The Jean pant thing.

‘I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.’

Yves Saint Laurent

Times I curse throwing out any of my jeans, dating all the way to the 70’s: should rather have had a treasure chest up in an attic somewhere, just for jeans past.  They all told a story; 

  • remember the sewing of butterflies, flowers and sunny sun’s with smiles and rays and everything? And at least one peace sign all “Hair’ and hippy like. Braids at the bottom.
  • Jeans flared at the bottom, like masts on a sailing ship.
  • My sister had tie dye jeans that looked like trees climbing up her legs.
  • Lying on the floor at Uni, trying to get the zip up.
  • Getting into wet jeans because we believed they would fit better if they dried on us. What were we thinking?
  • Salt washed, ripped, high waisted, button up and fifty shades of blue, my treasure chest of jeans would have brought back a million memories.

Hindsight, my old jeans would have been my children’s fashion item, because the truth is, I would never have been able to fit into them now.  Oh dear, there it is, I said it! Ugh, ugh, ugh!

 

But, but she says, not even close to the big ass Mum pant, up there under the diaphragm, Hindenburg covering stomach, enough blue denim to sort out a squadron – but I am looking more a new pair of jeans. So, any ideas as to what I should choose?

Been out of the jean dating scene for some time, wearing the old faithfuls with a keen inkling to add to the jean portfolio, but here in London, so many shops that … sell jeans.  So many different sizes that don’t say 34,36 or whatever but leg this and waist this and let’s face it, those little death boxes with the sadistic lighting will never convince me this is the pair … so I sort of need to do something I have never done before:

Jean research

This could be serious.  Could require detective skills of note.  Could even motivate water in favour of food to allow for the best conditions for the union. 

Jean pant out there somewhere, you have my name on you.  Admittedly there was a time when I though nah, am getting too old for the blue in tight, in favour of gym pant comfort and oh Lord, thank goodness I got over that one after two months of gym pant with dressing gown fashion.  I am back to sassy and the old jean pants will not be forsaken but treasure chest in attic pretend bound.

If you have any great tips for Silver Street Jeans shopping, let me know!

Images pintrest, vogue

 

 

Observations from behind the apron.

Thank the Pope for the end of the holidays.  Love them, indulge and then get totally over it. Life must have structure she says.  All that eating, drinking and trying to remember what day of the week it is … too many left over chocolates conflicting with the resolutions.  So she rises in the dark of London … lights on at five am … yuck … thrilled to hear the tubes working and off to the ‘other job’.  Yay, life is moving again.

For the newbies, I am travel consultant/event planner/writer and part time waitron.  The latter gets me out of my little abode that can at times become trying and into social engagement. I disappear behind an apron and try to remember the orders, which all of you, be a little more compassionate with this brain and all those silly requests for extra hot/one shot/almond milk/a little more foam but no foam and put it on the side sort of thing.  I don’t mind, I am floating above all over you and whilst you ponder the Silver something behind the apron, I in turn prattle, enquire and entertain.  And observe – life in a café is a life lesson of note.

You reveal all your stories.

Keep mine close.

Today there were tears.  She is meeting her ex to discuss the schedule for children caught between their letting go of each other. Both defensive and staring at diaries rather than each other.  She has heard bad news, trying to smile but her eyes are maps of her misery over the espresso.

He misses home in Australia. It’s tough spending the winter here on his own and all resolve to forge a new life is waning in the missing. Feels left out from it all back home – the smiling and saying it’s all good wanes with the need to chat.

Her child shifts the eggs around on her plate.  Mother on the mobile, not with her. Dealing with the world, but not with her.

A flat white and a slice of banana bread to pass the time.  She is alone, her Silver hair speaks volumes of figuring out what to do next.

The three year old boys faces a barrage of entrance tests to get into the right school. He wants to read books, mother wants to groom him to get it right and the competition is fierce.

Discussing the next safari – but where to go?  I say nothing but it is not easy. 

Bringing all the post with them. Christmas cards to be dealt with – they have been away and life has happened in the meantime. Unopened they tear them one by one, it is past … someone took the time to send them wishes. I clear the table to dispose of the wishes.

London wakes to the New Year.  Going back to work.  Shall I see the regulars asking for a discount?  Have some changed jobs, locality, have some taken that leap and changed everything?  Around the world have some taken a resolve to begin again, move house, change jobs, relationships?  In this little space much has changed since Christmas, and little has too.

