Thursday, 2 January 2020

The Best Days

This week is one of my favourites. Those delicious days between Christmas and New Year, when time slows down and it's all leftovers, long walks and jigsaw puzzles, are what keep me going throughout most of December. I used to relish the build up to Christmas, and would have said that Christmas Eve was my favourite of all the festive days and I still do love that anticipatory feeling, but I've come to appreciate the days that follow more and more. Less rush, less pressure, more time to do a anything, or nothing. 

Our Christmas was lovely; slow and quiet and cosy. There were definitely less toys to assemble this year, and I don't think we have two believers anymore either, but the elves still delivered Christmas Eve pyjamas. 

Christmas Day itself was manic and joyful, with a busy house full of people and bottles of fizz and lots of food. We hosted and were joined by John's parents who stayed with us for a few days, and my parents. 

I kept the table simple but did use my Grandma's silver and my hand embroidered Christmas napkins. I made my own crackers this year too, but would not repeat this again. Yes, it did avoid those rubbish plastic gifts inside which end up in the bin, but they were fiddly and time consuming to make, didn't go bang and a bit of a let down. Next year I will look into buying ready made ones which are fully recyclable. No-one had any energy for games after the late lunch, but Home Alone 2 was on TV. Some Christmas films don't get old.

I received some truly wonderful gifts, including this bauble my friend made using sea glass and pottery she finds on the beach.

A new wallet, perfume, scented candles and chocolates were gratefully received too, as well as these stunning Beth Pegler bracelets from John. I have a couple of her necklaces which i wear pretty much on rotation. Her work is beautifully made. 

Books, always a pleasure to receive. 

Best of all, and also from John, this fabulous sweatshirt from Muthahood.

Boxing Day lunch was at my parents', with turkey and leek pie followed by trifle or Christmas pudding or mincemeat tart. My mum: an excellent cook and never knowingly undercatered. 

The days that followed blur together. There were family birthdays (five in December alone), brisk walks on the beach, muddy walks in the woods.

I know that I spent all day Sunday obsessively working on a new 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, stopping only to eat and take the dog out. I finished it about 9pm that night, much to everyone's relief as it meant we could use the kitchen table again. 

New Year's Eve was spent at home with our friends, with a large homemade curry and lots of cocktails, sitting around the table until the small hours. 

2020 got off to a good start with a lie in, a big lunch out, then a walk late afternoon. After saying goodbye to our friends, I started taking the Christmas tree down. It's always a bittersweet moment, marking the end of the festivities but also a return to normality which is not unwelcome.

I spent today in a haze of cleaning which always follows the removal of the tree. Suddenly, once the decorations and cards are removed, the house looks a bit dusty and grubby. I stripped beds, cleaned windows, dusted, mopped, vacuumed and found homes for the last Christmas present stragglers that were lying around the house. I did load after load of laundry, washed rugs and cushion covers, even cleaned the oven. I need to do this kind of cleaning in the school holidays as there is no time once I go back to work to do any more than the most cursory housework, and it is satisfying to feel that the house is straight. 

I have three more days of holiday left and I intend to make the most of them. Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend for coffee then going into Chichester in the afternoon. I'm not sure about the weekend but John's home, which is nice, and I have ordered some yarn to start crocheting a jumper.

I don't have any New Year's resolutions. I never feel very New Year-ish in the middle of winter (September 1st or sometime in spring would suit me much better) and think that January is a month when I want to be kind to myself, not embark on some drastic lifestyle change that I will not doubt stop after one week. Intentions this year would be to look after myself better; to sleep more, slow down, and generally try to achieve a better balance, although how successful I will be is anyone's guess.

But I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope that 2020 is a year of hope, health and happiness for you all and thank you very much for continuing to read and leave comments. I appreciate your support, friendship and interest so much.


