Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday rolls round again.............

I have a few half written posts in the folder here - and clearly my staying power has been compromised along the way because I cannot post half written things, now can I. Nor do I seem to be able to finish them. I start off early in a fit of enthusiasm, and then, as soon as I get up to make more coffee, I get distracted by life outside the study door. 

Things like washing machines, dishwashers, an annoyingly grubby hob, the sun, a cobweb, a newspaper - they leap up and grab me and then I forget all about the writing and the muse. 

And that, my friends, is why you seem to get the rest. As in a rundown of events, rather than the content of the brain, and/or heart, as the occasion may warrant. 

Take for instance right now. The incoming email pinger pinged as I wrote that last line, so I had to check what was there, didn't I? Exactly. There were some Groupon offers, so I wandered off through the merry maze, bought nothing, and then remembered I was trying to sit down and write something worth reading. 30 minutes later and a load of washing rescued.

I am doomed.

By the way, I am hoping you have all seen that Boomama (Sophie Hudson) has a new book out? But more to the point, her first book is FREE on the Amazon Kindle at the moment, so rush on over and download it. You will not be sorry. I absolutely LOVED it! I, however, bought a real paper book ages ago for money. That didn't stop me downloading the digital copy too, though. One can never have too many copies of good books......

(Washing in drier, and hung up in sun. More cobwebs dispatched. Cobweb catcher bashed about in the sun outside to clean it. Dead leaves removed from plant. Broken terracotta bits of pot hidden from view. Hands washed. Here I am again. Coffee cold. )

(Additional list of post ideas written and mulled over. 15 mins gone.)

(Still considering a photo book Groupon.)

(Concentration is not one of my talents.)

You will remember that I was watching over my friends' home and dog over Christmas...... well, I saw the wedding photos over the weekend. They had gone to Cape Town for a family wedding and holiday, and on Saturday I got to see the photos. Such a beautiful place. Well, you see all the fabulous places when you are on holiday, which is only natural! Anyway. I had never heard of the word Marryoke. Have you? Am I the last person on earth? It was hysterical. Brilliant. Perfect. Hilarious. Fun. 

What a fantastic idea! For anyone who may not know about Marryoke, it is a video made while members of the wedding party, the friends, guests, family etc all lip-sync to the words of a song. This wedding the song was Summer nights, from Grease. Apparently the photographer took at the footage on his iPhone while playing the music for you to pretend to sing on an iPad. Genius. Then he goes away, slices and dices and voila!! The end result is the best memento of a wonderful day. 

Try popping over to YouTube and watching some of the hundreds posted there. You will love them. Good grief, when I remember the official formal photos of my wedding - I never look at them. I never really liked them. The best ones have always been the casual ones taken by friends. They are the most natural, the ones which make me grin. The others are the rolling the eyes in the head variety. I do remember the very expensive and utterly useless woman who was my official photographer took ALL the pre wedding photos of me in the garden with a lamp-post emerging from the top of my head. Photoshop was not around back in the time of the dinosaurs. 

Forget the staged dances. Seriously, getting everyone involved and joining in, unrehearsed, is clearly so much fun. 

(Three text massages received and answered. Lunch made and half eaten. Chat to daughter re physio report. )

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There are signs of life in the garden already. The hellebores are starting to bloom, and the snowdrops and other bully things are growing rapidly. I have no idea why so many bulbs are out of the ground, but it could be the squirrels. The garden needs a great deal of tidying up, because I couldn't do anything after the cataract op at the end of autumn. It can wait. I got out of bed yesterday, to find a large black and white cat sitting on the windowsill looking at me. That was different. He is welcome to loiter, because I am quite sure he will dispatch any wandering rodents emerging from their winter slumber. 

Right. That cold coffee needs to be tossed out. 
I will be back. 

Mission: Take some photos worth looking at.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Back in the water.....

This morning, I got back in the water at the gym, and did the aquazumba class for the first time since October and the cataract op. There have been so many issues since then, and I suppose I should have waited a little longer, but this morning, Diana said - have fun in the pool. So I popped on line to see if there were actually any spaces in the class. There were. I gathered the dusty bag and briefly wondered if the aging bathing costume might spectacularly explode in the water, and then stuffed all the hesitations back in the bag and departed. 

It was great. 

Seeing all my friends, and having just about the entire class, and teacher, stop to chat and say welcome back, was just so lovely. I have a great group of friends in that class. 

