Here we are. Christmas Eve. Time to reflect perhaps, or time to hit domestic admin with gusto and efficacy. Gusto and efficiency for the last 36 hours was going to be rewarded with some cheesy chips from a local seaside cafe. Imagine my disappointment when they were closed. A disappointment compounded by Miss Lola delivering her lunchtime poo into the heart of a teenage thistle. Teenage thistles are a lot like regular teenagers. They look quite cute, a mix of the child you loved and the adult you will come to love. But whoa! Looks can be deceiving those cute slightly downy leaves carry quite a spiky message. How Lola delivered a whole poo quite so deeply into this moody spikey plant is beyond my imagination. She appeared to deliver it with ease. I did not retrieve it with anything like ease, to be frank, I yelped, as she certainly deserved to. For my troubles I have a nasty and unusual Christmas scar, not the traditional forearm one from retrieving baked goods from the oven. A thistle scratch, slight but jagged and ridiculously sore.
To get over my trauma I devised a new reward for my Gusto and Efficiency. An hour or two of dabbling with watercolour, typing and paper. I had success and hit on a happy accident of a paper that responds really well to typing and water colour. Have a Happy Christmas.
Yesterdays dawn was quite spectacular in the Tamar Valley. As Omicron cancels or compromises so many peoples festive plans it is necessary to reflect on the serendipity of life. Sometimes we just need to leap out of bed and grab the moment.
And so. As the Northern hemisphere awakes it has gone through the longest night. My shortest day was spent at the speed of a 90 year old visitor. There is much to reccomend about such a speed. Less expectation to achieve everything and just plenty of time just to natter and almost meditatively wrap the small gifts that end up in stockings. Stocking-gift wrapping also gave me the wonderful aroma of beautifully fresh Navel Oranges , which must always be in every stocking. Surely a good reason to just breath deeply and relax.
There are still many dark days to fill with introspection but as the world turns we are looking towards the light now.
There are many more stocking gifts to wrap up but just crossing the winter solstice gives me a lightness of thought.
Time to enjoy the lengthening days and the anticipation of gathering in modified ways for Christmas and the New Year with family and friends. Time to look forward.
There is nothing like a bit of casual shop lifting to start the day. Yesterday we were on a mission to collect a prescious cargo from Southampton. I popped to our local coffee shop and bakery to buy some coffee, before our drive. On the way out I was seduced by a fruit loaf on the counter. I had already paid for my coffee and happily nattered about life in general as I packed the loaf into my bag, making no effort to pay for it. Fortunately the coffee shop team know a common thief when they see one and asked me very politely to pay for it.
Can you imagine if I had done that 200 years ago. With only a quick trial I would have been packed off to Australia on the next boat and Plymouth being a primary deportation port that would likely have been the next day.
I was pondering early this morning, on my dog walk, the sort of pondering that can only end badly. Pandemically and politically Britain is a bit f**ked. We are a week away from Christmas and none of us really know if it will be possible to do what we usually do to mark this time of year with our friends and families. The dogs, of course, played no part in my actual, dismal, pondering. Too busy following their noses to a street food van who was prepping something tasty.
Just like that I was catapulted out of my morose frame of mind by these amazing colours of the pre prepped veg. The dogs were there for the sizzling chicken.
The vivid veg quite cheered me up and gave me a direction for this blog. It was then easy enough to trawl through my archive of photographs taken in past Decembers. The best match for this veg was this tinsel, also found at a street market, in East Dulwich, 4 years ago.
This tinsel is one of lifes regrets. I didn’t buy it at the time I saw it. I probably thought it was too garish and not easy to integrate with my existing Christmas decorations. But this mornings colour jolt, when bright pinks and oranges, greens and purples spiked me out of pondering grumpiness, has made me re-evaluate its charms. As soon as I can freely visit East Dulwich and the glorious North Cross Road Market I will buy myself a swag or two of vibrant, unorthodox tinsel and make a little shrine to happiness in difficult times, and a reminder that when life doesn’t take the route I would choose it is still possible to find something bright and memorable.
This Christmas Decoration represents blog perfection. Just after midnight there should be a blog ready to be automatically dropped into inboxes around the world. I”m not saying it never happens but it is mostly an aspiration rather than an actuality.
72 days ago when the blog changed its title, while I was on a blogging course. The course leader suggested being a little kinder to myself and give myself more freedom to deliver blogs less often. While not, as yet, feeling the need to abandon whole days I do, on occasion cut myself a bit of slack and a later blog goes out.
