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Friday 29 December 2023

December Madness {2023}


Requiem, the stunning stairwell artwork at Tate Britain in memory of those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

Dear friends. Just like that, the year draws to a close. The weather in December was mostly mild, except at the start, with a few blustery and showery spells. I saw Madness in Bournemouth, had a girls' night out, a couple of museum trips, lots of walks and of course we celebrated Christmas. 

Friday Dec 1

Opened the first window of the Courtauld Advent Calendar., which shows the treasures of their art collection. Cold day. Did the annual Hanlons trip to Natural History Museum and our first Christmas lunch of the season (roast turkey) at the Hereford Arms. Afterwards went to Oxford Street and John Lewis. Very busy and festive. 

Below: I look like an extra from Elf. 

Sat Dec 2

Very cold. Yoga was cancelled because of the Orions' Christmas party tonight and the imminent arrival of the photo booth. Did ironing, got rid of packaging from presents.  Watched film Family Switch. 6 /10, followed by a sweet little film with John Travolta called The Shepherd, about 12 mins long.

Sun Dec 3

Last day of my Instagram skirt challenge,  deployed my gold skirt. We did walk. Had gammon (ham) for lunch. 

Monday Dec 4

Did walk. Not so cold. Nespresso machine came. Booked for Chelsea Flower Show for next May. 

Tuesday Dec 5

Made our first coffees with the new Nespresso machine. Cleaned conservatory.  Wrote blog post about skirt challenge.

Weds Dec 6

Beautiful day,  walked in forest, took lots photos. Watched neighbour's funeral on Zoom. Made a  casserole. Another win in monthly premium bonds draw. Tom Hanks'  Moonwalker event got 5 stars in The Times. J now wants to go. Booked it for Jan. 

Longhorn cow in Epping Forest December 2023

Thurs Dec 7

Pilates, went on bus. Started World War 2 documentary on Netflix. 

Fri Dec 8

Lovely weather, much warmer. Did walk. Saw cows. Put up Xmas tree. Bought Euromillions tickets as jackpot was outrageous. 

Christmas tree, London, 2023

Sat Dec 9

Pouring with rain am so didn't walk. Did yoga. Went to Victoria, The Soak,  for girls' night out. Changed outfit last minute and didn't wear new gold skirt. Six of us had a drink after the others had to catch their last train (very early at 8.50, drivers are on an overtime ban). Had a Baileys hot chocolate - bad mistake.  Felt v bloated. Home 11.30. Some of the group below. 

Sun Dec 10

The impact of a night out: 3 pounds on; heart variations up and down; resting heart rate up to 70 from 62 !!  Did a brisk walk with no breakfast.  Sorted out the Nativity crib. Worked on blog and, hurrah, passed Google's "video outside view port" issue.  Had another Premium bonds win. 

Mon Dec 11

Back to normal weigh. Other health indicators back to normal. Sunny, able to wear purple coat for assessment/tests at London Clinic. Got bus to Marble Arch and went in M&S. Got slippers, bits and rum/stollen liqueur free gift.

Now on 99 books in Good Reads challenge. My goal is 100. 

Tues Dec 12 

Goodreads' books read has shot up to 108. They had not published some books as read because they didn't have the finished date. Yay. 

Went to Bournemouth to meet Margery for Madness concert.  Uneventful trip by train, 2 hours. Margery met me at station. Checked in at hotel. It was a short walk to the venue, Bournemouth International Conf Centre.  

Had dinner there first, a rather indifferent burger and choc sphere. Lightning Seeds and Madness were both very good, but the crowd was annoying:  we had to keep standing up to let people go by to get drinks. I wish there was still a ruling that drink can't be taken into the arena. 

Neither of us were big Madness fans "back in the day." We both felt they sold out, going from interesting early ska sings like The Prince to a much more commercial sound. But nostalgia makes you re-evaluate.  The large venue was packed. Madness alternated between their hits and their latest album, C'est La Vie, which was #1 in the album chart at the time we saw them.

Their new album is extremely good. Written during the lockdowns,  it's a bit darker but has some memorable lines and hooks. 

Weds Dec 13 

Didn't sleep very well, 2.5 hours. We had breakfast, rather good, and then went to the eccentric Russell- Cotes museum. Originally it was a home, full of items collected on the travels of Lord and Lady Russell-Cotes, and they donated everything to Bournemouth in the 1920s.  It was very good. There were lots of Christmas trees and cards with a 1920s vibe, plus carol singers. 

I was back in London by 2.30. Got a few bits in M&S at Waterloo.  Feeling a bit spacey,  like jet lag. No blog post published today for first time in years.

Thurs Dec 14 

Slept well for a change. Did an early walk in the forest and then left at 11.15 to go to Jodie's to have my hair done.  Watched Vigil and Slow Horses. Booked tickets for Squeeze in Plymouth next November. 

