There are certain points throughout the year when I swear you can feel the seasons shifting from one to the next. There always comes a point in September - a smell of wood smoke combined with a chilly evening - when suddenly I feel like autumn has arrived and summer is definitely behind us. Today, there seemed no doubt that we had turned that page from autumn into winter. I don't know if it was the opening of the first day of the advent calendar, or the sudden drop in temperature, but seemingly overnight there were more leaves on the ground than the trees, and the branches were bare against the grey sky, while the light had taken on that blue-ish wintry quality and the shadows were long.
This comes as something of a surprise to me as I do not really know where November went. Surely it was only half term a couple of weeks ago? These last four weeks have raced by at breakneck speed in between work and life and bathroom renovations, and I find myself slightly alarmed that December the first is so abruptly here. I am not ready for Full Christmas just yet (is it me or are people putting their trees up earlier and earlier?) but I did go up into the loft and bring down the advent calendar, the nativity set and a few decorations.
Isn't it funny how quickly certain things can sneak into your own family's Christmas traditions? I bought the little jar below in Tiger a few years ago for about £3 and it has now become the jar which the holds the chocolates and coins for the advent calendar, and I am quite attached to it. I decided not to do any kind of handmade advent calendar this year, but instead bought the kids one of those chocolate-filled cardboard ones from the supermarket. They were absolutely delighted so it was win-win as far as I'm concerned. Pick the things you want to do. You don't have to do everything at this time of year.
Other Christmas preparations of mine include reading festive books. The pile below are my current reading matter, a mixture of new, second hand and ones I bought last year but didn't have time to read. My copy of The Christmas Chronicles is only one year old but very food-splattered already.
We had a very happy hour earlier today doing a little crafting while listening to Christmas music. I bought this adorable collection of twelve cardboard houses from Winter's Moon last year but ran out of time to make them. I'd almost forgotten about them, so it was a lovely surprise to find them in the loft yesterday.
Aren't they lovely? I would like to live in one.
In non-Christmas news, the bathroom is almost finished. We just need to finish laying the floor, paint the door, and put up the mirror, peg rail and toilet roll holder. Then I will take lots of photos and show you. But it is usable and I love it. The sense of light and space is absolutely wonderful.
The downside to the bathroom, as we know, was the dust. Absolute filth, everywhere. Depressed by cleaning after work when it's dark and I'm tired, I spent quite a few hours yesterday systematically going through every room, wiping, vacuuming, mopping. In the kitchen I took every single cookery book off the shelves and gave it all a scrub before putting them back.
Bored with my books arranged by colour of spine and never being able to find anything, I decided to arrange by topic. Top shelf: books about food from a certain country, then particular types of cooking (vegetarian, preserving etc), next is family cooking, followed by a shelf full of baking, then on the bottom more family/general cookery books. This task, with the radio on in the background, made me very happy as I'm sure you can imagine.
I had a lovely day out in London last weekend with my good friend Debora. We had a long, chatty lunch together (chicken schnitzel and Black Forest gateaux here) then wandered around Kings Cross which is no longer scruffy and to be avoided, but quite nice. We saw a brilliant exhibition on Cold War Cuban art here and pottered around a really nice covered market.
A few treasures came home with me, including this gorgeous candle holder and a new tea towel.
No, I didn't need a new tea towel, but it's linen and has oranges on it and feels rather festive.
Wishing you all a happy week ahead.