Magic: Expectation via Reality.

A bit of magic helps us go forth on a January day…

In my last blog I wrote about the lull that follows the Christmas break; how I struggle with letting go of the festivities and try to deal with post Christmas blues. I talked about how we can learn from children – how they enjoy the moment and then move on and run headlong into the New Year, with all the new experiences and occasions.

I still find my emotions lurching about this week, especially after being laid low with some sort of bug that has been doing the rounds. When I say lurching, I mean the sinking feeling that creeps up unannounced and makes you miserable even though you are trying to be positive. (There is a great advert on television doing the rounds at the moment; the insurance it is trying to plug is by the by, but it features a boxer dog asking with a shocked expression if Christmas is over. His plaintive response of ‘Oh No!’ when he realises this is the case is priceless and absolutely sums up how I feel!).

I think one of the reasons for the blues this time of the year is the fact that we realise we have to get back to the normal routine; life takes on an ordered pattern again, and it can be difficult to be motivated when the days are still short and celebrations are over. Then again, some people relish the new year and the very fact that they can move on with plans and look forward to what is in store. We are all different and whilst I think too much time making plans means we don’t concentrate on today, I think the optimist who relishes looking forward is to be envied.

But I have come to the conclusion that I need to fall back on the inspiration that lies around me to make progress. This is my way of looking forward. I need to look for magic. I heard someone say the other day that they didn’t believe in any form of religion because they didn’t believe in anything they couldn’t see. I couldn’t disagree more with this; I am not necessarily focusing on religion here, but there are many things we cannot see yet know exist. Think of the leaves on the trees rustling in the breeze – we cannot see the wind yet we know it is there. Think of the electricity that brings power to our homes; we cannot see it yet we still touch the light switch knowing the power is there to lighten our darkness.

Sometimes it is easy to ignore new ideas and inspiration when we are busy getting on with everyday challenges. But it is at these times when we need magic and inspiration the most. ‘Thinking outside the box’ is an overused expression but is applicable here. For on a grey January day when we feel we are caught up in ordinariness and routine, it is the time to do just that. There is no ordinary day. Every day contains some magic whatever our situation and if we are open to it.

In a way, magic is difficult to define. I have looked up the definition in the Oxford Living Dictionaries. One says: The power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces…hmm I’m not sure that is how I think of magic. Another says: Mysterious tricks, such as making things disappear and reappear, performed as entertainment… that is not my favourite idea either. But this – this is the one I really like: A quality of being beautiful and delightful in a way that seems remote from daily life.

I don’t take the above expression to mean remote in a negative way, I take it to mean something that takes us away from normal routine and injects some sparkle into our life and our thinking.

Magic isn’t about waving a wand. We can find magic in small things. To me, the early snowdrops appearing in the churchyard are magical, as is the sunlight sparkling on the river on a frosty day.

The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper’.
W.B. Yeats


‘And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’.
Roald Dahl

I think magic is all around us, even in everyday things and somehow it crosses the divide between itself and reality. Magic and reality can exist together. Think of advanced technology – it is indistinguishable from magic.

When I look around the countryside this time of the year, I remind myself that although all appears quiet and bare, new life sleeps as yet unseen, ready to burst forth and enchant us in the spring; soon nature will make a brand new start, never stopping to question the mood of its heart.

So let us rely on a bit of magic this time of year. Let’s gain inspiration from ‘feel good’ stories and acts of kindness and believe in ourselves. With faith, good times will be more likely to appear.

Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen’.
John Wolfgang von Goethe

Just before writing this blog I had sent a text to my son who is on a business trip abroad. I asked him how things were going. I just received a reply from him – ‘All gold, mum’ x . There is some magic there somewhere!

Wishing you a magical week.

close up photo of a bed of white flowers
Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

Home Comforts and the Things that Matter the Most….

I don’t think I was the only one watching the final of The Great British Bake Off last night! It was rumoured  that there were 14.5 million viewers.

