Posted by: Valerie | December 31, 2011

Another year bites the dust

What a fizzy, bizzy year it’s been, what with moving and all that that entails. The auction to get rid of all our surplus Stuff, fixing up the new house, actually moving in, fitting out the garage and basement with storage for all the remaining Stuff. Then realising that we had to go out and buy stuff to replace the Stuff we sold! Somebody (no names of course) sold all the garden tools at the auction! Now our yard is one seventh the size of the previous yard but it’s still an acre and that requires a spade and trowel at least.

Our holiday in Hungary of course was a major feature of the year. This visit I felt more comfortable with the relatives although not when they gave up their beds for us. Little bits of language were slipping into my consciousness which helped and travelling around provided us with lots of adventures which you will already know about if you read my earlier blogs.

The fall was livened up by visits from immediate family coming to inspect our new home and of course a visit from Master Deklin and his entourage. I also went to Ottawa without Joe, to do an overnight babysit with the wee lad while Mum and Dad were all gussied up to attend a formal “do” at the Chateau Laurier. Angela had arranged this formal for 350 people on behalf of the company she works for but in the end the pair of them went to help a friend deliver her baby in the middle of the event. I would like to have a picture of them in their evening clothes in the delivery room!

Then of course came Christmas – dash about buying stuff and wrapping it – going to Oshawa for a family party given by Joe’s daughter prior to their family all going to the Dominican Republic for Christmas. Liz does put on a good show.

Then came trouble. I  won’t go into all the details. On the Friday before Christmas, I had a wicked headache and, more worrying, couldn’t get my words. Went to Bancroft Hospital and they told poor Joe it might be a brain aneurism and whizzed me off to Belleville in an ambulance for a CT scan and a spinal tap. Both were OK and by the next day my words were back. End result is they had no idea what was wrong and discharged me on Christmas Day. Joe was really sick with a very bad cold and had to drive to Belleville and back to get me. Jamie and Angela did a mercy trip on the Saturday and brought me some toiletries and a book to read.  Prior to that I had absolutely nothing to do except stare at the ceiling. No TV either as the technicians who set it up (flick a switch?) were off for Christmas. Did occur to me to wonder why the techs who were not celebrating Christmas could not be persuaded to work but then I am known to be a bit stroppy about such things. One of the nurses did give me a book someone had left at the nursing station (they seemed astonished that anyone would want such a thing!) It was about the influence of God in the relationship between mothers and daughters. I swear it just made me sicker and I rapidly abandoned it, preferring the ceiling.

So here it is – the last day of the year. We have no intention of kicking up our heels and will probably be in bed long before midnight. Such is growing older…

However… there have been some memorable Hogmanays in years gone by! One year, before I left home, I had been to the Arts College Fancy Dress Ball the night before New Year’s Eve and pulled an all-nighter. It had been quite a success – especially my costume which I constructed from front pages of a teenage magazine called Romeo. With my Romeo tunic, black tights and my medieval page boy hair and a plastic sword, I got my picture in the local paper!  However, come Hogmanay, I was pretty wrecked and went to bed to catch some zzzzzzs in the early evening before going on the bus to meet my boyfriend Tony and go to his Mum’s fabulously famous New Year party. WELL –  my mother deliberately didn’t wake me up! And neither she or my father would agree to drive me to meet him. I was really mad – seemed like teenage abuse to me and of course I ended up on the bus when midnight struck. The bus stopped dead on midnight, all the people got off, took their flasks from their pockets and passed them round, then we all sang Auld Lang Syne on the sidewalk, had a wee dance and got back on the bus.

The party that followed was a typical Hogmanay do. The first-footing began after midnight and continued until about 5.00 am. Originally it was common to bring a lump of coal as a gift to the hostess but I remember people bringing kippers all dressed up as people in crepe paper clothes. I suspect that most people can hardly imagine the amount of spirits that was consumed but there was lots of special New Year’s food too. Shortbread is of course traditional but so is a thing called Black Bun. It is the heaviest fruitcake you could possibly imagine – no flour at all, just fruit soaked in whisky and compressed into a thick pastry shell.  Needless to say there were also many other impossibly sweet treats. Not for nothing does Scotland win the race to have the highest sugar consumption and generally most unhealthy diet in the western world. We did after all invent the deep-fried Mars Bar. And the mealie puddin’ supper! One day I will tell you about Atholl Brose which is a Scottish dessert – oh, OK, I’ll tell you now. It’s uncooked oatmeal mixed with whisky and really thick cream. It’s really quite good. Believe it!

So, dear readers, I am signing off for 2011. Hopefully there will interesting and amusing stories up and coming in 2012.

Joe and I have a special wish for you in 2012 –


Note: I’m having a bad time with photos and a new header so I will work on them later!



  1. All the best in the coming year to the both of you.


    • Thanks Jean. Back at you!

  2. Reminds me of the dark haired man who on the stroke of midnight came to our front door carrying a piece of coal, a bottle of whisky and an oat cake. He was a friend of my fathers and did this for years and years. The piece of coal went in the hearth, you know what happened to the whisky but I never did know what happened to the oat cake.
    A very good 2012 to you both.

    • I’d have eaten the oat cake. I rather like them.

  3. Happy New Year Val and Joe.
    Thank you for the bit of nostalgia at the end regarding Romeo magazine.
    It probably goes back to my drooling over Cliff Richard days! I,ve also sampled both Black Bun and Atholl Brose and would quite greedily consume both this very minute even though I am stuffed to overflowing after last night,s celebrations!

    • Sounds as if you had a good time last night. Not too sore a head, I hope.

  4. Wonderful update – Cheers to you!
    Your health scare was, I heard, far more worrysome to all than you let on. We’re happy to hear that you’re back on track…exhaustion catches up with us in the strangest of ways. Hope you now have time to relax and enjoy your new surroundings.
    All the Best to You & Joe in 2012!
    Be well and take good care of yourselves.
    Hope to see you soon,

  5. Happy new year (a bit belated) to you Val. I hope 2012 brings us all serenity.

  6. Bit late but Happy New Year to you both. Love the story of New Years past.

    I immediately thought of the Swiss Bircher Muesli when you described Atholl Brose but I have to admit the only commonality is the uncooked oatmeal and cream! :o)

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