Saturday 4th December – BKF Christmas Party

With Dave off to work, I continued with sorting out my Partylite boxes. I've re-packed and checked which pieces I have and put them up in Kat's old room. Leaving downstairs the Christmas bits which I have put out and the bits that are in the next year's catalogue and the sale stuff. I still have the wax to sort through and my own sale boxes. It is quite scary the amount of blue boxes that I have accumulated. Love it all!

Once Dave was home from work and Kat had got to Ashford, we went out to dinner at the Hooden on the Hill in Great Chart. The roads were now clear but the footpaths were thick with ice and very slippery. They only had two beers on but they were both ones that we hadn't tried before. I had half of the Yule Tide, Teignmouth brewery. It was really good. The other one was Samphire bitter. I didn't try that one but I have it on good authority that it would have been better to have the Samphire one first. For dinner, I had a lovely mushroom and cheese omelette with chips. They did Kat a special prawn cocktail for her main course which she finished off. From here we went via Lidl's for beer and to get a few bits for the present game for the evening. Once we had also been to find a working cash machine and the Off Licence, we only had an hour to get ready once we got home. Dave wrapped the presents while Kat and I wrote some Christmas cards. Kat was looking really lovely in her new dress and I was very tempted to dress up like she had but the feeling of cold won. I know what these Scout halls can be like and opted to be warm rather than look pretty.

We left at about 5 with some discussion about whether it would take 1 hour 45 to get there, as per the printed sheet that Dave had got, or 1 hour 15 as per the sat nav. Playing silly games on the way.... I Spy and we went shopping and we bought.... Alka Seltzer, double ended dildo, Smarties, Bisto gravy granules, Vaseline, butt plug, a cuddly toy, a jacket for the cuddly toy, Jupiter, Beetlejuice, We got to Clacket Lane services about quarter to 6. Then Dave had a panic and decided to check if it started at 6 or 7 o'clock. It was 6, and he thought it was 7! Panic time, with coffees in hand, we rushed the best we could in the ice and slush back to the car to get there as quick as we could. The game from here was picking a topic and then working around the car with the next letter of the alphabet. It got silly! We got to birds.... I got the giggles when after saying Magpie, Kat then said “nother Magpie” !! So we arrived with tears streaming down my face. Although we were late, we weren't the last to arrive. Those that lived closest were the last to arrive but then they thought the start time was 7.30! It was also new baby Wakefield, Florence's, first outing. She is so tiny and very cute, and well behaved too.

Once everyone had arrived, we were fed. With soup and lots of other stuff, and yummy desserts too. We also had a snowman colouring competition. There was the pass the parcel game too with prizes or forfeits in each layer. Then we played the gift game which can get very evil, especially in a big group like this. Then there was the never ending raffle. Even though there were lots of prizes anyway, it would have ended sooner if some people had just donated some money to the kite group rather than buy raffle tickets if they are never going to take the prizes. It was soon time to say our goodbyes and set off home.

We hadn't got far when the Bat mobile lost power. Then we managed to limp to the petrol station. The engine was left running while enough fuel was put in it to get home. It's always too expensive to fill up at motorway petrol stations. On the M25, we had hardly got a mile down the road before the car died again. We then spent half an hour searching the glove compartments, phoning friends and phoning home to see if the car was covered by any sort of breakdown cover. We found that my bank one couldn't as it was for my car only. Luckily, the Rear Admiral had a better cover with his bank and a breakdown truck was despatched to us. We were visited by the Highways Agency guys who were brilliant. We couldn't get on to the hard shoulder as it was knee deep with snow. They put cones behind the car and stayed with us for a while. Kat got a tin foil blanket wrap as she was coldest. The breakdown truck arrived fairly soon and loaded us all. It was a bit scary in the big truck getting back to the Batfarm down the narrow lanes near Leeds Castle and near Smarden. Once home and unloaded, Bat borrowed another car and we got home about 2 am. I decided that we can blame Kat for this as the last couple of times when she's left the county, she's had transport trouble, and they usually happen in threes! A couple of weeks ago when she went to London and got stuck on the train for over 3 hours and when she went to Lakeside on a snowy day and took 7 hours to get home.

Thursday 2nd December - More snow

I had trouble uncovering my car this morning. I took a spade to the car parked round the corner. I got my bag and stuff into the car, then closed the door, lifted the spade to try and move the snow off the roof, then suddenly my keys were no longer jingling in my hand! After checking near my feet where they should have fallen, they had disappeared. I then had to dig through the snow. It took me 20 minutes to find them! So I was very late for work. At least I got there. Lots of my colleagues didn't.

Wednesday 1st December 2010

Today it snowed again for the second day here. We cancelled the Tuesday night meeting last night to save everyone from coming out in the cold. It was -3 when I got into the car this morning and this evening, and it snowed lightly for most of the day.

I went to Farm Foods after work to get a few bits. Pushing a trolley in the snow was interesting. Not done that before. While eating our pie and mash dinner, we watched some Time Team.

I went outside again later to check the white stuff. It is snowing harder now and we may have problems moving in the morning. The road and paths have disappeared again and the cars are covered up again.

