The True Spirit of Xmas Lies Within Your Heart

My lovely niece worked for Gala Bingo  (in our house it will be forever Galalala) whilst she was waiting to enlist in the British Army a few years’ ago and I remember proudly watching her laughing and chatting with some of the old folk whilst waiting to collect her one day. Afterwards she told me that many went there regularly as otherwise in the words of my old grandma “they wouldn’t see a soul all day”.

We all know some elderly that live alone within our communities that will now miss out on shopping trips, hairdressing appointments or a much needed afternoon out playing Bingo so it’s important now more than ever to keep an eye out for them which might be a phone call, dropping an unexpected gift on their doorstep, help with shopping just to let them know that they’re not alone. The winter months’ can be grim and lonely for many old folks and especially during this very difficult time when they will become even more isolated, so be a good neighbour and #checkin on them. After all it is the Season of Goodwill.

My Best Girls

Have Yourselves A Merry Little Christmas

Of course, I couldn’t let this special time of the year pass without wishing you all a Happy & Safe Christmas from everyone at Dyson Abbey here in blustery old Plymouth. I hope you all get to spend time with those you love and are surrounded by laughter on this special of all days.

Be filled by wonder, be touched by peace & believe in the miracle

From our house to yours

From our house to yours

The Bell Still Rings For All Those Who Truly Believe

Hello friends!

I know it’s been a while but for those that don’t already know my darling Dad had a fall last week whilst the old dear was away on a Turkey & Tinsel weekend with the Women’s Institute. No doubt getting up to go to the little boys’ room without putting the light on he fell and shattered his hip waiting there from 5.30 am until much later when he was discovered. Regrettably, because he had had been sat there for so long his blood pressure dropped and he had another stroke in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

I can’t deny it’s been a tense week with Dad critically ill where he hasn’t known any of us. However, I am delighted to say that we have turned a corner and he’s back on the road to recovery. Whilst it’s a road we’ve taken before it’s one he won’t be walking alone and with Ayesha’s Passing Out Parade in June, I rather think his stubborn determination and heart will have him waltzing along rehabilitation street.

So on Christmas Day we will be heading off to Burrator Ward in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth to bring some festive cheer to the old fella along with a trunk full of Tupperware boxes stuffed with Mum’s homemade seasonal buffet; that’s if he’s no longer a “Nil By Mouth” patient! Beverley Big Pants and I will be traditionally dressed in our Christmas Jumpers and rather splendid earrings bearing a strong resemblance to the the Ugly Sisters, the grande dames of pantomime; oh yes we will!

So I want to take this opportunity to wish all doctors and nurses a safe & happy Christmas and thank them for giving up their family holidays so that we can all still have time with ours.

I think as you grow older your Christmas list gets shorter because the things you want can’t be bought.

Decisions, decisions ...

Decisions, decisions …

Sew Much Fabric Sew Little Time

The old dear handed me a bag of old photos last week that she had come across whilst having a clear out and I have spent a week in scanning heaven; simple things. I’d asked her to dig out my first school photo so that I could participate in a Twitter anti-bullying campaign. The photo in question shows me as a truculent and sullen four-year old who clearly didn’t (and still doesn’t) enjoy having a photo taken and also bears a strong resemblance to the children from the cult horror classic “Village of the Damned”. Mum still hasn’t been able to locate said picture (probably burned it not wanting a reminder that her child was the Devil’s spawn) but whilst searching she came across some other hidden gems including this one of my sister, Beverley Big Pants modelling one of my hand-made outfits!

Back in the day when I was a hard-up student, I decided to put my dressmaking skills learned at school to good use. As I was so dire in the cookery class my harassed teacher had been relieved to offload me and school chum, Louise onto the dressmaking teacher and rescue my poor family from potential salmonella poisoning when they were constantly forced to eat my latest incinerated culinary offering. To be fair I can follow any dressmaking or crochet pattern to this day and my ability with both smocking and ruffles was the envy of the class, however, none of the above qualified as “high fashion” statements at that time. In my limited and immature view, an abundance of sequins including various other adornments compensated for a lack of cutting edge style.

