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Twas’ the day before the day before Christmas Eve……..!

I was up well before the crack of dawn, fed Milly and tried to be nonchalant about the fact that I’d need to take her to the cattery.  Maice was also up at the crack of dawn blowing her nose and going through a list of old wives remedies to try and get rid of her raging cold!  Sir Winston, was also up, which is most unusual for him as he doesn’t usually surface from his cosy bed until at least 10am unless of course he’s staying with Jane, then he’s up early as unfortunately for him he suffers with ‘fomo’! Apparently he stuck to Maice’s side like a limpet, impeding her need to get on with the tasks ahead; packing her bag, packing all Winston’s ‘stuff’ and loading the car!

Being tasked with purchasing the last minute perishable items I thought I’d take the car and drive over to Lidl, not something I usually do, what with Lidl being just across the road from me, but as I was taking Milly to the cattery I needed to get the car out of the garage anyway. Shopping completed I traipsed back home with a heavy bag of groceries then realised when I walked through the door that I’d actually driven to Lidl.  Retracing my steps I headed back to Lidl’s and collected the car! Honestly, what’s that all about?

I really needed to get on with packing but unfortunately with Milly still in residence I daren’t risk it. One whiff of a suitcase and she goes into hiding under the bed and then we have this game of catch me if you can.  I nearly ended up being scarred for life when she gave me the glare, then the stare, the ears went back and just before she was ready to strike I managed to wrestle her into her cat box. Honestly, it’s so stressful….if I’d been in charge of looking after the alcohol I swear I would have opened a bottle of wine to calm the nerves!

Thankfully from here on in it was plain sailing.  Milly was dropped off with Alison at Purrfect Cattery and then I made a detour to Maice’s with the mornings groceries. Winston was still stuck to Maice’s side, poor luv, obviously thought he was being left behind, but the good news for him was he was coming with us.  Maice was coming for me at 11.45am so I had an hour and a half to get home, pack, put the vacuum round, clean the bathroom and put the rubbish out.  Best crack on then!

Maice collected me with a car already fully laden with all sorts of paraphernalia including Winston who was sitting on the back seat in his travel cot. By the time my ‘stuff’ had been added he had been elevated until he was practically level with the headrests……ah well, at least he could look out of the window now and enjoy the passing scenery.

It was now 12.07pm and having taken the obligatory selfie we set off, both in need of a cappuccino and hot chocolate to help us on our way. We stopped off at the bakery at Bridport, purchased aforesaid hot drinks, a croissant and a cinnamon twirl and off we went, eating and drinking our way to Devon. Poor Winston was beside himself when he realised we were eating and he wasn’t and tried everything in his power to join us on the front seats.  Thankfully he was safely harnessed in but as he was such a good boy we gave him the crumbs and he seemed very happy with those.

Considering today was supposed to be the busiest day on the roads, for us it was plain sailing all the way to Stoke Fleming.  We didn’t deviate, we didn’t get lost, we followed the instructions on the SatNav implicitly…..we didn’t even lose control when we drove past a Giraffe in someone’s garden and had we not been stuck behind a tractor going up a very long hill we would have arrived on time at 14.29pm.  Actually, if the truth be told we weren’t supposed to, under any circumstances, check in until after 4pm but we thought we’d chance it and see what happens.  We wanted to arrive early as we were a bit concerned about where to park and the thought of making numerous trips from the car to the cottage with all our stuff was a bit disconcerting, plus, according to some reviews about the cottage, the neighbour was quite aggressive.  So we were faced with two challenges….1) to figure out where to park and try to get as close to the cottage as possible and 2) and most importantly, we needed to befriend the neighbour and gave strict instructions to Winston to a) be on his best behaviour b) not to bark and c) not to pee or poo in the communal courtyard!  We were half way down the extremely narrow Old Road in Stoke Fleming when we were told by SatNav that ‘we had arrived at our destination’.  We peered out of the window straight into a field full of sheep and peered out of the opposite window into a hedgerow. How interesting. We parked in a passing place and walked up the road to where we thought the cottage was according to Google earth maps.  It wasn’t there. We walked up and down the lane a few times and eventually found it on the corner of Old Road opposite the Green Dragon pub and directly opposite the church that chimes every quarter of an hour!

Fabulous. We decided to try our luck and see if we could gain access before 4pm. As we entered the communal courtyard we definitely felt like we were being watched….fortunately for us the keys were in the key box and we gained entry to Yew Tree Cottage, our home for the next week. We went in and had a nosey round.  It was very bijou, very cottage-y, had a rather interesting layout and to get into the dining room from the lounge you had to turn sideways to avoid getting stuck in the very narrow passage!  Best not eat too much whilst we’re here else we’re bound to get stuck!!  When we emerged from the cottage ten minutes later there he was, the neighbour, tinkering about in the courtyard. We immediately went into our ‘be kind and courteous’ mode, said hello, introduced ourselves and Winston and told him we were his new neighbours for the next week.  Regrettably Charles, that’s our new neighbour was going away for Christmas so we weren’t going to see much of him!!!  So, all-in-all that worked out quite well!

We walked back down the hill to fetch the car and pulled in just in front of the cottage opposite.  Honestly, no kidding, it took an hour and a half to a) unload the car b) pack all the foodstuffs away, the kitchen was so bijou there was very little storage c) unpack our cases d) sort Winston and his stuff out and e) hang up the Christmas decorations. We found a parking space 50m up the road, went for a walk round the village before it was too dark to see where we were going and ended up at the Green Dragon pub across the road for a mulled wine!  We had arrived!

When we got back, the first thing we did was read the following cottage rules to Winston…..a) absolutely NO jumping on the furniture b) absolutely NO going upstairs, their being a baby gate at the top of the stairs, although if he ‘wanted to’ he could quite easily slip through the wide slats and c) any mess he makes in the cottage he has to clear up after himself and d) absolutely NO wee-ing or poo-ing in the courtyard. Just as well we brought numerous blankets and throws for the furniture as Winston promptly ignored all the inside rules……!

For supper, and not wanting to cook, we opted for a selection of bread and cheeses and enjoyed a caramel rum appetiser before opening the chilled bottle of Prosecco which of course was the first thing we unpacked and placed in the fridge to chill. Yes, we know where our priorities lie.  It was a lovely first evening…..and who needs TV or the radio when you can listen to the church bells chime every fifteen minutes. Ah, village life is so peaceful!

At 9.30pm we made our way up the very steep stairs to our beds.  For once I was sleeping in the double-bedded room whilst Maice was in the smaller room housing the bunk beds……at least she could decide on whether she wanted the upper or lower bunk, or she could even interchange as the week progressed. What a choice!  The last thing we did before going to sleep was open the windows and let the fresh air in.  It was so hot in the cottage, it felt like we were in a sauna.  Mind you, saying that we did bring our hot water bottles with us which Maice did use to help alleviate her cold symptoms. I said she could use mine as well but it soon became apparent that I’d forgotten to bring the stopper so that’s now become redundant!

Ah, we can feel the fresh air wafting through the windows, we can also hear the merriment from the pub across the road and as for the chiming of the church bells every fifteen minutes……….!

And on that note, from Yew Tree Cottage, Stoke Fleming, it’s goodnight from the three of us…..

M, A and Sir Winston xxx

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Dec 23, 2023

Sounds like you’re in for a wonderful Christmas. Lots of love to you all 🥰🥰🎄🎄🎅🎅

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