Boxing Day Blues

Boxing Day for me is always tinged with a little bit of sadness. This year it has been five years since the last time I saw my dad. I remember hugging him goodbye and teasing him about losing weight in the New Year – just over six weeks later he suffered a fatal heart attack.

My dad on the left, with my father-in-law, taken at Children of Mine's christening in 2004

But every day I thank God for my other ‘Dad’ – my father-in-law. Together, they made a formidable pair – always there to help in a crisis; always there to have fun at a celebration.

In the 25 years I’ve known my father-in-law, he’s always been loved and recognised for his own individual contribution to the Family’s lives. I remember hugging him, this time at my dad’s funeral and sobbing “…at least I still have you.”

His contributions are endless. He designs, makes, mends, grows and initiates ‘things’: handmade toys for the Children; surprises for his loved ones and friends; vegetables and fruit for the table.  He shares his scientific and electrical knowledge, whether helping re-wire a house or teach Daughter of Mine about circuits; and creates legendary games, puzzles and quizzes for Christmas night.

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Even this Boxing Day night, he left our house armed with a multitude of things he had offered to mend: a spring catch on a secret treasure chest he had made for Son of Mine’s birthday this year; the flag pole on the wooden castle he had made for his fourth birthday (joking that it was now out of guarantee); and the attachments for my Kenwood Chef, to loosen the adjustment nuts (because Husband of Mine doesn’t have a vice). He also left with another wood project to design and make – a series of display boxes for Son of Mine’s collection of gemstones and fossils.

It was also my father-in-law who introduced me to the Lake District and Keswick, back in 1991 when newly married Husband of Mine and I, desperate for a cheap holiday, jumped at the chance to act as support team while my new in-laws walked Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast walk. We camped, in the rain, near Bassenthwaite Lake then moved our tent to Kirkby Stephen for a few days of glorious sunshine – leaving me in love with Cumbria, but alas, not with camping!

This year we bought him a ukulele for Christmas.

Thankfully, Mother-in-Law of Mine got the joke...

“To ‘Davey’…Merry Christmas…” read the tag, so written because he can play ‘Davey Crockett’ on any instrument you care to mention. He may even get to ‘guest’ with Husband of Mine’s folk band – ‘The Renegade Dogs’!

So with a bit more practice, maybe next Boxing Day’s ‘blues’ won’t be so bad…


Weekly Photo Challenge: Self-Portrait

What this photo tells you about me…

  • That I’ve attempted a cheesy self-portrait in my bedroom mirror whilst pretending I am a real photographer
  • That I haven’t learned enough about Photoshop to clone out the headboard or reverse the Sony wording on my camera
  • I have a red wall in my bedroom
  • I am married (or like to wear rings to look as if I am married)
  • I need to do something about the bag under my eye. Just the one. The other eye is fine.

What this photo doesn’t tell you about me…

  • I had to redo my self-portrait photo shoot when I realised, after downloading the photos, how much dust was on my mirror
  • The last time I took photos in my bedroom mirror I was probably singing into a hairbrush and pretending to be a West End star
  • I have learned enough about Photoshop to successfully crop out all the clutter that you would have been able to see beside me
  • I really like the top I was wearing
  • I actually really hate having photos of me – the ‘real’ me – taken, posted, shared, shown or generally just on display. I much prefer those of the characters I pretend to be, like these shots, interspersed with a few shots of the Lake District, which I use as my Twitter background:


Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

The grey, wet, windy view from my car as I wait to pick Daughter of Mine up from her school.

Usually she walks to her old primary, to meet me and her brother there, but I took pity on her today, given that the weather was so bad. She did also have a batch of Christmas shortbread to carry from this afternoon’s Food Tech lesson – of course, none of us wanted it to end up as crumbs!

Son of Mine came out of school excited too as he has been chosen to sing a solo verse of ‘O, Little Town of Bethlehem’ at the end of term concert.

When pressed for more details of his day, he also declared that it was exciting because today was his first day of writing with a pen, rather than a pencil, because his handwriting is so neat!

Little things…


I’ve been having a black and white photography day today to match the weather… check out today’s blip over at seen by highonahill

(This Could Be The) Start of Something New…

Musical theatre fans – please forgive the lame reference to High School Musical – the closest I am likely to come to that particular show is as an audience member, being far too old now to play the only part that would appeal –  ‘baddie’ Sharpay Evans.

As to the ‘something new’, well, I have started a Blipfoto journal – a daily photo journal of images seen by highonahill.

'Empty Swing' - the photo I used for my first Blip!

By way of explanation, I have always taken lots of photographs. On the shelves above me as I write are probably 50+ albums documenting most of the last 25 years of my life, and on the computer I am using are another 14,000+ digital photos, taken in the last 8 or so years since moving to a digital camera. I now take so many photos that I am way behind with printing the best for the albums, which stop at August 2008.

Last Christmas, Husband of Mine bought me a superzoom bridge camera – so called because it ‘bridges’ the gap between compact pocket cameras and DSLRs, but is able to offer complete manual control without the hassle and expense of changing lenses. Now I am slightly more knowledgeable about photography, I understand there is a slight trade-off in image quality, but at the moment I can live with that.

I have been following several other ‘blippers’ as they are known, as well as other bloggers with an eye for photography, for quite a while now, and have been inspired by the quality and creativity of their photographs. I have found Twitter is also a wonderful place to share and explore the art of photography; no prizes for guessing I follow some talented Lake District photographers for my daily Cumbrian fix!

So I finally decided that it was time to get more critical about the shots I keep, share and showcase so that I continue to learn, improve and enjoy. I could have done this on here, but for me, the posts on this blog that I feel have worked best are more about writing, sometimes illustrated by photography; rather than photography with a few words.

At the time of writing I still have my Blipfoto ‘L’ plates on, with less than 10 days of photographs under my belt. You can view my latest entry via the RSS feed in the sidebar of this blog, or click on the Blipfoto logo.

Are you curious to find out what is seen by highonahill?

Fireworks? More like a damp squib…

Ah, firework night!

A pattern has emerged in recent years – have a few friends round for sparklers in the garden, chilli and jacket potatoes, hot dogs, some variation on chocolate for dessert and a few glasses of wine, before wandering down the lane to watch the local firework display.

And this year I really wanted to try my hand at a bit of photography too.

Having been poorly for the best part of three weeks now, I was indoors watching from the window, party called off, whilst Family of Mine wrapped up and ventured out to watch the display.

Take a look at my Flickr slideshow for more of my damp squibs, as seen from the window.

And of course, there’s always next year.

Just not sure the sausages will keep until then…

What would Linus make of Slindon’s Great Pumpkin Patch?

The village of Slindon is just a short stroll away from where I live. OK, the most direct route dices with death across the busy A27 trunk road, but is the quickest route into the National Trust woodland. Safer, although longer, is the route through Fontwell village, taking the underpass to reach the woods.

At the top of the village is the now famous Slindon Pumpkins, where every autumn over 80 varieties of squash and pumpkin form an impressive display for locals and visitors alike, as seen on BBC’s Countryfile on 23 October.

Here’s a few pictures of this year’s display:

And a special mention must go to this interpretative piece of modern art on display from a Year 1 pupil at the local school. Amidst the brightly coloured pumpkin paintings, there was a single piece of yellow-painted A4 paper with the caption, “I couldn’t fit the edges of the pumpkin on the page. I was too close to the pumpkin.” Brilliant.

I will leave you with the lyrics of ‘The Vigil’ from Snoopy: The Musical. On Halloween, Linus, along with a reluctant Snoopy, awaits the arrival of the Great Pumpkin during “The Vigil” in the pumpkin patch.

“One pumpkin patch looks an awful lot like any other…”

Me as Sally Brown with Linus in Snoopy: the Musical in the Theatre Tent at Guilfest'08


I wonder what Linus would make of Slindon’s pumpkin patch?

Doctor Who Experience

Holding the TardisMy 42nd birthday outing from Mum!Vampires of Venice costumesVampires of Venice costumesVampires of Venice setCovers of the Radio Times
Outfits for the First to Fifth DoctorsOutfits for the Sixth to 10th DoctorsThe Eleventh Doctor & TardisSonic screwdrivers2005-present day CybermanThe Silence
The SilenceThe Ninth & Tenth Doctors' TardisChildren of Mine on the TardisFifth - Seventh Doctors' TardisNinth & Tenth Doctors' TardisThe Companions
The 1980s TardisThe Time LordsMum enjoying her birthday outing!A Cyber-Controller1966 -  The first Cyberman in 'The Tenth Planet'Davros

Via Flickr:
Mother of Mine treated the Family (well, it was my 42nd birthday present actually!) to a ticket to the Doctor Who Experience at Olympia.

The Experience itself immersed the Family in their own Doctor Who adventure with the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. We stepped through the crack in the wall, ‘flew’ the Tardis, avoided Daleks and Weeping Angels, and battled aliens in a 3D time vortex to defeat the enemies and rebuild time.