Anyway, this year, for a change, I have decided to embrace my mother's 1970's throwback interior decorating style and go with an ORANGE and silver tree! I think for most of us, the draw of a real tree at Christmas is the gorgeous pine smell that permeates the room all over the festive season... well, for the last few years we have been getting trees from a local farm and I always forget til we get it into the warm house (hhhmmmm, OK, relatively warm house!) that these trees actually smell of the barnyard! Yesterday it was snowing when we went up there and the trees were all stood against the farm yard walls, we picked one out and brought it home and when I unleashed it from it's little netty straight-jacket there was an awful lot of rustling and the curtains sort of swayed for a few moments.... Do we now have a small disoriented squirrel living in our drapery? I can see it's going to be like Christmas with the Griswalds (no change there then).
Speaking of Squirrels, years ago, I used to rent a room in the servants quarters of a really big old manor house, just outside of Newport in South Wales - sadly, the house was demolished to make way for a housing estate about 6 years ago. There were 4 of us girls, all art students sharing this servant's wing. It was very spooky with sliding panels and access ways into the main house, which we were obviously encouraged not to use! One night, Sian came running out of her room screaming. She claimed there was a tiny black man running around on her bed and that he was squwaking and gibbering! Just HAD to go and check that out!!! Turned out it was a squirrel that had fallen down the chimney, covered in soot, darted out the fireplace in her room and proceeded to dash round her bedroom in a mad panic... poor little thing! The ceiling were so high in that house, even in the servants wing, that a poor 60 watt bulb had no real hope of permeating the gloom. OK, I doubt that I would have mistaken a sooty squirrel for a little man but hey ho. It was pretty hard to see clearly once the sun went down and for the most part that was probably for the best, it was a VERY old house and not in the best repair.
I loved the place but that's where my arthritis really started. Not long after the squirrel incident, I was really icy cold in bed one night and so got up to find something additional to wear. I was already encased in most of my clothing under the duvet and what I wasn't wearing was mainly draped on top of it... but I just thought I might find a forgotten jumper in the bottom of the wardrobe (this being the 80's, think mohair, black and pink horizontal stripes and sleeves that come well over your fingers... I lived in a haunted house and looked like a Tim Burton character!). I opened the wardrobe (a big heavily carved black antique effort with woodworm dots all over the doors) and for a second I thought I saw snowflakes drift elegantly out into the gloom of my badly lit bedroom? Don't be silly, you're hallucinating because of the cold. I struggled into a few more crunchy jumpers (it was that cold where your clothes go all stiff!) and got back under all those layers and stayed put til first light... mainly because I was trapped under the weight.
In the morning I kind of rationalized the whole snowflake incident and forgot about it until later when my boyfriend came round. He had decided I needed rescuing and was there to pack up my things and take me to his parents house where they had sophisticated things like central heating... He yanked open the wardrobe door to get my case, and out came those languid snow flakes again... it turned out the back of the big dark wardrobe had rotted away in a big hole and there was no wall behind it! I was literally sleeping on the brink of Narnia each night!!! We went outside and wandered down the back of the house with a torch and sure enough the wall had collapsed and the contents of my frosty wardrobe were clearly visible.
I never moved back in and developed an occasional limp, but I missed that place - it was just seemed so romantic in a very unhealthy, spooky sort of way.