March #littleloves

So a new strategy with #littleloves as I love the concept but have struggled to find the time to write weekly, I’m now going to try and write it monthly so I still get to record what I’ve enjoyed most during the month.

March has been a funny old month, after a grey, cold and wet winter I had hoped that we would see the first signs of spring this month, but March turned out to be the most extreme month of the winter.  We had two big snowfalls in three weeks and arctic weather which left us all so cold and miserable.  I’ve lots of books on my post this month as it really was a month for keeping warm and cosy indoors.

Away from the weather which dominated many conversations, March was a busy month in our household, there was lots of dance this month as Little Miss had exam classes, a ballet exam, show rehearsals and normal classes, our boys had a weekend at Grandad’s and we had a surprise tea out with my parents who were on a day out nearby and made a detour to see us.  I also finally joined the gym after threatening to do it all winter, I’m loving it and am feeling so much better for it.

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As I mentioned earlier, its been a good month for reading, lots of cosy nights in to escape the arctic weather outside.  I’ve completed A Life in the Day by Hunter Davies, I feel Bad about my Neck by Nora Ephron, Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher, Happy by Fearne Cotton and Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift.  Hunter Davies’ autobiography was my favourite book of the month, but I also want to mention Giovanni Fletcher, it was the first book of hers that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it.  At bedtime, Little Miss and I are reading Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2, it is as brilliant as the first and so inspiring and powerful, such an original and simple idea. I have also been reading the daily essays in Simple Abundance, each day is a piece on how to live an authentic life. I read this book 20 years ago and it had a big impact on me then. However I then lent it to a friend and lost my original, so it’s been a delight to revisit it.

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I finally got to watch The Greatest Showman at the cinema this month, even though it came out in December.  The film didn’t disappoint, I love a film that is visually stunning and packed full of music and the Greatest Showman had it all.  I’ve been playing the soundtrack a lot and This is Me has become a bit of an anthem in our house.  I did a little research on Barnum after and he wasn’t quite as nice as the character in the film but the poetic licence made for a fantastic film.

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I made the children’s costumes for World Book day this month and then it got rearranged due to a couple of snow days (the children have had a few days off this month thanks to snow and broken boilers) When it finally took place, Little Miss was the White Witch from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Little Man The Wimpy Kid.  Little Miss loves to dress up and we spent lots of time, crimping her hair, spraying it blue and then adding glitter spray too, she also had lots of glitter and blue lipstick on her face to complete her look.  Little Man went for the simplest option as he doesn’t quite share his sister’s enthusiasm for dressing up.

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This month, I also got to make snowballs and a snowman on the second snow fall.  We were house bound on the first snow fall because of black ice, it wasn’t much fun and a bit disappointing however on the second occasion, we just had snow and spent a brilliant morning in the garden, happy days.

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This month, it was all about the layers and hats and scarves.  It was so cold.  Next winter, I am going to buy the warmest coat I can find with the biggest pockets and cosiest hood.

This was the month, when I finally replaced all my old make up and have been wearing cruelty free brands after discovering that many companies test on animals as consequence of selling their products in China.  I have replaced my favourite Estee Lauder foundation with the Body Shop version and it is really impressive.  I’ve bought a couple of lipsticks this month and just that little pop of colour has lifted my mood on some mornings.

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As I’m back in the gym I’ve been making some cheesy playlists on my Spotify account, its what helps to keep me happy as I exercise. I just hope that my headphones never fall out for everyone to hear my choices!  Wham have been a guilty pleasure this month.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06tk8hw

I also listened by accident to this drama on Madness’ Sugg’s life , I was looking for Women’s Hour on the radio 4 schedule and chanced upon this instead. It’s brilliant and has a strong message about family, as well as some atmospheric acoustic songs.

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So March is over and now its Easter and the holidays.  I have a few ideas for the holidays but until I have a few dates confirmed I can’t make definitive plans, not great for the planner and organiser in me but I’m trying hard to simply go with the flow…

#littleloves is the linkie created by Morgana at coffee work sleep repeat

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A life in the day, snow and an arctic expedition … #littleloves

This time last week, I was planning a rather uneventful week, looking forward to World Book day and just the normal rhythm of life.  That seems so long ago now, the week proved to be very memorable as we had snow and we never get snow in our little seaside town.  Not only did we have blizzards, thick lying snow, we also get the most vicious freezing rain which meant our whole town became an ice rink leaving many of us house bound and then it was high tides too and a temporary flood barrier had to be installed to protect the town, so quite an eventful week thanks to the Beast from the East and Storm Emma!  As well as all the drama from the weather, I got sick and had to take time off work, again this never happens, a couple of days in bed did the trick and I’m feeling much better now with just an annoying cough.  Despite all the drama of this week I finish this week feeling really positive, sometimes difficult weeks bring out the best in people.

