Previous month:
November 2020
Next month:
January 2021

December 2020

7th Day of Christmas

A gift from Germany as we leave Europe.

My wife surprised me yesterday morning by offering me a slice of Stollen cake. I didn't hesitate and I eat my Christmas gift as part of my lunch.

Stollen cake

'How ironic', I thought, 'just as we complete our divorce from our European neighbours and 16,500,000 of us are unwillingly deprived of our European Citizenship, to celebrate a Christmas moment with a uniquely European special occasion food'.

Stollen is a fruit bread of nuts, spices, and dried or candied fruit, coated with powdered sugar or icing sugar. It is a traditional German bread eaten during the Christmas season when it is called Weihnachtsstollen (after "Weihnachten", the German word for Christmas) or Christstollen (after Christ).

Commercially made Stollen has become a popular Christmas food in Britain in recent decades, complementing traditional dishes such as mince pies and Christmas pudding. All the major supermarkets sell their versions, and it is often baked by home bakers.

(Source: Wikipedia)

It started me thinking about how much harder it will be to access the centuries of European history, culture, arts, intellectual thought, rich multicultural cuisines and a developing sense of community. I am sad today particularly for our next generation of younger citizens.

And do you know, I couldn't find any evidence of a British version of Stollen cake anywhere, in this instance 'stollen cake' is an intruder, now thoroughly adopted in our Christmas traditions.


Take steps towards a healthier 2021

Published at the request of our local CCGs.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made 2020 an incredibly challenging year for us all.

With the vaccine rollout underway, we have reason to be hopeful for 2021. By making some small changes, you can get the New Year off to a healthier start and take control of your wellbeing.


Statistics show that a quarter of patients who died with coronavirus in England had diabetes, and people who are overweight or smoke are also at much higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the disease.

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Making changes to your lifestyle can feel overwhelming at times, and sometimes it might feel easier to just do nothing. There is plenty of support available and making little adjustments, such as exercising more, eating a healthier diet and quitting smoking really can have a big impact on how you feel. It isn’t just about looking after your body, living a healthier life can boost your mental health too. If you’re feeling low, getting active could make a huge difference to your mood.”

On 1 January, a new talking therapies service is launching to help anyone aged over 16 in the South Sefton, Southport and Formby areas to deal with common mental health difficulties. Talking Matters Sefton has been developed in partnership with the CCGs to offer easy access to high-quality talking therapies. You can self-refer online or by phone, or your GP can make a referral.

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Making changes to your lifestyle can not only help improve your physical and mental health, but it can also help protect you from becoming seriously unwell with Covid-19. Consider taking a Vitamin D supplement during the winter months, as it is difficult to get enough of that during the shorter daylight hours. Vitamin D helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies – needed for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, combined with getting active and staying connected with people can all help to improve your health – both physically and mentally.”

Margaret Jones, Director of Public Health for Sefton, said:

“This year has been tough for everyone, and it hasn’t always been easy for any of us to stay motivated or make healthy choices. If you want to make a change, you do not have to do it alone. Living Well Sefton is a free service that can support you in living a healthier lifestyle. You can call them on 0300 323 0181 or e-mail”

Information and support:

  • Living Well Sefton is a free service supporting people in Sefton with issues that may be affecting their health and wellbeing.
  • Talking Matters Sefton (launching 1 January 2021) provides talking therapies to anyone aged over 16 living in Sefton.
  • NHS Live Well and NHS Better Health offer support and resources to help you make the best choices about your health and wellbeing.
  • Every Mind Matters and One You offer expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental and physical health

6th Day of Christmas

Here's a view of the day from the French. Running-dog-747751_640

"Les Douze Mois" ("The Twelve Months") (also known as "La Perdriole"—"The Partridge") is another similar cumulative verse from France that has been likened to The Twelve Days of Christmas. Its final verse, as published in de Coussemaker, Chants Populaires des Flamands de France (1856), runs as follows:

Le douzièm' jour d'l'année , [the twelfth day of the year]
Que me donn'rez vous ma mie? [what will you give me, my love?]
Douze coqs chantants, [twelve singing cockerels]
Onze plats d'argent, [eleven silver dishes]
Dix pigeons blancs, [ten white pigeons]
Neuf bœufs cornus, [nine horned oxen]
Huit vaches mordants, [eight biting cows]
Sept moulins à vent, [seven windmills]
Six chiens courants, [six running dogs]
Cinq lapins courant par terre, [five rabbits running along the ground]
Quat' canards volant en l'air, [four ducks flying in the air]
Trois rameaux de bois, [three wooden branches]
Deux tourterelles, [two turtle doves]
Un' perdrix sole, [one lone partridge]
Qui va, qui vient, qui vole, [who goes, who comes, who flies]
Qui vole dans les bois. [who flies in the woods]

(Source: Wikipedia)


5th day of Christmas

A change of direction for the 5th day of Christmas.

Five gold ring
William S. Baring-Gould suggests that the presents sent on the first seven days were all birds—the "five gold rings" were not actually gold rings, but refer to the five golden rings of the ringed pheasant. 

Others suggest the gold rings refer to "five goldspinks"—a goldspink being an old name for a goldfinch; or even canaries. 

However, the 1780 publication includes an illustration that clearly depicts the "five gold rings" as being jewellery.

(Source: Wikipedia)


4th Day of Christmas

The massacre of the innocents.

Rubens - Massacre of the Innocents

In the New Testament, the Massacre of the Innocents is the incident in the nativity narrative of the Gospel of Matthew (2:16–18) in which Herod the Great, king of Judea, orders the execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem.

A majority of Herod biographers, and "probably a majority of biblical scholars," hold the event to be myth, legend, or folklore. 

The Catholic Church regards them as the first Christian martyrs, and their feast – Holy Innocents Day (or the Feast of the Holy Innocents) – is celebrated on 28 December.