After Jackie and I had exchanged Christmas stockings, and before the rest of the family emerged from slumber, I took a brief walk down to Minstead, turned left opposite The Trusty Servant, left again into Bull Lane, and back home via London Minstead.
The shower installed in our flat number 4 was, until this morning, the most powerful I have ever experienced. The very hot water needs careful adjustment, and if the taps are fully turned on you are drilled backwards through the curtains and likely to end up on the floor, having to fight your way back to lessen the flow. This, however, is nothing compared with the stair rods that continued to saturate our surroundings.
As I walked down Running Lane I noticed the silent scuts of our three deer, like three baubles on different lengths of elastic, bobbing up and down as they disappeared from view, festively decorating the forest trees. Apart from the occasional jacketed horses in soggy fields, water bouncing from their coverings as they ate their morning mud porridge laced with straggly grass, the only other sign of life was of a robin flitting, dripping, across my path.
The rain had increased in tempo the minute I set out. As if someone had operated a switch it ceased on my return, just as I liberally sprinkled the welcome mat and applied the towel which had been thrust into my hand. Very soon we were enjoying bright sunshine, as the rest of Santa’s stockings were leisurely opened.
In the early afternoon Flo spotted a woodpecker in the garden. This was the first time I’d ever seen one. This bright green red-topped bird flew off to a distant tree, to return tantalisingly beyond my camera’s range.
Watching the Queen’s speech at 3 p.m. I reflected on the first time I had see her on television, as recorded on 27th May. The technological advances available since her coronation are quite astounding. Not only is the screen much much larger; the picture in colour, and with no parallel lines moving up it; but it can be photographed with a tiny camera, transferred to a computer, and instantly posted around the world. The broadcast itself has already been transmitted globally, to countries many of which did not have television in 1953.
After this Becky drove Flo, with me as a guide, on a pony hunt. Primrose and Champion were back in their field feeding on fresh dry hay. Seeing three on the edge of the forest we stopped the car and Flo got out to converse with them. Leaping the ditch, they rushed over and, together with several more who appeared from nowhere, they had soon surrounded us. Apart from those I described on 13th October, I have never seen them move so fast. This rather disconcerted Becky who, earlier, on foot, had encountered a persistant sodden pony who got close enough for her to cry ‘let’s get out of here’. Apparently safe in the car, Becky was even more alarmed when one stuck its bewhiskered nose through the open window. No doubt they were seeking more palatable food than that which the soggy forest provided.
Later in the afternoon and early evening we watched a DVD of ‘Ice Age 4’, followed by ‘Call the Midwife’ on BBC 1. Jackie then provided a marvellous traditional roast turkey dinner with Christmas pudding to follow. Jackie, Ian and I all had some Compte de Brismand champagne. Ian also drank Peroni and I imbibed Bouchard Fleurie 2011. We played charades in which I went some way to exonerating myself after my ignominy in a Passage to India a week or so back. I didn’t actually mention it in my blog, but Jackie chose to point out my incompetence in her Facebook comment. I wonder if this time she will mention that I got ‘Phantom of the Opera’ after one syllable.