Turning Over a New Leaf…

I love the prospect of the coming New Year with its promise of a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. I love turning over a new leaf, opening wide the first pristine page of my latest annual diary and preparing for beginning my year with the transfer of all birthdays , anniversaries, and memorable dates from old diary to new.

I like to take a quiet moment to remember and reflect on any birthdays no longer to be celebrated – those of friends and family sadly no longer with us – and happily add the first birthdays of relatively new arrivals, if any, along with the expected brand new birthdays of those yet to comeโ€ฆ

I tend not to make New Year’s Resolutions as such, as I find the concept of creating a definitive list of ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ counterproductive and unhelpful in the extreme, but I do like to follow this crossing-over ritual from old diary to new every Christmas-time, around the time of the winter solstice, when the shortest day of the year has passed and seasonal darkness once more begins to give way to light.

It gives me the chance to review and mark the year’s passing with a critical yet compassionate eye, consider the highs and lows, take stock of where I’m at, and give some thought to which general direction I might want my life to go in next but without the pressure of specific goals and deadlinesโ€ฆ

It feels to me that from the germ of a blank, virginal diary opening up before me each year, life can potentially flourish unblemished into a beautiful future as yet unwritten. That ritual crossing point between one year and the next always signifies for me a time of fresh hope, of magical metamorphosis, a threshold where anything is possible, and where dreams for a better tomorrow maybe can come trueโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ™‚

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Better to Travel Hopefully than to Arrive…

There’s something about the rolling impermanence of working in a pub that I’m finding surprisingly intoxicating. I can be on my feet and on the go for a good eight hours solid (bar a very welcome half-hour break), barely stopping to catch my breath, and yet at the end of my working day I have absolutely nothing to show for it but aching muscles and a healthy glow in my cheeks.

There is no finished product – no end game – only a constant conveyor-belt of customers and colleagues coming and going, food and drink eaten and drunk, tables cleared and filled again, glassware washed and used again, bottles re-stocked and barrels changed, day in, day out, like some magical never-ending cornucopia of repetitive chores.

Conversations and complaints and catcalls and compliments all blend together seamlessly to create one rhythmic sound-wave that speeds and slows, rises and falls like a complete orchestral music score. It’s like a Public House Symphony, sometimes mellifluous, sometimes cacophonous, occasionally reaching a crescendo of broken glass and drunken jeers, but always entertaining.

It’s as if each shift brings a journey to be travelled rather than a destination to be reached. Often a journey potentially fraught with obstacles and challenges – the heady mix of people and alcohol can sometimes create a dubious cocktail that leaves a bad taste in your mouth – but I’ve learned that overall, that’s what actually makes it fun for me. And so I enjoy starting each shift with an open mind and a light heart, secure in the knowledge that whatever happens on that day it is the journey that matters, and that it always better to travel hopefully than to arrive… ๐Ÿ™‚

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Santa’s Little Helper…

When it came to creating a fancy dress costume for wearing to work in the pub over Christmas, after careful consideration I decided to go with the Santa’s Little Helper idea of (from top to toe) red and white Santa hat, red T-shirt with white fleecy trim and black felt buttons, black skirt, red and white striped tights, and black boots. It has to be practical and comfortable enough to work in, so can’t be too fanciful.

I finished trimming the T-shirt today so tried it all on together to see how it looked – it’s not the sharpest of images taken on my phone camera (I tend to be infinitely happier on the other side of the lens, so you’re lucky to be seeing this much of me in shot), but hopefully it’s clear enough to get the picture! Let me know what you all think… ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Venice Simplon Orient Express…

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I used to have this poster framed on my living room wall when my children were small, and I loved the simple elegance of it. It epitomised everything I wasn’t, and never would be – a rich, thin, sophisticated, upper-class Lady. Or perhaps even a well-travelled demi-monde much in demand, wending my way across the world by using my feminine wiles to my advantage. Realistically I’ve always had more in common with the lowly lady’s maid of the era than the stylish fur-trimmed woman depicted – I’d have been practical and efficient and hovering invisibly in the background, earning my keep by sheer hard working-class graft, pretty much the way I do now.

But I could still dream… even as an exhausted young mum of three I could still avidly watch Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ and other such costume dramas and imagine myself in that beautiful fantasy (for me) Art Deco world of bright young things having fun; cocktails and dressing for dinner and dancing ’til dawn with no real responsibilities… The fascination of all that decadent, modernist hedonism lured me in every time; the intriguing aristocratic life of luxury, entitlement, and absolute certainty of self has always captured my imagination.

Part of me still thinks it might still be fun to travel one day on the 21st Century Orient Express; live out my dream, because I do so love train travel and the journey itself would be truly spectacular regardless, the experience of a lifetime. Yet another part of me knows that my thrifty nature means that even if I did unexpectedly come into enough money to make such a journey a potential reality, there are always countless other practicalities I would undoubtedly prioritise to spend it on before even thinking about wasting it away on one – albeit amazing – train journey.

And I suppose that’s why me not having been born with a silver spoon in my mouth and having everything handed to me on a plate like those golden age train travellers of the past makes all the difference? For me such luxury is just that – a luxury, not a necessity, and as such always comes bottom of the list when balancing a limited budget. But nevertheless I can still dream, that alluring image has stayed with me long after the original framed poster has been replaced on my wall, if not in my heart. The sheer thrill of it all still draws me in; the thought of travelling so romantically across Europe in the vintage carriages of the Venice Simplon Orient Express with all its history and vintage elegance still quickens the wanderlust in my soul, and perhaps it always will…

Christmas Hugs to One and All…

I’m quite a tactile, affectionate person. I know not everyone shares my love of such up-close-and-personal human contact, but thankfully lots of my friends and most of my family do. Personally I think it’s nice to hug someone you feel close to when you say hello or goodbye, to express happiness or provide reassurance, but I am also considerate of others’ preferences so will always temper my behaviour accordingly.

I was always hugged a lot as a child, I freely hugged my own children, and now my growing brood of grandchildren all love to be hugged too. In my world, hugs are the basis of life. Much as I love words, I often find a hug will do so much more – if you ever find yourself truly lost for words, or feel that nothing you can say is ever going to be enough, you can always just give someone a big hug and let your actions speak louder than words.

So I’m sending out warm virtual hugs to all my Blog family this Christmas time, for those of all faiths or none, sent with love and best wishes for the new year ahead… Unless you donโ€™t like hugs, in which case I offer a firm handshake, or if even that is too much physical contact for whatever reason, a shared nod of mutual respect ๐Ÿ™‚