Friday, 30 December 2016

Mottisfont, Ice-Capped. Ten Miles Across The Chalk, & A Six Mile Race

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.

CT :o)


  1. Mottisfont certainly looked magical and I loved their rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

    Full marks to you with all your scampering about - blimey, day after day of it too!

    I hope your aunty and uncle are better soon and well done on all that flat out housework for Aunty on Boxing Day.

    I had a magical moment with a Redwing on Christmas Eve - the cats caught one whilst I was upstairs, but I was told it was dead so I didn't go down. When I did, 4 cats were in the back place with a LIVE Redwing, taking it in turns to batter it. I managed to rescue it, and took it outside to give it a chance of survival. I really didn't know where to put it for safety, so tried the Magnolia tree. I walked away, then came back, thinking that the shrub nearby was a better option. Would you believe, when I put my hand just near to the Redwing it hopped on with such trust and let me carry it to the shrub. Sad to report, although I was expecting it to die of shock anyway, I heard a Redwing chatter later on and although I found no body, I think our Outside Cat Miffy had found it . . .

  2. I want 3 French hens in my garden, well done with the running , looking forward to seeing what you get up to in the new year...
    Amanda xx

  3. Sounds like you've had a lovely few days. I hope Uncle Charles and his wife are on the mend soon. Mottisfont does indeed look absolutely enchanting, I can well imagine how magical it felt. Nothing quite so lovely here, but we have been out and about Getting Exercise. I hope you and yours have a wonderful New Year. CJ xx

  4. Sounds lovely (apart from the aunt and uncle to whom I wish good health)

  5. The 12 days of Christmas cake looks amazing. Well done to both of you on the running - and the doggies too. I hope your aunt and uncle are feeling better very soon - I'm tempted to feign an illness in the hope that you might come and clean my house too! Enjoy your takeaway and Happy New Year. xx

  6. Mottisfont is a favourite of mine! Quite envious that you got to see the 12 days of Christmas- but thank you for photos! Made me feel better!
    You certainly embraced Christmas in the true sense! Time for you, time for family, thinking of others and supporting those in need of help!
    Uncle C sounds like a real giggle even in hospital- what a sweetheart he is!
    Good time CT and happy new year to you and your family 🎉🎉🎉🍾🍾xx

  7. I love reading about what you have been doing in a world so different to mine, at my age it is lovely to think of running when walking is now not so easy, and in a climate the opposite to yours.

  8. Bother, I think I lost the post.Please keep up your reporting on this you do so far from where I live.

  9. Doesn't the frost make everything look beautiful. Never been to Mottisfont so will have to remedy that one day. Like the sound of your 'twinkly'uncle. And what a shame about your aunt. Hopefully on the mend now. Your son made me laugh, I can imagine him sitting in the warm doing his shooting practise.. Well done on all your running , you sound well on track for September. We have walked our socks off the last few days as we've been blessed with sunshine and frost. Perfect. Enjoy your takeaway and a Happy New Year to you all. B x

  10. It all sounds perfectly perfect, glad you had a great time and the family are improving. Mottisfont looks very festive, I must go back again for a visit. Happy New Year x

  11. Mottisfont is magical. I will go soon when the white sheets of snowdrops are out in the woods and the newish winter garden will be in bloom. We especially enjoy sitting at the huge old kitchen table in the tea room with something hot to hold. Your running is going so well. It is many many years since I ran 6 miles in under 40 minutes ( I was a keen triathlete) and once (just the once!) I ran 10 miles in under 60 minutes. About 10 years ago I started running again with my children (they were both very good cross country runners) and we had various routes we used to do during the holidays. A run first thing in the morning with teenagers is to be recommended, it puts everyone in a very good mood for the rest of the day, and I'm very pleased to say that my 23 and 20 year olds are still regular runners. Happy New Year CT, it's always lovely to pop in here.

  12. Mottisfont looks beautiful and very magical. Well done on all the running and hope your aunt and uncle recover soon. Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year.

  13. Happy New Year, Chinese meal for us too, it's a bit of a tradition on new years eve!

  14. I hope that Uncle Charles will continue to improve and that Aunt (?) Charles will improve too. Hope you have a great 2017, it has been lovely and very cheering to read your 2016 exploits, I hope that 2017 will be as much fun. You have given me many bring spots in dull days. Thank you!

  15. Mottifort looks like the perfect Christmassy day out, beautifully atmospheric. I do hope your Uncle and Aunt recover very soon CT, you must be so worried about them. And as usual enormous congratulations on the running exploits! I have been very very lasy this Christmas-apart from the dog walking.Im planning on getting the runners on tomorrow morning and hoping my new fitbit will spur me onto a proper running routine. Happy New Year to all at Countryside Tales! xx

  16. I hope Uncle Charles and his wife are continuing to improve. Congratulations on all the running over Christmas you are doing so well! I love the theme in Mottisfont the Hoar frost must have made it extra special. Sarah x

  17. Always interested in people's running exploits. As they say on the fells "Mud on yer studs!"

  18. I love the icy and misty Mottisfont and well done with the midwinter running. I'm glad you had so many enjoyable moments over Christmas. Best wishes for a wonderful 2017.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x