Friday, 14 December 2018

Model villages, willow, photography, and Handel

Christmas greetings from here on the riverbank. E will be home from uni soon, so this is likely to be my last post before the big day. December seems to be flying by and we still haven't bought our Christmas tree. Tomorrow is the day for that, and maybe to buy some outdoor lights. We had some years ago, but failed to replace them when needed. Consequently, our house looks a little Scroogey compared to the neighbours'! 
I don't want to go as far as the house down the road that looks like something from 'Deck the Halls', but a few token lights in the crab-apple tree I could live with. 
I have been enjoying all the Vlogmas podcasts on You Tube, annoying R with my Winter Wonderland CD in the car, opening my yarny advent calendar, and lighting my candles. Most of the shopping is done, so I'm all ready to look after my girls when they come home. Both of them have been working really hard, so I just want to take care of them for a while.

Here then are my photos for this month:

A trip to Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds. There was so much to do here that we didn't see everything. We plan to return in the summer:
 They had a gorgeous model village:

There was also a fantastic charity shop. Lovely things at reasonable prices, which isn't always the case. I bought a sweet watercolour for the princely sum of £2.50. I already had a suitable frame, so it's now hanging in our stairwell, reminding me of our day out whenever I pass it.

Next was a trip to Bristol with my friend, S. We started the day at Carluccio's which does a fantastic vegan breakfast - borlotti beans on ciabatta with wilted spinach, griddled courgettes and tomatoes. YUM!
 After pottering round the Christmas markets, we visited M Shed to see this year's photography exhibition.
 S bought a postcard of our favourite:
 We finished the day with mocktails at The Cosy Club:

E had an essay deadline, so I did my Deliveroo act and stopped by briefly to give her a pizza before driving home.

My advent calendar. The miniskeins are going into my cosy memory blanket each day. I might make some scrappy socks with the leftovers.
 A willow workshop at the local museum. The large willow wreath is now wrapped in ivy on my front door. Unless you happen to know that I actually made the willow circle, it looks a bit sad!
 A trip to Bath to collect E and take her back to Bristol. She had a busy day. She has taken up Ballroom and Latin dancing and had a competition in Bath in the morning. She then had to return to Bristol for a concert in the evening. As we were going to the concert, and Bath was en route, we collected her. We dropped in here for lunch which was very nice. I tried banana blossom 'fish' and chips and, I know I haven't eaten fish since 1984, but it tasted just like it to me!
 A photo of our concert ticket. Isn't that a great acronym?!
 My advent candle, bought at Gloucester Cathedral earlier this year:
 R bought last minute tickets for this. We seem to have caught every cold going recently. R caught one at work, E at uni and L in London. Then we all got together for L's birthday and swapped viruses. It was my turn to feel rough on December 5th. I'd made a vegetable stew and was planning an evening on the sofa with my book and a Lemsip. Then R rang me to tell me that he had tickets and could I meet him at the cinema in an hour and bring a picnic. I was a little unenthusiastic, but it's testament to how good the play was that it was all worthwhile. I feel I may have annoyed some of the audience by coughing and sneezing through most of it though!
 Trying my hand at the 'quilt as you go' method. I loved it.
According to R, Christmas doesn't begin until he has heard Handel's 'Messiah'. For his birthday, I bought tickets for a performance at the Sheldonian in Oxford. We had dinner at Edemame followed by a vegan mince pie and coffee at Blackwell's before the concert.

The concert was excellent. I haven't been in the Sheldonian since L's graduation and I had forgotten how good the acoustics are. In true George II style, we all stood for the Hallelujah Chorus and the choir, although relatively small in number, belted it out like champions. It brought a lump to my eye!

Well, that's all for this week. May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a joyful, peaceful Christmas. I'll see you on the other side.

Toodle Pip for now. x


  1. I would like to go to Cotwold. Lucky you! Happy Holidays!

  2. You always do such lovely things. I feel inspired to make more of an effort to get out and visit places next year. Love your willow offerings, especially the deer. How long have you been vegan for now? Are you finding it easy? Do you feel different as a result?
    Have a lovely Christmas with your girls home. Give Hamish a kiss from us xx

    1. Hi CT. We've been vegan since October 2017 ( we gave up dairy for 'Stoptober' and just carried on). Now that the cheese cravings have stopped it is relatively easy. It's no problem at home, and eating out is made easier as veganism seems to be the in thing at the moment! I don't feel much different to be honest, but we had been veggie for 34 years; maybe it would have been different if we went from being omnivores to vegans. The only difference I've noticed is that your palate changes. On holiday in Cyprus we were served a pizza with cheddar (only mozzarella was listed in the ingredients and we requested that that be removed). We thought that it would serve nobody if it was just thrown away, so we said we would eat it. It turned out that we couldn't: the cheese tasted far too fatty and salty. That was the point at which the cheese cravings stopped! You become more attuned to the flavour of things. It may explain why some people think that vegan food is bland whilst vegans think it's delicious. Anyway, that's rather a long winded reply - sorry! Have a wonderful Christmas, and kisses to Ted and Poppy too! xx

  3. I have very happy memories of visiting Bourton on the Water when our boys were small, such a lovely model village. Glad everyone is home at Christmas, it makes it such a special time. Very envious of your concert in the Sheldonian. Always play Handel when I’m making the Christmas cakes and decorating the tree.
    You always inspire me with the classes you attend. I must try and do more in 2019.
    Have a very happy Christmas. B x

  4. Love your quilt and the willow decorations. I'm trying to eat GF to see if it improves my health issues and as my friend has a dairy/egg allergy, I've been experimenting with some vegan recipes. Can you recommend any good books or websites?
    Happy Christmas to you all. xx

    1. Hi Helen! I go through phases with my favourite books. At the moment I love 'Much More Veg' by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and 'Bosh!'. I also love Indian food and 'Fresh' is a good one, although it does include some dairy recipes too. 'Oh How She Glows' is a good website (I shall be making her Ultimate Vegan Lentil and Walnut Loaf for Christmas Day), and I also like the 'Good Eatings' podcast. I hope going gluten free helps with your health issues. Have fun experimenting and give Flo a Christmas cuddle from me. Have a merry one. xx

  5. Loved the model village and your willow ornaments, and your quilt,you are so inspiring! Your meals out have me utterly drooling, especially the fish and chips!Oh, so pleased you got to see Handel's Messiah, classic music always moves me to tears too. Enjoy your Christmas with hubs and the girls, all the very best to you all, have a good one.xxxx

  6. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! Your wreath looks great - I can appreciate the effort that went in to it - and Bourton on the Water looks so pretty. Have you come across Paper Panda's work? I think she lives there. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is on here. I plan to go and see it. Thanks for the reminder!