Letter 11

There was such a hard frost last night that the ducks could almost have gone skating this morning. I am really glad that tomorrow, the 21st, will be the shortest day, or is it today I’m not quite sure; anyway, the upshot being that from now on it’s a downhill slope to spring and longer days. I’ve been running along the beach with the dogs, but for the last week both low tides each day have been in darkness so I haven’t gone – I am looking forward to running the beach in the summer mornings when no-one’s there as I haven’t done that before. I always thought that the dogs would just run off into the distance and end up in Scotland or somewhere, as they are not as well-trained as Freya was and can’t always be relied on to come back, but, they have been remarkably good and I shouldn’t have worried. In fact, the beauty and exhilaration I get from watching them fly on the sand is what makes it so special to be there. It is sometimes difficult to believe how fast they run; especially Lily. Kitty’s more of a clown and one day worried me terribly by suddenly dashing into the waves and, having never been swimming before, taking off for the shores of America. There are rip tides in the area and I was screaming her name into the teeth of the wind which just whipped the sound away and she didn’t seem able to turn, I was panicking and weighing my chances of success if I tried to swim after her – it was some terrible while before she worked out how to turn and started to struggle to get back to land whilst being tugged sideways. As you can imagine that was so frightening and it’s why I only go at low tide now so that the beach is huge with acres of sand and she’s less likely to go off being silly.

I love Christmas – I’ve got a huge tree and it’s decorated with white lights and white ribbons and it looks gorgeous – like a happy Miss Haversham tree… I’m going out playing sessions in different pubs this Wednesday, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. I have such a great time improvising on tunes that I haven’t heard before – I have a feeling that it’s good for the brain! It’s a really good way of training your ear to learn the shape of a tune really quick – although I make lots of mistakes – it reminds me of doing a puzzle or a crossword, to try to get the measure of where it’s going before it’s gone there! If you see what I mean. The pubs around West Devon and North Cornwall are just made for Christmas, they have a real Dickensian feeling to them, with massive worn slates on the floor and low ceilings with beams and monumental fireplaces in tiny rooms. The landlord of the pub I’m going to on New Year’s Eve is a great bagpipe player – so we’ll enter the new year in flying style with ears ringing. I hope you have a great time too, and that the new year brings you happiness and love.

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