IN THIS ISSUE
Christmas is nearly here, and once the festivities are over what will you be up to? For many of us, a few days off work means a welcome opportunity to jump in the car and go to stay a night or two in the sticks (or in town, if you live in the country), catching up with old friends. It sounds fine in theory, but – as writer and comedian Maria McErlane explains on page 29 – the whole thing can be fraught with difficulty. I remember the time my (then) toddler daughter ran amok with a felt-tip pen on a friend’s brand new cream sofa, and when, groping for a light switch in the dark, I accidentally knocked a porcelain dish off a bedside table and it broke in two. Everyone has their disaster stories – and hopefully nothing is so bad that you won’t be able to look back on it in years to come and have a jolly good laugh. Follow Maria’s tips for a trouble-free trip (and, hopefully, the offer of a repeat visit). This time of year can be bittersweet, when, as families get together, poignant memories bubble to the surface and loved ones are missed more than ever. When Lu Spinney’s 29-year-old son Miles died after a sporting accident, she faced the task of having to clear out his bedroom. On page 38 she describes this agonising process, and how Miles’s room has recently taken on a new life as a bedroom for visiting grandchildren, giving her great solace.