  1. It seems like you've had a wonderful holiday with your beautiful family. A Happy New Year to you and yours! Enjoy your last few days of vacation. xx Sue

  2. Happy New Year to you and yours.
    It looks like a wonderful Christmas was had with many happy memories made,

  3. Now THAT is a trifle...........

  4. Happy New year!! Here we still have Christmas decoration, I'll remove them next week. I love this time of the year because it's summer holidays in Argentina. So It's a quiet time for me!! Enjoy weekend!!;)

  5. Happy still-just-new year! Always enjoy your lovely photos, you do capture little precious moments so well. It inspires me to take more everyday photos not just the "family group" stuff...thank you xx
    Ps. Nice to see a picky of hubby! He's got kind eyes :)

  6. Happy New Year.I always read your blog ( actually from when you still lived in Leeds and the first Yarndale ) Just as interesting as ever! Enjoy your weekend before school starts again.

  7. I wish you a happy new year to your and yours.
    I always enjoy reading your posts. They keep me going ahead in the right mood.

  8. happy new year, i really love your blog and your mum's trifle looks brilliant x

  9. Happy New Year to you and your lovely family!May this coming year bring you all wonderful moments together, joy and happiness,and many creative projects!!
    The photo of Angus reading Asterix reminded me of my son ,who also loved reading Asterix [and Tintin] when hewas Angus's age!
    it's always such a pleasure to read your blog , it warms my heart!i wish you were my neighbor ! [ if you would like to live in California!]

  10. The never knowingly undercatered comment made me laugh. It looks like a wonderful Christmas, and I am wishing you and yours a wonderful 2020. CJ xx

  11. Dear Gillian, such a sweet and full post this time. Thank you for sharing and do take a little time for you now. Cheers and best of the new year to you and yours.

  12. Happy New year to you Gillian! Thank you so much for this blog. You are such an inspiration. I really do enjoy reading about your life in beautiful England!

  13. Happy New Year Gillian! I bought the roasting tray book and it is fantastic when I am working - all in one tin. The children eat well with us too when I use it. Hope you enjoy using it. I bought the vegetarian one for my friend too. I agree that this is a great holiday but we have squeezed every minute possible out of it to build our house so it has not been as relaxing as it could have been. I am off to put curtain poles over 5 windows today and Andy is starting the bathroom. Love to you all. Jo xxx

  14. Thank you for your lovely blog. Happy New Year x

  15. Dearest Gillian, I found your blog about 2 years ago and thoroughly enjoy it. This is the first time I've sent in a comment (shame on me) but I wanted you to know what a lovely life you have made with your family, and that you inspire me greatly with how you manage your housework, your cooking, your kids, your gardening and your crafting and so much more.

    On another note, the ornament with the sea glass & ceramic finds was so theilling to me as I never know what to do with the sea glass I find in the pacific. Next year I will make a few of these for my children for their 2020 ornaments.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us all.

    Best, Debra Sposa from
    Anaheim Hills, California

  16. Happy New Year Gillian. Your blogs are so lovely, full of warmth,humour and reality. I only discovered you at the end of 2019 and you have inspired me to blog for the first time and create my own treasured memories.Thank You.

  17. Enjoying your festive photos, particularly as we are still a building site and it's so tranquil to come here! I didn't receive a Nigel book this year - my signalling couldn't have been clear enough. Will have to step up the not so subtle hints for my birthday. I'm very envious of your white poinsettia. I scoured the shops up here for one, but none to be had. Even florists didn't have any. They all looked doubtful and said things like "ooh, that would be a special order and quite expensive - perhaps £40". Maybe next year I'll have to combine with poinsettia search with a trip to Edinburgh, although a 6 hour train journey on two trains mightn't be the best thing for it.
    Interesting to see the English sparkling wine - I didn't know this one and it looks great. Up here it's all about whisky and gin and beer. The Romans did cultivate grapes in Scotland, but nearer the now English border, and the climate was warmer than it is now.

  18. Happy New Year to you and your family. Please tell me about the round pot that you show in the photo of your stove. I have never seen anything like it here in Canada. I am hopeful that I may be able to purchase one on-line. I enjoy your blog very much. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

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