Thursday, 31 December 2009

The end of a decade

I keep forgetting that this New Year's Eve signals the end of this first decade in the 21st century... for all that I keep thinking "I'll be glad to see the end of 2009", I realise that the past ten years have perhaps been the most changeable in my life, so let's look back...

2000 was a year of realisation for me - I took my GCSEs that year and for the first time realised how academic I was. It was the year I changed my plans to become a teacher to follow the advice of others and go to University, changing my career path from the one I had thought I would follow for many years. This was good and bad and I still see both sides of this decision - it really was a significant year. It was also the year I wrote a poem that made me realise that I had progressed from a child who wrote well for her age to someone who wrote well full stop... this would lead me to where I am today, eventually...

2001 was the year I developed a bit more independence, I went on my first holiday without adults to take me, as my friend and I travelled across England to visit a friend in Wales by train. I was still a very shy teenager, getting more and more fearful of the day I would have to leave home and strike my way in the world alone, but I knew I still had some time to enjoy having more freedom but still no real responsibilities - life was good.

2002 was the year I stopped working. I sat in class for the first time in my life, bored, uninterested and I was miserable. I think this was the first time I ever felt truly depressed and it followed a long period of illness (I know today that long bouts of illness, particularly of the hormonal kind, really do affect my ability to keep going emotionally, but then I just felt lost and alone.) I beat myself up a lot that year, and for many years to come, and did things I would never normally do. I lost friends, and strained my relationship with family, but gained the knowledge that those who truly love me would love me no matter how much I pushed them away. It was a hard year.

It was also the year I started university and spent the last 3 months of the year trying to fit in and make friends. I found that hard, but it also changed me forever. I became more confident, I began to see I could survive in the adult world. I learnt a lot about myself, and I realised that the future was not so bleak as I thought it might be... my depression lifted. It was also the year I made new friendships that continue to delight me to this day.

And it was the year I went abroad with friends rather than family for the first time. This was hard, yet exciting. Yes, 2002 was a pivotal year for me, hence 3 paragraphs on it!

2003 was the year I finally began to fit in to university. It was the year I realised I had earnt my place there. It was also the year I first visited Russia - interesting, to say the least. And it was the year my poetry truly began to flow and become more beautiful and thoughtful. It was also the year I began to move away from organised religion (having only really spent a couple of years in it) and turned back to my roots in spirituality, developing a keener interest in delving deeper to understand my faith, rather than simply having it... sometimes this is good, sometimes not so good, but it is a journey I enjoy, and which has introduced me to so many wonderful people I never would have met otherwise. It was the year I discovered the world of internet forums.

It was also the year I first went on camp to look after teenage girls with disabilities. I discovered a whole new passion for life and wished that summer could have gone on forever.

2004 was the year I went to Germany. I developed deep and lasting memories of my time there, from how timid I was to how brave I became, from how I worried constantly about my language to speaking freely and not worrying whether I made mistakes or not, from wanting to give something back to society to being involved with a voluntary organisation I adored. It was the year I began to question whether all the information I had gathered relating to spirituality would really stand in my way to living this sort of life always... I still wonder about that one.

It was also the year I realised I could write about anything at all, and I did just that. Napkins, envelopes, scraps of paper here and there became covered in thoughts, ideas, poems and stories. It was a year of flowing creativity in which I found inspiration everywhere, I lost that for a while but it is finally starting to come back.

2005 was the year I went to Russia and was one of the hardest of my life. I battled depression and mood swings due to hormonal medication I took whilst there. I battled these whilst being in a country so foreign to me, with a complete loss of confidence in my language ability and the constant fear of what my landlady would do next. It was also the year I turned 21.

It was the year I had my first laparoscopy and finally found out that I had endometriosis after years of suffering agonising pain and being ignored and sometimes embarrassed by the doctors. It was, however, a hideous experience which put me off hospitals in a big way and made the next three months of my life hell. It was the last time I had a proper period. It was a strange year.

It was also the year I started my final year at university, on which 80% of my entire degree rested. It was the year I chose to focus on more on what I wanted, and the year I began to see how strong I could be. I became an administrator on an internet forum and devoted so much of my time to the site. I learnt HTML and began to read blogs. I also began my Reiki training this year.

2006 was the year I graduated and finally felt free - now I could choose my own destiny (or so I thought at the time!) It was a year when the lecturers went on strike and nobody knew how it would affect their final year, but I no longer cared. It was the year I started work and realised I hated my job... it was the year I chose to leave one job and start doing something I loved - the year I started working in childcare.

It was also the year I first moved to Cambridge and struggled to make ends meet - the first time I had struggled, despite my careful budgeting. It was the year I developed IBS and an intolerance to wheat, too much dairy and foods high in fibre.

And it was the year I first began a blog! I didn't know what I was doing or where it was going, but it was fun and since then I have dreamt more and more of how it would develop and I truly hope that this coming year may see some of those dreams become reality...

