"How snug England is in the winter."
James Lees-Milne, 25 December, 1952
Christmas Day spent at Stow-on-the-Wold with darling old Deenie and Mama. No one else. Dick telephoned from Lancashire and Audrey sent a telegram from Nassau. Alone with D. it would have been easy and restful, but with Mama present it was not. She became vague, argumentative and cantankerous. Abused Elaine until I could hardly bear it and not too nice about Dick. I wrote to Dick and begged him not to pay too much heed to what she might repeat about me, for I should not pay any to what she says about him.
I walked in the afternoon down to Swell, looked in at the little Norman church and the manor with its Tuscan-Jacobean porch; then across to Nether Swell and on to Lower Slaughter and back to Stow. Very norther, dark, cloudy afternoon, the distant hills cold and water colourful. How snug England is in the winter, with the cottage windows lit up, warms fires blazing and Christmas decorations hanging from the beams. So pretty y’all the rooms were, while outside grim and dusky. This is England in the distant heart of the sweeping Cotswolds, with the sweet aromatic smell of log fires unchanged since my childhood.