Quite an adjustment to being back. It is all so different from Paris. Snow for a start, and then it is sooo cold in an old stone cottage compared with a warm city flat.
Kind husband had made a start on varnishing our sitting room ceiling, which is wooden, but it was a lengthy process and took us several days to complete: during that time the one place to sit down in comfort was really only the bathroom!
The ceiling now glows with the old dirt of ages removed and the matt varnish bringing out the colours and the grain in the wood. Just some sanding down, filling, and then painting to do on the walls and the room will look rejuvenated. Not finished by Christmas though so it is lucky that family and friends asked us to them this year.
On a more melancholy note many people I know are having a really tough time at the moment. To those of you reading this I am so sorry and wish you a speedy and positive resolution to your difficulties.
I woke up this morning having dreamt that my greatest friend and I had gone away together and were visiting a place (imaginary) near where we were brought up: we went there because (in the dream) our mothers used to go there. It was a beautiful spot in the country, beside a lake, where there was a horse sale, a nice one, not a sad type of horse sale, with a view over the lake, through trees to the horizon. It was sunny and we sat and talked about our mothers while we looked at the horses.
This friend has been very much in my mind of late. It was her mother who died in October and who was like a second mum to me: in a matter of six days my friend has had to have two horses and her dog ‘put down’ – all within a matter of two months after her mother’s death. That is a terrible lot of loss to have to deal with. Animals who live with you for a long time, are not only valuable in their own right, but also have spent many years with you: a great deal of your life and memories are tied up in that animal.
I feel that there is little I can do or am needed to do: my friend is strong and will just get on with things. But I am so sad for her and the pain she will go through and I am aware that she is on my mind. The dream clearly illustrates that. But it was such a happy dream, which is lovely.
We have had a lovely time reconnecting with family and friends after several weeks apart: but a lot of socialising in a short time is quite tiring. We never managed to write our Christmas cards or annual letter so will try to send them by New Year. At least there is not a great deal of cooking to do for several days, with leftovers occupying most cold spots around the place.
Feeding the birds and wild animals is proving quite an undertaking: the bird feeders empty so fast in this cold and their water freezes over so fast: the horses’ water is freezing inside the stables. One night my sister saw a fox walking over a neighbour’s pond desperately looking for any unfrozen water to drink: we have opened up the window into the outside privy so that any birds or animals who wish may go in to to find shelter. A few days thaw is forecast which may be good: it just depends on whether we get water on top of snow which then freezes into sheet ice like last year.
Large badgers are appearing and eating anything and everything we put out for them: at least they look large, it may just be that their fur is all fluffed up for insulation. Leonard the gecko is very sluggish and not eating much. I gave him a nice warm bath the other day which helped both his old skin sloughing off and boosted his circulation: however, it is hard getting him to eat when he is fairly cool despite the heating pad in his box. But there is no way we can keep the house at a higher temperature all the time.
People are talking about looking forward to the end of winter but it has not really begun yet. Mid-January is when it usually really gets a grip so I wait somewhat anxiously to see what else is in store for us. Our first winter here in 1977 the snow lasted for six months: of course I was younger then and loved it: snow picnics with smoked haddock kedgeree, hot soup, cherry cake, bars of chocolate and sledging in the woods: long walks through the deep drifts with our five dogs all chasing snowballs, barking, romping and having the time of their lives: friends’ and neighbours’ children coming to use our steep field to sledge down, sometimes in black rubbish sacks and then piling together round the fire for hot cinnamon toast: ice covered twigs and berries looking magical: I never remember being bothered by the ice or cold although by the end of six months I was ready for a break.
Well, we’ll see what the winter of 2011 brings. Thank goodness for double glazing and central heating, even if we do not know how we will pay for it next year!