A Short Break In Amsterdam (2)

What a beautiful sunny day in Amsterdam! We had a lazy morning, as we didn’t have any plans for all in the day, but had booked things later on.

Canal Cruise

We had opted to book a canal cruise, as this was a good way of  getting around and seeing Amsterdam from a different point of view. We booked a joint ticket which included a trip to the Ice Bar (as recommended by our youngest daughter)

The cruise was with Lovers Canal Cruises and was an hour long with an audio commentary throughout the journey. The city was beautiful in the sunlight and we learned more about the history of Amsterdam and the origins of some of the famous landmarks.

Ice Bar

Our youngest daughter had recommended the Ice Bar to us, so we decided to give it a try. This is a really clever gimmick, which works really well. You have to book a slot in advance as the bar is only small. On arrival you are greeted by pirates who try and stir up the group and then you are given a coat and gloves and coins to obtain two drinks in the ice bar itself and one in the loung afterwards. Inside the bar you are in what is basically an enormous freezer, with ice sculptures and flashing lights The drinks come in ice glasses and you can choose from shots or beer.

Afterwards you can sit in the pirate themed loung and have another drink for free and purchase further drinks if you like. It was a fun event and we hung around in the lounge for a while afterwards as it is a great place to people watch, particularly when some stoned young man wearing the coat from the bar, tries to leave several times and  wonders why the security alarm goes off every time!

Red Light District

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the red light district as the image you get from TV is always showing a very seedy dark side, usually on crime dramas.

We had walked down the streets the previous day, at around lunchtime, but decided to have a look later in the day. We actually did two visits, one in the late afternoon and one when it got dark.

The area is much smaller than I excpected and certainly has a different feel after dark. After a visit to one of the sex shops and a browse in a few of the windows we veered from humour, to surprise and at times a feeling of sadness. Having worked with vulnerable people and victims of sexual crime for years I can’t really decide whether prostitution is best in the open in a controlled area. Does this make it safer? I wondered what the girls were thinking and what brought them here. looking at them it felt like they would rather be elsewhere and had that “Any chance of finishing early, I’ve got an appointment at the dentist” look that most people have who aren’t fully enjoying their days work.

We had a couple of drinks in the Excalibur Bar, which has motorbikes and suits of armour everywhere. Both my husband and my friend were more interested in the motorbikes, the construction work in the canals and the cake shops, which I think can only be a good thing.

We then looked for something to eat and opted for a place called Getto, which was advertised as an LGBTQ bar but was shown on trip advisor as having great reviews for food. It was absolutely superb food with really nice staff and a very relaxed atmosphere. It was a really good price too.

Aftwr another busy day we went back to the hotel for a shower and then a couple of drinks in the Sky Bar.

A Short Break In Amsterdam

I haven’t written my blog for some time , I think I had lost my motivation for writing, but now on a short break to Amsterdam, it feels like a good place to start agin.

I’ve never been to Amsterdam before. I traveled here with my husband and two of our friends. We flew early in the morning, but unfortunately spent two hours sitting on the pane before it took off as one of the runways in Amsterdam. In any event we arrived by midday in a cold and windy Amsterdam.

Amazing transport system

We were booked in to stay at the Westcord Fashion Hotel, a very bright and quite quirky hotel, with really comfortable rooms, gorgeous bathrooms and a great Sky bar on the top floor. It is out of town, but very close to the tram stop which takes us straight to town and all the well known tourist areas. The tram is impressively efficient, running regularlythroughoutbthe day and always appears clean. All the stops have didgital announcements and there is a conductor on board who sits behind what looks like a doctors reception desk. We bought a pass for 4 days, which cost us €24 each, which is amazing value and being true Yorkshire folk, we made sure we got our money’s worth.

