Friday, 30 December 2011

Breton Beach in Winter

We arrived on Tuesday morning for a week here in Brittany.  Our winter holiday is always quick as my little girl needs to be back at school, this next year on the 5th of January!  We therefore have to plan our ferry crossings around school dates.

We were fortunate to arrive on a beautiful day, the sun was shining and we managed to get out for a lovely walk on the beach.  Since then the weather has deteriorated and I am looking out at a wet, grey and very dull afternoon.

Thank goodness I took my camera with me on Tuesday and managed to take a few photos!

There is something magical about the beach in winter, particularly at a very low tide.  The rocks, which are normally hidden underwater are exposed to the elements, and the view stretches for miles, uninterrupted by swimmers or boats.  It is incredibly peaceful, even with a skipping five year old!

You can see from the photographs that Brittany has been battered by storms recently.  There are many clumps of seaweed, which have  been pulled up from the ocean floor.  The wonderful thing is that most of the seaweed will be used, some of the local farmers gather it and use it as a fertiliser on their crops and several local companies use it to enhance both food and beauty products, it is a great natural resource for  small scale, local  enterprises.

Exposed rocks on the beach

Low tide

The dog just loves exploring

The beach was virtually empty,
just a few hardy folk enjoying the good weather

The beach was a source for granite,
and many of the stones have been worked

You can see the detail of tool marks on this piece of granite

This pool is a favourite swimming spot in the summer

Perhaps a bit chilly for a dip today!

Wishing you all a very Happy and Successful New Year.

More posts when I'm back into my daily routine, at home in Richmond, in 2012!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Wishing You a Merry Christmas


My little girl opened the last draw in her Advent Calendar, and there she found the Baby Jesus.

We are nearly ready, I'll be preparing the stuffings for the Turkey, the  cranberry sauce and making some Mince Pies for Father Christmas, (while listening to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 3pm, live on Radio 4, from King's College, Cambridge.)

We will go to evening Mass tonight, before my little girl goes to bed, and hopefully to sleep before Father Christmas arrives at Midnight.

Have a Happy and Joyful Christmas.

I'll be back with a post from Brittany in a few days!


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Friendship- A Pause for Advent.

I'm a little late with my Pause for Advent, many apologies.

Yesterday we went skating at Hampton Court Palace.  The rink is set just in front of the Palace, and the setting is second to none.

My little girl joined five of her friends, they had a wonderful hour on the ice, all of them trying hard, and sharing excitement (and the odd bump or two).  We then went for Hot Chocolate at the Courtyard restaurant, before going to our various homes for lunch.

The morning prooved to be the most perfect Christmassy start to the Christmas Holidays.  Sharing a fun activity with a group of friends at this time of year, just can't be beat!

I took lots of photographs, and have selected some general ones, to show you what a fantastic setting the ice rink is in.  Doesn't the Palace look spectacular in the background?

Later in the day I went out and met several friends from University.  We were celebrating two birthdays, and it was a real treat to be able to share such a delightful evening with old friends, one of whom I hadn't seen since before my son was born!

So my little thought for Advent, is to make sure you make time for friends, whether they are people you have known all your adult life, or new friends with whom you hope to share many adventures in the future.

I do wish you all a very Happy (and if you can manage it - a relaxing) Christmas!

Jude x

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sandhurst - The Sovereign's Parade.

On Friday, I and my family attended the Sovereign's Parade at The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

It was a very cold day, with some sleet first thing in the morning, and obviously we would not have been there without reason.  My eldest son was Passing Out.

He has spent the last year working incredibly hard and he is now an Officer in Her Majesty's Armed Forces.  We are both delighted and thrilled for him.  He has worked with such determination and single mindedness towards this goal that I feel great pride in his success.

The day started at 9.00am in the Chapel with a simple, and moving service, we then had coffee, before sitting in the stands for over an hour and half, watching the most fantastic parade.

There was a delicious lunch provided for the new officers and their parents, with a much needed mulled wine before hand.

We then left, and later in the evening there was the Passing Out Ball, to which my son had invited his younger brother, his girlfriend and several old friends from school.

He is now home on leave, before his first posting in January.

I am just posting a few photos to give a sense of the occasion, if you look at the last photo you can see my sons walking together.  The two previous photographs feature the Adjutant, on his horse, mounting the steps of Old College.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Happy Birthday !

Yesterday was my eldest son's 25th birthday.  We had a quiet celebration at home; a venison casserole for lunch, and a birthday cake instead of pudding.

