Location:United Kingdom

An avid tea-drinker who likes nutmeg in her coffee and warm lavender-scented quilts. She knits, crochets and partakes in random acts of craftiness (and kindness). She likes obscure works of literature, philosophy and the idea that her mind exists separately from her body. She enjoys moving furniture around, literary criticism and baking bread. She writes haiku about nettles, would like to swim with seals and become completely self-sufficient. She writes as if her life depends on it, listens to beautiful music, and loves her darling husband Mr. VP.

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Tuesday 4 December 2007

“We’ll sleep on rooftops, we’ll ride on bicycles..”

[365, Day Fourty-Five, Tuesday 4th December 2007. The tree.]

I don’t know what it is about this time of the year, but after November’s tiredness and dread, there is something about the beginning of December which makes everything worthwhile. The days, as dark as they are, seem brighter somehow. Perhaps it’s the tree that lights the living-room, or the smell of pine every morning. Perhaps it’s the welcome warmth and buzz of the boiler kicking-in, or perhaps it is the glow of everyone else around. December is a very different month, it is a month of preparation, of cutting the ties that bind, and allowing ourselves to move on into the new year which awaits us in less than a month’s time. It is the sense of retrospection, of hindsight and of merriment. Boxes of chocolates, secret santas and parties; Christmas cards and carols, expectation and happiness.

There. You don’t get me sounding that optimistic very often!

I do feel better in December. I look forward. Admittedly post-Christmas, post-excitement there is a pause. It is that gap from the 26th to the 31st, almost a week, a little island in the middle of the celebrations where I always fall down. The in-between, a limbo of sorts, not quite wanting to give up the magic of Christmas yet feeling a bit more ready for that which is to come; the new year.

Perhaps it is just me, but I’m really enjoying December this year. There are so many bah-humbugs out there, so many people saying they wish they could by-pass Christmas altogether. Which to me seems as alien a concept as loving to visit the dentist or living on the moon. Writing my way through NaBloPoMo and November helped a lot in making the month that I usually dislike so much, better.

[365, Day Fourty-Four, Monday 3rd December 2007. The Sage Gateshead is alive at night; alive with music and lights.]

One thing that has made this December very magical is what we did yesterday. Last week with Mr. VP having the whole week off it (almost) escaped my attention that we had booked tickets to a concert all the way back in September. For me this is fatal – booking tickets that far in advance means I’m likely to forget the event entirely. Thankfully I remembered the week before, and yesterday was the day we got to see one of my very few musical-idols, Josh Rouse. We saw him at the only venue we’ll visit (because it is the best!), Hall 2 at the Sage Gateshead. Our seats weren’t as good as they had been for Thea Gilmore, Erin McKeown, Bat for Lashes and Joan As Policewoman (we were level 3 instead of level 2), but they were still excellent as we got a full-stage view.

Talking of views – the Sage itself is stunning, it’s enormous and absolutely beautiful inside and out.

We were lucky to get the tickets as they sold out almost as quickly as they were put on sale, but I couldn’t miss the chance to see one of the most beautiful voices in indie-folk-rock. It was the most wonderful concert. He sings just as beautifully in real-life as he does on any CD, vinyl or MP3. It was an hour of mind-blowing music, him doing mostly things from his new album, and some from his stunning 2003-album 1972. His performance of Sweetie was stunning, it’s such a beautiful song; obviously written in the throws of love. We noticed that in the Metro newspaper it was touted as being the best gig in the region and that dear readers, was completely true.

Josh was accompanied by the very astute Jens Lekman who, hailing from Sweden, is very much of the Scandinavian-type of soulful, slightly jarring yet very pleasing, easy-going indie-folk-pop that made my fall head over heels for Magnet/ Even Johansen, Kings of Convenience and Röyksopp. He seemed a little unsure of the stage, but was well-received and had a stunning voice.

We dined out at a lovely little Italian restaurant, walked around the foreign Christmas market that is sprawling all over the monument in Newcastle (avoiding the German sausages that smelled amazing – but succumbing to Dutch poffertjes; little pancakes with syrup. Yum!) and getting on the wonderful QuayLink buses which are powered by electricity and are therefore silent.

We headed home after the concert and were tucked up and asleep by 11.45pm. Almost the witching hour, but not quite!

Saturday 1 December 2007

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

[365, Day Fourty-Two, Saturday 1st December 2007. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go.]

It is as predictable as the fact that we won’t get snow on Christmas Day or that we will overstuff ourselves on the big day – the first of December is always, always the day when I wake early (planned or not), rush to the computer and like a sigh of relief tick all of the little boxes on my ordinarily-empty Christmas playlist and send an army of Christmas music to the iPod for continual musical pleasure.

We also opted to take the dog for a walk along the beach. I wore my gloves, but was cursing the fact I had forgotten to bring my scarf as the wind was absolutely bitter. We walked, she walked, we talked and then came home and had breakfast. It was the perfect way to begin December.

Apart from a love of antique lightbulbs, I also have a love of Christmas music. All sorts really, from many different genres. Anything from Sufjan Stevens (if you haven’t heard his absolutely amazing Christmas album box-set – what are you waiting for?) to Wham, Chris de Burgh to Wizzard. All year long I’ve waited very patiently to be able to listen to these wonderful songs – to hum along to Dean’s “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and Sufjan’s “Holy, Holy, Holy“.

I got a lot of pre-Christmas cleaning done with the help of the ever-wonderful Mr. VP. He sorted the dining room out whilst I spent time marzipanning the two Christmas cakes, the second of which weighed in at a staggering 6lbs (2.72 Kg) – see image below. He cleaned the chickens and I got down to some major floor-mopping and vacuuming. I love doing the preparation for guests. My mother will be here next week, Mr. VP’s parents the weekend after (eeek) and then my Mum’s back for Christmas itself.

Today was the day our tree came. We waited for it to be delivered, whilst I finished another fingerless mitten, to the wonderful cacophony on the iPod.When the tree finally arrived, Mr. VP sawed an inch off the bottom for it to be able to absorb water, and we left it drinking. It wasn’t until it had gone well and truly dark that we brought it in, as that is the only time to decorate a tree! We also got out one of my favourite decorations; the lit church.

The tree was so tall we required a ladder. All the time we listened to Christmas music and laughed. I am very conscious and careful to remember that these are the times which will bouy us through the harder times that life throws at us. I often mention making memories, and I try to remember and always be thankful for the small moments, the gentle happinesses, quiet joys and moments of contentment.

The merriest of Decembers, to one and all.

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