Thursday, 27 December 2012

Today will be my Boxing day

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones.

While we’re on the subject, are you someone that sends all Christmas posting photos on FB of mountains and mountains of presents, then the rest of the time pics of you ‘enjoying yourself’.

Or are you too busy enjoying yourself?. Just a thought. Something that bugs me a little.

007

I had Christmas day off, but yesterday (Boxing Day) I worked a late shift 2.30-10pm then I went straight on to do a sleep in, until 8.30 this morning. It was ok though, I chose to do the shift as I only do relief work and it was fun, I even wore my glitzy sparkly flats which put a smile on a few faces. We only had one incident where the fire alarms were set off by a tenant who swore blind she ‘only put the mince pie in the microwave for a few seconds’. Hmm. The thick fog in her flat & the exploded microwave told a different tale. No fire brigade was needed though, thank goodness.

So today, after I’ve had a bath and a little rest, today will be my Boxing Day.

I will be spending all day most of the day sat by the fire, reading and listening to my new Taylor Swift cd. Yes I said that. I love Taylor, as much as my 10yr old Niece does.

There will be food later at the in-laws. Think of me.

Did you have to work over Christmas? Do you mind?

Enjoy your day, and for those that do have to go back to work don’t feel bad about it, your Boxing Day was yesterday.

Thank you for all of your Christmas wishes, I will come on over sometime this week for a visit. But please don’t bring out any Christmas cake, I don’t like it. Mince pie maybe?

SmileX

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Winter Solstice

 

winter solstice

Twas the night before Yuletide and all through the glen
Not a creature was stirring, not a fox, not a hen.
A mantle of snow shone brightly that night
As it lay on the ground, reflecting moonlight.
The faeries were nestled all snug in their trees,
Unmindful of flurries and a chilly north breeze.
The elves and the gnomes were down in their burrows,
Sleeping like babes in their soft earthen furrows.
...When low! The earth moved with a thunderous quake,
Causing chairs to fall over and dishes to break.
The Little Folk scrambled to get on their feet
Then raced to the river where they usually meet.
“What happened?” they wondered, they questioned, they probed,
As they shivered in night clothes, some bare-armed, some robed.
“What caused the earth’s shudder? What caused her to shiver?”
They all spoke at once as they stood by the river.
Then what to their wondering eyes should appear
But a shining gold light in the shape of a sphere.
It blinked and it twinkled, it winked like an eye,
Then it flew straight up and was lost in the sky.
Before they could murmur, before they could bustle,
There emerged from the crowd, with a swish and a rustle,
A stately old crone with her hand on a cane,
Resplendent in green with a flowing white mane.
As she passed by them the old crone’s perfume,
Smelling of meadows and flowers abloom,
Made each of the fey folk think of the spring
When the earth wakes from slumber and the birds start to sing.
“My name is Gaia,” the old crone proclaimed
in a voice that at once was both wild and tamed,
“I’ve come to remind you, for you seem to forget,
that Yule is the time of re-birth, and yet…”
“I see no hearth fires, hear no music, no bells,
The air isn’t filled with rich fragrant smells
Of baking and roasting, and simmering stews,
Of cider that’s mulled or other hot brews.”
“There aren’t any children at play in the snow,
Or houses lit up by candles’ glow.
Have you forgotten, my children, the fun
Of celebrating the rebirth of the sun?”
She looked at the fey folk, her eyes going round,
As they shuffled their feet and stared at the ground.
Then she smiled the smile that brings light to the day,
“Come, my children,” she said, “Let’s play.”
They gathered the mistletoe, gathered the holly,
Threw off the drab and drew on the jolly.
They lit a big bonfire, and they danced and they sang.
They brought out the bells and clapped when they rang.
They strung lights on the trees, and bows, oh so merry,
In colors of cranberry, bayberry, cherry.
They built giant snowmen and adorned them with hats,
Then surrounded them with snow birds, and snow cats and bats.
Then just before dawn, at the end of their fest,
Before they went homeward to seek out their rest,
The fey folk they gathered ‘round their favorite oak tree
And welcomed the sun ‘neath the tree’s finery.
They were just reaching home when it suddenly came,
The gold light returned like an arrow-shot flame.
It lit on the tree top where they could see from afar
The golden-like sphere turned into a star.
The old crone just smiled at the beautiful sight,
“Happy Yuletide, my children,” she whispered. “Good night.”

SmileX

Friday, 14 December 2012

Spitfire Girl Book review No 27!

