Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell 2008

As another year drifts to a close it is time to pause and reflect, to look backwards over the past twelve months and then turn and pass through the door to 2009. 2008 did not disappoint. I entered the year full of hope and optimism and by and large, this was the way of my year.

2008 was the year of commitment: M's brother married his beautiful wife in February and then in June M proposed to me. Our announcement was swiftly followed by that of two sets of university friends and one set of school friends and so 2009 seems set to be the year of the wedding (although I suspect that 2010 and beyond will be no different).

2009 will be a year of change for me personally as well as globally. First of all, it will be the first year since university when I have not smoked a cigarette. M and I managed to kick our penchant for a social cigarette with a drink or two six weeks ago. It will also be the year that, all being well, I qualify and become Mrs B. There will be some probable blog re-branding too, as Little Miss Rachel does not fit the life and times of a newly wed-to-be.

Globally there are great expectations from Mr Obama and from Mr Brown too, as he leads us through this period of recession. Personally speaking the drop in base rate and housing prices has brought nothing but cheers and I hope that we can all learn something about value and making do. A downwards looking economy coupled with being older and much more aware means that the world feels far far less certain than ever before.

In my mind's eye I see myself on the eve of 2000 with a boy I thought I loved (who knew at 17 that being in love and simply liking being loved could be mistaken for one and the same thing) preparing to take A-levels and leave home and start a new life at university and beyond, in a new century, yet somehow this NYE seems even more uncertain than that.

And so, as 2008 passes into 2009, M and I shall, for the first time since I have known him, spend the evening together, at home, quietly (with some decent champagne) rather than at a huge party and welcome in the new year in the way we hope to spend much more of the coming year. While for us there is much celebration to come in 2009 my thoughts are with others who do not or cannot share this.

And so, as 2008 passes into 2009, I shall pause a moment to remember Roderick and I shall think of my darling cousin and hope that she is able to find some comfort in the ending of her year and the start of a new one.

And so, dear readers, I know not what 2009 will bring to you but I hope that you have a peaceful and fitting end to 2008 and start to 2009 and I will see you next year.

(2006 and 2007 if you are interested)

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Short Walk In Wintertime*

"When you're weary, feeling small..." a short walk in winter time can soothe the soul.
Letting the weak winter afternoon sunshine wash over me, seeing the winter trees silhouetted against a dazzling blue sky...

...Looking up at ancient trees and becoming calmer, as I gaze at buildings built in the 17th century, where generations upon generations of lawyers before me have lived and worked. Following in tradition somehow makes things easier...

... Looking up and feeling sunlight against my face, that there is light amongst the darkness of winter and that summer and sunshine will come round again. That summer without winter would be nothing. That silhouettes like these are even more special as for 3/4 of the year you cannot see that roof line against the sky for it is usually obliterated by an abundance of foliage...

...Seeing the rich red colour of old brick and being reminded of other occasions when life was also hard, and remembering that those times too passed and receded. That seasons come and seasons go, as do bad times and dark days...

...Realising how many good things in life there are, if only you pause and look, much like the poem, one of my favourites ...

All images by me.
"What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stop and stare
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep, or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at beauty's glance
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
William Henry Davies

*With apologies to Libby Purves for misquoting her book title.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Preparations

The tree is up and decorated (white lights, teeny gold baubles, a few beautiful birds and reindeer), holly and berries have been foraged and arranged in vases, 4 dozen mince-pies have been made and almost half consumed already. The presents-in-jars have been made and are almost labelled. The extra presents have been bought. No Christmas cards have been written yet but we are not sending many this year. Pictures to follow when the camera lead arrives.

PS. Many thanks for all your kind words yesterday. They mean a lot. Things are looking up, I think.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Of words and candlelight

These are the darkest days of winter and some of my darkest days too. The darkness lifted temporarily as I attended a candle-lit carol concert yesterday evening. There, in the still church, my thoughts floated apart as I listened to the familiar Christmas readings, my mind taken back, as always, to school carol concerts and the pending excitement of Christmas at the most beautiful of words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". There, in the candle-lit church, I heard my voice soaring out, in harmony with the multitude of voices, lifting up to the rafters, surprising me, as we sung "silent night, holy night". There, in that quiet and candlelit church, as prayers were read, I thought I heard a whispered lullaby: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it". My candle might not be shining so very brightly at the moment, but it has not gone out. These darkest days of winter will soon have passed, and soon too, I hope, will mine.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A little less conversation...

All photos from my personal collection

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Things to do on a Saturday afternoon

All images by me -more to follow


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You know you have a cold when...

(in addition to other more usual symptoms) you...

  1. Don't notice that the hot water bottle you've made and are leaning on is leaking until you notice some minutes later that you're sat in a puddle of warm water.
  2. Make yourself a cup of tea and try and put the kettle back in the fridge.