From this to this!!!

The beach at Manta Rota, Portugal
I took this photo on one of my beach walks in January and arrived back home a few days later to this.
Our unpassable driveway in France
I was only gone 5 weeks and look what you people have done to the weather! Next year I'm not coming back before spring I tell you. We also arrived back to no water, no telephone and no internet. Might I mention that is ever so slightly displeasing to my tan.

I'm on holiday!

Sorry to be ignoring you, but hubby and I are on holiday for the WHOLE month of January!! But as soon as we're back, I'll tell you all about it and you will be green with envy. Just as a little taster...it's 20C everyday where I am!

Has she seen the Ghost of Christmas?

The Siamese kitty Miso
Apparently all she's seen is a fly, but I just love the expression of shock/amazement. The Ghost of Christmas, actually the three Ghosts of Christmas, are from the Charles Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol and were the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. I hope you all have good memories of Past Christmases and are enjoying Christmas Present and wish you all the best for 2012 and all the Christmases Yet to Come. Hugs to all who (thankfully) read my blog.

Thai Pumpkin Soup

The pumpkin soup with stuffed shells

Peter, Peter, The Pumpkin Eater – where are you when we need you?!

Deirdre and Joerg with The Pumpkin
Deirdre's (a very good friend of ours) pumpkin was the envy of the whole department. I even know of people who came from other departments to steal glances at her pumpkin. This pumpkin also had the courtesy to grow towards the road so that everyone could admire it's beauty – and there was a lot to be admired. A local police officer was worried about somebody stealing it, but we weren't. A drive-by-pumpkin-stealer was going to have to be a very big lad to lift this 150kg beauty.

Cottage Pie with Haggis

My Cottage Pie
aka Carol's concoction
“You're never too old to learn” and today I learned that Cottage Pie and Shepherds Pie are actually not exactly the same thing. It may be a case of splitting hairs here, but a Cottage Pie is a Shepherds Pie made with beef or pork and a Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb. Voila. You live and learn. I know, your life will never be the same again. (UPDATE: Please read the comments for the real difference between the two - thank you Frances!)

Carol's Concoction

Jörg practicing kiting
“Oh sh1t Jörg, your bike's been stolen!“ We were only 20m from our bikes practicing kite surfing techniques and after packing up we turned to our bikes to cycle back to our camper van and one of them was no longer there. Jörg said he would run back the 200m to our van so I set off in hot pursuit in the opposite direction towards the town of Sete 8km away. I do recall thinking, “Hell, wish they'd taken mine, then I could go back to the van.”

Hedgehog Sandwich Anyone?

Heddie the Hedgehog gets a ride
This was my first up close and personal with a hedgehog and I absolutely loved it. Smeared with a little butter and some crushed fresh garlic, it was deelicious. And it comes with its own set of toothpicks to get those last little niggly bits out of your teeth... Calm down, I'm just kidding. This must be just the cutest creature I have ever seen.

Lamb Shank Redemption

Today's recipe: Lamb shanks with olives & preserved lemon
The lamb shanks after the meal
Sigh, it ain't easy being me. Just this week I had to (1) get help opening the boot/trunk of my rental car – would you have known to press the VW logo at the top down to get the bottom up? And (2) did you know that you have to press the central lock button to get the petrol/gas tank to open? And (3) did you know that if your ticket says South Terminal, your flight probably isn't leaving from North Terminal? Groan.

Mirande Country Music Festival

Old style music man
I have something to confess: I am a closet Country Western fan. There. It's out. I've kept this secret long enough. I love country music. Not all the time mind you. Too much of it makes you want to jump off even low buildings, just to make it stop.