Wishing You a Cool Yule!

Nicola in Winter Nicola here, wishing you a very happy solstice, summer or winter, depending upon which hemisphere you are in. This morning I was up at dawn taking Monty, our dog, for a walk along "the old straight track," The Ridgeway, an ancient path carved through the chalk downland. There was a sprinkling of snow on the ground and a very hard frost. Two hares were playing in the field and a fox was hunting them.

Along the track there is a Neolithic burial site called Wayland's Smithy. The site Wayland's Smithy takes its name from Wayland, the Saxon God of metalworking, whom legend says still inhabits the mound and will shoe a horse for you if you leave it there with a penny for payment. I love old myths and legends and I have my own spooky tale of Wayland, for on one occasion when I was walking with Monty through the woods beside the track, I heard a horse's hooves keeping pace with me along the Ridgeway. Monty heard it too – when we stopped, it stopped, but when we went to look for it there was no one there!

As at Stonehenge and Avebury, Wayland's Smithy is aligned so that the sun rises between the sarsen stones on the summer and winter solstice. Standing there as the winter sunrise struck the stones I felt a shiver down my spine that was not entirely due to the sub-zero temperatures. At such times in such places it is easy to imagine the presence of people who stood on the same spot over thousands of years. The atmosphere is very strong.

Yule log Today, 21st December, the Winter Solstice in the UK, is the longest night and the shortest day. In pagan times it was celebrated with bonfires and rituals to frighten away evil spirits, traditions which were in time absorbed into the Christian festivities. Tonight we will be lighting our Yule candle and burning the Yule log – and perhaps be indulging in a Yule log of the edible variety too!

The seven days preceding and following the winter solstice are know as the Halcyon Days. This takes it's name from the kingfisher, the halcyon bird, which was supposed to lay its eggs on a floating nest at sea. During those 14 days the sea would be quiet and safe and eventually the phrase "halcyon days" came to mean a period of calm and happiness. It's not, perhaps, a description that always applies to the run up to Christmas these days!

The 21st December is also St Thomas's Day, the traditional date on which "the big house" would hand IMG_8770_7 out alms to the poor and provide lavish feasting for tenants and villagers. This would be a more raucous affair than the grand Christmas dinners prepared for the lord and lady of the manor. At Ashdown House there was a trestle table set up in the barn, a bonfire in the coachyard, and the servants, villagers and tenants shared a meal of beef and spiced ale. The ale was so strong that there are records of some of the guests being too tipsy to find their way home afterwards and one gamekeeper fell into a snowdrift in a ditch and was found hours later, almost frozen to death!

Edible yule log What are your favourite pre-Christmas stories or traditions? Do you have a period of tranquillity preceding Christmas, your Halcyon Days? Or a spooky Christmas ghost story like my experience at Wayland's Smithy? Wishing you a very happy solstice, Yule and St Thomas's Day!

110 thoughts on “Wishing You a Cool Yule!”

  1. Nicola, I didn’t know about Halcyon Days. Thanks for that.
    I have to say I’m getting tired of the cold and ice. It’s not a novelty to someone who’s spent decades in Canada, though the last 12 or so were in Victoria, where it’s usually milder. Last year this time, however, was similar weather to this.
    But I do love the soltice and the fact that from here the days get longer.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  2. Nicola, I didn’t know about Halcyon Days. Thanks for that.
    I have to say I’m getting tired of the cold and ice. It’s not a novelty to someone who’s spent decades in Canada, though the last 12 or so were in Victoria, where it’s usually milder. Last year this time, however, was similar weather to this.
    But I do love the soltice and the fact that from here the days get longer.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  3. Nicola, I didn’t know about Halcyon Days. Thanks for that.
    I have to say I’m getting tired of the cold and ice. It’s not a novelty to someone who’s spent decades in Canada, though the last 12 or so were in Victoria, where it’s usually milder. Last year this time, however, was similar weather to this.
    But I do love the soltice and the fact that from here the days get longer.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  4. Nicola, I didn’t know about Halcyon Days. Thanks for that.
    I have to say I’m getting tired of the cold and ice. It’s not a novelty to someone who’s spent decades in Canada, though the last 12 or so were in Victoria, where it’s usually milder. Last year this time, however, was similar weather to this.
    But I do love the soltice and the fact that from here the days get longer.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  5. Nicola, I didn’t know about Halcyon Days. Thanks for that.
    I have to say I’m getting tired of the cold and ice. It’s not a novelty to someone who’s spent decades in Canada, though the last 12 or so were in Victoria, where it’s usually milder. Last year this time, however, was similar weather to this.
    But I do love the soltice and the fact that from here the days get longer.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  6. What an evocative post, Nicola! One of the things I love about England is the way every inch is saturated with myth and history. When you heard the ghostly hooves, I’m sure you were glad you had Monty with you for defense. *g*
    These days in the US, the prelude to Christmas is apt to be crazed shopping, wrapping, and carding. It was actually quite pleasant to be snowed in for a quiet, lovely day when the big East Coast storm shut Maryland down.
    But one day was enough. Back to busyness now!
    Mary Jo, who knew about Halcyon Days, but not that the bird was a kingfisher.

    Reply
  7. What an evocative post, Nicola! One of the things I love about England is the way every inch is saturated with myth and history. When you heard the ghostly hooves, I’m sure you were glad you had Monty with you for defense. *g*
    These days in the US, the prelude to Christmas is apt to be crazed shopping, wrapping, and carding. It was actually quite pleasant to be snowed in for a quiet, lovely day when the big East Coast storm shut Maryland down.
    But one day was enough. Back to busyness now!
    Mary Jo, who knew about Halcyon Days, but not that the bird was a kingfisher.

