So much has changed in the past few days. Even if our plans for Christmas haven't been affected by the recent government guidelines, we're all likely to be feeling rather uneasy and unsettled by the latest turn of events.  

I've been reminded of the rather surprising book choice by the castaway on last week's Desert Island Discs.

In addition to the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare, the president of the National Farmers' Union, Minette Batters decided to take 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt'.

This classic and much-loved story by Michael Rosen, and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, had been a favourite bedtime story for her young children, but Minette Batters says its moral has also proved a mantra for her own life.

"We can't go over it, we can't go under it," is the refrain, she says, "so we'll have to go through it." The family in the story are pictured tramping through long grass, wading through the river and squelching through the mud as they search for the bear. In life, Minette says "there's not always a way over or under and you sometimes have just got to crack on and go through it."

While we might have liked our Christmas festivities to have been different this year, there's much we can be grateful for as we seek to remain safe, cosy and warm, and hopeful. 

If you are looking for ways - other than reading - to pass the time enjoyably in the next couple of weeks, there are some very creative ideas available online using materials that may already be close at hand... particular favourite comes from Ordnance Survey, urging us to get crafty with maps. Garlands and bunting, cards and wrap, stars and baubles, even the tree can be made from maps in these easy-to-follow guides.

...or something that looks a little more involved, and mathematical, why not log on to a class in book art led by Emma at Haverhill Library, Suffolk. Looks amazing. I'd love to give it a try, but need to find an old book and some patience.

...and there are plenty of activities and story times for children on the Bookworms Bonanza site from Lavenham Literary Festival. Learn how to draw Fergal the Dragon or make Gaspard the Fox cupcakes, listen to story times from James Mayhew or Michael Morpurgo, and take part in the various quizzes.

However you will be spending Christmas this year, I wish you a safe, peaceful and creative time, and thank you for reading.