Saturday, November 28, 2009

A favourite flower...

It's been a wet and dreary November week, so far it has been a busy Saturday and I'm sitting here at the computer feeling fed up to the back teeth of Christmas and IT'S NOT EVEN DECEMBER YET!!!

My friend Annie has written a great post about the food adverts on TV driving her mad and it's true; it's relentless! The supermarkets are stuffed to the gills with party food and drink and we are all being urged by the minute to buy buy BUY! Are we not in recession? Is the financial meltdown not about to continue with all this trouble in Dubai? Just forget it and go and buy a million mini-toad in the holes in ASDA!

I used to really love Christmas; many of my favourite memories are to do with Christmas. My mum and dad used to decorate my bedroom and tell me the fairies had done it while I was at school/college/work and this went on until I was (I admit it!) 25! The first few Christmasses after we had kids were especially wonderful and even now I'll say Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year. But these days Christmas starts so early that I'm bored with it before it even arrives.

Here are some things I hate about Christmas:

  • Christmas decorations going up ANYWHERE before 1st December. Our TESCO had it's tree up in October. Someone down the road has already got their outside lights up and switched on. In December, it's wonderful. But not before!
  • Christmas stuff in the shops in August. Primark start selling their Christmas range then, I promise you...
  • People who struggle round the supermarket pushing TWO trolleys heaped with stuff on Christmas Eve, WHY???????? The shops are usually open again on Boxing Day....who are they feeding?
  • "Santa stop here" signs. God, I HATE these. I want to pull down each one I see and snap it into little bits. But i have no idea why...they affect me they way those "Baby on Board" car stickers do...
  • Christmas food and drink adverts. We are getting fatter. We don't need encouraging to eat MORE.
  • Those big boxes of Roses, Quality Street, Celebrations and Heroes. I cannot resist them. Yet there are around 55 calories in each bloody chocolate...and they lurk everywhere at Christmas.
  • Gift sets of obscure toiletries with scents like "Winter Musk" - ugh.
  • Those magazine features on "Perfect gifts for him/her". One I read recently featured a dinky vanity case for her for £700!! Plus a suggestion that hubbys buy their wives a "weekend spa voucher" to help them "recover after the festivities"...I'd like to see Phil's face if I suggested that to him!
  • Christmas cards - buying them, writing them, displaying them. I quite like getting them, oddly enough!
  • Wrapping presents. I can't do it. I have wrapping dyspraxia. And it seems such a waste of effort. What about those articles you read where people get all creative with raffia/brown paper etc and spray bay leaves gold to stick on the fab parcels ....makes me feel inadequate.
  • Crowded shops full of Christmas shoppers in bad tempers- surely a foretaste of Hell? Thank God for internet shopping.
  • Photocopied "round robin" Christmas letters from people you never see, full of arch boasting and one-up-manship.
  • Getting out the tree lights - oh God, I can feel my IBS revving up as I type. The sick feeling in my stomach as Phil spreads them out, plugs them in and they FAIL TO LIGHT UP! The long period as he fiddles and twiddles with each bulb, while the girls and I sit in tense silence. The realisation that we have to go out and buy ANOTHER set of lights from an overcrowded garden centre YET AGAIN. When I was little we had the same two strings of lights every year; they never failed. It's weird...
  • The way we seem to have avoid any possible religious element to Christmas in case we offend other faiths who I'm sure are far too sensible and secure in their own beliefs to care about ours!
  • The word "Xmas".
  • Doing aerobics to disco versions of Christmas carols ( it's just wrong and no fun at all!!) Bring back Beyonce & Lady Gaga

But despite all these things, there is a "something" about Christmas that still retains it's magic. I am, in my quiet way, a Christian, and the story of the nativity always fills me with joy and wonder. I love being with my family and friends, to eat and drink with them (but not until I'm in a stupor!) I love Christmas trees and Christmas lights and tinsel and all those tacky Christmas songs. I love carols and mince pies and filling stockings. Oh, and Jane's mince pies. Yum!!! They are THE BEST.

But not yet. It would be all the sweeter if it lasted only a couple of weeks instead of half a dozen.

Bah humbug...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I haven't blogged for ages; things have been quite frenetic here! This photo is by way of a tribute to Kerri who is one of my blog friends and the most wonderful nature and wildlife photographer. While we were in Kent this summer I spent ages trying to capture some butterflies, inspired by Kerri, who is a genius at this type of photography. In this dark, damp November, it's nice to look back on the summer sunshine we enjoyed in August!

My lovely mother in law has had her first chemo; it seemed to go ok and so far the side-effects have not been too bad. Please, keep her in your thoughts and prayers, as well as my sister in law in New Zealand who is at home recovering from a major operation.