So, I did it. Back dancing in the water. I may never walk again, of course, because the muscles are not happy as I speak, but who cares. I got in the water. 

Anyway, following on from the moment, I took Mum out shopping and for some coffee, because she loves getting out and about. We had our coffee, and then I went looking for foam, because the DO thing is going to need foam. I bought 2 squares, two different thicknesses. Next I need to borrow the wheelchair, and cut the foam to fit, and then, THEN, people, we are going to try noise. Music. Think London and a show. If it works, then the sky is the limit. 

Now THAT is exciting!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In the blink or an eye, or a taste, of course.............

Good morning, all. It is a porridge kind of day. Grey. Cold. Damp. Porridge is needed.

Isn't it amazing how we associate food with moods, or weather, or emotions? A hot cross bun day. A salad kind of day. A stick the crock pot on day. A butternut soup kind of day.

Actually, more to the point, it is wonderful how we can recall memories simply by smelling or tasting something. Shell fish - crayfish (lobster), prawns, always whizz me straight back to a back on the west coast of the Cape, where I spent many days diving with friends for crayfish. South African crayfish are huge, like lobsters. We caught them, kept them in rock pools, then cooked them in seawater. And ate them on the beach. I can smell them. Taste them. Feel the sun on my back and the sand between my toes.

I was thinking about Brandy Tart yesterday. Cape Brandy Tart is a regional recipe and absolutely wonderful, especially on a cold dark wet night. Sticky. Served with cream or hot custard. Maybe I should make a couple. They freeze well, and the brandy is still out from Christmas and the cake baking. I made it for a charity supper event one year here in the village - you provide a dish and copies of the recipe which are sold to raise more money, and it proved to be a roaring hit. Especially with the men!

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Then I remember the pecan pies. The carrot cakes. Stuttafords food hall. The Old Cape Farm Stall, with the fresh vegetables and the home made cakes and biscuits. And breads. And jams. My friend Cheryl gave me some Cape Gooseberry jam for Christmas. (Physalis, here.) My absolute favourite, which she brought all the way from Cape Town. 

Memories are made like this, you see. One thing triggers another, and you find your thoughts wandering down old familiar pathways, through the trees, up the mountain and you pass and bookmark stuff as you go to return to at a later time. If you remember how and where. My grammar skills seem to have gone awol in the forest, people. Whatever. I am quite sure you know what I mean to say. 

This morning, I checked Instagram, (I am linds56) and saw a photo posted by a friend. This friend is a man I have known for 35 of his 38 years. He and my older son grew up together, and his mother is one of my dear friends. Obviously, he is no longer the little barefoot kiddie I first met, back in 1981, with cheeky grin and long blonde hair. He is the one in the middle of this photo below, by the way. I had to get my Andrew to go through his photos and email me the copy. 

I say "my" Andrew, because there were many Andrews and he was another one, but he became known as VC. I still think of him as Andrew, though, because I am a mother. We do that kind of thing. 

Anyway.... aren't they cute? 1983. Babies. Andrew, Andrew and Nigel. They had already had 2 years of pre-primary together by the time they headed to "Big" school. I feel old, all of a sudden. 


(We are taking the long path here, people, round the woods and over the hills, and through the river.,....) 

So, as I said up there at the beginning, I saw a photo VC had posted. It was of his 2 sons this morning, on the first day of school. One to start Big School, and one to start pre-primary. (That one was barefoot, with long blonde hair too - just like his father at the same age.) The older one in the identical uniform his father wore in this photo, except for the socks and shoes.  You only start school when you are 6 in SA. Not like here where you go at 4. (Do not get me started. It is crazy.) 
And so I was transported in an instant, back to 1983. I could see this photo in my mind. And I knew I had to find it and post it too, on Instagram. And tag the other Andrew. 

#intheblinkofaneye

32 years ago. I am sitting here shaking my head in disbelief. 32 years ago. Oy. 

Memories. They make the head want to explode at times. 
In a good way. 

I need to go and make something warm. Now where did I put the Cape Brandy Tart recipe.......




Monday, January 19, 2015

A mixed bag of random thoughts.....

