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Hoping you had a very Happy Christmas

Here we are, a year round and our first Christmas in our own house in Ireland. I don’t know about you but we had a very happy day. Last year Jacqui scrambled and juggled and somehow made a special time for us. This year we had a bit more time and a bit more space. There were still hiccups of course. An Post seems to have gone AWOL over the last few weeks and letters and parcels I posted up to 3 weeks ago have not arrived. The electricity is decidedly dodgy at the moment and we were cooking in Stygian gloom at one point last night. We’ve had no snow (hooray) but a goodly amount of rain (how unexpected).

This year we can be really festive!

Overall though I think we did quite well. The tree went up, complete with some of our favourite decorations. We followed Irish tradition and strung lights around the front gate (and are planning more for next year). Jacqui made a wonderful Christmas cake and I iced it. Last year she was worried we might not manage a cake and my callous reply was “We’ve got some extras – we could just ice a pudding”. It didn’t go down well. And dinner was a triumph of course.

This is what has destroyed the wood

We took the opportunity of a break in the rain to walk around the wood for the first time. We thought it would be two years before we could do that so felt very happy with our progress. It is still very rough and uneven underfoot and there are many little stumps now. A lot of them show evidence of the dreaded Ash DieBack – scars on the bark, broken rings and black patches inside. We’ve a big job on our hands but we will bring it all back to life, though with different types of trees.

I’ve made this a shorter read than usual as I have some important work to do. One of my presents yesterday was a 17-note kalimba and apparently I have until June to reach concert standard. It is a little brother for the (at least) 50 year old Indian Banjo but I may be a bit more successful with the kalimba. Firstly the Indian Banjo is right-handed so I struggle as a lefty. Secondly Charlie either sings along or hates it so much he won’t stop barking. I’m not sure which but he’s not taken against the kalimba so I may get to learn in peace. For those of you unfamiliar with these instruments, I’ve attached a couple of pictures below.

The 17 note Kalimba
The Indian Banjo

And I have a wonderful new jigsaw puzzle board. I had to leave my old one behind. It was very old and didn’t close properly so the bits slid around and fell out. A confession – I found it abandoned in the alleyway in Saltburn and it was a bit knackered even then. I’ve several lovely new puzzles I’ve not been able to try – a 1,000-piece jigsaw and three lively dogs do not mix. And the only surface big enough is the dining table that I can’t monopolise for days on end. So I will be very busy – and very happy until at least New Year.

I’m probably going to change these blog posts to every 2 weeks next year though if I have news of the new book or the TV project I’ll post that at once. I am also resuming the podcasts from the blogs in January and will post the link. Many, many thanks to you all for your support and friendship this past year. I have loved sharing the journey with you.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year.