Showing posts from November, 2007

Christmas carols with the male voice choir

I dithered for a few minutes about joining the choir on Monday night. It was raining and cold. I can't really sing. What if no-one I knew turned up? What if I was asked to sing something by myself and they could tell how rubbish I am? But in the end I went. I had said I would and in a little place like this you don't want a reputation for unreliability. I arrived a bit early. I almost always do. As I opened the door I could tell the church had its heating on so maybe I didn't need my many layers. There were two older men there already, pleasant but slightly wary. I wondered how the older members of the male voice choir felt about allowing women to sing with them at Christmas. Perhaps they thought it was wrong, spoilt the traditional sound. There has been a church here since the 13th Century. Much of this one, embellished and added to, dates from then. It is a lovely building of pale stone and polished wood and smells of warmth and flowers and use. Not for the first time I

Autumn gets ready for Winter

The sun was bright this morning but the wind was cold. The last of the beech leaves whirled about the house, like giant golden snowflakes. Elder son had stayed the night and was up early to go back to Manchester. Ian made him poached eggs on toast for breakfast with our bantam eggs and home made bread. The eggs poach really well, the white keeping together instead of flying off like a jellyfish. By the time I came down in my sheepskin slippers and big dressing gown he was ready to go. Afterwards we pottered about, enjoying being home together after a week where Ian had come home only to go to bed. A trip to the village for the paper made me realise how we much we are beginning to be settled into life here. We chat, in the post office, at the deli buying homemade black pudding, in the newsagent. I rarely go to the village now without seeing someone I know. In the newsagent I meet a friend in her seventies (would I have crossed the generations in the same way in the city? I d

The great Christmas conspiracy

Do you think women's magazines conspire to create panic and stress? I was hanging around at Euston this week, waiting for my train, and flipped through some magazines for something to read. Issue afer issue had editorial on the lines of "Well, of course Christmas is great and it is my favourite time of year and I love it dearly but we all know how stressful if can be so we have got it all taped for you with the busy/stressed/frantic woman's guide to the perfect Christmas". Then follows page after glossy page of perfect houses, covered in fabulous hand made ribbon and ivy swags. Amanda is at the kitchen table with her delightful blonde children making decorations for the tree. There are stunning table centres and £30 appliqued stockings to hang from the carved wooden mantelpiece. There are pages of women looking sexy and glamorous in heels and fabulous party dresses, tossing their perfectly groomed hair, accompanied by angelic toddlers in velvet dresses. Now I am a

A nice day out (of the Wallace and Gromit variety)

It is so easy to keep your nose far too close to the grindstone. This is a beautiful place but it is full of jobs to do and things to sort out. The house fills with ever increasing lists and half of what we do doesn't even make it to a list but yet takes all day. So on Thursday we had promised ourselves a day out, of the old fashioned variety with a packed lunch and a flask. Probably about thirty years ago (gulp) Ian had been to a beach on Anglesey called Newborough Warren and had recommended it to younger son Chris and his girlfriend as a place to visit. Chris is not one of life's natural gushers so when he came home and said it was one of the most beautiful beaches he had ever seen, it had to be good. It features from time to time on the nature programmes on BBC Wales which I never knew about until I came here but which are a lovely and gentle way to settle into an early evening. The beach has a colony of wild ravens which live in the pine woods by the dunes and there is