img_5375I managed to read a book this week, illness and the weather were conducive to this success.  It was a fantastic read, the autobiography of the journalist and writer Hunter Davies.  It appeared on my Kindle deal of the day with some rave reviews so I popped it in the basket and what a choice.  Davies’ career started in the 60s and continues today so there is a great mix of social history, culture and ‘celebrity’ in the book. Its so easy and entertaining to read, you just want to keep going on to the next chapter.  His love for his family and devotion to his wife, the novelist Margaret Forster shine through.  It was great to read something different and a non fiction title for a change, variety is the spice of life!

hunterimg_5379Well this week it was simply about watching the weather, the snow, the skies, the sea all were mesmerising.  Until I lived at the seaside I never realised the subtle daily changes in the sea and how it is never the same shade twice.  The surf has been incredible on the sea this week and it has been quite hypnotic looking out to the waves.  My office looks out onto the sea and there are times I just got lost in the view.

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img_5378So the year when I finally aced it for World Book day, we had a snow day at the children’s school!  Fortunately all the WBD events are being rearranged so the children will be able to parade in their costumes.  I have a bit of bug bear about WBD fancy dress, I like to go old school and do the lets raid the fancy dress box, old clothes and mum’s accessories to create a look.  I read an excellent comment that the costume shouldn’t cost more than a book and I’m pleased that we were able to do this, my only expense was £3 for the sequin fabric cut off which I have plans to reuse after WBD.

Little Miss is going as the White witch from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  It took a lot to persuade her to wear a dress, this really is not her look at present! For the costume, we made a wardrobe out from an old shoe box, when you open it up the back is a sparkly blue paper and decorated with Welcome to Narnia.  Little Miss also decided to make some pompom snow balls from some old wool for her snow, if only we had known we would have had the real thing!

 

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The lion, witch and wardrobe, my 80s Madonna gloves and pompom snowballs.

 

Little Man was quite reluctant to embrace some of my ideas, he would have been so cute as Paddington, but liked the idea of the Wimpy Kid, so we made a mask for him.

img_0991img_5384I  can honestly say that I have never worn as many clothes as I did on my walk to and from work on Thursday which was the worst day for us.  It was so cold, it was only my eyes visible hidden under hats, scarves, layers upon layers.  I mistakenly took my glove off to answer my phone and seriously thought i was going to get frost bite, it was so cold.  On the way home, I walked through crazy snow conditions, snow, wild winds etc.. it was scary and took 40 minutes rather than the normal 15.  As I wrote in my last blog post snow days aren’t an option at our school so we all try really hard to get in.  I felt like a proper explorer, ruck sack with supplies, lots of clothes etc..

img_5380When I was poorly in bed I listened to a radio 4 play, An Instinct for Kindness, a true story of a woman’s journey to Dignitas.  It was superb, sad, thought provoking and very dignified.  Its well worth a listen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09snwmr

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Well after this week its hard to predict what next week will bring… Hopefully the ice will thaw, we’ll get out of the house and all routines will be back in place.  I am so over the snow, I like routine, order and predictability!

Thanks to Morgana for hosting #littleloves and i hope all the contributors have had safe, snow weeks.

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Books, books, books, the Winter Olympics and Pete Tong #littleloves

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Its been a while since I participated in Little Loves.  I think I paused as it became the only blog post I was writing and I wanted to try and develop the content of my other posts.  However I’ve missed writing it so even if it’s not weekly I’m back on the linkie with a little cultural record of my likes.  As it’s been a while I’m going to attempt a bit of a round up of the past few weeks.