‘Thank God you are still here.’ happened.

And I am still here. I know your favourites.  Your little scenes you think I don’t notice. You know little of me and that is the way it should be. Behind the apron I gather stories, make friends, give solace and learn.  I always learn from you.

Good to be in this space. I grow and gather.

Never stop learning, and listening and realise, as I do, that life is life for everyone – and then you make the choices.

Wow, it is awesome and I am going to take each story, everyday I am behind the apron, to high five life and to realise that the fat lady is far from singing.

I kind of like the idea that I have pushed myself out there, to learn a little more, take it all in and build a life anew.  Far cry from the past of madam had it everything, but close to the life madam is going to embrace.  The apron will not last forever, but the memories of being empowered, will.

As a student I spent all my free time being a waitron.  I earned my way. It changed my life, my direction in my studies and taught me so much.  Now, forty years later I am the waitron again, with a little more strain on the body, but not in spirit, I have gone back to learn, and remind myself that observing others is the way to stand back, behind the apron, and in time, leap into a new direction.

And if you, in your Silver Street time, are feeling a little lost, a little unaccepted or unloved – go find an apron. You are never too old to begin again …

 

Image: mylittleparis

 

 

The New Year.

 

We get another chance at this thing called Life.

A blank page,

a heart still beating.

Renewed magic in our veins.

Words in the new chapter,

Sketching on another’s soul,

Fierce love.

 

__________________________________________________________________

My New Year’s wish for you …

Flowers – everyday.  Every, every day. Big bouquets. Huge, I mean huge bouquets for you.

Grandeur – everyday.  Wonder and awe.  Big ideas, bold moves, elegance and grace. Grand gestures, big dance moves, grand jetes higher and further than you have ever dared.

Adventure – everyday.  New destinations.  Diving deep.  Soaring and sipping champagne. A new language, lover’s promises, head heady with plans.

 

Peace – everyday.  Silent repose.  Dawn fresh mornings.  Coffee in quiet places.  Serenity in situations. Calm in confusion.  A definitive sigh of something well done.  Kindness in giving, comfort in cashmere and love.

LOVE IN EVERYTHING

and most of all …

Bravery – everyday.  Never to doubt your ability or yourself.  To take those tough decisions and stick to your dreams.  To find the strength of conviction.  The power to apologise. Be fair. Stand your ground and fight for those who need you. Always fight for love.

I see the Wonder Woman in you – now go and make this year count you beautiful person.

Images: Pintrest, paristoversailles,keywordsuggest, Forbes.

Let’s go on an adventure! Beginning with Paris …

In my Silver Street time, looking back, I have travelled most of the world, and grateful for it.  And then we sort of settle on those places we find so enchanting, so alluring, so a little of ourselves, and return again and again.

Not sure about your love of places like these, but for me, there are three in particular.  I live in London and so this city has my heart. I know every inch of her and my passion is shared by those I take around to discover her in more detail. There are the unusual places, the non tourist places that I have discovered and take my clients too, to show them that there is more to this gorgeous place, her people and history that continues to enthralled me every day.  

Then there is Paris.  What can I say?  I return again and again, sometimes alone, times to show my clients the nuances of this special place that breathes love, architecture, shopping and a history rich in all her folds. Times I take my clients for a single day, times for a few days, including Pére La Chaise, Versailles and Giverney.  Indulging in art, history and the city.  At present planning a trip for a group who have never been to Versailles. No-one leaves Paris untouched. I never do.

Staying overnight in Versailles is an incredible experience. We are of the illustrious days of the Sun King, the Marie Antoinette, wealth and treason – human beings caught up in a time of change.  Cannot wait to share this with my group.

And then, and then.  There is South Africa. My homeland, my birthplace and the retuning is always my heart place.  Safari’s, beaches, wine lands of beauty that still takes my breath away. Most of my clients are repeat clients, having lost their hearts to South Africa and every trip is a different experience.

So diverse, I know.  But these are the places I choose to share with my clients. Single travellers, groups, couples and people who want to experience the beauty of these places that I have invested my time, my research, and my love in.  How lucky am I?  It has taken many years for me to discover that these three places have all that inspires me, that I adore and want to share with others. 

