Tuesday, 29 December 2015

And that was Christmas.....

It's been unseasonably mild, and this front window has been open on more than one occasion!  The African violets which live there seem to thrive on the northern light, and don't mind the odd blast of fresh air. The cactus arrangement was a cheery Christmas present, if a slightly unusual one - but I hadn't already got any prickly cacti in my collection of plants, so it is a welcome addition.

This big [for us - there are bigger ones out there, I know] Christmas tree was pictured with a pair of shoes, as that reminds me that the EFG is home!  There are always random pairs of shoes lying around when she is here, and so I included them in the shot because I am glad that she's here!

The Sainsbury's bright orange bag holds the violinist's gifts from us as she has gone home to Austria for Neujahrekonzerte here and there. She is playing with a trio and a quartet, and a chamber orchestra, I believe - she's a busy girl.  I doubt she is getting as much sleep as the rest of us have been enjoying this past week - long lie-ins have been the order of the day here, but we must start getting back to normal hours or next week's return to work and school is going to come hard!

Today the EFG has headed off on the train to do a volunteering session at the Food bank, and the YFG is coming to hold my hand at the dentist this afternoon.  The Danish lass is off out for a walk in the sunshine with her camera later to make the most of the good weather we are getting today.

Christmas has been quiet, but enjoyable.  We had relatives here on Boxing Day as usual, and spent much of Christmas Day evening watching the specials on the tv - Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey in particular went down very well, although I wasn't so keen on Doctor Who.... We have Sherlock to look forward to at New Year, which has been eagerly awaited by all the family.

I hope you have all had a good holiday, and enjoy a peaceful New Year!  See you again soon xx

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Hanging in here still

Yep, we are still here!  The night before Christmas Eve was probably not the best time to break a tooth and lose the filling from the same tooth.....I shall have to be very careful if I can't get an appointment at the dentist tomorrow!

Busy times at the moment - hope you are all OK and nearly ready for Friday!  Back soon xx

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Pause for thought

(image from angalmond.blogspot.co.uk)

Having volunteered to take part in this year's Pause, I have been pretty useless in my posting this time.  Sorry!

Since it is the last Sunday in Advent today, I have had plans all week to think of something to post today, and nothing sprang to mind at all.  Until three things came together yesterday.

I came home from a lovely Messy Crib service to find an email from Facebook to say that I had been removed as an administrator from the page I created on there.  That felt like rudeness, if I am honest - I set the page up a few years ago and it has been instrumental in bringing more people to the real life group that it represents. But another admin can alter the settings, and I am no longer required.  Would have been polite if I had been otherwise notified.

A neighbour who is a teacher turned up at the door a few minutes later with a bunch of flowers.  She had been given them by a parent at the school on Friday and is going away for the Christmas break to visit relatives, and thought that perhaps we could enjoy the flowers.  That was really kind of her, and we have put them in a vase in the sitting room - they are lovely flowers!

And then there is the "followers" on here - up and down like a yoyo!  There's 128 for ages, then one leaves, another comes and two more leave......

And my point is?  Well, it came to me last night that it is such a good thing that I do not measure my value, my self-esteem, in the way that others treat me.  If my self-worth reflected the way the world reacts to me, it would be a difficult life.  Thanks to my secure faith in Jesus Christ, I know that I am loved, saved and forgiven in His Mighty Name, and so I rest in Him.  And He is all that matters in the end.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Mystery parcels

When I came home from work this lunchtime, a courier delivery van was in the street ahead of me, and then it reversed onto my driveway...couldn't think of anything I had ordered so really expected the Danish girl's name to be on the parcel as her relatives have been sending her lots of parcels!

But no!  Had my name on it....the mystery deepened.  It was an interesting parcel with a label that didn't give anything away, so I rushed around and popped the frozen fish away before I grabbed a pair of scissors and attacked the straps around the parcel.

It was a sweet little hamper for Christmas from EF, the organisation through which I am hosting the girls.  Two mini bottles of wine, some Father Christmas chocs to hang on the tree, some Walkers shortbread, a mini Christmas pud, some tiny jars of jam.....but the best bit was a Christmas tree bauble in white ceramic. It has been individually made to reflect our family and students for it has their national flags on it side by side under the Union Jack. What a thoughtful memento of our year together.

And that was the mystery solved.

There will be a couple of other parcels turning up in the next few days as I struggle to complete the shopping for the girls!  I made fudge this afternoon and this evening we have sat and made 28 little trays from card, lined them with tissue paper, popped 4 pieces of fudge in each, clingwrapped them and added a bow of ribbon. Hey presto - a present for each teacher and teaching assistant in the school, to be delivered in the morning.  I have shared the fudge recipe before and it still works!

Monday, 14 December 2015

The shame!

Having studied it for A levels all those years ago, and written some rather good essays on it [well, they got As!], the shame of hearing the YFG say at dinner tonight, "King Lear? Who wrote that?" The EF girls and I fell about laughing and then the darling girl recovered herself and enquired, "What? Was it, like, Shakespeare then?" It is an A level text once more this year, and I have lent my battered and annotated copy to the Danish girl, who is also going to read my essays for some light relief, so that she is ready to attack it with gusto in January. Her being Danish and all, it is a shame it is not Hamlet, but you can't have everything!

Being spiritually prepared for Christmas is quite different from being practically ready......I've been to carol services, advent bible studies, songs of praise for Christmas, band concerts, etc, but I still haven't got all the gifts sorted out, and the days are indeed hastening on.  In a good way, I am excited because that means the EFG will soon be home - the exams are over as of this afternoon!  On the other hand, there is no sign of the washing machine being repaired before the 23rd, so I am going to beg the use of a neighbour's up the road to do a dark load tomorrow.