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Well, I’m really pleased with how much I’ve read recently.  I’m not following many series on tv and am using that hour or so when I sit down at 9pm to read.  I’ve been reading roughly a book a week and have been rating and reviewing  them on my Good Reads account.  My favourite has been John Green’s young adult novel Turtles All the Way Down.  It’s such a carefully written book about mental health with no neat happy end and a hint of some of the challenges the main character will go on to  experience in adulthood. I’ve also read Adele Parks The Stranger in my House, it was a disappointing read only saved (just) by a twist at the end.  I thought the characters were a little cliched and some of the storylines weren’t developed well. I’ve become a big fan of read Liane Moriarty book and have enjoyed Three Wishes.  She is one of my favourite go to authors at present and whilst her  books are common in themes and style, she writes so well and it’s easy to get lost in her books and relish every word.  I’m now reading Oprah’s What I Know for Sure , it’s a book of what I imagine were essays in her magazines, they’re easy to read, full of wise advice and are pure Oprah.  In addition to my personal reading, Little Miss and I are loving Little Women.  It’s dated and a little evangelical in a few parts but oh gosh it still has the effect on me and the female characters are brilliant with some of the scenarios so relatable in today’s society.

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After such a full reading section, it’s unsurprising that I haven’t watched much.  I’m loving the new series of Call the Midwife, brilliant characters and superb story lines, perfect Sunday evening television.  I’m enjoying watching snippets of the Winter Olympics, especially the snow boarding and skiing, the speed and skill are incredible.  Unusually I haven’t been to the cinema recently, I really want to see the Greatest Showman but with sport clubs and show rehearsals at the weekend it’s difficult to find the time.  Whilst I haven’t visited the cinema, Mr S did take the children to see Early Man on an Inset day which was enjoyed by all.

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Its still warming, comfort food this month, homemade casseroles, shepherd pies, savoury tarts.  However we have celebrated Shrove Tuesday and we love our little pancake day traditions, making the mix, trying to toss a pancake and choosing our fillings.   Each year on Shrove Tuesday we agree we should make pancakes more often and then it’s another year before they’re on the menu again!

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This month we’ve made changes to our bedroom as we redecorated it and have finally made it into a little haven for us both to relax and sleep.  I love the new colour scheme, blush pink, teal and grey, it all works beautifully together.

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An uninspiring category as it’s been so cold, that it’s been layers and layers of winter clothes with no new recent buys.  I’m desperate to unpack some of my spring clothes to add that splash of colour and hint of warmer days ahead.  As we decorated our room, I did take the opportunity to do a huge purge of my clothes and recycled lots of clothes that have been hidden away in drawers for years.  It has felt very therapeutic and now I have a little extra space for some new purchases too! I have organised my clothes as recommended by Marie Kondo in colours, it does make choosing outfits easier and has shown just how many black tops I have, note to self let’s try to buy a different colour!

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I’ve been listening to Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra’s Ibiza classics nice and loud.  This album needs    volume to appreciate it and it’s been a great running playlist this month.

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Well thats this month of February caught up, I’m so looking forward to spring I want to feel the sun on my face and to lose a few of the layers of clothes.  March looks fairly quiet at present, a ballet exam, a couple of school trips and World Book day seem to be the only notable calendar entries.  However I am sure that will change as the month progresses.

Thanks to Morgan’s for hosting #littleloves

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The Simple Life, a new accessory and making plans #littleloves

So after the back to school last week, this week has been about getting back into the swing of things and new plans.  The return to clubs bought letters home about dance exams, a production, trips out and suddenly my year which I thought was all neatly planned looks a whole lot busier.  Thankfully with Mr S no longer working away, it will be easier to co-ordinate.  Its also been a week of coughs and cold, Little Man got it the worse, as he normally does because of his eczema and asthma and was off school for a couple of days, the rest of us are all sniffing and cosying up under extra blankets.

img_5375imageI am really serious about living a greener, simpler life this year so have read this short Penguin special by the Australian author, Rhonda Hetzel.  Its a book which asks you to focus clearly on what your values and goal are and offers solid advice.  I like that she doesn’t demand a total green dedication but allows you to work out what fits into your lifestyle, the author herself argues her life needs to include her car and computer, it makes it all a little more achieveable.

img_5379This week, I’ve not watched much television, preferring to read or plan and write in my notebooks.  On Thursday evening, I did accompany a school trip from the school where I work to our local theatre to see the pantomime, Robinson Crusoe.  Our students loved it and participated well.  Whilst the story was an interesting interpretation and some jokes very local,  it was a fun night out for all.

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Last weekend, I did some research into my #18for 2018 and started to make plans.  Many of my activities are summer based so there’s not much I can do at present.  However I did make a booking to see Wicked in October so that’s one nearly ticked off.  I am very excited and may have already been thinking of an outfit to wear, I’ve always fancied a  green velvet skirt.

