Resilient and resolute (January thoughts)

I know we’re over it, but I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was peaceful; the usual hectic rush beforehand but it all came together on the day – everyone had wrapped gifts which were well-received, there was plenty of food, the house was decorated. We all welcomed the excuse to eat, drink and be merrily lazy. We chatted, played Scrabble, went to a few lovely parties and watched a few programmes on our fabulous new tv (trying to watch Blue Planet II on our rubbish old one was the last straw). The best Christmas telly for me, by far, was Little Women; such a beautiful adaptation. All the women in our house loved it. Some of the men did, too.

That’s all we did, really, for about a week. The boys were supposed to be revising for their mock GCSEs and A-levels – honestly, what school would set their mock exams straight after the Christmas holidays? Well, theirs would. And I’ve heard of a few others. Sigh. My sons took a very dim view of this meanness, so only did some cursory revision. I took the view that I wasn’t going to spoil Christmas by being on their case. To be honest, I secretly admire their refusal to feel the considerable pressure and I’m sure they’ll gear up for the real things in the summer.

We all went back to school and work last Tuesday (2nd) which was a rude shock of a start to the new year but I’m getting in the groove now. Normal routine is on hold while the boys have exams; they only need to be in school when they have an actual exam so I’ll be taxi-ing back and forth to the station  for the rest of this week. Back to normal, normal next week.

I couldn’t bring myself to take down our lovely tree last week – that would have been too harsh – so I waited until twelfth night on Friday to pack Christmas away again for another year. I’ve been cooking vegetables (that urge for green and crunch and vitamins and minerals that you can taste after all the rich unhealthy food; this roast aubergine with curried yoghurt, caramelised onion and pomegranate recipe is outstanding); peeling and chomping on oranges and grapefruit to stave off winter germs; and going for long, muddy dog walks (the mud!). David and I did venture into the garden yesterday with the thought of pruning our apple and pear trees but it was so shockingly cold that we had a quick walk round, looked at what needed doing and promptly came back indoors to put the kettle on! Brrr. That job will have to wait.

I know many people find January a difficult month in the northern hemisphere – the seemingly never-ending grey, wet, dreary days and dark evenings – but I don’t mind it. It’s David’s birthday month, there are fires and candles to be lit, and there are signs of spring already. I spied fat hellebore buds peeking out from the leaf litter yesterday and the snowdrops are coming. There is a lot to look forward to.

A couple of recommendations if you need a pick-me-up: the first is The Greatest Showman – a wonderful, exhilarating and life-affirming film with a corker of a soundtrack. My 13-year-old has been humming it non-stop. The second is the awesome Oprah Winfrey’s  speech at the Golden Globe Awards. I’m sure you’ll have heard it by now but do click on the link if you haven’t. Oprah for President?

And, finally,

A single glass of champagne imparts a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced; the imagination is agreeably stirred; the wits become more nimble.

So said Winston Churchill, reportedly, and I agree. (Several glasses will have the opposite effect, but let’s not dwell on that.) I feel the same about the first mug of tea of the day, a morning coffee after walking my dog and a weekend G&T before dinner. There are times when only a particular drink will do. Champagne is for celebrations, for toasting, for hopes and dreams, so I raise my imaginary glass to you and rather belatedly wish you a Happy New Year. Here’s to 2018 – nerves braced, imagination stirring, wits creaking into action. Hurrah!

Have a great week.

PS You may have noticed that I haven’t made any changes to my blog. A little rest did me good and I’m content to plod on with it as it is for now. Thank you for your kind comments back in November x

29 thoughts on “Resilient and resolute (January thoughts)

  1. Happy new year, Sam! I have grown to like January over the years – the promise of the year ahead, the planning and the potential it all holds. Not so keen on the windscreen scraping at 7 a.m. but we’re moving along to spring gradually… Good luck to your sons and the mocks (hateful) and happy birthday to your husband. Saw ‘The Greatest Showman’ on Saturday and loved every minute – fantastic! Here’s to a fine month Xx

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  2. Sam you evoke a wonderful picture of uk Christmas! Such a contrast to here, my parents have been staying and will have to face going from these mid 30’s humid temperatures to your freezing winds! So glad you have got out of he blogging doldrums , I love your writing- thank you and all the best for 2018, I really hope we can catch up x

