Friday, December 29, 2006

The 2006 Tag

My dear friends, here is a tag for you all to tell us what were the outstanding things you remember from the year 2006.

OK, I'll start with my list and look forward to reading all of yours:

  1. My son Christopher got married to Mari-Colette, who is just a wonderful and beautiful person.
  2. Jan and I took a holiday to Denmark to visit my good friend Doug and his fiancee Karen in Copenhagen and we then visited the beautiful Frisian Island of Baltrum, where I used to spend many a happy holiday when I was a boy.
  3. My Mum had a pacemaker fitted and is thankfully doing fine now.
  4. The Electronic Firefly blog was created, resulting in many beautiful blogging friends.
  5. England crashed out of the Football World Cup do to total incompetence of its manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson.
  6. Charles Roberts kills three girls and critically wounds eight at an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pa.
  7. Stingray's barb kills Steve Irwin.
  8. Saddam Hussain is sentenced to death by a court in Bagdad.
  9. Britain pays off last installment for World War II debts ($83.25m to the US and $22.7m to Canada) which it borrowed in 1950 for rebuilding work after the war.
  10. Gerald Ford and James Brown die amongst others.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas pictures

One small house, two days, 16 people, loads of presents, tons of food!





























Monday, December 25, 2006

'Twas the night before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas
nowhere near Santa's grotto
that we mingled with friends
and got a bit blotto!!















Saturday, December 23, 2006

MERRY CHRISTMAS ! ! !

To all my wonderful blog friends:

Jan, Victoria and I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!



Erik xx

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Christmas Tag of Joy

Marnie tagged me with this one!
She also sent me a lovely Christmas card (see below).
Thank you so much, Marnie



Here is my list of answers to the tag:

1. Hot Chocolate or Egg Nog?
Egg Nog! It has alcohol in it!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa is much to important to wrap presents himself! It’s the Elves that do all the boring stuff!
3.Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White of course! It’s so much more sophisticated.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Yes but with little effect.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
December 1st. For the very first time ever! Normally I am just ‘Bah Humbug’.

6. What is your favourite holiday dish?
An Indian Take-away!

7. Favorite Holiday memory?
The time I drunk a whole bottle of Whisky being left home alone when /was a teenager.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I suspected things from a very early age, being the cynical person I am? Can’t remember when exactly though.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
When I was living in Germany we always opened all presents on Christmas Eve but now we wait until Christmas Day.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Quite plainly - with white candles, some little figurines and silver garlands.

11. Snow! Love it or Hate it?
Love it, love it, love it!! We just don’t get much of it here! (See below)




12. Can you ice skate?
Yes I can! I am quite good at it but can’t stop very well, much to the dismay of all the people I crash into!

13. Do you remember your favourite gift?
No! I don’t like getting gifts too much! It embarrasses me!

14. What's the most important thing?
Remembering the birth of Jesus!

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Sherry Trifle.

16. ???????????????
Marnie, there wasn't a question No. 16! What's up, girl?? Lost your counting ability? Heehee!

17. What tops your tree?
A star saying “Merry Christmas!

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving, of course. See above point 13.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
"I Believe in Father Christmas"-- Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Greg Lake/Peter Sinfield)

They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the virgin birth.
I remember one Christmas morning
A winter's light and the distant choir
And the peal of a bell
and that Christmas tree smell
Eyes full a tinsel and fire.

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
They told me a fairy story
Till I believed in the Israelite.
And I believed in Father Christmas
I looked to the sky with excited eyes
Than I woke with a yawn
in the first light of dawn
And I saw him through his disguise.

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain, and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear.
They said there'd be snow at Christmas
They said there'd be peace on earth.
Hallelujah, Noel, Be it heaven or hell,
The Christmas we get we deserve.


20. Candy canes, Yuck or Yum?
Yum! But my dentist doesn’t agree!

I am tagging everybody who has just read this post!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Cheer - for the first Year

I might have been ill and I might have given the flu to my wife (sharing, caring person that I am) but this year, unlike any other year, I am embracing Christmas like never before.
The food has been ordered, the drinks are well chilled, the guests are invited (all 16 of them) and here I am starting to put decorations and lights up. As you can see , Victoria is just sitting there in absolute disbelief as she has never seen anything like this.

