Now I can show you . . . a tub full of artificial maple leaves which are about the same rich colour as the bureau !

Deck the halls with boughs of holly . . .

a bowl of dried orange and lemon slices

It was Sue's morning so nice clean sheets tonight ~ getting everything ready for tomorrow ~ hope people will come ~ Barbara popped in before lunch ~ she is such an easy friend and always with fascinating things to tell me ~ bitterly cold with -10 degrees forecast for tonight ~ got round to phoning doctor at last about my intimate problem ~ ointment on the way ~ Mike from Boots  brought my regular medication now whittled down to pain killers for continuing pain in right hip and somethng to thin the blood ~ not bad considering ~ Keith's Tracey brought two more of the special bulbs ready for next time the fire goes out ~ they wontt let me pay for them ~ she works in Boyes ~ so kind.   Like an idiot, I put jersey in the wash without checking and damnation there must have been a tissue in the sleeve as it came out covered in shredded tissue ~ I took it out on the yard and gave it a jolly good shake and put it back in wash again on its own ~ hope it has remoned all of it ~ I usually take great care about tissues ~ can't face hoovering the kitchen tonight but it is a right bloody mess ~ to be honest, I hardly ever use tissues as I have a stack of fine cotton gent's hankies which I love and no trouble to shove in the wash and then a quick iron ~ strange sawing noise !  Funny ! At this time of night ~ better go and investigate . . .

Tuesday ~ had a lovely party with 10 or 11 friends here coming and going ~ Diana was here first with mince pies and she looked after everyone, making coffee ~all picked bowlfuls of natural decorations ~ fir cones, ivy leaves, maple laves, acorns,and other stuff ~ was afraid it was a stupid idea but it worked a treat ~ Barbara was there before work and came back for a chat on her way home ~ one silly thing ~ I'd ordered a box of mistletoe which I left outside overnight to keep it fresh and completely forgot about it ~ I'll have to dole it out to any passerby ~ idiot that I am !

Rather limp this evening so no more tonight but I think people enjoyed both the gathering and the bags of winter treasures they took home with them ~ GOOD ! 

Wednesday ~ 9.30 before I was down this morning ~ bitterly cold but no snow until small flurries as it got dark ~ rather sluggish all day ~ Mary very kindly offers to bring me a plate of dinner on Christmas day ~ so wonderfully kind and thoughtful ~ Eileen popped in to tell me sale of number  5finally  goes through on Friday, after all this time ~ trying to phone Jean and Parry but they don't respond ~ still a fair amount of greenery and maple leaves for them and dried orange slices and small dried peppers ~ hope they come for some of it ~ Di emailed she is in severe pain with spinal problem ~ have put her in touch with Annabel to see if she can help ~ she is a truly gifted healer, Annabel.

Thursday ~ Di was here and later Ellen and Martin and Dick Hoyle who we haven't seen for a couple of years since he retired ~ Dick and Mick played a large part in the restoration of most of the property in Clarks Yard ~ Dick was wearing a fabulous corduroy coat and an incredible beard  we all tucked into the delish and brilliantly decorated Xmas cake he brought ~ Later still visitors at number 7 ~ Judy and Dave ~ came in for a long friendly chat (no flop today) and I put her in touch with Annabel as she is in severe shoulder pain and waiting in a long line for an op !   I'm afraud I've been pestering Annabel lately sending her all my "lame"ducks" ~ I must in future leave it to Annabel to contact them.  I have not been opening Xmas cards but saving them till 24th ~ ~ my eyes are so bad I really cannot write cards ~ it would come out all scribbles but hope the Tuesday event will be enough for local friends ~ everyone else will have to be satisfied with a computer greeting ~ I should have taken a photo of Martin's cake before we hacked into it ~ it was so pretty and so scrumptious ~ Martin very kindly got the telly going again and I phoned Keith Bedlington who is coming first thing in the morning ~ when it gets to the spin cycle there is a fearful clanking as if something has come loose/lose !   The other night as I jumped into bed I discovered it  was cold although I had switched the blanket on earlier as usual ~ oh my stars !  What a shock !   Then I realised I had gone through options 1 2 and 3 but beyond 3 is OFF !   Tried to settle but I was too cold so leaving the blanket on at 3 I went down stairs, made a hot drink and read for an hour or so by which time it had warmed up ~ I'm ashamed to admit it, but nowadays I leave the blanket on low (setting 1) all night  ~ when the firemen came to check my smoke alarms I told them this and one of them inspected the make and said it is quite safe so PRAISE THE LORD ~ I can still enjoy the continuing luxury of a warm bed !

