Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christina Hollis - An English Country Christmas...

Harcombe Bottom, source:
By Philip Halling
I love to party, but my OH is all for the quiet life. That's we moved into a house that's deep in the English countryside, shortly after we got married.  Living here, we have the best of both worlds. When OH comes home, he can leave the stresses of his high-powered working life at the gate (assuming I can hide his wretched BlackBerry). If I need a break from the solitude, I can hit town within an hour as long as we're not locked down by wintry weather.

This year, the run-up to Christmas has been exceptionally mild. That makes a change - for the last two years, our village's annual Christmas Tree festival has been disrupted by heavy snow. England doesn't cope well with extremes of weather. We're used to ordinary rain and cold, because we suffer that pretty much all year round (!). Blizzards, floods and other natural disasters do happen here, but so rarely our councils can't afford to tie up much money in specialised equipment and manpower that may only be needed once in a blue moon.  We're hoping it won't be another bad winter. Our lane is too small for the snow-plough, so we always have to dig ourselves out as far as the main road, which is half a mile away!
By Trish Steel
There hasn't been a school-day this term when the weather has stopped me walking the two miles from home each afternoon to meet Son No.1 at the school coach-stop. It's lovely to listen to the blackbirds and pheasants racketing off to roost. It's dusk by the time the coach pulls in, so I have to remember to shut our poultry safely in their run before I leave home, or Mr Fox will be around to pick up takeaway chicken! On my walk down to our meeting-point, I can enjoy all the outdoor Christmas lights going on as the light fails. One of the cottages down in the village has new owners. They've already made a start on their big, overgrown garden and this has meant they've had a bonfire going all week. The smell of blackberry-and-apple-woodsmoke is delicious and seeing the embers glowing as night falls is almost as good as enjoying a log-fire at home.  By the time I reach the coach stop, OH is already waiting in his car. He stops off there on his way home from work to pick up me, Son No. 1 and Son's huge haul of school books, homework and other kit. Carrying that load home, uphill for two miles, would be too much after a long school day.

FOOTNOTE: While I was writing this blog, the BBC announced that the bereaved of Sandy Hook in Connecticut have asked for 14th December to be marked by acts of kindness. That's a generous and dignified way to remember their loved ones, and I'll be doing my best via Twitter and Facebook to spread their message. This happy time of year holds so many memories for all those who have lost loved ones, everywhere - maybe if we could all spare a couple of minutes on Saturday to check on our friends or neighbours, we could make a difference to their Christmas?

Christina Hollis writes both contemporary and historical fiction - when she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping. You can catch up with her at, on Twitter and Facebook, and see a list of her published books at

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