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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Post Christmas Blues?

I wonder if I am the only blogger who is glad that Christmas is all over and who cannot wait to get those cards and the tree (we did manage a tree Meg!) down and forget all about it for another 12 months? Am I the only one who says at this time every year "Never again"? Who has decided that next year I am either going to a non-Christian country, preferably somewhere warm and sunny, for the holidays or if not that then volunteering to help at Crisis at Christmas? Why am I such an old Scrooge? I have kept away from blogging this week as I feel I don't have the "right" things to say at this time of year - I cannot join in all that enjoyment and so on - bah humbug to it all!!

Every year I determine that this time I will be merry and bright, we will enjoy the day together, I will make the effort and every year it all ends in tears - usually mine! What is the matter with me? I am not really a miserable old *** (but then again maybe I am and just don't realise it) so why can't I be like everyone else and get into the spirit of it all?

I have no photographs taken recently - light too dim, nothing worth taking... etc but whilst looking through my files I came across this one taken in our garden last spring - this is what I dream of at this time of the year - Spring and primroses, blue skies and sunshine, Easter - now there is a festival I can do!

I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope that 2010 will be a good year for you in terms of happiness and health.

I have decided to take a short break from blogging - I will come back when I have something more positive to say and some cheery photos, when I can see the joy in little things again, and can truly rejoice with you at all your happinesses. Take no notice of my moans I will be back and I will cheer up in due course after all these years this I know!!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve

I have just done my little table decoration and have the pastry ready and waiting for my mince pies...

.... my radio tuned to Radio 4 ready for Carols from Kings my Christmas can begin!

Last year I couldn't find these pretty silk roses and thought they had been lost in the move just a couple of weeks earlier so we didn't have the usual decoration but this year they turned up again - not lost at all just having a rest!

I bought several of these candle rings in Debenhams sale for just 25p each many years ago having some idea of using them in the making of a bag or something but they never got that far - however I thought them so realistic looking that I incorporated them into some real greenery and my tradition was born.

No berries on the holly? No problem as I have these artificial berries again donkey's years old but which do the job nicely and don't go all shrivelled and dull either!

I am off now to make the mince pies - hope that you are all where you wanted to be at Christmas and that Christmas is whatever you had hoped it might be for you and your families. Thank you for all your support and encouragement my blogging friends and I will look forward to catching up with you all again after the festivities.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas stocking!

Our daughter told me yesterday that she will be coming for Christmas which will be lovely and the first Christmas we have spent together for several years. Having been laid up with the wretched virus I got nothing done last week apart from hanging the door wreath and setting up the tree on Sunday so suddenly with only a couple of days left I have to get on with my shopping etc. If daughter is coming I can indulge myself in making up a stocking for her as in the old days!

Am planning my first outing this afternoon - taking D to the hospital for further tests (how exciting is that?!) but hope to find somewhere to park the car so I can do a few bits of shopping. Having made this stocking last night - those of you who watched Kirsty's Home made Christmas will recognise the idea - I now need a few bits to fill it with!

However I will be limited in what I can fit into it as I haven't made it wide enough at the top really. The embroidery is not up to my usual standard either being machine zig zag stitch instead of done by hand but I am not too displeased with it for only a couple of hours' work.

I leave you with these narcissi which are the remnants of a little posy from the Scilly Isles sent to me by a friend - a real breath of spring eh?! Hope your Christmas preparations are going according to plan.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Pause in Advent

The nativity over the door at Salisbury Cathedral

I have no words of wisdom for you on our last Pause for Advent post but just some photos taken last Sunday when we went to Barrington Court for lunch. Having just returned late the night before from our trip to Paris we finished off with a Christmas lunch at the restaurant there thus we needed no shopping on our return. Since our time in France where the shops are closed on Sundays we determined not to revert to our custom of shopping on a Sunday but to keep it as a day of rest.

Even in the wintery sunlight the garden was lovely. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and returned home well refreshed by our little holiday.

Wishing you all the peace and joy of this season and a wonderful 2010 to follow.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Comfort food!