Friday ~ and very cold though no snow down here in town ~ Keith came to fix the washing machine and told me there is snow on surrounding hills though noy a serious amount ~ at 8.30 Steve from the Heart Shop came to collect two bags of stuff ~ at that time it was sleeting/raining  though it has cleared up now ~ Dave and Judy popped in to give me their email address so that we can keep in touch ~ in spite of violent shakings out on the yard this v-neck is still covered in evidence of the tissue that got into the wash by mostake but it is such a comfortable garment I shall weat it as it is.

Saturday 10.15pm ~ a very busy day but too late to do more tonight ~ Sunday 3.30pm ah, that better ~ just had a bath so clean, fragrant and full of beans ~ Rose came in and sorted out the TV remote control ~ I must be more careful if the phone rings while the telly is on ~ I am inclined to grab the remote to switch off and press the wrong button which leads to the dreaded snowstorm and small bloe messages floating all over the screen which I am too bling to read ~ they've gone over to Germany for the Christmas Markets ~ I was there at this time of year once ~ Rod arranged for me to go over and do my ribbon presentation to his staff ~ he put me in a posh hotel and took me to Christmas Market on the Sunday ~ I'm trying to remember the name of the town ~ the Company produced veterinary drugs, I think ~ that was an adventure ~ I went again the next summer but that fell a bit flat ~ there was an architect among the party and to start with he treated my ribbon readings with scorn but after I'd analysed his selection of colours, he came back and back ~ joining the back of the queue three or four times ~ they told me that when Rod announced he was bringing me over, they all presumed I was his girl friend but once I arrived that was quickly quoshed and they began to take my colour theory seriously ~ they had been expecting a dolly bird !   No chance !

Bill brought Georgie over yesterday before weather deteriorated ~ in spite of the fucking Parkinson's she is looking bonny and better than I''d seen her for ages ~ at least she no longer has to be up with the lark to get to work ~ my poor darling ~ her birthday is on Boxing Day ~ not a good choice I know ~ this time she will be sixty ~ incredible ~ SIXTY  !!   Of the four of them, Georgie was the only one born in hospital ~ in Buxton the Maternity Hospital was in the next big house below West House on the Manchester Road ~ fortunately the event coincided with Howard's school holidays so that he was at home to look after Richard who was 18 months old ~  one thing I alwats regret about Georgie's birth : I missed out on a Christmas Dinner ~ expecting she would arrive before Boxing Day I had no special food in ~ in any case, Pat in the flat next door  had invited Howard and Richard in for dinner with them but as I was still standing this did not apply and I believe we dined on scrambled eggs ~ and to make it worse, next day by the time the baby had arrived, it was too late for cold turkey lunch and was only allowed a boiled egg later ~ they had this theory that to eat after childbirth was dangerous for the new mother ~~ but she was worth it, bless her, always has been and still is today sixty years later ~ ah me !

Because I forgot to hand out mistletoe at the Tuesday event, there is still a bag of it out on the bench ~ decided to bring it in would wither it ~ I keep pressing a spray on all and sundry ~ it is beautifully fresh and covered in berries.  I have shared the rich fruit cake that  Ellen's friend Martin brought but still have a fair chunk which I might finish off tonight ~ Martin's sister made it apparently and the icing and marzipan and decorations are wonderful to behold (and better still to eat !)   How kind and she doesn't know any of us and he scarcely knows us either.

8.30pm ~ feeling the time has come to have an extra layer on the bed, spent most of the morning looking for the soft light pale greeny-blue blanket ~ found it eventually in one of my several under-bed storage boxes which had got pushed right to the back out of reach even of my walking stick ~ I've had it airing all day on the clothes horse and I'll install it in a mo ~ in my search I unearthed this glorious dark green rug, soft and silky, which was put away in the Spring ~ it has a subtle navy blue check and is utterly beautiful ~ I think I got it out of the Cotton Traders catalogue several years ago ~ I'd take a picture but camera tells me "MEMORY FULL" and I can't fathom out how to clear it ~ maybe Barbara will know ~ she always seem able to discover what needs doing ~ I don't open cards until Xmas Eve which makes it quite exciting ~ better than one or two a day as Steve the Post delivers them.   

Mary and Tom's Christmas lights

and another one of Mary's photos looking UP the yard to their house~ 'Keynsham'

another tub of artificial ivy leaves