Sunday, 30 December 2012

Thoughts On A New Year

I love this time on a Sunday afternoon, particularly in autumn or winter. It feels like a candle slowly burning down, giving the warmest and best light, and at the same time, you know it is going to flicker and smoulder soon. And so it is, not only is this that lovely dimly-lit time on a Sunday afternoon, the end of a weekend drawing closer, but it is the burnt-out candle-end of the year, as well.

Several friends have written lovely posts reviewing their year. This has been such a year, such a whirl, I can hardly get my head around it. I have been in the depths of gloom more than once, I have been sleepless with worry over my work, and now feel I have found my vocation in my new job. I have met some wonderful people. I have been to Paris, I have shared some amazing dinners and days with those who are special to me. I have performed burlesque on stage, turned 30, and worn red lipstick almost every day. It has been quite a year.

I can barely believe that tomorrow is the last day of 2012. I have lots to look forward to in the year ahead. I still have some uncertainty about work as I am on a temporary contract, but I feel that I am where I need to be at this time. I can't wait for burlesque classes to start again, and have also signed up to a ukulele workshop in January! At our annual New Year's Eve party, we go round the table and say one thing we have learnt this year. I had been planning to play the ukulele (which I had planned to learn in secret!) but that hasn't happened...but at least I can do it next year! And I have a card trick to demonstrate this year, which I learnt in a recent night out!

Next weekend I have a craft swap which I have organized with the lovely Carla from Ducking Fabulous, which will see 8 of the sweetest ladies I know gathering to exchange hand crafted goodies. Carl and I have decided we are definitely going back to Paris to explore further, and I also want to eat at Gordon Ramsay's again, see the view from the top of The Shard, go to a burlesque afternoon tea, and maybe, just maybe, this will be the year my novel finally gets written. More and more often, sentences are rising to the surface of my mind, like bubbles. I think it will start 'The moment the utterly improbable became the completely inevitable happened in a heartbeat.'

I am going to start reading the Persephone books in the order the were written. I am going to be following along Brocante Home's Year of Puttery Treats and also Simple Abundance. I am going to keep on wearing my red lipstick, and take up wearing seamed tights to go with it.

I love this feeling of a bright new year, glimmering ahead. A fresh start. Dreams to be made real. And I plan to blog about it all. I do hope you will join me, it just wouldn't be the same without you.

Happy New Year!

Love Mimi xxx

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Vintage Tea Cup Club

One of the lovely things about working in a library was how many books you could stumble across by accident. Customers handing them back in, unpacking new books, tidying a display. I was worried, that having left, I wouldn't be able to enjoy those serendipitous discoveries any more.

Luckily for me, I still have some very good friends who work at the library, and know my taste, so they put books aside for me, or order them in, if they think I might like them. So when I get a note or call to say there is a book in, I never know if it is going to be something I have been waiting for, or a surprise.

When I popped in on Thursday, it was a mixture of both! The one that caught my eye immediately though, was one of the surprise books - The Vintage Tea Cup Club. It had a review by Trisha Ashley on the front, who is without a doubt one of my favourite authors, so it boded well.

It has a beautiful cover, and I am pleased to say that the inside lived up to the outside! Sadly it is a first novel, so there are no more to devour (but I hope she will write more!) but happily it is the kind of book that leaves you wanting to devour more.

It belongs in the category I think of as a Grown-Up-Enid-Blyton: a light easy read that draws you in, and has a happy ending. The only tiny thing I could pick at here is that it isn't really a tea cup club, but if that is the least I can find wrong, that has to be good!

The story opens at a car boot sale, and Jenny spots a beautiful vintage tea cup, and quickly realises it is part of a small tea set. At the same time, two other ladies spot it. Maggie and Alison and Jenny decide to share it - it will be used first at Jenny's wedding, then Maggie will use it for a wedding she is the florist for, and then Alison will turn them into tea cup candles. As the story unfolds, their friendship develops and we get to know more about their lives. There are no surprise endings, but sometimes, that is exactly what you want. Something to unfold happily and leave you warm inside.

Incidentally, I have been toying with ideas about my hair colour recently. I am naturally brunette, with red highlights, but have been colouring it the red of my highlights all over for about a year. I have been wavering as whether to continue to be red, and channel Joan Harris from Mad Men, or go chocolatey brunette. One of the characters in the story has red hair, and I loved the descriptions of some of her outfits, so I am going to stay red for now, and keep an eye out for some clothes to recreate some of her looks from the story!

