Hi everyone and apologies again as life and events got in the way, it’s good to be busy but I do miss my writing and blogging time, so here goes!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas chez Frugalfashionshopper. We’ve put up the Christmas tree with all its decorations old and new.

The pink bell was made by my son (now aged 42) when he was 7-yrs-old. Further up the tree on the left there’s a half hidden gold glass dec (under the transparent bauble) that was bought when my parents first returned to England and set up home. This would make it about 74-yrs-old!

I’ve also written my Christmas card list and sent half the cards already.  I am trying not to keep a few back so that I can enclose a letter. In other years I’ve done that and sometimes they never get posted!

Our Christmas meals (and the actual Xmas day) are all sorted and we are happy to say we are having a quiet time on our own on Xmas day as both of our kids have partners who have many obligations to their extended families, and we are quite happy with that. I’ve cooked enough turkeys to know that it’s hours and hours of work and then it’s eaten in a few minutes! Well it is in our household!  Yes, it might shock you but we are very happy to be on our own as I find large gatherings a bit of a challenge at the best of times and in these times? I think not!  But I’m also happy to say we are all meeting up on the 27th at my son’s for a lovely roast chicken meal with all the trimmings, which will be so good.  Naturally, we will all do a Lateral Flow Test that morning – the new normal.

I’m actually (mostly) leaving politics to My Other Blog as I did post something last week on the recent tragedy in the English Channel and will say no more about it here. As for our PM’s tardy slug-like behaviour towards the new variant, I shall say nothing as you all know that I think we should behave far more like the French, and other European countries, and have vaccine passports and wear masks in all circumstances and situations, not just in shops and public transport.

But, I will say this, there’s far too much tolerance for people who choose not to wear a mask, and I did my bit by asking a pert young woman in her 20s to put a mask on when I was standing in a queue at the Post Office. She cheerily said, ‘I’m exempt’, so I refrained from sniffing (not wanting to breathe in her air) and pointedly walked out. But there should be a universal attitude that not wearing a mask is a very bad thing. End of rant!

However, I did say I would give you a good news story in each of these reviews and I found one this morning. In Scotland they have guardians who befriend unaccompanied young people seeking safety after travelling across the world. Since 2010 over 850 asylum seeking and trafficked children have been supported by the Scottish Guardianship Service and these adults mentor these young people through the asylum system and just about support them through everything including understanding strange Scottish customs and even stranger Scottish slang. They are considered lifelines by these children and as one of them said, they fight for you and help you no matter what.  Reading about it this morning I felt glad this scheme existed. Well done that scheme.

So on to what I did during the month of November. Well, the first thing is, we went to an actual cinema and saw Dune, which was beyond excellent. I never saw the earlier David Lynch attempt at filming the book Dune, but I understand it wasn’t a particularly good film. This version of Dune, starring Timothy Chalamet, was excellent. Above all the sound in the cinema was amazing, more so because we hardly ever go to the cinema now and when I do I realise how wonderful those deep base notes are, notes that cannot be replicated at home.

I also continued to meet up with friends and of course, family. In fact I thought I was being very brave as twice in early November I met up with people in crowded places.  Of course, I’ve had my three vaccines so, really, why was I anxious?  Because both times I was.  But for me, (and I wonder if it’s the same for you) there’s always that underlying anxiety that something is lurking amongst the crowd that might make you really ill. Anyway, now there’s the new variant I won’t be doing such a crazy thing again. If I meet friends we sit outside no matter the temperature.  And indeed I’ve done that twice now and managed to eat a lunch both times.

Actually I now have ‘sitting-outside-in-the-damp-and-cold-weather’ clothes! I wear so many layers. On my upper body I have a vest, a top, a woolly jumper, a gilet, and of course, my thick long blue plaid coat, which has a padded lining. And my lower half has thick leggings, wool socks, long boots and a wool skirt. And that’s how I manage the cold and actually it’s been fun! Oh yes, and always a woolly hat!

Here are my green gloves and a new beret I bought recently.

What I’ve read and watched – films

As well as the excellent Dune which gets 5* from me, we watched Black Widow (Amazon) which is a Marvel Universe origin story starring Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh. Don’t think I can even begin to give you the plot as it’s very much for Marvel fans but we enjoyed it and I give it 4*.

