by Lily Harlem
Winter is such a wonderful time of year and I adore everything about it. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against the summer; lounging on the beach with a cocktail and a good book suits me very well. But I don’t get that snuggly feeling at the approach of summer that I do with winter. The leaves beginning to turn and the mornings that hold a nip in the air are a promise of long cozy evenings snuggling up to Mr. Harlem. We like to open a nice bottle of red wine, light the fire and watch all the programmes we said we’d watch over the summer but didn’t. Yep, winter is great – soft jumpers, fluffy socks, tasty treats and long, long nights.
I live in the UK, miles from any big city and right out in the countryside – or the ‘sticks’ as we call it. Wildlife is abundant and often more so in the winter as animals brave the cold in search of food. But another thing that brings animals and people out is the age old tradition of The Hunt – which I have to say is another wonderful way of keeping warm in the winter. It used to be fox hunting but that’s illegal now so the hounds chase a synthetic fox scent that has been dragged over miles of fields and woodland by a quad bike.
The hunts are grand affairs full of pomp and etiquette. They always meet late morning at one of the biggest houses around. The hosts, usually the Lord and Lady of the Manor, dish out port, sausage rolls and fruit cake -sustenance for a day of riding and a little alcohol to boost nervous riders.
The horses are, in the majority, some of the finest creatures you will ever see. Huge athletes with their coats clipped to prevent them getting too sweaty and their manes and tales shampooed and set. And the people on them, well, they are of course impeccably turned out too, at least at the beginning of the day; by the end there is a considerable amount of dishevelment. The Hunt Master and his team wear bright red riding jackets with cravats and gold pins. They carry long whips to keep the hounds in order and one of them uses a brass horn to signal which way the hunt is going. I always study these men carefully; they are skilled riders and have had their positions in the hunt passed down over generations. They love the thrill of the chase, the hedges and gates that need to be jumped, the spectators along the way. Many are really very handsome as they sit there in the finery, and there is something about the way they are so calm and genteel at the beginning and then career off into the distance on their fine steeds. Beneath their exquisite tailoring and polite smiles they are adrenaline junkies, risk takers – watching them gets my heart going every time!
At the end of the day, as the light fades and mist begins to roll across the meadows, the hunt returns to the starting point. There are always stories of falls and near misses; horses and riders are sweaty and muddy. There are lots of smiles, laughter and raucousness as horses are loaded onto trailers to be taken back to their stables. Most people have hip flasks and you will see them swigging their whiskey or brandy as they chat about the next hunt.
So you see in the UK we have many ways to keep warm, belting around the countryside with a pack of hounds chasing a fox scent is just one of them. But the feeling of being outside in the cold, sharp air, flying over fields and hedges, trusting your horse and him trusting you is truly amazing, and sitting down that evening, tired but happy, makes you feel warm to the bone. So what about you? Any winter traditions where you live that keep you warm? I’d love to hear about them.
My latest release is Cold Nights, Hot Bodies available from Ellora’s Cave and I will be giving away a copy here at Whipped Cream. Also if you get time do stop by my website; there’s plenty of FREE reads and heaps of man candy!
About the Author:Lily Harlem is a multi-published, award winning author of contemporary erotic romance.
She lives in the UK and writes for several publishing houses including Ellora’s Cave and Total-E-Bound and features in numerous UK and US anthologies.
Her stories are made up of colourful characters travelling on everyone’s favourite journey — falling in love. If the story isn’t deliciously romantic and down and dirty sexy, it won’t be written, at least not by Lily. With the bedroom door left well and truly open readers are warned to hang on for a steamy, sensual ride – or rides as the case maybe!
Website – www.lilyharlem.com