Fri Dec 15 

Dental check-up at 8. Nothing needed doing. Did walk with J. Not too cold. Cancelled Pilates, feeling a bit tired and achey.  

Worked on book post. Selected winner for blog giveaway. Mum didn't want to speak.  This worries me because she has been a bit depressed lately. At 91, many of her friends are no longer here, and she is less mobile now. She finds it frustrating. 

Sat Dec 16

Walked to Tesco to get few bits. Watched film Interstellar.  I didn't remember it but it was rather long and ponderous, and probably doesn't deserve its cult status.

Sun Dec 17

Did blog shoot and a blog post.  Roast chicken. Spoke Mum. 

Mon Dec 18

Took advantage of mild dry day to go to Tate Britain. The artwork at the top of the post is Requiem by Chris Ofili, a stunning piece in memory of those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire. 

I also saw the Sarah Lucas exhibition. It was er....interesting. She was one of the "Young British Artists" in the 90s. Her work is controversial and challenging. 

In the work below, the upholstery of the car seat is actually made from cigarettes

Tues Dec 19

Raining. Did a workout at home, 1st time for months. Wrote blog post. Watched last episode Murder at the End of the World (Disney). A triumph of style over substance. 

Weds Dec 20

Did yoga and meditation at the gym. Was hoping for a gong bath but not a gong in sight.

Thurs 21 Dec

Did walk. Miniature sheep in a nearby garden are wearing tinsel. 

Local Father Xmas event. went with Rachel and Olive (16 months) who wasn't impressed and cried. I find these old men in fake beards and red faux fur a bit scary myself. 

Friday 22 Dec

Mild. Did shoot of 3 outfits. Disappointed with Hobbs dress that I've been stalking for months. Will send back.

Walked to Pilates. Watched new Indiana Jones film (yuk). 

Sat 23 Dec

Stressful start to day, thought fridge was broken. Frantically googling shops that could deliver a new one in time. Fortunately it wasn't broken, door had not been closed properly. Phew. Did walk in forest. 

Sue and Don came round to drop off presents. Went to Epping to pick up ham, turkey etc. Fortunately M&S was very efficient and I was only in there for 10 mins. 

Started Dutch drama, Het Gouden Uur  (The Golden Hour) on Netflix. VERY good. Had my traditional Christmas Eve dinner of sausage rolls, mashed potato and beans. 

Felt a bit teary today. Christmas is a lot of work. 

Sun 24 Dec

Slept well, got through all my jobs by lunchtime. Changed beds, laid dining table for tomorrow,  washed tableware, went to the Co Op for forgotten items, cleaned bathroom.

Spoke Mum. She sounds very down, lots of grumbling about new neighbours. 

Watched The Sound of Music and enjoyed all the chat on X (Twitter). Have seen it lots of times and love it. 

Mon 25 Dec: Christmas Day

Mild, 12 degrees. J and I went for a forest walk. Saw the longhorns. Opened presents. I then cooked the  the turkey crown and all the trimmings for the two of us. Was very nice. I was scruffily dressed and didn't take any photos, except for the tablescape. which was very traditional. 

J watched the new Mission Impossible film in the afternoon (not my jam). In the evening we watched 2 episodes of The Golden Hour. 

Tues 26 Dec: Boxing Day

No time for walk. Had to prep for lunch for 8. Nipped out to buy ice cream, as Rosie (age 4) wouldn't forgive me if I didn't have any. Guests arrived at 12.  Baby Olive slept from 12.15 to 2.30.  

Lunch menu and tablesbelow. I adore peacocks so have a less traditional tablescape for Boxing Day, with peacock table mats and napkins. 

Opened another round of presents. Over by 4.15pm. Watched film Falling for Christmas, Lindsey Lohan. Thought it would be another lame Christmas film and was, although not the worse we've seen. 

Weds 27 Dec 

Had a little work to do on blog post when I woke up at 6, and pushed it live.  Showers. Did walk, saw cows in same place as Mon. Watched last episodes Slow Horses and Golden Hour. Two outstanding dramas. I dread it when we finish two good ones because it's a nightmare to find anything else. 

Thurs 28 Dec 

Storm Gerrit overnight, blustery. Showers. Did some listings of clothes and made quick sales. Went to post office to dispatch them. Worked on blog posts. 

Friday 29 Dec

Did Pilates, will be the last time for a few weeks. I'm having an operation on Tuesday and can't exercise for 6-8 weeks  (although walks should be OK).  Tomorrow am meeting Oxana in London and seeing English National Ballet in The Nutcracker. 

Hope you enjoyed my romp through December. I'll be reviewing 2023 in general on Wednesday and setting out some of my health and other goals.  

What were the highlights of your December?

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  1. What a super month Gail, love your hair and do any young kids really like Father Christmas? 😂 have a super 2024. Xx

  2. You’ve had a busy month Gail. Hope your surgery goes ok and your mum feels happier. Happy New Year.


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