Category Archives: 12 days of Christmas

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 4

Missed the start? Click here to read from episode 1

Liv hardly recognised Carlo’s. The old pizzeria had expanded to absorb the shop next door and there was a glass conservatory at the back. The cheery red-checked tablecloths had gone, replaced by white starch. And the tables were as far apart as the stars.

But Rosa was sitting in their old corner. She looked just the same, hair slightly greyer, but the jewel-coloured cashmere scarf was unmistakable. Today it was emerald. She waved a hand as she saw Liv in the doorway.

Liv went over and sat down opposite her. “What happened to this place?” Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 3

Missed the start? Click here to read from epsode 1

minibar bottles

The hotel receptionist beckoned as Liv went past the desk.

“Oh, Mrs Rossignol. A lady left a message for you.” She handed it over with a beaming professional smile. The envelope was in a sealed plastic bag. Rather like the receptionist, who was wearing a clear plastic full-face visor and what looked like full Hollywood make-up behind it.

“Thank you,” said Liv. “Are you uncomfortable in that thing?”

The girl looked surprised at being asked, then smiled more naturally. “You get used to it. My skin prickles after a long shift. But hey, that’s what moisturiser’s for, isn’t it? And I’m lucky to have a job.”

“Yes,” said Liv. “This virus makes me count my blessings every day.”

In her suite, she slid the envelope out of its plastic protections. She knew who it was from without even opening it. The beautiful Italic script was unmistakable. Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 2

Missed Episode 1? Click here to read from the start

grey van

Liv froze. She could feel her heart thumping, like hammer blows from inside her rib cage.

A grey van was parked two spaces behind her. The driver sat frowning over his phone. Not the first grey van today. Or in the last few days, either.

Or was that her imagination? She couldn’t be sure. For some reason that made her heart beat even harder.

Am I losing my mind? Continue reading

Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 1

London skyline with St Paul's dome and skyscrapers in fog

There was fog over the rooftops when Liv looked out from her bedroom window for the last time. She kind of loved this view of her bit of London. Like Mary Poppins and her sweep, she saw Victorian chimneys, with a distant church tower and, even further away, a block of Edwardian apartments.

There was often a light in that distant top floor. Not this morning. Everything was dark. As dark and cold as the soon-to-be-deserted bedroom, waiting to be emptied of all that she’d not already got rid of. More like Scrooge than Mary Poppins, thought Liv, wryly.

The sky was getting lighter by the minute, behind the fog. Time to go then.

She turned her back on the rooftops. A nice memory. One of the few. Continue reading

12 Days of Christmas (slightly revised for Botswana)

A couple of years ago, Sophie produced a series of blogs around The Twelve Days of Christmas and books that the verses suggested to her. Many of you followed the blogs — which are still available here — and read some of the books Sophie suggested.
I was one of those who found new authors that way. And I am very grateful.

I’m not doing anything so erudite this year. But the carol came into my mind when I was sorting through photographs from a mate’s safari trip to Botswana. (Isn’t that a fabulous sunset, above?) I have permission to use the pics to illustrate the doggerel I’ve created, with apologies to whoever wrote the original carol. (For my Twelve Days Botswana version, there isn’t enough content for 12 blogs, so you get it all in one!)

Twelve Days of Christmas, Botswana-style:
you may wish to sing along as you read 😉

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

a raptor in a bare tree.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Continue reading

Day 13 of 12 Days of Christmas : Was It Worth It?

Day 13 calendarDay 13

It sounds like a horror movie, doesn’t it? Sort of the reverse of the Seventh Day, when you’re supposed to rest. More 21st century urban nightmare than traditional Christmas. (Indeed, the IMdB data base does list a move called DAY 13 filmed in 2017. But that’s about all it says.)


editing sequence actionsWell, Mr True Love, would you say that you succeeded in implementing your ideas?

Did you achieve your goals?

Did the project fully solve the problem it was designed to address?

Can you take things further (further?!) to deliver bigger benefits in the future? (Yikes!) Continue reading

Day 12 of 12 Days of Christmas : 12 Drummers Drumming & Play

Day 12 drum kitIf you needed any more evidence that True Love has lost the plot Day 12 will do it.  He’s now throwing 12 drummers drumming into the mix. Assuming they enter Stage Left and advance, drumming, that sounds pretty much like a declaration of war to me, if not the start of the battle.

Of course, the recipient may be a fan of heavy metal or other modern music making. In which case the drummers presumably just roll up on a milk float, or similar, sitting in the middle of their drum kit.

Welcome new arrivals, you think? Continue reading

Day 11 of 12 Days of Christmas : 11 Pipers Piping & Ratty

By Day 11 Mr True Love has lurched from sweetly metaphorical, or at least agriculturally productive, through the dangerous combination of entertainment and aristocracy into full-blown martial mode. He’s sending eleven pipers to do his wooing business.

Day 11 Pipers pipingNow they could be playing the bagpipes. It’s the time of year for it.

In Scotland pipers are booked up years in advance for both New Year parties and Burns’ Night celebrations on (or about — because they often slip to Saturday night with its attendant recovery period) 25th January.

But eleven bagpipes? Well maybe, if you’re advancing on the field of battle. But as a token of a chap’s respect and affection? Um. Continue reading

Day 10 of 12 Days of Christmas : 10 Lords a-Leaping & Wimsey

Day 10 lordsBy Day 10, the deranged True Love is sending along an almost football team of male aristocrats engaged in unlikely gymnastics. Were I the recipient I would go away pretty sharpish, not leaving a forwarding address.

The British 1970s Christmas stamp depicting these Lords (and yesterday’s Ladies) is chilling. At least, I think so. Continue reading

Day 9 of 12 Days of Christmas : 9 Ladies Dancing & Joanna

Day 9 ladies and lordsBy Day 9, Mr True Love has gone into the entertainment business. (It is a role he will continue for the rest of the holiday.)  He presents our heroine with nine ladies dancing.

You may think, as I do, that this is an odd choice. Frankly, it sounds more like a stag do than a gift to the beloved. Surely it would have been more alluring if he’d invited the object of his affections to dance with him?

Hasn’t he seen Strictly Come Dancing, for Heaven’s sake? (That’s Dancing With the Stars,  if you’re across the Pond.) Continue reading