Reading My Way Around the World

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Friday 21 December 2018

Solstice Blessings

On this beautiful mid winter's day in Ireland, all is calm and quite bright.

The sun hasn't really made an appearance (it's lunchtime now) and there's no hint of blue skies, but I love that blanket of low cloud hanging over the Cooley Mountains.  And in another couple of days the light will start to grow again (someone said that the Solstice light doesn't change until the 26th).

I love this time of year.  Even getting one day to be quiet and potter around a bit on my own is a blessing.   I've chased Tom and I'm supposed to be tidying the house and getting organised for the coming onslaught of visitors - we're going to have a busy holiday this year - but instead the camera drew my attention.

There's still a bit of colour in the garden ...
A single hydrangea hanging on to its colour
...and new growth is already showing
Crocuses showing their heads
There's even blooms on the castor oil tree.
A lovely walk around.   Time to get back in and do a bit of that tidying up!   

I've always thought of this as mid winter, although astrologically it starts today and meteorologically on 1st December - how confusing!   Whichever .... or if you're celebrating the summer solstice, I hope you're enjoying the run up to Christmas if you celebrate it.  

Wednesday 19 December 2018

The Pageant

The Pageant 2014

Every year Singmarra, the community choir that I direct, take part in the pageant to turn on the Christmas lights. 
We lead  a group of children, who in turn are led by Mary on a donkey and Joseph guiding her,  up Bridge Street and onto the Square where Santa comes to turn on the lights and give them sweets and we sing carols at the tree.  

2014.  The children looking brilliant and the butcher chasing them away from the Inn.

Every year, someone complains that they can't see the children cos we're in the way - so this year, I finally persuaded one of the chaperones to delay the children by about 30 yards and then we'd step onto the pavement to allow them to be seen starting their procession before carrying on.

All went as planned for about 20 yards when the children pushed us out of the way and flew past us at a gallop up the hill - poor Mary would have had the baby half way up at the rate they were going.  Maybe the fact that the donkey had been replaced by a Shetland Pony this year explained it.  

Whatever ...   We ended up racing after them, totally winded, singing Silent Night between gasps for breath and arrived puffing in 3 different lots to the tree, by which stage the children were all lined up in wait for Santa, and the pony and Mary and Joseph were nowhere to be seen. 

It was so funny and never to be repeated.   Next year we're staying put at the top of the hill.  
I get so stressed about the pageant every year, but this one was so funny it has hopefully settled me never to get stressed about it again and just enjoy it for what it is.  

Under the tree 2018
So anyway we sang carols under a gazebo beside a newly planted tree and the kids even joined in with us on Away in a Manger and Silent Night.   About 200 of them waited patiently with their parents  for Santa and the Lord Mayor to turn on the lights and hand out sweets, we finished up, headed to the pub and all is well for another year. 

The following afternoon we did our first concert in a lovely restaurant called The Church which is in a deconsecrated Methodist Church.   A mix of winter songs, a few carols and our trademark African and southern seas songs,  and diners had a treat and we had a blast.  

Apart from that December has been a social whirl so far - a couple of dinner parties and a Christmas night out for the choir, still teaching a few classes until tomorrow - then into the cycle of driving and visiting or collecting relatives up until Christmas Eve.

How's your December shaping up?  

Wednesday 5 December 2018

To brighten up the days

Normally I like to keep things positive and happy here on my blog - in my life in general - and if I've nothing much to write about then you'll not hear from me for a while.

Recently though, I was asked to write my first ever guest blog which you can read here.   It's for the lovely Sue Loncaric at her Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond blog.   I love reading everyone's positive stories on her series Thriving Over 50 and was delighted to be asked to participate.  

However when I started to write,  I couldn't understand why it was so difficult to get a positive spin on things - usually that doesn't defeat me - always look on the bright side of life, right?  In fact, whenever I am feeling out of sorts, blogging, or journalling, helps me turn things around in my head.  But the weekend before last while I was trying to write the guest post I was like a weasel, in really bad form with everyone.  I sent it off anyway and thankfully Sue's edits have brightened it a bit.  And I do conclude that yes, I am thriving over 50, over 60 even.

It took til Monday night for the reasons for my black humour to appear - temperature up to 102, accompanied by terrible coughing and I spent a week in bed - bronchitis of some sort.   So another chance to catch up on daytime tv and schmaltzy dramas - When The Heart Calls is my secret pleasure when thinking isn't required.

Anyway, I'm well out of it now, thanks to the respiratory physio who was a gem and sorted me out quickly with the right antibiotics.  And my first night back at choir practice gave my lungs a much needed work out.   Only missed out on a few pre Christmas goings on but plenty of time left to get into the swing of December and ready for the pageant at the weekend.

How do you manage to turn your mood around?