River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Notes from a newcomer

January 2006

Marion delights in the joys of January after her hectic December.

The Edwardian actress Mrs Patrick Campbell praised the deep, deep peace of the double bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise longue and that pretty well sums up how I feel about the welcome calm of January after the madness of December.

I love it when Christmas is over and normality returns to our homes and high streets. It's a relief to be able to go out and buy something - anything - without being serenaded by Cliff Richard droning on about mistletoe and wine.

After the frantic rush of card-sending, present wrapping, eating and drinking more than is good for us, sanity returns and life suddenly feels pleasantly relaxed. So nice to know that you don't have to chomp your way through another sticky mince pie or sip lukewarm mulled wine for another 11 months.

With the tree put outside and gaudy decorations packed away, the house takes on a Shaker-like simplicity. And a severely diminished bank balance combined with winter weather provides the perfect excuse for idling away indoors. Only the absolute necessity of walking the dog or going to work lures anyone outside.

My cat has the right idea; he asks to be let out of the front door, heads purposefully for the part of the garden he has designated his toilet (I was not consulted on the location), then immediately back in through the cat flap,

pausing only to glare at a bold robin perched on a flower tub. The robin seems to know he has nothing to fear from the portly, 17-year-old moggy and cheekily returns his stare, with knobs on.

My only venture into the garden is to perform the pleasant task of searching for the first sight of snowdrops pushing their way through the frozen grass, promising the return of spring.

But we have a way to go before that happy season and this is the perfect time of year to catch up with restful chores like putting all your photos in an album or trawling through travel brochures for that elusive holiday of a lifetime.

With luck, I will have received a few book tokens for Christmas and can settle down in front of the fire with a recent best seller. High on my list this year is The Lighthouse, the latest P D James featuring Inspector Dalgleish, and I'm tempted by enthusiastic reviews of a book called Vince and Joy, which is partly set in Norfolk. It comes under the heading of chick-lit, apparently, but

even though I'm no chick, I love a real page-turner.

A good read vaults over all age barriers - which is why so many youngsters find the Harry Potter book they were given for Christmas has already been spirited away by granny while their back was turned.

Marion Clarke

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