January must be endured.
But I won’t dwell on the trials of the first month of the year: the self-conscious slowness of time; the constant sense of wanting to get January over with so we can get on to the nicer months; the terrible business of writing the wrong year (ie. last year) when you date something and then realising how quickly the decades are disappearing.
Instead, let’s look at the positives. It hasn’t rained much. And there are lots of Christmas puppies about. Because it wasn’t raining yesterday, Mrs Brit and I went to Snuff Mills for a stroll along the wooded valley that cups a short, walkable stretch by the River Avon. It would be picturesque if the water wasn’t so brown. I mean it’s really, revoltingly brown. It looks like the stream that tempted Augustus Gloop to his chocolatey doom in Willy Wonka’s factory, only far less tempting. Gloop would have resisted the Avon without difficulty, I feel.
Anyway there were lots of Christmas puppies about, being walked. Aren’t they lovely? I always think that enthusiastic dogs make life worthwhile. They bring a maudlin tear to the eye as they plod merrily and waggily up to you on their oversized paws for a stroke and a cuddle, wholly trusting and little suspecting that you’re about to produce a shovel from behind your back and give them an almighty thwack on the …of course I jest.
You can choose from several paths at Snuff Mills. We walked west beside the riverbank, and then back east along a higher path, cut about halfway up the valley. It was on the homeward route that we happened upon the remnants of a defunct bench. All that was left of it was the metal frame (the legs and armrests); the wooden slats made for sitting on were all gone.
“Here, have a nice sit down on that,” I said facetiously to Mrs Brit, by way of a small joke.
Mrs Brit paused, looked at it, and then pointed down the valley at another, fully-intact bench directly below. “It’s like the echo of that bench”, she said.
I stared at her in wonder. “What an extraordinarily poetic thought," I said. "I wish I'd thought of that."
She doesn’t come out with them all that often, it must be confessed, but when she does they’re absolute zingers.