IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER: I love this time of the year, don't you? The bleakness and gloom of the countryside has its very own beauty. Barren, twiggy trees, stripped of leaves reach out to us on either side of the road as we drive by, as if to remind us that this is their period of rest, a deciduous tree's equivalent of taking time out to read the paper and put their feet up on the coffee table .Everywhere is cold and damp, and the dreg ends of fallen, brown leaves lay under trees like a wet army blanket. Deserted fields attract a crop of crows, and hedgerows drip with dew or rain, or the first few spots of snow. Only a few red berries remain to brighten them up a bit, but the birds already have their eye on them. My goodness though, the landscape is breath taking. Grey skies allow a little sunlight to filter through now and again, but let's not get our hopes up, it won't last. The weather is supposed to be like this. There is a muted silence in the air, full of expectation, and that muted silence is very special because it gives us cart blanche to be as cosy as we like once inside our own front doors. Lights come on, fires are lit, we turn on the stove, put a low light under a stew or place a few crumpets in our four- slice toasters. The kettle boils away merrily and we make time for a mince pie or a rock cake before dinner. We get ourselves a throw, find our slippers, and maybe switch on '˜Strictly', or '˜Bargain Hunt'. If we hadn't been out walking or riding through the lanes in the countryside we wouldn't be half as appreciative of what lurks inside our own front doors, that familiar sense of being warm and being at home!

Friday, 21st December 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:11 am

LAZY OLD [CHEAP AND CHEERFUL] CHRISTMAS CHUTNEY: This week, while waiting for the kettle to boil, I suddenly decided to make Christmas chutney. However, the fruit bowl was bereft of apples, so I raided the store cupboard for bits and bobs. I chopped three large onions chunky pieces, not too small] and fried until just soft, added 3/4 of a jar of cheap orange marmalade, half a handful of garlic granules, a table spoon of mustard seeds a very generous glug of tomato ketchup, a very generous glug of chilli sauce, a tablespoon of dark soy sauce, and the juice of a clementine, brought the pan to the boil and stirred to reduce a little, and for a little more gay abandon, roasted off some brazil nuts which were lurking and abandoned, and threw them in once the chutney cooled. It was spicy and punchy, with a hint of Christmas orange [by some fluke], and nice to come across the odd brazil nut, pleased to be of service. We don’t always have to follow recipe books, after all, it’s our kitchen, our stove and our Christmas apron, we can cook up whatever we please!

A SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION: There will be a service of Holy Communion this Sunday in Iden Parish church at 9.30am.

THE MIDNIGHT CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE: The Midnight Service is at Playden Church.

CHRISTMAS MORNING SERVICE: This is at Iden Parish Church, at 9.30am.

SOMETHING FOR THE DIARY: Looking forward to spring weather after Christmas is our next consideration, and there is a lecture in Iden Village Hall, at 7.30pm, on Friday, 11th January by the Iden and District Natural History Society, aptly called ‘Spring’s Arrival. The lecture given by Melvin Smith will suitably greet the new year. All are welcome, visitors pay £3, Members pay £14 for the year.

BAD NOAH: This morning , our cat Noah, who is as thin as a pin, came home dragging a full-sized rabbit. The cat could hardly walk. Animals are very cruel, aren’t they? I gave her the cold shoulder. I wouldn’t speak to her, and I certainly wasn’t going to feed her, the rabbit was bigger than she was. This is not the first time she’s been bunny-hunting. I could never go on a safari. Animal habits are so cannibalistic. It will be a while before she worms her way back into my affections. I had bought her a Christmas present, a large tin of ‘Dreamies’, and some ping pong balls, but I’m having second thoughts, after all, if she was human, she’d be dragged away in handcuffs. Yes, she is a girl, and she is called Noah [it’s a long story] Maybe her gender confusion has made her violent. I know we mustn’t interfere with nature, but even still, she is on the naughty step. “I don’t know who on earth you think you are”, I said to her as I relented and put down some milk. At this precise moment I don’t like her at all!

A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL: Christmas can be a sad reflective time for some. One day I may not love it the way I do today. If I could, I’d open my anorak and give a wrap up and a hug to all those for whom Christmas is not what it might be. Any way lots of love to you all. Be kind to yourselves and stay safe [no drinking whiskey at the top of the stairs] and mind the wishbone, [it’s for wishing on, not choking on!] God Bless.

CONTACT ME: If anyone has anything to add to the Village Voice, please ring Gill Griffin [telephone 01797 280311]