The end of January already. I've joined the growing army of contrary grumps who believe that January is the worst month to give up wine and crisps and start exercising ... drinking wine, eating crisps and hiding under a blanket watching TV are perfect activities for the month of darkness, cold and no money. So that is exactly what I have been doing.
February is different. Green shoots of spring flowers are daring to poke their tiny heads out of the frosty mud, and it isn't getting dark quite so early. I'm starting to feel like eating healthily and giving the wine a bit of a rest ... a feeling which, for me, usually precedes a period of creativity and optimism. So bring it on.
When I was hiding away, in the autumn and winter months of chemo, feeling poisoned, vulnerable and anti-social, I promised myself that 2015 would be the year of going places. Lots of holidays would be lovely but with school, work, limited money and a dog to think about, we can't realistically fill the year with holidays. However we can fill the year with interesting day trips and cheap weekends away, with some clever planning and shrewd bargain-hunting.
Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, followed by lunch and a poke around the beautiful old Oxford University buildings. This small museum houses a curious collection of cultural objects past and present, grouped by how they were made or used, rather than by date or cultural origin. There are hundreds of displays of things like 'Body Art, Jewellery & Accessories' from different times, countries and cultures; 'Skates and Snowshoes', 'Smoking and Stimulants' and, rather irresistibly, 'Treatment of the Dead'. Absolutely fascinating. Pictured is a totem pole (it's so tall it reaches up to the second floor), which was bought for $36 in 1901 from the Haida community on the Queen Charlotte Islands, off the north coast of Canada. Apparently it was built by a fellow called Chief Anatlas of the Haida tribe, to celebrate his family's adoption of a young girl. I wouldn't have seen that if I'd stayed at home hiding under a blanket watching TV.