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Last weekend, I listened to Charlie Brooker’s Desert Island Discs, in which as well as playing some rather surreal music choices, he spoke about lying in bed listening to music wearing a headband.  I always listen to the radio in bed and often end up twisted and half strangling myself with my headphones. His comment inspired me to do an Amazon search and I purchased this, Bluetooth (so no wires) head band, you can wear it a variety of ways, over the eyes, as a hair band etc.. but it is fabulous and very comfortable for listening to music.  I also use the timer function on my phone so it doesn’t play all night.

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After booking the tickets to Wicked, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack and having some musical inspired playlists for my walks and runs.  (At this time of year when its so dark and our pavements are in such disrepair, I run in daylight and walk in the dark as I’ve never properly recovered my confidence from a fall when running in the dark) The music has only added to my excitement for our theatre trip.

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This is a post inspired by Morgan’s excellent linkie, however I’m not linking it up formally as I’m not able to read and comment on the other posts as I would love to.  My blog always has and always will be a hobby.  Recently especially on Twitter, I’ve been reading a lot what bloggers should and shouldn’t do, like a post if its an ad, comment, retweet and the expectations all seem a bit scary and overwhelming for a hobby.  I will continue to read my favourite blogs of which there are many and comment when I can and write my own little thoughts.  Good luck to all the bloggers who are trying to grow their blogs and develop a career in blogging, you go ladies, we need your voices and there are some amazing writers and blogs out there.  Good luck x

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Cheer up Love, 18 for 2018 and the Skyline Gang #littleloves

As I sit here to plan this #littleloves post, I’m thinking back on my week and it seems such a long time so much more than 7 days. Last Friday we were enjoying our Butlins break, then we were back at home for New Year and now I’ve already done 3 days back at work!

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Since being back at work, I’ve settled each evening with Susan Calman’s Cheer Up Love. It’s an autobiography with a strong narrative on depression. I’m enjoying it, in parts it reminds me of Matt Haig’s Reasons to be Alive but there is more on Susan’s life too and stories we can all relate to.

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Our children love Butlins, especially the Skyline Gang and Rainbow the dog. This week I’ve watched lots of shows at Butlins not simply watching what’s on the stage but my children’s reactions too. Its lovely to see how happy and involved they are, Butlins will always be our happy place.

img_5378This week I’ve seen lot of references to Gretchen Rubin’s 18 in 2018 and I’ve made my list here https://seasidesparkles.net/2017/12/30/a-new-little-project-18for2018/ I’m excited by this little project and am looking forward to my new adventures.

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Despite this being mid-winter I seem to have been outside a lot this week, my Fitbit steps show this too. Its been a week of woolly hats and scarves and wearing my new bag from White Stuff. I love the bright colour which brings a pop of colour to my dark clothes.

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img_5380After reading about Gretchen Rubin, I found her Happier podcasts online and have been listening to them non stop since. It’s a great podcast and one I would readily recommend.

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January is a fresh start and I like focusing on our home this month. The decorations are down and I am looking for new ways to make the house sparkle. It’s my day off today and unusually I’m looking forward to sorting out the children’s bedrooms and just making the house tidy and organised.

Happy new year to Morgana and all the #littleloves posse.

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The #littleloves of 2017

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I only have one #littlelove this week and that is for our nhs. If you’ve read my previous post you’ll know that our Christmas was a little different to what we had expected as my Father in law who was staying with us for Christmas was taken very poorly on Christmas Eve. Christmas really took a different perspective this year and I’ll remember that it was the kindness and dedication of people which made this Christmas special.  We are very thankful that my Father in Law is now recovering and feeling much better.

As a consequence of the above I thought I would put together a simple best of #littleloves for 2017. Some categories are easy to choose others i.e. makes show me that perhaps I need to be more focused on my creativity next year. So time for a fanfare as I reveal my favourites…

I like to read  and I’ve managed to read some great books this year. However there’s one book which I can’t stop recommending. It was a birthday present from a friend with impeccable taste. The book is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. The storyline revolves around a simple, reluctant act of kindness and the effect it has on Elinor’s life, it is so life affirming and has all the feels. Please if you haven’t read it do, you won’t regret reading a single word as it is so beautifully written.

My film of 2017 was the last I saw at the cinema this year, Paddington 2. It is delightful, funny and magical. I love the way it embraces the importance of community and how to treat each other kindly. Breathe was an inspiring film too. On tv I have loved my old favourites, Strictly Come Dancing, Call the Midwife and Cold Feet.

My favourite outfit was this blue Boden sunglasses print dress with my flip flop necklace. I loved it because it was simple, comfortable and the print very much me, I’m always in sunglasses in the summer!