The other two films were ridiculous and regarding one of them Old (Amazon) I feel I’ll never get back the couple of hours I gave to watch it. It was also slightly nasty as the plot is simple, a group of people get trapped on a beach and over several days get old until they die, and that’s it. It’s directed by M.Night Shyamalan and he often makes films that are a bit off kilter so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Then there was the very silly Jungle Cruise (Amazon) which stars Wayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. Look, it’s a Disney film so that tells you everything. It has elements of Indiana Jones (seen one you’ve seen them all) and The African Queen, which is a classic, and never to be surpassed, ever. Two stars for both of them.

Honestly I know there are better films around to watch but sometimes we just get in a mood to watch something frivolous to take us away from all the dire news and sometimes our choices work and sometimes they don’t!


During the month of November we finished several series: Midnight Mass (Netflix) was very well acted and crafted but ridiculously over-the-top in a schlocky, gothic way as it’s all about an old priest who, on a trip to Israel, has an encounter with a vampire, is bitten, and becomes young again. He then returns to his remote island parish somewhere off the coast of America and the fun begins. It’s interesting because as well as the blood and gore (it won’t suit everyone) there’s a lot of philosophising. We kind of enjoyed it.

We also finished Close to Me (BBC iPlayer) which is basically, ‘who pushed me down the stairs so I gained a head injury and lost my memory’, over 6 episodes. It was annoyingly watchable! It’s like a page-turning book.

We are devastated and sad at finishing Schitts Creek (Netflix) and I truly mourn the loss of seeing that family ever week. We took over two years to watch all six series and I feel as though it became part of our lives.  I can tell you it is the one series that, without a doubt, I shall watch again at some point.

We’ve also finished watching Outlaws (BBC iPlayer but also on Netflix in the States) and that last bit of information is important, people from over the pond, because…

Well, let’s start from the beginning it’s been written and created by Stephen Merchant who is a gangling, rather odd looking, character actor who also writes screenplays brilliantly. The Outlaws are 7 disparate people who find themselves doing Community Service and they comprise a young Asian girl, an Instagram influencer, a militant black activist, a middle-aged businessman, a solicitor, a young black guy who is mixed up with his local gang but looks after his sister and, well, watch it to find out what happens to him as the plot ends up hanging around this character. And then there’s an American, obviously resident in  the UK, also doing Community Service, and who is that American?  It’s Christopher Walken. Yes, you heard me right, not any old Christopher Walken, it’s THE Christopher Walken. But is he the star? No he is not!  It’s a very, very British situation comedy that deepens and has many layers. It gives you a sense of who all these seven people are, why they are there and how they all come together, and you care about them. Oh, and did I say it’s very funny too. And Christopher Walken is just part of the ensemble and fits in beautifully. It is so very, very good, so good that there is going to be a second series with all the characters back as the last episode didn’t really tie up everything – anyway yay and three cheers for a second series!!!! This is a must-watch.

Were are now watching three series on Apple TV; Foundation, which is a bit challenging to understand and you’ll know what I mean as we’ve only watched 2 episodes and that second episode – err, what. Special effects are good though. Then there’s Invasion, which takes some time (as in several episodes) to show you the aliens who have invaded Earth, but it’s quite watchable, albeit a bit mumblecore. For the first time ever, as I have very good hearing, we’ve turned on the subtitles. And finally, The Morning Show, series 2, starring Reece Witherspoon and Jenifer Aniston. The thing is, it is what it is.  Again it’s quite watchable but I don’t get the adoration for a newsperson.  Don’t think we have that kind of feeling for media types in the UK.

And we also watched an excellent feature-length documentary The Last Mountain (BBC iPlayer). It’s easy not to confuse this with a US film of the same name, as the title continues with – the last days of Tom Ballard.  Ballard was the son of Alison Hargreaves who died on K2 in 1995 when Tom was just 6 years old. The documentary shows us several parallel storylines: the young Tom and his sister growing up without their mother, the older Tom learning his mountaineering skills and then the final climb. That and the title gives you a clue to what happens to Tom, but it is not a depressing doc as the cinema photography is outstanding and the scenery awe-inspiring. I was left with the impression that Tom was greatly damaged by his mother’s death and could not leave mountains alone – they had to be conquered with that sad result.

