Archive | December 2013

Dylan update – Dylan has a new house!

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This is my little grandson, Dylan. He has some big news. A week before Christmas he moved into a new house! Here at the cottage, it was very exciting news because the move had been on/off, on/off, on/off, all through December. There was a small snag concerning the Land Registry and that held everything up. (Isn’t there always a small snag!!!). Anyway, in the end all was well and they moved in on a fairly nice day without too much wind and cold.

It took till lunchtime to get the van loaded at the old house and then til tea-time to get into the new one. By then everyone was tired. Dylan came to the cottage for the day while everything was going on and Larry was ‘on loan’ to help with the move. My son and his wife coped admirably and even seemed to enjoy it.

The next day the priority became putting up the Christmas decorations. The other grandparents did a lot of that, so that by the end of day 1, the house looked like Christmas had arrived and the family were very happily ensconced in their new abode. I don’t have pictures yet, but suffice to say it is bigger than the last house and Dylan has a very nice, new bedroom to put all his new toys in.


Christmas is now over, in the main; although because I love it so much, I refuse to stop celebrating in my own quiet way. This afternoon I intend to sit down and watch ‘Holiday Inn’ because I really enjoy that film. I have a new, digitally coloured version, which is excellent.

When I woke up this morning, there was a hard frost all over the ground. Larry had never seen such a thick frost before. It looked like snow to him. No doubt he will mention it in his next missive, which I must encourage him to write.

So now I must get back to the kitchen. We have roast lamb for dinner today. It is already smelling wonderful…

Are you ready yet?

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Well, we’re nearly there aren’t we! Not long now. my Christmas cards are posted, the tree is decorated, the cake made and this afternoon I shall decorate it.

p.m. I’ve half-decorated the cake! I put the marzipan on it, but decided to leave the icing till tomorrow because I don’t trust the cat to leave it alone. In the cottage here, Millie likes dairy produce so I know she will love the butter icing I’m going to put on top. If I cover it over, she will remove the cling film and I don’t have a tin big enough to hide the cake in. Oh my, the lengths we have to go to when we have a pet.

Thank goodness for Millie because I am still missing Patch very much. I now have her picture in my bedroom so I can still say goodnight and good morning, but I badly miss her soft little paws and the sweet expressions she had for me when I came down in the morning. I suppose I miss Patch most because I didn’t say goodbye. I thought I’d be bringing her home minus a tooth so it was a shock to leave her at the vet’s and know that I would never see her again.

Christmas is very much a time for missing people, isn’t it! I think back to when I was a child and the lovely Christmases we had at home. There were only three of us – I have no siblings and the dog, of course. There was a fire-place in the main bedroom, which my dad lit on special days. Looking back that seems very dangerous to me now, but at the time, it was normal. We had a fireplace in all the rooms, but it was too expensive to keep them all lit all the time and unnecessary too, of course.

I had a sack with presents in it and Father Christmas left it at the foot of my bed. When I woke on Christmas morning, I took the sack into my parents’ bedroom and opened the presents with them. My dad liked to have morning tea in bed with cakes! So with the fire glowing and tea and cakes to enjoy, I could open my presents with glee. My favourite was always a Rupert annual. I’ve always loved reading and the the illustrations in the Rupert Annuals are superb. To this day I still enjoy looking at them and reading them to my grandson.

So now, back to my kitchen. What are you doing this afternoon?


The reluctant elf.


My grandson Dylan was a reluctant elf last week at his Nursery School’s Christmas pageant. There he is at the back, sitting on his teacher’s knee, not wishing to participate very much. Bless his heart, he is only three years old and it was all a bit much. He wasn’t the only reluctant elf either. There were several.

The play itself was lovely. One of the Nursery teachers told the story while the children played their parts. There were lots of parents there and a few grandparents who squeezed in at the back! With so many parents at work, I couldn’t help but notice what a good turnout it was and how delighted the parents must have been to see their children looking so cute.

Of course it was a different story when Dylan got home. Back in his own environment he was happy to pose for a picture in his elf costume.

Dylan as elf Xmas 2013

When my children were little there weren’t any ready-made costumes to buy. Now there is a very good selection in Sainsburys (my local supermarket) with everything from a costume for Mary to a big gold star. Amazing! Again, we live in changing times and with so many mums out to work and many of them the breadwinner, they don’t have time to make costumes for their children themselves.