Looking back on my makes, there was more of a choice than I realised, an Anglo Saxon model house and costume ( yep school projects ) birthday cakes, meals etc.. However my make is simple because of its spontaneity. On July 4th we made a last minute decision to have an American themed barbecue and I tried making S’mores for the first time. They were amazing but it was the memories of me and the children sitting around the barbie cooking them on a warm evening with some music playing in the background that stays with me, sometimes life is simply about being in the moment.

This year I discovered Spotify and it took my music choices in many wonderful directions. For me the album of the year was Ed Sheehan’s Divide and the song to sum up the year Ariana Grande’s One More Time. Little Miss has always loved this song and following the Manchester terror attack the song gained even more significance. I have so much respect for Ariana and her attitude and actions after the attack, she’s a strong role model to my daughter.

So that was 2017 and I’m now looking forward to 2018. There’s no big events planned for 2018, no big birthdays or anniversaries, simply a year to create our own sparkles.

Thank you to all Morgana’s #littleloves brigade whom have given me so much inspiration in the past year. Happy new year to you all x

A trip to Bristol’s Christmas markets, the Christmas Radio Times and football commentary #littleloves

This week we’ve been enjoying the first week of our Christmas holidays and its come as a welcome break.  Despite my best efforts life has felt a little overwhelming at times in the past few weeks, so a quiet week was just what was needed.  We started with a few days away at my parents and then our days since we returned seem to have developed a routine of a long walk or outdoor activity in the morningand then a film or Wii U in the afternoon.  We still have a few more traditions to do before Christmas but these are always reserved for the final days of advent.

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Bristol, from the M Shed, looking spectacular on Monday.  

img_5375I’m sure I’m not the only one this week who has sat down to read the  Radio Times with a highlighter to mark my programmes for this fortnight.  I think the programmes I’m most looking forward to are Call the Midwife and the new tv adaptation of Little Women.

img_0510I’m also continuing reading The Christmasaurus with the children which is such a delightful book.  Its not only at bedtimes this week either as we worked out that if we want to finish it by Christmas we need to sit down and read a few chapters during the day too.  There are far worse ways to spend your time.

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On Saturday I sat down and watched the Strictly final.  I didn’t have a clear favourite before the show and would have been happy with any finalist as a winner.  However given their performances, the majority of my votes on the night went to Joe and Katya and I was pleased they won.  We were enchanted by their show dance, the way Cinderella’s rags turned into a ball gown was magical.

Although I’ve watched much of the series I missed the Apprentice final, its been an uninspiring series and then when I heard that they both got picked, I felt the whole series was a bit rubbish this season.  It really needs to improve next year with some quality candidates and solid business ideas.

img_5378Okay be warned there are some tenuous links in this section this week.

Firstly, I made a discovery, Bounty spread, OMG has anyone tasted this coconut spread it is gorgeous on a crumpet or whispers on a teaspoon from the jar.

img_0443I also made a purchase.  I was given a gift voucher at work but decided to use it against some household purchases so I could swap it for cash.  At the Bristol Christmas markets (which were gorgeous) I found this clay decoration on a stall called the Nutcracker.  Not only does it light up when you put in a lit tea light, but if you put water and some essential oils in the chimney it emits smoke and a little festive fragrance.  I love my new decoration and it fits in beautifully with what I like to describe as my Hansel and Gretel display.

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I have a new Christmas scarf which I bought when I was in Bristol.  For those familiar with Bristol, the scarf is from St Nick’s market, where I used to love to hang out when I was younger, there are always lots of quirky finds here and I impressed myself with only buying one thing here!

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I have been a football fan all my life and Bristol City are my team.  I was a season ticket holder at Ashton Gate for many years and I only stopped going when we moved away.  Bristol City will always be my number 1 team.  This week they were in the Carabou League cup quarter final against Manchester United and I listened to the commentary on Radio 5.  I was so proud that Bristol City beat Man Utd and it was exciting to hear the match and the late, late winner.

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 So its nearly time for Christmas now and I am ready and looking forward to the big day.  In the meantime we have few special things we do in the last few days, making gingerbread decorations, touring the local Christmas lights and visiting neighbours with gifts and cards.  We have my father in law staying with us for Christmas and then on Wednesday we’re off to Butlins for a little break, which we’re all looking forward to.

Merry Christmas to Morgana and all the other #littleloves contributors, I hope you all have a happy and sparkly Christmas.

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