Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas 2014

It was OK in the end, I guess it always is, it's just the run up I can't abide - all that shopping, spending and talk of a perfect Christmas. 

Christmas started with Olympia Horse Show, the best part of the festive season for me. An excuse to watch horses all afternoon, shop for jodhpurs, souvenir rosettes and 'oooooh and aaaaahhh' at the size of the jumps with a friend who gets the addiction. The kids sat transfixed at the Ukrainian Cossacks crazy gymnastic riding, the police horses jumping through fire, a Shetland grand national, the dog agility display and the famous riders show jumping the biggest fences. And then Father Christmas made a brief appearance, it was definitely the real one we all decided, with some snow, a carol and lots of kids on ponies galloping around the arena. It was completely brilliant!

I wrapped the presents in one hit with red wine, he helped enormously. We decided not to faff with appetisers and nibbles and instead opened a packet of cheesy balls which went down a treat. The bread sauce came from a packet, and although it was pretty disgusting we had all the right components of the feast. No off-piste cooking this year, a straight-down-the-line-middle-of-the-road-turkey dinner with the trimmings. Demolished in seconds I'm glad I didn't spend any longer on it than I did.

Instead I had time to watch Peter Pan, drink too much wine, play games, open mountains of gifts with the kids and clear up the inevitable Christmas day puke. 

Christmas 2014 ended, and is still ending with the bug. It just wouldn't be the same without it.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Friday, at long last

Thank Crunchie, and a whole lot of other things, it's Friday. I have emotional, stressed out, heaps of snotty nosed kids who are counting down the days. But after the school pick up today we can all just pile into our jammies and get cosy, put a film on, light a fire, drop our shoulders, relax our tight, wound up jaws and maybe even smile.

P's tantrums are reminiscent of a toddlers. A's outbursts are a look into the future of things to come - we have definitely hit the tween years.

I am trying so hard to be Zen about Christmas this year, I almost missed it last year for all the sadness and stress. So we really are going to take one day at a time and slowly get ready - I'm not going to try to pack everything in and make it perfect.

Just one day at a time, it will all get done. That's my mantra. It will get done.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Mexican milagro

These are milagros, small miracles, from Mexico - tiny tin ornaments that are pinned on the Saints in churches to protect you from ill health, or your animals ill-health or from matters of the heart, or they may increase your wealth, happiness, closeness to God - or simply pinned in gratitude for prayers answered.

Milagros.JPG (1600×1135)

I was taken with these little trinkets in a gorgeous, find-of-a-shop in Hastings. A pot full of charms were rifled through and some stocking fillers sorted. I quickly snapped up a horse milagro for myself, attaching it to an old silver chain - a talisman for my riding perhaps, a superstition to keep me safe and maybe a good luck charm inching me towards a red rosette.

Well, they don't work those milagros.

I was royally dumped by Fletch on Monday - he had no knowledge of the milagro around my neck but was rather pleased and excited to be at a jumping clinic with other horses. He just couldn't help himself and flung himself inside out as I crashed to the ground, slowly. Falling off a horse always seems to happen in slow motion. I got up, grinned at the professional instructor, apologised for the behaviour of Fletch and got straight back on knowing he would now behave perfectly, having got it out of his system.

Perhaps I should have thought about protecting myself and not the horse, maybe I should purchase a milagro of a leg, or an arm, or a chest to protect me. The horse needed no small miracle at all.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014


I need to listen to the rice grow but all I can hear is the never-ending lists in my head. Renew your driving license. Buy my father-in-law a gift. Make panforte. And chutney. Wrap the presents, probably better to buy them first. Order a turkey, poor bugger. A needs some sparkly shoes apparently. They haven't written to Father Christmas yet, not sure if they are doing their advent calender in order. My head hurts, my teeth hurt, my cheeks hurt, the sinus is screaming so I wouldn't be able to hear the rice grow even if I was there.

The phrase comes from how the people of three Asian countries define their characteristics, possibly how the French defined them in colonial times. It is said that the Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians watch the rice grow and the Lao listen to the rice grow - such as is the pace of life in Laos. I liked it a lot, Laos, we arrived in Luang Prabang with little A fluttering in my tummy, all but 18 weeks developed. I feared not the exotic food and traditions on my unborn baby, but embraced the serene pace of life before the chaos (I had been told) ensued, once she was born. I sipped at the strange drinks, ate the fried seaweed strips topped with chilli and sesame, wandered around temples in the rain and watched geckos underneath whirring fans of times past. We slowed to a pace so hard to find amongst our own lives.

But this Christmas I will take time to listen to the children giggle, listen to Fletch grinding and crunching through his hay, I will listen to their carols - and not let my mind wander - and to the glug of the red wine from the decanter. I will hear the cats delicately paw my duvet, I will appreciate the silence of dawn and I will listen to peoples needs. This Christmas I will listen to the rice grow, Sussex style.

Monday, 1 December 2014

No point fighting it!

I feel a little bit more able to the handle the 'C' word today, it is December after all.

The torrent of decorated Christmas trees on social media last night felt wrong in November, especially after the warm and sunny weekend we had. The panic is setting in about presents, various relatives demanding to know what we want - we don't want anything - you've got to have something it's Christmas - oh OK I'll have a think - well if you don't let me know I will get you a voucher - fine, get me a voucher. Got to get it all done and wrapped, a chore that has to be done at the end of the year. Is there any joy at all in Christmas shopping, choosing a gift a loved one might like, rather than from a pre-determined list? I quite like doing that but have learned to keep the receipts when my idea of what people would like was obviously far from what they wanted.

Anyway, there we are, the first of December today - it is now acceptable to listen to Christmas music, to send and receive Christmas cards, to eat a mince pie and sup some mulled wine. The kids are pouring over our Christmas selection of books and have eaten chocolate before breakfast, the nativity play is next week, the Father Christmas movie been watched and menu's are being decided.

There is absolutely no point in fighting this - it is now upon us - tinsel and all, a big box of chocolates and some cheap red wine will get me through - Merry Christmas everyone, enjoy the build up in all its plastic glory!