What Day Is It?

It’s official, I’ve finally reached that stage of the Christmas holidays where I’ve lost track of what day it is. I was beginning to feel left out. It was only when I messaged lady s about something this morning and she reminded me that it was only Sunday today that I realised that I have entered that weird state fuelled by excess and no work where I have come adrift from all routine.

Admittedly the amount of driving up and down and across the country hasn’t helped as those have now taken on the status of week resets even by dint of not being actually a week apart.

So yes, this is my reminder to myself that it’s the last Sunday of the year and decade. A quick look at the site stats tells me that this is the busiest the site has been in four years in terms of traffic – must be all the more regular posting I’ve got back into doing 😉

Right, I’m off out to see my daughter for our third? Christmas. Have fun everyone

Back Home

We came home early from up North as plague – or at least heavy colds – descended on the Maidment households. Feeling it was better to recuperate in our own beds, we fled back South on Boxing Day, joining the thousands on the roads travelling between their own branches of families over the Festive period.

Surprisingly, the traffic actually flowed well despite being so heavy so we made good time and collapsed with pizza and presents we hadn’t taken with us to console us.

Today we therefore had a lie in rather than spending it all on the roads. We even dared travel in to Kingston in search of a book of pattern-making for Lady M, and ended up buying… well, rather a lot of books really

We don’t have a book problem. We have lots of books. It’s no problem

I do need to remember that getting rid of older books is not an automatic prompt to replace them. Oh well

Christmas Eve

“They read your site you know” I was warned – albeit a couple of days ago – of a vicar joining us for a family Christmas Eve meal at a favourite restaurant. I never know quite what to make of comments like that. The site is here to be read: it’s kind of the point of it really.

Today’s grand meal at The Italian Orchard has been a set piece of gathering together to enjoy fine food, good wine, and good company. Even with my mother deciding to stay home as a winter cold triggered her asthma there were eight of us around the table and we all enjoyed the little bubble of relative luxury and pampering that such a setting allows.

Writing and drawing? That’ll be me then.

The warning – such as it was – came of the other family joining us, the vicar of the parish that my parents are part of and her husband and son. Quite what this warning was meant to highlight is something if which I’m unsure: I’m told that my writing was found enjoyable, even if the route by which my blog was directed to her attention is as yet unclear.

“I love your drawings” I was told – and so we went from there. As the afternoon drew on my fingers began twitching for paper, so Lady M provided a notebook and I doodled away to let the daemons out – but quite why a warning was required in the first place I’m still not entirely sure. Perhaps there was a concern that I would be taken aback by someone knowing something of me – and of all the many things I talk about here it was nice to have it just be about my need to draw and illustrate.

My biggest frustrations come from having to throttle my creative impulses, so talking about my process, both conscious and unconscious, was relatively relaxing and eased us then into our respective small huddles if conversation as we indulged in the food and atmosphere before us.

All in all, talking about my artwork rather than my stories, or my relationships was probably the least contentious approach for all concerned. Perhaps the warning was more one to me of keeping the conversation to safer waters than delving into polyamory, mental health, or any other aspects of life around the dinner table.

Who knows – it was an odd injunction but a lovely meal and set of conversations where grand nonsense flowed and a great time was had.

And now for a quiet chill out and companionable silence as Lady M and I nurse our cuppas and collapse a while.

On The Road

Lady M and I are on our grand tour round the UK to drop off gifts and spend time with family. Like so many other people, we’re on the road in an escape from the day-to-day and Christmas podcasts are currently filling the car.

Our first leg was the longest, a six hour trip from London to Hartlepool. I handled the driving duties with a single break as Lady M was feeling a bit under the weather. Lady M’s sister lives in Hartlepool, and it’s where she grew up so it brought up a lot of memories.

Hartlepool Marina this morning

Hartlepool is receding behind us now as we head towards the West coast. We’ve been lucky so far in that yesterday’s traffic was heavy but generally moved along with only minor stopping and starting in the M1. This morning with Lady M driving seems so far to only be light traffic, so that’s a bonus.

