Wednesday 30 December

In amongst the gloomy news all around us at present, there are sometimes memories which are very amusing. Listening to Classic FM today I heard a dramatic soprano aria from one of Puccini’s operas and I remembered my father’s antic when he heard such a thing. He would pull out two points on his pullover and mime to the music with a heaving bosom, rolling his eyes skywards in pure melodrama. I would giggle helplessly, and my mother would think it was a bit “near the mark”, and tut “Oh Jim!” He was in reality quite fond of opera, having been stationed in Naples towards the end of the war, where the troops were given free tickets to the opera house.

Today we took advantage of National Trust gardens still being open and went to Standen. In the courtyard they have three wonderful hand-made Christmas trees.

These were crocheted, stitched, knitted and embroidered through lockdown. There are 1000 so-called granny squares, and about 500 ornamentations. There are some little fairy lights, and some of the decorations have labels with dedications.

The trees are made of recycled wood. The house itself is currently closed which is disappointing because they always dress the house for Christmas in a particular style, so one year it was a 1930’s Christmas. There is a tree in very room, and paper chains, everything in keeping. But it will all be dismantled on Sunday, so no-one will see it this year.

In the garden there were already signs of spring, such a hopeful sign.

Some camellias already in bloom too, though they were a little burnt, it really is too early, but until today it has been remarkably mild, and a blackbird was feasting on the remaining crab apples.

These little mice were left over from a previous year when there was a Nutcracker musical walk through the illuminated gardens, so they were brought out for another airing.

People were picnicking and chatting: it really was extremely jolly.

I have just caught up with Netflix. I am technologically fairly challenged, and by and large uninterested, but I had started watching The Queen’s Gambit at a friend’s house, and was very keen to see the rest of it. I have now seen four of the seven episodes, and am enjoying it very much indeed. I can see there is going to be a whole new world of movies opening up before me now. Perhaps this will enliven the predicted national lockdown in January.

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