Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Touching the bottom

The Jesster, looking intruded upon.

Hello gang, how are you doing today? Well, I hope? I am sorry I haven't posted for almost a whole week - where does the time go? I have been in a pretty crappy place, though, so I haven't been it the mood for blogging.

G'ah, everything feels so horrible at the moment. It's dark and cold, the end of a horrible month and the end of a horrible year. Dom is really very busy at work and is getting stressed out. The kids are fighting like cat and dog. Charlie has so overwhelmed by school, he is being really naughty - full of tantrums, chucking things around, hitting people and things (even at school, which I am ashamed of.) It just feels like he'll do anything to get a rise out of people, me especially. This starts, without fail, at 6am, and he will whinge, jabber, complain and shout until the moment he goes to bed. He has even started wetting the bed again, so I am up changing the beds a couple of times per night. I am worried about him. He's like a coiled spring, and I am not sure what I can do to get him to unwind.

Dom, I think, is getting very frustrated with my illness, the kids and the state of the house. He wants more support and I don't blame him. My inlaws are also getting very frustrated with my illness. I AM GETTING VERY FRUSTRATED WITH MY ILLNESS. However, I can't change it because other people have got fed up. Dom said at the weekend that he wasn't going to help me out anymore, because it wasn't doing me any favours. I can understand his thoughts, they used to be mine, but I actually feel very, very isolated and hurt.

I am not sleeping, and have started the day as early as 2.15am some days. This is not helping matters at all, and I am sure, is behind my  bad feelings.

On Saturday night I woke up wanting to end it all. I just want the pain to stop. I emailed the Samaritans, who were helpful. The emergency website the therapist gave me is no longer working.

I am frustrated so I am going to stop this post. I am sure I will get through this, but I don't know how. I don't even know where to go for help at the moment. I just want to touch the bottom, so at least I know I am moving upwards again.

Sorry for the depressing post, but I promised at the beginning it would be a 'warts and all' description of depression. Fingers crossed for a better day tomorrow.

Take care, speak soon

Claire x

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Today is offically a holiday - tell your friends!


Last year, I worked my nuts off getting Christmas sorted. I try to think of original and thoughtful gifts; I make a lot of them. I handmade decorations and baked a lot in advance to freeze. Nothing came from packets - everything was homemade. I did all the shopping, wrote all the cards, had 10 people round for dinner on the big day, friends before and afterwards ad family staying for 4 days. I was really looking forward to it.

Then, guess what? 5 days before Christmas I got the flu. I honestly felt like dying, I don't think I have ever felt that ill. But I hauled myself up out of bed on Christmas Eve and, ever the martyr, made sure that Christmas went ahead as I had planned.

Whilst I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, I realised that everyone else was having fun and, having done the lion's share of the preparations, I was still working my nuts off, even though I wasn't well. And I felt a bit resentful.

This year I am making lots of changes. I am only going to do the things I want to do. And one of them is this: I am going to take lots of secret mini holidays in advance, to make up for all the extra effort. I think you should do the same. Email this page to all your girlfriends because I am, officially, giving you permission to have a mini holiday. It could be today, or any day, a whole day or just 10 minutes - but you must do something you enjoy, and you wouldn't ordinarily do. I am looking forward to hearing what you get up to!

I have already been to town and bought myself a few treats. I am now firmly planted on the sofa where I will stay until school time. I have:

New reading material


Coffee and chocolate


Fuzzy friends


Hooky loveliness (I'm crocheting together mum's throw before startig the border. It's at the pre-blocked ugly duckling stage)


Christmas shopping to do


(oh how I am tempted by the free apron)

and there is also a snooze to be enjoyed once I have finished chatting with you.

Given it's the middle of a difficult week at the end of a difficult year, it's raining horizontally and it's windy and cold, I have also decided to treat my boys. Although they will not know about my own treats, oh no.

When Charlie and Jonny come home from school, they will have a tea of boiled eggs, fresh from the chickens, with squirty cream topped hot chocolate, their favourite:


Unbenown to them, the pain au chocolates they grieved over this morning when they thought they were Daddy's, are being saved for a special pudding for two special boys:


Let's not forget a special Daddy, of course. I have not been easy to live with recently, and this is a little way that I can say 'thank you'. Once Jonny and Charlie are in the land of nod, Dom and I shall be enjoying a little treat that I picked up from our local market this morning:


Moules mariniere, with freshly caught local mussels and crusty bread to mop up all the delicious, garlicky sauce. Not forgetting a nice bottle of plonk:


 I have to dash now and begin my hectic schedule. Have fun with yours and, if you do nothing else today, treat yourself.

