Monday 28 December 2020

A Winter's Tale

 Here we are almost at the end of another year and like many, I find it a time for reflection. I don't think any of us need another reminder of what a different or difficult year it has been. We have all faced challenges, some more heartbreaking or devastating than others, so in many ways I am fortunate. Plans for the year didn't materialise, we didn't see friends, our family or our three new grandchildren as much as we would have liked but overall things are okay. And on the plus side, I have learned new skills by taking my teaching online and have started a new venture with the podcast with Izzy. Both things that probably would never have happened without the pandemic. In fact planning, or lack of, is the subject of the third episode of our podcast, Izzy & Gina... in stitches, which you can hear from Thursday 31st December as we attempt to wrap up this year. We also talk about our dogs and I mention a little foray into writing...

Which brings me neatly to the real subject of this post... writing. Along with my other creative pursuits I enjoy putting pen to paper now and then. I've often kept diaries, I've written here for more years than I remember and I've even written a pantomime but I've never really attempted a story, at least not since I was at school. So during a short writing course from Beth Kempton just before Christmas, where we were encouraged to write a short winter story based on a memory, I came up with the following. I have debated whether to share this as it feels incredibly exposing, but there seems little point in writing a story if no-one gets to read it. In the words of Seth Godin "It doesn't count if you don't share it". 

So here goes. It is entirely true and I hope it will bring a smile to your face at the end of this strangest of years. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. And let me sign off for the year by wishing you peace, hope, good health and love for 2021. Thank you for being here.

A Cautionary Winter's Tale

It was one of those winters of childhood memory, where you always wake to a world cloaked in muffled silence, enveloped in a blanket of snow. Of course, most winters were not like that at all, and just like the endless hot balmy summers we recalled from our youth, they were merely imagined memories, given rose tinted spectacles with the passage of time.


But this particular Christmas we really did wake to find there had been a heavy snowfall during the night. It was a late start with the adults weary from the celebrations of the evening before but us children couldn’t wait to get outside. Donning hats, mittens, scarves and boots we wrapped up ready to go and play in the road, in the days when it was safe to do so. The overnight snowfall had been so heavy it was unlikely there would be any traffic on our quiet street anyway.


Snowballs were hurled, landing on our necks sending trickles of icy water down our backs as we shrieked in mock outrage. Snowmen were built as we rolled huge balls up and down the street, gathering layers of clinging wet snow speckled with grit. We lay on the fresh unspoilt snow in the front gardens making ‘angels’ with our arms and legs. We played for what seemed like hours, until our ears and noses were tingling and our fingers became so numb, we could no longer feel them, encased in their mittens coated with clinging clumps of ice.


Back inside our wet outer garments were discarded, leaving puddles on the floor and soggy damp wool was draped over heaters to dry, as my mother boiled up a kettle to make us hot blackcurrant drinks to warm us up. As we sipped the steaming hot mugs of blackcurrant cordial there were cries of disgust. 

“This tastes really strange”, “It’s horrid”, “There’s not enough Ribena in this, you’ve made it too weak”

Mum emptied the bottle, adding extra cordial to our mugs, in an attempt to improve the flavour but it didn’t help much. It became sweeter but still tasted disgusting.


And then my uncle Dave, ex merchant navy, appeared, taking in the scene of complaining children with their hot drinks and realisation dawned. 

“You didn’t use that half bottle of blackcurrant I left on the sideboard, did you?” He asked my mother. 

“Yes, thought it best to use that up before opening a new bottle.”

“Ah… I mixed that with my rum last night!”


Fortunately, none of us had drunk more than a sip or two and none of us actually liked the hot rum and black, but the story was told for many years about the time all us kids all got drunk on uncle Dave’s rum!



You can read another one of my forays into writing here.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Christmas Crafting.

I had a mad moment last week when I wondered if I might do a post every day in December, like I have in the past, a sort of blogging advent calendar. Which had I gone ahead would have meant more blog posts in this one month than I managed the entire rest of the year... but I came to my senses in time! I'm not sure what it is about December that makes me think I can do ALL the things as I go into a frenzy of making gifts, handcrafting decorations, baking, pickling and preserving and more. I turn into a crazy crafting woman who could give Kirsty Allsop a run for her money!

During an afternoon set aside for clearing up my studio, I found a bag of pebbles that had been knocking around for years. There has been a bit of a thing in our village (and in other places too I believe) for painting pebbles and hiding them for children (and adults) to find. The idea is that they get photographed, the picture is posted on a special Facebook page called 'Guilden Rocks' and then pebble gets hidden again for someone else to find. I thought it would be fun to paint my pebbles and hide them... needless to say the studio didn't get cleared that day!

I've also been making some origami stars to go on the front of some Christmas cards... I was inspired after reading some of those other advent posts from my past. This one here should you fancy giving them a try. I seem to remember threading them onto invisible thread and hanging them up as decorations too.

But they look quite cute on the front of cards!

I also made some of these cute little tags after watching a fabulous free tutorial by Laura Kemshall. Given my usual aversion to anything patchwork related these were strangely addictive and I ended up making a dozen or so to go on the front of more cards.

Or in some cases to decorate parcels. The observant among you may also have noticed there were mince pies made too. You can find my recipe for almond topped pies here... regular pastry just doesn't come close.

As if that wasn't enough I've also crocheted these Christmas trees which came in kit form from Cotton Pod. It was the most beautifully packaged kit I have ever received and felt just like I was sending myself a gift. It was almost a shame to unwrap it all to make the trees but I'm glad I did because as yet they are the only decorations up so far... and they look rather jolly on the mantlepiece.

I may not be doing a blogging advent calendar but the real one I made for our eldest grandson has gone down a treat. We get daily photos as he takes the latest ornament from its pocket and hangs it on his tree. The joy is infectious!


And as final note, which really has nothing to do with what I've already written about (I tried to think of an elegant segue but failed), I thought I should mention the second episode of my podcast with Izzy Moore is out tomorrow at 10 am GMT and we will be talking about some of our favourite textile and art books... as well as about painting pebbles and Christmas cakes! (Yes, I have made my Christmas cake too... I knew I could link it to making stuff somehow!)

Izzy and Gina... in stitches is available on all the usual podcast listening platforms. Have you listened to the first episode yet?