Glad Christmas tidings in bad weather

IT was not a white Christmas but it certainly was a wet one  in the Hunter.

But from Swansea to Scone the region’s residents mainly ignored the grey skies and adopted a sunny disposition for Christmas Day.

It was one of the quietest Christmases  on record at Newcastle’s beaches after cool southerly winds swept showers across the sand.

Lifeguards were left with little to do as the few brave souls who ventured to the beaches in the morning were gone before lunch.

Bar Beach lifeguard Josh Earp said it was a quiet Christmas indeed.

‘‘There were a few people here earlier, but as you can see they’re gone now,’’ he said as the rain blew across the beach.

‘‘I don’t mind working on Christmas ... but there’s not much to do today.’’

He was looking forward to family members joining him for lunch in the lifeguard tower.

 Elsewhere, church  services were generally well-attended.

Dean of Newcastle James Rigney said Christ Church Cathedral  welcomed about 1400 worshippers at Christmas Eve celebrations and 600 at services yesterday.

‘‘The thunderstorm kept a couple of people at home,’’ Dr Rigney said. ‘‘On the whole it was pretty good. Everyone seemed pretty joyful.’’

Catholics celebrated mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Newcastle, where attendances were up compared to 2011 and children were drawn to its traditional nativity scene.

Church officials estimated 2000 people attended its four main masses, including midnight mass.

Vice-chancellor for pastoral ministries Teresa Brierley said there was a mix of elderly devotees and young families at Christmas  services.

‘‘The atmosphere was wonderful,’’ she said.

At Jonah’s Restaurant overlooking Newcastle Beach, the air was thick with the aroma of 18 roast turkeys and hundreds of puddings with brandy custard.

Head chef Michael Watson was in the kitchen on Christmas Day for the 20th consecutive year. 

There were ingredients to source, and lunches to prepare for 220 people.

‘‘Even Friday last week there were things we were doing to get ready,’’ he said.

‘‘There have been a few early mornings in a row, but we’re usually pretty organised.’’

Mr Watson was most pleased with the seafood entree: a platter of king prawns, Sydney rock oysters and smoked salmon terrine.

Not everyone got to enjoy lunch around a table.

At John Hunter Hospital dedicated medical staff tended to the ill and injured.

There was no rest for the midwives in the maternity unit either, who helped deliver five babies before lunch time.

The midwives said they typically brought in food to make working the festive season a little easier and tried to eat meals together.

There was also lots of tinsel and plenty of Santa hats to go around.

‘‘A couple got engaged so that makes the day exciting,’’ midwife Julie Cleary said.

Midwife Jackie Hartley said there was a fairly constant stream of work for Christmas Day.

Many staff were hitting the road for as far afield as Port Macquarie and Melbourne as soon as they clocked off.

The region’s police officers were yesterday hoping for a  day free of major incidents.

Among the ranks of those working Christmas Day were highway patrol officers conducting the annual holiday road blitz Operation Safe Arrival.

Police were also forced to  respond to domestic and alcohol-related incidents, common at this time of year.

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