It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas; I’m not talking about getting into the Christmas spirit, it’s more about it having been ruddy cold over the weekend. It was particularly noticeable yesterday, standing out at the farmers’ market; despite having 17 layers on (including the first appearance of the season of the full long-john suit) I was chilled to my bones. It’s always my hands and feet that really suffer, so I was delighted to make myself glow with warmth in the van on my way home…hang the chilblains! I suppose I am feeling a little more Christmassy today, having put up our tree, and the first string of lights along the beams in our cottage. What still hasn’t begun is the shopping; my approach seems to be, just ignore it and it will magically do it itself…..but that ain’t gonna happen, so I need to get my finger out. The ‘mañana’ attitude could land me in big trouble!

Last night we went to Bury to watch Emily sing with the ‘Out of the Shadows’ choir, which was performing a Christmas concert in St John’s church. It was an entertaining show that included a mix of traditional and contemporary songs – some having an inventive twist, all beautifully performed by a very talented ensemble. The church was filled with an appreciative audience, and its numbers were added to when a homeless man joined, taking his place in the back pew of the building. He was welcomed, and given a warm drink during the interval; he said that it was the warmest he had been for some time, sitting in that draughty church, and he told somebody that the music was as responsible for the glow he felt inside as it was for the sanctuary from the cold and wet outside. We are often quick to judge those that live on the streets, but rarely do we know the circumstances that lead to such a wretched way of living; I urge compassion, and generosity – even if only in spirit, particularly at this time of the year. I found it a sobering and thought provoking experience; I’m not a religious person, but the words “there but for the grace of god go I” resonated in my head.

It’s Christmas!!! So let’s talk about veg baby, and this week’s arrangements. Taking the second item first, it’s situation pretty much as usual, I am planning all deliveries on your normal day, unless I inform you otherwise. To give me a fighting chance of being organised I just request that you place your orders as early in the week as possible. As for the delights on offer this week, start salivating now! Brussels sprouts….hoorah! Savoy cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, leeks, cavolo nero, parsnips (yay!), spuds ( bakers, ‘Cara’ and ‘Ratte’ salad potatoes), beetroot, onions (red and brown), swede, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes. There will be some rocket pesto. As for fruit there will be lemons, Kiwi fruit, and the Italian oranges with leaf – but this time they are priced by the Kg. Don’t forget apple juice for the nominated driver….or for a pick-me-up the morning after the night before. And honey for a hot toddy, or to stir into your porridge. I am offering small bunches of fresh sage for those of you that like stuffing. Ok, you can mop up now.

On Saturday I will be at Wyken for the Christmas farmers’ market, and like yesterday, there will be a choir singing carols, mulled wine, and a lovely festive atmosphere (if you discount Scrooge in the corner selling organic vegetables). The market runs from 9.00 until 1.00, but I urge you to visit early for the best selection of wonderful locally produced goodies.

During the week I received a badge and certificate from the blood service, following my 25th donation of either blood or platelets. We don’t do it for badges, but it’s a nice touch to have one’s contribution recognised. I feel really good when I receive a text message telling me that my donation has been delivered to some or other hospital, because it feels like that my small effort has been worthwhile.

Last week I speculated on how the Brexit vote would pan out…..well it went down the pan, along with any remaining credibility that our government had. I referred to it as a mess a week ago, now it is beyond a joke. Perhaps we should down weapons over Christmas and have a game of football in no-man’s land. Jumpers for goal posts isn’t it? Because they are easily moved.

That’s enough serious stuff, so let’s get on to the proper serious stuff. I will not (officially) be working between Christmas and New Year, so the next time that you will see me whistling up your garden path will be on the 3rd or 4th of January 2019, depending on your location. The next market at Wyken will be on January 12th, so please don’t turn up on the 5th, and I obviously won’t be accepting orders from those of you that normally collect your order from there that week.

I would like to wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year, please go steady on the brandy butter. Thank you for your unstinting support over the past 12 months, which from a growing perspective were very challenging, but we grin and bear it and move into a new year with renewed optimism….because you should always look on the bright side of life….(and whistle). See you in 2019….if I don’t see you before. I love you all xx



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