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Linen Eyelashes and Musky Sap











I've just been out for a walk. It was the sort of walk that becomes essential in late afternoon to someone who has been indoors all day caring for an ill child. Isabella was awake much of last night and, after a short period of sickness, spent the hours of darkness very restless and with a raging temperature. That state has continued today. So, feeling as though my joints were full of dust and that my eyelashes were made from linen, I strode out down the lane.

I soon passed an old man who muttered "lousy day". I suspect he was from the Camping and Caravanning Club ground down the hill by the canal and was dismayed at the weather afflicting his annual holidays, so cheered him with a "hmm, miserable".

At first the tow path of the canal seemed to have that sterile look about it that it often has in winter, when any growth is negative growth and the wildlife has started playing the defensive game of short days lacking in sunlight.

Getting into my stride I quickly noticed it was not so. Damp and grey it may have been, yet the musky-sap of elderflower on the breeze quickened my mood and I saw that there were rabbits everywhere, of all sizes: generations of them enjoying the shower-fresh grass.

And as I climbed Rusty Lane, pressed in on by branches heavy with fat, green foliage, I started to get glimpses of the long view westwards where a moist mist filled the broad valley into the distance and the late-coming sunshine lit it the colour of okay, as in Everything's going to be okay; the rain has gone and it's all going back to how it was before, only better and more filled with life.

We've been drinking good and unusual wines as ever, but my liquid find of the moment has nothing whatever to do with grapes. I bought a bottle of organic beetroot juice from James White, that East Anglian company that markets such fine apple juice. I had my doubts, but since I love beetroot, I thought I'd give it a go. Wow, this stuff is good. Fractionally earthy and deliciously rooty, it has a remarkable sweetness to it. There is no doubt in my mind that I will buy this again. Besides, it renders Marys - whether Virgin or the full fat version - very bloody indeed!

As I walked through the village's small estate a group of boys were playing cricket on the grass and I am sure I heard them speaking Polish. Nearing home, I thought about the bottle of Larnaudie-Hirault Blanc de Noirs champagne that I placed in our drinks fridge yesterday and I calculated the time at which I would have to remove it from the fridge for me to have a glass at the perfect temperature as I cook Thai curry, waiting for Victoria to finish reading to the least tired of our children.
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