My mum gave me some old material and lining which she thought might just keep me busy and out of trouble and fortuitously my sister became the recipient of my needlework endeavours. There was just one small problem in that I lacked any talent in design or creativity. However, I clearly thought I was going to be the next Stella McCartney whilst I threaded my mum’s old Singer sewing machine with shirring elastic and frankly in my opinion any missed stitch could be resolved with a shedload of sequins.

Fortunately for Beverley Big Pants, my dressmaking hobby was short-lived as I discovered boys. However, trawling through these pictures I think it might be time to dust off the old Singer as the duvet set I have bought for my sister for Xmas is just sat here begging for some sequin lovin’, in fact if I started now I could have completed the first two letters of her nickname by tea time. Happy Days!

dressmaking

Turbo Rides Again

A knock on the door at 9pm on Xmas Eve heralded the arrival of Turbo, one of our next-door neighbours. My Dad answered the door as mum and I were busy wrapping up the last of the Xmas presents before we got ready to go to Midnight Mass at our local Parish Church and Turbo explained that it was his work’s Xmas night out and he’d forgotten to book a taxi so could I give him a lift? Reluctantly I grabbed my car keys, muttering under my breath as I climbed into the car. It was only when I switched the engine on that he dropped the first bombshell of the night that he was meeting them all in another village some thirty miles away.

Grimacing, I set off for our destination with my mother’s warning about not being late for Midnight Mass ringing in my ears. Halfway there Boy Wonder was desperately rummaging through his pockets before asking me for our home telephone number explaining he wanted to ring the old fella as he thought he’d dropped his keys. I pointed out that I didn’t think it was a wise decision to ask my Dad with just his one good arm to root around in the cold and dark subsequently I was left with no choice but to turn the car around. As we pulled into the street, our neighbourhood genius announced he’d found them in his pocket after all.

Restraining the urge to throttle him we once again set out for our destination. I double checked with him twice that I was depositing him in the car park of the local village and once there he tried phoning his pals again but all their mobiles appeared to be switched off.

“Are you telling me that you don’t know where you’re supposed to meet them?” I asked through gritted teeth.

“Well, I think we need to go back to the Duke of Cornwall” he shamefully admitted. Who’s the “we” kemosabe? Clearly he had no intention of the using the legs God had given him for the short trip back to the pub. I turned the car around & drove along the road to the Duke, pulling up alongside I reached across to shut the passenger and hightail it back home but as he climbed out as he said “Wait there and if I wave you can drive off”.

Really! That’s so very thoughtful of you as I can’t think why anyone would want to hurry off back home at 10.30pm on a Xmas Eve. By now I was seething with rage and frankly ready to draw him a gasoline bath and hand him a lit cigarette.

“Thanks Dallas, really appreciate this, got something really special wrapped up for you at home”. Thinking that a bottle of something nice would in some small way help to compensate me for a night of taxi driving in arctic conditions, I snuggled into my coat and decided in true Xmas spirit to suck it up.

Unsurprisingly, his friends were not waiting for him at the Duke of Cornwall and further attempts to contact them by mobile phone weren’t successful either. Climbing back into the car he said “Well, we’ve only got another seven pubs to check out, shouldn’t take long”.

Sadly it was a long night so as I raced into midnight mass just as the congregation were settling down for a chorus of Silent Night, I was greeted by one of my mother’s frosty stares. The personal welcome from the vicar “Deborah, so nice of you to join us” was enough alone to guarantee me a diet of muesli breakfasts for the remainder of my natural-born.

The following day late into the afternoon, no doubt after his hangover had worn off, Turbo sheepishly knocked on our door again. Fortified by several glasses of the bubbly stuff I was determined to rebuff any further taxi driving requests. As I swung the door open he stood there in the cold with his hands behind his back.