A first look at Amsterdam

Our first outing on the tram was to Leidesplein, where we stopped off for lunch. We then took another tram to the old town, where we wondered through the various streets, trying to get our bearings and work out what we would like to see over the next few days. The canals and bridges are beautiful and although it’s common knowledge that cycling is a common form of transport, I couldn’t get over the thousands of bicycles parked up at the side of each road, particularly near the station

Later in the day we went back to the hotel, had a swim in the pool and then went up to the Sky Bar for a couple of cocktails, before getting a great night’s sleep in the lovely big comfy bed.

Anne Frank House

We had booked tickets in advance as we knew that the museum gets very busy and only allows limited visitors each day.

We went on the tram to town and went to the Pancake Bakery for breakfast. This was recommended by someone who our friends had sat next to on the plane. The breakfast was amazing and it was a really lovely atmosphere in the narrow pancake restaraunt, which, by the time we left had people queuing to get in!

We then went to Anne Frank House at our allotted time. The staff there were very welcoming and explained everything as you went in. The annexe rooms have been left empty, but on the walls, information about Anne and her family is displayed. There is a full Audio commentaryas you walk around the house. There is a really respectful air to the visit, in keeping with the subject matter. You get a real feel of what life was like as you travel through the house, into tiny rooms and up and down steep staircases.

It is a really good place to visit, interesting but leaving you feeling quite somber. We talked afterwards about how shocking it all was and it left us feeling a little sad, because looking at the world today we haven’t really changed very much. You only have to look at TV and social media to know that there are still many people in the world who promote hate based on the fact that others are different to them. A very sobering thought.

The flower market, Red Light District and library

After the visit we then walked to the flower market and wondered through the various stalls selling lots of tulips (real, plastic, wooden) and gifts based on a Dutch theme. Where the flowers are real, there’s is a lovely fresh smell. The colours are amazing.

We then continued walking and went through the Red Light District. I’m not really sure what I was expecting. I’d seen photos of it, but mainly taken at night. During the day it looks like most other streets, until you read the signs and look in the shop, windows, which sell an assortment of sex related items. There are adverts for all sorts of live shows, but there was only one girl in one of the windows. I am curious though and will probably go and have another look during an evening to get more of an idea of what it’s really like.

I had been told that the library was an amazing building and that the 7th floor has an amazing terrace where you can look out over Amsterdam.

The Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam)is very impressive. It is very modern, airy and bright. The children’s area alone is bigger than most libraries I have seen. The seven floors contain books, reading areas, multi media section and a theatre area.

When you get to the 7th floor, there is a cafe with an outside terrace area which overlooks Amsterdam. On the wall around the edge is information about what you can see from the roof and some of the history of the buildings. Definitely worth a visit!

Our next stop was food and we opted to visit the Chinese restaurant near the Library, The Sea Palace. This is a huge floating restaurant. The food was excellent and there is a great view across the water, with boats passing regularly.

Feeling full, we made our way back on the tram to the hotel, for a bit of a rest and maybe a further visit to the Sky Bar

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A Fitting Farewell

I’m not sure if it appears strange to write in a blog about a funeral. The last few weeks of my dad’s life were really hard and I thought that the funeral would be too, but although it was a difficult day, I write this feeling very peaceful and calm, honestly believing that my dad is now at rest. Yesterday, the funeral was very sad in many ways, but mostly it was a celebration of his life and a chance for us to share our memories.

Well Made Plans

Although dad was a great storyteller, he was never someone who really discussed personal issues or emotions. I guess he comes from that era of “stiff upper lip”. However, a few days before he died, during the night he sat in the living room with me and my mum and told us what he wanted us to do when he died. This made planning dad’s funeral a much easier process.

He said that he didn’t want a massive fuss, he didn’t want a fancy coffin or to spend a fortune on flowers. He wanted to be cremated.  He chose the music that he wanted, said that he wanted to go to church, but most importantly of all, he wanted us to be together as a family and he wanted to go on a bus.

Dad was a massive fan of buses and trams throughout his life, so it was inevitable that this would appear somewhere in his final wishes. We discussed as a family that it would probably mean hiring a bus and travelling together as a family to scatter dad’s ashes. However when we began to discuss this with the funeral director, it became apparent that in the world of funerals, almost nothing is impossible.

