I went to the village for: coffee, lightbulbs, eucalyptus, and dog food. I came back with:
Two lovely galvanised buckets, in shining festive silver, in which to put the eucalyptus. They are the long, thin variety that florists often use to display their flowers. They are the most elegant things ever and I am quite overcome by my own cleverness in getting them.
Deep red Christmas roses, a pot of white heather, which I used to think twee and now think enchanting, and some little red chilli peppers on stems, which I suspect shall make a charming seasonal arrangement.
Rather a lot of artificial berries on sticks, frosted with sort of fake glittery snow. Also glittery gold apples on sticks, because nothing says Advent more than a glittery gold apple on a stick. All of the above were verging on disco; actually very pretty.
Special Christmas candles, with bells on. Actual bells.
Those lovely silver jangly hearts on ribbons, which you can hang up. Also some solid silvery hearts, because you can’t have too many hearts.
Bags and bags of watercress for watercress soup because I feel a bit weak after all that, and I’m not at all sure I’m getting enough iron in my diet.
And, Red Letter Day, Stanley the Lurcher officially registered at the vet. (The vet is next to the flowers shop.)
On a normal day, I would come home with all this having forgotten the lightbulbs and the coffee, but in fact I remembered, which is frankly peculiar.
In other words: I have started my Christmas decorations.
I always feel slightly bogus at this moment in December, because I do a sort of fake domestic goddess. If I sharpen my wits and concentrate, I can get at least one room in the house looking like something of which Nigella would be proud. It’s almost that magazine Christmas with which we ladies are taunted and haunted at this time of year. (Some gentlemen too, I expect.) But there are still the terrifying spawning piles on the office floor, and the Cupboard of Doom continues to speak to me in a cod Vincent Price voice. There are still terrifying lost corners filled with things that should have gone to the charity shop in 2009.
Still, nobody’s perfect.
I did feel quite pleased because I wrote 1060 words of book, had two mildly successful each-way bets (both finished second), put in an order for heating oil so Stanley and I may stay warm, and did some proper stuff with the dear equines. It’s been so filthy lately, with the ice and the cold that it’s mostly been a matter of just keeping them warm and fed. Today, the weather slackened a little, there was a break in the sleet, and I got Red’s rugs off and groomed her and did a bit of groundwork with the tiny pony and some quiet bonding with Autumn the Filly.
As always, The Horse Talker and I marvel at the sheer goodness and sweetness of our herd. They have been through gales, blizzards, minus eight, sheet ice, and driving sleet in the last few days, and yet they remain as calm and composed as 1950s debutantes on their way to Miss Lucy Clayton’s academy. There is no barging at feed time; they greet us politely and patiently when we arrive each morning; they put their heads down graciously to be caught. We are hysterically strict on manners, like a pair of Miss Jean Brodies, except without the fascist sympathies. And it does seem to have paid off. It gives me more pleasure than I can say, seeing them so settled and happy.
In other words: it was a good, productive day. Even if there is, and always shall be, a Cupboard of Doom.
Some quick pictures, as very tired now:
The field, facing west, with the skeleton of the new shelter almost finished:
My ladyship, looking very chic in her under-rug:
Even woolly for winter, she still has the grace of a duchess:
Myfanway doing her princess face:
Tea-time. Little Myfanwy has almost lost all her summer fat. She came to us a bit roly-poly, and the rich grass did not help. She’s been on a gradual regime for a while, and soon she shall look like a show pony:
A lot of people fret with their thoroughbreds at this time of year, about keeping condition on. I, as you may see, have been taking no chances. Purists might say that Red has a little too much condition. If we go on like this, I shall have to put her on a diet:
Stanley the Lurcher, still a little startled when in the presence of the unfamiliar equines:
No hill today; forgot. Sorry about that.