Monday, 23 December 2013


A gale has been blowing across Thaxted all day today. The rain has been buffeted in strange directions, pummelling the windows and trees. My parents seem to think a power cut at some point is a very strong possibility; as is the chance that we’ll end up being stranded here by floods (as very nearly happened last year.) Despite this, it’s been a rather sociable day. Julie Clare has joined us for Christmas this year and arrived just after mid-day, having opted to make an early start to beat the storms and make a start on the Christmas cooking, which she has very kindly offered to do. I am to be her sous chef, and have done a lot of peeling, chopping and prepping. I am taking my duties very seriously.

We played Vaughan-Williams on the stereo; the Lark Ascending and various folk song suites, lit the open fire and ate soup.

This afternoon, a group of my parents’ friends came over, and we all went out for a meal at the Swan pub, which felt a little empty for the day before Christmas Eve. My parents live on a street called Newbiggen Street, which I think I’m right in saying is the longest continual medieval street in Europe. What’s lovely about it, on an early evening in winter, is that people leave their curtains open, which means as you walk along, you get to peer into scores of other lives. On Christmas Day it’s a particularly heart-warming experience. Some people are sitting down to their dinners, other are sleeping in front of the telly, playing parlour games or opening presents in front of roaring fires. Little snaps shots of Thaxted life, all beautifully lit, and toasty-looking, like a technicoloured Victorian kinetoscope machine.

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