“I told you I had something special for you” grinning he handed me a battered paper plate with 3 of the sorriest looking mince pies surrounded in cling film. Needless to say our own Mary Berry (the old dear) took the gesture as a personal insult so I think it unlikely that he will be gifted any homemade bakery products this year fresh from the Dyson Abbey kitchen.

mince pies

Ninety Seconds Of Joy

Well of course, I couldn’t let the Festive Season pass without wishing you all a very merry and safe Christmas from all here at Dyson Abbey. The holidays seem to start earlier and earlier each year and go on for much longer especially for those that work in many occupations such as the emergency services, social care and retail; which means less time spent celebrating with their families. So for all the unsung heroes out there I thank you!

When my nieces were younger one of our special Christmas tasks was filling wrapped shoe boxes with pocket money gifts for children less fortunate in some poorer countries. We were asked to supply toiletries, boiled sweets, pens, crayons, notebooks nothing too elaborate and the girls couldn’t understand why any child would want things that were so readily available to them. I came across this video earlier this week from the Team Hope Shoebox Appeal on one of my social media pages shared by a fellow blogger and stopped to watch it before setting off for work. It was a timely reminder of what the true spirit of Christmas is all about as I saw the obvious joy of the children unwrapping their packages. None of which included computer games, Ipads or any of the other must have electronic gadget and yet the children were overjoyed with the contents of their shoeboxes. It was a valuable lesson learned for this jaded soul on a wet & windy winter’s morning in Devon.

Our efforts for our local shoebox appeal have fallen by the wayside in recent years now the girls have all grown up but rest assured next year after realising that such small things can bring so much joy, we will be reinstating that particular Christmas tradition.

It’s Not How Much We Give But About How Much Love We Put Into Giving
Mother Teresa

The Gift You Can Open Again & Again

I should have known that Serial Shagger and I were not a match made in Heaven when he gave me a box of beeswax candles one Christmas having left his present shopping until the last-minute and stumbled from the pub on Christmas Eve to select the first thing he came across. I could have saved my Dad the expense of a new suit he would never wear and myself a shedload of grief, had I seen the neon danger signs smacking me on the forehead. However, a former boss beat me in the most unromantic gift category when her husband (she divorced him soon after and bloody right too) presented her with a visitors book for her birthday. So I completely understand the importance of wanting something special and memorable for your significant other; however, the difficulty arises when you work for a company who insist on paying you a pittance thus preventing you from purchasing that Ferrari that your loved one so admired.

One of my colleagues wanted to do something unforgettable for her boyfriend’s upcoming birthday and asked us for some suggestions. Balloon ride someone said, which was promptly discounted owing to the cost and the fact that my friend worked for the same company as I and earned the same magic beans. Aftershave or jewellery were considered just a tad too predictable. So the million dollar question was what else would be cheap and make this birthday one to remember?

So I jokingly suggested that as she had a budget smaller than a stripper’s thong that she wrap herself in a red bow and surprise him when he got home. What a great idea she said!

So on the big day after her shift had ended she toddled off home to take a leisurely bubble bath followed by a strict beauty regime of buffing, exfoliating and moisturising in preparation for an evening of romantic lurve.

Having lit and stoked the open fire burning away in the grate, she settled down on the leather sofa, all buffed and naked where she strategically placed the ribbon. However, as darkness fell, the heat from the fire made her a little drowsy and she dozed off to sleep and didn’t hear the doorbell when it rang. She woke up abruptly to the front door slamming and the lounge door being slowly opened.

“Surprise” shouted the in-laws brandishing presents and a rather substantial birthday cake having let themselves in. My friend said afterwards that she didn’t know which one of them was more embarrassed. It was one of those awkward moments when no-one knows quite what to say, apart that is from father-in-law who broke the silence with “nice tattoo”.

Next year it goes without saying that her boyfriend will be getting the safe and predictable option of aftershave.

candles