Twelve Drummers Drumming

Well here we are at last, Christmas is officially over for another year. Tomorrow 12 days are gone by and we’ve made it in one piece. After tomorrow the christmas decorations can come down at last (if you’ve taken down already boo for you it’s bad luck!)
How best then to end our twelve days of Christmas? Twelve drummers drumming could be Japanese taiko, or the Edinburgh tattoo again, or even some genuine Victorian beat boxing recordings! (There is no such thing by the way, in case u get Comments). Instead I I thought I’d finish by introducing those of you in the know to a classic bit of parody.
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
(A Correspondence)
John Julius Norwich

25th December.
My dearest darling,
That partridge, in that lovely little pear tree! What an enchanting, romantic, poetic present! Bless you and thank you.
Your deeply loving Emily.

26th December.
Mr dearest darling Edward,
The two turtle doves arrived this morning and are cooing away in the pear tree as I write. I’m so touched and grateful.
With undying love, as always, Emily.

27th December.
My darling Edward,
You do thinks of the most original presents: whoever thought of sending anybody three French hens? Do they really come all the way from France? It’s a pity that we have no chicken coops, but I expect we’ll find some. Thank you, anyway, they’re lovely.
Your loving Emily.

28th December.
Dearest Edward,
What a surprise – four calling birds arrived this morning. They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly – they make telephoning impossible. But I expect they’ll calm down when they get used to their new home. Anyway, I’m very grateful – of course I am.
Love from Emily.

29th December.
Dearest Edward,
The postman has just delivered five most beautiful gold rings, one for each finger, and all fitting perfectly. A really lovely present – lovelier in a way than birds, which do take rather a lot of looking after. The four that arrived yesterday are still making a terrible row, and I’m afraid none of use got much sleep last night. Mummy says she wants us to use the rings to ‘wring’ their necks – she’s only joking, I think; though I know what she means. But I love the rings. Bless you.
Love, Emily.

30th December.
Dear Edward,
Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door this morning, it certainly wasn’t six socking great geese laying eggs all over the doorstep. Frankly, I rather hoped you had stopped sending me birds – we have no room for them and they have already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you meant well, but – let’s call a halt, shall we?
Love, Emily.

31st December.
I thought I said no more birds; but this morning I woke up to find no less than seven swans all trying to get into our tiny goldfish pond. I’d rather not thinks what happened to the goldfish. The whole house seems to be full of birds – to say nothing of what they leave behind them. Please, please STOP.
Your Emily.

1st January.
Frankly, I think I prefer the birds. What am I to do with eight milkmaids – AND their cows? Is this some kind of a joke? If so, I’m afraid I don’t find it very amusing.

2nd January.
Look here Edward, this has gone far enough. You say you’re sending me nine ladies dancing; all I can say is that judging from the way they dance, they’re certainly not ladies. The village just isn’t accustomed to seeing a regiment of shameless hussies with nothing on but their lipstick cavorting round the green – and it’s Mummy and I who get blamed. If you value our friendship – which I do less and less – kindly stop this ridiculous behaviour at once.

3rd January.
As I write this letter, ten disgusting old men are prancing abour all over what used to be the garden – before the geese and the swans and the cows got at it; and several of them, I notice, are taking inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids. Meanwhile the neighbours are trying to have us evicted. I shall never speak to you again.

4th January.
This is the last straw. You know I detest bagpipes. The place has now become something between a menagerie and a madhouse and a man from the Council has just declared it unfit for habitation. At least Mummy has been spared this last outrage; they took her away yesterday afternoon in an ambulance. I hope you’re satisfied.

5th January.
Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform you that with the arrival on her premises a half-past seven this morning of the entire percussion section of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and several of their friends she has no course left open to her but to seek an injunction to prevent your importuning her further. I am making arrangements for the return of much assorted livestock.

I am, Sir, Yours faithfully,

Eight Maids a-Milking

Happy New Year, I hope you had a good one. We were very traditional last night with good food, good company and good games. At least the ones I won were good, the rest were rubbish.
And in honour of the New Year arriving and the old year passing (and as there has to be at least eight of them on that stage!)

Seven Swans a-Swimming

Happy New Year’s Eve, and allow me to introduce you to what I’m reliably informed by my a German friend is a German tradition. In Britain every year we have the Morcambe and Wise Christmas Special despite the fact that both of those great individuals have gone to the great Music Hall in the Sky. When we first heard about this we did not believe the individual who told us about it and so Julia, for that was her name, had to bring a video, for it was that long ago, to a party, for that’s what we used to do. And to paraphrase Douglas Adams paraphrasing someone else, Germany is a foreign country, they do things exactly the same there. Here is a comedy sketch that is shown every New Year in Germany, who says the Germans have no sense of humour.

Oh, and the Swans? Here’s an excerpt from an article from the South Wales Evening Post. Full article here.

NAUGHTY FOOTBALL MASCOTS: Cyril the Swan is still loved by Swansea City football fans

By StuartTaylor  |  Posted: November 28, 2013

Cyril and Cybil

Cyril the Swan and Cybil

Comments (1) STUART TAYLOR takes a look at football’s Top Five naughtiest mascots.

