Ah, Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. As promised in last week’s weekly blog (Weekly Blog Episode 49), which was a rather cathartic rant about last minute Government announcements and changed plans (and of course there was yet another last-minute announcement after I published that…), this week I’m going to concentrate on what I did get to do this Christmas, not what I didn’t.
I hope you had a lovely Christmas, whatever you ended up doing this year. I imagine it was a quiet, relaxed, and personal Christmas. I hope that you ate well, whether that was a traditional meal or something else, were able to spend time with someone or some people you love, either in person or online, and that you were able to switch off from the world for at least one day. I also hope that were able to spend a bit of time doing things just for you, whether that be going for a walk, reading a book, or watching a good movie – or all three!
My Christmas Day 2020
Despite last week’s musings, I was able to have a fitting Christmas celebration. It might not have looked like a traditional Zoe Christmas (read my Christmas Tag post), but it was still a nice and happy day.
We travelled up to Lincolnshire for Christmas Day so we could spend it with my mother-in-law. My family lives in the same town but the rules didn’t allow us all to be in the same place at the same time, and my brother-in-law and his family live in Tier 4 which meant they were properly affected by those rule changes. A shame not to all be together, of course, but we’ll make up for that another time (we’ve already put a date in the diary for my traditional family Boxing Day).
We spent the day opening our presents, eating a delicious turkey dinner with the relevant trimmings (including Yorkshire Puddings, naturally), going for a walk in the cold bright sunshine, and watching whatever films we found on the tellybox (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Jurassic World and I can’t remember what else). My weekly blog header image was taken on our walk around Westgate Woods in Boston, it was perfect Christmas Day walking weather and a pleasure to be out there.
It was a genuinely lovely Christmas Day, full of rest and relaxation. And even though I didn’t do the food shopping or cook dinner, we still brought home enough leftovers to have a suitably cheesy Boxing Day tea and a turkey curry yesterday. No complaints here!
What I Got for Christmas
I have been spoilt once again, they treated me to some lovely gifts. As you might imagine, my Christmas haul is rather outdoors focused, which is pretty-perfect if you ask me. I know What I Got for Christmas blogs and vlogs are super popular, I think we all like to be nosey really, and while I shan’t list everything, I thought I’d share a few highlights.
The thing I reckon I was most excited to open was a firepit, which was a surprise gift from my husband. Brilliant! I love me a bit of fire…!! I have wanted one for ages, but it never seemed the right thing to actually go and buy. I honestly can’t wait to get set up in the garden; as I write we’re being somewhat battered by Storm Bella here in Gloucestershire, so the fire pit remains in the box by the back door, but I’m hoping to get it built and ablaze very soon.
I also received a super cosy Patagonia snap fleece, one of the recycled ones, which is also something I’ve wanted for a long time but never actually bought. Patagonia as a company does a lot of things right; environmentally, politically, and technically. And I am very happy indeed to have this cosy fleece in my collection, and know it’ll be a very well loved and long lasting piece in my wardrobe.
My parents and sister did their bit to help me up my camp cooking game. They got me a Jetboil Summit Skillet and required pot stand to use on my Jetboil Flash (read my review), along with a teeny spatula and a Joseph Joseph GoEat travel salt and pepper pot. I hope to be able to get out for some solo mini-adventures in 2021 and while I am more than happy with Firepot Meals (my favourite expedition meals, I highly recommend them), this kit will mean I can expand my menu when I’m at camp. The kit is also small enough to include in our motorcycle road trip camping set up, which just changes things up a bit and opens up different opportunities for the coming year.
I also received a new pair of the super comfortable Columbia Buck Mountain trousers in a lovely dark green colour, a couple of Weird Fish cotton tees, and a whole bunch of treats to keep me fed and clean over the coming months. Honestly, very spoilt, my family and friends are very thoughtful and kind, and I am very grateful.
If we could all pray for decent weather in January and February (and reduced restrictions…), so I don’t have to wait until after Easter to get lots of use out of these things, that would be great!
Surveying my Kingdom
Speaking of good weather… did anyone else get any sleep as Storm Bella hit the UK? The wind was so strong and loud and worrying! We also had an awful lot of rain here in Gloucestershire, with rivers bursting their banks, fields topping out and covering roads with mud, and homes flooding. Horrendous. We were not affected as badly as a lot of people around here, but it is certainly the most water I’ve ever seen close to my house before; the back garden was a pond, and we had a fast-flowing stream over our patio.
Sunday turned out to be a lovely day, though. Bright blue skies and sunshine, perfect for a walk up the hill. Of course, with all the rain we’ve had, the ground was utterly sodden and a muddy mess in places, but that just adds to the fun, right?!
I headed up my local hill – Cleeve Hill – to blow away the cobwebs. I did an adapted version of the Southam Woods route I blogged about earlier this year, so I could both take in the sunny views from the highest point in the Cotswolds, as well as wander through the woods. I have spent a lot of this year exploring Cleeve Common, and there are still footpaths I’m yet to tread, I feel very fortunate to have this on my doorstep.
There were lots of other people doing the same, although it wasn’t busy enough to feel crowded. And I found most people seemed to avoid the woodland – probably something to do with the thick and very gloopy mud covering every inch of the ground.
Honestly, the mud in Queen’s Wood was quite something. I was thankful to the Zoe that thought to put on her tall and super grippy Meindl Bhutans, although not so much to the Zoe who always leaves her gaiters in the car boot. I might wear them one day. And pigs might fly! I did manage to stay upright though, just about, and found that if I followed the water flowing down through the woods that was the best route. Still, a fun way to spend some time outdoors, and very good strength exercise for my thighs!
I took some (what I think are) decent photos on this walk which I’ve been sharing over on my Instagram feed, and I’m sure more will follow this week. It looks like that’s the only blue sky day we’re getting this twixtmas, so I’m glad I was able to get out and enjoy it.
I’ve actually just got back from a similar walk in completely juxtaposed conditions. But more on that in next week’s weekly blog…
That’s Entertainment – Pixar’s Soul
Soul, which went straight to Disney Plus this weekend, tells the story of Joe. Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His passion is for jazz, and he is good. But when he finds himself in another realm and ends up helping someone else find their passion, he discovers what it means to have real soul.
It is a lovely little film and I’d highly recommend watching it. I’ve read some people say things like “Pixar used to make films about toys, but now they make films about how to identify your life’s purpose and what we can do to find joy in life despite the meaninglessness of our existence…”. But I reckon Pixar have always been making films that deal with love, death and the meaning of life. Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Cars, they are all about deep and important subjects through clever storytelling, that’s why I love Pixar movies so much.
I admit the bit that got to me was the conversation 22, in Joe’s body, had with Connie, his trombone student. 22 was able to convince Connie that she loved playing trombone and should carry on with it. I definitely sounded like that when I was at my trombone playing peak (in my mind!)… but you know, I now haven’t played it for a year. I’ve written about the fact I never chose “a thing” when I was at School, but instead I did it all (read Jack of All Trades). Choosing might limit your options in some ways, but it also gives life a spark. Thanks Pixar for making a film about me.
I shall be watching it again, for sure. And probably this week. It’s a good one.