Monday, 28 December 2015

The North Pole Express

I've had some of my family staying with me over the Christmas period, so I've done no blogging. However, I can show some photos of our trip on the North Pole Express (steam train) where we met Santa Claus.  I went with youngest son and his family to give my youngest grandchildren a surprise treat. The hissing and clanking as the train approached took me right back to my childhood when I used to cycle to the next village and stand on the railway bridge and take deep breaths as the steam trains passed underneath.  Such a wonderful smell - but it always resulted in me and my clothes being liberally spotted with sooty splodges, much to my Mum's annoyance.
Here it comes, with excited children on board from the previous trip.

The valiant engine, named 'Albert' but re-christened The North Pole Express for today's trips.

Happy, smiling children - my youngest granddaughter and her big brother.

Surpriiiise!  Guess who's just appeared in the doorway of our carriage? He was very tall and wearing a bright red suit.

And he brought presents - a set of three juggling balls for Leo . . .

 . . . and Eleanor took her time opening her present, waiting until The Big Man had gone!

Ooooohhhh can you smell that lovely steam train smell?  I confess that I loved this outing as much as, if not more than, the children. This was the North Pole station where we could get off the train, meet and have photos taken with Santa.

Oops!  Sorry about the sideways Santa photo.

Eleanor found him a bit scary but she was OK once Daddy picked her up.

Through the window . . .

But there's always a joker!

Daddy reading the instructions out struck Leo as really funny!.

The North Pole Express left from Plym Valley Railway in Plympton and cost just £5 per person - which I reckon was excellent value. 
After our trip, we all enjoyed freshly made doughnuts before going home for mugs of hot chocolate.  Mmmmmm . . . . . 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Predominantly books and food!

I'm still here . . . two weeks after my last post and really struggling to find anything interesting to say.  Due to the weather, there has been a lack of photogenic scenery - grey skies, fog and rain day after day have a limited appeal; the garden is wind-battered, colourless and dismal at this time of year and because Zac, despite medication, has increased stiffness in his hips and back legs we have been reduced to short ambles along a nearby lane rather than going further afield to explore new views.

However, through circumstances confined to home, I have been reading . . . oh boy, have I been reading. An eclectic mix, but variety is the spice of life, isn't it?

This first was a real bargain: it's a hardback worth £20 but bought for 1p on Amazon - only the postage to pay. It's absolutely brand new, no signs of being read at all. I've already cooked a couple of the recipes - one pot cooking suits me very nicely!

So mouth-watering . . . 

This one is in the Vegetarian section - and being 'Cornish' I had to try it - Yummy!

And what a tasty dessert to finish a meal.

Next, a couple of autobiographies.
Well, no excuse for reading all about Mark Webber; I am a Formula One fan, but I confess that isn't the whole reason for reading all about him! 
I managed to find a copy of 'Jeremy & Amy' after getting engrossed in the Monkey World series on TV recently; Jeremy is one of the directors and he is especially involved in looking after the chimps and orang-utans. 

Barney Bardsley's book, "A Handful of Earth" came to my attention after reading beautiful, descriptive excerpts from it on Elaine's blog "Rosebank Ramblings".  It's an account of the first year after Barney's husband died and how working in her garden helped her to gradually recover from her loss.  After reading that, I couldn't resist her other book about her "Old Dog" who was also instrumental in supporting her through such a sad time. 

I found this autobiography in one of the bookcases in our village community centre - free!
It's a powerful account of how the author discovered by chance that she was the granddaughter of one of the most reviled Nazi commandants, who would most certainly have ordered her death.

Finally, three fiction books: a Josephine Cox book, after hearing an interview with her on Radio 2; 
"The Yellow Sapphire" because it's set on Dartmoor, where I used to live and "The Miniaturist" because it was recommended by several friends.  I haven't read these last three yet so can't comment on them.

On one drizzly, windy and grey day, my friends and I decided to brave the weather to walk the three dogs then enjoy lunch afterwards.  Yesssss!  
My excellent Fish Pie with fresh vegetables (I was too full to eat the warm, crusty bread.) -

Fish & Chips for Barry, with a pint of Guinness.

and again for Linda but with a coffee.  I had a cappuccino.

Two of our dogs relaxing after their exercise in Seaton Countryside Park.

Here's to some drier days.