I used to be very "Bah Humbug" which has only slowly changed over the years.
I did not care much for Christmas due to my experiences of that time in my youth back in Germany being one of mixed emotions.
To my mind, Christmas should have been a time for much joy; a time of laughter, sharing and relaxation. Things were however too regimented with too many ‘rules’ and set-ups.
Let me give you some examples:

Weeks before Christmas we were tasked with learning some Christmas poem which we would have to recite for our parents and grand-parents on Christmas Eve. I have never had any leanings towards poems, nor could I remember such things easily. It was a chore I did not relish and I resented the fact that I had to do this before any presents could be received.
It built in me a great reluctance of receiving presents and for many years I would have preferred not getting any.
The day before Christmas the lounge was locked up and declared a “no-go zone”, as my parents would use this room to decorate the tree without us seeing it. According to them, it was “Father Christmas” who brought the tree, decorated it and left presents as well.

In Germany, the handing out of presents (and all the other things) takes place on Christmas Eve. The usual day would go like this:
After arguing most of the morning about the question why we had to learn a stupid poem, I then had to join my father in an afternoon nap, which I did not want to do.
When we finally got up I argued the case of not having to take a walk (“Let’s see if we can meet Father Christmas”) as even as a small child I had cottoned on to the fact that every time we arrived back home we had “juuuust missed Him!” and when I was older and did not believe in Father Christmas any longer – what exactly was the point???!!
Next on the list of arguments was my parents insistence of having to get changed into our ‘Sunday Best’ clothes, which considering the fact that only ‘family’ was assembled seemed to be utterly unnecessary and pointless, since the moment the presents had been distributed we run upstairs to get changed back into comfortable attire. I cannot remember one Christmas when my Dad and I did not fall out over these things.
We then would sit around in the kitchen whilst my Dad would light the (natural) candles on the tree without setting the house on fire. A bell (how annoying is this?!) heralded the permission for my grandparents, my mother, brother, sister and me to enter the living-room and admire the tree. Then came the awkward “stand in front of the tree and recite your poem” time.
First off was my sister, then me, then my brother.
Most of my efforts went into selecting the shortest possible poem acceptable to my parents but even these presented a big hurdle to a young person harbouring a very negative attitude to Christmas, lazy to learn and hating to be pushed into any lime-light.

The presents were handed out and apart from a meal together, that was Christmas!
Christmas day and Boxing Day were total non-events!
This procedure did work fine when we were small kids but became utter nonsense by the time we got to the age of 12. Unfortunately, having a younger brother dragged this out until he was 12, by which time I was 17!
I guess my parents got the hint that year, when my ‘closely guarded’ poem for that year went like this:
Weihnacht ist heut
Wie mich das freut,
Ich w√ľnsche das Beste
zum fröhlichen Feste!

Loosely translated meaning:
It’s Christmas today,
How this pleases me,
I wish the best
On this happy occasion!

My father was not overly pleased, judging on the expression on his face but not wanting to kick-start another argument in front of my Grand-parents, mumbled something about lack of effort and telegram style (i.e. veeery short!).

In my heart I had determined that this was going to be the last time I would participate in this charade, since I would be 18 the following year and therefore ‘of age!’ and so it indeed was.

So you see that humming Christmas songs and decorating the house must have been a complete shock to my poor family :-)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Man Flu

So, let us recap:
I am being made redundant, someone has broken into my car, smashed the window and stole my Sat Nav System and to top it all I have a rotten cold (and very sexy voice to go with it) otherwise known as "Man Flu"!
Seems like my life is strewn with cow pats from the devils own satanic herds!
So, am I down-hearted??
No way!
I have a lovely family, a wife who loves me, a nice house, caring blog friends and the love of Jesus Christ in my heart!
I am therefore truly blessed! Life is good!
Before the hustle and bustle of work begins I will now visit all your blogs and leave a comment to let you all know that I am still here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Challenge is on!!

Hello, neglected blog friends!!
Sorry I have been a miserable blogger but I am in the middle of being made redundant and need to sort stuff out! Yeah, I know . . Merry Christmas!
So, as a token of trying to make it up to you I challenge you to ask me one question each and I promise I will answer it truthfully! (Gulp!!)
So ask before change my mind!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cologne Christmas Markets Pictures

Dear friends,
Thank you so much for your kind words and wishes!
We had a fabulous time and the hotel was just great!
Cologne showed itself in a very charming light and
we all had a wonderful 2 days!
Unfortunately some unkind person had broken into our car
by smashing a side window and stealing my Sat Nav System.
Luckily I know the way from Cologne through Belgium and
France like the back of my hand.
Anyway, we won't let that spoil what otherwise was a great weekend with our daughter and future son-in-law!



