The end of a very busy year

31/12/22 The end of a very busy year

Well, here we are at the very end of 2022 and as usual we are recovering from another busy month…and of course from a fabulous Christmas. I hope you all had a good Christmas too and managed to get to where ever you were hoping to, despite all the strikes and illnesses that have made the month very difficult, for a lot of people. We managed to have a great Christmas Day with Hazel, Phil and the little one and my brother Alan too. As always, Christmas involves so much preparation (although I have to say my tasks are now minimal, as Hazel does it all!) and is over far too quickly in the end. We are now in this strange “twixmas” period…the week between Christmas and New Year…and it has dragged a bit I have to say, with lots of places closed or cancelled (including Op shop of course for me and Geoff’s pickleball activities) so we have spent a week watching very sad TV programmes and going out for the occasional walk. I will be glad to get back to “normal” next week really!

Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. Ill go back to the beginning of December then! It all started well as I dug out my ancient advent calendar (48 years old now) and started to count down the days until Christmas. Hazel and I had a lovely trip across to Newcastle to see Fenwicks windows (which were a bit disappointing I have to say) and to meet up with two of my brothers for coffee and then lunch which was nice. In fact, we spent so much time eating we didnt have a lot of time for the shopping we had intended to do! It was a nice day though.

We seem to have done quite a lot of things centred around eating and drinking as the month progressed! We went off to Upfront gallery for one of our “date day” lunches, where I had hoped to buy a special present but couldnt find anything to suit, so we went on a little trail taking in Larch cottage and Rose Barn…all again to no avail. I eventually bought it in Carlisle in the end. We also managed to fit in a lovely lunch with Linda and Mike, at another of our favourite places, Hidden River Café one week, which was lovely as usual. All our favourite places this month you will notice! There have been several Christmas coffee mornings and events during the month too including a coffee morning at church and a carol singing evening at Cornerstone one Wednesday evening. I helped Hazel out with an Amnesty “write for rights” event in Cakes and Ales, in Carlisle, one afternoon too, where people were asked to write cards to send to prisoners of conscience all over the world. I really like this Amnesty idea and signed my cards with great hope that they would brighten up someones life a little. We also went along to the Denton Holme Christmas Fayre on a freezing cold afternoon to support that. I was pleased that so many people turned out to support this event, as it was absolutely freezing…the poor volunteers and stall holders must have been very cold indeed. Happily, the brass band continued to play and Santa continued to amaze all of the children, despite the temperatures. I suppose Santa is used to bitterly cold conditions! Chapeau bas (as we used to say in France) to all concerned though.

We, like a lot of folk, have not escaped all the bugs that seem to be circulating at the moment. Hazel and the little one caught this horrendous tummy bug which is going round, and kindly passed it on to us both. It was not pleasant and resulted in us not really eating much for over a week and spending far too much time admiring the bathroom decoration! Happily, we did get rid of it before Christmas, but it certainly was not a good experience.

The week before Christmas turned out to be a very busy one indeed. I did my usual Op shop shift on the Tuesday and Geoff hosted a bit of a party at his pickleball session (including the giving out of spoof “golden ball” awards…don’t ask!) and then we set off to spend the night in Manchester with Matthew, Susie and our grandchildren, Ethan and Hadley. The drive down was fine until we hit the M60 where we rediscovered the joy of the Manc traffic! How we ever lived there, I do not know…the traffic is appalling! We stayed, as usual, in the Premier Inn hotel close to Matthews house and the next morning saw us battling the traffic again to take the kids to the pantomime, at Romiley, very close to where we used to live. I have to say it was the very first time I`ve ever been to a theatre for a 10am performance! It was good fun though and the kids really enjoyed it…as did we! Having fed them a quick lunch, we then took them home, reloaded the car with gifts and set off again for home. After a very quick cup of tea, we then set off again to lead a group of folk from our church to sing some carols around the nearby streets. We have managed to organise carol singing like this where-ever we have lived in the UK. But as with all things it is a dying tradition really. Our little group really enjoyed it though and so did those brave folk who actually answered their doorbells…we quickly decided to ring bells as double glazing these days, does not allow the singing to be heard otherwise. We did not collect money – although we could have raised a few pounds if we had done so – but we decided just to sing for the sheer joy of bringing a bit of Christmas cheer to people instead. It was great fun…and we all agreed over a very welcome cup of coffee and a mince pie afterwards, that we will repeat it next year.

Before I move on to Christmas itself, I must mention how proud I was of Ethan and Hadley a little earlier in the month. The two of them, having heard that the local cat shelter, where they had found George, their cat, was overrun with abandoned pussies and struggling to feed them, to try and raise some money for them. With the help of Mum and Dad, they set up a just giving page and then walked 14.5 miles (the equivalent of walking up the “easy” path up Mt Snowdon) one day, on a circuit near their house. Not bad for an 8yr old and a 6 yr old eh? They set a target of £150 but actually raised £420! Very proud grandparents here…and a very grateful cat shelter.

We, like everyone else, it seems, quite enjoyed watching the football World Cup…although I have to admit we didnt watch every match by any means. We did enjoy the progress of some of the lesser fancied teams against the prima donna stars of the big football nations. Our son could not believe though, that we left the “greatest” (allegedly) World Cup final ever, to attend the carol service at church, but as we had said we would both read lessons, we really had no choice! We did catch up later and yes it was a really good match wasnt it?

And so, we come to the end period of this year in earnest. As Ive already said we had a lovely Christmas Day, quite a quiet Boxing Day, during which we took Xena for a walk and a bit of an up and down week really. Matthew and family called in to see Hazel on Thursday, on their way home from a visit to Susies family in Edinburgh, so we were able to spend a very happy afternoon watching all the kids playing together…and eating again of course! Then we drove across to visit Mike and Linda in Uldale, where we enjoyed a lovely evening with them and their family…and ate again!! I managed to get my hair done at long last on Friday, so at least I can see in the New Year tonight looking less like a shaggy unkept doggy! We wont really be doing anything special tonight but will probably stay up to see 2022 out and welcome 2023 in with a little glass of something appropriate, before heading off to bed as usual. So, all that remains now is to thank you all for continuing to read this blog over the last 12 months and to wish you all a very Happy New Year. We both hope it brings you all good health, happiness and all you wish for. I`ll be back next month as usual. Have a great night tonight everyone and stay safe

A bientôt mes amis…


What a busy time you have. All those lovely cafes.
Bugs here too. I have been fighting a chest infection and am on the mend now.
Happy New Year to you and the North.

Thank you. Wishing you & your family a Happy New Year too.