Well what a Christmas! We woke to the sun peeping over the hill, yes the Sun! and hardly a cloud smudging the sky. We had gone to sleep with the minster 70 metres away very loudly but joyfully ringing the wedding peel for midnight mass. One of the ringers kept getting out of sync so they’d stop abruptly and after a pregnant pause, try a different tune. It was both an amusing and joyful way to welcome in Christmas.
And what a treat waking to a sun we’d hardly seen since we left France three months ago, having since lived a wet, wet existence!
That for nine weeks we've been sleeping on the floor in a house empty of furniture (only a camping table, garden bench and 2 director’s chairs) we’d been on the edge of misery, particularly since I’ve been quite unwell for 7 of those weeks. Thankfully, I’d climbed out of this physical pit four days before Christmas, which enabled us to restart painting the place. Aware the rain would return in full flourish the next day, we enjoyed a lazy, tasty breakfast. Bathed in the sun’s 20,000 lux, we walked up one of the shallow hills surrounding this ancient, attractive town. Inside your home you only get 200 lux - deprived of light so many feel low.
Dressing-up after a shower, we went to a friend’s for Christmas. Fires lit both ends of their tastefully adorned medieval home. Under the arty, subdued Christmas tree we laid our presents with others costing less than £5. An old white tablecloth covered the table, each placemat boasted newspaper&tinsel crowns which the five year old had helped make, her jokes, incomprehensible as they were, lay there too. More than four hours at the table in our hats, chatting, relishing each other’s company, laughing, reading those no-joke-jokes, sipping good wines, eating good food. Nothing could have been better. It is what they do all the time Spain, France, Italy.
It was dark when we returned to our barren, uncomfortable lodgings which are littered with paint pots and where the bare floors are covered in newspapers, because we are decorating it for this friend. It felt like a total come-down. But we thought of those sleeping on the hard, unforgiving streets, some whose health is as bad, if not worse, than mine. Then there’s those being unjustly bombed in places such as Syria, where hospitals are used for target practice. Reflecting on amazing stories where humans have turned nightmares into positives, realising that empathy, compassion, love enhance our lives, reflecting on the perfect day we’d had, we kissed one another good night and drifted off to a sleep unperturbed by the peel of church bells.
Wherever you are, whatever your beliefs or non-beliefs, we wish you a happy mid-winter season!