Sunday 31 December 2023

Farewell 2023


The year ended similarly to how it began. With a gentle stroll. 

It's been a positive one, all considered. I've visited some new places, climbed a few more fells and most importantly, made some wonderful memories. 

I would just like to take an opportunity to thank everyone who visits here, I appreciate your kind words and friendship more than you know.

May the New Year bring you peace, love and happiness. 

Here's to 2024! 

J. X

Saturday 30 December 2023

Coffee and Crochet

Another photograph from yesterday because, quite honestly, the weather has been so dark that it would have been impossible for me to have taken any today.
It's been an ordinary sort of day. This morning I went out for coffee with a friend, who I hadn't had a chance to meet up with on the run up to Christmas. It had been quite a while since we'd last seen one another, so it was lovely to enjoy a catch-up over coffee and a particularly delicious toasted teacake :)

Whilst we had been in the cafe, the rain had turned rather heavy, and stayed that way for the remainder of the day, removing any hope I had of getting out for even a short walk and showing me exactly why I dislike this time of year. I  had to remind myself how I had noticed the tiniest shoots of wild garlic in the woods yesterday. A promise of spring, even if, at this moment, it feels like such a long way off.

This afternoon I did some housework, and then I finished off my crochet. The headband is made from pure wool, so it's going to be lovely and cosy. Perfect for those cold days when I can't wear a hat.

J. X

Friday 29 December 2023

Winter Sun


I had quite a surprise this morning. On noticing a bright light appear on my bedroom wall, I was initially aghast at the thought of someone shining some sort of light through my window. Yes, I'm being completely serious. On second glance I realised it was actually the sun! Having seen so very little of it lately, I suppose my first reaction wasn't totally absurd.

It's been a day of restoring some balance to our home. And that included a trip to the supermarket for a regular food shop, which was very much needed. The decorations remain but I've triggered a return to our normal routine, which even included our usual Friday night pizzas :) 

This afternoon, we swapped our slippers for wellies, and made the most of the dry weather by getting out for a walk in the woods. There was quite a chill in the air, which was unexpected. Although grateful for my scarf, I had forgotten to bring my gloves along with me, and so I tucked my hands deep into my pockets to keep warm. Away from other distractions, we talked about friends and family, of loss and of our hopes for the year ahead. Thankfully any rain held off, while we were out, but the sun kept hiding behind the clouds. After several days cooped up indoors, it felt so good to breathe in the cool fresh air, even if our walking was hindered by the thick, squelchy mud beneath our feet. 

In places, the puddles completely covered our path, clearly showing just how wet it's been recently. The reflections were pretty though. 

The stark silhouettes of the trees against a bleak wintry sky is always a beautiful sight at this time of year. 

No walk would be complete without some sort of a treat along the way. Lily finished what was left of her chocolate Santa, while I tried just a few of the many shortbread biscuits that I'd been gifted this Christmas. Not quite the same as homemade, but delicious all the same. And, rather conveniently, pocket sized.

This evening, I've finally begun crocheting an earwarmer headband that I've been intending to make for ages now. I'd forgotten how relaxing crochet can be, especially when the pattern is something so straightforward. It's working up quite quickly, so I should have it finished at the weekend. 

J. X

Thursday 28 December 2023

The In-Between Days

It's been another quiet day, spent indoors. While the rain, once again, lashed at the windows, I busied myself with tidying the house and attempting to restore some sort of order, now that the festivities are behind us. I'm resisting the urge to start taking down the decorations. I don't usually do this until after we've seen in the New Year but for some reason I'd quite like to have the house back to normal before then. I'll leave them up for now, although  I might change my mind again tomorrow. Right now, I'm not even certain what day it is.

I've been looking ahead to next year and making some plans. I've already booked two short trips away, which I'm really excited about. There's another mini adventure I have in mind for me and Lily. And I've even been persuaded to sign myself up for something, which will be a bit of a challenge. This might just be the year I say 'yes' to more opportunities, instead of coming up with reasons why I shouldn't bother. 

J. X

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Hunkered Down


I'm not entirely sure where the day has gone and, fuelled by copious mugs of coffee, I've achieved very little besides making a considerable dent in the Roses chocolates. 

In sharp contrast to yesterday, the weather has been terrible, or else I would have gone out for a walk. The heavy rain and strong winds have been unrelenting, and I've been hunkered down indoors, tree lights on and candles lit, trying in vain to cling on to any remaining festive spirit. I've also used the weather as an excuse to try and enjoy a well earned res, but I think I need some lessons on how to relax - I've been feeling twitchy all day :)

Blogger has been up to it's old tricks. I don't know what happened to my previous post, but I think I've managed to salvage it. That said, I've still had to retrieve some earlier published comments from spam - does anyone know why  that happens? 

