I had big plans this Christmas, huge plans! You may know that I don't do things by halves at the most normal of times, but this year, this Christmas, it was going to be special....Having finally enticed my immediate family to deep dark worldham for the big day (previously unheard of), I was determined to prove that the best ever Christmas could be had in our little cottage - to be honest not much persuasion was actually needed, given that there is a very special new resident at home now! I devised the menu and ordered the pheasants weeks in advance - yay, my house, my choice of bird ( - I hate turkey!), I wrapped table presents, bought table props and goodies, posh fizz, Marks and Sparks party food to really load on the calories, decorated the house within an inch of its life, got myself a sparkly new roasting tin and generally got over-excited...... Well, best laid plans and all that! The weather was clearly against me, but we got off lightly in the grand scheme of things, and despite my disappointment at having to leave an even deeper, darker, Worldham Christmas morning when it became clearly apparent that the power really wasn't going to be restored, even though it had already been off for 2 days, and re-group at my parents house, we at least had a proper warm, loving and illuminated day which many, many people didn't. You realise on these occasions just how vulnerable to the elements we are - I had thought about the impact that snow would have had on us, but I hadn't even considered the fact that a socking great storm would blow in and wreck the joint! Thousands of homes this Christmas were dark and soggy, some people, friends of ours included, were powerless for 5 days or more, but something like this does put life into perspective - what was a rotten inconvenience for some of us who are fortunate enough to enjoy a comfortable life ordinarily, is a stark reality for many the whole year round. It made me think about how lucky I am a lot, and how over-indulged we as a family are, spending a substantial part of our year this year in Ethiopia was certainly an eye-opener, but even then we were protected by the knowledge that we had a lovely home to return to and were there surrounded by people who did their absolute best to support us and cheer us on. I therefore urge you to think about those who would benefit from a simple text response to a charity plea, consider what it must be like for those in Syria, the homeless in our own country or those left devastated in the Philippines - this year our brother in law forwent any type of formal Christmas gift and instead asked that we gave the financial equivalent in aid. A genuinely selfless act and perhaps not one that many of us would willingly perform. Camila Batmanghelidjh founded the Kids Company charity in 1996 and has worked tirelessly to address the issue of malnutrition in inner city London - this year I fully intended to answer the charity's appeal for donations towards ensuring that some of these children enjoyed some semblance of a Christmas - I am ashamed that this became shifted to the back of my mind and therefore did not become a reality - I can promise you that it will be a priority next year. And I will continue to text words such as Blanket to 70007 - why don't you?
Kids Company's Christmas Appeal from Kids Company on Vimeo.
Kids Company's Christmas Appeal from Kids Company on Vimeo.
A common scene around our neck of the woods at the moment, in fact following a family gathering at my parents house this evening, the 3 of us returned home to discover that our own road was impassable and had in fact been closed! Intrepid that we are, we pushed the barriers aside and risked a flood which pretty much reached up to our cars wheel arches - thankfully it is made of tough stuff and we made it through - hmmmm, not sure we'll make it out again though!
So, back to our Christmas in pics......
I couldn't decide on a card this year, I was tempted to fashion Noah into a wise man or such, but settled with a Paperchase inspired neon affair - I had also found some cool number stamps and needed a good excuse to use them!!
A half bought half made door wreath - always nice to have a cheery welcome! A good precursor to what's inside......
The advent calender slowly revealed its contents.....
Now this is a proper Christmas card - the best I saw this year and the brainchild of Deborah at work!
Thanks to a moment of madness and an evening spent watching Kirstie's homemade Christmas (sorry Ivy Black chat - I know!) - I had this overwhelming urge to get a Christmas balloon made for Noah - of course he wrecked it after 5 minutes but it looked great while it lasted! I am trying not to think about the time I spent in the balloon shop stuffing its contents through the blow hole because the owner didn't believe that it could be done - ha! It could!!! Errr, more fool me....?
The wrapping took me blinking ages - why do I do this to myself????? Next year with a full time job and a Noah it might not be so easy.......
My wonderful, wonderful, best friend came to stay and just before we were plunged into darkness on the 23rd we swapped our gifts in a lovely, relaxed and wine fuelled manner, while my wonderful, wonderful, husband cooked us supper!
Mine came in a homemade sack!!!
5 hours on Christmas eve was spent trying to deliver her to a train station that actually had trains so that she could get to london, to get to Manchester, to be with her family - it began in the dark and it felt like Armageddon - I have never seen so much devastation around here - although right now I am seriously worried about the water seeping in under the door! I cannot believe that my amazing neighbour spent his afternoon clearing all our drains today..... So, eventually we ended up in Surbiton and hooray - she got a train to London and did make it home for Christmas in Manchester - I love you Bex. XXXXX
Talking about Surbiton I am a bit worried that I have a Margot Leadbetter mentality when it comes to Christmas - but at least I would get the joke about the oooh aaah bird......
Despite being freezing cold and in the dark on Christmas morning the 3 of us persevered with the opening of our Christmas stockings - Noah seemed to have a good time......
Not that much of a good time though!
And oh yeah Noah FYI Daddy doesn't share his presents!!!
We still managed to make good food at Mum and Dad's and everyone got their gifts and props to play with....
....Noah soon got the hang of it!!!
Boxing day saw us headup to London for a couple of days to hang out with Ivan's (Mr Bicknell's) best friend Ned and his lovely partner Michelle and their children - lots of great food and wine was consumed and the next day the 3 of us accompanied them to the Stratford Circus to see Mr and Mrs Moon by the Oily Cart company - the children (to my initial dismay) were asked to remove their shoes and socks and grab a bucket and spade - OMG it was going to be carnage, but actually, with a little bit of encouragement and guidance, Noah joined in and coped really well - we were worn ragged by the end of it though!!!
Lovely Islington lights!
Guess who got big bang CLUEDO?? AND a new bazinga mug!!!
We had a fun evening game playing with my little brother Guy and his lovely girl Talita
Ivan (Mr Bicknell) attempted to flex his creative muscles in Cranium - above you can see "big foot" and below his sketch of "poker face"........!!
New year for us was a very civilised affair - most of us are parents now so are party space was shared with hyper 3 - 8 year olds! There was the odd embarassing Wii dance-off competition - well for Clive anyway with whom I wiped the floor! Great food - he cooks far better than he dances, good conversations, a marriage proposal announcement, speculation about a potential pregnancy, complicated quizzes and lots of love, who could ask for anything more?! I hope your New Year was what you wanted it to be.
Me and my lovely sister in law Annie - both of us now Mummies!
Some of the joint effort food that went down so well!
Well, if the kids will leave their toys lying about!!
Oh, and look - 2013 was one hell of a year for us, but we have got a lot to smile about! Cheers! X
Today we have just hung out - Noah discovering how to use Oma's draught excluder as a canoe and successfully encouraging cousin Max to join in!!!
Below are the contents of the best Christmas Crackers ever - cleverly found by Ivan's (Mr Bicknell's) Mum (Oma) - racing penguins!!