Dear Readers, you may remember that our Christmas plans had to change this year, because Mum and Dad both had serious chest infections and were not well enough to travel to London. So, at the last minute we decided to take Christmas to them. What logistical challenges ensued! For one thing, there was the issue of sorting out the all-important Christmas Food. Fortunately there was still a slot for a Christmas delivery by Tescos, and so I ordered lots of brussel sprouts and chipolatas. Unfortunately, Mum and Dad’s carer went down with the lurgy on the day when it all arrived, and so they were confronted with about twenty bags of Stuff to put away.
Panic ensued, and I was phoned at 9 a.m. and asked where they should put it all. As I was not there, this was a bit of a challenge.
‘Put the frozen stuff in the freezer, in the bags, put the fridge stuff in the fridge and leave the grocery stuff and I’ll sort it out when I get there on Saturday’ I said, trying not to be too distressed by Mum’s description of the sheer volume of food.
I spent an hour worrying about what was happening. Had Dad fallen into the chest freezer? Had Mum done herself a damage trying to manhandle the all-important tonic water? I am not given to catastrophising (ahem) but by 10 a.m. I was convinced that they were both laying on the kitchen floor having simultaneously tripped over one another (there is precedent for this particular worry).
And then Dad phoned back.
‘It’s all put away’, he said, ‘And there’s even a bit of spare room. Now I’m off to make a cuppa’.
And so, that was that.
And then we arrived, and the rest of Christmas seemed to be made up of
- Making tea
- Making more tea
- Making trifle
- Eating Christmas Cake (which had been very well-fed with brandy)
- Making Creme Caramel (Dad’s favourite)
- Wondering how Creme Caramel and Trifle were going to fit into the fridge
- Digging the chicken out of the chest freezer, and worrying about where the promised giblets had gone (AWOL as it turned out)
- Making blinis with smoked salmon
- Discovering that there are endless back-to-back re-runs of Father Brown on the Alibi channel (eight in one day)
And so it was that on Boxing Day, for a few brief hours, the sun shone, the torrential downpour stopped, and my husband and I stepped out for a walk. It was a relief to stretch the legs, and to look off to the horizon where there were some rather fine sheep. I love the black faces and black legs on this one, it looks like the ur-sheep, the quintessential essence of sheep-ness.
Further along the way, a statue of a lady was leaning against a weeping tree. She could even have been weeping herself. Possibly she was overwhelmed with chipolata preparation, and if so I know exactly how she felt.
There’s always somebody working over the roofs for little insects, like the pied wagtail on the thatched roof below, and the sparrows on the tiles.
And the hills stretch away, gentle and green. So we walked on and on, until we came to a farm. There were three motorbikes parked in the middle of the path, which wasn’t a problem. Then, I noticed that the derelict farm building next door and all the land around it were literally ankle-deep in beer and cider cans. Hmm. Maybe I was over-cautious, but it seemed to me that this might be a good point to turn round. I’ve seen Deliverance, you know.
On the way back, there were some unusual birds in the bare trees, but I’m not sure what they were. I’m thinking maybe Fieldfare by the size of them in comparison to the crow, but all comments gratefully accepted.
We pass the calves again, and one little Aberdeen Angus calf in a field all on his own.
And as we get to the bottom of the hill, I become aware that the robins are singing all around us, announcing their territories and getting ready for the hard work of the spring. They’re a bit early, but maybe the sunshine warms their bones and tells them the world has turned towards the light again.
Back at home, all is peaceful. Mum and Dad are dozing in their chairs, Father Brown is solving yet another case, and it’s not yet time to peel the potatoes for dinner. I consider sneaking off to read the paper and have a nap.There will be plenty of time to get back into the Christmas spirit in an hour or so, when everyone lurches back into alertness for Paul O’Grady’s programme about Battersea dogs, and the Strictly Christmas show, followed by a cut-throat quiz in which Dad beats everyone. In other words, it’s Christmas, as usual.