And of course I had nice cards for my birthday too. An odd thing is that the half-dozen or so I generally get are often thematically quite similar every year, though they are sent by different people who don't generally know or see each other. The themes vary from year to year; one year it might be bold blocks of jewel colours, another there might be more photos; this year it was fine line work with subtle, somewhat 'dirtied' colours (which I love), foliate forms, repeating small motifs and insect wings - butterflies, dragonflies and a saucy Victorian naked fairy! (I also had a Quentin Blake illustration and a primary coloured bit of typography, but I've left those out of the picture for aesthetic consistency).
But the cards are down again this weekend, as we tend to put up the Christmas ones and fairly simple amount of decoration around this solstice time, and light plenty of candles. Tea lights and glasses are so cheap and plentifully available, there's no reason one couldn't do this all the time over the winter, yet it feels like a luxurious extravagance.
As I say, not oodles of decoration and only from the solstice to Twelfth Night, which is about the right length of time, I think. We have a very small artificial tree which we've had since our first Christmas together, some twenty-two years ago, and a collection of bits and pieces of varying degrees of charm and tawdriness. Seeking out holly, despite our village being named for the tree, is a bit of a waste of time, as the birds have usually stripped any berries off it long since, but ivy is most certainly not in short supply, and I do bring in a bit of live evergreenery. I was rather taken with my own tastefulness in the arrangement over our Chartres labyrinth:
And finally, not to be outdone by the cider press, Tom got out the new garden shredder, which is fortunately a much quieter and more compact thing, and made a start on the mountain of hedge cuttings. Half and hour and several large bin bags of minced up leaves and branches later, there was no noticeable dent made in this, but we have high hopes, and Tom had fun, as can be seen in this wonky little video.
A very happy solstice to all.