One of the ladies in by book club was kind enough to give us each a special notebook designed for you to keep a list of books you want to read, books you have read, and books you have lent out. I am looking forward to filling that in over the coming year. I have been taking photographs of book shelves in Smiths by the train station, so I can order them from the library, and have saved a literary supplement from a newspaper in the week which had several titles which caught my eye. A whole year of reading ahead, what bliss!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

All Was Calm, All Was Bright

Christmas this year has been like a delicious long sigh, breathing out all the tension and breathing in joy carried on a breath of the scent of tinsel, gingerbread and Christmas tree.

In those last few days before Christmas, it felt as though everything would never be done, as though time would be sure to run out before my to-do list was ticked off. But in the event, everything got finished, and everything was just as it should be.

Mum and Dad and my little brother (who at 26 and well over 6 feet tall isn't really a little brother any more!) came for afternoon tea on Christmas Eve, and we watched Miracle On 34th Street. The day had started well with a head massage at a local salon, which was utterly blissful. It ended beautifully, with my first midnight mass at the local cathedral.

I was surprised how dark the cathedral was from the outside, but when we walked in, it was lit with so many candles, and the air was wreathed in insense. The choir sang beautifully, and it was a really good way to start Christmas Day.

By the time I got home, I was so tired my eyes were heavy. I slipped into bed, grateful for the softness of the pillow and that it was time to sleep. We started Christmas Day with coffee and croissants eaten by the light of the Christmas Tree, and opened our stockings and gifts. After that we spent the morning with my family, and the afternoon with Carl's family. It was a lovely day, and I was struck as I always am, how, after all the hustle and bustle and build up on tv and in magazines and online, how utterly simple the day is. How simple but perfect to spend it with the people you love, talking, eating, playing games.

As always, I felt quite overwhelmed by the lovely and thoughtful gifts we received. One of the gifts I am most excited about was from Carl - a sewing machine all of my own! I am already thinking about all the things I can make and sew! It was lovely as well to see people opening gifts we had bought or made, and seeing that they liked them too.

I woke up yesterday with my usual thought that this is the furthest away from Christmas that we can be - oh dear! But also I love the thought of a new year ahead to fill with adventures, a new diary, a new calendar. Writing January instead of December. New Year's Resolutions and targets to be made. Stirrings of ideas for Christmas next year, presents to be made and squirrelled away, cards to be designed and filled with glitter before being sent on their way.

It feels like I have been waiting to exhale for a while, holding my breath without realising it. I hope that my blog has not been too gloomy a place to visit recently. I suddenly feel much, much cheerier.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Love Mimi xxx

Friday, 21 December 2012


Perhaps it is because it isn't Christmas Eve, but I finished work today and did not feel Christmassy at all. Instead of hurrying home, knowing it was all beginning, I stumbled home and am sitting here with a fuzzy head.

I am hoping it is just tiredness, a week of busyness at work, some nights where I haven't slept well, and much to do in readiness for Christmas.

I wish this was a lovely scrumptious little post like so many I have read this evening, but I don't quite have the energy for it. I feel a bit drained. But the tree lights are on, there is a light supper of salmon cooking in the oven, and tomorrow I can wake up refreshed and renewed, ready to set about working up a little Christmas spirit.

I shall have a bath later, and light a candle, in the most delicious scent 'inspiritus' and listen to Sufjan Steven's Joy To The World, and smile as I look over the last year, and start to think about the year ahead.

Wherever you are, I hope you are having a lovely evening.

Love Mimi xxx

Monday, 10 December 2012

A Week On...

A week on from the fire, and things are starting to feel normal, although every time I walk through our door, the smell of smoke needles me and makes me gasp and my heart flutter. The little garage room that burnt is still blackened and a shell of what it was. Scorch and soot is still everywhere. According to our letting agency, the management company is waiting for the loss adjuster to come out before they will do anything, but they have said that the smoke alarms are working again...not that they worked the first time! (It seems likely they were wired in and the wire burnt through).

It has been a full week, and we have just come back from the most delightful weekend in Paris. Nothing like immersing yourself in another culture to forget your worries! More with pictures later, but just a quick thank you to all of you for your kind words and thoughts.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Before I start this post, let me just say, we are safe for which I am hugely, hugely thankful.

But, I found myself, at half past five this morning, offering a fireman a cup of tea, and in fact, tea for all the firemen. We had been woken up just after 4:00am by what I thought were drunks shouting in the street. Until my lovely husband told me I had to wake up because there was a fire. I had to put on my dressing gown and shoes, find a box to put our snake in, and get out.