This is my business.  Planning events and travel to these three amazing destinations, each so different, so exceptional and for me, the consummate experience of my life.

So where ever you are, before the year closes, choose to go on an adventure – break away from the norm and challenge yourself.  You may be reticent to travel alone, or to a new destination, but I can tell you, it is all good.  It is all possible, and if you want to discover London, Paris or the plains and perfection of South Africa, I am here to tell you, it’s possible!

If you have one resolution for 2018, let it be to push the boundaries, discover the new, take the leap, be it on your own or with someone else, but go for it.  Choose adventure, life changing adventure and never second guess yourself. 

These destinations? The best, the bravest and the most interesting in life. This is why I have travelled and chosen – London for the greatest city, Paris for love and meaning, South Africa for layers of self discovery.  All will change you.  And excite you.  And I am with you all the way if you want the most exciting time of your life.

Sunset at Sacré Couer. Cocktails on the South bank or a fire around a boma in the Kruger Park, this is the temptation and the invitation to travel, and find adventure in the New Year with me. Travel, travel and be whole in 2018.

I shall be doing all of it – and would love you to come along…

Images And beyond, etsy and paris info

Find the beautiful. Inspirational makeover.

Am in love with this room.

Found this picture a while ago, and not sure about you, once in a while a picture, a moment, a quote or even a view gives a little shiver of joy to the heart. I don’t even know where it is, who took the photograph but it gives me great pleasure and spurs me into dreaming.

Spurs me into action

It has been awhile since the muse of beautiful decor has lived in my home.  The pinboard a little dated, the dust a thin layer on my life.  In our Silver Streets we have often collected and decorated and sort of remain stuck with it all, being neither inspired or willing to change.

And then a picture gets my attention

I may not have the mansion, or the country home

But I have a space that requires an update

Going shopping

Image – someone amazing took it and if you know who it is, let me know so I can give them the credit.

It’s ok to live in the past. Don’t leave your heart there … blood rush exists.

If you’re looking for me, I the one reaching for the Vitamin D.  Days last sun came, and this winter is  rather trying.  It’s post Christmas and the shiny lights don’t do it for me anymore – the mere thought of grey skies until whenever, sans any tan lines, leads to introspective everything.  It’s ok.  Perhaps we need this hibernation of body and soul to reflect, but also to plan.

Tonight I find myself alone, waiting for the impending marriage this weekend of the father of my children, who are all on that shore for the celebration.  I am allowed the shadow on my soul.

A dear friend misses her husband, now gone 17 years ago and as she said, time only allows you to live a different kind of life, but the missing never goes away.

Watched the most depressing, and awful movie about two women who try to recapture their past but they are clearly as awful as the film for not adapting to the times.

My intuitive and gorgeous daughter kindly reminded me that all the stories I ever speak of are ones in the past.  I am effectively a ‘When we’ and I reluctantly, but admittedly find myself doing this – which is totally unfair to them, and to myself.

Is it this Silver Time though?  Have we reached the arc of experience only to find ourselves slipping life into the memories that were, plodding with life now rather than embracing and challenging her instead?  Have we effectively lived our lives and now find ourselves living through others, being reactive rather than proactive?  Why would this be?

Clearly, this generation have fumbled, been victorious, failed and achieved rather a lot in the our lifetimes – our book has chapters within, some great and some not so great, but do we continue to subject those we love, and ourselves to this memory trip and does that in turn become a defeatist forward failing? All around me I see Silver Streeters smiling only for grandchildren, wait for family to visit, get through the day and at every opportunity speak of the past as if it were our only point of reference – which is so sad.  So, so sad. I honestly cannot think of a conversation with my friends that did not refer only to where and what the children are doing.  Their days, and mine are governed by the expectation of others coming into theirs.  How wonderful if I heard a friend saying they are beginning a new business, going scuba diving or taking a lover.  Going to dye their hair blue, climb something (preferably the lover) and smash into 2018 without caution or regret.