Lots of love and hugs

Claire xx

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

End of an era


I am amazed by this time of year and I feel compelled to record it. I don't think I have ever paid much attention to late autumn before. We're on the cusp on winter; it won't be long before Christmas dominates and we all think of frost and snowmen. I can't get over how much the seasons have changed here in the last ten days.

It was a beautiful, crisp, cold dawn this morning. The weather is pretty but brittle.


The leaves have pretty much gone from the trees, thanks to the strong winds we've had over the last few days.


The tall trees at the end of the garden are almost bare. We only tend to get pigeons, doves and sparrows visiting the bird table.


The bright red leaves have fallen.

It's been a stressful 24 hours; I have been up since 3.15am. Yesterday we found out that we were personally liable for a business debt amounting to £3,800. Luckily we just about have the funds to pay it, but we're going to have to be really, really frugal over the next 12 months and I am worried.

We were advised by the professionals representing us that we would not have to pay this debt. We followed their advice to the letter. Essentially we have been caught out on a technicality caused by my inexperience. However, the company involved have been very threatening, we've had baliffs show up at the door without warning (not following the usuals procedures, just trying to put the frighteners on me). It's been very scary, especially for two people who are financially very prudent and afraid of debt. Right now, I think it's very unlikely I'll ever run a business again.

I haven't been able to tell you before, but this is why I have double locked all the doors and kept the windows and blinds shut over the last few weeks. We have all had a secret knock, so that I know who is at the door. I have been deeply afraid.

As well as the upset I feel an odd sense of relief too. Another chapter is closing. The bailiffs won't come knocking again. I can finally put this sorry mess behind me and start to lick my wounds.

Dom was amazing. I was afraid he wouldn't come home last night. I was so frustrated and ashamed with myself. However, he did come home, and he held me and didn't judge me. We had a quiet night watching the television. He was calm, understanding and not in any way judgemental. I know he finds the concept of debt frightening too, so I really, really appreciate his thoughtfulness.

Charlie was poorly again too; he came home from school and pretty much slept from 4pm - 7am. He's been so tired and overwrought since school began in September that I hope this long sleep is the start of him regaining his equilibrium.

I am OK, don't worry about me. I feel cherished and lucky. I feel loved. I love to see that, whatever the personal disaster, the sun rises and sets and the leaves still fall from the trees. It makes me feel small and, right now, that is what I need. I need to feel part of the universe, a small cog in a giant machine, rather than someone in control.

I'll leave you with my favourite picture of the day. Today I will sleep, watch Midsummer Murders, drink tea and eat soup and start to stitch together my Mum's blanket. I will be thankful for all that I have, which includes all you amazing people who pop in to see how I am doing every day. It really means the world to me.


I hope you find your own peace today. Love and hugs.

Claire xx


Monday, 16 November 2009



It's a dark, cold, rainy day here at The Cottage today. This is the view from my kitchen window.

I am enjoying it more than you might imagine, actually. I realised this morning that winter is important for the natural cycle of things - the ground becomes wet, the plants rest and gain energy to burst forth in the spring. The cold makes us appreciate the warmer, longer days of summer. Yes, winter feels like a good metaphor for my experiences at the moment.

I haven't blogged for a few days. Charlie and I had Norovirus last week - yuck! Also, I really loved my last post, especially the picture. And I didn't want to spoil the picture and the optimistic sentiment with more tales of depression.

So, I have put together a collage of inspiration. These are clippings from magazines that inspire me - largely Country Living, but there may be others. Many of these pictures were snipped out months ago, so I am afraid that I cannot give sources.


I like the idea of having an online source of inspiration. If you're experiencing depression, I really would recommend starting a blog. It allows me to see my life through outsiders' eyes. That's really helpful, especially as it allows me to focus on the positive. I look at lots of other blogs too, and this helps me feel part of that community. However, the idea of an online scrapbook, that I can dip into when I need a lift or an idea, really fills me with inspiration. I am not very good at creating scrapbooks as I don't like cutting pictures out from magazines, I like to keep them whole. Taking photographs feels like a good compromise.