There you go, boring journey updates logged. I suspect the next few days’ blog posts may be filtered through Christmas cheer.

A Few Days Off

And…. Relax…

I’m visiting lady s for a few days as I had more leave to book this year than Lady M. After a long week, it’s been good to switch off. Lady M and I drove down on Sunday afternoon and dropped off presents for the household, then I stayed on – much to the cub’s bemusement.

The stress levels have been slowly dropping as we’ve watched films and YouTube clips. In between, we’ve been having a tidy up before Christmassing and generally taking it easy.

Tomorrow we’ll be seeing the cub at his school Christmas play, before Lady M returns and whisks me away so we can finish packing to go visit family next week.

Amusingly, Lady M had forgotten that I was going away at one point as she was hoping I might pick her up from drinking with colleagues this week – I mention this to forestall any visions you may have of Lady M somehow languishing like Rapunzel in her tower. One of our many strengths is that each of us are equally comfortable and in need of time alone as in being with each other (as wonderful as that is)

Wrapping Presents

There’s one disadvantage to our tactics of buying things through the year to space out the cost and stress of Christmas – and that’s all the wrapping.

That’s what I’ve mostly been doing the last couple of days, and I’ve lost track of how many rolls of paper I’ve gone through. At least the card inside the rolls will end up integrated into props down the line – and most of the paper is recyclable.

In theory I could wrap things as I go, but there is something therapeutic about wrapping presents in large numbers that I enjoy. I am reaching the point soon where I will have to reorganize what is stacked under the tree though.

In the meantime I’m having an early night so that my back can stop complaining about being hunched over the table. A day back at work should sort that all out. I did leave instructions for the Saturday staff to have fun with the Christmas decorations, so I’ll be seeing what they did soon.

Community Event

One of the libraries I manage is right in the heart of its community’s high street, and so when an opportunity arises to be part of a wider event we’re very pleased to be able to help however we can. Last night was a Christmas Fair, and following the success of an impromptu involvement this year, staff volunteered to be more engaged and make a bigger contribution.

To that end we agreed to host Santa’s Grotto in the children’s library, and had a number of characters available for people to take photos with. We ran a crafts table, ran a lucky dip, had computers available for STEM software activities, and also just kept the library systems up and running for anyone who just fancied using the library.

We have a penguin called Pebble as our mascot

It went incredibly well, and I’ve been making sure to let the managers of the various staff involved know just how valued and valuable the volunteers’ time and efforts were.

It was a late evening, and everyone is back to work again this morning with various degrees of tired shellshocked impressions in their faces, but also with a huge morale boost for just being able to do something fun as part of the wider local community.

It was a good night

Wrapping Presents

If anyone reading this knows me well enough that they’re in line for a Christmas present, please don’t read too much into the choices of wrapping paper this year – I’m basically using up all the scrap ends of rolls that I had knocking around in the cupboard when I grabbed all the decorations at the weekend.

Last year I used brown paper extensively as a recyclable alternative – but I’ve found so many odds and ends that I would end up throwing away anyway that I might as well out them to use before you throw them away. When I’ve used those up, I’ll get more brown paper. So, if your present is wrapped in rainbow glossy colours, or swirls of hearts, then you can at least know that yours was one of the first I wrapped this year.

The more cynical among you may wonder if this is just an extended decluttering exercise – and you’d be right. At least it’ll look pretty.

Christmas Has Started

Well, I’ve put up the Christmas tree anyway. I’ve delved into one of our seemingly dimensionally variable cupboards and retrieved the components of our tree and the boxes of decorations. Lady M is always excited for this time of year, so her face has been beaming with glee since she heard me open the doors.

It’s our first Christmas since buying the flat, which feels kind of strange to be writing. Nice, but odd after so many years of renting. You’d think it was an immediate cue to go bananas with the decorating, but the tree suffices. Well, mostly. There may be one or two little things on the shelves…