Monday, 28 December 2009

Bringing my house to life again

Thank goodness my house is alive again. Not that it was really dead - just in a kind of semi coma for a few days.
During the week before Christmas, none of my adult children were in residence,and Retreats for you had no guests. Bob and I were madly busy making and wrapping presents, and we both had bits of work to finish up before the holiday season - but those activities took up only a fraction of this rambling old house. I took my laptop into the kitchen and worked by the Rayburn, and in the evenings, Bob and I ate in the kitchen - and spent the evening there too. We were warm in there, and there seemed little point in heating the rest of the house.
Occasionally, as I whizzed through the gloomy sitting room and the deserted dining room, I felt a chill that had nothing to do with the temperature. And as I whisked into the tv room one evening in search of a spare lightbulb, I felt a strange pull as I closed the door behind me. Almost as if it were pleading with me not to go. Big old houses don't like being empty, I thought. They need people, and warmth and life.
Three days before Christmas, two of the children arrived. One for a brief visit and one for the Christmas break. The walls of the house seemed to curve slightly, as the central heating cranked into gear and lamps flickered alight. Bob stacked logs into the huge fireplace, and the soft glow of the flames bathed the room in gold. Delicious cooking smells wafted gently from the kitchen, and noise and laughter echoed around the walls. Warmth and companionship filled the house again, and I could feel it start to relax around me.
Christmas came and went, as did the children - only to be replaced by guests. Retreats for you is buzzing again. And the house loves it.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Making Christmas great

Everyone's in the same boat, I'm told. Nobody, but nobody has any money this year. To clarify, we are all skint. So all the people milling in and out of shops in various high streets across the land must be spending money they haven't got then. Far be it from me to pontificate on other people's finances, but I decided that to make things easier for us this year, I would impose a ban on myself - from visiting any kind of shopping area. This is actually easier than it sounds, since the only shop within several miles is of the village store variety. A great little place but mostly stocked with food items, so unlikely to tempt me when it comes to presents.
Accordingly, we have taken a brisk trip down the home made present road, and the result, I have to say, has been deeply satisfying. Home made wine, jam and biscuits, all gussied up with pretty labels, ribbons and boxes, each a tasty reminder that lovely presents don't have to cost loads, or require an exhausting process of battling hordes of tired stressed fellow shoppers.
The tree is up, the presents and home made cards wrapped and delivered, and yes we are ready for Christmas. And while I'm on the subject of being ready for Christmas, I reckon I'm also ready for the aftermath of this one day. Which of course is the rest of the year, and the nice shiny new one waiting for us. It's going to be great.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Aren't we all put on this earth to look after each other? Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? It seems sensible to me - and it also seems to me that the world is divided - into those who do and those who don't.
We hear terrible stories on the news of someone being beaten senseless in full view of a crowd of people. Or a girl being dragged by her partner screaming through a crowded precinct, while shoppers stand and stare. But last time we witnessed a clearly violent man bullying his partner outside a pub, my own partner was only prevented from stepping in by the fact that three other people had got there first. One of them a woman. And when I saw a young girl go into an epileptic fit in the street, she and her carers were immediately surrounded by offers of help, phones and blankets.
There are those who instinctively help and protect their fellow man in this world and those who don't. But I prefer to think there are more of the former.