First thing this morning I ventured out and into Farnham for some last minute pre-Christmas shopping. This included stopping in at Starbucks to wish them all a merry Christmas for tomorrow as well as a bag full of groceries.
Last night I was thinking how today was going to be a mild shopping day. I was wrong. My shopping bag was full and heavy. I don’t usually go ‘off-list’ but I did today.
I forgot to mention a while ago but our speciality chocolate shop in Lion and Lamb Yard has closed. I don’t know when it happened but it’s a bit annoying when I always buy Mirinda’s rose and violet cremes for Christmas there.
Fortunately I found some at Borough Market. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next year. This could be a disaster.
Back at home I busied myself with some minor prep for tomorrow (it’s so much easier when there’s just the four of us and two of those are puppies) when Mirinda suggested we go to Winchester. She wanted to visit the Christmas market but, after checking up online, discovered it had closed for the year (British Christmas markets close a lot earlier than the original European ones). We decided to go anyway.
Actually that’s not entirely true.
We all climbed into Max and set off down the A31. Halfway along Mirinda asked whether I’d prefer Winchester or Chawton. I said it was a close run thing but if it was a life or death situation I’d go for Chawton. Mirinda wanted to know what kind of life or death situation would be present in a choice between visiting Chawton or Winchester. I suggested a volcanic eruption.
At this stage we were approaching the exit to Chawton and Mirinda took it and we parked in the village and went for a walk. (The news of a volcanic eruption in Winchester is erroneous.)
There were quite a few people walking from the village to Chawton House so we joined them. It was quite mild and the sun was making everything look blinding. This was mainly because we were heading into the sun and couldn’t see much.
The house (and garden) is now closed until early March so we walked down the drive as far as the church. Just after the lychgate there’s a new statue purporting to be of Jane. It’s a bit odd. Particularly if you take a photo looking up at her rather weird face.
Having studied her in great detail we went and visited her sister and mother. It’s rather nice popping round the back of the church and visiting Cassandra and Mrs Austen’s graves. They are at the beginning of a whole line of Knight gravestones marking the mortality of the family down through the ages.
Then the bell ringers started. And the churchyard rang out with a whole medley of clanging and clunking. It was delightful but very loud. Conversation was impossible though that never stops Mirinda who is convinced that my hearing is beyond normal. Essentially she carried on a conversation with herself because no-one else could hear her.
We slowly made our way back to the village and settled ourselves in the Greyfriars (another favourite pub) and enjoyed a beer/wine.
At one point Emma made a bit of a fuss by wrapping her lead around the legs of a big table. Like all dogs, she doesn’t understand that in order to unwind oneself from the legs of a table one has to reverse direction. Instead, again like all dogs, she continued moving forwards.
As she reached the maximum amount of coiling, a barmaid happened by and decided to help her get free. This could have meant crawling around underneath the table but instead she managed by bending over and reaching under blindly. This caused Emma to move further into a tangle.
Eventually all was well and Emma took up her place on Mirinda’s lap and the barmaid went back to her proper job with a laugh and a skip in her step obviously brought on from a life spent with dogs.
It was a lovely Christmas Eve wander and sit and something that might become a tradition. For us anyway.