Your 2012 five-a-day: December

It’s December 1st, the first day of winter (on this side of the planet anyway) and a mere 24 sleeps from the Big Day. The temperature this week has really dropped: it was a brisk -1C when I was standing at the bus stop yesterday morning. I have some present wrapping and a little prep for next week’s work Christmas do (at the Banqueting House in Whitehall no less) on my to-do list today. And to my absolute delight, this month’s Violent Veg gives a big festive nod to one of my favourite Christmas traditions, carolling.

Seattle-A was in town on Thursday night (it was like a surprise early Christmas present when I got her text message this week) and as I made my way through Richmond train station to meet her, I saw my first set of carol singers for the season. A big group of kids, all rugged up in their vibrant winter woollies, braved the chill to fill the space with joyful tunes and I snatched a brief moment to stand on the stairs and enjoy a little of their festive spirit.

It took me back to Christmasses in Oz where opportunities to belt out a few yuletide tunes seemed to be around every corner, where the point was to join in rather than what you sounded like – probably just as well in my case. This was never about show-pony-ing (I’ve never been a Karaoke fan) but about sharing a bit of Christmas spirit with a disparate group of people who, in embracing the anonymity provided by the crowd, sang simply because they could.

I particularly remember bouts of Brownie carolling as a youngster in Brisbane in the 70s and another hot sticky evening somewhere in country Victoria in my early twenties, grown-ups and kids alike sprawled on picnic rugs under the riverside gum trees and a community band playing in the background while everyone sang their hearts out.

And in any of my excited witterings about Christmas (and particularly with Christmas Down Under in my sights), I cannot omit one of Melbourne’s most wonderful institutions, Carols by Candlelight, a televised open air concert held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl every Christmas Eve. I watched this on telly for many years and finally found myself singing along on the grassy slopes under the stars nine years ago just before I moved to London.

These every-man-sings opportunities don’t seem to abound in the same way in Old London Town. There are many chances to sit and listen – from The Hallelujah Chorus at St Martin in the Fields and the Christmas Festival at The Albert Hall right through to a myriad of local community events but it seems that spirited audience participation is hard to come by. And as I stood amongst the swirling commuting masses on the stairs on Thursday night, watching those bright young faces, I realised that I missed this little piece of Christmas Past.

So that’s another thing to add to the festive to-do list before the fat man in the red suit comes to town. But I’ve been a good girl (no really I have) and have already ticked one thing off the list this morning…

I do so love Christmas. Only 24 sleeps to go people…I’m excited!


This post also completes Gidday from the UK’s Five A Day series for 2012: 12 posts containing both a whole range of random themes inspired by my merely turning the page each month and the laugh out loud cleverness of my Gidday Guest Stars, the vitamin-rich team from Violent Veg. The back catalogue is below for any of you that missed any…I hoped you’ve enjoyed it.

November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January

Your 2012 Five A Day – November

Well October, Halloween and British Summer Time are behind us and chilly mornings, darker evenings and cosy nights in are here for the foreseeable future. And both November and this month’s Violent Veg pay tribute to a great British tradition.

Bonfire night on the 5th November celebrates the capture of Guy Fawkes, he of the infamous Gunpowder Plot. In 1605, 13 royally disenchanted men planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James I. Fawkes was caught below the House of Lords with his fingers in the barrel, so to speak and was taken captive, tortured and executed. To celebrate the safety of their King, the people lit bonfires and burned effigies of Guy Fawkes and in doing so, guaranteed every British kid’s expectation of November 5th celebrations – fireworks.

Unfortunately it seems that Eddie’s enthusiasm for tradition has been a little misplaced…


This time last year, I was unpacking boxes here at Gidday HQ, hoping to get my new pad sorted before returning to work. I heard the crackle and hiss of local fireworks nearby and upon standing at the back door to check things out, was delighted to find I could watch the lot from the warmth of my new kitchen. Just another Fab Finchley bonus.

Hope you find something that lights your fire this November.

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Five A Day Back catalogue

October
September

July
June
May
April
March
February
January

Your 2012 Five A Day – October

Here we are in October and Violent Veg is paying tribute to everyone’s favourite Fright Night


But Halloween is not the only source of fear and trepidation this month.

Lil Chicky will celebrate the last birthday of her thirties in just 18 sleeps. I don’t know quite where all the years have gone and quite frankly, I’m a little perturbed that next year, my ‘baby sister’ will enter the Naughty 40’s.
 
The year is now 75% through and the shorter days on this side of the planet herald the end of British Summer Time on October 28th.

