... Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooosh, went December. Just like that. One minute it was here, and the next minute it's almost gone!
How was Christmas in your world(s), Dear Reader? It is never as enjoyable for me when I don't have Christmas morning opening gifts with my (not-so) smalls, although this time I wasn't as utterly miserable as I was two years' ago. Hopefully in another two years I will be better again. I did have a nice day and received some really lovely, thoughtful, presents from friends and family.
I even attended a couple of parties! Many thanks to C&J who have an annual Christmas Eve party, which is always wonderful - they are such good hosts. On Boxing Day our family party was not quite complete this year due to one family member having recently gone through a quadruple heart bypass operation and needing to be cared for. And another contingent of the family was missing due to a bit of a feud which developed during the course of 2011. We have always had such a close (extended) family; one which enjoys one another's company and especially looks forward to the tradition that is the Boxing Day gathering. Ahead of the day this year, many of us didn't know what would happen: In the event things went ahead much as usual apart from the absentees. We had fun playing a 'pegging' game: literally attempting to put surreptitiously attach pegs to one another's clothing, and then there were the stick-on false moustaches. Probably the least said the better on that score (although I have some fabulous photographs).
I have some great news about my mum. Some of you might remember that last month she lost her beloved cat Pepsi. It was so sad. Anyway, she was horribly miserable without the company of a feline in the house. She didn't want to rush off and find another cat, but did call to make enquiries and register with both the RSPCA and the Cat's Protection League as someone who was interested, and might come and look at rescue cats in the new year.
Within a week, however, she was called by a lady at the CPL and told they had had to rescue 19 (NINETEEN) cats from a single house and wondered if Mum could possibly give a home to one of those? An influx of 19 all in one go is quite a lot. Anyway, Mum couldn't say 'no', could she? Off she went with her cat basket, and came home with this little lady:
Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet Miss Daisy. The vet thinks she is around three or four years old, and that she has had a litter of kittens at some point. She is very friendly, and has taken a particular shine to No.1 who mews at her in the way of Simon's Cat, and Miss Daisy mews right back ... They sit there talking cat! Daisy appears not to know how to 'play' and, we suspect, has never really had much (if any) one-to-one attention. She and Mum are gradually getting to know one another and whilst Mum still misses Pepsi dreadfully, having this other little cat is helping. And Daisy desperately needed a home - so they are each helping the other.
Speaking of No.1, she has spent much of the Christmas holidays revising some modules for her GCSE Science. She has three exams in January - one in Biology, one in Chemistry and one in Physics. Revision is something she hasn't really got the hang of until recently. It really is something of an 'art' isn't it? She just suddenly seemed to understand that it was a 'game' of sorts in that one has to memorise the information to answer the questions in the exam paper, and then one can largely 'forget' the knowledge (unless, of course, it needs to be utilised for one's future career). I think it fairly safe to say that science probably won't feature in No.1's future career path, but she does need to achieve the qualification, if at all possible. Thus, the usual socialising of the school holidays has had to be somewhat forgone. I've been really quite impressed with the effort she's made - fingers crossed for the actual exams.
Earlier this month, my brother and I took No.1 and her friend 'S' to the 'Enchanted Christmas' event at Westonbirt Arboretum. They have a shortish trail around which people walk, and from where they can see the special lighting effects they've used on various trees. I took a zillion photos but, sadly, haven't yet had time to even properly look through the memory card. These two might give you a teeny idea of the sorts of things you can see there:
I do recommend it if any of you think it would be a nice thing to do over Christmas 2012. It's especially magical for kids. There are a couple of interactive things there - one where kids got to play some drums and with each hit, lights illuminated a patch of lawn. The harder the drums were hit, the further the lights would 'go' across the ground. It was fun. And towards the end of the trail, there was a very cool device through which kids could project their face(s) on to the trunk of a mahoosive tree. I have hopefully got shots of all this, but as I said, have yet to access them.
Late this month we went to the Oxford Playhouse to see this year's pantomime: Mother Goose. I have never seen Mother Goose before, and was unfamiliar with the story. It was a wonderful couple of hours - lost in silliness and the suspension of the trials and tribulations of 'real life'. The theatre was absolutely packed - not a single seat was empty. We were sat behind three women, who, we assumed were somehow related to (or friends of) the actress who played the 'Good Fairy of Garsington'. Every time said fairy appeared, they whooped and hollered at the tops of their voices. Given that one of them looked just like Miranda Hart (but wasn't), we found them a very funny side-dish to the main offering on stage.
Mother Goose's son, Silly Billy
Mother Goose and her geese
The Good Fairy
The Wicked Witch of Walberswick
For us, Ashleigh Gray, who played the Wicked Witch of Walberswick, stole the show: she was absolutely brilliant. Chris Larner, in the title role of Mother Goose was also very funny - especially when he underwent his 'transformation' to beautiful. The last time we went to a panto - three years ago - No.2 decided not to come with us as he felt it was too 'girlie'. When we told him afterwards what great fun it had been, he vowed to come next time. He did, and he had a great time, booing, cheering, shouting and singing along with the rest of us.
I finally finished my '111 in 2011' project this month, these are the final three images I uploaded for that:
The End (End of Bee, End of Summer, End of Project)
A new project '112 in 2012' begins tomorrow. If anyone reading would like to join in, you can find the group at Flickr by clicking here. They are a great bunch of people, and I look forward to challenging myself with the list over the coming 12 months. I dare say I shall bore readers here with the pictures too. Bad luck :p
Finally, I'd like to wish anyone reading this twaddle, a very Happy New Year. May 2012 bring you health, wealth and happiness in at least equal parts. Thank you for reading. xxx