Sunday, 8 December 2019

The First Week of Advent

Hello, thank you for dropping in.   It's a busy time of year, isn't it?  I am always tempted to panic at this point in December when I think about how much there is to do before Christmas, no matter how organised I am, but this year, I feel quite relaxed.  I popped out one day this week to buy a few gifts and found the shops quite civilised which was very helpful for a worrier like me.  I have some more to buy and there is some industrious knitting and crochet going on which may well become frantic knitting and crochet in a couple of weeks' time but at the moment, I feel that everything is on track and I am enjoying Advent.

My "Merry Christmas" mug is in daily use, reminding me to be cheerful and of the jollities to come, the glow of the Advent tealights brightens my evenings (although not enough to help me with my dark brown knitting project - what was I thinking?) and honestly, I am rushing downstairs like a child every morning to open my Advent calendars, it's quite ridiculous for a woman of my age.  Would you like to see how the new wooden Nativity is coming on?


I must admit that I am a little worried that there are all these stray animals in Bethlehem and so far, not a single person to look after them.  I am hoping that somebody will turn up soon.

Something else which I am enjoying is Selma's blog, Eclectic Home and Life.  She loves Christmas and blogs every day during Advent, sharing traditions, recipes and crafts from her Norwegian heritage which are really helping me get in the right mood.  On Thursday evening I used her recipe for pepperkake to make up some dough and the next day I took it to The Teacher's house along with a baking sheet, a heart-shaped cutter, my rolling pin and the small rolling pin which my mother bought for my daughter when she was a small child.  Tom Kitten and I had a lovely time together rolling the dough, cutting out the shapes and getting absolutely covered in flour.   



They have all gone now and I shall definitely make some more as they were delicious. 

Yesterday we had a festive family trip on the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway with The Teacher, Flashman and the children.  Tom Kitten has seen steam trains in books and on television but he hadn't seen a real one before and he was a bit overawed at first.  He enjoyed the journey, looking out of the window at trees, the river and sheep but he was quite overwhelmed when Father Christmas and some elves got on the train!  He recognises Santa and knows that he says, "Ho, ho, ho!" thanks to Julia Donaldson's Stick Man, so that's another thing he's seen in a book which he now knows is real.  The Best Beloved was also excited, not by Father Christmas but by the steam trains and explained the narrow gauge to me in possibly a bit too much detail.





If you are in the vicinity, I thoroughly recommend this outing.  The staff (who I think may all be volunteers) were very friendly and cheerful, the enthusiastic elves led us in renditions of Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer while we waited for Father Christmas to make his way to our carriage and when he arrived, he didn't rush but gave every family as much time as they needed with him, happily posing for photographs.  He gave appropriate, good quality gifts to the children, even Cottontail got one and her ticket was free! (When The Teacher booked the tickets she had to give the children's genders and ages.)  After the journey, we went to the tearoom where we were each given a cup of mulled wine (or fruit juice) and a warm mince pie. 
 
I expect things will ramp up a notch this week but as it does, I shall continue to drink Earl Grey from my festive mug every morning, open my calendars, read a chapter of The Christmas Mystery and light a tealight every evening and this routine will,  think, provide the framework which will hold me together, joyfully.  
 
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Monday, 2 December 2019

Advent Sunday

Hello, thank you for calling in.  At last it has stopped raining and we have had three whole days with no precipitation.  Hooray!  It has rained so much over the last few weeks that my wooden front door has swollen and is sticking.  The ground is still saturated and there is standing water in the fields. It has been very cold and we have had to scrape the frost off the cars in the mornings but I don't mind, it is December after all.
So we are in the season of Advent, one of my favourite times of the year.  Yesterday I read that if you are sick of Christmas by 25th December, you haven't done Advent properly.  I have had great difficulty finding my Christmas spirit over the last few years, even though I have tried to do Advent properly; I know that it should be about anticipation, reflection and excitement but I just haven't been able to muster the excitement.  However, at the end of last week I read that it should be about anticipation, reflection and joyful preparation and by replacing that "excitement" with "joy" I felt completely different about it.  I lay part of the blame for my difficulty at the feet of a vicar who, about thirty years ago, told me that Advent was about "penitence and preparation" and I've never really shaken off the penitential bit - I didn't know that I was allowed to be joyful.  I have been in churches where they don't allow the Christmas tree lights to be switched on during Advent.  Honestly.
So, with all this in mind, on Saturday I joyfully cleared, dusted and polished my mantelpiece and laid upon it the pompom garland I made last year, in traditional colours of green, red and cream, and then gathered together my Advent paraphernalia. 