2007 was the year that I met Tim!! Tim, the love of my life, brought me so much hope and happiness and became my best friend. We had a slow blossoming romance but once it moved from friendship to more we quickly realised this was it - by 2008 we would be living together.

It was the year I began a job I loved - note-taking and support work at the University, a job that suited me perfectly and which I hope to perhaps return to in the near future. It was the year I began to think my dreams were all becoming reality. I wrote stories that gained great reviews online, I had the perfect partner and life was my oyster...

2008 was the year when my world came crashing down around me. It began so happily by setting up home with Tim but quickly went to pot as he lost his job and I struggled to make ends meet and eventually had to leave childcare (despite having the chance to go almost straight to the top of the career ladder) because of ill-health and finances. I suffered terribly with first labyrinthitis and then with my endo, leading the doctors to put me into a fake menopausal state which screwed me up royally...

It was, however, a beautiful year when I saw Tim start a new career he loved and I found out I did have the potential to work in a challenging environment and be a leader. It was hard, but we survived.

2009 was the hardest year yet... after months of being terribly ill I had an operation for my endo and am currently going through yet another "fake menopause". It all got on top of me (the feeling ill all the time, the financial strain, the pressures of work) and I became more depressed than ever before, crying for hours almost every night. It was a year of challenge for us both.

It was the year my parents house burnt down due to an electrical fault in the loft - the year they were lucky it happened during the evening and not at night as the fire alarm didn't go off. It was the year my childhood home went up in flames and I could do nothing to help my family as they lived too far away. It was a year of feeling helpless...

But it was also a good year in many ways. We got to live in a beautiful house in an amazing neighbourhood. We spent time with loved ones we hadn't seen in ages. We went to Italy for a wedding and Tim proposed to me whilst we were there. We began to plan for our future, thinking not only of our own house and having more time together but also about a family of our own, especially after the birth of our nephew. It was a year of looking forward and finding hope once more... it was a year of decisions

So what will 2010 and the coming decade bring us? Well, my dad will retire in February, giving us more time to see him enjoy his life. We will be leaving Cambridge to return to Lincoln and set up home in a place we hope to be for the next 5 - 10 years. We hope it will bring more time to spend at home and with that improved health. Perhaps by this time next year we may be married or looking forward to starting a family. Within the next decade at least we hope to be married, in our own home, raising a family in the perfect way for us... it will be an amazing decade, with so many changes and I hope that you will continue to pop by and visit us from time to time, let's hope I'll still be blogging in 10 more years when we can see how many of these things came to pass.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and look forward to keeping in touch with you all throughout 2010. xx

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas Day!!!

It's Christmas Day - yippee! It doesn't feel much like Christmas, for I woke to an empty house this morning, rather than one full of family and excitement. Tim is working at the hospital until 3pm, so I got up, ate my Christmas breakfast treat (a wheat-free bagel) and watched Heidi on tv - oh how I love the book, and the film was quite magnificent too.

The phone has been busy for the past hour, calling family to wish them a Merry Christmas, and the kettle is boiling to make me a nice hot drink to enjoy whilst preparing the Christmas dinner - duck this year. Our presents are peeping out from under the tree and I cannot wait for Tim to get home so that the festivities can start properly. It will be a short day, as he is due back at work at 7am tomorrow morning, but it will be ours to spend together. Christmas Day has become a very quiet day for us, closing ourselves of from the world to just enjoy each other's company. I know that our future Christmasses will be full of family and friends, so I do try to enjoy this time as best I can, even though they seem quite small at times... after all Christmas is about loved ones and who do I love more than my darling?

My parents will be arriving tomorrow morning for another quiet get-together, which I am ever so excited about, and who knows, by this time next year we may be surrounded by family on the big day itself... so much to hope for the future and so many memories to think back upon from Christmasses past... but for today I am focussing just on the here and now, for I have my loved one coming home to spend the most special day of the year with me. I do hope you have your special ones close to you too, today.

Have a wonderful Christmas, one and all. Thank you for popping by this blog over the past month, I hope to see you all in the very near future. But for now, be merry and glad and enjoy the magic of Christmas.


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve is here at last!

I do hope you have been good and will be going to bed early tonight in hopes that Santa will visit you with lots of gifts. I cannot believe it is Christmas Eve, a day full of magic and wonder, excitement and anticipation... so much to wait for and look forward to!

Christmas officially started for me at 2pm today when the doors of the tourist office closed and I left work. Carols were playing on the radio on the way home, and a man from Norad came on the air to explain how they "track" Santa's progress, just minutes after I'd been telling Tim about it and how we should log on to see how Santa is doing on this, his busy night! Do pop by if you have time and see what is going on - just click on the link above!

