Don't get me wrong, I like Christmas. I really enjoy putting together stockings for my kids and wrapping presents is very satisfying, but intense love of Christmas isn't deeply embedded in my soul. I really wanted all the hooha to stop so that I could just do my own thing, quietly. It didn't. Except that I enjoyed making the story of the Christmas reindeer after we'd eaten our Christmas lunch -- that was fun and the kids helped me (see previous post).
Let's take stock of what I did manage to do, before I had to head down the A1 to work again this morning.
I collaged a little box:
Trouble is, I like it too much to write or draw in it at the moment.
In the little breathing space between Christmas and New Year the four of us went back to Brighton for a couple of days, because my daughter and I had such a great time there at half term. It was just as cool as ever, the shops were just as beguiling, the weather was probably better than before as there was no driving rain. My family turned their noses up at the chance to visit the Museum and Art Gallery so I went on my own. Their loss, as it was a real little jewel of a place. It was like a distant relative of classic English municipal museums -- eclectic, eccentric, a little shapeless -- but in this incarnation, the eclecticism was of the highest quality, the eccentricity was galvanising. Every room brought new pleasures which were heightened by being so surprising. There was a wonderful main room of twentieth century furniture with paintings from each decade to accompany the settings -- beautiful treasures from the world's best designers. There was a huge case with pottery by the designers I love most: Ravilious, Laura Knight and too many others to mention. Then a companion case full of glass. Everything was beautifully chosen. There were rooms with themes -- performance art from around the world, the transformation of the body, clothes worn by famous and less famous Brighton citizens. All of it made sense in the context of Brighton and evoked a sense of pride in the place in all its glory and naughtiness past and present. There was also a temporary exhibition on how colour was introduced into the moving image which I found particularly interesting as I'm obsessed with vintage film footage. I can't recommend it highly enough.
We ate some great food while we were in Brighton -- fantastic grilled lamb in a local Lebanese restaurant and expensive eggs and bacon at Jamie Oliver's Recipease (I think it was worth it). The absolute highlight, though, was dinner at Terre a Terre, an amazing vegetarian restaurant. We're not vegetarian, though we're tending to eat less meat these days, but the food at this place was just so imaginative and the flavours so convincing that I would eat food like that every day if I could. The 'tapas' starter, which is basically a taste of all the starters, was stunning to look at and wondrous to eat.
Home again, to the kids being much more creative than me -- my son painting a fantastic painting in acrylics and my daughter getting excited about sewing and knitting and making a fabulous bag (any shop in Brighton would have snapped it up, I'm sure).
Oh, I also managed to read The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton (very strange, some wonderful stuff in it) and to watch Adventureland, Juno, Robots (cool vintage-style animation) and Festen. Watching some films was one of my stated aims this holiday, so that box is ticked. I thought I'd love Festen but it left me a bit cold. Adventureland was good, especially watching it with my son.
All too soon, it was time to go back to work -- when you pick up the threads and set everything in motion again, it's as if those two weeks never happened. But now I have proof that they did.