Category Archives: Holidays

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Of Books, Birthdays, New Year, and Football

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Jillian here. Happy New Year! Since last we visited, I had a book release (the weekend of Christmas which was not my choice of dates), a birthday, the passing of the old year and lots of ball games were played. … Continue reading

Goals or No Goals?

It’s New Year’s Eve as I type this blog. This past week has been focused on setting up my goals for 2018. Do you do goals? I’ve gone back and forth on them until the past few years. Mostly because every time I set them, I’d consider myself a failure for never getting them all done in the year.

Then I realized something, after a year of not doing goals. When I do goals, I get more done. So maybe I don’t lose all the pounds I want to lose. But I see that list up above my computer and try a little harder. And maybe I don’t get four books written (did I REALLY write that as a goal?) But I get 2 ½ done. And that’s more than the one I did the year I didn’t write goals.

And fellow blogger Tricia Jones gave me an idea at the beginning of 2017. She suggested writing 100 goals for the year. Yikes! That was intimidating. But I did it. Everything from losing weight to getting the windows washed and the closets gone through. At the end of the year, I’d accomplished 49 of those goals. And I got another 13 over the halfway mark. I honestly don’t think I’d have gotten that far without having taken a look at that list every month.

So I’m officially a fan of goals. And, being a list-maker (I take after my mother), it’s completely satisfying to have a list to work from and check things off of.

Whether you do goals or not, though, my wish for each of you is that 2018 is a safe, happy, and peace-filled year.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Dude, in a rare outside foray with snow on the ground. He REALLY doesn’t like the cold. Poor kitty. But we managed a rare white Christmas this year, so Dude’s mom (me) was VERY happy. 🙂 Laurie Ryan

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A New Year

Is it safe to put my head above the parapet yet? Have all the Christmas decorations and cards come down? Is everything back to normal? Well, it is in our house, leaving me with just one thing to say:

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

What does the new year hold in store for me, I wonder. Certainly hope a better one than that just gone. It was a year of  change and adjustments mainly centred on the man in my life: Dave underwent major surgery last April, then cataract ops (the second eye being done next Monday) and back in July he finally retired from work so lots of adjustments needed there on both parts but it has been lovely having him home. He told me the other day he’s enjoyed every minute of it so we must be doing something right. And even though my health hadn’t been top form, it wasn’t all bad and I did manage to get away for a week abroad to visit my brother for his 70th birthday.

Talking of holidays and birthdays, Dave is 70 in February and it’s our 40th wedding anniversary later in the year so we are planning a holiday once he gets his passport. His retirement gift from his boss was a four-figure holiday voucher so we are discussing where to go whilst waiting for the holiday brochures to arrive. This will be his first holiday for 20 years. We’re not into big celebrations or parties but we’ll come up with something to mark both occasions in our own little way.

Also looming is my first public art exhibition scheduled for May. I took the plunge last summer and joined an art group. There is no tutor, we do our own thing in our own medium. Some are leisure painters, others qualified and skilful in their craft. I still feel a little like the new girl in school and yet to learn everyone’s name but the discipline and concentration of being in a dedicated art group for a couple of hours each week is proving beneficial. The advice and support both received and given is beyond value and I’ve learnt a lot. So I’m busy deciding which pieces to exhibit and the best way to frame them. I had the two works below lined up but they’ve sold, which is wonderful. Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide what to paint next.

Dave suggested I paint the walls in the lounge. I don’t think he’s got the hang of this art business yet! But yes, we do have redecorating to do downstairs this year. There’s a fireplace we want removed, wallpaper to strip, walls replastered (and painted), ceilings repaired and oh dear, I have to start sorting out cupboards and decluttering as all the furniture and bits in the lounge and dining room will need to go into commercial storage as we have no garage and no room upstairs.

What else…? Oh, did I tell you I have novel due out in the next month or so? No? Hopefully, yes. And maybe one or two more during the year. Depends on how well everything goes, that’s if I can find the time between the paintbrushes and the garden spade as there’s lots to do outside as soon as the weather warms up. Roll on Spring. I did notice this morning through the rain that the snowdrops on the front lawn are in bud along with several hellebores, the daffodils are poking through and for the past week we’ve noted we’re drawing the curtains later and later of an afternoon so perhaps Spring isn’t so far away after all.