Take care, my dear readers, thank you for stopping by this month and enjoying it with me - don't forget there will be one last poem posted tomorrow! And please don't think the fun is all over once Christmas Day has been and gone... just like the joy and magic of Christmas can be held in your heart throughout the year, I hope to continue the joy that this series of poems has brought to me and you by posting far more regularly, so do check in every once in a while.

For now though I shall leave you to snuggle up warm, leave out a little treat or two for Santa and his reindeer and curl up in bed with dreams of what tomorrow may bring, whatever your plans are!

Merry Christmas xx

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

December 23rd

And this is the second of Tim's videos (scroll down to the previous post for his first one!) Again, I encourage you to leave a comment for Tim to thank him for helping me bring the past two days' poems to you despite my feeling rough with a cold!

We are now celebrating "Christmas Eve Eve" and very excited we are about it too. The last bits of food have been bought, I have a half day left and although Tim is working both Christmas Day and Boxing Day we still have plans to make them extra special for the two of us, and our film watching has been planned. We watched Star Wars: A New Hope today, ready to watch the "snowy" second film on Christmas Day (we couldn't watch Star Wars tomorrow night as that is reserved for The Wizard of Oz, of course!) The last few gifts are wrapped and ready to be taken by Santa for delivery, the last few cards to be distributed will go tomorrow and we are all set for the Big Day - yay, it has come at last!

Send me (and all those around me at work who are ill with colds) good thoughts to have a runny/stuffy-nosed-free Christmas Day. And also spare a thought for all those people who will already be queueing up ready for the Service at King's College Chapel tomorrow... yes, some people do go so early, although most don't venture out until tomorrow to be fair!! Even so, you need to be in the queue by 9am to hope to get in from 1.30pm ready for the 3pm start... not fun on a cold, winter's day, especially seeing as how cold it has been of late. But of course, how magical if you do manage it... in fact today I was talking to a girl from Amsterdam who used to watch it on tv as a child and said that it signalled the start of Christmas for her, so she was desperate to be there in person and was aiming to be in the queue by 7am! Personally I can think of warmer ways to spend Christmas Eve, but I can see the charm of being there for the traditional Festival of Nine Lessons!

22nd December

And here it is - Tim's reading of today's poem (only one day late!) You wouldn't believe how vain my boy is - "I need make-up, I'm too shiny", and "I need this poinsettia to be placed *just right*" and "what is this glare on me, it makes me look cross-eyed"... oh boy!

But what a great job he did of it, please do leave him a comment to thank him for taking over for me whilst I was feeling rough (and also for showing me how to minimise the camera screen so I can actually read the words whilst recording, rather than having to memorise them all!) I need to prove to him how wonderful he was at reading the poems, so he may have another go in the future sometime, so do, do leave a comment, please!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A delay in posting...

I am feeling a bit poorly today, think I am going down with a cold, so Tim has offered to record today's poem for me. However he too is feeling a bit rough and so has promised he will record both today's and tomorrow's poems after work tomorrow. This means you will all get to see him and I get a couple of days off from learning poems - not that I mind, but when you're tired and a bit muzzled in the head due to an oncoming cold, remembering words is not the easiest of things to do!

So, see you tomorrow night with the next two poems!

Bis dann xx

Monday, 21 December 2009

December 21st

Today's post is rather late on account of it being the Winter Solstice. It seems so long ago that Tim and I decided we'd have this day off to celebrate, especially as we will only have half of Christmas Day together. We started the day with a lazy morning (despite being rudely awoken at 5.30am by his alarm, which he had forgotten to turn off). We had a scrumptious breakfast of bacon, eggs and beans on toast, followed by the watching of It's a Wonderful Life whilst sitting by an open fire.

I may have mentioned having watched this film already this year, but it is one of my all-time favourite films and I could watch it over and over again (although I had to fast-forward the part where Uncle Billy lost the money as Tim couldn't cope with that part - it really is a sad part and one where I really want to shout at Mr. Potter and all those men like him in our world, so I can understand why he didn't want to watch that part!) Anyway, I have managed to watch all but 3 of my Christmas favourites - The Bishop's Wife, The Polar Express and The Wizard of Oz... the latter has to be watched on Christmas Eve, as explained in this previous post, and The Polar Express has to be watched before Christmas Eve but not too far in advance, but the Bishop's Wife may have to wait until one of the days after Christmas... isn't it funny how we have these habits and traditions which may seem so strange to others but make perfect sense to us. I have to say though, I haven't done too badly to say I have watched nearly all my Christmas favs, some of them more than once this year *ahem*

