Saturday, 15 January 2011

Christmas Cheer

The last weekend in Southampton before Christmas was basically a weekend of eating. Work Christmas ball on the Thursday night, followed by Roast on Saturday night at Joe and Claud’s (fortunately they live just around the corner, so could just waddle home when I’d eaten and drunk too much). Joe always makes amazing face-sized Yorkshire puddings that are big enough to hold the rest of your meal in. Amazing. Played the After Eight game as well (place an After Eight chocolate on your forehead, and by wiggling your face around, get it into your mouth as quickly as possible without using your hands, and without it falling off your face), which always guarantees hilarity. Teeny was not so good at it.

The Sunday evening was another mammoth eating session. 14 of us were doing a massive Christmas meal and Secret Santa, split between our house, and our friend’s house across the road. Canap├ęs and mulled wine at our house, and some party games including pass-the-parcel and modelling balloons, and then across the road for the main course, pudding and Secret Santa. I was in charge of pudding, so made treacle tart and sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce. I am pleased to report that both of them went down a treat, and came home with a small amount of sticky toffee pudding and that’s it! Ate farrrr too much, we had a mammoth turkey between us all, and different people had all contributed some different part to the whole evening. Very well organised and a lot of fun. The Secret Santa person I’d drawn from a hat was proving very difficult to decide what to get her (we had a £10 limit), so I ended up painting her two little canvasses, with a basking shark and a whale shark on (her PhD is based on Basking sharks). I think she liked them (I hope she liked them!).

Next day was followed by Thai takeaway in order to celebrate my housemate Rich going through his viva (oral defence of his PhD thesis) successfully and becoming Dr Rich. Next evening somehow ended up as going out for curry with an office mate, a friend who used to work in Bermuda, their old housemates, and one of my friends who works in Bermuda but was home in Southampton for Christmas. The weather had another attempt at snowing, but nothing really settled in Southampton. However, the midlands had been hit pretty badly, so headed home on the Wednesday afternoon with slight trepidation about how long it would take me to get home. Fortunately, apart from the fast lane of the motorway being mostly covered in snow, the only real problem I had was once I got onto our estate. Because it’s an un-adopted road, it means the council won’t clear it or grit it, so it was still 6 inches deep in fresh snow! Finally managed to get into our driveway, and I have to say, much as I hate my little car sometimes for its practicality (or lack of), it was actually remarkably good on the snow, I think because it’s front-wheel drive and so light. Dad’s car was terrifying on the snow when we went to church on Christmas Day. Poor sis was ill with flu over the Christmas period, so spent most of the time either curled up in a blanket on the sofa, or in bed :( Not very festive for her unfortunately (but pretty quiet for the rest of the family!). Ridiculously cold for most of the week I was at home, think we saw temperatures of -13 in the mornings, and daytime highs of around -5 or -6’C. Very unusual for the midlands, certainly in my memory it’s not been that cold. Did some baking on Christmas Eve with my friend Millie (we made the Christmas muffins again), helped mum decorate the Christmas cake, made gingerbread men and generally got in the way.

Christmas was full of food, family time and festivities. Unfortunately had to come back to Southampton on the 28th Dec to get into the lab in order to filter 80 water samples in time for the middle of the first week of Jan. The guy in charge of the analysis machine I needed to use (ICP-AES) was going on the Antarctic research cruise on the Friday 7th, so needed to have all the samples ready, measured and analysed before he left. I was filtering 2.5ml of my samples at a time, washing with 5ml of ammonium bicarbonate, and even running on average 10 hour days in the lab, I was only getting through about 18 or 20 a day. SO DULL!!! To top things off, I started feeling poorly on the 29th, and by New Year’s Eve had no voice. Pulled a 12 hour day in the lab, came home at 8.30, ate dinner with my housemate and his friends, saw in the New Year and then promptly went to bed. Felt like death warmed up on New Year’s Day, but still had to go into the lab. Proper fever, shivering, sweating, coughing, dizzy, headache, and generally feeling extremely sorry for myself. When I wasn’t at work in the lab? At home in bed. Fantastic start to 2011. But, it paid off as I managed to get my samples done in time, and analysed before the lab tech went off to sea. Nothing much to report since then, made a cake for the boy’s birthday which I was particularly proud of (my sponge cakes never really seem to work, but this one worked, looked nice, and dare I say it, tasted bloody marvellous). Job done.


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