or the Scottish clan, Davidson? How did he live daily, what was his house like? Did he enjoy his career? (To read about what I know already about John Davidson see Chapter 1 of The Davidson Family)

  • Harold Vernon Poole, my great grandfather - he was a dear father to my grandmother and died only weeks after my father was born, so my father has no memories of him. Since my grandmother passed away I feel as if I have no one to talk to about him. He fought in France in World War I and whilst he was there his mother suddenly past away and his father remarried a few months later. I would love to know more about Harold's feelings towards his father, mother's death and new step-mother, for I know Harold chose to have very little to do with his father throughout my grandmothers life. What exactly caused that rift? Were there more secrets no-one else understood? Also I'd love to ask questions about his years in France and what it was like for him.

Grandad with Spider

  • Dennis Sutcliffe, my grandfather - I had a very good relationship with all my grandparents but especially do with my grandfather, but I never asked him enough about his early childhood and his years fighting in France and Africa during World War II. I have recently found photos of him with a friend called Spider, but who was he? Where they know one another from?

  • William Presswood, my great, great, great, great grandfather - he committed suicide in 1841 which was really sad but the newspaper cutting about his death, says he was fighting illness, had to raise a large young family and the workhouse was looking eminent for them. What desperate measures caused him to make that decision to end his life? How was life before he died? What was the reality of the workhouse like? How could he have been helped? Was he ashamed he could not provide for his family? I would also send him home with a doggy bag to feed all his young hungry mouths.

  • Mary Skipper York (1857-?), my great, great great grandmother - she had an illegitimate child, Alice York (my great, great grandmother). I would love to know who the father was of her child, as she was working in domestic service at the time, so I often wonder whether she was taken advantage of at work or whether she had a one night stand in her youth? 

  • John Davidson (1832-1897), my great, great, great grandfather - he was the son of the John Davidson named first on the list.  He moved his young family from Poplar in London to Hull in East Yorkshire, so I would love to ask him why they moved? I also want to know more about his childhood, as he lost his father at a young age and his mother remarried, how did he and the rest of the family cope with these life changes.

  • Jessie Ephas Wilcock (1844-?), my great, great, great grandmother - she has such an unusual name I would love to go back and ask about how she came to be called Ephas? Although she may not know why, so perhaps asking her mother or even her grandparents might be better alternative? I would love to ask about her family as well, as again she was another illegitimate child in my ancestry, so did she have any knowledge of who her father was?

  • Edward Sutcliff(e) (c1818-c1895), my great, great, great grandfather - I am struggling to find any further information about him and his parents, so I would love to ask him who were his parents. I would also love to know more about him and his life, as he moved about an awful lot, was this due to work or another reason? He lived in West Yorkshire, in which the surname Sutcliffe is fairly common and makes researching incredibly difficult, but I want to be able to trace this family line back further, as I am sure there is much more to learn.

I would just love to learn so much more about the everyday lives of each & everyone of my ancestors, did they go to school, can they read, what was life like for them, what were their houses like, etc?

I would cook my beautiful BEEF GOULASH with rice, as I feel my Victorian ancestors would be better suited to a good beef stew, although I would serve it with rice, although I am unsure how common rice was to the Victorian's.

My beef goulash

Monday, 9 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 9 - Christmas Crafts

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

My sister-in-laws handmade Christmas cards 2013
Maria's Blog

I love the idea of making a present for someone and my sister-in-law is definitely the Queen of Crafts (see her blog at MariaInTheWood), but I struggle to find enough time to sit and make things. I love the idea of it though and do like to wander through a few craft fairs to get ideas or to buy some nice handmade products.

We have tried to make some crafty presents this year as we're a bit shorter on cash than we have been previously, so it seems a nice way to save a few pennies. I cannot tell you what we have made yet as I'll be telling all my lovely friends and family what they might be receiving for Christmas.

As children, I remember making Christmas cards, cookies, decorations (which my parents still have!) and small presents, especially at primary school it was always encouraged to make something to take home and give to your parents for Christmas.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 8 - Christmas Shopping

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

As the year goes on, if I see a great present for someone I do tend to buy it, as there is nothing worse than it being Christmas Eve and have no clue what to buy for someone!

Image link
I'm never very decisive at what to buy for someone and struggle for ideas so I am loving the Amazon wishlist's.

I must admit though I find Christmas shopping quite stressful, so we often go shopping for ideas but buy most of it online now. As we don't see a lot of the family over the holiday season, if there is a family gathering later in the year the family will exchange most of their presents to save on postage, so this year we had bought most of our presents and given them by the beginning of November, it was a great relief to know that side of Christmas was practically sorted. Although we still have a few presents to buy for my side of the family.

I remember once as a young-ish child going into Leeds city centre with my mum's parents for Christmas presents, but it was certainly not a tradition as it was only done ONCE in my memory, perhaps it was a bit too stressful. My mum was very organised at buying presents throughout the year as she saw them and keeping track of what she bought for people year on year.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 7 - Christmas TV & Movies

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Wallace & Gromit
(Photo Link - Wikipedia, User: Martin451, 1 May 2013.)
On Christmas Day, it was compulsory to sit through the Queen's Speech at 3pm, but as a child I found this somewhat boring.

We used to watch and record many of the favourite films which were appearing on the TV set for the year. The Snowman has been on the TV every Christmas throughout my childhood, so we would always watch this, along with Wallace and Gromit. 

As a teenager I was a mad addict to the soaps and there would always be an exciting, dramatic storyline at Christmas which I could not pull myself away from.

As students, it became a tradition to watch Love Actually every year in the lead up to Christmas.

Nowadays, we tend to watch whatever DVDs we have received as gifts from family.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 6 - Santa Claus

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Santa Claus
(Photo Link - Wikipedia, Jonathan G Meath, 13 Nov 2010)

St Nicholas day today, but I was never encouraged to believe in Santa Claus as a child, so always remember knowing he was someone 'normal' dressed up.

My only real memory of visiting Santa was at the Christmas fair at the school where my father taught when I was getting quite a big child, probably nearing 10 years old, so I definitely knew he wasn't real but when he asked me what I wanted for Christmas, my mind went blank and I could not think of anything to ask him for. It was quite embarrassing and as quite a shy child anyways I just wanted to get out of that grotto as fast as I could. Santa did give me a present though and when I unwrapped it on Christmas day it was a Mr Blobby cuddly toy. I loved Mr Blobby for many years and he is still in my bedroom at my parents house even now.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 5 - Christmas Recipes

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Both my grandmother and mother were amazing cooks and they would always make a selection of amazing homemade foods:

(Photo Link - Wikipedia, Author: TheKohser, 21 Nov 2007
  • Christmas puddings
  • Christmas cakes - fruit cakes which were beautifully decorated
  • Mince pies
  • Cakes of many, many varieties
  • Sandwiches
  • Snacks
  • PLUS the amazing TURKEY ROAST with ALL the trimmings, pigs in blankets, vegetables, potatoes, stuffing, Yorkshire puddings, bread sauce, etc.

There would also always be a local butchers Yorkshire pork pie on the table as well.

My favourite part of Christmas food is the bread sauce, I could eat loads of it if I was given the chance.

Unfortunately, these recipes have not been passed down and I have not done Christmas enough times yet to find my own favourite recipes and dishes... although my mum once told me that it was the old Be-Ro recipe book in which my grandmother used for her baking, so we'll have to try that out one year.

There were family rumours that my grandmother used to add a little gravy browning to her Christmas puddings & cakes to make them lovely and dark in colour.

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 13 - Special or Iconic People

Each week there are prompts which require answering. 

Week 13 - Special or Iconic People

I found this quite a challenging blog post to think about, but here goes...

I would invite to a dinner party (although the more I thought about it the more I'd like to invite people one person at once so I could talk to each of them in great depth) are:

  • William Wilberforce - MP who pushed through parliament the abolition of the slave trade - as I truely admire the difficulties he went through to gain justice for the slaves, plus I love the film Amazing Grace and would to ask him how accurate a portrayal that was.

  • Jesus - I am a Christian and have so many questions to ask him about the miracles he did and what his upbringing was like, how did he feel when his parents left him in Jerusalem? Did he feel powerful or different from the rest of the men? Did he do naughty things growing up?

  • John Newton - composer of Amazing Grace - I love the song Amazing Grace as the lyrics are written right from the heart. I would love to ask him questions about his time of the slave ships and how he came to know God? What was his testimony?

  • Queen Elizabeth II - I would love to speak to her about her reign, how she felt as a young girl growing up knowing that one day she would become queen, whether she felt ready when her father died? Perhaps controversially to others, I would like to tell her I think she's been a great queen (although I know others might disagree?!) and would love to know more about her faith.

  • Peter Jackson - film director of Lord of the Rings & Hobbit films - to tell him how wonderful the films are which he directed and what an amazing country he has had the privilege to grow up in. I would live to know where he started and how he climbed up the career ladder so high, so I could help my husband in his career path as an animator and even get him a role on one of his next movies. He also seems as if he's quite a character and like he would be fun at a dinner party.

    The Elton John concert we went to at the new Leeds
    Arena - September 2013
  • A professional genealogist - someone to be able to talk to about all my brick walls who could answer my questions, help and guide me to find the records I require to go further with my family tree.

  • Adam & Eve - to find out what the world was like before sin entered into it, so I can get an idea about what heaven may also be like and better!

  • Elton John - to show him how much I love his music, so he can help inspire me with music again.

I would probably cook a good old traditional roast dinner with Yorkshire puddings!