The rest of our afternoon was spent making mince pies, adding dried fruit and crushed nuts to make the mincemeat spread even further... we then celebrated the Winter Solstice by burning our wishes for the coming year on the fire, taking the lit advent candle out into the snowy garden and eating a mince pie fresh out the oven, before scurrying back inside to the warmth of the fire. It is only just dying down after a day of burning happily for us. The rest of this evening is going to be spent watching Gremlins a film that terrified me beyond words as a child but which amuses me now - it is the closest thing to a Christmas film I can get Tim to watch as he claims one film a day is his quota. We have this running argument that I watch far more of his favourite films and tv shows than he does mine (his argument being he has watched films like Ladies in Lavender and that my films are "girly" whereas his films are ones would enjoy, seen as though I like sci-fi and adventure... hmmm seems to me watching Aliens was a little beyond what I would like to watch, but he still refused to watch that little girl's all-time favourite Dirty Dancing last night, so I think I have a way to go yet in twisting his arm! We have a deal though this year... if I can watch my favourite films he can watch the Star Wars Trilogy over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day - sound fair to you? It does to me...

Sunday, 20 December 2009

December 20th

I'm pretty sure if I was Santa I would be so glad the Elves were working hard to keep me warm, I hate to be cold and at this time of year can be found quite regularly hugging a hot water bottle. Having said that, there is something very magical and lovely about wrapping up in many layers before heading out the door in the morning, and returning home out of the cold to wrap up in a blanket, with a hot drink and a good book. One of my overwhelming memories of Christmas is the wrapping up for an after-dinner family walk on Christmas Day (or, when we were younger, a trip outside to try out a new bike, roller skates, pogo stick or whatever gift we had received that year!) The fresh, cold air was so refreshing after stuffing ourselves with too much food and getting too hot from excitement and sitting by the fire. We've enjoyed a few late night and daytime walks recently, wrapping up in so many layers that I could barely move my arms, but it was wonderful. I hope you're having a good time, whether it is cold where you are or warm, and that the coming week will see you nice and cosy as Christmas nears.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

December 19th

Well, the snow is still here and thanks to my unexpected "snow day" yesterday we got ahead in preparing for today's family party. The potatoes are ready to be loaded, the peanut butter cups are all done (though if any are left by the time the party comes is another matter!), and the nuts are ready to be spiced. We still have a lot to do, as most of the food needs to be prepared just a few hours in advance of the party - but we are well on our way!

We also got to take some lovely snowy pictures around the village yesterday - perhaps we have found next year's Christmas card already, you never know! We're busy here at number 22 preparing for the next week or two - everything is decorated but the last few bits of food need to be bought for Christmas Day, our best clothes need to be washed and ironed so we're at our best, and there are still a few Christmas favourites to be watched on tv. But all in all we are feeling pretty good about this year, as we are more prepared than usual, I hope you have everything sorted now too, so you can enjoy this last week's run up to the Big Day!


Thursday, 17 December 2009

December 18th - SNOW DAY!

Today I am stranded at home due to snow. For those readers who live in a place where snow is a normal occurrence, 2-4 inches of snow may seem like a crazy reason for everything to grind to a halt. Having lived a winter in Russia I would tend to agree, but you have to remember that in England we will only get one or two snowfalls a year, if that, and very rarely this heavy. This means that we aren't prepared... we have normal, everyday tyres on our cars, making driving dangerous, and we have gritters to put salt on the road, but no snow ploughs to clear it - we just don't need he resources to deal with this kind of weather, so when it does come we are stuck.

Many people in this region spent the night in their cars after being stuck on the roads - how awful! I'm lucky that I got home before the snow started to settle - it began around 7pm last night and by the time I went to bed a white blanket was over the whole neighbourhood. It is so beautiful, but I cannot help but worry about those who were stuck or who are trying their hardest to get to work today. My manager told me yesterday that I would probably have problems getting to work, as I live in a village with 3 buses a day which goes along minor village and country roads which won't have been gritted. Everyone else lives either closer or along main roads, so I know it is ok for me to call in and take a day off because, well, I *tried* to get in... I went out for my bus and was then told by a passer-by that the radio news has mentioned it wouldn't be running today. In a way I am glad... we are expecting possibly more snow today - I didn't want to spend the night at work because I couldn't get home!!

Last night I thought, "what a shame it happened this week and not next, when we'd have a White Christmas", but now I realise it's probably a good job it is this week rather than next... can you imagine trying to get home and spending Christmas Eve in your car? What about those people trying to fly home for Christmas... after the scare that BA would strike and flights might be cancelled, the new threat of snow stopping flights must be a worry for those trying to get home to loved ones abroad.

So, although I love the snow and am wishing for a "white Christmas"... my thoughts are sent to those who this may deeply affect. Having said that, I am now going to find a book to curl up on the sofa with and enjoy my first "snow day" for years!

December 17th

Unlike most children, I don't think I ever starred in a Nativity - well not until playing the star at church when I was 17!! I don't quite know how this happened, maybe I was part of one at playschool, when I was too young to remember, but at primary school it never happened. My first Christmas, aged 5, I was one of 4 girls chosen to sit on stage and then at one part of the performance we had to skip off the stage, dance around the Christmas tree alone, then with our teddy bears and then skip back on stage (don't ask me what happened in the rest of the performance, I have no idea... I also have no idea why I was chosen to dance as I had never had dance lessons).