    Reply
  8. What an evocative post, Nicola! One of the things I love about England is the way every inch is saturated with myth and history. When you heard the ghostly hooves, I’m sure you were glad you had Monty with you for defense. *g*
    These days in the US, the prelude to Christmas is apt to be crazed shopping, wrapping, and carding. It was actually quite pleasant to be snowed in for a quiet, lovely day when the big East Coast storm shut Maryland down.
    But one day was enough. Back to busyness now!
    Mary Jo, who knew about Halcyon Days, but not that the bird was a kingfisher.

    Reply
  9. What an evocative post, Nicola! One of the things I love about England is the way every inch is saturated with myth and history. When you heard the ghostly hooves, I’m sure you were glad you had Monty with you for defense. *g*
    These days in the US, the prelude to Christmas is apt to be crazed shopping, wrapping, and carding. It was actually quite pleasant to be snowed in for a quiet, lovely day when the big East Coast storm shut Maryland down.
    But one day was enough. Back to busyness now!
    Mary Jo, who knew about Halcyon Days, but not that the bird was a kingfisher.

    Reply
  10. What an evocative post, Nicola! One of the things I love about England is the way every inch is saturated with myth and history. When you heard the ghostly hooves, I’m sure you were glad you had Monty with you for defense. *g*
    These days in the US, the prelude to Christmas is apt to be crazed shopping, wrapping, and carding. It was actually quite pleasant to be snowed in for a quiet, lovely day when the big East Coast storm shut Maryland down.
    But one day was enough. Back to busyness now!
    Mary Jo, who knew about Halcyon Days, but not that the bird was a kingfisher.

    Reply
  11. A most enjoyable read, Nicola. I’ve visited Wayland’s Smithy – and wouldn’t want to go there alone. You’re brave. There’s a chill down my back as I write! The whole piece is very evocative and the idea of yule logs [both varieties] and candles is appealing. Let’s hope some Halcyon days lie ahead shortly.

    Reply
  12. A most enjoyable read, Nicola. I’ve visited Wayland’s Smithy – and wouldn’t want to go there alone. You’re brave. There’s a chill down my back as I write! The whole piece is very evocative and the idea of yule logs [both varieties] and candles is appealing. Let’s hope some Halcyon days lie ahead shortly.

    Reply
  13. A most enjoyable read, Nicola. I’ve visited Wayland’s Smithy – and wouldn’t want to go there alone. You’re brave. There’s a chill down my back as I write! The whole piece is very evocative and the idea of yule logs [both varieties] and candles is appealing. Let’s hope some Halcyon days lie ahead shortly.

    Reply
  14. A most enjoyable read, Nicola. I’ve visited Wayland’s Smithy – and wouldn’t want to go there alone. You’re brave. There’s a chill down my back as I write! The whole piece is very evocative and the idea of yule logs [both varieties] and candles is appealing. Let’s hope some Halcyon days lie ahead shortly.

    Reply
  15. A most enjoyable read, Nicola. I’ve visited Wayland’s Smithy – and wouldn’t want to go there alone. You’re brave. There’s a chill down my back as I write! The whole piece is very evocative and the idea of yule logs [both varieties] and candles is appealing. Let’s hope some Halcyon days lie ahead shortly.

    Reply
  16. Nicola, your post was a delight and a discovery from beginning to end! I’d never heard the Halcyon Days myth before, nor had I heard of Wayland’s Smithy. And how providential that you had Monty along to verify for yourself that it wasn’t just your active imagination!
    I loved the darling picture of you all rosy cheeked in your snow-dusted hat! You look the quintessential English maid. Here in the Pacific NW we had two weeks of horridly cold weather, with accompanying frozen pipes, but now we’re getting a drenching with nonstop rain, though the weather has warmed up considerably. Stay safe and warm, and maybe carry a small bag of oats in your pocket in case you hear the smithy’s horse again!

    Reply
  17. Nicola, your post was a delight and a discovery from beginning to end! I’d never heard the Halcyon Days myth before, nor had I heard of Wayland’s Smithy. And how providential that you had Monty along to verify for yourself that it wasn’t just your active imagination!
    I loved the darling picture of you all rosy cheeked in your snow-dusted hat! You look the quintessential English maid. Here in the Pacific NW we had two weeks of horridly cold weather, with accompanying frozen pipes, but now we’re getting a drenching with nonstop rain, though the weather has warmed up considerably. Stay safe and warm, and maybe carry a small bag of oats in your pocket in case you hear the smithy’s horse again!

    Reply
  18. Nicola, your post was a delight and a discovery from beginning to end! I’d never heard the Halcyon Days myth before, nor had I heard of Wayland’s Smithy. And how providential that you had Monty along to verify for yourself that it wasn’t just your active imagination!
    I loved the darling picture of you all rosy cheeked in your snow-dusted hat! You look the quintessential English maid. Here in the Pacific NW we had two weeks of horridly cold weather, with accompanying frozen pipes, but now we’re getting a drenching with nonstop rain, though the weather has warmed up considerably. Stay safe and warm, and maybe carry a small bag of oats in your pocket in case you hear the smithy’s horse again!

    Reply
  19. Nicola, your post was a delight and a discovery from beginning to end! I’d never heard the Halcyon Days myth before, nor had I heard of Wayland’s Smithy. And how providential that you had Monty along to verify for yourself that it wasn’t just your active imagination!
    I loved the darling picture of you all rosy cheeked in your snow-dusted hat! You look the quintessential English maid. Here in the Pacific NW we had two weeks of horridly cold weather, with accompanying frozen pipes, but now we’re getting a drenching with nonstop rain, though the weather has warmed up considerably. Stay safe and warm, and maybe carry a small bag of oats in your pocket in case you hear the smithy’s horse again!