I like the daily countdown, as each new day is over the remaining numbers remind me that there are still plenty of days left in which to achieve all that needs to be done for the Christmas festivities, despite what the fast-edited television adverts might be telling me, and for a list-maker like me, that's very helpful.  I also like that moment of opening the door on the advent calendar or lighting the candle, the stillness which is in that moment, the opportunity for a little bit of mindfulness, reflection or prayer.  So, I have an Advent calendar.  I'm a bit old-fashioned and I like a simple card calendar with doors which open to reveal nothing but a picture so my children think I am ridiculous.  (The Best Beloved has bought each of them a chocolate Advent calendar, even though they are proper grown-ups and don't live with us any more, apparently this is his paternal duty.)  I like there to be glitter on the card - and yes, I know that we are not supposed to be using glitter because it's so bad for the environment, unless it's biodegradable, but my calendar is on its seventh year so it's definitely not a single-use item and by the time it's worn out I expect all the glitter will have dropped off anyway.  In January I shall carefully close all the doors, weight it down under a heavy book and then tuck it away until next year.


The house-shaped starry box is the gift my thoughtful sister gave me for Christmas last year.  When I opened it I realised that it is a Nativity scene Advent calendar - one little wooden figure to add each day until the whole cast is assembled.  Although I was excited about that, I put it away and decided that I would open it during December this year.  When I thanked my sister, she said that it was a shame to wait almost a whole year for it but I said no, it wasn't a shame because this way I get to open a present every day for twenty-four days! 
I was given this copy of The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder by a friend last year.  It's a magical story divided into twenty-four chapters, each one only about ten pages long, one a day during Advent which gathers together the cast of the Nativity through a time-travelling mystery about a missing girl.  Although written for children, I enjoyed it and I intend to read it again this year.
In the star-shaped tealight holder is a tealight with the number 1 on it.  I love the soft glow of candlelight  every evening during Advent but I discovered a couple of years ago that I prefer these numbered tealights to the traditional dinner candle.  These burn for a few hours and I don't have to worry about burning down into the next number.  As I got these out on Saturday I felt just a bit smug about the fact that I had bought two sets of these when I found them in a shop last year so I didn't need to hunt them out this year.
The envelope labelled "A moment to breathe in Advent" was given to me by friends and contains four postcards, I suppose one for each Sunday during Advent.  I read the first one yesterday and enjoyed a minute or two of reflection over it.
Lastly, I took my Merry Christmas mug off the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard.  I bought this in a sale at the end of November last year and used it every day from 1st December through to Epiphany.  It's a constant reminder that I don't have to be penitential and it's OK to be merry - or it would be, if the Best Beloved hadn't brought me my tea in a rather lovely strawberry mug this morning!

 
So, yesterday morning, after drinking tea from my Merry Christmas mug and opening my Advent calendars I went to The Teacher's house.  She had suggested that we have a creative Advent Sunday together so we wore reindeer antlers, painted the tiny people's feet to print Christmas cards, stamped some brown paper with Tom Kitten to make wrapping paper and drank mulled wine to a background of Christmas songs.  I think I might get the hang of this "joyful preparation".
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Gratitude

Hello, and thank you for your kind comments on my last post.  Today is the fourth Thursday in November and when I looked at my Facebook feed this morning I saw that the poet David Whyte, who is based in the USA, had posted part of his essay on Gratitude.  Thanksgiving and Gratitude have been on my mind recently.
 
At the beginning of last month I was driving home from The Teacher's house when my car broke down about four miles from home, in a residential area.  She had invited me to stay for tea but I had (reluctantly) declined her offer and, as the light was lovely that afternoon, I decided to take the picturesque route home rather than the fast route - I often do that when the weather is good because the countryside is so pretty.  Just before 4.30pm the clutch stopped working while I was waiting at temporary traffic lights which had been set up just before some roadworks, and the car was undriveable.  I put the hazard lights on, got out of the car and walked down the queue of cars behind me, explaining what had happened and telling the drivers to drive around me.  I returned to the car, locked myself in and checked my mobile 'phone: I only had 6% battery power left.  I rang the Best Beloved and left a voicemail message, then I rang The Teacher and told her what had happened and where I was, explaining that if my 'phone ran out of charge she would have to liaise with her father.  I rang the garage I always use to service the car and asked if someone could come out to me but the mechanic explained that he was the only one there so he couldn't leave.  The Best Beloved then rang me and promised to come and find me.  He thought he would be able to get the car going but if not, he would ring the breakdown service.  I was in a bit of a state but all I could do was sit in the car and wait.