In the January I skipped into the second class, so my next Christmas, aged 6, I was in the third year. I was off when the parts were given out, so I was given a bauble to hang on the Christmas Tree - our year's part of the performance was to tell the story of the Christmas tree. At one point, the girl who was playing the Christmas tree was not going to be there, so I was given the part... but then on the day of the performance she was there and a girl was missing from the year below, so I was turfed off, given a halo of tinsel and told to stand up after a certain carol and say in a loud voice "S is for the shepherds". Needless to say, my mum was shocked to see my doing something different to what I'd told her I would be doing, but it went well.

I forget what happened after that... the junior years tended to put on a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan... we did The Mikado but I can't remember if it was Christmas or not. The next two years I remember singing but not being "in" a play and the final year we did Cinderella and I was in the choir. Then I went to secondary school and apart from one year when I took part in the chorus of the annual Christmas show (that year, Return to the Forbidden Planet), I never went on stage again. Not at Christmas.

So there you have it... I never played Mary, or an Angel, or even the donkey. Even so, watching children in a Nativity still means "Christmas" to me... I saw younger friends taking part, I saw it on tv, I saw it in church... oh I lie... I remember now, I played the Angel at church when the Girl Guides put on a Nativity - oh the shame of having lied to you all!! What a good job I wrote this post, I reminded me of my moment of glory as the Angel bringing good news, and creeping round the back of the pews to get from the choir stalls where I visited Mary, to the pulpit where I announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds. Good times, good times...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

December 16th

One of the things I love most about Christmas are the memories we make and the traditions we create for ourselves. I can remember things from nearly every single Christmas, like when my mum forgot she had puts some eggs on to boil and they exploded in the kitchen, or the time I went to church and sang in the choir and saw all the little kids playing on their new bikes out in the street on the way, or the year I only thought to write to Santa on Christmas Eve so he didn't have time to get what I asked for, and left me a note promising to bring it next year, or even the time I had the flu... believe it or not, despite it being my worst Christmas ever (I went to bed on Christmas Eve feeling fine and then couldn't bear the sight or smell of food or any light for the whole of Christmas Day), I still remember things like my mum sharing her maltesers with me in an attempt to get me to eat anything! There's always a memory to be had, even in the worst of times!

And the traditions... one year my parents were watching the film Cliffhanger and, being the empathic wuss that I am, I had to go out after the lady fell off the rope (that still makes me shudder). Lucky for me, the Wizard of Oz was playing on another channel and I watched that. The year after it was shown again and from that moment I have had to watch this film every Christmas Eve (usually at 9pm, because that means it finishes in perfect time for me to go to bed!) And then there is good old Jim Reeves... my dad loves Jim Reeves and Christmas morning, unwrapping our presents would not be the same without his crooning, and I have some songs ready on Spotify (my new best friend) ready for Christmas Day. And Christmas morning would not be the same without something special for breakfast... unfortunately this year Tim is working Christmas morning, so I won't see him until the afternoon when, I hope, I will greet him with a festive feast to fill us to bursting... this will be our third Christmas together, but only our second living together, so we have yet to create any firm traditions of our own, but I know that with every year we spend together these will come.

So tell me, what memories and traditions do you have for Christmas?

We interrupt this blog... tell you about the wonderful Christmas feeling I just got upon hearing the faint sound of children singing Little Donkey somewhere in the neighbourhood. I ran to the window, opened it wide and listened with joy to the happy, excited voices of a children's choir singing one of the most beautiful Christmas songs - heaven. And they were really good, too!

There can't be anything more magical than being a child at Christmas. I remember the wonder and joy I felt as Christmas neared - the singing of songs that told of a tale that happened so long ago I couldn't even begin to comprehend, the opening of the Advent calendar, counting down the days until Santa arrived, indeed laying in bed, being as quiet as a mouse and not daring to get up to go to the toilet in case he was downstairs and I scared him away before he left them all (hehe, I was a funny child), and waking up in the morning, waiting for my mum to come and tell me it was ok to get up, it really was morning, and sneaking a peek into the living room to look at all the gifts before going for breakfast in my parent's bedroom with just one gift to open before we ate...

I remember making decorations and hanging them up with pride, the Christmas nativity we put on for the parents and dressing in tinsel, then watching a Disney film whilst waiting for my mum to come and take me home, and even more I remember making cards and presents for Santa, Mrs. Claus, the Elves and the Reindeer, for after all they worked so hard to bring us all presents, I thought they deserved some presents too! But, alas, that magic is harder and harder to find these days. The magic gets overshadowed by commitments, whether it be studying, working or keeping house, doing the laundry or the weekly shop, working out the finances and realising you can't buy so-and-so the best gift EVER and then trawling through the net to find the second-best-gift-EVER at a much more reasonable price (don't you just love the internet?)

