Ye olde teeny tiny hill doth defeat me no more

I’ve invented a new word. I’m sure others have used it before so maybe I didn’t really invent it. Anyhow, it’s un-festive. It does what it says on the tin and describes how I feel at the moment. I’m not grumpy nor am I in a bad mood. I just feel un-festive and any ho-ho-hos that emanate from my lips do so through gritted teeth.

It’s that time of the year. Everything seems so hectic. Children are excited, adults are stressed, traffic is abysmal. But worse than anything, people keep asking what I’m doing for Christmas. “Working” is the answer. It’s not exactly exciting is it and if I’m honest I’m quite resentful about it. I don’t have any business feeling this way. Someone has to work Christmas and, after all, I knowingly and willingly signed up to a vocation that involved 24/7 cover and that means everyone taking their turn and sharing the roster. I last worked Christmas in 2013 and it was super quiet. I ended up being able to stay at home all day on Christmas Day and was even able to have people over for lunch. I’m not expecting it to be busy this year but not quiet either. This still doesn’t explain the resentment. Nonetheless, I will pitch up to work donning a Christmas outfit and probably everything will be absolutely fine on the day.

It’s not as if I haven’t got anything to which to look forward. I have a fabulous ski trip to Switzerland in early January and the cycle trek in February. It’s not even that I haven’t had a great time recently. I’ve had several weeks of celebrations with colleagues and friends that have set my social calendar alight. Last week alone I had a function nearly every day. Tuesday was just a brilliant day as my friend who has not been well had her birthday and a small group of us treated her to a helicopter trip over the harbour to a vineyard for lunch. She was feeling good that day and was super-excited to sit in the front of the chopper with the pilot on what was one of the most beautiful days of the year. The harbour put on a spectacular display. On a day like that it is one of the most glorious places in the world. The lunch was at a lovely spot overlooking this incredible place and the food and wine were delicious. In those hours there was no illness, just friends having a great day out, away from the mundanities of life.

Wednesday saw me babysitting for some friends. For some reason their 5 year old thinks I am the bees-knees. No sooner had they left for their night out than he was out of bed and beside me on the sofa. I won’t confess to them that I was secretly disappointed when I arrived to find him already safely tucked up in bed so this was fine by me. We sat and chatted about his hopes for Christmas. He has some very specific requests – that his trampoline be round and red, with a handle; preferably he’d like a drum too and that he be allowed to leave cakes for the reindeer just like he did last year. I tried to negotiate carrots but he wasn’t having any of that healthy food nonsense. He gave away some trade secrets about family life which made me snigger and then, like any good auntie, I yet again answered his question about why ladies have boobies. Setting the alarm for five more minutes out of bed was a minor coup for me as he couldn’t really argue when it went off (although I may have been conned into changing it to seven minutes but no-one need know that). He agreed to go to bed if I went with him for a snuggle. He was most indignant that this meant my taking my shoes off so as not to mess up his bed despite the fact it appeared to already be full of mess-creating felt pens without their tops. He then equipped me with a “blankie” just like his and as he was about to go to sleep he enquired innocently if I had anyone to snuggle at home. No, I said. This induced him to jump out of bed, go to his cupboard and find me a small cuddly dog to take home as a present, so that I had something to snuggle when I was on my own. How touching was that? He also gave me a half completed dot-to-dot colouring book and a dried up felt pen and instructed me to bring it back to show him when I’d finished it. Bless him. What a lovely boy he is shaping up to be.

Presents from a five year old
A second hand cuddly dog for me to snuggle and a half used colouring book. These are the best gifts ever because they were given with such love and good intention

The following day was a choir concert in the Town Hall. This is an a cappella choir in which a friend sings, along with several other people from work. Usually this concert is a bit tedious but this year it was genuinely lovely. Not only was the singing really good, the theme was love and so they sang some really great tunes. There were also some other performers including the usual obligatory school groups who made everyone coo. We won’t mention that in the last few bars of Only You by Yazoo, sung to round out the first half, someone’s phone started ringing in the audience. It may have been mine but I’m still in denial at the embarrassment.

Friday was a really great dinner followed by the musical version of Sister Act. What a fabulously fun show just before Christmas. I don’t know what it is about singing nuns but they have a certain something that makes everyone happy. On Saturday we had our departmental Christmas party and for the first time we were requested to wear outfits. The rather flamboyant “Gary” whom you have met in previous videos insisted upon this and it would be fair to say there was some reluctance. Such is the nature of our team that every single person nonetheless rose to the occasion and it may be strange to say so about something so seemingly trivial, but I felt proud of them. It just seemed to me that this stood testament to the fact that ultimately everyone embodies the team spirit and as their leader, I can’t want anything more from them than that. The following day was the Christmas function of another department in which we also work. It was out in the country at their director’s home and was a lovely informal and relaxed affair with great weather, company and food complete with a bouncy castle fire engine and tractor rides for the children. Finally, after all these functions I had a well earned day off partying and then yesterday, again, there was another evening do for yet another team to which I contribute. Again, more lovely people who were generous hosts and with whom I am delighted to work.

So, throughout all of this, how has the cycling been going? Well I have been out on the bike a few times and done more of the same which basically means I have again mainly cycled on the flat. I feel like I can build up distance but I am still fretting about hills and gears. In the gym, my training sessions are now focussed on improving my cardio abilities in readiness and we have been pushing the tension on the static bike in multiple short stints followed by going all out on the rowing machine. I’d secretly rather do the cardio work than kettle bell swings anyway but don’t tell my trainer this. A colleague at work who is a triathlete has offered to take me cycling over Christmas to show me how to deal with the gears. This is terribly kind but also incredibly scary. The man is a machine and I cannot imagine how embarrassed I will feel donning my lycra and showing myself up in front of him. Hopefully he will forget this kind offer… However, today I have had a minor achievement. I won’t spoil all but will let you watch the video which describes it. Suffice it to say that the title of this post gives it away and you’ll be proud of me.

Finally, I have had some discussions with Variety this week, the charity organising the trek. They have set up a Facebook group of the people partaking but so far no-one but me has joined so I have no more info yet on my fellow cyclists. I have also booked my flights which is exciting but means there is no going back now and that is scary. It is actually only just over 8 weeks away. While there is no fundraising target as such for this trip, we do have opportunity to raise money if we wish and I sort of feel I would like to try to do that given how much effort this cycling business is taking from me! The purpose of the fundraising is to purchase bikes for disadvantaged school children in New Zealand. While this wonderful country in which I live is acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful and progressive in the world, it nonetheless has a problem with child poverty. Some of the children I see at work come from the most challenged families and so to be able to help in whatever ways I can is a true privilege, whether that be through my work or charitable ventures or both. Just $200 buys a child a bike. Even better, I can choose the low decile school to which I donate the bikes, which could be in my local community or anywhere else of my choice and furthermore, I can go to the school in person to deliver the bikes. This is a very tangible form of fundraising and being able to see the end result will be tremendously rewarding for all my efforts. If you feel you can donate, I would be extremely grateful. If you can’t donate, please just continue to support me in other ways. Your kind words and encouragement are enough. My fundraising site isĀ here.

Until next time, enjoy your festivities or un-festivities and whatever the crazy season brings to you and yours xx

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