Over the last twelve weeks we have watched the ups and downs in the baking tent. We have sympathised with the poor quivering bakers when things went horribly wrong; collapsing gingerbread houses,’informally’ iced biscuits, Genoise sponge that could be ‘wrung out like a flannel’ and  cakes that would ‘bounce back if thrown at a wall’ were displayed for all to see. We have marvelled too, at the triumphs; glorious displays of intricate bread structures; towering and utterly scrumptious looking chocolate cakes; an imperious blue peacock cake; regal tea-party delicacies; brilliantly puffy, squidgy, billowing meringues; glossy eclairs….I could go on and on…….

I love to cook and I love food, but what is it that attracts us so much to programs about baking? I think it is about much more than food alone. A lot of the time we are attracted to food because of the memories certain dishes evoke and the relationship we may have had with the person who first prepared them for us. No matter how I try, I cannot replicate the way my Devonshire Grandfather prepared bread and butter! Wafer thin slices of bread were buttered with the best butter and laid on a china plate like the most exquisite lace;,and I have never been able to make porridge quite like my Cornish grandmother which simmered over-night on the Aga and was served with lashings of fresh unpasturised milk, (or sometimes clotted cream!) Of course, these dishes were never Michelin starred, but I never forget those memories, and I have such fond memories of all the meals I watched being prepared as I was a child. I think it is about pleasing our friends and loved ones too; how long do our children take before they look in the fridge when they come home? Not long whatever their ages! And as a mother, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your children, or grandchildren, eating and enjoying nutritious food that you have prepared for them.

My nephew is now a talented chef, and I look back at the time he spent cooking with my mother, sister, and me, and I now take delight in his success.

Cooking evokes such passion. Shortly before my Mum died she sat up in bed and discussed the merits of putting parsley in Cornish pasties, and butter in the pastry. As I look back at the times she was happiest in her later years, it was when she was in the kitchen following new recipes and preparing for family gatherings.

As we sit around a table with family and friends, whatever the conversations or discussions, how can the mood not be lifted by the arrival of a steaming bowl of pasta or a lovingly prepared roast dinner? And after a long, hard day and with winter approaching, how about a bowl of chicken soup to beat the unwelcome chill wind?

                 To quote a favourite Jewish proverb:

                                          ‘Worries go down better with soup.’

There is something intangible in the process of cooking – a need to do one’s best, to create something delicious; an emotion that wells inside us that is more than just about serving up the best cake, it’s about connecting to our primeval instinct and the need to provide food for everyone.

We welcomed a new beloved granddaughter into our family this week! She is truly a blessing and already very much loved. We now have nine grandchildren; each and every one of them is a star in our family universe. After some very hectic days of work demands and a possible house move to think about, I was definitely feeling frazzled, but looking at my new granddaughter ( she was born in America but I could see her thanks to modern technology!) put everything into perspective. Safe in her mother and father’s loving care, and with adoring brothers and sisters waiting for her at home, she has a wonderful world waiting for her. These occasions are momentous and put everyday cares completely to one side.

I put some time aside and took my six year old granddaughter to visit the Roald Dahl museum yesterday which was another enjoyable interlude. I love the fact she  has become fascinated with this author and all his wonderful stories, especially as when her own dad was young, the house we lived in backed onto Roald Dahl’s garden, and we could glimpse his writing shed. After looking around we spent an enjoyable time making up a recipe for a potion to get rid of witches! We have high hopes of winning that competition with our Sticky Sicky Witch Shrinking Potion! I am afraid to say I cannot give you the recipe as it is top secret!

One recipe I will give you is the granola recipe I made up for my granddaughter who loves cooking. Enjoy!

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Thinking about home and frazzled days, here are some lines that resonated with me this week:

‘Even tho’ we walk the diamond studded highways, It’s the country lanes and byways that makes us long for home.’    from  Old Photographs and Memories by Jim Capaldi.

‘If the notes we play are wrong, Let it be our favourite song.’  from ‘Even More Mine’ by Rita Wilson.

I’d love to hear your about your favourite memories of the foods you loved as a child!

Blessings to you.

Lyn