Sunday 31 December 2017

Year's End

Another year comes to a close and it is a time of reflection for many, myself included. 2017 didn't get off to a great start for me, but looking back now I know I have so much to be thankful for and, for what it's worth,  it's been a pretty good year.
Our Christmas was lovely. Fairly quiet compared to some, but spent in good company and with good food. On Christmas Eve we went for a rather soggy walk through the woods. A little bit of calm, it was so quiet with no one else around (unsurprising given the weather), but good to get out knowing there wouldn't be an opportunity to do so the following day. Cookies were made, stockings hung and a very excited little girl eventually fell asleep.

Christmas day itself was spent at home with the whole family here, and as often happens it went by in a flurry of present unwrapping, playing with toys, cooking and eating. The subsequent days were a mix of walking, relaxing and enjoying being at home. That wonderful period of time between Christmas day and New Year when days merge into one and there is no real sense of purpose. The weather has been cold but beautiful, and ideal for some gentle rambles, the low light being typical of the time of year. It was the perfect opportunity to put my new Christmas presents of a  bobble hat and woolly socks to some good use, and very cosy they are too.

Today we enjoyed a lovely lunch out at a nearby country pub and tonight we will raise a glass and see in the New Year quietly at home.
Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to read my blog this year. I really appreciate it and have loved reading your comments. 
However you are spending it, I wish everyone a very Happy New Year.
J. X

Friday 22 December 2017

Feeling Festive

There are only three sleeps until Christmas day! How do I know this? Because Lily tells me exactly how many there are left each morning as soon as she wakes up. I remember last year was the first time she became aware of the build up to the big day, but this year she is literally bouncing with excitement.
And I'm really enjoying this special time of year too. Of course, it helps when there is a little one around as you cannot help but get caught up in their delight, and mine is often to be heard singing 'Away in a Manger' somewhere around the house. I also had the absolute joy of seeing the school Nativity this year - Lily was an angel and did an excellent job, even with a slipped halo and wonky wings!
At the beginning of this week we spent a few days in York. It was lovely to see the shop windows all dressed for the season and the Christmas Markets so busy. The aroma of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and crepes filled the air and the Christmas decorations and lights were all so pretty. We even got to see Santa (from a  safe distance) and the reindeer.

The last few days have been mainly spent on Christmas preparations, although we managed to get out for a rather misty walk on Wednesday afternoon. There weren't any views to be seen but still, it was good to get out and have a break from the chaos for a while.
I still have things to do and I've yet to start wrapping presents! However, I think I've got most things covered and after a quick trip to the shop for a few things tomorrow I should be able to sit back and relax. 
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. 
J. X

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Baby, it's Cold Outside

The temperatures dropped quite suddenly and it's been a challenging week here as our boiler chose to start giving up on us last Tuesday. This has meant no central heating or hot water for six days! Of course, if it was going to happen, it was just our luck for it to coincide with the coldest week of the year. I was initially quite upbeat about our predicament, we were going back to being 'old style' - brushed cotton sheets and lots of blankets on the beds, Lily getting washed and dressed in front of the fire, boiling the kettle for water to wash the pots etc. but as the days dragged on I found my resilience begin to wane.
Thankfully, as of this afternoon we are up and running again and I'm hoping my festive spirit will slowly return along with the feeling in my fingers and toes.
Last Sunday we went walking (possibly in an attempt to keep warm). Just a gentle pootle down by the pond and through the woods. We haven't had any snow on the lower ground here but everything looked lovely following a heavy frost. I've also discovered Lily likes frozen puddles just as much as wet ones, and as a bonus they don't end up with her (or me) splattered with muddy water.

Most of our Christmas decorations are out now and, as promised, here are a few photographs. I'm mindful to use child and cat friendly decorations as much as possible, although so far everything has been left untouched save for some re-arranging of the baubles on the tree (Lily!). The chocolate filled advent stockings are hung safely out of reach above the fireplace.

I'm loving having a real tree once again this year and I made use of some of the straggly lower branches to create a simple wreath for the front door. I carefully added some sprigs of holly from the garden along with some frosted decorations for a bit of colour.
J. X


Tuesday 5 December 2017

December weekend

I can't quite think we're almost a week into December already, and following a hectic couple of weeks, I intend to slow right down and take time to enjoy this magical season. The weather has turned very cold here and we have woken to many frosty mornings, which all helps with getting in the festive mood.
The excitement is gradually building in our house, and last weekend Lily just couldn't wait for us to go in search of our Christmas tree. We went to a local garden nursery and were almost spoiled for choice. We had great fun choosing one and bringing it home in the van. I hope it's going to become a new tradition for us as a family and I'm so happy to be back to having a real tree once again. So far Mog has left it well alone. Let's hope it lasts.
The advent stockings I made are now hung above the mantel and Lily looks forward to her chocolate coin inside each one every morning. My lovely friend also treated Lily to a book advent calendar this year so she unwraps a new book every evening and we read it together at bedtime. It's a really precious time for us both. 

On Sunday I had every intention of baking some Christmas cookies, but the day was too good to be spent indoors and we went out walking. There were some beautiful views and while we sat on a bench for a short rest I heard Lily say 'This is the life'. I sometimes think she is four going on sixty four! I know what she meant though, because even though we were still suffering with some horrible coughs and colds, it was a really lovely day out.
In the evening we decorated our tree and over the next few days I will add the finishing touches to the house, which I will share with you towards the end of the week. I do love to see how other people decorate their houses for Christmas don't you?
And, if I'm really lucky, I might even get around to finally baking those cookies!
J. X