Christmas Song N°2

I shared this lovely song last year, but here it is again, for those who missed it.

 

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Christmas Song

I thought that this week, I would share some Christmas music with you, both sacred and secular. I won’t say much about them, leaving you to listen and read the lyrics. I hope you enjoy them – I’d love to know what you think of them. Please do leave a comment!

Thanks to Bob & Sophie, I have discovered this husband & wife duo, called The Hound + the Fox, who sing this lovely interpretation of “What Child is this?”

 

What Child is this, who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?

Helpless and hungry, lowly, afraid
Wrapped in the chill of midwinter;
Comes now, among us, born into, poverty’s embrace
New life for the world

Who is this? Who lives with the lowly?
Sharing their sorrows
Knowing their hunger?
This is Christ revealed to the world
In the eyes of a child, a child of the poor

What child is this, who laid to rest
(Who is, this stranger? Here in our midst?)
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
(Looking for shelter among us?)
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
(Who is, the outcast? Who do, we see amidst the poor?)
While shepherds watch are keeping?
(The children of God?)

Who is this? Who lives with the lowly?
(This, this is Christ the King,)
Sharing their sorrows
(Whom shepherds guard)
Knowing their hunger?
(And angels sing;)
This is Christ, revealed to the world
(Haste, haste, to bring, Him laud,)
In the eyes of a child, a child of the poor
(The Babe, the Son of Mary.)

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone Him

Bring the thirsty, who seek peace;
(So, bring all, the thirsty, all who seek peace;)
Those with nothing to offer
(Bring those with nothing to offer.)
Strengthen the feeble
(Strengthen, the feeble,)
Say to the, ‘tened heart:
(Say to, the frightened heart:)
Fear not, fear not
(“Fear not: here is your God!”)

Who is this who lives with the lowly
(This, this is Christ the King,)
Sharing their sorrows, knowing their hunger?
(Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;)
This is Christ, revealed to the world
(Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,)
In the eyes of a child, a child of the poor
(The Babe, the Son of Mary.)

The Sound of Music

Last night we went up to Friend Cathy’s for apèros and music – in fact, we were there all evening, so I’m glad I’d had a substantial lunch! Despite that,  Mr FD and I did rather attack the snacks with gusto! We had a wonderful time.

There were three guitarists, and various tambourine/maraca players, plus those of us who did impromptu percussion on tables, or glasses!

David, (C’s friend from the Port), Martin (C’s friend, staying for a few days) and Gerome (Friend Alison’s Other Half) were our guitarists. Sue (Martin’s wife), Cathy and Mr FD were the tambourine/maraca players, I was the impromptu percussionist and Richard and Stefan just listened and sang. We sang (some of us better than others) songs – Beatles, Eagles, Johnny Cash, and many others – and generally had a great time.

Martin is also a talented songwriter and he played and sang some of his own compositions, which were lovely.

Later on, a storm arrived, so we decamped into Cathy’s as-yet-unfinished house. There is a roof and floor, with electricity in some of the house, and windows & doors not all fitted yet. But it was dry and we continued singing and playing until Friend Clare, who lives opposite, came & asked us very politely if we could stop as she had to be up early tomorrow. As it was 10.30 that was fine…the party broke up and we wended our way back home, or to our camper vans/caravans (depending on who we were, & where we were living!)

A really great evening…

Second Chance: Good Friday 2018

 

Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it’s where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven’s heart

My future hangs on this
You made preciousness from dust
Please don’t stop creating me

Your blood offers the chance
To rewind to innocence
Reborn, perfect as a child

Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it’s where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven’s heart

When sin and ugliness
Collide with redemption’s kiss
Beauty awakens by romance

Always inside this mess
I have found forgiveness
Mercy infinite as You

Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it’s where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven’s heart

Countless second chances
We’ve been given at the cross
Countless second chances
We’ve been given at the cross

Fragments of brokenness
Salvaged by the art of grace
You craft life from our mistakes

Black skies of my regrets
Outshone by this kindness
New life dawns over my soul

Oh Your cross, it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross, it’s where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven’s heart

 

 

I came, I saw, I had a MAGNIFICENT time!!

All week we had been watching the weather in the UK – the “Beast from the East” causing chaos, with drivers stranded, airports shut down, villages cut off…but all the time, the little north west corner of the British Isles seemed to miss the worst of the weather. Then Storm Emma started romping up the west side of the UK…but veered over to Ireland just before reaching the top of Wales.

We had to get up early, at 5.00 am to drive over to Lyon, but I’d actually woken at 2.30 and not got back to sleep. I was actually much perkier than I’d imagined I’d be. We set out to Lyon airport hoping that the plane would not be cancelled. It wasn’t even delayed!!

