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Showing posts from December, 2008

New Years Eve

Well so far so good, at least it is a little warmer this morning with the thermometer reading a balmy 2 degrees.

I managed to get everything done yesterday morning, including walking the dogs, and had just got myself showered and ready when the the guests arrived. The lunch of turkey soup and soda bread went down a treat and we had lots of time to catch up and discuss the woes of the world. Dinner of oxtail stew and mash and cabbage, while very ordinary ,was warming and substantial. Our friends made a super fruit salad with loads of lovely fruit in it so we had that with a large dollop of cream.

I fed the bees yesterday with a nice big dollop of fondant icing which should keep them happy through the cold weather and in a week or two I will re-check to see if they need more.

Today is dustbin day just goes to show how ga ga I am I thought yesterday was Wednesday!!!!

This morning I have a few chores to do before the others are out of bed. I need to make a cheese sauce, made with wine an…

Tuesday and below zero

Visitors arriving today but I am up pretty late for me. Fortunately, I don't have that much to do so it is not a problem. I am going to make a batch of the Christmas pudding sweets but that only take a few minutes as the Christmas pud is already cooked and cold. The rest of the food is in the freezer and defrosting is not an onerous task.

Anne, what a small world it is, how strange that your other half should bump into the person who so kindly helped you. It never ceases to amaze me how nice people are especially if you are in trouble. We hear so much about the bad things that go on because they make good news copy but so seldom hear about the good deeds that happen every day.

The wonderful Jane will be here at 9 am and by 11 we will be all clean and tidy. I did manage to do a load of coloured washing but the whites are still waiting and with the addition of the sheets it will be more than one load I'm sure.

Our neighbours have gone to New Zealand for a holiday so it doesn…

Monday and even colder

My thermometer is reading just above zero so it is very cold this morning. My dog walk got scuppered yesterday as Terry the bee man came at around ten. He returned my original hive to me which unfortunately needs a couple of repairs after the vandals had had a go at it. We then made our way to the end of the garden to check on my current colony. Out side the entrance there was a pile of corpses but nothing that excessive just the natural die off that one expects in the winter. We opened the hive to check and the colony were in a nice tight huddle in the centre of the hive so all is well there. The oxalic acid was applied and the roof put back on very quickly so as not to drop the internal temperature too much. Terry has suggested that I start feeding them as they have very few supplies left. This is a relatively easy job as it just requires either a bag of sugar moistened or some fondant icing placed over the hole in the crown board. On my walk up the garden yesterday I noticed that B…

Sunday and freezing cold

The sky is clear and the temperature is down to 1 degree so pretty cold especially as my thermometer is along side the nice warm bricks of the house. Yesterday, walking the dogs down by the estuary it was really bitter as there was also a wind coming off the sea, it was like Siberia and I was in no mood to dawdle. Although I was wrapped up warm I didn't have a hat on and it was my ears that suffered. The dogs needless to say took it in their stride and seem totally unaffected by the cold.

I popped into Tesco to replenish my onion stocks and was very surprised at the amount of food that was heavily reduced. It would be a good time to restock the freezer but mine is already full. We finished off the last of the turkey with some bubble and squeak made with brussel sprouts and mash rather than cabbage. It was delicious and help the dregs of the turkey to disappear quite easily.

This morning I am expecting my bee guru, he was supposed to come yesterday but got his car stuck in th…

Saturday feels realy strange

Having just had the Christmas days it feels like it should be a Monday not a Saturday. Its pretty chilly here at 3 degrees but the good old central heating makes light work of that. We are down to the two of us so it is time to regroup and start thinking about the visitors we are expecting for new year. They arrive on tuesday around lunch time by which time the wonderful Jane will have been through and blitzed the place. I planned the menu some time ago and have gradually been putting it into action so that there are several meals ready made in the freezer so that we don't have to spend all our time cooking but still eat well.

Anne, your oven disaster sounds like a bit of a blow but you seem to have got round the problem really well. If I could have any oven I liked I would kill for an Aga. They have so many advantages. However, my kitchen is far to small to accommodate such a beast, so I am stuck with a conventional double electric oven and a separate gas hob which I suppo…

So how did it go for you?

