Thursday 30 December 2010


After having to put our Christmas plans on hold for one day due to another snowfall, we braved it on Thursday to get to the cottage we had rented in North West Wales. The journey was breathtaking, the dramatic landscape of Wales transformed to a winter wonderland. The only hair-raising bits were trying to get out of our hometown, and once we got within about a mile of the cottage at the other end!

Having safely arrived, we busied ourselves with decorating the place, ready for the big day. And Christmas day itself started earlier for some than others! Ethan woke at 2am, at 3am had a sneaky peek downstairs to see if Santa had been, and then fell asleep again at 6am. Luke started clock watching at 5am. So 6.45am was the latest we could drag it out to!
Presents were opened at varying rates of knots! And before sunrise there was lego building happening!
The rest of the time there was filled with wonderful activity, lots of card playing, along with games such as Quirkle, and Settlers of Catan (yeah, we eventually got our heads around it, and have fallen in love with it)
The obligatory WarHammer battle
And lots of reading. Luke got a "how to build a go-kart" book, so is now requesting a trip to B and Q!

A trip to a local-ish park, very soggy, but very much enjoyed.
It was another wonderful family Christmas. I loved the fact there was no internet, games consoles or even telly. But as soon as we got back home, old habits returned! I am determined however to be strict with myself, and lead by example in limiting screen time.
The journey home was punctuated by the most stunning scenery. The photo does not really do it justice.
Hope everyone has enjoyed their festive time too.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Well I never!!

I have never seen snow like this, not here anyway! There is no need for fake snow on the wreath! The icicles are looking rather menacing!
But very pretty at the same time.
Definitely not the weather for barbeques, although it would be a challenge!
The chickens are getting a little braver now, and will wade through the snow if they have to. But look at the snow on the trampoline! 10.5 inches after the snowfall last night!
The ice looks fantastic lit up by the outside lights. Can you guess what this is?
It's the downpipe that has ice coating the outside of it!
And who needs fake icicle lights? We have our own bonafide icicles all lit up!
This weather has scuppered our Christmas plans slightly, but hopefully if the snow holds off for a day we can get to the cottage in Wales. Then I don't mind if it snows for the rest of the winter!!

Monday 20 December 2010

Snowed-in craftiness

Well, we are in effect snowed in. Places are walkable to, as long as I don't take Sophie with us, which is not very feasible. So we have been enjoying being at home, and getting on with the gingerbread house. Sophie helped roll it. The boys decorated it (Sophie just ate as many sweets as she could lay her hands on!)
They all enjoyed this, but now the pressure is on to eat it! I think tradition is that you leave it til after Christmas, as the house is somewhere for the gnomes to live during the festive period.
Hopefully, they will be very happy there.
Remember Ethan started showing an interest in knitting? Well the other day he picked it up again, remembered how to do the knit stitch, even noticed that when I was doing a purl stitch that it wasn't the same as what he knew. I was impressed. Just look at the concentration on his face!

And then Alec wanted a turn, so Ethan acted as mentor and oversaw what he was doing. (Don't know why Alec had his hat on, really it is not THAT cold inside!)
Wishing you all peaceful solstice.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Not good weather for chickens!

Well, when I awoke this morning there was a light covering of snow, and it was still snowing. It continued to snow all day, leaving us with at least 8 inches by nightfall, when it eventually stopped. I felt so sorry for the chickens, sheltering under the trampoline all day. I threw some food under there, and set up a bowl of water for them. But they did look sorry for themselves. I then had to clear a path back to the eglu as the snow was past their bellies, and even then Betty had to be enticed by raisins the whole way! Stuart got his Christmas present a little early, he was looking everywhere for a hat, and I knew exactly where there was one, the one I knitted for him, to be just like the one I made Ethan last Christmas!
A bit of sledging was had on the sledge I got for Christmas.... oooh.... about 30 years ago!
Followed by a spot of dancing to some Christmas songs from an album Stuart had as a child. In fact, at lunch time, we were sat eating, listening to "Rudolph the red nosed reindeer", when simultaneously Alec and Ethan shouted out "Ho, Ho, Ho" at the appropriate part! It all felt very Christmas-sy and nostalgic.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Does it feel like Christmas yet?