A new week started a few hours ago. I say this because I have been sitting here at the desk with a mega list of stuff to sort, and it is now after lunch, and I am still near the top of that list. Stuff like broadband suppliers and, Eureka!!! we will be getting fiberoptic options within months. More fiberoptic options, that is. We already have some which include many TV channels and I do not want to pay for more. Well, I want more but do not want to pay more, if you see where I am coming from. 
We are all about Not Wasting Money. 
Sigh. 

I nearly lost the will to live. 

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Dawn a few days ago, was stunning. The sky was orange, but, by the time I had thrown some clothes on and made my icy way to the top of the road, the sun was well risen. Still beautiful, but not quite as breath-taking. 

So what have we been up to here in the middle of England? Well, Diana has no longer got her cast on, and neither does she have Rudolpho, her beloved knee scooter. Instead she has a boot of epic proportions, and a permanent spot at the physiotherapist. And crutches. She really does miss Rudolpho, especially as she is now severely limited by those crutches in terms of how far she can go, or get around. 

Being tied to home is not ideal at all. Understandably so. 

The Library Girls have resumed meeting on Fridays - my class at the library for iPads and other tablets. I say Other Tablets, because new ladies bring their new ones along, which I have never set eyes on in my entire life, and I have about 8 seconds to familiarise myself with them and try to teach them something. Anything. The regular ladies are being co-opted into tutor mode as well. 

Mum goes to her next eye clinic on Friday - gosh, but the month has gone fast. And I will take my crocheting and sit in the chair and chat to all the other people there, for what is hopefully less than 5 hours. The clinic  is very big, but everyone is really lovely. Maybe I will take some coffee in a flask. Maybe I would be unpopular. 

I am going to go back to the aquazumba class this week as well. My eye has not been brilliant, so I need to check it out first. Tomorrow. 

This is truly a post of random bits and pieces. 

I popped in to our local sewing machine shop while Diana was at physio last week, and managed to get out of there without buying a new machine. It is always such a temptation, because the new sewing machines are like new computers - capable of unimaginable stuff nowadays. Unimaginable prices as well, but I can see how wonderful they would be. I would have to sew every day for the rest of my life. Well, in between adventures. 

I resisted, though, and just bought some white embroidery thread. I needed that. 

If they had had a new embroidery machine, I may well have failed to resist temptation. 

It may snow tomorrow, and the next day. It has been threatening to snow, but really, since winter a couple of years ago, there has been no snow at all. It would be a nice change. All white outside. The fact that the car needs a good wash could be hidden for a few days. And we could stay home and toast hot cross buns.

Jean and I were on coffee duty at church yesterday - we both baked, and so did Diana, because we were having a sort of Fresher's Fair after church. This was to demonstrate all kinds of options for the congregation. The church members have raised enough money, you see, to completely renovate and alter the church, to make it more suited to 21C church, than Georgian church. The pews will come out and new flooring put down, and a new kitchen, bathroom and meeting room will be built, the gallery extended (to house all those appallingly uncomfortable Georgian pews) and it will be redecorated. All over the next 8 months or so, which means that we will have no church home for that time. 

So members of the congregation are all coming up with many different ideas, house churches, courses, walking groups, youth groups, breakfast clubs etc, to take the place of formal church, and we will only meet together as the whole church once a month. Until the building work is done, and we can go back. 

However, the emphasis is on the church body being out in the community, and so it will be a wonderful opportunity to get to know people in smaller groups and to try out different things. Our church is on the move. 

Exciting times. 


Missy will soon be 6. My daughter will be flying away soon. It is almost time to start planting things. Soon. Soon. 

Time flies. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Catching up with friends.....

I met a friend for lunch today - and we spent a couple of hours talking about the States of Our Nations - aka as in our families. What is going on. Who is where. Who is off where. Where is who. Etc. Well, you know what I mean. There is a great deal to catch up on when you have grown children, especially when we happen to have ones with a tendency to roam. Like us.

We also discussed daring to do things. Needing space. Ageing Mums. Travelling girls. Families we both know. And, of course, the time of our lives we find ourselves entering. And wish lists or the lack thereof, as the case may be.

All in all, a typical conversation between ladies like us.

She agreed with me, you see, when I mentioned how important I think it is to write the memories down. Memories can be confused with nostalgia. While there is a certain amount of nostalgia attached to memories, it is a word which evokes sickly sweet connotations, and that is not what I meant at all. I mean memories. I actually love talking about things which happened. Outrageous. Funny. Daring. Awful. Brave. Hysterical. Ordinary, but oh, so different. The snippets which make the kids roll their eyes up in their heads as they say - yes, we know, Mum, you have told us 439457563 times.