It looks as though we watch a lot of television – well, we enjoy what we see (usually) and watch only 1-2 hours at a time.


I read three books in November: A Perfect Spy by John le Carre which is utterly wonderful – the prose, the prose. Then a novelist I don’t know, Mary Lawson’s A Town Called Solace. This is a page-turner and I read it very quickly. I loved reading it at the time but I thought it overall a little thin as I do like something meatier to read! And finally I’ve taken two weeks to read Dune, by Frank Herbert. After watching the film I just had to read it.

That’s all for now, but one of December’s posts will be about party gear. I shall find it a lovely thing to do but I do also feel rather wistful about the idea of dressing up in party gear as i)I’m not going to any parties and ii) really should we be having parties anyway these days?  What do you think?

Btw, we all know what the UK government thinks about parties – it’s have them and never mind the consequences. I shall say no more!

I’ll leave you with this dramatic sunset over Brighton beach taken by Mr F.

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper





31 thoughts on “The very late November review 2021

  • 7th December 2021 at 8:58 am

    Thank you so much for the book and film section.

    Perhaps you could tell us about perfume another time?

    Can I recommend The Girl With the Louding Voice ,by Abi Dare’.
    Best wishes,

    • 8th December 2021 at 9:02 am

      Thank you Ro for the book recommendation – I shall put it on my Christmas list.

      And perfume. I used to wear it a lot as I always going up to London and doing lots of dressy things. Sadly I don’t as much of this as in the ‘before-times’, although over the winter I have put a dab behind my ears from time to time. But maybe there’s a blog to write in that we should really live for the day in the best possible way – thanks for the inspiration Ro.

      Best wishes to you too 😊

  • 7th December 2021 at 12:07 pm

    Afternoon Penny

    Many thanks for this nice newsy blog. I’m impressed you have your tree up – looks good and lovely to have decorations that re-run through the years – but 74 is “quite something’, as they say down the Balls Pond Road or do I mean the US of A? Yes, I think I do. I like your red hat and green gloves combo – very festive, especially with the ‘decorations’ – which look interesting.

    Like you, I’m not up for big time socialising at the moment. We’re having a family lunch on 19th with our daughter, grandson and partner and our Christmas day will be just us and our daughter & son-in-law. We have one ‘biggy’ on Christmas Eve: 11 people including we four – all 11 have agreed to lateral test. It’s the only way to feel comfortable and we’ve book lunch for NYD – we did the same last year but it was cancelled. But, having typed all that …. who knows what’s going to happen this year? I have no confidence decisions will be made based on our best interest; sad and frustrating.

    We’re enjoying The Outlaws too but our big viewing miss is The Good Fight – all 5 series seen and enjoyed, waiting for 6 now. (Michael Sheen has been great in it.) Last night we started and are enjoying You Don’t Know Me on BBC.

    On the reading front: I’m enjoying Four Thousand Days, time and how we use it by Oliver Burkman and can highly recommend this thought provoking look at how we ‘spend’ our time – particularly relevant to we ‘baby boomers’ and great for discussion with friends/partners who are interested in ‘this sort of thing’.

    Other than that I’ve been pawing my way through a pile of cookery books that I picked up at a charity shop last week. (I love cooking, and I love reading cookery books.) One, by an American woman kowns as The Bare Foot Contessa is about arranging up-market parties in The Hamptons (the table decorations alone would cost a fortune) but most of the recipes are easy enough. Another book is Classic British Dishes, by Marguerite Patten – remember her? It is a walk down memory lane as my aunt had a copy when I was growing up. Many of the recipes are really ‘old school’ e.g. The Miser’s Feast, Pressed Ox Tongue, Pan Haggerty and Tafferty Tart (great name for a drag queen!) it’s good to read about but I’ll probably never know how ny of these dishes will taste as I’ll not be cooking them 😉

    I haven’t read your latest Other Blog, but I’ll pop straight over over there – always enjoy OB!

    All the very best, Mary

    • 7th December 2021 at 11:40 pm

      Mary, so interested to hear you picked up a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. I have all her cookbooks and absolutely swear by the recipes, if I had to get rid of my recipe books, I would fight to keep hers.

    • 8th December 2021 at 9:11 am

      I see The Barefoot Contessa is much loved by some (see Geri above) but I think your Marguerite Patten cookbooks sound lovely and would remind me of my mother’s cooking. Actually when we lived in Ditchling we regularly shopped in Hassocks (a nearby small town) and twice I saw Marguerite Patten there, once in Budgens and once in a charity shop looking at old tablecloths. This would have been in the late 1990s. She was so tiny.

      And as for Christmas tree baubles I should’ve said that almost a third of my current decoration are my parents’ Christmas decorations. I also have three of my parent’s Christmas boxes to put the decs in. These are old Christmas cracker boxes and quite ancient, so much so they could almost go on the Antiques Road Show! I used to have lametta which they’d used and reused many times as I did! Still got four bits of ancient tinsel from them, as well!!!

      All the very best to you too x

  • 7th December 2021 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you for a chatty, festive post. WE were also devastated when Schitt’s Creek came to an end. There may have been tears! Have you watched the 2019 Little Women film (by Greta Gerwig)? An absolutely joy if you haven’t, truly capturing the spirit of the book with so much love.

    • 8th December 2021 at 9:14 am

      I know! How that family got into one’s psyche! The writing was superb. And it was funny too. I shall definitely watch it again.

      And that’s a good prompt, I shall watch Little Women this weekend – thanks 😊

  • 7th December 2021 at 2:07 pm

    Merry Christmas, Penny! Your tree and memory-filled ornaments are beautiful! We have our tree standing in the living room but not decorated yet. Trying to get a huge box of gifts off to my sister in Indonesia. I’m already very late!
    We are still up in the air regarding specific Christmas family gatherings but do know that our first-born son, his wife, and 2-year old granddaughter will arrive for a ten day stay. So excited! Let the good food (he cooks!) and granddaughter giggles begin!!
    I do enjoy science fiction and have read Dune by F. Herbert and the entire Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. Asimov coined the term “robotics” and his handling of the whole concept was fascinating and ground-breaking! I hope to see Dune on the big screen but Omicron numbers are rising here. Our community news tells us that cases are rising. And I’m scheduled to attend a women’s ministry Christmas Brunch of fifty attendees this Saturday! Not certain what I will do.
    Do enjoy your Christmas Day! I am sure that when our visiting family departs on December 30th, husband and I will plop down in our chairs and nap for days!!!
    Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season…Charlene

    • 8th December 2021 at 9:40 am

      Thank you Charlene, and how lovely that your family is staying with you. I am very blessed to have both my children and their families living half an hour away by car.

      I didn’t say that about a third of the Christmas decorations are my mother’s and when I put them the tree I have memories of each one, some have to be 50 years old and others were bought nearer to their passing in 1993 and 1996 respectively.

      I debated whether to include this paragraph and nearly deleted it, as I don’t want to spoil an anticipated happy event, and just because I don’t like being in crowded rooms doesn’t mean other people have to even listen to my musings. All my thoughts on Covid safety are based on i) what I hear from the Zoe Covid study of which I am a participant and ii) my own admitted anxiety, but cases are rising with this new variant, so here goes. I think we all have to do risk assessments, as in, am I vaccinated x3, yes, so, is everyone else? We mingle and socialise with friends (and family)who are triple vaccinated and don’t do much like us! But with any other socialising I do a risk assessment which include questions like: will people be asked to take tests beforehand; will they be wearing masks, and if not what is the ventilation like as that is the key to getting that virus out of rooms. And so on. It’s tricky, really tricky. Follow your instincts, Charlene, don’t listen to me instead what does your gut say?

      You take care and thanks as ever for your comment 😊

  • 7th December 2021 at 3:03 pm

    I think we will be with the 2 of us on Christmas day as we are not,,allowed,, to have more then 4 people in the house. I am totally against that rule as our government only wants the ic s empty of Covid patients. They close restaurants, museums, cinemas, sportsschools etc. While the most contamination are on the schools. But they don’t want to close them down. It’s all about money…….I digress…

    • 8th December 2021 at 3:36 pm

      I know what you mean, as our PM is totally obsessed with us having ‘freedom’ and keeping the shops open and everything else including schools, but cases are rising fast. So will he do anything? Not if he can help it. We are being led by a moron!

