Lockdown Diary: Day Two Hundred and Seventy-Six. Christmas Eve.

Today started off with the most ridiculous levels of loveliness. Snow had come in the night and the sun was shining and I had a special Christmas Eve FaceTime with my dear friends in Wales and New Zealand. One of them was riding through the valleys on her horse (technology really is a miracle) and the whole thing felt absurdly festive.

The dogs and I went out in the snow, and Darwin showed off his exceptional handsomeness.

Then I came in and wrapped some presents to get in the holiday spirit. I ran out of wrapping paper so I used my many, many old copies of the Racing Post. I was rather overcome by my own cleverness and thriftiness.

Then I went down to the field to have a strictly social-distanced Christmas Eve morning with the posse.

The mares all got carrots. (Santa had come early with his sack.)

There was extra hay to keep the herd going through the snow.

The great-niece even did a snow angel. I’ve only ever seen this in the movies. I was excessively excited.

There were also miniature snowmen.

The red mare ate one of them.

We think it may have been Florence’s first snow. She looked faintly surprised but gently interested. (She certainly is a long way from Newmarket. It’s like the horsey version of ‘You’re not in Kansas any more’.)

The red mare did extreme beauty. She adores this weather.

The light was ravishing.

There really is something about the Scottish light.

I tore myself away because I had to do some cooking for my friend who is in Covid-isolation. I walked past the beech trees feeling as if I were in a film. This is an actual Christmas film!

I paused for a moment to look at the hill.

I had such a good plan. I would do the cooking with blinding efficiency, deliver it to the doorstep all wrapped up in foil, wrap the last of the presents, and then have a complete afternoon off. I can’t tell you how excited I was about the afternoon off. I would lounge about and do sod all.

Then I got home and found this.


I’m afraid there was shouting and swearing.

They did a minor version of this a few weeks ago. I’ve been making jokes about it. I’ve been living with little bits of feather all over the house. But this was a whole other level of magnitude. The feathers were everywhere, in great drifts. It looked as if an entire flock of geese had been having a cage fight.

The lounging around plan was ruined. I stomped and cursed and rued the day. The lurchers retreated to the next room, looking sheepish and not nearly apologetic enough.

I got out the hoover. I hoovered and hoovered and hoovered. It didn’t really make much difference, so I hoovered some more. I shook out all the blankets and the feathers flew and I thought sadly of the Doing Sod All plan.

Then I decided I had a choice. I could remain in fury, or I could count my blessings. I started counting. I actually have a sofa, even if it is a bit eaten. I have a hoover that works. (I have electricity!) I was doing exercise, which would be good for working off the turkey in advance. And I was going to have a super-smart, tidy Christmas house, which I would not have bothered to achieve had it not been for the naughty dogs.

It was 7pm by the time I finished all my errands. I did the food and I delivered the food and I dropped off some presents and I went to the village and got Madeira for the gravy and said happy Christmas to my friend George. I bought a bottle of something for another friend and drove past all the lit up houses to give it to her. This is very Christmassy, I thought – fairy lights all around and a nice bottle of pop.

And when I got home, the sofa was still intact and the dogs were looking innocent and I’d only left tomorrow’s stuffing in a little bit too long. It’s not burnt. It’s crispy.

Maybe the most valuable lesson I’ve learnt this year is: it’s not the thing, it’s how you think about the thing. I had an excellent opportunity to put this into practice today. And the lovely thing was that it worked.

Happy Christmas, my dear Dear Readers. Happy, happy Christmas.

(And here is the post-feather sofa. I can’t say it’s restored to its former glory, but it is thirty-three years old and it’s been with me through the very thick and the very, very thin and those blankets cover up a myriad of sins.)

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