On Tuesday I made a dash for Norfolk to retrieve my daughter who had been ‘kidnapped’ by my friends. It was essential to get her home before she was totally spoilt by their kind and indulgent hospitality, and the wonderful programme of festive treats, spectacular shows and Christmas shopping, they had arranged for her. It was time to return her to good old Sussex reality!
Norfolk, and Holkham Hall in particular, seem to have captured the spirit of Christmas. This beautiful Estate which offers a wide selection of attractions, brings people from all corners of the country, particularly at Christmas, to see the beautiful decorations, shopping extravaganza, entertainment and high quality shows.
I was interested to hear that even the local farmers are getting in on the act. A different and rather original form of diversification in an effort to embrace the festive. Keith Loads who farms nearby, has developed a popular comedy routine with entertainment for all the family.
One of his sketches was about a local farm boy who kept a snake. Billy the snake made a lot of noise hissing in his pit. The boy’s mother told him to take the snake outside, but his hissing was just as loud. Exasperated she told him to take Billy to see Mrs Potts their neighbour and see if he would hiss in her pit. Off goes Tom with Billy only to return some time later declaring that Mrs Potts did not have a pit for Billy to hiss in!
This little tale apparently had the audience in stiches as Mr Loads attempted in his deep Norfolk accent, not to confuse the hissing, the pits and pots!
I can think of a number of Sussex farmers who are exceptionally talented at entertaining drinking companions. I wonder if any have spotted an opportunity for such novel diversification, Sussex style.
The deeper into Norfolk I drove more and more activity was taking place as many acres of sugar beet were being harvested with trailers emerging out onto the roads with almost a clean set of wheels. I am sure they must have had less rain than us, if that was here the roads would be awash with mud.
Many more wind turbines have sprung up since my last visit earlier in the year, not to mention the acres of solar panels now covering roadside fields. They really are an eye sore but no doubt the farmers will receive a tidy annual fee for the next twenty five years. Who can argue with that? It is certainly a much more reliable income than we are receiving with the unpredictable price of wheat and other staple crops, which have hit us hard this year as they have fallen through the floor.
The Better Together Christmas Day Lunch in Wivelsfield Village Hall is once again proving popular. Over eighty guests and helpers will sit down to a full Christmas lunch and there will be music, laughter, entertainment, good company and great joy.
It is a very special occasion, for both guests and helpers. They come from all walks of life to make this annual event for those who find themselves without a family at Christmas, a very special day.
Peace and Good Will to all Men are the words associated with the Christmas festival as Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. This is far removed from the escalating troubles and brutality around the world, carried out apparently in the name of ‘faith’, which is difficult to comprehend.
Technology increasingly makes it impossible to isolate ourselves from such horrors. We see innocent people including children being massacred in cold blood, by religious fanatics and extremists, which they proudly display perversely on social media. This is an international problem which must be tackled quickly as it is spreading dangerously out of control.
It is a very real possibility that such atrocities will come to our towns and cities. We need to ask if our politicians are suitably equipped to make rational decisions. We can only hope so.
I wish the readers of the WSG a very peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.
Carola Godman Irvine