The season for anniversaries.

We are well into December now and winter has crept in with all its delightful little quirks.  Here in Tipperary we are not immune to the cold – it has been very frosty with ice and freezing fog for most of the last week.  We are, however, having a run of small celebrations.  December means Christmas for most people here but it is our season for anniversaries too.  On the 1st we had marked 38 years since moving to Somerset and beginning our life together.  We could not have a formal union until 2005 and waited until 2006 for a civil partnership but it is our 1984 moving day we celebrate as our anniversary.

Frosty sunrise

On the 9th we held a small “thanksgiving”, marking two years since we arrived in Ireland, ragged, exhausted and both exhilarated and desperately sad.  So many people helped us on the journey and wished us well and we remember you all.  We couldn’t have moved without somewhere to stay and Sharon and Davey worked a miracle to find us a cottage – with our three dogs.  They were waiting for us, along with little Chloe, in a warm, bright room.  We even had a Christmas tree to decorate. 

Back in England three wonderful friends, Lynn, Paul and Su, stepped in and fought valiantly against the chaos left by the movers. Without their help we would never had got away in time, would have missed the ferry and the next day the borders were closed.  We would have been stuck, homeless and under lockdown rules.  We cannot ever thank them enough – and a “thanksgiving” seems more than justified.

Serious festivity near us!

Now we are heading towards Christmas and will have a small gathering of the writers’ group later this week.  This is our first foray into entertaining since we arrived and we are busy tidying up the last boxes, cleaning and planning.  I climbed a ladder to adjust the curtains yesterday and was horrified to find great clumps of fur on the ceiling.  The dogs have been blowing their coat for some time and it is very fine hair.  The ceiling is pale wood and where the fur has drifted up it sticks, invisible from the floor.  When I finish this I will be wielding the soft broom again, checking for fur and the ever-present cobwebs.  Then I will put up our tree, and the lights outside.  We can be festive – though not as impressive as some houses near us.

On display in Easons

The new book, “Puppy Brain” is doing well and there are a couple of (very good) reviews on Amazon now.  If you have read it please would you consider posting a sentence or two?  It really does make a difference – and not just to my ego.  Sales, ordering and stock are all controlled by an algorithm.  If there are no reviews, after a few weeks “computer says no”, and that can sink the book overnight.  I ventured into Easons Bookshop in our nearest town last week.  This is the Irish equivalent to Waterstones and I was a bit nervous.  The sales manager was wonderful – welcoming, interested and positive.  She has agreed to stock the book and offered really good terms.  I expressed my delight and with typical Irish frankness she said, “We don’t screw our authors over here”.  Well, it’s on the shelves and prominently displayed.  I am so happy!

I’m furious!!

Of course, not everything goes to plan.  I’ve been having some problems with out local An Post office for some time.  I thought it was just me but it seems the man running it is well known for his behaviour.  This time he refused to fill out the customs forms and sent my books out as “business documents”.  Two came back first, then the other two yesterday.   The town An Post was very helpful however, resending the first two with proper documents and naming the office without me having to tell them.  I can only apologize to anyone waiting for a book.  I will never use the local office again – I don’t trust him at all.  But now we have about a 40 kms round trip if we need any counter service, or to buy stamps.  Well, there’s always something.

We often find ourselves reflecting on events past during this season for anniversaries.  Whilst in the supermarket we spotted a frozen whole goose and a familiar gleam appeared in Jacqui’s eye.  There was no stopping her – roast goose on Saturday it was.  We recalled similar reactions from us both, most notably our last trip through France about ten years ago.  We stopped in Saumur, a lovely town with a nice hotel.  But they had changed their room structure without telling us.  We ended up paying for two rooms, much to my fury.  When Jacqui picked me up for dinner I was stuffing all the soaps, shampoo, sewing kits and assorted snacks into a bag.  I found myself suddenly very Geordie. “I’m stripping this place, me”, I said.  Well, the refugee charity at home did well out of it, and we never went back there.

It is Christmas Day in a fortnight so I will probably be a day or so late with the next episode.  I would like to wish every one of you a very Happy Christmas and hope the next year treats you well.  Stay warm, keep safe and thank you for reading and following this little blog.