Parched

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Sitting here, now that normal service has been resumed, watching the rain beyond the window, the long, hot dry spell from earlier in the summer seems almost like a vague memory of a dream or a summer from long ago.

Just to prove that it really did happen, here are a hodge-podge of photos from several evening outings in July. The photo above, from Arnside Knott, was taken on an evening when we completed this year’s Limestone Grassland Survey of Redhill Pasture. It’s a good thing that we had the experience of last year to call on, because in the dry conditions, many plants had finished flowering and were almost desiccated and so very difficult to identify.

On still summer evenings, you can usually spot hot air balloons in this area. These days they all seem to be red and bear the logo of a well-known ‘fingers-in-every-pie’ corporation. (‘Jack-of-all-trades, master of none’?)

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Whilst we were away, I discovered, or I think, probably, was reminded, that the French name for a hot-air balloon is montgolfière, which I thought was rather charming. Subsequently, it has occurred to me that, we’ve missed a trick here in Britain by not insisting that televisions be called Logie-Bairds and  jet engines Whittles and computers Babbages or Turings and hovercrafts Cockerells and….well, you can think of your own examples and post them here on the Berners-Lee Web.

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Anyway, I digress. The Lots were looking particularly desert like. I found it interesting that tiny hollows retained their greenness – because more dew collected in them, I wonder? The hot weather and a series of fairly low high-tides had combined to make the mud of the Bay unusually firm and dry and the kids, well B in particular, were keen to drag us all down there to play cricket or throw a ball or a frisbee* around.

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The only downside of that was the smell – not overpowering, but not very pleasant. But a fairly powerful aroma pervaded almost everywhere. A friend suggested to me that it was the smell of decay, which seems reasonable: the woodland floor was carpeted with brown leaves as if autumn had come early and the scent was particularly strong there.

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The ditch which runs through Lambert’s meadow had dried up completely, and Bank Well too was rapidly drying out.

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Even now, when the weather has broken, I was told yesterday that the water in Hawes Water is a couple of feet below it’s usual level.

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Branched Burr-reed again.

Finally, a puzzle…

 

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…these flowers grow in the soggy margins of Bank Well and I can’t find them in my field guides. Anyone have any ideas?

*Frisbee – disappointingly, not the name of an inventor, but taken, apparently, from The Frisbie Pie Company, whose pie-tins were used as improvised flying-discs by Yale students in the 1950s.

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Parched

Another Orchid Hunt

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Cartmell Fell, the Kent and Whitbarrow Scar from Arnside Knott.

An unexpected window for an evening stroll. I set out intending to walk around the Knott, rather than up it, but, as you can see from the photo above, I did eventually climb to the top. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Some more photos from the garden first…

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As if to prove my point about fledglings lacking caution, this little ball of fluff, a juvenile blue tit, sat in the Sumach in our garden and didn’t move or flinch as I approached with my camera despite noisy entreaties from a parent bird.

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For once, I didn’t start from home, but gave the walk a kick-start by parking in a lay-by on the south side of the Knott. From there the view of Arnside Tower…

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…makes it seem to still be in a good state of repair, rather than the semi-ruin which the view from the far side, which I more usually post, suggests.

I took the gradually ascending path which has become something of a favourite, but then cut back down into the fields of Heathwaite…

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There were lots of Common Spotted-orchids, here seen with Quaking Grass – they often seem to be companions. I’d also been tipped off, by Craig who looks after the local National Trust properties and was one of the attendees of the Grass course I did, that there were some less common orchids growing there.

These…

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…which have been protected from grazing rabbits…

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…are Fragrant Orchids, which I’ve previously seen at Tarn Sike nature reserve last summer. There were also some growing outside the netting, rather bedraggled specimens, but I was able to confirm for myself the strong carnation like scent which gives them their name.

Nearby another netted area held…

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…Lesser Butterfly-orchids, another flower which I was seeing for only the second time, having unexpectedly come across one in a tiny churchyard, also last summer.

There were a few Northern Marsh-orchids nearby too, but they were in the shade and my photos came out even less sharply than the ones above, so I’ve omitted them.