He arrived about an hour later, while it was still light, but in the meantime, a rather lovely thing had happened: the two men who were working on the road came over to find out what was happening and pushed the car, with me in it, into a safer place before surrounding us with traffic cones "to keep you nice and safe".  They were so kind.  I was a bit panicky by this point and one of them touched my head with his hand and said, "It'll be all right, Bab."  I almost cried.  So the Best Beloved found me quite easily and once he had pumped the clutch and established that I wasn't an idiot and the car really had broken down, he rang the breakdown service and they sent out a relay vehicle to load up my car (her name is Martha) and carry her home.  We were back safe and sound just after 7pm, three hours after I had left The Teacher's house.
 
The next morning I walked up the road to the garage and was met by the mechanic who I had spoken to on the 'phone, so I didn't have to explain the problem again.  "Where's the car now?"  he asked.  "Parked outside my house, just round the corner, " I replied.  He walked to the end of their drive, looked down the road, came back and said, "Is it that grey one down there?"  "Yes," I said, "but I'll have you know that's not grey, that's Faded Denim!"  We both laughed.  "We can push that up here," he said and so we walked down the road with another mechanic.  Once he had pumped the clutch and established that I wasn't an idiot and the car really had broken down, the two mechanics pushed the car up the road, me walking on the pavement a little behind them.  They were joined by a friendly BT engineer who added his muscle to the task.  At the end of the road is a roundabout which is very busy at 9am so...they decided to push the car up the footpath instead!  It's a sight I shan't forget in a hurry.  Neither shall I forget the eventual bill, which was £350.
 
We weren't expecting this expense, the car having been fully serviced and passing it's MOT in September.  However, the week after all this drama our other car, Rosie, went to the garage for her MOT.  She is nineteen years old and the Best Beloved expected that she would need some work, in fact he expected that he would need to spend about £350 to get her through the MOT, but she sailed through without needing any attention at all.
 
I am sharing this with you because although I found it a bit traumatic, as I thought about it I realised that there were things to be thankful for.  If I had accepted my daughter's invitation and stayed for tea, I would have broken down at about 7pm and it would have been dark by then and much more scary; if it had not been such a lovely afternoon and I had decided to drive my usual route home I would have broken down on the slip road as I came off the motorway, a much more dangerous and remote place, and there would have been no roadworkers to look after me; if I lived further away from the garage, the mechanics wouldn't have been willing to simply push the car up the road and deal with the situation entirely themselves.  I am grateful for all of this, as well as the fact that we didn't have to spend any money on Rosie this time.
 
I am grateful, too, for our half term trip to Guernsey to visit The Mathematician.  Stormy weather delayed our departure for twenty-four hours which was very frustrating because not only did we lose the money we had spent on that night's accommodation, we lost the only full day we would have been able to spend with our island-dwelling daughter as she was unable to take a day off work while we were there.  The day before we left, Barbara over at Coastal Ripples posted that the arrival of her triplet visitors had been delayed by a day because of the weather and, as our ferry would continue on from Guernsey to Jersey, where she lives, I thought they might be travelling on the same ferry as us.  So when I saw twin girls with a brother who might be their triplet seated almost opposite us I just had to go and ask their parents if they were going to visit "Barbara in Jersey".  They were.  "How did you know that?" asked their mother, "Have you been stalking us?!"  It was a funny encounter, we all had a little chat and I asked them to give Barbara my best regards.  "I am Mrs Tiggywinkle," I said, and there was more laughter.  It does look as if they had great fun visiting Jersey and I was glad to have met them and given them a funny anecdote to recount.
 
 Cobo Bay
 




L'Eree Bay
 

 


Unlike our previous two holidays in Guernsey, the weather this time wasn't good and we didn't see the sun at all.  We were able to get out to a beach three times, wrapped up against the cold in coats and hats, and Tom Kitten was thrilled to make sandcastles and fly a kite with his grandfather.  He was also thrilled to dress up as a knight at Castle Cornet. 
However, being two years old, his favourite word is "No" and he behaves like a two year-old so inevitably, there was a bit of challenging behaviour, and his three month-old sister was teething and so cried a fair bit, and their father missed his flight and was only able to join us two days before the end of our trip AND IT RAINED A LOT.  Also, the dishwasher in our apartment wasn't plumbed in as had been promised - and I know that I sound like a spoilt brat but we don't have one at home and were looking forward to it, and the apartment wasn't cheap- and on the evening the heating stopped working I almost cried (again).  So really, you might forgive me if I thought this wasn't a great holiday.  However, as I said to the children, "It doesn't really matter because the important thing is that we are all together," and I meant it.  The Mathematician joined us every day during her lunch break and after she finished work in the evening and she was able to take one afternoon off work.  On that day we all went out for lunch together and then walked on the beach at Vazon Bay.  I held back and watched my children and grandchildren walking across the sand towards the gentle waves and suddenly, my heart was full of love and gratitude and I did cry.
 
