Yesterday was the village children's Christmas party. We arrived with full waterproofs and wellies after having hacked there through the snow. It took us a full ten minutes to get all our kit off, by which time there was a massive puddle of melted snow on the floor and a jumble sale of coats. All around the hall there were similar piles with meltwater oozing from them.
As is the way at such events, the kids disappeared, ignoring the tables where you could decorate a biscuit or make a Christmas card and instead went skidding on the shiny floor instead. The side of the hall with tables of activities had a lone adult sitting at each table, one making a Christmas card, another stringing beads, but the empty half of the hall had children skidding all over it, grabbing each other as they went and piling onto the floor.
Someone's gazebo had been put in the corner and one by one the children sneaked a peep into it - the older ones eyeing up the bags of presents and the younger ones so excited they couldn't help grabbing a friend and crashing them to the floor in their wonder.
There was the sound of a car skidding into another one outside and the door opened for Father Christmas! The children all suddenly started being good.
The youngest children were to see him first and I stood in the queue with our middle child, Maude, 3. She was a bit nervous, but went and stood in front of him and stared. He started making small talk about being good and such, but Maude pulled me to one side and hissed, "Mum, it's not Santa..."
"Of course it is, darling!" I cried, "come on, do you want to sit on his lap and have a photo?"
"Mum - it's NOT Santa - it's Joe the builder, I can tell by his voice..."
And she was right - it was Joe the builder. The photo is a classic - Joe the builder with his weather-beaten cheeks and crushed fingernails smiling behind this little girl who is frowning and trying to work out what was going on. Mind, she took the present...