Tomorrow, I'm putting in place a plan of action. I'm going to look ahead to next year and make a list of things I'd quite like to accomplish. Things I'd like to do, places I'd like to go etc. I've had a few ideas already, but I also think it's about time I stepped out of my comfort zone.

J. X

Tuesday 26 December 2023

A Boxing Day Walk


I'm not sure what happened to this post earlier, so I'll try again :) Also, someone contacted me about comments not being allowed for some reason, so I've had a look at the settings and fingers crossed everything is okay now. 
Christmas has felt slightly different this year. A little quieter perhaps, adjusting to different ways of celebrating, or perhaps simply because Lily is getting older. It has been just as lovely (maybe even more so), just different. 

On Christmas Eve morning, the girls and I went out for breakfast. It was all very relaxed and the conversation flowed readily over coffee and fried egg buns. It made a refreshing change from the more formal festive gatherings we've become used to, so we are considering making this a new Christmas tradition. In the evening we enjoyed our usual cheese heavy buffet and several games of Bingo. My Bingo hosting left much to be desired, as I tried to remember which call went with each number, but it just made things even more entertaining. I don't even remember who won.

Christmas Day was lovely, although, if I'm being completely honest, it has never been my favourite day of the festivities. I need to have a think about making a few changes next year, while still being mindful of keeping it special for Lily. 

Today has been much more to my liking, as we went for a walk up to High Sweden Bridge. With the weather having been so wet and windy recently, it felt good to be out in the fresh air without either being soaked through or getting blown off our feet.

Even though we were prepared for cold weather, it was actually quite warm in the winter sunshine, so it wasn't long before we'd taken off our jackets. Setting off quite early meant that the paths were quiet and it wasn't until we were on our way back that we found ourselves walking past large groups of people who, like us, were taking the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing stroll. It was such a nice morning, and it made me realise how it had been far too long since I'd actually spent some quality time outdoors. I'm sure the mince pies, which I'd taken with me, probably helped as well.  

Once we'd got back home again, I set about making a curry. This is always a favourite on Boxing Day, and is very much appreciated after the more traditional Christmas meals.
This evening, I think I'll just relax with a glass of wine. I might even watch a film.

J. X

Monday 25 December 2023

Christmas Day

Blessings of the season.

Wishing you love, hope and peace.

Merry Christmas. 

J. X

Sunday 24 December 2023

Christmas Eve

'Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!'

J. X

Saturday 23 December 2023

Christmas Eve Eve


It has been almost as busy as Santa's workshop here today. This morning I cleaned the house from top to bottom, washed and dried two loads of laundry, then this afternoon I baked some flapjack, some mince pies, and finished wrapping my presents. Christmas Day is almost here.

The Winter Solstice, yesterday, was welcomed with candles and reflection. And after my successful supermarket and farm shop visits, I happily busied myself in the kitchen. Oh, how I have enjoyed spending more of my time in there over the last couple of days. I bottled the vodka and made a final batch of compote using the delicious blackberries I gathered back in summer. I also made a large batch of carrot, sweet potato and butternut squash soup. The weather outside was frightful, and as the rain poured and the wind blew, I felt very grateful for my warm, cosy home, realising how fortunate I am to have a safe roof over my head and cupboards filled with nourishing food. 

The turning of the wheel. Winter is upon us. From here onwards, the days will start getting longer and we will see a return to the light. As someone who is never happier than when feeling the warm sun on my face, this brings me a great sense of calm.

In the evening this manifested as a sudden urge to go out for a run. Lately, having had little to no opportunity to get out running, this was quite unexpected but very much enjoyed. The simple fact that I am still capable of this activity is a huge bonus - I wasn't certain my legs would manage. It was damp and it was dark, but the wind had subsided and the air was still. The run left me feeling quite energised and I made a note to myself to not leave it quite so long until I go out again.

Back to this evening, I put my feet up and enjoyed one of my mince pies with a drink of hot blackcurrant. Now that everything is prepared, I intend to relax and enjoy the next few days.

J. X

Friday 22 December 2023

Winter Solstice

Peace, love and light.

Solstice blessings.

J. X

Thursday 21 December 2023


Christmas is now just a few short days away, and Lily is in her usual state of excitement, with high expectation for the 'Best one ever!' 

Today I have found myself buying some late-in-the-day Christmas presents and finishing off those gifts which were almost complete. The weather hasn't done do much to help me feel festive. It's been blowing a hoolie for much of the day, and it was all I could do to stop myself from being blown off my feet. It did, however, make me feel relieved that I was close to home. Had we travelled to Edinburgh I would have spent all my time there worrying that our return train could have been cancelled. 

