How to NOT do Christmas

(Reposted because it’s that time of year again.)

How to NOT do Christmas

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by Anne E Thompson

Okay, so it’s that time of year again, when I look around and everyone seems terribly competent, with beautiful houses and cards sent on time. Or are you, like me, still struggling to clear up stray socks and find the floor under dog hairs? Here are some helpful hints for those of you who need to decorate the house, send cards to the correct people, produce a mound of wrapped gifts and cook that all important dinner; whilst also keeping the house clean, the animals alive, and do all the other jobs which fill your life and don’t disappear at Christmas. Hope it’s helpful.

The Tree

Everyone loves a Christmas tree. Here are some things to beware of:
If you take a man with you to buy a real tree, he will lose all sense of proportion. This is true. Crude jokes aside, it seems to be some strange male trait that they always want to buy a tree that is much too big for the space in your home. They always forget the bucket and top decoration adds extra height. And they always forget that you might want to live in the room where they plan to put it – and if it’s too wide everyone will have to scrabble through the branches to communicate. So my advice: do not involve a male of any age in choosing the tree.

You cannot however, avoid them being present for the annual family discussion on where the tree should go. Now, we have lived in our present house for many years and every Christmas we discuss (heatedly) where the tree should be placed. Every year it always goes in exactly the same place.

If you buy a tree in late December, your family will constantly tell you everyone else has theirs already. If you buy a tree in early December, it will probably be bald by New Year.

If you decide to ‘plant’ your tree in soil, over time, as it is watered, the soil becomes unstable and the tree will gradually fall over. If you follow the shop’s instructions and “treat your tree like the living plant that it is” and stand it in water, then after a while, the warmth of your house will have turned the water stagnant and everyone will be asking you what the funny smell is. If, on realising this, you then add a drop of bleach to the water, the tree first gets very pale looking and then dies very quickly. A dead tree will droop and all the ornaments slide off the branches. Your lounge also smells like a public lavatory.

If you ever want a tasteful tree, you must NEVER allow the children to put on their home made ornaments. Every year I produce those faded photos in plastic frames, the robin that sheds paint. I even have the clay angels that my sister made one year, which look like they slept in a puddle after an especially hard night out. It is true, they bring back lots of special memories, but I can now never not put them on the tree, so my tree, whilst full of precious memories, is also incredibly tacky.

If you do not water your tree, do NOT leave the lights on it and go out for the evening or it might burn down your house. (This did not happen to us, but it did happen to a neighbour in the US. A dried pine is incredibly flammable.)

If you have an artificial tree, you can spend hours sorting out branches and colour codes. My advice is: tell someone else that they are in charge of putting up the tree because it is too hard for you (this works well if you have males in the family, who will actually believe that you are incapable of matching colours.) They will also be keen to supervise the taking down of the tree because they will know how impossible it is to put up if not stored carefully.

Decorations

Do NOT believe that everyone who helps decorate the house will also help tidy up after Christmas. Every year I say, “Only put out the ornaments that you will put away afterwards”. I may as well not bother. I know this is true because one year I was ill, and we had a Nativity scene on one window sill all year. I find family members are very keen to decorate all sorts of random places, and not at all keen to tidy them afterwards.

Gifts

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Do NOT buy gifts too early and if you do, do not forget where you have hidden them. It is annoying to find winter nightclothes for your daughter in June.

If posting gifts, do not forget to name each gift so the recipient knows who they are for (you would be surprised at what has happened in our family).

Do NOT assume you will know when your child stops believing in Father Christmas (sorry if this is a spoiler). When I asked one of my sons on his eighteenth birthday (okay, so he wasn’t quite that old) if he really still believed in Santa, he informed me that he had not believed for years but hadn’t liked to disappoint me by letting me know. This was a huge relief for the whole family, as we could now stop worrying he was completely thick, and it also meant that I could give the children their ‘stocking gifts’ the evening before Christmas. Which meant that we all slept much better Christmas Eve.

