As I sit in front of my computer writing this blog, Marcia is sitting with her laptop writing about the Royal Regatta in Dartmouth. Outside is a typically mid-December drear of the sort only too common on the south west shoulders of Dartmoor. No sun, of course, but no defined clouds either: instead the sky is a uniform dirty looking grey tinged with yellow - rather like the smogs we used to have when most houses were heated with open coal fires in the days before the clean air acts came in to force. No rain, although it lashed down not long ago: just mizzle (a combination of mist and drizzle).
Back at Regatta time we had brilliant sunshine, eternal blue skies and it was hot on hot (as they used to say in the old days). Thus Marcia has had to create a world that is so different from the one surrounding us: a world of happy holidaymakers on the embankment catching crabs or just watching other people catching crabs, people on the beaches playing with their children or plunging in and out of the sea and more energetic souls walking the coastal footpath or pumping pedals on mountain bikes.
Come Easter, and Marcia will be writing about Christmas, about now, in fact. This triggers off a memory that I may have shared with you before (in which case I apologise). Imagine Easter Sunday in the (then) small village of Avonwick. Marcia used to live in the Old Bakery there and had sold it many years ago to Sally and Brian. We had moved back into the village nut, obviously, in a different house. Marcia leaves to go down to the church as Sally is passing on the same errand.
‘Hello Sally,’ says Marcia. ‘Are the girls home for Christmas?’
There is a long pause and then, ‘Marce, it’s Easter.’
‘What? Oh, sorry. How silly of me. I have just been writing about Christmas.’
The real problem is, of course, to remember what it was like in August when writing at the end of December and remembering what it was like in the run up to Christmas when writing at the end of March. The answer, in Marcia’s case, is to take lots and lots of notes: taken in very small notebooks – one of which is always with her in much the same way as I always have a camera with me.
Thus this week we have been down to Dartmouth and Torcross to check them out so that, come Easter, Marcia will know what was what and where and how it felt.
Talking about Christmas, Marcia has written you a short letter to which I would like to add my very best wishes to you all. Some of you have had a rather difficult time recently: may 2014 be a year of peace, health and happiness.
A sudden drop in temperature, a spatter of hail against the window, and - just as suddenly - the sun appears from behind stormy, gold-edged clouds just moments before it sets behind Ugborough Beacon. Its light gleams on the last of the rosy fruit on the crab-apple tree and briefly touches the tips of the tall firs with fire. Sunset at four o'clock: tomorrow will be the shortest day. So much to anticipate: the first snowdrops, daffodills, new-born lambs but -before any of those things - Christmas.
May I wish you all joy and peace, and offer many thanks for all your support and encouragement. It is so wonderful to hear from you all, to have your good wishes, and to know that we all go forward together into the New Year. I hope it will be a happy one.
Many blessings and much love