Tag Archive | Christmas

My English cottage garden – December 2014


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Hello everybody, I hope you enjoyed your Christmas. New Year still to come!

I am loving my Christmas present – a new shed! I’m so delighted with it, I could almost eat it, if you see what I mean.  It has been invaluable for putting the excess Christmas food in during the last week or so and the extra milk which I ordered over the Christmas period. The shed was put up a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t supposed to go inside it. I cheated! Still never mind, it didn’t spoil anything and now, every morning, I go up the path and peek inside to check on my geraniums, which are over-wintering in there. The baby ones, you’ve seen before, I keep indoors on the window sill but I don’t have enough window sills for all the others. At the last count there were over twenty of them!

The shed is going to look grand when the lilac bush comes into flower in the Spring and I will be popping back to show you when the buds are evident.

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This is the view from the inside, from the door. Geraniums on the right and at the back?

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Here’s a closer look:

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Four chicken nest boxes! Yes, I’m going to get some more chickens in the Spring. I kept chickens before, for ten years from 1990 to 2000 when their housey fell to bits! Now it’s time to have another go, I feel. I miss my hens a lot and can’t wait to get some more.

Here are some more pics around the garden this week:

View from the inside of the shed looking out, south:

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The woodpile:

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Pots of herbs by the back door. In the large pot are bluebells. I had to move them to make room for the new shed.

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I think you can tell how excited I am, can’t you?

Have a lovely Sunday.

Oma

Merry Christmas everyone.


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My turkey is defrosting in the shed; my mince pies are ready and waiting to be eaten and some of the other jobs have been done. Others are still waiting (mops brow). So it just remains for me to wish all my followers a very Happy Christmas. I appreciate your visits day by day throughout the past year. It means a lot to me to see your comments and I hope you will continue to dip into my life, here in England, during 2015.

Tale care!

Oma x

The Post Office is bulging!


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Well, we braved it and went into town today. It was frosty when we got up, but the frost soon cleared and the sun came out.  That always makes you want to move yourself, doesn’t it. I had two more parcels to deliver, but one can’t go yet because I’m not sure where to send it, but the other one was ready and anxious to be off.

The bus was full but not as full as last week but when we got to the Post Office in town, it was pumping. I took a ticket and discovered there were 55 people before me. I’ve never found it that busy before. To start with there wasn’t a seat wherein to wait but soon the queue started getting smaller and I found a seat, which was a relief.  There was also a queue for the self-service where people can send their post using a machine like in the supermarket.  I looked at the clock, 10.25 a.m. I wondered how long it would take for me to get seen to?  There is a machine with an automated voice in there so your number is called out when it’s your turn. It usually works extremely well. All the stations were manned. Then three tellers went off on their coffee break and the queue slowed right down.  One man had a duffle bag with about a 100 parcels in it. OMG I thought, that will take ages. I timed him. It took 15 minutes but stuffed up the queue for the rest of us. All in all it took half an hour before I was seen, but considering the circumstances, I thought that was good and at least I was sitting down.

From there we went to the wool shop. I wanted a pattern for Aran wool because that is how my spinning comes out when I spin with merino. I couldn’t quite reach the pattern book because someone was standing in the way. The next thing I knew, the pattern book was on the floor and all the patterns had fallen out of it. Blow! now I had to put them all back in again. Meanwhile, Larry was choosing his yarn and getting on very well. I eventually put the patterns back in and chose one I liked. I’ll show it to you soon. We went to the till to pay, only to be told that the card machine wasn’t working. A new one was promised some time today but they didn’t know when so could we please pay in cash? We didn’t have enough cash so we had to go downstairs in the Mall and find a cash machine. That done, we returned to the shop to pay for the goods.  It was definitely going to be one of those days!

Book Review: Snowfall in Burracombe by Lilian Harry


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This is a delightful book and just right for this time of the year. As you know, I love all things ‘village’ so this book was perfect for me.

