festive reflections

The festive season has absolutely flown by.
Talking of flying by, still in the Christmas gaming spirit, can you see the birds in this picture? Here are some of our highlights...
Our creative advent calender which included making food for the birds.
We followed the crowds into the village of Clovelly
a stunning village, about 45 minutes drive from us, built on a steep hill which goes down to the sea,
to watch the Christmas lights go on.
It was our first trip there and was deeply fascinating. These are the sledges they use to take shopping down to their houses.
The whole village is pedestrianised so has a really quaint feel to it. In fact the experience was so rich in colour and history that it deserves a blog post of its own.
Of course the charity ball we held was a great highlight. Its rare to see us this scrubbed up..and thanks to so many local people's generosity, we raised £4,000 for an anti-trafficking campaign. For a fab film and photos please see our Facebook page.
We did a last minute shopping trip to Exeter where we discovered this amazing artwork/sculpture (?) in the wall.
Tracey and I went on a soap and candle making course with an idea to give home-made soap to our guests...here is batch no.1.
The school Christmas fair is always buzzing with excitement largely due to the sheer amount of sweets involved. The kids create and run their own stalls.
We had a couple of special Christmas lunches with all our builders and the girls who keep our apartments looking ship shape. This is Dubsy our plasterer..
Arlington Court, a lovely National Trust property half an hour away from here,
were doing a Narnia trail through their gardens.
It was really well done, I thought, and I found myself going through the wardrobe with as much anticipation as the kids!
Santa was also at Arlington but was a big disappointment sadly. Even Dubsy would have been a better..
In fact the 'elf' who ran the paper chains craft table really should have been Santa...they missed a trick there.
(Obviously being me i told him this and he replied he'd failed the IQ test). A sense of humour too..what were Arlington thinking!
Granny took four of her six grandchildren to the Woody Bay steam train
the train lives here on Exmoor. They went on a lovely one mile trip and again met Santa!
I have discovered and enjoyed my new camera app on my Iphone!
We had the joy of my sister Beth, Sam, Martha and Elsie to stay over Christmas.
We all had the best present you could imagine when, on Christmas Day, they found two films on their camera of when the girls first met their sister Florence Briah. Florie died in the summer at only 7 days old. We thought every photo and film had been found, so it was a very precious gift to find.
We each had to provide a meal and entertainment each day.
This was Beth's entertainment. In teams we were given a box of items and had to dress up one person in all the items in a set amount of time.There were minus points if we used any other props. This is Sam, this time with the carrot in the correct place..
My Dad who again, frankly, made a better Santa than Arlington's poor offering..this team won!
My Uncle Peter as you have never seen him. Apparently he is a Christmas tree?!
We all had great fun playing 'The Cube' board game. I had to balance this on my head for 30 secs. I'm not entirely sure what my hands were doing, but it did help!
It has been my family tradition to open our presents only after the Queen has finished her speech. I have memories of my dear old Granny wobbling to her feet when it came on. We don't stand up exactly but we do keep the tradition of watching it before diving under the tree and handing out gifts.
At New Year we officially close for business, but invite our friends to come and share this special time with us. We call it 'Amity' which means friendship.
One friend in particular could not come this year as he is extremely unwell which has come as a sudden shock. A group of us went to the beach to have some time to think about him and his family.
We eat together, talk together, recharge together and go into the year feeling challenged and expectant for new things. Its become the high point of the year for all of us here.
The sunset on New Years Day.