Posted by Tania Kindersley.
When my sister is feeling a bit gloomy, she refuses to watch the news. She takes some time off from the world, avoids shouting newspaper headlines and sensationalist bulletins, and feels vastly better.
The news junkie in me is torn between disapproval and envy. I have a very strange idea that somehow, as a concerned citizen, it is my duty to know what is going on. (I have absolutely no clue where this comes from.) There is a sort of first-world guilt imperative that tells me if the women of the Congo or the people of the Ivory Coast or the democracy campaigners in Burma have to go through what they are going through, the least I can do is read about it. I can't work out if this is correct, or utterly pointless.
In some ways, it is a fruitless argument to have with myself, since I am so driven by curiosity that I cannot stay away from the events of the world for long. The first thing I do each morning is switch on the radio. My waking thought is: what the hell is happening? I burn for the latest news, as if all kinds of amazing things might have taken place while I was sleeping. (In the case of the cricket, this is literally true.)
Today, I had so many practical things to do that the radio stayed off. I needed silence to organise my mind. There was the wrapping of the godchildren's presents, the finding of the addresses, the parcelling everything up, the trip to the post office. There was the making of a good woman soup for my mother. (This is what she calls her version of soupe bonne femme, which she taught me to make when I was young.) There was a last piece of work to do, before I shut up shop for the holidays. I actually sought permission from my co-writer, who sent back an email saying STOP WORK NOW. I so love her when she says things like that. There was the walking of the dogs and the taking of the day's photographs.
And now I sit before you and realise that I have absolutely no clue what is going on. Not even a sniff of news. There could have been a coup in Whitehall and I would not know about it. I think my sister is right; it is rather restful. I feel quite calm and happy. It is like being on board ship, or in a distant place where radio waves cannot penetrate. There is just me, and the snow outside my window, and the dogs, dozing on the sofa. I am smiling as I write.
Of course the scratch scratch scratch of curiosity is already setting up in my brain, like a mouse coming in from the cold. When I finish this, I shall almost certainly sneak off to the internet and see who is doing what, and where. But half a day without The News is rather a lovely thing.
Today's pictures are of, surprise surprise, snow and dogs, with a little Christmassy stuff thrown in for fun.
The old chestnut tree, looking almost like a painting in the light:
My favourite dazzling little beech:
The mandatory eating of the snow:
(I think they must assume it is some kind of delicious sorbet.)
And, of course, the heavenly snow on the nose:
My brother-in-law sometimes says, with heavy irony: are you sure those dogs are comfortable enough? I think probably yes:
The decorations by daylight:
I am not having a tree this year, the thought of all those fallen pine needles everywhere made me too tired, so all the baubles have gone into bowls instead:
I cut some little bits of pine and put them in glasses everywhere, which is giving me stupid amounts of pleasure:
These are my favourite decorations of all - little silver hearts made out of jingling bells:
Finally, a rather enchanting view of the hill:
The moon is up outside my window now, and the sky has turned the colour of cornflowers. Everything is very still. I hope you are having a little Christmas spirit, wherever you are.