30 December 2014

An Entertaining Christmas and If Push Comes to Shove...A Book of the Year

The time has come to resurface after blissfully ignoring clock and calendar for nearly one week.  At this time last year a vast area of Ontario was in the midst of power outages and downed trees due to a trecherous ice storm.  Despite many a snowfall this November, not only was it a green Christmas this year but unseasonably warm as well.  Being able to dress like a lady about town rather than a participant in the Iditarod Challenge while venturing forth on a day out was greatly appreciated.  In the days leading up to Christmas my husband and I went to see A Christmas Carol at the Soulpepper Theatre.  The cast put on a wonderful show and the ingenuity of the set designers never fails to amaze.

The theatre is located in the historic Distillery District (1832) of Toronto and the various shops and restaurants retain their original features so...

this wall is part of a shoe store.  I'm sure the owner would prefer that the shoes remain the focus but my eyes were drawn to the past.  The lanes outside are lined with Scandinavian-style huts full of holiday treats and wares, as well as any number of alcoholic beverages to keep you warm.  Doing a bit of shopping while drinking mulled wine is really quite nice!

And while panto may be as routine as brussel sprouts during Christmas in the UK it's not commonly attended by the masses here but we finally went to see one of Ross Petty's productions, Cinderella, at the beautiful  Elgin Theatre.  I grinned throughout the whole performance...when I wasn't shouting 'Booooo' at the wicked stepmother and the 'Jersey Shore' stepsisters were hilarious.

We have a tradition of going to a movie on Christmas Day once the leftovers are packed away and the dishes are washed.  The Imitation Game came out on the 19th so it was no small feat to hold off seeing it until the 25th.  While visiting the WWII tunnels in Dover in 2012 I was thrilled to see an Enigma machine and have been interested in Alan Turing and Bletchley Park ever since.  And not one but two actors from this movie turned up in another show for the holidays...

...the Downton Abbey Christmas Special.  As sumptuous as ever and even my husband, who was supposedly reading in the corner, put his book down.  In complete television land over-indulgence I refreshed the teapot and then we watched (it doesn't get much better)...

...Call the Midwife featuring its Christmas Special.  And do you know...I didn't miss Jessica Raine nearly as much as I thought I would.  A basket full of gifts from any shop on Piccadilly wouldn't have been as nice as this night for pure escapism.

And then the tides turn.  Well, when you've invested thirteen years and a handful of visits to the cinema watching this series unfold you have to see the last bit, now don't you.  I must have been completely immersed because the next day I found popcorn in one of my boots.  Not very 'lady about town' is it.

My penultimate book for 2014 was the endearing Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson.  It made for the perfect read during the holiday season and in a roundabout way, tied in perfectly with its Cinderella theme.  I won't bother with a review since just about everyone who stops by here knows the story but do read it if you find it, it's wonderful!

And finally, how do people choose just one book as their favourite of the year?  Going in to a book I am usually quite certain that it will deliver in one way or another so all of the books that I read this past year were enjoyed.  Having said that, when I think of the anticipation of a release date, the stealing away to bed early, and the way my stomach was in knots while reading my stand-out read for 2014 would be...

Happy New Year to my friends in the blogsphere!  All the fun without the drama and no cleaning the house before visits....you're lovely.


  1. You have been busy! Sounds like our viewing has overlapped: I'm also all caught up on Downton and Call the Midwife, and was enthralled by The Imitation Game. As a musical theatre buff, I also couldn't resist going to see Into the Woods on Boxing Day. I was in a high school production when I was 17 and it is shocking how clearly I remembered every single line. The things your brain chooses to hold on to...

    All the very best to you for 2015, Darlene.

  2. Sounds like you had a great time! I saw Downton but not the others. Hope your mild weather is continuing. Here in France it has become bitterly cold after unseasonably warm weather until a few days ago. Happy new year!

  3. Wonderful. But -- oh no! I missed the new Christmas Special on CTM??? I'm devastated. When was it on? (I thought I was keeping an eye on all of PBS) I'm glad it still works without Jenny Lee, though I will miss her.

    And like you, I've been so thankful we were not in the grips of a power failure this year, leading up to Xmas. Quite a relief.

    My annual pre-Christmas treat is the Sing-along Messiah at Massey Hall. Always a wonderful time. When the baritone, Brett Polegato sang the final note of "And the Trumpet Shall Sound" the audience/singers went absolutely wild.

  4. I saw you were reading Miss P in your sidebar and all my re-read! re-read! alarms and flashing lights were going off. So glad you enjoyed it! I was just watching the CTM holiday special last night, but (said in the voice of Violet) I DO wish you residents of the Empire would stop lording your earlier Downton Abbey viewing over the rest of us. Harrumph. Happy New Year, Darlene!

  5. I loved reading this! I am in No. California and it has been bitterly cold here. Snow would be welcome against this frosty wind. I agree with you about Call the Midwife. It was excellent and didn't need "Jenny" to carry it. Downton starts for us this Sunday. Although The Paying Guest was on my list, it wasn't one that I got. I can't wait to read it because I love Sarah Waters and now because of your recommendation.

  6. Happy new year, lovely Darlene - and thank you for my treasure of a card!

    The Waters was very, very close to being on my top ten - which shows how lucky I've been with books this year, if something as good as the Waters didn't make it.