 

the spitfire girl

It is 1940 and Britain is at war with Germany. In London, eighteen-year-old Susan Banks longs to do her duty. Her secret ambition is to learn to fly - to serve her country and realise her dream. But she knows it is out of the question for a girl like her; a foundling, unwanted and unloved and dependent on strangers for her welfare.

Just as she fears she will be trapped forever in a life of servitude and loneliness, she meets Tony Richards, a flying instructor based in Hampshire. And when she is forced to flee London, she heads out into the country. She is taken in by the kindly landlord of the local inn and his daughter. As Susan works hard to earn her keep, and her friendship with Tony - now recalled to duty - blossoms into love, she dares to hope that things are at last looking up for her. But then she receives devastating news - Tony is missing in action. And Susan wonders if she'll ever see the man she loves again and realise her dream of becoming a Spitfire girl...

It’s come to my attention that I don’t read as many books of this genre as you would think. Given that myself & Mr D spend many summer weekends dressing up and displaying vehicles at old airfields, dancing to the music and generally being part of that scene. I think it's because I assume they will all be very much alike, you know, read one and you’ve read them all kind of thing..

My sister actually bought me this book last Christmas and it has sat on my shelf ever since.

I eventually, in my mission to read all my to-be-reads, picked it up and got on with it.

I liked it. I liked Susan, & her determination to make something of herself. I like the fact that reading this type of books you do learn little bits and pieces about the war time, & the jobs people did.  It’s a good way to take things in, especially remembering the boring history lessons at school. (where btw we learned really useful things like how Egyptians live…, how cavemen cooked their supper…and didn’t once read a book about either the first or second world wars. Always wondered about that.)

I wonder if I read another of Lily’s books it would be like reading Catherine Cookson, the same type of poor girl comes good but in a different era. Maybe. I wouldn’t mind finding out.

The book takes you from the streets of London, to the country side, to the RAF airfields where Susan dreams of flying a Spitfire.

There is of course romance, and of course as always I could have shouted at Susan more than once, but in a nice way.

Can you believe that in two weeks Christmas will be over!?

I’m going out tonight with Mr D & some friends for a Mexican meal. I may even wear my new shoes .

SmileX

SmileX

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

I put some New Shoes on, and suddenly every things right.

You might know how I am about shoes. Quite par.tic.u.lar.

I don’t often buy new shoes but when I do It’s always because I can’t not buy them.

I was actually looking for some Christmassy sparkly shoes when I stumbled across these.

009

So excited when I saw they were half price. Because really they weren’t what I was searching for. I didn’t need any like this. Until I saw them that is.

008

I kind of love them.

And in case you were wondering what ever happened to the sparkly shoes I was looking for?

Well I found them as well.

013

I am you could say, in shoe heaven.

Appropriate song of the day. Even though it’s Wednesday.

The week just got better.

SmileX

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The day a virtual friendship became a reality

 

I first ‘met’ Ann-Margaret through a bloggy birthday mail club I took part in. This was a couple of years ago, the Birthday club I don’t think exists any more, I jumped ship after about a year for reasons I may talk about one day, but the good thing which came out of that was the virtual friend I found in Ann-Margaret.

ann margaret

(photo stolen from The lady herself)

Like many bloggers, I have lots of Virtual friends. Some I write to, some I just have a little postcard swap with every now and again, and some I just ‘speak’ to through the blog world.

All are great, but different.

After reading Ann-Margaret's story on her web page, I just knew that we could be friends, even though we live across the pond from each other.

So imagine how excited I was when I received the message that this girl would be visiting London for a few days due to her hubbies work. Do you think anything was going to stop me from getting on the bus and making the 3 hour trip? Not on your nellie.

I had a slight conundrum of where we should go. I did feel a certain amount of pressure. Where to take a Tea loving American on their first ever trip to London?

I decided there was only one place for it.

Fortnum and Mason. For those of you not in the know… a bit of background…

Fortnum and Mason is recognised internationally for its high quality goods and as an iconic British symbol.

Founded as a grocery store, Fortnum's reputation was built on supplying quality food, and saw rapid growth throughout the Victorian era. Though Fortnum's developed into a department store, it continues to focus on stocking a variety of exotic, speciality and also 'basic' provisions.

Fortnum & Mason is famed for its loose-leaf tea and its world-renowned luxury picnic hampers, which the store first distributed to Victorian High Society for events such as the Henley Regatta and Ascot Races. These hampers – which contain luxury items such as Stilton cheese, champagne, Quails eggs and smoked salmon – remain popular today, especially at Christmas time and can cost (as of 2008) anything from £35 up to £25,000.

