Christmas 2013

Christmas is now just a word, perhaps some food different to otherwise, but the 24th December arrives every year and so we get prepared for it. At least that is the thing that everyone does. Me? Yes, well let’s get something clear. I am an atheist and only do it because the others find I should do it.

When your age climbs to a number with a 7 in front of it and your hair is a wonderful shade of silver with a few dark bits in between, the whole fuss and bother gets too much for you. We are talking about last Christmas. Mr. Swiss, my oldest son and me. No. 2 son was celebrating in Germany with his wife’s family. We did not have a Christmas tree that you could not see for the wrapped gifts surrounding it, and our decorations were sort of found in the cellar or borrowed. Things are not like they used to be and I am not sorry.

It was decided, by a decree that went out from Mr. Swiss (I do not think that Caeser Augustus does that sort of thing any more), that Mrs. Angloswiss could perhaps make an effort to cook something that she does not cook usually. I agreed, as anything expensive and special did not need long cooking times and great preparations. A piece of beef tenderloin (is that Rindsfilet in english?) is expensive but fool hardy. Just give it a sear on each side and “Bob’s your Uncle”. I did make an effort to create a herb butter to go with it. Naturally it has to have veg and the gang and everyone seems to do brussel sprouts with the Christmas dinner, so I did brussel sprouts. One problem was that No. 1 son does not eat brussel sprouts, they are green and being an autist he usually avoids green vegetables. No problem: Mrs. Angloswiss did some Vichy carrots, another simple effort that did not kill me with overwork. It was all matched with fried potato and everyone was happy.

A dessert? Oh come on, I do not do wonderful mouth watering concoctions of fantastic melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cream with delicious waffles or whatever. The supermarket has a great selection of ice cream and there is always a can of whipped cream in the fridge to go with it – no problem.

It was then that everyone disappeared to do their own thing. I read a book and Mr. Swiss watched the TV. No. 1 son had received a book featuring the Beatles with lots of photos and was happy. I received nothing from Mr. Swiss and he received nothing from me – we buy our own thing, much easier and less complicated.

A footnote – we celebrate in Switzerland on 24th December in the evening, the British Christmas Eve. The festivities continue on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Hot and Cold

Front Garden 01.12 (6)

This afternoon I was out in the front garden because I noticed that a layer of cold December mist was beginning to fall. Of course I had my camera with me, you never know. Then I saw that my neighbour had some Christmas lights on a tree in her garden. I was armed with ma 300 lens, so could zoom in on the lights. My “F” thing seemed to be tuned OK on the camera and this is the result in b/w with hot lights on a below 0°C background.

Heating coils

What could be hotter than a cooking plate with its electric coils. Just the surrounding glass top which stayed cool thank goodness.

River Aar 30.10 (6)

If you live between the two flight paths leading to either Geneva airport or Zürich airport, you will definitely get a few planes zooming overhead. This one was letting off some steam as it passed over.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Hot and Cold

Daily Prompt: An Echo in a photo

Dad and Me, Wish Tower Cafe Eastbourne around 1964

Funny how an old black and white photo can return happy echoes of days gone by. Dad and I sitting on a wall at rhe Wish Tower Café in Estbourne, an english coastal town well known for Beachy Head, one of the tallest cliffs in Great Britain. Mr. Swiss found the photo and decided as a 15 year old teenager, I also had my merits. I do not know how old I was exactly, but it could be. No blue jeans and t-shirts in those days: a suit and a tie and shirt and a dress for the teenagers,  with high heels of course, no adidas. I think I was a sort of Amy Winehouse lookalike at the time, although she was not even born then. It would be 1961 making my dad approximately 46 years old. He passed away this year at the age of 100 and 7 months. Dad never had a wonderful head of hair, but it was dad. He had the same hair style in his platinum years, so he did not lose more or gain more.

Mr. Swiss found the photo to be a very good quality. There was a simple reason. My dad’s workfriend, Arthur, took the photo with his Leica camera, something rare in the 1960’s. A quality camera.

My Aunt Emmie was 15 years older than dad. She never married and at the age of 16 was working at the Post Office in London when it was hit by a bomb in the First World War. Her right leg was amuptated and I only remember my Aunt Emmy with her false leg.  She never married and was living in a church controlled home (she was methodist I believe)  in Eastbourne at the time after my grandmother passed away. Mum and dad just let things happen according to how it was organised by various authorities and so she was living in a town about 2 hours drive with a car from where we lived in London. We had no car and not very much money, so visits to Aunt Emmy were not frequent.  However, my dad’s work friend Arthur had a car and he offered to drive us to Eastbourne to see Aunt Emmy. Arthur became a family friend. He was not married and lived with his mother.

