Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Haar

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I was planning to write a post which just went: THEY’VE ARRIVED. I had it all laid out in my head. There would be a picture of the three children with their arms in the air, in wild excitement. The dog would be jumping about. It would be perfect.

At four-thirty, the Beloved Cousin rings.

‘WHERE ARE YOU?’ I shout, expecting her to say, ‘Just past Garlogie.’

‘Edinburgh,’ she says.

There is a pause. I can literally feel my brain being unable to process this information. I have been galloping about doing domestic things: there has been the making of a soda bread, the arranging of flowers, the plumping of beds. The man from John Lewis even arrived with two beautiful new goose and duck pillows. Last night, I had a sudden panic, decided my old pillows were too, well, old, got on the internet, ordered some heavenly new ones (half price in the sale), and less than 24 hours later, there they were on the doorstep.

‘The man from John Lewis,’ I declare to the kind fellow who brought them. ‘You are a miracle.’

But Edinburgh? It’s a hundred and twenty miles south. I attempt to pummel my brain into action.

‘I don’t understand,’ I say, lamely, to the stranded cousin.

There had been weather, apparently. The aeroplane had circled around and around Aberdeen, and then given up, and gone back to Edinburgh.

We discuss possible solutions; the hiring of a car, the taking of a train.

In the end, we think the train. We worry the cousin might become lost over the Cairn O’Mount. And it can be a three hour drive, if you don’t know the road.

‘Here’s a taxi now,’ she says. 'Haymarket or Waverley?’ she asks me.

‘Haymarket,’ I say.

‘Oh you poor thing,’ I say. ‘I’m so sorry.’

‘We’re keeping very calm,’ she says.

We hang up.

For a while, I actually think it is a joke. I think the clever godson put her up to it, that it is a mighty and elaborate tease, and that at any moment they shall call back and say:

‘Ha, ha, we’re just passing Raemoir.’

Then I look at the BAA website and it says, ominously, in capital letters: CONTACT AIRLINE.

Bugger, I think.

I call the Brother-in-law.

‘Have you got anyone coming in tonight?’ I say.

‘Yes,’ he says. ‘A venerable old gentleman.’

‘They are diverting the flights,’ I say. ‘I thought you should know.’

I still can’t work out what weather could be so dramatic as to stop an aeroplane, with all its state of the art technology. Lightning strikes? Fire and flood?

‘It’s weather,’ I say. ‘Although I can’t think what.’

‘The haar,’ he says.

‘Oh, of course,’ I say. ‘The haar.’

The haar is a wild, rolling fog which rushes in off the North Sea and envelops the city in minutes. It is a coastal phenomenon. We are thirty miles inland, and it can be bright sun here, and then you get to Aberdeen and you can’t see the hand in front of your face.

‘Poor old gentleman,’ I say. ‘I hope he will be all right.’

So now I sit, in the low weather, in my for-once tidy house, everything polished and gleaming and ready for guests, thinking of the four relatives on the train. They won’t even be able to see the sea, I think, on account of the haar. It’s normally a glittering blue view, but not today. I hope they have something nice to eat, I think. I hope the Cousin has a nice little dram of something, to cheer herself up.


Here, for a change, are some interior shots:

The house, before the Grand Tidy:

4 Aug 2

4 Aug 3

4 Aug 4

4 Aug 5

4 Aug 5-1

And after a little elbow grease:

4 Aug 6

4 Aug 7

(Notice rather plaintive Pigeon face. This is because I have been packing up the car with things for the charity shop, and she thinks I am packing to go away. So she is giving me the Disney eyes.)

4 Aug 7-1

4 Aug 8

4 Aug 9

4 Aug 9-1

4 Aug 10

Actually, what makes me laugh, is that there is not that much difference in the Before and After shots. It’s still a bit of a crazy muddle. I don’t quite know how I accumulated so much stuff. But I love my things, and feel lucky to have them, even if it does mean that my house is a bit antic. I do sometimes dream of those calm white rooms that the Scandinavians do so well. My Danish blood is clearly not quite strong enough.

But at least there are some pretty flowers in a vase, and all from my own garden, which feels like a bit of a miracle:

4 Aug 12.ORF

4 Aug 13.ORF

And when the dear guests finally arrive after their marathon journey, this is the face they shall see:

4 Aug 20

This is from yesterday morning, smiling her head off, because she has not yet seen the things going into the motor.

And here, somewhere lost in all that murk, hides the hill:

4 Aug 19

I suppose no one ever came to Scotland for the weather.


