A postcard sent from the US to the UK in December 1919.

Every year I fall for it; every single year. I get this feeling that Christmas isn’t really Christmas without the special edition of the Radio Times so I waste my money on something I will never finish reading before it’s out of date. It does contain some useful heads ups though: To Walk Invisible looks good. It’s a drama about the Brontës by Sally Wainwright, who is also the writer behind Last Tango in Halifax.

I’ve already mentioned the autumn edition of The Scribbler. I’ve now answered all the quiz questions I can manage off the top of my head so have some research to do. Just the kind of thing I enjoy.

The surprise this year is Country Life. It’s years since I bought a copy (expensive luxury) but was tempted by this issue. I’m glad I was. I’ve enjoyed reading about the amazing ‘grown’ furniture of Gavin Munro and how to look after the free range Cairngorm reindeer herd. If you look at the page, do spend enough time there to see the beautiful changing pictures at the top. The CL authors are all people who can actually write, which makes a nice change. The history of Gloucester Cathedral, the art of gilding and angels in art also pleased me, as did the always amusing Kit Hesketh-Harvey. The photography throughout is stunning. As for the advertisements for fine art, fine jewellery, fine furniture and other impossible luxuries, you can of course drool or ignore them completely, as you wish.

Outside the front door. It looks better IRL.
I spent the whole of today writing Christmas cards. Phew. This year I made more cards than I needed and had to decide which card was best suited to each recipient. So yesterday evening I spread the whole lot over the table and assigned them individually with Post-it notes. That certainly made today’s task easier. I could have taken a photo but then some of you might see which card you’re getting:-) Some I was sorry to part with and one I like so much I’m keeping it as a decoration.

I decided a while ago that instead of using labels on the envelopes I would write each by hand, as it’s a more personal touch. I’m glad I do this because it reminds me of the wondrousness of place names. There’s something of the Shipping Forecast about them: Aberchirder, Badshot Lea, Berwick upon Tweed, Church Crookham, Green Bottom, Long Crichel. I sit at my table and travel around the British Isles. That’s romantic.

The person getting this one never sees my journal.

*A Romance of a Christmas Card is a story by Kate Douglas Wiggin, mentioned here. ISTR it's a free book.

A postcard sent from the US to the UK in 1913.

Thank you to everyone who visits here and chats with me. I wish you a peaceful Christmas.

There won’t be any decorations up here until much closer to Christmas but I can understand why some people do put their trees up *much too early*. Anything to counteract the perpetual gloom we’re living in. Really, I might be living inside the Arctic Circle rather than south west England when it’s so dark all day long. Yesterday afternoon I decided to go up to the garden centre to visit the Christmas Wonderland, thinking that at least it would be bright and cheerful there. Huh! I don’t know if they’ve become obsessed with energy saving or what but it was dark there, too. The decorations area seemed to have no lighting at all except the twinkling lights on the various trees. So I was rather disappointed with this year’s Christmas effort. Star of the show was Santa’s Volkswagen, seen above, surrounded by animatronic elves and with the familiar little blue train chugging cheerfully around it. Definitely the toddlers’ favourite.
I’m afraid my pictures are not very good but here’s some more.
more pics )

Merry Christmas, everybody!


Do come in! )
1st December is the day of the china swap. Out goes anything summery-looking, to be stashed in a cupboard. In come robins, reindeer and winter shrubs and flowers. Sounds grand but actually takes me about five minutes. New this year is the little Brambly Hedge plate I picked up at the market during the summer. Rather twee, but I like it.

Look what she’s getting for Christmas:


A lovely vacuum cleaner!
more wonderful surprises! )

Good by-ee

Dec. 24th, 2013 08:44 pm
Time to switch off for Christmas but not before wishing my reader (hah!) a happy and peaceful Christmas.
The first card I’ve received with this slogan on the envelope.


News to me! But not to the Huffington Post. If you follow the link to A Christmas Dinner, you find the interesting blog Reading Dickens. Beware annoying ads.
So far this year, I’ve read one chapter.

To the garden centre again yesterday for another look at the winter wonderland display, which has been up since October. I’d received my invitation to the special opening evening in August! I felt things were lower key than usual this year but there was still plenty of wackiness around and people of all ages were enjoying the festive scene. You don’t often see a Christmas banjo, so I liked this chap.

more! )

A happy and peaceful Christmas to all.

Garden centres have had a hard year of it, with the terrible weather making it hard for people to stay interested in their sodden gardens. So it’s even more important that they recoup some of their losses at Christmas. Our garden centre has gone OTT as usual with a startling display. As you walk in, you are greeted by huge furry reindeer, almost life size. Singing creatures on wires whiz about above your head. There are table settings, variously colour themed, and aspirational Christmas sets.
more glittery delights )
Suddenly, the Christmas decorations look a little silly. I spent much of the morning gardening and before I came in, picked a spray of roses.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

8.00 this morning

A very happy and peaceful Christmas to everyone.

Friends on Blogger, you are not forgotten but I've been having terrible trouble commenting on your sites.

John Masefield’s The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights must be amongst the best children’s books ever written. Who can forget Kay meeting Herne the Hunter or fighting off wolves in a British stockade? Let alone the kidnapping of the bishop, clergy and the entire choir of Tatchester cathedral. I like this kind of fantasy which has no chosen one (*groans*) or quest, just magical happenings. ‘When the Wolves are Running’ sends a shiver down your spine but it’s also very funny in parts. I particularly admire that bloodthirsty child, Maria.

I enjoyed the 1984 TV version, with Patrick Troughton as Cole Hawlings (the DVD is still available) but I like the several radio versions even more. The music used for the television series was a variation of that originally heard on the radio on Children’s Hour during the war. The arrangement was by Victor Hely-Hutchinson. I agree with this Wikipedia contributor who says,
For many people who grew up listening to radio Children's Hour programmes, the haunting harp theme in the Symphony as the First Noel motif starts is as magically evocative of the spirit of Christmas as is the lone chorister who starts to sing Once in Royal David's City at the beginning of the King's College, Cambridge Festival of Lessons and Carols.

I loved the two books about Kay when I was a child, and in my early teens read Reynard the Fox and Sard Harker. Does anyone read these now, I wonder?

Nothing to say about this except that it’s the best Christmas story ever written. The only fault I can find with it is that Dickens uses Scrooge to promote his own anti-sabbatarian views, which is out of character. So here’s a poll to see how much other people like the book.
[Poll #1804157]

Yesterday I started putting up some decorations. The picture I took when I moved in three years ago is better than this one but unlike the BBC I won't cheat.



January 2017



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