We had a very peaceful and relaxed day with just the 3 of us and the 3 dogs. We sat about and had a leisurely breakfast then after the turkey was dispatched to the oven we load up the car with all the dogs and went off down to the estuary. The main car park was closed but there are several others which do not have gates. We had a nice walk along the river with quite a breeze blowing. There were quite a few others who had chosen to walk their dogs before lunch and we all wished each other Merry Christmas. The dogs had a good time and as the tide was in they didn't get too muddy.

Once we were back in the warm again it was nearly time to start the eating and drinking, but first the obligatory phone calls were made to wish other members of the family happy Christmas then it was on to the small starter of smoked salmon while we waited for the turkey to be done. I had decided to take Jamie Oliver's advice and put the 14lb bird in the oven on maximum heat and immediately turned…

Merry Christmas

Good morning one and all I hope that you are all still fast asleep and dreaming of what Santa might bring you. I, as usual, am up at an ungodly hour but I do have time to peal my vegetables and get the turkey sorted before breakfast. The dogs are happily playing with their new toys and Basso is besotted by his squeaky pheasant which he has taken to bed with him and refuses to let any of the other dogs play with it.



Fortunately, we are just the family here so we can do as we please. Breakfast, of panetone and buckets of coffee in our dressing gowns. Lunch will be served when it is ready and from then on it is every man for himself there will be plenty of left overs and the whole house is full of food so I will declare the catering department closed.



I will keep it short and sweet this morning as I don't expect many people to be reading this as I hope for their sakes that they have better things to do.



To my regular contributors many thanks for all your comments I always read them and …

Christmas Eve and preparations begin in earnest

As you know I set off good and early yesterday morning to get the shopping done. I could hardly believe my eyes but Tesco was heaving at 5 am. There was me thinking that it would be just me and the shelf stackers, no chance. Anyway it's done, now whatever is missing stays missing as I am not going to the shops today under any circumstances. I was back home, unloaded and put away by the time Jane arrived with her son. He is a lovely bright 6 year old and apparently when he was told that he would have to come to our house he said that it would be alright because he liked coming here as we were "intelligent" people!!!! So young and already an intellectual snob....

We left Jane to clean and went and got the turkey all the dogs were loaded into the car and off we went. Once that was done it was down to the estuary to wall the dogs with Elaine and her children and the Labradors. What a time the dogs had they were completely exhausted by the time we got home and were only …

Final fly round the shops

Today is going to be a mad rush round the shops, I need to get the final bits and pieces like milk etc and then its off to the butcher to collect the turkey and a nice piece of pork for new year. He is also saving me some turkey carcases from the ones he has boned out so I will roast them off and then make stock ready for the turkey soup. Mike is a chestnut stuffing person so I will have to make that as usual. I will also make another batch of the Nigella bon-bons as they seem to have been disappearing rather rapidly.
Riverford delivered me a nice box of vegetables. I usually have a small box but this time I also ordered a large box for my friend Elaine by way of a gift.

The whole pack of 5 dogs 3 kids and 2 adults got a good run yesterday, which blew out a few cobwebs and we all felt better for it. I love walking after Xmas as everyone looks fantastic and smell wonderful. New perfume, new scarves, gloves, hats etc and some times new puppies. The kids have new bikes scooters ki…

Well behind schedule this morning

I got side tracked this morning sorting out photographs on the new machine of which there are over 2,000 so you can imagine how easy it is to get them all in a mess.
I had a very productive day yesterday sorting out all the bits and pieces that I have accumulated over the years of computing. It feels quite criminal to throw away stuff that I know cost me lots of money at the time but it is now obsolete. Anyway I bit the bullet and got on with it and filled a black sack with all the stuff. It also gave me an opportunity to clean out the draws and shelves.

I was expecting my bee guru to come and spray oxalic acid over the hive to sort out the Varoa but he had a rotten cold and so didn't turn up perhaps he will come today who knows. I have been leaving the bees to their own devices as the weather has been so cold.

Mike is feeling under the weather today and has taken to his bed so I am on my own with the dogs who I will take for a good run as the weather is OK at the moment. Basso…

Good morning from my new all singing and dancing machine

Well what a day it was yesterday, I stared by making the sweets which I now have a recipe for, many thanks... Then we started on the change over of machines at 10am and it took until 6pm to get everything up and running smoothly. In the interim and while the engineer was working I made a duck and leek pie with broccoli for lunch.

