|Mottisfont in the Mist|
|Four of the Six Swans A-Swimming on the river|
|Ice tracery on pine needles, courtesy of Jack Frost|
|The Twelve Days Of Christmas Cake|
|Three French Hens|
Those of you who've been reading for a while will know that I don't do a lot of sitting around. Christmas was no exception, thank goodness. We did Parkrun at 9am, then home for some presents, then a light lunch, a walk with the dogs, some champagne, a little light baking fin preparation for Boxing Day (stilton and thyme puff pastry pies and spiced sausage rolls) and finally Christmas roast pheasant in the evening by the fire.
L made good use of his new Air Rifle. It took him approx. 5 minutes to work out that, once he'd set up the target (which has 4 ducks either side of a circular piece of metal, all of which stick to magnets if you shoot them correctly, while the circle springs them all back up and resets the lot) in the garden, he could open the study window, prop the rifle on the ledge and shoot away from the comfort of the computer chair all day long, which he did. So much for getting him outside into the healthy fresh air.
We spent part of Boxing Day in hospital visiting Uncle Charles, who, although still on oxygen and hard to understand, was improving. He'd already made an impression on the nurses who fell over themselves to tell me how much they loved him. It's the twinkly eyes that do it. The rest of the day we spent with Uncle Charles' wife who was not in a good way at all, having come down with a bug that left her unable to get up or feed herself. She hadn't said a word about this so we were both shocked to find her in that condition. At 89 it isn't great and she's still not well now. I can't remember the last time I spent two hours cleaning, polishing and hoovering my own kitchen, bathrooms and sitting room on Boxing Day, let alone someone else's, but it sparkled by the time we'd done and made her feel better so it was worth it.
On the 27th we were up early to drive through the frost to a 10k/ 6 mile race on the South Coast. M shot off ahead at the start and came in top ten as usual in about 38 minutes, but I'd already decided to run a steady pace and use it as half marathon training, albeit under race conditions. There were over 300 runners and I came in the top third in 52 minutes, which I was chuffed with. I managed not to walk any of it too which was Good :o)
We followed this up with a ten mile run yesterday morning which took in some beautiful countryside up over the Chalk, cold, frost encased and sparkling. It went really well, I wasn't tired or leg sore afterwards so I am feeling on track for the Half Marathon in September, which I have now entered (so there is no going back). Between now and then we have two races a month booked in of various distances and terrains, so it should all help the preparation.
This morning, we took the two older children to Mottisfont, which currently has a Twelve Days Of Christmas exhibition on in the grounds and house. We got there early so not a soul was about. In the night a Hoar Frost had come down and blessed the land so everything was encased in long crystals of ice. It was freezing cold and breathtakingly beautiful- the whole place (which is special anyway) felt tinged with magic.
The other side of the day, which has been thick with fog and very chilly in a damp, unremitting sort of way we escaped out into the fields a little before dusk to walk the hounds who scampered about as if they hadn't run ten miles at all yesterday. There were Fieldfare in the oaks chattering and cackling, Blackbirds pink-pinking night-night to one another in the hedges and above it all, a Buzzard crying eerily through the gathering dark as he floated out across the fields, heading for the remnant of pink-tinged sky that indicated where the sun had set half an hour earlier.
Tomorrow, we're going running with a friend and then we're all set for a take-away from our favourite Chinese, a bottle of ice cold fizz and some homemade profiteroles to usher in the New Year (except we'll be in bed before midnight, because, you guessed it, we've got another long run planned for Sunday). Happy Days.
Happy New Year to you all, and thanks so much for following/ reading/ commenting during 2016.