Special Messages Or Coincidences

Yesterday dawned, clear, bright and sunny. It reminded me of days when we would be complaining that it was cold and dad would say “It will be too hot to walk about by dinner time”. I was awake early and was watching the news. There was an interview with Michael Caine and during it they showed a clip of the film “Zulu”. This was my dad’s favourite film ever! At that moment in time I felt that dad really was watching over us and that all would be well.

Just What He Wanted

All the family met at my mum’s house. We were all quite anxious. Me and my brothers had all chosen to be involved in the service. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who doubted that I would actually be able to hold it together at the time.

Dad’s hearse then arrived. This was a vintage red London bus. It was really emotional to see my dad’s coffin inside initially, but then we knew that it was the right thing. He would have loved travelling on the bus and it also meant that as a family we were all able to go to the funeral together.

When we arrived at the church it was moving to see how many people were there. The first hymn was “The day thou gavest Lord is ended”. My older brother, sang the first verse as a solo. A very brave thing to do, which he managed with hardly a wobble in his voice. I manged to read a poem ” Remember me”, by Anthony Dowson. I had a few wobbles, but managed to get through it with a few pauses for deep breaths. My youngest brother then read a eulogy, which contained some lovely memories of dad. Again he held it together throughout.

We then had the hymn “I vow to thee my country”. We picked this as dad had been a rugby fan and liked a rousing patriotic hymn.

Afterwards we had a slideshow of photographs which were accompanied by Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez. Dad asked for this music as he loved the film “Brassed Off” and this particular part, where the piece of music is referred to by the band as “Orang Juice”. The photos were very moving, but there were also some really happy memories of dad and of us together as a family.

At the end of the service we left the church to  “Land of Hope and Glory” Dad had asked for this music, which we were we going to sing as a hymn, but we realised when making the plans that it is not actually a hymn and that other than the chorus from last night of the proms, no one actually knew any more of it.

After church we went to the crematorium, which was the hardest part of the day. Mum had chosen two songs from my dad’s favourite singer, Doris Day. On arrival we had “Que sera sera” and on leaving we had “I will always love you”. It was difficult leaving the crematorium, knowing that we had finally said goodbye to dad.

 

 

 

 

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Getting Together

We then went on our final bus journey to the local Golf Club, to celebrate dad’s life and share memories of him. It was lovely to chat about the good times we have shared as a family and as friends, what we will do in the future and to know that we had done the best that we could do to give him a good send off.

Families can be funny things and our family is no different. There are always people that you are closer to and those that are not so close. There are celebrations, disputes, disagreements, laughter and tears. There are those that you get on with really well and those who you have little in common with. There are friends who support you through the hardest times who become as close as family. There are those friends that you don’t see for ages, but are there when it counts. Yesterday,  we all worked together as a team and made it a day to remember, just as my dad wanted.

A Few Thank You’s

In ending this I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent good wishes, cards and flowers to me and my family. For those who have helped to support us over the last few weeks in every way. For those who have put up with the varied emotions that I have gone through, particularly my husband and children who have had to live with me.

In particular I would also like to thank

The nurses and carers that looked after my dad in his last days

Andrew Box and everyone at the funeral directors, Eric F Box, who did everything possible to grant my dads, last wishes, making the planning less painful and helping the day go smoothly and of course, finding “the bus”

Father Martin Naylor and Tineke Bentley and those at Batley Parish Church for the warm welcome, prayers, eulogy and commendation

Hanging Heaton Golf Club, for the food, drinks and lovely surroundings

And lastly to my mum, who is an amazingly strong lady, who has lived through so much and faced it with strength and dignity, an example to us all.