    Reply
  20. Nicola, your post was a delight and a discovery from beginning to end! I’d never heard the Halcyon Days myth before, nor had I heard of Wayland’s Smithy. And how providential that you had Monty along to verify for yourself that it wasn’t just your active imagination!
    I loved the darling picture of you all rosy cheeked in your snow-dusted hat! You look the quintessential English maid. Here in the Pacific NW we had two weeks of horridly cold weather, with accompanying frozen pipes, but now we’re getting a drenching with nonstop rain, though the weather has warmed up considerably. Stay safe and warm, and maybe carry a small bag of oats in your pocket in case you hear the smithy’s horse again!

    Reply
  21. It’s snowing again here as I write this and bitterly cold. Jo, I agree it’s nice to think that the solstice marks the point at which the days start to get longer again. There’s something very positive about that.
    Mary Jo, I too love the fact that we are saturated in myth and history here in the UK. This part of the country seems particularly rich in legend, with the White Horse at Uffington just along the Ridgeway and (Pen)dragon Hill suggesting links to King Arthur. One of these days I’d love to write a book about it.

    Reply
  22. It’s snowing again here as I write this and bitterly cold. Jo, I agree it’s nice to think that the solstice marks the point at which the days start to get longer again. There’s something very positive about that.
    Mary Jo, I too love the fact that we are saturated in myth and history here in the UK. This part of the country seems particularly rich in legend, with the White Horse at Uffington just along the Ridgeway and (Pen)dragon Hill suggesting links to King Arthur. One of these days I’d love to write a book about it.

    Reply
  23. It’s snowing again here as I write this and bitterly cold. Jo, I agree it’s nice to think that the solstice marks the point at which the days start to get longer again. There’s something very positive about that.
    Mary Jo, I too love the fact that we are saturated in myth and history here in the UK. This part of the country seems particularly rich in legend, with the White Horse at Uffington just along the Ridgeway and (Pen)dragon Hill suggesting links to King Arthur. One of these days I’d love to write a book about it.

    Reply
  24. It’s snowing again here as I write this and bitterly cold. Jo, I agree it’s nice to think that the solstice marks the point at which the days start to get longer again. There’s something very positive about that.
    Mary Jo, I too love the fact that we are saturated in myth and history here in the UK. This part of the country seems particularly rich in legend, with the White Horse at Uffington just along the Ridgeway and (Pen)dragon Hill suggesting links to King Arthur. One of these days I’d love to write a book about it.

    Reply
  25. It’s snowing again here as I write this and bitterly cold. Jo, I agree it’s nice to think that the solstice marks the point at which the days start to get longer again. There’s something very positive about that.
    Mary Jo, I too love the fact that we are saturated in myth and history here in the UK. This part of the country seems particularly rich in legend, with the White Horse at Uffington just along the Ridgeway and (Pen)dragon Hill suggesting links to King Arthur. One of these days I’d love to write a book about it.

    Reply
  26. Beth, thanks so much for dropping in. Yes, my Yule wish is definitely for some halcyon days for all of us!
    I’ll remember your tip of some oats for Wayland’s horse, Sherrie. Monty was wagging his tail when we heard the horse, so It must have been friendly!

    Reply
  27. Beth, thanks so much for dropping in. Yes, my Yule wish is definitely for some halcyon days for all of us!
    I’ll remember your tip of some oats for Wayland’s horse, Sherrie. Monty was wagging his tail when we heard the horse, so It must have been friendly!

    Reply
  28. Beth, thanks so much for dropping in. Yes, my Yule wish is definitely for some halcyon days for all of us!
    I’ll remember your tip of some oats for Wayland’s horse, Sherrie. Monty was wagging his tail when we heard the horse, so It must have been friendly!

    Reply
  29. Beth, thanks so much for dropping in. Yes, my Yule wish is definitely for some halcyon days for all of us!
    I’ll remember your tip of some oats for Wayland’s horse, Sherrie. Monty was wagging his tail when we heard the horse, so It must have been friendly!

    Reply
  30. Beth, thanks so much for dropping in. Yes, my Yule wish is definitely for some halcyon days for all of us!
    I’ll remember your tip of some oats for Wayland’s horse, Sherrie. Monty was wagging his tail when we heard the horse, so It must have been friendly!

    Reply
  31. Nicola, I love the way you always weave such interesting history into your posts. I never knew about “halcyon days” for the holidays.
    I always feel that our American customs pale in comparison to your wonderful English traditions. That said, my mother was from Switzerland, so when I was growing up, our family did things a little differently from my friends. Christmas Eve was a big deal, and that’s when we would have a fancy dinner. Then we children were allowed to choose one present and open it at night in fronnt of a roaring fire.
    To this day, I almost like Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day.

    Reply
  32. Nicola, I love the way you always weave such interesting history into your posts. I never knew about “halcyon days” for the holidays.
    I always feel that our American customs pale in comparison to your wonderful English traditions. That said, my mother was from Switzerland, so when I was growing up, our family did things a little differently from my friends. Christmas Eve was a big deal, and that’s when we would have a fancy dinner. Then we children were allowed to choose one present and open it at night in fronnt of a roaring fire.
    To this day, I almost like Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day.

    Reply
  33. Nicola, I love the way you always weave such interesting history into your posts. I never knew about “halcyon days” for the holidays.
    I always feel that our American customs pale in comparison to your wonderful English traditions. That said, my mother was from Switzerland, so when I was growing up, our family did things a little differently from my friends. Christmas Eve was a big deal, and that’s when we would have a fancy dinner. Then we children were allowed to choose one present and open it at night in fronnt of a roaring fire.
    To this day, I almost like Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day.

