Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Slight change of plan

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I was going to do a whole thing on judgement and tolerance and hypocrisy and double standards. I wake up with these ideas in my head, running around like sugared-up children after too many jelly beans, and I think: must make that into a good old blog for the dear readers. By the time I have had breakfast and taken the ladyships out for their walk, I have already shot off on at least seven tangents. (My patient co-writer will tell you that I never saw a tangent I could not love.) Then of course there is the caffeine injection, which does not necessarily help with any kind of zennish inner peace. Also, I am thinking of at least three different sections of the book which must be tackled.

The result is that sometimes, when I get to write the blog, it feels as if my entire brain has been fused by too much electricity. ZZZZZZ crackle explode it goes, like something out of those old black and white science fiction films. 'We can't save it, sir,' shout the operatives, in panic. And I stare at the screen, squinting, trying to remember what a thought actually is. I have been brought to my knees by too many ideas. Be careful what you wish for.

Sod it, I think, with the emergency generator part of my mind which is still functioning; I'll put up a picture of the dogs. I think now that is probably how the whole dog picture thing started. Then some of you very naughtily began encouraging me in that slippery slope, and now look.

All of which is a fabulously long way of saying: today is not going to be words, but pictures. It's a snow day; there will be no thinking, only gazing.

This is what I saw when I first went out this morning:

2nd Dec 4

See the ominous sky?

2nd Dec 3

Within moments, it had started snowing again:

2nd Dec 8

(When I look at that picture there is a cartoon voice in my head going: YEAH, SNOW DOGS.)

All the trees were white and sculptural and like impressionist paintings:

2nd Dec 7

2nd Dec 10

2nd Dec 11

2nd Dec 15

In all the white, there were the merest flashes of colour; the faint red of the rose hips:

2nd Dec 6

And the amazingly vivid amber of the Scots pines, which have taken on an extraordinary gleaming aspect in this light, as if someone switched them from monochrome to technicolour:

2nd Dec 9

The ladyships, normally invigorated as puppies by the snow, were slightly doubtful as the weather set in:

2nd Dec 12

2nd Dec 14

But then, like a miracle, the sky cleared, as if some backstage scene-changer was pushing the clouds away, and the sun came out, and there were startling flashes of blue behind the trees:

2nd Dec 16

2nd Dec 17

2nd Dec 18

2nd Dec 21

2nd Dec 23

2nd Dec 18-1

Do you see the bird up there on the rowan tree? She, and for some reason I am convinced she is a she, is a new visitor to the garden. She has been bossing the robin and the blue tits about like mad. She is twice their size, so she has the advantage of physical heft, but she also knows no self-doubt. I thought at first she might be a blackbird, but she is quite pale, and now I am wondering if she is a mistle thrush. If any of you are twitchers, can you tell me? (And forgive my crashing avian ignorance.) Here she is in close-up:

2nd Dec 20

A slightly random photograph of my dear old shed:

2nd Dec 22

(I love my shed. It is so damn Scottish.)

After all that, the poor pigeon got a shivering fit, and even though I am very hard-line on the Paris Hilton mimsy pampering school of dog owner, the only answer was to wrap her in my rather chic new blanket:

2nd Dec 24

Do admit.

Hard to believe that these were actually bred as working dogs:

2nd Dec 25

Thin end of the wedge very clearly inserted. Please notice the amazing sheen on the Duchess's coat. This is because while I was away the darling mother and the heavenly stepfather combed both dogs every day with a special implement. Parents hath no greater love.

Wherever you are, my darlings, I hope you are warm and safe, and not stranded in an abandoned car on the road to Dundee.


  1. Lovely photos as always. Iparticularly like the trees swaddled with snow. Beautiful.

    Also glad to read (though delayed in saying I think) that you are home and safe and warm. The roads in Perth seem worse than ever this year from what I have heard (and will have hopefully cleared up by the time I approach them)

  2. Those last two photos are a clear communication of the message 'we are spoilt, we know it, and we're worth it'. Quite right too.

    And I think it's probably a missel-thrush.

    We're very snowy too in Norfolk, but your Scottish scenery is winning hands-down.

  3. Siobhan - so pleased you liked the trees. They were my secret favourites, too. Do go carefully on those treacherous roads.

    Cassie - they ARE worth it, and terrifying conscious of it, you are quite right. SO excited if you think my bird a missel thrush. I was hoping for that conclusion. It sounds so romantic.

  4. Such breathtaking beauty. And the ladies in the midst of it all. Quite lumpy.

  5. Oh most beautiful photos. Nothing else to say but that!! Lou xx

  6. Dear Miss W - thank you so much. I know you keenly appreciate the dear ladies, as I do yours. :)

  7. Tania, here's a beautiful bit of serendipity for you.

    I typed 'missel thrush' into Google Images to verify our conclusion (which I think is right, by the way). The best photo in the first set came up, and I followed the link: it gives you the option to visit the page on which the image has been found.

    Then I thought "I know that site". It came from this:

    - and Willow Cottage Theatre is a completely amazing garden, 17th century cottage, and open-air theatre, in deepest Essex, where I performed each year between 1974 (when I was 11) and 1978.

    The owner, Dick Williams, went to glory just a couple of years ago at a very advanced age; his widow, Christine, keeps the place running; and the missel-thrush image I'd found was the illustration for 'Dick's Day' (an annual event in his memory): "The missel thrush (who built her nest in the antlers of the deer head outside the shed) is now raising her second brood, and we hope they will fledge before Dick’s Day!"

    What a happy coincidence.

  8. MAGICAL snow photos, especially adore the rosehips, but my favourite? the dear old pigeon in her blanket.

  9. Never mind the post! the pictures are heavenly and thank god you gave the dogs the blankets. I am sure they were chilled to the bone with all that snow.

    Yesterday was "supposed" to be the first day of summer. It poured. And its drizzling once again....

    The picture of the rose hips was amazing. I have never seen rose hips?? I have to go research them.

  10. What utterly beautiful pictures - especially the dignified stance of your two snow dogs.
    Every time I see your stunning place in the world I start missing that particular season. I'm now sitting here in summer and wishing for snow!

  11. Lou - so glad you liked the pictures. I fear I may be in danger of going into complete snow overload.

    Cassie - LOVE that story. Serendipity always makes me happy, and that was a dilly.

    Anne - so glad. You can't really beat a pigeon in a blanket.

    Mystica - so pleased you enjoyed the pictures. Funny to think of you across the world in a completely different season. The rose hips are what roses magically turn into when they stop flowering; little hard scarlet buds, conserving all their energy for next year's flowers.

    Em - this snow is rather amazing. Even in Scotland we don't normally get this much; it is like winters of old. I do feel very lucky though that I work from home and don't have to bash out in it to get to an office, but can just appreciate the beauty.


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