Memories to Treasure

04 January 2023

As we enter a New Year ready to be filled with memories, I, like so many bloggers, have been looking back at the past year.  I sometimes write A peek into my day posts, I thought it would be fun to use similar prompts to look back at last year. 

Outside my window

I am so blessed to live in a beautiful place, I will never tire of the view from my window.  Each and every time I open my curtains to greet the outside world, I never know what I am going to see.  A grey dull day with low cloud obscuring my view, a cold and icy winter morning which is slowly waking up, the moon still shining brightly catching the first rays of winter sun, the green haze of spring or the beautiful colour palette of autumn.  Every single one catches your breath with its beauty.

We finally got new neighbours, they moved in a year, almost to the day, since our previous neighbour died.  We were a little baffled as to why it took so long for renovation work to start as we had thought the house had been sold back in February.  It turns out the sellers never sorted probate, to transfer the house to their names, after their mother died three years ago.  It seems they were selling a house that did not actually legally belong to them.  By mid August it was all sorted and renovation work started in earnest, for two months there was a lot of noise and bustle but all is quiet now.  It is bittersweet to have different neighbours, we are glad someone is living in the house, but it is tinged with sadness as a reminder that our beloved neighbour is no longer with us.  We really noticed last Winter that the heating was off, our house was noticeably cooler the heat drifting into the unheated space next door, our house is the middle of a terrace

It felt like we had four proper distinct seasons last year.  Sometimes spring, summer and autumn can all feel the same as the temperatures don't rise enough to distinguish summer from the seasons either side, the extra hours of daylight the only differentiation.  The warm and sunny summer meant that my garden produced plenty of vegetables for us, we don't have enough space to be self sufficient, but there is nothing like a home grown salad freshly picked and eaten immediately.  We found a CD with photos of the garden when we moved in, I had been searching for those pictures earlier in the year and finally found them when we were decluttering last week.  A computer died on us about sixteen years ago and took two years worth of photos with it, luckily we had shared many photos with family members so we got them back but had clearly not got round to putting them back on our current PC.  It made me realise, seeing those old photos, how much work we have put into our garden .

The dramatic rise in energy bills has galvanised us into increasing the number of solar PV panels we have in an attempt to reduce our bills slightly.  We already have solar water heating panels on the roof of our house which fill it front and back so we are making use of the garage and workshop roof for solar PV panels.  We already had a few up there which have been using to provide electricity for the garage and workshop, but we are in the middle of installing an array of 24 panels to give us a greater supply.  We have a friend who is an electrician who is going to wire them into our mains feed so that we can supplement the supply we pay for. It may also be time to find a suitable place for a small wind turbine which we have talked about for years.

I am thankful

I have had so many things to be thankful for this past year, I am sure I could write a post entirely about that.  We had a wonderful family gathering in March, our first in years.  It was lovely to spend a few days with my niece, all my nephews, siblings and parents, I very much hope we can find a time to do it again this year.

I continued to embrace rest and pausing during the year, making more space for it in my life.  I started off taking afternoon naps, something I shall continue this winter, it felt good to have this as part of my hibernation.  Even when lift got crazy busy in the summer there was still time for pausing, a different kind of rest to that which I was taking in the Winter but a rest none the less.  This is a legacy of lockdowns that I want to continue with for years to come.

I have some wonderful friends in my life, their friendship has carried me through many a time this past year, when I needed a listening ear there was always one available.  Those tough moments in our life are always so much more bearable when we have someone to help us through.

In my kitchen

I started making sourdough again, creating a starter and keeping it going.  I watched a lovely series on the internet which gave me a new found confidence and improved my loaves no end.  

In those weeks when I have a little more time to plan our menus I have made sure to get out recipe books that I have not used for a while to search for old favourites that I have forgotten about.  What that reminded me is that I am making recipes from those books.  When I cook something often enough I can then cook it from memory so those books which I don't think I am cooking from are getting used all the time, from my head. 

The slow cooker has become my new oven and gets used far more, a bonus as it is so much cheaper than turning the oven on.  I have had a couple of fails but in the main I have managed to wing it to adapt oven based recipes to great success.  What that means is that I have to be highly organised on the rare days that I do use the oven to make bread and cakes neither of which I have tried in the slow cooker as I am not sure if that is possible.  Perhaps that is something I should look into for this year.

