The Gift of a cup of tea? Putting kindness into Christmas….

141216_153318_4362If you read my post a few weeks back, Ebola, Bombs and Christmas? you’ll know that I’m trying this year to do Christmas a little differently. Nothing majorly radical, like ditching the Christmas tree or stockings (life wouldn’t be worth living!), but trying to keep a limit on that most powerful of Christmas spirits, the spirit of Over Spend and her brother, Ridiculously Over Busy, or Rob for short.

I know. It’s a serious battle to keep them at bay.  The TV, radio, social media are all yelling at us to make everything perfect, home-made, up to the minute, and now!  Suzanne from 3childrenandit told us last week just how much she’s struggling with it all too.

But yesterday I got a chance to silence those loud and rambunctious spirits, and took 15 minutes out of my day, and £4.15 out of my purse to buy four cups of tea for the car wash guys in the Sainsburys car park. Continue reading

A Weekend of Triumphs (great and small)

Our PianoVery occasionally, a weekend comes along that is so packed with wonderful occasions and memorable moments, you wonder if time was somehow suspended in those impossibly short two days.  Was Friday really only 3 days ago?  You find the normal mundanity of Monday takes on a new hue as the golden glow of the weekend reflects and bounces off it.

The weekend just gone was one such weekend. Continue reading

A dream come true: the Opening of Odyssey Cinema, St Albans


Taken by Jeremiah Yee-Wai Kirkman

Taken by Jeremiah Yee-Wai Kirkman

There are moments in life when time stands still; when you are precisely where you want to be and nowhere else, living in the moment, and enjoying every minute of it.  It’s the stuff of poets, song-writers, and dreamers.

Saturday night brought along one of those precious moments and its one I won’t forget for sometime. Continue reading

Ebola, bombs and….Christmas?



I don’t know about you, but this year the prospect of ‘doing’ Christmas as usual doesn’t sit easy with me.

It’s not that we’re particularly extravagant in our present buying.  Nor that we don’t normally donate extra to charities that help those in particular need at Christmas.

Neither is the devastation that is currently being wrought by religious fanatics, disease, or megalomaniac leaders anything new.  Ask our parents and I’m sure they’ll tell us of Christmas’ past where the world seemed to be falling apart as they struggled to wrap up that Girls World or Subuteo.

Nor is the commercialisation of Christmas anything new.  Retailers and marketers have been the high priests of what has become a festival of Consumption & Carols for many years.

We’re used to this.  We’re resigned to it.  We all know the drive to get us to buy stuff that we don’t need doesn’t do the planet any good, encourages debt, and runs counter to the meaning of Christmas for those who celebrate it as a Christian festival – grace, acceptance for who you are rather than what you have, the gift of life and love.

And yet in the busyness of life – the jobs, housework, school admin, finding new clothes for fast growing children, birthdays, endless lists, oh the lists! – I usually find myself bumping into Christmas in early December with little time to stop and think how on earth we can counter this culture and do things a bit different.  To possibly even teach the kids something about sharing rather than just getting. Continue reading

Men at War – a poem of Remembrance by Ysabel Evans

‘Dulce et Decorum’ by artist Dave Farnham who created this stunning piece of art using explosive fuse wire and toy soldiers

At 11am today I was driving home, ferrying the large stash of food and essentials I’d bought from the supermarket that counts as our weekly shop.  I was glad I’d made it to a quiet spot in time, away from the incessant beep of the supermarket tills.  For this Armistice Day was a special one, being 100 years since the start of the First World War, that most brutal of twentieth century wars.  This year was the year I really did not want to let the busyness of modern life mean I miss its signature 2 minute silence.

To my surprise, I found tears falling down my cheeks as the eerie silence of Radio 4 spoke noisily of the sheer carnage, chaos and downright wrongness of war; of the wasted lives, thrown at the altar of man’s pride, ego and quest for freedom.  Yes, they fought for the right reasons, sacrificially, and against a real aggressor threatening our way of life, but ultimately, war is a crime against humanity that should never have to be fought.  And certainly never in the way it was waged in the Trenches.

And then this evening I read a poem posted by friends of ours on Facebook by their daughter, who’d been asked to write a poem about the First World war as part of her school work.  She’s the same age as my daughter’s,  but at a different school.

I thought my daughter was good at poetry till I read Ysabel’s poem.

It blew me away. Continue reading

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