Tag Archive | Holidays

The magic of Christmas

magic of christmas

I think that most people who know me also know that I am not a big fan of Christmas. I don’t appreciate the disruptions; nothing is where is usually is in the supermarket, roads are closed to accommodate Christmas Fayres and late night shopping, awful tinny Christmas songs are playing over and over in every shop and there’s too much rubbish and repeats on the TV. It’s not all bad I suppose and the five days of enforced holiday will be welcome. In addition, there is always the unexpected which catches me out at this time of year and makes me think about the true meaning of Christmas.

Yesterday just that happened and, more than 24 hours later, I am still thinking back to those few minutes when my heart was lifted, the angels sang and those awful tinny Christmas songs faded into the background.

I was waiting at Birmingham Airport Arrivals for my hubby who was returning from a 2 week holiday in Iran and whose plane had just landed when a tall, elegant and well-spoken lady tapped me on the shoulder and asked what the difference is between “landed” and “at gate”. I explained that having landed, the plane that she was waiting for had now reached the gate and the passengers would soon be getting off the plane. We started to chat some more whilst she kept looking towards the arrivals board and down the slope from where passengers were emerging with their cases, periodically looking at her watch, clearly impatient. She was waiting for the same plane as me.

Educated in Somalia, she has been living and working as a nurse specialising in mental health for the last 15 years. Recently, she has changed her role so that she works at the City hospital rather than visit patients in their home. This is safer for her as a woman, a mental health nurse and currently, as a muslim dressed in robes and hijab. Sad as that is, I understand. This lovely lady has 4 very excited children at home waiting their daddy to arrive not just for the first time in England but more importantly, as a permanent resident. She hasn’t seen him since September 2014 when she and the children visited him in his native country Uganda and finally, after a long battle with the immigration authorities, he was to be reunited with his wife and family. I learned that he is an accountant and has a job in the banking industry lined up so now they are able to start their brand new life in England as a family and, hopefully, in a stable and safe environment.

She apologised beforehand for running off to greet her husband as she was so excited, and I explained that no apologies are needed and to run off straight away when he arrives. I was so excited for her at such a momentous time in her life and was pleased that I had a chance to share just a little bit of her story. I was hoping that her husband would arrive before mine so I could witness their reunion and sure enough, when this smart, suited man appeared pushing his cases, off she ran to greet him in tears. It almost brought me to tears but I was too busy laughing and smiling at their joy to cry.

I watched them walk away together, arm in arm, wondering if he has packed lots of woolly jumpers……he’ll need them but I guess that’s not the utmost thing on his mind right now. Being a little chilly looks like a small price to pay for being together with his family again.

Now that’s the magic of Christmas.



Home thoughts from abroad

I am really looking forward to my next visit to Iran, which is due later this year. I love the country, its people, its food, the culture and architecture and the history is mind-boggling. The fragrant smells of spices and herbs in the bazaar, mud walls, easy living and bergamot tea to drink at leisure all day. It’s a wonderful experience.

When I am there, we tend to go out in the early morning to do our sight-seeing and visiting early doors before it gets too hot. After lunch, the family settles down for their afternoon siesta. I find it difficult to get into the routine of sleeping in the afternoon and usually spend my first week updating my Persian Posts blog.

This year I will be doing something in addition to my blog, and I don’t know why I haven’t thought about it before. This is a fantastic idea for any trip, holiday, honeymoon and days out and I will be stocking up on 3 weeks of Iranian stamps on my first day.

Postcard album


Robert Browning

Home Thoughts from Abroad

O, to be in England
Now that April ‘s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom’d pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That ‘s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Time flies

I can’t believe that it has been almost two weeks since I last posted. I have done so much but achieved so little and it is beginning to dawn on me that today being the start of Advent, Christmas will soon be here.

The late November temperatures are higher than average, my geraniums and fuchias are blooming merrily and yet I have a holly tree bursting with red berries. It looks rather incongruous to say the least but I’m not complaining.

So the great Christmas countdown begins in earnest and I need to get my act together soon if I’m to post my cards in good time. I’m not a fan of the commerciality, hassle and hub-bub of Christmas at the best of times but this year I have much more exciting things to do than go racing round the shops.

In the meantime, Will has a football match and I need to get to the craft shop if I’m to finish my pages today. Christmas cards and garlands have to wait.





Happy Birthday Poppyposts!