I remembered to start my advent calendar this morning. I have a Peppa Pig one. I also have an advent candle.

Saturday 27th November – Batfarm and Murder Mystery Evening

In the morning, I joined Chippy and Emily in visiting the Batfarm. It was an excuse for me to see the beasties again and take lots of photos. It was really cold.

In the evening, we went to Andy and Heather's for a murder mystery evening. I should say instead we went to Blackwater Manor for a cocktail party. Andy with assistance from Glenn and Stephen, had written a brilliant story that made us all feel that we were the murderer. It was very good. I was Miss Jennifer Blue. I had bought a new blue sparkly dress and new blue shoes for the occasion. The rest of the cast for the evening were as follows:

Dave - Reverend Rose
Heather – Dr Plum
Stephen L – Major Strangely-Brown
Rachel – Miss Grey
Janice – Lady Blackwater
Brian – Col. Mustard
Donna – Miss Scarlett
Glenn – Mr Green
Andy – The butler and “Latrine” - the French Maid

I was glad that it was mostly scripted and guided as I'm hopeless at proper “role play”. Wonder how Andy will follow up on this successful evening?

Thursday 25th November – November Extravaganza

I should try to remember not to have coffee at archaeology club. I didn't sleep properly. I felt conscious nearly all night. I was only partially asleep. The alarm went off at 6.30, so I was up, showered and ready to go in the car at 7.30 as planned. I got to Maidstone easy enough, passing through a brief snow flurry. Then I couldn't remember which road on the estate was Bethan's. I thought I would recognise it when I got there. I got the postcode from Karen but then I couldn't get the sat nav to find the GPS signal. So I waited somewhere that I would see Karen come past so that I could follow. The 3 of us set off at about 10 past 8. We had a good run. We got through the Dartford Crossing really quickly not having to stop and queue at all. As the girls were hungry, we stopped at South Mimms services. I had a hot chocolate and warm chocolate bread which was really good. On arrival we bought a raffle prize. I got another Sabor Isleno Melts Warmer. I love the one that I take out in my kit. We were soon seated for our day to commence with door prize draws, recognition, new product and training talks. Lunch was good if a bit of strange mix. There was battered fish or chilli and rice, with various salads and other cold rice. For dessert there was fruit in juice and/or cake which was apparently a bit boozy. The afternoon was much the same as the morning and we finished on time taking with us a goodie bag of new products worth over £30 with a new catalogue and some useful flyers. The journey home was much busier. The sat nav originally said that we would be back at Maidstone at 10 to 6 and we got back about 20 past 6. I then had to go to Tesco to get petrol as I didn't have enough to get home. While I was there I went to get something for dinner. As cauliflowers were on special offer, I decided that we would have cauliflower cheese with some gammon. It worked well.

Wednesday 24th November 2011

This morning at work we had a big company meeting at 9.30, with orange juice and pastries. Apparently 110 pastries cost about £50+ from Sainsburys. The vice president praised us for all our hard work. We all got a bottle of wine at the end of the meeting. This breakfast meeting and the wine is much appreciated.

In the evening it was off to the monthly archaeology meeting. This evening's talk was by Keith Parfitt on Roman villa at Folkestone. I had no idea that it was there, over at the warren. We must have even walked actually over it without realising. It was originally dug in 1924 and again in 1989 and last year. They have plans to go back again in 2011. When they go next time I'd like to go and have a look. When they filled it in 1957 to protect it, they used waste from a local furnace waste so they had to be very careful when they uncovered it next as it was like black coal dust.

Wednesday 17th November 2011

Kat wanted to be on the platform for the 8.30 train this morning. I sailed to work after getting her there, and got there early. Shame my boss wasn't there to notice! She had an appointment with the “mouse” man apparently. Other colleagues had problems getting to work. There were tales of an hour and a half from Folkestone and over half an hour for a journey that usually takes 10 minutes. Poor Kat. Her train was even worse. There was a fatality on the tracks at Petts Wood and she was stuck on the train for over 3 hours. Over 4 hours after she left me, she arrived at her destination.

This evening I called in to see Belinda to drop off her catalogues, etc for her party next week. Both her daughters were there and the 3 grand children. I forgot how noisy 3 children can be. Any longer there and I might have ended up with a headache. It was good to catch up with Belinda though.

When I got home I cooked a pasta bake. Once I'd started it and it was in the oven, I realised that I was out of cheese. As an alternative, I put a pack of bacon on the top at the half way through stage instead of the cheese. It worked quite well. I will definitely do this again.

We watched a Time Team Special, the Real Vikings. It was mainly based on a dig in York where they are finding evidence that the Vikings weren't all bad. They lived for many years peacefully trading with all countries.

Monday 15th November 2010

There was a heavy frost this morning. The first time of the year that I've had to seriously clear the ice off the car. No sign of the auditors, so on with the work and the direct debits. I got in before 9 and left at 5, bonus. Cooked chicken legs for dinner coated with Benenden Sauce this evening, and we had them with chips. Yesterday, I used some Benenden Sauce on the roast potatoes, as I didn't have any vegetable oil. That worked OK too.

