Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas and catching up

I seem to be doing a lot of that lately - catching up.  The lead up to Christmas has been really busy, and especially so the last 10 days.  

On the creative front I made a few Christmas presents this year and also a Christmas tree decoration.  Don't you love it when the Christmas tree goes up?  I love rediscovering the decorations we've had for years and ones I've received from friends.  

If you look towards the top right hand side of the photo above you'll see the cloth Christmas tree decoration I made.  It was so simple, just two half circles of cloth sewn together and turned through and then the curved edge brought across to the straight edge in such a way as to create several folds backwards and forwards.  Voila!  It resembles a tree and a few beads completes the effect.  I made a couple of these for friends and used tiny bells from what was supposed to be a cat's Christmas collar to give it a bit of a jingle.

In the photo above is a daft decoration I made last year that I had completely forgotten about, probably because it crippled my hands to do it.  I scrunched up paper into a ball and then glued tissue paper over that.  It was finished off by glueing sequins, beads and pieces of broken jewellery and shisha mirrors to give it some sparkle.  Not difficult and a bit of fun.  

At the beginning of December I did a class at Stitchcraft with Wendy Coyne and made a very easy but efffective box. 

Inside the box you end up with a tiny triangular pocket at each corner.  I've since made a second box with lace layered onto felt for the inside surface and I've covered the flaps with buttons and beads.  I thought I had a photograph of it but can't seem to find it.  It's gone to my stepmum for her Christmas present so you'll just have to take my word for it that it was very pretty.

Early in December my Mum's care home had a local school bring their choir to sing carols for the residents and everone had a great time.

I don't know how they did it but 25 children and two teachers crammed into the lounge with the residents.  The children came from St Mary's Junior School and sang beautifully.  My Mum joined in with some of the carols and I tried to sing but had a huge lump in my throat.  Can't imagine why!

Last week was the busiest of all.  First was a return to the care home for Mum's Christmas tea, then a fabulous trip to Leeds to see Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra.  I have been a fan for years so it was wonderful to see them live.  The show was at the new Leeds Arena which is huge but a much pleasanter venue than some of the other arenas. 

We had good seats quite high up but at the front so we could see everything.   We even managed to get ourselves on those big screens waving our Union Jack about during one of the numbers.

Excuse the glare where the stage is, phones are not perfect at recording.  I was intrigued by how the orchestra get onto the stage and now I know.

 The Youtube clip is Andre's tribute to Nelson Mandela which formed part of the concert and which was a tour de force by the soloist, Kimmy Skota.

Andre Rieu gives a fabulous concert and by the end there is a real party atmosphere.  Some people missed the last half hour as they believed Andre when he took a 'final' bow.  They ignored our assurances that the concert would continue which it did within less than a minute.   Our local coach company A and P Travel are organising a trip to Andre's home town Maastricht in Holland for his 10th anniversary concert there in July next year and we've already booked to go.  It should be something special!

Saturday saw us on a coach trip to London to enjoy a Christmas Carol Singalong at the Royal Albert Hall.  Again we were lucky with our seats which were near to the stage.

We had a bit of a wait before the auditorium doors opened.

I was really pleased that our seats were in the stalls and not up the top.  The white squares everywhere are the songsheets.

As you can see we were right near the main action alongside the orchestra.  I'd never been to this event before and it was more like the Last Night of the Proms and lots of fun.  

Sunday saw us in Hyde Park having a walk round the extravaganza that is Winter Wonderland, another new event to us.  It was a cold and breezy day but Hyde Park looked at its best.  

No, we didn't go on the big wheel!

We weren't able to get into the Magical Ice Kingdom as all the tickets had sold for the day but we had a lovely walk round taking in the atmosphere and then went for a walk round the Serpentine.

This is part of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial garden and water feature.  

These must be a very early species of snowdrop in flower in time for Christmas.

As we went back to the coach to come home we passed the monument to the terrible bombings in London in 2005.

There is a post for each life lost and the time of the incident.  The names of the lost are commemorated on a slate tablet nearby.  A moment for quiet contemplation in  the middle of all the excitement of Christmas.

Well, the shops are now all shut and there's nothing left to do but to hope that the bad weather doesn't upset too many plans.  We are seeing Mum tomorrow and will then be spending Boxing Day with her and all the family, not least her great grandsons. 

I hope my nephew will forgive me for 'borrowing' his photograph.  Callum, Max and Duke, in case you were wondering.

Whatever you have planned for the next couple of days I hope you have the best time you can have with people who are special to you or doing what makes your heart glad.

Merry Christmas


Heather said...

A lovely festive post Julie and I feel quite tired after reading about all your gadding about. I have a struggle singing some carols too! I have enjoyed getting glimpses of various bloggers' Christmas trees - we all use similar decorations yet each tree is quite individual. Have a lovely Christmas with your family - love the photo of your great-nephews.

Jackie said...

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you.

Françoise said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family Julie!

Sandies' Patch said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours too!

Louie Donovan said...

Cute pictures, Merry Christmas and Happy new year.

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Emma said...

What a lovely time you've had! Happy new year x

Gina said...

That sounds as though you have done some super things Julie. Best wishes to you for 2014. xx

Linda said...

What a lovely post Julie.
So glad you enjoyed the concert (great photo Stewart ;-)
We saw it on TV and tried to spot you in the audience. X