Canoeing, Feasting and After Eights for Christmas

Well, tried to post this up and lost everything. Here it goes again.

How are we doing? Soggy, soggy, soggy. We are so soggy. Did I say we were soggy? It is still raining, and raining.

Was not so sure how this Christmas would be. You see, we were supposed to be in Morrocco! Spending Christmas with our dear friends the Carters. We were kinda bummed. However, this Christmas turned out to be wonderful indeed.

The river bed that was empty when we first arrived was full and fast and ready for white, oops brown, water rafting for Christmas Eve and the sun even came out for a few moments to celebrate. I must confess I wimped out on all the fun. It may not look it but it was seriously COLD but the kids didnt seem to notice. If you look close you can see that where the small waterfall is behind Andrew is supposed to be a bridge. Now, a few days later, the water has gone up so high that you cant see the bridge at all.

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Look at Abi in his little car giving the crazy boys a lift back up the river for more. He is dressed appropriately for the day.

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Here are Abi and Lizzy, presently going sideways down the river.

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Still going back upriver for more punishment.

porcetjmush.jpg After all the craziness on to the Christmas meal. Did we tell you about TJs adventure pack yet? She has this backpack has everything she figures she needs for an adventure ( bottle of water, first aid kit with plasters/bandaids and stickers for good patients, rope, carrabeener, notepad, animal book, sas survival guide, etc). Well, her little survival guide has a section on what you can eat from the wild. She is especially fond of finding edible mushrooms. A frequent site the last few weeks has been TJ squatted down over some new mushrooms she has found with her survival guide in hand doing some careful analysis. I would come over with my bigger mushroom book and we would see if it was edible or not. I must admit, wild mushrooms scare me. Yes, we have spent lots of time in Czech Republic where wild mushroom picking is almost a national sport but I still lack courage in this area. Well, TJ found mushrooms in the orange grove here and we identified them as “field mushrooms”, completely safe. Yeah! TJ quickly memorized the characteristics of young and old “field mushrooms” . The gills are pink on the young ones and brown on the older ones. She scientifically inspects every mushroom before and after cutting the stem with a small knife. We have heard this helps them come back again. She also makes sure not to put any strange looking mushrooms in with the field mushrooms because, we have been told, if you mix one bad mushroom it affects all the good ones.

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Here we have Elizabeth gathering tangerines/clementines and TJ passing on her mushroom expertise to Abi.

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Here we are prepping our outdoor kitchen. It has been so good here. We have use of the outdoor kitchen, pool table with shelter and the round room (an old windowless granary with a wood stove).

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Christmas breakfast always includes a heaping fresh fruit plate. This time we added a bright red berry-like fruit that the people here refer to as coming from a “strawberry tree”. Talking to local people kids will pick the fruit and eat them while walking. The men will pop them into fancy brass stills and make moonshine.

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Presents, Samuel is sporting what we call the “evil snowman” tie. When you push a button you get annoying music and the snowman’s eyes flash red. Gifts were simple this year. Believe it or not, We spent no more than 7 euro on each child. We talked it over with the kids and decided to go for great food and less money on gifts. We did this by shopping at the gypsy market, a chinese store but mostly a charity shop/ thrift store. We also made alot of gifts from scraps of fabric, a recycled blanket and brightly coloured string.

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Hannah is here sporting a hat I made her with her new exotic scarf. Andrew printed off a special photo for each child as a special treat it this age of digital photos.

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Time for the feasting. We were joined by the other campers. A nice dutch couple, Hank and Helga and Adi from UK. I tell you, we have never had such a great tasting Christmas meal. I think it must have been all the simpler food of the last couple of weeks. Lots of beans and rice and porridge. I sometimes wonder if our bodies were just not created to feast all the time. Part of my theory of things that we love. If we get what we enjoy most of the time we tend to appreciate it less and take it for granted. I think that we might enjoy a nice comfy sofa, a vacuum cleaner or a nice hot bath so much more than those that have them all the time because we dont have them enough to take them for granted. I think we can use this for food too. So, perhaps, it was the beans and rice of past weeks or perhaps our great cook but I cant think of a Christmas meal we have enjoyed more.

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We borrowed some puzzles for our traditional Christmas day puzzling. Rubin, a “woofer” and friend of the owners is helping out while Adi is supplying moral support.

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We went up to Jason and Kay’s house, the owners, for pudding/dessert. They introduced us to their After eight tradition. You place an unwrapped after 8 on your forehead and move it down your face to your mouth without using your hands. Nicola, in red, seems to be winning.

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Not the most graceful of activities, leading to strange mouth contortions and if you are in a nice toasty room heated by a roaring christmas fire you get a path of chocolate down your cheek. All in all, alot of fun.

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More feasting. And….

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Jason brings out the flaming christmas pudding and the room erupts in “Good King Wenceles” sung with deep manly ferver.

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We have now left “Conscious Earth”. We are so much richer for the experience. We will be back and we are sure that our paths are now linked with our wonderful new friends.

All in all, a Great Christmas. Hope yours was great too.

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