Having said that, we are also warriors and captors of the past.  Our hearts have soared and broken so many times.  This may just be the time that we stop to really think about it.  And we are allowed to.  Sometimes we want to remind our children and friends that the good times did exist, that happiness was manifest, our egos took preference and love was physically and spiritually perfect. We are allowed to be ‘when we’s’ for our when we’s were amazing. Now our hearts break when children leave, relationships end and people die.  It happens at this time.  We downsize, miss our gardens, find exercise just a tad straining.  We don’t run anymore. We drink pills, and wine and our eyesight fails us. Clothes don’t fit, menopause is a bitch and we slump, in every way.  So we try to remind all, and ourselves that we were once the hectic, amazonian wonder women.  Or are we still?

We are.  Throw out all the ‘Get over it’ announcements.  Don’t get over it, all of it, but don’t let it define you, as it has me for far too long. Change is scarier at this Silver Street time, the odds are stacked just a little more, but I for one am a long way from knitting and accepting it – needed to wallow and nurse the broken threads that held my life together, but in all honesty, even I am getting tired of the story.  My friend is allowed to mourn forever, we all are, but only if it does not turn our hearts to ancient stone of memories and prevents us from finding new ones, our own ones.

Living in the past is beautiful, only if it spurs us on and doesn’t hold us trapped. Admitting to loss and pain is part of the healing.  We have nurtured and fought for and I think part of the when we thing is also a new found anxiety of having to face being just you – no parents, no partner, no children, and some no more friends. 

Tonight, in the midst of winter …

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.’ Camus

My friend, mourn, talk about the one you miss as much as you want.

I will talk about the past incessantly.  

Don’t leave your heart in the past – she still gets a blood rush if you let her for the future.

Tomorrow we will kick some ass.

 

Images Peintres

Coup de battery and Elizabeth Bennet.


There she was with a dead, dead as the possum on Davy Crockett’s hat, battery.  The battery she is f…ed.  

And of course, of course dear heart, the discovery should happen on Christmas Eve, when the closure of the world commences.  Why do things go wrong on ‘no absolutely any way you are going to get some help days? Murphy of course.  Not even the shock therapy of jump leads would spark a reaction.  Her heart was quite broken.  So darling younger beloved daughter had to take a cab to the airport (I am one of those with the always have someone waiting at arrivals kind of romantic) and facing another day with comatose England, delighted to find that Halfords was open.  To battery to buy!  Oh why did I cancel the AA membership – is it a curse?

Tubes still hungover, bus to Putney. Eleven o’clock and the sun fading fast (damn you winter) I found three young lads working, which I am sure they were reluctant to do.  Nifty stuff though, punch in the registration and computer delivers battery needed – except no batteries in stock. Cough, cough. Tally Ho!  To Wandsworth she must go – bus, another bus, waiting for another bus and dark by one pm. Cold, miserable, over this bloody nonsense till ghostlike in non-business mode, the doors opened and the battery was bought.  With wrench and scant directions of how to replace.  Needless to say, the walk back to the bus depot, avec cadaver of new battery biting into the shoulder bag, I made it home with more determination than Lady Macbeth to do the dirty and get the little car rumbubling again. Did I mention the mortal fear of blowing myself up in the process?

With surgeons hands at the steady, careful, careful, undo the plate – oh shit there goes the bolt into the depths of car never to come out the other end. Bah humbug – moving on.  Old heart out, new heart in, the leads are too small for the new terminals! What the ….! The thought of having to do the trek again was just too much and far to early for wine, so called Halfords.  Imagine if you will the explanation of this thingy does not fit onto that thingy.  Oh, said the man, some have more casing around the terminals, simply pry them off and bob is your in law for life. By now I am Medusa – spanner and hatred are a great combination, not without the grease and wound inflicted.  Now she is bleeding but disregards like Rambo the gashed hand and scarlett fluid dripping on the battery.  James Bond never had to put up with this shit … remember the line, but I am now single and there are no Galahads on the horizon.

Voila! Success!  The purring of motor is a feat this lady has never experienced before.  I have changed the battery on my car, with tools, without blowing myself up.  You needed to be here to experience the euphoria of that moment – I was mechanic supreme. Have mastered a new skill, have overcome the iffy cannot do this from the past.  In the dark. It’s three pm. Dutifully I return to Halfords to donate the dead organ and explain to Mohammed about the thinny that fell into the bowls of under the bonnet – and whoosh, he produces a magnet pointer thing, retrieves thinny and all is well with the world.

