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I think I’d better start by apologising to everyone who lives in areas that get ‘proper’ winters. By which I mean the sort that need snow chains and special tyres and which get a LOT of snow for a long time. I lived in a place like that when I was young, which may well explain why I chose to settle down in one of the mildest places on Dorset’s beautiful Jurassic coast, where the wide shallow expanse of Poole Harbour shelters us from the worst excesses of summer and winter. It’s also where the Purbeck Hills mean that our weather very rarely matches the forecast, but that’s okay, because I have two better forecasts.

Firstly, are my joints, which, like a lot of people with rheumatoid arthritis, react very strongly to weather changes; and the least said about that the better I’ll like it. More entertainingly, is the cat-cast. If there is a sweet, cuddly affectionate kitty who wants to snuggle and purr on your lap then bad weather is coming. If they’re wet when they come racing in, it’s just arrived. And if they’re out apart from feeding time then you pretty much can do the same.

So for the past couple of days the cats have been quite exceptionally cute. There’s one sleeping on my toes as I type and two mini-panthers curled up on the settee beside me. Or it could be an eight-legged, two-headed mythological beastie. It’s so hard to tell but they are warm, comfortable and have no intention of going anywhere else. And nor, for the next few days, have I! Because falling flat on my face and breaking fragile bones is not a good idea, so I am doing my bit to protect the Health Service by staying warm and safe at home and being so grateful that I can.

I’ve had a couple of lovely long walks down to my beloved Harbourside this week and today’s picture is of an amazing heron I saw there, but now it is time for Christmas to start creeping in so there are snowflakes to stick to windows, wreaths to put on front doors, Christmas trees to put up, exactly where they’ve been put since my daughter was born. The big decorated one is on top of the freezer in the kitchen where the cats don’t go. The little fibre optic one goes on the table in the living room and my husband works wonders with timers so the lights come and go like little twinkly miracles as they fight the dark days.

There are Christmas CDs all sorted out and ready to play in the background (yes, I am that retro!) There’s Christmas pudding to make from the fruit that went in to soak on Stir Up Sunday. There’s a meat delivery from Jurassic Meats who have just won a major award and are sending me some extra sausages to celebrate to unpack, put in the freezer and cook with to make meals that are almost as good as the ones you get in the posh restaurants they supply and a whole lot cheaper.

There are Christmas biscuits to bake and put in tins. There’s Christmas television to watch from the Hard Drive where my darling husband has stored years of my favourites so I can wallow in nostalgia. There’s sewing to do and cutting with my new quilting rulers and pinning so come the better weather I can sit in the garden and sew, more or less helped by the furry friends (or fiends, depending on their moods.)

There are Christmas embroidered pillowcases to put on the beds and Christmas quilts to put just about everywhere because I’ve been making a Christmas quilt each year for the last thirty years so I and everyone I know have them. This year I’m going to do a complete re-dress and change the loose covers midway through December so we can enjoy more of them, so for now it’s soft grey covers with red, white and green quilts and cushion covers and come mid December there’ll be dark reddish brown covers with soft quilts and cushions that have been embroidered with cherished memories.

And there’s writing and planning to do as well because I’ve finally run out of back catalogue books so from January onwards there’ll be one new book each month and sometimes an anthology too. You already know how much I like planning, so you can work out that I’ll have as much fun indoors as I shall outdoors once the weather improves.

Do you remember that I planted a mere 400 crocuses and daffodils in little pots back in September and early October? (Trust me, it seemed a far better idea in the planning stages than it did when I actually did it!) Now they are showing the first green shoots in a reminder that yes, the days are short and the mornings dark, which I hate, but from the sixth of January the mornings will start to get lighter. Till then, I shall enjoy my indoor days and live every moment I am lucky enough to be granted and, to quote from Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ “I shall live in the past, the present and the future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me.” And I shall also look forward to watching the Muppet Christmas Carol with the family, just as we’ve done every year and crying over Tiny Tim’s death, just as I do every year. Hey, you knew I was a slushy unashamed romantic, didn’t you? After all, it’s in the job description.

Whatever this week brings, make it the best you can and take care till we meet again.

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