Now . . I promised pictures and as there are slightly too many
to show here would you kindly follow this link to Flickr
where you can see 4 pages of pictures!

Thanks and it's good to be back with my blog friends.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We interrupt the blogging . . .

. . . for a few days as we (my wife and I and my daughter and her fiancee) are off to Cologne, Germany to visit the Christmas market and to see all my folks. I was born and lived in Cologne for the first 25 years of my life and it's about time we paid a visit.
So, keep safe, my beautiful blog friends and don't forget me.
When I am back (by about Tuesday I guess) I will post many pictures!
Byeeeee!!
Erik

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Angel Story (by popular demand)

When I was least expecting it (and not looking for it) the Lord in his grace found me and turned my life around. This is a whole different story though but suffice it to say that everybody who knew me, including my wife, noticed that something significant had happened in my life which changed me from hating people to have a real passion for people amongst other things.
My wife had always believed in God and went to a church in our home town (which I refused to go to!) but had never really had a personal encounter with Him.
As it happened, the church I started attending was in the town where I worked, some 30 miles away.
I kept talking to my wife about the goodness of God and the need to meet with Jesus Christ personally as I felt that this was what God asked me to do.
This was the start of a six months disagreement between us with my wife defending quite understandably her position (You didn’t want to come to church with me and now you ask me to travel 30 miles each time! You suddenly think you have the inside track on things, etc.) and me trying to make her understand mine.
This really sucked the strength out of our relationship and one day when I was feeling particularly low I shared this with some people during one of those church meetings.
I am really worried that my wife will never get to know the Lord in a real personal way” I said and we just prayed that God will send me a clear sign that she would be alright!
That night we went to sleep (still locked in disharmony) and - as I told you in my previous post - I sleep like a baby and never wake up in the middle of the night.
That night however I was awaken by the room being flooded with bright, white light which was so strong that it hurt my eyes.
As I slowly came round and my eyes started to adjust, there was an Angel standing at the foot of our bed. He had the statue of a man about 6’4” (that’s about 2 meters) and the light coming from it was so white that you could not see his face or clothes. It was like a reverse silouette (so instead of seeing a dark figure in front of a bright light, I saw a white figure in front of darkness).
I nearly crapped myself and stood up (yes, stood up) in bed when the angel spoke to me in an audible voice: “There is no need to worry any more, Erik! Your wife is going to be fine!
With those words the angel vanished and an amazing peace flooded my very being.
My wife, awoken by the commotion, turned around and seeing me standing in bed said: “What on earth is the matter??!!
I was totally stunned and could only repeat: “Hey!! You are going to be OK!!
Of course I’m OK” she replied, not really understanding what I was on about as she turned back over and went back to sleep.
I, too, got back under the covers and fell into a wonderfully peaceful sleep.
The next morning I woke up and everything seemed to be back to normal with two exceptions.
1.) I knew that what happened had been real and not a dream!
2.) I stopped arguing with my wife as there was no need to worry anymore! She was going to be fine!
Our relationship improved and a short time afterwards the Lord touched her in a very deep and personal way and she was ‘born again’.
This was about 10 years ago and we haven’t looked back since.
This, in essence, is my story about when I was privileged enough to be visited by an angel of the Lord.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Six weird Things about Me

Picking up the theme from other bloggers in the verse, here are 6 bizarre things about me:

  1. I can drink a cup of tea or coffee (or anything else for that matter) whilst lying down flat.
  2. I can sleep anywhere in any position (even standing up) but I cannot sleep in cars or on planes!
  3. When speaking to people I can nearly always tell whether they are telling the truth.
  4. I have actually seen an angel with my own eyes.
  5. I hate anyone touching my ears
  6. When I walk in crowded places I always need to have my arms free (my daughter always wants to walk arm in arm and I won't let her).

Any of you got crazy things like that going on??

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Train and the Bull

So, on Saturday our good friends Ray & Gill asked us whether we would fancy a trip by train to Birmingham to go to the Christmas market there.
So we said:
"What, Sir? Us, Sir? Go, Sir? On Sunday, Sir? Sure, Sir!!"
and off we went!

