My Christmas Playlist – #NTChristmasPlaylist

When the National Trust NI contacted me and challenged me to create my favourite five Christmas songs on one playlist, I just had to get involved.  I do love Christmas, the sad bits, the happy bits, the twinkling trees, the cold, snow and ice, even the Brussels Sprouts.

Naturally enough I have some favourite Christmas songs too, songs that just make things all the more festive.  As some of you know, we lost our son, our first baby at Christmas time, as a result of that, there are a couple of songs that were once my huge favourites that I just can’t listen to any more, they are now tinged with far too much sadness for me.  So over the last couple of years my playlist favourites have changed a little.

Here it is then my revised Christmas Playlist, guaranteed to get me in the Christmas spirit.

1.  The number one spot goes to “Oh Holy Night” I am not a religious person, but I do love this carol, I love the words and the hauntingly beautiful music.  My favourite version though is this one.  A duet by Aled Jones as a boy and Aled Jones as a man!  Yes the power of television, they took a recording of him singing this as a choirboy and halfway through they spliced in him today as a fully grown man singing with himself.  It is wonderful.

2.  Next up, I’m jumping from carols to crooners with “Silver Bells” the version by Dean Martin, because everyone should have a bit of Deano in their lives.  This song makes me think of New York at Christmas, the open air ice rink at the Rockerfeller Centre, the giant Christmas tree, the shop front of Macy’s and of course FAO Shcwarz.

3.  Another crooner tune, Nat King Cole “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)  This song is just the epitome of Christmas for me.  With his silky smooth voice Nat King Cole paints a picture of the perfect Christmas.  It never fails to stir the child that is still inside me, the one who also wants to “spy, to see if Reindeer really know how to fly”

4.  Back to the Carols again, this time a less known one in UK, it is used much more in America and in fact that is where I first heard it.  “The Carol Of The Bells”, I chose this because it’s different, wonderfully different.  This definitely isn’t the traditional Christmas Carol, but it really does sound like Christmas to me.

5.  My final choice was a toss up between two songs.  “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl or “Driving Home For Christmas” by Chris Rea.  The Irish woman in me says that I should pick The Pogues, it is a great song, however, it is also a song that as the Christmas period wears on, it begins to wear me down!  So my choice is Chris Rea “Driving Home For Christmas”, this song makes me think of all those people, all over the world, desperately trying to get home to their families.  I think of people in airports, ferry ports, train stations and traffic jams, their only thought is whether they will make it home on time for Christmas.  We all deserve to be surrounded by our family and friends at Christmas, so lets hope a little Chris Rea will get everyone safely back to their loved ones.

So there you have it, my Christmas playlist.  Songs that I will definitely listen to over the next few weeks, songs that I will play as we decorate our trees, make gingerbread and wrap presents.  Songs that I will play in my kitchen, to drown out, the girls playing their Disney Mickey Sings Christmas CD in the playroom!  

Why, not have a go and create your playlist too, you can tweet it using the #NTChristmasPlaylist and you might even win a festive hamper and have your playlist used in selected National Trust shops.


How Does Your Garden Grow? – Nov 21st

Life has finally started to return to normal in our house.  After two weeks of sickness, chest infections and throat infections, we seem to be on the way up again.  My immunity must be really dreadful at the moment as I seldom pick up bugs from others, but this time I was just about wiped out, so I apologise for disappearing off the internet radar and off Annies lovely linky for a couple of weeks.

This week has been a real mixed bag on the weather front.  We have had very strong winds and rain and then got our first proper frost of the season.  It was delightful to open the door and see that winter sunshine along with the smell of winter frost.  Even though I was feeling lousy, it really did lift my spirits to hear that lovely crispy crunch under foot.

frosty leavesfrosty apple
I am still amazed at just how many leaves are still clinging on, even though we are rapidly approaching the end of November.   The Yellow Acer is still full of bright leaves.  The Oak tree has started to turn brown and there are still a few Acorns to be found.  My Beech trees are a mixture of brown and gold, but still full of leaves and my beloved Corkscrew Hazel has really only started to turn now.  I envisage a very soggy garden in the coming weeks, as they all drop off and get soaked by rain and snow.

acerAcornBeech TreeCorkscrew Hazel

Speaking of snow – yes, this week we have had our first snowfall, albeit not very significant and by lunchtime it had pretty much all melted away, but if the predictions from The Met Office are correct, we will see many snowy days throughout this winter.

snowy leafsnowy branchsnowy cotoneaster

For now though, rain has returned, hanging off the branches like thousands of little diamonds.


I am delighted to be back on form and linking with lovely Annie from Mammasaurus for her beautiful How Does Your Garden Grow linky once again. It is a real treat for the eyes and I have truly missed not joining in and not being online to enjoy it.

