‘She really loves herself.’

We often hear that said as if it’s a bad thing. As if it is wrong to love yourself.

And sometimes of course, it is. Sometimes individuals become so wrapped up in themselves and their own self-importance that they forget to treat others with the respect and kindness they deserve. These individuals become selfish and self-centred. Arrogant. It’s always all about them.

But most people I encounter are the opposite. They are so used to putting everyone else first that they have no time for themselves. They don’t take care of themselves. They feel guilty when they take time out for themselves. As Christmas approaches, they get more and more frazzled, stressed, exhausted, run down and ill. By the time Christmas Day comes, they are so worn out and depleted that they cannot enjoy themselves at all.

So how about practising a little self-love this week and over the festive period? Make it your gift to yourself this Christmas.

It will take practice. It won’t come naturally if you’re not used to doing it. Here are some tips to set you off on your way.

Stop trying to be someone else. Be true to who you are. Own that. Accept that. Be real.

Stop trying to please everyone else. You can’t. No one can. It’s impossible. Everyone else is responsible for their own happiness. Give yourself a break.

Stop needing to be right and perfect all the time. Accept good enough. Allow yourself to be human. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Allow yourself to have needs that have to be met.

Stop wishing life was different. Start living the life you have today and don’t wait for things to be different. Discover the potential for happiness in the life you have today.

Free yourself from anything that is not good for you. And that includes people. Identify what drags you down and makes you feel bad (physically, mentally and emotionally) and do what you can to avoid it.

Do what you love to do. Try a few new things and discover what brings you joy. Savour those moments when time stands still. Do what makes your heart sing. Do your own thing in your own way.

Stop caring what anyone else thinks. Set yourself free from the opinions of others. This can be so liberating. Who are you living your life for? You or other people? Who cares what they think!

Live in the present moment. This is the moment that needs your full attention. Right here. Right now. Just believe that this is the right place and the right time for you to be right now. Deal with the rest when it comes.

And so find ways to be kind to yourself this Christmas. To look after yourself. To enjoy yourself.

And we wish you much love, joy and peace this Christmas time and always xxx



Linda has recently retired. She now has the time to embrace life, laugh a lot and do all that she loves. Discover what that looks like for her and let her adventures inspire you…



Now that the old walkway area by Debenhams to the cinema has been recently developed, there is a new restaurant area crying out to be visited. Of course, I just had to oblige! This week Marj and I set off for a shop and food. After a quick blast round two shops, we headed for the food. ‘Somewhere new’ led us to Thaikhun, a street food style eating house of Thai cuisine. Rustic planks covered the walls with shelves of rusty petrol tins. My much travelled friend confirmed it was like an authentic Thailand restaurant. We sat down to choose from the special menu. A very helpful young lady oversaw our order. I had the starter of vegetable spring rolls and my friend had pork dumplings. Then came my Thai green curry with reduced spice and Marj’s chicken Phad Thai Gai. I loved my curry. Service and food were good. Feeling full, we set off to walk off some calories to finish the shopping. Yes, I would go again.



Some things just make you feel happy! Today was Gibside Chapel’s Christmas Market, so I dragged the other half out with the promise of coffee and cake. After a short walk, we returned to the market area, just as the steel band came out to play. They started with ‘A Message To Rudy’ a fab ska rhythm by the Specials. It was a great uplift for those who had been warming themselves over a hot drink. Suddenly, a small boy began bouncing with arms flailing to the beat. I too felt the urge to dance as the catchy tune radiated out. I looked around. Everyone was smiling. Some were tapping. Arms were waving to the beat and all were animated, the cold ignored. The band was great, as they hammered out the rhythm on the steel drums. Smiling and laughter was the order of the day! You just could not help yourself feeling happy.


I love to buy one very nice tree decoration as a treat every year. This year, I settled on a glass penguin from the Gibside Market. A flat piece of glass, cut into a penguin shape four inches or 8 cm high, had been decorated on one side. White paint coated one side. Onto this grey paint had been drizzled. Splattered on the top half was a sparkly black paint. A silver elastic cord provided the means to hang it.
I love it. It is beautiful and understated, until the light catches it. Each one is individual. Each one is a memory. Each one reminds me of where I bought it. This one is a Gibside Chapel memory.

