Daybook Entry – New Year’s Eve 2016

021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFor Today… the last day of 2016

Outside my window… I can hear some isolated bursts of fireworks going off locally. The weather is mild to cold but not frosty yet.

I am thinking… about some changes I need to make in myself, my outlook, my worldview and my expectations.

I am thankful… for so, so much! Where to start? Well, first and foremost I am thankful for the ever present grace and love of God in my life. My faith in him (and his in me) has got me through so much this year and I am thankful to have reached this point still in one piece.

I am praying for… Charlotte and Kieran who are dealing with the most heartbreaking loss anyone can imagine; my brother who is going to be having an operation in a couple of weeks and is facing a long recovery time afterwards; Roy, Margaret, Iain and Megan who will be taking a big step next week; Emma who is starting a new job on Tuesday; Ethan who has got a high-pressure time ahead this term.

I am wearing… a happy smile this evening as I look back at what has happened this year.

I am creating… a new way of thinking. I have come to realise that my thought patterns and behaviour patterns need an overhaul if I am to ever make progress with my life. For example, I am desperate to write a full length novel but fear of failure is holding me back. I know I have the skills (talent is as yet still untested), but I keep talking myself out of doing anything about it because I think my story is not good enough, or that people won’t want to read it and so on. I am trying to create a new way of thinking about myself where I concentrate on the positives of what I’m doing rather than worrying about the (unknown) negatives.

I am going… to put my new thinking into action over the coming weeks and let’s see where we are by half term.

I am wondering… whether I ought to do something about my physical health as well as my mental health this year…

I am reading… “Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs. I was fortunate enough to receive an Amazon gift card for Christmas which I have already bitten into and bought this latest one in the Temperance Brennan series. I have had my eye on it for a little while and I was really chuffed to be able to buy it on Boxing Day. I’m nearly at the end of it and to be honest, I can’t wait for bedtime tonight so I can go and finish it!

I am hoping… that our financial difficulties will be eased this year, if not resolved somehow. I have faith that we will be ok.

I am learning… to ease up on myself, to lower my expectations, and to celebrate the small things.

In my garden… we have a gazebo erected over our deck area at the back of the house. We put it up there for Christmas Day so we had somewhere dry to put the settee out while we had the long tables set up for dinner. We haven’t got round to putting it down yet but I rather like it and might persuade Kevin to keep it for a while.

In my kitchen… we have some snacks and treats waiting to eat while we watch the final Harry Potter film later on tonight.

A favourite quote for today…


A peek into one of my days… I’m going to cheat here and show you a few photos from December as there’s too many to choose from!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A bonus little video for you: filmed outside our house on Christmas morning as we played for our neighbours before church. Hope you enjoy it!

One of my favourite things… is planning and researching things for writing about. One of my least favourite things is spotting when “research” becomes “procrastinating” and getting a move on and to get writing.

Post Script: This year has been a year of spectacular highs and devastating lows, and this is my chance to acknowledge those difficulties and joys and to say a public thank you to everyone who has got me through it all.

Those of you who have followed my blog over the months and years will know that from time to time my mental health takes a hit, and that my family’s financial situation is not particularly secure or hopeful. This year has been the worst we have endured and we have come close a few times to crossing the line. However, we have been blessed on so many occasions by the kindness and support of family and friends who have seen us through. With gifts of food and other necessities, and on more than one occasion the gift of money, our family and friends have literally saved the day. Ethan would not have been able to go on the trip of a lifetime with the music centre had it not been for an anonymous gift of a substantial amount of money which was put through our front door the day before the deadline for payment. More recently, we were facing a very lean Christmas with no spare cash to be able to buy any presents for anyone but again, from anonymous gifts, we not only were able to get some gifts for our children but we have enough now for both Kevin and I to be able to replace our glasses in a couple of weeks. We are both desperate for an eye test and new glasses but until this money came in, we were getting very anxious about how we were going to pay for them. As I said, we have been extremely blessed and we are so grateful for everyone who has helped us in 2016. The grace of God has been in abundance in our family this year!

