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A New Year’s Thoughts on diet….

My palate is jaded. I have had enough of Christmas fare, delicious though it is. As usual for this time of year, we are bombarded with instructions for healthy eating and ways of cleansing our systems. This is all well and good, but how long do healthy diets last? I think getting back to sensible eating is the key, without being too radical.

I like watching cookery programmes. It is very entertaining to watch professional chefs painstakingly preparing delicious delicacies on our screens (try saying that when you’ve had a few glasses of Prosecco) ! There is always a new and elaborate dish or recipe to try, and a new exotic vegetable that will soon sell out in the supermarket, once the word is out that no discerning foodie’s kitchen should be without it.

How do we manage to get a meal on the table without the use of a water baths I wonder? Can we find space in the kitchen for hayboxes, ice-cream churns and sorbet makers? Do we have a supply of pine oil or basil oil? Can we confit an egg? Do we have time to go foraging?

What can be more enjoyable than sitting at a well-laid table being served fancy food, but sometimes, do we not yearn for simple fare?

At lunch time today, we had a simple dish of tomato soup and some bread and butter. I started thinking back to the simple foods of my childhood, and the warm and happy kitchens.

A Devonshire Kitchen.

As a little girl, I often sat at my grandfather’s table and watched him as he prepared his version of afternoon tea. A large white loaf, fresh from the baker, was upended and buttered with rich, yellow, freshly churned Devonshire butter. Then, with the sharpest knife kept solely for this purpose, he sliced the bread so thinly that it looked like lace, when delicately laid on a china plate. Served with tea from a silver pot, this was a delicacy like no other. It needed no accompaniment. No matter how much I have tried over the years, I have never been able to replicate the dish in quite the same way.

Cornish Kitchen

I remember granny's kitchen 
The cushioned window seat,
A pantry with its vat of cream,
The Aga's cosy heat.

Sitting down to breakfast
Was always a delight,
With bowls of creamy porridge 
That had simmered overnight.

Pasties were for lunchtime,
Crimped and golden brown,
With chunks of homemade bread
And tea to wash it down.

At tea-time there were Cornish splits
And fragrant saffron cakes,
Bowls of jam and clotted cream
And fancy china plates.

On Sunday, there was Grandpa
Who took his rightful place,
And seated round the table
We bowed our heads for Grace.

Now I look back in time
And in an old book I see
A recipe, written in my granny's hand
That once she cooked for me.

Lmh

Maybe it is time to embrace simple fare for a while!

Happy New Year.



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Carrying the Light

How do you feel on the days between Christmas and New Year? Do you mourn the passing of Christmas or are you glad to get back to normality if there is such a thing now?

Walking this morning, I noticed some blow-up Santas laying forlornly in neighbourhood gardens, deflated and folded in on themselves. ‘Poor things’, I thought, and tried not to feel deflated myself.

Well-meaning articles suggest we embrace the quiet period between Christmas and New year, take walks in nature, pamper ourselves and catch up on our favourite books. We should also catch up on our sleep and get back into a regular routine. Yes. Done that. All good advice.

However, I am still not ready to give up on Christmas just yet.

I remind myself that the twinkly lights are still shining. After all, Christmas is not over – it continues for twelve days. The lights are there to remind us of the presence of God, or a higher being in our world. Light illuminates us and bathes us in good feeling, and reveals our surroundings. As the daylight fades in the sky in the afternoon, the lights soften the landscape around us.

Whilst I may take a few decorations down before long, I am going to focus on the light. I will leave a lantern in the window and light it at tea-time. Perhaps we will have hot crumpets and butter to cheer us up. I will welcome January but I will try and keep the feeling of Christmas in my heart all the year round. After all, every day should be special.

Be the light!

Happy New Year!

Ocean of Light

The day was cold and grey,
The wind blew hard 
And held the friendly blackbird
In scant regard.
The ground was white with frost
And frozen hearts
Cried for what was lost
And torn apart.
But under our feet
Summer flowers were only sleeping
And across the fields
The sky welcomed the night
And filled it with stars,
Bringing an ocean of light.


Lmh

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Dreams of a Peaceful Christmas ….

