A tiny bit of magic

So 2022 then. Lorraine and I found ourselves in Bromyard with Sue and John on the first day of the year. It was also the hottest New Year's Day on record in the UK, around 15C where we were. 

Up fairly slowly for a smoked salmon breakfast and then a trip out to Berrington Hall near Leominster. Grounds originally designed by Capability Brown, and a lovely house sat in excellent grounds, with trees planted not in copses but individually and slightly distant from one another. The house inside was okay, but there was one room which I found utterly magical. The dining room, which had been dressed for Christmas with tree branches hung with dried circles of oranges. See below. For me it was worth the whole visit, and put me in mind of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.    

A drive back through a couple of picturesque black and white villages, down lanes strangely busy with bicyclists and horse riders. Hereford is gorgeous even in winter.

Home in the afternoon, and after a judicious mince pie, I slipped away for a quick doze, which lasted over two hours. In fact I slept so much (and also having a near perpetual sore throat) I got a bit neurotic I ended up doing a lateral flow test. I was fine. 

Dinner tonight, and two of Sue and John's friends joined us: Jan and Stephen, who were good company. There was a point when I choked on a glass of water, but as a hypochondriac I have never felt safer, being surrounded by 5 former medical professionals all of whom had trained as nurses. 

Sue had cooked goose, which I can't remember eating before. There was lots of food. John and Sue were not drinking, as John forgoes booze from 1st Jan until St Patrick's day in March, and Sue joins him in solidarity. Stephen did not drink, and was a bit of a man of action doing high intensity keep fit, and building walls with diggers and so on. Jan open and chatty, and I warmed to her. Lorraine and Jan and I had some wine which I washed down with a couple of Butty Bach beers. Delicious food and interesting company. 

Whiskey the terrier being driven bananas by ghost cats. One of their daughters had brought home a cat for a few days, which had been kept in John's office, tantalising the dog with cat smells even though it was no longer there. Then Lorraine and I came along with traces of cat scent, and whiskey despite being in our room failed to believe we weren't hiding a cat in there.

Sue and John and Lorraine, the magical Christmas dining hall.