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coworth parkA crisp and cathartic British winter morning, embraced with a faint memory of Christmas past and a delicate whisper of a coming new year. That was today.

We filled a little time between Christmas and New Year with a morning stroll around Coworth Park, one of the Dorchester’s finest retreats that caresses the fringe of Windsor Great Park.

The week between Christmas and the start of a new year is a strange one. We reach it by climbing the tinsel-clad rungs of the festive ladder to the tune of All I Want for Christmas with a neatly folded 10-foot shopping list and a tinge of anxiety in our breast pockets. Unless you live remotely where Tesco delivery is not possible, then you’re inadvertently part of the escalating joy. There is no escape. It is on the radio. The TV. The playground. At work. At the supermarket.

But our ticket to being officially joyous during this occasion is parenthood. Being a parent brings you a shot of Christmas magic each year, and although it’s for just a short window in the greater timeline of a life, it is the only part of Christmas I conclusively love. The nativity play, the glittery artwork of angels and Santas, decorating the Christmas tree, writing and giving cards, and sharing the overindulgent day itself. Amid all this, there’s the urgent need to remind about the true essence of Christmas – the birth of Christ, the togetherness of family, the giving and sharing of goodwill. And at the end to savour the brandy-soaked fruit and nut crammed Christmas cake, drowned in fresh custard.

The lull and slumber of Boxing Day sluggishly rolls into 27 December. The day after Boxing Day. Once the villi in our gut regains consciousness we acknowledge the perpetual roller coaster has swept down the cusp of the track and is slowly climbing once again to the next cloud-topped arc. It is ‘that week’ – the still and quiet week. We are heading towards a new beginning, a new calendar and 12 pretty pictures. A time to silently make our futile resolutions as we desperately look forward to the back-end of January.

Today I was aware of this strange ‘in between week’ while we strolled around Coworth Park’s grounds and then stepped into the hotel lounge for coffee. The sun stretched in through the old Georgian windows and drenched us in a swirl of momentary bliss and calm as we sipped from the fine bone china cups. Classical music softly ebbed its notes into every corner and filled the space with even more beauty. Unwrapping this splendid morning of togetherness without Santa Claus and his chatty entourage was beautiful. Just splendid.

Happy New Year all.

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