I'm so happy I've managed to find time to pop into the Attic for a quick catch up and have a chat before Christmas, I've just not had the time or energy to sit at my desk since I got back from my Dorset trip on Monday. So helllooooooooo to all you lovely people who call in to visit, I do so appreciate you and I hope I tell you often enough what it means to have this window out over the rooftops where I can fling my words and pictures out into the open and hear your collective voices echo back to me. It really does mean the world to me.
My trip to Dorset was good, kind of emotional and at times quite hard going, but nevertheless still good. I am so looking forward to future visits where I hope to be there without all the overwhelming sadness/guilt as it really is the heaviest of lumpy feelings that lodges itself somewhere just underneath my ribs.
Last Sunday I went with my Dad's other half to the Bay and we wandered around the grey and blustery harbour to blow away the cobwebs. It was such a tonic, and I loved the wildness of the weather and the rather startling lack of people (so very different to the summer weekends).
We didn't walk on the beach as the tide was up and I have rather a big hole in the bottom of my right red boot. But we did walk all the way to the end of the promenade with the waves crashing and the salty surf blowing into our faces, and I finally felt at ease for a while.
I was away for four days, but travelling by train is a lengthy process and only really gave me two days to be in Dorset. But it was just enough, as much emotional feely stuff as I could cope with to be honest.
On the way home from Dorset I had a four hour stop over in London. At the time when I booked my train ticket I thought it would be marvelous to have this time in the city for some last minute Christmas shopping, to soak up the festive ambiance and see the lights. But crikey, I just hadn't thought about the reality of being in this particular spot just a week before Christmas, it was such a shock! After the calm, grey near-desertion of the seaside, London city centre was bustling in the extreme. It was exhilarating and overwhelming, shocking in it's over-the-top-ness. I wandered around Regent Street and Carnaby Street, taking it all in and feeling very, very small and provincial.
I decided I just had to get off the over crowded streets so headed for John Lewis......
.....which was looking gloriously festive and beautifully extravagant. After some aimless wandering around I did manage to brave the Christmas department and purchased a few things for the Little People, but really my heart wasn't quite in it.
By the time I emerged back out onto the streets it was getting dark on Oxford Street and the lights looked absolutely stunning.
I headed out of the city on the 18.30 train and four hours later I was finally flopped exhausted back in my own bed. Always such a good feeling to be home again, gosh, I felt the relief right down to the very tips of my toes.
During the days since I came back from Dorset I've been really enjoying the simple things that bring the Yuletide season into our home. In amongst the endless shopping and the hectic school activities, I've tried to find moments in my day where I stop still and appreciate it all.
The scent of these hyacinths is just lovely at this time of year, and I think I might need to revise my idea that these are Autumn blooms. Having them on the Christmas mantel is making me very happy indeed.
On Thursday I flew around town for a few hours trying to finish up the gift buying so that I could mentally just unwind from the chaos of it all. I am never, ever organised enough to buy presents with ample time to spare, but I've learnt to accept that that's the way I am and that despite the inevitable layer of anxiety it always turns out OK. So after the rather manic shopping sesh on Thursday, I settled down to concentrate on celebrating Winter Solstice.
A few weeks ago I bought a cheap wire florists wreath and some inexpensive festive branch things.
My idea was to pull apart the branch things so that I could discard the plastic foliage and make use of the wired berries and cones. Cos this is Winter Solstice and it's all about the real, live, living greenery at this time of year......
.......ta-dah???????? Can I get away with saying that here????!!
Hmmmm....not sure, but this is what I made after playing around for an hour or so. A rather wonky Solstice wreath using lengths of trailing ivy, bits of holly and some eucalyptus stems, all held together with the sparkly faux berries and wired pine cones.
It's very rustic, that's for sure, but I really enjoyed the scent of the greenery (fresh eucalyptus has the most amazing scent, I can't get enough of it at the moment), and the simplicity of twisting and coaxing those stems into something vaguely wreathlike.
The candle was a last minute purchase (part of my whirlwind local shopping fest) and is one of those ones with three wicks and forty hours burning time. The scent is "Golden Saffron and Cedarwood" and is rather lovely I have to say. Even J approves, and that is saying something.
To celebrate the passing of the shortest day I also fashioned a Yule Log by wrapping a small log in bendy ivy stems, then tucking in some rosemary, pine and eucalyptus. I love these simple traditions which celebrate our connection to the earth and the seasons and although J looks at me as if I have two heads, I stand my ground and chat to the Little People about it in the hope that they might understand and absorb.
Honestly, we had a beautiful time of it this year. I lit up our candle, made some mulled wine for J and I and some mugs of hot chocolate for the Little People and we spent a little time sat by the fire thinking about the turning of the year and the lengthening days to come. I for one am so so so glad to have turned the corner on these short dark days.
Our Yule Log went on the fire and we made our wishes, it was simple and sweet. I would so dearly love to know what the Little People wished for, but they wouldn't tell. I even tried bribing them with chocolate but lips remained sealed.
School just finished up on Friday which was much later than usual, it's been the longest haul of a half term that I can ever remember and we have all been feeling it. Yesterday I finished all my wrapping and food shopping and today has been lazy and blissful. I've treated myself to a new pyjama top which is over sized and made of the softest, fluffiest material imaginable. It's a soft, pale grey and I am totally in love with it - it's taken all my will power not to put it on and wear it all day today cos I'm saving the luxurious cosy newness of it for this evening. I've got some chilled prossecco waiting for me to pop the cork in a short while and we are eating a picnic-style dinner in front of the fire tonight - cheese, pate, cured meats, seeded crackers, sausage rolls, pork pie, olives, crusty artisan bread.
The Christmas tree is holding it's own against the constant kitty invasion, although she somehow managed to chew some of the light bulbs which put a whole set out of action. Ah well, she's having fun with it all I guess, there are fallen bells everywhere as she likes to bat them off and chase them around the room.
I hope with all my heart that wherever you are and whoever you're with, that you are full of gladness for the Yuletide season. I wish you Fun and Joy in abundance!