      • 8th December 2021 at 4:57 pm

        I’ve just seen slogan ‘Vote for a Clown Expect a Circus’. Need I say more? On perfume I use it every day going out or staying in. It’s an essential part of my self-presentation which is important to me. I change scents with the seasons, going on holiday etc.

  • 7th December 2021 at 4:03 pm

    I read both Dune and Asimov’s Foundation books many years ago, and loved both. I was going to go to the cinema to see Dune but rising numbers up here from the new variant of COVID have put that on hold.
    I’m watching Foundation on Apple, but can’t say I’m enjoying it very much. The CGI and overall cinematography is wonderful, but I think most of the acting is second rate.
    I’m also watching Invasion, and oh gosh is it slow! Especially the scenes set in Japan. And when are we going to see Sam Neill again, if ever?
    I also watched The Morning Show, found it ok but if I never saw another episode I wouldn’t care.
    You didn’t mention See. I loved both seasons of that, the premise behind it is ridiculous, but the costumes and the cinematography are simply wonderful. The acting less so, I admit. But it’s got Jason Momoa in it, so who cares? Not me 😁
    I love Outlaws, and it’s a joy to see CW on screen again. I watched The Deerhunter the other week, thoroughly enjoyed it, I’d forgotten what a brilliant film it is.
    I’ve just finished re-reading again all the Song of Ice and Fire books (GoT), really wish GRRM would hurry up and finish the next one. The tv series ending was imo rubbish, I really want the books to be better.
    I’ve started Shogun by James Clavell. I read it a long time ago, and also watched the not very good tv series starring Richard Chamberlain. I just can’t seem to get into anything new and unread, no idea why. Maybe it’s a feeling of safety in re-reading, who knows?
    I’ll be honest, and a wee bit embarrassed to admit it, I’ve never heard of the Scottish Guardianship Service, but I’m certainly going to read up about it, it’s nice to know there’s some good stuff going on up here.
    Re. masks, I wear mine all the time when I’m out and about, and like you am scunnered at the “exempt”. I’ve challenged a few people, all said they had asthma, and when I said I did too, didn’t reply, they just walked away. Although, tbh, I do wonder how effective they are at preventing the spread of COVID what with people not covering their noses, taking them off to cough!, wearing them below chins, etc.
    I’ll be going to my daughters for Christmas as usual, no idea what we’ll be eating, I let her and my g’son decide every year. We rarely have a conventional Christmas meal, and never have turkey, we all three much prefer chicken. What we did enjoy one year was a four bird roast, can’t remember the exact contents but it was lovely and moist, very tasty.
    In the past, we’ve had Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, all the usual takeaway options, and one year, it was just a pick and mix from what was in the fridge and freezer. My daughter and I had had colds and weren’t really in the mood to shop, cook, etc. My g’son always has a conventional Christmas meal at his other Granny’s on either the 24th or the 26th so he never loses out.
    Wishing you and all your loved ones a wonderful Festive Season x

    • 8th December 2021 at 3:50 pm

      Yes, I’d read both the Dune and the Foundation books, but honestly I remembered very little as I read Dune again over these past two weeks, it’s beautifully written as well. Yes, I too read the Songs of Ice and Fire, but will Martin ever write another? Not sure he will. I think I want to read more of the Le Carre books as they are so intricate and his writing is superb.

      I’m in total agreement with you about the 3 Apple series: Foundation is not as good as it could be and I don’t know why but I’m finding it a bit difficult to follow. I agree Invasion is slow but actually I quite like it – there’s the last episode on Friday! And as for The Morning Show I don’t really get the adoration and I’m not sure why I’m watching it!!! I need another Nordic Noir I think! There’s something with Olivia Coleman that got good reviews in the Guardian so might try that.

      I really do believe we should have tighter restrictions, but with libertarian Johnson totally committed to us all to have ‘freedom’ plus having everything open and ‘normal’ he’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming to get us to Plan B which will be far too late. He fails to see the logic that if we wear masks and cases are kept at a lower R rate then that will keep all retail open.

      I know how you feel about your politicians but really you are so lucky to have Sturgeon in charge.

