Christmas Eve was always a sad day for Glynis. It is her late mother's birthday and she would get quite upset at times.
Glynis always insisted on having all the shopping and present distribution done in the days before so she could spend Christmas Eve preparing food and getting ready for Christmas Day.
Today has been especially hard for me as the smells of Christmas Eve, all the baking and the turkey and the gammon cooking were not there for the first time in 32 years.
But all our children and grandchildren have been here today and we are all having Christmas dinner together tomorrow. Although Glynis used to do all the cooking I am capable of it myself and I know Mark and Kelly will help. The only difference is that it is all getting over and done with at once in the morning and there will be no baking this year.
One thing, however, has been solved this year which has been a problem for us since we moved to Redcar in 1984.
We always like a large pork pie at Christmas and when we lived in Whitby we had a choice of either Botham's or Johnson's. It was something I always enjoyed at Christmas when I was young. My mum and dad always made sure we had a large pork pie. I think we got them from the Coop Butcher's in Starbeck. This was managed by a Mr Mitchell and I went to school with his son. Both of us also started out as apprentice electricians in 1965 and attended Harrogate College of Further Education together on day release. I wish I could remember his first name.
Obtaining a nice pork pie at Christmas has always proved difficult in Redcar for some reason. We have often gone without rather than buy one that has been stuck in a fridge at one of the supermarkets. I am not criticising our local butchers. I have had hundreds of nice pork pies from the likes of Goodswens, Newbolds and the other one near the town clock whose name escapes me at the moment. Perhaps we never ordered one because they were in town and we did our shopping in the supermarkets.
Very recently I have been getting them early in the morning when they have been freshly delivered to our local Wine Lodge in West Dyke Road. You can't beat a nice warm pork pie straight out of the oven for breakfast. Specially when it saves me cooking bacon.
Even more recently I have had them from the new butcher's Alan and Son's in Roseberry Shopping Centre. They are baked on the premises and are piping hot at 8.30am, when I am on my way to work. They must also do another batch because I have had them at lunchtime as well and they are warm too.
I was annoyed at first when I saw this butcher's shop opening up because Glynis and I had understood that the empty shop space was being reserved for a post office. It was, we thought, only a matter of time before someone invested in a post office in this shopping centre. There was talk of a local residents' group setting one up and combining it with a hairdresser.
Glynis would have loved this new butcher's, which opened up just a month after she passed away. It is stocked with the type of things we liked from a butchers. It appears to be doing a roaring trade judging by the huge number of large pork pies waiting to be collected when I called in at 8.30am this morning to collect mine. She would have been delighted that the Christmas pork pie problem has been solved.
I gave a good portion of this pie to our lad Steven and his wife Debbie to take home with them today and by the time Mark and I had a slice for lunch there is only a third left for the rest of Christmas and they are all coming back tomorrow. I wish I had bought two.
Alan and Son's excellent pork pies are like the ones we used to get from Johnson's in Whitby. They are made with bacon and these were my favourite. Glynis's favourite was Botham's which are made with pure pork. Glynis always insisted on us getting a couple of Botham's pork pies whenever we were in Whitby and they are a treat. I often had one with a bag of Fusco's crinkle cut chips.
Johnson's, however, closed down now quite a few years ago. I have heard rumours that their pork pie recipe was bought by Goodswens. Whether that is true or not I don't know but they certainly remind me of Johnson's pork pies.