‘Tis the season…

… for gifting!

This year I took part in the Persephone Secret Santa, courtesy of Claire at http://www.paperback-reader.co.uk/

I love giving (and receiving!) gifts – especially books, and Persephone’s rare and beautiful classic novels are just the perfect gifting material. I fell in love with Persephone books recently (again courtesy of Claire) and up until last week the below three books were the only Persephones I owned (still – yes, you guessed it – courtesy of Claire). Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is still by far the best book I’ve read in years.

Now, thanks to co-organiser Verity of http://cardigangirlverity.blogspot.com/ I am the proud owner of Mariana by Monica Dickens and can’t wait to curl up in a corner, cosied-up beneath blankets and cardigans, and become lost in another world. Verity also sent me a gorgeous advent calendar (and mini jigsaw!) featuring book covers, and it has been the envy of all around me at work, hung beside my desk! Thank you, Verity!

And this may give away the “Secret” nature of the “Secret Santa” game entirely, but I must apologise (again) for the fact that my recipient is, in fact, not yet a recipient. Christmas is glorious, but also prone to be riddled with disasters – including locking oneself out of one’s house!

Merry Christmas to all (and Persephone book lovers in particular)

“Now… What would France with Us?”

I’m blogging today for many reasons: because it’s been a long time since I did so (as reminded by some good friends!), because I have finally finished some long-standing craft projects and because, bitterly, I’m trying to block out Wales’ defeat to France in the semi-final of the rugby world cup. C’est la vie, I suppose.

The late spell of Indian-summer heat saw me in the back garden painting furniture (a blog on a renovated “upcycled” charity shop stool yet to come) but, conversely, I was also stricken down by a pathetic mini version of man flu which confined me to the lounge and to my crochet hooks… The result? Mission: Crochet Blanket is now accomplished! It’s taken me a year, but I’m chuffed with the final result. As with many things in my life, it shows that perseverance definitely pays off in the end.

Today I am also, in true Kirsty Allsop style, recommending Lewes for its gorgeous labyrinthine antique centres, where I snapped up a beautiful mock-French bedroom chair. And my doorstop (made with material matching my draught excluder from an earlier post) is now completed and filled with Welsh sand, from Tenby’s North beach, no less. Finally, for some Keatsian autumnal fun, evidence of what we’ve been growing in our back garden this year…

As a postscript, I really would recommend crochet to anyone considering it. It’s addictive and fairly simple in its repetitiveness. Youtube has some good tutorials. In the meantime, they say that idle hands are the devil’s something, so I’m moving on to cushion covers and bunting. Should be done by Christmas…

“Blow, blow thou winter wind… Then heigh ho, the holly!”

I have taken this moment to break my own rules in favour of festivities. Although Shakespeare does not seem to ever spend long pondering Christmas in his plays, these lines from a poem in As You Like It are suitably seasonal and definitely topical wintry-weather wise.

Today’s post is short and merely features some recent Christmas crafting activities: candle table decorations,  home-baked gifts from the kitchen and a selection of my favourite red and gold themed tree decorations.

“Now is the Winter of Our Discontent…”

Mm. Melodramatic much? Perchance. But the evenings are drawing in, the clocks are going back this weekend, the Autumn leaves are falling, I find myself shivering and throwing on extra layers, and yesterday I even resorted to snuggling up in my Christmas cardigan (adorned with knitted reindeer). The bright, crisp Autumn colours may make me want to wax lyrical like Keats (“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness/ Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”) but the dreary grey of Winter merely makes me reluctant to shake off my duvet in the mornings and prompts me to pile on calories by “warming my hands” on cups of hot cocoa in the afternoons.

But surely, you cry, there’s much to be joyful about in these colder months? Crunching in bright piles of jewel- coloured leaves? (I live in one of the “best kept villages in all Sussex” – a man with a street sweeping machine comes and “tidies” the leaves away every other day.) Fireworks? Snuggling up in layers of warm clothes? (Yesterday I remembered why I don’t normally buy woollen cardigans… adorably adorned with reindeer or not… I came out in a rash where it had been in contact with my skin.) Home-baked apple pies? Christmas?!

Ah yes… I am certainly not all bah humbug. Recently I have been pondering with friends and family when, if ever, it is too early to be planning for Christmas. Surely never? And definitely not after it’s become cold enough to drag the Christmas cardigans out of the wardrobe. Therefore, here are some action shots of our ritual “Christmas cake baking” day (alongside some sneaky glimpses of the aforementioned cardigan), footnoted by the fact that we usually do this on August Bank-Holiday Monday. So surely that makes me the very opposite of humbug?! (And I’ve even included some recently- made Christmas cards. Yey.)