Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas 1

Christmas 1 started early yesterday morning. We had an 8 o'clock breakfast booking at our favourite Promenade Cafe at the Hyatt Hotel, a lovely way of spending Bobbie's last morning with us in Canberra before she returned to Brisbane after her three week visit with us.

Bobbie is doing very well at 87 years of age - still as alert as ever, still knitting the girls beautiful jumpers and cardigans, delighting in all their fun and games and so generous to them in every way.

It was good bye to Bobbie then back home for some last minute preparations before all the members of the Canberra family arrived for Christmas 1 celebrations (celebrated early because Josh & Jody and the girls won't be with us on actual Christmas day this year).

We broke with tradition this year and staged a "Scavenger hunt on the hill" for all the kids as the warm up activity for our Christmas party.

Rob was paired with Abi who had to alert him to where Sophie the dodow (dog) lives (in the townhouse at the bottom of the hill) before they could get down to any further business.

Rod was paired with Ollie for this game - which proved to be a powerhouse combination.

 Joshy was paired with Angus - a perfect match.

.....and Jeremy and Ella got straight down to business right from the start - a very efficient pairing. Each team had seven tasks: finding objects on the hill, taking pictures and doing drawings.

The last task was to make up a story using a given word. Ollie's was bocconcini, Angus's was gorgonzola, Ella's was gelati and Abi's was spaghetti. The story had to combine the word and "Christmas" too. It didn't need to be written down - it could be recorded.

Ollie and Rod took a long time to finish off their story (we found out why later) so with all the other teams finished and off the hill we started the real business of the day with one of Jeremy's (potent) cocktails.  In the pic below we are drinking to the health of all our absent extended family members (and thinking especially of the London branch, as they must be finishing off their packing, ready for the BIG move to South Woodford on the 19th).

To the sound of much clapping and cheering, all the teams had to present an "afformance" of their scavenger hunt tasks.  I was amazed that between all the "dodow" sightings Rob managed to write a little piece with Abi about Christmas and spaghetti. It went something like this......

Abi: Is spaghetti the same as confetti?
Gampa: No
Abi: But are noodles like poodles?
Gampa: No
Abi: But are ants like pants?
Gampa: No
Abi: Is Christmas like an isthmus?
Gampa: No...but these are all the big questions in life

Jeremy scribed Ella's story about gelati and then Ella read every word back to us (in Jeremy's hand written running writing) - word perfect and extremely fluent. Amazing!

These boys had a funny gorgonzola story and probably the best picture collection of any of the teams.

But the bocconcini Christmas story would have to be a world beater. Typical of this pair of bright boys it could easily form a Wikipedia post in its own right (but all completely made up):

Bocconcini and Christmas

Most people believe that bocconcini originated from Naples. But that is only partly true. Let me tell you the real story of bocconcini which involves a little known Italian explorer named Fredrico Natale. Fredrico came from a cheese-making family near Naples but he himself was not a cheese-maker. He preferred adventures on the high seas and on one of his voyages found himself at Colombo in what is now Sri Lanka. It was there that he came across an old man who was making a type of cheese that Fredrico had never seen before. 

“What type of cheese is that?” asked Fredrico. “We call it battacharry or buffalo eggs” said the old man. “But buffalos don’t lay eggs” said Fredrico. “No” replied the old man “but we make battacharry from the milk of the water buffalo and the cheese is made the size of eggs.” 

When Fredrico eventually returned to his family near Naples, he told them of the cheese he had seen being made in the exotic east. Since water buffalo milk was obviously not available in Italy, they decided to try sheep’s cheese and battacharry became bocconcini or “small mouthfuls”. 

You may well ask - what does all this have to do with Christmas? Well, if Fredrico Natale was English we would know him as Fred Christmas. So if you are ever in Italy at Christmas time, see someone enjoying a bocconcini pizza and hear someone say “buono natale” they may be wishing you a merry Christmas but then again  they might also be saying – “Good old Fred”.

Then it was time to exchange presents: paper and ribbon everywhere, and great excitement. Abi was the one who seemed to get the most enjoyment out of her presents  - Peppa Pig doll, check! Peppa pig backpack, check! Peppa Pig hand puppet, check! She refused to be parted from them for the next few hours.

I thought O & A coped so well with Ella and Abi receiving most of the presents today. (O & A will be the focus on actual Christmas day.) These things can potentially be very confusing for kids!

Our Christmas 1 meal was geared towards being child friendly, and themed around "Christmas with an Italian twist ". Luckily that could include some of our favourite seafood......

.... and a luscious caponata dish and celeriac mash that had the wonderful ability to tie a few disparate elements of the meal together. Like how do you match an Italian pork and veal ragu (with spaghetti) with fresh crab and prawns?

No such difficulty with dessert. Claire's Christmas pudding ice cream cake was a huge hit.

 ....with everybody!

The kids played together very calmly as the party started to wind down.

I managed to get some beautiful pics of this very handsome boy today. Christmas 1 was an absolute winner!


Claire Primrose said...

we are so lucky to have you Judy- thank you for another very special family get together.

Claire Primrose said...

ps I have pinched most of your photos..

davey said...

We are thinking of you all as well!

We have been tidying up the house tonight ready for the removalists to come and box everything up tomorrow. After paying everybody that needed to be paid today I am officially as broke as I was when I was 19. Thankfully no longer working for Pizza Hut though.

Have a wonderful second Christmas and we look forward to seeing the blog post, as always. Hopefully cath you guys on Skype later that night?

Lots of love.. London branch x

davey said...

Ps Jeremy you have pinched most of my beard look. I like it.

Roslyn Lawrence said...

So wish we could have been there. What a great, fun day it looked.

Claire Primrose said...

Davy - Beard look is a winner...