Happy New Year and thanks for the sisterhug (that's what my iPhone tried to make of word 'sisterhood' earlier today) and that's what I feel when I get emails from readers and see your comments and messages on Facebook. Sisterhugs. Isn't that lovely?
Since I last really talked to you all, I've been to Jordan with Unicef Ireland to visit a Syrian refugee camp, Al Zata'ari, to try to write and talk about it so we can raise funds. I've written some pieces and when they're all published, I'll put them up on the website (here's a link to one that has been published) but wow...among the incredible people I met was a five-week-old baby who lives in a tent with his mom (aged 20) who is terrified of when the snow comes because how will she cope with the cold and the wind rattling through the tent then? Over 84,000 people, half of them children, live in this camp and despite amazing work from charities like UNICEF and the UNHCR, it's still no place to live.
After writing that, being funny and chatting about the holidays seems wrong but you know, that's how I reach people: I write and people listen and then I can talk about people living in a refugee camp. Anything to do with women and children living in darkness, anything to do with homelessness or animals, and I'm there. I also hosted/appeared at/talked at (what is the word?) a lunch in Athlone's Glasson Country House Hotel and Golf Club for Midlands Simon Community last weekend. It was amazing, great fun (everyone had to wear something yellow except Gonzo here who forgot - boys were going back to school next day and was distracted leaving the house...) and the work of people who do things for homeless people - and it could happen to anyone - is awe-inspiring.
We need a gap, folks.
The decorations are down... I am bereft. I LOVE having shiny sparkly things around. The stairway looks empty without its wrapping of white and old gold butterflies (really Christmassy, obviously), pine cones, teeny sparkly lights (on batteries - am terrified of setting house on fire with plug-in ones) and mad dangly ornaments that have to be put at precise angles so nobody sees how old/entirely battered/unsparkly they are. I suppose the stairs will go back to the place where I fling my coat. Yes, a coat hanger thingamabob would be a good plan!
I cooked lots of things, nobody needed any medication afterwards, so I think that's a result. I DIDN'T make the chocolate biscuit cake but the chocolate has been steadily going down (I got the good stuff this time), so I feel it will never be made. Ah well.
Oh...I had the privilege of reading Patricia Scanlan's new book, A Time For Friends, over the actual days of Christmas and it was WONDERFUL. Her best yet. I wish I hadn't read it so I still had it to look forward to in February. I have a pile of books to read - yes, I will, Ellie and Ciara, just been manic and have been collapsing into bed without energy to read much. Also waiting for new Becky Masterman...
Strictly Come Dancing ended.....oh woe is me. How will I live without it? Honestly, I twirl around the kitchen thinking about it - hazardous when you have three small dogs. Mind you, they got three teddies for Christmas, and although one was disembowelled and de-squeaked in two hours, one of the others is still being adored and Licky and Scamp keep stealing it from each other and nibbling it. Poor Dinky does not like the big pink pig thing she is left with. She is getting extra cuddles to make up for this.
We saw lots of movies - the new Penquins of Madagascar one, Paddington and the last Night At The Museum one. We are also going to see Into The Woods...yes, slightly child-orientated on the movies. No wonder I like thrillers in the book world. Oh yeah, I ate an entire box of Roses chocolates all by myself. Over Christmas. I hid them. Is this bad?
Finally, I am madly writing my new book. Very exciting. It's coming out in September this year. Cunningly, it has about eight titles so far, so there is a danger of me mixing them all up on the computer desktop (which has happened in the past. But I am older and wiser now.)
I am determined to get the hang of mindfulness this year. But hold on, must check my emails first...
Love and hugs and hope 2015 brings joy to you all,