I have just been out for a walk, along to the fields and then back down to do a circuit of the village; one side with a vista all the way across to the sea and, the other, stretching down to the fields and woods beyond.  The land is drenched, with puddles and mud everywhere courtesy of the torrential rain, now so familiar.  The air is not crisp but damp as though a fitting, sludgy end to an annus most horribilis.

The wild geese have gone.  That always makes me sad.  Another year well and truly over.  Good riddance to bad rubbish, most definitely.  2020 has dealt the cruellest of blows. leaving devastation in its wake.  We have clung to Christmas; that light in the distance signifying solace and hope – for most.  There are many for whom Christmas merely heightens the loneliness and the loss; an unbearable time of year.  Digging deep to find an ounce of positivity requires great strength but the alternative is not an option.  We fight on!

Jack Savoretti.  That guy deserving of enormous gratitude from the entire male population for being unique, thus affording the rest some hope?  Well, I listened to him a lot during lockdown when he posted on Instagram, daily, himself at the piano singing renditions of his favourite songs.  An ecclectic, thoughtful mix, as one would expect, he would chat about the background to each and the reasons for his choices.  Part of my morning routine, I was always curious to hear his next cover – and he kept it up through the long months when the meaning of Groundhog Day grew legs!  I sympathised with him for taking on the, sometimes, arduous task for I, myself, had decided to post everyday!  Who knew it would be months but, in truth, I found it therapeutic offering routine and a platform to vent.  My point?  Jack Savoretti is very much a force for good and the voice of positivity.  Unafraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, revealing his sensitive side, his beautiful songs are no surprise.

The other thing about following him on Instagram – besides the mood boost – is the glimpse into his home and its decor.  I have said before – probably more than once – that enforced Zoom chats have been such an insight.  The endless, predictable, grey; the leather couch, the huge television on the wall of a room which is, otherwise, bereft of paintings, photographs or just anything …  Honestly, most of them could go to bed and wake up in another house and be none the wiser!   Then, there was Nigel Havers’ abode: wood panelling, book cases, paintings, rugs, antique furniture.  Positively reminiscent of Downton and a feast for the eye!  Yes, money is no issue for good, old Nig but, that aside, his home reflects him, as all homes should – the inhabitant, that is.    Sadly, one must accept that these incessant bland rooms with which we have become too familiar over the last nine months do reflect their owners.  Scarily, it also reflects the sheep syndrome: the   subduing of individuality and the ability to think for oneself.

Jack Savoretti’s house could be mine.  Correction.  Jack Savoretti’s house should be mine!  Everything about it.  Not huge, it has lovely old, paned windows and a cottagey feel.  The cream walls and neutral tones are a mere backdrop to the ecclectic furniture so obviously sourced with love.  His wife is an artist and the walls are not only a blank canvas for her work but, also, those of their young children.  Photographs, a piano, a real fire and a huge antique mirror above the mantle, there is no suggestion of a giant screen on the wall …  Everywhere is stamped with personality and colour.  It is a real family home.  It is perfect.  I owe the Savorettis a debt of gratitude.  I was beginning to think I was a dying breed!  Comment unnecessary …

On to my reindeer and sleigh!  I have a phrase which features prominently in my life – definitely attributed to my mother: a must-have.  Self-explanatory, it is dependent very much on instinct – to which, I have learned through experience, it is wise to listen.  I don’t think I have ever regretted the purchase of a must-have and, believe me, there have been must-haves which I, definitely, could not afford and which have involved sacrifice.  It’s a gut reaction, though.  I know, instantly!  Yes, there has been many a time when I have forced my head to rule my heart and I have walked away or put it to the back of my mind but it never works.  I always return or find a way …  Thus, I am now the proud owner of a future family heirloom!  An ornamental gold sleigh – to fill with baubles, holly and berries – pulled by two statuesque reindeer with majestic antlers.  It is magical; the catalyst which transports one back to one’s childhood, to Santa Claus, Rudolph, sleigh bells and Christmas Eve … my must-have!

Receiving emails from Nordic Style – London based, we used to frequent the Wimbledon shop – there are amazing reductions throughout the year as they clear old stock.  This wasn’t one of them!  Photographed in a Christmas email, I was, immediately, smitten – but resisted.  The seed had been sown, however, and I did, eventually, phone the shop to enquire.  Still there, it was pricey and beyond the realms of justification.  Or was it?

Time passed and it niggled and niggled until, one night in my dreams, it came to me.  This was a bona fide must-have!  Life is too short, this year has been the absolute pits, we can’t go to Austria, think of the money we’ve saved.  Of course!  What took me so long?  Becca insisted on contributing to her future family heirloom so I picked up the phone and staked my claim.  £200 for delivery north of Edinburgh?  No!  Thankfully, Edward came back to me with the news that they could do it for the standard rate of £19.95.  There is a God!

Of course, that wasn’t so but the deal had been done and thus, yesterday afternoon, I opened the door to a box the size of a coffin, so much so that I even asked the DHL delivery guy if it contained a body!  It took some time to locate my coveted reindeer and sleigh, buried within two boxes and wads and wads of bubble wrap but … I found it and it is so very definitely a must-have!   I absolutely love it!  Unique, dramatic and oozing character, it sits on the table beneath my treasured painting of Salzburg.  The sleigh, already, contains some pine cones and beautiful green baubles but awaits the worthy finishing touches.  Truly magical, I am so thankful that I, once more, listened to my instincts.  I know, too, that, in years to come, it will be passed down from generation to generation in memory of the delightfully eccentric granny – great granny or great, great granny – who, thankfully, believed in must-haves!

A Zoom chat?  Of course, let me show you my background …

My tastes are simple: I am easily satisfied with the best.’

Winston Churchill

This is Trish, signing off.