Christmas Eve at Crackley Woods.

If there is one thing that I love more than anything else, it is to blow the cobwebs away with a walk in the woods and never is there a better time to do this than on Christmas Eve before the festivities proper start. Having checked online with what is and isn’t legal these days with regard to taking a little bit of greenery for my festive bouquets we set forth. crackley-woods-1I do love these woods, I’ve loved them since my eyes first cast sight of them which was probably knowing my parents at just a few months old.  I know them like the back of my hand and it is one place that I miss painfully when I am away.crackley-woods-2I felt the same surge of excitement and deep calm that I always feel as I enter, the feeling of coming home but not knowing quite what I will discover. crackley-woods-3Hubby and I walked through the woods until we came upon the old railway track going to Balsall Common, well you have to imagine the sleepers and rails, long since lifted. We used to play fabulous games of Cowboys and Indians  running in and out of the woods and pretend to hear the trains coming by listening for the vibrations on the rail by pressing an ear to the track,  safe in the knowledge it had been decommissioned by Dr Beeching in the early sixties. Now it is a Greenway which to be honest isn’t as much fun as you have to watch out for cyclists whipping past you at 30 mph.crackley-woods-4We collect a few logs that have been torn from the trees in high winds, they were lovely to watch on Christmas Day, crackling and hissing on top of the hot coals. crackley-woods-5And a few bits of greenery to bring winter green into our home.crackley-woods-7And I breathe the deep, deep green, so fresh country air. crackley-woods-6I can’t wait to try this walk out another day, it looks amazing. crackley-woods-8And after picking laurel, berries and rosehips from the garden to mix in with a few roses,crackley-woods-9I made two lovely displays which reminded us of the woods and our wonderful five mile hike on Christmas Eve.

Christmas cheer.

If there are two things I love most about Christmas as an adult that has gone through the child rearing process it is this, I love fresh flowers and long, as in five miles long, long country walks. The fresh flowers belong in the ‘extravagant just for me’ category and the long five mile walk belongs in the ‘this keeps me more sane than anything else I know’ category.

I’ll post about the walk another day, it was blissful – and its been a hectic day and I’m just about to pop to bed.

But the flowers are just so pretty, they are a combination of leaves picked from the roadside and what was once an old railway track, turned into a long flat walk, roses bought a couple of days ago and laurel and berries from our garden. christmas-flowers-1 christmas-flowers-2


The Home Straight.

As we head into the last few days before the main event I start to relax and just enjoy this moment in time. The shopping has been done, img_6471including the sprouts. We are wrapping up the presents and the socialising and are just about to pull up the drawbridge.img_6477

We had one last jaunt to the theatre to see Jack and the Beanstalk which was just amazing and a  quick drink with long lost friends.

And now to sleep to dream of lovely jaunts tomorrow and the quest to find a Christmas log for the fire.

Busy Bee

Christmas is busy isn’t it?  Even when retired, it seems hectic, but in a good way.  Hubby and I have been soaking up the sights and sounds of a country Christmas this year. We kicked off with a Victorian evening in our county town. img_6045And the weather was really quite mild. img_6068Although you’d never know this by how wrapped up I was, but then I do do snug, very well. img_6065Hubby enjoying his wander around, listening to all the carols, mini concerts and watching the morris dancers.  This event does seem to have gotten much bigger over the years, it took us a good couple of hours to get around. We finished with a trip to St Mary’s img_6137to look at all the beautifully decorated Christmas trees and to vote on them. img_6090This was my favourite called Flander’s Fields.  (I think by the WI, but I’ve lost my notes!) img_6140The following week we were off to my home town to enjoy the switching of the lights on. It was as always great fun and again we had very good weather. dsc_7777As well as that there was a lovely visit to Santa, dsc_7813at Stoneleigh Abbey, it was too cute.  We wandered around the gift and craft fair admiring all the things. img_6248And a burger and carol evening provided by St Johns was a just a lovely moment in time.

We have enjoyed theatre trips,  meeting up with family and friends for meals and coffee’s and drinks and more coffees and more drinks and more meals, I think that roundabout slows down after lunch today,  there have been theatre trips to be followed by another theatre trip at the end of the week which I am really looking forward to and a quickly booked cinema trip with an old friend and not forgetting the birthdays that creep into the celebrations at this time of the year.  And then, like everyone,  we must fit in The Christmas shop, although the drinks run is done and dusted.

It is good to be busy at Christmas, I hold onto all of this so tightly when we have that awful stretch of manky weather end of Jan/Feb.  You have to have the treasures to fall back on.

Well I must go, my knitting group starts in fifteen minutes! Now where is my knitting?

Icing Gingerbread men.

It is one of life’s greatest pleasures to have children come to play in the home at Christmas and never more so than when it is family.  Distant, but not in distance, cousins came to play today and we had so much fun. We all had a very good lunch of pizza with salad and garlic bread followed by ice cream with strawberries and then settled into the very serious business of icing gingerbread men.

