Friday, 30 December 2016

2016: The Last Word

Christmas isn’t a time of year I look forwards to; it’s too commercial, too full of expectations and false promises and the daylight hours are too short. However, I appreciate I’m very fortunate to have friends and family and I value the time the season offers to be with them. At the River Cottage Canteen in Bristol, just before Christmas, we celebrated Tom’s birthday with three of our four children, their other halves and Bee. A truly happy occasion was made even happier by the news that we’re anticipating not one but two new arrivals in 2017. It looks as if we’ll need a bigger table for my birthday next November!

Without my dad and Tom’s mum it felt important to make memories with our remaining parents so we drove to the south east to collect Ma and Tom’s dad, Ken, so that they could spend the Christmas week with us. We’re very happy that they’ve both been out on the boat this year, but we’ve added fish and chips at Tenby, beach walks at Aberaeron and Poppit and surprise Christmas stockings to the store of thing to look back on. The nine hour traffic jam to take them back home again is probably best forgotten!

For all that I know that every year brings its share of ups and downs, I love New Year. I have a brand new diary for work on my desk and my pocket diary (yes, I’m old-fashioned like that) is already filling up with dates. 2017 lies ahead like a stretch of newly-washed beach still damp from the receding tide - what impressions will we make on it, I wonder?

Friday, 2 December 2016

Autumn Statement

Well, I knew I was in for some hard work and so it’s proved - and there’s more to do - but we’ve managed to find time for leisure and family too, so here’s a quick update of what we’ve been doing:

We went out for a late October sail and had visit from a seal who tapped the bottom of our boarding ladder hoping to be rewarded for a treat. There wasn’t much on offer but our visitor seemed happy to stay and chat for several minutes.

We had a sad but healing trip to Devon to scatter the final remains of my mother-in-law’s ashes in the village where she was evacuated to and spent so many happy years. On the way back we stopped in Cardiff to introduce my father-in-law to the delights of Welsh rugby… he says he enjoyed it, but he doesn’t look totally convinced in these pictures.

I also roped FiL into making marmalade with me. There are no Seville oranges but this batch should see us through until then. My poor elder daughter, a busy working mum, has had one illness after another, ‘I’ve got the immune system of a stray kitten,’ she observed - but at least it means I’ve spent lots of time amusing Smallest Person (and she me, of course!).

I had a lovely time with two of my fellow Choc Lit authors, Christina Courtenay and Evonne Wareham chatting to an audience at the newly opened Ystrad Mynach library. You can read writer and blogger Kathryn Eastman’s account of it here. I’ve also seen some of the hard work bear fruit; I received the paperback copies of Only True in Fairy Tales and a copy of the latest edition (January) of The English Home in which I have two feature articles. I’ve celebrated a birthday and received some lovely cards and gifts, including flowers from my younger stepson and his very thoughtful girlfriend. And that huge cup of coffee and a cake? Tom had a study day at the OU in Milton Keynes so that was a treat to myself before I headed to the OU library to work. So now it’s head down again to make a last push to finish my latest novella.