‘In the village of Burracombe, nothing stays secret for long and behind the peaceful, rural charm, there’s always a scandal to uncover, a newcomer to the village to set tongues wagging, a happy occasion to celebrate or friends to help their neighbours through the tough times.

It’s December 1953. As the village prepares for the festivities, for many people a happy Christmas is by no means certain. For Stella Simmons, recovering from a car crash, the winter wedding that she and her sweetheart had planned seems impossible.

Elsewhere in the village, Jackie Tozer is dreaming of America and Hilary Napier, who thought the war had robbed her of her chance of happiness, has to ask herself if she could ever imagine leaving her life at the big house for the sake of love and adventure.  The darkest time of the year finds everyone asking questions with no easy answer.

As snow falls softly on the village, and everyone wishes for peace and joy, Burracombe proves once again that there’s a always a surprise around the corner.’

so say the jacket cover! Lilian Harry has written numerous books, but this is the first one of hers that I have read! I enjoyed it very much and would recommend it to you. I counted 60 characters in all. Far too many for me to remember so after reading the first chapter, I started making a list.  I wrote down the character’s name, who they were and who they were married to or in a relationship with. Perhaps if I had read other books in the series, I would know by now, who is who, but I didn’t. I found this book in a charity shop and pounced on it! Do you make lists of characters when you are reading?

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I have just completed two more doggie blankets for the Battersea Dogs and Cats home. I hope I can get them off in the post in time. I expect they won’t mind if they’re late arriving. There is a blue one and a purple one. I’m using up my stash nicely!

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Have you noticed how busy the delivery men are? It must be a very stressful time of the year for them. I hope they all get a bonus like the bankers!!! This year, here in England, we adopted the Black Friday nonsense. I say nonsense, not because it is a waste of time. If you can buy a TV at a very reduced price, then good for you, but I don’t like what I see on the television with regard to the behaviour of many of the shoppers. Frankly, it was disgusting. I would much rather we adopted the Thanksgiving Day that you have over in America. Following on from Black Friday is Cyber Monday and yes, we have that too now. Those two days of sales have caused havoc with UPS etc.

Tomorrow is the 12th so I’ll be posting my Christmas cards and putting up the Christmas Tree. I’m looking forward to doing that.

What will you be doing tomorrow?

Baby Sam’s First Christmas and a new project for me.


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This is my second grandson, Sam. He is sitting on his mum’s lap, opening his Christmas presents. He is a little confused about it all because it is his very first Christmas and he’s not sure what it’s all about. The quilt over his knees was his main present from me. You can see more about it here… I think he likes it. It has a jungle theme so I bought him  a tiger to go with it and a storybook called ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. Don’t you just wish you were that age again?

So now that I’ve finished that quilt, what am I working on next? Well, here it is, a quilt for Larry (my husband). When I was in America, I loved going to Joanne’s Fabric Emporium. They have every sort of craft going on in there and they are very big on quilting. I was inspired every time I stepped through the doors. Now that I’m back in England, I feel deprived because the nearest shop I have to that is quite a way away and my local shop is tiny. I buy a lot of materials online, but I did bring some American themed material back with me so the quilt for Larry has an American theme (in case he gets homesick) and I’m making it in a homespun sort of design. I fell in love with the homespun style while I was there and for those of you reading this who are English and unaware of the style, take a look here:

I love the spooky nature of the Primitive Style. It appeals to that side of me as I love all things natural and home-made.

Here’s a preview of Larry’s quilt, which I still have to sew up. The layers are in place like  a sandwich and I’m pinning them together so they don’t shift about when I sew.DSCF1749 DSCF1750

Sam Xmas 2013

and one more picture of Baby Sam’s first Christmas:

Oma 🙂

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?

Oma

The reluctant elf.


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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.


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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.

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

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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.

Oma

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!


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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.

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How are you getting on with your preparations?

Oma