Wednesday 23 December 2020

Merry and bright

Ready or not, here it comes. A bit of baking left to do here, which I'll try and squeeze in somehow. I'm not exactly taking a break over Christmas, but working from home means I'm always here anyway and I can be flexible.

The littlest boy and I made a foray into town this afternoon, more for the exercise than anything. We went to the garden shop for tasty dog snacks. The high street was really quiet. It was closed to traffic early on in the pandemic, which has upset the retailers because of the loss of passing trade. I'm hoping there won't be any losses of the independent shops.

A friend of mine has just opened a plastic-free shop, which is pretty brilliant. An antidote to the horrors of festive packaging. 

I have a couple of little outings planned, but some of the things we usually do and places I wanted to take the urchins are in different counties, and we're surrounded by lower tiers, so we'll no doubt be staying closer to home. 

I've been enjoying walking about the place on these short, dark days. I love midwinter, in particular that last hour of daylight which always seems so magical. Walking home, with lights going on in people's houses, having somewhere warm and dry and cosy to go to, it's such a good feeling. The dog has been less impressed with getting wet paws three times a day, but no doubt he'll toughen up.

On the subject of toughening up, the middle boy made me laugh earlier today. We were talking about the different years at school no longer mix and how it's all one-way now, so there is no more shoving of Year 7s (the youngest ones - 11-12 year olds) out of the way in the corridor in brutal fashion. I felt they wouldn't be properly toughened up. He said they also wouldn't learn proper respect for their elders. On reflection, perhaps an entire tradition will be completely lost. When they get to years 10 and 11, will they instinctively know to knock the smaller people flying? Or will they be all polite and well-mannered? It could change the whole basis of civilisation. 

Anyway, I shall stop blithering and wish you all the very best for the season. Any festive baking to be done your way? I need to knock up a nice nut roast for the vegans/vegetarians and a vegan chocolate pudding for the vegans/people who don't like Christmas pudding, then I feel I must be just about ready. There is food in the fridge (or at least, there was yesterday, which isn't necessarily quite the same thing), the dog has a good variety of snacks plus an exciting new flat squirrel toy to play with, in lieu of an actual squirrel, as they've proved devilishly tricky to catch, and just one door left on the advent calendar. It is a Christmas at the Palace one, and if the last big double door at the front of the palace does not reveal the Queen and a whole bunch of corgis I will be mightily disappointed. I will let you know.

Have a lovely day, and see you on the other side. CJ xx

Tuesday 15 December 2020

By the rivers

The Christmas tree is up. I sent the eldest to pick it up from the Scout Hut, being as he has all the muscles from the gym membership. I thought I might as well get my money's worth. He had a choice of a thin one or a really, really fat one. He chose the really, really fat one, and barely made it home, having to stop three times en route, despite all of the expensive muscles.

The space we have available is suited to a very slender tree. When I unwrapped the one he'd brought home we all stood there lost for words. It is the world's thickest tree, as wide as it is tall, and exceptionally luxuriant. A triumph of tree growing. And entirely unsuited to the narrow space between the fireplace and the television. I levered it in as best I could. It has a sort of malevolent dark presence in the corner of the room, sucking all the light out of it somehow. The middle boy and I, who tend to sit on a two-person sofa to the left of the fireplace, will not be able to view the television with the rest of the family throughout the festive season. We aren't that bothered to be honest, we're very well suited to sitting outside of the circle making sarcastic remarks that we think are funny, so we'll do that instead.

Photos from a trip to the River Severn (bird watching) and a trip to the River Avon (fishing). Birds but no fish. 

I put my back out the other day. Nothing too dramatic, it'll sort itself out in a bit, but I am blaming the dog. He had an appointment at the groomer's and as soon as he realised where we were going he sat down and refused to move, so I had to carry him the rest of the way. By the time we got there, he was shaking like a leaf. He does try to be brave, but when the chips are down he just wants to be at home on the sofa with me. 

In a moment of madness, I decided to try and write another 50,000 words of the fiction manuscript in December, having managed 50,000 in November. Maintaining the momentum and all that. Along with the day job of freelance writing, it is proving challenging. I have done 25,000 so far though, which is good. If I don't push myself, I think I'm a bit lazy. 

I am considering a bokashi bin. Has anyone ever given it a go? I like the idea of being able to compost cooked food and things. Although the wormery would do that, I tend not to put cooked food in there. I do love fermenting stuff though. I am making a batch of miso at the moment. And I always have kefir and sourdough on the go and quite often some kimchi. It really is rather magical. If you have any bokashi tips or advice to impart, please feel free. And don't be afraid to put me off, I do tend to get these ideas and they don't always turn out well.

Hope all is well at your end. CJ xx