Wearing a double surgical mask and latex gloves, to protect from infection – as these days were the days when my white blood cell count would be at its lowest, and I would be most vulnerable to infection – I cut a slightly pathetic picture. We comandeered a wheelchair at the airport and Mr FD pushed me through. I’m very glad, as it was quite a trek to get to the correct terminal. We went through security (surprisingly there was no queue at all) – I caused some problems as I explained about the stent for chemo, and they wanted to see proof of this. It was in my handbag, which had already gone through the scanner, so people were running aroud to fetch it. Then I had to be scanned with a hand held scanner rather than go through the walk-through scanner. It all took a bit longer than usual, but we had plenty of time. As I was in a wheelchair we were allowed through passport control ahead of others (huzzah!) and soon got settled on the plane. I plugged in my earphones and listened to a podcast for the flight. At Manchester we waited until everyone had left the plane, and then climbed the steps into the terminal building. As I entered the bhuilding I slipped on some very wet rubbery matting, and fell down: luckily I went quite slowly, and nothing was hurt, but the cabin crew and pilot who were just behind were very helpful and sympathetic.  Also luckily, a wheelchair had been left at the top of the steps and we were encouraged to use it – which meant priority going through border control!! Although we’d been so slow there weren’t many people left waiting anyway. Then we took the time to organise a wheelchair for the return journey, at Manchester airport. Later on, Mr FD contacted Lyon to organise assistance at that end too.

Mum had said she’d pay for car hire, so we went andpicked up the car, then drove to mum’s, in Liverpool. We had lunch, and then my sister arrived from Leicester (not held up by snow at all), and my brother from Stokesley (near Middlesborough) Despite the fact there was still a lot of snow on the east side of the country, he had encountered no problems with the trains getting over. It was lovely seeing them all! We sat and chatted all afternoon, as I had to take it easy, while Wonderful Mr FD went on a mission to buy, and then put in place, a new toilet seat for mum. We had dinner and then, as I’d been awake so early, suddenly fatigue hit me. I was in bed and asleep byabout 9.30, I think!

On Friday evening, we had hastily arranged a meet-up for lunch with my nephew Conor (Judy’s son) and my niece Rose (Mike’s daughter), her husband and baby, over in Manchester. So after relaxing all morning, while everyone else went out shopping for a disabled friend of mum’s, or taking things to the tip, or buying supplies of logs, we all set out for lunch.

Here we are at Croma Pizza, passing Billy the Baby round the table – except not to my end, as I had to stay away from babies (hotbeds of infection, apparently. And Billy was quite snuffly).

There were some, let’s say less traditional pizzas on the menu, but I decided to have

Baked garlic mushrooms, served with (quite a lot of) rocket and a slice of olive bread

Then I chose another starter for a main course, which was a chorizo and Bury black pudding bruschetta, with a goats’ cheese and beetroot side salad. It was very nice.

and with it, I drank a delicious Manchester craft beer, called “Manchester Skyline”

For dessert I chose a “Banoffi Mess” – basically Eton Mess, but made with bananas, meringue, ginger biscuits and cream, with toffee sauce. It was a bit of a disappointment – masses of cream, big chunks of meringue, two slices of banana and one crumb of ginger biscuit. It let down what was an excellent meal, and although I did mention it to the waiter no more was said about it.

Afterwards, Judy and mum went back to Liverpool, while Mike, Mr FD and I went to spend the afternoon with Rose, David and Billy.

Billy in his bouncy chair

I spent some of the time “resting my eyes” but it was lovely just chatting with them, and watching them play with Billy. I kept my mask and gloves on for the whole time, to avoid any infection. And then Mike, Mr FD & I set off for the Bill Bailey comedy gig – this was our Christmas present for Mike. We arrived quite early, but that was fine. I sat in my seat and “powered down” – that is to say, pulled my hat and hood over my eyes and just sat quietly with my eyes closed, relaxing and conserving energy.

Here we are, after my powering down, waiting for the show to start.

It was a very good show – Bill Bailey is a slightly surreal comic, but we thoroughly enjoyed the show. Here is a review of the show from The GuardianOurs was a little different, set in Manchester rather than Southend, but – ad libs aside – it was basically the same. We got home at about 11.30, and we went straight to bed.

On Sunday morning, mum went to church, but I decided it wasn’t worth expending more “spoons” than necessary, considering we had the Elbow gig in the evening. ( The “spoon theory” is a disability metaphor and neologism used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness. … A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished. from Wikipedia) So Judy, Mike & I looked at an old photo album, discussing who the various members of our family were, as Mike has spent quite a lot of time researching our family tree. Unfortunately, while we have great grandparents who were Irish, this is not enough to entitle us to an Irish passport. Mr FD played about with mum’s computer, organising our boiarding passes and assistance at Lyon airport for the journey home.

