Its fair to say I'm not a huge fan of this particular season. The cold is not a friend to my aching bones and all the Christmas hype and commercialism really gets up my nose. The temptation to dig a big hole in the garden and hide there from December 1st through to January, emerging only for the Solstice, is incredibly strong. And before you cry 'Bah Humbug', I bet you'd join me if you had the chance. Go on, admit it, if you could avoid the endless and shameless consumerism, the family rows, the financial headache and the obscene over-indulgence, you would, wouldn't you?
I do however, have a confession to make. I don't hate it all half as much as I make out. But I have a reputation to keep up. Having long ago donned my scrooge cap, it is expected of me. My wife and daughter dubbed me Granddad Grinch a few years ago, and taught my second grandson to say that long before he understood what it meant. It provided much amusement for them and I was happy to play the part. But still, I think there is a tiny part of all of us that yearns for roaring open fires, roasted chestnuts, and quiet snowfall blanketing the frozen earth (as long as I don't have to go out in it). But shhhh, that's a secret. You can keep a secret, can't you?
We've just come back from a week away visiting family and doing the 'santa run'. With nine children and seven grandchildren between us (number 7 was born during our visit much to my wife's delight) santa was particularly busy this year! I got to meet my youngest granddaughter for the first time and lost my heart. She's beautiful and a real charmer at just seven weeks old. It was great to see everyone, catch up and chew the fat even though the Grinch in me is glad to be home.
While half the planet is getting excited about the imminent arrival of Santa Claus, I've already had everything I could possibly want, a beautiful new Granddaughter, a wonderful wife, and a plentiful supply of wood. Everyone from my in-laws to my ex-wife have been collecting wood for me and my little work room is bursting at the seams. I have tall pieces, short pieces, twisty, curly pieces, strange pieces, amazing pieces and my imagination is working overtime. I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who now spends their time outdoors searching the floor for anything I can use. I can't wait to get going.
The first few days of our visit were spent dashing about trying to get to see everyone, making sure all the presents were delivered, but once 'Santa's' work was done there was time to relax before the long drive home.
I absolutely love this wood my in-laws took us to visit. It is a heavily managed woodland, copiced and cared for by teams of volunteers, yet still maintains a wonderfully tranquil feel.
Full of surprises, we came across a recently cleared section of woodland and discovered this wonderful chair. Needless to say, my wife now wants a couple of them for the garden. I've got a lot of work to be going on with, but I am looking forward to trying something different.
As the sun began to set we came across a wilder section of the wood with a magical feel, every inch alive with creatures of this world and other world, just beyond our sight.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Solstice, full of light and love and laughter.