This year I feel the magic for the first time in a few years... I don't know what it is, perhaps it is the fact that after months and months of being so on-edge and down-hearted that feeling this cheerful seems magical in itself. Maybe it is the hope that this is the start of new and better things. Maybe it is even the fact that with my Advent series I can feel the magic of wonder and excitement I used to have and am looking forward to many more years of this as we grow older and have children around us... and maybe, just maybe, it is because Christmas really is magical and I am finally remembering that.

We interrupt this post... because... whilst my window was open to listen to "Jingle Bells" as the children went further on their way, I heard such a clatter and turned to find Kitty was jumping through it and she has been sat beside me, on top of me, nudging me and purring in my ear to get my attention and I think it is time she got some, don't you?

Don't forget to scroll down to the next post for today's video poem xx

December 15th

A little earlier than usual, today's video was pre-recorded, meaning I could get it up as soon as my computer was ready to go! Today is my last day off before returning to work, so I hope to get a few more videos recorded today, enabling me to put the posts up first thing instead of rushing to do them each night after a long day at work!

Last night I decided to visit some new blogs and realised why I love blogging so very much... some blogs are just heart-warming and inspirational from the moment the first page loads, with beautiful photos, excellent layouts and honest, down-to-earth posts. I feel this blog is somewhat lacking the magic I wanted to create and am thinking of ways to take it forward in the New Year... I have decided 2010 is going to be "our year", when our life together starts to really take off after the long hard battles we have faced. I'm not going to wish Christmas away, as I love Christmas so very much, but I can honestly say that this year the New Year and the long winter actually holds a lot of hope for me as well, meaning that come Spring I am hoping that we shall be well on our way... I wonder what resolutions we will make and keep!

Monday, 14 December 2009

December 14th

I had planned to spend today getting ahead with recording some videos for the coming week (especially as Tim pointed out that Christmas is actually next week!!) but instead I spent most of my morning snuggled up on the sofa with my favourite little girl (cat) in the world and just when I thought it was safe to start recording she turned up at the window again. Have I ever mentioned that this cat got fed up of waiting at the door for someone to notice her and so she comes and sits by the window, peering in and begging for someone to open it and let her inside? One morning, as I sat eating my breakfast I heard an almighty clatter... she'd only gone and tried jumping through it whilst it was closed... bless. I am so going to miss her when we leave, so I am making sure I have the longest cuddles with her for as long as we are here, which means you will have to excuse me when the ends of my videos get a little distracted or a post or two is a little bit late...

I hope you have sent your letter to Santa... if you haven't, make sure you leave it some place where the star can pick it up and carry it to the North Pole!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

December 13th

I've yet to see the little robin who has been keeping an eye on Tim and myself, but I have no doubt he has been hiding somewhere in the holly or the ivy, watching us closely to make sure we have been doing everything we could to be "nice and kind and sweet". Today that meant going shopping for some of the food we need for next week's family gathering, such an exciting thing to plan. I don't want to spoil the surprise of what we will be having, but I think we have managed to rustle up a lovely spread with the help of a few festive cookbooks. Christmas is such a fun time to do things for others and I cannot wait as this will be the first Christmas Tim and I have hosted, the first of many, I hope.


December 12th

Again this one is a tad late... but what a reason for it! We took our niece and a friend to the theatre yesterday to see "A Merry Little Christmas" by Gomito Productions. As with all their productions, this one was full of magic and excitement... the Christmas Trolls entertained us all with carol singing before we entered the theatre, they then told us a tale of Lucy as she tried to recapture the magic of Christmas and save the Christmas Fairy. We met the funny old Yeti, were scared by the hungry wolf and heard about Santa's big flight from a couple of reindeer. The combination of life action and puppets was so amazing, being showered in snow was wonderfully festive and getting to sit on the very front row was a real treat. So I'm sorry that today's poem is late... but how could I post when I was relishing the Christmas magic of such a performance.

The fun continued as we drove home with two little girls spraying us with more snow they had collected from the stage and it was all we could do not to fall about with hysterical laughter ourselves. This is what Christmas is all about - being a child and enjoying the wonder and magic that Christmas brings. I do hope that this series is helping to spread the magic a little bit, and will be back with more every day this week!


December 11th

I am two days behind in posting this video... but what a great two days they were! I'll start with Friday...

Today has been spent looking forward to the rest of Advent, working on the poems for each day that Christmas Eve draws closer. Santa and his Elves have been so very busy, but their work is coming close to completion, just like mine. The toys are all made, the gifts are ready to be wrapped, and the focus now is on getting the sack loaded, the sleigh cleaned and the reindeer looking their best. There may even be some time for some fun and games - just like tonight's party under the tree!

