So, I did my French bible reading at the Carol Service last night. How did it go? “A Veritable Triumph” or “At Least People Knew It Was French” are the headings I would suggest for the French national journaux (newspapers) today!

I was really pleased with myself. Caiti had coached me well and my natural tendency to be a bit of a show-off meant I dealt with my nerves and gave it my best shot in front of a sizeable congregation. My groupies consisted only of Chris since coughing Caiti had stayed at home to babysit coughing Rors, but I could feel the support of everyone in the church, and in particular my fellow AIPB members, who’d organised the evening, willing me to get through without making any howlers. And I did.  But I’m glad it’s over, all the same!

It was a lovely occasion, as ever. This year we had a Scottish bagpiper who played a mixture of Scottish and Christmas tunes outside the Church before and after the service. If you’ve never heard ‘Jingle Bells’ on the bagpipes, well, you’ve never lived!

Doing the reading was a challenge I’d set myself. I have a bit of a challenge habit. Moving to France with three kids was my biggest one, closely followed by moving from the UK to Ireland with a baby, and setting up businesses in both countries and generally coping with daily life. There are times I wish I could be happy with taking the easy option and living a stress-free existence, but that’s not going to happen. Carol service over, my main challenge now is to cheer the heck up. I’m currently picking my way through the hormonal minefield that is the perimenopause, the one-to-five years  (God help us) that precede the Big M itself. It’s like puberty in reverse, only ten times worse. The worst side effects, for me at least, are wall to wall headaches, feeling miserable, insomnia and the amazing ability to burst into tears any time, any place. It happens completely out of the blue – during bike rides, waiting in supermarket queues, driving the car, doing the housework – oh hang on, that last incident is normal behaviour for me! It’s very disconcerting. And when my demons are really ganging up on me and I’m wondering what’s the point of getting up, or getting dressed, or caring tuppence about anything any more,

We're a good team

my white knight, the endlessly patient (and/or long suffering) Chris, comes charging in with a hug and a hanky. He reminds me that this a temporary thing and that I’m not actually cracking up, just doing the female version of getting older. Which is very comforting, I think!

And talking about Chris, it’s his birthday today. I won’t say which one, but he was fifty two last year. With Rors being sick, Benj off at Uni and Caiti under par too, there haven’t been a whole lot of birthday preparations going on, but that’s no bad thing. Like me, Chris prefers to keep these things as discreet as possible. However, we’ll have a Dagg family special tea of pizza, pringles and cake and ice-cream. Benj will get his belatedly when he comes home next week, whether he wants it or not. It’s a time-honoured tradition now. Like the Boussac carol service, which ties this post up very neatly!