Tuesday 27 December 2022

What I've been reading in December

 First up this month we have The Birdcage by Eve Chase.

This story revolves around three sisters, Lauren, Kat and Flora, sharing the same father but three different mothers.  They are returning to Rock Point in Cornwall at the request of their father twenty years after their last visit.  

The first visit is in 1999 at the time of the solar eclipse.  It is obvious from the start that something awful and dramatic happened on that day which has affected them all.  To the extent that none of them have felt able to return.  The girls have grown up and moved on with their lives over the twenty years, each one very different to the others.  The descriptions of the wild coast of Cornwall and the house in which the story is located are excellent and perfectly atmospheric.  If you've ever been to the windswept, remote areas of Cornwall, you will feel immediately transported there. 

I really enjoyed this book.  The clues to what happened that day of the solar eclipse are drip fed into the story line and it was not until very close to the end that I had a sneaky suspicion about the final reveal.  In fact even when you learn about the event that happened, it is not the end of the story.  The characters have all been deeply troubled by that day and the title of the story refers not only to the painting which their (totally unfaithful and, in my opinion, unpleasant) father has painted of them but  alludes to the fact that they have all subsequently been locked away behind invisible bars which have stopped them moving on.

I've been very lax with my reading this month, I would normally read at least a chapter before I go to bed each night but I've been too tired to stick to that regime lately!  So this is the only book I have finished this month - I promise that in the new year I will be back to my normal routines.

Monday 19 December 2022

Me on Monday

 But first, let me bring you the 7 days of Snowmas

1st Day - is that snow in the air?  Oh I wonder if it will settle

2nd day - Oh that is so pretty, it's like a Winter Wonderland out there, Coco is having the time of her life

3rd day - Bit slippy on the pavements now where it's frozen overnight

4th day - OK I am not going out there unless I absolutely have to, the paths are like skating rinks

5th day - 'Only' took 20 mins to deice my car and we can't open the door from the conservatory because the snow has slipped down the roof and frozen over the gutter

6th day - Coco is still loving it but it's ridiculous that it is safer to drive than walk anywhere

7th day - Weather forecast says higher temperatures and rain is on its way - think the ducks on the lake are looking forward to it melting

So this Monday I am hoping for a proper defrost - especially as I am meeting friends for lunch in a pub which is accessed via some narrow country lanes!

The countdown to Christmas is gathering speed, with early finishes at school, pre-Christmas drinks with friends, Christmas Eve supper with R and family and then the big day will be here.

I hope that this week finds us all with time to pause and relax - it's so easy to try and fit too much into too few days isn't it?  Have a good week!

Monday 12 December 2022

Me on Monday

 It has definitely turned wintery in our corner of the world so this Monday finds me wrapped up warm!

This is the frost on the outside of our windows! Isn’t it pretty? And take a look at the view from our front door.

Feeling more festive as the days go by

Tree is up

Nativity concerts were performed 

Meals out were taken with groups of friends

The building which houses the Turkish restaurant we went to used to be the baby clinic when our children were young, it’s certainly changed since then!

Early birthday meals were had with the family on Sunday and with perfect timing look who came past just as everyone was going home!

Can you imagine the look on the children’s faces as he passed our house? 

And then just before we went to bed we noticed that it had started snowing!

And today, the birthday boy turns 65!

So this Monday sees us hoping for a celebratory lunch at a country pub with another couple then I really do think a few days of more simple, healthy meals are in order!  However all eyes are on the roads, so if they are still looking snowy and slippy I think we may have to postpone to another day!

Friday 9 December 2022

There may have been tears

 It's no secret that I am a proper softie when it comes to little children acting in a nativity concert.  Even if I don't know any of the children in the show, the minute the angels arrive dressed in their white dresses made of sheets and tinsel around their head I can feel my eyes welling up.  So you can imagine the lump in my throat last night when we went to see our grandson in his first nativity.

The restrictions of the last years are too numerous to mention, but children not being able to put on a special performance for their families at Christmas time was such a shame.  Nativity plays seem to be such a rite of passage of primary school.  So this year seemed extra special and I was looking forward to going just as much as I would have if I had tickets for a professional show.  