Do NOT forget to check that either your husband has bought his mother a gift, or you have bought one for her yourself. Really, I cannot stress enough how important this one is……

Food

Unless you are a very organised person, do NOT buy a large frozen turkey. They take days to defrost – and where will you put it during that time? If you leave it in the utility room, the cat eats it. If you put it in the garage, the mice eat it. If you leave it in the oven to defrost, you are sure to forget and turn on the oven to preheat – melting plastic over poultry is not a good smell, trust me. If you place it in a bucket of brine, as was suggested one year, what are you going to do with the salmonella-infected brine afterwards, and how will you stop the dog licking it? If you put it in the fridge, you cannot fit in any of the shelves, let alone other food. Trust me, big frozen turkeys are a bad idea.

Do NOT forget that supermarkets are open other than on the bank holidays. I always do this; I try to buy enough food for the whole holiday period, which is a military operation in an over flowing supermarket, with insufficient parking, and queues the length of the Nile . Then, soon after boxing day we always run out of something essential, like milk, and I go to a beautifully empty supermarket (which is now selling all the food that is decomposing in my fridge for half the price.) Being overly prepared is always a mistake I feel. Just buy enough for the Christmas Day dinner.

If, like me, you have a problem with chocolates, when you buy the family tub of chocolates, do NOT forget to also buy tape. Then, if by mistake you open them and eat lots before Christmas, you can buy a replacement, add the ones you don’t much like and reseal the tub. Your family will never know. Honestly, every year my husband tells me that there are a surprisingly large number of green triangles in our chocolate tin.

Important Things

Do NOT forget to go to a carol service. Actually, I do not especially like carols, unless they are sung by a choir. They are mostly really really long. A lot of them also have things in them that are very European and nothing to do with the actual account in the Bible. But I do like carol services, full of excited children, and people in thick coats that they don’t have anywhere to hang. One year at our church we even managed to set someone on fire. (It was an accident, I should add. She leant against a candle and she wasn’t at all hurt, just ruined her coat. The following year as a safety precaution the candles were suspended above us. Unfortunately, they weren’t the non drip variety and we all made polite conversation afterwards with white wax in our hair.)

Do Not forget to build some family traditions of your own. On Christmas Eve, if my children are in the house, awake before noon and sober (I assume nothing these days) then they still like to help prepare the vegetables. We all sit round, peeling sprouts and remembering how we did it every year while watching ‘The Lost Toys,’ and the year that the youngest removed every leaf from his sprout and then declared, “Mine’s empty!”

Most importantly, do NOT forget what is important. Christmas is not about family or tradition or nice food. Actually, it’s about a God who thought you were special enough that he came to this dirty smelly earth as a baby. Even if you don’t believe in him, he believes in you. And he cared enough to come, so that you have a chance to change your mind if you want to. So spend a little time trying to remember what it’s all about. Look in Luke’s bit of the Bible, and read the account of what actually happened – no donkeys, no inn keepers with tea-towels on their heads, no fairies or snow. Just a simple story of something special.

xxxxxx

Thank you for reading.

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If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy Hidden Faces by Anne E Thompson, an easy-read, feel-good novel, set in an English infant school. Why not buy a copy today and read something to make you smile?

(Also an ideal Christmas gift for your mother, sister, aunt, or anyone who has ever worked in a school.)

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Austria – Family Holiday Diary

Day One : Munich to Austria

Car arrived 5am. Everyone ready -unexpected -maybe some of them didn’t sleep. Flew Heathrow to Munich, all went smoothly, and everyone managed the automatic barriers. Eventually.

Collected minivan, and drove Munich to Salzburg. J made redundant from map reading due to rather efficient satnav.

Arrived at Sheraton at Fuschlsee, a lake near Salzburg. Staff at reception predominantly female, wearing national dress, which does make them very buxom. Impossible to avoid mainly noticing bosoms. H told M not to wear his glasses while we’re here.

Dinner in expensive hotel restaurant. Lots of antlers on walls, candles, flowers. Nice meal, but tired (me, not meal.)

  Everywhere here is SO pretty.

Day Two : Hallstatt

Nice breakfast, though I had problems with coffee machine and covered surrounding area with milky froth -rescued by very nice waiter who collected me a mug of coffee.

