December 2017

Day 31

New Years Eve

As the embers of 2017 cool the eternal flame of Christmas still burns we look forward to a New Year. There will be tears & joys, but as long as we all travel together we will be safe.

Living in the UK we are lucky with the diversity of our climate, but if you need help planning a holiday for 2018 you could turn to Flanders & Swann.

A Song of the Weather.

 Day 30

Boxing Day + 4

Not long now as January approaches that we can start to attack this.   Christmas cake always better in January.

Day 29

Boxing Day +3 

What do you buy the man who has everything? A squirrel proof bird-feeder maybe a good idea.

From the Pam Thomas collection

However it’s best if you let the squirrels know it’s squirrel proof.

Day 28

Boxing Day +2

After the excess’ of Christmas it’s just a joy to take in something simple but beautiful. Orchids, which traditionally symbolise love, luxury, beauty and strength. Love & strength is what the world really needs right now.

The Current Mrs Smith is a Wizard with Orchids.

Day 27

Boxing Day +1

After a full house over Christmas, peaking at a sitting of 14, all of a sudden it went very quiet at Smith Towers on Wednesday. The current Mrs Smith was distraught thinking we had lost them through neglect and looked everywhere but no one could be found. At this point she thought it best we went to Specsavers.

The penny eventually dropped when she remembered her children were now in their forties & their little ones weren’t her responsibility & they had exited to escape yet another turkey meal. Poor Nana.

Day 26

Boxing Day and the table is transformed.

 24 hours later and tummies are saying no more, please. However leftovers can keep going until the New Year. It would appear a Turkey is not just for Christmas.

Day 25

Happy Christmas everyone. Enjoy the day with all your loved ones around you.

With love from me & obviously the most important person The Current Mrs Smith.

Day 24

My Brother ……….

I believe Christmas is a magical time, whatever your religion or none. There’s nothing better than coming together, working together creating & sharing all that we have, material or spiritual, and all with unconditional love.

Two brothers now in their seventies one managing Parkinson’s Disease the other Motor Neurone Disease, still have memories that these diseases will not diminish. The distance travelled between the two photos is great but what a fantastic journey it’s been.

Have fun, make new friends and create wonderful memories, which you can hold through to eternity.

Day 23

Christmas is a time enjoyed by children & most probably equally by parents, doting on their little treasures. Let’s not forget all the uncles & aunties who contribute so much to the overall success of our families’ special times.

The appearance of a second birthday cake today would suggest that for some people birthdays go on a bit.
Great Auntie Maureen has quality time with Uncles James & Andrew followed by them catching up with Nephew Freddie. Happy times.

Day 22 – Christmas pause – celebration & reflections

Streets of London (or any modern city) ……….

Today we celebrate two important Birthdays. Firstly Pam, who we wouldn’t dare mention how young she is & our Grandson, Freddie who has reached the grand old age of 12. Happy Birthday both.

As you age birthdays appear to come round ever quicker but how can pass-the-parcel jump to this Langton gathering?

Day 21

O Christmas Tree ………….

A house in Littlebourne was put into quarantine this morning when a little person saw his breakfast twice.  Such a shame as he was going to be a good Shepard in the Nursery Nativity today.  Mummy being an inventive person arranged a Lego Christmas Tree building competition, which is your favourite?We may pause Christmas tomorrow as two important people celebrate birthdays.

Day 20

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas  ……….

Christmas is moving up a gear as Smith Towers now has a Stollen. Yummy, goes well with coffee at elevenses’.Gammon all cooked (best quality from Lower Hardres Farm Shop) Delia’s way, with a Colin-Twist. There’s no other way that comes close.

Paprika & Turmeric Glazed Gammon (between 3 & 4 kg)

Put the ham in a pot and cover it with cold water

Bring it to the boil and discard the water

Refill the pan adding 500/600 ml Cider An Onion & Apple quartered

Mixed peppercorns & coriander seeds slightly crushed

Fresh rosemary, thyme & a bay leaf

Bring back to the boil & simmer for 1 hour

Remove gammon and put to one side to cool

Carefully remove the skin exposing the fat

Score the fat into diamond pattern

Place in a roasting tin with trivet

Cover the fat with the glaze

Add 500 ml (or as much as you dare) cider into tin

Place it in a preheated oven at 180°

Cook for 45/60 minutes basting frequently

The glaze is your choice, this year I did a sweet paprika, turmeric & honey with whole cracked peppercorns & coriander seeds.

Day 19

Long time ago in Bethlehem …………

If Christmas is all about new life, then we are blessed as a family with a new baby girl, Nala. She arrived yesterday and both baby, although a little early & Mum (Sarah) are doing well. Sister Aria & Dad (Martin) are alsol.

Congratulations to the whole family, including Fossil.