And let’s not forget in 12 weeks time, we’ll all be lying in bed listening for the rooftop patter of eight tiny reindeer…yes I’m afraid Christmas will be on us before we know it.

But in the words of Usman B. Asif:

‘Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop.’


So fear not and let’s face the month ahead with an anticipation about what unexpected curiosities and delights it might bring.
 
And I hope this month’s Halloween thrills don’t prove too hair-raising for you.

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Five A Day Back catalogue

September

July
June
May
April
March
February
January

Your 2012 Five A Day…September

This month’s Five A Day pickled offer from Violent Veg seems more than a little apt given my August of foodie frolicking and wet whistling.

The month started off not so well with the only thing pickled being me as I fought the last vestiges of chickenpox with solitary cake consumption. But things picked up and soon I was off to Barcelona for a little city break with Seattle-A. A social month followed with several long overdue catchups (over drinks naturally), a sojourn at the opera, a Turkish feast (complete with some compulsory participation in the national sport of belly-dancing) and finishing with a little social DIY: painting the town multicultural and then an audit to reinforce the foundations of friendship.

So what multicultural pickling opportunities could possibly be left as we head into Autumn?

Krakow
As you read this I will be enjoying a short break in Krakow. It is higly likely that amid the history and splendor of this medieval town, I am finding a few opportunities to sample a  local beverage or two. Stay tuned for more about my exploits soon.

Seattle
This week I will be enjoying a final London fling with Seattle-A before she and hubster jet off to pastures new. And I’ll be booking my first trip to the city of Starbucks – although I expect I’ll be looking for beverages of a different kind.

France
I’ll be hearing the people sing again on a figurative visit to France as this month I have booked to see Les Miserables. I saw it for the first time when I was 17 and it remains one of my favourite musicals. There might be a tipple or two at intermission.

Fashion
So we move away from potential travels to culture of a different kind: fashion. Ballgowns to be exact. The V&A has an exhibition running, British Glamour since 1950, which features ballgowns and evening dresses galore. And what goes better with posh frocks than a spot of champers?

So that’s my pickling month planned peeps…what are you up to?

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Five A Day Back catalogue

July
June
May
April
March
February
January

Your 2012 Five A Day…August

Well, the 1st August heralds the end of year number 42 for yours truly. No more counting down, no more sleeps to go. It has arrived so first up, it’s a Happy Birthday to me!

There’s much else to celebrate in August. The Olympics have begun in earnest and I’ve been cheering on the green and gold. The Opening Ceremony was quirkily British and aside from that inordinately weird section with all the beds, I loved watching it. And what a tribute to future sporting generations that torch lighting ceremony was – absolutely brilliant. I may have even welled up a little.

Back at Gidday HQ, I’m still quarantined and starting to go a little stir crazy – although at least I’m sleeping through the night now and my appetite has returned a little despite the aches, pains and general unattractiveness of my affliction.

And last but certainly not least, this month’s Violent Veg introduces us to Brian, of the Parsnip variety. After Colin Carrot’s heart-thumping exploits in June and July (you can see the Violent Veg Back Catalogue at the end of this post), Brian reminds us to enjoy some gentler pursuits this Summer…

But quite frankly this is now Day 7 of *tranquility* so even with the promise of a little tackle-nibbling, I think there’ll be no such standing still for me.
Here’s to throwing oneself in the deep end this August.
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Five A Day Back catalogue

Your 2012 Five A Day – July

It’s July already and the sleeps to go count down will be starting soon. How have you been enjoying your Summer so far? Here in the UK, the festival season is off to a traditional start. 

After a rather damp River Pageant to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee at the beginning of the month (which left The Royal Husband with a urinary tract infection), the pee-ing down continued with the Isle of Wight festival being a bit of a mudbath last weekend, giving all those Surrey-shiny Hunter Wellies the chance for a proper outing.

Speaking of pee-ing, this month’s Violent Veg sees the return of Colin Carrot who, having recovered from his brush with danger with the little ones, has this month decided to live life on the edge…

So have a fab July pea-ps!

(Geddit? Pea-ps instead of peeps?)

Oh and there are only 31 sleeps to go…just in case you were wondering…)

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Five A Day Back catalogue

June

March
February
January

Your 2012 Five A Day – June

So here we are. The 1st of June. Summer at last. 
Long days ending in lingering twilight.
A chilled Chablis. A long tall Pimms. A cheeky Gin & Tonic or two.