Drove to Hallstatt. Traffic terrible and nowhere to park, so we abandoned Husband and car, and walked into town. It was full of Chinese people, really full. Coach loads of them. All the signs were written in German and Mandarin, so clearly a regular occurrence. Also full of extremely expensive souvenir shops. Followed signs with a skull on them up a mountain (J in flip-flops, but still faster than people in hiking gear). Signs took us to a cemetery.

Found Husband and ate lovely homemade pizza for lunch. Read guidebook to try and find out significance of skulls and cemetery. Read that apparently, cemetery is very small – due to being half way up a mountain, so when it was full, someone had the good idea that they could dig up the old corpses and replace them with the new ones. Honestly, this was the solution they decided on! Did anyone object? Was there a committee involved? Anyway, this is what they did. While the bodies were waiting to be buried, they decomposed, and the bones were bleached by the sun. The skulls were separated from the other bones, and they are displayed in a side chapel. We HAD to go back and look. There they were, bones stacked neatly, skulls decorated with the name and patterns. Brilliant!

The rest of Hallstatt is also interesting. Lots of cute cottages clinging to the mountainside. Too many tourists and over-priced shops, but well worth a visit.

 

Walked around a mountain lake, Vorderer-Gosausee. So beautiful. Lake, trees, glacier, mountains.

Dinner in Fuschl. Parked in large town car park, returned after dark, and didn’t know how to pay. Husband set off in the dark to investigate, we sat in car, then decided to send S (largest male) to protect him. S detoured via barrier and tried to lift it manually. Worried he might break it, Husband would return with paid ticket but we’d still be trapped due to broken barriers. R worried there might be zombies (so glad she’s 25 and works in a bank – easy to forget that sometimes). D returned, barrier worked, all good.

Arrived safely back at hotel, despite best efforts of suicidal deer on dark road. Nice day. Tomorrow we plan to visit Salzburg (which is very exciting, as it’s where they filmed The Sound of Music – because it’s where the real family actually lived.)

Thank you for reading.

Why not sign up to follow my blog? Tomorrow I’ll tell you what we saw in Salzburg.

anneethompson.com

xxx

If you like to laugh, why not read Invisible Jane by Anne E Thompson?
A love story with funny bits!

Available from an Amazon near you…..

Packing

  Today will be stressful – packing for the family holiday. If you’re a mother, you will know what I mean. If you’re male (not being sexist or anything), read on…

There is oceans of washing to do. It seems a bad idea to leave dirty clothes to fester in the laundry basket, plus there is all the bedding. I don’t like the idea of returning after two weeks away to sheets that have been slept/sweated/dribbled in for a week and then locked into a room to ferment. Obviously I cannot wash it all the day we leave, but it feels better if it’s washed the day before – so just one night of body fluids sweated into them.

Then there is the animal stuff. Dog and grumpy-cat taken to kennels, their bedding and towels left here. I can leave them – and be welcomed home by the thick odour a la dog, or I can wash them before I go. Thank goodness for washing machines and please can mine not break today. Of course, not everyone has this problem. I have known people (not female) who quite cheerfully shove dirty clothes into a bag before a holiday; and then return with the same bag of dirty clothes at the end. I am not entirely sure if they were worn, or washed, in between, because I didn’t like to ask.

I have to pack. Always stressful. You assemble everything you need, the case is full, and you haven’t even thought about clothes yet. There’s the stuff in case someone cuts themselves, or has a headache, or is sick. The shampoo you’ll never find abroad, the sun hat, sun lotion, sandals, plus hygiene stuff, a book, rechargers (because these magically disappear and people always need to borrow them) swimming goggles (which I never wear, but again, they disppear into the black hole of “I wasn’t the last person to have them…”), etc. And even supposing you find room for clothes, which ones do you take? Will the food be good and the weather lazy, so you need clothes you can expand into? Or will you spend the time enjoying the hotel gym and pool and eating salads, so you can pack the slightly-too-tight-but-fitted-last-year clothes? Then Husband weighs the case (why? Why do men do this? It can wait until check-in and be sorted out then if necessary) followed by ever so slightly tense conversation about the necessity of carrying certain items.

At least now I don’t have to pack for the children. That was always a nightmare. I had things sorted when we lived in the US, travelling back and forth with a 2, 4 and 6 year old, often on my own. Each child carried a small back-pack containing a complete set of their own clothes and an empty ice-cream container. You only ever carry a vomit covered child off a plane once before you plan things a bit better. Of course, sometimes it went wrong. Like the time Son 2 couldn’t decide what to pack and proudly tipped up his bag on holiday to empty out one of each piece of toy/puzzle/game that he owned. Just one piece. Or the year Son 1 packed his football. Just his football. And every year, although not having room for clothes, there does seem to be a disturbing number of inflatable animals in the pool with us. (They are all in their twenties now, and this is still true. Other families at the pool don’t do this. Just saying.)

Then there is the house. Sinks need to be bleached or they stink when you get home. But some oink always tips their unfinished coffee into the sink just before you leave. And surfaces need to be wiped and crockery washed and bins emptied. And always, after you have done that, someone will use something and make them all dirty again. And you can’t do it too early, because the family has to eat. They expect, amidst all this frenzy of cleaning, for a meal to appear. Which creates another whole lot of mess to be cleaned up. So you feel like you are stuck in a loop of cleaning, washing, wiping while everyone else is going round making it all dirty again. And no one cares, they cannot understand why it makes a difference to return home to a clean house, not a dirty stinky one, when within minutes of arriving it will get messed up again. But it does. If you are female you will know this – having a pristine house while no one is in it is extremely important. Otherwise burglars might think you are tardy.

I haven’t even started on the outside animals yet. Buying copious amounts of food so they can be fed in my absence, cleaning them out so kind pet-feeding person doesn’t think I’m slack for not keeping them properly clean. Clearing up all the stuff I ignore when I’m there, but looks unsightly when I notice it. Ensuring fences are secure and bedding has fresh hay. It all takes time.

So, I had better stop writing and make a start. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we’re flying to Munich tomorrow. Last summer the boys inter-railed around Europe, and were keen the family should repeat some of it this year. They travelled on a budget, and I’m thinking that a €6 per night including breakfast hostel is not going to suit me – so we’re staying in slightly different places. But the plan is to hire a car, drive through Austria, Slovenia, to Croatia, then fly home from Venice. There are seven of us going, I will let you know how we get on, but I’m sure it will be wonderful. I shall do nothing but follow round Husband-with-a-plan, while laughing at my family’s jokes and writing rude things about them on my blog.

Thanks for reading.
Take care,
Anne

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If you enjoyed this, you will like my latest book, Invisible Jane by Anne E Thompson – the chaotic life of mother shown in a love story that will make you laugh…..

Available in paperback or Kindle, from an Amazon near you. UK link below:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=invisible+jane+by+anne+e+thompson&sprefix=Invisible+jane+%2Caps%2C162&crid=3W13P7NVCPJNW

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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So, have you watched ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’? As part of the whole, ‘family at home for Christmas so we ought to do something’ time, we went to the cinema. Afterwards we had dinner at Pizza Hut (even though I promised myself about ten years ago, that I would never have to eat in a Pizza Hut again.) It was actually a really fun evening. I’ll tell you about it (with a warning if you haven’t seen the film, this does contain spoilers.)

For those of you who don’t know (mainly you, Mum) ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is another film in the Harry Potter series – you know, the ones about the boy who is a wizard, who makes friends with the ginger-haired boy, and the girl who all the teenagers now fancy? Well, this film is supposed to be before all that took place, in the 1920’s, and is set in New York. I came away with very mixed feelings about it.

Firstly, it is excellent entertainment. I usually get bored in films aimed at a younger audience (the Harry Potter books and films didn’t quite do it for me if I’m honest.) This film however, I watched throughout without ever wondering how much longer before it ended. The plot was good enough, but the acting was excellent (perhaps J.K. Rowling decided experienced adult actors would make a better film and so wrote a book with only grown-ups in it. Or perhaps I am too cynical.) The special effects and scenery were all convincing, making for something of a visual treat. If you like a bit of make-believe, I expect you will love this film.