So empowered I was, returning to the flat I vowed this woman power needed more endorsement.  Flurry in furious gone to the head fervour. Gone are the Christmas decorations (after all we have been doing Christmas for a month already) and onto Elizabeth Bennet. 

For me, this day, now already four hours into night, means only one thing.  Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Austen. Some may swoon over Darcy, I over Elizabeth. Candles lit, wine poured and Lizzy. All the hours of Lizzy, literature and eventually, trying to get the grease out from under my nails. 

Pity about the newly painted nails, but ’tis nothing to the pioneering achieved today.

One small step for Karenkind, and if I can do it … you can too. 

The small achievement is enough to dream of empire making. Avec Sauvignon blanc …

Images Twitter, Vintage Everyday.

 

Christmas winter in Paris.

Thank heaven, for little girls … they grow up in the most delightful way.’  Maurice Chevalier

I have two delightful little girls whom have grown up into the most remarkable women.  My eldest is enjoying the sunshine of the Southern Hemisphere, so it was to Paris with my youngest for four days, to take in the love we both share for Paris. My son loves her too.

Most people avoid Paris in the winter. I love Paris throughout the year, but it is in winter when I return to end the year in the heart of this magical, enchanting city of lights, and love.  Paris in the Spring, the summer and Autumn have my heart, but when the clouds hang close and the starkness of architecture and nature are at her height, I love her most.  It is quieter, more solemn and poetic for me.  Her buildings melt into the grey, her love for the linear in planting comes to the fore. We walk for miles, huddle in her cafés and brasseries, character abounds, the ghosts of writers and revolution with tips of gold on her statues, all impact when the crispness of winter envelopes.

Rather than stay in my usual hotel, we were invited to stay in a flat in Pigalle.

Dubious I was.  Pigalle is the place of the Sexodrome, of the many sleezy nightclubs and the once, or is it still, famous Moulin Rouge?  I am of the Opera, the left bank sort of gal, but we were grateful of the opportunity to explore – and loved the experience. The apartment was tucked away in a side street, just up from the falafel and ‘private viewing’ offers, but it gave us an insight into the living of Parisians behind the many doors you see.  Courtyards and apartments that are quiet and filled with character.  

By night, the lights of hedonistic living are everywhere, by day, the tarnished remnants of a bygone era greets me. The streets are wet from the winter drizzle, rubbish on the pavements, leftovers of people who frequent and go about their lives in this city.  Every city has her ‘other side’ and yet, people are living here, they thrive here.  Waking and longing for coffee, I experienced Paris in a different light, a good light, a city that has history but continues to build upon itself. Within the realm of what she is.  London does this too.

  The Moulin Rouge in the stark light of day. Still a landmark.

It had been some time since I visited the D’Orsay museum and it has been too long.  The Impressionists are a favourite, so, and so, hello to Van Gogh, to Pissarro, Monet and Manet. To all those who dared to defy the norm, reach for the different and make that happen.  Go early, the tourists are still there with their damned selfie sticks and loud voices.  I detest standing before a portrait to hear the uninformed comment and move on after a hundred or so photographs of them just being there. Is it my age that makes me grumpy with the ignorant who confuse all and this is most more irking when we visit ‘Shakespeare and Company.’  Over the years I have loved entering this little shop that offered a haven to writers so poor they needed the comfort of Sylvia Beach?  Hemingway would pop in to collect his mail, to borrow a few francs and hope his books would make it onto her shelves.  Nowadays, one bustles and breathes deeply in the hope of some reprieve to find the book. As I always do. 


As the light slips away, the candles lit at Saint Sulpice for my loved ones, time for stocktaking of the day. People watching, a bierre blanche with a view. Dinner at a brasserie. Deep conversations about life and where we are going in this interesting time.

I love the rain. We chose shelter in the company of the Luxembourg Gardens in the rain, leaves dripping and statues soaked in their frozen marble forms.  Pools of light on the pavements in their wetness. Escaping to the passages of Belle Epoque – children’s toyshops and miniature furniture stores.  Gift shops and ballet shops where point shoes and tutus take us to another place. I follow a number of Parisian bloggers and one in particular, Paris Breakfast, was doing exactly the same thing at the Gallerie Vivienne, so I knew I was in good company. Love her watercolours.

