One of the main participants, Alex Langlands - who is also studying (for a PhD) at the same University as me, has kindly given me permission to show you these images from what promises to be another engrossing and well researched series. I can't wait - don't miss it! - and I'll report back after the first programme.
The boys' reindeer stockings and door-deer, waiting to be packed into mouse-proof stacking boxes, then into the loft.
Confined to quarters with a cold and sore throat today, so here are some images of yesterday's "activities" - mostly designed to keep warm in the continuing bitter cold. All the Christmas ornamentation came down and is now packed into stacking storage boxes (seems hardly any time since I was putting it all up), and a quick foray made into the garden just to see how many plants look as if they are beyond saving from the frost. (All into the greenhouse last year - one day frost. Not many in the greenhouse this year "because we are having much warmer winters now" - three weeks frost. Sod's Law).
The tree - an artificial one, to take all the heavy ornaments that go on each year. Now to find the right box in that garage - brrrr.
Just two of the well over 100 precious ornaments collected since the boys were born, and received from friends overseas
Not much left of the artichokes - above ground, anyway. They will be back though - Mother Nature has promised!
Waiting for spring down by the frost-encrusted pond
I know how he feels!
I'm longing to get back in here, but it's too cold for me yet - but who knows what is taking refuge in there during this bitter weather?
But this was probably the best and the nicest part of the day - a mug of hot chocolate as dark fell, sitting in my warm kitchen with a Jo Malone amber and burnt orange candle burning, Classic FM on the radio - and my journal and a pen to keep me company. Makes me feel better just looking at it!
The last of the UK Woolworth's High street stores closed today - (Our own local shop in Newbury closed last week) and with the closure, a part of my own, and I am sure many other "Baby Boomer" childhoods disappeared.
"Woollies" was not just a shop - it was part of my history. It was where I would happily pester my darling mother for something useless, but passionately desired - and which she could not afford, most times that I went in with her. In those days, most parents knew how to use the word 'No' effectively, so my pleadings would go unheeded - but one or two of the items would almost certainly appear under the tree "From Father Christmas". He must have known Woolworth's VERY well indeed. (Though even he could not rescue them this time).
I remember shopping with her there from the age of about four - but definitely earlier than that in pre-memory, probably in my pram. It was Sweetie Paradise to most people, as well - in fact, the memories of "Woolies sweets" seems to be on most people's lips in the interviews that I have heard recently.
Empty shelves - themselves all up for sale
And oh, the Sales... pure Paradise for kids, with REAL bargains, overflowing from heaped-up bins - none of the fancy "marketing displays" of today - "pile it high, sell it cheap" was definitely their motto in the 1950's. Woolworth's was a synonym for "Cheap" - the products and the workplace - there was often a threat to people of my age that if you did not work hard in school "you will end up working in Woolworth's" - the spectre of a dead end job that was supposed to spur us into dedication to our studies. That image changed considerably over the years, but the dead end has now sadly come to fruition in a different way.
I had a last walk around last week - and I am sure that I was not the only person with a few tears running down my cheek. Surely Woolies could not be closing down? If this was happening, then civilisation as we know it really must be coming to an end.
But of course, it hasn't - though I think many of our lives will have changed a good deal economically by this time next year. What are your own memories of "Woolies" if you live in the UK - and wherever you live, what moves are you making to adapt to the changes that will be affecting all our lives?
Farewell Woolies - commiserations and good wishes to the 27000 employees whose jobs have now disappeared.
To a dear friend for supper last night, out through the frosty winter countryside to Hungerford. Since my company was summoned for 6 pm, I decided to drive there in the last of the afternoon light, and thus it was that I was left with an hour and a half to while away. Well, what else was a girl to do? The bright lights of Hungerford Antiques Arcade called to me, (as much now as they have done for the last 25 years!) and as always, there were inexpensive treasures to be found to brighten the winter gloom.
Come retrace my steps from last night, enjoy the last of the Christmas lights - and see what treasures were to be had. The Arcade is a sure stop for any of my own visitors - I had the pleasure of showing Ardi and Phil around last spring - the next visitor will be Britt-Arnhild from Norway in just a few weeks time. How much more fun I have when I can share these places with others!
A pearl glass duo for a fiver from The Junk Shop
Antique French ramekins - another Junk Shop find
Cherry's delectable variety of treasures - always lots of miniature items here!
An ultra bargain pile of "World of Interiors" magazines from Martin Smith's Countryside Books. Pennies each - for reading and then for collage creation.
The last lights of Christmas - seems ages ago now, doesn't it?
The sheep are still with us - they are now in the field at the bottom of the garden, instead of to the side....but they look as if they are staying - I hope at least until lambing. In which case, be prepared for many more photographs like this, for it must be evident that I have a passion for sheep, and will be photographing them probably every day. I could watch them for hours. Don't you think I am lucky to have such excellent entertainment laid on at the bottom of my garden - and all totally free! Yet one more of the simple pleasures of life here at Autumn Cottage, for which I am so grateful.
These photographs were taken at just past 1 pm in the afternoon - but you can see how long the shadows are already. Never mind - they are shortening by the day and the sky is blue! Spring will be along shortly, by which time, this bed below needs to have been dug over, not an easy job as there is a four year mat of entangled lemon balm roots to remove - and then more top soil to be trundled up from the heap at the bottom of the garden. Maybe moving that lot will help me to lose some weight!
But at least Chilly Buddha keeps calm amongst the bamboo and fatsia, in a sheltered spot down by the summerhouse!
Pip and Lissie are doing the most sensible thing on this New Year's Day - hunkering down as close to a comforting radiator as they can - (Lissie using it as a pillow) and turning their back on the dreaded Tax Return!
It has been bitterly cold here for days, and though we did not have the hard frost last night that we had the night before (temperatures down to minus 6C), there is still a chill wind blowing. The best place to be right now is in this office, warm and cosy, with a nice cup of tea, a blog to write and sending Good Wishes to all my readers for richness of life beyond the financial in 2009