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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Days

The cottage is bursting at the seams .With people, presents and food. It's been great having all my children back here for Christmas  - the first time we've been all together for four years. And there's been one daughter's lovely boyfriend.

There's been lots of sitting around the kitchen table and the dining room table, talking ten to the dozen, laughing lots, eating greedily , and drinking our way through quite a few bottle of prosecco and Little Creatures Pale Ale, a beer all the way from Fremantle in Western Australia. Both drinks evoking sunshine and hot days....both nowhere to be seen in our northern hemisphere Christmas.

Instead we've cosied up indoors on sofas and chairs and Boo has entered into the spirit of the season ..but she wasn't sure about the reindeer ears....

Santa's hat was a hit was warm and cosy.....

And it seems as Boo has learnt to pose for the camera......"OK, this is my serious look....."

"Or perhaps you want a side shot? Ok this cute enough?"

But with all the excitement, all the laughs, noise and brouhaha of her first Christmas,  it was all too much for my little doggie diva

I hope you all had a good Christmas too.....


Friday, 21 December 2012

Nativity days and plays

There's something about a child with a tea towel wrapped around his head. It gets me every time ...that innocence, that excitement once again the school nativity play is performed.

I watch a nativity, and I have a lump in my throat, remembering my own childhood.....the dizzying heights of playing the Virgin Mary once after paying my my dues for years as a shepherd... remembering my three, playing angels, stars, a chicken.... yes, a chicken and a shepherd . Such wonderful pictures in my mind, such pride as I watched them all every year....and such magic as the age old story is told .

But some parents simply don't get the chance to watch their children perform in the school nativity play. I'm thinking about parents at Edith Weston Primary School in Rutland. Many of them won't be able to watch because they're in the army, stationed as far away as Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands.

I went to the school last week to watch the dress record some of the play and to hear how the children miss their mums and dads at this important time of year.

Luckily, this year, a bunch of volunteers from the amateur film making group, the Leicester Movie Makers,were there to record the special day, a behind the scenes look at the putting on of the school nativity play.

And there was plenty going on behind the scenes...from little one who literally wet himself with excitement to the teacher who shouted "put some smiles on your faces, and fingers out of noses please!"

A teensy bit of tinsel can make anyone feel like a little angel,....

whereas playing an elf can make anyone feel a little jolly and mischievous

But no matter  what part you play, it's hard when your mum or dad can't be there to watch you perform.....and that's why the dvd being made is so important. Copies are being sent out to far flung parts of the world  so that some of  our serving personnel away from home won't miss out on their children's special day, and they 'll be able to talk to them about what happened when they next skype each other.

Click here to hear some of the children...warning ...hanky alert!

As I said earlier, watching any nativity play brings  a lump to my throat ...but this one, this year , brought tears to my eyes too. Those children won't have their parents at home this Christmas, they're so far away. For now.

Today's track is the beautiful, the emotional "So far away" ...I've always admired Carole King and James Taylor...and this is such a fine version from the 1970s.



Thursday, 13 December 2012

the missing days

Hello again....after nearly a month of being missing in action ...

So where have I been? Was I sailing the seven seas in the sunshine? On a cruise ship like I used to? No. Unfortunately not.

Was I having a mid life crisis? No.Thankfully not.

Was I overworked and underpaid. Yes, for some of that time.

So where was I?

Well for a good two weeks I was laid low with an infection. I was already feeling unwell  on Children in Need Day, the day of my last post. But, like most women of a certain age, I soldiered on, telling myself it's nothing, just carry on as usual.

Doctors appointments and antibiotics (which I try and avoid like the plague) followed. I was resistant to the first lot and the second lot weren't strong enough, not upto the job. By this time I wasn't upto any job of any sort... work for once, was out of the question.

The doctor said he needed to get the big guns out. He did....and they not only blasted out the infection, they destroyed my energy levels and more besides. Still, I'm back in the land of living, not six feet under - a real bonus ,having read the lists of side effects on each different antibiotic, and experienced a few of them.

Still, I missed the most wonderful wedding....of Rob and Mel. To say I was annoyed was an understatement. I laid on the sofa under a quilt, feverish and shivering, while they walked down the aisle in what everyone tells me was the most magical wedding on a private country estate in Somerset.

I knew Mel would look beautiful...she could wear a black plastic bag and look stylishly stunning. But look what I missed....she took Mr thinking of the days' breath away

They really are a lovely couple..

Since then, the last few weeks have disappeared in a busy blur of work, and .....drum roll....
 the return of the boy, who's back from Australia! it was so wonderful to be able to hug him close instead of blowing kisses on skype.

I think it's fair to say he's had a fantastic two years out there, especially during the last months, sailing in the Whitsundays, skydiving, scuba diving and generally having a blast. Here he is with his friend Lucy....

Since he's been back, he can't get over how cold, how dark and grey Britain is. I wonder how long he'll stay for?

One thing we have got in this country though is a brilliant music scene...and it was great to go together to Lock 42 , a great little venue to see a favourite band whose music is always being played in this cottage.

Of course the other social highlight of the last few weeks was the works Christmas do......and this year was incident and scandal free....which makes a change.

But the amazing Ben Stones...aka my technical bitch who I couldn't do without in the newsroom,  was wearing my intiials on his chest...and I still haven't found out why....

Anyway, normal Thinking of the Days service will be resumed from now the meantime, I'll leave you with this ...from's called Blue Blood