Festive Tidings

Festive Tidings

The last fortnight has passed in a blur of good times with good people, and I can hardly believe that we’re already packing away the Christmas decorations for another year and preparing to return to work tomorrow.

Christmas morning began with a visit to the in-law’s home, chatting and exchanging gifts while nibbling mince pies and Christmas cake. Like us, they’ve have a tough year, losing two relatives and then their cat just shy of her 22nd birthday, but we’re all relieved to put 2019 behind us and hoping 2020 will be better.

Christmas morning tea

Our Christmas lunch was quieter than usual, as it was just me, my husband and parents. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve spent Christmas without my nanna, but she wasn’t well enough to join us, so after lunch the four of us visited her at the care home to spend some time with her and help her to open presents.

Afterwards, we had a supper of cheese and biscuits, and settled down to play a board game with my parents. Our Christmas bore little resemblance to the rambunctious gatherings that are so ubiquitous on TV at this time of year, but it was calm, cosy and intimate.

Over the festive break we also managed to squeeze in catch-ups with extended family, friends from Dublin and London, and a trip to the cinema to watch the new Star Wars film.

Cosy evenings

This week we’ve had a few days to ourselves at home and we’ve enjoyed watching the BBC adaptation of His Dark Materials, tackling a 1000 piece jigsaw together, toasting marshmallows, reading and working our way through leftover Christmas cake, chocolates, cheese and crackers.

It’s been a busy break filled with family and friends, but now looking forward to the peaceful midwinter days of January and all the promise of a new year ahead of us. Have a lovely week. X

2009 – 2019 Reflections

2009-2019 Mara

We’ve reached the end of another year and a whole decade to boot, and I’ve been reflecting on how much my life has changed in that time:

  • Ten years ago, I moved to Glasgow;
  • Eight years ago, I passed my driving test and returned to university to study a post-graduate qualification that led to my current career;
  • Six years ago, my then boyfriend and I moved in together, and got engaged shortly after;
  • Four years ago, we were married and adopted our cat, Mara;
  • Three years ago, we bought our house, and I started this blog.
  • In the last ten years, I’ve traveled to Budapest, Berlin, Barcelona, Rome, Dublin, Iceland (twice!), Japan, New York and Oslo as well as various places around Great Britain.
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Fulfilling childhood dreams of travelling to Japan and New York

It helps to have a bit of perspective because 2019 has been one of the most challenging years I’ve faced in a long time. We’ve mourned the passing of two of my husband’s relatives, and helped my nanna move into a care home. A member of my family was admitted to hospital three times and spent six months as an in-patient, and there’s a question mark over my own health after I temporarily lost vision in my left eye.

2019 highlights

It hasn’t all been bad news though, we’ve enjoyed the RSNO performing the music of Harry Potter, supported our local team at a rugby match, visited the Giant Lanterns of China at Edinburgh Zoo and the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry to list just a few of the most memorable moments. We’ve both changed jobs, with my husband returning to the NHS after a stint in the private sector and self-employment, and I returned to the front lines of social services after a secondment in a finance driven role. The biggest change is still on the horizon, and all being well, we’ll meet our baby in just a few weeks.

I don’t have any grand plans or ambitions for the next decade and I can’t imagine what 2020 will hold, yet I hope I’ll continue to love, learn, travel and practice gratitude whatever happens. Wishing everyone a very happy New Year. X

Festive Tidings and New Year Hopes

Somehow Christmas Day always ends up being busier than we expect as we try to juggle seeing both sides of the family with preparing Christmas dinner, and picking up my grandmother in the morning and returning her home in the evening.

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Christmas morning began with a quick tour of my brother-in-law’s new home before visiting the rest of the in-laws to exchange gifts, catch up over giant mugs of coffee and fuss over their twenty-year-old cat.