Dined at our favourite place on St. Louis, our favourite film locations from ‘Midnight in Paris’. tasted fruit and visited our favourite florists. Chocolate Chaud at Café de la Paix, where my family tradition in Paris is manifest. Brunch at Buvette, mandatory hello to Deyrolle, Claudelie, Les Deux Margot. Prayers and candles at the La Madeleine as is custom with every visit.

A creature of habit, the final day before returning to the Gare du Nord is Galleries Lafayette. She is Christmas Paris for me, besides the gorgeous Lindt chocolate close by, but her display is magnificent. Her view the same.  In the winter of Paris, the walking, the rain, the greyness of her beauty, I must to the rooftop of this place, with a view of the Opera, I am of the Phantom, the rooftops, the unique character that is Paris.  

Because I go to Paris so often, many have asked me if I have a lover there.  Of course I do.  It is she. Someone once introduced me to her loveliness and I return over and over again, for the inspiration, the history, the hidden promise of love that this city holds close.  

I love Paris. That you know.  The wintertime is particularly magical.  

‘That I love Paris in the spring time
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles

I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris, why oh, why do I love Paris?
Because my love is near’

Till one day soon …

 

 

In a day …

 

Times when living in a small apartment is too small and the getting out to remind myself that living in London is a privilege means hopping on a bus, any bus (as it turns out) to navigate into the city. 

Today it was the number 39 and 87 (the new major has bestowed on us locals a free second bus within an hour) and so to Clapham Junction and then onto Parliament Square.  Being on a bus is still and remains a novel experience and the best way to discover the city.  Being high up, I have the opportunity to gaze into windows of apartments, into the backyards of dwellers and peer into the lives of urban citizens in every shape or form.  Pristine, unkept, rented, owned. Some with neat squares of garden, some with weeds overgrown amongst bins and debris. People are living there is the story. It is the London few tourists see, hidden and sullied in urban resilience . And resilience is what it is all about. I am in awe of these great Londoners.

It reminds me of the shock of actually becoming other than the tourist.

Still, there is something fundamentally brotherhood in seeing the council houses, the chicken and kebab shops on the route. The bus fills with personalities of all race, ages and types.  Chocolate children and young mothers with no wedding rings, glued to phones in the standard track suit of daily being. Their lives are as small as a punnet of strawberries, tasted and forgotten. The route is of children with instant dinners and soda, of turbans and old ladies with shopping carts. I sit on this bus with the idea of a past life and a story no-one cares to hear.  Some are silent with music for comfort, other talk loudly in broken English.

‘Yeah, innit just the most random my man.’

‘I swear, the baby is gonna get that conjuncti … summin’ that glues up them eyes and makes them brutal sick an she got no man and no babysitter sort the shit out when she gotta go to work.’

‘Well he said, that she said, that he said that Shamiqua was throwin’ her booty around like last year’s Christmas puddin’ and so he said that she said that he said …’

Everyone’s listening to everyone else … everyone is clutching the grocery bag.

They get off closer to Westminster Abbey. Life for them is not the places tourists visit, nor do they know of these, many having lived here for years without tasting any of it. It’s expensive London.

  

I see what the tourist don’t see.  I see a city in it’s totality. The poverty, seediness, delight and creativity of city living. I pass the back alleys, the derelict churches, the rising mosques.  I see demolition and growth and try to remember what was there before.  I pass MI6 at Vauxhall and think of Bond. I think of Brexit. I think of the Co-po funeral plan. The London that swells and shifts and the river that runs through it.

One of millions of making it through the day.  And as I alight in the Parliament of power, those people are gone, tourists and corporates take their place.  The London of postcards, the winter of lights, the tree from Norway on Trafalgar Square. Looming in her ever present state, The National Gallery to which I am headed for the shaking of life and the falling into another.  The lives of painters, long gone, now revered on walls. Their poverty and struggles are in the colours.

   

Cravavaggio.  He is a favourite and I am sad he died alone on a foreign beach at such a young age. I can stand before him now, with Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet and Van Gogh. Room to gallery room I am in the company of historical genius in Art. They too were the lowly ones, the hired guns of the paintbrush, the angry young men, the dreamers and students of others.  There are never enough hours to stand before greatness, created by the gifted from stories not unlike those I left on the bus a few moments ago.

