And very cosy and rather relaxing its turning out to be for us here at No 25 this year.We've not had any real plans in the pipeline so there has been plenty of time for some decent slumping, for lazy mornings, for chomping on chocs/nice cheese/pickled onions etc, for getting to grips with new toys and for a few breaths of fresh air.
Our Christmas was a lovely, lovely day, with the added surprise of a last minute grandma who should have been entertaining the brother-in-law but he was sadly marooned in the snow at home in Cumbria. Poor Uncle P but our little boys were so very chuffed; not just presents but a grandma too!
I'm in danger of needing to be surgically removed from my new Cath jim-jams, a present from Woody and much obsessed over. Oh I am a lucky and very cosy girl indeed.
Wrapped up in a little present to myself, from the Laura Ashley sale, and a mug of something warming I had a blissful hour to myself yesterday just taking in the winter view, the steam train chugging down the valley and the feathered visitors to the bird table (mostly jays and blackbirds yesterday, as well as the coal tits and the shy but very beautiful bullfinches).
It felt like an out and about day though today so we grabbed the bikes and went to find the Manifold above ground, after its long summer in the caves under the Peak.
Tucked between the hills, hidden from the sun, the little track was like an ice rink today and we skated about. It felt so very good to feel the cold on our faces and the cobwebs blow away after a few days of fires and central heating.
The next few days bring birthdays, lunch with friends and squeezing in some more relaxing before the world gears up again. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, thank you for all your wonderful comments and visits to my little blog this past year. Your time and messages mean ever so much to me, sorry I don't get around to reply or visiting everyone as much as I'd like. Warm wishes to everyone for a wonderful year ahead.
Lots of lovely colour has been creeping into our Christmas over the past few weeks. Until recently Christmas has been red, white and green for me. I'm not completely sure why but our decorations have been very Nordic in style and well to be honest I looked at them last year and thought they were maybe a little bit dull. Something was missing and it was colour!
So over the year I've gathered vintage baubles and the sorts of decorations I remember from when I was small. We've got cheery paperchains, colourful honeycomb bells, lots of holly (which we've always had)and this little tree is brightening up the kitchen. We all prefer it so next year we'll go the whole way and have multi-coloured decorations and lights on our big one in the sitting room, so I'm keeping my eye out for more.
And yesterday was the best find of all. My grandparents had just a few decorations in their home and pride of place was given, on the sitting room shelf, to a tiny pipecleaner tree with miniature candles, tiny baubles and delicate glass bells. My sisters and I loved it to bits but sadly it disappeared when they moved to a nursing home and they passed away many years ago. I'd love to have found it but have tried instead to track one down on ebay or in vintage shops, but blimey they go for a fortune - £25 at least, for 8 inches of tree!
So can you imagine how loud my heart was beating yesterday when I popped into one of my favourite charity shops to see one sitting on a table of decorations for a paltry 25p!
Excited doesn't come close. I grabbed the tree quickly, clutching the precious thing very tightly and was about to race to the till when - I can hardly believe this bit myself - saw its twin on the same table! Honestly, I nearly passed out! To be honest I did feel a bit sheepish, handing over my 50p, couldn't help feeling that Cancer Research had lost themselves a fortune so I'll take in a donation next week I think, but oh my I am more than thrilled with my little twin trees.
And I found another treasure yesterday, four beautiful linen napkins, hand embroidered with holly and berries and a vintage tablecloth, all hand embroidered to match. The work that's gone into these is terrific, the edges all hand embroidered too. Someone really laboured over these for their family's Christmas and I'll really treasure them.
We've finally reached the summit of the Christmas preparation mountain this week too. All the shopping (apart from some last minute fresh food) is done, greengrocer and butcher orders are in, teachers presents delivered (hyacninths in Laura Ashley mugs from the sale!), parcels posted off and reserved items collected from town and safely stashed away.
Now let me tell you I am so absolutley ready to shut the door, make a mug of something warm & cosy, turn on the oven and prepare our little house for the celebrations to come. Tons of wrapping, baking and cooking to do mind you but I don't mind that really because now we're all at home and the relaxing can start.
And amazingly we've even got snow to go with it all - how fantastic. Just an icing sugar dusting here, sparkling with frost and perishingly cold, but to be honest for the moment that's fine. The Moorlands looks just like a Christmas card - and actually at Christmas time, what a treat!
Have a lovely Christmassy weekend and hope you enjoy the white stuff if you've got it.
So friends, are the days flying by as quickly for you as they are for me? Where exactly have the last two weeks gone?! Actually looking back on these pictures we've been busy, busy.
Last week my lovely friend Lucy and I whizzed east to Lincoln for the Christmas market (which to be honest was pretty disappointing - lots of cheap tacky gifts and a rather heavy corporate sponsorship feel to the whole thing) so we headed for the lovely antique, gift and cook shops, the soaring cathedral and a cosy tearoom.
Ahh, now this was more like it, beautiful books, vintage jewellery and some very nice cake!
Back at home, I've been merrily flinging a few more decorations about the place.
Cobbled together an outfit for a first time shepherd
Spent a few ours making paperchains for just about every room in the house.
Posted a few cards into the red box that's set into the wall of one of the village cottages. Brought home the essential read of the season (for anyone reading this not from the UK, this magazine is the weekly TV & Radio listings magazine produced by the BBC and the double Christmas issue is a festive tradition in its own right. I never buy it any other time of the year and as Woody writes TV previews for much of his work it is a bit redundant to be honest, but it wouldn't be Christmas without it - especially for Woody oddly?!) And made a start on the Christmas baking
Time seems to be vanishing doesn't it. Have a lovely weekend, hope its festive and not too busy for everyone.