Dots are really doing it for me at the moment - dots and stripes. Can you see the multicoloured buttons on the red coat earlier? Oh, that gives me a thrill. However, it's a silk coat, price on application. Which means it is way, way above my budget! I have a black mac, and I am considering putting multi coloured buttons on that. What do you think? The other mums in the playground think I am a bit eccentric anyway, and I am tempted to do it just to spite them..

Don't you just love the lime of the scarf and the pom poms? And the dotty books? Ooh, my fingers are itching to get on with something... Look at the umbrellas on that book cover! I so want a pretty umbrella for Christmas, mine is plain black and very uninspiring. Look at how a pretty umbrella could brighten up a day like today!

In depression news, I had my first session of CBT last Thursday. It went well, I liked my counsellor and I found it thought provoking. However, I am finding it difficult. She has given me some workbooks to work through before next week, and I am finding it really tough going. I am finding that don't actually want to talk about the depression much, I would rather ignore it. Self pity is an easier state of mind than challenging one's fears.

I am suprised at how I feel, to be honest. I thought I was completely up for getting better. Now I am not sure whether I have wallowed enough. I am starting to see little green shoots of recovery, I just want to quietly cherish those for a while before ramping it up to challenge the big problems. I still feel private, retreated. I feel as though I am starting to wind down now; the idea of winding myself back up is frightening.

I find it hard to acknowledge these feelings. It's easier to just think 'sod it' and do what I have always done. I am trying not to, though. I have deliberately answered the door and made phone calls over the past few days. I am not sure the relief is as instantaneous as the books describe, but I am still going to keep trying, because I don't know where this will lead me. I just have to put my faith in the system, which isn't the easiest thing to do.

I hope you are well and making the most of these cold days. I am thinking of you.

With love

Claire x

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Autumn Sunlight

Autumn leaves

I have so much to tell you about, lovely readers. I hope you are feeling good today. It's gorgeous here, cold blue skies and warm, golden sunlight. The leaves are falling in the breeze. Such a lovely break from the gunmetal grey days of November.

I didn't take the photo above, obviously. I still have a lot of credit left over at from before the magazine crashed. I don't like to use bought images as I think half the joy of blogs is the honesty of photographing your own life. However, this image has a sort of metaphorical touch, which I think is appropriate, so I hope you'll forgive my choice.

I don't want to jinx things, but I have noticed that my life has been imbued with a gentle glow. Suddenly, I am noticing beautiful things all around me.  I noticed them before, but I didn't feel them. Now I notice that I am starting to feel with my heart as well as my eyes. Which is a wonderful, amazing development.

I've had quite a lot of good days recently. The good days outnumber the bad. It's not that I have suddenly become Mary Poppins, far from it. There are still times of anxiety and fear in each day. But, on the whole, I have more perspective. It started from the simple decision to open the curtains one day.

I feel very blessed with my home. My pace of life has changed, I really have slowed down and am starting to look into the moment and ignore long term plans. This is a momentous change for me. Each time I clean, I feel lucky (madness, isn't it?) I take great pleasure in cleaning my nick nacks and rearranging my shelves. I am planning where my Christmas decorations will go, and how I will wrap presents. Last night, I needed some bread from the freezer in the garden. I spent a good long time looking at my home from the outside in, admiring how warm and homely it looks. It was a real surprise. I breathed in the soft light, the lovely bits and pieces, the comfortable cushions and blankets. It's not perfect - it's certainly not a showhome, but it's cosy. I was dreading this time of year, but actually I feel as though the scales have fallen from my eyes. I wrap myself in blankets, cook jam and cinder toffee, cakes and bread, and I spend my days making gifts and looking after the people I love. I feel very lucky.

Forgive me for the fluffy post, but this is a significant recognition for me. Rather than looking down the hole wondering how deep it is, I seem to be looking around and noticing it's not as ugly as I thought. Hopefully soon I will be looking upwards and making planning how I can get there.

Lots of love and big hugs.

Claire xx

Monday, 9 November 2009

Noticing the small things


Hello lovely reader, how are you today? I hope all is well with you and you enjoyed your weekend. Mine was surprisingly bright, actually.