However, and this is quite a big however, there was something that left me feeling uneasy. It didn’t feel the same as the Harry Potter films, which I felt never really strayed from storybook witches and wizards. Now, I was not one of those Christians who refused to read her children ‘Hansel and Gretel’ or ‘Sleeping Beauty’ because they contained witches. I do believe there are spiritual forces that are evil, I do believe we shouldn’t mess with that stuff, and occult practices and ‘real’ witchcraft is dangerous. I just do not happen to put the witch in Sleeping Beauty into this category. It is a story, unrelated to real life, and the witches in it are not representations of people involved in the occult. I wasn’t so comfortable with this story. With Harry Potter, I felt the message of ‘good defeating evil’ was very clear. There were witches and magic, but it was all storybook stuff, and the baddies were easy to spot, and it was all far removed from reality.

In Fantastic Beasts we were presented with the New Salem Philanthropic Society. These were humans who were against witchcraft. It all felt a bit too much like things that happened in real life. Even the name is not exactly made up. And yes, I realise that people claiming to be Christian have done some pretty terrible things (in the past and present) and I know the ‘witch hunts’ in Salem were very bad. But why bring reality, even a touch of it, into a fantasy film? What is the point being made?

There was also an execution scene. It was, I felt, not really in keeping with a children’s film. Although what actually happened wasn’t gory or gruesome, the thought of someone walking towards a death sentence is not one I would want my 12 year old thinking about.

Not that I was with 12 year olds of course. I was with my family, who enjoyed the film. Their only comment was that when the characters gave instructions to their wands, it always worked, and when they do the same with their phone: “Hello Google, what is the time?” the phone always gets it wrong: “Certainly. Phoning Grandma.”

After the film, we went next door to Pizza Hut. We used to go to Pizza Hut a lot as students. We had no money, and it was a cheap place for a ‘special meal’ when we wanted to go out. I have moved on from those times. Husband hasn’t. He went excitedly to the salad bar, to show his sons how to extend the perimeter of the salad bowl with slices of cucumber, thus enabling extra salad to be heaped into the bowl. Sons were unimpressed and pointed out that unlike in the ‘olden days’, you could visit the salad bar as many times as you wanted. I actually, was unkeen on eating any salad at all, as on our way in we had passed a small child who appeared to be massaging the lettuce.

Actually, it wasn’t too bad. If you ignored the sticky menu (a variation on a ‘taster menu’) and the sticky seat and the sticky table, everything was fine. The waitress was friendly, the pizzas were nice, and the wine went down very well. The males in the family then made a comparison table of stats showing how the price per size of pizza compared to pizza express – but I don’t think this is an obligatory activity if you choose to go with different people.

Take care,
Anne x

Counting Stars is available from Amazon to read on a tablet or Kindle. A great read, at £1.99, with 5*reviews! Go on, why not treat yourself?…..

 

xxxxxx

Thank you for reading.

xxxxx

anneethompson.com

xxx

Graduation Saga

Do events in your family always go to plan? Ours don’t…..

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Hello, are you ready for Christmas? I’m not, but the end is in sight, and I am remembering to stop worrying whether or not things are wrapped and posted, and actually enjoy the moments spent with family and friends. Plus I really love everyone else’s Christmas decorations, even if mine are a bit tatty this year!

One special time with family was at son’s graduation. Yes, he did graduate a year ago, but this was his masters graduation. It did not go entirely to plan…

So, first challenge was how to get to the ceremony. Son had, in his wisdom, decided to attend Leeds University. We live a long, long, way from Leeds, about 5 hours in the car if the roads are clear. Husband and son discussed various options, but finally decided to go there and back on the day. This meant an early start, as we needed to allow for possible delays on the motorway. They told me we would be leaving the house at 5am. Yes, that’s right, 5am. Super.

I set the alarm for a 4 number. Animals gave me very strange looks when their breakfast arrived in the middle of the night. I showered, dressed, glanced in mirror….and decided my fringe was getting a bit long. Now, I have no idea why giving my fringe a quick trim when my eyes were still blurry seemed like a good idea. But it did. So I did.

5am arrived, we were all in the car, off we went.

