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Mothering Sunday.

You probably already know that Mothering Sunday was not originally to honour personal mothers, but to return to your ‘mother’ church, the one where you were baptized and instructed in the spiritual ways of your religion.

Its old names include ‘Refreshment Sunday’ and ‘Rejoicing Sunday’ because after a hard winter it was a day that working people could leave the daily grind of their service and return home.

The end of Lent was in sight and Easter on the horizon so the church even allowed marriages on this Sunday, which were otherwise banned in the shrivening atmosphere of the Lenten period.

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Gong hei fat choi!

16th February is the beginning of Chinese New Year and most excitingly for me, this year is the Year of the Dog.

Obviously I have a fondness for dogs, but more than that, I am one!  

A quick google through traits for Dogs confirms that ‘people born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature...honest, friendly, loyal, smart, straightforward, venerable...’

That’ll do for me!

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Bringing the garden in

.... as spring comes on.

The snowdrops have been out for a fortnight round my local cenotaph. And it’s been snowing.

It never fails to amaze me how hardy British nature is. How can that delicate fresh green push up so relentlessly through the frozen earth?

And those fragile little bells stand the cold?! But they do, every year without fail and herald the appearance of daffodils and primroses and crocuses on my dog walks in the woods.

Even the odd violet. 

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Decorating? It's all in the preparation.

Spring means different things to different people.  In parts of Poland they chuck straw dolls into the river to symbolize the end of winter’s wrath.

In Switzerland they burn winter at the stake in the shape of a snowman – known as the Boogg -  stuffed with explosives (don’t we all?).

And in India, Hindus celebrate Holi by hurling vivid coloured powders at each other to symbolize connecting with each other and letting go of past hardships.

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Pink. Or is it?

Dulux have announced their colour of the year: the winner is (ta-da!) Heart Wood. 

They describe it as ‘a beautiful warm pink’ and show you all manner of ways to use it on their site. I like it. The name suggests nature and warm coziness combined. 

It sounds – and looks – like a benevolent colour, nurturing in these hard times. 

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Spring is almost sprung.

February 2nd is the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. 

It’s the day every year that suddenly I feel…renewed.  The light seems a bit brighter, the day a bit longer, my heart just a bit lighter. 

So it’s not surprising to me that it’s been celebrated as a festival for centuries.  

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New Year? Already?

…and then, suddenly in a flurry of shiny paper and tinsel and Quality Street Christmas is over and we’re hurtling towards another year.

Homework and school uniforms have to be checked, chased and gathered, thoughts cleared for returns to work and for some the dreaded season of tax returns approaches.

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What were your best Christmas presents ever?

This is me on Christmas Day 1977.

Mull of Kintyre was number 1 (rural song, influencing the dungaree-style dress), the weather was mild and windy (check out the short puffed sleeve) and I was having the best day ever.

Father Christmas had brought me a black nylon wig, a plastic dolls’ house and a hamster and had made me the happiest child in England. 

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