In a day, on a bus, from a sector of London to another, the richness of life on the streets to the magnificence of Cezanne and Manet.  Lautrec to Lavender Hill.  This is London, in a day, a short day with so much more to discover. There are artists now, the city inspires, the stories of everyday life are waiting to take their place …

And on my way back, on the bus, now clouded in human vapour and rain pouring down the windows, I wonder of my own place, somewhere in the middle and what it means. The opportunity to witness the greatness and the ordinary man – and who knows what talents lies within the city still?  Blessed I am to see it all.  Food for thought for sure. I am privileged to be part of this moving life …

 

Christmas getting smaller, and that’s ok too… you are still you.

Totally addicted to Christmas. Totally addicted to anything pretty. I am the one transfixed by shiny things which means Christmas has me at tinsel obsession. 

Growing up in the Southern Hemisphere did not deter. Christmas was fabric dyed mistletoe, carols beside the pool and longed for new swimming costume and hectically ‘bont’ towel for the trip to the beach – yay!  Turkey was not something one did in the heartland of the Free State but roast chicken and shiny crackers with small tape measures in them was celebration enough.  My grandmother would arrive, chauffeured in her very long, two toned pistachio green /white with wings limousine packed to the roof with presents.  Ma grand-mere.

Christmas has always been about family.  Scattered, loathed at times, distant but family time.  Time changed that for me, and I guess for most of us in The Silver Street time.  There is this period, this time between children forging fresh relationships and then the … grandchildren.  When the family falls into each other again, particularly at Christmas time.  I ain’t there yet.  I am between the Silver divorce and Empty Nest valley – when darling has departed and children are having to play one parent at a time, old enough to decide and opting at times to spend it with partners and their parents, which is all good, but where does it leave this little Christmas fairy?  

Allors! So what happens when the mummy/madam of the twenty days lead up and post Christmas festivities, finds herself with little to Christmasorganise? Free fall into the memory bank of ‘we used to have such Deck the Holly Christmas’ and pout and feel the hot tears on my cheeks? No, we do the following:

Absolutely Must watch the Christmas movie must list!

I pretty much watch them all year round, but the seasonal holiday would not be complete without 

Love Actually

The Holiday

Elf

It’s a wonderful life

So many more … do you have any favourites?

Nothing that a Christmas movie and a massive bowl of popcorn cannot solve.

What about Volunteering?  Many are hungry, homeless and yes, lonely over this period – we all say ‘You can make a difference’ but you can.  Remember the movies … helping others is helping yourself. Try and make one present a donation to charity.

Forget about the sad little mangy tree for one, or two, or three – Go Big and become Interior Christmas tree designer of the year. Pick a different theme and sit back with the Chardonnay and admire your dressing of tree skills.  Expand this to wrapping of present skills, basting of turkey skills and those delightful party games around the table skills, even if you are a party of single numbers.

Become silly and special.  If you want to wear the Christmas jumper and those flashing antlers on your head, you just know you are going to look amazingly beautiful my little Elf.

Get out.  Go to the place of pretty lights.  Wander in the early darkness or blazing sun and ingest all that spirit, eat all the chocolates and the things you never have during the year like mulled wine (?!!) and candied peel. Make friends with Brussels sprouts and eggnog if you dare.

The point is:  Others have been facing Christmas and the holiday season alone for centuries.  Your reduced audience is not exclusive, but takes adjusting too.  I know wherever my family are in the world, they will love and wish me Christmas cheer as I do them.  Christmas may be my fantasy of ‘Driving home for Christmas’, but I am still loved and more importantly, I shall love myself in my made up Father Christmas wonderful of my own making.

Finally, there remains the greatest reason to celebrate Christmas.  You have been brought a gift from God, a gift to humanity to love us through it all, and this is the time when our faith should be the greatest celebration of Christmas.  Christ is all that is the Nativity play, the look in our little one’s eyes, the eyes of those that have fallen into eternal slumber, but shines on still.

We may find our Christmas’ getting smaller, and times it makes us feel smaller too, but when I am about to fall about with Micheal Buble’s ‘Home’ and reach for the sadness heart, there is one more gift under the tree.  

My gift to you, wherever you are, be it alone or with crowds of worshippers. If you share your heart, shows kindness, believe and enriches the life of another at this time, this gift is for you.

Then my table is full of love and happiness.  Then the bells jingle all the way.

 

Images: Glamour, Youtube and Pintrest