      Wishing you all the best too 😊

      • 10th December 2021 at 11:06 pm

        I forgot to say, if you’ve never watched Ted Lasso on Apple then I recommend you do. It’s an absolute delight, I’m eagerly awaiting the next season.

  • 7th December 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Hello, Penny

    Your tree looks lovely! Like you, we use old decorations, some from when I was small; I’m in my 80s now so they’ve lasted well.

    Also like you, we’re more than happy to stay home over Christmas, apart from a carefully-distanced Christmas Day with family, similar to last year.
    With the BBC having lost the plot, our tv viewing is largely Freeview based (it doesn’t take much to please us!) including American documentaries (excellent) and Westerns (your equivalent to sci-fi, Penny!) While I do stay abreast of current affairs I’ve decided that at my age I’m not deliberately seeking out angst-ridden stuff so anything harrowing/scary or offensive is switched off. I need joy in my life, thank you very much!

    Bravo for mentioning the m-word to that young lady! I do wonder if non mask wearers are genuinely exempt or just lazy don’t-carers. That said, I’m reminded of a dear old gentleman I saw in Devon earlier in the year who was wearing a laminated card on a lanyard explaining in detail why he wasn’t able to wear a mask. Aw, bless, someone obviously cared enough to try and save him from having to explain all the time. While I mostly subscribe to the ‘my body, my choice’ philosophy, I do wonder how many bed-blockers might not have needed hospitalisation had they worn a mask.

    Have a lovely Christmas! I hope Father Christmas brings you all you wish for, including a copy of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, my Book of the Year. And for our Prime Minister, I’m hoping the old chap will bring him a proper pair of proverbials, but I’m not holding my breath!

    • 8th December 2021 at 4:01 pm

      Thank you Zepherine, yes, I should have said that about 1/3 of the baubles on the tree are from my parents, and some must be at least 50 years old, it’s just one of them is definitely very much older, and it is very precious. And as I put them on the tree they bring back quite a lot of memories.

      I know what you mean about the necessity of watching nice/funny/uplifting TV. We’re currently enjoying a documentary on BBCiPlayer on Walt Disney – it’s really good. I read that book A Gentleman in Moscow and loved it – thank you for the recommendation.

      As for people who don’t wear masks – grrrrr! But I totally get that some are truly exempt but not all are. It’s not very well policed is it? Elsewhere you have to proved you haven’t got Covid before you can enter any area including retail, restaurants, cafes and so on. And mask wearing is just normal. But not here, mind you I think we’re not far from Plan B.

      You have a lovely Christmas too 😊

  • 7th December 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Thanks for the November round-up Penny. We have many tree decorations collected over the last 50 years, some made by our children. I’ve bought my grandchildren a tree decoration each Christmas until they are 16 so they will have the nucleus of things for when they have their own Christmas Trees. I was thinking of when they left home but they all have a tree in their bedrooms now!. A few years ago I swapped my 27 year old tree for a new one which revolves. It’s lovely but takes hours to decorate as you have to do it right round! It won’t be going up for a while yet ; if it was up to Mr B it would be Christmas Eve. He can be a bit of a Christmas scrooge……………..! BTW where do you store your Xmas stuff in your small flat?
    A book I found in a charity shop is one of the best I’ve read all year. It is Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor, a new author to me. It chronicles the lives of a rural community alongside the search for a missing girl in a beautifully poetic way. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work. I’ve loved the Outlaws too; I’ve find Stephen Marchant’s geeky persona strangely attractive! We enjoyed Shetland, with subtitles, & Showtrial. How did you get on with Alma? I hope she’s coming back for another series. There will I hope be 4 of us for Christmas day then 9 at my daughter’s on the 26th, if the fates allow (song reference!) We usually have a meal out on Christmas Eve too but never get invited to parties anyway. I shall be dressing up as if I were going to a party anyway!

    • 9th December 2021 at 9:00 am

      Good to hear you have old Christmas decoration – I just love getting the decorations out of their Christmas boxes which are Christmas cracker boxes and also my mother’s and so old they could go on Antiques Roadshow!