At 9am we stopped for breakfast. We were nearly in Leeds, ready for a ceremony that started at 2pm, but I didn’t say anything. Felt slightly more awake after the coffee and used the washroom at the service station (always a delight.) As I was washing my hands, I glanced in the mirror. My hair was very short at the front, and not very straight. Looked almost as if I had cut it myself when half asleep, very early in the morning, with some nail scissors.

As we got back in to the car, I mentioned my hair to husband. I was hoping for some reassurance.
Me: I’m not sure cutting my fringe at 4am was such a good idea.
Husband: Oh, THAT’S what happened! I was wondering why you had gone for the Ugly Betty look.
Me: Silence. (Actually, I wasn’t silent. I laughed. My husband is an appalling person, but when he says outrageous things it always makes me laugh. Perhaps that’s why I married him.) Did not feel very reassured.

We arrived in Leeds (in very good time) and went to son’s house (which was very nice) and met his housemates (who are very nice) and then got changed ready for the ceremony. It was at this point that son realised his wallet, which contained all his ID, was missing. He needed his ID so he could register at the ceremony and collect his gown. He and husband had a thorough search of the car. No wallet.

We set off for the university. It was now pouring with rain, and we had no idea if they would let son take part in the ceremony as he had no proof of identity. All the graduands lined up, waiting to show their ID and receive the forms necessary to collect the gown and be told where to sit. Husband hovered nearby (he likes to help).

When son reached the front of the queue, he explained that actually, he had no ID, as he had lost his wallet. Husband helpfully added that he had his wallet and could prove who he was, and they would notice the surname was the same, hence proving he was son’s father. Plus he had baby photos. He then removed baby photos from wallet and showed them to person registering the graduands. She looked slightly surprised. Son looked slightly embarrassed. Registrar and son then had a conversation, she asked him for his date of birth, his student number, things like that. She then gave him the necessary forms so he could take part in the ceremony. But I’m sure the baby photos helped.

The rest of the day was without incident. I was very proud of son. It was nice to see all the family groups huddled in corners around the university, all honouring the person who had achieved the degree. I like to mark occasions, I guess it’s part of how we show people have value.

Before returning home, I suggested it might be worth checking the car again for the wallet. Ah. The wallet was, of course, lying where it had fallen. Another time I will help the males look myself. But I won’t cut my own hair early in the morning again…..

xxxx

Thank you for reading.

If you enjoyed this, why not buy a copy of my book? Who would you like to make smile this Christmas?

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Faces-Anne-E-Thompson/dp/0995463204/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474888617&sr=8-1&keywords=hidden+faces+by+anne+e+thompson

xxxxxx

Postcards from the boys…

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My boys arrived home from their tour of Europe. I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I was to see them! They had written me postcards while away – they didn’t actually get round to posting them, but they were fun to read when they emerged from the bottom of the dirty washing bag… I thought I would share them with you. Here they are, as written:

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Family!
Greetings from Warsaw.
We are still alive.
Have eaten mostly Mcdonalds
and an indian bloke
keeps stealing our water.
Love
Sons
x
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Family!
Greetings from Krakow,
We are still alive!
Have eaten only £2 pasta
from a dodgy shop.
The entrance to our hostel
looks like a torture chamber
Love Sons! x
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Hi Family,
Greetings from Budapest
We are still alive!
Have eaten only 55p pizza
– James keeps complaining.
We went to the ‘hot springs’
that turned out to be a wave pool
(we went to the wrong place)
Love Sons
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Family,
We are in Bratislava
We are still alive!
We ate traditional Slovak food that
turned out to be sheep’s cheese porridge.
James has a small cold and is
claiming to be too ill to do
anything – wimp.
Love
Son & ill son
x
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Family,
Greetings from Prague!
We are still alive!
Did not get postcard from Austria
because James was (pretending to be) ill
and it would have cost £10.
We ate nothing but breadrolls
in Salzburg.
James has mostly stopped moaning.
See you soon
Love Sons x

xxxxxxx

Hope you enjoyed them as much as I did!

Fancy reading something different? Take a walk to the world that is just around the corner. Meet a family, who is just like your family, living in a familiar place with some huge changes. Prepared to be entertained, captivated and made to think, long after you have finished reading….
Counting Stars by Anne E Thompson, available from Amazon as a Kindle book.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Counting-Stars-Anne-E-Thompson-ebook/dp/B01GA99KTG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474886257&sr=8-1&keywords=counting+stars+by+anne+e+thompson

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Or, if you live in the US:

https://www.amazon.com/Counting-Stars-Anne-E-Thompson-ebook/dp/B01GA99KTG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474886498&sr=8-1&keywords=counting+stars+by+anne+e+thompson

xxx

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Letter to a Sister – children, arms and cakes….

Hi, how was your week? I could’ve done with you here this week, I needed a bit of reassurance that I will see my boys again. They have left to travel around Europe. No money, no plans, way too much confidence. They left at 4am to get a coach from Gatwick to Stansted (because it was cheap) to fly to a forest near Warsaw (because it was cheap) and planned to stay in an establishment called (apparently) The Okey Dokey (because – yep, you guessed it – only £15 per night for two people including breakfast.)

So, please tell me that in two weeks time I will see them, unharmed, back in the UK. I did ask them to send me some sort of message each day, just so I know they’re alive. Yesterday I received a Facebook message from a Polish man claiming to have kidnapped them and asking for ransom (I replied it was way too high.) Today I was told they’d moved to a new hotel – which sounded eerily like the one in the Hostel film (if you haven’t seen it, don’t. It is awful, I only saw it by mistake and I still cannot lose the horrible images.) I am assuming all this means they are safe and well. And I know they will look after each other and have an amazing time and create some wonderful memories. But I will be SO happy to see them when they get home!

Mum also left this week. She had booked a cottage in Norfolk and set off with a suitcase as light as she could make it (she even removed photographs she was taking from the envelopes to save weight.) I took her up to Liverpool Street Station and put her on the train. She had been worrying about this – had even practised the week before so she knew where to go, so it was nice to be able to take her. It sounds like she is having a great time, lots of family are there too and she has friends there (she has friends everywhere). Even the weather is being kind for her.

I however, am quite content to be at home. Especially as I have hurt my arm. Very annoying. I fell over ages ago (was overtired and tend to get a bit unsteady, tired brain and all that.) I thought I would have a huge bruise, but nothing came up, and my fingers seemed to work okay, so I figured nothing was broken and carried on, as you do. Then while we were in Cyprus, it started to hurt a bit, and has been getting gradually worse. I can hardly use it at all now, even unscrewing a jar is impossible.

So, I was trying to ice a cake (for Bill, who is 98) and I couldn’t roll out the fondant icing. I have never used that before, so I watched a youtube clip, and it looked really easy, thought I would give it a go. Anyway, all was fine until I came to the rolling out bit. I was nervous about making a large cake (it needed to be shared with 40 people), I knew it would end up like a brick with a dip, so I used some bread tins and made 6 smaller cakes, then sandwiched them together with butter icing. I put it in the fridge for half an hour, like the woman on youtube did (though her cake had less crumbs on the surface than mine. And was smoother) then tried to roll the fondant icing. Impossible with one arm. I couldn’t apply enough pressure. So I called Nargis, who was in the house. (We pretend she’s my cleaner, but actually she is one of my best friends and practically family.) She came to help, and asked why I hadn’t had the arm checked.

I explained that I have no time. She asked what I was doing this afternoon, and I told her I had a dentist appointment. She asked if I had a problem with my teeth. I said no, it was just a check up. She pointed out that I had time to check my teeth, which are fine, but not my arm, which might be broken. It was a good point. I went to the local hospital. They were very nice, and agreed with my diagnosis, that it’s probably not broken, just a strained tendon but is not healing because I keep using it. They suggested physio. Absolutely no time for that!

The thing is, I’m sure the doctor who saw me is our postman. It looked exactly like him, even spoke the same. I kept wondering how I could ask, “Are you our postman?” But there was never the right moment. Very strange.

Hope all is well with you. My journey into authorship continues – the books are selling really well and are gradually being accepted into more bookshops. I will give you a full update next week.

Take care,
Anne x

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Thank you for reading.

anneethompson.com

My sister’s blog is: http://ruthdalyauthor.blogspot.co.uk

xxxxxxx