Christmas to me is the one time of the year when the atmosphere changes completely. I’m not talking about the commercial frenzy that assaults us from every angle, or the busy build-up to Christmas Day itself with all the stress involved. It is much more intangible than that. It is a feeling that stirs emotions and opens the heart. It is the feeling of concern for others, and even the resurfacing of grief that lies within us. A sadness that those we have lost are no longer with us to maintain the family traditions, to bring out the old familiar Christmas decorations and the expressions dear to us.

Step out into the quiet, still night and look at the stars, and there is a sense that the Universe is holding its breath just like it did over two millennia ago.

The Sankofa bird is a symbol that is used to explain the Sankofa, a word in the Akan Twi and Fante language of Ghana that translates to ‘retrieve’: go back and get. The bird has its head turned backwards while its feet face forward carrying a precious egg in its mouth. It is often associated with the saying: ‘It is not wrong to go back to what you have forgotten.’ It teaches us we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us so that we can move forward.

That is what is beautiful about this time of the year. We can reflect as we prepare our homes for Christmas, and remember all those who have gone before us who did the same. People change, times change, politics change, but the message of Christmas remains the same.

May we be filled with hope for new and better beginnings, and pray for peace to wrap itself around our brothers and sisters who are struggling both here and on distant shores, pray for mothers and fathers to be able to keep their children warm and fed, and for lovers to be able to hold each other in safety. For the little children who suffered unspeakable torment at the hands of those who they should have been able to trust, may they find eternal rest.

Footsteps on the snowy field
Left no lasting mark
Yet you walked there once
Hugging the Christmas tree.

A candle glowed in the window
And with sweet relief
You fell inside
In a tangle of scented branches.

It was different then, yet the same,
The children were just as excited,
The tree was lit
And Santa was expected.

The kitchen was warm like spice
And family came
To hug and greet you
And sit around the table.

Nothing changes
Though the world moves on
Thinking it knows best.
Still, we sing of angels,
And on this Silent Night
A tall tree bows, and remembers.

Lmh.

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Looking For Mrs. Messenger….

Do you feel as though you are sometimes swimming against the tide, metaphorically speaking? Does the world feel a bit weird right now?

Of course, we have the ongoing challenge of living through a pandemic and news and changing rules on this will be with us for goodness knows how long. But I think it’s more than that that affects us.

There are many suffering the hardships of homelessness and poor housing. Some children go to bed hungry, and it seems like there are apologies dished out and excuses made but hardly any action taken. People are dying whilst waiting too long for an ambulance and this should never happen. Services are over-stretched, decent people are working their butts off, the hospitals are overwhelmed.

Poverty and shortages are commonplace, yet it seems like the government are acting like inexperienced magicians pulling coins from their sleeves and then making them disappear again.

A bolder person than me would stand up to all the bluster, all the unfairness and lack of generosity that infringes on some parts of society and would set about highlighting the needs of us all. They would seek out the positives and change the way we look at things. Not only that, they would realise that mistakes can be made but it doesn’t mean they cannot be rectified. There are so many people with good hearts out there. We know it and our world knows it. We just need to find the right way to make things better.

Swimming against the tide might feel unsettling but sometimes we need to do that rather than go with the flow along with everyone else.

Mrs. Messenger



Mrs. Messenger came
And asked everyone
In the busy ‘shouty’ places
To examine their hearts
And to put smiles on their faces
And lead by example;
To tell the truth
And work for the common good.
To rebuild the crumbling houses
And distribute the food
So that no child was hungry.
And before long
We started to listen
To the one who led with gentle ease,
And kindness fell around us 
Like the soft November leaves.

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Twisting in the Wind

I’ve had another birthday. For the first time, I have been thinking a lot about becoming a senior person. Really quite senior! It’s almost as though, at the stroke of midnight on my birthday, my glass slipper came off and was replaced by a fluffy one, built for comfort, cosiness and practicality! I’m not sure what Prince Charming would think of that!

Time whispers around my ears and I find myself thinking it’s time to be sensible and pace myself when I’m out walking and to drink more water and take more vitamins. Perhaps we should start looking at bungalows too! Then I look at all the people in the public eye who are still out there ‘strutting their stuff’ even though they are well past retirement age and realise that whatever age we are, all we really need is a good and positive mindset. I think of my dad too, who was still working at the age of 89 and who never gave up on trying to improve his health and was always happy to meet new people and strike up an interesting conversation.