Some high spots have punctuated the seemingly endless struggle to “get by”, such as our family camping holiday in Wales this summer (again, paid for as a gift to us – and boy are we glad for that gift!). We were joined by my brother and his family for a few days, which was a great experience, and I got to enjoy some spiritual time in a very special part of the world. I finally finished my studies and I got my degree this summer which is an achievement I never in a million years thought I would ever do. Kevin and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year too, which, as with my degree, is an achievement and milestone I never thought I would ever see. But we did and I am proud to have made it with my best friend and partner in life.


The Joys of Banding

What a day….what a bloody day….

We a band job today which is something that I normally look forward to, and today started out as no exception. But it just started off badly and then went worse.

We were due to meet at the venue at 11.30am ready for playing at noon, which meant leaving our house at 10.30am to make sure we had plenty of time to arrive, and then park, and then lug all the gear to the stand. The venue, incidentally, was an archery field in the middle of Hebden Bridge, a small West Yorkshire town that is a tourist attraction for most of the year round and is a really lovely place to visit. We have visited it many, many times in the past as part of days out with the family or for craft fairs or band competitions and so on, but we have either travelled there in convoy with other cars or on a band coach, or when we have been meandering around the Calderdale valley and we have “happened upon” it by accident.

We should have remembered that when we set off from our house slightly late this morning (10 minutes over time) as, with just a quick glance at the map and not quite trusting the sat-nav on my phone we set off not quite knowing where we were going.

The first thing that went wrong was that we should have filled up with petrol on the way home from band last night but we had had a nightmare there too and we were late home and tired (the junction on the M62 that we come off to get home was closed and we had to do a big detour, putting us about half an hour later than usual).

So the first stop was at the petrol station to fuel up, and onto the M66…and straight into a queue. Oh boy…

I was driving (Kevin’s back was playing up yesterday and this morning he was bent into a semi-permanent paperclip shape and had to take strong painkillers to even get out of bed) and once we’d got going properly on the M62 I felt a bit better.

The sat-nav tried to tell me that the best way to get to Hebden Bridge was to go through Todmorden (where we rehearse) but having glanced at the map earlier and clocked that Hebden Bridge was halfway between Todmorden and where we would come off the M62 if we carried on to past Huddersfield, I was convinced that motorway (faster) driving would get us there on time. At that was my first mistake.

We got off the M62 at Elland and followed the road signs (and with half an ear on the smug sat-nav) towards Halifax/Hebden Bridge/the end of the world. Unfortunately, when we got to Sowerby I did that thing and listened to the sat-nav, which took us down what looked like a back lane rather than the main road. You know when you’re driving with a sat-nav there are two rules to abide by? The first one, “listen to the sat-nav” and the other, “don’t listen to the sat-nav”…and the skill is knowing which one to do when. Well, I got it wrong and decided that I knew best and carried on the main road.

Mistake number 2.

According to the estimated time of arrival on Her Royal Smugness’ face, we were only about 10 minutes late at this stage, which, although frustrating and disappointing, wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

But then, because I thought I knew better than a satellite-driven, NASA initiated, Google-peddled little app on my phone, we ended up going along a side road, that led to a small lane, that led to a farm track that eventually ended up as a bridleway somewhere on the hilltops overlooking Mytholmroyd (the next village over to Hebden Bridge).

Not too bad time wise, but then we hit a “road closed” sign and a diversion sending us further up the valley side. The very helpful people who were standing by the sign told us “yeh cahn’t ger dahn thur…” and then carried on with their conversation. I should point out that this was in the middle of nowhere and apart from the two people talking in front of the sign there was not a soul to be seen for bloody miles. Not a building, not a vehicle, not a blessed soul. It might have been helpful if they could have said “…but you can do down THAT road there and you’ll be there in a jiffy, old bean”.

But they didn’t, so we ended up looping back through miles and miles more of little lanes, country tracks, bridle paths and even a footpath at one point (which was cobbles, not even a metalled surface). Fifteen minutes later, and after following a series of diversion signs and arguing with HRS sat-nav (no, we are NOT going to drive through that farmer’s field, no matter how indignant you get madam!) we ended up back at the same point.

So back we go, and round the loop again, past the same set of cows in the same field that we passed about 20 minutes previously and Kevin in the front seat frantically trying to get hold of someone from band to let them know that a) we were going to be really late now and b) we were hopelessly lost.