This new machine has 2x500 gig hard drives which have been set up as RAID for those of you not of a technical nature this just means that one hard drive is a mirror of the second so I will never have to back anything up ever again. The only disaster is if both hard drives fail at the same time, which is highly unlikely. All my data has been transferred to the new drives but it is in a bit of a mess so many happy hours are anticipated getting it all straightened out. The new digital HD monitor is gorgeous and will double as TV if we add the free view box to it but this will have to wait until after Christmas as will the new key board and mouse.

My dining …

Today is the my new computer arrives

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It's 10 degrees so almost summer, nice for dog walking but no so good for the walk in fridge [garage]. Today, my new computer is being delivered so I will need to organise all the software that I want installed, that is assuming I can find it all. Mike is coming at 10 so I have plenty of time for a rummage around.

Anne, I expect you are breathing a big sigh of relief now that work is over. Are you expecting and influx for Christmas?

James, I hope you made it through the nights drunken crowds unscathed and are tucked up in bed getting some well earned sleep.

The "triple cheese strata" that I made yesterday was a roaring success and what a useful dish, it would make a nice easy lunch with a salad and with the quantity of bread it makes a very substantial meal. I feel it is a recipe that would lend itself to much alteration perhaps a layer of sausages or tomatoes or crispy bacon on the top. It is basically a savoury bread and butter pudding.

Did you see Jamie Oliver's …

Friday and not long now

By this time next week it will all be over and we will be looking at the heap of cold turkey and wondering what to do with it.

I tried to have a restful day yesterday and recharge my batteries but it never seems to work out that way. The garage was a total tip after all the decorating and dog door installation so it was in need of a good tidy as it will be needed to store the additional Xmas food stuffs. The car was loaded up with all the old paint tins and extraneous rubbish and we went off to the tip but not before giving the dogs a good run along the estuary. All the dogs including my friends 2 chocolate labs had a fabulous time and she and I discussed the husband problems. It's nice to have a good moan!!!!! with someone who understands what you mean. There are times when they really don't seem worth all the extra work and effort!!!! I placed a huge order with Sainsbury for delivery this morning. It was all the heavy non-perishables like tins and packets of soap powd…

Thursday and 8 days to go

Yesterday, started well, apart from being up a 3 am, I got lots of stuff done and was ready to go out shooting when Jeff arrived at 10 am. We had a quick cup of coffee and then loaded the car up with the guns and cartridge bags and all the dogs. Just as we were about to go my neighbour from several doors away came rushing down with a parcel that had been wrongly delivered to her. It was the very flash dog door that I had ordered. I popped the parcel indoors and off we went-----from this point on everything went pear shaped. The A2 was closed and we were stuck in the most horrendous traffic jam, it took us over and hour to get to the next junction to get off the road. We decided that it was too late to make our way round the problem to the shooting ground and so we headed home for lunch. Steak sandwich and queen of puddings.

As it was such a lovely bright day, I asked Jeff if he could give Mike a hand and install the dog door. It looked like a nice simple job just cut a bigger…

Wednesday 9 days to go

7 degrees and it feels quite balmy by comparison with few days ago. It's bin day and mine are bulging what with all the painting debris. The wonderful Jane came and has made the place look lovely so no I am all set for the holiday season. My trip to the butcher was a success and he is going to keep a couple of turkey carcases for me when he bones them out for other customers. This should make my turkey soup a real show stopper. I bought a couple of pounds of shin beef and made the mega stew which is now cold and ready to into the freezer. We had a portion last night just to make sure it was OK. Tonight we are having one of Mikes favourites, Kidneys cooked in sherry and Dijon mustard and served with plain boiled rice.

After the butcher we went to the fishmonger and I bought the fish for the fish pie. There lying on the back counter were 3 lesser spotted dogfish which I got at a pound a piece and he very kindly skinned them for me. This requires a very sharp knife, a pair …

Tuesday and 9 days to go

Time to really start thinking of what I need to do for Xmas now. My freezer is bare and devoid of meat so a trip to the butcher is in order today. The house is gradually getting back together and it is a golden opportunity to do a bit of de-cluttering as well as cleaning.

