Hollywood films have a lot to answer for. They have been bombarding us with the image of the perfect happy family for so long, that a simple look to our plain and regular lot makes us feel disappointed.
Still, I think it can be done, especially at crucial times like Christmas.
And I have a dream.
My dream consist of a big living room / dining room, with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, surrounded by perfectly wrapped presents and other gorgeous decorations. The house smells of cinnamon and cleanliness. Everybody is dressed up but without looking over the top. The children are running around and playing nicely. Everybody is mingling and having politics-and-religious-free conversations. The food, which looks straight out of an M&S advert, is served right on time, nothing is burnt, or undercooked, and everybody loves everything. There aren’t any fussy or picky eaters and even the traditional Christmas pudding (which I don’t personally like) is a success. After the meal more merriment, with singing and a bit of entertainment from the kids, who have been rehearsing a little play for the last couple of weeks. We open presents, more oh!s and ah!s, more easy flowing conversation. A few anecdotes from the elders of the family, the same anecdotes that we have heard again and again before, but make us laugh every time. Everybody chips in with the tidying up and then they all leave without much fuss, leaving me time to sit down by the fireplace with a glass of Baileys in my hand, looking out of the window to the freshly laid snow and relive the best moments of the day.
That is my white Christmas dream. I’ll let you all know if it comes true one day
One of the things that I remember the most about my first visit to the UK, when I was 15 years old, is the smells.
My host house had a certain smell, definitely not something I had smelt before in Spain. It wasn’t unpleasant, it was just different. My room had this particular smell, so did the living room and the dining room. I remember coming down for breakfast the first day and sitting down at the dining table and looking around me, taking everything in, and trying to figure out what the smell was.
I then went to the school were my course was taking place. And this place had its own particular smell too! The classes, the bar, the restaurant. It was all so different. I knew I was in a different country and I expected to find differences. It just didn’t occur to me that even the smells would be so particular.
This didn’t bother me, so I stopped paying attention. It just stayed in the back of my mind until I returned the following summer. I had had a great experience the first time round with my host family, so I requested to stay with them the following year too.
When I got there, the second time, and I put my first foot in the house, the smell abruptly hit me in the face. Suddenly it was like going home, the familiarity of the smell simply made me happy.
I have never been able to discribe the smell, although I have come across it several times during my travels in the UK. In the back of my mind I have always thought that it’s a mixture of old carpet, cooking butter and whatever product the use for cleaning. But I have also smelt it (or something very similar) in places with new carpets, or kitchens where I know for sure that butter isn’t used for cooking. So I honestly don’t know what it is.
If I am lucky enough to smell it, even if it’s just once a year, the smell transports me to that first summer in Kent, where I discovered this country that I love so much and where my passion for everything anglo started.
It is very interesting, this world wide web. Social media has taken off in a crazy manner in the last 6 or 7 years, and nowadays very few people are still resisting the urge to join Facebook or Twitter, or any of the minor league ones.
I love Facebook. I spend a crazy amount of time on it. In the mornings, whilst the children are having their bottles, I check facebook. Later on, when we’ve come downstairs and they are playing nicely in the living room, I check facebook. At lunch time, whilst we’re munching away, I check facebook. You get the drill.
But something, lately, has made me realise how much I actually DON’T love it. In fact, I am getting very annoyed with it. And it is not Facebook’s fault (or maybe it is), it is mine, for allowing myself fall into this situation. I’ll explain further:
I have never had any problems divulging the innings and outings of my life on social networks. What I am doing / watching / eating / visiting… And ‘why not?’ has always been my answer. ‘At the end of the day I choose who I am sharing with, and they are all friends‘.
Ah, yes. Friends. This is the problem.
If I check my friends’ list on Facebook, I probably KNOW (as in “physically met”) 60% of them. The remaining 40% are either friends of friends or people I have met online, on forums. But this is not the issue. Because as it turns out, I actually get on better with these people that I have never met. My problem, well -not a problem, more like an issue- is with the people who I know, people who are supposed to be my real friends.
I am annoyed at the fact that it looks like I don’t really know these people any more. They rarely post on Facebook and/or their updates are either vague or generic. I don’t get a real insight to their lives! New boyfriends. New babies. Dead relatives. Holidays. Living in new places. You name it… Ten years ago we would have had a telephone conversation and caught up with our lives. Now I am lucky if I catch somebody else’s comment that throws some light into these people’s lives.
What annoys me is my own “nakedness”, I open myself to them but I get nothing in return.