After lunch, Mr FD and I set off for the hotel in Manchester that we’d booked for Sunday night, about a mile away from Manchester Arena, where the gig was being held. For some reason, the Sat Nav didn’t want to work in Manchester city centre and we couldn’t find the hotel anywhere. We were just about to start a blazing row when Mr FD said “Look!” and there it was, in front of us. Getting to it was another kettle of fish, due to one way systems and taxi/bus lanes, so in the end we parked the car in a carpark and walked! Again, I saved my spoons, while Mr FD went to try to get the car to the hotel – another difficult time, but he finally made it.

We took the tram to Victoria Station, which is next door to the Arena, and Mr FD went to the Box Office, while I sat with a coffee in the station buffet. We grabbed a bite to eat at Greggs (I had a cheese and onion pasty.) and then headed to the Arena. You may remember the terrorist attack that took place in Manchester in May last year. I had imagined it taking place in a large plaza area outside the Arena, but when I saw how narrow the walkway and foyer area are, it is no surprise that the effects were so devastating. There was good security – only ticket holders being allowed up to the walkway, and then passing through X-ray machines at the entrance to the Arena itself.

Again, we were early, so I “powered down” until the support act, John Grant, came on. And then – huzzah! – the main event. Which was excellent! (Review from the Manchester Evening News)

Mr FD’s photo from during “Mirrorball”

 

After the show we left by a fairly quiet exit, and were lucky enough to be able to hail a taxi straight away. It was a 5/10 minute drive back to the hotel. We thought about going to the bar for a drink, buit they’d stopped serving – and really, that was a good thing, as I was dropping. Even though I was buzzing!!

The next day, we had a full Northern breakfast – sausage, bacon, fried bread, fried potatoes, mushrooms, tomato, black pudding, baked beans, fried egg (which I’m not allowed to have) – plus trimmings (toast-and-marmalade, juice, coffee) and then made our way to the airport, pausing at Asda for a few last minute purchases of the DVD of “Death of Stalin”, some magazines, Zantac indigestion tablets & Tiger Balm (cheaper in the UK!)

Mr FD wheeled me through the airport, on the pre-booked wheelchair, which gave us Fast Track through security and a designated seating area in the very crowded departure lounge. I bought some huge slabs of chocolate (CDM!)

Then we were given a heads-up to the departure gate, so we were there before everyone else, and a very nice gentleman then wheeled me to the plane, so we were in our seats and luggage stowed before the usual scrum. At Lyon, we waited until everyone had got off, then were met by a man with a wheelchair, who wheeled me swiftly through the terminal. When we reached the back of the queue for border control, a quick Excusez-moi! and we were fast tracked through Passport Control. Pausing only to pick up the hold luggage, the man insisted on wheeling me right to the car in the car park. And we headed home, arriving at 6.30 pm.

Today I’m a little fatigued, but not too bad. I slept until about 8.30, when the nurse arrived for my weekly blood test. I wonder if it will show my white blood cells are down?

It was the most amazing weekend. Mr FD was a complete star throughout, looking after me, organising everything and allowing me to just rest and to enjoy myself. Even if I have caught an infection (and I was very careful, using hand sanitiser after every bathroom visit, in between bathroom visits, after touching stuff…Etc etc. Plus my double mask protection and latex gloves in crowds & public places) it was worth it!! It did me the most enormous amount of good.

And thank you all so much for your positive messages of support – they have been very much appreciated.

3 Things – Christmas Version

Here’s a post shamelessly stolen from Confuzzledom who stole it from someone else…

3 Things I Love about Christmas

  • First and foremost, The “reason for the season” – the fact that we are celebrating the birth of God in human form, Emmanuel, God with us.
  • The presents – both the giving and the receiving. Yes, sometimes those gifts I receive show little knowledge about me, or are a tad disappointing…but equally I love trying to choose presents that I think people will like.
  • The food – here in France, things like mince pies are not easy to come by, so those traditional goodies are all the more special when we find them. Huzzah for Le Comptoir Irlandaise, selling boxes of mince pies and jars of mincemeat!

3 Things I Dislike about Christmas

  • There’s very little really, but I suppose the early-onset of Christmas in the shops is something I don’t like. It isn’t so bad here in France, but it is creeping in…Late November was when I saw my first “Shop for Christmas!” sign.
  • On a similar vein, the adverts on TV that encourage everyone to buy those “must-have” items – be they food, electronics, toys, sofas…whatever. And that brand you a failure if you don’t get them.
  • Features in magazines that give ideas for  “stocking fillers” that cost more than I’d dream of paying for a super-duper “main” present! I saw something in one feature that was branded a “stocking filler” and cost over £100! That’s practically my entire Christmas present budget!

