I have cracked it. Christmas packing is something I have never mastered. Other people produce properly packed parcels with ease each one shaming my untidy offerings that are in danger of not reaching their destination.
My solution is to give books this year. Books are splendidly regular in size and shape. Even my limited packing skills can cope.
This decision is made easy because there are some fine offerings available this Christmas, many with local relevance.
Perhaps the best has its roots in Stroud Leisure Centre and includes a reference to a Nailsworth Cow Barn.
It is by cricket writer and publisher Stephen Chalke and contains so much about the character and charisma of the greatest game.
There are some pleasing words about my father, a Cotswold Forester so I may be biased but it is really fine. (Fairfield Books, 17 Georges Road, Bath BA1 6EY. Tel 01225 335813).
Title is Through the Remembered Gate.
A charming book for all ages is Nell and the Circus of Dreams (Oxford University Press). This is by Nell Gifford and Briony May Smith. Splendidly described by Nailsworth writer Katie Jarvis this is a story of family love, the Magic of the Circus also reveals Nell’s talents as an artist.
Pam Ayres has produced another collection of her poems “Up in the Attic”.
Pam is much more than a writer of amusing verse.
Throughout her book come true family values.
On her way to fame, and I hope fortune Pam has always remained true to her roots.
She knows and is proud of where she comes from and is also well aware of the world we all live in.
Her poem about parking in Cirencester is one that speaks for us all, but it is the one about Branch Lines that truly moved me.
Best of all of my Christmas choice is “The Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse.
This is a true joy and can be dipped into or read from cover to cover.
It leaves the reader amused, reassured, calm and rejoicing.
Reading it one is reminded how peaceful and worthwhile life can be.
It is written and illustrated in a simple but provoking manner, and is the perfect antidote to the pressures of modern life.
It should be the Christmas best seller, being a wonderful read for everyone.
The author is Charlie Mackesy and the publisher Penguin.
It is the perfect book.