We managed to pick up a wider country lane, and were heading in the general direction of Hebden Bridge but were worryingly still on the tops of the valley and not heading anywhere down it just yet, when we did pick up a road that looked promising.

Oh you little bugger you. It turned out to be a con, and we drove up a (very) steep incline – cobbled again – where there was a steep ravine to my right and a dry stone wall to my left. Now our car isn’t that wide, but it felt like it was about six inches too wide for this particular track and I accidentally (well I wouldn’t do it on purpose would I?) hit the wall on the passenger side.

It was around this time that my nerve began to fail and I began to cry. Pathetic eh?! Not only were we late, but we had about 20 colleagues from band waiting for us in a field SOMEWHERE in Yorkshire, and we were lost, and we had the music in the boot, but I’d just driven into a dry stone wall which my husband (funnily enough) thought was something which I should be remonstrated about. I can’t tell you his exact words, but they were something along the lines of “goodness gracious my dear, that was a little close, I think you may have breached the edges of the road somewhat”. Or words to that effect…

Anyway, tears and tantrums over (all the while desperately driving along the stupid road) and I decided that my instincts were strong enough to bring us back down the valley without either listening to Her Royal Smugness or following diversion signs that were sending us round and round in circles, and I found myself back…in Sowerby where we’d been about 45 minutes earlier.

By now, it had gone past noon the time we were supposed to be playing and I had bitten most of my fingernails down to the painful bits. I had another little cry as we hit a traffic queue in the centre of Sowerby but what could I do? Kevin was on the phone to bandsmen at the venue, Ethan was in the back saying “are we there yet?” and Her Royal bloody Smugness got silenced without mercy once we’d hit the A58 again.

We had a new ETA of about 12.30, which meant that we were only about 15 minutes away when my bladder made its presence very uncomfortably felt. No matter, we were quite close by then and it wouldn’t be long… or would it?

Traffic jam in Mytholmroyd
Traffic jam in Mytholmroyd. You can see the standing traffic ahead for miles

We hit another traffic queue on the approach to Mytholmroyd which took about 15 minutes to negotiate through (about 2 miles in 15 minutes sums it all up really), and just as we were about to hit Hebden Bridge (hurrah!) we saw Liz our chairman running along the road in her band uniform, flagging us down.

Did I mention that our car was full of gear and we had 4 folding chairs on the back seat with Ethan? Well, I don’t know how she did it but Liz got in the back and managed to squeeze herself in on top of the chairs and direct us in to where we were due to play. By now it was getting on for 1pm, which is when we should have been starting our second spot, but we made it with oooh seconds to spare.

While the boys set up the stands and handed out the music, I made use of the facilities (which amounted to a very wobbly toilet in a shed in the middle of the field, with handwritten instructions on the wall on how to flush it) but I didn’t care. At least it wasn’t a tree by the roadside!

We suffered the usual sort of ribbing and teasing – well deserved if you ask me – and we finally got underway. Only an hour and a bit late.

And then it came to the homeward journey.

It took us two and a half hours to make a 45 mile journey to get there, and once we’d realised that Hebden Bridge is only 4 miles away from Todmorden (durrrr) it took us a little under an hour to get back home again.

Kevin's superior boot-packing skills on show here. This is us packed up to go home. He is demonstrating his 3D Tetris skills as level expert here - there are 2 cornet cases, a bass trombone, a box of music, my conductor's case, my conductor's stand, uniforms, spare shoes and my bag all packed into the boot. And it's only an Astra!
Kevin’s superior boot-packing skills on show here. This is us packed up to go home. He is demonstrating his 3D Tetris skills as level expert here – there are 2 cornet cases, a bass trombone, a box of music, my conductor’s case, my conductor’s stand, uniforms, spare shoes and my bag all packed into the boot. And it’s only an Astra!

I haven’t written about the argument we had with a tractor (met at speed on a downhill stretch of pathway, and as I’m no good at reversing, reversing uphill and round a bend to let it past us is something that has traumatised me and I will need counselling for in the future). Nor have I written about the “check engine light” that kept flashing on and off whilst we were cruising at altitude above the Calder valley. And neither have I written about the suspicious ticking sound from the engine that started just after we left home and which prompted me to remember Kevin telling me last night that he “should really check the oil in the morning before we set off”.

