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Christmas Newsletter 2010

Charcoal’s Christmas Newsletter

24th December 2010


Charcoal stretched his paws out on the towel Tess had put down for him in the porch. Above his head golden lights were strung in branches of fir, holly and ivy.

Inside, Tess was playing the music she only played at this time of year. He heard her humming and sometimes singing:

“Good King Wenceslas last looked out, on the feast of Stephen”

She was stirring up delicious smells in a saucepan.

“When the snow lay all about, deep and crisp and even…”

It hadn’t snowed for over a week but the forest was still white. On the roads and tracks the snow had turned to ice.

Charcoal pretended he was asleep but really he was watching for the postman. All around the village, cars had been sliding about and blocking the roads. Some had even crashed into ditches and lampposts.

In the garden, birds were searching the frozen earth for seeds and scraps of food. Worms, slugs and bugs had hidden themselves away from the cold but the robin always seemed to find a few.


Jackdaws guarded the bird table from the roof of the barn. Blue tits, great tits and sparrows made daring raids on the table while blackbirds and thrushes hopped about beneath it, collecting up the bits.

Suddenly a blue tit sounded an alarm. Immediately the other birds stopped what they were doing. A blackbird passed on the alarm call and several of her friends took up positions on the crab apple tree. The tits took the high branches of the cherry. Sparrows peered out from the cover of the yew tree.  All the birds turned their heads to the garden next door.

It was a cat! Grey, fat and grumpy, the cat crouched low on the path behind a thick shrub. Two hungry young blue tits had discovered a verbena stalk still topped with last summer’s seeds. One tiny bird was hanging from the seed head while the other waited his turn. The cat stalked closer.

Suddenly the young blue tits stopped eating. A magpie landed on the hazel arch in front of them. Its black and white body looked terrifying against the greys and browns of the winter garden. They turned to hop away and came face to face with the cat.

The female blackbird shrieked. A cacophony of alarm calls started as the other birds joined in. Charcoal leapt up.

Tess looked up from her saucepan.

“Oh no! Charkie quick!” she shouted.

Charcoal sprang out of the porch, around the side of the house and through the gate to the vegetable garden. Ridges of fur stood out all along his back. A long low growling sound started low in his belly. As he bounced to a halt, the sound exploded out of him.


The magpie fled.


The cat hissed, turned and ran.

The two young blue tits flew like arrows, back up into the eaves of the cottage.

The blackbird chirped a word of thanks to Charcoal. They had been friends for a long time. Charcoal had a shake to smooth his hackles.

Feeling suddenly full of fun, he trotted back to the kitchen door and gave it a push with his nose. Under the Christmas tree in the living room, he spied dozens of brightly wrapped parcels. Tess was still busy at the stove. This might be just the time to see what was in those parcels, thought Charcoal.

“Oy!” shouted Tess, “Not so fast!” You’ll have to wait until Christmas Day.”


Charcoal wishes you a