It's nice for parents to know that their children have been known to fight over whose turn it is to have them for Christmas. In 1990, it was Katie's turn to have us, and Jon immediately spoke up for 1991.

When the question of Christmas presents was raised, he and Lyn suggested that they should offer us on our way up to Sunderland a night's lodging at the King's Arms in Askrigg (it was the inn where they spent part of their honeymoon, and is best known from the TV series "All Creatures Great and Small" as 'The Drovers'). Apart from being at home or with family, I cannot think of a better place to spend Christmas.

Our short stay there gave rise to this and the rather less serious piece of verse which will be found in another section of the book - though, as I've explained before, the comic ones came first.

The clouds race overhead in wild pursuit;
Their shadows on the fell reflect their flight;
Below the rust-red bracken on its flank
The remnant snow's a petticoat of white.

And many an exile half a world away
Would ache to see what lies before me here,
This best of all best counties in her pride
Flaunting her beauty with the closing year.

Beauty must fade, and all things have an end,
And I must leave this earth where now I dwell,
But, for this while, I taste the clear, cold air
And feast upon these hills, and all is well.

W. G. S.
December 1990