    Reply
  34. Nicola, I love the way you always weave such interesting history into your posts. I never knew about “halcyon days” for the holidays.
    I always feel that our American customs pale in comparison to your wonderful English traditions. That said, my mother was from Switzerland, so when I was growing up, our family did things a little differently from my friends. Christmas Eve was a big deal, and that’s when we would have a fancy dinner. Then we children were allowed to choose one present and open it at night in fronnt of a roaring fire.
    To this day, I almost like Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day.

    Reply
  35. Nicola, I love the way you always weave such interesting history into your posts. I never knew about “halcyon days” for the holidays.
    I always feel that our American customs pale in comparison to your wonderful English traditions. That said, my mother was from Switzerland, so when I was growing up, our family did things a little differently from my friends. Christmas Eve was a big deal, and that’s when we would have a fancy dinner. Then we children were allowed to choose one present and open it at night in fronnt of a roaring fire.
    To this day, I almost like Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day.

    Reply
  36. Thank you Andrea! One of the things I love about the Wenches is how we all have these different stories and traditions to tell. To me celebrations like Thanksgiving sound very special so I suppose it’s all a question of what we are accustomed to! I love your story about the Christmas Eve present opening in front of the fire – feels very cosy!

    Reply
  37. Thank you Andrea! One of the things I love about the Wenches is how we all have these different stories and traditions to tell. To me celebrations like Thanksgiving sound very special so I suppose it’s all a question of what we are accustomed to! I love your story about the Christmas Eve present opening in front of the fire – feels very cosy!

    Reply
  38. Thank you Andrea! One of the things I love about the Wenches is how we all have these different stories and traditions to tell. To me celebrations like Thanksgiving sound very special so I suppose it’s all a question of what we are accustomed to! I love your story about the Christmas Eve present opening in front of the fire – feels very cosy!

    Reply
  39. Thank you Andrea! One of the things I love about the Wenches is how we all have these different stories and traditions to tell. To me celebrations like Thanksgiving sound very special so I suppose it’s all a question of what we are accustomed to! I love your story about the Christmas Eve present opening in front of the fire – feels very cosy!

    Reply
  40. Thank you Andrea! One of the things I love about the Wenches is how we all have these different stories and traditions to tell. To me celebrations like Thanksgiving sound very special so I suppose it’s all a question of what we are accustomed to! I love your story about the Christmas Eve present opening in front of the fire – feels very cosy!

    Reply
  41. Nicola, thank you for such a fascinating and festive post – I’m shivering at the thought of ghostly hooves.
    I love the turkey eating tradition which I think was introduced by Henry VIII -judging from the size of him he didn’t share the turkey with any of his courtiers.

    Reply
  42. Nicola, thank you for such a fascinating and festive post – I’m shivering at the thought of ghostly hooves.
    I love the turkey eating tradition which I think was introduced by Henry VIII -judging from the size of him he didn’t share the turkey with any of his courtiers.

    Reply
  43. Nicola, thank you for such a fascinating and festive post – I’m shivering at the thought of ghostly hooves.
    I love the turkey eating tradition which I think was introduced by Henry VIII -judging from the size of him he didn’t share the turkey with any of his courtiers.

    Reply
  44. Nicola, thank you for such a fascinating and festive post – I’m shivering at the thought of ghostly hooves.
    I love the turkey eating tradition which I think was introduced by Henry VIII -judging from the size of him he didn’t share the turkey with any of his courtiers.

    Reply
  45. Nicola, thank you for such a fascinating and festive post – I’m shivering at the thought of ghostly hooves.
    I love the turkey eating tradition which I think was introduced by Henry VIII -judging from the size of him he didn’t share the turkey with any of his courtiers.

    Reply
  46. Andrea, in my family, we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, with the fancy meal and opening presents on the night of Christmas Eve.
    That’s because my sister was born on Christmas Day, and we always reserved Dec. 25 for celebrating my sister’s birthday. Mom did that because Lori so often got presents from unthinking people saying “Merry Christmas AND Happy Birthday” on a single present.

    Reply
  47. Andrea, in my family, we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, with the fancy meal and opening presents on the night of Christmas Eve.
    That’s because my sister was born on Christmas Day, and we always reserved Dec. 25 for celebrating my sister’s birthday. Mom did that because Lori so often got presents from unthinking people saying “Merry Christmas AND Happy Birthday” on a single present.

    Reply
  48. Andrea, in my family, we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, with the fancy meal and opening presents on the night of Christmas Eve.
    That’s because my sister was born on Christmas Day, and we always reserved Dec. 25 for celebrating my sister’s birthday. Mom did that because Lori so often got presents from unthinking people saying “Merry Christmas AND Happy Birthday” on a single present.

    Reply
  49. Andrea, in my family, we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, with the fancy meal and opening presents on the night of Christmas Eve.
    That’s because my sister was born on Christmas Day, and we always reserved Dec. 25 for celebrating my sister’s birthday. Mom did that because Lori so often got presents from unthinking people saying “Merry Christmas AND Happy Birthday” on a single present.

    Reply
  50. Andrea, in my family, we always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, with the fancy meal and opening presents on the night of Christmas Eve.
    That’s because my sister was born on Christmas Day, and we always reserved Dec. 25 for celebrating my sister’s birthday. Mom did that because Lori so often got presents from unthinking people saying “Merry Christmas AND Happy Birthday” on a single present.

    Reply
  51. I didn’t realise that it was Henry who introduced the idea of turkeys at Christmas, Sarah. I expect the Tudors stuffed them with three other smaller birds as well!
    Laura, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Thank you!
    Sherrie, I feel for people born at Christmas who get both birthday and Christmas presents rolled into one and then nothing else all year. We have a friend in the same situation.