We have had some good news this week; how nice it is to write that! Our niece Steph (daughter of sister in law in NZ) is expecting her first baby in May. We are all so excited for her.

You may have seen news coverage of the floods in Cumbria a couple of days ago. Our friends D and J live in Keswick and their home was flooded in 2005. Afterwards they had to live in a small caravan (trailer) on their drive for 8 months while their house was repaired. They run an animal rescue charity from their home and somehow they managed to keep this going.

Anyway, we heard on Friday that their home is flooded AGAIN. I am gutted for them. They have had a lot to deal with over the past few years and now this happens again. They are both in their sixties and not in the best of health. It all seems so unfair!

I'm trying to get my head around the approach of Christmas and we've done some shopping! Not surprisingly, we don't feel madly festive this year! I always miss mum and dad so much at Christmas; even after all these years it still hurts. However, with all that's happened lately I'm doing my best to be positive and count the many blessings we still have.

I have barely touched my new camera; isn't that shocking? I have been feeling so anxious I just haven't felt inspired to pick it up. I'm determined that's going to change over the next few days: besides I really need to get to grips with it before our next wedding in January.

Time for bed...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

This week has been another roller-coaster of emotional ups and downs: I honestly don't really know how I'm feeling from one minute to the next! The photo shows Kate & Sian paddling in a river near Watendlath proving that even big girls of 16 & 14 can enjoy the pleasures of wading in wellies!

I bought a new camera this week. We have four wedding bookings already for next year and I don't think my little D40, which is really an entry-level DSLR, is up to some of the challenging lighting situations every wedding seems to throw up. As I have arthritis in my hands and shoulders, I have to be wary of how much a camera weighs, especially when my beloved (but heavy!) Sigma lens is attached to it. So I went for the D90, the updated version of the other camera I own, the D80.

We went into Chester on Saturday afternoon; it was frantically busy and I was amazed to see that Christmas shopping seems well underway already! I loathe the shops when it's busy and could feel myself getting crosser and crosser every time someone bashed me with their parcels! However, it did bring home to me that we haven't got long to buy stuff and so we did actually buy a few presents like perfume for the girls and a few stocking fillers. i have such mixed feelings about Christmas this year!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Colours of autumn

Sometimes tiny landscapes can be just as evocative as larger ones (if not more so!) To be honest I don't think my heart is in landscape photography. Phil is so much better than I am and he has the right sort of vision as well as patience! I prefer photographing people and I also enjoy cityscapes and detail shots as well as the quirky and the unusual. The photo above was taken in the garden of the cafe in Watendlath, a hamlet near Keswick.

Although our holiday was not a stress-free time we did enjoy a lot of happy hours together. This view of Ullwater was taken on the Monday, when we took the steamer to Howtown and then walked back along the lakeside. The walk was full of memories of my dog Charlie: I always felt it was one of his favourite walks. At times I could almost imagine him trotting ahead of me. I miss him so much, especially so in the Lakes, a place he adored. It was full of water and walks for him, absolute paradise! His ashes are scattered on the banks of Derwentwater; one day Phil & I will join him there.

Open-air ablutions?

Here's my quirky photo of the holiday, which was also taken in Watendlath. The walk from Surprise View is another favourite of mine, partly as it can incorporate a stop at the little cafe in the hamlet. We had very nice gingerbread this visit! The garden where you sit to enjoy your coffees and snacks is full of very bold chaffinches who demand crumbs with menaces! Phil called me over to show me this imaginative corner; I was only disappointed that they hadn't included a toilet!

It has been quite a busy week so far; on Monday I was in the middle of a major cleaning/tidying session at home when I was called into work as there was a staffing crisis! Tuesday wasn't much better as I had three staff off sick and one on leave! Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Today I did more of the cleaning/tidying (I am a bit obsessive about that right now!!!!) as well as Riding for the Disabled which as usual was fab and really lifted my spirits.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

We went away for half-term to Keswick in the Lake District. It was not a perfect holiday by any means! Oh, there were good things about it (I always love us being together away from the Internet and satellite TV LOL!)like long walks and games of Scrabble and seeing our friends David & Joyce. Despite appalling weather forecasts every night, most days were dry and very mild.

However, there was one major problem that I simply can't blog about it; maybe one day it will become one of those family legends you all laugh about but right now it's just NOT FUNNY AT ALL!

Life feels so weird at the moment; all sorts of little things are going wrong, household appliances are breaking, things are just STRANGE. Underlying it all is the fact that three very close family members are ill, two of them very seriously. Compared to that everything else is just white noise; but the white noise seems to be a reflection of how things around us seem to be completely out of kilter....