Well, here it is, 2019…and a Happy New Year to all!
Christmas 2018 was spent in Burnham on Crouch, Essex where we sampled the delights of Creeksea Place Barns (all 6 of them) joined by various members of our large family for the week.
Feeling as though we were living in a time bubble, we collected my mother from her home ten miles away and brought her to join us. Lisa’s mother came too and as Dave’s Mother lives in the village, we were all very close for the first Christmas in years. Our ages spanned from 3 to 93 years.
We did not drive ourselves the 125 miles from Hampshire to Burnham, we hired a large taxi – albeit a rather luxurious one. We had to cram four adults, two dogs, bags of presents and our luggage into one vehicle. Could we do it? We had packed frugally (so we thought) we had set budgets so that no one went mad on present buying. We had used soft squashy bags where possible … we were bringing throws for the car seats and sofas to make them dog proof and a new dog bed. The driver surveyed the room full of luggage and grinned, assuring us it would all fit. The boot filled up, the spare front seat was full. Every bag and baggage was manfully crammed behind seats and beneath them when we ran out of room. Tetris for real! It all fitted, just.
The dogs were very well-behaved and the journey was pleasantly surprising since there was little traffic on the Saturday before Christmas. We could not have been happier with the barns, each of which had been given its own Christmas tree.
Christmas Day dawned cold and frosty – how I remember and used to love Essex winters! Lisa and I took the dogs out for a long walk, well we had to do this more than once a day since there was no enclosed space to let them off lead. We didn’t mind and the excuse to escape into the fresh air was welcomed, plus, the views were stunning.
The evening walks necessitated using a torch since, once away from the brightly lit barns, the blackness settled around us like a blanket. Armed with poo bags and torch, off we would set. (Dave did take Floss out once or twice but seemed to end up in the pub and was gone hours). We were more than happy to don walking boots, coats and hats and march out across the frozen ground.
On one particular night, it seemed darker than ever. The light from the torch pooled in front of us as we trod gingerly over the gravel. The dogs ambled along, sniffing and exploring, in no hurry to perform. There was something a little eerie about the stillness and the impenetrable horizon. We heard a truck rumbling along the lane and turned off the road to let it pass. Our route of habit normally ended by the line of recycling and refuse bins where we could dispose of the poo bags. The bins were only a short distance from the barns. So, on this particular night, having trekked across fields and meandered down the tracks, we emerged from the blackness and shone our torch to the space where the bins would be. Where were they? The large bins had been almost overflowing…had they been emptied and taken away? We were perplexed. Well, Lisa was perplexed. I was not at all sure we were in the right spot but having become so disorientated by now, I decided she must be correct.
We wandered down the road a bit and thought we heard a refuse truck somewhere in the distance. That must be it. They had removed the bins. Thwarted, we made our way back to the barns. The bags would be ok until morning when we hoped the bins would be returned.
Our story of disappearing bins was not well received and it did sound a little improbable to our ears. We’d have to wait until morning to check out the situation.
The next morning, I took both dogs out for their morning pre-breakfast stroll. I had gone not a few yards when I could see the bins, clearly. Still overflowing and certainly not giving the appearance of having been moved so much as an inch, they sat squat and solid on the gravel.
“The bins are there…” I reported on my return. Lisa and I both double checked. Yes, they were definitely still there. We could not imagine where we had been the night before, nor why we were sure we had heard a refuse truck in the vicinity. Clearly, we had imagined it all.
The mind can play some strange tricks in the darkness…
Well, the homeward journey proved to be effortless and we came back with some wonderful memories. We will never know exactly what happened on that, the darkest of nights but it was a very strange experience…