Okay, there were two things I wanted to say. The other is:

I HOPE 2018 PROVES TO BE PEACEFUL, SUCCESSFUL AND EXCITING FOR YOU TOO!

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1st Day Of Winter

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How many times have we said, “I don’t know where this month, or year has gone? I’m sure it has something to do with my age, but it seems I’m both saying and hearing this phrase a lot. Today is … Continue reading

Growing Older is…Fun!

One of the fun things about growing older is that you have a lot of memories about celebrations. Thanksgiving, for instance. I grew up going to my Grandma and Grampa’s house. Now, I’m one of five children. My Grandma and Grampa had eleven children. So I’ve got a few cousins. And that house was chaos every Thanksgiving. Wonderful, crazy, memory-filled chaos. This picture is just one of the tables. There were, if I recall, four or five to fit us all in. During the day, we kids would play in the bedrooms and attic upstairs. Hide and Seek or whatever we could invent. After dinner, Grampa got out the projector and we all snickered and laughed at each other as he showed family slides.

I’m the one peeking out from behind my Aunt Irene in the red. My mother is sitting across the table from me, in black.

Once I began having kids of my own, we had our own Thanksgivings. With our children, inviting our parents, family, and friends. Tables set for as low as seven and as many as eighteen. Each year as much fun as the last.

Now, as a parent of five and grandparent of eight, the baton has officially been passed. Oh, we’ve been mooching, er, getting invited to our children’s houses, or our siblings houses, for a few years. But this year was a first. We were invited to our grandson’s house. Wow.

It was small by our family’s standards, only eight of us. But that meant we actually got a chance to talk, instead of flying by with rolls or mashing potatoes over a story. It was one of the nicest holidays I’ve had. And the best part is the two pictures below. My grandson baked and brought a pumpkin pie to Thanksgiving at our house when he was a teenager. This year, I returned the favor, bringing pies to his house. Full circle.

Our children are fairly spread out and we’ve decided to start traveling for as long as we’re able, spending Thanksgivings with them each in turn (if the weather permits.) So I know there are more fun holidays in store.

If you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope the dinner was great and the conversation lively. If you didn’t, at least you didn’t gain the weight the rest of us did!  And my wish to you all is a holiday season filled with love and peace and laughter.

Happy American Thanksgiving (11/23/17)
Happy Hanukkah (12/12-20/17)
Merry Christmas (12/25/17)
Happy Kwanzaa (12/26/17-1/1/18)

And a very safe and hope-filled New Year (1/1/18)
Laurie Ryan and family

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Surprise!

I love surprises; giving them, that is. And in October we pulled off a cracking one. My brother Bob lives in Spain in the Costa del Sol, and with his 70th birthday rapidly approaching, my sisters and I decided to surprise him for his birthday, after checking with my-sister-law Lesley what their arrangements were for this day. After all, we didn’t want to arrive and find they had gone away on a trip themselves to celebrate.

As the three of us hadn’t had a holiday together for two years we agreed we would make this trip a week long, instead of just a couple of days. I’ve been to Spain on many occasions – staying with my brother, Lesley normally arranging flights and Bob meeting us at the airport; and the last time booking through a travel agent ­– but this was the first time we were “going it alone” which meant I had to find a suitable apartment for the three of us; not an easy task. Then there were flights to book, and arranging a taxi from the airport. I found the whole thing very nervy and stressful and couldn’t relax until we were finally in our apartment. The apartment was disappointing in that it was shabby, not at all looking as clean and fresh as the photos showed, but the linen was clean and the beds comfy and we did have a lovely view out over Benalmadena Marina in one direction, and mountains, town, and busy main road and 24 hour bars in the other – very noisy all night. Still, it was only for one week and we were close to the beach and promenade.

Room with a view of Benalmadena Marina.