1) CYRIL THE SWAN (Swansea City)

SWANSEA City mascot Cyril the Swan was once voted best loved mascot by readers of the BBC’s Match of the Day magazine but his antics have seen the 9ft swan in trouble with the law.

In years gone by Cyril’s over enthusiastic goal celebrations often led to fights landed him in trouble with the club, the FA and the police on several occasions.

In his bad swan days he was mainly  reprimanded for fighting with other mascots and stewards and in the past has been accused of bringing the game into disrepute.

In 1999, Cyril ruffled a few feathers at Norwich, especially those of assistant manager Ryan Hamilton and was fined £1,000 for running onto the pitch to celebrate a Swansea goal, which was followed by a two game ban after an altercation with a Norwich coach.

Life was never the same again for the Swansea City hero and the highlight of his troublesome antics include removing the head of Millwall mascot Zampa the Lion, and drop-kicking it along the stand.

On a Dutch TV documentary about Swansea City, when asked what he said to Zampa he replied “Don’t F with the Swans”.

The club was fined £1000 for the incident.

Among Cyril’s less known offences are throwing pork pies and assaulting a rival before a Mascot Grand National.

He became something of a star away from football and has appeared on the BBC National Lottery Draw from the Vetch Field; was  the pet of the Emperor of China, in a Christmas pantomime of Aladdin At Swansea’s Grand Theatre and was a star turn on ‘Night Fever’, the karaoke show on Channel 5, which led him to release a song called ‘Nice One Cyril’.

Cyril is still something of cult hero among the Jack Army but is now a reformed Swan since getting married.

Yes I did say married. He got hitched to his sweetheart Cybil on April 2, 2005 at the Vetch Field.

“She is the love of my life and has made the Swan I am today. All my antics are well and truly behind me. To be honest I couldn’t afford the fines,” said Cyril.

Five Gold Rings

Altogether now!

Fiiiive Gooo-ooold Riiiiings!

Today five rings or links to five sites I think you should know about!

  1. Hedgespoken! – What a project this is! A modern re-imagining of the old wondering players of Europe performing off the back of a cart! Instead of cart, read big green lorry. And in more good news, it’s fully funding and is happening. Come to North Wales soon!
  2. Effervescent – Doing some wonderful work down in the South West (You should have seen the Christmas Grotto!) I can’t pretent to understand what “Social Alchemy” means, it’s probably to do with the Youth and I am now too old. But all I know is it translates into some fantastic and and visually stunning theatrical events.
  3. Pilgrims and Posies is the name for a a living historian and musician and storyteller and polymath! Tom Hughes (and often his wife) do all sorts for all periods including organising the Minstrels Court in Chester every year, Wassailing and Guising and heaven knows what else. In a few days time, on the 3rd of January will be the Apple Tree Wassail, if you’re in the area why not call by for stories, songs and random acts of bird feeding.
  4. Punch and Judy online – is a wonderful resource for anyone on the great couple and also includes some colouring sheets for the children, information on the Big Grin as well as a potted history and background for you.

And finally

5. Portable North Pole – Here’s one for next year, get a free personalised video message from Father Christmas for your little ones. Available in English or French (if you’re that way inclined).  Have they made the naughty or nice list? You can pay extra for more options (I do) but the basic package is still free, so make the most of it.

 Crikey this was a long one, a shorter one tomorrow methinks.

Four Calling Birds

or is it Colly birds?

Could be either really, colly is an old dialect word for black, so the black bird or calling bird can mean the same thing. Either way can you recognise a blackbird by its song? Below are my four calling birds, one of which is a blackbird, a coal-tit, a blue-tit and a bullfinch. Can you tell which is which? Answers at about the 20 second mark so be quick about your identification..

For more visit the BBC Website or subcribe to Tweet of the Day.

Three French Hens

A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. A chicken on the other hand can last a week if you’re thrifty! I jest of course but if you were so inclined why not go with the best Victorian stuffing, courtesy of Mrs Beeton herself. (and the BBC Food Website).

Sage and onion stuffing

Sage and onion stuffing

Homemade stuffing is easy to make from everyday ingredients and makes Christmas dinner that much more special.


Preparation method

  1. Peel the onions, put them into boiling water, let them simmer for 5 minutes or rather longer, and just before they are taken out, put in the sage-leaves for a minute or two to take off their rawness.
  2. Chop both these very fine, add the bread, seasoning and butter, and work the whole lot together with the yolk of an egg, when the stuffing will be ready for use.
  3. It should be rather highly seasoned, and the sage-leaves should be very finely chopped.
  4. Many cooks do not parboil the onions in the manner just stated, but merely use them raw. The stuffing then, however is not nearly so mild, and to many tastes, its strong flavour would be very objectionable.
  5. When made for goose, a portion of the liver of the bird, simmered for a few minutes and very finely minced, is frequently added to this stuffing; and where economy is studied, the egg and butter may be dispensed with.