You might well ask what all this about newspaper deliveries has to do with Santa Claus.
Well, on the front page of the paper was a large picture of the Prince of Wales, whose 65th birthday it is today. (Don't bother to stand up or start singing "Happy Birthday". It really isn't necessary.) There was a brief quote from his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, about him. It seems that he still writes lists of presents he would like. (There seems something a little odd in the idea that a royal prince would receive presents on his birthday. But why not?)
As a child, I wrote each year to Father Christmas telling him I had been good and I would like . . . There followed a rather lengthy list. Now in my 70s, I am still expected (by my children) to produce lists of what I would like as presents for birthdays and Christmas. I always feel terribly awkward having to do this. It seems somehow so mercenary. Yes, I can see how it makes life so much simpler for the present-giver and I appreciate other people giving me their lists, but it takes away an almost indefinable something from the giving. It all boils down to that old mantra - it's the thought that counts.
It can be very difficult to think what somebody else would like, appreciate, enjoy, and to find something exactly right for each person. It takes a good understanding of the recipient and, above all, time. Perhaps that is the problem. We are all so busy, so pushed for time, that we cannot spare enough of it to think and then to trawl through the shops to find the perfect gift.
So, if you wish to know what I would like for Christmas, here goes.
A little over 30 miles to the north of our French hideaway is the small town of Vitré. I like to take guests to see it as I think it an attractive place. I usually drive round the ring road to enter from the opposite side - the north - as doing so provides this view of the castle seeming to