(Warning folks, this post includes a ridiculously happy blogger getting all excited over a cup.)
Back near the beginning of the month I showed you the prettily-wrapped box which had arrived in the post from Oink! co-editor/creator Mark Rodgers' partner and Oink! star Helen Jones. I wasn't allowed to peek until Christmas Day itself and so I very impatiently awaited the big day.
I visited my parents over the holiday season, spending Christmas Day and Boxing Day with them and we've a traditional way of opening our gifts on the 25th. We'll open our main presents to each other first thing in the morning, then go around my old hometown visiting my sisters and their families, delivering all the presents I bring down from the big smoke of Belfast every Christmas Eve. It's only after all this and after the big Christmas dinner that the three of us sit down around the tree and open the rest of the presents from each other, the rest of the family and our friends. So it wasn't until nearly 4pm when I was able to finally tear my way into the package Helen had sent over.
Not that these traditions stopped my mum from trying to get me to open it from the moment we were all eating breakfast! The suspense was killing her but I wanted to savour the build-up and save it with the rest. When I finally did unwrap it I found this delightful little storage box (which my mum tried to steal after Christmas) and inside it a mountain of bubblewrap. A good dig about inside and I found a very well protected certain piece of Oink! merchandise I'd almost given up on obtaining:
It might sound a little silly to get so excited about this, but when I collected Oink! as a young 'un this and the record were the only pieces of merchandise I ever asked for. The mug was treasured and used throughout my teens right up until I was nineteen, when it was used as my personal mug in my job at the time. Three of us were let go suddenly from that job and I never got my mug back. Ever since I started this blog back in April 2013 I've been checking eBay for the Oink! mug on an almost daily basis and in all that time I've only ever come across one, but I saw a small crack on it and the seller refused to pour water into it for a test so I had to let it go.
I've mentioned it here a couple of times before and right back at the very beginning I mentioned how my own checklist didn't include any other merchandise, just the mug. To quote myself, "Gotta get my mug back!". I've also mentioned it once or twice (I may be leaving out a few other times there) on the Facebook group and Helen took notice.
Languishing at the back of her sideboard (Helen's words) she remembered I'd been after one and popped it off to me as a fabulous surprise Christmas present. I know you'll be reading this Helen, so once more thank you so very much! It was very kind of you and I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate the thought and of course the mug itself!
I hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas and that you'll join me again on the last day of the year for a look back at some other highlights of mine from the past few years doing this blog, before it all changes in 2016. Enjoy the rest of the festive season. I certainly am!: