A few weeks ago I read a post by blogging pal Amelia at You Can Always Start Now. She was enjoying the rare treat of sitting in a cafe drinking coffee. She was ‘Grabbing my wins as I can get them’.
Luxuries and treats are considered different to a year ago. Back in the good ol’ 2019’s of life I would have thought nothing about going for a coffee with friends. I’d do this most weeks. This year, I can count the number of times I’ve seen my friends on one hand. And some I haven’t seen at all. As for daydreaming in cafes… what’s that?
Disability comes with its own set of restrictions. I know what it’s like to have plans cancelled, not be able to go where I want, be refused entry.
But wow, this year has been something.
I’ve always been one for the little things, the moments that make a life what it is. A thing doesn’t have to be gigantic or remarkable to be a thing that stands out as a thing. I know what I mean.
It’s sometimes not until your life is stripped bare that you realise all the little things you took for granted. Stuff that goes on behind you. The freedom and vastness of choice.
So after the Failing At Being Festive post I wrote a few weeks ago, I thought it’s time to focus on the good stuff.
Life’s little highlights.
That perfect cuppa
Every tea drinker will know what I mean. It’s unpredictable and there seems no logic or reason behind it, but you know those times when a cup of tea tastes truly magnificent.
Winter and I aren’t really friends, I get cold easy and that’s just inside the house.
We’ve had some frosty mornings recently though, that have made me reconsider my dislike for the cold, and spiders. For a few days in a row I awoke to a garden full of beautiful frozen spider webs.
As if the garden had been embellished with tiny jewels, glittering in the low sun.
I discovered ginger wine
I love ginger. Ginger biscuits. Ginger chocolate. Ginger in curry. When unwell I drink ginger tea, and I’ve had a hot ginger non alcoholic juice that I’ve been getting at the Bury Christmas Fayre for years. Well the Christmas Fayre didn’t happen, but the food shop did.
Some ginger wine was purchased and shall be purchased again. It’s pretty feisty. Gets you in the throat on that first sip. But it’s so soothing and comforting and tastes really good hot. I’ve got a mulled one to try too. Because I’ve missed those.
Went for a little drive
I’ve been in the car maybe three times since March. I’ve had no reason to.
Gifts were building up and I needed to get them delivered so decided to go for a little drop off drive. I stayed in the car the whole time, just parking up at the house for the recipient to come out and collect.
It was good to see family, but also just get a change of scene. It was a chance to watch the world go by, at a distance. I quite like road trips and usually go on a couple to London each year.
Two of my favourite things combined. These home baked delights flavoured with rosemary, chilli and black pepper go perfectly with my cheese advent calendar!
FaceTime sessions even if I can’t see their face
I mean have you ever tried to FaceTime a 4 year old and 8 year old? You never actually see their face, and that brief moment when you think you might, the camera is angled straight up their nose.
And as for those that carry the phone around the house, the bumpy journey makes me feel motion sick. Just keep still and talk to me will you?!
It’s what it is though, and those are the things that make moments. What would we do without this technology?!
That moment you receive a text from the person you’re about to text
I’m not really a talking on the phone kinda person, but I am an avid texter. If there’s something I’m trying to put off doing, like edit and finish a blog post, I’ll find millions of words to text. Conversation flowing. The best thing, though, is when you’re mid text and see those three little dots or the typing word (depending on your chosen medium) and know your in the same space somehow as the other person.
Like some weird people linking.
My new friends
I’d like to introduce you to Joy and Noel, my Christmas cacti. The names were decided in a group chat with friends, because other than hob chat what else are they for…?
This year I appreciated my small garden more than ever before. It was the only place I went for months, and so we built up a little relationship and I’d go out to check on the plants and note their progress. I’ve always loved photography, so I bombarded my Instagram feed for those that didn’t block me.
Winter has been tough so far. It’s not been a bad winter weather wise, if it wasn’t for the fact that my garden is still the only place I go. The plants are all floppy and sad looking, needing a bit of sunshine. Quite like myself I guess.
That’s where Joy and Noel come in. The Christmas cacti I was gifted.
I’ve managed to keep them alive so far, and Joy is blooming.
I haven’t visited my Norwich, my local city, in way too long. Since February in fact. Usually I spend much of my weekends there, lunch with friends, a trip to the cinema, many failed shopping sprees. Norwich is local to me, so I probably don’t appreciate it as much as I should. I know that now.
When I heard that a new Christmas film had been shot in Norwich and would be available on Netflix I had to watch. It’s a beautiful city. A fine one as it says on our welcome sign!
The film was what you’d expect. Joyful, jolly and jovial. Seeing those snow covered streets, though, that I recognised from my memories. Time at the near by Art School as a student, lunch breaks, mindless wandering. It’s great to see somewhere you’re familiar with come to life in a different way.
Fish and chips
I had fish, chips and curry sauce. This may not sound like much of a highlight to some, I’m sure for many it’s a weekly treat. It wouldn’t be that unusual for myself this time last year. As someone that saw dining out almost as a hobby. Throughout the pandemic I’ve been nervous about eating anything not made in my house. Yes, you could say paranoid. I’ve rarely had a takeaway, and when I have there’s always been that underlying concern. A niggle. It’s not as enjoyable as usual. But these fish and chips were delicious and I enjoyed every bit.
This weekend my friends and I got together on Zoom, (the new place to be), for our annual Christmas celebrations.
Usually we’d all meet up in Norwich. I’d make a day of it, grab a festive latte, do a bit of shopping, and then all catch up and gift swap over afternoon tea.
This year we would chill in our comfy clothes, not be enraged by parking or public transport, and stay toasty warm. The only rule was – festive headwear.
I decided on my best Zoom position, by the Christmas tree. Bookcases seem to be the thing, but mine isn’t fancy enough or organised by colour. I had a brew in one hand, mince pie in the other. Not really, I can’t use two hands at once. Perched on top of my head was a fabulous Christmas tree hat!
I know right. Perfect Christmas card photo for next year! Ha.
Ok, so it wasn’t the same. But it was so good being able to see faces that I’ve hardly seen this year. To get back into that flow of chat that friends seem to fall in naturally.
When life likes to throw it back at you
At the start of December I decided I wanted to read some festive novels. Christmas was going to be a little bizarre so I thought get lost in some alternative Christmas stories.
So, last week I started Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak. If you’ve already read this you’ll know what’s coming. If you haven’t, like me, then you won’t know that the book is set in Christmas isolation due to an epidemic.
“On the 23rd my daughter Olivia, a doctor and serial foreign aid worker, will return from treating the Haag epidemic in Liberia—plunging us, her family, into a seven-day quarantine. For exactly one week we are to avoid all contact with the outside world and may only leave the house in an emergency.”
One week, what are they complaining about?!
I turn a virtual page to then discover the book is partly set in Norfolk. The Norfolk in which I live.
“Not being a clan that does things by halves, we are decamping from Camden to our house in deepest, darkest Norfolk,”
With a sad ironic chuckle I continue reading. This little piece of life has made my day. There is no escape from isolation for me this year. Even if it’s a make believe one, with other people.
There’s no such thing as mistakes, only happy little accidents
I can’t finish talking about joy without mentioning Bob Ross Wednesdays. I’m still indulging in those, maybe not just on a Wednesday either.
What little joys have you found?