Sunday, 25 December 2011

A Christmas Cracker

What do you call a bear with no hair? Fred bear.

That little gem tumbled out of the Christmas cracker today. It gave a chortle to the Wonersh Duffs when YC relayed it by phone later on.

Lunch at YC's today was enjoyable (though he says so himself). By 12 30 pm Rev T had most definitely had his tea. So a glass (or two) of champagne got proceedings off to a fine start. Meanwhile Emma was masterminding proceedings in the kitchen. Everything went swimmingly until she turned the wrong oven off by mistake. This meant the roast potatoes took a tad longer than expected to cook. Fortunately there were ample supplies on hand to while away the slight delay, after which turkey and all the trimmings was "superb".

YC is now off to the Tynemouth Lodge to slake the raging Christmas lunch thirst with a pint or two of Deuchars. It's a tough life.

Left - Rev T: where's my hat? Mrs Rev T - on your head.
Right - the chef at work.

There was, of course, time to watch The Queen's speech at 3 pm today. No-one could accuse YC of being an ardent royalist, but he thought HMQ hit the spot today. She concluded by quoting this well known carol as a prayer:
"O Holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today."

You can listen to the broadcast in full on the BBC i-player.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Happy Christmas

The fourth Sunday of Advent has been and gone, as has the service of Nine Lessons and Carols at Holy Saviour's Church. So YC thinks it is now appropriate to wish all his readers Happy Christmas.

This card was designed by YC's nephew Matthew Duff. As the young chap just loves YC's jokes (he does - really), here is another one to keep readers chortling until Christmas Day.

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Advent and Santa's Gardens

The Angel Gabriel from heaven came,
His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame.
"All hail" said he "thou lowly maiden Mary
Most highly favoured lady." Gloria!

Christmas seems to be approaching with a rush. YC sang his first carols of the year at North Tyneside Hospital when he and his sister Emma played some tunes in the Ash Court ward. One patient was reduced to tears by Away in a Manger (though YC is assured these were tears of joy). Tonight YC sang The Wexford Carol and Silent Night on the concourse of The Sage Music Centre, Gateshead with his folk singing class.

But before readers get too carried away, YC would like to remind them that it's only Advent - the season when we get ready both for Christmas and the second coming of Jesus (to get very theological).

YC is embracing the age of austerity by refraining from any Christmas decorations. Those visiting Millfield Gardens will have to make do with the neighbours' doorside singing snowmen (You better watch out, you better not cry - Santa Claus is coming to town!) which are very entertaining.

In BC1, Caesar Augustus decreed that everyone was to go to his own city to be taxed. In AD2011, Emma has decreed that the Duff family is coming to YC's house for Christmas lunch. This caused some anxiety at No 10 until YC realised that Emma was offering to cook. Furthermore Rev T is in charge of ambience - ie I've had my about this champagne? So it promises to be a good do.

As it's only Advent, YC would like to wish readers all the compliments of the Advent Season, and prepare them for Christmas by asking:

Why does Santa have 3 gardens? So he can ho ho ho!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Simonside Cairns Fell Race

After last week's snowy run, YC was fellrunning today in more clement weather. The route of the Simonside Cairns race had to be altered due to ice on the top of Simonside. So instead the race followed a clockwise loop around Simonside without actually going to the top. Last week there was snow and a freezing wind; today there was a hint of sunshine and a gentle westerly. Even better, Mark Brooker was back for another fellrace and kindly drove YC to the race. This meant that YC could slake the raging fellrunner's thirst afterwards in the Newcastle Hotel.

YC finished circa 14th out of 90 in about 1 hour 30 mins. His shock at finishing so high up was only surpassed at seeing John Telfer sipping a glass of coke in the pub afterwards. Presumably now that JT has had his coke and tea, there might just be the chance for something a little stronger.

More details will soon be appearing on the NFR website for those keen to peruse the results - no doubt readers can't wait for that.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

winter's here

Winter has arrived in the north-east. On Wednesday YC ran up Hedgehope and there was a dusting of snow on the top. Today at the Hexhamshire Hobble there was more than a dusting of snow. 2-3 inches had fallen on the moors above Allendale. The run back into the biting wind and snow was particularly grim/testing/enjoyable in retrospect. YC got round the 10.5 mile course in 1 hour 26 mins. There were numerous folk from NFR there including Mark Brooker (from SSP) - YC had persuaded him that fellrunning was good training for the Kielder Marathon.

photo courtesy of Allen Valley Striders

And now, in time honoured fashion, readers (Rev T, John T, et al) might care to note that YC has had his tea...

PS It's also been snowy in the north-west. Here's Gill Walker putting on a brave face while climbing Wansfell in the Lake District. Apparently Tim told her there was a cafe on the top.