      Glad to hear you’re dressing up. I shall get out all my party clothes and have a think about the 3 occasions we’re going to celebrate Christmas: one is just the two of us on Xmas Day, then the family meet-up (8 of us) and one other engagement with two friends where we’ve both said, let’s dress up. And I shall!

      Thanks for the recommendation – that McGregor book sounds interesting. Yes Outlaws is so very good and I didn’t have high expectations, I’d just like to hear what people from the States think as their situation comedies are so different. Not sure about fancying Stephen Merchant though – what a hoot!!! I really like Alma – we watch it once a week as we’re rationing it. I’ll have to mention it next month.

      You have a great Christmas – and oh yes, one moment – we have Plan B! Now I believe that press conference was called hurriedly. While the increased restrictions are necessary it had to be a diversionary manoeuvre on the part of that idiot Johnson. I see even Tories are beginning to doubt his leadership. Thing is, who would we get in his place? Someone more right-wing? I haven’t even mentioned the assaults on democracy that are being filtered into current legislation. They actually wanted to change judges decisions??????? Therein lies fascism – it is all so awful that I can’t believe I’m living through it.

      Phew and at that I shall continue today to do a Pilates class and in the afternoon get out my party clothes – just to keep sane!

  • 7th December 2021 at 10:21 pm

    I recommend ” Here we are” by Graham Swift (a Brighton setting in1959, I loved “Waterland” and “Last Orders” by the same author) and “Autumn” by Ali Smith.
    Thanks for your writing, I wish you a merry happy Christmas.


    • 9th December 2021 at 9:02 am

      Ah yes, Graham Swift – I’ve read Last Orders and Waterland and remember them as beautifully written but don’t know the Brighton one – that’s a must read – thanks so much.

      Wishing you a Merry Christmas too 😊

  • 8th December 2021 at 2:12 pm

    Good morning Penny. good for you for having put your tree up already. I have done the Christmas decorating but have not decided on doing a tree this year. I got a quite large one two years ago but I did need my son’s help in bringing it in, setting it up and even doing the lights. I had to use my ricketty old step ladder to decorate. If I do get a tree this year it will be much smaller. I have like you so many ornaments from the past, things my kids made, those my parents gave me and ones I have brought back from trips. right now I have lights strung around my artificial ficus tree. I used to have a very large ficus but the cats destroyed it. the place looks quite “Christmassy” even without a tree so I may just leave it at that. My family will all go to my daughter’s apartment for Christmas this year. We will all be together unlike last year. She is an excellent cook and loves to entertain. She has asked me to bring my butternut squash soup for the first course and make cookies. I used to make several kinds and put together platters years ago but this year it will be one, maybe two kinds. I honestly do not know how I managed it all years ago, doing all the holidays while being a single working mom. Yesterday evening I did go out with my son, my daughter in law and grandson to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate his birthday. Granddaughter is still away at college. the place specializes in dumplings, very tasty, a nice treat. I am so fortunate that both my children live so close to me. I have read a number of enjoyable books over the past weeks, two mysteries, Ann Cleeves Vera Stanhope The darkest Evening and Alex Michaelides The Maidens. I think my guilty pleasure is a good Brit murder novel. I also just finished Mitch Albom’s the Stranger in the Lifeboat, he always gives you something to ponder. I loved Vera Ardone’s The Children’s Train, a translation from the Italian, about a child growing up in post WWII Naples. My Grandmother was from Naples so it had special meaning. currently reading The Women in Black by Madeliene St. John and loving it. about 4 women who work for a large department store in 1950’s Sydney, Not much in the way of TV and I have not been to an actual film out in years. The smaller movie houses which showed the more interesting films have been replaced by megaplexes which show the most commercial films and in truth I do not like like experience on going there on my own. It has been a fairly busy season even with Covid. A recent lunch with college friends, this week a holiday lunch for my lecture series group, and next week another, if small, holiday gathering with a group I belong to of somewhat elderly single seniors. And all reasons to dress up a bit and look one’s best! right? so that’s me.
    Have a wonderful holiday Penny, the best to you and your family!

    • 9th December 2021 at 9:13 am

      Hi Derby – lovely getting your newsy comment. We always had real Christmas trees and rather looked down on people who had artificial trees but needs must and it is much easier to put up our little tree. I should’ve said that about one third of the decs are my mother’s so as I put them up I get a glimpse of the past through fleeting flashbacks of Christmases past, all lovely as my mother did a good Christmas. But not until I was working full-time and had two young children did I realise what hard work it all was.