It can't be easy to find a way to incorporate the 120 pupils in Years 1 and 2 into one show and I am full of admiration for the teachers who managed to organise 5 and 6 year olds into 45 minutes of performance!

Of course there aren't enough characters in the traditional nativity story to cater for all those children so we were treated to Lights, Camel, Action! which also incorporated a 'Strictly Come Dancing' show from the Bethlehem Broadcasting Company (BBC).  Various characters from the nativity perform to celebrate Mary and Joseph arriving and the birth of baby Jesus.  We had the Nazareth Line Dancers, Funky Camel Dancers, Shepherds, Inkeeper and wife Tango dancers and of course the sparkly Disco Star-lets.

It wouldn't be a children's show if some of the characters didn't do a little impromptu performance, such as the compere who couldn't stop waving enthusiastically to his family in the audience while saying his lines, or the shepherd who couldn't resist doing a bit of 'keepy uppy' with his toy sheep as soon as he came on stage.  Our eyes were naturally on one of the hosts of the competition who looked very smart in his silver sequinned waistcoat and yes, there were tears in my eyes as he delivered his lines word perfect.

It's definitely made for a Feeling Festive Friday!

Monday 5 December 2022

Me on Monday

 This Monday finds me in a festive mood! What a lovely weekend we had with a trip to see the Enchanted light trail at Audley End with the family on Saturday 

And then our Zumba Christmas party on Sunday

It was a combined Christmas/Chinese New Year theme which is why my Zumba teacher is dressed in a beautiful Chinese dress!

So I’m starting the week a little step closer to Christmas celebrations, and the week holds a school Christmas concert midweek, 60th birthday celebrations with (younger) friends 😉 on Friday and early 65th family birthday celebrations for Paul on Sunday. I should probably try and eat sensibly in the beginning of the week!

We ended up having a busy decorating time at the end of last week and now have a much brighter bathroom with a bit of a Club Tropicana feel to it

This is SO different to the rest of our house! We are very much a ‘plain painted walls’ kind of home but I wanted something quite different in here and it certainly makes a change! How lucky that the shampoo and conditioner I use is a similar coral pink as the paper so can be on display in the corner.

Tasks for the week include writing and posting Christmas cards, and wrapping a few more presents, then a bit of baking for Paul's birthday - although there isn't much on the actual calendar I already know it is going to be a busy week!  After all, it's now time to get the decorations out!

Friday 2 December 2022

Let's sit and have a cup of ...

 ... mulled wine!  Let's get in the Christmas spirit on this first Friday in December!

We have friends who lived in Belgium for a while and the first December they were there we went to visit.  It was such a lovely atmosphere there, and visiting the Christmas markets in Brussels was such a lovely day out.  When you bought your mulled wine to keep your hands (and insides) warm while you were walking around, you were able to keep your cup or glass. These particular mulled wine mugs are actually from Cologne; we enjoyed the European markets so much we tried somewhere else the following year. Happy memories! 

Can you believe that we are in December?  You'll notice that we don't have our decorations up yet - family tradition dictates that we do that just before Paul's birthday so we have another week or so to wait yet.  To be honest, much as I love the decorations, I am always ready to take them down between Christmas and New Year. My one concession to early decorating is this festive ribbon wreath that I made!

Do you have particular family traditions at this time of year? It's always interesting to hear how other people organise their time.  When we went to Belgium that year we had to leave our shoes outside of our bedrooms on December 5th and in the morning Sinterklaas had left chocolate gifts for us.  That's the start of the celebrations over there.

Have you heard of the statue in Brussels called Manneken Pis?  A little boy relieving himself into a fountain.  He's pretty famous over there and is dressed up for national occasions.

As you can imagine, excitement is mounting amongst the youngsters of the family.  school Christmas fairs have been visited, Elves on the shelves have arrived, letters to Santa written and soon we will be visiting the illuminations at the Enchanted Gardens at Audley End to get in the festive mood.  My Zumba Christmas party is on Sunday which should be good fun and we have a few meals out with friends in the next couple of weeks.

