Tuesday, 29 December 2009


I think this was the best ever Christmas. Everything just fell into place perfectly.

The children were great, and it is so great having time off with them, no pressure, jarmies all morning...we had all that lovely ice just before the big day - I had time to make a wreath - the dinner was lovely - Yer Man's brother came over from Dublin, which was lovely - we had my parents over for the day, played silly board game on Boxing Day, ate too much, drank just the right amount, generally kicked back.

The kids made an advent calender for each other this year (last year's Xmas cards - we are so green), and really enjoyed that. They got to be looked after by my friend's daughter for a couple of days at the start of the holidays - a bit of slacker time, a bit of creative time, BT got to watch "The empire strikes back" 3 times in a row...

He got heaps of lego and was delighted. She had asked for a surpise, got a DS and was delighted. YM got subbuteo and was delighted. I got a mulberry tree, and our neighbour is giving us a quince tree...so excited.

And now the hordes are starting to gather for New Year.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Expressing gratitude

I love the 3 beautiful things blog. I found it through a book called "Enough". It's a delight.

It's a nice discipline, to look for 3 beautiful things. I try to do it most days. Maybe I should do it every day. Usually I find 3 and then a dozen more explode onto the scene.

So this is my expressing gratitude bit.

I thought - 12 rules, 12 months, that's handy - but if I take them in order that leaves exercise to last - and I don't want to do that! I think Gratitude is probably what I'm naturally best at, so I'll start there - especially with Christmas coming up.

A very Christmassy day

Yer Man went off for a bike ride with Charlotte's other half this morning, so we did a whirlwind of local Christmas events - a Christmas tree festival at St Giles in the Wood - lots of lovely trees - and then to Rosemoor to see a green robed Santa arrive in state. We ended up queuing for his grotto, which was a charming and amazingly non-commercial event. Then on to Shebbear, where the local pony club were having a Christmas meeting - lots of little girls in santa hats and ponys with antlers - and a really nice lunch.

So many beautiful things.

1 The scent of something winter flowering that I can't name, hitting me as I turned a corner on a path in Rosemoor

2 Getting a Yorkshire pudding with my roast pork. I do love Yorkshire pudding, but I'm not mad keen on beef. I sometimes have it just so I can have a Yorkshire, so to get one with a different meat is a real treat.

3 Two very nice older ladies chatting to the kids about the whole Santa thing, and all the children being so polite and sweet.

Friday, 11 December 2009

12 happiness-enhancing activities

These are from Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at the University of California.

1 Express gratitude
2 Cultivate optimism
3 Avoid obsessing over things
4 Practise acts of kindness
5 Make time for friends, be supportive and loyal
6 Develop coping strategies
7 Learn to forgive
8 Immerse yourself in activities and be open to new ones
9 Savour life's joys
10 Work towards meaningful goals
11 Practise religion and spirituality
12 Exercise.


We are really eating and appreciating our quince jam at the moment. Last year our neighbour, Mary, gave us a couple of jars of quince jam and we loved it - me and Bloodtester, anyway. So this year I was really excited to see some for sale in the local greengrocer, and ended up buying loads. I made quince jam, quince jelly and murmillo. It's quite hard on the hands - the juice is quite astringent, and the fruits are really hard, so it was a serious labour of love.

It is just gorgeous. A slightly pinky amber colour, and the flavour is fantastic. It just pulls water into your mouth. So hard to describe flavours - it's very fruity, not a tropical fruit, but a much fuller flavour than a pear or an apple.

So I have to have a quince tree.

And it is so nice to have a larder full of jars of good things to eat.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Good night, Irene

Irene is on of the department's secretaries. She's worked here for 28 years, she's smart and funny, tells the dirtiest jokes, makes sure I get a lunch break, adjusts things at a moment's notice, brings in cake, and it's going to be very weird not having her here.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


I want to have more room to celebrate the small things that give pleasure, the things that add up to happiness. I carry around an article that gives a list of 12 happiness-enhancing activities and I want to explore those a bit and see where they take me. Some of them I do consciously already, some I probably do unconsciously and some I don't do at all.

One of the problems I have with the idea of therapy is the idea that you need to change yourself to be happy or fulfilled, or whatever. Sometimes you have to battle injustice and fight for what is right, obviously. But paying attention to what is good in your life, savouring pleasures, acknowledging what's going right - it seems so obvious that that will make you feel better. And even in the hardest times I have been lucky enough to find positives.