I have created

Almost all the creating this year has felt like it was for fundraising, with the exception of several pairs of socks, I have knitted one hat, a pair of mittens and two jumpers which is a very short list of finished projects for me.  I did not do much fundraising knitting just a mountain of dish cloths, it is a little slow to be a good use of time in relation to the funds you can raise.  Small items tend to sell better, we have found, even small knitted items take time.

It is the same with sewing, I completed one project, a basket, which was a present for a friend, I started but have not finished a picnic blanket, and Alice and I have started making her a rucksack.  Fundraising sewing was making needle cases out of old felted jumpers and scraps of fabric from my stash.  

We were lucky enough to invited to join some home educating families on a few day courses to make jewellery, willow baskets and a stained glass hanging it was lovely to be able to have a go at these things, guided by a professional, without having to buy in all the equipment ourselves.  I have long realised that are a lots of things I would love to do but simply don't have the time to devote to them all, so attending a day course is a great compromise.

We made a mountain of clay Christmas decorations most of which sold, they were a great return for the time and cost of making them, a three pound block of clay made over a 100 which we sold for 50p - £1 depending on the size.  We have also made some daisy chains which did not sell at Christmas markets but hopefully will sell at stalls in the coming months.

We also did a lot of needle felting, this is another creative project that does not take a lot of time and has a good return for the cost of making them.  We felted numerous hearts which we made into garlands changing the colours with the seasons as we went through the year.  For the Christmas markets we made small star garlands.  We have sold about 30 heart garlands (that was 90 hearts in total) and ten star (that was 50 stars in total).

I have been

I haven't travelled a great distance this year despite driving many miles a week, it is all close to home.  We travelled in March to our family gathering that I mentioned above, we accompanied Cameron on his D of E expedition in a neighbouring county and returned there a few months later to assess another group both of which were a lovely few days of exploring the area with Alice.  We visited my mother in law twice once in the summer and a second visit that ended up being squished between Christmas Day and a commitment on the 29th.  The arrangements for both of these visits were less than ideal, I am not sure where the communication is breaking down but I have realised I need to be more on it with making sure that they are nailed down water tight at the earliest opportunity.  When you get invited for Christmas and then get told in December that that does not include Christmas Day as other arrangements have been made, as they also have on the 29th, a one full day visit is a rather short and expensive, for a 600 mile return journey.  

We had a wonderful family holiday a few miles from home, I realise that my intention to blog about that did not happen, lost in the busyness of the summer months.  We have become very last minute about organising husbands time of work, usually shoe horning it at the last minute between other commitments.  I am thinking that it would be better if we got some dates in the diary now and then other plans can be made round them, family life needs to come first.

I am remembering

My beloved Great Aunt who died earlier this year at the age of 104 and a half.  She lived a seven hour drive from me, not a journey I managed to make that often.  Our annual visits for the last thirteen years have been an important part of our year.  I have missed making that trip this year.  She was the most wonderful story teller remembering times in her life from so very many years ago.  Her memory never faded, my memories of her will never fade, she is our link to an earlier very different time.  I am blessed to have a photo of her as a toddler with my granny and their mother, my great grandmother, taken in 1920, it used to sit at the top of the stairs in her house so is also a memory of my time spent with her.

I had been blogging for ten years this year an anniversary that passed me by in February,  I have had several long pauses in that time so I may only have about five years worth of posts.  This is post number 906.  I love reading back over old posts, not just to see what we were up to but so that I can see how much my writing has changed over that time.

I have read

I am not one for keeping lists of the books I have read, I have no idea how many books I have actually read this year.  Looking at the books in the house I was not quite sure what I have finished reading this year and what I might have actually read last year.  I did not visited a library in 2022 so I know that if I have read a book it will be in the house somewhere.  What I can say with confidence is that I did not read a single work of fiction this year.  Highlights for me were Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life by Karen Maezen Miller, Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard, Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake and Mothers of Invention by Katherine Marcel.

Around the house

We have done very little work inside the house this year, a couple of new shelves and other tweaks.  I wanted to do more decluttering in 2022 and boy did I manage that.  I went round the house slowly room by room, removing things that we had not touched for years.  Cupboards and other spaces were emptied out and sometimes completely reutilised as the entire contents were no longer needed.  There were many spaces that were not touched or need revisiting this year too.  Decluttering is an ongoing job and one which I am loving doing.