Unfortunately that very day was also the day that "The Clothes Show" was on in Birmingham.
Surely the train company will have catered for that, seeing that this is an annual event!?
What do you think?? (See below)



We did however manage to get a seat and eventually got to Birmingham New Street Station, which borders onto the Bullring Shopping Centre!
Can you spot the bull?? (I know it is hard!)



Here then are a few pictures from the Christmas market and of us eating and drinking everything in site!












That's one way of warming your hands!

The Italian Job

In October 2005 an odd assortment of people just happened to book the same holiday in Italy and had such fun that they decided to keep in touch.
Now, over a year later, this promise has proven to be more than an idle threat as we have met with each other individually but also as a group.

This time around we met at the Chequers Restaurant in Fowlmere near Cambridge.
This place was ideal, the food and wine delightful and we all had a wonderful time catching up with each other's news and sharing plenty of laughs.

We toasted our friends Terry & Marion who could unfortunately not make the get-together due to family circumstances. We hope all is well, guys!!

Here then are a few snapshots from the evening.


". . and I am warning you now, George will tell one
of his made-up stories again."


"Did you hear, George is telling a story! Wanna go?"


"Wait for it, wait for it! Any time now"


". . and there I was surrounded by 3 sharks . ."


". . must avoid eye contact"


"Pff! Sharks! In Gran Canaria! Yeah, right!"


"Yoohoo! Look at us! We are sharks!!"


(Sorry, George! Only kidding!)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Twinkle, twinkle, little . . . D'Oh!!

A couple of days ago I put up some new Christmas lights on the outside of our house and filled the wooden advent calendar with nice praline chocolates just to start getting into the Christmas spirit.

At night time the lights came on (via timer switch) and everything looked so beautiful and I was very proud of myself, as I don't really like Christmas (all the commercial stuff) and I can't wait until the children visit us, since they know how "Bah Humbug" I normally am.

Since I was far too cheerful the f*ck-fairy decided to send us torrential rain and strong winds which makes my beautiful decorated house (the only one in our street so far) look totally out of place and the neighbours must be wondering whether I am some sort of lobotomised weirdo!
(Hey, maybe I am lobotomised!! You wouldn't know, would you?!)

On the other hand, why am I complaining about silly things like this??
At least I don't have problems like my beautiful blog friend Desert Songbird!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

BEARly BEARable

Sorry, blog-friends, but I am having a lot to do at present and therefore my posts are a bit lean.

Anyway, following on from my Christmas decoration rant below and Yara's suggestion of having a Care Bear Christmas . . . look no further!

Well . . Bears at least . . and a penguin! Bizarre!




How refreshing to see this last night in a village next to us!


Yes! A normal Christmas tree! Aaaaahhh!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Away on a Merry-go-round

Every year there is a Christmas display in the shopping centre in our neighbouring town of Milton Keynes. This year is no different and even though I try and stay away from this crazy place and the waves of morons pushing their way past the shops with kids, pushchairs and a gazillion shopping bags full of useless stuff that they can not afford and have to pay for by credit cards which they won't be able to pay off when it appears on their statements in January, I had the misfortune to join them as we are apparently having 16 people invading our home for Christmas!
Now in past years the Christmas display had (as you would expect) a Christian theme but this is obviously not acceptable any more as it could be seen as discriminating against . . . well . . everything else!
Here are some pictures to explain what I am on about:

Santa's Grotto has been replaced by some house with creatures flying out through the top window! ???


There seems to be a pirate ship featuring in the nativity play these days!?
Seems like the 'fat bearded one' has been replaced by a pirate in red coat!


There are now trolls and goblins which seemed to have replaced the angels of the Lord!


and to top it all, the manger where the Lord Jesus Christ was born has been effectively replaced by a carousel, which seems to tell us that we are all on the merry-go-round of life!

So from now on would you kindly refer to Christmas as
The Feast of goblins, pirates and Red Indians*!
(* There was also a display of Red Indians smoking the peace pipe but I just couldn't bring myself to photograph it!)

Also . . .
I have been tagged by Yara and here then is my list of 10 simple pleasures:

Top 10 Simple Pleasures:

  1. Snuggling in with my wife
  2. Watching a movie
  3. Drinking a nice cup of Cappuccino
  4. Laughing at a good joke
  5. Playing "Trivial Pursuit" with friends
  6. Writing on my blog
  7. Playing my guitar
  8. Having a beer with a friend
  9. Going to a Live Concert of a band
  10. Cooking a nice meal

I am tagging Desert Songbird, Marnie and Momto3cubs