Turmoil comes in waves and these times of upheaval are our most creative — this is what I tell the children (it is no comfort to them).
It is Christmas and our five grown-up children (now that’s a strange concept) and their partners all seem to be facing new challenges. Four now have various commitments in the West Country — work, homes, other family and friends, so to make it easier to all be together this year — Mum and Dad (and Pedro) go West.
We entrust our pregnant ewes to a responsible friend — a rare thing! Then we buy Tupperware and fill up the old camper van with plastic containers of Christmas, glance at the long term weather forecast and set off to The Gables — a rented house in Tywardreath, Cornwall.
But first, as Responsible Friend has noticed a hazard in the field in which we feed the aforementioned precious ewes, we have to fill in the seventy meter trench that we dug for the solar panel cable. I use the word trench appropriately as torrential rain renders it a living memorial to life on the Somme in World War One. The week before we leave for the West we slither and shiver, often up to our knees in mud. Alan’s relationship with Digger is tested almost to destruction (not a bad thing, they were getting far too close) as her solenoid trouble makes her very temperamental and unreliable so that she often refuses to work at all and sits facing the prevailing storm with her windshield broken, getting her seat wet — but then we all have wet seats.
Cornwall is dry and comfortable, camellias bloom in gardens and ragged robins in the hedgerows. As shop assistants glower at befuddled shoppers and cars queue to enter and leave the supermarket car parks of the peninsula, sensible folk walk their wet dogs on nearby Par Sands where the China Clay factory breaths steam into the clear chilly air.
Carols are sung at the Pub.
The Sun comes out on Christmas Morning.
The silvery sun makes it imperative to get out and make the most of the short days.
Festive meals are served for various permutations of family and friends.
The wind changes, coming in from the North West, we pack up the left overs and drive home avoiding the Black Mountains, but not the traffic, to arrive home as the cold freezes the first dusting of snow into a crisp sugar coating over everything.