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If you'd like to know a little more about 'Yours Truly' - I've been interviewed HERE

19 December 2008



Today it's my turn to welcome you to the Christmas Ride. Hop on the sleigh, wrap up warm and watch you don't spill your hot chocolate as we move off again. I do hope you enjoy your ride. Welcome to those of you who haven't visited my Blog before and hello again, lovely to see you, to the friends who have. If you've been on board the Christmas Ride since it started, collecting clues, I hope you're having fun and finding them all. If you haven't and would like to take part - don't worry. Details are given at the top of this page and at the bottom of this post as well.

Right, everyone comfortable, off we go with a visit to the Christmas tree farm. First though, do you know the legend of the Christmas tree? This legend comes down from the early days of Christianity in Britain. Saint Wilfred was a monk who was helping to spread Christianity among the Druids. One day he struck down a huge Oak tree, which in the Druid religiion was an object of worship.

As the tree fell to earth, it split into four, and from its centre grew a young Fir tree, pointing it's topmost branch towards the sky. The crowd gathered around the monk gazed in amazement.
Wilfred dropped his axe and turned to the watching people.

"This little tree shall be your Holy tree tonight," he said, "It is the sign of eternal life, for its leaves remain green all year round. See how it points toward the heavens. Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather round it, not in the wilderness but in your homes, surrounded with loving gifts and gestures of kindness." And so it is to this day.

This year, after twelve years, our artificial tree finally gave up the ghost and went to the great plastic forest in the sky...or did it? Actually artificial trees aren't as good for the environment and the planet as I had always supposed. An artificial tree is very difficult to dispose of and takes hundreds of years to break down, They also release harmful che
micals during production. So we went along to Chesham Christmas Tree Farm to pick out a real tree - they're environmentally friendly, helping to replenish the oxygen levels and absorbing carbon dioxide.

At the entrance is a
full size Father Christmas, and we passed by the little workshop where elves were busy making the gifts for Christmas. There are trees of many different varieties and sizes to choose from.

The Farm usually uses horses. Thomas and Ambassador, the Shire horses that help the work at Christmas Tree Farm, are working forestry horses. They are owned and trained by Steven Jones, who is a highly skilled forester based in Wales. Shire horses are a breed of horse used as draft animals on English farms for centuries. They are believed to be descended from English "Great horses" which were also used to carry armored knights in medieval times. The horses leave the fields in much better condition than modern tractors. Tractors running over the ground can damage the soil structure and reduce its fertility by compacting it. Horses weigh less than tractors and their hooves spread that weight over a larger surface area. As a result, even in wet weather, the field is not damaged by the use of the horses, and the farm tracks are left un-rutted.

Shires stand at least 17 hands tall (5ft 8in - 6ft/1.7m-1.8m) and weigh slightly less than one tonne. Despite their size, the horses have a very gentle temperament. Unfortunately when we visited, Thomas and Ambassador had not made the journey from Wales to do their annual task, because of illness (not theirs) but it was still a very enjoyable experience and a great way to purchase our tree. Hopefully next time we go to pick out a tree we'll be able to see these magnificent animals as well.

Before we left, having chosen our lovely tree, we visited the Christmas Tree Farm shop. It was like a fairy land, with loads of beautiful ornaments and decorations - and close to the counter, a full size sleigh with a moving Santa, Reindeer and little fawn. There were also woodland animals in various places around the shop, with twitching noses and paws, looking very realistic. They also sell things like magical reindeer food and special keys that only work for Santa, for houses with no chimneys. You can find out more about the Christmas Tree Farm, and how to care for your real Christmas tree HERE
Time to relax for a few minutes now with my gift for you - my short story on the Wild Rose Press site, 'A BARGAIN WITH DEATH'. Despite its title, it's very whimiscal and not at all morbid - although not exactly a ghost story, I think it would fit well with the tradition of sitting around the fire in the evening at Christmas, telling tale of the supernatural. Just cliick on the link above to go to the website and then click on the freeread book cover.You will be taken through the 'checkout' process, but don't worry, you don't have to part with any money, as it says, it's a 'freeread'. And if you'd like to be included in a draw to win a $6 WRP download of your choice, and a pair of blue rose earrings (The blue rose is very special to the heroine in my futuristic novel 'Starquest',) just leave a comment here and I'll get my husband to draw one name. I'll post the winner on this Blog tomorrow night. (Please leave your email address so that I can send you your prize if you win)
And to spread more Christmas cheer, we're giving one lucky person a
$75 Wild Rose Press gift certificate!

All you need to do to enter is attend each day's blog post, identify the carol, and make a complete carol list to submit after the final blog post of Christmas Eve. (You don't need to post today's answer here, just send to the email address that follows.) Don't forget to check the list twice! Send it to Christmasrideblog@live.com by midnight, CST Dec. 31st 2008! Don't worry if you've missed the stops so far, there's still time, just visit Patsy Parker's Blog for her post on the 29th November and follow all the clues for each day until today. Each Blog has the address of the following day's Christmas Ride entry. You'll find some fascinating articles and recipes on their Blogs too.

The clue to
My Christmas Song is:

"The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes." (There's another clue in some of the pictures in this post)
The next Christmas Carol contest link is: