Today I officially become an OAP, finally reaching the age to qualify for the state pension.

I reflected on the fact that I am now a good six years older than each of my grandparents, and just six years younger than Dad, at the ages they died. 

Lifestyle and environment improvements should hopefully mean that my lifespan will be much longer than theirs.

Still, when I receive my first pension payment next month I shall be celebrating with a glass of something quite unhealthy. Just like today.


Short And Sweet

That was Christmas; all over and done with now for us.

We were fortunate that our forecast Christmas Day rain held off until we had walked home after lunch with our friends.  We had a good time with them, drinking sherry then an Argentinian Malbec with our roast beef with all the trimmings -  lots and lots of trimmings. I wasn't sure if I could manage the Eton Mess for pud but bravely worked my way through it before sampling the cheeseboard selection.

We were home by 5 pm, just before the rain started, and all I could manage was to flop down on the sofa to read.  My stomach was too full to even manage a cup of tea.

Today has been bright and sunny but with very strong winds, making the temperature outside close to freezing.  Quite a few hardy souls braved the cold to take part in the traditional Boxing Day traditions ... (Hunt the Wren and Cammag, see links below if interested) ... but I stayed home with the heating on

Now, at 4 pm, we have a burst of sleet and hail rattling the windows. I am definitely not going anywhere!

My Christmas Eve

It seems from reading everyone's blogs that we are all celebrating in our own unique ways.

I do enjoy reading about all your festivities and seeing your photos too.

Our Christmas Eve is very low key.

P had to drive over the Mountain Road this morning and was at the B&Q store by 9 a.m. to try to get a replacement part for our kitchen drawer front that broke off yesterday.  No luck as our kitchen units are too old and there are no spare parts for them.

Meanwhile,  I walked into town to buy the Saturday newspaper,  essential for the cryptic crossword and P's weekly TV guide. I may have also bought cake.

This evening we shall have roast duck with a bottle of fizz and then a vanilla cheesecake afterwards.   We used to play Carols on the CD player each Christmas Eve but don't bother any more as I cannot hear them properly. 

Tomorrow we shall be walking to our friends' flat for lunch and then stumbling home afterwards.  The weather is forecast to be wet and windy. Now there's a surprise!  I think we are fortunate though not to be experiencing the terrible weather conditions raging over the US at the moment. I hope that all of you over there are safe and keeping warm.

I shall leave you with a few photos.  Our meagre festive decorations and Elfie with his pals getting ready to leave for the North Pole. 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Spirit

Despite the widespread air of doom and gloom hanging over us all, I have noticed that most people around me appear to be quite cheerful and getting into the general feeling of bonhomie and goodwill that is, after all, supposed to be the spirit of Christmas.

I did my last shift of 2022 this morning at the Hospice shop.  It was noticeably quiet there today after the pre-Christmas rush to buy gifts, cards and decorations.  After sorting through the few bags of donations and arranging new stock on the rails, I joined my colleague at the till to chat and to greet the customers that came in to browse.  Every one of them was in good spirits and wishing each other a Happy Christmas and the mood was infectious.  Even though I had to walk home through strong winds and heavy rain, the feeling of good humour stayed with me.

P has just gone to meet his friend for a pint at the local and I am having a hot chocolate and slice of cake.

Elfie is having a little dance to the music on his biscuit tin radio ...

More Traditions

 Another entertaining little piece from Culture Vannin about the traditional Manx Christmas .....

Before the Victorians reformed it into a time of piety and morality, Christmas was about relaxing and letting go. In the Isle of Man it brought the Kegeesh Ommidjagh – the foolish fortnight.

All work stopped on 21 December – Oie’l Thomase Doo (Black Thomas' Eve) – and the partying began.

"There is not a barn unoccupied the whole twelve days” we learn from 1731, with dances happening all over the Island, where young men and women would sneak out to the hedgerows so they could better enjoy their ‘close celebrations of the festival’! 

More anarchic entertainment was provided by the mollag bands. Groups of young lads roamed the towns making 'a rare din' singing, dancing and playing homemade instruments, carrying mollags – inflated sheep's bladders – with which they hit anyone who got too close. The aim was to make money, but they were perhaps hounding it out of people more than receiving willing donations!

In the home, the Kissing Bush hung from the rafters – the hoop of decorated holly and ivy gave you the licence to kiss anyone under it.

In church was the Oie’ll Verree service which took place on Christmas Eve. Here the singing of carols was accompanied by young women throwing peas at young men.

After the service came a trip to the pub for ale spiced with pepper before the young men walked the women home and were sometimes invited in as the parents slept above…

A jolly good time was had by all, by the sound of it.

Wine And Cheese

We were invited to our next door neighbours' house last night to join them for some pre-Christmas wine and cheese.

It had been a foul day with gale force winds and heavy rain so the "big boots" were needed for the walk down the drive and along the muddy lane to their house.

There was a very good selection of cheeses, olives, oatcakes, and more. I confess to having more than one helping of everything. 

Elaine also makes her own chocolates. The beetroot confection covered in rich, dark chocolate was divine.

The company was good, the conversation flowed and we had a great evening. Three hours passed in a flash.

The rain has stopped today so I think I need a calorie-burning walk.


Today I bought myself two presents.  Both were things that I had hankered after since moving into our new house but could not justify spending lots of money on.

In the Hospice charity shop where I volunteer each week, larger donated items such as furniture are regularly brought down from the warehouse in Douglas and put on display in our shop. They are generally used but good quality and are always snapped up straight away. 

I was very lucky to find exactly what I wanted - both items on the same day - before they could be sold to anyone else.  I think Elfie must have had a word in Santa's ear .

I persuaded P to come with me this morning to collect them, even though he thinks they are frivolous and a waste of money.  ( Both items together only cost £80 so didn't break the bank).

Elfie has tried them out and he approves. He especially likes the swivel recliner chair which now fits snugly in the window alcove, and says the faux log burner is very cosy..

Nearly An Armful!

I had to get to the local Cottage Hospital early (for me!) this morning for some blood tests. It is a walk-in system. Take a numbered ticket and wait with all the coughers and sneezers until your number shows up on the screen.

I was 10th in the queue at 08:30 a.m. and waited for half an hour for my turn.  My GP had requested quite a battery of tests so the phlebotomist filled three bottles of the red stuff.  As Tony Hancock once said - "That's nearly an armful!"

(click to watch)

It was still very icy out there so P drove me up and waited for me in the car.  The main road had been gritted so we drove back the long way round to avoid the slippery patches.

On Tuesday this week we had a little staycation at the Park Hotel.  Most years we try to get together with our friends for a Christmas meal out and this year they had asked me to organise a stay at our local hotel on their special Dinner, Bed & Breakfast rate so that we could all stay overnight.  It is quite a comfortable little place with decent food so I booked five rooms for the ten of us.  At the last minute two couples had to cancel due to testing positive for Covid so there were only six of us left.  Still, we all enjoyed the evening and P paid for all the drinks as we both have birthdays coming up soon and wanted to treat our friends in lieu of having a birthday party.

I hope my blood alcohol level had returned to normal by the time my blood was taken!

Here are P and two of our friends checking out the hotel's decorations....

And we found a stowaway when we unpacked!

Got It In Two

Every morning after breakfast I do the daily Wordle puzzle, just to help kick-start my sluggish brain.

My average score is generally four attempts, sometimes five. This morning a word just popped into my head at random for my starting word and I got all but one letter on the first attempt. It was easy to work out the missing letter so I scored two today.  

Pat on the head for the lady in the fleecy dressing gown.

Elfie was waiting for the postman yesterday.  He obviously didn't realise that all his cards are still  over in the UK amongst the millions stuck in piles due to the strikes.

Heat Holders

It became apparent yesterday whilst out shopping that my winter gloves are not up to the job at the moment.  With temperatures barely above zero my fingers were in danger of dropping off. 

I popped into the local menswear shop and bought myself some proper thermal gloves. The men's size Small is admittedly a little large for me but these are very warm and snuggly.

Elfie found his own way to keep warm last night ...


 No snow here but it is very cold. Below zero overnight and just crept up to 2C now.

We had a very careful walk into town after breakfast for the newspaper and some fruit.  Black ice and frozen hailstones made some of the pavements quite tricky to negotiate but the sky was a clear blue and the air so crisp it was a pleasure to be out there.

The mountain road is closed to traffic due to black ice but here is a shot from the webcam up there

P has just left to pick up a friend in Peel. They are planning to take part in a fell race somewhere up there in the hills.  The course will be icy and freezing and I am concerned about him driving on those back roads to get there, especially if they have not yet been gritted.  Ah well, he should know by now, at his age, what he is doing.  

In the meantime Elfie is helping me with the Christmas tree decorations.  

(You can tell that we don't go overboard when it comes to festive decorating).

All Hail!

It was quite fresh out there this morning so I wore my big, padded coat on my walk into town for the Friday charity shop shift. (Try saying that without your teeth in).

As I strolled along the South Shore Promenade I noticed a rainbow and stopped to capture a few shots with my phone camera.

After a minute or so my fingers started to feel numb with cold and then that dark cloud you can see there suddenly emptied itself of a shower of tiny hailstones. It felt like hundreds of little needles pricking my face.

Very bracing.

Yesterday Elfie posted all his Christmas cards.  I think he's a bit late this year. I hope they all arrive in time.

Snake And Pygmy

Yesterday we had an errand to run near the airport so we drove the 45 minutes down the spine of the island to southern parts. 

After our brief errand we went into the ancient capital, Castletown,  where we warmed our hands around mugs of strong Costa Coffee, looking out at the bay and the castle.

Then a short stroll to the local butcher shop to buy some carnivore treats.  A pack of venison and one of their special homemade pies made it into my shopping bag.  The pie was steak and kidney, one of my all time favourites since childhood  when it was always referred to as "snake and pygmy pie" by my dad.

We crossed the bridge, where I took this photo of a very moody looking harbour,

 ... before driving back home along the scenic west coast.

In our absence Elfie had been amusing himself  by pretending he was in a scene from Titanic

Am I Going Soft?

Not physically, although my mid-section does feel more spongy these days.

We don't usually bother too much with Christmas, not having any children or grandchildren, and once I retired we began to take ourselves off somewhere "foreign" to get away from the festive frolics each year.   During my working years I was always expected to cover for work colleagues who wanted to take the Christmas period off to be with family so we didn't get to do much ourselves in the way of celebrations.

This year I seem to have caught a mild case of the Christmas bug and have felt the urge to do something in the way of decorating the house.  Perhaps it is just that this is our first proper Christmas in the Church House - last year was a bit chaotic at this period, what with the house move coinciding with my leg op.

Yesterday I made a small Christmas wreath for the front door and P cut me some holly to put in a vase.  I have the little tree and house lights that were gifted to me recently and I have dug out my little silver reindeer for the dresser.

I just need to write and send my cards and the parcels to my sister's grandchildren.

Elfie, meanwhile, seems to have found my stash of chocolate biscuits ...

He's Back

After a slight delay due to the reindeers' strike, Elfie has arrived .

Just settling in and making himself comfortable. 

A Manx Christmas Tradition

 Thanks once again to the wonderful Culture Vannin website for this information....

The White Boys are coming...

If you don't know the Isle of Man's distinctive mummer's play, this is where to go to find out more:

A key part of the Christmas period on the Isle of Man is the White Boys play (Ny Guillyn Baney).

This traditional Manx 'mumming' play is not performed to any stable script, but it always includes a few key elements: saints, a fight, a death, a resurrection thanks to 'the Doctor' and a happy ending. This play has been seen on the streets of Manx towns and villages all over the Island during the Christmas period in the 19th Century and beyond.

The play includes a special White Boys' Carol, and it concludes with a sword-dance which finishing with the distinctive holding aloft of the swords interlocked into a hexagon.

You can watch a performance here by clicking on this image ...