Gift shopping completed, I treated myself with a visit to my favourite store. It is full of the most beautiful gifts and homewares and I can always be guaranteed to find something I just need to bring home with me. On this occasion it was another tree decoration and a candle holder. These were actually quite inexpensive, and anyway, I can always consider them an early Christmas present to myself :)

I have, at least, managed to put off getting the main Christmas food shop. Well, I think I probably have most of what I want already. There are just a few more fresh items I need to get, along with the cheeses. I might try and go early in the morning, before it all gets too busy. 

J. X

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Cranberries and Carols


If I overlook the mountain of ironing I worked through this morning, I have enjoyed a relaxed and stress free day. Simply the fact that I didn't wake until after 6am was proof of that. My brain has clearly tuned itself into holiday mode.

I've also spent some much needed time catching up on some blog reading, and it is  lovely to be up date with everyone's news. Although I'm having a few issues leaving comments on some posts and I think some might also have been sent directly to spam. I will keep persevering. 

This afternoon I made some cranberry sauce and the kitchen was filled with the most amazing aroma, as it simmered gently on the stove. I've put some in the freezer alongside the apple sauce, ready for serving with our Christmas Dinner, and the rest is going to be stirred in with our baked Camembert on Christmas Eve. As I don't really enjoy roast dinners, I'm sure you can probably guess which will be my favourite way of eating it. And I've still to bottle the blackberry vodka. Perhaps I'll do that tomorrow. 

This evening, Lily and I went Carol singing in the village, accompanied by a wonderful community band. We were meant to be on the village green, but sadly the inclement weather put paid to that idea, so the event was held in the church instead. It was just such a lovely evening, filled with joyful singing and punctuated by terrible Christmas Cracker jokes. Also, we were asked to participate a little more than expected during The Twelve Days of Christmas. It was a good way of keeping us warm, at least. 
The evening was fairly well attended, I thought, and I even saw a couple of dogs who were very well behaved and sat beautifully throughout. 

Tomorrow, I think I shall be doing the Christmas food shopping. Wish me luck!

J. X

Tuesday 19 December 2023



Today has been my last day at work until the New Year and I can finally relax and hopefully unwind. Yes, I still have a few things I need to do before Christmas Eve, but I now have no need to rush to get jobs done in my lunch break, or quickly before having to collect Lily from school at the end of the day. 

It has been another busy but wonderful day, filled with fun, excitement and laughter. I hardly stopped until I arrived home this evening. And even then it was a quick turn around in order to get Lily to her Karate lesson. Her last one until January. 

I'm looking forward to enjoying some calm over the next few days. I should really have been travelling to Edinburgh tomorrow, but thought better of it, as there have been some severe weather warnings issued. I am a little disappointed, as I always enjoy my trips to the city, but I must confess I am now quite looking forward to a less hectic run up to Christmas Day. 

Tomorrow, I am going to take things easy, for the first time in a while. For once, there's nothing I actually need to do, so I intend to make the most of it. I might make my cranberry sauce or I might bottle up my blackberry vodka. Then again, I might not do either of those. 

J. X

Monday 18 December 2023

Dark Days


Thank you all so much for your kind words on yesterday's post. After a fairly reasonable night's sleep. I felt a lot better this morning. Certainly much less achy at any rate, and I haven't felt quite as chilly. As it turns out, I appear to have a cold. Just a regular cold. I'd almost forgotten what that was like. 

Before I began to feel unwell, I'd had a pleasantly productive day. The last of my Christmas cards were written, I'd wrapped the majority of my presents, and as you can see from the photograph I finally got around to drying the orange slices for the tree. 

It hardly got light today, which isn't exactly surprising seeing as the winter solstice will be here before the end of the week.  I really dislike how dark the days have become, and it's easy for me to see why many people struggle at this time of year. Thank goodness for the Christmas lights, as they bring with them some much needed sparkle. 

This afternoon I attended the school's Christmas celebration. It was a lovely service including several of my favourite carols and various delightful contributions from the children. It's hard to think that this was Lily's very last one, and that this time next year she will be at secondary school. Where did those years go.

Tomorrow, will be my last day ay work until the new year, and I am more than ready for the break. If I've learned anything recently, then it is that I need to do much more than I am doing currently in order to improve my wellbeing. 

J. X

Sunday 17 December 2023

An Early Night


It's been a productive day, but I'm feeling achy and shivery this evening. I've just taken some paracetamol and I think an early night is in order.

Back tomorrow. 

J. X

Saturday 16 December 2023

Decorated for Christmas


Thank you so much for all your lovely comments on my recent posts. And also for understanding that it sometimes takes me a little while to respond. I think I've finally caught up now. 