One minute there is a little bundle of joy in your arms and then you blink and they’re all grown-up and on the stage.

This little monkey full of cold and in true Smith-Twyman tradition put in three performances of Michaelmas Mouse. Well done Erin, it’s been said before you are a super star and a real trouper.

Day 18

Only a week to go before the big day and there’s breaking News: –

England is heading for a whitewash in the Ashes. Harley the Koala is over the Moon Olive Tree.



Billy our Asia correspondent reports: –

Honkers Lego winter scene is completed, thanks Santa.

Two excited businessmen are preparing for the flight back to Blighty.

Day 17

A ray of hope flickers in the sky……….

Christmas is magical with families & friends coming together to enjoy quality time. None more so than children, who grow-up on the outside but still young on the inside. One joy is things made at nursery that still survive and are displayed every year.

WHEN A CHILD IS BORN there is joy & a lifetime of commitment with the umbrella of the family they are protected. Unfortunately not everywhere or everyone enjoys such comfort or protection. Spare a thought for the desperate people escaping violence, particularly during the cold winter period in Northern Europe.

A child is the gift that keeps on giving & these three are very special in that.

Day 16

Oh by gosh, by golly, it’s time for Mistletoe and Holly

Janet having given her thoughts on the withdrawal of the Nativity, our thoughts now turn to Mistletoe, which has long been associated with fertility by various cults/religions. In today’s political correct society, who is at the greater risk?

The kissed or the kisser?

We’re warned to behave at the works’ Christmas Bash, & so we should.

Move back some 60 years and the Flanders & Swann Revue, AT THE DROP OF A HAT  & they were already commenting on what is unfolding today. One song in particular being a story of the powerful taking advantage, told with a wry smile.  Simple stuff, but I wonder if  The Lord Chamberlain was comfortable with it at the time?

Madeira M’Dear – Flanders and Swann

Until the next morning, she woke up in bed
With a smile on her lips, an ache in her head
And a beard in her earhole that tickled and said:
“Have some Madeira, m’Dear!”

It’s good to have fun but don’t take advantage is the message.

Day 15

When the weather outside is frightful ……….

What can you do when a visit to the composter is required?

You delegate to staff.

Just for the record; The Current Mrs Smith as staff is a pretty amazing, Chauffeur, Carer, Housekeeper, Banker, Cook, Mum, Nan & most important of all Wife. I’m not the only one that would be up the creek without her.

Christmas is a time of coming together and the catalyst is usually the Mum, so fellas it’s time to up-your-game and to give that little extra bit of help & support, it’s not difficult. Christmas doesn’t happen by itself.

To The Current Mrs Smith I simply say thank you.❤️

Day 14

The Odd Couple & it’s Thursday so we’re out & about & on the Marsh this week, with Eric being an Honorary Marsh-man I felt safe in his hands. We visited the Kent Wildlife Trusts Visitor Centre at New Romney, a pleasant place on a sunny December morning. Coffee and a nice chat with a local artist, Lesley Moss, watching birds on the feeders, what could be better?  This duo is sometimes a trio, but what was the missing member doing that was more important than being out with the wrinklies?



He appeared to be having problems so perhaps he should have left it to a 5 year old. As it’s Christmas Lego Santa may help him.

Day 13

Apparently some establishments are refusing to put on a Nativity Play just encase it offends somebody. At the time of the Nativity there were displaced & traumatised people, cruelly treated, which after 2,000+ years still continues. I was reminded by a dear friend earlier in the week, who posted her thoughts how important it is for tolerance & respect for one another.

Janet’s words: –

I’m not religious and don’t go to church and certainly not qualified to preach, but I just want to say that I am both sad and angry about the current attitude towards Christmas, in particular children not being able to take part in a Nativity play. If you look at the Christmas story as a parable (earthly story with a spiritual meaning) then the world has never needed the Nativity as much as it does now. A young unmarried woman about to give birth, rejected from a place to stay, gives birth in a stable. Joseph may not be the father but is committed & supports with love. An innocent child is born with all the potential to change the world. Visitors come from the fields and far away in humility bringing gifts. Regardless of whatever your beliefs maybe the Nativity story still has something to teach us. Blessings x

The Nativity scene at Canterbury Cathedral is one of thousands around the world, which we look at year on year perhaps through rose tinted glasses without thinking through their situation or that of today’s vulnerable people from all countries, faiths & no faiths. The Nativity in our local nursery school is alive and well with our youngest Grandchild excited at being a shepherd.Day 12

With record low temperatures and a morning out shopping with Louise, on a test run with the wheelchair it was most probably a good thing we only had a coffee & cake in M&S