As my mum has multiple sclerosis, which affects her dexterity and balance, dad has taken over preparing and cooking our family’s Christmas dinner, though the rest of us all lend a hand. The hard work in the kitchen is always worth the effort though to gather around a dining table groaning under a mountain of food with my husband, parents and grandmother to enjoy a three course Christmas feast, pull crackers and exchange gifts. The older I get the harder it is to reply when anyone asks me what I’d like for Christmas (or birthdays) as most of the things I value most cannot be bought and it is time with my loved ones that I appreciate most.

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The Kelpies on New Year’s Day

I was recovering from a cold on New Year’s Eve and my husband has never liked crowds so we stayed at home playing a board-game called Carcassonne that my father-in-law gave us for Christmas, eating a cheeseboard and sipping Champagne with Jools Holland’s Hootenanny in the background and our cat Mara snoozing in front of the fire. There was a frenzy of phone and video calls with parents, in-laws and our closest friends at midnight that took up almost the whole first hour of 2018. It was exactly the simple end to a stormy year, and joyful beginning to a new one that we both wanted.

On New Year’s Day after a lazy morning, we met up with a couple of friends in Falkirk for the Fire and Light Walk. The short trail took us past illuminated trees, paper lanterns and a choreographed fire dance in front of the Kelpies. Before leaving we scribbled wishes on strands of ribbon and tied them to a wicker clootie tree. Wrapped up in winter coats with cold hands curled around cups of hot chocolate, it was a lovely way to spend the evening.

2017 was a difficult year for us, and no doubt 2018 will bring new challenges, yet I can’t help but feel hopeful about the possibilities of a fresh start, and we have already begun setting our fitness goals and reading challenges, thinking about holidays and making plans for the year ahead.

Wishing everyone a very happy new year! X

Peaceful Midwinter Days

December passed in a merry blur as my husband and I squeezed too many catch ups with family and friends from near and far away into too few days around Christmas, along with trips to Christmas markets and the cinema to see A Street Cat Named Bob, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

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Christmas with Mara

On Christmas Eve we drove to the little town where my parents live, singing along to Christmas songs on the radio, with our cat Mara curled up at my feet in the passenger footwell. There was no lie in for us on Christmas day as Mara woke us up bright and early demanding her breakfast; she’s a creature of routine and her body clock is unerring where feeding times are concerned.

Fortunately my family and in-laws only live a short car journey apart so we’re able to spend time with both sides on Christmas Day. We visited my husband’s family in the morning to exchange gifts and catch up over mugs of coffee, before returning to my family and Mara.

Christmas dinner has become a team effort in my family as we all do something to lighten the load of whoever is hosting it, whether it’s setting the table, preparing the starter or washing the dishes afterwards. As we gathered around the dining table, my grandmother insisted everyone wear the paper crowns from their crackers as we tucked into a three course Christmas dinner, while Mara circled like a shark under the table searching for scraps. Boxing Day was also spent surrounded by family, chatting and picking at leftovers.

It is always the cosy togetherness with family and friends that I look forward to and appreciate most during the festive season.

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The Kelpies by night

My husband and I started 2017 with a trip to Falkirk with a couple of good friends for a refreshing New Year’s Day walk around the Kelpies. It was a cold, clear evening, and I loved breathing in all the hope a new year promises in the chill air.

Back in our own home now, January tends to be a peaceful month, providing a much-appreciated lull after the busyness that precedes it. Life seems to slow down at this time of year as the world outside hibernates.

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Cosy mornings with Mara

On the coldest, winter mornings, Mara crawls under the duvet and flops down on her side between us, purring like an engine and revelling in being warm and close to us. While the short days and long evenings provide the perfect excuse to stay cosy at home together, playing with Mara or letting her snooze across our laps while we read, write thank you cards and finish off the last of the cheese selection.

Taking down the Christmas decorations seemed more poignant than usual as we are moving soon, yet with change and upheaval on the horizon, I’m grateful for these peaceful midwinter days. Wishing everyone a happy New Year!