Along side the decluttering I am still using the same method for keeping the house clean that I started at the beginning of 2020.  I often take breaks when the whole family is home but as I know I will be picking it back up again when the holidays are over it matters not that the house is ignored for a few days or weeks.  The premise of this method is that you have daily jobs, thirty minutes a day on one room a day for four days of the week and then one day a week when you focus on a deeper clean on one of your rooms on rotation.  My days of the week and the jobs I do are very different from the inspiration for this method but they work for me and that is the important thing isn't it.  I very much had a love hate relationship with house work before finding this inspiration, I wanted to do it but hated the tasks so never got started.  Breaking it down like this is perfect for me which is why I am still doing it three years later.  It is now a habit and an integral part of my morning routine.

Favourite quotes 

I am a sporadic collator of quotes, I have a few that I keep in the front of my diary and transfer from year to year.  I did not write many down this year, I thought I had more but this is all I could find.

We can't change our history but we can change our relationship with it.  

These are words that I have read on repeat this year to remind myself that things that happened in my past were not my fault.  Like a big hug, which we all need sometimes.

The thing that screws us up the most is the picture of how it is supposed to be, what if we deleted that, the idea of that, and we just looked at what is and found it to be enough.

I heard these words on a podcast and pressed the rewind button so many times to listen to them again and again before realising that I needed them to be written down.  They were spoken by Glennon Doyle.  These words have reframed things for me completely and when I find myself reverting to the unachievable picture these words pop into my head as a reminder that that is a less than helpful place to go to.

Enjoy the little things in life because one day you will look back and realise they were the big things.

A friend shared these words with me as she had found them to be a comfort to her.  She didn't write them and I have seen them written elsewhere too.  In the last few years I know that I have changed my focus a lot and one of the things that gets more of my time is those seemingly little things.

Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.

I went on a course many years ago, which spent some time looking at the impact of our actions on others.  I don't remember much about the rest of the course but that part has continued to stay with me.  I always try to be careful about the words I use around others to ensure that I don't cause harm or hurt, I also accept fully when I have done that to others.   I have been on the receiving end of messages that were written in this vain in this past year, if I had written a reply immediately it would have come from the heart not the head, writing and speaking when emotions are running high is never wise and invariably leads to pain.  Pausing and reflecting is the only way I can respond rather than react.

I have learnt

I rekindled my Duolingo account, after a long hiatus, at the end of 2021 after watching many films in Swedish and wanting to learn some of the language.  I managed it for a few lessons and then my limited knowledge of the intricacies of grammar in English meant I had to stop so I switched back to French.  I am lucky to have an old Duolingo account which was set up in 2012 so I get to make as many mistakes as I like as I have unlimited lives, you have to subscribe to get that on an account now.  I received some stats at the end of November which told me how much I have learned in the previous year, I don't remember receiving this before or maybe it was switching to the app on my phone that meant I was a lucky recipient.  Duolingo is learning done in isolation but alongside millions of other users worldwide, you can, if you want, be a part of league tables but I found them to be too distracting so turned them off on my profile.  I was somewhat surprised to learn that I was in the top 6% of language learners on the platform, I didn't think I used it that much with only a lesson per day, I spent an astonishing 4756 minutes (that is 79 hours) learning 1422, new to me, French words.  The few minutes each day add up it would seem.

When Alice secured a place as part of our County's contingent to travel to the World Scout Jamboree taking place later this year I knew that we were in for many hours of fundraising.  I had organised very little fundraising before so it has been a steep learning curve for me and all my fellow parents.  I think by the time we have raised the full amount we will be experts in what works and what doesn't.  The things that you think will be big earners have turned in to big flops and those that you cannot imagine will raise much end up being the best and easiest.  We are nearly there and need to keep going this year to get to our total, I feel sure we can do it and I know I will miss this part of my life when we get to that point.

