In my illusions I think I may have been born out of time. Really, secretly, I’m a 1950s housewife. Of course I’m not the reality of a 1950’s housewife. I don’t want to give up my nice efficient washing machine, my hot water boiler or my central heating, or to be treated as subservient and somehow inferior to men. I think I might miss the internet too. What I really want is to live in that Hollywood dreamworld where everything is pretty colours, and the chief object of my day is to make beautifully decorated cupcakes and wear pretty frilly aprons over my floral print dresses with those enormous skirts. Somehow it would always be sunny too.
And in the winters it would snow; deep, crisp and longlasting; and we wouldn’t have to go to work and we would all wear handmade hats and mittens and drink hot chocolate and go sledging, and maybe the canals and lakes would freeze solid and we could go ice-yachting or skating to the North Pole (I was always an Arthur Ransome fan; Winter Holiday has a lot to answer for).
In the absence of (a) a time machine, and (b) the ability to jump into a film/picture a la Mary Poppins, I’ve been living my dreamworld with a little bit of sewing.
This is the second year that Alicia Paulson has designed a kit for a set of Christmas ornaments, and the first year that I’ve been reading her blog regularly enough to know about them. I haven’t started on this year’s kit yet, but last year’s trio has kept me entertained all through the festive period, and were finished in time for the perfect snow to set them off.
It’s the story of an Ice Skating Afternoon. Given that my afternoons spent ice skating were indoors, in Oxford, and usually in the summer when the heat got too much and we grew tired of punting or lazing around in Christchurch meadows by the river this is a stretch for my imagination. But exercise is nothing if not good for you.
Maybe we’ve just arrived in the Lakes, screwed our skates to our hiking boots and pushed off into a vast open frozen wasteland to carry on with our training for the Polar expedition, steadily building up that all important muscle memory with our daily routine on the ice, pausing only on the shoreline to boil a kettle over an open fire for cocoa and to share some slightly squished gingerbread, of the sort declared too sticky for grown ups, rescued from the bottom of a knapsack (where it rather suffered from being placed underneath the skates earlier in the day).
No, I think this is a different me, perhaps closer to home, setting out with a group of friends to see whether it’s true that the pond has frozen hard enough for outdoor skating. Regardless of the cold, I’m wearing a wonderfully frou-frou red dress, with two bands of deep turquoise ribbon around the bottom of the skirt, thick woolly tights, thermal bloomers and my pom-pom ice-skates. My hat and mittens of course match my socks, and my hair would bounce and shine and would not in any way resemble the ‘hat hair’ that I’ve been sporting for the last few days.
We would fly along, twizzling and twirling all the way (in daydreams such as these it would be unpardonable to recollect that my skating is at best dubious, and usually ends up with me splatted on the rink, or desperately clutching at the barrier).
Rosy cheeked, we all pile back to the house for hot chocolate with whipped cream and little gold stars, and delicately iced ginger-bread men and ladies served from a tea tray with a pale blue cloth embroidered with silver stars and snowflakes.
Do you think my cups would look like this?
that’s either a marshmallow or a blob of cream by the way – the snow is entirely optional.
All three are technically tree decorations and did make it onto the tree (albeit briefly) before it came down at Epiphany, but they’re just too special to go into the Christmas box already so I think they might have to spend the year in good company pinned to my inspiration board.
The kits were of limited supply, but if you missed out and you fancy spending some quiet afternoons with felt and sewing needles, conjuring up your own winter wonderland, you can still buy the pattern here.
As for me, well I’ve had a hot chocolate for today, I wonder whether I’ve got the ingredients for gingerbread men…