3 Favourite Christmas Movies

  • Love Actually – it’s schmaltzy, and a bit over-sweet in places, and the creepy signs-outside-a-newly-married-woman-that-I-fancy scene makes me cringe. But…Alan Rickman! Emma Thompson! Alan Rickman (again!)! Hugh Grant dancing! Alan Rickman! It still makes me cry every time I see it.
  • Elf. Great fun, and fast becoming a tradition in our house
  • The Princess Bride. No, not a Christmas movie, but it needs to be included at every opportunity.

3 Favourite Christmas Treats

  • Mince pies (already mentioned)
  • Lindor balls.
  • Foie gras. Yes, I know it’s not at all ethical, and I shouldn’t enjoy it, or buy it. But I do. I love it! We don’t buy it very often, so it is a treat.

3 Favourite Christmas Traditions

I’m not sure these are “favourite” traditions, but they are traditions:

  • Decorating the house on the second Sunday of Advent. Usually, the same things go in the same place, although I do tweak things occasionally. We don’t have a Christmas Tree, because we can’t trust the Very Bad Cats not to climb it, but I bought a small wooden pine-coney tree this year which I have wrapped in tiny lights which is very acceptable.
  • Our “spread out” Christmas meal. We really only eat one meal on Christmas Day, which is timed thus:

10.30-ish: smoked salmon and champagne

13.00-ish: foie gras and an appropriate wine (Muscat is good)

17.00-ish: main course (this year it’s roti de pintard (guinea fowl), roast potatoes, spiced red cabbage & green beans

19.00 + cheese and dessert. Dessert can be Pannetone pudding, but this year is going to be mince pies and ice cream.

With this, one never feels full. Between courses there are walks, present opening, listening to music, reading, watching TV, preparing the next course, etc.

Actually this year we may be skipping the foie gras part as we’ve been invited to a friends for drinks. We’re taking peach juice and champagne, so we can have bellinis.

  • The Church Carol Service – a slightly informal Nine Lessons & Carols – which is always nice. Mr FD comes to this service as well, which pleases me.

3 Favourite Christmas Songs

This one’s a bit tricky, as there are new ones being added, but if we are on secular songs I think I have to go for…

3 Favourite Christmas Carols

Confuzzledom didn’t include in her list, but this is an important one for me:

  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  • Hark, the Herald Angels Sing – which I didn’t use to like, but after reading the words carefully, and thinking about them suddenly became one of my favourite carols ever!
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel – which is strictly speaking, an Advent song, but which speaks so eloquently of the world yearning for its saviour.

3 Favourite Christmas Gifts Received

I’m not really sure – I have been lucky enough to receive some beautiful things. Mr FD is great at choosing just the right piece of jewellery – be it earrings, bangles, Pandora beads. When we lived in Milton Keynes there was a jeweller who came to the Christmas Market every year, and Mr FD would choose something from his stand for me! Now, he will often buy me a Pandora bead.

I don’t think I can choose to be honest.

Let’s just say the gift of salvation through the Nativity. That’s fairly good (!!)

3  FOUR Gifts I Want to Give the World

  • Stealing Confuzzledom’s first answer: Empathy. I’m stealing Jana’s answer again, but it’s a good one. If people would just consider other people’s feelings occasionally the world would be a much better place!
  • Stealing Confuzzledom’s second answer: An end to climate change… or at least to slow it down to how it would have been if humans hadn’t come along to destroy the planet. I would like there to actually be a planet by the time my (future) children and grandchildren grow up! – except I don’t have children, but I have nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces, Godchildren…so it’s just as important
  • Stealing Confuzzledom’s third answer: Laughter. Bad things are always going to happen… and without sorrow we wouldn’t be able to truly appreciate happiness. But I would love to give everybody out there at least one reason to laugh or smile even when things are at their very worst.
  • But, most of all, Peace. Peace in the world, peace in communities, peace in family relationships, peace in one’s heart. Peace brought through the Prince of Peace, who came to call us to take his easy yoke and rest in Him.

 

And so,with that in mind…

Christmas Hygge

Thank you everyone for your good wishes. Still waiting.

In the meantime, here is a lovely Christmas song for you – especially if you are a prog rock fan (but if you’re not, don’t let that put you off. It’s beautiful…)-

Hygge by Tiger Moth Tales.

Sit by the fire, don’t be hungry or tired,

Come inside now, and out of the cold,

We’ve all been waiting to welcome you in,

Won’t you please come back home?

All should be near at this time of the year

There’s no need to be out there alone,

Now, as before, we’ll throw open the door,

Come on home.