first published in
The Good Christmas Guide 2017
Describe a typical Christmas Day in your household.
We scuttle off to our village church where people have gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus for over a thousand years. Tears well in my eyes when I think of the joy and laughter, the disappointment and pain that has been brought there through the ages. We return to a bizarre Christmas tree, made from a holly bush covered in baubles, and light the fire to help bind us together as a family.
Which was your best Christmas – and why?
Last year I spent Christmas in Africa, where my next book ‘Makorongo’s War’ is set. We sat watching wild animals in the golden evening light.
Who do you think would make the most entertaining guest to invite to Christmas dinner – and why?
Funnily enough it’s my aunt Hermione who makes Christmas and New Year fun but she lives on Loch Lomond, 500 miles north from where we live on the south coast.
What was your best Christmas present as a child?
My father gave me a read leather writing case when I was twelve. ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974)’ is based on the I diary kept inside it.
What is your favourite carol?
You’ll have to read my book Ride the Wings of Morning about the time we sang Silent Night in Afrikaans. We had a poor translation. Heavenly sausages descended on Bethlehem.
What is your favourite festive ramble for walking off all the mince pies and turkey?
We’ll take my lurcher Flint for a walk by the sea, a social activity as many of my friends have dogs.
If you could spend Christmas Day anywhere in the world, apart from at home, where would it be – and why?
I’d love to bring my whole family up to the Lake District for Christmas so Aunt Hermione could join us. Perhaps we should go with Flint next year.
This year we have been making Christmas wreaths to raise funds for charity, which was great fun. To see more, please click here.