      I have three occasions to dress-up and enjoy myself; one with my other half, one with both the kids and their families and one with an old friend where we’ve said, let’s dress up – and I shall!

      I like the sound of the two books you recommend and will look them up and put them my wish-list.

      We’re very lucky in that there are two independent(ish) cinemas in Brighton but what with the Covid stats in Brighton sadly we don’t go to them any more. However, Lewes nearby has a completely independent cinema and what with their lower cases that’s where we went last month. I shall wait for this current wave to die down before I return though.

      Thank you so much Derby and you too have a wonderful holiday 😊

  • 8th December 2021 at 5:20 pm

    For quite a few years it’s been just the two of us on Christmas Day and I don’t mind at all. We go round to one of John’s kids in the morning, to open presents, and then come back do I can sort out the turkey crown. I don’t think I could face doing a turkey for hoardes. Instead we have 8 coming on Boxing Day, which we always do, and it’s very easy – cold meats, salads and jacket potatoes.

    You’ve piqued my interest with Outlaws. Haven’t seen it. The Last Mountain has has been on our list for a while, we love anything about mountains.

    Looking forward to seeing your Christmas frocks. I only have one chance to dress up, albeit with a cracker hat – we have a family outing to the Royal Albert Hall on the 18th, which is risky as it will be packed to the gunnels, but I’m putting my faith in the vaccine, and the knowledge that Omicron appears to be mild for those who get it — most think they’ve got a cold. But I wouldn’t be doing it if my mum was coming here (she will be at my brother’s for Christmas Day) x

    • 9th December 2021 at 9:23 am

      Yes, I’ve got 3 occasions to dress up: first is with a couple of friends and we’ve said, let’s dress up and I shall, the second is chez Frugalfashionshopper on the actual day and the third will be on the 27th with our kids and their respective families. Still not sure what we’re going to eat on Xmas day though as we’re having chicken with all the trimmings on 27th, might get something from Cook!

      Outlaws is very good and you slowly come to care for them all. They seem to be stereotypically, the Asian, the bad boy, the businessman, the militant activist, the Instagrammer, but Merchant gives them all a backstory and you really care for them in the end. Kind of genius to include Christopher Walken who absolutely is not the star – mind you I so wonder what Americans would make of it though as is so very English with totally no studio laughter. But it’s also very funny.

  • 8th December 2021 at 6:07 pm

    Merry Christmas Penny. The tree looks lovely! 🎄 I always add old decorations and things that remind me of Christmases past. What would Christmas be without an old felt stocking made by a child many decades ago, and showing its age a bit! 😁 I love the immaculate Christmas scenes with beautiful colour coordinated everything, but my Christmas is about family. Let’s hope we get to have at least a taste of that sort of Christmas this year.

    • 9th December 2021 at 9:30 am

      Well we’ve now got PlanB but I think we’ll still be able to meet up and that’ll be so good although there are no parties I’ve got 3 occasions with family and friends where I can dress up, And I will!!!

      Oh yes, I so agree about Christmas and family and as for the decorations I should have said that about a third of the decorations are my mother’s and I get a glimpse of the past as I put them up – that’s why they’ve gone up so early. And every time I walk past the Christmas tree, I say, oh that’s my mother’s and that one we got when… and as for that one…. and so on.

      You have a great Christmas – I think it will happen 😊

      • 9th December 2021 at 10:04 am

        I do hope so. Let’s keep our Fingers crossed!

  • 9th December 2021 at 10:01 am

    Hello Penny and Seasons greetings . I always enjoy your monthly wrap ups of what you have been reading and watching. Much of your loved programmes comes here eventually. I watched Schitts Creek for the first time recently , not sure what to make of it yet , maybe it takes time to get in to it.
    Your tree looks lovely , how wonderful to have decorations from your parents , so many memories. I will admit that my Christmas decorating is minimal at best.
    Enjoy your family time and the chance to dress up. Jill xx

  • 10th December 2021 at 10:39 am

    I love the ornamental history on your tree! And thanks for all the recommendations.

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