Oh these memories. Arthur was about 8 years younger than dad and passed away some time ago. When mum and dad moved to Dagenham, he lived near.

So we visited Aunt Emmie, and went for a walk with her in Eastborurne which is a very nice town: clean and a holiday resort for the retired and middle class. With time it even became popular amongst the younger generation, mostly students. The photo was taken sitting on the outside wall belonging to a café which was quite plesant and Aunt Emmie compatible.

You could not do a lot to entertain Aunt Emmie. It was difficult to know what the wishes of a quiet lady of 60 could be. Her “religion” did not allow her to visit a cinema and television was unknown to her. Her life in her home probably involved prayer time and no music, althogh she was an excellent piano playe. She never had a music lesson in her life. you just had to hum the first few notes and she could play ithe tune with prefect lefthand accompaniment and without music notes. She was one of those music talents that rarely occur. She once ventured on an excursion to the cinema on her her own from her home and was warned by the home managements that this was inapproriate to her lifestyle. Thank goodness we were plain old Church of England.

A photo that conjures echos from a past, from one of the many visits made to Aunt Emmy. With time the home closed and she was at last tranferred to a normal council home in London near mum and dad. She even had a male friend, about her age, who was wonderful company for her. Her grave is on the same cemetary as my dad near the entrance. I am sure she found her happiness in life in her later years: an echo of my dad and his sister.

Daily Prompt: An Echo in a photo

Good Morning

Feldbrunnen-Solothurn-Langendorf 30.11 (29)

At last I got a good shot of this house as we were waiting at the traffic lights. It is one of the older town houses, and belongs to one of the established town families. It has been decorated nicely for the Christmas season. Although I do not celebrate Christmas, I like to see the decorations and savour a bit of the atmosphere.

All we need now is a bit of snow to make it all perfect, not too much, just enough for a good photo. All we have is a frosty layer on the ground.

Today began with new bed linen, but even that job is now completed thanks to Mr. Swiss. I like Thursdays, no big tasks to complete and just take it easy. The birds have been fed. It was quite a crowd this morning, about 4 crows and as many magpies, it was pecking room only. Yesterday they did not get any breakfast as I had to go to the doc, and today they had the remains of the french loaf, as if not all is eaten when fresh, it gets dry and hard very quickly. The birds are not fussy, and I took some photos of the crows where they had at least 3-4 pieces crammed into their beaks.

I finished my Terry Pratchett book yesterday “Eric” which was not bad, but not as good or funny as others I have read. 14 year old boy wants to conjure up a demon to get eternal life a beautiful woman etc. etc. but gets Rincewind instead, one of the most unsuccessful wizards available in the DiscWorld. Death also puts in a few appearances. I like that guy, he can be very funny. The chief devil also arrives, but seems to have some bad luck with his staff. All Pratchet books are funny and good, but some better than others.

I do not know what the next book will be, but at the moment I have a playing phase. I have now discovered Scrabble on my various electronic apparatus. I enjoy thinking games with logic. I have also decided to see how my chess knowledge is and now play chess online against the computer. I would not dare to play against a human, I am not good enough. The only board game we had at home was draughts. Mum and dad had no idea of how to play chess, so I got a book out of the library when I was about 12 years old and taught myself. I suppose I wanted to introduce some culture into the family as mum and dad were not so much into that. They were probably more into the survival of the working class on what you had, which was not very much.

Chess is basically not so difficult to know what to move and where. The difficult part is actually playing the game and winning by thinking a few moves ahead. No problem, I have to think a few moves ahead when I move these days to make sure I do not fall down. Mr. Swiss was quite surprised to see I was playing chess online. I asked him if he could play it and he admitted not really, but he knew the basics. Kasparov look out, I am on my way. I just have to refresh a few moves.

And now to other things, like manual labour in the appartment – no time for chess or scrabble this morning, only action time doing the usual at the usual time with the usual tools like the vacuum cleaner and mop. What a boring life I lead – so checkmate everyone, and make sure your King is not threatened with capture (what an exciting game this is), or your computer.

Feldbrunnen to Langendorf 28.11 (11)

Approach to our village on the main road. We have to turn right over the rail tracks and we arrive home.