 
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who are celebrating today.  I hope the day has brought you everything you hoped for.
 
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Pumpkins

Hello, thank you for dropping in.  Proper blogging is resuming.  The last leaves are still clinging onto the tree branches in beautiful colours of yellow, amber and red and while almost everyone on my Facebook feed seems to be putting up their Christmas decorations I am firmly stuck in the autumn and today I want to talk about... pumpkins.  If you've been here for a while you'll already know that I'm not keen on Halloween or its pumpkins but it seems that the squashes are here to stay and I can't fight progress.  I have come to the conclusion that the pumpkin is a perfectly acceptable autumnal symbol (although a Halloween lantern will always be a swede for me).
 
 
Last year, The Teacher took Tom Kitten to a pumpkin farm and they had a lovely time in the field, where she took some sweet photographs before buying a pumpkin.  She enjoyed it so much that I knew she would want to go again this year so I hatched a plan to knit some little pumpkin hats for Tom Kitten, Cottontail and their Big Cousin, who is five years old.  The weather can be bitterly cold here in October and I wanted to keep their little heads warm and cosy.  I used Stylecraft Special DK in Spice and Green, lovely soft yarn which can be washed in the washing machine when a hat is dropped in the mud by an excited child.


 
The hats were very well received and I was thrilled to bits.  The Teacher told me that they engendered lots of positive comments and laughter from other people at the farm and as it was indeed a bitterly cold day, they kept the children warm and cosy.  I was very pleased with myself.
 
 
The hats also kept the children's heads warm and cosy when we went to Guernsey, where the weather was not as kind as it has been during our previous visits.  Storms delayed our departure by twenty-four hours so Tom Kitten wasn't there in time to help his aunt carve her pumpkin.  I think she managed very well without him.

 
When we returned home I realised that my heart had softened towards the pumpkin.  The Teacher had piled the pumpkins she had bought at the pumpkin farm onto her mantelpiece and, inspired by that, I felt the urge to crochet some little pumpkins for my own autumnal decoration.  I hunted around the internet for a suitable pattern and found one in Attic 24 here which in turn led me to June's pattern here.  I used yarn and stuffing from my stash and in a couple of days I had these four beauties.  They are cute and squishy and one of them is even sparkly and I love them.  It's that simple.  The Teacher has already asked me to make some for her for next year and I think I might have to make some more for myself, too. 


The pumpkins won't be on the mantelpiece for much longer as I shall be putting my Advent calendar there on Sunday but in the meantime, I am enjoying them very much.

See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Monday, 25 November 2019

Lurching

Hello, and thank you for sticking with me.  The last five weeks have been very busy:  we have been to Guernsey for a week (almost) and to Anglesey for a long weekend, we have celebrated Cottontail's Thanksgiving and we have helped The Teacher and her family to move house.  I feel that I have lurched from one thing to the next, my feet touching the ground, somebody else's ground, one day each week as I have done my regular day at The Teacher's house but other than that, barely touching the ground at all.  As I drove home in the dark on Saturday afternoon, 23rd November, I noticed a house which had its Christmas tree up and twinkling away in the front room window, more lights flashing outside the house and threaded through the railings which topped the garden wall and a huge inflatable snowman in the front garden, and I realised that we are hurtling towards Christmas at full speed.  Yesterday evening I saw the Coca Cola Christmas advert on television and it felt absurdly early.  I am not ready.  I want to savour autumn's last hurrah and the quiet reflection of Advent before I start to twinkle.

Of course, I have had some wonderful days and made beautiful memories and I can't regret that, but I feel very unsettled.  I need a little time to breathe slowly, to feel my way into the ground beneath me and steady myself.  I began that process on Sunday; I stayed indoors all day, in my pyjamas, and made lots of lists - an Advent list, a Christmas gift list, a shopping list, a cleaning list and a decorating list.  I do like a list to keep me on track.  The Best Beloved cooked a chicken with roasted vegetables and as we sat at the table, we chatted gently about the things we really like about Christmas and we drew up some plans. I did some knitting.  It was a slow and thoughtful day.  Today I have done some laundry and some more knitting and pottered about the house.  I am steadying.  A small shopping trip is on tomorrow's list.
 