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?


The Christmas Wish

Christmas is beginning to infiltrate our home, our eldest daughter is desperate to get the trees up, she wants sparkly lights and Santa.  I’m trying to hold her off a little longer.  It’s not that I don’t love Christmas with them, I do.  They have certainly returned my Christmas magic, but my Christmas is always tinged with a little sadness because it means that once again, I am facing the anniversary of the death of our son and that does make it a little bittersweet.

Having been absent from the world of social media for a few days, I logged onto Facebook to find a newsfeed full of “Make your Christmas wishlist here” posts.  As to be expected this time of year, these wishlists are everywhere.  It got me thinking about my own wishlist.  I’ve had some sudden and unexpected changes happen to me recently, things that have really put me on the back foot, made me re-evaluate a lot, things that have changed me forever.  So what is on my wishlist?

I could ask for a handbag – but why?  I’m not a handbag person, I carry one out of necessity rather than desire.  I need somewhere to shove my purse, phone, keys, wipes, hankies and Calpol sachets. So I have a handful of Kipling bags in different colours that I alternate as I fancy.  I also have a very lovely Chloe handbag that my hubby bought me a couple of years ago and spent an obscene amount of money on.  It is very beautiful, but barely used and that obscene amount of money would have better spent on shoes!

That brings me nicely on to shoes and boots.  I am definitely not a fashonista, however, I do love a nice pair of shoes or boots and would pay handsomely for the “right” pair.  I have already bought two pairs of boots recently though, so even for me, I don’t need any more.

I already bought my winter coat.

I don’t wear a lot of make-up, wouldn’t particularly appreciate it and to be honest he wouldn’t know where to start with that kind of purchase.

Perfume – I have more than enough already for doing the housework,school run, gardening and jumping in puddles, thank you very much.

Jewellery – I have two children under the age of four, my jewellery now stays firmly in my jewellery box on the dressing table.  With the exception of my wedding ring and one necklace, none of the rest of it gets worn.

Music  - I love music, however, I have an IPod crammed full and any new stuff I fancy I usually get from itunes.

A KitchenAid mixer – there is no doubt, I do quite fancy one of these, however, I have barely enough time as it is at the minute.  So unless they now manufacture one that shops for ingredients, adds them, mixes it, pours it into pans, puts it in the oven and then cleans up the mess after itself, I’ll pass.

Some tech stuff –  phone, laptop, IPad – I have a newish phone, newish laptop and use his IPad, so I really don’t have any need for any more.

So what does Santa get the woman who really doesn’t have any want or need of any of the “normal” wishlist stuff…….

I will be yet another year older in a week and would love these birthdays to continue for many years to come.  I WANT and NEED to turn into the crazy old cat throwing woman from The Simpsons, it is my life’s ambition!  Ok, I may not throw actual cats, as this would be inhumane, probably illegal and difficult to get my hands on that many cats.  I may instead throw tins of Whiskas or Felix!  

So Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is…….


It’s not too big an ask, is it?

crazy cat lady

A Very Important Day – Guest Post

Lovely Nicki has produced a 2nd post for me – the big birthday day has finally arrived.

A very important day

Well the day has finally arrived, after a good six weeks of planning it is the 1st birthday of my daughter.  I cannot believe a year has passed so quickly, and how much she has changed from that tiny little bundle that couldn’t do anything for herself, and now she is a crawling nearly walking tornado of fun. 

Today is going to be so busy and I really hope everyone enjoys themselves.  I think I have thought of everything.  I just hope there are no surprise vegans in the mix!

So we are starting off the celebrations with everyone arriving into the play room, so the first things the children will see is the bouncy castle (it’s a good job the rooms in our house are so big and can accommodate it!) This hopefully will keep them entertained for a short while so the parents can have 10 minutes peace with a glass of wine. 

After they are all bounced out and refreshed with juice it is onto food for everyone.  I have decided since the weather has turned so quickly best to go for warm food.  We have chosen homemade pizza and yes I did make all the bases myself.  We have set up a table will all sorts so the children can make their own toppings and David is in charge of cooking them all to perfection.  Whilst they are waiting for their creations to cook there are all sorts of nibbles and funny face foods to keep them busy and entertained. 

Then to follow we have opted for traditional party games, and a piñata so I am sure there is going to be all sorts of mess to clear up afterwards and then cake for everyone.  This is my hard work and I have to say I am really pleased with myself.  A deep victoria sponge with all the trimmings, iced and with edible figures of all her favourite toy characters.

So as I finish this post, it looks like our first guests have arrived.  Wish me luck……..



Disclaimer*This is a guest post, no form of compensation has been given for publishing it.