I have been getting worried. We are well into December and the festive season seemed to be passing us by. I was beginning to wonder what makes it feel like Christmas? Is it the coming together of various projects?

The decorating of the tree?
Or the rest of the house?
The putting up of outside lights?
Or something else?
I know whatever it is, it has eventually reached us. We are all looking forward to Christmas, with spending time together with extended family.
Hope you are all beginning to feel festive too

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Beautiful winter!

As I have been out and about these last few days, the first comment anybody makes is, "brrr, it's very cold isn't it!" But that is not the first thing that strikes me when I step outside, it is "how stunning!" "how beautiful!" and "how fragile!"

I couldn't help but take some photos of our neighbourhood, and how it is transformed by the frost.
These silver birch leaves remind me of a stained glass window, nearly translucent leaves edged with frost.
I have marvelled at how the frost has developed over the last few days.
The tree on the green has looked majestic in its frosty cloak.
And what better time to get around to doing one of our advent activites. Ice art.
Here's the tree in the front garden decorated with our ice art. I can see this becoming a winter long activity. So easy, and so effective.
The extreme weather has made me think how winter drives us all to our homes, how frightening those times must have been for our ancestors who were more reliant on the land for their food, and how stark these times would have been for them. How thankful this makes me that I have warmth, food, and a loving home to retreat to.
Hoping you are all keeping warm, but also seeing the beauty around us.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Best laid plans...

...always go awry.

Illness has struck, along with just enough snow that makes using Stuart's car a suicidal mission. This has meant that I have been carless all week, which has been an eye-opener to say the least! We only became a 2 car family about 6 years ago, when it seemed mad for Stuart to be commuting in a 7-seater car to work, so he bought a Mazda which is a lovely car in the summer, but in the winter it will spin on the slightest patch of ice, so to play it safe he has used the big car for work. For me it has meant walking everywhere, something I wouldn't have given a second thought about a few years ago. I didn't think I used the car much anyway, but my body is telling me otherwise! So one thing I have learned from this week is to get fitter, and perhaps ditch the car much more!

Alec and Ethan have had time off from school, Alec with a cough and temperature he has kindly shared with the rest of us, and Ethan... well... he had a day off but I think it might have been false pretences!

Some music has happened...
...but sadly not my cello, it has managed to detune itself something chronic! Another thing learned... to get a cello tuner!
Sophie has a bit of a thing for "The Hives" and their song "tick,tick boom!" This is her dancing around to it. I think on this particular occasion we had around 20 renditions of it!
Advent has come upon us. We have a lovely advent calendar with little sacks for each day to hang from the reindeers antlers.
Each day is filled with an activity, but to date we have not managed to do any of them.
My plan was to wait until all the children were home from school, and do the things then, and I had especially put simple activities such as "hot chocolate" on the busy days when we have after school activities. But, the only time we have all been together has been mealtimes, and then it is the whole bed time routine. I think perhaps I will just have to get on and do them with whoever is around at the time. I must say the lure of snow has been hard to compete with!
Hot chocolate has been had though. And thoroughly enjoyed!
Some activities have happened. Some thumb print snowmen...
...and robins made from a chopped up carrot. But I think I was probably the most enthusiastic about all this :(
One thing that has really brightened my week though was an arrival of a Christmas present. Stuart asked if I would like it early as it was too big to take away with us. Well, of course, I said I didn't mind, but Luke insisted I have it now.
I have been trying to get me head around it all. Looking at the price of fleeces, and the children have all been having a practice treadling! Ethan, bless him, suggested we could have some sheep in the back garden, and Alec suggested we could buy that cottage in Wales, have sheep, chickens, a farm shop etc. Stuart reckons I've been brainwashing them, I promise I haven't!!