    Reply
  52. I didn’t realise that it was Henry who introduced the idea of turkeys at Christmas, Sarah. I expect the Tudors stuffed them with three other smaller birds as well!
    Laura, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Thank you!
    Sherrie, I feel for people born at Christmas who get both birthday and Christmas presents rolled into one and then nothing else all year. We have a friend in the same situation.

    Reply
  53. I didn’t realise that it was Henry who introduced the idea of turkeys at Christmas, Sarah. I expect the Tudors stuffed them with three other smaller birds as well!
    Laura, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Thank you!
    Sherrie, I feel for people born at Christmas who get both birthday and Christmas presents rolled into one and then nothing else all year. We have a friend in the same situation.

    Reply
  54. I didn’t realise that it was Henry who introduced the idea of turkeys at Christmas, Sarah. I expect the Tudors stuffed them with three other smaller birds as well!
    Laura, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Thank you!
    Sherrie, I feel for people born at Christmas who get both birthday and Christmas presents rolled into one and then nothing else all year. We have a friend in the same situation.

    Reply
  55. I didn’t realise that it was Henry who introduced the idea of turkeys at Christmas, Sarah. I expect the Tudors stuffed them with three other smaller birds as well!
    Laura, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Thank you!
    Sherrie, I feel for people born at Christmas who get both birthday and Christmas presents rolled into one and then nothing else all year. We have a friend in the same situation.

    Reply
  56. Count me amongst those getting a free education.:)
    My mother was from Vienna, so we always opened up presents Christmas Eve. My father would take me for a ride after dark to look at the Christmas lights while my mother and grandmother put the presents under the tree. As we rounded the corner of our street coming home, my father would always claim to see Santa in the sky just leaving.
    I could not persuade my husband to continue this tradition (I have a hard time with instant gratification and four children to lie to). But he did agree to opening one present before bedtime.
    Now the kids are grown and making their own traditions. I’m just happy I get to go visit them and they do all the cooking.:)

    Reply
  57. Count me amongst those getting a free education.:)
    My mother was from Vienna, so we always opened up presents Christmas Eve. My father would take me for a ride after dark to look at the Christmas lights while my mother and grandmother put the presents under the tree. As we rounded the corner of our street coming home, my father would always claim to see Santa in the sky just leaving.
    I could not persuade my husband to continue this tradition (I have a hard time with instant gratification and four children to lie to). But he did agree to opening one present before bedtime.
    Now the kids are grown and making their own traditions. I’m just happy I get to go visit them and they do all the cooking.:)

    Reply
  58. Count me amongst those getting a free education.:)
    My mother was from Vienna, so we always opened up presents Christmas Eve. My father would take me for a ride after dark to look at the Christmas lights while my mother and grandmother put the presents under the tree. As we rounded the corner of our street coming home, my father would always claim to see Santa in the sky just leaving.
    I could not persuade my husband to continue this tradition (I have a hard time with instant gratification and four children to lie to). But he did agree to opening one present before bedtime.
    Now the kids are grown and making their own traditions. I’m just happy I get to go visit them and they do all the cooking.:)

    Reply
  59. Count me amongst those getting a free education.:)
    My mother was from Vienna, so we always opened up presents Christmas Eve. My father would take me for a ride after dark to look at the Christmas lights while my mother and grandmother put the presents under the tree. As we rounded the corner of our street coming home, my father would always claim to see Santa in the sky just leaving.
    I could not persuade my husband to continue this tradition (I have a hard time with instant gratification and four children to lie to). But he did agree to opening one present before bedtime.
    Now the kids are grown and making their own traditions. I’m just happy I get to go visit them and they do all the cooking.:)

    Reply
  60. Count me amongst those getting a free education.:)
    My mother was from Vienna, so we always opened up presents Christmas Eve. My father would take me for a ride after dark to look at the Christmas lights while my mother and grandmother put the presents under the tree. As we rounded the corner of our street coming home, my father would always claim to see Santa in the sky just leaving.
    I could not persuade my husband to continue this tradition (I have a hard time with instant gratification and four children to lie to). But he did agree to opening one present before bedtime.
    Now the kids are grown and making their own traditions. I’m just happy I get to go visit them and they do all the cooking.:)

    Reply
  61. Nicola, what a fabulous post. I love reading your blogs here and on your own sites. Always some new tidbit to learn.
    And you’re one brave cookie. After an experience like that one with a phantom horse, I would never have ventured out there ever again, alone or in company.

    Reply
  62. Nicola, what a fabulous post. I love reading your blogs here and on your own sites. Always some new tidbit to learn.
    And you’re one brave cookie. After an experience like that one with a phantom horse, I would never have ventured out there ever again, alone or in company.

    Reply
  63. Nicola, what a fabulous post. I love reading your blogs here and on your own sites. Always some new tidbit to learn.
    And you’re one brave cookie. After an experience like that one with a phantom horse, I would never have ventured out there ever again, alone or in company.

    Reply
  64. Nicola, what a fabulous post. I love reading your blogs here and on your own sites. Always some new tidbit to learn.
    And you’re one brave cookie. After an experience like that one with a phantom horse, I would never have ventured out there ever again, alone or in company.

    Reply
  65. Nicola, what a fabulous post. I love reading your blogs here and on your own sites. Always some new tidbit to learn.
    And you’re one brave cookie. After an experience like that one with a phantom horse, I would never have ventured out there ever again, alone or in company.