I was still half asleep but immediately awake. I could smell smoke. I could hear shouting. I was terrified. My dressing gown wouldn't go on, I had to take it off again. The nearest box had baubles in it for Christmas, I literally turned it upside down and rushed into the living room to give it to Carl to put Casper in.

I couldn't get my shoes on. I fumbled and got them on. Carl told me to wake the neighbours, to make sure those above us were awake, while he got Casper into the box. I later jokingly said I must be an obedient wife, to go upstairs in a burning building without a second thought because he had told me to!

We stumbled down the stairs, with the smoke getting stronger. Nothing felt real. We spilled out onto the road, and our neighbour from upstairs was just about to phone the fire brigade when 3 fire engines pulled into the road. We stood, dazed, as smoke poured from the fire.

Our flat is first floor, but underneath us is the car park, and to the side is a storage area which is always locked, and it was here that the fire was, right next to our car - I was terrified it was going to explode. The fire crews were like a team of ants, swarming everywhere, checking everyone was out, fighting the fire. An hour or so later, they said we could go back in. Our lungs were sore, but we were safe.

The smell of smoke is so, so strong, but happily there is no actual smoke damage. We wandered around, dazed, thankful, everything surreal. It was so cold outside. Then there was a knock on the door, and a fireman came in with a thermal imaging camera to check that there were not hot spots, as we were just above and to the side of the fire, but we were all safe.

Carl has gone to work, and I have been phoning our letting agency, the insurers, Sky and of course our families. There are some electrical issues but nothing major. I am so, so, thankful we are ok.

When we stumbled out into the street, we had our dressing gowns and shoes, and our snake. Not even our glasses. For the hour we were out there, we had no idea if that was all we were going to have again. We came so close to losing everything, and if it hadn't been for the people outside who woke us up, we could have lost much more than just our home and our things.

I need more tea, and to wash the smoke out of my hair. I think I am probably a little bit in shock. I just keep remembering Carl telling me that I had to wake up and get out. I remember him making me go first to get out safely, and being terrified that he wouldn't be behind me any more. All instinct. He kept me safe. He got our snake out, and thought about the neighbours. What an amazing man.

I have a headache, I am tired and hungry and thirsty and smokey, and am coughing horrible black stuff up, but I am here, I am ok, and I am so, so thankful. We have had so many lovely friends and family email or text or phone or send messages on facebook. We are so, so blessed.

One thing I will definitely be doing is putting together a grab bag with some documents and useful things in it, and perhaps keep a shoe box full of wood chips for poor Casper next time. Later I will be phoning the fire department to say thank you, thank you, thank you. I know they are trained, I know it is their job, and I know in the scheme of things our fire was little, but those men came out in the middle of the night and ran towards a fire to put it out. That is pretty amazing, if you ask me.

Today the teapot will be filled and emptied, filled and emptied. I will drink solace and be thankful. Please, don't worry, as we really are all fine, but I just needed to come and share what had happened. Thank you for being there,

Love Mimi xxx

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Scents, Sights and Sounds of the Christmas Season

Although my Christmas preparations may start much earlier in the year, as I like to make my own cards and a lot of my gifts, Christmas proper never starts before December, as it feels too early otherwise.

It was lovely for me that December 1st fell on a Saturday, so we could spend the first day of advent decorating and enjoying the first day of the season properly. We have our white tree up, hung with red baubles. We have red tinsel nestled on the windowsill and draped along bookshelves, and some giant red honeycomb paper balls hanging from the season. We have our red throw on the sofa, and I have lots of jam jars dotted about the room, tied with red-and-white-polka-dotted ribbon, with a candle inside.

We also have some vintage honeycomb paper decorations up, which I bought at a vintage fayre a few weeks ago. They are delightful, and I like to think of how many Christmasses they have seen.

In the afternoon, we walked out into the icy cold afternoon, the air nipping at our cheeks, and into the hustle and bustle of the town. We had gingerbread lattes and a walk through the park. On our way to the park, we stopped at a flower stall on the market, and Carl bought us a simply huge bouquet of mistletoe, which came wrapped in brown paper. It was beautiful to carry, and I can't wait to hang it up!

Just as he was paying for it, the Salvation Army band started playing 'Joy to the World' which is one of my favourite Christmas carols.

This morning, we woke up to the smell of tinsel, the lights of the tree, and I feel so Christmassy and happy. I hope you are having a lovely first weekend in advent,

Love Mimi xxx