Day 11

As the shopping intensifies on the run-in to Christmas and the High Street competes with the On-Line it maybe time to consider an alternative. Pam Thomas reminds me, that unlike most of us who enjoy trouble free lives there are many that find it an everyday challenge. Fortunately benefactors can be found, Pam’s preferred one in her area is, Camelia Botnar Homes & Gardens, West Sussex. This trust provides residential training & work experience for young people who are in a disadvantaged or problematic situation. Another like operation is at Barham in East Kent, The Fifth Trust, which has an outlet at the Vinyard Garden Centre in the Elham Valley. They offer help for people with learning difficulties. I’m sure there are like operations around the country so why not seek them out and make Christmas shopping a rewarding experience for all. Details of both operations mentioned above can be found on the links below. Photos are of the Camelia Botnar operation, provided by Pam Thomas.  Post  Code RH13 8DQ   Post Code CT4 6LN

Now put their Post Codes into your GPS and go shopping for fun and reward.

Day 10

Poor Santa was still in trouble as Rudolph had signed up all his fellow reindeer with the RMT Union & they all decided to withdraw their labour. Santa pleaded with them, saying, “nobody else is delivering to the children, even Amazon only have a skeleton staff on Christmas Day.” “You’re running a monopoly”, said the Union leader “and we don’t like monopoly’s”. “That’s not fair”, said Santa, “you’re a virtual monopoly”. “No we’re not, we are just strong & powerful & like causing disruption”. “But what about the children”, said Santa”? The Union leader being a negative person always looking backwards, used a phrase from his favourite author, Charles Dickens, “BAH HUMBUG.” This now called for special measures and Santa called the Rotary Club at Canterbury for help. Always being helpful chaps they provided motive power & with a “Ho-Ho-Ho” off they went, saving the day.Being an inquisitive chap Santa phoned the General Secretary of the RMT Union, Mr Cash. “What does RMT stand for”? “Rail, Maritime & Transport,” he replied. “Are you sure” said Santa, “it seems your more suited to”; “Rhoetosaurus, Marshosaurus, & Torosarus”. This left poor old Mr Cash scratching his head, thinking were they members? Most probably.

Day 9

Santa having received a letter from Don Quixote requesting various books on chivalry to replace those destroyed by his friends the Priest & Barber, thought he had better get a move on. He knew Don Quixote’s friend Sanch Panza would know where to deliver them and sent him a WhatsApp to find out what he was up to. Windmill Tilting was the reply.

Being like Don Quixote an older gentleman Santa can equally get a little confused. “Windmills I know where they are”; “they’re on the Kentish Flats”. Rudolph wasn’t keen on the sea and had a word with his friends on Southern Rail, who told him to take a leaf out of their book and refuse to co-operate, which left Santa up the Margate Roads without a sleigh. Fortunately the Wind-Farm support guys were about & offered him a lift on the EMS Vulcan (MMSI 235077424) a speedy little craft. Santa was now really excited as he loved Star Trek & kept asking where Commander Spock was. The crew started to put two & two together and thought he might have been on something stronger than coffee. When they explained both the man from La Mancha and the Vulcan were fictitious he said “what can I do with all these presents”? “I know” said the Skipper “there are some good boys & girls in Whitstable who would love to see you”.

Word had spread and when the EMS Vulcan pulled into the Harbour the quay was full of Whitstable Folk who gave him a wonderful reception. Well done every one, & particularly Santa, hope he gets it right on the 24th.

Day 8

Excitement is building in Littlebourne. The Christmas tree is up and decorated and there’s plenty of Cheeky Monkeys about and the occasional French Rabbit, Lapin who had a birthday yesterday, now a mature 8 year old. Lapin is a very special character having been with Julius through thick and thin so he always tries to make his day extra special, so called a truce with his little brother. This pleased Mum as all mums like siblings to enjoy each other’s company, unfortunately not always achieved. Oliver being a call dude saw the funny side and enjoyed a good old-fashioned belly laugh. Which is the cheekiest monkey? We will leave that for Santa to decide.

Day 7

In the middle of the Christmas run-up other important milestones are being reached. In the words of Neil Armstrong; “one small step for man one giant leap for a Rainbow”🌈 Erin jumps over the Rainbow🌈 and into the Brownies. Congratulations Erin you are a superstar.

Day 6

The first of the Christmas visitors arrived today. Harley the Koala from Belair, South Australia, he was so excited with another Aussie win at the cricket but being a perfect gentleman said he would not mention it again. However, he was also Cocker-a hoop over the same sex marriage legislation going through their Parliament. He said he was proud of Tim Wilson proposing to his long-term partner, Ryan Bolger from the floor of the House of Representatives, at this point he got a little emotional. He said it’s not always been easy being a Gay Australian but being a Gay Koala 🌈 could be very difficult with those Dingo’s and was relieved he could now come out. He then kept repeating Whitewash, which confused the current Mrs Smith as there wasn’t any decorating going on. He had better be careful as he could be on a sticky wicket.