There was life before they were born, strange though that may seem. A full and rich life which included being able to visit the bathroom alone. There is, of course,  a lot which I haven't told them. They will have to read the book to find out that part.

They also have no idea what my dreams were once, what it felt like to be me as a teenager, and why should they. It was before their time and none of their business. Falling in love with and marrying their Dad also falls into events before their time, and about which they know very little. And if they want to know, they have only to ask. Or read the book.

There is no book.

Yet.

One day, probably.

I will need to write the memories down somewhere before I forget. Mind you, I read last night that Harvard may have discovered a treatment for Alzheimers, in which case we will all remember everything forever.

Now that could be a scary thought..........!


Sunday, January 04, 2015

Just DO it, Linds.........

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I do love blogging, you know. I have to come back and remember how much joy it gives me sometimes, but I always seem to find my way back here. 

2015. 

A new year awaits, already 4 days old. 

I have plans for this year. I thought of doing a review of last year and then thought it was too medical and too boring and too everything that I am absolutely determined that 2015 is not going to be. 

It would be simple to just pluck a good word out of the air and call it mine for the year, and I have done this for the last 5 or so years and loved the focus, but this year, no. This year is more. 

For me. 

I am taking a stand. 

This is the year the excuses are banned. 

This is the year the "putting the whole world first thing" is being toned down just a little.

This is the year there will be some ticks in the box by 31 December, believe me. 

There have been many reasons why I need to change things here. Many wonderful people who have faced worse challenges than me. Are facing. Not all of them conquered those challenges. And I am all too aware of the frailty of human life. 

As we get older, the tears happen to fall more frequently. The quest to make things perfect for those you love to create those special memories grows in a totally unrealistic way. The drive to just gather memories, buy a new camera to capture all those you love, before they fly away from you, grows. So does the irritation those you happen to love feel when it seems as if the paparazzi is taking up residence in the lounge. 

Sigh. 
You need to be 60+ to know what I mean, I think. Capture it all. Slow down the clock somehow. 

And then,  reality whispers the words - write it down. Just write it all down, so one day, maybe someone younger can read the words to you and you will remember. 

Remembering is wonderful but, hey, you have to have stuff to remember in the first place. 

So....

This year, my word is DO. 

Not May DO. Not Could Do. 

CAN DO. WILL DO. 

There is no longer any "maybe" or "perhaps" or "one day" about me. Time is running out. I need to make it all count. And, using the excuse that one or more member of the family may need me to do any number of things is going to be stopped on some occasions, because the "me - what Linds wants to do", also needs to be heard. 

I read the 5 things people most regret when they are dying, you see. I knew 4 of them pretty well and thought I had them all more or less covered - well, there are one or 2 that I am not brilliant at at all. I can work on them this year as well.  

But then there was the first one

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I think most of my life has been like this, and most Mums will identify - everyone else comes first. It is instinctive and I do not regret that for a millisecond. Up to a point. 

My kids are all grown now, and flying or flown, and I can spend the rest of my life trying to be satisfied by their antics and adventures, or I can get up and do some too - have some adventures of my own. Big adventures. Little adventures, but so help me, I will be having some. I want a colourful life. Not a grey one. I am wearing purple already. I need more. 

I can do things on my own. I am a widow. I don't need to be with other people to have adventures. I can go on tours if I feel like it. 

I can do things. 

And am going to do things. 

Instead of saying that I cannot go to a West End musical because the music will be a problem for me, i am going to find a way to surmount that problem, if I have to go in a wheel chair and sit on foam and use ear plugs and look like a lunatic. If it gets me to the show, I will do it. I want to see The Lion King. 

I want to go to a Hillsong service in London too. Again, the music will be an issue, so I suspect a great deal of foam and a wheelchair are in my future. 

BUT 

if it means I can do things then so be it. 

So I am going to spend this year refusing to see the problems surrounding my dreams, and instead, work on a way to make them happen. 

I will visit America in 2015. 

I have friends to see. Blogging friends. I want to go to a conference for bloggers - so many - I have no idea which one but it will be one Sophie (aka Boomama) is speaking at, because I have been a blogging friend since the beginning of time, and you really need to read her book(s). 

