Saturday, 26 December 2015

Photos for Advent | Christmas day







My favourite moment of Christmas. I am very lucky because I not only have the most amazing children but they are extremely close and truly love each other. Seeing them here together was the happiest moment of my day.
Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful time.
 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Advent photographs | Happy Solstice!

It is perhaps fitting that this post is a day late, as I discovered that the Solstice this year actually occurred at 4.49am this morning, rather than on December 21st.




Despite wind and rain I set off to the special place where I always pick my holly. I suspect it's not really allowed but I would prefer to gather my own holly, piece by careful piece, taking only a few sprigs from each tree and, I have to admit, thanking each tree as I do so.
Anyway- It's one of my favourite Christmas rituals. I try to go on the Solstice if possible and I love the feeling of being out in the middle of an ancient copse of holly trees, following the traditional way of decorating my home for Christmas.







I was rained on, buffeted by the wind, muddy and scratched by the time I had my collection.
I didn't really mind, as I feel you should suffer a little for your holly!
Back at home everything was tipped out, the garden raided as well and I set about decorating the house (tucking sprigs of holly behind the paintings) and then making my wreaths.
I made a traditional one for the kitchen door:




Then I threw together a large unwieldy one for the front door which I decided not to photograph. I may have to do a bit of  'titivating' on that one..
And finally, I turned my attention to the inside wreath for over the fireplace. I must admit to being really pleased with it.
Last Autumn I bought a huge bunch of dried Honesty seed-heads, or 'moons' as I know them. I had the idea they would make a beautiful, delicate wreath. It was a tricky, delicate task. I made a simple base from a few twisted ivy stems and them carefully pushed little bunches of the moons in until I was satisfied. The crimson ribbon and little heart made of tiny bells added the final touch. I love the feeling of satisfaction that comes from having a creative idea, working on it and then seeing the finished result looking just as I had imagined it!




The Christmas tree is in and now awaits our decorating, so I will just say " Happy Solstice to everyone" and return to the cheerful but exhausting task of preparing for Christmas.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Photographs for Advent | Talking about Unicorns

I'm a day late with this post but my social life is speeding up! On Friday I went to visit friends and partake in that most enjoyable of Christmas customs- Mulled Wine and Mince Pies. my God-daughter was there and was happily handing round the pies and enjoying them herself,




Later on, we had a chance to sit and have a proper talk. We both agreed our favourite animal was a Unicorn and whilst she described her beautiful creature, I took these photographs.





I felt lucky to have the chance to share in a child's wonderful imagination. She is such a darling !

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Advent photographs | Fun Dressing up

I was ' The spirit of Yuletide' and I had two elves and my two lovely helpers today at the Friendship Club. David took the day off and joined us and took these photos.





 
 

 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Photographs for Advent | 'Elf and Safety at work

My apologies for the dreadful pun but we've had that sort of a day. It was the Wednesday group's Christmas Lunch at the Friendship Club and two of my lovely volunteers dressed up. We were all in a happy, silly mood and there was even more laughter than usual at the club.





I dressed up too but that's tomorrow's photograph!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Advent Photographs | The first Christmas decoration

I have un-earthed the battered shoe box and carefully unwrapped the newspaper. I was relieved to find all the figures of my Nativity set are safe and sound. It's actually a mixture of two sets, as we broke a Wise Man, so had to buy another. This means we have down-graded one Joseph to a shepherd and have a lot more animals!


 In place on the bookshelf




The Three Kings have still got a long journey ahead


The Shepherds are a-watching


Kneeling Mary is carefully balanced on the donkey for her journey


The beasts in the stable are waiting patiently

All is exactly as it should be and I have no doubt that when Emily and Sam come home for Christmas, there will be the usual arguments as to who gets to move the little figures ever closer.
Baby Jesus is hidden away until Midnight on Christmas Eve.
This is one of our most magical Christmas customs and now I'm started to feel those little tingles of excitement, as the Festival draws near.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Photographs for Advent | Modern Christmas shopping

When I decided to try to post a daily advent photograph, I hoped to capture the magical moments leading up to Christmas. However, sometimes ordinary life interferes with my vision...