I really had to squeeze the 25 candles on the cake, which had been baked  and decorated to his specification, though the stars were an addition from his little sister. (I'll put the recipe and instructions, such as they are, on my other blog.)

Celebrating his birthday yesterday, set me  thinking.  I realised that I have now been a mother for over half my life.  My son is now older then I was when he was born!  It takes some adjusting to.

I always find my children's birthdays are times to count my blessings.

And I love anticipating what the future will bring us as a family.

Advent is a time for waiting and anticipating, so this is my little Pause for Advent,  which is co-ordinated by Floss.

I do  hope you have time to spend a few moments looking back at happy memories and looking forward to exciting futures.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Candle light in Advent

I do love Advent, there is something so delightful about dark nights and feeling cozy as I spend quite evenings at home preparing for Christmas.

Many people have featured Advent Wreaths and Candles on their blogs.  I personally prefer to leave the wreath to Church, and am looking forward to the lighting of the Pink Gaudete Sunday candle this coming weekend.  I always feel that we are very nearly there, when I see it lit.

I do like candle light at home though, and as well as the scented candles that I mentioned on an earlier post here, I have other lovely candles around the house.

Because I have a five year old, who is extremely interested in everything, and indeed sees that  one of her main purposes in the family is to rearrange anything I may have set out.  I have therefore invested in several LED tea lights, so I am not worried about her burning herself or setting the house on fire!

They are invaluable, as I can pop them into tea light holders and put them beside the cribs.  My little girl can then reorganise crib figures and candles to her heart's content.

This is my A Pause in Advent for this week.  It's great to have a few moments from the rush to focus on preparing and getting ready, Thank You so much Floss for such an inspiring idea.

NB most of the candles look better at dusk or once it is dark,  I am still relatively new to photography and can't quite master elegant evening photographs!

I used an old pie dish

I put a large 3 wick candle in the middle

and surrounded it with scented Christmas pot pourri

It looks really warming on the dining room table

This looks better at night with the lights sparkling, and
the candles lit 

My five year old made the animals and Mary comfortable
on a bed of cotton wool

The LED lights work really well, they even flicker

We live near the park, so lots of deer in our house!

My dining room crib, again the LED lights,
which are wonderful

Monday, 28 November 2011

Advent Calendars

Yesterday was the First Sunday of Advent, and the countdown to Christmas has really started.  To help us we  have three Advent Calendars in our house.

The first is one I made (at least 20) years ago when my sons were both small.  I saw one in Country Living magazine, and thought it was lovely.  It was beautifully sewn and appliqued.  Now I am no needlewoman, so decided the judicious use of glue would work.

I traced a very simple pattern of trees and deer and cut them out using some old fabric I had.  The background was a piece of tartan from an even older skirt.  I stuck the trees and deer onto the tartan.  At the base I added a piece of wood, into which I had screwed 24 round hooks.  I attached two curtain rings to the top two corners.

I wrote the numbers 1 - 24  above the hooks.

When it was completed I attached 24 wrapped chocolates.  (I used tree decorations as they already have thread on them!)

The boys loved the Advent Calendar when they were children, and were happy to take it in turns to eat the chocolate.

When their little sister came along they suggested I took the Advent Calendar out again, so she could use it.  It's a firm family tradition!

The Calendar hanging in the dining room

Christmas trees


With glittered coats!

Chocolate for the Calendar

Attaching the chocolate

Waiting for the 1st December

Our second Advent Calendar is new this year.  I bought it from Lakeland.  Two Christmas's ago I had noticed one at a friend's house, but was too late to buy one.  Last year Lakeland didn't stock it, so when I saw it this year I bought it straight away.

It features a little chest with draws on it, and numbers 1 - 24.  In each little draw there is a figure for the crib, and the child(ren) can make up the complete crib by Christmas Eve.  Again this is something that can be used from year to year, and although it was expensive I believe that it will delight us for a very long time.

Once you get to the 14th the stable turns round

For the second set of numbers

There is a tiny figure in draw number 17

A little shepherd

Waiting for the 1st of December

Our third Advent Calendar is this sheet stuck onto the fridge.  They were available at our Church this Sunday.  On each day there is a little message about Advent, which will help my little girl  focus on Christmas being  more then an opportunity to receive presents.  It will help her  to think about the 'real meaning of Christmas.' It has the bonus of continuing to the Feast of the Epiphany, or Twelfth Night.

This calendar started on Sunday

My little girl is going to mark each day as we read it

It's not long until Christmas.

Do you and your family have an Advent Calendar?  I'd love to hear about it.

I am linking this post to Floss's: A Pause for Christmas.