Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas everyone

I'm feeling a bit nervous tonight. I'm not in a blind spin and it really is very nearly Christmas. So, what have I forgotten, I ask? Mind you, I'm not cooking this year, and that makes a huge difference - Turkey Lurkey at friends' on Sunday and off to family ( about 30 of us!) on Boxing Day in Oxford - providing my reliable easy peasy Josceline Dimbleby mince pies with brandy butter and, of course, Wensleydale,  for both occasions. 

I was messing around with orange pastry at 3ish  this afternoon while listening to BBC radio 4's carol service from King's College - my real Christmas beginning, followed by our very own beautiful local service. Each year we wend our way along a couple of miles into the South Downs, to a  tiny candle lit church, filled to the gunnels, (or is it ginnils?) with holly, ivy and all of us singing our little hearts out.... Laughter and stories abound, and good will bounces round, reflected in every face. No shopping here!

But the shopping has been done - at least as much as I could. I have  bought most of my gifts from small independent and, on the whole,  local retailers, makers and crafts  people and I   discovered notonthehighstreet this year - what a find. Several friends do very well with their crafts and hand made clothes on the site - have a look. Anyway, you already know all about Miss Ruby's doll's house, nearly fully furnished now as well,  but here are the portraits I have done for my  beloveds of their beloveds! Sleeping Ruby in oil on canvas, and Mister at Home in charcoal on paper - so last minute did all this happen that Ruby is definitely a "look, but don't touch". She is still wet! Nothing like being prepared hey, but, without, I hope,  sounding naff or cheesy, I do like to remember the non-commercial bits. I loved it   when my girls were little and we would spend hours making lavender oil, or cookies, or whatever for Grandmas and aunties - it never rained and no-one ever got bored or cross in my memory wardrobe of course.

Anyway, however organised or otherwise you are, have a happy Christmas and all the very best for the year ahead. May it all be peaceful and not too dramatic or chaotic - so much seems to have happened in the last couple of years, I feel we all need a bit of a rest. Take care x

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Decorating for Christmas, sort of...

I haven't been able to sneak off to my studio for the last week or so, as a rather large and important design project came my way which had to be completed by December 25th.....

When I was 5 years old,  my very creative and rather wonderful Father designed and built a doll's house for me. Now this was no ordinary doll's house (Sounds more like an M&S advert!). It had working lights in every room, a sand pit and a pond.... he even made a doll's house for the doll's house... he was my hero and I loved my doll's house beyond anything else. In turn,  so did my younger sister, as did my daughters and my sister's daughter... and now its the turn of my little granddaughter to share the magic. So a long line of memories being brought back to life. This at least was how I imagined I would feel when I lovingly set out to restore the beauty of this property.

Well, the first note of discrepancy with this romantic notion came about when my niece, seeing her mother and aunt poring over on-line miniature wallpapers, very seriously, asked me, "Auntie Karin, what is your design theme?"... "Garish?" I replied , anxiously. The second notable moment was when I realised I had to move squatters from the garden.....

Plain sailing thereafter, I hear you declare. Well, not really as small spaces, glue and little scissors and I really don't go very well together, which I know surprises people, as many assume that we creative bods love fiddly things.... well, I don't! I got quite cross with my Dad, then became quite impressed by him and finally when I had applied the last mock beam, remembered just how much he did love making stuff for us, how gentle and patient he was, and all that brought me right back there again, watching him snip and paste and chuckle...... 

So,  all's well that ends well. Memory bank replete,  designer happy, client bound to be happy. Uh, uh, not so fast... I heard yesterday that my delightful granddaughter announced that what she really really wants is that pink plastic Barbie House you see on TV! Hey ho, You know who'll be playing with the doll's house now don't you? Happy Christmas x

Thursday, 8 December 2011


Just this week, a very dear friend of mine lost her husband to cancer,  and just like John, his condition was diagnosed as terminal at the very first consultation. However, my friend and her husband had very little time to acclimatise to the enormity of the situation. He was only "given" a couple of months, unlike John, who was given 3 years... but sadly,  once again the medical bods were pretty spot on.

Over the last 2 months, my friend and I have shared wine and coffees, many of both, talking deeply about symptoms, treatments, feelings, fear, joy, anger and love. It has been a hellish time for my friend and a very mixed time for me. It has brought a lot of my feelings and fears to the surface once again, and has brought back many memories, some hilarious, but more painful..... One night I went to bed so confused, (was it the wine, I hear you ask?!.... ) that I dreamt that my friend was talking about my husband instead of her own, but wasn't letting me see him. 

Oddly,  my  overriding feeling, apart from that of deep sadness for her loss,  is one of richness and sharing. I can honestly say I never really imagined myself a widow, nor did I ever think I would become knowledgeable about certain cancer treatments, but I am grateful for the gifts of an empathetic ear, a certain level of understanding and a large box of tissues which  I was able to share with her... We never know when our paths will take us on very tough routes and then bring us right back again, but if we can share these things, unasked for as they might be, then the sharp angles soften a bit.