A New Year

A Happy New Year to you all. I’ve always found it a bit strange that the new year starts on the first day of January because it’s not tied to any cosmological or seasonal event that signifies a change or a shift. I recently discovered that the 1st of January was the date that Roman consuls took office (those Romans again) and that this was the start of the ‘consular year’; the Julian and then the (current) Gregorian calendars adopted this date as the start of the year since 153 AD, so it’s been around a while. That explains why the date has no real connection for me in Britain in the third millennium, I suppose. I’m not complaining though, it’s good to have pivotal day at this time of the year no matter how contrived it is. I’m not one for new year’s resolutions but I do like a new beginning, especially in the middle of winter, so I’ll take whatever’s going.

As it happens I’m actually – and I almost can’t believe my own eyes – possibly looking forward to the rest of January. Let me explain: what I’ve long enjoyed the most about Christmas is the cosiness, the time spent with friends or family tucked up in a warm, nicely lit room ideally with a real fire, drinking heavy ales or dark wines and eating enough cheese to sink an aircraft carrier. This year, although I did manage quite a few ales and a fairly heroic cheese tally over the festive period, the cosy factor was missing because this year the kids would not go to bed. Now I love my kids as any good dad should, but they will get in the way of some serious Christmas hygge if they are up all evening, every evening. So in a way I felt a bit cheated over Christmas itself, but not to worry because here comes the traditional post-Christmas hangover that we call January. This is my opportunity to do a bit of catching up on what I missed out on, and so: plenty of Christmas pudding still to be eaten, having made two back in the autumn that we had no call for over Christmas itself; supermarkets heavily discounting big stinking wodges of Stilton; unused gløg (Danish mulled wine) that needs using; several jars of mincemeat left and therefore more mince pies to be made (I’ve only had a paltry three so far); log fires to be had while the wind rages outside, providing yet more fire wood as the trees lose branches to the tempest. All in all very satisfactory and about as good as winter gets. On top of which I’ve been very much appreciating the tracery of bare trees, a beautiful geometry that is hidden except during the winter; birches in particular have been a source of much pleasure and I took this photo during a slightly murky but atmospheric walk in Epping Forest last week.

birch silhouettes

birch silhouettes

I am overdue a walk around the cemetery and will post some new photos soon. For now though, winter is alright. This is good.


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