Day 5

The current Mrs Smith a staunch remainer was spitting needles (of the Christmas Tree type) when Teresa was scuppered by EU Tweets and the DUP. Being married to an ex-buyer she new that you didn’t show your hand in negotiations but it seems everyone wants part of the action and is ready to muddy the waters.

The EU seems to always have difficulty in making the right decision; perhaps if they had helped Call-Me-Dave they wouldn’t be in this European Pickle. Is Jean-Claude Juncker asleep on the Bridge? He certainly isn’t Father Christmas

Mrs Smith was so incensed by the Pantomime of it all she decided the best way forward was a Global Christmas BREXIT and decorated her tree accordingly.

Day 4

Our Antipodean Correspondent, Ruthy (the Galvin Girl) reports from Adelaide.

Originally being a £10 Pom, it’s a difficult day with all things sporty, Rugby & Cricket in particular. Fortunately the local Male Metropolitan Choir held their annual concert in the Music Room of the Adelaide University last Saturday, which didn’t involve any Poms, therefore it could only be a success. The repertoire included traditional Christmas songs and carols with the concert opening and closing with Vivaldi’s Gloria. The choir is made up of older gentlemen the oldest being a young 94. Gloria indeed.

Day 3

Christmas advice from Smith Towers

When you arrange a Pre-Christmas cook-in and cook a Turkey Dinner concurrently it may not be one of your better ideas. Smith Tower’s staff got underway after elevenses but it soon became apparent cooking by committee was fraught with problems. With a kitchen full of talented cooks, the smells and flavours were soon coming through but then the EGO’s surfaced; I haven’t got my own peeler said one, I must put my sausage rolls on The Fleecebook said another, so all my HK Family can see how talented I am. And so the day developed. Cups of tea eventually being replaced by G&T’s mellowed the atmosphere but contributed nothing to logistics. Fortunately the current Mrs Smith had been involved with timings for the meal, so everyone sat down to enjoy the meal on time. Unfortunately the committee of cooks forgot there were mince pies in the oven, which they were reminded of when a burning smell wafted in from the kitchen. Although looking lovely they had become mince biscuits and well and truly stuck to the muffin tin. Who was to blame? The committee!

The advice from Smith Towers is, don’t cook by committee and use a timer when your mince pies are in the oven.

Day 2

Hilltop Christmas Fayre

Hilltop Chairman John, headed-up the event, which was a great success. Auntie Mazza, Madam Tombola had secured new help from the Twyman children. After a morning of hard work giving out prizes to the winners they were rewarded with a visit to Santa’s Grotto.


Congratulation and thanks to everyone involved for all their hard work, which made for a lovely community event.

Day 1

Christmas countdown commenced today at Smith Towers.  The current Mrs Smith went shopping for the tree and got staff in to do the decorating.  With a Christmas cook-in going on at the same time, you would be mistaken if you thought we were well organised. Today chaos is perhaps a better description.

13 thoughts on “December 2017

  1. Dear Colin
    Lovely chuckle but alas I am far too frightened to go near the kitchen !! Too many clocks and dials. I wonder if McDonalds is open on Christmas Day?
    You look as though even the mince pies were charred you are all still smiling. Wonderful

  2. Thanks for your nice comment Howard. Clocks and dials are all number associated, so as a maths teacher thought you would take the kitchen in your stride. It’s good when a comment system works;-)

    • Thanks Ruth for your very kind comment. I try and keep a balance between trivia and real life and appreciate input from others. Indeed thank you for your input, keep the Antipodean content coming.


  3. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your Advent Calendar and what a pleasure it has been to receive at this time of the year. Very many thanks. Bryan (Thomas)

    • Thanks Bryan for your very kind comment. I’m enjoying doing it and delighted you’re enjoying it, so thats a double win in my book. If only our cricket team could get a win. lol

  4. II had not long been up this morning & thought I would have a little peep to see what the FB world was up to & I came across an enchanting ‘December story’. WOW Colin, what a beautiful blog you’ve created here, who knew you were such a bard!? I have just spent the last half hour absolutely enthralled, reading & looking at the pics….I’m speechless, & as you may probably remember, that is a rare occurrence …..🙃 No wonder that the current Mrs Smith is so proud of you 😍 You truly have captured the run up to the Festive season for what true family is all about…… You & Hilary have clearly done a wonderful job……. Sending you all, my best wishes for a peaceful Christmas & also for the New Year!! 🎄🍸🍾 love Eva xx

    • Thank you very much Eva for your kind comment. Making you speechless is an achievement indeed. lol

      Delighted you liked it and enjoyed the fun and the odd serious bit. James & Andrew have just blown in this morning from Hong Kong, so we’re up & running for Christmas. Sprouts are already on.

      Have a good one Eva. Love from Colin & The Current Mrs Smith, otherwise known as the Odd Couple. xx

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