Monday, 24 December 2007

Glad Tidings

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and a joyful and peaceful New Year. Thanks so much for all the lovely comments I've received. I apprecite them so much and the effort and thoughts of everyone who's left one. Sorry for getting behind posting replies, time has a habit of completely disappearing in front of your eyes at this time of year!

All is calm, all is bright - well just about at No.25. The boys are tucked up, I've failed to make any jam tarts or sausage rolls but the house is clean and the table is even set. Presents are going under the tree and I might make it to bed before the boys get up again. But amid the hustle and bustle peace reigns and a stillness has settled. Hope everyone enjoys their Christmas and that its full of joy. A merry, merry Christmas and see you next year!


Thursday, 20 December 2007

Festive Cheer

A few pictures of the almost finished decorations (well tons actually!). Why is it so tricky to take pictures of a Christmas tree?! Impossible. And close-up it all looks a bit messy and sorry about the tights drying on the radiator, what a picture of class! Absolutely all the decorations had to go on, Barney hasn't discovered subtlety yet I'm afraid!
My festive dresser and my favourite ilix berries.
Barney keeps asking when we can eat Father Christmas but I can't bear to open him. I've found some sweet miniature versions that will definitely find their way into his stocking though.

Joy! This is the look on Archie's face every night when we turn on the boy's tree lights. It's everything Christmas is about.

I found this angel in a garden centre a few years ago and it was the last one left. It was only a few pounds and is probably my favourite decoration.

Isn't this glass heart pretty. My lovely friend Lucy gave it to me and I love the way the sun shines through it.

The boy's tree
and the decorations

My infamous cards - can you spot the blank ones?! Not too many - honest

Found the perfect thing to display my collection of vintage Christmas postcards but annoyingly I can't actually hang it on a door (it's propped up on the floor here) because our doors turn out to have weird laminate on them and I can't even knock a nail in!
A corner of Christmas in the bedroom. My new bedside table and somewhere finally to put my pretty bits and pieces.

Enjoy the shortest day, hope it leaves everyone enough time!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Downhill to the Big Day

And with fingers crossed we don't crash in a big heap at the bottom! Cripes, where is all the time going? I've finished work though - yippee - I'm feeling festive and have already eaten my own weight in chocolates! Had lots of fun catching up with friends over the last few days, its been so nice to swap news and shopping traumas.

Much to do tomorrow, I've written at least five lists and have a plan of attack for the market and town that Montgomery would be proud of. I'm going to have to have a bit of a showdown with Woolworths though because they're very close to letting Father Christmas down and we can't be having that. Christmas Lesson No 1 - early December is not early enough for massive companies to live up to all their online promises. Next year I'm shopping online before the schools go back. Fingers crossed, we'll see what tomorrow brings.
On the home front nearly all the decorations are up thanks to my littlest man having some huge naps, perfect timing. I still haven't wrapped a thing though but Grandma is stepping into the breach on Friday so I'll be camped out in the sitting room with a pile of presents, pretty papers, festive tunes and plenty of chocolate to keep me going, I'm even looking forward to it. I've really enjoyed reading random thoughts about Christmas on Driftwood's blog and its inspired me too have bit more of a think and indulge in what I like best about it all.

  • Fruits and foliage - I don't buy flowers in November and December. They feel so much like spring and I try to hold it back because the pre-Christmas anticipation zips by so quickly. Admittedly I go a bit bonkers in the New Year for daffs and buy a bunch of flowers a week until October. In midwinter though I love ilix, laurel, fir, holly, mistletoe, snow berries, fir cones and for Christmas we add bowls of satsumas, whole nuts, brightly wrapped sweets and cranberries.
  • The wrist tape dispenser is a thing of beauty - and unbelievabely the one I bought last year has turned up, didn't vanish in the move and I've even remembered to buy a refill! No more snipping tape, tearing my hair out when I can't find the end of it, trying to unpeel it from the cat - aaggh! Someone is smiling on me.
  • I do love Christmas cards - and I put up favourite ones we've been given in the past back up every year. I've got packets and packets and even hang up blank ones because the pictures are so lovely. Blimey, tragic or what, we do get some proper ones honestly!
  • My dad's annual festive joke has passed on to my little family, "So kids, Christmas morning breakfast, what's it to be? Cereal or chocolates? Shall I get the milk?" - We eat lunch early to give the boys chance to play in the afternoon or go for a walk so we never have a big breakfast and treat of the year is choosing a curly-wurly if you really fancy it.

Hope everyone has a lovely, busy, but not too hectic week.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Keep Calm & Carry On

From the Met Office
Monday 24th December 2007 to Sunday 6th January 2008
In the change from cold to mild, easterly to southwesterly, high pressure to lower pressure, there is a possibility of snow, briefly. It may well be a short lived event as the trend is for little precipitation of any sort.
If there is snow, it's likely to be on Christmas Eve.

