Why I love Christmas cards

  • I’m addicted to stationery. Always have been. Give me a notebook, a pad of paper or greetings cards and a pen and I’m happy. All that potential, all the possibilities. My favourite childhood toys were my post office and my library stamps. And I always loved a writing set.
  • There are some beautiful cards – sitting down to write them is a pleasure rather than a chore.
  • Remembering the connections I have to the people I send Christmas cards to – childhoods shared, school years survived, journeys taken, workplace friendships forged… It’s important to me to remember them and it’s probably one of the only times of year that I reflect on my past in this way.
  • David’s family and my family are scattered across the country, from the south-west to the north-west and our friends are worldwide. A card is a simple and meaningful way to let them know we’re thinking of them.
  • Christmas stamps!
  • I absolutely love receiving Christmas cards. Recognising the handwriting (handwritten envelopes!) and opening the envelopes. I even love reading the round-robin letters that some people send. I want to know how they are and who’s doing what.
  • Buying cards is great way to support charity – this year, ours are from Alzheimer’s Society, Oxfam and Amnesty International.
  • Cards received can either be recycled or they can be cut up and reused as gift tags. All you need is a hole punch and string or ribbon.
  • Receiving a flurry of post that isn’t bill-related.
  • Each card sent and received is an exchange of thoughtfulness, of love and of remembrance.

I posted our cards today. I even managed to make the deadline for the USA but just missed the one to Australia (sorry Lindsey – it might arrive before 25th!). I’m not quite as organised with the gift-buying, though. That’s next on the list…

Wishing you a lovely mid-December weekend.

In a Vase on Monday: cornucopia

The lavender is blooming and the bees are going bonkers. It’s a veritable highway of busy apian foragers out there, all heavily and slightly drunkenly flying from flower to flower, stem to stem, plant to plant. There’s the heady scent of it, too, mingling with that of honeysuckle and privet, especially in the early evenings.

Hasn’t the weather been incredible? It’s so unusual to wake up in the UK and be confident that it’s going to be warm, or even hot. We’ve been pottering about in bare feet and summer clothes for a couple of weeks and the boys can’t believe their luck. No school and sunshine! I do love the blue skies and not having to bother about shoes, but the garden could really do with a good drink. It’s actually a little cooler this evening and it has turned quite grey and gloomy, as though it could crash with thunder and tip it down at any moment, but there’s no sign of any rain yet.

I started my vase pickings today with lavender and jasmine, which is coming into flower (and also packs a punch smell-wise), a multi-headed stem of pink cosmos, a single rudbeckia (the first flower) and added a load of different dried grass stems (dry from lack of rain) and a few poppy seedheads. There are also a few leftovers from a hasty table-centre I put together on Saturday (cornflowers, salvias and love-in-a-mist seedheads).

It is lovely to be joining in again with Cathy and her IAVOM-ers this week – last Monday I was in Cornwall visiting an old schoolfriend. We hadn’t seen each other for far too long and it was wonderful to see her, and our other friend who came too, and to see the beautiful part of the country she lives in. The three of us were military kids and boarders at a state school that had a small boarding wing in the late 70s and early 80s. There was no such thing as pastoral care in those days; benign neglect (putting it kindly) was the order of the day. It was character-building and we stuck together in adversity, making us firm friends for life. We are determined not to leave it so long until the next time.

If seeing them wasn’t fabulous enough, this weekend another old schoolfriend of mine came to visit. She was a day girl who I became great friends with and we have kept in touch over the intervening years. She now lives in Australia but is in the UK for a few weeks and slotted in a couple of days down our way. It was so lovely to spend time with her and to catch up. Honestly, I don’t see old friends for ages and then see three in two weekends! My heart is full and I feel enormously lucky to have such long-lasting and dear friends. It’ll keep me going for a while.

Right, I must go and find something in the fridge for dinner. I spotted half a pepper, an end of parmesan and some tired salad earlier. It’s going to be a scratch meal most probably involving pasta.

Wishing you a lovely week.

Homeward bound

photo 4

Yesterday we visited our old home town Twickenham in south-west London. We were collecting my daughter who’d been staying with an old schoolfriend, David had an appointment and the boys came along too. Now, I was brought-up to be punctual, plan a journey, leave with time to spare, but over the years, being married to my laid-back husband and with three children in the mix, this has gone totally out of the window. Why leave in plenty of time when you can leave late, have a stressful journey, have to phone ahead to apologise for being late, have back seat drivers telling you quite authoritatively (although they’ve never driven, are too young to drive) that changing lanes in slow-moving traffic on a motorway is pointless?

Well, we eventually arrived, dropped David off (he was the one who was late), then had a little drive round past the children’s old school, the park where they used to play, the streets where we lived. It’s a strange feeling being in a place that’s so familiar but is no longer home.

photo 2 photo 3


What keeps us connected to it are our friends – those lovely people we’ve known since the children were babies. We’ve seen our children grow up together, been through the trials and tribulations of life for many years. I do miss these friends and it is so good to see them, to slip into that familiar, easy conversation. And seeing the children – how they’ve all grown! There’s nothing quite like seeing kids you haven’t seen for a while to realise how time is rushing by.

We had a lovely day, chatting, laughing, catching up, making plans to see each other again soon, then it was time to return to our new home. It’s taken us all varying amounts of time to feel rooted here but we’ve made new friends, the children are thriving at their new schools, we have fabulous countryside and views around  us, we’ve put our stamp on this house and have a garden to play and grow in. It’s good to be home.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 4