This year we are all going to our daughter's for Christmas Day.  It will be the first time for years that Jon and his family will be there too.  They usually join us for Boxing Day and spend Christmas Day at his in laws but they are having a break from that routine this year.  I'm always mindful of those for whom Christmas is not a time of celebration for whatever reason - we had an awful year in 1997 when my mum died the week before Christmas Day - and I really do never take it for granted.

So that is it for this month, thank you for visiting! Next time we have a cup of tea together, it will be the New Year - can you believe it?

Thursday 1 December 2022

A sentence a day in November

 Gosh November, you seem to have arrived so quickly this year!

Day 1 Paul accompanied Leo on an evening bat walk with Beavers, but it absolutely poured with rain - all bats stayed safely dry in the trees!

Day 2 Had Olive here for the day, Paul was doing his volunteer work over the local park so we had a girly day

Day 3 Zumba in the morning and a friend popped round in the afternoon

Day 4 Went to Cambridge, lunch at Aromi, their open topped focaccia slices are deliziosa!

Day 5 Max and Olive here for a sleepover - they were so well behaved, but I got little sleep and felt worse for wear so ...

Day 6 Felt very tired after a disturbed night's sleep, not because either of them kept waking up, but because I was sleeping with Olive who is quite a wriggler in her sleep!

Day 7 Went to Bury St Edmunds with two other couples to visit and have lunch with friends who moved there three years ago.

Day 8 On the one day I decide to walk into town, there was a sudden downpour and I got drenched!  

Day 9 Olive had her 1 year vaccinations today so no childcare today - instead I went through the toys we keep here to pass on those that aren't being played with any more to a friend who is about to look after her granddaughter 2 days a week. 

Day 10 Zumba was fun and in the afternoon I spent time working on my blanket - which is very nearly finished

Look at her guilty little face, I'd only put it down for a few minutes and she was on it in a flash!

Day 11 Paul went up to London so I had a day to myself - altered the dress I have bought to wear for Christmas meals out.  Remembrance Day.

Day 12 Decided that our bathroom is in need of some TLC.  Cue searching for wallpapers, enquiries about replacement shower panel seals and new bath panels.

Day 13 Rachel and family came for Sunday lunch - lovely to catch up on their news as although we see them a couple of times a week it's usually just a quick chat while handing over children.

Day 14 Tumble drier broke, the drum has fallen off the motor and the damage to the back plate looks beyond repair; as we have had it almost 15 years we decided it was time to replace and spent a lot of the day researching and comparing prices and the rest of the day wrapping birthday and Christmas presents.

Day 15 Popped into town, continued to work on a half finished blanket that I was working on using up leftover wool - took a while to work out which row I was working on!

Day 16 Had Olive here for the day, she is now confidently standing up and not so keen on sitting still for a minute - this is quite a dangerous age!

Day 17 Rain, rain, rain.  

Day 18 New tumble dryer delivered, cue mega laundry catch up!

Day 19 Sleepover for Leo and Rosie - they were so excited.  Once again, four people went to bed but only three had a good nights sleep 

Day 20 Rosie's party was such good fun, bouncy castle, ball pit, soft play and a visit from two Disney princesses, what more could a birthday girl want?

Day 21 Rosie's birthday - those four years have flown by

Day 22 Went into Saffron Walden to meet Jon, Max and Olive for coffee while Sophie had important working from home to do

Day 23 Meal out with my ex-work colleagues in the evening - such fun to meet up and share all the gossip!

Day 24 Zumba in the morning 

Day 25 Visited friends in the afternoon for a cup of tea and slice of cake

Day 26 Coco went to vets and now has a big shaved area on the top of her head, had friends over for drinks in the evening and learnt a new card game Five Crowns

Day 27 Had a quiet Sunday, wrapped some Christmas presents, popped into the school Christmas fair in the afternoon and won a bottle of prosecco in the tombola and a necklace in the raffle.

Day 28 Went to Chelmsford to get a couple of Christmas gifts, was busy enough to be festive but not too busy to cause queues in the shops

Day 29 Had my hair cut and after a pampering morning, down to earth with stripping the old wallpaper from the bathroom in the afternoon! England through to the last 16 teams in the World Cup

Day 30 Olive here for the day, wondering when she will finally be brave enough to take her first steps!

Well that month was over and done with very quickly - let's condense it all down to 1 Second Everyday!