From the moment that the door had been knocked one could hear the spontaneous crackle of chatter and laughter as they entered, coats discarded, shoes thrown off as the conversation became more energised by the moment.  Soon after lunch we prepped the table for the icing extravaganza and the energy and chatter was reaching fever pitch. icing-gingerbread-1And then five minutes in, you could hear a pin drop, which isn’t bad for an age range of 15 to 2. You could hear the concentration in the room as each strove to make their own individual masterpiece. icing-gingerbread-3Their Mum and I smiled to each other, it was just perfection.icing-gingerbread-14As we soaked up the moment. icing-gingerbread-2And almost instantly the spell was broken as we burst into laughter as we watched a little icing eating going on. icing-gingerbread-13Deep in thought, perhaps as to what the next gingerbread should be. icing-gingerbread-7 There was a little playing with the nativity set. icing-gingerbread-5And a little giggling in the big arm chair. icing-gingerbread-6icing-gingerbread-9All too soon we were just about finished, all boys and girls were very proud of their iced gingerbreads and we all had had a lovely afternoon. icing-gingerbread-10All gingerbread men and women with the most whacky of stripped trousers and jazzy suits, reindeers with the brightest of red jelly noses and squiggly monsters, morphed icicle’s and snowmen placed neatly for a quick photo, when I realised. icing-gingerbread-11One of us was still going strong.  He was so cute. icing-gingerbread-12Eventually all packed up in a box, ready to go home.

It was the best of times, I hope to remember it always.

St John’s Carol Service.

St Johns Church has been a part of my life on and off for the last 50 years and to be honest while in London I’ve very much missed it’s familiarity and warmth. I wouldn’t call myself a regular church goer by any means, I just pop in for a bit of a boost when needed. But this is the church I call home, the church I was christened in, the church I started to go to after a few years at the local Sunday school held in a local school, the church I followed pathfinders in and eventually the church I was confirmed into. I’ve seen family and friends being married there, babies and adults being christened and said goodbye to well loved family and friends.

So when I came home this time and felt in need of some quiet contemplation in the church I call home I was just a tiny bit upset that its renovations had not been completed yet, so I bided my time, waiting and waiting, regularly checking their website, which to be honest does not appear to be updated as often as it could be. When a flyer came through the door, announcing the local carol services, of which St John’s was included. It went straight in the diary. img_6333It was lovely to see the newly polished St John’s looking so pretty as it opened its doors to its first full service. The choir was in fine form, the church was packed to the rafters and the chosen carols were just wonderful and we all sang with enthusiasm and vigour.  What a glorious start to the next hundred years or so.

Oliver at the Loft Theatre.

For the last night of the production we managed to get seats to see Oliver by Lionel Bart at the Loft Theatre.  It is one of the small theatre’s locally and I have only ever heard good things but never got around to going.  We were not disappointed, the stage was wonderfully equipped with  theatre paraphernalia that allows an audience to believe an actor has been transported into another realm or time.  The play was vibrant, fast and emotional along with the added bonus of a few good tunes sung powerfully by many of the main leads, it was everything you would want on a Saturday evening this close to Christmas.

We watched mesmerised by  the story of Oliver unfolding, a story well known of course, but told on the stage with the power of the actors interaction and emotional responses. It was as good as the best I have seen on the West End and at a quarter of the price.

We absolutely adored it, I think we will always make it a point to visit the Loft when we are in this neck of the woods, it is a tiny theatre, but with such dedication to the art and amazing work which culminates for us as such a treat.


Going Out, Out!

It is a sad truth that since losing my hair  some nine years ago I had not been Out, Out. Yes there has been many jaunts with hubby, a couple of lunch time drinks with friends, the odd trot into a pub for lunch at Uni, and trips to the theatre and cinema, but nothing like going out with the girls, in town, on a Friday night.

So when J said her knitting groups pub had folded, I just jumped in with, ‘do you need some help looking for a new venue ‘hic’.’ I’ve no idea what came over me, but I do know this coming year I am going to sieze all opportunities that come my way.  This is not the year for maudlin, in any way, shape or form, I’m going to be packing as much as I possibly can in and to that end my diary is already pretty rammed through most of January, so it’s going well. img_6264Getting dressed up was tricky, most of my dress up wardrobe is in London. img_6303But at long last ready to go out, out. So excited!img_6307Met up with J and tried her antlers on! img_6311Scooted around Coventry, chatting nine to the dozen of old haunts I visited over thirty years ago.img_6309Park Lane, three nights a week, The Dog and Trumpet, The Bug and Black Bat, to name but a few. Memories of black nails and purple eyeshadow, a white dress with a red sash and red shoes came whizzing towards me through the night. Of silly hot, so very, very hot nights spent with girlfriends as we tip tapped through the city centre in our spikey high shoes, the scent of perfume and was it vodka as we chattered and giggled from the pubs to the dance floor of Park Lane. img_6316J and I scouted a couple of pubs and found the most ideal of spots for ladies that would like to knit, in a pub with a buzz but a more mature mindset.  We chattered and giggled and all too soon the evening had come to an end, I had such a good time, I will definitely be going Out, Out again.