 
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When “The System” Fails

I haven’t written a blog for some time, as you read on, the reasons will become clear. I write this with the sad news that my dad died yesterday after a frustrating and difficult few weeks, which were made harder by failings within the “system” and a lack of communication. This is not meant to be a rant and it certainly isn’t a slight on anyone who works in any of the areas that I have mentioned. As you read on, or if you have been through this experience, you will know that people working within “end of life care” deserve a medal.

Early Days

Almost three years ago, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer which soon spread into his bones. He was treated with hormone injections and also had some radiotherapy for the pain in his neck and back. He is 83 years of age and has a number of other health problems too. Sometimes he was really positive, but other times it felt like he had given up. In any event he has managed to live fairly well for three years. with a few hiccups along the way.

Long Hospital Stay

My dad had started falling a bit at home so about 7 weeks ago we got him a care alarm, to help him and my mum. Within days he had fallen. My mum used the alarm and an ambulance came and took him to hospital. He didn’t have any injuries, but was very confused and disorientated. Then followed a long stay in hospital, various infections and another fall.

Some of the individual staff in the two hospitals that he stayed in were committed, caring and compassionate and a credit to their profession. Some were not so good, including staff that were disinterested, patronising and sometimes downright rude. I know that everyone is busy and overworked, I work for the public sector myself, and know how frustrating it is to be lacking in resources,  but the treatment of vulnerable elderly people in hospital should be absolutely top notch across the board.

The lack of information for us as a family was frustrating, leaving us feeling that we were being annoying or difficult if we asked questions about his care. A decision was made that he was medically fit for discharge about three weeks ago and arrangements could be made for him to come home.

I may be naïve, but I thought that being elderly and having a terminal illness would qualify you for care, but apparently not. When I started contacting Social Care and other organisations, I soon realised that the first thing that agencies want to know is how much money they have in the bank.

After a fall in hospital, where dad tried to get out of bed on his own when the fire alarm went off, dad was placed on a ward with constant supervision. He had stopped eating at this point and varied from being alert and chatty to being confused and disorientated.

Last Friday the decision was made that dad could be taken home. No one gave us any information, choices or assistance. We only found out he was being discharged when we went to ask staff what was happening. We were told that dad would get carers four times a day, but didn’t need any other care as he could mange quite well and would need to deteriorate a lot more before he required other help

The week from hell

My dad was brought to my mum’s house at 530 on Saturday evening. Mum (who is 82 years old) was at home on her own. Dad was sat on the settee and left with a bag full of medication. I went up to stay with her as I was worried that she may not be able to manage him.

At 730pm dad decided that he wanted to go to bed, so me and mum helped him into bed. I then started a series of phone calls and found out that no one within the community. who would be responsible for assisting us, had been informed that dad had been discharged from hospital.

The first night was extremely hard. Dad was in pain, distressed and confused. He wanted to get in and out of bed all the time, assisted by me and mum. He didn’t sleep at all. By the next morning we were exhausted and honestly considering putting him in a nursing home.

During the morning, the carer from the end of life team arrived, as did the district nurses. They were so supportive and gave us so much more information and assistance than the hospital ever had. It was the first time that any actually told us that dad had a matter of weeks to live.

With the assistance of these marvellous people and support from members of the extended family, me, my mum and brothers manged between us to look after dad over the next few days. It was one of the most difficult and exhausting things that I have ever done. There was some really traumatic times, but also some really warm and loving chats.

Dad died, peaceful at last, at his home with his family. There were times when I thought we would never get through it, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I have to say a massive thank you to the many carers and nurses who have spent time with my dad and my family over the last few days. The job that they do is worth more than any money could buy.

A last word

I would say to anyone who is caring for elderly or sick relatives, that it is worth the time looking on the internet or speaking to organisations and finding out your options and entitlements. This will make things so much easier to get the help that you need early on. I’m not sure if it’s the same everywhere, but we were truly in the dark about what was happening to dad. Had someone explained the kind of behaviour and symptoms he might display, before sending him home from hospital, those few days would have been so much easier.

Also I would say that you find out who you can rely on very quickly and that some people distance themselves very quickly. I can understand why some people don’t want to visit a person who is dying as it isn’t a nice thing to see. I also understand that it may bring back memories of your own loved ones. I know that it’s not always easy to find the right words to say to a family who’s loved one is dying. Just remember that it can be a very lonely place. Sometimes all you need to do is call in and say hello, hold someone’s hand or give them a hug. It means the world and, as hard as it is, it will be the best thing that you could ever do.

 

 

 

 

 

Back to reality

Our final leg of the canal journey took us through beautiful countryside, with glorious sunshine.

Peace and quiet

Friday started off with a gentle mist rolling down the canal. The sun was out and the sky was a clear blue. Other than the birds singing there was hardly a noise. It was so quiet in fact that when a hot air balloon passed overhead you could actually hear it. I live in a town, near a road and it is unknown for it to be so quiet.

There were fewer locks today, but the ones we passed through were very pretty and well kept. We moored up at Penkbridge, where we had a lovely meal at the Littleton pub, which was a short walk into town.

On Saturday we were up early as we had to make our way through the last few locks before returning our boat. We had a short stop off for breakfast before heading off home.

An American in Paris

Most of the weekend was spent washing and sorting out after our holiday. The weather was still beautiful, so we had all the garden furniture out and washed that too.

Later, on Sunday afternoon, I had booked to go to the cinema, to see An American in Paris, which had been filmed from the stage show. It was absolutely amazing!

The singing and dancing by all the cast was superb. It was a really great end to what has been a wonderful week.

Chugging Along

Our journey continued yesterday through the lovely countryside at a lovely steady pace. The weather was a little mor overcast and cooler, but it still stayed fine, so we were really lucky.

Goose wrangling

At the first lock we came across a couple of geese and their goslings that had got themselves stuck in th lock. My husband opened the gate and managed to gently shoo them along whilst someone on another boat tempted them with cornflakes. Luckily they all managed to get out of the lock safely.

We moored for the night at Fradley junction, where there were lots of boats moored up. The area is really pretty and we ate at the Swan Public House (aka The Mucky Duck) which is apparently the most photographed pub on the canal.  It was motorbike meet night, so there were loads of bikes and bikers outside. By this time the sun had finally come out and it was a beautiful evening.

On a go slow

This morning dawned bright and sunny again. We had to start the day by going through the swing bridge and lock at Fradley Junction. There were a number of boats waiting to go through the locks, so it took much longer than expected.

There were some volunteers helping at the locks, who were mostly friendly and helpful, however one of them was slightly condescending and proceeded to explain how to work the locks. Although I said that I had done plenty of locks before, he insisted on explaining step by step quoting the official health and safety regulations along the way. I managed to keep my cool and thanked him for his help before moving on to the next lock.

Me and my husband walked for quite a way over the next hour or so and were surprised when our friends didn’t turn up for quite a while. Eventually they turned up behind a a boat that was moving very slowly. We hopped back on the boat and before long there were three boats stuck behind the go slow. We asked him to move over, but he seemed oblivious and just kept pottering along. Eventually after explaining that he was going too slow and there was a queue of boats behind him, he pulled over to let us past. Unfortunately he wouldn’t let the others pull past him and they had to stay behind him for some time.

Later in the day at the locks and mooring point, we chatted to several people who had got stuck behind him in the course of the day. He had clearly caused chaos on the canal!

We moored up at Shugborough for the night. The sun was still shining and we walked to the farm shop where we bought supplies for the next day and had a coffee and cake at the cafe. It was then back to the boat for a cheeky prosecco before showering and going to the pub for tea. Another amazing day.

Where past meets present

The next leg of our journey took us out of Birmingham city centre, passed offices and industrial buildings. Straight out of Birmingham were 12 locks falling steeply out of the centre.

We travelled a short distance before coming to a second set of locks at Aston Junction. There were another 11 locks here. I walked the majority of this journey as there is only a short distance between the locks, so it was easier to walk than keep getting on and off the boat.

This is a very built up area and although the locks and canal is very pretty the route is surrounded by factories and busy roads. It’s amazing to see the old world canal wending its way through the city centre and modern industrial buildings.

Excellent team work

By now we had got into a really good routine for opening and closing all the locks. One to open the paddles, two pushing the gate open. Drive the boat in, shut the gate. Two then winding the paddles to let the water out to lower the boat. Push the gate open, drive the boat in, close the paddles and the gate.

Because it was such a lovely day and the pace of the boat is virtually walking speed, there was lots of time for banter and enjoying the sunshine, so it certainly doesn’t feel like hard work.

A pretty place to stop

Later the canal made its way back out into the countryside, with beautiful pathways, cottages and gardens. It was such a beautiful day that I again walked on the tow path. There were another three locks in this section too.

We moored for the night in a lovely little clearing at Curdworth. This is a pretty little area, with a pub a short distance from the canal. Once we’d stopped we opened a chilled bottle of prosecco and enjoyed a lovely rest, before getting ready to go out for tea. The prosecco was well deserved after all those locks!

 

February Already!

I haven’t written a blog for a few weeks, as I decided that I was only going to write it once a month. Before I realised, we are suddenly in February, already six weeks into the New Year.

January always seems a long month. Maybe its because we look forward to Christmas and New Year so much that January seems to stretch on forever. Maybe it’s because people start new regimes like dry January, or following other New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps it because the days seem dark and cold and spring seems such a long way away. Whatever the reason, January is now gone and the daylight seems a little bit longer, which always make things feel a little bit better.

February brings Shrove Tuesday and the beginning of Lent. Quite often I have given something up for Lent, usually biscuits or chocolate, or something else that is really hard for me to stop eating. This year however, I read quite a lot about giving up sugar, so on the second week of January I decided that I was going to do 5 weeks of giving up processed/refined sugar. It’s really hard to find any kind of ready meals that don’t contain some kind of processed sugar, or artificial sweetener.

The first few days were quite hard, but now it is getting a little easier. It has stopped me snacking quite so much, as a lot of the things that I normally snack on are sweets, biscuits and cake, so I find that as I can’t have those I don’t bother having anything else.

I can’t say that I will give it up forever, as I think it is a big ask, but I definitely feel a bit better and hopefully have got out of the habit of fancying something sweet on an evening, or finding any excuse/reason to have cake or biscuits.

I’ve also been worker back nearer home for the last couple of weeks, which has allowed me to walk to or from work. This is a 4 mile walk, which is quite hilly, so it is a good start to the day.

We have also started to do some walking on a weekend. We set up a what’s app group between a few friends and family, so that if anyone is planning a walk, they can invite others along. This has been more effective than trying to plan a walk around a weekend when everyone is free, as this is sometimes impossible.

We I think  that that’s just about it for me. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring.

 

 

 

One Year On

Well it’s now a year since I wrote my first blog. I’m happy to say that I’ve really enjoyed it for the most part. There have been some weeks when I’ve struggled to know what to write, but that was meant to be part of the challenge, so that each week I would do something interesting enough to write about. So I hope I haven’t bored you too much.

I’ve decided to carry on writing my blog again this year, but just once a month, except of course if I go off on any interesting travels and I will keep you up to date with those.

A year in review

In the year that I was 50, did I achieve all the things that I wanted to do? Probably not, but the things that I didn’t achieve are still achievable this year and it was actually a really great year.

There were lots of celebrations, including my 50th birthday, my eldest daughter’s graduation, my youngest daughter’s 18th birthday and the birth of my niece’s first baby.

I walked lots of miles, I di lots of park runs, but didn’t manage my first 10k as I had intended, due to being unwell. Maybe I gave in a bit too easily after that and have not really kept up with my fitness,

I lost over 2 stone…..and then put most of it back on again.