Christmas is a time when it is really the little things in life that matter so why don’t we try each day to make someone else’s life a little happier? A smile to a stranger or an unexpected wave of greeting to a neighbour may brighten someone’s day.

Time for the Christmas Tree to stand proud.


We recently took our Grandson, Dylan to see the Christmas Tree Festival in Leighton Buzzard. The church there is very old and has a magnificent spire. The whole of the inside of this delightful church was packed with Christmas trees of all colours with very thoughtful decorations. Just as we arrived, a party of school children entered the building and the noise level rose a bit! They were excited because quite a few of the exhibits had been made in the school and they were anxious to see them in their designated spaces.

Each tree said something special about the organisation for which it was set up. Particularly poignant to me was the one set up to collect money for the homeless in our community. Sadly this community has been growing over the years of our recession.

Dylan was entranced by all the trees and their decorations.


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When we had finished looking at the trees, we sat down to listen to the school children singing Christmas songs. Their voices rang out beautifully in the old building and filled our hearts with joy.


…and before long, it was time to go home. Dylan soon dozed off in the car, aah


Here is a story I wrote a few years ago:

Christmas Time at Langwitch

Barry Thompson, aged 6 years old, couldn’t afford to buy his mother a Christmas present, and he had racked his brains to try and think of something to make her but he wasn’t very accomplished when it came to making things.

It was 5th December, the day of the annual Christmas Tree Festival at St. Nicholas’s Church in Langwitch.  The beautiful old church looked even more attractive than usual, decorated as it was with thirty-six Christmas Trees of all colours and sizes.  Mrs. Smithers, the part-time secretary at Primrose Primary School, parked her car at the back of the church hall and made her way through the churchyard with Barry Thompson. She was looking after him for her friend, Angela, who was taking a break to do some Christmas shopping in the High Street.  Both Mrs. Smithers and Barry were looking forward to the treat of seeing the Christmas trees in all their glory.

The gravestones in the churchyard stood tall or leaned sideways as they passed between them. They looked just like a row of crooked old teeth.  A row of old yew trees was resplendent, covered in their scarlet red berries with dark branches hanging low in their dampness.  Mrs. Smithers held tight to Barry Thompson’s hand.  Heavenly music, played on the organ, was drifting towards them as they entered the church through the large oak side door, letting in a blast of cold air as they did so.

Once inside the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.  The smell of pine and candles was enthralling.  Mrs. Smithers paid the entrance money into a large plastic margarine pot and was given a programme and a voting ticket!  Following the numbers in the programme she made her way up the nave and into the chancel.  Each tree had been expertly decorated by young and old groups of volunteers, each hoping to win the coveted accolade of the “Best In Show”.  Proceeds from the festival were going towards the continuing restoration of St. Nicholas’s Church.

The Langwitch Lace Group had crafted some very pretty circlets of hand-made lace, exquisitely fragile and delicate, as they hung in gay profusion from their tree.  Their entry was entitled “Bobbins, Bangles and Lace”.  The Brownies had fashioned an exciting tree with photographs of themselves to decorate the branches.  Smiling faces looked out from the tree as Mrs. Smithers passed by with Barry.  Standing in the corner was a bottlebrush tree, donated by the local chemist, and covered all over in red, spiky baby-bottle brushes.

“How original!” thought Mrs. Smithers.

In the right hand corner was a wall plaque, which Mrs. Smithers read out loud to Barry:

“Every part of this church is open at all times, but this corner is a special place where children can bring their gifts of flowers, read and pray, and speak their hearts to God.”

Barry, red cheeks glowing, put, his little hands together and talked to God.  He asked for a Christmas present for his mum because he couldn’t think of anything and he didn’t feel clever enough to make anything.  He wanted it to be special, something she would really love and treasure.  He asked for something that she could keep for a long time.

Leaving behind that wonderful corner, Mrs. Smithers and Barry turned into the chancel and there stood a tree decorated by the local Rainbow Children in all colours of the rainbow and coloured lights as well.  It was enchanting.

At the end of the chancel was a large stained glass window.  By now dark outside, the interior lights lit up the window and Christ, hanging on his cross in the window with a crown of thorns upon his head, looked down upon his faithful people.  Mrs. Smithers thought she could see him smile. A young mum in a blue coat with a headscarf tied around her brown curls, was showing her toddler the beautiful window. He wriggled in his buggy and pointed to the image of Christ.