And then there is/are Megan, Lisa-Jo, Ashleigh, Vee, Chris, Linda, Barb, Kelli, Bev, Heather, Mary, Heidi, Jeana, Jan, Becky, Mary, Angie,  Kristen, Ree, Louise, Laurie, Shalee, Lori, Lora, Tonia, Ann, Carmen, Donnetta, Pam, Lisa, Deidra, Jeanne, Diane, Sue, Susan, Melanie, Samantha, Mishel, Robin, Annie, Jo, Crystal (Canada), Sarah, Elizabeth, Sandra, Dawn, Debbie and so many more .....SO MANY LOVELY PEOPLE and I want to be everywhere. 
Of course. 

I can't be this time. 

Maybe Linds needs to plan a Grand Tour of Bloggers around the whole place. I have never been to America. I want to see New York. The North East. The North West. The in between bits. 

For now though, I am putting the world on notice. I am on the move, and any obstacles will be worked over, under, around or through. There will be no excuses. 

Hallelujah. 

So help me,  I will undo the box the overlocker has been in since I bought it 3 months ago. I will. 

And in the meantime, there are a great many small things I want to do. You know, I was trying to explain the need I have to see the Aurora Borealis. The person I was speaking to didn't understand the drive - the urge, I have to see it one day. Then I reminded her that she had, in her younger days, trotted around the entire globe, and experienced so many things for herself. I understand that all that travel is unimportant - that people are more important. I just need to have some memories too. The people are here, but I need something for me. Need. Want. Have to. Try. There is more, you see. For me, at this exact point in my life. So let me fly, while I can. I can. I will DO it. 

xxxxx

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A title would be helpful. A good start....

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A new year has dawned, and I have to tell you that I did not wake properly until after 9am this morning, and I did not get out of bed until the Concert from Vienna started on BBC2 at 11.15am. Anyone would think I had been out all night partying. 

Sadly, no.

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Linds's annual photo of fireworks on the TV
Just no. 

Mother fell asleep early on the couch. David then fell asleep upstairs. I then clearly fell asleep as well, until Mum woke me to tell me midnight had just passed. 

I may be getting old. OR, I may just be out of practice. I can get the energy back. I will practice. 

A new year means all things are possible. 

And now back to Christmas....

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My daughter-in-law in her Christmas finery. No, I didn't ask permission to post her photo. She looks lovely. Done. 
I did refrain from posting the full photo of the pjs. That may yet happen. 

Now, those of you who have been around for a few years will know that in our village, Carols on the Square is a big event. Every year, all roads through the village are closed from 6.45 - 8.15pm on Christmas Eve, and thousands gather to sing carols organised by our village Churches Together team. Our friend, Jon, who heads up our local music organisation, is conductor of the brass band which plays, and every year it grows bigger and better. We have all ages playing and all levels. One of the trumpeters plays on the greatest stages in the world, and then there are kids still at school. Students, head teachers, business men, Mums. Anyone who can play well enough. Their music is superb. 


PA systems, lighting, mixing - all taken care of by volunteers. Marshalling - volunteers. And, most people go. This village has a population of over 6000 people. And they walk down and walk home. Well, not me, but I have an excuse. 

So, this year, it was Andrew, Ann, Missy and me. We parked at a friend's home and walked the rest of the way. Andrew and Ann met up with friends, and after it all, I brought the scrap home and they went off to catch up with the friends for the rest of the evening. 

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We were standing right at the front so I could be away from the loudspeakers, and earplugs did the rest. I love going. So do we all. The sound of the carols, on a clear crisp night, being sung with such gusto is just magical. 

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And then there are fireworks at the end, after the carols, readings and a short address. This year, one seemed to go horizontally around the churchyard instead of up into the air, but that was only one of the many fireworks which took off. One little girl was very excited by it all, on her Dad's shoulders. The little one in pink below. Our little one. (Who lost a tooth this morning, so that must make her a Big Girl now.)

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Photographing fireworks is not easy. I think Ann took these, or maybe I took one. Whatever. Fireworks. Many people and a great way to prepare for Christmas. Then of course there is also the possibility of the midnight church service, but we missed that one this year. Christmas morning is when we definitely go. 

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There were so many things I thought of asking you all before Christmas - like do you have wish lists which you show people? For things like Christmas? Birthdays? Do you do secret Santas with your family? 

