I woke early to the hammering of rain at the window. The day dawned brown and surly, but I was in an oddly festive mood. Round the village I went, collecting armfuls of holly, posting parcels, buying twenty slabs of Chocolate Menier for the special chocolate treats that I am determined to make. (It’s a tradition in the privacy of my own mind, although because I like to give people things I have made myself.)
I did a bit more arranging of special festive greenery, wrote Christmas cards, wrapped presents for the godchildren, and even managed to start my Yuletide To Do list. The making of the list gave me almost more satisfaction than anything.
I went down to the horses and after some consultation it was decided that the floods had subsided, so we could take down the tapes which had divided the field. At first, the small herd took absolutely no notice, just mooched about, eating their hay as usual.
‘They are so graceful and calm,’ I said, proudly, to the Horse Talker.
Then, suddenly, the little white pony took off like a rocket. The two bigger horses looked at each other, as if to say: we can’t let her steal all the thunder. They switched into top gear and raced after her.
They cantered, turned, made half-passes. They floated over the ground. Red was doing her elegant Spanish Riding School of Vienna act. Myfanwy kicked up her heels in a series of syncopated bucks. Autumn, who is descended from a very famous Western champion, let the others go ahead of her, sat back on her haunches, and then launched herself like a rocket, and galloped in a perfect diagonal all the way from one end of the field to the other.
‘My God, she’s fast,’ I said.
There’s always a slight terror when horses are running in a field; they can stumble and fall and hurt themselves. But our girls were joyful and sure-footed, and after a moment, I relaxed and enjoyed the show. They looked so beautiful and were having such a fine time. I could have sold tickets.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘there are no worries about them getting demoralised in the weather.’
Back my desk; wrote 1556 words of book. I did a special Christmas playlist, so I am now listening to Frank Sinatra singing the first Noel. I reduced some Marsala and Madeira for the Christmas gravy. I even made a special festive ham, which I am going to keep in the fridge and eat cold.
I’m always a bit astonished when I get things done. I’m still panicking a bit about my deadline and fretting about last posting dates. Next year, I think, madly, I’m going to start in October.
Christmas. It’s nuts really. But I rather love it. The halls are decked and the geese are getting fat and there are partridges in pear trees. Eartha Kitt is singing Santa Baby, just slip a sable under the tree, for me. Not very politically correct, but it makes me laugh.
I could not get the light right for these, but I wanted you to see the special Christmassy room, so please forgive the dodgy quality:
Too dreich today for outside pictures, so here are a few from the last days:
With Autumn and Red in the background:
Red the Mare, happily muddy after a bloody good roll:
Stanley the Dog:
On his sheepskin, this afternoon, as I was decorating: