Well the year has got off to the start I expected, early night last night as Martin had to get up for work today, broken by a 3 oclock Happy New Year text from one of my daughters which I am positive she sent well before midnight but which took 3 hours to get to me. Martin was gone by the time I woke up so now I am home alone until tea time.
I thought it would be a good chance to put down as much as I can remember about December since I seem to have got out of the habit of blogging. And since I cant remember when I did what it will probably be a bit of a disjointed post but hopefully it will let me get a heas start on properly blogging again in January.
I had an interview in a school in Ashford that wanted 1:1 KS2 teachers for 2 days a week and for 2 hours a day for £25 an hour. However yet again that I didnt have enough experience in KS2 SEN. In fact the only reason they interviewed me was because I had mentioned that the girls were dyslexic and assumed I would have experience there.
So with no work, it has left me with plenty of time to spend with Laura and little Finley, and for us to try and hunt out some Christmas spirit.
At the start of the month we took mum to Canterbury Catherdral to join in Chaucer school's christmas concert, something Wayne and I have been doing for the last 4 years but in the past it has been to see Laura singing in the choir. This year Laura got to join in from the audience rather than the back of the Cathedral and we all got to sing together. It was shorter than normal and there were less people performing (most of the staff being out on maternity leave) but we still enjoyed it and despite the windy cold weather, walked back to the car with warm fuzzy christmassy feelings.
After that though it became a bit harder to find 'Christmas'. We visited several shopping centres but it did seem as if no one could be bothered with the tinsel and christmas songs this year. In most of the towns we were hard pushed to even tell it was December at all with the lack of effort the shops had put into displaying and most of our local high streets had only put half their lights and trees up. Undeterred we kept trying though.
Laura and I left Finley with Wayne and went to the Christmas Dicken's Festival, going on a Saturday instead of a Sunday this time round. We got confused by the signs and ended up at Rochester airport park and ride which was a bit scary as we ddnt know our way around from there. I am glad we did though because its a long time since I have seen the festival so well attended.
For some stupid reason the council had decided we must all walk on the left. Whoever came up with such an unworkable idea needed to be shot. We were totally gridlocked in the middle of the highstreet because you were not allowed to swing out to the right to get around the market stalls and there were so many people attempting to cross the crowds to get to the correct side of the street that in the end no one could move. On previous years we all managed to dodge and weave our way through, there was a great sense of camaradie as we all tried to avoid each other, but this year all that happened was that stuards raised everyones tempers and we all stood in frozen lines, moaning about the absurdity of it all. In the end Laura and I got pretty good at nipping down side streets but it did mean me missed many of the little shops and boutiques that make the day.,
We did get to see and hear the bell ringers though and really enjoyed the show as we sipped our mulled cider and spiced wine.
We finally managed to fight our way though the crowds to get to the German Christmas Market held in the grounds of the Castle - even here the council had interfered and made it one way in, one way out. The problem was the way out was down three sets of very steep steps, meaning parents with buggies, prams and pushchairs all had to carry them down, causing more conjestion. People had to queue back into the stalls just to get to the stairs. There was total chaos and no hope of actually seeing what was on the stalls. I felt sorry for Laura as it was her first time and it really was nothing like it had been like in previous years, all atmosphere lost and too crowded to actually see anything or join in.
She did seem to enjoy herself though, and the parade was good. I managed to fall over a wall in the dark as we all made our way to the Catherdral grounds to sing carols, and we did have to leave a bit early to avoid the crowds, not that it helped as we managed to get lost in the back streets in the dark and then had to wait ages for the bus for the P&R to get through the traffiarc.
I did have fun though and hope Laura will go again next year.
Still seeking some christmas spirit, Laura decided we needed a trip to Bluewater to see their christmas display. In other years this has been absolutely magical, with all the lake lit up, huge reindeer all over the place and an ice-ring, winter wonderland and german market outside the main building. Yet again we were sorely disappointed, as they had moved the display into their new arena which takes up about a quarter of the space of the outside area. The theme was Christmas in New York and basically consisited of the ice-ring, a few christmas trees with fake snow at their bases, and a few stands charging exorbatant fees (£2 for one slide down the very small snow slide?????). No atmosphere, no christmas music, no german market or magical decorations. To make matters worse it was on the top floor and the lift was out of order. We walked to the next lift and walked back but we did see people with buggies attempting the stairs in a very dangerous mannor. As well as this let down, Bluewaters itself was not really decorated at all, I know there are regulations in just how much they can do because of fire risks but in the past there had been swags and garlands over the railings and stairs, but not this year. We left very disheartened.
We did finally find some Christmas spirit, we had been looking online at all the local churches to find a Christingle Service we could take Finley to, but they were either all late Christmas eve (the family were all going to Laura's for the evening) or simply weren't happening this year, but All Saints where I had got married, were holding Carol's around the Yew Tree on the Wednesday before Christmas. Laura and I went along and it was totally wonderful. At first I thought it was going to just be a few of us, but I glanced around when we started and was amazed to see people stretching right back from the church to the lych gate. We sang about 16 carols accompanied by Whitstable Brass Band, and then went into the new church hall for mince pies and mulled wine. We both really enjoyed it. I saw a couple of my old parents and one even recognised me and said hello back.