So this is today's Christmas shopping:






Apart from the desperate battle to remember numerous passwords, it's been very restful for Malicat and me.



 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Advent Photographs | Celebrating with friends

Picking up a friend on route I headed down to Devon to celebrate the 50th Birthday of one of my closest and dearest friends.
Pippa was happy with her friends gathered around her:






We drank lots of Champagne:




And then walked along the beach near Burgh Island to recover this morning. It's nice to know we can still celebrate in style!




I'm afraid the two days have run into one this weekend...
 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Photographs for Advent | Edwardian Booklady

I found this beautiful glass photographer's plate in a flea market.  I could not believe my luck.
Isn't she a perfect English Booklady?


 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Photographs for Advent | Patterns in Nature

This winter has been particularly mild. Whilst this is pleasant, I miss bright, frosty mornings. Today I woke to blue skies and a distinct chill in the air. My car's windscreen was frosted over and the crystals looked beautiful in the sunshine. It reminded me of the frost patterns of ferns that used to appear on my bedroom window as a child.


 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Advent photographs | Favourite book collection

Just a simple photograph today:



King Penguins are a collection of monographs printed between 1939 and 1959. They were the first Penguins to be hardback and include colour printing.  I love their covers and quirky contents which are all illustrated with a good selection of colour plates. They're great little books and recently I decided to make a collection of them. I  now have 7 so that's only 69 to go...
 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Photographs for Advent | Paper preparations

Soon friends and family will arrive for the Christmas gatherings and I am trying to sort and tidy my house so it doesn't burst at the seams. I keep a wicker basket to hold post and paperwork and as it is now full to over-flowing, this has been today's task.
I nipped upstairs to make a phone call and when I returned I found..



a small but resolute creature had taken up position. I think I can take this as a sign that I've worked hard enough today. I think I'll go and prepare supper instead!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Advent photographs | Stormy Seas

We were lucky down South and the only effect from the dreadful storms this weekend is some splendid surf at Chesil beach and Portland Bill. David knows how much I love wave watching, so he dragged me out of bed early this morning and we headed to the coast.



It was blowy and blustery and at one point my glasses were blown off and we had a nerve-wracking ten minutes desperately searching the shingle...





I love watching for big waves to roll up and trying to capture that vital moment when they crash over and you can feel their power trembling through the beach.









We were nearly blown inside out and soon turned with relief to a warm restaurant and a traditional Sunday Lunch. Thanks to David we have spent perfect winter's day.  

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Photographs for Advent | Christmas Sparkle

" Why do I drink Champagne at Breakfast?... Doesn't everyone? " Noel Coward


Wouldn't that be fun over Christmas? David has brought me back box-loads of fizz from France, so I might just be tempted...
It is my favourite drink and his Champagne cocktails are sublime!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Christmas preparations for Kiss the Book

It's been the first sunny day for ages, so I was glad that I had planned to visit Dairy House Antiques and get my bookshelves looking their best for the run-up to Christmas.
The journey took me through the park at Fonthill Bishop. The Gothic arch at its entrance is perfect- we have always called the park Paradise Fields, so all that is missing is Saint Peter and the Arch Angel Gabriel...



I spent a happy hour, drinking tea and arranging my bookshelves.











It was a good way to spend the day.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

December 3rd | Advent photographs | Christmas table decorations

We had an ambitious activity at my Friendship Club today. One of our guests is a skilled flower arranger and she suggested that she could run a workshop which would show everybody how to create a long-lasting Christmas table-piece.
It started in muddles and mayhem and I must admit I was beginning to feel like a primary school teacher with a very naughty class! Then suddenly, everybody settled down, we all helped each other and soon there was that happy quietness that descends when people are being creative and feeling fulfilled.