I love, love, love the photo above. It's a moss covered rock by our pumpkin patch in the garden. The new habit that I am currently trying to learn is to notice detail. Look at the textures on this rock. It looks cold, slimey, rough and furry, doesn't it? I wonder what critters call it home? How much it's surface temperature varies? How and where it was formed? I know for sure that it has resided in Liverpool, London and now Yorkshire because Dom and I have transported this pile of rocks whenever we have moved house - I wonder where it was before? And how old it is? I don't know about you, but I really enjoy feeling very small. Thinking about how old things are always helps.

This morning Charlie and I were looking closely at spider's webs. There were two perfect specimens on the handles of his slide, and we spotted a tiny one on the railing at school. One of the other mums scoffed and said there were hundreds and, anyway, they looked better when "visited by Jack Frost." I don't doubt icy webs look beautiful, but dew drop laden webs look amazing too. I hope to teach Charlie to notice all the miracles around us that it's easy to overlook and pah! to the other mother; her loss.


We had a lot of fun over the weekend as we visited some old friends of ours, Martin and Naomi. They had a bit of a shin-dig at their house, with fireworks and sparklers. The children loved it, but I think the grown ups loved it best! Dom and Martin shuffled the kids into the house and then spent a good long time trying to blow up a pumpkin with fireworks, the big kids. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the wine and, oh my, the delicious food. There were hot dogs and onions, chicken soup, jacket potato with cheese and coleslaw, apple cake and dough nuts - all very much on a help yourself basis. I just love winter comfort food, and Martin and Naomi's home is always so comfortable and so much fun. It was just what I needed and it's perked me up no end. Naomi has had problems with depression in the past, and so little more than a few words, an understanding look and some acknowledgement was enough. It's wonderful to feel so accepted with so little fuss.

I hope you had a good time too, and you're feeling warm and cosy now these winter days have settled. If not, pour yourself a drink and enjoy a virtual hug from me. I get you.

The battery on my camera has run out, and I can't find the charger! Quel disaster! I don't have pictures of crafting, other than to say I am working on the crochet joining strips for mum's blanket. It's quick but a bit bland, so I am looking forward to getting my teeth into something else. I can't wait to show you Baz's scarf, I am so pleased with it. You'll love it.

Catch you later

Claire x

Thursday, 5 November 2009


Lucy, the amazing talent at Attic24, has a lovely way of marking the passing of the months - she puts together a collage of her photos. I have pinched the idea as I think it's lovely. Also, I find that looking at my life from an outsider-in perspective really helps me notice and appreciate the lovely little things that could so easily pass me by.

Anyway, cheers Lucy, and please visit her site. You will not be disappointed.

I give you October, 2009 at the Cottage:


Remember, remember the 5th of November...


Good morning one and all. I hope you are OK today. I'm fair to middling, but I'll come onto that later. It's a gorgeous morning here is East Yorkshire - it's quite warm, actually (15 degrees) and sunny, with a heavy dew and mist. The fog buzzers on the Humber haven't been going regularly yet, but they soon will. The locals call the mist a sea "roake" - a word I'd never heard of until last year.

The pictures are of the Cottage garden this morning.


The boys are excited about bonfire night - we may go to a display at the local pub, Barn Farm, where we went last year. They both have a yearning for marshmallows that we apparently ate last year - how do children remember such things?! The pub has a HUGE pile of firewood that makes me laugh whenever I pass, it's literally the size of the two storey pub, although it's set well back in the field behind. A few weeks ago, a sign appeared outside the pub saying "firewood wanted for bonfire" then, the next time I passed this mountain of sticks and pallets had appeared from literally nowhere. Next, a rather pained sign saying "NO MORE WOOD!!!" appeared. It really makes me chuckle.


Personally, I am a bit out of sorts. I have actually had quite a good week, and I nearly posted on Facebook yesterday saying "Claire thinks she might be turning a corner." Do you think that jinxed it?! Hmm, me too! The house is a complete hole and it's getting me down, although I still feel fluey so have spent a lot of time on the sofa. I had a night of nightmares last night - does anyone else get these on SSRIs? I haven't had one for weeks, but these were real corkers, the sort you just can't properly wake up from and shake off. Dom was lovely, he woke up properly and just held me. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love that man.

When I wasn't dreaming that I was being chased by someone with a knife, or that everyone secretly wanted me dead and was plotting my murder, or that I was hiding behind a door whilst someone was chopping it down with an axe, I dreamed that I was an undercover policewoman pretending to be a stripper. The main things that worried me were a) uncomfortable stilettos, and b) the fact I was wearing a big 80s style multicoloured wig and I was worried it would fall off and my true identity would be revealed. I have to say, though, my flat stomach was something to behold, even though it was Tango orange. I wish I could rerun that part of the dream, I don't think I have ever seen myself with a flat stomach before.