Last night, Basso and I went out for a walk round the roads and popped our neighbours cards through the doors. He really seemed to enjoy this as he was, for once, allowed to go up to peoples front doors which is not normally allowed. He behaves really well on the lead for this type of walk but is a total nightmare when he thinks there is a run to be had. He had already had his fun walk in the woods with his friends so maybe he was not quite so energetic.

Today, the wonderful Jane is coming and I have managed to get the bedrooms sorted so that she can get the hoover around and give it all a good clean. James is coming on Christmas eve but after a late shift so I have suggested that he can come in via the chimney…

Monday morning and 10 days to go

I am back from the wilds of Goudhurst, yesterday, after we cleared up the debris from the party and put things back in order we drove over to my house in convoy. It was thick fog so not the most pleasant of drives and also not a day for going shooting so that idea was abandoned. Probably just as well as we were both shattered. We brought the remaining poached salmon with us which we then made into fish cakes for lunch and washed down with the dregs of the mulled wine that was left.

It was lovely to come home to a beautifully decorated house FINISHED at last, everywhere looks so clean and fresh that it now seems worth all the upheaval. Shiona helped me replace the mattress and remake the bed in my room. It is wonderful to make a bed with another ex-nurse, so much quicker and more efficient than with the untrained. Today's task is to finish off the details like hanging pictures and replacing ornaments all of which could do with a bit of a clean. Then tomorrow the wonderful J…

Sunday morning and post party shattered

What a day yesterday, was the rain was relentless and turned the surrounding roads into rivers. Folks started to arrive at about 12.30 by which time we were all ready and had finally mopped over the conservatory floor, can you imagine black granite covered in doggy paw prints. Every time we let them out they came back absolutely filthy and it was all hands to the towels to try and mop them off a bit. The food all went well and surprisingly most of it disappeared. The stew went down well and there is only a small amount of poached salmon left.

Basso has been driving me mad since 4 am when he started whining to go out. He has managed to work out how to get out of his crate so now I have to tie it shut with a piece of string. It is difficult to keep him under control in an open plan house, and Shiona has shed loads of soft toys and small ornamental bits and pieces and nose level. Unfortunately Basso doesn't understand what is a dog soft toy and what is an ornamental toy so I am…

Saturday morning and pouring

Hi all, it has taken me a little while to figure out how to work this Apple Mac but after a little perseverance here we are up and running. I have abandoned my house and all the decorating to Mike and Ray and I am at Shiona's house with Basso. We got most of the preparations for the party done yesterday, the huge stew is done the salmon poached the potatoes pealed so this morning all we have to do is put the finishing touched to it and mull buckets of wine.

Basso and Mary play together really well but unfortunately the house has few internal doors so it is difficult to keep Basso under control, especially as he has discovered how to open the few doors there are. I banished him and Mary to the conservatory but he managed to let himself back in and then bolted up the stairs to greet Shiona. I don't think 6 am is a time she is used to being woken any way after much cajoling I managed to get him back down and now he is back in his crate but crying.


They had a very long walk thro…

Friday and the week is grinding down

Good morning all, the temperature is down to 1 degree, the ground is white with frost and the sky is clear as a bell.

The decorating is coming on a pace, the front bedroom is done and Mike moved back into it last night. This morning we need to make a bit of space in the other two bedrooms to allow Ray to get to the walls. Mike will need to go and do some shopping for his meals while I am away and also restock the paint supply which has dwindled alarmingly. I will have to pack for Basso and myself as we will be staying at Shiona's tonight. It is a good hours drive to her house so it makes sense to stay over night and come home tomorrow after the party.

Yesterdays expedition went well and we had a nice lunch in the local pub after a brisk and chilly walk with the dogs. I don't know what goes through the dogs heads but they thought it was a good idea to try giving a greyhound running lessons!!! Guess who won? The lady with the greyhound also had 2 terriers so you can visua…

Thursday and 14 days to go

First things first, huge congratulations to Anne what brilliant results in both Latin and Greek you must be both pleased and proud and so you should be.