One success to report - we were able to buy the Ravensburger Christmas puzzle [limited edition for 2015] in Tesco at the weekend. I haven't ever seen it in there before, and I was pleased to be able to pick it up alongside the few bits of shopping we had popped in to get. Compared to Amazon, it was only £9.50 to their £12.99 so a few pennies left in my purse from that.

The best thing, from a very practical point of view, is that if I don't get Christmas all ready on time this year, I can always try again next year!

[And one last question - did one of my lovely readers send me a piece called The Angels' Rest Room? I've used it twice this year already and it is getting rave reviews - people love it!  But I can't remember where it came from - I'm sorry - so if it was you, please would you comment and let me know?]

Friday, 11 December 2015

Hanging in here

Quick post to say Hello - we are still here but getting a bit overwhelmed with all the Christmassy things which are popping up in the circuit as well as some sadness: one of my churches has four funerals planned within a three week period, and my work involves supporting the ministers and churches in these too.

We've also got Christmas music events for the violinist, which is involving some taxi-driving duties for me, and then there was a hospital appointment for the YFG yesterday with the ongoing problem she has with her wrist - we're now waiting for an ultrasound appointment to make a decision about an operation next year...

I made time for a quick hair cut yesterday and regretted it when I got home - I need to find another hairdresser in 2016.  I now have to look as I do for about three weeks until it grows again, and I am not that happy with it.

All the television news about the flooding in Cumbria puts our wee problems in the shade, and it is heartwarming to see the way that the communities there have pulled together and helped one another. A miracle cow that floated 18 miles downriver, shops cleaned and opened up again in just a few days, the community fund which has raised over a million pounds since last weekend, radio broadcasters doing extended programming in order to keep folk company in the dark night hours.

I have also made my annual donation to the Salvation Army in memory of my mum.  I'm sure that the SA has also been busy in the Lakes helping folk and I continue to support their work when I can.

And I made a cake last night - first one in weeks!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


It seems weird to think that the building I spent a scant half hour in last night was designed by a King almost 600 years ago - he did a good job as it is an amazing place!  I was less pleased with the almost four hours it took us to get there and back in order to be there just after the rush hour - and to find the door locked against us when we arrived....

King's College Chapel, Cambridge
Image result for kings college chapel
(image from en.wikipedia.org)

Anyway, the YFG has now had the privilege of standing at the wonderful lectern in the choir area, and rehearsing her reading by candlelight, in her position as a reserve reader for the schools' carol service this morning.  She was a bit quiet and a bit quick in her reading, and the chaplain instructed her as to how he wanted it read. It is a difficult reading, from 1 John, full of "knoweth" and "loveth" and words which make one struggle to know where to place the emphasis.  The chap who should be doing the reading was there last night, and I have hopes that he has turned up this morning so that she doesn't actually have to do it, so that she might get an easier reading when she does actually stand up there and do it for real next year!

It is a fantastic place, very overwhelming in size and majestical architecture, as you might imagine. The details are astounding, and the sheer scale of the building and craftsmanship just defy description.  I'm just glad that I don't have to preach in anywhere quite on this scale!

The chaplain was doing some name dropping as he was talking last night, saying that his friend, an actress, had been in to do some coaching with the readers who are reading at the recorded BBC services.  Only Rosamund Pike.  The YFG was a bit disappointed that she wasn't there last night to offer a few pointers!

Thursday, 3 December 2015


Thankful that the appraisal meeting went well yesterday - I know that there were a few prayers helping me out and I am grateful.

Thankful for some good times with the EFG home this week - some laughs and a lot of love - so good to have her home for a sneaky week away from uni. She has been working hard on revision though. She's off back in the morning for the last two weeks of term - so looking forward to 20th December!

Thankful for some gorgeous blue skies yesterday.

Thankful for UJ and my neighbour J who helped me with the drains yesterday - you just don't need to know any more than that!

Thankful for a good evening with the FH's son and his partner on Monday - good to catch up on some of their news over dinner together and then they took the girls to the cinema to see "The Lady in the Van".  Interesting reviews when they got home.......

Thankful for the £10 off voucher in the paper at the weekend, from Lidl.  Consequently one "free" turkey crown purchased for Christmas dinner, and the pud also found its way into the trolley. Dinner almost sorted!

Thankful for your patience whilst I am having a busy few days.........

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

And we're off!

Today, the first of December, marks the beginning of the Advent rush towards Christmas. The purists know that Advent began on Sunday but for all the little children opening their chocolate calendars, today was the day they could finally begin.

I've been here less this week so far, and I should think that might continue for now - life in the real world is busy.  I've been preparing for the work appraisal tomorrow, and the EFG is HOME for the week [just till Friday] so I have been spending a lot of time chatting with her - till 12.45am on Sunday night/Monday morning - she is a night owl and we do spend more time chatting at night, whereas the EF girls are both asleep by 9.30pm most nights.....

We've had a wee beastie in the EFG's room that we had to catch - the mouse trap had its victim within the afternoon, which was a relief.  We have left the traps set for a couple more days in case he had any friends up there with him!  And I didn't have to ask anyone for any help setting the traps, thank goodness.

I hope you are all well, and I shall pop round the blogs when I have time this week - I haven't said much lately on some of them, but I am still reading!  I am so far behind with the festive season this year - no cake made, no pudding, and hardly any gifts organised - and please don't mention cards.....