Friday, December 29, 2006

Here we are again. Christmas was wonderful.

By a special dispensation, bordering on the miraculous, the east of Scotland was spared the weather which afflicted the rest of the UK (and nearly closed Heathrow). We had day after day of brilliant sunshine and serious frost. “Everything sparkles,” as Rachel the Younger observed.

This was dawn on the 19th, our first morning there...

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And it went on like that. James has taken up astronomy in his middle years – he was able to be out there with a whole sky-full of stars every night except one He showed me Saturn and its rings.

James and his children, Alistair, Kirsty and Rachel, plucking pheasants, below. The communal-activity aspect of this task did not last long. We ate the pheasants on Christmas Eve, and very tasty they were. My husband and I finished them off last night in a rather successful risotto.

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Christmas Day was the coldest and most brilliant of them all. James stopped his car on the way to Mass to photograph the frost effects – I hope I’ll be able to show you the results soon.

And Christmas itself was The Way It Used To Be. We even went on the Christmas Walk – some of us; Cathy and Ketki stayed behind and reduced chaos to order in the kitchen while we were away. You walk upstream a little bit to the Cultalonie Bridge, then across the burn and down through the farmyard and several fields until you get to Balchrochan, then across that bridge and back upstream through our own land. It was tough going, because of the hard frost. It would have been easier to sink into the muddy ridges than to try to balance on top of them. But we did it, me and my husband, James and Alexander, and Alistair, Rachel and James-the-Younger. Although my husband said, as we went to bed, that that was probably his last Christmas Walk.

This is what it looked like on the morning of the 26th -- no more sunshine; they've all gone away.

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Not much knitting; a few rows of Ketki’s gansey. I’ve done better with the Calcutta Cup sweater since we got back on Wednesday.

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