On went Mrs. Smithers, past “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by the Makin family and “Winter Wonderland” by Valerie and Kate. She stopped and cast her eyes over a magnificent floral Christmas tree decked out by the Langwitch Ladies Floral Arts Club.  Lavender coloured roses were tucked into the branches in uniformity, and strings of cream coloured pearls hung in loops all around.  Twinkly lights enthralled.

Down to the organ corner where one of the churchwardens was playing tenderly:

“Away In A Manger, No Crib For A Bed, The Little Lord Jesus Laid Down His Sweet Head”.

The Methodist minister was serving steaming hot cups of tea and coffee from an electric urn, and her assistant was arranging homemade mince pies on a large plate nearby.  Fruit cake and walnut cake and mini chocolate rolls were fighting for space on another plate nearby and the queue for refreshments was getting longer and longer.

With a cup of tea in one hand and a plate with mince pies in the other, Mrs. Smithers sat herself down with Barry on one of the glossy oak pews.  Her thoughts returned to Christmases long ago.  She remembered the Christmas of 1962/3 when the whole country was covered in snow for weeks.  As a little girl in long red Wellington boots, she went with her dad to fetch milk and eggs from the shop because the milkman was unable to get his float down the road.  Dad’s breath froze on his moustache and turned it prematurely grey.

Coming back to the present, Mrs. Smithers chose her favourite tree and put the number of it on her voting slip.  The slip went into a waste paper basket collection receptacle, to be counted later.  She bought a raffle ticket and popped it in the drum and then left the church as she found it, a place of great tranquillity.

Dark outside now and getting colder, the Churchyard surrounding the church building was well lit and ghostly shadows followed Mrs. Smithers and Barry back to the car.

“Now” she said “I feel that Christmas has begun”.

Three weeks later and it was Christmas Eve.  Angela Thompson, Barry’s mum, went to the front door and opened it to put the milk bottles in the crate and some rubbish in the dustbin.  There on the doorstep was a huge black cat, which meowed urgently, asking to come in.  Mrs. Thompson looked around and saw Barry.  He knew why it had come.

“It’s for you mummy, it’s your Christmas present,” he said knowingly. He knew that Jesus wouldn’t let him down.


Patchwork table-mats for Christmas

DSCF1688 I’ve just finished a patchwork project for Christmas – one table centre-piece and four tablemats. Now do I keep them or give them away as presents? After all the work I put in to make them, it’s tempting to keep them.

In April my Patchwork Club is having an exhibition of work we’ve been doing through the year. I’m wondering how many tablemats will have spillages on them after the Christmas holidays? Perhaps we should keep them till next Christmas?

Here are the individuals…

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The colours don’t look quite right on here. In reality there is more contrast, but this was the best I could do in the available light.

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Shall I keep or give away? Choices, choices….

Hamley’s Toy Shop – a child’s delight!

Dylan in Hamley's Toy Shop - 02-11-2013

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

My grandson, Dylan, has been to the famous toyshop in London, called Hamley’s, to make his Christmas choices. At three year’s old, there is no end to his list of wants, but who would spoil the magic? Not me, for sure…

Here at the cottage, the shopping is almost done. I still have the food to buy. I don’t have enough room to store very much and soon every corner will be filled.

The decorations will go up at the weekend. I must check that the lights for the tree still work!

The cake is made and sits in a tin awaiting the marzipan and the icing decorations.


How are you getting on with your preparations?


So much to be thankful for!

photo (5)This picture is the very first one taken where I am with both my grandsons and their daddies. Needless to say I am very proud of it. Dylan, on the left, wasn’t feeling well that day so he looks miserable and Sam was tired because it was near his bedtime; so neither of them were very happy, but I was because it marks a moment in history for me. I am a very lucky Oma indeed. Shown are two of my three sons. The eldest one was not present and doesn’t have any children but I felt he was worthy of a mention!

‘Deep streams usually run smoothly and quietly. They have the same rocks and obstacles to overcome as their noisy, shallow counterparts, but they are so full that they can rise above those difficulties so a casual observer would never know they were there.

Whether our lives are turbulent and noisy, or smooth and graceful doesn’t depend on how many or how few problems they contain. It depends on how full they are.’

From The Friendship Book – 2013

Family life does not always run smoothly. I have experience of that like everybody else, but it is how we handle these turbulent times that matters isn’t it.

I have much to be thankful for. I really do. At this time of year as we pass through Thanksgiving and look forward to Christmas, I am more aware of it than usual.

I wish you all, my blogging pals, a peaceful week as you prepare for your Christmas festivities.

With love from the cottage and Oma x