So lessons learned today:

1. Check a proper map before you set off.

2. Listen to your sat-nav.

3. DON’T listen to your sat-nav.

4. Make sure you fill up with petrol well in advance.

5. Find out how close places are to the band room, it will save an awful lot of time!

6. Make sure you check the oil to stop unnecessary (and very scary) ticking noises from the engine.

7. Learn to reverse uphill and round bends on narrow country lanes.

8. Don’t bounce off dry stone walls when avoiding 1000 foot drops on the other side.

9. Your husband loves you really and doesn’t mean to shout when you put a huge scrorp (scrawp?) mark down the side of the car and a dent in the back door.

10. Banding is fun. Honest.




Daybook Entry – 15th December

daybook button

I love doing these daybook entries. They serve as a focus point for me in many ways, and there are times in my life when I need this time to just stop and reflect. Tonight is one of those times.


Outside my window… the clouds are scooting through the sky in layers. I can see wispy low clouds scudding like they’re being chased by the hounds of hell and then behind those there are denser, slower moving ones that are playing hide and seek with the moon. Then there are the high ones that seem to be painted on. It’s lovely.

I am thinking… that I’ve done it again. EVERY year I tell myself that to start getting ready for Christmas before Remembrance is just not on, and I’m definitely going to wait until 1st December to start, and EVERY year I get to this stage, realise that I haven’t got a hope of getting ready because I’ve been so tied up with other stuff that I’ve not started yet. There’s so much to do I feel I could cry.

I am thankful… that I have a fantastic support system. If I begin to name people I would be afraid of missing people out, but without a certain handful of people these past couple of weeks I wouldn’t have made it through.

In the kitchen… there is lots of space – space in the cupboards, space in the oven, space in the freezer. As I said earlier, I am so far away from being prepared this Christmas and I have been so busy that I haven’t got myself  organised enough to be prepared for being busy. We haven’t eaten properly for a couple of days because a) I’ve not been shopping for proper food, b) I’ve not had time to cook anything and c) I haven’t got anything in the freezer we can rely on to bail us out. ARGH!

I am wearing… shorts and a t-shirt. I have been on the go for over 12 hours today and I got home and had a shower about an hour ago. It’s time for bed shortly so there was no point getting dressed properly.

I am creating… not very much at the moment, but this coming week I am going to be crocheting lots of things for presents for people.

I am going… to have lunch with my bestie tomorrow. After all the time spent on other stuff in the last couple of weeks I’m going to enjoy a bit of time out tomorrow.

I am wondering… if this sicky feeling I’ve got is going to go away after a good night’s sleep. I thought it was because of nerves about things I’ve been responsible for today, but that’s all over now and I still feel sick.

I am reading… I have just finished “Candle in the Darkness” by Lynn Austin. It is the first in a trilogy centred on the events leading up to and during the American Civil War. Each of the instalments tells the story from a different perspective and this first one is told from the point of view of a plantation owner’s daughter in the South. Caroline is a Southern belle but she disagrees with slavery, befriending her father’s slaves and treats them as family. Her fiancé doesn’t see it the same way, so when the war begins she finds she has divided loyalties. The second is told from the viewpoint of Caroline’s cousin from Philadelphia and the third is from the viewpoint of a slave. I am looking forward to finishing the trilogy – the characters are vibrant and alive, and I have gained a better understanding of the American Civil War through this story.

I am hoping… the families at the memorial service at church tonight were comforted and strengthened by our efforts to bring light to them in their grief. From the feedback we got from them it seemed to go well, but only God knows just how people are touched by things like this.

I am praying for… our memorial families; my friend John; Eddie; my church family who I have grown closer to this past year; my husband; my niece Jessica.

I am looking forward to… having some time to relax this week.

I am learning… how to write a decent essay – thank you David!

Around the house… I wouldn’t know. I’ve spent so little time here over the weekend I’ve almost forgotten what it looks like.

