Sunday, 26 December 2010

The 2nd day of Christmas

St Stephen's Day - or Boxing Day as we call it in England. Tradition has it, and here tradition may well be correct, that the day after Christmas became known as Boxing Day as that was the day on which the wealthy land-owners handed Christmas boxes (gifts) to their servants. Why that couldn't be done on Christmas Day itself is something I have wondered about for many years.

Another Boxing Day tradition is the meet. I think I am right when I say that every fox hunt in the country has traditionally met on Boxing Day. That tradition may well have gone out of the window now as the hunting of foxes by packs of dogs has been made illegal, but I understand that some hunts use a drag trail for the hounds to follow. Others just ignore the law. Another oddity: foxhounds are counted in couples so a pack may consist of, say, 12 couples (24 hounds). If there is an odd number of hounds, the extra one is half a couple.

Stretching the tradition theme a bit, it is definitely NOT traditional in England for us to have a white Christmas although many people seem to think it would be nice. (I'm most certainly not one of those people!) This year we have had endured a partially white Christmas. The snow arrived a week ago and Heathrow airport was brought to a standstill with many people still trying to get home (or away) for Christmas as late as Christmas Eve or even yesterday because of the backlog and as planes were in the wrong places. The snow has pretty well turned to ice now and when I walk the dog to the park I take care to walk along the car tracks in the road as the pavements are still very icy in most places. I slipped and fell in the woods on Christmas Eve. This made me realise I'm not getting any younger as I was still a bit sore yesterday.

It was Christmas Eve as well when our next-door neighbour knocked and asked when I would next want to get my car out. He had been out and when he parked his car on return it just slipped back down the hill until the front wheel struck the kerb and stopped the car just before it hit another. The problem is that the car is now partially blocking our drive. I'm pretty certain I can get out by bumping across the verge but getting back into the drive looks as though it will be tricky. I'm mainly concerned about the build up of ice (over an inch thick) which might cause me to drift sideways into Tom's car. We are due to go over to my elder son's for a late lunch and to spend the afternoon with the grandsons so I will have to get up the drive later and see if I can clear some of the ice to make matters easier.

If only the temperature would get up a bit. Two degrees Celsius is about as high as they have got for several days - about 35 or 36 Fahrenheit I suppose - and have always dropped below freezing at night. I growled when my daughter rang from Melbourne yesterday and said the temperature was in the mid twenties!

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