And maybe a little social over-excitement as we here in the UK try to cram as much celebratory drinking behaviour as possible into any one of those random summer days that deem the great British Isles worthy of their rays.

So get out there now and make short work of the grassy knoll that has become your back garden. Get the little people outdoors, fire up the barbie and put a few beers in the esky.

Just like Colin Carrot…

But remember to slip, slop, slap peeps.

                                     
 

 
Otherwise being half cut will be the least of your worries.
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Five A Day Back catalogue

March
February
January

Your 2012 Five A Day – May

What is it about jokes of the ‘bodily function’ variety that reduce one to a giggling adolescent?

 
As an Aussie making her life in the UK, I cannot tell you the amount of times I have let it slip that I got my pants wet stepping in a puddle on the way to work. Or that I left my thongs at the door to avoid getting your carpet dirty.

Yes, trousers and casual summer footwear take on a whole new meaning on the other side of the planet.

But this month’s Five A Day reminded me of another Aussie twist on the English language…with the word root.

Here are few definitions from Merriam-Webster. It’s an Encyclopedia Britannica company so it must know:

1a : the usually underground part of a seed plant body that functions as an organ of absorption, aeration, and food storage or as a means of anchorage and support and that differs from a stem especially in lacking nodes, buds, and leaves b : any subterranean plant part (as a true root or a bulb, tuber, rootstock, or other modified stem) especially when fleshy and edible
2 a (1) : the part of a tooth within the socket (2) : any of the processes into which the root of a tooth is often divided b : the enlarged basal part of a hair within the skin—called also hair root c : the proximal end of a nerve; especially : one or more bundles of nerve fibers joining the cranial and spinal nerves with their respective nuclei and columns of gray matter—see dorsal root, ventral root d : the part of an organ or physical structure by which it is attached to the body
Nothing odd here. Long, complicated and a bit boring (actually I ‘switched off’ about two lines in). Just what you expected, right?
But in that land Down Under (you know, where women glow and men plunder), root is another word for having sex.
Yes that’s right.
Sex.
So when you ask us to root around and find that information, we suppress a childish giggle.
And when you ask us which route you should take, those fresh off the boat may let an adolescent snigger escape. (The rest of us are sniggering on the inside.)
And heaven forbid when you Americans say you are rooting for us…
*snort*
*blush*
So what cross-cultural euphemisms have caught you out? Go on, you can tell me.
It’ll be our little secret…
*wink*
*chortle*

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Five A Day Back catalogue
April
March
February
January

Your 2012 Five A Day – April

It’s April already. Seriously peeps, just where has the year gone?

This month’s Violent Veg theme is acceptance, a topic much written about by expat experts the world over. When does your new country/city/town/suburb/street become ‘home’? And what’s important – speaking the lingo, making friends with the locals, finding your patch?

Maybe it’s all three.

Eddie strayed onto the wrong patch, where some rotten vegetables…
…gave him a nasty veggie.
I’ve read that it takes 18 months to 2 years to feel settled in a new home. My own experience of moving to London echoes this with happy contentment arriving about 18 months into my foray into expat life.

So it would seem that my recent ‘upping sticks’ to Fab Finchley is still in its honeymoon phase and by my own reckoning, I have about 13 months ‘to go’. But in lunching with an ex-Fab-Finchley-ite friend yesterday, I’ve suddenly discovered a few nooks and crannies to add to the list of fabulous-ness that I need to explore here. Beautiful gardens, stately homes and even a weekly soiree of the ballroom dancing kind may just be on the cards.

Just hope the natives I find there are friendly!

Your 2012 Five A Day – March

Violent Veg’s March offering, a take on the quiz show Deal or No Deal for those who don’t know, might seem to be a bit naff at first glance but funnily enough there’s a little story I have to tell.

I’ve just spent 10 days with my Mum who loves a quiz show. Any quiz show. She’s applied for a few, been on a few and still working and saving frantically to support her travels. Which basically tells me that it’s harder than it looks.

The day after she arrived in London, we were walking past a hardware shop on the main road here in Fab Finchley when she stopped to take this photo…

Thinking that the jetlag had finally gotten the better of her, I think I said something like ‘What ARE you doing?’

In response, she told me that she’d gotten quite far along in one of these quiz shows but when faced with a question about DeWalt, failed to connect the power tools brand she has been watching sponsor car races for years with the DeWalt of the question. She has been rubbished about it by her partner and Lil Chicky and Husband ever since.

So we uploaded the photo on to Facebook for them.

Hope March gives you something to smile about.
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Five A Day Back Catalogue
January
February