Well this is my view tonight! Yay! I finally got the tree up and decorated!
I had been planning to do it over the weekend, but managed to put my back out and was struggling with a rotten head cold, so even if I’d have been able to reach up and put the decorations on the tree, every time I sneezed, there would have been a massive needle drop!
I know, from reading your comments last week, that many of you have fallen foul of this nasty bug, and so I hope you’re now completely better and able to look forward to Christmas. Talking of which, I was reading back over my blogs from the last four years or more, and my tree always seems to look the same, but then I am a bit of a traditionalist.
I know we all seem to be saying that Christmas has crept up on us this year, and I think maybe it’s because we had such a lovely late summer and, for me, the surprise visit from my brother at the end of September.
This Christmas won’t be quite the same as the last three, as many of our children have other plans or prior engagements, so our party on the 24th will be just Sam, Jack, Colin and I – but I’ve already organised the meal and games!
We’ve booked ahead with the rest of the family, and will have a slightly delayed (but much anticipated) get-together on the 30th December instead. Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Honey, and we will be heading up the M4 on Christmas morning to spend the day with Lucy Simon and my little treasure.
Here she is in her Christmas party outfit at her Diddi Dancing class, looking sensational in her red feather boa!
Not only did she look beautiful, but her dancing skills would have challenged even Louise Redknapp… well, maybe…!
We’ll see Henry and George with Simon’s parents on Boxing Day, which I’m very much looking forward to, and am hoping for a re-run of last years monumental game of charades. Henry won, having made us guess his fictional literary work, ‘The Beard that Lied’ – it was hilarious!
We’ll be driving in the opposite direction on the 27th to spend the day with my mum, Joe, Jenny and Linda, and mum’s already organizing the food! She’s always been great at planning ahead and, even when we were living on a shoe string, she managed to make the smallest of turkeys go a very long way!
Christmas is one of those times when many of us find ourselves reminiscing… Considering some mornings I can’t even remember my own name, I have a particularly sharp recollection of this ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and the weird and wonderful traditions that make it special to me.
Christmas began in November for us, when I was a child, when mum would scrub out the washing up bowl so she could mix the Christmas cake in it! A mighty great round of fruity fabulousness, with bright yellow marzipan, and icing so hard you’d break your teeth on it!
She always used something called a blue bag to make the royal icing whiter, and I remember one year it was closer to sapphire than a whiter shade of pale.
We always had a Mrs Peeks Christmas pudding, and she’d hide a single sixpence in it just before she served it up. I seem to remember that Jenny, Peter and I all got one, so she performed a little bit of mum magic there.
One year she invited not just her own parents, but my dad’s parents too, and as a treat for them (I’m not sure they felt it was!) we three children performed a nativity play. She still has the recording of it somewhere, which was taped on the old reel to reel machine we had. It was positioned behind the sofa, so you couldn’t really hear us that well, but our grandparents words of encouragement, and my father’s laughter make a marvellous soundtrack.
As there were only three of us, the production required multiple costume changes, and the memorizing of an enormous amount of script! I remember I was one of the three kings (handy there were three of us!) and mum taught us the carol ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are’. My verse was quite dark… “Myrrh is mine, it’s bitter perfume, breathes a life of gathering gloom, sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone cold tomb” – ever the drama Queen me.
I can still remember the overwhelming excitement on Christmas Eve making it impossible to sleep, and my constant trips into the room my Nanny Timms was staying in to ask her if it was time to get up yet. Her teeth were in a glass on the bedside table and so to be fair, her response was a little difficult to understand, but it didn’t stop me trying. Eventually, morning came, and we all had stockings, – well, one of my dad’s socks – complete with little gifts, and a Satsuma jammed into the toe. It always took my dad ages to get up, and so we’d be waiting on the landing for him while mum went downstairs to put the three bar fire on (the real fire was only lit in the afternoon) to see what Father Christmas had left us.
Our family tradition was for the presents to be left in nominated piles, so we each had a corner of the sofa and one of the armchairs as our unwrapping stations! One of my best presents ever was a large plastic doll with movable limbs, that I named Alice. She had long auburn hair and my Nanny had knitted her a yellow jumper and tights, and a brown skirt to wear. My sister had been bought a pushchair for her teddy, but she decided she didn’t want that, she wanted Alice. She was only four at the time, but very insistent.
“I didn’t want a pushchair, I wanted a doll!”
It became her mantra, and when she tried to take Alice from me, I clung on for grim death. Unfortunately Alice’s leg came off in the struggle, and although my dad glued it back on with Araldite, it no longer moved, remaining at a rather jaunty angle, which made it almost impossible for me to get her tights on and off! I did forgive her a few years later…!
Seriously, those memories make Christmas for me, although they are bittersweet, with so many of our family members no longer with us. I realise that’s the same for many of you, and I know that this year has been particularly hard for some, as like us, you have lost friends and family. I hope that your special memories of them will be a comfort to you this Christmas and that you won’t be on your own or lonely. Remember, you can always keep in touch here on the blog, and I promise I’ll write back to you.
Something else I did promise was to share the photos of my girls weekend away, specifically our fancy dress competition!
Not a bad line up, eh?
Sue looking uncannily like Dame Edna, Suzanne brilliantly disguised as Miss Marple (not Aunt Bessie – as my Lucy suggested!), Julie was a dead ringer for Tina Turner, and I borrowed Vicky’s wig to be Amy Winehouse!
Diane captivated us all and dressed as Darcey Bussell (complete with tutu), although I don’t have a photo of her, and Deb was Agnetha from Abba – but she managed to also avoid being photographed in her orange wig and bright blue eyeshadow!
It was a hoot, and we remained in character to watch Strictly, although we were all a little hot under the collar having watched Danny and Oti’s salsa! If that had been the final, he’d certainly have got our vote!
As we approach the final week of shopping days before Christmas here at the Q, I wanted to alert you to a couple of treats you won’t want to miss!
I have a whole hour of Clogau jewellery at 11pm this Sunday, with some stunning pieces featuring the rare and royal rose gold. My final Diamonique show before the big day is on the 22nd and, although we won’t be able to guarantee getting the jewellery to you before Christmas, if you’re buying for a New Year’s party, then I have plenty of sparkle!
I’d have been lost without my Kipling Today’s Special Value this last week while I’ve been out and about Christmas shopping.
I was amazed at how much I was able to cram into this fabulous tote bag, which comes complete with a cross body strap, and separate wallet. I particularly liked the quilted finish – very chic! I’ll be with Marie-Francoise Woolf on Tuesday the 20th and you can see all the other colours and the size of it then.
My final show is at midnight on the 23rd December, when I’ll be joined by Christopher Fink. If you’re not familiar with his fabulous fashion then give yourself a treat and join us for what I know is going to be a busy hour.
I’ll be back with Diamonique on the 29th December, and am delighted to be welcoming the New Year in with you, and introducing you to a game changing kitchen gift from Panasonic. I hope you can join me as we count out of 2016 and into 2017.
All that remains for me to do now is to wish you a truly happy Christmas, and to hope that you will spend it with those who mean the most to you. Hold onto your memories, and enjoy making new ones, and may this New Year bring you good health and much happiness. Thank you so much for supporting the blog, for sharing your lives with me, and for all your kindness and caring. It means the world to me.
With my love,