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Quiet times



Ben

Mavis and I don’t entirely know what to do with ourselves.

Yesterday afternoon we drove Charlie to the airport and said a sad goodbye as he headed off to New Zealand for a week or so, just before Christmas, checking in with family and friends, and with the mother country. Mavis and I carried on down to Dorset where she spent the next few hours looking around the house everywhere for Charlie. Yesterday evening I found her curled up hidden under one of the old cast iron beds upstairs.  The thing is, wherever Charlie goes, by and large, Mavis goes. I might be stuck up in London with this and that going on while Charlie is down here, hard at work on the flowers or veg patch, but Mavis is always with him. So it’s definitely quite a shock to her system, and anyone who says that dogs don’t understand things in quite a lot of detail probably needs to think again.

This morning, bright and early, we went for a nice long round walk up top, the sun just rising, the wind bitterly cold. We got back down to the house as the sun was beginning to warm things up.p1070532 p1070533 p1070535

A frost in the veg garden, and all of Charlie’s incredible hard work in the last month making everything look more organised than it has ever been.p1070537 p1070543

One person isn’t really allowed in.
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Henry makes a rare blog appearance. The cats are missing Charlie too, I would say, but not in quite the same way as Mavis or me. So long as they have their cozy bed in the boiler room or on a bed or in front of the fire, and as long as there are large quantities of food in their bowls, they are pretty happy.
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But what is interesting (and un-photograph-able, generally) is how much Percy in particular is being very sympathetic to Mavis, giving her little licks all morning.  Here is Percy in more normal mode, about to pounce on a leaf.p1070553

My brother and sister-in-law came down from Bath today and we went for a beautiful walk over in Abbotsbury. I know everyone flocks to Dorset in high summer but if I’m really honest it’s all the more beautiful on these chilly, clear, sunny days in winter, with low sun and slanting shadows and skies as clear for as far as the eye can see. It was a magical day.p1070555 p1070556 p1070558 p1070559 p1070561

We had a lovely walk to the tiny chapel on the hillside above Abbotsbury (that I have blogged about before) bringing Tim & Lisa’s new puppy Monty, who is very good friends with Mavis (photos on instagram). Lunch in the pub afterwards.

When we got home, and they’d left, the house felt very quiet again. The sunshine was streaming in.  Geraniums are over-wintering in the Dining Room bay window.p1070562

Another glimpse of the kitchen sofa….p1070563 p1070564

The garden is looking amazingly beautiful at this time of year, not least because over the last couple of weeks Charlie has applied a huge layer of well-rotted manure as a mulch over all the beds. p1070567 p1070569

Charlie decided, as we normally do, to leave the dahlias in this year – protected, we hope, under a thick mulch. Fingers crossed!p1070591But at least this side of the house is warm and sheltered…. soaking up every last ray of afternoon sunshine. p1070596p1070572

The new yew hedges around the flower garden are settling in well and provide an amazing frame:p1070573 Here and there, tiny and unexpected touches of new life – an early, early primrose, flowering at completely the wrong time of year…
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… and bulbs are shooting under the beech tree.  Signs of optimism.
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While elsewhere a late rose is still flowering…p1070586Still looking:p1070585Charlie’s enormous pumpkin is holding on.  Moments later, the sun had gone down behind the hill on the opposite side of the valley.  It soon got cold and we were inside for tea.p1070601

Tonight, we’re still missing Charlie, but I’ve just spoken to him all the way down in Auckland, about to make the final short leg down to Christchurch, which feels a world away but just a fraction of time and space away as well. p1070606And Mavis and I are sitting by a hot, glowing fire, and the cats are in the kitchen, and I suppose I’m thinking to myself – just how much life has changed in a couple of years, and just how unbelievably lucky I am to be able to miss someone this much.

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