A sunlit stroll with Simon Callow

Arnos Vale fir treeI just ventured out into the sunlight for the first time since being struck by a gigantic evil bug early on Sunday morning. What a pretty day – a great start to the year.

To make things even better, I took my i-Pod with me and listened to the Guardian Books podcast of Simon Callow reading Charles Dicken’s ‘The Christmas Tree’ – a fabulous mix of utter nostalgia and eerie ghost story with a touch of moralising for good measure.

I love his description of “that pretty German toy, a Christmas Tree” laden with “rosy-cheeked dolls”, “fiddles and drums”, “tambourines, books, work-boxes, paint-boxes, sweetmeat-boxes, peep-show boxes”, “trinkets”, and so much more – a veritable Christmas wonderland!

And then the ghost stories, so spooky, not least as I was listening while trudging through the muddy paths of the Victorian cemetery near my home.

A welcome end to the Christmas season and start to the bright new year.