I hope your Advent work is almost done and you too are looking forward to the fun of the festive season xx

Thursday, 10 December 2009

December 10th

I got some of the greatest news today from a dear online friend, and then spent the afternoon answering the door to parcel after parcel as Christmas gifts arrived, wrapping said gifts before the recipient emerged from bed (he is on night shifts this week, giving me chance to be sneaky, you see), and then packing away books and dvds ready for our move and making room for more Christmas decorations *yay* All in all it has been a fantastic day!

I hope you have had a wonderful day too... I'll be back soon with, I hope, some more videos...

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

December 9th

Advent is such a busy time of year (no wonder Santa's elves work so hard!!), even though I bought and wrapped most of our presents in November and have written all but the last few Christmas cards, I am still finding that there is so much left to plan and do. That doesn't mean I want it any other way, but it does explain why so often, the dreams and ideas I wish to fulfil each Christmas never seem to come to fruition... one year I may manage the completely homemade Christmas of my dreams, but this year we'll settle for a nice, simple Christmas where the focus is on being together rather than what we are doing or giving.

That being said, I am so looking forward to the few little bits we do have planned - taking our niece to the theatre, having Tim's family round for a get-together, spending Christmas afternoon just the two of us, having my parents down on Boxing Day, and again spending New Year's alone. Christmas has always been one of my most favourite times of year, mostly due to the magic and wonder that it brings, but also very much due to the focus it brings to family and friends and those around us who we may not have given as much attention to as we might have liked.

I'm off now to put up the cards which have just arrived through our letterbox and to find another Christmas movie to warm my heart with festive fun - have a lovely day xx

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

December 8th

I had awful troubles remembering today's poem all the way through, and recorded the video far too many times. This version isn't the greatest, but I am afraid it was the only one with the complete poem, so please do excuse the quality of it.

I haven't really made any cards this year, like so many of my projects and ideas they failed to start due to lack of time. Part of this is due to the amount of cards I send out as I just love to use this time of year to catch up with all those people I may not have had time to speak to over the past year, as well as sending loving messages to those we may have seen but want to remind how much they mean to us. Tim was always amazed by just how many cards I receive at Christmas, maybe it is a "girl thing" but I have always received as many cards as I send out.

My grandma, however, is the queen of Christmas cards. Each year her card writing amounts into triple figures (I couldn't say how many, I lose count) and her living room is covered from floor to ceiling with cards she receives. My grandma is the greatest example of what Christmas is all about - she loves to give, she loves to bake, she loves to sing, she loves to be with friends and family and she just brims with festive spirit. I can only hope I have as much festive cheer when I reach her age!

I hope your Christmas card writing is going well, don't forget to get those cards in the post before the last posting dates!

Monday, 7 December 2009

December 7th

Don't forget to check out yesterday's video (which I only posted earlier today *ahem*) or any other videos you may have missed this month. And if you are enjoying these videos, please do leave us a comment and/or pass on the link to your friends and family. The more people who view these videos, the happier I will be.

As a child I always wondered what happened at the North Pole - what were Santa's reindeer doing, how did they keep fit, did the Elves sing as they worked and what did Santa do with his time off (did he even have any time off?) This year, these video poems hope to give an idea of what could be going on up at the North Pole during advent and I hope that you are enjoying them, and would love to hear from you what you think is happening all the way up north... so get your imaginations cracking, some pens and crayons out and have a go, it really is lots of fun!

December 6th (a day late)

Whoops... I know I said on Saturday that I wasn't going to worry about getting my videos up first thing in the morning, but I didn't mean to miss a whole day! Yesterday was lost in a blur of getting out of bed incredibly late, having to do the weekly food shop, talking to friends and family and watching good Sunday evening tv. I love this time of year, the tv seems to have so much to offer in the evening, and I find myself enjoying an evening or two of curling up on the sofa and watching tv, listening to the wind and rain outside and just chilling out.

I cannot help but be reminded at this time of year how very lucky we are to have a roof over our heads and food in our cupboards. Life has been far from easy for us this past year and a bit, but we are incredibly blessed to be loved and supported by so many, we always manage to get by (even if I do sometimes despair that we aren't getting anywhere!)

I have found that my poetry has sat unfinished this past week, due to spending time with family and friends and taking time to simply "be" and remember how lucky we are and how apparent misfortune can actually bring about changes which can bring about far more benefits and blessings than you could ever imagine. Having spent that time I now know I need to start cracking on finishing this series, and tomorrow I shall have the house to myself so I think it's time I started catching up and getting ahead if I can, because I am sure the closer Christmas comes the busier we shall be. But how thankful I am to have had some time to slow down and just live for a while, I do hope you are finding some time for that amongst the bustle of this busy season too.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

December 5th

December is such a busy time, I cannot believe how fast it is going... each day I think "I'll record all of my videos today and then I'll be able to post them each morning", only to find that one thing after another pops up and takes me away from the computer and before I know it another day has gone by and it is already half way through the next afternoon (or evening) and I am late in getting that day's poem up, let alone recording the rest!