Poppyposts celebrates it’s first birthday tomorrow and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to log-in and read the posts. A total of 11,072 views in 12 months-I am amazed and delighted. Here’s to the next 12 months and exciting times.

I have now renewed my subscription which enables me to continue writing and unsurprisingly some themes will remain constant. Fighting the ever-present spectre of depression (currently in remission) is still important as is helping in the campaign against the stigma of mental illness which remains a priority. Talking openly and honestly about my experiences with depression undoubtedly helps to do this and I will continue to do this for as long as it does help. There will also be more trips to Iran which are a rich source of blogging material but I’m not planning on going out anytime soon as I understand that the temperature has dropped close to freezing and they have snow. Brrrr…..too cold.

Children In Need is upon us again and deserves another highlight. This year I have my Pudsey Bear ears to match my T-shirt and fairy cakes. I won’t however be doing the Santa 5k, or BBQ-ing Christmas Dinner in the back garden this year but I do have my new creative venture “The Scrapbook Fairy” to keep me occupied during the long winter days. I will also be working with Sandra, the lovely proprietor of JLT Crafts to put on scrapbooking crops and workshops in her shop in the New Year. This is something I’m really looking forward to.

The last 12 months have been exciting, challenging, sometimes difficult, often dark and disappointing but they have also been amazing. I am blessed with new friends, new activities and a new perspective on life.

Happy Birthday Poppyposts!

Thank you XXXX  

Hugs-the ultimate antidepressant?

Is it the cold weather we are having or are people getting stressed over Christmas? Whatever the reason,  HUGS are definitely the order of the day. With a language of their own you can say a million words in a hug but the greatest thing about hugs  is that to give one you have to receive one. Everyone’s a winner with a hug!

You don’t need an excuse to give someone a hug and a hug can say anything you like. The next time you say to someone “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help”, give them a hug. That hug says “I really mean it”.

Hugs can heal by passing on your strength through touch to anyone suffering from an illness or low mood. Apparently we need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and twelve hugs a day for growth. You can never have too many hugs.

We all need to feel wanted and appreciated and a hug is the perfect way to reinforce these feelings. Whether between friends, family, partners or even a group hug, it feels good to belong.

A hug can make you feel safe and secure; A hug can signify forgiveness and acceptance; A hug can be serious or playful, a gentle squeeze or a rib-busting bear hug but without doubt there is a hug for all occasions.

Even if you can’t hug someone physically, there is no reason to miss out. There are plenty of virtual hugs available to send on-line and if you are texting or communicating on social networking sites, a hug is written as () (open and close brackets). A big hug is (()) and a REALLY big hug is ((()))! Go as big as you like.

Please be mindful however that for some, hugging can be uncomfortable and in some cases can cause fear and anxiety due to any number of reasons so be respectful in your approach to hugging. You may not always be welcomed with open arms. Thank you to Puncturerepairkit for reminding me of this very important viewpoint.

Until your next hug, here’s one from me to keep you going… ((((())))))!

You may also like;

The Hug Therapy Book-Kathleen Keating

How to survive Christmas and enjoy it!

I have often wondered how so many people seem to sail through the festive season in a waft of present buying, entertaining, endless visiting, relentless smiling, effortlessly sprinkling all in their path with the Season’s Glad Tidings. I honestly have no idea, but this year I have decided to challenge myself one last time in 2010 and enjoy a happy  and harmonious Christmas.

This is not easy for me. I like my peace and quiet, I’m not good in crowds, I prefer routine and home comforts and I don’t enjoy the false, commercial, ringing-of-the-tills financially and emotionally demanding 12 days or so which saps the soul. 

Bah Humbug! 

So how am I going to turn Christmas from being a right pain in the arse, to the enjoyable, family-friendly, relaxing and reflective period it should be? I’m not sure but perhaps these tips will help me cope with the onslaught.


Don’t overspend– a difficult one especially if you, like me, have children. There is no absolute answer to this dilemma but I am determined to keep to a pre-determined budget. 

 Shop online– Hurray for Amazon and Tesco I say. Gone are the days when I get up at 3am on Christmas Eve to do the food shopping. Order early and watch the weather forecast like a hawk. If it snows, you may be disappointed and end up eating fish fingers for Christmas Dinner. 

Keep it simple-Christmas may not be the best time to experiment in the kitchen. Even the best-loved chocolate soufflé can collapse if nurtured by the drunken chef. If I can manage a traditional roast dinner so can you so stick with what you know rather than putting yourself under unneccesary pressure.