There was also some other weird stuff, I could see shapes changing and morphing into other shapes and flashing lights. I really was afraid I was going mad, but deep down was wishing it on myself. Looking back, I must have been dreaming or at least semi-conscious, but it was disconcerting. If anyone can analyse dreams, please let me know what you think...

I have declined a social invitation today with the inlaws, which I am feeling relived about. They were very understanding - my mother in law sent me a text this morning saying she loves me, which I was very touched by. They have been fabulous. She and Dom had a disagreement about my treatment last night, and that has thrown me. He is of the opinion that I should be out and about and trying to act as normal. She is of the opinion that I should rest and take my medication at the same time every day, regardless of how woozy it makes me feel. They are both right in parts, and I try to do both things. I rarely go out, to be honest, and that's the way I like it. I know it worries Dom. But when I do have to drive, I try to go out when I'm not woozy (usually late afternoon) or take my tablets when I get home (approx 3 hours later, which you could easily do once a week with a lie in, for example, and not worry about.) Anyway, for whatever reason, I feel a bit got at. I just want everyone to leave me alone. I don't know when I will be back to normal and, to be honest, I've given up hope in the medical services. I worry that my family are frustrated with me but I don't have the answers. I have never had depression before. I have never lived this life before and, mostly, I can't be arsed to think about it. So I upset people. Gotta love the depression.

Anyway, I fear I have whittered on too long today. THANK YOU so much for listening, you have no idea how much it helps. Blogging, and reading other blogs, keeps me plugged into the world in a way I can cope with. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

All the love in the world

Claire xx

PS I've had a disaster with the scarf, and may need to unpick several rows. Will report back tomorrow.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Winter is a-coming


Hello ladies and gents of Blogland. How goes it for you today? The weather has been odd here - darkness almost like night and heavy rain, then bright sunshine. And it's cold. Are you feeling the cold too?

To be honest, I had forgotton that I actually quite like this time of year. I always think of winter with dread. A couple of years ago I convinced myself that I had Seasonal Affective Disorder, but that was before I was prepared to acknowledge that it was common-and-garden depression. A lot of the blogs I read are mourning the loss of summer light and colour - I love that too, but I also like these dark days more than I remember I do.

This evening it's dark and cold outside. Charlie is tucked up all snug in bed. Dom is working in the kitchen. Jonny is watching a film, and I am on here talking to you. The house smells of a winter fragraced candle and the lights are dimmed. We are eating pumpkin soup and freshly made bread. The whole place looks and feels cosy. I am happy to wear socks, drink hot drinks, wrap up in blankets and light the fire. My only sadness is that we can't have a real fire in our sitting room as we have no chimney. There is one in the playroom, but that's not as comfortable and cosy.

I've got  a stinking cold though - how are you getting on with the winter germs? My tonsil is still swollen - it's been 3 weeks now - so I made an appointment with the doctor for next week. That's right - I used the phone today, TWICE! I am very proud of myself, even if I did cringe and hide when someone knocked on the door. Baby steps count. I am happy to chalk up the progress and ignore the weak spots.

Also, I want to show off my Christmas cake that I made yesterday, infusing the house with a warm, fruity, spicey aroma. Hmmmmm.


My main priority was to make something that cost as little as possible - and I am really chuffed with this one - it was free! Technically that's not really true, as I had to buy the ingredients in my cupboards in the first place, but it was adapted to include only things I already had in stock. I even managed to get the ready made icing from our local Co-Op for 29p!

It is loosely based on Mary Berry's classic Christmas cake.

  • 625g sultanas
  • half a jar of cocktail cherries, chopped, plus the liquor
  • 200g dried apricots, snipped into pieces
  • 50g (2oz) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
  • about 10 dried prunes, chopped
  • 150ml (¼ pint) Stones Ginger wine, plus extra for feeding
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 250g (9oz) soft margarine
  • 250g (9oz) dark muscovado sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 75g (3oz) blanched almonds, chopped
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

    You need to begin this cake the night before you want to bake it.


    1) Measure the dried fruits into a large bowl. Mix in the ginger wine, the orange juice and the cherry liquor and leave overnight.

