I don’t usually go in for extensive Christmas present buying (a combination of thinking it an exploitative commercial con and not having any money), but I do try and make something modest for my family and close friends each year. What my gran would call “a wee minding”. This year, knowing that I wasn’t going to be seeing any of them (and looking for an excuse to avoid tackling my current work in progress, which is anything but) I decided to make more of an effort.  

I am very fortunate to have Jinty & Baa, a fabulous fabric and craft shop in the village, so I don’t need to venture far for supplies. Sewing, knitting and crafting generally have proved to be enormously popular since the first lockdown, so Deborah, who owns the shop, has been stocking a much wider range of fabrics of late – much to my delight.

I couldn’t resist the Scooby-Doo themed fabric, though when I bought it I had no idea what I was going to do with it, and was tempted to make a pair of pjs for myself. However, since masks seem destined to be with us for the foreseeable, and the ones I made previously have been very well-received, that’s what I made for most of my male relatives, with some Marvel Masters of the Universe fabric deployed for those too young to remember Scooby!

One of my sisters finally gave in to her daughters’ incessant lobbying, and got a kitten a few months ago. Simba has not only brought great joy into her household, but he has delighted all of us on the family WhatsApp. At least two of us are now teetering on the brink of going kitten hunting – I’m not one of them, but I have happily offered my services for cat-sitting. So in tribute to Simba the Lockdown Kitten, I had a bit of a cat theme going with some of my presents. A cat print pinny for Simba’s mum, and two different tote bags for Simba’s auntie and granny. I really love making the totes, they are great for mixing and matching fabrics, and there was even some cat fabric left over for masks too.

But there was a limit to how many masks I could make – or give. My oldest male friend and former dancing partner has been complaining about the cold when he works from home in his unheated office, so I knitted him a pair of fingerless gloves. I made personalised napkins and matching place mats for another brother and his family. And astonishingly, I even managed to uncover a couple of people I hadn’t made tea cosies for!

All of my presents, I’m delighted to say, were well received, and I wasn’t the only one going the home grown route this year. My incredibly talented brother-in-law made me a wall-mounted barometer and some personalised cheese boards. There were lots of lovely things to eat from others including my sister’s legendary Scottish tablet, plus home-made chutneys and jams. It’s another example of the unexpected side-benefits of lockdown that people have become more thoughtful about gifts and want to make them personal rather than an Amazon click purchase.

Unfortunately, now that all the present-sharing is over, I have no excuse to avoid writing. Though now I come to think of it, there’s a flurry of birthdays in January. And I’m sure Simba would appreciate my knitting him a new blankie.

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  1. Simba is so cute! 😻 Orange-colored cats have a reputation for being very sweet-tempered, though my family has had a few Garfield cats in my lifetime, LOL. But, count me among those contemplating a future feline companion – cats are hard to resist when you develop an affinity for them!

    Sorry to hear you’re having writing woes 🙁 I don’t know if it’d work for you, but for me, refreshing my work space has helped break through some of the mental cobwebs. A bit of organization, a cheery new tablecloth, and a new mechanical keyboard are helping me push through the work-from-home blues. There’s something about the click-clack of typewriter keys that makes me feel like I’m being productive, LOL.

    1. I too have had some seriously nasty-minded ginger cats, though of course they were never nasty to me! I so agree with what you say about having an affinity with a cat – though of course, it relies on it being mutual. There’s been a lot in the press yesterday about cats adopting alternative owners, just keeping their options open 😉

      I am interested in what you say about the work/home environment, which has also been in the news recently, primarily with reference to schools though. I do work and ‘live’ in the same room, and it can seem some days like it’s getting me down. At Christmas I put a set of fairy lights up on the curtain rails, and I liked them so much I didn’t take them down with the tree. Now one thing I do when I’m done with work is change the lighting. It actually works very well. Currently the book is going – but it’s been yet another complete re-write. So please keep the positive vibes going.

      1. I definitely worry that whatever cat I bring home will not bond with me (none of our family cats has ever chosen me as its human!) but I’ve been assured that if I’m the only one here, it will love me. That, of course, remains to be seen, as cats truly *do* choose their staff!

        When I starting working from home, I didn’t think it’d be for this long, so I didn’t really set up a proper ‘desk’. I did move my computer out of my usual spot, though, because I write as a hobby (fanfic) and I didn’t want to ruin that space I’d carved for myself by bringing work into it. So I set up a space at my kitchen table. I think it’s important, psychologically, to separate your work space and your private space. When you’re suddenly reduced to both being in the same space, a physical separation can help the mental separation.

        At the end of last year, I was told I’d be working from home for at least another six months, so I decided that I’d organize my work space a bit better. I bought some desktop organization and pulled out a bright blue tablecloth, and changed my wallpaper to something cheerful. Admittedly, the keyboard is a product of watching too many reruns from the 1970s, LOL, but I’ve found that though it takes some getting used to, the noise does help promote that feeling of being productive 😊

        1. I think when you work from home you do see your surroundings in a very different way, which explains why so many people have been turning to changing their decor and re-arranging. I still use the same room for work and living, because I love the view, but I’ve been doing so much sewing that the dining room is now officially ‘my’ craft room. Whether it will ever be reclaimed, I’ve no idea.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your page and couldn’t help thinking what a talented person you are, and still manage to write your novels.
    Although I prefer dogs to cats (don’t read this part aloud) your Kitty looks adorable.
    I have previously wished you a Happy New Year, so now I will wish you and your Family Compliments of the Season.

    1. Thanks so much Rosalind. I think the dog v cat thing very much depends on your upbringing. We always had family cats, so that’s why I’ve never had a dog! Thank you for your lovely thoughts, it is always good to hear from you, do keep them coming. And look after yourself!

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