This is just a short message to thank you all for getting your Christmas orders in on time….well more or less – the shop is now closed. I also need to put on record just how appreciative I am for the unwavering support from you my loyal customers throughout this strangest of years.

Just one delivery to go and I can relax for a few days and try to recharge my batteries. Earlier in the year some spent weeks or even months with time on their hands which they had not expected to have, and there were tales aplenty of folk devouring unread books, or TV box sets, or taking up new hobbies, or doing Joe Wicks workouts, or walking running or cycling, or getting fat through boredom; but for me none of those things were possible. Demand for home delivered vegetables was beyond ridiculous, with prospective customers appearing from every nook and cranny, many of which I had to turn away – though in hindsight I didn’t decline enough of them, because as soon as some of the restrictions were lifted in the summer, they disappeared as quickly as they had materialised. Not you my committed, dependable regulars, you I can rely on, and for that I am grateful.

So a very quiet and relaxing Christmas beckons for me, particularly as, by dint of living in Essex (albeit by less than half a mile), we are now in Tier 4, and as a consequence of that we are unable to receive guests, or to be guests in anybody else’s home. It will be a different festive season to normal, but after the screwy year we have had nothing is really a surprise anymore. We will still be observing traditions, so today I have put up the fairy lights in the garden, brought in the Christmas tree, and gathered greenery for bunching and hanging above the inglenook. On Thursday night a glass of sherry and a mince pie will be left for Santa in the old bread oven, just in case he is allowed to visit us Tier 4 pariahs.

While I was collecting the greenery I came across these aconites flowering; I can never remember seeing any in bloom this early – everything has gone nuts. Talking of which, a squirrel has discovered my new bird feeder and has learned how to take it off its hook, after which it devours the peanuts on terra firma. A modification to the hook is required.

Just after dark in this evening’s clear sky it was possible to get a good view of Jupiter and Saturn, who’s conjunction will be tomorrow. There was still a fair distance between them today (Jupiter is the larger bright planet, with Saturn just above it), but tomorrow they should be very nearly aligned. We are lucky to live atop a hill, because they appear low in the sky just above the horizon in the south western sky, and they soon disappear, so ideally you need to find a high spot – or go to the beach. Apparently this is the closest together that they have appeared since 1226! Let’s hope that we have clear conditions tomorrow for a good view of the ‘Christmas Star’.

Just a reminder that local deliveries will be on Wednesday evening this week, and all others will be on Thursday morning, giving me time to knock up some mince pies in the afternoon for Santa. Have the best Christmas you can, and here’s wishing you a vastly improved 2021. Please remember to make your online payment – I’ve got sherry to buy!

Phil

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