Watching the blackbirds busily clearing the last of the berries from the holly within the grounds of the Hall, I remind myself that although winter often gets rather bad press, it can be just as special as the other seasons. This is so apparent at Christmas, when country living comes into its own.
Nothing beats baskets laden with greenery and fir cones for decorating the hallway and hearth. Here the brave are sent down to the riverbank to scale the great poplar tree in the pursuit of that precious festive must have; mistletoe. Such a treat that it grows wild here and has berries too!
Although many are put off by it, we should really bless the wintry weather we have. In any social situation it provides us with a failsafe conversation opener that can often be strung out until something, or someone else crops up. It's not all bad either, when we have a frost here it dusts the topiary so beautifully, like icing sugar.
The Frozen scrape provides such great winter sport, even a novice skater can get a fair bit of wholesome exercise pushing a supportive old dining chair around on the ice. The snow brings a pallet of colour that would give Farrow & Ball a run for their money and judging by their silence this is a world even the birds peer out at in wonder.
Merry festivities, usually involving seasonal fare, are in abundance at this time of year apparent particularly on Christmas Day itself, when the magnificent home-reared goose is wheeled out from the kitchen to great cheers, (nearly as loud as those that spur on the brandy fueled flames engulfing the Christmas pudding during the following course).
Any over indulgence as a result are then vanquished by donning the welly boots and completing a brisk walk around the estate accompanied by every dog in residence and sometimes a pony or two. Returning in time for the Queen's speech seasonal delights are taken up once more with, the roasting of chestnuts in the depths of the inglenook, and, the rotation of the sloe gin bottle.
Christmas and winter in the country has inspired a lot of the illustrations that adorn my cards, prints and giftware and I think those of you who recognise something in what I have described above may rather like them. If you would like to see more or still need to get a bit of Christmas shopping done do pop on over to the website for something truly unique...