the dead zone

The presents have been sort of put away.  The fridge is full of leftovers, not enough for a whole meal on their own but little bowls of stuff.  Your Christmas guests have departed and even the dogs aren’t trying to eat the last chocolates.  What do you do between Christmas and New Year?


In some countries it is business as usual, 26th December isn’t a public holiday and everybody troops back to work until 1st of January when the hangover cures come out and regretful memories of jaegerbombs and advocaat bang around sore heads.  However, for some, particularly large parts of the UK the holiday starts on the evening of 24th December and stretches out until the alarm goes on 2nd January.

I have to admit I love the long Christmas holiday.  I have my family around me, I can have a lie in, I don’t have to cook much as we have a long list of family traditional leftover meals that would spark a revolution if we didn’t prepare, I have lots of books to read, I can plan for 2014 and the dogs get long and wet walks.

But that time is also a great gift and it is easy to squander it, to look back at that fortnight and wonder what on earth you did. So, why not shift that backside, shake those legs and try something different….

  • Go to a local attraction, you know, the one you never go to because you live next door.  Better still go to one aimed at children and families and let your inner child out playing the treasure hunt or working out why ice is solid, feed the reindeer and make a paper snowflake.
  • Play one in one out with your christmas presents.  Unless you were given a Picasso for Christmas the chances are that you already have several of whatever you were given, but the new ones fit/work/go with your decor.  Throw or donate the grey knickers, the books you have read the scarf you never wear, the shoes that don’t quite fit.  This isn’t a clear out it is a single swap.
  • See if there are any matinee tickets for the local panto.  The evenings will definitely be sold out but trying to feed everyone and be in your seats for 7.30 can be a pain anyway.  Far easier to have an early lunch and work it all off with Widow Twankey (UK readers only I am afraid 🙂 )
  • Get out that book you keep meaning to read but never have the time.  Maybe it’s a heavy duty history book, an esoteric guide to comparative religion, a thumping great biography or a cookery book you have never had the time to try out.  You have the time now.
  • Bake.  Yes I know you were cooking right up until midnight on Christmas Eve.  But this is fun cooking, not mass catering I am talking about.  Bake cookies and decorate them with wild and ridiculous colours.  Have a go at making your own croissants or brioche, or bourbon biscuits, or custard creams….
  • Go to the garden centre and search out the “scratch and dent” corner.  They all have them, the corner where the dead looking plants are.  Most of them aren’t dead just hibernating but you can get fantastic bargains and now you have the time to bring them home and give them a little tlc before planting them out.
  • Paint.  No I do not mean redecorate.  This is most certainly NOT the time for that.  If you have always wanted to have a go at painting, palmistry, papier mache, pottery, philosophy then get out a book from the library, go online and have a go. This isn’t a full on course, this is spend an afternoon doing something simple you always said you would but never have.   Not everything has to begin with P by the way.


Decluttering is not just about getting stuff out of your house, it’s about getting stuff out of your life so that there is room in your life for the stuff that you love and that really matters to you.  If you are fortunate enough to have time off this Christmas, then why not use some of that time to find out exactly what it is that you love and matters to you.  It isn’t always as obvious as you think.


open mind

The Boss and I are not very good about getting out at the weekend.  We tend to potter around the house and garden,  tidying up, doing little jobs, enjoying the sun on our back and drinking endless cups of tea.  It is lovely, but life is about balance and despite saying “oh we must go out and do X” we usually end up not doing it.

Fortunately the Fickle Finger of Fate had other ideas.  The Singers had their first day at Quay Voices at the Sage in Gateshead.  10.30-5.30 with a compulsory meeting for parents (of the under 18s) at 5.00pm.  I grabbed my chance.  I firmly believe that everyone gets opportunities in life it’s just that most of us a pretty rubbish at noticing them.  “Let’s drop the girls at the Sage, then head off to the Quayside for breakfast, have a potter through the Sunday Market and maybe visit the Laing and Baltic?”  I peeled myself off the floor when the Boss said “okay.”

So that’s precisely what we did.  As it happens  we got to the Laing an hour before it opened (at 2.00pm??) and the exhibition at the Baltic was dreadful (Thomas Scheibitz), well not my cup of tea at least.  What do you think?


But we had a delicious breakfast (Eggs Benedict) at the Pitcher and Piano, read the papers and I caught up on some knitting.  We loved wandering among the stalls at the Sunday Market.  From made to order Vietnamese curries to pig roast; from homemade dog treats to my favorite leather worker (everything from pencil cases and lap top bags to swatches!!), fresh homegrown vegetables (I bought amazing onions, tomotoes and cucumber – all a real mix of varieties) to homemade pies and the cutest baby clothes.

We wandered up towards the centre of town but were foiled by the Laing being closed which was a shame because I really wanted to see the “Divine Bodies” exhibition.  However, we ambled back down towards the Quayside, stopped for a very light lunch of guacamole and margarita ( 🙂 ) and slowly  made our way back to the Sage.

The girls had had a great day, we bumped into their singing teacher and Singer One’s horn teacher and we had been out for the day.

Sometimes it is easy to fall into a rut.  To think you can’t be bothered.  Whether you can’t be bothered to make the effort to go out or you can’t be bothered to get rid of the clothes/books/knick knacks/linen/cds  etc. that you no longer want, it is easier to say “I’ll do it another day”  But you won’t and your days will speed past and you might never do it.  And what if you missed out on something amazing by not doing something simple?

I had a really wonderful day and all because I said let’s stay in town.  Hey, that wasn’t hard was it?

Say yes to something tomorrow, something to which you are about to say no.  Not a job nor an additional responsibility, feel free to say never to that, but to an offer, an opportunity.  Even if it’s just a suggestion to have a different filling in your regular lunchtime sandwich.

Having fun doesn’t need money or equipment, it just needs an open mind.