Thank you, thank you for all your comments. We are all good and the anxiety levels have definitely subsided over the last couple of weeks. As so many of you said, it is what it is and we just need to get on with it. I can cope with not going out to cafes, restaurants and the like, it's not being able to see and hug friends and family I find the hardest. I am a hugger. Thank goodness for WhatsApp and Zoom.
Focusing on the positives always helps, counting my blessings and feeling thankful for what we have. Looking for the light, both literally and metaphorically, is lifting my spirits.
Last weekend it rained a lot and I switched on all the lights in the kitchen, turned on the radio, and I made my Christmas cake.
I always follow the recipe in Nigella's Christmas book, it works every time. Now the cake is cooked and tucked up in an airtight box in the garage for the next six weeks, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I think this year I am going to ice it. I am going to go all out with royal icing to look like snow, tiny trees and reindeer decorations, edible glitter, the lot. I don't feel like being tasteful or restrained this year. It seems like many people are choosing to decorate for Christmas much earlier than usual, do you think so too? Personally, I will wait till December, but if putting your tree and some fairy lights up now makes you happy, then go for it I say. Especially after the year we've had. I am feeling much more organised about Christmas now actually; I've made a decent start on shopping, bought cards, stamps and a Christmas pudding. I've even remembered to buy chocolate coins for the advent calendar. How about you? Are you welcoming Christmas earlier than usual this year? It's hard to get excited about the day itself when we don't even know if or when we will be able to see family, but I think it's important to have something nice to look forward to.
We went for a walk in the woods last weekend. During two days of stormy weather we managed to be out for the hour when it stopped raining and the sun came out. The leaves were glowing in the sun and it was just gorgeous. We all felt so much better afterwards - never underestimate the power of some gentle exercise, fresh air and vitamin D on your mental health.
Mince pie baking has commenced in this household. Last weekend Angus made these with a roll of ready-made pastry and had a lot of fun in the process.
Yesterday I decided to be brave and have a go at making my own pastry. I prefer sweet shortcrust in mincepies and this recipe worked beautifully. I was a bit nervous about getting them out of the muffin tin but actually they came out really easily - no leaks! Next time I would increase the amount of mincemeat though.
I get a bit obsessed with lighting at this time of year. It's so important to have pools of warm, twinkly light around the house, especially when it's a gloomy day.
We recently installed some plug-in wall lights in our bedroom.
When I say we I mean John. The light they give for reading is just perfect, bright but warm.
This one has discovered the Harry Potter books and is gripped. Each weekend we watch one of the films (currently up to the third) in front of the fire and it's very cosy. The rule is he must have read the book first - it's proving very motivating.
We went for a walk this afternoon and, despite the mild temperatures, the light definitely felt different to a couple of weeks ago.
It's starting to take on that blue-ish, wintry quality that I associate with December not November.
It's hard to see, but if you look closely at the horizon line on the photo below, under the band of orange cloud, you can just see the sea.
Excuse the photo (I zoomed in a lot, stretching the camera on my phone to the absolute limit) but you can just see the tankers lining up on the horizon in The Solent, waiting to come in to Portsmouth.
I'd never noticed that you could see the sea from up here. Probably too busy taking photos of sheep.