Winter solstice

25 days of kindness – December 21st

December 21st is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, or in other words, winter solstice. With only 7 hours and 25 minutes of scheduled daylight here as it is, it hardly felt like the day broke at all with such low lying fog. Not to worry! Any excuse to fill my room with the flickers and fragrance of scented candles is much appreciated.

I thought I would match the shortness of the day with a brief blog post. After my failed attempt on Saturday, I successfully managed to deliver some magazines to the doctor’s surgery for anxious patients like myself to flick through in the waiting room.

So there you have it, short and sweet! I read that, like with most festivals, it is traditional at winter solstice to feast. And that is exactly what I plan to do. A cosy night in with good friends, cheesy Christmas films and even cheesier pizza!


Mary x

Three times a charm

25 days of kindness – December 20th

Three is usually a crowd, but not today.

The rough plan: a day out in my hometown to meet and old friend for a catch up and to sort out some last minute bits and bobs for Christmas.

Added bonus: the opportunity to carry out three acts of kindness that I wouldn’t normally do.

Numero uno (e due)

In light of my recent bedroom overhaul, I have a lot of books in need of a good home. My academic foreign language books are more likely to find an appreciative owner if I sell them online, but for general chick-lit novels and detective stories, Oxfam books is ideal.

However, I guessed the store’s opening time incorrectly (this seems to happen to me a little too often…), so with half an hour to kill in the damp British weather, I wandered into the nearest shopping mall. Almost immediately upon arriving I was collared by a representative for Amnesty International. Now, usually in this situation I would rattle off the unoriginal yet effective “Sorry, I’m in a bit of a rush!”, but I knew full well that this was an outright lie. So I stayed. And I listened. And I signed up. Am I in the financial position to subscribe to every charity who stops me in the street? Absolutely not, but one every now and again doesn’t hurt.



Harris Museum at Christmas

Last but not least

My wallet and load feeling somewhat lighter, I turned a corner and saw none other than a Big Issue vendor. If you read my blog yesterday, you would know that I bought the magazine when I was in Leeds, so before I had thought twice I found myself saying “Sorry mate, I’ve already got that one!” and walked away. Cursing myself for sounding so rude, I turned around and asked if I could get him a hot drink instead. “Ooh, a tea would be grand, thanks!” The man has good taste, I thought.



Mary x

P.S. I am thrilled to have been nominated for a Liebster Award, so watch this space for my Liebster post and nominations!

Big issue, small solution

It is much easier to be kind to people when you are surrounded by them.

Knowing I was headed for Leeds, I didn’t particularly plan a good deed of the day because I was confident an opportunity would arise on its own. And sure enough, it did.

As I was wandering through the County Arcade (in which my bank balance could barely stretch to window shopping), I noticed a lady under the archway at the far end, clutching a stack of magazines. As I approached, my initial inkling was confirmed as I heard her calling out “Big Issue”, so naturally I bought one.

Big Issue Christmas Edition

For those of you who don’t know, The Big Issue Foundation promotes ‘working not begging’ and offers ‘a hand up not a hand out’ to those who need help getting back on their feet. Official vendors buy the Big Issue magazine at £1.25 and sell it on at £2.50, keeping the profit they make. (Or in the case of this bumper edition, I bought it for £3 so £1.50 went directly to the vendor).

Though I have purchased Big Issue magazines in the past, I can’t say I have ever read one. I assumed it would just be filled with adverts and other nonsense, but I must admit, it’s not half bad! An amusing article on Christmas jobs including a segment by a cracker joke writer, TV, album and book reviews as well as a good old puzzle page.

But best of all… the cryptic crossword comes with quick clues too! I will definitely have to make this a regular purchase.


Mary x



Mondays and mini messages

25 days of kindness –
December 11th

Alas, another Monday. On the plus side, there’s only one more dreaded M-day until Christmas!

Working from home, I find knowing it’s the start of a new week quite motivational. But then again, I don’t have to leave the house in the morning whilst it’s still dark, de-ice the windscreen, sit in traffic for an hour only to then sit in a grey box at a computer all day. All I do is change from my nighttime into my daytime pyjamas, make a cup of tea and some hot buttered crumpets then I’m good to go!

Anyway, I digress. Christmas spirit, acts of kindness and all that jazz.

It has become increasingly apparent to me how difficult it is to be kind to people when you go virtually the whole day without seeing anyone. Oh, the joys of living in the sticks… The only time I did leave the house today was to visit my elderly Grandmother in her new care home, but that hardly counts as being kind, but rather as being human.

No. Today I decided to do a little something for my Dad. If you saw my post on Saturday, you would know that if there’s something you could possibly do to help my father, he’ll already have done it before you had any idea. So, how do you do something thoughtful for the man who leaves nothing to chance?

