Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

The last few weeks have been packed with things to do and the feeling that I am so, so lucky. For the first time in three years, the Boy has been home for Christmas and for the first Christmas in eight years both my children have been with me for the whole period.

Not that my Christmasses have been sad, lonely affairs at all; I usually have kind people to spend Christmas Day with if the family isn’t around. I have also spent Christmas completely on my own with a bit of turkey from M&S and a good book (it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined) but there’s nothing like a good family Christmas in your own home. In fact, this Christmas has made me realise how rarely this happens and this makes me doubly grateful. It has really made my year.

The weeks before Christmas were filled with preparations: for a drinks party, the Girl’s birthday a few days before Christmas (terrible lack of parental planning), and the day itself. I had a long list to hand from the end of November and was never so glad to see the back of anything as that when I ticked off the final thing.

weighing scales and metric weightsold palette knifeQuite a lot of time was spent baking: I made mince pies, almond kipfli (shortbread biscuits) and beigli (walnut or poppyseed roll). The latter two are Hungarian pastries that my mother and grandmother made each Christmas before me. After they both died, I gave up making them for a few years but recently found myself longing for their taste. They also make great gifts. (more…)

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tree in sunshinefrosty leavesthawing frosty leavesdry oak treetiny hazel catkins

black labrador

dog drinking from trough

We woke to a freezing house this morning because I hadn’t set the heating properly but the brightening landscape, clear blue sky and frosty ground soon resolved my annoyance.

Then Nora and I headed out up the hill for our morning walk. Unsually, we met my neighbour Suzie and her spaniels and Nora was delighted to play with them for a while. One of the things about country walks is that while people say hello more than in town, dogs don’t stop to play and people often apologise about their dogs sniffing yours, which is strange if you’re used to town dog behaviour. Single dogs are unusual – because they need the company I suppose.

Then I went off to get a Christmas tree from farmer John Hardwick at Cobbs Cross Farm just down the road. I could hardly get up the lane to the farm for people coming the other way down the narrow road. Looks like they’re doing well. I wrote about them in more detail a couple of years ago but they’ve got much more going on now. Someone there has definitely got an eye for an opportunity.

I was supposed to go Christmas shopping in Taunton – there was free parking but with the weather so lovely, I did some pruning instead and made a wreath for the front door with some of the results. It ‘s pretty ropey (you try making wreath with your dog running off with everything you put down for more than a second) and probably won’t last very long in this windy spot but at least it’s unique in its combination of bay leaves, heather and a few other bits and pieces. There’s even a tiny bit of holly.

Quite pretty, I think.

wreath on front door


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Christmas stuff

nativity scene figuresThere was family.wrapping paperThere were gifts.candle and preservesVisiting turned into sitting around.slippersAnd baking.bread baking in the ovenAnd a little too much time on my own.


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Happy Christmas!

Christmas tree bauble

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In London this morning, on my way to the supermarket – a five-minute cycle ride – I spotted so many pretty festive wreaths.


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Grr, blurry above. I just can’t tell when the stupid viewfinderless camera isn’t focusing where I want it to.


There’s a fine selection of wreaths at Not on the High Street. Too late for this Christmas, of course, but plenty of ideas there for do-it-yourself wreaths for next year, if you’re that way inclined.

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And there is a link to how to make a felted ball wreath rather nicer than those being sold online, on the Pickles website, which you can read about it an old post.



This last one reminds me of one I used to have. But on my door this year is a very simple, cheap wreath from Sainsbury’s because last year, on Christmas Eve, ours was stolen. At least at Spring Cottage, that’s not so likely to happen. At least I hope not, so here it is – made from holly and berries from the garden.


Postscript: it turns out that I’m not the only one with a thing for wreaths at this time of year. There are some lovely ones over at Charlotte’s Plot as well.

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This is my favourite week of the year – between Christmas and New Year, before everything cranks up to full pitch again. Nothing coming into my inbox. Time to do mending and baking. Children where they ‘should’ be – asleep in their beds. Daily life muted. I feel like I want time to stand still. I don’t really – I’d get cabin fever and be bored, restless and irritable. But for the moment, this quiet is wonderful. Savouring how great life is, how lucky I am, is wonderful. So I’m preserving it here.

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Christmas memories

It always takes me ages to decorate the tree, as it involves a trip back through Christmas memories. We have many ornaments that were my parents’, including a couple of bent and yellowing wax candles in clip-on holders that must date from the early sixties (the last time they were brave enough to have real candles on the tree). I can remember this vaguely – the tree looking enormous from my perspective as a tiny girl. A candle snuffer sellotaped to a long pole so that they could be put out added to the excitement. And the smell of warming pine needles.


I only use a few of our really ancient decorations but have to feel them and look at them all every year, so getting on with the tree takes far longer than it should.


Then there is all the tissue paper that the baubles are wrapped in. I threw some of it away this year as it really was in shreds. But for me, there is a special magic connection in knowing that some of it was first used by my mother to wrap these silvery balls, as she has been dead these 34 years.

There are new things too like this huge fox; the brainchild of my daughter when she was around ten. And so we move on into the future.



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