I appreciate that a lot of people are very private and they wouldn’t dream of telling facebook that they have just had a baby. But doesn’t that work both ways? I mean, is it ok for them to pry into my life but give nothing back? I wonder what happened to that friendship. The kind of friendship that demanded telephone conversations and constant texts. The kind of friendship based on trust and love.
I guess we all change. Our lives took different paths and we disconnected. But if you’re happy to keep your life to yourself, then my dear friend, I am afraid I am going to have to cut you off.
So as I had to quit my job back in May (for many different reasons, not just the cost of childcare), I now find myself with a tiny bit of time in my hands. Not during the day. No, daytime is taken up entirely by looking after the children. But I find myself wanting to do something else with my spare time. Checking on facebook, browsing the web and watching TV series can get a bit tedious when that is ALL you ever do with your evenings.
So I have decided to turn my hobby of cardmaking and papercrafting into a business! My facebook page, which until now was there only to showcase my creations, now is open for business and I am taking commissions! My personalised paper bunting is my most liked product. So popular that within a week of “opening” the business I already have two commissions! And I so excited about it.
I have ordered a custom logo stamp and also an order book to keep track of all my orders (if only!) and I am expecting to be making at least one a week if things go well. I haven’t timed me yet, but I guess that it takes me approximately 2 and a half hours to make an average sized one, back to back. (Average size is 5 or 6 letters – most names are 5 or 6 letters long)
So wish me luck in this new venture, and if you’re ever in the lookout for a handmade and personal present, please come by my shop!
Tommy, my first “son”, my ginger friend, my trusty companion… He passed away during the night and has left a massive whole in our hearts.
The tears that we are shedding can’t even compare to the infinite sadness that we are feeling. I can’t stop crying as I write this, and I’ve got a feeling that it’s going to be a long while before we can get over this.
We met him for the first time four years ago whilst we were on holiday in southwest Wales. Our friends, who have a B&B, had allowed him to stay in their outside shed and gave him food from time to time. However, due to strict H&S rules, they couldn’t allow him in the house and risk losing their 5* hygine rating.
The moment we first met him we both fell in love with him. He was gorgeous, playful and seemed to like us! Our friends made enquiries with the local vet and cats protection, and when we found out that nobody would miss him (aka, he wasn’t just lost) we decided to take him home with us.
The journey from St Clears to Basingstoke was quite “interesting”. Obviously Tommy was not happy about the cage and being in a moving vehicle was not great for him either. But we made it (quite fast, as well) and we introduced him to his new home.
He was in the garage for a couple of days with brief visits to the garden on a leash. We allowed him in the house on the third day and very gingerly he started exploring his new surroundings. Within a couple of weeks he was the new king of the house.
He got used to his new homely life quite quickly although he would still go out and hunt quite a lot. He settled very well and we never had a problem with him scratching the furniture or with his toilet visits… He was a very domesticated cat!
We have no idea what happened. We went away for the weekend and when we came back on Sunday afternoon we already noticed that he wasn’t being himself. I brought back with me some leftover roasted chicken, and he didn’t finish it all! He would normally devour any meat, so this was already a sign that something wasn’t 100% ok.
But it was towards the end of Monday when I started to be a bit concerned. He had spent the whole day outside in the garden and he seemed to have lost his appetite. He’d been like this before and his yo-yo appetite it’s something that had always bothered us. But he was also behaving weird.
By Tuesday night I was proper worried, as he wasn’t eating anything… Not tuna, not pate, not his favourite Felix sachets… Only cat milk. And only after I put it right under his nose and kind of forced him to drink.
On Wednesday morning Jon called the vet and got an appointment for this morning. Sadly, Tommy didn’t make it.
In hindsight there are a couple of things that we could have done better, like calling the vet sooner. But it was all so sudden! As I said, he’s lost his appetite before so we were waiting for him to get better naturally like he had done in the past.
I am already missing him so much…
I’ll miss him begging for any food that I was eating, and him sitting by my feet at the dinner table.
I’ll miss him following us every time we went out for a walk and see him running in front of us.
I’ll miss arriving home in my car and see him approaching the house as I parked… He knew the sounds of our cars so well!
I’ll miss his purring, and dribbles and his paw-claw. And how he liked to curl up on my lap on cold winter evenings.
I’ll miss how he just loved to be with us regardless of the situation… In the garden, watching TV, outside the shower cubicle. Anywhere.
I’ll miss him jumping on my laptop or on my craft table everytime he wanted tickles.
I’ll miss how he would find the funniest positions during his sleep.
I’ll miss him forever. He was our ginger angel and we loved him so much.
Bye bye Tom. I hope you were happy with us. We certainly were.
Rest in peace beautiful furry friend.