My children have always written to Father Christmas, but usually on Christmas Eve. A "guided" letter when they were tiny, graduating to a hilarious missives as adults, which have everyone rolling about at the flights of fantasy, and the epic FC replies on Christmas morning as we listen to Kenny Rogers sing Oh Holy Night. Traditions, people. My children try hiding it, but Christmas here includes Kenny singing Oh Holy Night. It is, I have to say, a beautiful version of my favourite carol. 

Traditions. 

So many in my family come from warm climate years, and they prompt so many memories. There are always triggers, you know, and I hear myself saying "Do you remember....." and it infuriates my children, who do prefer the "now" and to keep the "then" back where it happened. Then. 

We may be similar, but we are also very different. And naturally, some of us (me) (Mum) have an extra couple of memories to live with. Decades do that. You can't get rid of them. I don't want to either. 

Anyway, about the wish lists. We don't have them. I may ask everyone what they want, and I do know that some of us are way beyond the "stuff" part. `Something useful . I love the WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ idea for children. I truly do believe that Christmas should not be a time of great excess. Gifts should be  smaller, scaled down, and giving should be encouraged. Making, sharing. There is time at birthdays for bigger stuff.  

I wish I had thought more about this when I was a younger mother. 
I am now reformed. 

I try to identify needs when I buy gifts. I like part to be a surprise. I try to think of something different. 

It can be impossible.

Each of my children responded with the word "Nothing" when I asked them what they wanted. I told you they are difficult. And I cannot remember when or if I was ever asked (by the family) what I would like as a gift. Geoff and I didn't do that - he was away most years. A couple of friends do ask me around birthday time, but `I never know. So the concept of lists is a strange one to me. I don't know the music my adult children like, I don't know what 2 of them read, I do know my mother loves puzzle books and wool, and our gifts are usually smallish. 

I make biscuits for the friends, and usually an ornament, only I didn't get around to that this last year. I am going to fix that this year. There will be a handmade Christmas ornament from Linds in 2015. 

Does that count as a resolution? 

Hmmm.

Tomorrow we will talk about my word for the year. It is a strange one. 

I will be back.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

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Christmas came, people.

 A great time was had by all. Well, there were the odd tantrums and fall-outs, of course. I am sure this is familiar territory to everyone! We are all human, and yes, even I was not in the best of moods for part of that time. I get very tired.

Hmmm.

I never said I was an angel.

Anyway.

It was as perfect as our family could make it, and many wonderful memories were made, and that is all that matters.

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Now, can someone tell me how we are suddenly sitting right at the very end of 2014, with just a couple of hours of the year left to pass? How did that happen? I am still stuck back in April. Maybe May. 

2014 has not been spectacularly good, but so much has changed during the year. Change is inevitable, and it often hurts at first, but then it works out for the best. Old sayings being proved wise once again. And there is always a great deal to celebrate, of course. We are here. That is enough. 

With a little one in residence, Christmas was never going  to be quiet, and indeed it was a riot of paper, and squeals and fun. And that included the big people too.

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Antlers were worn, of course!
I do love my kids. 

My daughter-in-law was wearing spectacular Christmas pjs. I will check re posting her photo - and Diana's in her Amazing Technicolour Jersey, which was unearthed from a drawer in Granny's room. It came from Paco decades ago, and had never been worn. Paco is long gone. Diana and Ann both took turns wearing it on Christmas Day. We do high fashion around here, you know. 

We even managed some fabulous family photos - all together on and around the couch. Missy stars in them, of course, so I can't post photos, but they were lovely. Ann was given a remote control thingy for her camera, so she clicked away from the floor and it all worked beautifully. None of the running and throwing one's self into place just as the photo is taken any more. We do miss the hilarity factor, though!

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Christingle time - in church, singing "Away in a manger" and totally caught up in the moment. 


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Church, Carols on the Square with thousands of people together (more about that tomorrow), icy cold, crisp days and nights, brilliant sun and blue skies, with a little snow thrown in, walks in the countryside, games of Taboo, puzzles on the table, lots of fine food - Andrew's BBQ-ed lamb was so delicious, it did not make it to Boxing Day!

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And then there was the hair......

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 Ann did all our hair in plaited/woven coronets. I looked 15 againI have to say, but from behind or the side, Diana and I are so incredibly alike it is quite scary. For her.
(Yes. This is me.)

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(Excuse the grey. Stress highlights.)

