Thursday, 31 December 2015

Christmas Round-Up and a Happy New Year!

Hello again! Thank you all for your Christmas good wishes - I hope you've had a lovely Christmas holiday! Our Christmas here at The House With The Blue Door has been a very good one indeed, full of festivity and lots of nothing in particular which has been very restorative. With J back from university, P and B off work for a few days and D and I in the school holidays, our time has consisted of getting up late (bliss), reading, watching TV, chatting, eating treats, going out and generally being rather lazy. The character of our Christmasses has changed over the years as our children have grown up. Of course we no longer read them 'The Night before Christmas' on Christmas Eve (although we do all still have stockings), and they've all gone off the pantomine. However, these traditions have been replaced with new enjoyable pastimes. I have loved the fact that we have all had the time to catch up with each other again, and all three of our youngsters have enjoyed being reunited for the holidays. There has been much laughter and companionable chatting, along with pleasant shopping trips and our annual big family Christmas meal at a lovely country pub in which three generations of us gather together.

In the few days in between my last day of work and Christmas I managed to squeeze in some creativity. I made this wreath with foliage from the garden and berries which I'd bought from a florist.

I love the bright orangey-red ilex berries against the blue-green eucalyptus leaves.

I also crocheted mistletoe brooches as presents from a pattern in Lesley Stanfield's '100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet'. They were really quick to make and, after spray-starching them and sewing brooch-pins on the backs, I added pearly beads for berries. 

I had a glitter-tastic experience covering these cones in the sparkly stuff. I was confident I could keep the glitter under control - how wrong I was! It went everywhere. Reminded me of when I was a primary school TA and we made a giant glittery star for the nativity play - such a sparkly mess.

I also decorated a bough of blue spruce for my shed and hung it with tiny baubles and bells, as I've been looking forward to decorating my shed.

Even Miss Blossom dressed up in her festive finery. She does like a bit of sparkle.

Today P and I went to Weston Super Mare which isn't far from here. Our youngsters were all otherwise engaged and we felt the need to blow away the cobwebs by the Bristol Channel. Weston has a large beach which is perfect for long walks either on the promenade or the sandy beach, and the sea is always a long way out, even when the tide is in. When we arrived the sun was shining and there were lots of people with the same idea as us out walking and enjoying the fresh sea air. After several days of being lazy and eating chocolate and crisps, it felt wonderful to feel the cold wind (my, it was cold!) on our faces, smell the salty air and stretch our legs.


It was very blowy indeed, and seagulls hung suspended in the air above us.

As we walked gradually the sunshine disappeared and the sky became very grey.

We ate toasted sandwiches in a sweet little beach cafe as raindrops started to fall, and afterwards we walked to the end of the pier, by which time the rain was lashing at us horizontally. Luckily you can walk the length of it undercover.

We took refuge on the pier and in the shops of Weston for a while and, when the rain had stopped, we discovered a shining sunset over the beach.

The low, glowing light reflected off the puddles on the sand and lit up the horizon.

It was a beautiful end to our visit, and as we drove home we felt very happy to have had such a brisk and breezy walk at the coast. Perfect.

I wish all of you a very Happy and Healthy New Year, and I hope that 2016 brings you much peace and joy

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


I can't believe it's a year since I made a midwinter post. Time flies, doesn't it? The days are short now, and it starts to get dark in the middle of the afternoon. This photo was taken in my garden this weekend just after 4 o'clock as the light was fading on a sunny afternoon, and the moon was already high in the sky.

 For me there's something magical about the winter solstice, when the hours of daylight are at their shortest, and I mark it with greenery and candlelight. It's a time of imagination, reflection and introspection, as well as looking forward to longer, lighter days. How welcome they will be! The winter-flowering honeysuckle which grows by our back door is already in flower and smells wonderfully sweet. I added it to my midwinter arrangement, a mix of whites and greens.

I have treated myself to 'The Mistletoe Bride' by Kate Mosse, a collection of ghostly, wintry tales, just perfect for snuggling up with by the fire on a dark day. I'm easily spooked, though, so not great for bedtime reading I think.

I'll leave you with these midwinter lines (although the weather we have at the moment does not reflect what's described here, as it's rather milder): 

'In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
water like a stone'.

Christina Rossetti

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Now That's More Like It

'Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa la la la laa, la la la laa!'

Yes, term is finally over and I have time to hear myself think - hooray! The house is now looking very Christmassy, most of the presents are bought and I have a bit of time to be creative. This term I have been true to my word and am now a very regular gym-visitor as well as a healthy-eater. I am seeing positive results already and am lighter and more toned than I was. However, it has been at the cost of regular blogging, and I can't tell you what a treat it is to be posting again. I shall spend the next few days catching up with you all too. 

So I've been decking the halls indeed, and we have lots of festive prettiness going on here. I've never been a minimalist where decorations are concerned, so our window-sill is looking very seasonal indeed.

My Christmas pixies are back - it wouldn't be the same without them.

We have twirling cherubs on the candle-chimes which catch the light and make a sweet tinkly sound,

bright orange clementines with their leaves still on in their sweet little wooden box,

glossy chestnuts ready for roasting

and jewel-bright chocolate coins - I love these coloured ones, as well as the traditional gold and silver.

The dresser is bedecked with the snowflakes which I crocheted over the last two years. 

I remember how addictive it was making them - hmmm, shall I make any more?

The Christmas tree is up in its usual place in the corner of our living room, groaning under the weight of decorations. Eclectic, you might call it, with a bit of everything. I know that tinsel divides opinion and is rather a Marmite thing (you either love it or hate it), but I like it in moderation. Only silver tinsel, mind you.

There are lots of little things made by my youngsters when they were little, and there are some sweet little creatures on the tree too.

I am very fond of the shiny vintage-style ones and am mad about these frosty, twinkly cones.

I even have a glittery cupcake.

There are also silver nutmegs and golden pears, although I'm not expecting a visit from the king of Spain's daughter.

 Last night P sang in a choir in Bath in a Christmas concert. It was a wonderful evening in a gorgeous church, filled with song and fun, and as we walked through Bath afterwards I was reminded of how lucky we are to live so nearby.

The tree outside the Pump Rooms sparkled against its Georgian backdrop.

The quaint cobbled streets twinkled prettily.

And the medieval Abbey looked splendid with its angels climbing up and occasionally falling down Jacobs Ladder, either side of the front door.

Yes, I am most definitely feeling a Christmas vibe now - bring it on!