    Reply
  66. Great post, Nicola, and count me in for Halcyon Days! I sure could use a few. But I do love the Christmas Holiday — cookies and breads fresh from the oven, twinkle lights peeking from beneath the pine, and even the near two-feet of snow I’ve broomed off our many boxwoods and arborvitae.
    To spooky stories (and yours is the reason I’d love to visit England)… the boundary line marking our front yard is something of a legend in the little area where I live, once known as Five Forks. Many, many years ago, when farmers still plowed their fields with horses, two men fought upon what is now my front yard and only one walked away. To this day, the horses still spook upon our hill on certain wintry nights when the fingernail moon strikes upon the snow just right. I have seen their heads lift in question and heard their snorts before they turn tail and run, their many hooves pounding the earth, fleeing what cannot be seen and only felt.
    Nina, who lives next to a horse farm and will often visit Picket’s Charge in Gettysburg on a steamy summer’s eve.

    Reply
  67. Great post, Nicola, and count me in for Halcyon Days! I sure could use a few. But I do love the Christmas Holiday — cookies and breads fresh from the oven, twinkle lights peeking from beneath the pine, and even the near two-feet of snow I’ve broomed off our many boxwoods and arborvitae.
    To spooky stories (and yours is the reason I’d love to visit England)… the boundary line marking our front yard is something of a legend in the little area where I live, once known as Five Forks. Many, many years ago, when farmers still plowed their fields with horses, two men fought upon what is now my front yard and only one walked away. To this day, the horses still spook upon our hill on certain wintry nights when the fingernail moon strikes upon the snow just right. I have seen their heads lift in question and heard their snorts before they turn tail and run, their many hooves pounding the earth, fleeing what cannot be seen and only felt.
    Nina, who lives next to a horse farm and will often visit Picket’s Charge in Gettysburg on a steamy summer’s eve.

    Reply
  68. Great post, Nicola, and count me in for Halcyon Days! I sure could use a few. But I do love the Christmas Holiday — cookies and breads fresh from the oven, twinkle lights peeking from beneath the pine, and even the near two-feet of snow I’ve broomed off our many boxwoods and arborvitae.
    To spooky stories (and yours is the reason I’d love to visit England)… the boundary line marking our front yard is something of a legend in the little area where I live, once known as Five Forks. Many, many years ago, when farmers still plowed their fields with horses, two men fought upon what is now my front yard and only one walked away. To this day, the horses still spook upon our hill on certain wintry nights when the fingernail moon strikes upon the snow just right. I have seen their heads lift in question and heard their snorts before they turn tail and run, their many hooves pounding the earth, fleeing what cannot be seen and only felt.
    Nina, who lives next to a horse farm and will often visit Picket’s Charge in Gettysburg on a steamy summer’s eve.

    Reply
  69. Great post, Nicola, and count me in for Halcyon Days! I sure could use a few. But I do love the Christmas Holiday — cookies and breads fresh from the oven, twinkle lights peeking from beneath the pine, and even the near two-feet of snow I’ve broomed off our many boxwoods and arborvitae.
    To spooky stories (and yours is the reason I’d love to visit England)… the boundary line marking our front yard is something of a legend in the little area where I live, once known as Five Forks. Many, many years ago, when farmers still plowed their fields with horses, two men fought upon what is now my front yard and only one walked away. To this day, the horses still spook upon our hill on certain wintry nights when the fingernail moon strikes upon the snow just right. I have seen their heads lift in question and heard their snorts before they turn tail and run, their many hooves pounding the earth, fleeing what cannot be seen and only felt.
    Nina, who lives next to a horse farm and will often visit Picket’s Charge in Gettysburg on a steamy summer’s eve.

    Reply
  70. Great post, Nicola, and count me in for Halcyon Days! I sure could use a few. But I do love the Christmas Holiday — cookies and breads fresh from the oven, twinkle lights peeking from beneath the pine, and even the near two-feet of snow I’ve broomed off our many boxwoods and arborvitae.
    To spooky stories (and yours is the reason I’d love to visit England)… the boundary line marking our front yard is something of a legend in the little area where I live, once known as Five Forks. Many, many years ago, when farmers still plowed their fields with horses, two men fought upon what is now my front yard and only one walked away. To this day, the horses still spook upon our hill on certain wintry nights when the fingernail moon strikes upon the snow just right. I have seen their heads lift in question and heard their snorts before they turn tail and run, their many hooves pounding the earth, fleeing what cannot be seen and only felt.
    Nina, who lives next to a horse farm and will often visit Picket’s Charge in Gettysburg on a steamy summer’s eve.

    Reply
  71. Thank you, Keira, I’m so pleased you enjoy my posts. I didn’t know about the Halcyon Days until I was reading up about Yule. I love the concept of days of calm and happiness even if I can’t quite achieve the calm element at the moment!
    That story of yours is seriously spooky, Nina. Interesting that the horses pick these things up. Animals seem to be very sensitive. When we lived in our 17th century cottage in Somerset the cat would often turn her head as though she was watching someone crossing the room. That always gave me the shivers!

    Reply
  72. Thank you, Keira, I’m so pleased you enjoy my posts. I didn’t know about the Halcyon Days until I was reading up about Yule. I love the concept of days of calm and happiness even if I can’t quite achieve the calm element at the moment!
    That story of yours is seriously spooky, Nina. Interesting that the horses pick these things up. Animals seem to be very sensitive. When we lived in our 17th century cottage in Somerset the cat would often turn her head as though she was watching someone crossing the room. That always gave me the shivers!

    Reply
  73. Thank you, Keira, I’m so pleased you enjoy my posts. I didn’t know about the Halcyon Days until I was reading up about Yule. I love the concept of days of calm and happiness even if I can’t quite achieve the calm element at the moment!
    That story of yours is seriously spooky, Nina. Interesting that the horses pick these things up. Animals seem to be very sensitive. When we lived in our 17th century cottage in Somerset the cat would often turn her head as though she was watching someone crossing the room. That always gave me the shivers!