Not long before Alice secured her place to attend the Jamboree I stepped up to become a Scout Leader myself.  My unit is the one for older teenagers, 14-18 year olds, we call them Explorer Scouts in the UK.  I have been volunteering on and off for this unit for the last twenty odd years but doing a little bit now and then is very different to being the leader.  I am so lucky to have the support of two very dear friends both of whom have years of scouting experience between them.  It was very time consuming at first as I often had to look things up before doing anything, I also wanted to set up my own systems which again takes time.  They always say that your first year in anything new is about learning and your second is about consolidation, this definitely rings true with me and I feel so much more confident with what I am doing now.  There have been moments when I have wondered what I have taken on but I know that learning about this role and learning about fundraising and all the time that consumes, at the same time, was not ideal but I am through the other side now.

I have long wanted to have more spontaneity in my life and be ok with it, to not be controlling and planning everything to be totally watertight.  Life is not like that.  I tried a bit more spontaneity in our lives over the summer last year and it felt ok, in fact it felt more than ok, it felt good.  I really enjoyed the flow our lives had at that time.  I know that I could not be like that all the time and that is ok too, the balance of a bit of it now and then is enough for me.

I have listened

I love listening to Podcasts, they are my own curated radio station these days.  I cannot remember the last time I switched on the radio to listen to a programme.  I could not have imagined writing that a few years ago when the radio was my aural wallpaper from waking up to going to sleep.  I listen to huge variety of podcasts from current affairs such as politics, the environment, LGBTQ+, book reviews, comedy, music, my local countryside and many more besides.  Stand out favourites this year were the wonderful candid interviews on Call me Mother, I hope there is another series this year.  The monthly seasonal podcast released on the first of each month As the Season Turns, it is a cornucopia of interesting information about the natural world.  The fascinating and witty Stories of Scotland which explores Scotland's nature, culture and heritage, each episode is completely different but well researched and a joy to listen to.  I am so grateful to all the folks who give up their time to make podcasts available to us completely free, I donate to some of them to support their work which I hugely appreciate.  

I have not listened to as much music this year, I have some downloaded on my phone but tend to listed to Podcasts when I am driving.  I listed to Spotify at home but don't have it on my phone so can't have it on when out and about.  I often have Spotify on in the evenings when I am reading things online.  They kindly created a playlist for me of my 101 top listen to songs this year, all six hours 35 mins worth, I think some at the bottom have probably had two or three listens, so it is stretching it a bit.  I don't know how many hours I listened to those at the top of the list as I don't have the mobile app, but I do know that my top three songs were, Painter by Låpsley, Roses by George Taylor and Burned by Love by Juke Ross, I know that I listened to these alot, they were amongst a set of songs that I found towards the beginning of the year and made up, along with fifteen or so others, into a playlist which became my go to songs in the evenings.  The artist that featured the most in the list was Blanco White closely followed by Tones and I, two completely different musicians both of which I love.

I am looking forward to

The diary is already looking busy for the coming months, weekends are filling up fast, we blocked out some time to travel to spend with friends who live way south of us, an old school friend for me and a friend who has moved there for Alice, we are looking forward to these days with them.

We are in the process of finding another big house to rent for a few days for another extended family gathering, we need fourteen beds so they are few and far between.  I very much hope that we get something organised again as it was such a lovely long weekend last year.

A few plans for 2023

I don't usually make resolutions for the year, or come up with a word, although I love to read about others doing both, they don't work for me.  I have a few intentions which I am hoping I can make into habits or make happen this year.

I want to make time for my friends, to arrange calls or meeting up face to face.  I always think this will just happen but time drifts by and it doesn't, life is such that I need to be more intentional about making this happen rather than just hoping it will.  My visit to my old school friend is the start of that.  I have already made contact with few other friends whom I don't see or speak to often to see if we can arrange a date for a catch up chat.

Alice had a hard year last year with her oldest friend going off to school which was difficult enough but much exacerbated with a total lack of support extended to her, from them, as she worked through that transition.  She started to feel ready to make new connections at the end of last year and we tentatively started attending a new group.  We have reached out to a new family and hope that we can meet in the coming weeks, she is nervous about this, the lingering effects of last year's events.

Alice and I started doing sewing every week at the end of last year and once we have completed the project we are currently working on we want to make clothes.  I got a book of patterns for Christmas and am looking forward to doing this with her during the year.