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  3. Really beautiful pics, thank you for sharing the snapshots of your life. I’m glad you’re feeling a bit more cheery; and YES, #OprahforPresident #TIMESUP #Oprah2020! Imagine her and Michelle Obama together… Happy New Year, G in Oz (42 degrees C a couple of days ago- that’s 104F…) xO

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  4. Loving your latest update, particularly the sunset pictures and the one of Cassie. Hope the mock exams go well and happy birthday to David. Looking forward to the nights drawing out with Spring around the corner. x

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  5. Happy New Year Sam. How mean to have exams as soon as school goes back – I suppose it leaves the teachers time to enjoy Christmas without the bother of preparing lessons for the first week of school. I rather enjoy the greyness and sparseness of January as a bit of an antidote to all that Chrismtas glitter and gluttony.

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  6. Lovely to hear from you Sam. Your Christmas sounds perfect. Indeed, there are times when only one particular drink will do. I only ever drink champagne on Christmas Day and it something I really look forward to. Of course, I could drink it regularly if I chose to but I love to save it up! I loved Oprah’s speech too, that women is incredible in so many ways. Please keep blogging when you can. Jane x

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  7. It sounds like a wonderful Christmas. I was also very lazy, but am actually glad to get back to a routine now. it is muddy here too – we have been longing for some frosty days so the dog walks are less tiresome! Happy 2018 Sam!

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  8. Hey Sam,
    I’m applying (trying to at least) the same opinion to Alf’s mock exams. It’s crazy to ask kids to revise over the Xmas period. Ridiculous. I guess I’ve got worked up because his path through secondary school has been difficult.
    I like January. I like every month tbh. Each brings its’ own loveliness. This month is about cosying up and drawing the curtains. I’ve only ventured into gardento gather wood. I leave until February to get started. There are plans afoot…
    Leanne xx

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    1. Hope Alf got on ok. My two said the exams were ‘meh’. Sigh. I agree – there are lovely parts to each month. Look forward to hearing about your garden plans.

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  9. Yours sounds like a lovely Christmas Sam. Happy New Year to you and your family. My oldest has mock exams, too, but hasn’t bothered with revising until today (first exam tomorrow). I am not that bothered, he failed some of his mocks last year but did brilliantly in the real exams. This year’s exams are not so important for him, he has his university place. It is a strange system in Scotland! I guess this means he is learning for live… I rather like January, the first snow drops are out and the days are getting a little longer. I always find February more difficult, not sure why.

    I am pleased to see you here, I always enjoy your posts xx

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  10. Wishing you a Happy New Year too, Christmas seems a long time ago now. I enjoyed Little Women too, it was one of my favourite books, the adaption was so good wasn’t it? It’s been too cold to do any garden here too, we are having to spend the time instead dreaming of what plants to grow! That ws a wonderful sunset. Sarah x

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  11. Dear Sam, I am reveling in an exam-free academic year but I remember the pain! Hang in there, my friend, they will do you proud. Oprah – I cried and my daughter cried and then we whooped. What a great speech! Something shifted, I’m sure of it.
    Little Women – well, I’ve long held a small flame for Ethan Hawke and to watch his daughter portraying Jo March so perfectly was a great treat. It was the first time I ever appreciated her refusal to accept Laurie.
    The Aubergine- a timely recipe as I have two in the fridge! Yeay.
    Happy New Year. xx

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  12. Lovely post, Sam and a Happy New Year to you and yours. I’d read about Oprah’s speech but hadn’t listened to it. Thank you for posting the link. It was a remarkable speech. I hope she does consider throwing her hat into the ring for 2020. She’s a powerhouse. X

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  13. A most enjoyable post to read Sam (and I am sorry to be so late in reading it!) – thanks for sharing your everydays with us. Glorious sunrise pictures altough I too would have guessed they were sunset. I agree with your comments on Little Women – absolutely wonderful adaptation and like Sultanbun I can now as an adult understand why Jo could not marry Laurie. I had a similar revelation during Howard’s End which I did for A Level ** years ago and never really understood the relationships 😉 January is not a problem for me as I seem to function equally positively whatever the month, but my snowdrops and witch hazels certainly make my January rambles more pleasurable! Best wishes to you and all your family for 2018, Sam

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