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Dropwort.

I was also hoping to find the Spiked Speedwell which I’d seen flowering here last summer, another first last year, but couldn’t find any, which was not entirely a surprise since Craig had told me that the long spell of hot, dry weather was adversely affecting the speedwell.

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Looking south along the coast.

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A poser. The shape and colour suggests Northern Marsh-orchid, but the markings on the flower look like Common Spotted-orchid. They do hybridise, so that’s probably the explanation.

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By now the light was glorious.

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But the sun was beginning to sink.

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I had one more spot to check out. Craig had perfectly described a patch of bracken, by the path in Redhill Pasture, where there were more Lesser Butterfly-orchids…

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The path continues to skirt the hill from here, but was in the shade, so I decided to climb so that I could keep the light for longer.

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A thrush’s anvil.

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A thrush.

I made an unfortunate choice, following a different path than the one I usually take, which petered out leaving me stranded in very tall bracken, which might not have been so bad were there not brambles and blackthorn growing concealed by the bracken.

Still, the views were worth it…

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And there were wild strawberries to accompany the views – small but very tasty.

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Across Silverdale Moss to the Pennines.

Another Orchid Hunt

At The Water’s Edge

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When I quoted Heraclitus a couple of posts back, I already knew that I’d soon be posting again about pretty much the same walk – around the coast to Arnside and over the Knott on the way home. Here’s an alternative translation of that quote:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

My ancient Greek is not up to much, which is to say non-existent, so I don’t know whether this is more or less accurate, but I suspect the shorter, more pithy version is the correct one. However, this serves my purpose and works even better if I’m allowed some licence with the wording…

No man ever walks beside the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

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This walk, despite all the similarities with my trip with Little S, was also very different. We had more company, the weather was better and the tide was right in, which makes everything look different and requires some adjustment of the route.

We’ve done this walk many times, many, many times*, we’ve even done it on Easter Sunday before, although Little S won’t remember that since he was too little then to join us.

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It’s not often though that I’ve seen the tide this far in, the only occasion I can remember before was a fairly wild day several years ago.

 

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You can see from the shingle beach at White Creek that this is not a particularly high tide…

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We could see flotsam left much higher up the beach by previous tides, but it’s not often that we time it right to see it this way.

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Grange from White Creek.

The consensus opinion was that we should continue around the coast, although at times I wondered whether we would make it all the way round without getting our feet wet.

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At New Barns the road was clear; we’ve been there in the past when the sea was over the road.

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Closer to Arnside, we had to divert slightly into the small municipal garden because the water had completely covered the riverside path.

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And then we had to clamber along some rocks to reach the path by the Coastguard Station….

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We had a table for eleven booked at Gado Gado,  Little S and I having decided that it definitely passed muster after our scouting mission a few days before, and despite the high tide we timed our arrival perfectly. (I had booked the table pretty late, knowing full well what we are like.)

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Once again the food was excellent, or at least my scallops and tuna were. I tried A’s vegetable curry and that was also delicious, and it seemed that everybody else enjoyed their’s too.

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Once again, we took a circuitous route up Arnside Knott. The views were superb as usual, but it had turned quite gloomy so I didn’t take any photos. The Coniston Fells, and Fairfield and Helvellyn all had a good covering of snow and we could even see the snows on Skiddaw, over Dunmail Raise.

From the trig pilar, we decided to take the path around the south side of the summit, which skirts the top of the steep scree slopes and gives a bird’s-eye view of Arnside Tower Farm, Middlebarrow Wood and Holgates Caravan Park.

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Silverdale Moss and Ingleborough in the distance from the Knott.

*I love radio comedy and Little S and I have been listening to Round the Horne. He seems to have particularly latched on the Betty Marsden’s catch phrases ‘many times, many, many times’ and ‘allo cheeky face’. I shall be trying him on Hancock’s Half Hour next.

 

At The Water’s Edge

With Heraclitus to Arnside

Post Office – The Lots – The Cove – Far Arnside – Park Point – White Creek – Blackstone Point – New Barns – Arnside – Gado Gado – Dobshall Wood – Arnside Knott – Arnside Tower – Eaves Wood

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“δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης.”