It’s quite easy to spend a lot of time reminiscing, at least, I find it so. At times, looking back down the years is rather like looking through a kaleidoscope, seeing a jumble of places and faces, of memories, of good times and sad times, and everything in between. The brightest colours shine through and these are the memories we hold on to.

One thing I realise, is that we can spend our whole lives trying to find the meaning of it, only to get to our later years and find that simplicity is the way. All the striving and all the hurly-burly of life can only take us so far, whilst loving and just ‘being’ takes us exactly where we need to be.

I've seen a lot of years
As I've moved from place to place
And you can see the storms I've weathered 
In the lines upon my face.
For every step I have travelled
There has been much to understand -
How life can be unravelled
By an unseen sleight of hand.
But even the sweetest flower 
Sometimes twists in the wind,
But then it spreads its precious seeds
So new life can begin.
With every turning tide
Comes a new and mighty wave,
And I remember there is always time
To stand up and be brave.

L.M.H
Photo by Fiona Art on Pexels.com
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Busy Doing Nothing

It is funny how a day starts off one way and then heads in a completely different direction. I had a list of plans for today that for one reason or another didn’t work out, starting with a planned trip out for breakfast which didn’t materialise as my favourite cafe turned out to be closed on a Tuesday. This was followed by a rather fruitless shopping trip and a dispirited walk around the town resulting in getting in the car and driving home again.

There were many things I could have done when I returned home but then I stopped and looked out into the garden. It was such a beautiful day – a wonderful bonus of an early autumn day, filled with sunshine and the perfect temperature.

‘Right’ said my husband, ‘shall we get out the deckchairs?’ I didn’t need asking twice. We took out a pile of books and sat in the gorgeous warm sunshine, reading in companionable silence. I finished a lovely book which I have had been dipping in and out of for a while – In My Mind’s Eye – A Thought Diary by Jan Morris. It is good, witty and wise and I would thoroughly recommend it. Then I also re-read some favourite passages I have saved in my notebooks over the years and it felt good to reconnect with the pieces I have felt to be so important in the past. It is easy to forget the things that have once moved us.

It still amazes me when I read quotes that have been passed down through the centuries, and I realise that they are as wise and relevant today as they ever were.

I love this Malagasy proverb – ‘A canoe does not know who is King, when it turns over, everyone gets wet.’ A wonderful reminder that we are all created equal.

I sat with my bare feet resting on the warm grass and knew I was meant to stop today and let the world go on without me for a while.


Follow the path 
If you wish
But don't forget
It's okay to change direction
And spend some time
On quiet reflection.
The wind can change 
In a heartbeat
And time can be stolen away
So why not stop awhile
And say hello to today.






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Contentment

I have a little book of daily inspirational quotations I keep by my bed. I had got out of the habit of reading it for a while but picked it up again this week. It is said we read things when we need to – that we are reminded about something at the right moment and I like to believe that. Is there an angel sitting on my shoulder pointing me in the right direction? I like to think that too. The short quote I read this morning reminded me that contentment is the most important feeling we can have. I don’t have the book in front of me now but the advice it offered stayed with me. It made me realise that when we are content we are gentle with the world, and that upset and anxiety rolls away from us like raindrops slipping off shiny leaves.

How many people do we know who appear to be content with their life? It’s not easy for any of us to go through life beaming contentedly at everyone we meet whilst skipping through fields full of daisies is it? Life has a habit of getting in the way of contentment. The daily grind, the scary news and events in general, all contrive to rattle us and upset our equilibrium. I did start today with a new mindset though, and reminded myself that striving for tomorrow is not what today is all about. Today is about being appreciative and realising that every day is special and won’t come again.

I am going out into the garden to help my husband plant a new hedge and then sit down in a deckchair with a cup of tea and feel content. At least for a while!

I will

I will sit in the apple orchard 
And feel the warmth of the sun,
I will watch the dancing butterflies 
And the children as they run.

I will see the kaleidoscope of colours
Unfolding all around
And feel the memory of a hundred summers
Fall like feathers to the ground.

I will hold nothing more than dreams
And love and love and love,
For this is all we have it seems
But then all we need IS love.

I will let the day run its course
And mark the time only by shadows
That will lengthen, until at last
Only peace follows.
 
I will forget to ask for answers
To how and why and when,
And know that though the darkness falls 
The world will turn again.
                  
                          L.M.H 




Photo by Isaque Pereira on Pexels.com