I have lots of things to share with you here - beaches, mountains and lots of knitting.  I'll be catching up with your blogs this week and trying to live in the moment.
 
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Saturday, 26 October 2019

The Mr Tumble's Spotty Bag Birthday Cake

Hello, I'm sorry I've been absent for so long.  I really can't believe it's been four weeks since I shared anything with you here so thank you for sticking with me.  I've been busy, busy, busy and some of that busyness has been about celebrating Tom Kitten's  2nd birthday.
 
"Mum, can you make a Mr Tumble's Spotty Bag cake for his birthday?" asked my daughter.  Hmm.  I didn't commit myself immediately.  I like baking but my cakes are rather homely, I've never wielded a piping bag because one of my children didn't like butter icing and I've never used fondant either.  My grandest cake is the Christmas cake, which gets covered in royal icing whipped up with a knife to look like a snow scene.  I didn't feel that I had the necessary skills to meet the current birthday cake standard for two year-olds so it was a couple of weeks before I agreed, reluctantly, on the basis that I can bash out a sponge quite easily and Mr Tumble's bag is a simple, square shape.
 
What I do have is a good friend who makes incredible celebration cakes so I asked her for advice.  "What proportions should I use to make a single tier sponge in an 8" square tin?"  I asked her.  She suggested that a Madeira cake would be better than a Victoria sponge and gave me her recipe.  Now, I expect that many of you are familiar with all of this, and I don't wish to teach anybody's granny to suck eggs, but I have decided to share my new-found knowledge with you because some of you may be as inexperienced as I was and I managed to make something far better than I expected!  Would you like to see my fabulous Spotty Bag cake?  Here it is. -
 
 
Isn't it fab?  Best of all, it was far more straightforward than I had anticipated.  So, if any of you are called upon to make a Mr Tumble's Spotty Bag cake, this is what I did.
 
The Recipe
8oz margarine or butter
8oz caster sugar
4 large eggs
10oz self-raising flour
 
First I put the oven on - my friend said 170 degrees Celsius so I know that means 160 degrees Celsius in my fan oven.  Then I sieved the flour into my biggest mixing bowl and added 1tsp baking powder because I noticed that my flour was out of date.  Hey ho.  Then I put everything else into the bowl, added a dash of vanilla extract because it felt like the right thing to do, and turned on my electric whisk.  Pretty soon it was ready and I spooned it into my tin.  Then it was into the oven and 55 minutes later, it was ready.  (My friend said to bake it for 60-75 minutes but to check it after 30 minutes.)
 


The Decoration


I cheated enormously here.  While the cake was cooling on a rack I went out to Hobbycraft and bought coloured fondant icing in yellow, red, blue and green - I know that I could have bought white fondant and coloured it myself, or even made white fondant and coloured it myself, but I've never done that before either and I didn't think that this was the right time to experiment.  The coloured icing was expensive but it was within my budget.
 
Well, I have to tell you that the whole process went like a dream.  I heated up some apricot jam (in a bowl in the microwave oven) until it was runny and brushed it over the cake.  I didn't sieve it first but I tried to make sure that I avoided the lumps of fruit, not that there were many because I used cheap jam!  I zapped the yellow fondant in the microwave oven for about 20 seconds to make it more pliable and then, having watched a few instructional videos online in advance, I sprinkled icing sugar on the worktop and on the rolling pin, rolled it out, draped it over the cake and smoothed it out before cutting off the excess.  Then came the fun bit: the coloured spots.  I used small enough quantities that I could squeeze the fondant icing in my hand to warm it up to soften it, rolled them out and used a small dessert glass for the large spots and the metal screw top from a bottle of wine for the small ones, sticking them on with a dab of water.  It was so easy that I completed it very quickly, which was a shame because I enjoyed doing it SO much!  I can totally understand why some people love this hobby now.
 

So, we packed up the cake and I sat in the passenger seat of the car and nursed it on my lap all the way to The Teacher's house.  The birthday boy and his family had been to the safari park for the day and he was very excited.  "Mr Tumble, Mr Tumble!" he said when he saw the cake, and he toddled off to find his own spotty bag.  We lit the obligatory birthday candles and sang the birthday song to him and then his mummy helped him to blow out the candles.  The cake was cut and I can assure you that it tasted delicious, and I'm not afraid to say that myself. 
 