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On the couch after a hilarious time trying to take selfies, and in the end, relying on the resident photographer to take one of me with my daughter.

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Ann went on some dawn walks through the countryside and took the most amazing photos.

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`Actually, nearly all today's photos are courtesy of Ann. She is immensely talented. I found it very difficult to choose just a couple of photos to post here. So many stunning ones. 

You know, this year, most of my photos were taken with the phone camera. I hardly touched the ordinary one. The quality of the phone camera is infinitely better than my camera, and of course, we always have a phone at hand, so can snap away when we see things. Gone are the days where you see a beautiful sun setting, rush home for the camera and return to try to capture the scene. Now you can just stop and snap away. 

Progress  in the technological field is amazing. It just suddenly speeded up, though, didn't it. 

So there is a lot to chat about in the morning. I only had just over an hour's s;eep last night, so I am probe;y writing gobbledegook. I need a nap. 

Happy New Year to you all! 

Let's hope 2015 brings with it great adventures, excitement, fun and laughter. 

My word for 2015 is DO. I will explain more tomorrow. 

And now I must prepare for my annual let-me-pretend-I-am-at-the-London-fireworks photo shoot. I need to move some lamps.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Middle England..........


It is a beautiful Christmas Eve here in the middle of England - the sun is shining brightly (so all the dust shows beautifully) (I made a random effort to dispel the build up and called it good) the sky is blue, and it is unseasonably mild. 

I have managed to sit down for a little while, because right this minute, I am all caught up with the things I can remember. Tins are full of goodies. The wrapping paper is packed away now. The cinnamon cake is nearly finished. I cleaned the nook. 

I lost the list. 

The family is all in residence, and yesterday, Missy and I went off on a special Moregranny adventure. She had her very first manicure, and she loved it. Even the "starfish fingers" for 30 minutes afterwards had us all playing the game. The nails dried perfectly. Bright pink and sparkly. Because she likes bright pink and sparkly. 

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It was a delight to watch her. My phone battery died, so Andrew brought me another phone from home. I did not want to miss a photo of the whole event. 
Little girls are great fun. 

Check out her hair - a coronet of a french plait. Even my hairdresser thought it was stunning. The word was "epic", in fact. 


And then I spent most of the afternoon yesterday finishing The Dress. 

Missy sent me a letter of detailed instructions which included fairy dust and crowns, and floating parts. The fabric was a little hard to find basically because it does not exist. I know this because I had a whole shop full of people (and Jean) attempting to match fabric to her instructions. We even found fairy dust. Or rather, the delightful owner called out -" I found fairy dust!!"at one time. 

I tried. 

It does not look exactly like the instructions. 

And so I asked Missy to come and try it on, and she informed me that "Moregranny, you DID NOT FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS" at which point Moregranny nearly reached for the scissors and/or collapsed over the sewing machine. And then sat there and finished the dress. 

I like it. It is bright and colourful (there were many colours on the Detailed Instruction papers) and it works. The fact that I could not find my vitally essential sewing equipment - as in the zipper foot for the ZIP - screech - made it a challenge. But it is done. She may or may not decide to wear it. 

Right. 

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Anyway. 
Moving on.
Last `Sunday was the impromptu nativity during church - it was lovely. I remember stitchng the Joe and Mary  names onto those shirts last year. All those papers on the floor are Christmas cards. The children cut them up to fit the word "Love", which now hangs from the church balcony. You will see this in a sec.  Christmas is all about Love, after all. 

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The sunset was stunning. Every evening has been similar in recent days - just glorious. 

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Carol service - the 9 lessons and carols which are traditional - was on Sunday night, and I was just fine until we got there and I realised a brass band was going to be playing. So I sat in the car, but I could hear 2 carol services from the car - in adjoining places - our church and the pub. They also had a brass band. It was fantastic. 
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Here you can see the word Love. 
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And the wonderful brass band. 

And, for his Mum and Dad far away, evidence that Dougal is just fine and reclining on their sofa. Dougal and I are looking after each other over the festive season. He is very sweet. 

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So, my family is here. David is at work at the moment, and the house is full of people. There is plenty of food, the ice cream is made, the meat is defrosting. Andrew is BBQ-ing a leg of lamb tomorrow, and I will be cooking a three bird roast with all the trimmings. 

There is no chance of starvation, believe me. 

