In any case, the husband and I returned to Germany on Tuesday, flying east over the continent and away from a brewing storm so big that it later that day dislodged a bus shelter and whacked it against a plane at Edinburgh airport. As you know from previous posts, disaster follows when we travel (volcanic eruptions, blizzards, tsunamis and nuclear reactor meltdowns), so a flying bus shelter was relatively mild, given the previous catastrophes unleashed by our wanderlust.
|A teddy bear not having the craic.|
(It's a gratuitous picture. I just liked his knitted sweater. Bear with me. Haha)
It's a wonderful word and has many different meanings. For example:
What's the craic? = Is there anything newsworthy you wish to share, my good fellow?
The craic was mighty! = Jolly good fun was had by all!
We were only having a bit of craic! = No ill-will was meant, we were simply having a spot of fun.
There are regional variations to craic - in some places it has been awarded a definite article: the craic (as in "Are you having the craic?" = "Are you enjoying yourself?") and in other places it has even earned supplementary (and baffling) adjectives, like horrid craic. My brother James assures me that having horrid craic is all the rage in Sligo, in the west of Ireland. Having spent two days in Sligo, I am willing to believe that just about anything is possible there.
Anyway, Mr Gingerbread and I had many interesting discussions of the following variety:
Me: I'm going to visit my Auntie Dell (= or substitute name of random relative here)
Him: Is that the one with the two sons?
(I'll just interject at this point to tell you that my mother is one of - brace yourself - fifteen children. They in turn are a rather fertile bunch. Having two sons really does not narrow it down and he should know this. He was at our wedding, after all. He has seen - nay, he has participated in - a number of family photos.)
Me: She has lots of sons. You know my Auntie Dell, you've met her a dozen times -
He holds up his hand to stop me.
Him: Wait. Does she live in town?
(Again, this does not help. My mother's family has multiplied rapidly but in a geographically-restricted area. Most of them still live in or around the town they grew up in.)
Me: No, she's -
Him (triumphantly): Wait! She bakes the apple pies!
I pause. He's right - kind of. All of my aunts bake apple pies, or apple tarts, as we call them. But my Aunt Dell makes my favourite apple tarts. Each aunt has a tiny variation on a standard shortcrust recipe, some add cinnamon or nutmeg to the filling and some don't, but every pie is different and unique to the piemaking auntie in question. And sometimes - genetics are a funny thing, my friends - the children of the piemaker commit the heresy of preferring the pies of an aunt to the pies of their mother. I am one such evil child. I love my mother's apple pie, I swear I do. But I also love my Auntie Dell's apple pies just as much ... and on some days a tiny bit more. This is something my mother and my aunt are both aware of and when I visit my Auntie Dell, it is not uncommon for her to produce a freshly-baked apple - or rhubarb, I won't say no - pie, which she'll place on the table with a flourish that might be a shade more triumphant than strictly necessary in the presence of my indignant mother.
"Hrrrrmph!" my mother snorts, as she helps herself to a slice of appley nomminess. I know she's thinking: Ungrateful wretch. But it doesn't stop her eating the pie, though. She'll even have a second slice to confirm to her own self that her apple tarts are better.
However, this Christmas we dropped by unannounced for a quick visit and there were no apple tarts - not even a paltry rhubarb tart, for that matter. I don't want to make a big deal about it but, quite frankly, I was utterly devastated - it has taken me a full week to recover from the disappointment and blog about it. A poor start to 2012 indeed.