Now to yesterdays shooting expedition. It was truly freezing and as the shooting ground is in an old gravel pit surrounded by trees there was not even the little bit of the suns warmth to keep us above freezing. We were all dressed for the occasion with thermal everything but it was still pretty cold. We all shot really badly but had a grand time and I was tolerably pleased with my results which were only 4 shots behind Jeff who is the experienced shooter. Anyway, once we had finished throwing away cartridges we made our way home to the hot soup which was most welcome and was so thick with beans and pasta that perhaps a knife and fork would have been better implements. We smoothed the top with lashings of Parmesan cheese and finished a large pot of it with no trouble at all. For desert we had doughnuts that Ray had brought which …

Wednesday and off shooting

Good morning all, today I am off shooting with Shiona and Jeff the weather is set to be dry but cold so that will do fine. Thermal underwear will be an essential as will warm foot wear and the hot soup that I have made for lunch will be very welcome I think.

Yesterday was a good day, Ray, the painter, has finished painting the outside of the house and it looks lovely. The hall landing and stair have been done so we are on the final straight just the three bed rooms to do and we will be done.

Mike, the computer guru, came and while we were discussing what was the best thing to do he sat and cleared tons of rubbish off the machine. I have learned over the years not to touch things I don't understand so I am not competent to do such a deep clean. Anyway we have decided to have a complete new machine with a new digital monitor as mine is an analogue one. The problem I had was what to do with the old one, but that was soon solved I offered it to James first in return for my lap top…

Tuesday and it all starts up again today

Yesterday was a bit of a washout, I started the day well and was up showered and dressed and dogs walked,cards posted, lunch prepared by 8.30 but then Ray the painter asked for another day with his children, what could I say!!! so off we went to Faversham to do a bit of shopping for Christmas, exotic food stuffs like some wonderful Italian cooked ham and glace fruits. I also re-supplied my flour stores and now have 5 kilos each of wholemeal and white stone ground so the bread making can continue over the holidays. I also bought some taramasalata and humus which I have frozen, don't know if it will be OK but worth a try.

The roast chicken lunch went down well and I made stock with the carcass ready for a big pot of soup on Wednesday after shooting.

My computer guru was due at 2pm so I did not scuttle off to my bed for my usual afternoon siesta but occupied my self with various little chores. I made a sponge to used as a base for a trifle which is what I fancy instead of the usual…

Monday morning again 17days to go

A new week beginning and a better frame of mind I hope. It is 4.6 degrees outside but no frost and a clear sky. I had a miserable day yesterday I was feeling very down in the dumps and grumpy. I had better be in a better mood today as Ray will be here painting and my computer guru is coming this afternoon to have a look at my current system with a view to upgrading.

Basso has decided that I mustn't type this morning and is driving me mad bringing me his toys. I have to take the toy and then when he sits I give it back. He would dearly love to play tug of war but that is a no no with gun dogs. Poor dog just thinks I am stupid, he has tried very hard to teach me the game but I seem incapable of learning.

On the food front, for supper I made something that brought back childhood memories. It was a dish my mother often made for Sunday night supper. It is loosely based on a piperade which is just a pepper stew made with garlic onions and tomatoes. They are left on a low fire to…

Sunday morning and freezing cold

It's 2 degrees and perishing cold this morning, the sky is clear and all the stars are still visible as it is pitch dark. The down stairs is beginning to look like my home again instead of a junk shop so I feel a little better about the decorating. I have had a shuffle around with the pictures and ornaments which makes it feel a bit different. Tomorrow Ray is back to continue and hopefully by the end of the week we should be all but finished.

It was lovely and sunny yesterday so I had a good walk with the dogs along the river side. Partway along the walk there are the foundations of what used to be a scrap metal yard and there are two areas that fill with water and make really nice paddling pools which the dogs love to play in. As we passed by there was an Alsatian cross who also loved to play in the pools so they had a splendid time galloping through the water and getting soaked. This I don't mind it is so much less hassle than the mud!!!!

For lunch I dismantled the smoke…

Saturday morning and more cleaning to do

There is one consolation to all this cleaning, at least I will not have much to do this Spring and I can devote myself to the garden. With any luck I should get it finished today and can have a day off tomorrow. It is chilly this morning at 5 degrees but it seems to be dry at the moment. Yesterday we had some brilliant sunshine but not when I went out with the dogs it decided to rain instead so I got a bit wet.

