December round-up

I’ve been reading a few end of year blog posts this morning so I thought I would write my own. I always love to hear what people have been up to, and there are a few bloggers that I’ve been following for years, so it’s almost like hearing from family.

Here are some things that I’m grateful for:

1. Living in Australia

We are looking forward to seeing our grown-up children at Christmas and hope that the current Covid situation can be managed and controlled so that everyone stays safe. I heard a woman on the news say that it was appalling that people weren’t allowed to travel at Christmastime and I thought she was pretty stupid. It’s sad not to see your family at Christmas, but worse to never see them again. Mostly people are being sensible and realising that all of the restrictions are for a good reason. In Australia, we’ve been extraordinarily lucky compared to the UK and the US, so I hope that people continue to comply with the health orders.

I’m also grateful for the weather, even though it’s raining steadily outside and has been for days. Normally it’s very hot at this time of the year and we’re all complaining about the heat, so we are glad to have the rain and the cooler temperatures. This time last year the country was on fire so the endless drizzle has meant that the fire-fighters can have a peaceful Christmas.

2. Good neighbours

Through my window I can hear our new neighbours chatting to their children. I love having kids in the neighbourhood again. When we moved here we had young children and many of our neighbours did as well, but now we are all getting older and the children have grown up and moved away, so it’s great to have some new young families moving in. Our new neighbours seem very nice. I think you can tell a lot about people by the way they talk to their kids and the fact that they all know the words to The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round and don’t feel self-conscious about singing them loudly in their backyard.

We are fortunate to have good neighbours all around us and if you’ve ever had bad neighbours you know that they can make your life a misery.

3. Books

Because I retired this year I’ve done a lot more reading than usual. I think I read about 36 books which is roughly three a month. They weren’t all remarkable (I read quite a lot of light fiction during the lockdown) but a couple that I really enjoyed were Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.

Dear Edward is about a young man who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. Despite its rather gloomy premise this is a beautifully written and thoughtful book. It rated very highly on the list that I’ve been keeping. I read A Gentleman in Moscow because several people in my family said it was good and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s about a Russian nobleman who is sentenced to spending the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel. I learnt so much about the Russian Revolution from this book, but in a painless way. I love books where you can just absorb history without any effort at all. It was also a beautiful meditation on what really matters in life and what you hold dear. It’s about friendship, loyalty and making the best of a situation. A great book for anyone who is going a bit stir crazy because they are stuck at home.

I still have a rather long TBR which includes The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue. I’m also planning to read Monogamy by Sue Miller which has been recommended by both of my reading sisters.

4. Friends and family

I was a bit nervous about retiring because I was worried about how my husband would cope with me being at home (and vice versa). I thought we might drive one another crazy, but mostly it’s been pretty good. At the beginning of the Covid situation we were both very anxious and made an effort to be especially kind to one another and this seems to have set the tone for life at home. We are especially lucky because we have two studies (one each) so we always have somewhere to retreat to if we want to read or futz about on the computer. We also have a garden so it’s pretty easy to find a bit of space. I’m glad we aren’t squashed into a tiny flat the way some people are.

I’ve spent a lot more time talking to my own extended family this year and that’s been great. We all live in different states (except for one sister who is about 70 kilometres away) and I’ve really appreciated knowing more about their lives. I’ve also had more time to catch up with friends this year, which has been lovely.

5. Work

I missed work quite a bit when I left, but I have since joined the board of the Central Coast Community Women’s Health Centre. It’s great to be able to use some of the skills and knowledge I acquired during my working life, and it’s an organisation that aligns well with my values.

I haven’t done as much writing as I intended, but I’ve read a lot of writing books (does that count?) and learnt quite a bit, so I hope that next year I’ll be more disciplined and get my backside into my writing chair a lot more often. I’m coming round to the idea that writing is more about perseverance than talent. It’s really not a good idea to wait until the inspiration strikes you. It might never happen.

So that’s my wrap up for the year. I know it sounds a bit like one of those letters that people write at Xmas and then make a dozen copies to send to all their friends, but I’ve enjoyed thinking back over the year which has been mostly good. I hope you have survived the year and that next year brings you peace and happiness and good health.

Stay safe everyone and thank you for reading my blog.

Marg xxx

18 thoughts on “December round-up

  1. Hi marg I loved the way you referred to your kids as “grown up children” I will use that expression when referring to mine now, as they are technically not kids are they? I loved your “Christmas newsletter”. Yes I remember receiving those. Yes it’s nice hearing of all the events that go on in one’s household but it can be conceived as oneupmanship and not particularly personal. A bit like facebook really.
    I share your sentiments in your reflection on our past year in Australia. I chose to look at the positives. One thing I loved seeing, beginning in about March was so many families out playing, riding bikes and walking in our area. Thanks Marg for another lovely read.
    Ps I read the book on Donald Trump written by his niece on Friday which I thought was quite sad and depressing. See you soon.

    1. Hi Helen
      Thanks so much for reading my blog and taking the time to comment. I know that lots of people don’t comment for various reasons (which is absolutely fine), but I do love the sense of connection that comes from people sharing their thoughts and observations. I’m going to try to write on a regular basis this year. We’ll see how that goes!
      How interesting that you made the time to read the book on Trump. I think I would find it too depressing but I applaud your efforts. I have mostly been reading pretty light fiction but will need to get my head down and do some more serious reading soon. I have a list of books to read that is three pages long.
      I’m looking forward to seeing you after the break, in the meantime, keep well. xxx

  2. If you’re coming down to Sydney, please let us know. We’d love to catch up and as you know we’re not coming up to your neck of the woods anymore as we’ve sold the Avoca property. Penny xx

    1. We are staying close to home at the moment but we’d love to see you both. Let’s make a date when the situation is clearer. We can come through the week because we are both retired now 😀

  3. It seems like you’ve adapted OK to retirement. Looks like you’re busy enough, anyway 😉. Getting involved in the Women’s centre will keep the grey cells active and it’s good to be able to make an active contribution to something worthwhile.

    1. Yes I was really pleased when they approached me to see if I would be interested. It’s good to do something useful.

  4. I was discussing books (quite a few times and with different people) with a Zumba friend and she described A Gentleman in Moscow as “delicious “. So apt! I find I am searching out better written books over plot driven narratives. That doesn’t stop me reading crime fiction but I have been hugely disappointed in my choices this year. I have also read a lot more than usual. Although a slow reader, i have found the 2 week borrowing period on my library ebooks has made me hurry up a bit.

    1. I’m currently reading a murder mystery that is so light and fluffy that I fear it will fall off the bedside table if I don’t put a paperweight on it. But I can’t help reading it. It’s like a sugary treat that you can’t resist.
      That being said, there are a few other books on my TBR that you might be interested in. One is ‘Leave the World Behind’ which sounds interesting and another is ‘Wolf Island’ by Lucy Treloar. I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while and the author owns a beautiful whippet!
      Another thought is to read something outside your usual fare. Maybe YA?

    1. It’s so much easier than actually putting your ideas in the page, although I guess we both do that to some extent with our respective blogs.

      1. And the trouble is that I have little problem sitting at the keyboard churning out words, it is making them worth reading that often feels beyond me.

      2. I enjoy reading your reflections on life. Not everything had to be profound, there’s value in just sharing ideas.

      3. Thanks Margaret, and I agree. In fact it was always the appeal of blogging, the ability to think out loud on an ongoing basis without making too much of a fuss. It’s just that having managed to get one book published I should probably have a go at doing it again!

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