But, to my absolute annoyance and disbelief, Mr O got up in the morning and put the horses out! I couldn't believe it. The whole point was to go down in the morning and open Max's present with him. I was gutted!
But there was still loads of snow on the ground. I think it must be the first ever White Christmas in my lifetime. It set the scene really.
Then Mr O started mucking out. I refused to join in and said we were going to open presents, so we came in and did the deed. This is Tessa with her present. She walked round with it in her mouth all day. She didn't want the treats that it contained, she just wanted to dismantle the actual boot, and spent the day painstakingly taking the thread out and eating it.
Mr O got me a black jacket to ride in, and two pairs of jods, and I got him more or less the same, as well as The Terminator films on DVD. He got me Public Enemies (Johnny Depp) which I am dying to watch as I never went to the cinema to see it. He also got me a beautiful book of poetry, hymns and readings, which I saw in Past Times and really wanted. I will thoroughly enjoy dipping into it.
We went next door to take Six and Nine their presents. Nine said, "I don't normally cuddle women, but I'm going to cuddle you as you are the best babysitter ever." and gave me a big hug. I was speechless.
Missis liked the photograph we got them, which is of her and Pongo on the pleasure ride at Shipley Country Park. The fact that they are both on horseback is a very rare event, so I'm glad I got it. They got us an alarm clock each. Mr O's plays a horse neighing to wake you up, but has a picture of a horse that looks exactly like Barnaby on the front of it, and mine is a cock crowing. I will use it, but will probably end up throwing it at the wall in the mornings! They're very loud.
Then we zipped off to church. It was a wonderful service, just an hour long. All the children went up on the stage to show what they'd got. It was very funny and sweet. But what thrilled me was that at the end two older ladies got up and showed their presents. One woman had a cake that her 84 year old brother baked. She said Christmas is special, no matter how old you are. I must say, there has been great emphasis on 'buying for the children' this year, but adults celebrate Christmas too, don't they? What if you don't have children? What if you've got children who are away, or in the armed forces? Are you not to celebrate, then? When you get to our age, unless you're with your own children or grandchildren, it's a very odd feeling, which I will take some time to adjust to. Mr O was adamant that he wanted it to be just the two of us on Christmas day, and right up until that moment it seemed just like any other day, but when that woman spoke, it finally burst on me what Christmas really is about, the birth of my wonderful Saviour. It's not about gifts, or snow, or food, or television at all. But I definitely think there should be more provision for older people on Christmas day.
We came home and mucked out, and got the horses in. I opened Max's present for him, which is a pack of treats called Stud Muffins. They look like truffles, and smell absolutely gorgous, and slightly alcoholic. He scoffed the one I gave him. I put the rest away.
By then it was time to cook the Christmas dinner. The table looked lovely. We had a bottle of chardonnay. As usual, my favourite bit was the pudding, I don't know why. It always has been, ever since I was a child. I got a 'Finest' one from Tesco, and it was gorgous. I have to have lots of cream on it, too.
After that we slumped in front of the television. I even missed the Queen's speech, what happened there? It was a lovely day actually, but I wish we could have ridden.
And now it's Boxing Day. We were woken by Mr O's new alarm clock going off at about 7am. The sound of a neighing horse filled the room. I woke up with a start and thought we must be very late and Barnaby had come in to get us! We went down and turned the horses out.
Then we drove into Matlock with Pongo, Missis and the boys. There is still lots of snow. It looked at least like Aviemore, if not quite Val D'Isere. We parked the car and joined the crowds walking down to the river that flows through the centre of the town.
Every year a raft race takes place down the river Derwent, from Matlock to Cromford Meadow, and all the competitors are in fancy dress, and it was quite a sight.
I was amazed to see how high up we were, and there is no barrier to stop you sliding over the edge of the bank, into the water, especially as it was still icy up there.
The photos speak for themselves I think.
You'd have to be mad to do it. The snow is only just melting today, and it was what my mother would call 'perishing cold'. We were watching them come under the bridge where there are loads of rocks, and nearly every raft got stuck.
People stand on the bridge and pelt them with eggs, flour and water balloons, as they come underneath, but this year some of the boats had water cannons and were squirting water up onto the bank. It was brilliant.
We came back and decided to have a late breakfast. Mr O went down to the sitting room, and there was a robin sitting on the windowsill (indoors!). How on earth had it got there? We didn't notice it fly in. Had it been there all the while we'd been out? I opened the back door, but it wouldn't fly up to the kitchen. In the end Mr O opened the sitting room window, and the robin flew out that way, thank goodness. It didn't seem distressed, fortunately.
We had a big brunch with eggs, bacon, sausages and huge slices of black pudding from the farm shop, that was gorgous.
I needed the sustenance to help me muck out afterwards. The water had switched off again, but Mr O drove down to the pump and switched it back on, otherwise the horses wouldn't have had any water.
Max came trotting across the field at tea time, determined to get in before Barnaby. He needs to be ridden, and the snow is definitely melting, so my hopes are up for tomorrow. Never has one person been so glad to see snow disappearing, and been so desperate to get on a horse.
Talking of which, Kauto Star has won the King George VI cup for the fourth consecutive year, beating my darling Desert Orchid, who won it three times. What a horse.