I'm not sure I can contain the excitement. Even the TV weather woman said she might have a fiver on a White Christmas this year. Oh my word!

A lovely handmade card from my colleague Saskia.

Its been a very busy but very festive week. Hasn't the weather been great, bloomin' freezing but fab. In two different shops yesterday I heard people saying;

"Ooh its so cold,"
"I know, but it's very festive"
"Yes it's nice, really Christmassy",

I couldn't agree more and got a bit dewy-eyed and nostalgic!

The frost on our road hasn't melted for three days and the drive to work has been magical. Ice-rimed trees, ghostly looking branches and misty hollows mixed with blinking fairy lights in the distance looks so gorgeous.

Christmas came early this week with the arrival of the most gorgeous present from the very talented Lucy Bloom. I was really lucky to win her fabulous giveaway and the gifts could have been hand picked for me. Wrapped in a festive envelope they were carefully wrapped in snowy tissue paper tied with red string. I wish, wish, wish my infuriating camera batteries hadn't run out because I would have loved to have shared a picture of this work of art and the beautiful gifts. As soon as I get to town to replace them I'll show them off. Thanks so much Lucy! Do have a look at her lovely blog and very tempting shop.

Thank you for the birthday wishes for Woody, his 40th was a great but quiet day, just what he wanted. The voucher for a glider flight went down very well (phew, what else do you buy for the man who wants nothing and hates heights, but tells you often what a fantastic experience it would be?!)

For once he manged to scrape the time together for an afternoon off so we bundled Arch into the car and trundled across the White Peak to our favourite cafe only to find it shut! Trauma of the highest order - days off are rare as hen's teeth for Woody but for once, thankfully, my brain was in gear and I remembered a gorgeous bistro in Bakewell I'd been to before so we popped in there and had a smashing lunch.

It was so lovely spending some proper time with him with the chance to actually chat and have a mooch about together. His real treat is a weekend with his mates in the Lake District in the spring, drinking Guiness in a cosy pub and deciding whether they're quite up to dragging themsleves up Scafell Pike or not. (Have you seen Three Men in Boat with Gryff Rhys Jones - I think its going to be rather a lot like that?!?). Hopefully we'll make it out tonight for a stroll to our new local The Boat. So happy birthday to my lovely bloke who is the world to me and our little boys. Thanks for sharing everything with us, love you very much. Sxxx

Monday, 10 December 2007

Jolly holly

I absolutely love holly. Every year from when I can remember dad has disappeared into the night with a big bag and visited a friend's woodland to bring in the holly. Some years the thrushes got there before him and we had about one berry in the whole house. I managed to resist ransacking the hedgerows for these, but they do look very tempting, 1-0 to the thrushes there quite rightly. I was very chuffed to see these amazing branches at the nursery in mum and dad's village where we bought our Christmas tree. There was tons and I've filled lots of jugs and even managed one for my lovely new bedroom table that I'm putting the finishing touches to, I'll pop up some photos of soon. It looks so jolly and although I have got a poinsettia I like the holly best of all.
The weather here on Saturday was completely foul so the idyllic, family, Christmas tree trip, taking an age to choose exactly the right one, stopping in the cafe for cake etc was pretty much cut short. Luckily the nursery had rigged up some shelter and we could choose the tree without getting completely drenched but it was so cold, poor A wasn't in a happy mood. We quickly chose an old fashioned spruce which I know will drop a lot of needles but it smells absolutely fantastic, reminds me of all my Christmases as a little girl. Its up and absolutely swamped with decorations. Usually we have a 6 footer but with A being rather small and very curious, this year's is a four footer on a table, just out of reach. I did try to hold some decorations back, thinking that less is more but I couldn't bear to and there was no stopping B's flow!
Just like almost every other person in the land I can feel the cry of, "why aren't there enough hours in the day!" beginning to ring in my ears. This is my last week at work before Christmas and the diary is filling up with things to do, including some festive treats -

*** office meal out tomorrow evening
*** Woody's 40th, friend for coffee and dinner out for the birthday boy Wednesday
*** Last day at work and tons of stuff to finish off on Friday
*** Farmer's market with Lucy and collect toy chest from cousin's on Saturday

Decorations to finish, baking to do, school Christmas service, food shopping to get in, carols in a cave (brilliant believe me!) ... and I love it all!

I went on the school trip on Friday with B and although it was a very long way away for 3, 4 and 5 year olds on a coach, we did enjoy it and it was all very festive. It was basically a woodland walk with nursery tale tableaux and a winter village complete with elf workshop, Father Christmas and even snow! I'd been a bit dubious but it wasn't too commercial, once you'd paid all the rides were free and it was just right for the children's age group. I remember going to the grotto in the big department store when I was little and being absolutely mesmerised. Looking at it all through the little one's eyes I saw a glimpse of how Christmas used to feel a long time. Magic!