Today I felt the need for something warm and comforting so decided to make us a mincemeat and apple round for pudding. This is a recipe from my Mum's old 1970s Good Housekeeping cookbook and as I had half a jar of my home made mincmeat to use up it was ideal.

Rub 3 oz butter into 6 oz self raising flour (those of you with hawk eyes will see I am using plain flour but I add baking powder to make my own SR flour ever since I found thedifferent flours in France so difficult to understand!)

Add 3 oz sugar and an egg and just enough milk to make a fairly stiff dough - I always forget and make mine too wet and the it's difficult to handle! A case of don't do as I do but do as I say!!

Form half the dough into a circle and place on a greased baking sheet. Top with a grated peeled apple and some mincemeat - I don't measure mine but use what looks about right!

Roll out the other half and make a lid to top the first piece and brush with milk and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake at 375 degrees (I told you it was an old recipe so the measurements and temperatures are in the old style!)

Serve hot cut into slices

and top with a little hot custard - delicious. The remains can also be served cold as a cake with a cup of tea or heated for another hot pudding.

Makes a change from mincepies if you have any mincemeat left after Christmas or why wait till after Christmas try some now like I did!!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Lucky me!

Jill over at Third Age Musings wasn't the only one to receive a gift from Lesley at Printed Material - I too have had one of Lesley's lovely felt creations! For no reason other than she had read that I'd been down in the dumps and thought it might help to cheer me up which it certainly did.

It came along with a pretty hand crafted card and a lovely message of support and I can tell you I was deeply touched and indeed cheered.

The other card I had received a day or two previously from Jill and I will treasure this little piece of artwork depicting the fabulous Marvin - he really should have a fan club I think!

I am indoors nursing the dreaded lurgy at present but I will certainly be wearing that lovely cheery flower asap!
I cannot get over what a lovely group bloggers are - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
A proper thank you card ready to go in the post Lesley - not sure when it will arrived though!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


We had 3 days in Paris last week and we did enjoy it. We had booked on a Secret Paris on Foot break and this was to include 3 two-hour walks round different areas of Paris with a guide.

Here are a few of my photos - I didn't take ones that are better found on postcards but of things that appealed to me - in no particular order (mainly because it would take too long to get them into any semblance of order and too because I am suffering from a sore throat and the beginnings of a cold and just don't feel like it!)

Note the blue sky - this was Friday morning

View over Paris from Sacre Coeur on Friday afternoon when it had clouded over

Pretty little French shop on the Isle St Louis

Typical French Underground sign - somehow more exciting and interesting looking than the London ones especially with that blue sky background!

Famous cabaret place in Montmartre called Lapin Agile for more info on why it's called that click on the link.

This place is supposed to sell the best ice-cream in Paris but as it was so very cold we didn't try it so I can't tell you if this is true!

Where Heloise and Abelard lived on the Isle de St Louis click on the link for their tragic love story.

Most of the large houses, or hotels as they are called, in Paris don't have gardens but these intriguing courtyards instead

This fantastic house on the Isle St Louis has been bought by an Arab royal and it is hoped that it will be renovated in keeping with its original style - it would certainly make a magnificent place to entertain dignitaries as well as friends!

Typical French electircs in some of these old places! Don't touch!!!

This ice sculpture showing the Eifel Tower and Big Ben was being done on the concourse of St Pancras International when we got our train on Thursday morning - was hoping to see it finished but of course the arrivals platforms are not in the same place.

Pretty street in Montmartre

Blue skies and Paris seen from the Isle St Louis across the Seine
Paris maybe the city of lovers and best seen in the Spring but we old marrieds loved it just as much this time round as when we were there on honeymoon nearly 40 years ago.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Pause in Advent

Today's Pause in Advent post is rather short and lacking in photos I am afraid but forgive me as I have been away in Paris for a few days and only got back late last night.

Picture of the sort of stove Granny used courtesy of Google image

Have just been over at Menopausal musings and was reminded about the time I lived for a while at my grandfather's house in the Forest of Dean. It was a 2 up 2 down semi and had no running water, indoor toilet, nor electricity. Cooking and heating was done on a range and the flagstone floors having no damp course were constantly wet in winter not only with the wet brought in on shoes but with damp rising from the ground beneath the stones.