For most of the past few days I've been having a good old think about what all this festiveness means to me and my little family. I'm very lucky that Christmases past have been filled with fun and warmth and lots of love.
When I find my mind having a wander (usually in July!!) about what I'm looking forward to at Christmas, these are some of the things I treasure.
Christmas Looks Like:
~ two happy, smiling, wide-eyed boys
~ twinkling fairy lights
~ snowy fields (hopefully), stark hedges and bare skeleton trees
~ festive shop windows
~ paper chains
~ special story books
~ shiny glass baubles
~ my darling dad in his bow tie
Christmas sounds like:
~ Carols from King's College Cambridge on Christmas Eve
~ "He's Been!"
~ Nat, Bing & Frank
~ sleigh bells
~ laughing friends on our Christmas curry night
~ the bustling market
~ chatter and laughter in the choir house after the carol service
Christmas smells like:
~ satsumas and tangerines
~ frosty air
~ sausage rolls baking in the oven
~ Norway spruce
~ turkey giblet gravy
Christmas tastes of:
~ bread sauce and cranberry jelly
~ all sorts of cheese
~ jam tarts
Christmas feels like:
~ warm and cosy
~ precious family time and fun with special friends
~ fresh, sharp & raw on a Boxing Day walk
~ clean sheets and new pyjamas on Christmas Eve
~ smooth and crumpled wrapping paper
~ Peace & Joy & Love
What does Christmas mean to you, I'd love to know...
Christmas comes but once a year .... and for us at No 25 it all begins around the end of November when the festive lights in town are turned on. Last night the weather was calm and cool but not too cold and thankfully dry as a bone.
All this rain is getting a pretty unbearable isn't it and very worrying for our family in Cumbria. Luckily they're fine being up on a hill but my heart goes out for everyone bereaved, flooded, frightened and bereft at the moment. So we particularly appreciated our lovely trip into town last night for all its joy, charm and festiveness. Standing there with my little family all beaming and excited sent my stomach and heart all hop-skippetty let me tell you. There's something ever so joyful about being with the people you love, in a place you feel at home with familiar sights and faces around you, all anticipating a special time of year.
And seems plenty of people thought the same; town was packed and there was tons to see and do. Market square was full of amazing smells from the continent thanks to a touring market selling authentic sausages, paella, cheeses, bread and delicious biscuits.
Down the main street the crowds grew thick, everyone enjoying free mulled wine, mince pies, Christmas music and the odd game of smash the crocks and tombola.
In front of the Monument the stage was set and we didn't have to wait long for the parade to arrive, headed by the Salvation Army band (its just not Christmas without them is it?), a lantern procession, some pipers and finally the man in red himself because only genuine celebrities are allowed to flick the lights on in our little town you see. And after some pretty hearty carol singing we counted down and the dark night was lit up and all the town around.
It was such a simple occasion which was what made it all the lovelier in my book. After the big switch on we poottled around the streets for a while taking in the lovely window displays and even more lights.
Last night the Christmas spirit most definitely began to bubble up and all sort of plans are forming in my mind. More vintage decorations, a go at some new recipes, cosy family gatherings and some exciting outings. Only five weeks to go, which doesn't seem many at all to me; especially after our ropey choir practice on Thursday - we need a few months I reckon. But no doubt it'll all come together in the usual lovely, panicky jumble as ever - fingers crossed!
Ooooh the treasure hunting has been rather good over the last few weeks. Going to Ludlow with its beautiful vintage shops and rather decent charity shops definitely helped, but I've picked up a few treasures closer to home too and had some very beautiful birthday presents. And I want to say a huge thank you for all your lovely birthday wishes, thanks ever so much. Blogging friends are a real, real treasure (thanks Anna for your lovely surprise card and gift)!
So first of all my newest find is the gorgeously blue enamel coffee pot, bought from Zani Lady in Ludlow and uncannily you can see it here on a picture taken in this amazing shop by the lovely Hen, who it turns out I share a birthday with and happened to be in Ludlow at exactly the same time - bloggers really do think alike!
I've gathered some wonderfully soft and pretty fabric too from various places. Not completely sure what I'm going to do with them yet but maybe a new duvet cover and if I'm feeling very ambitious, a loose cover for the ancient armchair in our conservatory.
More vintage books which Woody practically mugged me for when I got in from town. The train book is a huge favourite already with the boys and I love the Dandy Wonder Dog cover.
Sorry not to have taken any pictures but my little vintage Ladybird collection is really growing and this week I picked up What to Look for in Winter and Seashore Life, Trees and Hymns & Songs too. I had all of these as a child and they make me giddily excited to own them again.
And more Ladybird again. This is my wonderful present from Woody, a print from a book about Toys he bought online and it made me cry when I opened it. This is the image of our two little boys, shells and saucepans still keeps them busy for hours. My husband is such a precious treasure.
Another bevelled mirror to add to the collection. £3! I'm completely in love with it and I've got plans to put lots of lovely vintage postcards around it for Christmas.
Couldn't resist this little Brixton pottery sponge wear bowl from a Ludlow charity shop - full of conkers for the minute but it might make a home for a few vintage baubles.
Oh and this is the other part of my present from Woody, a book I've had my eye on for quite a while and is just fabulous. Full of everything you ever wanted to know about the countryside.
But I'm not quite sure about this one - a crochet step too far?! Its from Next but I discovered it in a charity shop for £3.50 and thought I could turn it into a cover for the back of the sofa but I tried it on and its not too bad. But I do get a little voice in my head saying "are you quite sure?" when I wear it!
So I'm feeling a very lucky girl. Must buzz off now to sort out Sunday lunch, get the garden into some sort of shape and start to have a think about the jumble of festive plans in my head. More of that next time.