This is an oft-quoted statement from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus which has been variously translated, but the consensus suggests something like:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice”

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It seems apposite here because, hard on the heels of my recent walk around the coast to Arnside, here I was repeating yet again one of my favourite walks in the area.

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Showers track across the Kent Estuary.

This was a very different walk however. Firstly, we began by walking in the wrong direction, posting a birthday card in the village and then looping back across the Lots. Secondly, I had company: Little S and I were off school together for a week. This wasn’t our only walk, we’d been out foraging for Ramson leaves to make soup, something Little S has always been keen to do. (There’s a recipe here in a previous post). And we’d also taken a small ball for a wander around The Lots – Little S is very keen to improve his catching and throwing at the moment – he takes his rugby coaches’ advice very seriously.

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Whitbarrow Scar catching some sunshine amongst the cloud.

The tide too was much further in and we had more difficulty crossing some of the little wet channels around the edges of the river than I had previously.

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Kent Viaduct.

And the weather was a complete contrast: although we had sunshine, we could see dark clouds and obvious showers tracking across the Kent ahead of us.

Another difference was that we had a destination for our walk – Gado Gado, a restaurant on the prom at Arnside. Little S enjoys spicy food, but since his brother doesn’t, he saw our week off together as an opportunity to indulge his tastes. We’d already had a vegetable curry, bread with jalapeño chillies in it with our Ramson soup, and I’d made a spicy roast vegetable dish and a rice and lentil pilaff.

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At Gado Gado we had Chicken Satay and Beef Rendang which were both delicious.

We were very fortunate with the showers, we managed to avoid them altogether, but just as we settled into our seats in the restaurant it began to rain outside.

Like Heraclitus, Little S is something of a philosopher and tends to fire out questions which are almost always off-the-wall, usually both amusing and thought-provoking and consistently undermine any ideas I might have about my status as parental-font-of-all-knowledge.

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I was feeling a little fitter than I have been and Little S was keen to return via the Knott. We took a circuitous route however, to take the sting out of the ascent.

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Arnside Knott view.

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S took advantage of my slow plod by climbing every tree that he could on route, including this one which seemed a bit flimsy and which shed twigs and small branches as he climbed it.

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The views from the Knott are always superb and more than repay the modicum of effort required to get to the top.

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Arnside Knott panorama. Click on the image, or any others, for larger versions on flickr.

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This tree, which is near to the trig pillar…

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…must have fallen over long ago, but has doggedly continued to grow, with all of its limbs  turning skyward and now it’s another great addition to Nature’s Playground.

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Silverdale Moss from Arnside Knott.

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Arnside Tower.

With Heraclitus to Arnside

True Love Travels…

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Shingle beach at Far Arnside.

Suddenly, I’m a behind again. This images are from a fortnight ago; one of those BWOOs (Brief Window of Opportunity) where I found myself with a couple of hours to spare on a sunny Saturday afternoon. At this remove, the images look quite spring-like, and there were plenty of primroses on the bank on Cove Road where they always seem to appear earlier than anywhere else…

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But in truth, the wind was stiff and Siberian, a herald of the snows which would arrive later in the week.

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Buzzard.

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Meathop Fell seen across the Kent Estuary.

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Bullfinch.

I opted for a slight variation on an old favourite – following the coast past Far Anrside and White Creek to New Barns, near to Arnside, but then climbing over the Knott and home again.

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Arnside Knott panoramas (click on photos for larger versions)

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I’m always tempted to photograph the pale shingle at Far Arnside, and this time I did…

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…which set me thinking about the various surfaces I would traverse on my walk.

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Wet sand.

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…with or without shells…

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Harder, drier, ridged sand.

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Leaves and twigs in the woods.

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Mud on the Knott.

This…

…seemed like a suitable musical accompaniment. Apparently, the song was first popularised by Elvis and Percy Sledge also had a hit with it, but it’s this version by Nick Lowe which I know.

I could, and should, have extended the walk but rushed back to watch the Calcutta Cup on the gogglebox. For England Rugby fans true love certainly travels by a gravel road.