A beautiful traditional British roast minus a good Yorkshire pudding

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 4 - Christmas Lights

Our Christmas Tree Lights 2012

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Christmas Lights seem to make those dark days sparkle. I like lights on the Christmas tree and sometimes put multicoloured lights in the house windows but am not a fan of massive lights all over my house.

I love using candles at this time of year as well to brighten those dark days and love the gentle flicker of light they give. It makes me feel warmer inside.

Some people love to put loads of lights up around and outside their homes and sometimes people compete to have the most, which makes their house like a sparkling Santa's Grotto.

Advent Calender of Christmas Memories - Day 3 - Christmas Music

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Music is something that really makes me tick and being able to sing, play clarinet and join in generally at Christmas is really important to me.

These are some of my favourite Christmas pop songs:

Feed The World Logo
(Image link: www.wikipedia.org, Author: Ecallow,  9 Dec 2012)
  • Fairytale of New York by The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
  • Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid
  • All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
  • White Christmas by Bing Crosby
  • Happy Christmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon
  • Driving Home for Christmas by The Christmas Party Singers
  • I'm Walking In The Air (from the Snowman) by Howard Blake

My favourite carols are:
  • Oh Holy Night by Adolphe Adam
  • Song of Solomon by Martin Smith
  • O Come O Ye Faithful by John Frances Wade
  • In The Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by William B. Sandys

Most of my favourite songs are favourites due to significant memories of Christmas's past, for example, last Christmas Martin Smith's new song, Song of Solomon really spoke to me and was also just so beautiful that it brought back memories of last Christmas. 

A lot of the favourite pop songs are from memories of Christmas school discos and parties, and the songs remind me of happy times with good friends and family.

Image link (www.sweetclipart.com, Liz Aragon, 26 Sept 2011)
I love going to church at Christmas and joining in with the music by singing or playing my clarinet and my favourite carols are usually as I can sing them well or know a good harmony as well as being really beautiful pieces of music.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a personal favourite as it brings back memories of Christmas's with my grandad. At church on Christmas day they often got all the men on the stage to sing this song together and my grandfather loved to join in with great gusto, but he would carry on humming it for the rest of the day usually.

I remember playing the whole Snowman movie music with my school orchestra and I grew to love it, especially the song I'm Walking In The Air.

I have fond memories of listening to lots of German Christmas carols which my mother still has on cassette tapes. It was these tapes which we listened to whilst writing our cards and putting up our tree and decorations.

I am looking forward to my work Christmas party at the end of this week, where I am hoping to get up and dance to some of these favourite Christmas tunes, as well as go to lots of church services and join in the singing as much as I can.

What about YOU, what is your favourite Christmas music and songs? And why?

Monday, 2 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 2 - Christmas Cards

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Some Charity Christmas cards to send out this year
I do like to write cards or emails to say Happy Christmas to people who I do not see as often as I might like to. We try to buy charity Christmas cards, so that we are also supporting the good work of a charity as well.

We also like to make something creative to put in our Christmas cards to tell our friends and extended family about what has happened during the year past and what we're looking forward to in the year ahead. 

In the past we've made a video, letter, sent a photo collage and this year we've got another trick up our sleeves, but as its not finished I cannot tell you what it is yet. 

A fantastic homemade card by my sister-in-law

As children, we would set aside a cold, wet, miserable Saturday or Sunday afternoon to sit down together as a family and write our Christmas cards. We would sit listening to Christmas music with all the cards on the living room floor. We would start by writing a list and then chose the right cards for the right people, write them and eventually post them as it got nearer Christmas. 

We hung the cards up on pieces of string, strung across the living room wall, adding a row at a time as required. We would also hang them from picture frames and stand them on any free surface we had available. 

Writing this has reminded me I still need to get on with 2013's Christmas cards :) I think I've already missed the deadline for posting cards overseas, but its the thought that counts.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Day 1 - Christmas Trees

This series of blog posts has been inspired by Geneabloggers Advent Calendar to share memories for others in the future.

Our Christmas Tree 2012
"Oh, Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, Thy candles shine so brightly" lyrics from the German song "Oh Tannenbaum"

We always had a Christmas tree in the house as children and it was always an artificial one. It was the same tree each year which was stored in the cupboard above my parents bed.

Putting up the tree was always a whole family job, we would listen to Christmas music and sing whilst doing it.

As my birthday is early December, the tree would always go up after any birthday celebrations were finished, for it took up space and was at risk of being destroyed by lots of excitable children.

As the days drew shorter more and more presents would begin appearing at its base.

I will talk more about its decorations on the 15th day of Advent.

Now, things are slightly different. We live in a small house and although we do have an artificial tree, it does not go up every year as when its up there is not a lot of room to do anything else. This year is one of those years because we are trying to sell the house, so we do not want it cluttered for prospective viewers...

...here's to another year when we will hopefully be in a bigger house with much more room for a Christmas tree. :)