Lovely as the holidays are - a boozy, foodie, frantic, friend and family fest - it's somehow quite a relief when January 2nd rolls around. With chores done and dusted and the household gods appeased, I sniffled round the house today. (I remember that warm embraces should come with health warnings and welcome guests bring unwelcome microbes. Thanks all.) I'm beginning to feel a little bit confined. Caged. Cabin Fever. It's time to venture out.
Without much enthusiasm on my part the white dog and I take to the road and hey - it's wonderful out there! There is light and air - clean and bright and fresh. The sense of space is amazing. The landscape rolls away around me in each direction. Forest and field in winter drab, beneath a sky of scudding cloud, are scoured by a cutting wind from the east; from Siberia via The Long Mynd I think. At Short Cross smoke drifts horizontally from the little tin-roofed dwelling which shelters behind a break of conifers. Today this stretch of lane is particularly bleak. Here the white dog senses the halfway mark - the point of no return - and puts his head into the wind to pull for home.
We are greeted with bleats by sheep at Fir House and go slithering through mud to find the lane again. Then down the stony track, the sighing conifers of Badnage Wood to the right, to cross the little stream that leaves our dingle to find its way to the steeper Beach Dingle then on to Marton. It's sheltered here.
Nearly home now and Wilson tows me up the last stretch. There's no getting him past our gate though - he knows when enough is enough. Me? I am exhilarated, refreshed and exhausted.
'You lucky dog,' I tell him, 'that was one good walk.'