Friday, 18 December 2015
Way back in the early 60's we used to spend our Christmases in a cottage that my people owned at a Welsh beauty spot known as The Old Racecourse, Nr Oswestry in Shropshire. The house stood on top of the very first Welsh hill, west of the Shropshire plains, and looked out over wonderful rolling countryside; its location was stunning.
Above shows what remains of the old Grandstand, with the cottage in the background.
I'm almost ashamed to say that the cottage was hardly ever used. We'd go for Christmas, and maybe a weekend in summer, but that was it. As a result the house was usually in a pretty bad state when we all arived; the heating never worked, and often bits of the house were missing due to the strong winds. But my mother had family in the area, so it was the perfect opportunity to get everyone together.
I remember that it used to snow a lot, and access wasn't easy; there were no tarmacked roads to the front door. We were often snowed in, and in early mornings the whole landscape would turn pink from the amazing sunrises.
Mother never did things by halves. The Turkey was often well over 25 lbs, and would have to be trimmed in order to fit in the small oven. Regardless, it would always arrive at table, perfectly cooked, exactly on time. She was a great cook.
She'd also buy far too many presents, but that's another matter.
We always had a pukka tree, plenty of decorations, a good log fire, and plenty of fresh air. There was even a friendly farmer's dog to accompany us on our long Offa's Dyke walks.
Life was good, and even thinking of it makes me want to turn the clock back.