Bob’s birthday being the next day, we spent a lazy morning, grabbed a bite of lunch then made our way up to the venue. We peeked around the wall to where we knew they would be, spied Lesley who pointed that Bob was inside the bar and in the three of us walked. “Surprise!”

“Surprise!”

“Happy Birthday To You…”

Oh and how it was. The look on Bob’s face, at first disbelief, then confusion, then utter joy at us being there for him was pure magic and a treasure to behold and remember. One of the bar staff, realising who we were, grabbed Bob’s camera and began taking photos; we were too engrossed in our hugs and kisses and tears (mostly Bob’s!) to notice or even think of taking a picture. Everyone (apart from Bob) at the party along with all the local bar owners knew we were coming and made us most welcome. A good time had by all.

After a fabulous day we fell into bed exhausted but woken up a few hours later by lightning. No thunder, just a marvellous nature light show out across the sea. The flashes continued until daybreak when torrential rain came down and thunder like I’ve never heard exploded all around. One clap was so loud, the building shook. We later found out it woke the whole town. Apparently some 1,200 lightning bolts were recorded in the Malaga region that morning. (News report detailing the storm)

The rain stopped but the morning overcast so we ventured by bus into Malaga to explore the city, hoping to take the open-topped bus tour. Bob joined us. When we reached Malaga the rains came again. A quick dash into a restaurant for a coffee whilst it eased. It didn’t, so we made for a shop selling pac-a-macs and thought to explore the magnificent cathedral close by. The queues were horrendous so we decided to take a bus up into Mijas, our favourite town, and have lunch there. There was an hour wait for a bus so instead we went back to Benalmadena to enjoy a meal there. We found out later that most of Malaga had been badly flooded due to the rain, and nearby Torremolinos and Mijas without electricity for most of the day. Good job we didn’t go.

The next day, and for the remainder of our visit, the temperature was back up to 28 degrees, the sun shining gloriously and we managed to spend three days relaxing on the beach ­­– bonus! ­­– as well as partaking in our favourite things when holidaying­­, such as food and Sangria – of which we’ve now become experts.

Enjoyable lunch at Marina on our 1st day.

It was a tearful and sad farewell when it was finally time to take the taxi back to the airport and home but a week I’m sure our brother will look back and remember with love and fondness. As will we. And I will certainly miss the sunrises over the Marina!

Not a bad view to wake up to each morning

Beaches, Boutiques and Beatles

20171012_145549Earlier this month, hubs and I took ourselves off for a few days to Chester (north of England). AJ had some meetings arranged, so I tagged along and we made a short break of it. Chester is a gorgeous place, very close to the border of Wales. It’s a walled city, founded as a Roman fort in 79AD. You can still walk the city walls and view the amazing medieval buildings, most of which were restored in Victorian times. The main shopping centre has The Rows, said to be unique to Chester. These are continuous galleries reached by steps and forming a second row of shops above those at street level. Pretty little boutiques and charming coffee shops are in abundance here. Some parts of The Rows still boast original 13th century buildings, making Chester a truly fascinating place.

20171012_121617We took the train from Chester into Wales and the seaside town of Rhyl. The weather was lovely, our trip being placed between the two storms which hit the UK this month: Ophelia and Brian. Rhyl has a gorgeous sandy beach and a long promenade, just perfect for dog walking. We really missed Vivvy and kept saying how she would have loved it there with all the other dogs. We did take her back a stick of doggie rock though 🙂

20171013_152317Then it was time for a trip down memory lane and a day visit to Liverpool. I absolutely love this city, it’s vibrant, friendly and steeped in culture. Naturally, the Beatles influence is everywhere, from the musicians who pepper the streets serenading the shopping public, to the restaurants and museums. Of course, we had to do the touristy things, like visiting the Cavern Club and taking that Ferry Across the Mersey. Well, you have to, don’t you?20171013_145537

It was a really lovely trip and we packed a whole lot into a short time. I’m starting to enjoy mini breaks like this one almost as much, and sometimes more than full-blown holidays/vacations. Here’s to the next one…