  1. Agh never been to Scotland. Is that not a crime? I love your before and after pictures; the most discernible difference being the light! No, honestly it looks wonderful and I am sure when they finally get there they will be very grateful for the bog clean! Lou x

  2. when I say 'light' I mean the warmth of the light in the second round of shots...rather than a lamp arrangement! Am off for wine now... L x

  3. I know, it's a "spot the difference" game... And when we twig, you say "haar, haar!".
    Truly, there's nothing worse than excited anticipation, followed by disappointment, but I can't think straight while today's dreadful economic news pours in: the crash is even worse than our worst fears... I shall be watching the news all evening, fretful, fearful and - probably by 9 pm - fuddled.

  4. It brings with it the finest of dampness. In bygone years, a French girl arrived in early August, I insisted that our views were fantastic, she didn't see the hills for days. Fingers crossed that the Haar is burnt off early tomorrow - my boys are off to Belladrum (Tartan Heart)
    Get the Wet, Wet Wet CDs out to welcome your guest?Scottish bands rock :)

  5. We have truly dreadful sea mists( brume) here in Brittany. My husband had to go back to London a week ago and the fog was so thick we had to crawl along the road. 3K inland the sun was shining, and luckily flights from Brest were running. So I do sympathise with you. If it's not volcanos then it's the fog!

  6. Lou - the light thing is interesting. Yesterday was almost all natural light, because it was sunny; today, I had to take the pictures with all the lamps on, because it is black outside. And do come to Scotland; it is the loveliest place on earth when not covered in mist and cloud. :)

    Dominic - isn't it awful? In all the domestic action, I forgot to listen to the news. So my mind is on bread and flowers instead of horror crash. Talk about head in the sand.

    Ladybird - Younger Niece too off to Tartan Heart. Do hope the poor things get a glimpse of sun.

    Trifle Rushed - the only consolation is the loveliness of the words for the weather. Brume and haar are rather magnificent.

  7. Your bookshelf is amazing, I am really, incredibly jealous. I have never heard of this "haar", nor have I been to Scotland. But when I DO go to Scotland I will be sure to not go during the Haar. Thank you.

  8. Well at least we arrived on time to enjoy the fruits of your labours.

  9. Tidy schmidy - I do think your home looks quite the most welcoming I've ever seen! Nothing worse than a 'show home' where you're scared to move. And I have dreadful cushion envy - those gorgeous red flowery ones look at me every time I go to John Lewis, just longing to come home with me... Hope your guests arrive safely very soon.

  10. The weather can be both so kind, so cruel and so bizarre...

    I hope their delayed arrival is a safe and no doubt happy one!

    And your home looks so delightful; all those books! Lovely...

    Bird x

  11. I was last in Scotland 20 years ago and I LOVED it.
    Your home is just lovely and welcoming and bookish - hope your family arrive safely. And soon!

  12. I'll come, I'll come. You won't even have to clean for me.

    Truly, looks lovely. Love all the books and the flowers most.

  13. I do hope they've finally arrived.

    I didn't notice much difference between the before and after photos except that the table is laid. I don't mean that as any type of disparaging comment on your housekeeping though - it looks amazingly warm and welcoming in all the photos. I must have been distracted by all the wonderful books and cushions.

  14. i just love your home - as a home should be, cosy, lots of books and flowers and those sofas are gorgeous - mind if i ask the name of the flowery fabric on the sofa??
    Enjoy the time with your visitors
    Best wishes

  15. Ah, I remember the haar in St Andrews. Looking up from my books to find that the view had disappeared in the space of a few minutes (during studying it is necessary to raise your head every few minutes).

    I am suffering from bookshelf-envy. Your house looks lovely. Also flowers in vase.

  16. Margarita - so glad you liked the bookshelves. Thank you.

    Lucille - so very kind of you to appreciate the labours.

    Samantha - I do absolutely love my special John Lewis cushions; so clever of you to know about them.

    Bird - you are kind. The book thing is a bit out of control, but I would not be without them.

    Em - thank you so much. And they did arrive in the end, and had a lovely time.

    Midlife Jobhunter - lovely comment; so glad you like the flowers.

    Alex - lovely thing to say; thank you.

    Anon - thank you so much. Sadly, the lovely fabric is no longer made. It was designed by my clever sister, who once worked as a fabric designer, and is getting very old and threadbare, but I love it still.

    Rebecca - love the picture of the St Andrews Haar. And thank you for your very kind words.

  17. Scotland is my "heart home" - I was lucky enough to go there twice, although when I think how long ago that was, I weep.

    Our Highland Games is coming up at the end of this month, and it's something my hubby and I never miss. We got engaged there one year, encircled by a bagpipe band! There is no feeling quite like that, I can tell you.

    Your house is.. it's... when can I move in? Floor to ceiling bookshelves? *clunk* Sorry, I passed out with jealousy there.


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