Friday, 1 January 2010

It’s the Climb!

On this first day of 2010 I look back at this year’s Christmas festivities and feel so blessed that ‘we got away with it!’ In spite of Tilly’s chest infection and Arctic conditions we managed to get away to my lovely Mum’s in South Wales and spent a magical time drenched in family love and hospitality.

Christmas Eve saw a pilgrimage to Barry Island for a nostalgic glimpse at one of my favourite childhood playgrounds, and Rolf’s mission to have fish and chips at Gav and Stacy’s chippie! The girls ‘yahooed’ along the prom and showed Daddie where we always sit for our annual summer seaside visits. The weather was ‘winter perfect’, the fish and chips ‘par excellence’ and sharing memories with my Mum and Brother was so special. Christmas is a good time for indulging in these things.

We also indulged in our annual ritual of Ross Kemp’s Christmas Carol which is carefully preserved on an old video cassette and is now a family favourite to enjoy on Christmas Eve.

Tilly and Candice took care of all of the essential preparations for Santa’s arrival and no one was disappointed. Christmas morning we were engulfed in a sea of festive wrapping paper and many a ‘just what I’ve always wanted’ as ten of us waded through the mountain of gifts bestowed upon us. With the lunch in the oven and with sparkling weather we all marched off to Porthcawl for an invigorating and appetite rousing yomp. It was great to see Rolf enjoying beach with the girls as he is always left at home with the B&B during our summer trip to Nana’s.

Christmas dinner was triumph with everyone playing their part in the preparation and clearing away. Tilly stayed equal to the occasion with frequent visits to her ‘shaker-maker’, cough assist machine and suction unit. We are so lucky that Tilly is able to make the most of the equipment that she has. We are more than acutely aware that one dodgy choke and she’s off to Intensive Care with an aspirated pneumonia.

The end to a perfect Christmas Day was seeing the girls and Rolf taking on the Kennedy cousins at The Great Game of British Steam, a terrific board game that has got them hooked! I could have cried with relief that we’d managed to get to this stage without a medical hitch as I know so many others will not have been so fortunate.

Boxing Day’s weather was not so ‘picture perfect’, but that did not stop us mountaineering in convoy up The Bulch in the Valleys where we fed the sheep. The girls were astonished that these perfectly formed cloud-shaped sheep were tame enough to feed from our hands and jumped up at us like puppy dogs, ‘wagging their tails behind them’! A most magical moment, but it was wonderful to retreat to the warmth of my lovely Mum’s home and welcome in the rest of the Clan to enjoy the festivities of the season. This was the first time for over ten years that we have had the joy of sharing special times with my family and I loved every moment, the best present of all!

It seemed, however, that Santa had dropped one gift out onto the lawn, and it was with great ceremony that Candice and Tilly opened up this nearly forgotten gift. To their utter amazement they had received tickets for a Miley Cyrus concert in Manchester. Their faces of disbelief and delight all rolled into one was a picture that I will treasure forever. In fact, the tickets were a remarkable gift from the Charity “Dreams Come True” and they certainly lived up to their name.

The rest of the Christmas holiday was spent with the girls wondering about their first ever concert, and they certainly were not disappointed. Miley was amazing and the whole concert scene absolutely gripped them. They screamed and sang and danced and clapped from start to finish. It was brilliant. I tried to capture the moment on camera but the memory I will savour forever was when Miley was singing “The Climb”, and I sat with my back to Miley and looked at my two little girls with their special friend, arms around each others shoulders, singing and swaying along with eyes shining and smiles dazzling. Very emotional to get a glimpse of a little girl’s dream come true.

Christmas is also a great time to catch up with Rolf’s family who live in Huddersfield. Just a small contingent arrived this time as the dreaded cold had gripped many of them, but it was all the more sweet as Rolf’s brother and wife stayed over for a night-stop. The utter luxury of knowing they did not have to rush off, and the lovely long evening swirling wine glasses, buffet dining, catching up on the news and playing The Great Game of Britain Steam. I can quite see how Christmas has ‘caught on’!

Candice and I spent New Year’s Eve on an eight mile round trip yomp into Leek to collect the Cava and the notelets for ‘Thank You’ letters. It was great to have such a special time with Candice to hear all her thoughts on life the universe and everything and also great to walk off so many of my Christmas excesses. However, I fear that many a more eight mile yomp will be required to see off all my festive indugences! Here’s hoping we’ll soon have a doggie to inspire us as we have news from Dogs for the Disabled that they will soon be ready to make a ‘home-visit’ which is another stage along the way, and a step closer to owning our very own dog. Tilly really can’t wait.

As a special treat this year the girls stayed up for the first time and saw the New Year in. Sadly, Rolf had slid into unconsciousness half way through “Hairspray” and had had to bid an early ‘goodnight’ as he had guests arriving for breakfast early in the morning. We three sat on the couch, joined in the countdown, roared out our “Happy New Years!” marvelled at the fireworks on TV and joined in “Auld Lang Syne”. We managed a sip of Cava and felt we’d done the moment proud - very simple, but very special.

It’s good to be back in Blogsville after a Christmas break. I really hope that life has been as kind to you as it has to us this year, but unfortunately, I know that this is not the case. I know that there has been many challenges out there, made all the more poignant given the time of year. You have been in our prayers.

Life is one heck of a climb and sometimes the ascent can be almost too much to bear, and sometimes it is easy and blessed with the most amazing views. Let’s hope that whatever part of the climb we need to face in 2010 we will be fortunate to find experienced mountain guides, kind weather, decent equipment, warm refuges and a St Bernard with a keg of brandy!

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