Daniel posted on his blog again today, about preparations for returning to the Doulos for two years. It's only five weeks till he leaves, and there's still a lot to do. I haven't quite come to terms with him being away for that long yet, either. Of course he's the age when many of his friends are off to university, most of them in other countries. But at least they come back for Christmas, and during the summer. We do hope to go and visit him at some point in a year or so, wherever they happen to be (probably somewhere in the Far East) but it's still a huge separation. The 'empty nest' must surely be the hardest part of parenting by far... and I'll still have Tim at home for at least a year or two.
Dan's trying to finish his NCSC coursework - he only has about six workbooks left to complete, and is working at odd hours to fit them in. It turns out that he doesn't need the level 2 qualification at all, at least for now, but having got so close it seems silly not to finish it and get the certificate. Tim had a terrible cold last week and didn't do anything much; this week he's catching up on sleep and working a lot on music, since he's organising and playing for the inter-church Christmas concert in about ten days. At one point he had hoped to have finished level 2 by Christmas as well, but I think next Summer's more likely at the current rate of progress.
Dan's also experimenting with 'real' herbal teas. He loves the ones that come in sachets, but they won't necessarily be available in the various countries he'll be visiting on the Doulos. We can send him some via airmail, but he thought he'd try making tea with a spoonful of mint. Apparently it was quite pleasant, although a bit odd as he didn't strain it. He's wondering if he could use a cafetiere to make it in future, although I said a teapot and strainer would probably work better.
Tonight Richard and Tim are out with some friends from church, seeing the film of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I didn't want to go: it was my least favourite of the books, and I'm easily scared. I couldn't even watch the serpent in the second movie, and didn't risk the third, with the dementors in it. No way would I want to watch the final part of this one. Dan decided not to go either, being (like me) not much of a movie person anyway. Tim was in two minds, but eventually went to be sociable.
Oh, and I learned something a couple of days ago. Feeling I was rather stuck-in-a-rut with my mince pie making, year after year, I thought I'd follow the advice in one of my recipe books and make some with puff pastry. Not that I made puff pastry; I had some ready-made and frozen. I rolled it out as thinly as I could and made the first batch. They looked like this:
- with some of the lids fallen off completely. They tasted OK, I suppose, but rather fatty. By the time they had cooled down fully, they were even less appealing. A day later, they were soggy and really not very nice.
So today I made a regular batch with ordinary short-crust pastry, made with 1/4 wholewheat flour to give a bit more texture. I made 36 this morning and see that there are 18 left....