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Annual Review

31 Dec
Bramall Hall, in the County of Greater Manchester.

Image via Wikipedia

The last day of the year seems like a good time to re-hash the last twelve months – not much point doing it next March, is there?  I won’t include links to previous posts because I don’t expect you to go and read them again; I’m just glad you showed up at all today.

On a personal level, we acquired a new dog and six fish (now, sadly, five fish).  I went on a back-to-work course; had a work placement and one interview but still no job.  I was in the audience for the first leaders’ debate and was given a new kitchen and bathroom by my landlord.  The whole of my downstairs and part of my upstairs has been re-decorated this year, and it’s all hidden by the Hub’s ever-growing mountain of crap.  I discovered I am two inches taller than I thought I was; and Glee.  I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary; witnessed a police siege in my street; and won £100 in shopping vouchers.  The Hub’s CFS/ME got steadily worse and he was diagnosed with anaemia and restless leg syndrome, so I doubled my fun-poking efforts.  I became a pirate for a week; had several colds and infections and a wisdom tooth extraction; and still claimed to be as healthy as an ox.  Have you noticed that you never see oxen anymore?  Spud had three holidays – two courtesy of friends – and Tory Boy helped win the election (sort of) and saw the Pope’s back while interning in Westminster.

The general election threw up my favourite quote of the year:

Paddy Ashdown: 

The British people have spoken; now we just have to work out what they’ve said.

As far as the writing goes, I was published in several poetry ezines and two collections; was counted part of the Manchester blogging scene; and saw one of my poems turned into a piece of art work.  I took part in April’s NaPoWriMo and November’s Poetic Asides Poem A Day challenge; performed at Bramhall Hall with Manchester Camerata; and at Stockport Art Gallery with its vanishing audience.  I completed an excellent creative writing course at a local college and was a founder member of Stockport Art Gallery Writing Group.

My blog was given a makeover and I had three guest bloggers.  This blog is growing exponentially.  In March I was thrilled to reach the magic figure of 5000 hits; in the nine months since then I have had over 21,000 hits with the figure at this moment standing at 26,671.  I started a new blog for my South African poems and sometimes it gets as many as three readers a day. 

Not a bad year, overall.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share it with me.

*

The prompt for Big Tent was to write a list poem.  I was inspired to write a haiku by today outside:

A Stockport Winter

dull grey cold muddy
miserable the same as
a Stockport summer

If The Tree’s Not Full, You’re Doing It Wrong

31 Dec

I decorate the tree using the above principle. I believe in moderation in everything except Christmas and Maltesers. Speaking of which, I still have seven of my nine boxes & bags left and it’s been five days; I’d better get myself to the doctor.

Here are a few of our tree decorations. We buy at least one new one every year. That was Tory Boy’s first question when he arrived home on Christmas Eve: ‘Where’s the new decoration?’

The mirrored bell you see below is the first decoration TB ever bought me, from St Matthew’s Christmas Fair, here in Edgeley about ten years ago.

 

This is a decoration from the White House, from 1995. It comes in its own specially marked box. The White House issues new ones each year for the public to buy, though this one was a gift from the Hub via eBay. It is a solid piece.

The candy cane is also from America, one of a box of ten sent by one of the Hub’s chat room friends. They are about ten years old, those that are left. We never took them out of their plastic wrappers but they are getting a bit soft now. Don’t think we are mean to our children: we can buy them here in the pound shop. We just appreciated Brenda’s kindness and didn’t have the heart to eat them

 

 

The white stocking was made by Spud in reception (kindergarten); the Christmas sock is one of a mis-matched pair given to me by my Mother-in-law when we brought her and the Hub’s Dad out to South Africa one Christmas. I think the funny basket rat thing held mini Easter eggs once; I bought it on a boot sale because I liked it so much. The glass bauble to the right is part of an expensive set of ten that the Hub got for a knock-down price on eBay. Each ball contains a different Christmas figure. They have their own specially designed wooden crate with an acetate showing which bauble goes where.

 
 
This is our most precious decoration.  The Hub bought it for his parents in 1970 and it went on the top of their tree every year until they died.  It went on the top of our tree after that until about five years ago, when Tory Boy bought us a new angel with his pocket money.  I forgot to take a close-up of his angel but if you look at my earlier posts you will see it.
 
 
  
The tatty silver and gold balls were once shiny and new gold balls, part of a set of six we bought for our first Christmas tree, twenty-five years ago.  These are the only two left.  The pink fairy was handmade by me under Flo’s tutelage; I also have a reindeer and a Christmas tree, all made from dolly pegs.  I also made the cross stitch snowman.
 

 

 

My friend Elone often buys me Christmas decorations when she goes on her travels; this one of Sponge Bob came from Disneyland.  I also have one of Mickey Mouse and a blue glass teardrop from Kusadasi which is my favourite of all she has bought me, mostly because I love saying ‘Kusadasi’.  The dog is an old Christmas tag made of foam.  The Hub bought a set for my presents one year, and I like them so much I use them as decorations.

  

The red and gold box top right first held a ring that the Hub bought me and hid on the tree long ago.  The gold bell next to it was our first top-of-the-tree decoration when we married in 1985.  The cloth bell came from a little shop in Jo’burg on Louis Botha Avenue in the early years of our marriage.  The shop sold all homemade/hand-made things, including cakes and clothes and Christmas decorations. 

 

Homemade and hand-made decorations are my favourite, but I love them all.  I overload the tree because I am seriously sentimental at times and when I decorate the tree, I’m bringing out happy memories.  Who wouldn’t want a treeful of those?

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