I thought of my grandmother (who I never knew as she died when my mother was just a girl) and how difficult it must have been for her to bring up her family under such circumstances on very little money. Then I thought of how much I have now - warm dry house with all mod cons, enough money to buy the essentials etc. I so often complain about this or that and yet I have so much more than she ever had. According to my mother Granny was often to be heard singing "Count your blessings" so if she who had so few could yet sing and remain cheerful why is it that I can feel depressed and miserable when I have so much.

Christmas must have been quite a different affair in Granny's days - no fairy lights, no turkey (it wouldn't have fitted in the oven which was very small even had she been able to afford one) no piles of gift wrapped presents under a tree....

In Paris the lights were fantastic (will post about this later in the week)and the shops on the Champs Elysee decorated and filled with fantastic gifts at prices we could only imagine in a game of Monopoly and yet there were also many beggars and people sleeping roungh and I was struck by the contrast.

Let's not forget that Christmas isn't just about decorations, lights nor costly gifts but remember the REAL message it brings.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Mood lifters!

Spring flowers in the market at Salisbury brightened my day on Saturday .

My pots outside in the downpour this morning also brightened my mood - they are so cheerful in spite of the rain (or maybe even because of the rain!)

This photo doesn't do justice to the sight of sunlight on the silver birch trunks this afternoon taken from my bedroom window.
I had been suffering from a dose of the blues but these along with the Monday poem over on Tales from a cottage garden and my Monday morning hour or so of yoga have revived me!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Les 4 Chandelles

Photo courtesy Google images

This post - if it works - should offer you a slide presentation called Les 4 chandelles and is the second in my Pause for Advent posts.

Hopefully if you click on the link below where it says Les 4 chandelles it should work though you may need to have Powerpoint running at the time:

For those of you who do not read French I have done a rough translation below:
4 Candles burned gently and you could almost hear them speak. The first candle said I am Peace but the world is full of war and dispute and the candle of Peace went out. The second one said I am Faith but I am no longer deemed indispensible and a soft draught caused the second candle to go out. The third one was called Love but nobody seems to recognise my importance any more and the flame of Love died too. Suddenly a child came in and noticed the candles had gone out - why are you no longer burning he said and began to cry. The last candle said Don't be afraid for I am Hope and with me you can relight the others. With Hope we can all live in Peace with Faith and Love.
God you are my light and my salvation. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of everlasting life. Make me an instrument of your love and let your light shine through me.

I think that this little story which was sent to me by a French friend some months ago is perhaps for me what Christmas is all about - Hope. Let us remember that always but especially at this season. I hope you will like it as much as I do and that the slide show will work for you.
PS I tried to edit the post following Floss's comment and managed to lose the lot so hopefully this time I have it right!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

And the winner is...

This evening I picked the winner for the giveaway and it was Jill of Third Age Musings. I will be posting your package very soon Jill. Many thanks for all your kind comments and I am only sorry that you couldn't all be winners!
I have been away from posting for a while - life seems to have got in the way just recently and time for blogging has been severely limited. I really needed to take my own advice and find time to take things quietly now and again - not easy when you are dashing from doctor to hospital several times (not me and not life threatening thank goodness) to vet's (again not life threatening) as well as all the usual commitments at this time of year. However things seem to have quietened down now - fingers crossed.

We went to Bath on Saturday to see the Christmas Market. When I tell you that whilst on the Park and Ride bus into the centre we passed about 30 coaches parked on the outskirts of town all having destination signs saying Christmas Market and having disgorged their passengers in the town you will understand why it was absolutely packed. I am sure the market is lovely but it was impossible to move so very difficult to see much of what was on sale - pity. We gave up and came home for a cup of tea in the peace and quiet of our own home!

The light wasn't that good so these photos are not good either I am afraid and of course it was difficult with so many people to get any distance

I loved the colour this merry-go-round brought to the rather grey scene!

And the juxtaposition of the colourful roundabout with the ancient stonework caught my eye.