On the food front, I made the fondant potatoes and can you believe, that after an hour and a half of simmering they were only just done. Was it worth it? not sure, but they were delicious. I also found some pastry that I had made and put in the freezer which made some very tasty quiches. Today the menu is fairly fluid I have taken out a smoked chicken that I bought in France and as yet I am not sure how I am going to used it but no doubt I will come up with something when the time comes. The carcass I know will make excellent stock with a hint of the smoked flavour which…

Friday and a day off from paint

Yesterday was a total wash out, I was raining so hard when Mike got up that he immediately cancelled the dog walk and pub lunch trip. I did quote the old adage of "rain before 7 dry by 11" but he didn't believe me. Needless to say I was right, of course!! However I was quite happy with the decision as I was extremely tired having had very little sleep the day before. Shiona and I had sat up late chatting and reminiscing. We were remembering all the car disasters we had had with various rust buckets we called cars and how they always broke down in the middle of the night, miles from anywhere and usually in the freezing cold or rain. Thank goodness cars have moved on a bit and mobile phones make a big difference. Gone are the days of being towed for miles on bits of rope that always broke in the most dangerous places. I once had a Cortina that used to drop lumps of wheel arch when cornering as it was more rust than car.

No doughnuts this morning as Ray is having a …

The paint is drying

I was hoping for a lie in this morning as I am absolutely shattered but no such luck, it is a bit warmer this morning at 4 degrees but not so that you would notice. The bottom half of the house is now painted outside and the dining room is done so we are moving along pretty quickly. Ideally I should spend some time putting the the stuff back in place but I going out to lunch today with friends so that kind of puts pay to that. However if I haven't fallen on my chin I will have a bit of time to myself this evening while Mike is out at bridge so I may get some of it done then. Unfortunately every thing that I have taken down, thinking it was relatively clean, is in fact filthy so each item will need to be cleaned before I put it back and every surface has a fine layer of dust on it from the odd bits of sanding that have been done.

I took myself off shooting yesterday morning and was tolerably pleased with my score. Unfortunately there is one stand which has very low, very fast c…

Wenesday and bin day

The thermometer is dropping and down to 2 degrees this morning but the sky looks pretty clear. According to last nights weather forecast we are unlikely to get any snow but it will be cold and icy with the winds steadily increasing as the week goes on.

Yesterday morning was pretty sunny if very cold and poor Ray decided to make a start on the outside of the house while the weather held. Unfortunately it didn't stay dry for long and he was forced back inside. I gave the kitchen a birthday and cleaned all the tiling so it now looks all pristine and clean. The dining room ceiling is done and the skirting boards have been primed and painted so it is just the walls now and then the room will be done.

I skipped out at 10 am and went and had my hair done, wash, cut and blow dry. So far I have resisted colouring my hair as I would have to keep going to the hair dresser to have the roots done. So I am working on the principle that grey is the new black!!!!Besides Mike didn't comme…

Tuesday and very cold

It is down to 3 degrees this morning so pretty chilly, there is no frost and no wind just COLD.

The decorating is underway and the kitchen and utility room ceilings are done so I can move back into those rooms. Now, that the ceilings are white again it makes the walls look very grubby so my task for today will be to give the walls a good clean before I put back the bits and pieces. I suppose this is an enforced form of spring cleaning!!!!

The trip to the dentist was uneventful and as usual all my teeth needed was a good sandblasting and general clean. Mike had the same treatment and then it was over and we could come back home having booked an appointment for June next year. For lunch, I had made a cold beef salad which I am delighted to report I made with beef left over from the last big joint which I had sliced and vacuum packed. I make the salad with finely sliced onion, capers and a good slosh of olive oil and lots of seasoning. The cottage pie was a god send as Ray, the decor…

Monday morning and now it is only 25 days to go

Twas on a Monday morning that decorator came to call, memories of Flanders and Swan. I guess I am showing my age with this comment. Anyway, to day is the day we finally get under way with the decorating I suppose I should be grateful that at least I am not the one that has to do the painting but I do hate all the disruption. And as if that were not enough I also have a trip to the dentist. Not my favorite place!!!!

The weather is pretty miserable with no discernible sun shine we seem to be living in the middle of a cloud. It is damp and misty with occasional showers and I think the week is only going to get even worse.

The saga of the car turned out OK. We rang fitter yesterday morning and for a cost of £136 a new window was put in. As the car was drivable James took it to the depot which reduced the cost. I just hope that the perpetrators get to spend their Christmas at Her Majesties pleasure. I heard recently that it cost more to keep a person in prison than to send a child …