I saw lots of shows at the theatre,. Some that I have seen many times before that I really love and some that I have not seen before, but I really enjoyed all of them.

I got to go on some amazing holidays in America, Spain and also some beautiful parts of England too.

I also set up my own business from my hobby, which is still a work in progress, but who knows how that will go

So all in all I think it’s been a pretty good year.

A year just begun

So what about this year. Well I haven’t made any resolutions, but as usual I plan to get fitter and lose weight as I always do. Other than that I just want to keep my life interesting and worthwhile. I want to work more on my business, but still keeping it small at the minute as I still have a full time job.

I have some travel plans already. Certainly different to last year, but hopefully just as interesting.

I will also set myself some challenges, probably another long distance walk and I will keep up with the park runs and Tingley run fit

An unusual start

So just to get you up to date, as I have missed my blag for a week or so. We had a great New Year’s Eve with my brother and his family coming round for a meal. We played games and quizzes and laughed till our ribs hurt.

Unfortunately New Year did not begin so well with the news of the death of my mum’s cousin. She was 98 years old and had had a great life. When we were children we would spend a lot of time with her and her husband and they took us to lots of different places. So a sad day, but a life well lived and she will be remembered fondly.

On 2nd January my dad was taken into hospital and over the following days other people in the family were struck down with a sickness bug, including me. I also contracted a severe case of conjunctivitis, which is slowly clearing up now but has not been much fun. I have to say a big thank you to my husband, my brother and his wife for doing all the running around once I was ill, as I’m not sure how my mum and dad and my girls would have managed without them.

So hopefully we’ve put the sickness behind us and can crack on with the New Year.

I guess considering the last week it has to get better!?

 

 

 

 

Crafts, Carols, Christingle and Christmas

Crafts

Well I haven’t written my blog for a couple of weeks now, but I have been really really busy. After advertising my handmade crafts on my Facebook page, I was then invited to attend at a craft fair. On 10th December, I went to the fair at Cliffe castle in Keighley. It was an extremely cold day and heavy snow had been forecast. Luckily it didn’t snow too heavily, just enough for it to be Christmassy.

I sold quite a few of my handmade items and had a lot of interest for the future. As a result of this, I’ve had the confidence to set up a website and start advertising online. As I still have a full time job, it is only a small business at the minute, but I’m hoping to build it up over the next few years and hopefully when I retire, it will be a good project to work on and earn a little extra money.

If you want to have a look at the website, it’s https://www.mezzycreations.co.uk

Carols

I hadn’t been to church for quite some time, so last week, as it is now getting nearer to Christmas, I went to two services. The first one was “Nine Lessons and Carols”, which is exactly what is says on the tin. The carols made me feel really festive, the choir sang beautifully and the readings made me think about the true meaning of Christmas.

Later in the day, I went to the Christingle service. I’ve always loved this service, where everyone receives an orange (representing the world), with a red ribbon around (representing the blood of Christ), four sticks with sweets (representing the four seasons and fruits of the harvest) and a candle (representing Jesus, the light of the world). Once everyone’s candle is lit, the lights are dimmed and there is a lovely atmosphere whilst carols are sung.

The money raised goes to https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk, which provides support to children in the UK. This is particularly poignant at this time of year, when I really appreciate how lucky I was as a child and how lucky I am to be able to provide the things that my children need.

Christmas

So now with only a couple of days left to Christmas, I’ve now finished work until next Wednesday. My husband has done the cleaning and food shopping and I’ve bought all the presents, although there are still a few left to wrap.

I used to get quite stressed before Christmas and want everything to be perfect. Maybe it’s a sign of age, or just an acceptance that there’s no such thing as perfect, but this year I’m looking forward to having time at home with my husband and daughters, for our parents to be well enough to join us for Christmas lunch and a little bit of rest and relaxation too.

For everyone else who celebrates Christmas I hope you have a good one, whether its frantic and exciting, or peaceful and restful. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you get time to spend with your loved ones or just find time for yourself.

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