Early start tomorrow as I'm collecting my friend Lucy ahead of our office do and the forecast is for a thick frost and a sparkling morning. Christmas is definitely coming!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Delights of December

The festive feeling is beginning to tingle in my toes so I've been faffing around with my blog to make it feel a bit more wintry. This weekend is "deck the halls" etc at No.25. Really I'd rather hang on until the next one but Woody (he who usually thinks celebrations are far too much fuss) prefers to get them up early. Its his birthday next week (a big one!) so who am I to deny the birthday boy his wish. So to satisfy myself, this is my December delights list, a monthly tradition I've let slip lately but am going to revive especially for the festive season:
Bare trees - I adore the stark skeletons of a stand of trees against a pale sky, so dramatic.

Dusk - there's something extra special about it at this time of year, with people scurrying home laden with bags, twinkling fairy lights in cottage windows, Christmas trees lit up on the village green. (Gosh I'm a sucker for anything twee aren't I?!)

Traditions - "we always...", everyone has them don' t they and I'm enjoying so much having the chance to pass some onto our little family and create some of our own. The best bit for me is cosying up with the family and sharing happy times but there are also the little, ordinary things that make Christmas extra special and some of my favourites are:

*** having fresh sheets and pyjamas on Christmas Eve

*** making jam tarts

*** fetching the turkey from the wonderful butcher in a gorgeous estate village and calling in at the cafe for a nice, warm drink

*** the carol service (my sisters and I did a lot of singing at school and college and Christmas was a round of concerts and services that were such fun and the perfect build up to the big day. The festive season is a lot about singing for me!)

*** peeling and chopping the veg to Carols From King's

*** pouring over the Christmas Radio Times, even though Woody is a TV reviewer and knows weeks ahead what'll be on. He's very good though and just tells me a few snippets

*** watching The Snowman

*** a walk around the lanes and appreciating the peace and quiet

*** having to have chocolate oranges, Elizabeth Shaw mints and a box of Roses in

*** a large Bailey's on Christmas Eve (hopefully in the bath when everything is finished!)

Bookshop catalogues - so many books I'll never read but browsing with a cup of hot coffee is a proper treat.

Farmer's Market Scrum - the veg shop a few days before Christmas is always a bit mad but the stall holders at our local one are really friendly and full of festive cheer - (goodness, my Christmas sounds like something out of Dickens!)

Not long to go now, and I've already got the chocolates in. Wonder if I can last?

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The advent of Advent

I love this advent calendar. I bought in the tourist information centre in Hebden Bridge ages ago and its such a find, a beautiful German calendar with windows that light up if you put candles behind it. Its a three-fold design and is delighting the boys. I love advent calendars and the wonderful mixture of panic and anticipation they help to build that's the same every year and I revel in it. Much to do yet but the present buying is almost done - phew!

Yesterday was my longed for trip to York and it was marvellous. Busy, but marvellous and exactly the day me and my lovely friend Lucy were hoping for. Crisp, festive and tons of shopping. I rolled up at Lucy's gorgeous new cottage in the Peak District a bit late and we headed off north fuelled with bacon rolls and incredibly we were strolling down Stonegate full of festive sprirt by 11 o'clock!

We had a whole heap of interiors shops to get around as well as the St Nicholas Fayre and somehow we managed it a very calm and relaxed fashion. I must admit the market was pretty disappointing, no chalet-style stalls and only one or two had anything I fancied buying but in the I didn't bother. To be honest York has enough delights to empty my purse and we bought some lovely things, some of which I've already put away so can't show you, how silly.

This was my favourite treat though - only a pair of knee-socks but they're from my most favourite clothes shop, Noa Noa. Well favourite for browsing in as I've never stretched to buying anything before but I love everything they stock. Beautifully wrapped and boxed, just for little me, heaven knows what they do for gift-wrapping. They're just gorgeous and will be lovely with my brown suede Mary Jane's. I know, I'm getting a bit over-excited about a pair of socks but they really are lovely (despite the awful photo - no zoom - aagggggghhh!)

I've got another shop I've fallen in love with. The White Verandah sells divine vintage treasures from kitchenalia, pictures, eiderdowns, glass and jewellery, alongside handmade bags, cushions and other beautifully designed gifts by the lovely and very talented Jess. Do visit and I defy you to come away empty-handed - I didn't!

These are some pictures I've been wittering on about and wanted to share, our wonderful new view. The first is down the road from our bedroom window, across the rooftops, over the Churnet Valley. A close-up would be wonderful but I hope this gives a good impression of what a lucky thing I am to see this every morning. The other is up the road from the same window and I am not getting a lot done because I'm spending just too long gazing at them!