I have mentioned my morning routine earlier in this post, another part of that is my daily yoga practice.  On the days when I need to be out of the house earlier I don't manage to fit this in as I am not prioritising it.  When one day becomes three and then more, I really notice the ripple effect of this on the rest of my life.  I want to make sure that I don't miss more than one day in a week during the year this year.  I am also going to restart a journal this year as I know that this will help me to support my yoga, amongst other things.

My last intention is another thing that I have neglected and that is making and eating more fermented food.  I regularly used to make sauerkraut, chutney and pancake mix amongst other things.  I have a lovely fermented food recipe book which I want to start looking through every month to inspire me to try new things.  I know that my gut is in a much healthier place than it has been in the past, my Chrohns Disease has been in remission for 18 years now, but it it is important to look after your gut all the time not just at those times when it needs a bit of extra support.

Thank you so much for reading this very long post.  Thank you to all my lovely readers and those of you that have commented in this past year, I am grateful to you all.  I very much look forward to reading along with you all in 2023, which I hope is a year filled with memories to treasure for you all.

I will leave you with a poem to start your year:

May love and laughter light your days and warm you heart and home,

May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam,

May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures,

May all life's passing seasons bring the best to you and yours.


  1. A lovely look back over the year, you've been busy, and some lovely things to look forward to this year too. Happy New Year!

  2. Wow - you have certainly packed a lot in. Fermented food is on my list to try out next. A 600 mile one day visit is not good - it is a 180 round trip to my mum's and the visits we do are enough. our cottage in Scotland is 250 miles and we now have an overnight stop - it was partly the long journey's sitting in the car that has made my back bad (as well as the intensive gardening!). Have a wonderful 2023.

  3. Happy New Year.

    This quote really resonated: "We can't change our history but we can change our relationship with it." How true...and yet, how hard that can be. Great words to ponder at the start of a new year...

  4. I was just sitting here knitting and thinking back over my year and feeling quite nostalgic but not in a good way. I was grieving the loss of past events which some people might think strange but something my brain and heart seem to surprise me with from time to time. I used to have a 2 hour commute to my teaching job which gave me too much time to think of such things and it seems it's a habit that's stuck. Going back to work after Christmas break was always a gut punch for me. It was the worst kind of homesick. I used to always pack a box of tissues for the ride.

  5. An interesting reflection on your year. My aunt in England is now 101 1/2, still loving in her own home and able to do a bit for herself.

  6. You have enjoyed a fulfilling and productive year. I often think that it's not until we reflect and write things down, that we realise just how much we've achieved.
    Sending love and blessings for the year ahead. Xx

  7. What a busy but on the whole wonderful year you've had. I hope Alice finds this year easier. Happy New Year x

  8. What a wonderful year to reflect upon. Happy New Year. A thoughtful and insightful post, as always. You have inspired me to start decluttering. I love your housework routine, I now have a similar system thanks to you.. What wonderful quotes. Good luck with the rest of your fundraising and your plans for 2023. That is a beautiful poem to close

  9. What an eventful year! I always enjoy the photos you post of your beautiful part of the world. Thanks for your recommendation of the Calm Christmas podcast, I'm still listening to it even though Christmas is passed. It's very relaxing!

  10. Looks like you had a mostly lovely year with a few bumps in the road. Hope 2023 is smoother for you. Your holiday photos look very scenic. Yorkshire Dales? X

  11. A lovely look back. I was interested in what you said about the house being empty next door. My neighbour passed a almost a year ago and the house has been empty, my house is freezing and we have had issues with damp to that wall for the first time in 15 years. It looks like it may finally be moving ahead now as a neighbour saw people visiting the other night. I am also on duolingo and have turned off the league too, I was focusing on that instead of my own learning, funny the similarities you spot when reading others blog posts. Have a lovely week.

  12. what a beautiful year you had, I loved reading the events and I hope your 2023 is just as wonderful and maybe even more!!

  13. Such a beautiful round-up of your year. I always find it such a lovely thing to look back and reflect. And thank you for this quote in particular: "The thing that screws us up the most is the picture of how it is supposed to be, what if we deleted that, the idea of that, and we just looked at what is and found it to be enough" which makes me feel restful, and happy from the inside out. Always lovely to dip into your world.💖

  14. It sounds like you had a good year, though I am sorry to hear about your beloved Great Aunt. I hope you have a great 2023!


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