So myself and I had a vote and came to the conclusion that Christmas in the country is nicer than its urban equivalent. Not that London Christmases aren’t great and all (I missed outdoor ice-skating, the South Bank’s German market and the all-out, end-of-days boozing, but managed to fit in a Christmas show – Matilda, which is ace, and no you don’t need a kid to drag along.)
But Christmas in the countryside was something else altogether – dog-walking across fields crunchy with frost, attending the crib service at the village church (faith not required), cosying up by the log fire…
Actually, no: let me shatter that myth. Log fires are the worst form of heating I’ve ever come across. The only way you’ll get warm from a log fire is by roasting on it, like a pig. The rest of the time you’re standing in front of it, arms outstretched, alternately blowing on your palms and wondering why the hell it’s gone out again.
Over New Year we went to Hampshire (leaving the countryside to go to the countryside feels like a massive exercise in pointlessness, but there you go. Some people swear each English county has its own identity; I say visit one and you’ve got the idea.) But in Hampshire we came across the Holy Grail. A country house that was actually warm. All the time. Even at night.
The secret was the Aga, a country cliché up there with black Labs, SUVs and Emma Bridgewater crockery. They might cost upwards of five grand and use as much energy in a week as a standard oven does in nine months, but as the temperature plummets and wind howls, all I can say is that clichés are clichés for a reason.
But back to Christmas (this post really is all over the place. What can I say? I’m tired.) Check out how one of my presents came wrapped. Look! Special folds! I was wildly impressed.