The land hereabouts is starting to take on a Christmassy feel. Romsey has its tree installed in the centre of the market square and lights are strung up between shops across the lanes, the shops all have individual mini-trees wrapped round with lights and we've finally had a couple of (small) frosts to go with the sharp drop in temperatures. The geese keep flying over in enormous honking V formations and the leaves are almost off the trees.
I love Christmas, but I don't like the long run-up to it because it gives me Christmas Fatigue which spoils the day, so I ignore it until December, when it's lovely. In our house we don't put the tree or decs up till a week before, and then we take them all down on Boxing Day (usually). I've generally had enough of tinsel and baubles by then and am eager to get back to normal and think about the fresh year waiting just ahead.
I am organised; pretty much all the shopping has been done, the food is ordered, the Turkey is booked and paid for (coming from college where they've been grass reared and looked after properly), the booze is safely stored away in boxes under the stairs (we are having fizzy mum, right?), and I've even remembered cheese and celery and some nice bread and crackers for Christmas night when we're all too stuffed to eat anything. My final success was to persuade L to come to ASDA (which I can never resist calling As-Daaaaaa) on his inset day on Monday, so all his presents for the rest of the family are done as well. Phew.
Lists have been made. We're hosting Christmas this year, F and J are with us on and off throughout the hols (it's surprising how much extra work and planning is involved with two more in the house) and my sis and her family are coming for lunch the weekend after Crimble, so I have to be organised otherwise everything would fall apart :o)
We're also giving a Mince Pies And Mulled Wine party two days before Christmas day. What on earth possessed me? We've only just completed the Dinner Party Marathon that was November. I made my usual school girl error and got carried away with a festive spirit of bonhomie while issuing invitations. M reassured me that as it was so close to Christmas lots of people would be away, but so far we've only had one definite no!
Where are they all going to park?
The doggy people will hopefully be able to go to Ma's (guests coming and going leaving front gates open onto lanes where people drive far too fast doesn't bear thinking about, especially as M accidentally left Pop in the front last week with the gate open and she took herself off to visit the neighbours, 1/4 mile up the lane. She was returned looking very sheepish and a tiny weeny bit frightened, which I hope has taught her a lesson, although I doubt it).
There will be a legion of small people of various ages rampaging through the house, as well as a few ginormous teenagers. Thank God for the attic, safely tucked away from the rest of the house and converted this summer into the Kids Room with an enormous mattress as a sofa, various elephant-covered huge floor cushions, an obscenely wide screen TV, the X-Box and piles of books and jigsaws. I have visions of cola, crisps, sweets, DVDs, loom bands and lego cascading down the stairs, which is probably better than small tumbling children. I'm also slightly worried about the younger ones being unexpectedly inducted into the joys of Call Of Duty and Assassin's Creed (note to self, remove all war-themed games from the room) or indeed the ripe and ribald humour of Russel Howard's Good News. I think I will perhaps invest in something safe like A Dolphin's Tale. L will be thrilled. I have at least 60 mince pies to bake (I don't make life easy for myself as I make the mincemeat as well as the pastry from scratch, but it does taste lovely so it's worth it) as well as a Christmas pudding and a vat of mulled wine (cue brandy, cranberry juice, raisins and spices), not to mention the three Victoria Sponges I have promised my class for our end of term feast.
Ho Ho Ho.
As I've exhausted myself just thinking about all of that, I'll leave you with some soothing college outdoor days photos taken over the last couple of weeks. We've been coppicing hazelwoods (looked for dormice asleep in the bowls of the trees but didn't see any, although they do live in that wood), and visiting a farm who takes its wildlife responsibilities seriously. It was there this week that I saw my very first Peregrine Falcon flying over the Chalk fields. Magic :o)
|Bags hung in trees to prevent passing woofs peeing on them!|
|Some of the Gang|
|Brown Trout spawning stream|
|Created dead hedge|
|Freezing ecologists taking notes in a stubble field|
|Field Maple holding on to its leaves|
|Remnants of a wild bird seed strip in the field margin|
|Chalk-spring fed pond, hence the blue colour. It was really beautiful|
|Field margin left for wildlife|
|Wild bird and bee seeded strip beside some woodland|