So enough of the history lesson, what you really want to know is, was Ann-Margaret as she seems on her blog? Did we even get on? Were there any awkward silences where we didn’t know what to say? What did we talk about!?

It was a dull drizzly day, I’ve never travelled to London on my own before but I decided that I am a grown up. Time to do it.

claire

We met at The London Eye, (when I turned around and saw her I just remember thinking, she is Teeny! And so bloody Beautiful!) but there was no dragging my friend on as she had already told me before hand she would hate it! We walked up The Mall (of course we passed up tea with Queenie that day as we had reservations at Fortnum’s…)

I seem to remember we met at about 11.30am. The next time I looked at the clock it was about 4.30pm & we had been sat at our table in Fortnum’s Tea Parlour for hours. Literally. Hours.

I tried lemon curd spread on a scone for the very first time. (yum) I heard tales of Ann-Margaret’s tea room, her home & family, including her cute little westie Tucker, (who has his very own Face book page Tuesdays with Tucker & you should definitely go over and read his antics) her art, how it annoys the hell out of her when people shorten her name (oh thank the lord I had the social grace to ask first!).

Afternoon Tea Fortnum & Mason

We admired the china, people watched, (wondered why on earth anyone spending that amount of money on afternoon tea would choose to do so accompanied by a screaming baby!?) compared cameras, took lots of photos of everything, (haha oh how predictable bloggers are).

I have to admit here I was taken aback at how much we had in common, although I was very excited to meet her, I never expected to feel so close as we did in those hours sat at that table, gossiping like we met like this every other week, about our blogs, our friends, our lives,  and when the black cab pulled up to us to take her back to her hubbie, I was more than a little sad that our time had ended for now.

Ann-Margeret and Claire Fortnum & Mason

I have to give credit for the photos to Ann-Margaret. Without whom I would be photo less as I seem to have misplaced all of the pics I took in the black whole of my computer. Never happened with good old 35mm.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
C.S. Lewis

SmileX

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Book Review No. 26. Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe!

 

christmas at the cupcake cafe

Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn't be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don't seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe - with its increased demand for her delectable creations - begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

This December, Issy will have to rely on all her reserves of courage, good nature and cinnamon, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, one way or another . . .

I bought this book in Hard back. I know. It’s usually against my religion to buy  a hard back book, but in my defence, I had some amazon e vouchers to use, and I really really wanted to read this, the second novel from Jenny Colgan about the wonderful Issy and her Cupcake cafe.

Read the review I wrote on the first book, Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe here.

This is the first sequel Jenny has written, & I loved it. At the beginning of the book Jenny has helpfully written a bit about each of the characters, to remind people like me, and so that you don’t actually have to have read the first book to enjoy this one.

I have a total weakness for Christmas themed books at this time of year. Some don’t live up to all the cover promises, but this isn’t one of them.

Lots of Christmas cheer, present buying & wrapping, oh and my other favourite thing in books….NYC!

You will soon be sitting having coffee with the characters, rooting for them in their private lives (or occasionally sighing & feeling like giving them a clip round the ear…or is that just me!?)

The other thing you should know about this book is that, like the first one, Jenny gives us lovely recipes in each chapter, which could be annoying for some people, but not me..although I wonder if I will ever make any of them, they are lovely to read sitting next to the wood burner.

If you’re looking for a book to cosy up with, you’ve found it right here.

SmileX

Sunday, 2 December 2012

December, oh how I’ve missed you

The second window of my advent calendar is open.
How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?… (Dr Seuss)
020
My Christmas shopping is all done (but not wrapped…for some reason I don’t like to wrap too early..) Apart from one person, & that will soon be sorted.
I’ve worked extra hard this November, so December can be much more relaxed.
019
I haven’t got my decorations up yet, but I have had a bit of a clear out of them and am giving some old ones to charity.
"It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!"... Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"… (Dr Seuss)
Love December…my plans…
Mulled wine by the wood burner
Pink wellies with cosy welly socks inside
Knitted hats and scarves
Lazy Blogging days with regular hot chocolate breaks
Writing Christmas mail
Oh, and look, the Christmas Apples are out of the de-contamination zone. So they will be smoke free to come into the house (Granny made one each for sis mum & me but they can’t come in until the Smokey smell leaves them).
027
 
028
I wish I could sew as well as Granny.
Hope December is wonderful for you all!
SmileX