We won 8-0 at bowling which is really good as we were playing one of the new teams who are really good. We were on a mission to get 450 points each over the three games. Batty managed 150+ on each game but I didn't. I missed the 450 by 9 points. Dave wants to know why the other teams keep coming back as they always get their bums handed to them on a plate. We don't always win. We have lost 20 points this season.

Tuesday 9th November 2010 – Garden Centres and Rye

As it was another wet and windy day, we decided to go down to the garden centre instead of the zoo. On the way through High Halden we stopped at The Snake Shed. It is usually closed when we drive past. They have some gorgeous snakes there, amongst other things. Just keep saying “no”.

We went on to Tenterden Garden Centre. Their Christmas display is no where near as good as Bybrook Barn's. I got a few more ideas for Christmas presents. Then we went on to the aquatics shop. Unfortunately the spa shop was closed. It is not open on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then only open 10 until 2.

We then went on to Rye, the scenic route. Our first stop was The Queen's Head which has been under new management since May. They had Dark Star Expresso. They also said they often have Crofters from the FILO. It's very rare to find anything from the FILO outside of their premises. They weren't serving dinner so we just had the one drink and moved on to the Union Inn. The food was lovely. Dave had a 3 cheese ploughman's and I had scampi and chips. I have a feeling that the food is better here than it would have been at the Queen's Head anyway.

Monday 8th November 2010 – Dover

Today we had hoped to go to either Howletts or Port Lympne Zoo but it was evident that the rain and wind would have made it unbearable. I decided it would be a good day to go to Dover Museum as that would be inside and it is only my list of “things to do”. We set off about 11 and called into the new home brewing shop in over near Wickes. They have only been open since May. They have lots of interesting stuff there for making wines, beers or lagers. I hope they do well. The guy was very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Dave bought a kit of Stout to try first. Sounds promising, and it could be ready as soon as 3 weeks. So time to try it and get another lot brewing for Christmas.

It was very scary driving down the motorway. I had to hold the steering wheel tightly as the wind was blowing the car about. I didn't think much to the rain either, especially when driving past lorries. Having parked up at Dover, Dave knew where he was going to I pulled my hood tight and followed. The museum was only £3 each to get in. The first floor had clearly labelled cabinets detailing each item, the second floor was a bit of guess work. There was every era covered of history in Dover through to war time. Dover did use to house the fattest man in England! 42 stone Thomas Longley was publican of The Star Inn in Church Street. Born in Snargate Street in 1848 & died in 1904. Buried at St Mary's cemetery. (I think this has probably been beat by now). I liked the big polar bear. I was surprised at how tall they are. The main feature of the museum is the Bronze Age boat. There was a talk about it at the archaeology club a couple of years ago by Keith Parfitt, the main archaeologist involved with it's excavation. It was found under medieval and roman stuff so when they discovered it they knew that it had to be older and of great importance. It is amazing how much of it they were able to retrieve and preserve. Pausing on our way out to buy the usual leather book mark for my collection, we made a short visit to what used to be the Dover Discovery Centre ( Posh name for a library! There were some ruins that could be seen out the back window but it wasn't clear what it was or where to go to see more “historical” stuff so we went out into the wet to find some lunch. KFC was nearby and we could eat in so we stopped there. Shame the staff there couldn't speak English so that Dave could understand. I had to translate for him!! After we had eaten we called into Blakes for a quick drink. They didn't have anything dark on so I settled for the same as Dave. I was going to try something different. I think it was Gadd's Rye but not sure. I was given a taster and decided that I didn't like it anyway. Leaving the pub, we ran back to the car through the rain and set off for Folkestone to go to the new Maplins. We managed not to find anything to buy. Then on to see Kat for a cuppa. She was in her pyjamas. These weren't any normal pjs, they are something known as a “onesie”. A one piece thing that looks like a babygro!

Bowling in the evening, we were officially playing against Team 10 which is our vacancy. We managed to get the 320+ needed for our 8 points. So we remain in 1st place for now.

Sunday 7th November 2010 – Parsnip Soup

I mostly had a lazy day. Dave went to help Chippy, leaving me snoozing. I had breakfast and spent more time on my PC than I should have done, as usual. When Dave got home, I made him a sandwich, then Dan came home with French bread and meat. So Dave had lunch no. 2.

When the rain had stopped I took a walk to a deliver Partylite hostess pack to Sue who is local.

As I had lots of parsnip thought I'd make some soup. After checking on the internet, I found quite a few recipes for parsnip and apples. I would never have thought of putting those together. So using what I'd read as a guideline, I made parsnip and apple soup, sort of making it up as I went along. I hope I can recreate it one day. I peeled two large parsnips, and chopped one for roasting and one for the soup. Boiled for 15/20 minutes. Took out the parsnips for roasting and added 3 chopped apples (sweet ones) to the water. This was then boiled until soft with a couple of vegetable oxo cubes. When soft, this went in the blender with a splash of soy sauce to give it a bit of colour. Yum!

Later I watched Night at the Museum 2 (2009) that I recorded months ago. I don't think it's as good as the first one. I didn't realise that the girl in this, Amelia, is Giselle, the princess in Enchanted (2007).

(As it's November, one of my firework photos for today)