I am pondering… gifts or presents for people? What’s the difference, you may ask. Well, the way I see it, a gift is something you give someone to be nice. It might have a function or a decoration but basically it’s something that comes in a nice box and is nice to open. A present is something that you have put a lot of thought into and you match to the receiver’s needs or wants. I don’t like giving things just for the sake of giving something, but I don’t have the resources or finances to give presents to people that I want to. See answers above…

A favourite quote for today:

Lord, forgive our lack of faith in your loving power.

When all we see is what we don’t have.

When we fail to notice the countless blessings.

Clear our blindness to the needs of others.

Strengthen us to serve you.

Help us to truly listen to one another.

Give us loving and generous hearts.

One of my favourite things… is sitting in my rocking armchair with a cup of tea in my hand.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Stay and Play in the morning, lunch with my friend, carolling in the evening tomorrow; some housework (badly needed!) and shopping on Tuesday; carolling on Wednesday night with my bestie… lots happening that I can’t even get into place yet!

A peek into my day…

Sunday School today was a bit mad – we had a puzzle race to do, a couple of worship songs, some artwork to do for the wall and a brilliant “When I Went To Bethlehem” game. These two snippets of video were taken as the children spontaneously burst into song while they were colouring in their pictures. You can’t beat moments like that!!

You may have gathered that I’ve been a bit busy for a couple of weeks. Let me give you a glimpse into my activities just this weekend:

Friday – get to the church hall at 9.30am to set up for Christmas lunch for the First Friday Silver Service lunch club. Go into church to disassemble the PA system, amp and microphone receiver etc. Take it to the hall to set it up there. Put up tables and chairs, get music going, help serve lunch, perform quiz and give answers to music quiz, organise singsong and lead 12 days of Christmas with audience participation. Clear up tables, disassemble PA and all sound equipment take it back to church and reassemble it all, head back to hall to help finish washing up and tidying up, get home at about 4pm. Dive in shower, no time for tea, leave house at 6pm to go to Todmorden, conduct brass band concert, arrive home 10.40pm. Quick cup of tea then bed.

Saturday – typeset service sheet for Memorial Service on Sunday, type up slideshow for same service to include 80 names and all animations and transitions, leave house at 12.15 to go to OU tutorial at Manchester University (no time for lunch), leave tutorial at 3pm, get picked up by Kevin (late, as he’d been stuck in football traffic), head to Tesco for carolling with church, 5pm finish carolling, go shopping, 7pm manage to eat some food (hurrah!!!), spend evening making sure memorial slideshow works properly and finding appropriate music and sorting out Sunday School resources for morning, downloading video for a visitor in the service and making sure service slideshow works for morning. Still fighting with printer at 1am….yes, one o’clock in the morning!

Sunday – up at 8am for breakfast (yes, food AGAIN) head to church for 10.15am to set up slides for service and stuff in the hall for Sunday School. 11am manage to sit down for service in church for half an hour before heading out with kids to do Sunday School. Great fun, see videos above! Back into church after service to time test the memorial slide show with the readers and to decide music, enter baptism in the parish register, write out certificate, photocopy 200 2-page service sheets with Mum, Dad and Kevin and then fold and staple them. Home at 3.15pm and a quick bacon butty (hurrah FOOD!) and a sit down before heading out again at 4.45pm to go to church. Lots of final touches before the service including writing prayers and double checking the names on the slideshow match the memorial candles and playing music as people arrived for the service. Memorial service in full swing at 6.30pm – memorial slideshow and music went perfectly – disassemble the AV stuff after the service then over to the hall for the reception with the memorial families. Tidy up, tables and chairs away, set up for Stay and Play in the morning and then home just after 9pm to finally stop this weekend. 

Phew, it’s been a bit busy!!! In a funny kind of way I do enjoy times like these, but I do have my limits. Being so heavily involved with church and a brass band naturally means that this time of year is the busiest ever, and I find that the more I have got to do the more I can do. Strange really. You can see why I like the time it takes to do a Daybook Entry – the stopping and reflecting does wonders for me. I just hope you like them too.

Come and join us at and join in!!



We have been rehearsing a piece in band recently that is just….wow…..! It’s at the stage now where we can perform it, and we can perform it very well too. It was suggested by Jan, one of our horn players, and we just loved it from the minute we started rehearsing it.

Here’s an official version of the theme. Not in the same league as a brass band playing it but nevertheless…..enjoy.