I don't subscribe to the tendency in Blogland to declare wistfully that September is really the start of the new year, with that back to school feeling; new jotters, new shoes, good intentions etc.
To me, the new year starts firmly on January 1st. Hogmanay is over, the Christmas tree is still droopily, defiantly standing, and dust has gathered where the house hasn't been properly cleaned for weeks. The sideboard is hosting a remarkable array of sticky necked bottles of port; colourful foreign liqueurs, and exotic gins. The fridge is clogged with bottles of wine, of vastly varying quality. Eating chocolates before breakfast has become the lazy norm, and half a pound of blue cheese smeared onto some thick, crumbly oatcakes has become the supper of choice, eaten half reclined in a favourite chair, whilst catching up with a bit of Christmas viewing. So far, so festive (at least in our house).
After Hogmanay is over, and 1st January has arrived (a date that seemed impossibly distant this time last week), an uneasy awareness creeps in round the back of your neck, and you start to see Real Life hove into view on the horizon. You realise it's half past one and you have been meaning to shower since 9am, and instead sat down with some tea and buttered toast and a few After Eights, and are now witlessly watching '101 Dalmations' on your own.
Dim recollections of alarm clocks and school uniforms begin to gather behind the temples, and you look around your shattered sitting room, and in to your kitchen, where the fairy lights, strung with Nigella-esque intentions at the beginning of December, now limply illuminate a clutter of dishes from last nights dinner (turkey stroganoff with the last of the roast parsnips), and Christmas cards that never quite made it to the artful display strung along the sitting room wall, are now silted up with the discarded toys from Christmas crackers, some left over wrapping paper, and a pair of reading glasses you have never seen before.
With a surprising stab of something like relief, you realise that the time has come to bring New Year order to the Post Festive chaos. You jump in the shower, and come out bellowing the familiar war cry 'Black Bin Bags, and Plenty of Hot Water'.
Much as I adore Christmas, I equally relish the Great Clean Up of January 1st (or 2nd). Down come the tree and decorations, out comes the hoover, cloths, scrubbers, and hot soapy water. Drips of candle wax are chiselled off the mantelpiece, ropey Christmas drinks are returned to the cupboard (or discreetly emptied down the sink), furniture is pushed back into position, everyday crockery is returned to the kitchen dresser, and everything is given a wash or polish before being put back in its usual place. Christmas crockery (most of mine is from here, with some of this for Christmas main course and cheese plates) is carefully stacked away until the first of December next year, always with a silent but heartfelt hope that we will all be here, and all be well next year to once again gather round the table.
There are usually several trips to the Municipal Recycling Centre with paper and packaging (now there's a gold standard for knocking the last of the festive spirit out of a person).
With Isaac's encouragement I have made a couple of New Year Resolutions for 2018: to go to my Yoga class faithfully, and get back to writing my blog. Isaac has a quietly insistent manner which is extremely effective in shaming you in to what you have always known you should be doing. He is so true and pure himself, that he brings up the standards of those around him. I mentioned Isaac, briefly in my last post, and for those kind enough to wonder how he is, he is now improving, thankfully, day by day.
I have other plans for the year too; we are planning a desperately needed but low cost refurb of our family sitting room. Our floor needs replaced, which will absorb much of our budget, so I will do what I can with regards to curtains, and cushions, and painting our shabby bookcases etc. I am in love with the Farrow and Ball paint chart (the actual chart itself is beautiful, never mind the colours), and I am nervously viewing 'upcycling' tutorials on You Tube. I will post photographs of my progress if I can bear to.
I have lots of quilting plans for 2018 too, and am currently saving hard for a new sewing machine. I adore mine, but it is rather small, and basic, and I would like a more robust model for the projects I have in mind.
In my never ending battle with clutter, I am going to try hard not to allow it to accumulate this year (so hard!), and have already culled my extensive collection of magazine back-numbers. Very hard to discard all those beautiful images and words into the recycling, but of course I feel better for having done it. I have now designated a shallow basket for magazines, which will be emptied on a monthly basis, rather than stacking back numbers for that mythical future day when I have time to re-read them. The fact that I have been subscribing to several magazines for almost thirty years and have never read a back number yet is something which my brain seems unable to compute.
I intend to resurrect the Cookery Calendar Challenge, and will restart that on 1st of February. I am toying with the idea of including cakes and bakes this time, as well as meals ( let me know if you think that is a good idea).
So ends my New Year ramble, thank you for sticking with it, and with me, during my lengthy absence last year. Like a convalescent patient, it is taking me a little time to find my feet again with the blog, but to paraphrase the great Nina Simone, it's a new year, and I am feeling good. (Here's Nina, saying it so much better than I).