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The family reunion

Train tickets all booked, a change of clothes, a few essentials for the journey, enough warm clothing to enable us to survive the wait for the Ticehurst bus and off we set on Friday evening, out into one of the coldest nights of the year.

We stepped from the train into the white-encrusted world of the Sussex countryside, wending our way through clouds of exhaust smoke coming from the waiting cars so we could stand by the bus stop and stamp our feet to fend off the cold till our bus arrived. Our breath misted thickly in front of us as we peered at the timetable faintly illuminated by lights from the station – maybe 20 minutes or so till the bus arrived. Survivable, then. Just.

From Ticehurst village we walked the quarter-mile to our night’s bed & breakfast down a quiet hedgerow-lined lane bathed in the most eerie light imaginable. The searchlight brightness of a full moon shone onto the frozen landscape, darkness being turned into a transparent in-between world of strange shapes, blanched of colour and form, all the while the cold eating at our faces, our nostrils pinched with ice, lungs burning with the chill.

Such a magical experience for us city dwellers, even with the cold we were reluctant to leave this world for the warmth of our accommodation. So in the morning we just had to trek around the frozen fields before visiting our family gathered waiting for us nearby.

This weekend has been the family Christmas we missed this year. Lots of food and chat, lots of laughter, some presents, some drinking and some general lounging about.

Here we all are at The Bull, waiting to be fed, the two Trott lads looking scarily alike as we joked and reminisced. That’s me on the left with the bull picture behind my head.

Much of the weekend was spent tackling the Times crossword, some of us being better equipped for this sort of mental nonsense than others. By the end of the weekend my brother, Graham, had succumbed to the cold germs he brought with him into the UK from his home in Italy. We are now all hoping we have some natural immunity and remain unaffected.


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