My ‘hoarding and squirreling’ of nuts and fruits for cakes and puddings didn’t pan out as planned.

I was late setting off from home as several farm matters needed seeing to. Then road works slowed down any reasonably speedy progress into Exeter. Shop matters absorbed another couple of hours and when I eventually managed to start on my less and less well-planned shopping foray it was only to find that I was struck with ubaniphobia which had me wandering around in a semi-mazed state, wide-eyed, gormless and perfectly useless at making a single decision or purchase. To cap it all, the one shop where I knew exactly what I wanted (nuts and fruit) was completely out of stock and waiting for delivery…
“Sorry, dun’ know. Naww, na idea at all. Could be ten minutes, like, or later. Yeah, today. Well ‘fink so. Yeah, ooh,  five-thirty, six-thirty? Late night shopping y’ know.”
(hang around for the next ten hours? I was urbaniphobic remember) and then…
“Na, dun’ know what’s on the delivery, might just be rice cakes and sesame oil.”
Well, there must be some telly chef with a fancy, linger-ficking idea for Christmas as these items certainly aren’t on my top ten of ‘what-I-need-before-I-can-do-anything’ list. I panic…maybe I should change the list and get rice cakes and sesame oil?

But, pleased to report, all is now on track. Managed to source and buy said nuts and fruit. And pour, stir, mix and pound the ingredients for the first stage of my cake; prepare the Christmas pudding for the international stirring event. Wind howling around the house, rain lashing at the windows and the dark darkening. Inside was golden-yellow warm and lusciously smelling of spicy festive fare. I even managed to sing, at the top of my voice, and hugely out of tune, to the rousing chorus of the Praetorious Mass!

A friend came round after lunch ostensibly just to collect something. We ended up sitting cosily round the kitchen table sipping hot tea, discussing a thousand things with another thousand or so queuing up for an airing when suddenly it was cow feeding time…Down to the sheds, the cattle contentedly happy with added attention, admiration and administration.

When she left I took the dogs for a walk in the gathering twilight. Clothed head to toe in waterproofs we set off across the fields. Rain deluged horizontally, pouring down my face in blinding cascades. The dogs barking, running, paws splashing huge gouts of water, skidding wet mud helter-skelter over the fields. When the wet excitement died down we spied a group of deer grazing alongside the stream. Their eyesight is poor at the best of times, but in rain and dimpsy darkness it was even more difficult for them. They were aware that something was around. I watched as they started, stopped looked around, jumped, ran, stopped, unsure. Then, as one by one they made their way into the forest, I became aware that they were communicating with one another by sounds that weren’t dissimilar to those of dolphins. Short back throat notes, sharp, then slightly lingering, hoarse, haunting, nearly indiscernible – one by one, calling, they moved softly into the dark, wet safety of the forest and were gone.

Turning, I tried to imitate the sounds, the dogs looking at me quizzically. Laughing I turned back into the rain and shouted to the world ‘It’s just like summer!’