|The Marsh Tit returns|
Christmas preparations continue apace here, mixed in with GCSE revision and running. Yesterday I made the mincemeat and then, when it had cooled, 46 mince pies. It took three batches of pastry (luckily I had enough eggs). We've eaten some already, they are A Bit Lovely. Made with the usual raisins and sultanas, but I add cranberries, almonds, apple, hazelnuts, various spices and a generous sloosh of brandy or two :o)
We had some bad news last night- poor Uncle Charles has been taken to hospital with Pneumonia. We were supposed to be taking them out to lunch on Christmas Eve. Hoping he'll soon be home as he's such a character and very much loved by us all.
I got up early this morning in order to run before driving down to Bournemouth. The dogs and I were out in the fields a little before sunrise, threading our way through ribbons of mist snaking in the valleys, startling the buzzard who has got used to us appearing after eight not before it, and admiring the cold pink flush of dawn smudging the skeletons of the trees. Poppy disgraced herself by running off into the wood after pheasants and not coming back until I'd roared for her for several minutes, thereby shattering both the ethereal peace of the morning and my own transcendental calm induced by running steadily through a wild landscape with no one else about, the air cold and the grass crisply frosted under my feet. I was Not Very Pleased. Fortunately, it was another mile or so back to the car and by the time we'd done that I was settled again. Teddy stayed with me the whole way, occasionally glancing up at me as if to say You see? I'm still here. I haven't been naughty and run off.
I've been doing a lot of dusk and dawn outings this week. Two walks as the light faded rewarded me with a flock of starlings a thousand strong singing in two oaks across the fields one day, and the same flock flying directly over my head the next. The collective whispering from their wings was quite something. We were also treated to dark-time flying of a small flock of Lapwing, who came unseen and unexpected out of the night and played in the air around us calling to one another. They are such acrobatic birds, far more so than their blunt-winged silhouettes suggest. It was quite eerie, watching their outlines framed against the brilliance of an indigo sky one minute, then seeing them disappear into the all-consuming identity of night the next. I heard them calling long after the light had gone.
I hope you're all well and feeling peaceful as Christmas approaches. We've got Parkruns on Christmas Eve morning and Christmas Day morning to cancel out all the feasting. Should I wear fancy dress, is the question. What do you all think? And if so, what should I wear? (fully acknowledging that I may regret asking that question!).