Seeing out the old year

7/12 K had eucharist, then Michelle and Chris visited – Lfish’s godparents – we had a lovely day with them, including play-testing the boys’ secret Santa creations with several rounds of Hnefetafl and chess and taking us out for a very tasty lunch – with irresistible desserts πŸ˜€
In the afternoon Lfish and K had rehearsals for the evening’s carol concert, while the rest of us loaded the car up ready for a late departure to to Christmas camp. It felt like a long drive, particularly with such a late start, and the not-exactly-joyous discovery that various major roads on our route were closed for night-time maintenance, but we finally made it to find that our beds had already been made up for us (so grateful for that!) and it was good to be there!

8/12 – 12/12 we spent our time at Coalbrookedale youth hostel, mostly chatting and playing with friends, but with added Christmas day celebrations (including the giving and receiving of secret Santa presents), sweet science (making molecules from sweets and icing), learning about the science of pastry (and incidentally making some very tasty quiche, pies and Norfolk shortbread), board games, video games, walks, music…

12/12 On the way back from camp we detoured a little to visit Coventry. Our whistlestop tour mostly encompassed the old cathedral and was enough to convince us that we should return for a longer visit another time.

13/12 Music school was reduced to a singing rehearsal, ready for the concerts on Sunday. Lfish had gym and the rest of the day was spent unpacking and generally catching up on rest.

14/12 K had eucharist and mattins and A choir, so it was a busy morning for them, then K, L, L and A had an afternoon of rehearsals followed by a double helping of concerts, singing with Prime Brass. Bob went to one and I to the other and both were excellent – a really lovely fun and festive occasion.

15/12 XYZ – more Christmas crafts, white chocolate ganache snowballs, non-Newtonian fluids experiments using corn flour and water, including testing its properties as body army by dropping a raw egg without it breaking. J had his grade 5 trombone exam – which would perhaps have gone more smoothly had Bob taken him to the right exam centre…, K and A cello, K and L football, J English online

17/12 WeEd, choir, Italian

18/12 The morning was mostly spent watching a fantastic performance of Around the world in 80 days, with a minimal cast doing amazing things with minimal props and lots of imagination. After a quick picnic lunch the four older children then had a Multisport bowling session, while A and I watched and chatted. A was slightly thrown by her gym being in a different place to usual, but enjoyed it nevertheless.

21/12 was one of our favourite service of the whole year: Carols by candlelight. K and Lfish sang beautifully and also enjoyed a fine choir tea, while A had a play date with Z and just came along for the concert. Meanwhile J had CCYO rehearsals all day and then a quick dash to our local church so that he and L could play in the band for their candlelit carol service. It’s such a shame these two services always coincide, as both are great and it means we always end up missing one or the other or dividing to get to both.

J had CCYO on 22/12 too, so after dropping him off we collected K’s choir friend A and brought him home with us for a day of playing with L and K. They spent a lot of time either playing or discussing computer games, while the girls rolled their eyes and did craft things πŸ˜‰

For various reasons it’s been a while since L managed to have a sax lesson with Em, so we decided to arrange a few with another, more local, teacher and the first of these happened on 23/12. We dropped J off at his CCYO rehearsal and then came home via Stephanie’s. The lesson went well and she lent him a book (jazz, obviously πŸ˜‰ ) with some new music to try πŸ™‚ Back home and we had just a short while before it was time to go and collect Fortune for her Christmas stay with us, buy some lunch and then go and meet Gran-gran and Grandad ready for J’s CCYO concert. Another excellent festive concert πŸ™‚

This Christmas Eve we decided to break with tradition and postpone meeting up with Bob’s family until Boxing Day (which until this year was when we visited my aunt). This meant we had a leisurely day before the annual crib service, where A’s choir were singing and all the children taking part in the nativity story telling. It was, as ever, a lovely service, full of fun and joy.

Christmas day started bright and early, not only because of eagerness to open stockings but also because both K and Lfish were singing in morning services. A, J, L and Fortune opted for our local church and a rather later service, so Bob took them to that while I took the others to Eucharist and Mattins. Home for snacks to stave off hunger until our usual mid-afternoon Christmas dinner – more time to get all those trimmings ready πŸ˜‰ Having banned screen-based games for the day we enjoyed several different games, most of which were Christmas presents for someone or other: Fast Flowing Forest Fellers, Fool, Quelf…

On Boxing Day we headed over to Colchester to spend the day with Pippa and co, taking two cars to accommodate our extra family members this year. It was a fun day and nice to be able to stay later rather than having to dash back for services πŸ˜€

By the 28th we were feeling rested again and unexpectedly nice weather gave us the idea of a trip to Sutton Hoo to get our Anglo-Saxon studies off to a good start. We met up with Em and boys there (girls away) and enjoyed doing a trail round the museum and then a good walk round the burial mounds and general site.

The following day J’s godparents came to visit on their way home from Christmas with family, which gave us a good reason for a bit of house tidying before the busy-ness of holiday orchestra.

30/12 Holiday orchestra, L sleepover with SB, JBiff sleepover with us.
J: recorders, intermediate band, upper band, orchestra
K: trombone taster, 10+ choir, upper strings, orchestra
L: jazz workshop, intermediate band, percussion games
Lfish: training strings (helper), gamelan, upper strings
A: training strings, 7+ choir, percussion games

31/12 Holiday orchestra, then New year party at the Beans’ – L, Lfish and A got there early thanks to a lift home from holiday orchestra; the rest of us followed later. We had a really fun evening of games, chat, good food and good company, saw in the new year and then went home for not quite enough sleep…