Everybody made a decoration they were happy with and many were particularly pleased, as they never imagined they had skills in flower arranging. It was a good day.
 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Advent- enjoying the days before Christmas...for once!

I've lost the habit of writing my blog regularly, so I have decided to try to post a photograph for each day in the run-up to Christmas, to remind myself of the pleasure I get from sharing my thoughts and photos.
True to form, I'm running a little late, so my first three days will have to be jostled together in one post!


First Sunday in Advent



These hyacinths are scenting my bedroom.


Picked from my garden


Hooray! That's a start...

Thursday, 5 November 2015

New paths : My career as an Independent Celebrant




Seasons have passed since I last wrote here and it feels even longer, when I look back over the last few months.
From last year I had been slowly coming to the conclusion that I needed a new career. I love my business 'Kiss the Book' but it earns me little. I enjoy the feeling of doing a good job at the Friendship Club but that's not for ever and my potterings in the world of W.I. speakers and life modelling were coming to a natural close.
It was a good friend who suggested I might think of being a celebrant. To be honest, I didn't even know what one was! In case you are similarly uninformed, I will explain.
An independent celebrant is a person who creates and performs ceremonies. They are not tied to Church or State and are free to follow their clients' wishes. I do not perform the legal bit of a marriage (for example) but I do the talking!


Many people do not feel they are part of a particular religion or church and yet find that the alternative civil options are soulless and impersonal. That's where I come in.
I have spent an interesting and testing few months taking an on-line diploma with uksoc.  www.uksoc.com  My tutor James is a wonderful teacher- patient, humorous and inspiring.
So.. to cut a long story short, I have now qualified and I absolutely love my work.


At a beautiful Blessing

It is a challenge to meet people and to learn from them the sort of ceremony they really want.
It suits my nature to spend ages looking up the perfect reading or poem and I really enjoy the buzz when a ceremony I have created and performed  makes people happy.

I still have my beloved ' Kiss the Book' and now have an excuse to buy even more poetry books.




I hope to create ceremonies that are spiritual and beautiful. I have already been part of a handfasting, where the couple make vows to each other and "tie the knot". It was joyous and moving.


Funerals hold special challenges. I like to feel that I have done my very best, that the ceremony captures something of the true character of the loved one and provides a fitting tribute to them. Nothing can take away the grief but a good funeral can provide closure and comfort.



There are so many ceremonies for so many occasions: renewing of vows, sand ceremonies, unity candles, Namings and memorials. I hope I have the chance to try them all.





I think I have now brought you all up to date as to my career. The rest of the family are well but as to their doings...  that had better be another day's tale...






www.janearnold.co.uk  (This is my new page)

Saturday, 28 March 2015

A poem for the Equinox


 
 
It would help if we remembered
Spring Forward, Fall...
Back but that's not what we need to recall.
Will this biennial shift
make us grumpy and miffed
when we're ripped from our sleep far too soon?
Or will happiness be engendered
and our hearts rendered tender
by later rising of stars and the Moon?
 

 
 


It seems to me
that the Equinox splits
those with young children
and those who are free...
 
  



To brave tired parents, whose survival
is cruelly threatened by sleep deprival
coping with loud and early risers,
Spring joy will come as no surprise, as
half past four becomes half past five.
A more reasonable time to come alive.
 
 
 
It's the evening, at least in the Southern parts,
that the Equinox causes a lifting of hearts.
 For those who are free of family chores
this means an extra hour outdoors,
 where they may take drinks and even dine,
welcoming lengthening Spring sunshine.
 

 


( At least in this age of mobile phones and computers,
none of us need be equinoxially unaware, running late, commuters!)
 
I have written this very silly poem because of a conversation I had with my son Sam last night, as to which equinox did what and how it will affect us. Writing it reminded me of those early risings on Spring mornings when I was up and feeding my daughter Emily as the first birds started to sing.
(Apologies to all for dreadful doggerel and silly rhymes)