 

True Love Travels…

Big.

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I wasn’t thinking of the Tom Hanks film. Nor of the outrageously good ‘Big Chief’ by New Orleans maestro Professor Longhair.

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Not even of big children, although they do insist on growing up despite my insistence that they should slow down a bit.

The phrase ‘big kid’ was on my mind a little…

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…usually it’s the children who have to be encouraged to leave the play ground in the caravan park so that we can get on.

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On this occasion, it was the children all piling onto the swing and making it uncomfortable which persuaded TBH that it was time to move.

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This is not a big castle…

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…although I suspect it was once quite an impressive Pele Tower. Nor was our walk particularly huge; we were only going to Arnside and even then, not around the coast, but over the Knott, because we were late setting off (as ever) and wanted to reach Arnside for a late lunch.

The flooding on Silverdale Moss was quite impressive…

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…but that’s not what I had in mind.

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Arnside Tower Farm.

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Panorama from the Knott.

Arnside Knott is certainly not a big hill, although it does boast expansive views.

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Incidentally, this is the boys new favourite tree – The Ladder Tree – which has at least partially supplanted the tree at the top of the post in the boys affections. B actually climbed much higher than this but this photo shows why they call it the ladder tree – because of the handy series of evenly spaced branches which have grown across between the twin trunks.

By the time we reached Arnside it was very late for lunch, but the cafes were all still heaving. We managed to get seats in The Old Bakery (the Pie Shop to us) only to find that they were out of both Sausage Rolls and vegan options. We decamped and ended up in The Big Chip Cafe, adjoining the Fish and Chip Shop. At this point I have to say that I am full of admiration for those people who have the forbearance to photograph their food before they eat it. By rights, there should be a highly appealing photo of a fish supper here, but I’d eaten it before it occurred to me to take a picture. You’ll have to imagine it. Very nice it was too. Ages since I’ve had fish and chips. I can heartily recommend the haddock and chips (and the small portion is quite big enough).

So: The Big Chip Cafe explains the post title. Except….

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…when we left the cafe it was evidently too late to fulfil my design to get a walk around the coast. We took a shorter route which sort of curled up and around the Knott. And the big, late-afternoon, winter skies…

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Were fantastic.

When we reached Eaves Wood, I couldn’t persuade the others to come back up to the Pepper Pot with me.

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Big mistake.

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Even though the sun had long since set, it was a perfect, still evening and the views were superb.

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Bit cold though. I eventually stumbled down through the dark woods and home to listen to the dub version of Black Uhuru’s ‘Right Stuff’, which, due to the curious workings of my grey matter, the Big Chip always puts me in mind of.

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So maybe it was the Big Chip, or perhaps the big skies, or possibly the Black Uhuru song, or probably some combination of them all. Who knows?

Now: Fish supper with – mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy, tartar sauce, ketchup or none of the above?

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Big.

He’s Behind You!

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Coniston Fells from Arnside Knott.

Three walks, from a weekend most memorable because the children were all appearing in the pantomime with the Silverdale Village Players. Oh no they weren’t! Oh yes they….etc etc ad infinitum.

Early on the Saturday morning I wended my way down to Leighton Moss. Wishful thinking on my part – I thought I might repeat the marvellous experience of a few days before.

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But although it started bright, it soon clouded over and became very dull.

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Not only did I not see any Otters, even the small birds and ducks which had been so abundant seemed absent. Or perhaps they were all just circling behind me and gurning at the audience in fine panto style?

On the Saturday might, as we left the Gaskell Hall after watching the performance, it was snowing quite heavily. By the following morning however, most of the snow had gone.

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Kent Estuary and Eastern Fells from Arnside Knott.

After four successive nights of performances, all of which finished quite late, the kids were exhausted and I couldn’t prevail on any of them to join me for a short stroll on Arnside Knott.

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Panorama looking towards the Lakes from Arnside Knott.

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Later, I was out again – to The Cove naturally.

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I’m nothing if not predictable. Oh no you’re not! Oh yes I ….etc etc. Until next Christmas.

He’s Behind You!