It seems a bit late now to wish you all a happy New Year – but there I've gone and done it anyway!!
It seems to have been a mixed festive season for most, with lots of horrible cold and flu bugs going round. We had a very old-fashioned family Christmas at the farm – we never go away as someone needs to be around on the farm and we were on call for the marina, but to be honest we don't really mind. There was a lot of socialising and a family gathering over the usual turkey feast and it was fab.
Personally, I love the build up to Christmas most, because I love the decorations and the lights everywhere which cheer up what would otherwise be such a drab time of year. One of my favourite nights of the year is the Big Switch On in Audlem. Father Christmas arrives via the Audlem Lass then everyone walks up through the village to shout a countdown to light the tree – it's so magical – you can feel the excitement of all the children (and quite a few of us adults too!)
We also held, with help from the ace bike shop in Audlem, our first Audlem Santa Dash to raise money for St Luke's Hospice and until the icy conditions stopped them, the Audlem Lass crew were also going to host Santa cruises around the island. After a bit of quick thinking the big red man was relocated to one of our glamping wagons and the Audlem Lass elves lead the visitors to his very special new abode. It was so much fun we'll definitely run the event next year, although we'll probably do it around the marina as CRT were only willing to allow us to use the towpath for the runners/walkers to get to the marina and back to the village as a one off- apparently, it's far too risky for CRT's insurers to cover.
The freezing weather provided a few challenges, but none as great as the really bad winter of 2010 – I think we've all forgotten how cold it can get, and how much stuff freezes up, as we've had such mild winters just lately. Standing here looking out of the window at the driving rain I think I'm preferring the freezing weather, although I know the CRT hydrologist will be viewing the rain with glee and keeping his fingers crossed that the reservoirs fill enough to keep the cruising going this year.
Every day now it's getting that little bit lighter, and the snow drops are pushed through in the garden. I can't wait for those bright clear mornings and feel comforted by the fact that whatever the rest of the winter throws at us, it's now not too long until spring.