On Sunday morning, Jon's mum* and I went for a lovely run around the heath, through the marsh, and along the river Alde. The plan was - as it usually is when we go that route - to meet Jon and his father at Snape Maltings, where there's a little café, for a cup of tea before all driving home together. When we rounded the corner of the concert hall on the grounds, though, we were surprised by how crowded it was! There are always walkers around there and we expected the house and garden shop to be busy with a last-minute Christmas rush, but the masses of families with young children milling around were a bit of a puzzle.
Finally, we figured out what everyone was waiting for: Father Christmas!
You read that right, dear readers. Santa came to Snape Maltings, Suffolk. As he has every Christmas since Jon was a toddler, Santa sailed up the Alde in a century-old barge (his arrival dictated by the tide, of course, because that's what happens when you don't have your reindeer with you) to wave to everyone, booming "Ho ho ho" across the water. I clutched my decadent hot chocolate in one hand and Jon's arm in the other, and we joined the the madness at the water's edge. The parents around us seemed more excited than the children, to be honest, but eventually everyone got into the spirit of things; I heard one little girl, perched on her father's shoulders, ask "Is Father Christmas bringing me a present today, Daddy?"
Santa was welcomed by a brass band and disembarked at the quay so that he could hold court in his grotto at the Maltings and meet every child individually. We made our escape before things got too chaotic, but it was such a fun surprise!
*I know that sounds totally pretentious and I'm sorry, but Jon's mother is his mum. She just is. My mother is my mom and his mother is his mum. That's the way it is.