    2) Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees centigrade, 275 F or gas mark 1. Grease and line a 20cm deep round cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper. I also greased a couple of muffin tin holes so I could make a couple of mini Christmas cakes, for testing (obviously very important!)


    3) Measure the flour, spices, margarine, sugar, eggs, almonds and walnuts into a large bowl. Beat well with an electric whisk for 2 mins until the cake mixture is a light coffee brown colour.


    4) Add the soaked fruit and fold in well until properly combined


    5) Pour into baking tins. Last year I used muffin tins for mini Christmas cakes, and these worked brilliantly (although icing 12 individual cakes was a bit labourious.) Cleaned, empty baked bean tins would also work well. If you're cooking one large cake, double layer the top with greasproof paper. This isn't necessary with smaller cakes.


    6) Bake in centre of preheated oven for 4 - 4.5 hours. For individual cakes start to check after approximately 90 minutes. It will feel firm to the touch when cooked, and a skewer will come out clean.

    Allow to cool in the tin, then put into a cake tin. Pierce with a fine skewer and slosh on a couple of tablespoons of booze of choice weekly until Christmas.

    The final result was a tangy, apricotty, nutty cake. It hasn't matured in flavour yet, so it'll be interesting to see if the spices become more developed. It isn't as dark and treacle-y as some Christmas cakes I have made, but personally, I prefer it this way.

    Keep me posted on any changes you make if you attempt your own store cupboard Christmas cake. I love to hear how you're keeping the Christmas costs down.

    Time for me to go now, and spend a happy half hour browsing my favourite blogs - you can see them by clicking the list in the left hand bar.

    Take care of yourselves, and see you tomorrow.

    Claire xx

  • PS Cadbury's Caramel Bites. To die for. Just try them.

  • Monday, 2 November 2009

    And exhale...

    Halloween 09 collage

    Phew! Half term is over and across the world mums are breathing a collective sigh of relief. I love, love, love time with my boys, don't get me wrong, but I also like my own space too. And 20 minutes without someone whining "mum..." is bliss.

    Today has been lovely. The house looks like its been hit by a tournado, but it can stay like it a while longer. Today I have pootled about in the kitchen making things. I have baked my Christmas cake, made garden chutney from the last of our own veggies, bottled our own honey and made sunblushed tomatoes in garlic olive oil. I'll post the recipes each day over the next week. They will come together to make Christmas hampers for our friends and family, which has become a bit of a tradition chez Boynton.

    I feel rubbish today, I have a cold. Aren't they irritating? Thankfully I don't feel too ill, I just can't breathe through my nose and so I didn't sleep very well. That said, nothing was going to spoil my lovely pottering today. I saw an advert for a cancer charity today that said "today was a good day. I thought about something other than the cancer." It struck me that the same applies to depression too. Today I thought about something else for a good, long while. And it felt good.

    You'll see from the photo that we had a fun halloween, I hope you did too. Charlie really wanted to go trick or treating, so I had to get over my misgivings. I have two problems with trick or treating: 1) it's demanding money with menaces, effectively. 2) I spend all year telling my kids not to go to strangers houses, then one night encouraging them to do just that. However, we went for a walk to the local shop with Charlie in his fancy dress, which gave ample opportunity for the old ladies to admire his costume. Charlie loved that, the flirt. The lady in the local shop gave him some chocolate too. We then took him to neighbours we know, and to Granny and Pops in the next village. This was enough for him, really. We agreed that he could give out sweets to any older children who knocked on the door and he thought this was lovely. He also enjoyed carving a pumpkin with Daddy, and putting it in the front window.

    I have to say, though, it was one of the only nights I have seen everyone full of community spirit. Villagers old and young alike were chatty and friendly and smiley. It makes me unsure about the whole Halloween thing. I don't want to be a killjoy, I just want my children to grow up knowing right from wrong. Maybe I think too much.

    I'm off now, there's dinner to cook for Dom (he's at football) and I want to get on with some knitting. I am knitting a very exciting scarf for my father in law, Baz. I know 'exciting' and 'scarf' sound like a contradiction in terms, but I am really loving it and itching to get finished. I will reveal all later in the week. Like a true knitting addict I have aching fingers and a blister on my thumb, but does that put me off?!

    Love and hugs to you, keep on pushing those demons away

    Claire x