A Dorset Christmas

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.

I love the way that the veins of the ivy are picked out by the change in its colour.

And here is a very unimpressed cat, enjoying a little winter sunshine, and refusing to engage with passersby, in spite of their very best cat-attracting noises.

Up the hill we went. It was a pleasure to walk with John – usually I do this walk on my own, so it was good to have someone to show ‘the sights’ too, such as they are.

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.

I could show John St Francis of Assisi, and all his little animal friends – the number and variety grow every time I visit, and it’s somewhere that I always stop.

There are a fine bunch of calves in the cowshed, curious as always.

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.

There were some corrugated roofs that were overgrown with ivy last time I took this walk, but they’ve now been cleaned up somewhat. Still lots of lovely moss, though.

The roof last time I was here……

And the roof now

And some attractive moss

We pass the calves again, and one little Aberdeen Angus calf in a field all on his own.

Back down the path.

There is a hedge full of mahonia and lichen-encrusted twigs, and the colours are exquisite in the sunshine.

But who is this?

Fortunately, I have a picture from 2005 to reveal who is under the hat….it’s a very fine pig.

It’s a pig!

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.

Dad wearing his Christmas hat at a very jaunty angle. And no, he hasn’t been at the gin 🙂



21 thoughts on “A Dorset Christmas

  1. tonytomeo

    How pretty. It looks like Oregon.
    It is sad that aging parents can cause such worry. I am so fortunate that mine are so low maintenance so far. My Pa is more active than I am. (I suppose I should be worried about that; when he gets on a boat and sails to Vancouver!) My mother is only beginning to worry me (in a serious way), but that is for another time.

    1. Bug Woman

      I’m glad your Dad is so active, Tony! My dad used to have an allotment and grew most of our fruit and veg when we were growing up. He still makes sure that he walks round the bungalow inspecting his ‘estate’ every day. Not the same as sailing to Vancouver though 🙁

      1. tonytomeo

        Yeah, I don’t mind my Pa sailing, but Vancouver?!?! That is a bit much. My Mother hikes with a herd of other ladies her age, which sounds harmless enough, but they get into places where I would not go to! I would say that I hope I get around like they do in twenty years, but I would like to get around like that now.

  2. sarah

    Lovely blog as usual: trenchant details observed with loving interest. Sweet photograph of Santa Dad. Happy New Year to All!

  3. Fran and Bobby Freelove

    We’re glad you enjoyed your time with your parents, your dad looks very content. As usual your observations are really interesting, the birds are certainly Fieldfares, a couple days ago we watched a huge flock of at least a couple of hundred take off from the field where we walk, a lovely sight. We would like to wish you a very Happy 2018 and may it be filled with interesting bugs and weeds! 🐛

    1. Bug Woman

      Happy New Year to you too, Fran and Bobby, and thanks for the confirmation re the fieldfares. One year, I had a lone fieldfare in the garden during a snowy period – we think s/he was left behind by his flock. A few days later, my friend Ann had a lone fieldfare in her garden too,, so I think s/he was hopping from one feeding spot to another. S/he was much bigger than the blackbirds and every time I put out any grated apple for the thrushes s/he dominated the spot until he’d had his fill. Beautiful birds….

  4. Toffeeapple

    I am glad that your logistics worked in the end. I do like that picture of the Robin, such striking birds. Apparently, Mahonia berries are edible by humans.

    Happy New Year Vivienne.

  5. Moony

    Making trifle and lots of tea sounds like a lovely way to spend the holidays. And all those pictures of the countryside are awfully fascinating to a city girl like me, hehe. I hope you and your family enjoyed the holidays, and have a great 2018 ahead!

  6. Liz Norbury

    Happy New Year! Your blog has been a wonderful discovery, and I look forward to many more inspiring and illuminating posts about the wild world around us in 2018, along with Wednesday Weed poems and cat photos – Bailey reminds me of Wilberforce, a beautiful white cat my parents once had.

  7. Pingback: Bugwoman’s Fourth Annual Report – Part Two | Bug Woman – Adventures in London

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