Yesterday I thought laying about would give me time to be on time with the blog, in fact all I did really is be a bit unfocused.
Yesterday not much happened following a bout of food poisoning. Me and the Christmas tree were together a bit as I dozed between bouts of activity which is when I noticed the time on the Christmas decoration. In truth I was just a bit less of myself, low energy and a bit achy after my digestive tsunami.
24 hours of abstinence, apart from two bowls of rice crispies with oat milk, has created a fine dining monster in me but at low cost. The first cups of real tea were revelatory.
All the flavours of the Asia, blended in Yorkshire, dancing around my mouth like there was a post pandemic party going on. Who knew tea could taste quite so good!
The afore mentioned rice crispies embellished by oat milk were a comfort food, tweaked by my newly over sensitive taste buds they have become fine dining. Their vanilla notes enrobed in oaty richness.
Goodness knows what gustatory delights await me this morning. Toast perhaps masquerading as something far more significant. Today I will be more focussed.
Oh these silky waters were a fabulous swim on Friday morning. Miss Spearmint, the seal, was away swimming near the Hoe so there were no sudden departures,from the sea, required of swimmers to give her space. Today was a birthday swim so there was cake and conversations to follow once we were dressed. The richness of the aquatic wildlife in Plymouth Sound was one such conversation.I managed to find this picture of a specimen jar to illustrate the conversation in a festive way.
And then later in the day we found some more underwater creatures all gussied up ready for the festive season.
I wish this was the last thing I could discuss about wildlife but sadly a bout of food poisoning has wracked my body and mind. The physical aspects do not need to be elaborated on but the mental ones were quite daunting. I must stress that, beyond food, only tap water and tea was ingested all day. After my personal eruption and once I was well enough to return to my bed I was straight off to sleep only to be dumped into a hideous nightmare. Large birds that under normal circumstances adorn our wallpaper started to fly off the wall and wrap themselves wetly around my body. They were warm and wet, as if freshly dipped in hot wallpaper paste and alive but as flat as any wallpaper bird would be. Try as I might I could not stick them back on the wall in the right places. Waking up was the only way to save the situation. A lurid way to welcome the weekend. Of course this morning they are all perched calmly in the right places, catching the first of the morning light.
Sharp December sun was a gift that just kept giving. Even Miss Spearmint was not going to miss a moment of it.
I took a trip up the Tamar to Cotehele, a Tudor Mansion on the Cornish Bank of the river. Cotehele is a regular pre Christmas trip. Rarely in such gorgeous sunlight though. The Christmas Garland in the Tudor Hall is a longstanding Advent tradition. COVID has had its destructive way with the Garland and things are not as colourful or vibrant as in a normal year. The home grown flower heads could not be grown in such enormous quantities, with lock downs and lower numbers of available gardeners on the estate.
The Garland is still pretty impressive, but because it was less grand and attention seeking than normal it was easier to notice the smaller decoration details of the Great Hall. Simple Honesty bunches captured in the last, bright, shards of the afternoon sun.
A great picture to give a little digital tweak to.
And just like that it was time for the sun take its leave.
This week leading up to the Winter Solstice has always been significant in my life. I don’t suffer from Seasonally Affective Disorder at all, but I have always liked waking up with the sun, and these late wake ups in December and January really don’t suit me at all. I start, mildly, dreading short days and late wake ups as we pass the Summer Solstice and start on the downward slope to shorter days, an utterly futile anxiety which is equally matched for over-reaction by my mental joy when December 21 St is past. Despite the reality of many more short days to be endured in January and February.
Quite by chance, earlier this week, I found a blocked up window that nicely illustrates my negativity towards this time of year.
Then again, quite by chance, I discovered another name for the Winter Solstice. Hiburnal Solstice. I think I may be a mental hibernator. During these short dark days I have a favourite coat. It was already old when I bought it on EBay more than 20 years ago. It is much older than me and is a 1940’s shawl collar, fake fur Jacket. It is a weighty beast and tends to only be worn in the dark days of December and January. The jacket tends to live in the car and hides unwrapped Christmas gifts or comforts sleepy passengers who need to snooze on long dark journeys. I suspect the jacket is my personal hibernation. A garment very much with a specific season of wear and a garment that now holds 20 years of my winter history, a history that is known to me. But beyond that my coat has had another life, maybe as much as 60 years of keeping a different woman or women warm in the darkest and coldest of times.
Whoever the women have been it is obvious that it has only ever been relatively infrequently worn. Maybe it has always been a hibernation coat. Worn only in the darkest of months, a garment that offers a form of hibernation until the days get brighter.