Because I’m insured to drive my Dad’s car (and my Dad is a generous man), he always fills the glove box with sweets and chocolates in case I get peckish. As a result, we have an ongoing joke-argument in which I tell him off for making me eat rubbish, and he protests that he only buys things because I keep eating them. I did consider being the one to fill the glove box for a change as my act for the day, but naturally there was no need since it had recently been re-stocked with Werther’s Originals and a packet of Jelly Babies. I settled instead for leaving a little message on the steering wheel for when he goes to work in the morning.


Now to try and prevent him from reading this blog and ruining the surprise…


Mary x


There’s no day like a snow day

25 days of kindness – December 9th

That’s right, it snowed! Naturally, I felt I had to name today an official snow day, i.e. an excuse to not doing anything even remotely productive. While the snowflakes were falling thick and fast, it wasn’t for long enough to reach optimum sledging/snowman building depth, so I wrapped up in my slightly-too-small reindeer hoody (with antlers, of course) and enjoyed the wintry scene from indoors. My Dad, however, seemed to have other ideas… who decides to mow the lawn on the one day of snow this year?!

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Reluctant to venture outside, I knew the perfect small but sweet act of kindness for today. In recent years I have definitely been slacking with my Christmas cards. Either I’ll write them but forget to send them, give them out in person so late that it’s virtually time to take down the cards and put away the decorations for another year, or I’ll just forget to write any at all.

I know some people like to complain that sending Christmas cards is bad for the environment, or that we should give the money that would be spent on them to charity instead. Since I already have a stash of cards, it’s not much worse for the environment now if I send them. And as my Mum would say, we should give the money to charity as well without depriving somebody of a card. And she’s right; there’s something special about receiving a handwritten note in the post, especially when the sender takes the time to write a thoughtful message rather than just signing their name underneath the pre-printed ‘Seasons Greetings’.

So, Christmas cards written, I think it’s time to call it a night. And who knows, I might even get round to posting them this year.


Mary x

Confessions of a Shopaholic

25 days of kindness – December 8th

Thank goodness it’s Friday! And I’m now one week into my Christmas kindness blogging challenge, woohoo! To be truthful, I’m currently spending most of my time sending job applications so the days seem to have lost their definition, but there’s no harm in sharing the sense of weekend euphoria with the rest of the world.

Since graduation, sorting out my room has been a work in progress. Between moving away for university then living abroad for a year, I appear to have accumulated three times the amount of general clutter than any human could possibly need. However, the issue with spring (or more accurately, winter) cleaning is that things tend to get messy before they get tidy again… and that’s the point I usually reach before something more important comes along and I have to call it a day. So, my bedroom having looked like a ransacked clothing store for quite long enough, I decided to finally give some things away.

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After a hairy drive along some treacherously icy country lanes, I trundled through Clitheroe with my sack of goods in a Santa-esque fashion and donated them to the RSPCA charity shop. An animal lover and proud owner of two spaniels, I’d like to say that I carefully selected this organisation for the brilliant work it does fighting against cruelty to animals. (In reality, the bag was flipping heavy and this was the first charity shop I passed, but that’s beside the point).

Feeling physically and emotionally lighter, what better way to celebrate than… with a spot of shopping to fill up my room again! I dropped by my old work place and treated myself to these FABULOUS trousers. Thanks La Tete!

queen of hearts trousers

I’ve told myself I can only wear them once I’m no longer funemployed, but who am I kidding, it would be criminal to leave these beauties in the drawer.

Bon week-end !


Mary x


Bloody Mary

25 days of kindness – December 7th

I’ve never particularly got along with blood. That isn’t to say I’m not thrilled that my pint-sized body seems to be filled with the stuff and it’s whizzing oxygen around and doing whatever else good blood likes to do. I just don’t feel the need to a) talk at length about it or b) see it.

I’ve had a few tests done in the past in which my blood was stolen from me, but the thought of actually willingly donating it makes me feel physically sick. Sitting there, hooked to a machine, watching the essence of my own body being pumped into a bag… no thank you.

So naturally, I felt I had to register as a donor. After all, if giving someone part of your body and soul isn’t kindness, then what is? Well, I am over the moon to announce that giving blood was not my act of kindness for the day, and nor will it be any time soon. It appears that my love for exploring far off places means I am currently ineligible as a donor. Oh, how my heart bleeds.

big love gala_save the date_RED TYPE ONLY

However, I am not completely off the hook. My new sister-in-law shared a link with me today, suggesting I register with DKMS. It’s a non-profit organisation dedicated to matching blood cancer patients with blood stem cell donors so that they can have a potentially life-saving transplant. Accepting that this really is a cause worth supporting, I signed up and am now awaiting my free cheek swab kit. The odds are that I’ll never be needed, but if so, I’ll just have to face my fear and focus on the big cup of tea and chocolate biscuit which surely must follow.


Mary x

P.S. If you were wondering what the feature image is, it was the beautiful parcel sent to me today by my dear friend and fellow blogger, Benjamin Barnabas. Be sure to check out his page!