    Reply
  74. Thank you, Keira, I’m so pleased you enjoy my posts. I didn’t know about the Halcyon Days until I was reading up about Yule. I love the concept of days of calm and happiness even if I can’t quite achieve the calm element at the moment!
    That story of yours is seriously spooky, Nina. Interesting that the horses pick these things up. Animals seem to be very sensitive. When we lived in our 17th century cottage in Somerset the cat would often turn her head as though she was watching someone crossing the room. That always gave me the shivers!

    Reply
  75. Thank you, Keira, I’m so pleased you enjoy my posts. I didn’t know about the Halcyon Days until I was reading up about Yule. I love the concept of days of calm and happiness even if I can’t quite achieve the calm element at the moment!
    That story of yours is seriously spooky, Nina. Interesting that the horses pick these things up. Animals seem to be very sensitive. When we lived in our 17th century cottage in Somerset the cat would often turn her head as though she was watching someone crossing the room. That always gave me the shivers!

    Reply
  76. I love the Ridgeway. The section of it I know passes a bluebell wood where you can see badgers at dusk. You can see Bronze Age tumuli, too, and, incongruously, a few World War Two pill boxes, now covered with brambles. In the summer, small blue butterflies dance above the wheat and roe deer bound gracefully away as you pass. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can pick up a prehistoric flint, sometimes even an arrowhead. I agree, it’s a most atmospheric place. How lucky you are to be able to walk on it every day.
    Elizabeth

    Reply
  77. I love the Ridgeway. The section of it I know passes a bluebell wood where you can see badgers at dusk. You can see Bronze Age tumuli, too, and, incongruously, a few World War Two pill boxes, now covered with brambles. In the summer, small blue butterflies dance above the wheat and roe deer bound gracefully away as you pass. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can pick up a prehistoric flint, sometimes even an arrowhead. I agree, it’s a most atmospheric place. How lucky you are to be able to walk on it every day.
    Elizabeth

    Reply
  78. I love the Ridgeway. The section of it I know passes a bluebell wood where you can see badgers at dusk. You can see Bronze Age tumuli, too, and, incongruously, a few World War Two pill boxes, now covered with brambles. In the summer, small blue butterflies dance above the wheat and roe deer bound gracefully away as you pass. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can pick up a prehistoric flint, sometimes even an arrowhead. I agree, it’s a most atmospheric place. How lucky you are to be able to walk on it every day.
    Elizabeth

    Reply
  79. I love the Ridgeway. The section of it I know passes a bluebell wood where you can see badgers at dusk. You can see Bronze Age tumuli, too, and, incongruously, a few World War Two pill boxes, now covered with brambles. In the summer, small blue butterflies dance above the wheat and roe deer bound gracefully away as you pass. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can pick up a prehistoric flint, sometimes even an arrowhead. I agree, it’s a most atmospheric place. How lucky you are to be able to walk on it every day.
    Elizabeth

    Reply
  80. I love the Ridgeway. The section of it I know passes a bluebell wood where you can see badgers at dusk. You can see Bronze Age tumuli, too, and, incongruously, a few World War Two pill boxes, now covered with brambles. In the summer, small blue butterflies dance above the wheat and roe deer bound gracefully away as you pass. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can pick up a prehistoric flint, sometimes even an arrowhead. I agree, it’s a most atmospheric place. How lucky you are to be able to walk on it every day.
    Elizabeth

    Reply
  81. You lived in a 17th century house, Nicola! I am seriously jealous, freaky cat-head-turning and all. Do you know the house’s history? Someday, I’ve got to get to England. But I don’t want to do all the touristy stuff. I want to experience (and feel) the history with someone who knows the land.

    Reply
  82. You lived in a 17th century house, Nicola! I am seriously jealous, freaky cat-head-turning and all. Do you know the house’s history? Someday, I’ve got to get to England. But I don’t want to do all the touristy stuff. I want to experience (and feel) the history with someone who knows the land.

    Reply
  83. You lived in a 17th century house, Nicola! I am seriously jealous, freaky cat-head-turning and all. Do you know the house’s history? Someday, I’ve got to get to England. But I don’t want to do all the touristy stuff. I want to experience (and feel) the history with someone who knows the land.

    Reply
  84. You lived in a 17th century house, Nicola! I am seriously jealous, freaky cat-head-turning and all. Do you know the house’s history? Someday, I’ve got to get to England. But I don’t want to do all the touristy stuff. I want to experience (and feel) the history with someone who knows the land.

    Reply
  85. You lived in a 17th century house, Nicola! I am seriously jealous, freaky cat-head-turning and all. Do you know the house’s history? Someday, I’ve got to get to England. But I don’t want to do all the touristy stuff. I want to experience (and feel) the history with someone who knows the land.

    Reply
  86. You describe it beautifully, Elizabeth. It truly is a magical place.
    Nina, I offer tour guiding to any history buff who comes over to England and would like to visit places that are off the beaten track. Just let me know when you are visiting if you would like the special tour!
    We weren’t able to discover much about the history of the house other than that it was built in the late 17th century but had a huge open fireplace that had been taken from an earlier house in the neighbourhood that was demolished. The fireplace dated from 1650. There was a path at the back that ran through the courtyards of all the cottages. It was there that I saw the ghost of the cavalier!

    Reply
  87. You describe it beautifully, Elizabeth. It truly is a magical place.
    Nina, I offer tour guiding to any history buff who comes over to England and would like to visit places that are off the beaten track. Just let me know when you are visiting if you would like the special tour!
    We weren’t able to discover much about the history of the house other than that it was built in the late 17th century but had a huge open fireplace that had been taken from an earlier house in the neighbourhood that was demolished. The fireplace dated from 1650. There was a path at the back that ran through the courtyards of all the cottages. It was there that I saw the ghost of the cavalier!

    Reply
  88. You describe it beautifully, Elizabeth. It truly is a magical place.
    Nina, I offer tour guiding to any history buff who comes over to England and would like to visit places that are off the beaten track. Just let me know when you are visiting if you would like the special tour!
    We weren’t able to discover much about the history of the house other than that it was built in the late 17th century but had a huge open fireplace that had been taken from an earlier house in the neighbourhood that was demolished. The fireplace dated from 1650. There was a path at the back that ran through the courtyards of all the cottages. It was there that I saw the ghost of the cavalier!

    Reply
  89. You describe it beautifully, Elizabeth. It truly is a magical place.
    Nina, I offer tour guiding to any history buff who comes over to England and would like to visit places that are off the beaten track. Just let me know when you are visiting if you would like the special tour!
    We weren’t able to discover much about the history of the house other than that it was built in the late 17th century but had a huge open fireplace that had been taken from an earlier house in the neighbourhood that was demolished. The fireplace dated from 1650. There was a path at the back that ran through the courtyards of all the cottages. It was there that I saw the ghost of the cavalier!

    Reply
  90. You describe it beautifully, Elizabeth. It truly is a magical place.
    Nina, I offer tour guiding to any history buff who comes over to England and would like to visit places that are off the beaten track. Just let me know when you are visiting if you would like the special tour!
    We weren’t able to discover much about the history of the house other than that it was built in the late 17th century but had a huge open fireplace that had been taken from an earlier house in the neighbourhood that was demolished. The fireplace dated from 1650. There was a path at the back that ran through the courtyards of all the cottages. It was there that I saw the ghost of the cavalier!

    Reply
  91. Sherrie: My sister was born on Christmas Day too! (I’m a Valentine baby and my other sister St. Patrick’s Day). Anyway, we always had an “official” birthday for her on December 5th before any Christmas decorations were evident. My mum had her at home and I have vivid memories of being packed off to my Nana’s house before we had even opened any presents. We had no car and had to walk. Everyone was excited about the new brother or sister except me; I just wanted Christmas. We have a photo with me looking decidedly unhappy holding my new sister. we’ve never got along I wonder why???
    Great post Nicola, there were so few white Christmases growing up in England that the ones that happened were magical. I can’t imagine the cold and damp in the days before central heating!

    Reply
  92. Sherrie: My sister was born on Christmas Day too! (I’m a Valentine baby and my other sister St. Patrick’s Day). Anyway, we always had an “official” birthday for her on December 5th before any Christmas decorations were evident. My mum had her at home and I have vivid memories of being packed off to my Nana’s house before we had even opened any presents. We had no car and had to walk. Everyone was excited about the new brother or sister except me; I just wanted Christmas. We have a photo with me looking decidedly unhappy holding my new sister. we’ve never got along I wonder why???
    Great post Nicola, there were so few white Christmases growing up in England that the ones that happened were magical. I can’t imagine the cold and damp in the days before central heating!

    Reply
  93. Sherrie: My sister was born on Christmas Day too! (I’m a Valentine baby and my other sister St. Patrick’s Day). Anyway, we always had an “official” birthday for her on December 5th before any Christmas decorations were evident. My mum had her at home and I have vivid memories of being packed off to my Nana’s house before we had even opened any presents. We had no car and had to walk. Everyone was excited about the new brother or sister except me; I just wanted Christmas. We have a photo with me looking decidedly unhappy holding my new sister. we’ve never got along I wonder why???
    Great post Nicola, there were so few white Christmases growing up in England that the ones that happened were magical. I can’t imagine the cold and damp in the days before central heating!

    Reply
  94. Sherrie: My sister was born on Christmas Day too! (I’m a Valentine baby and my other sister St. Patrick’s Day). Anyway, we always had an “official” birthday for her on December 5th before any Christmas decorations were evident. My mum had her at home and I have vivid memories of being packed off to my Nana’s house before we had even opened any presents. We had no car and had to walk. Everyone was excited about the new brother or sister except me; I just wanted Christmas. We have a photo with me looking decidedly unhappy holding my new sister. we’ve never got along I wonder why???
    Great post Nicola, there were so few white Christmases growing up in England that the ones that happened were magical. I can’t imagine the cold and damp in the days before central heating!

    Reply
  95. Sherrie: My sister was born on Christmas Day too! (I’m a Valentine baby and my other sister St. Patrick’s Day). Anyway, we always had an “official” birthday for her on December 5th before any Christmas decorations were evident. My mum had her at home and I have vivid memories of being packed off to my Nana’s house before we had even opened any presents. We had no car and had to walk. Everyone was excited about the new brother or sister except me; I just wanted Christmas. We have a photo with me looking decidedly unhappy holding my new sister. we’ve never got along I wonder why???
    Great post Nicola, there were so few white Christmases growing up in England that the ones that happened were magical. I can’t imagine the cold and damp in the days before central heating!

    Reply
  96. All right, Nicola! I would love to hear more about your cavalier. I will so look you up before my trip to England (should it ever come) Happy Christmas to you! Hugs, Nina

    Reply
  97. All right, Nicola! I would love to hear more about your cavalier. I will so look you up before my trip to England (should it ever come) Happy Christmas to you! Hugs, Nina

    Reply
  98. All right, Nicola! I would love to hear more about your cavalier. I will so look you up before my trip to England (should it ever come) Happy Christmas to you! Hugs, Nina

    Reply
  99. All right, Nicola! I would love to hear more about your cavalier. I will so look you up before my trip to England (should it ever come) Happy Christmas to you! Hugs, Nina

    Reply
  100. All right, Nicola! I would love to hear more about your cavalier. I will so look you up before my trip to England (should it ever come) Happy Christmas to you! Hugs, Nina

    Reply

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