Presents are wrapped, delivered, and cards have been sent. I wonder if you are also at that wonderful stage of waiting - anticipation of the glory of Christmas. The birth of our Saviour. The reminder that Love came down at Christmas. 

Wherever you may be, and however you will spend the day, I wish you all a wonderful, peaceful Christmas. 

Lots of love, as always, 

Linds

xxx

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mince pies, biscuits, meringue........

Morning, all.
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Mince pies. Fruit mince.
I made the mistake of popping in to the local giant supermarket early this morning, and came face to face with the "pile them high and sell them cheap" thing supermarkets do best. And I immediately thought - I need that. I must get that - such a bargain. And then I remembered that I have ordered our fresh vegetables from our local farmer and I do not need anything more. 

STEP AWAY FROM THE SUPERMARKET, LINDS. 

So I did. 

We have more than we need.  More than we could possibly need. 

Nothing fancy, mind you, but even in the toughest of years, there has always been more than we have needed. And believe me, there have been tough years. The secret to the tough years and survival, by the way, is to make things into a game. I am exceptionally good at that particular game. I could write a book if I was so inclined. I am not, by the way. 

I digress. 


There has been the annual mince pie and biscuit (cookie) baking marathon in progress around here. The house smells great and very festive and the tins are full-ish. My family keep eating things, but, as they point out, it is for them anyway. They are right. I can bake more. Now that I have replenished the baking supplies. I still have a roll of pastry I made for mince pies in the fridge, which must be used. I will make something this afternoon. 

I was so pleased with my 41 mince pies (odd shaped baking trays = odd number) until, so help me, my sister messaged us a photo of HER mince pies. Her husband has made over 200. So I am feeling a trifle inadequate even though 41-9=32 or so is still MORE than enough for us.  (See above.)

We always were a competitive lot.

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I had to include one of the church photos. As we arrived, with Diana on her scooter with her red and white candy cane striped cast, our little 2 year old friend on her scooter arrived too. Dressed in red and white striped tights. They were a matching pair and SO excited! The cuteness was just off the scale. 

Anyway. 

Back to the baking. 

As always, after baking the mince pies, I had egg whites left over from the pastry, and this year I decided to make a pavlova instead of individual meringues. We can have a pavlova on Boxing Day. For those who are unfamiliar with them, they are essentially a cloud of meringue, named after Anna Pavlova, the ballerina and they are New Zealand's national dish. I think. They are a great Southern Hemisphere favourite. You make normal meringue mixture, then dollop it onto a baking tray covered with baking paper in a circular fashion. Preferably the size of a dinner plate TIN. A few inches high. Then bake as normal and leave in switched off oven over night. I did this. I am a star. And then discovered that I had been over-generous with my Pavlova size and there was not a single tin large enough to take it in the entire universe. So I ended up wrapping it in greaseproof paper, cling wrap, and then putting it in a plastic storage box under the kitchen table. 

I will forget where I put it. 

You serve it on a large plate, piled with whipped cream and sliced fresh fruit, or berries. Divine. Seriously delicious, and perfect after left overs the day after Christmas. (Boxing Day.)

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MY Pavlova in hiding. 

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Custies, of course. I tried replacing them with another biscuit one year as gifts and that didn't go down too well. So custies rule. They are delicious too. 

And now I want to introduce you to the grand old lady who has been my faithful baking and cooking friend for my entire adult life. 


This is the Kenwood Chef I got as a wedding present in March 1976. Apart from one little mishap when my sister used an open grill right next to it and melted a hole in the side of the bowl (I still used that bowl for years until I swiped my mother's whole one - I just covered the hole with a tea towel when adding flour, or it sprayed the entire kitchen with the white stuff) it has never given me a single problem. I have just ordered a new K beater, because this one needs to be retired. So it will be 39 years old next March. 

39 years old. 

How many modern day appliances would last that long? I don't need new fancy things, you know. I like Old Faithfuls. I asked a friend of mine who also had an ancient Kenwood before she got a Kitchen Aid machine  a few years ago what it did that the Kenwood couldn't do. 

Not a thing she said. 

Old Faithful stays. 


And finally, this is my darling daughter in "leave the house" mode. Complete with scooter, candy cane cast and crutches. She is over the hump, so to speak. 3 weeks down already and less than 3 to go now. It is tough having limited mobility, but she is being a star. 

The post man has just called and I now have a little more wrapping to sort - I will be back in the morning......