I haven't written about our time with Ma and Pa in Somerset yet - and now it seems ages ago. So last year.
We went down on Boxing Day and had a really lovely break, despite Ma being quite tired. She'd had a lot of floristry work and holly wreaths to make in the run up and on Christmas Day had just collapsed in to an armchair with the turkey.
B and I cleaned the house, as she hadn't had time to do anything for a couple of weeks and the dust-and-dog-hair build up was a bit intimidating. Aunt Edith was due to visit on the day after Boxing Day for a few days, so we had to persuade the dogs that they had to give up their chairs for the interim so there was room for everyone to sit down.
Last year, they were the two new puppies and they were very good entertainment value. This year, they are much larger, and don't keep still for long enough for you to get a photo. They've started sheep-dog lessons and are apparently quite good. However, they still think they are puppies and like to sit on your lap. This is quite un-nerving, particularly if you are trying to drink a cup of tea at the time.
The other people who have grown up are the chicks. In the summer, they were tiny, fluffy, traditional-type chicken babies. Now, they look like their father.
ALL nine chicks were cockerels, which was astonishingly bad luck. There are only three left now, as they have gradually gone in to the pot. However, the remaining three walk around three-abreast and seem to loom over the horizon at you, particularly if the sun is behind them. Also, when they run, their footfalls sounds like a scene from Jurassic Park. They have also inherited their father's tendency for arse-pecking. I can't see them surviving much longer.
So. We walked, we ate, we drank a bottle of wine that Ma had been given ("I don't know why she gave it to me dear, she said it was to thank me for all the things I'd done during the year, but I don't think I DID anything. Anyway, is it nice wine?") and we generally chilled out.
We chatted with Aunty Edith, who was very happy with the book on Henry VIII's sisters we'd given her. I'm on a winning streak with her at the moment - she is eighty-six, an ex-primary school teacher who is fiercely independent, very open-minded and very intellectually rigorous. She has never been married. Picking books for her is great fun - I just choose interesting books about women's history or literature that I'd enjoy myself.
Our Christmas Haul this year included:
- smashing knitted gloves from Polish Lodger's Girlfriend's Cousin, fingerless ones with a flappy bit that folds over to make them in to mittens.
- a very posh propelling pencil from Natalie
- hiking boots from Kate and Vic (of which, more tomorrow)
- six classy sherry glasses from Natalie's godmother, and finally
- a flower-pot watering system for our pots in the yard, from Ma and Pa. (Me to Pa: "Thank you very much for our present!" Pa: "What did I give you?")
Last night we ate the last of the christmas cake and today we are back in the office.
I am actually quite enjoying it.