Our Early Christmas Message
An Early Christmas Celebration
Yesterday the 1st of December was the first day of the festive season when the word ‘Christmas’ can be mentioned comfortably in our household, so Rob and I decided to celebrate with a drive out into the countryside behind Broadstone in Dorset for a walk followed by lunch at an as yet unvisited pub.
Parked up at the side of the road on Holt Heath we peered through the sun cracked surface of the public notice board which showed the pathway map of the area and decided an irregular circuit along well-worn tracks would bring us back to the car with a sufficient appetite for a light meal at The Cross Keys that came up on our Google Map.
Two friendly dogs came bounding up for a fuss, “They missed the lesson on stranger danger!” The jovial owner said, so I replied,
“Or they can tell a friend a mile off!”
We were glad of our woolly hats and gloves as we strode forth and soaked up the beautiful surroundings. We were high up and could see for miles, maybe a hundred square miles towards the coast in one direction and Salisbury area in the other. Cut a chunk of the air and pop it in a glass with some gin and tonic and a slice of lime, cheers.
Tiny silver birds full with people slid across the blue above and a pretty horse with a golden tail and bespectacled rider cantered by, “She must be cold,” Rob commented, “The wind chill on her face and hands.”
We kept the sound of passing cars behind us and followed the track as it wound nicely round a full 360 degrees. Not that we were likely to get lost as vision over the heath was perfect and the tracks were so wide they were probably once drovers and smugglers routes.
Just a few miles away I used to walk my cocker spaniel Meggy along a track from Poole Harbour that joins the main London Road, now the busy A31 as it crosses the New Forest. Alongside this track is a gulley just wide enough for a man and his mule and deep enough to evade the Excise Men. Illegal versions of the Bible and French Brandy supplies made their way to the capital along this route.
What must it be like to live in the solitary home we passed on the middle of the heath? Would it suit the likes of us I wondered. Rob cast a rounded pebble onto a frozen pond and it landed with a nice resonating shclick, then we crunched the ice on puddles as we return to the car.
The Pretty little red brick pub has witnessed over 400 Christmas Festivals and Viv has arranged the decorations for 34 of them. There was an old gentleman sitting in what looked like his regular spot at the bar. “I pass by each day to get my papers and I find it impossible to walk straight by on the way home.”
He approved of my supping from a pint glass of Ringwoods Brewery Razor Back and after a few more verbal exchanges we learned his grandfather married a New Zealand lass and they both died in Auckland. We found common water in sailing as he used to race a one ton 36 footer on the 215 mile Channel triangle and is presently having a fifty foot cat built in Southampton.
In this quintessentially Old English Pub the ethos is still to provide a place where a traveller can stop for a good drink and a plate of home prepared and cooked food, a place to relax and chat with other folk. There are no reservation cards, no evidence of modernisation sweeping through the door in short time and filling dumpsters with the history of the place permanently removed.
Welcome warmth came from the wood burner with its beaten copper hood standing in the ancient fireplace and an abundance of multi-coloured decorations filled every ancient nook, cranny, wall space and shelf. Our lunch looked as if Viv had bent over its preparation all morning. Rob went quiet while eating his steak and kidney pie so it must have been good, especially the lashings of tasty gravy. The melting cheese on my nutty baked potato was sliding suggestively down the side when I forked it and scooped up some of the crunchy coleslaw to make a tasty mouthful.
Viv kindly took a photo of us with the idea we would add it and some others to this message to send it to you and wish you a Very Happy Christmas time and if you don’t do Christmas, then we hope you enjoy the rest of 2017!