Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I was really surprised to read in the Daily Telegraph that only 4 in 10 of us make New Year's Resolutions. I can't imagine a year without a resolution or target, but then I like that kind of little ritual.

It is always so tempting though, to take on far too much. In the run up to the stroke of midnight, it can be tempting to decide to change the world, or at least our own little corner of it. But I think it is wise not to take on too much, so you can really enjoy your resolutions or targets.

So this year, I am going to revive something I did a year or so ago, which was to keep a list of all the books that I read over the year, making particular note of those that I borrow from the library, and a running total of how much those books would have cost were I to have bought them.

I may make others, for the evening is as of yet still young. Perhaps another should be to continue to blog often, as I have really enjoyed blogging more this year. Whatever you are resolving, good luck!


Happy New Year

I love New Year's Eve, and even more, New Year's Day. I suspect it appeals to the same thing inside me that loves a new notebook or pen, the feeling of a fresh start, and so much potential. So many plans as yet unmade, so many days unlived, full of joy to come.

Later this evening we are off to spend the evening in the company of some dear friends. I know I have blogged before about our New Year's Eve dinner, but for anyone who is new since last year, we arrive for 9:00pm and sit down to dinner, and most of us bring a dish or two in contribution, although to be honest, our hosts cater so deliciously and comprehensively, they contributions are brought in the spirit of the evening rather than of necessity!

As it gets towards midnight, we each play our song of the year. This year, my song is going to be 'Good Girl' from the film Burlesque, as it is the first song we learned a routine to in my dance class, and the opening bars make me think of froth, frills, feathers, sparkles and happiness!

Then we each go round the table and talk about the one thing we have learnt this year, and it can be as serious or light hearted as you choose. I am torn this year, whether to speak from the heart about how I have learnt how much I need my friends and family, or whether to go for something a little more in keeping with the festivities.

We compose our predictions for the coming year, and seal them in an envelope that we all sign. Then we open last years, and see how many come true. Finally, at midnight, we all drink a glass of champagne and sing Auld Lang Syne.

The morning brings our traditional walk to town to fill our lungs with the New Years air, and to bring home the morning papers. By the afternoon, we will be with other friends, sharing lunch.

Sharing with friends and family, that is what New Year is all about for me. I consider myself very fortunate indeed to have this place full of friends, too. So I want to share with you all my sincerest wishes that you may have a very happy new year.

Thank you for being here for me,


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A Call From The Bank

We collected our tickets for the new Sherlock Holmes film this morning, and queued up to buy a coffee to take in with us. When I put my pincode into the machine, it came up declined. We tried again, and it was declined again. I was really stressed as I really didnt want to sit through a film wondering why my card wouldn't work. It was only thirty seconds or so, but so many thoughts went through my mind, none of which were good.

That moment, my phone rang, and it was an automatic call from my bank to say that they were putting me through to the fraud department. I sent Carl into the film while I talked to the bank, and was nearly in tears as they told me that there were around £2000 of suspicious transactions on my account. They could easily see what they were - they were all in different geographical locations to me, all in shops I don't usually use, and all transactions had been completed by swiping and signing rather than chipping and pinning.

The good news is that the bank will refund me the money, the bad news is that I have had to cancel the card and am without it until they can send me a new one. Happily our joint account is ok and so is Carl's, but it is still an inconvenience. What the bank can't do is sort out how violated it has made me feel. They said that there were some purchases that they tried to make that had been declined, and some that were still going to come out of my account before they would be refunded. I realised that even as I had stood there confused asking the Costa Coffee lady why my card had been refused, so probably had the person who had cloned my card. And worse, one of the people to whom I had handed my card to pay for something had purposefully stolen my details.

I really don't understand how someone could get their hair cut and pay for it with a stolen card. Surely every time someone complemented you on your hair, you would just feel guilty for knowing it was paid for with stolen money?

But as my Mum said to me, those are just a different kind of person who would not think twice about it. Sad but true. Just be so glad that we are not that kind of person.

I would say keep your card safe, check the atm for suspicious devices, be careful when you shop online....but I do that all the time, and they still got me. So just keep an eye on your bank balance, and try not to feel too awful if it happens to you.

Despite this sounding like a bit of a gloomy post, I am trying to look on the bright least the bank noticed and contacted me. At least I will get my money back. At least I have an overdraft limit. And after I mentioned what happened on my facebook page, a lot of my friends sent really lovely supportive messages.

I am sitting drinking tea now, thinking about the Christmas we have enjoyed, the Christmas to come, and the New Year. I hope you are all safe and well, and looking forward to the same!


By The Light of the Christmas Tree

I always wake up on Boxing day snug and warm at my in-laws. When I wake up, I sleepily register that I am not at home, and then usually smell fresh coffee creeping in under the door. As I sit up, I always feel a tiny bit sad that we are at the farthest point we can ever be from Christmas, while at the same time really happy that Christmas has been so lovely, and there is still Boxing Day to come.

This year, Christmas has been wonderful. By rights, with me still only working part time, and really only just getting over the redundancy, and Carl having had 2 months out of work (but happily and thankfully in work again now) it shouldn't have been such a worry free and happy Christmas, yet it really, really was. We woke up at home together on Christmas morning, and I made us tea in our Father Christmas mugs, and we opened our stockings. I had some wonderful treasures in mine, including a kitten calendar, as I had really wanted a kitten for Christmas, but being in a flat it isn't really possible or fair on a kitten, and also a little glass vial of pink sparkly fairy dust! Then we opened our gifts from each other, and then our family and friends. To say that I have been spoiled is an understatement, but more than the gifts themselves was the overwhelming thought and love that had been put into everything.

I had a graphic novel version of Pride and Prejudice which I love, and a notebook with a handmade decoupage fabric cover, a pestle and mortar, an afternoon tea book, oh, so very many things. Oh, and there was also a photograph in a frame of Carl and I taken at an event in the summer with friends. I could go on and on, but the point is really not the things, but that so many people took the time to think of me. And really think, not just buy the nearest gift set in Boots. (I don't mean to sound dismissive of Boot's gift sets, or that I would look down on a gift...but more to try and explain how special it feels when someone has put thought and effort in!)

Dear Carl made me cry a bit with his gift...I had seen a Tiffany necklace when I was in London, and didnt ask for it or in a hundred years dream of actually having it....but he bought it for me without me knowing! It is a silver key on a silver chain, and the chain is so light and delicate it is like a fairy whisper. When I opened the paper I thought I saw Tiffany Blue, but didnt want to say anything because I thought it just looked like Tiffany Blue, and thought it would be awful to be all excited and then find out it wasnt! I feel so very, very lucky.

Better than the gifts though, was the time spent with family, and the messages from friends. We had dinner with my family in the afternoon (which was utterly delicious and featured my Mums amazing sage and onion stuffing and bread sauce, which are legendary, and made only once a year) and then the late afternoon and evening with his family, where we stayed up late into the night playing card and board games. Yesterday we spent with my sister and her husband, enjoying a walk in Castle Park, a wonderful buffet, and more games.

It really is that time with family, the silly crackers (we had musical ones, where each person won a whistle, and there was a sheet of music and a baton to conduct with!) that make this time of year so magical.

I have just booked us tickets to go and see the new Sherlock Holmes film, and then we intend to spend a quiet afternoon together, just enjoying the Christmas tree lights and each other's company, before it is back to work tomorrow.

I hope that each and every one of you had a merry, merry Christmas!


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry and Bright

Our sitting room is lit only by the lights from our Christmas tree, my lamp, and our advent candle. I have one of the Kirstie Allsopp Christmas specials on tv, and am listening to this most beautiful piece of music: (copy and paste into your browser).

The presents are all wrapped, the cards are up, everything is ready, calm, merry and bright.

My tummy feels slightly butterflyish though. I can't decide if it is low level nerves about having forgotten something, just plain Christmas excitement, or tiredness. I am trying to quell them with a cup of tea, and spent some quiet puttering time rearranging my tea-cup cupboard earlier. Later on I am going to have a warm bath with a Daisy Dalrymple mystery.

The only minor Christmas catastrophe to have befallen us has been that we are quite unable to find our stockings! I think they may have gone to live in our in-laws loft when we moved, but wherever they may be, they are nowhere we can find! We did try a last minute dash into town, and although I came home with the new issue of The Chap magazine, and a box of dates, there was not a stocking to be had! Not to worry though, we shall hang up a pillowcase instead, and all will be well!

Yesterday was Carl's 30th birthday and we spent a wonderful day in London. I think it needs its own post to be honest, but highlights included cocktails looking out over London from 600ft up, ice skating at the Tower of London and a trip on the Thames. Busy and lovely, but tiring!

The advent candle flame is now ever so tall and thin and steady, giving off just a tiny bit of smoke and it is dark outside. The day feels soft and gentle somehow, like tissue paper that has been wrapped round a favourite bauble a hundred times, and is soft like fabric to the touch after years of folding and unfolding.

May you all wake up tomorrow with people you love and have a wonderful day.

Merry, Merry Christmas


Friday, 16 December 2011

Technical Hitches

Hello and happy December everyone!

Sorry I have been away for so begin with I was just busy, but since then I have been having more than a few technical problems. Since publishing my email address on my blog I seem to have picked up some kind of virus. Every time I logged into my emails, I would find emails sent to myself and friends, supposedly from my email address with all sorts of nonsense in them, or failed delivery reports for emails I have not sent. Then my account has been blocked entirely, and I have had to go through a lengthy process to get it back again. On top of that, emails I have sent have not arrived, and I have not received emails I know I have been sent. So it looks very much like I am going to have to close my email account altogether, which is a real shame. Partly because it was lovely to have a way to contact my lovely readers beyond the comments function, but also because it was my first email address in my married name...the '07' part was for the fact I got married in 2007 and the rest was my married name.

I have been also having problems with blogger, I suspect because it is linked to that email address. So overall, things have, alas, been somewhat fraught here for me. I have had an awful lot of spam comments to trawl through and delete too. They nearly always seem to be in response to my post on marzipan acorns, which is odd. Ho hum.

So I am left with a parcel for the lovely Moey, which I cannot post because I cannot get into the email with her address...any ideas Moey? Perhaps you could leave it for me in a comment, which I will not publish! And I know that there are others of you who have emailed me, but alas, I am quite unable to read or respond.

I feel like I have a little dark cloud over my head, as far as technology goes.

But it is not all doom and gloom, and I hope to be back posting regularly soon, with some tales of my December adventures.

Love to you all,

Mimi xxx