Christmas conjures up all sorts of delicious smells for me; roast potatoes crisping in the oven, that strangely appealing odour of crackers just pulled, the sweet smell of warm mince pies and even the slightly dubious ones (Granny!). But my favourite by miles, is the smell of salty, hot bacon wafting through cold fresh air as my husband and I reach the top of Leith Hill, the high point of our Christmas Day run. Add in the eye expanding view over the beautiful Surrey and Sussex countryside and there is no better place to be.
Escaping the chaos of our packed household on Christmas Day is a custom I have long bought into. Quite frankly all the fuss surrounding what is essentially in my mind an oversized roast dinner and the often conflicting ‘traditions’ imposed by visiting relatives can get all too much. Putting on my familiar running gear and if I’m lucky a new pair of Christmas socks and heading out that door whatever the weather, is my time. The best present I can give to myself (and I didn’t have to wrap it). My family have long accepted that this isn’t some sort of selfish lunacy (sometimes it is) but that it’s a drug free form of medication. I love leaving the warmth of the house and feeling my body adjust to the change in temperature and I love the fact that with a house full of people, these 60 minutes or so may be the only time my husband and I get to chat freely without the demands for batteries, hot water or frowns from parents in law about why our children are still in their pyjamas. Inevitably we bump into friends and exchange christmas wishes, laugh at our respective dogs playing chase and because we are British, comment on the weather. And it is that simplicity and giving my girls big hugs with cold hands on our return that makes my day.
And that smell of bacon? - well that is a tradition I am aspiring to and so come this Christmas, I will be heading out with my tiny MSR pocket rocket stove and a packet of bacon in my pack. So if you are out in the Surrey Hills and smell a hint of bacon on the wind, you know where to find us. We will pack extra.
All round lover of wild running and wild swimming. UK Athletics Fell/Trail Running Coach, SwimRun Coach and Personal Trainer in the Surrey Hills