 
The following day, when he was offered some cake for his pudding, he insisted that his parents sing "Happy Birthday To You" to him before he ate it! 

 
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x
 
P.S.  I'm sorry that my photos are so poor.  The lighting in my kitchen really isn't photo-friendly and I'm just not a good photographer and we got so caught up in the excitement at The Teacher's house that I forgot to ask anyone else to photograph the cake before it was demolished. 
 

Saturday, 28 September 2019

A Wonderful Day

Hello, thank you for calling in.  The earth has moved a little further around the sun and we have slipped into autumn.  There is a chill in the air in the early morning and the rain has fallen out of the sky as if it has been queuing up behind a locked door.  No washing has been dried on my line and for the first time in weeks I have worn long sleeves.


We were very busy during the school summer holidays, in the best of ways: a new grandchild, a special birthday celebration, a wedding, family visits and four days at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival.  All were good but it felt quite tiring and there was no time for the Best Beloved and I to get away by ourselves for a bit of restorative peace and quiet, which I really missed, so when a friend suggested that we go to her flat by the seaside for a weekend, I gratefully accepted.  Of course, this weekend had to fit around Shrewsbury Town F.C.'s home matches because the Best Beloved has a season ticket and he gets VERY grumpy if he has to miss a home match (we are currently in negotiations over an important family party in Cardiff on a December Saturday)!
 
 
That was last weekend and the flat is on the south coast of the Lleyn Peninsular in Wales, in Criccieth, which styles itself as "The Pearl of Wales on the Shores of Snowdonia".  We'd never been there before but knowing that it has two beaches and a medieval castle was enough to get me fizzy with excitement as we loaded up the car and set off on Friday evening.  We arrived in darkness at about 9.30pm, unpacked the car, opened a bottle of wine and ate a cold dinner before watching a film.  Now, the Best Beloved had told me that I could choose the DVDs to take with us, a rare treat indeed, so I chose Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, An Officer and a Gentleman and Local Hero; I did not choose any science fiction, superheroes, detectives or action films.  That evening we watched...Sherlock, which the Best Beloved pulled out of the basket of DVDs we found in the flat because he didn't fancy any of the films I had brought!  Harrumph!  I began to feel a bit dubious about the weekend.
 
 
I needn't have worried because Saturday turned out to be a wonderful day.  We went out for breakfast, bought a newspaper on the way and found Tir a Mor, which I think means Land and Sea and which describes itself as "a daytime coffee shop restaurant".  Hmm.  Well, their grammar may be a bit peculiar but their food is delicious and the service is good.  It was a real treat. We lingered.  I do think a leisurely breakfast is an excellent way to start the day.




 
We went back to the flat, packed a bag, collected a picnic blanket and went straight to the beach, where we spent the rest of the day.  The temperature was 25 degrees, the breeze was warm, the sky was blue and the sea sparkled.  It really didn't feel like the penultimate day of summer.  The Best Beloved swam, napped and wandered up to the castle while I read a book and, when I really couldn't read any more, indulged in some crochet and looked around.  To the west I saw the castle atop the headland which divides the town's two beaches and to the east I could see across Cardigan Bay to the golden beaches of the west coast of Wales, backed by mountains.  I could just make out Harlech Castle, several miles across the sea.  A seal popped up a few metres from the shore, disappeared and popped up again, repeating the entertainment for a couple of hours.  In the late afternoon we had delicious ice cream from Cariad Gelato - actually, I suppose that was delicious gelato - while we watched a raft of about thirty sea birds diving for food near the shore.  I didn't have anything else to plan, do or worry about and I felt properly content. 
 
 
We left the beach at about 5 o'clock and went back to the flat for a cup of Earl Grey and a relaxing soak in the bath.  To be honest, I was relaxed before I got into the bath but I was a bit sandy and salty, whereas after the soak I was relaxed and clean, which is not the same.  I gently rubbed in some scented body lotion and donned my pyjamas.  I felt lovely.  We opened a bottle of wine (again) and ate a cold dinner (again), snuggled up on the sofa together and watched... Local Hero.  I hadn't seen it for about twenty-five years and I had forgotten how much I like it. 
 
 
I cannot remember the last time I felt so relaxed and happy.  I said to the Best Beloved, "This has been a wonderful day, the best day I have had for a long time."
 
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x