What a month this has been. It started with a new job, better pay, flexible hours and the ability to work from home. It’s less pressure and more supportive than my previous position, life feels much calmer.

I also had a birthday (a zero birthday!) and was treated to a weekend away in Buxton with Simon. I’d like to say it was relaxing but as usual we ended up exploring caves and climbing hills.

The first stop was Poole cavern, it was dressed for Christmas including a Santa’s grotto. They didn’t have an usual guided tours so we were left to wander with a leaflet explaining the caverns. It was really fascinating and much larger than I expected.

From here we wandered up hill, through the woods, finding wood carvings along the way.

Soon we left the woods and clambered over a stile on to a very muddy, steep hill leading to Solomons temple. The views from here were breathtaking, it was a beautiful clear crisp winter day.

We had a lovely meal in a French restaurant, it was delicious and a good excuse for us to dress up. I was very spoiled and feel very honoured to have someone this special in my life.

The following morning we wandered Buxton and found an antique craft fair on in the pavilion. So had a wander looking for Christmas gifts. There was a charity Santa dash taking place in the park with a brass band playing, Simon cheekily asked them to play happy birthday to me, and they did !

I’m very lucky to share my birthday with a few family members, the most important is my mum. So the following weekend we had a family meal at a local Indian restaurant, the food, company and evening couldn’t have been better (although we did have snow, which isn’t normal for us). We used the wet, snowy weather as an excuse to spend Sunday at home and get the Christmas decorations out the loft. We kept it simple this year, a tree in the sitting room and another in the kitchen.

Once again illness hit, it started with a small twinge in my neck but within a few days was agony. Wearing my headset at work was unbearable so I took a trip to the doctor. No infection in my ears or throat but possibly an abscess so started antibiotics and a dentist appointment for the following day. This would be the first dental appointment since before Covid. She was very thorough, several X-rays and examination but once again no infection. She did find a patch on the side of my tongue and another ‘skin tag’ type lump so has referred me to maxillofacial at the hospital. They have sent me an appointment already.

Any way we needed a distraction so we headed for the Christmas market at Chester. It was a cold, drizzly day but lovely listening to carollers singing and taking a wander around the cathedral to see the Christmas tree trail.

The presents are all bought, made and wrapped. The family are starting to gather and work is finished.

Christmas day arrived quietly with everyone emerging from rooms and gathering around the breakfast table by 9.30. Shortly after this the day erupted into noise, chaos and a lot of laughter. My brother arrived with the 3 year old and present opening began. She loved her new fairy rag doll and her own fairy wings ( although she did get snagged on the door a couple of times to great amusement). They left around 12 as my brother had to work in the afternoon/evening. Next my auntie arrived from Yorkshire and this is when the oven decided to blow the electric and stop working. We reset the fuses but the oven was dead, the house alarm wasn’t and refused to switch off, ringing on and off for 2 hours before it too decided to give up. Thankfully we have a gas oven so the dinner was transferred across and took a little longer but was still cooked.

After dinner Simon arrived from seeing his own family and we played party games around the table, again with much laughter, chaos (there’s a theme to our Christmas’s) and trifle. It was a very eventful, memorable time and we fell in to bed exhausted but very happy.

I wish you peace and good health for the holidays and coming new year. Whatever 2023 has to bring I know we can get through it together, with laughter, tears, and a lot of love.