Christmas is Coming

Crumbs. We’re already a third of the way through December. Funny to think that tomorrow it’ll be two weeks since I left New Zealand for home. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago; in others I still feel in my head that I am there. A sort of bicultural existence. I think it’s called processing. Most days I find myself thinking about Lyn and Malcolm, about Nadia. Nadia and I exchanged a few WhatsApps about a book I gave her; Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. Nadia and I became friends when we attended the same mosaics class, but there is more than mosaics to our friendship. Nadia writes. One of these days I am going to be crowing about her novel, which will be published after she has edited it for the millionth time. OK I exaggerate, but the draft I read years ago was pretty polished in my opinion, and I am getting impatient too see it in Waterstome’s. We share an interest in literature. Good books inform our lives, improve our lives. There was a moment on the train into Wellington when I was telling her about the book group I belong to. Nadia has resisted book groups. Like me, she has felt they are not necessarily A Good Thing. I explained how our book group works, and told her it is particularly good when M, a respected novelist, attends.She is extremely knowledgeable, never patronising, and keeps us on task. Nadia’s eyes widened. It turned out that M is one of her favourite writers. If only she still lived in London she could join us. On the other hand, I shouldn’t have seen Wellington with her and through, to some extent, her eyes.

I am still percolating my New Zealand holiday. Odd things come to mind to be examined and considered from a distance in time and place. Nadia introduced me to a police drama series that one of her friends writes for. It’s called Brokenshaw. It’s dry, well written, funny, but not comical. I loved it. It turns out it’s on here too, on the Drama Channel, a channel I have never watched. So I settled down to enjoy an episode, only to find it was one I had seen in Wellington. It doesn’t seem I can watch others on catch up. Darn. Lyn and Malcolm like a programme called The Chase. It turns out that it’s a British programme, broadcast here on daytime tv. Since coming home I have seen several trailers for it. Funny I had never heard of it before visiting NZ. Continue reading

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More or Less Christmas

A few days before I left London for Northern Ireland Celia and I were walking down the road spotting the windows where the early adopters of Christmas 2017 decorations had been at work.

Early adopters for London that is. My first walk with WestieBoy revealed that all of Cousin’s neighbours had already dressed their homes for the festive season. Any idea I might have had that this was a country thing was put to flight when we had a three generations meal just outside Belfast. The bus between the Europa station and Saintfield went past house after house bedecked with fairy lights. My cousin Alex and his daughter Nadine were negotiating about how many trees they needed to get. Last year they had four.

I was invited to a wreath making session on Saturday morning, I declined but there were several other occasions where I found myself completely at sea amid earnest discussions about garlands, table runners and goodness knows what esoteric necessities of which I was completely ignorant.

I realised I have never been in Ireland in early December before, though I have spent Christmas there. I was culturally challenged.

I expect Auntie Anne (my mother) made a lot of Christmas, remarked Cousin. Not really, no, I answered. Mother was an ardent declutterer decades before the term entered popular usage. She tolerated Christmas decorations when we were small, but by my teens insisted that cards from friends and family were the only ornaments that mattered. I don’t remember the last time we had a tree. Cousin was surprised. She questioned me further which made me reflect on how Mother had so wholly abandoned this tradition from her native land. Not that there would have been much jollity in her home when she was growing up, but she must have seen what other families did.

I like a bit of tinsel, I am big on fairy lights at any time of year, I have gold and silver stars and little padded Christmas trees that I scatter on surfaces. Mother would not have approved. But I don’t have a tree, and the mass rush to buy and consume at Christmas leaves me cold. So I was very pleased to read this article in today’s Guardian.

There was a programme on the television earlier this week that I could not watch. It was about the most expensive presents imaginable. People with untold wealth commissioning others to find gifts costing millions of pounds. I found the concept obscene. The idea seemed to be to make the rest of us jealous of the mega rich. It made me feel their lives were very poor if this was their definition of pleasure and success. Ostentatious wealth is somehow very unattractive. That isn’t stopping me from buying a lottery ticket for tonight’s draw but my ambitions are fairly modest;enough to buy a two bedroom property with private garden in the same locality I live in now.

I’m set to enjoy my pared down Christmas. There’ll be parties and socialising, but no diamonds either on display or coveted. You can keep your designer labels and overpriced witnots. The gifts I’m giving are not expensive, but I have thought about the recipients. Prosecco will be drunk, nibbles eaten, carols sung, and far from feeling deprived, I anticipate thoroughly enjoying the jolly season.

Have a good one.

Christmas Gifts

No chimneys here chez Isobel and Cat, so no Father Christmas squeezing onto the hearth and covering the carpet with soot, scoffing a hot mince pie and drinking a glass of sherry, before leaving a stocking full of presents hanging from the non-existent mantelpiece. But there was still a number of packages to open.

Increasingly over recent years my friends and I have agreed to forgo the gift swapping and remove a large part of the stress in the run up to the Christmas period. Gifts we do exchange tend to be consumable, and the delicacies Maria sends me from Barcelona are very much part of my Christmas celebrations.

Anyway, the number of gifts waiting for my attention on Christmas Day was not large. Which is what made it so odd that I managed to miss one of them until this evening. It was from Octavia and wrapped in very groovy paper.

I picked it up, and as I took the paper off to reveal a brown cardboard box, and thought it was just the right sort of size to be a mug. Now mugs are something I have a lot of. I am rich in mugs. One thing I do not need is another mug.

It was a mug. Continue reading

Ginger Ninja Calendars, Hurry While Stocks Last!

Can You Resist?

Can You Resist?

The last few copies of the Ginger Ninja 2017 calendar are for sale. These are limited edition calendars for cat cognoscenti, and feature my cat MasterB, aka the Ginger Ninja .

They cost £8.50 each, and come cellophane wrapped. I’ve added a contact form to my page to make it easier for you to order. Once I have your order, I’ll give you my PayPal account details and you can send me the money in pounds sterling. It couldn’t be simpler. Continue reading

Doing Christmas

I read a post by JanH about Christmas that chimed with me. Rather than paraphrase or summarise it, I’ll give you the link here.

Cutting back does not mean a sad and miserable yule. Take away those ghastly hours in overheated shops looking for gifts you do not have any confidence the recipient will actually like, and suddenly you have time for the fun side of the jolly season.

With me at the Nine Lessons and Carols at St Bart’s the Great on Tuesday were my blogging pal TBM and some friends who are also neighbours.

These friends have decided not to give Chriatmas presents. Quite a brave move as their boys have not long entered double figures. The boys are with it in theory, but not entirely on side. The younger one, newly twelve, said they weren’t doing Christmas as Christmas really was about presents. His mother disagreed, and sang the carols loudly and rather beautifully. (Under normal circs, when do you discover your friends have good singing voices?)

In the last few years, I have had a pact with most friends not to exchange gifts. With some friends we go for a nice, but not expensive, gift, plus things culled from the charity shops. The charity shop gifts often cause the most amusement/amazement/delight. Continue reading

Calendars for Sale

I have a few calendars still for sale. Three have crossed the pond and been received safely, a fourth is on its way. Two are in Belfast; one in Suffolk; ten have been reserved and will be handed over soon; six will have homes  locally. Not sure that makes MasterB a global superstar just yet, but he’s working on it.

The feedback so far has been great. Here’s what Pix had to say:

CH just walked in with Master B’s calendar! Love it! Thank you Isobel!!!

So to remind you, in case you are hesitating, this is what the cover looks like:

Cover Continue reading