I try to live, laugh and love each day xxx



Linda has recently retired. She now has the time to embrace life, laugh a lot and do all that she loves. Discover what that looks like for her and let her adventures inspire you…



Today’s shoppers are becoming ever more sophisticated and nowhere more than when visiting a garden centre. Obviously plants are the main attraction, but nowadays, garden centres have had to evolve to suit the more discerning shopper. Cafes and restaurants entice the visitor to make more of a visit. It becomes an outing. I take my other half, as he is a keen gardener. Christmas is a great time to go. Trees and poinsettias have now been superseded by xmas arrangements with snow spray and baubles, decorations, foodie treats and gifts.

However, the Azure Garden Centre in Cramlington offers an extra xmas treat – a chance to see and pet a reindeer or two! This must be the ultimate attraction. They are so cute. I now look at the local centres and can opt for a range of tempting treats. Do I want ice cream, cake, cream teas … and now a reindeer visit?!


Family life always accumulates plenty of items, whether it is toys, books, clothes or collections. I am guilty of this. I amass books. Moving house is a great way of sorting through my belongings even if a little drastic. It is twelve years since I last moved house and had a major declutter. The removal men actually told me off – saying ‘read a book and pass it on! That really made me laugh! This was after lifting many boxes of my books from three full book cases. So this year, I have been decluttering. Hooray for Barters Books in Alnwick! Two recent trips have left me with £75 laying in my account to purchase books and bookshelves with only one layer of paperbacks not two! I have also decluttered clothes. After several hefty bags disappeared into charity shops, I am reduced to one wardrobe. My husband has reclaimed parts of his wardrobe he hasn’t used for years.
I always feel great after a tip visit, a charity shop drop off and a book clear out. Decorating rooms this year has been cleansing. As I emptied each room, I have been determined to clear stuff out. It is a great feeling to create space. I will never be a total minimalist but this year has seen me clear loads. I have had the time to do a good job. Next stop is the garage!


I love Red Mezze. Nestling on Leazes Park Road, it is a Turkish restaurant. I recently went with some vegetarian friends, who were delighted with the lunch menu of two starters and a main for a humble £7.45. The decor is colourful and the staff are very friendly, but it is all about the food for me. My choice was a runner bean in tomato sauce dish and a bulgar wheat dish, followed by chicken shish. Chicken chunks with salad and rice is a description that does not do this dish justice. It is fab food and also healthy. The decaff coffee is also a treat. I have always had a tasty meal there.

I try to live, laugh and love each day xxx

Sometimes we’re far better at pointing out what we don’t like about Christmas than what excites us about this whole season. So here’s our top ten Christmas highlights to inspire you to think about yours.

Helen R:

  1.  Getting Christmas out of the loft
  2.  Twinkly lights – candles or fairy lights, I’ll take either. Or better still, both.
  3.  The smells – the spices, gingerbread, mulled wine…
  4.  Snow – the way it muffles the sound and makes everywhere seem otherworldly and magical
  5.  Opening the stockings – always been the favourite moment of Christmas Day in our house
  6.  Boxing Day – the relief and relaxation and eating up the leftovers
  7.  That moment where the real reason for it all hits me between the eyes – ‘the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight’
  8.  Those occasional glimpses of  that Christmas spirit that seems to bring out the best in everyone
  9.  Unboxing new things – going through my box of gifts and having a good look at each one and taking it out of the box/trying it on for the first time etc
  10.  Opening the tin of Quality Street. It has to be Quality Street. Nothing else is the same.

Helen H:

  1. Making the house all christmassy.
  2. Boxes of chocolates and bottles of wine mounting up on the kitchen bench.
  3. The advent tree counting down.
  4. The traditions, all different in all houses but all key to making Christmas special.
  5. The buzz, listening to others and feeling the excitement build.
  6. Watching Shrek the Halls before bed on Christmas Eve.
  7. Singing Christmas songs a lot!
  8. The table we eat at every day being that little bit more fancy.
  9. Sprouts and Chestnuts.
  10. Doing it all again on Boxing Day.