gingerbread time

gingerbread big ben 2020

It’s Boxing Day today, and we’ve had a nice Christmas at home this year, seeing family only via Zoom or Facetime, like so many others. I’ve had rather a lot of snacks and spent a fair bit of time on the couch. I’ve not been drawing much lately, although looking at my blog posts I realize I’ve still got tons of unposted sketches to post yet (I had a bit of a flurry in November when the leaves were all crazy colours), but I’ve not been writing, I suppose maybe not had the mental energy for writing. What a year. However I did make a gingerbread house! I made it two weeks ago, and it still smells amazing, and is still holding up very strong. It’s the first time I ever made a gingerbread house from scratch as opposed to from a set, and yeah it took a while with a good bit of measuring and planning and cutting out bits of card to measure out the gingerbread dough pieces (which of course expanded in the oven), but it all stood up well, incredibly, and yes as you can see it’s a gingerbread Big Ben. I am pretty proud of it. We had a virtual holiday party over the Zoom for work, and one of the games was a gingerbread house contest, which I had great fun with. I used gold-foil chocolate coins for the clock faces and they look nice reflecting the christmas tree lights. Take my word for it. So tonight, I drew it. First sketch in a while. I should definitely keep it for New Year’s Eve, since we Londoners go down to hear Big Ben’s bongs to ring in the New Year. Actually I only ever did that once, and that was when 1999 turned into 2000, and this was way before social distancing. Two million people on the streets, and I was right below Big Ben with my nephew on my shoulders, and the fireworks were loud, and then we had to find the rest of the family, and walked with throngs of people for miles up to Euston, and that’s the only time I’ve done that. 21 years ago! 21 years is a mighty long time, as the Dartmoor prisoner once sang. Anyway, I made a Big Ben because I was missing London a bit, and yeah I know it’s the bell not the tower (I did decorate a bell-shaped cookie but I ate that). Fun fact, until the tower was renamed Elizabeth Tower (after the Queen, for one of her many many jubilees), I used to ask tourists on my open-top bus tours if they could “tell me the name this clock tower?” when our bus would turn into Parliament Square. “Big Ben!” They would all call out, but it was of course a trick question because it was just the Clock Tower. But I said they could call it Big Ben anyway, nobody cares at all. Like Frankenstein’s monster not caring if people called him Frankenstein, it’s fine. Like Grogu not caring that people who now know his name keep calling him Baby Yoda, although to be fair nobody does that to his face in the actual show. Like Alan Dale always being called Jim Out Of Neighbours, despite having a long international acting career after (see also Mike Out Of Neighbours). So yes, it’s fine to call it Big Ben, because I said so. Just don’t call Tower Bridge “London Bridge” because haha you tourists.

my gingerbread house big ben

Here it is in the flesh, with the wall of advent calendars behind it (ten years of advent calendars now! This year’s one is a model of our house, appropriate since we spent so much time here this year). Plus some of my Christmas Lego. So Merry Christmas, folks, as happy as it can be. This year’s nearly over but well, these times aren’t over yet.  

have yourself a merry little christmas

gingerbread house
Christmas is nearly here folks, how exciting! After all the present-wrapping-up snowflake-cutting-out and tree-decorating (I know ‘trimming’ is the word people prefer to sound proper, but I’m from Burnt Oak you see and trimming is what we used to do to our hedges, back when people in Burnt Oak used to have hedges), one thing remained. Well loads of things to be honest but we needed to make our Gingerbread House. I’ve never ever made one before, can you believe it? So this was a joint effort with my son, and I think you’ll agree it turned out nicely. So naturally I had to draw it. Ahem, next year’s Christmas card. My son did most of the actual decorating, while I worked on structural stuff and snow on the roof, writing on the wall, etc. I especially like the icicles. Well as a first effort it’s not bad, next year we’ll make a whole village…

My son and I listened to Christmas music while making it, and discussed that song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Because, seriously, really? Those are your gifts? So right, it’s the first day of Christmas, and you’re hoping for a nice pressie from your True Love, and he’s all, “um, er, yeah I got you a, er (quickly looks into the garden) a bird! In that pear tree out there look, it’s a partridge, just for you. Merry Christmas!” And it flies away. So next day you’re expecting something cool, an iPad or something, but he still hasn’t been to the shops you can tell, and you’re like, so… and he’s all “Ah, well, er, that partridge flew away so look out in the garden, there are two, what are they, pigeons? Doves? Turtles Doves! Just for you!” And you’re like, Turtle Doves? Bloody hell’s that? Do they have little shells on them? And then next day he pulls the same thing, more birds out in the garden, French Hens? Do they lay French Eggs? He must really think you like birds. Just because you watched that one documentary about birds and you said you liked birds, this always happens, it’s the only thing you get for Christmas, birthdays, anything, all bird-themed. Next day? Four more birds, “Calling Birds” he says they’re called, and you’re thinking “Can they call me a cab? To a luxury hotel?”, and he sees how disappointed you are with all the birds (“Are you avian a laugh?” he says to lighten the mood but one sharp look and he’s straight down the jewellers. Next day, that’s more like it, a golden ring, and it’s lovely. Oh, and then another, and another, and FIVE GOLDEN RINGS? Did they come in a set? When am I going to wear five golden rings, am I Mister T or something? Like, just get one really nice ring with a diamond. This guy has no clue. (At this point my son pipes in on the story, “those rings are probably really expensive too, could have gotten something a lot better with that money!” “What like Pokemon cards or Lego?” I ask. “Da-ddy!” he says) So next day it’s more birds, but this time it’s geese. Oh brilliant, a bunch of geese honking about pecking everyone, and what are they doing, ‘laying’? ‘Laying’ how exactly? Great thinking, do I live in a country park, do I look like I own a big pond? “Ah,” he says, thinking, “you probably won’t like what I got you for tomorrow then,” quickly getting on the blower to the customer service at “Swans-R-Us”. We determined that the rest of the song was probably just a reference to something else, maybe they went to see a Cirque du Soleil show, or perhaps watched a box set of Downton Abbey perhaps, but either way, next year perhaps Mr True Love should stick to the List and keep all the Gift Receipts.

Merry Christmas Everyone. Hope it’s a Good One.