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Summer gave way to Autumn and still on warm days we would lunch and linger by our beloved river but now there were blackberries to pick for pie fillings and bramble jelly and small wild plums called bullaces to harvest from the hedgerows to make a delicious jam. Our plans had for the most part fallen apart but plans for our first truly retired Christmas could not be allowed to. So plans were made and this time cakes were made and other Christmas fayre, which had always been either made in a hurry or bought ready made, were made in the traditional way.

We have not eaten much at all during the year that we have not made ourselves from raw ingredients and have been all the better for it. We have learned to cook new dishes most of which were highly palatable, some were really delicious, some merely edible but even in this we learnt from our mistakes. What else have we learnt? Well that a high degree of planning is unnecessary and stands little or no chance of being carried out when they get in the way of pure, simple enjoyment, if you ask someone the time and they say it?s Tuesday that is usually close enough. Having lead highly structured lives it takes a little time to not feel guilty about doing nothing and being away from the tyranny of the clock. We have learnt that when you live in an idyllic place the need for holidays becomes less and can sometimes be far less than the desirable break that you had planned for. Of course there have been days out and theatre trips and the like but mostly it has been us, the river and grand-daughters or friends but mainly just ourselves.

Next Year

So what have we planned for next year?
Well we were unsuccessful in grassing our hideaway earlier in the year but in the Autumn we visited Martin at the Garden Centre and explained our problem and he sold us some grass seed he said would grow in a railway tunnel and I must say the signs are very promising. It had been treated with a bird repellent which seemed to work but the Moorhens didn?t seem to believe it.
We need to build or buy a sturdier and slightly larger table, room for lunch, a bottle of wine and glasses and, oh yes, a couple of books which will, no doubt, lie ignored on the table. We have located a branch to which we must attach a fixing for a lantern so that we can extend the day further into the evening.

We have tentatively found a couple of places we would like to visit and we shall go back to Brownsea Island but we have learnt the folly of planning because we have realised that going away on holiday can get in the way of enjoyment.
When I retired I had some twenty or so unread books to look forward to but I left a list of books several hundred titles long with my favourite book stallholder, Ken, at the weekly market in North Walsham where I used to work. Every six weeks or so we pop over with an updated list to pick up the usually ten or so books he has acquired for me. He only charges fifty pence to a pound for second-hand books and one pound fifty to two pounds fifty for new ones, the dearer, or should I say less cheap, being hard backs. I have just looked on the unread books shelf and seen that, in spite of all the books I have read in the past year, I have some forty five books there waiting to be enjoyed.

If next year is as enjoyable as this has been we shall be well contented.

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