I wanted this project to take my writing to a new level - I wanted to see how well I could write to a set time frame and if I could write a series of poems in the same time and metre throughout, so that the whole thing flowed. I also wanted to see how videos would work both on my blog and as a way of introducing poetry, as I know sometimes it is hard to read a poem and really get the emotion and intonation that was behind the creating of it. The project is going well, but I don't want to burden myself too much with getting the poems up first thing in the morning and making the videos perfect (or worrying that the sound and picture quality is not so perfect). This is, after all, a project I am doing as an experiment and for fun, so I am trying not to get hung up on these things - one thing I am learning in my life right now is that I don't have to be perfect and neither does my work, reaching for perfection just makes me miserable.

So, you may find that each day's poem gets posted later and later in the day and maybe the videos aren't the greatest quality, because right now I am learning to enjoy the run up to Christmas without panicking about all the things that I usually panic about (whether at this time or year or any other).

Wishing you all a happy Advent

Just to say... (December 5th)'s poem is on its way, but I haven't had chance to record it so far due to taking my sister to the train station and then battling our way through town on one of the busiest Saturdays of the year (there's a winter fair here first Saturday of December, plus ice skating and usual Christmas shoppers plus a massive closing down sale in one of the bookstores). I would record it now, but am waiting for a skype call from someone and don't want to miss it due to filming... so check back soon


Friday, 4 December 2009

December 4th

My sister has just pointed out that it is only 3 weeks until Christmas - already only 3 weeks!! I have finally caught the Christmas bug, having watched a million Christmas films and wrapped all the presents... sometimes it takes me a while to feel like Christmas is actually here again, but now that the house is decorated and the presents all sent to Santa, ready for delivery on Christmas Eve, I feel like Christmas has finally come.

I can still remember my excitement the first time I put the Christmas presents I had wrapped in a drawer and then when I went to check on them they had already been magicked away... wow, Santa and his elves really do work fast! I hope you've wrapped your presents and put them away safely for Santa to find and deliver, but don't worry if you haven't managed it just yet, Santa will always find time to pick up a present or two right up until Christmas Eve... now there's service!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

December 3rd

Today's video was recorded too many times for me to count... our darling cat, who actually belongs to our neighbours but pops round every day for cuddles, kept distracting me half way through and I'd forget what words I was supposed to be saying. In fact this final copy was not the greatest ever and I apologise for the state of it, but it was the only one where I made it all the way through to the end of the poem! Maybe one day I'll post the bloopers, but for today I'll just add this second video so you can see the true star of the show - Pippi

Tim and I have reached a sad moment where we have chosen to take my health and our future ahead of everything else right now and so are moving on from number 22, the gorgeous house we have called home for 1 year instead of more as we had hoped. And do you know the hardest part of this move... knowing we won't get to see this lovely little girl every day (just thinking of it makes me want to cry a little). So I am going to leave this post here and go snuggle with my favourite girl in the whole world.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

December 2nd

Well, sorry it's a tad late today - my sister came to stay and we've been watching Holiday Inn whilst trying to get the fire started for the video (yes, despite both of us being ex-Girl Guides we are useless as getting fires going good and strong!)

Because it took so long as well, I didn't have time to learn and rehearse today's poem, so my sister became a make-shift autocue (what else are sisters for?) So you may notice I don't quite look at the screen or hear a sudden rustling halfway through, that's the old-fashioned technology of a piece of paper with the poem written on it being turned over... we're nothing if not classy here!

Anyway, thanks to everyone who popped over yesterday and to those who sent me a message of encouragement - this is turning into a lovely project. But for now I'm going to leave you whilst we go off to watch Father Christmas (the cartoon that is).

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

December 1st

It's the first of December today - that means our advent calendars are all hung on the wall, waiting to be opened and all manner of treats start to come our way! I am looking forward to opening each of our calendars every morning (we currently have four in our house) and am over the moon that one of my favourite people online has created a perfect Advent widget - go check out Cherry Menlove's Advent Calendar at

But most of all I am excited to be bringing this Advent series to you all. Writing is one of my greatest pleasures in life and taking it to this new level of recording a poem a day is so much fun, I do hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have. Please do leave us a comment to tell us what you think so far, and don't hesitate to contact me if you would like a written copy of any of the poems I post.

And why not have a go at writing a Christmas poem of your own, it would make a lovely present for someone, or an alternative Christmas card. Or why not take some pictures or paint something Chrismassy to get you in the mood... here's one of my favourite pictures so far this year

Right, I am off now to finish sprucing up the house with Christmas cheer, let's hope our tree is decked from top to toe in time for tomorrow's video!!

Have a wonderful Advent
Amanda xx