The work's party, last night, was so much fun. I'm not entirely sure why it was advertised as being quite different from the typical Christmas party night, however. Because in all honesty it was every bit the same, aside from the street food option. There was food, a well stocked bar and the usual mediocre band. The only difference I can think of was that it was held in what can only be described as an outdoor, marquee style space. I think that was why I was told it might be a bit chilly. As it happened, I went well prepared, with warm leggings under my chiffon culottes, and a large warm soft scarf, should I have needed to wrap up. I even took my hand-warmers! My green velvet top was worn off the shoulder, so you can see why I was a little bit anxious. Anyway, in the end there was no need for any of it. The venue was actually quite warm, and I spent most of the evening dancing, which is probably why I feel a bit achy and tired today - It's the most exercise I've had in a while :) It felt really good to let my hair down, after what has been a rather busy and unsettled few months, and it was lovely to see my colleagues all enjoying themselves. 

Today my intention was to take things easy but instead, this morning, I found myself finishing the Christmas shopping and writing the last of my cards. I feel more relaxed about it all now, although I still need to get them all wrapped.

This afternoon, however, Lily and I took a drive over to Levens Hall, where they have the rooms all decorated for the festive season, along with musicians and choirs performing Christmas music in the main hall. It was a really lovely atmosphere and the fresh foliage decorations looked beautiful.

Outside, it  was a different foliage that provided the decoration. The topiary garden, which dates back to the 1690's, was mesmerising and I imagine it looks all the more special during the summer months. 

For now the weather has reverted to it's customary grey and damp. At least it stayed dry long enough for us to enjoy a walk around the garden.

J. X

Friday 15 December 2023

A Lovely Evening


Good food, a lot of dancing and much laughter. 

J. X

Thursday 14 December 2023

Seeing Stars


A mince pie isn't the only new decoration on our tree this year. And no, I'm not referring to the cats - neither has attempted to climb it - so far, at least :)

We actually have twelve gold coloured, glass stars. I'd almost forgotten about them, as I'd bought them on sale at the beginning of this year. But they are really lovely, beautifully made and hung with some gorgeous, soft, green velvet ribbon. I still haven't got round to making some dried orange slices, but hopefully I will find the time at the weekend.

This evening, I've been out for an early Christmas meal with some friends. It was such a  nice and relaxed atmosphere, and the food was absolutely delicious. It's not often that I eat a three course meal, so I'm feeling rather full now. 

Tomorrow night I'm off out again! This time it will be for my work's Christmas celebrations. I'm not quite sure what to expect but I've been told it will be quite different to our usual Christmas party. And also, that I should wear something which will keep me warm!

J. X 

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Mince Pie


When I said that I had bought this year's tree decoration from Liberty, I don't suppose anyone thought it would be a felted mince pie. Me neither, but we thought it was so cute that we couldn't leave without it. It is also far more suited to our tree than any of the glittery baubles they had there. 

It's been a tiring day. There has been so much going on at work and I've been rushed off my feet. Even so, it has all been rather lovely, but I'll definitely be glad of the rest when I finish next week. 

This afternoon I've been into town to try and finish my Christmas shopping. I'm almost there. Just one more gift to find and another one ordered, which I need to collect in the morning. Then there's the job of getting them all wrapped :) With any luck, I should have everything sorted by the weekend. 

Next week, I'm looking forward to enjoying some unhurried mornings and spending some much needed down time doing whatever I please. In this house Christmas Day itself is always quite a relaxed affair, it's these days beforehand that I find quite challenging. There's always seems to be so much to do and yet very little time in which to do it. 

J. X

Tuesday 12 December 2023

The Tree is Up


We've spent a lovely evening decorating our tree. Now, which cat will be the first to try and climb it?. 

J. X

Monday 11 December 2023

London Christmas Lights

Regent Street in December is not for the faint hearted. Fortunately, we were not there for the shopping experience. Instead we were there for for the festive atmosphere, but mainly to see all the wonderful Christmas lights on display. 

By the time we arrived in central London it was already heaving with shoppers and those who, like us, were there for the festive markets and Christmas lights. In fact, I couldn't even begin to imagine being able to get any shopping done, it was ever so crowded. Not that I was complaining, it was exactly as I'd expected it to be. London was always going to be busy on a weekend in December.

And it was totally worth it. Yes, it was exhausting, we must have walked miles, but the lights were absolutely beautiful. We even ventured into Fortnum and Mason, albeit briefly, as it was rammed. Then onto Liberty, which was much less frenzied, and where we managed to buy this year's Christmas tree decoration.

The evening ended with a drink of mulled wine, overlooking the Thames. The twinkling lights reflected in the water. 

The following morning we enjoyed a more leisurely stroll over Westminster Bridge, along Whitehall, down The Mall, then through St James's Park, where we stopped for coffee. Then it wasn't long after that we needed to catch the train for our journey home. 

Tired, but happy. It was a wonderful weekend, and one which I'll always remember. 

J. X