‘Work paused for holidays,’ said a roadside notice. What
work? Who? It seemed as if everyone was away for one reason or other as we
crept on seemingly without any support. We were spending Christmas in our
little family home. Suddenly we joined lots of cars pulling caravans and then motor
homes joined us. Other people seemed to have the same idea. They were off to
the seaside. The camps were full of people like us maybe looking for a few days
of a simple life away from all the strikes and mayhem and cost of living.
All the time though, I was thinking of saving on the energy
costs. Should you have Christmas lights? Should you have the heating full on? Should
we even be using petrol to drive so far? Were we safe with the country paused
Somehow, we were safe and even ventured another meal out.
The last time we ate at a restaurant in Suffolk there was a warning that the
meal could take a while because they cooked from fresh. This time we had ‘bangers’
and mash with peas from the freezer but there was also a notice telling us to
be patient as it would take longer to prepare. There was a shortage of staff here.
I do not know whether they were ill, or no one wanted the job, all I know is
that the staff who were working were rushed off their feet. We sat outside
overlooking the North Sea and for all its simplicity the meal was good.
And another good thing happened at the RSPB reserve. There
were tree sparrows in abundance and I sat there and watched as the birds eyed
me and looked longingly at their food. We once had these little tree sparrows
here in our Shropshire garden but sadly they have disappeared over the last few
years and I had forgotten about their little chestnut brown caps and their
shyness as they hid in hedgerows waiting to dart out for corn. They are so rare
now that they are on the RSPB red list and I felt very lucky to see them.
Back home our cards arrived, the celebrations were over and a new (better?) year was beginning.
(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)