Alcohol-It’s just too tempting isn’t it? Don’t fall into the trap of self-medication to get through Christmas. Chances are it will loosen both the tongue and the willpower both with disastrous results! And remember, it is a depressant.

Lists- You can never have enough lists at Christmas. Food list, present list and the dreaded Christmas card list. How about a kitchen duty list to help spread the workload over the holiday?  This is not the time to prove you are Superman or Superwoman…..try and organise some rest time into your arrangements.

Families- If you are lucky enough to have a harmonious family count your blessings. But don’t forget that Christmas can test the very best of family relationships. If, on the other hand, you consider your family to be dysfunctional and argumentative, chances are it will be no different at Christmas. Avoid contentious topics such as politics and football and try to avoid competitive or combative games if they have caused arguments previously. 

Back to basics-peace and quiet, log fires, appreciating friends and family, walking the dog, listening to music, generally taking “time-out” should be a priority. Try it. 

Communicate-don’t stew in the corner. Keep talking and discuss your feelings and concerns. After drinking Snowballs for the last 20 years, this may be the year to confess that you don’t like advocaat.                                                                                            

So bearing all this in mind, I hope that you are able to make your Chrsistmas a very happy and healthy one and we can all look forward to a wonderful 2011.  In the words of the Ministry of Information during WWII, “Keep Calm and Carry on”.          


If all else fails, join us on the Depression Alliance Facebook page on Christmas day for some chat, banter, support and much needed friendship from those who know just how you feel!


Winter lingers

Stubborn frost pockets
Resistant to midday warmth
Sheets of smooth black ice

Bright white-out, wipe out
Icicle necklets drape low
Patterned ice crystals

Dazzling low sun
Hear the cracks and drips of thaw
False dawn, night refreeze

Hoar frost coats berries
Ivy mingled with snow clings
Glacial sharp winds

Endless winter dark
Swirling fog eerie quiet
Faded shapes, outlined

November Arctic
No respite, forever cold
White Christmas? You bet!


Wish you were here……?


 Me too.

I cover an awful lot of miles during my working week, enduring crowded trains, exposed station platforms with the wind whistling around my ears, juggling luggage, laptop and handbag (and not always succeeding) and often regretting that vanity rather than practicality won the day when choosing my footwear. Early mornings and long days combined with the travelling can be tiring. On a rare occasion whilst wearing a skirt, I turned up to an office wearing a different style of shoe on each foot. It was really obvious to everyone except me but in my favour, they were at least the same colour.  I learnt my lesson however and now I always turn on the light when fetching shoes from the wardrobe and always check that they are a pair whether they are high heels, boots or flatties.

With all this going on, I find it very difficult to cope with busy shops at lunchtimes, crowded trains at any time and noisy, polluted journeys. All I crave is a little peace and quiet. Oh to be left alone with my ipod, latest read and my own thoughts rather than have to listen in graphic detail about overflowing toilets, wild wife-swapping parties and pub football politics. And this is all before the Festive season really starts going…..tips on how to cope with depression at Christmas will come later!

So where would I rather be? Somewhere warm, peaceful and sparsely populated. Somewhere cold, peaceful and sparsely populated. Somewhere with no trains, no mobile phones and no grey-suited executives. Somewhere where Blackberry’s and X-Boxes get no reception and the mere mention of William & Catherine is banned. Even the dogs bark silently (unlike Kevin across the road). Which reminds me. We need to talk about Kevin.

I want to be somewhere where the only sounds that you can hear are the lapping of the waves on the shore or the crispy footfalls in virgin snow. The chinking of ice cubes in the tumbler or the crackle of the log fire in the hearth. Or nothing except the slow, deep inhalations of fresh air accompanied by the gentle beat of your heart.                                         

Or somewhere like this; 


Traffic-light trees
Russet, amber, grey-green
Leaves fall with every breeze that blows

Orange spooks glow
Halloween, Trick-or-Treat
Broomsticks, cauldrons, witches brew boils

Auburn chestnuts
Spiny husks discarded
Leaves swirl, blown into corner piles

Chill air
Breathe. Sharp intake
Puffs of white mist follow.
Shiver. Wrap tighter. Coffee steams
First frosts

Birds on wires
Blackberries, apples, sloes
Squirrels’ nuts, children horse-chestnuts

Foliage stripped
Conifers, evergreens,
Stalwarts of the bare countryside
Stand tall

Blaze. Smokey trails
Rockets, toffee apples
Fireworks flare, fly, fizzle, flash