Friday, 16 December 2011

A little bit Christmassy

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

The sun shines on a glittering frost. It is minus five; the kind of weather where I wear two cardigans, two coats, my special Fair Isle gloves from Kirkby Lonsdale, and thick boot socks, and I am still chilly.

I start to get a little bit Christmassy. I go to the village and buy many green plants. I am not having a tree, for various dull reasons, but am filling the house with small verdant things instead. The flower shop is a riot of laughter and seasonal spirit. I buy two scarlet cyclamens for my mother and take them to her.

‘I really am quite bored with packing,’ she says.

I pause. I wonder if there is some secret trip she is taking that she has neglected to mention. Is she on her way to Vladivostok to do espionage?

‘You mean wrapping,’ says The Stepfather.

‘That’s it,’ says my mother.

We discuss whether Kauto Star might defy the doubters and win his fifth King George. We hope for nothing more.

‘And I think I’m going to do a ham,’ I say, a propos of nothing.

My mother nods.

‘Quite right,’ she says.

I do small pieces of work. I read an interesting book for research about the pliability of the brain. I like to think of the plastic brain. It fills me with optimism.

I arrange some of the green things, and put the special silver eucalyptus in a vase, and make a nice little centrepiece of some burnt orange roses. I am still frantically disorganised. Every year I mean to start early, with the wrapping and the trips to the Post Office, and every year I fail. I think a little sadly of my dad. He was an impossible person to buy for, but I always enjoyed the challenge of thinking of something he really might like. There is no need for that now.

Darkness falls, and a low hunter’s moon hovers over the horizon. There is suddenly a commotion at the door. IT IS THE YOUNGER BROTHER. (In his special hat.)

We have a slightly odd habit of shouting at each other when we meet. ‘Madly,’ we holler, hugging and kissing. ‘Here we are, madly.’

Then, for no reason at all, we roar with laughter. It would really be quite embarrassing if anyone were to witness it, and I’m not at all sure why I am describing it to you now. But it is so lovely to have him back.

The Pigeon is beside herself. She does not know which bit of his face to attempt to lick first. She jumps up and down on all fours. She wiggles and waggles her whole body, like a puppy. Her adoration for him knows no bounds. She stops, suddenly, and gazes at him with ineffable love.

It is very interesting. She is fond of a range of people, although I notice she is less indiscriminate with her affection as she grows older. She doesn’t just fling it about. She loves all the family, especially the very small people. But she reserves a special place in her heart for The Brother, even though, until this last trip, she had not seen him for three years. I wonder, in my odder moments, if he has a slightly canine aspect himself, which she recognises.

Really can’t quite believe I wrote that last sentence. You can tell my sleep patterns are still not what they should be. The brain continues addled.

So, that was my day. I think I did listen to the news at some point, but it was too demoralising to take in. (Still same Eurosmash, still same dire economic news.) I felt sad about Christopher Hitchens, who died this morning. He was an intensely complex man. I remember seeing him arrive, years ago, at Hay on Wye, to give a talk. He baffled the eager young woman sent to look after him by demanding whisky in a tea-cup at four o’clock in the afternoon, so he could take it on stage with him.

His opinions caused intense division, and he could sometimes be a bit of a showboat, but I don’t think he ever wrote a dull sentence. That’s not a bad way to be remembered.


Photographs of the day.

The spoils from the flower shop:

16 Dec 1 16-12-2011 13-37-24

16 Dec 2 16-12-2011 13-37-38

16 Dec 3 16-12-2011 13-38-10


16 Dec 4 16-12-2011 13-51-27

16 Dec 5 16-12-2011 13-52-41

16 Dec 5 16-12-2011 14-10-03

16 Dec 9 16-12-2011 14-07-32

16 Dec 8 16-12-2011 14-07-25

16 Dec 7 16-12-2011 14-08-32

16 Dec 8 16-12-2011 14-10-41


15 Dec 11 16-12-2011 13-56-21

15 Dec 12 16-12-2011 13-56-30

16 Dec 9 16-12-2011 14-01-19

Christmas robin:

16 Dec 10 16-12-2011 13-54-36

Happy Pigeon:

16 Dec 20 16-12-2011 13-59-55

Misty hill:

16 Dec 22 16-12-2011 14-02-22


  1. Wonderful pictures today, thank you! No robins in sunny Arizona today -


  2. Tania. I haven't posted before, but it is two years today since I have been reading your blog and I feel that I just must tell you how much I look forward to your daily missives. My thoughts have been with you throughout your testing year and I am hoping that Christmas and the New Year will bring yon peace. I often catch myself talking to my dog about the Pigeon and her antics and i am constantly amazed by her resemblance to my parents dearly departed Labrador. Whilst I'm writing this could I put a vote in for two of my favourite words - fey and bosky - and could I also say what a splendid chair and matching handbag in your pictures!

  3. Tania - what wonderful pictures today! The Avenue, the Robin...just so pretty. A propos of nothing I too am doing a ham. Lou x

  4. I've been enjoying your blog since reading your book that was a cherished Christmas gift from a dear friend. I, in turn, sent copies of the book to two dear friend who I felt could benefit from the humourous yet so true perspectives on life and love. That's what got me going on your daily blog. The beautiful pictures of Scotland have me planning an excursion there--my parents were married there after the war and later moved to Canada. Many thanks for the book and blog and Merry Christmas! Cheers, Brenda from Ontario

  5. Robyn - such a treat to hear from sunny Arizona.

    Helen - what an incredibly lovely comment. Made me smile and smile. Thank you.

    Lou - hurrah for the hams. Am contemplating ginger glaze on mine as recommended by Nigella, but wonder if that might be overdoing things?

    Brenda - what a lovely message from Ontario. I get wildly excited when I hear from the International Readers. It seems a miracle that people should come to this little Scottish blog from so far and wide.

  6. Love the pictures. I love that side table (the one the handbag is on).

    Ginger glaze sounds fabulous to me. (My grandmother and I once mixed up all kinds of bibs and bobs from the fridge as a glaze, and it was marmalade, mustard, worcestershire, some other kind of jam...) Ham does well with almost anything. I am wavering between cornish game hen and duck...

  7. I wish I had discovered your blog before today. I want to subscribe but can't see how to. I am in London by way of the USA.

  8. Dear Catherine - Welcome. I love new readers. Also, you will find that I talk endlessly of American politics and the cultural differences and similarities between Britain and America, so you are my perfect reader. You can subscribe by RSS, if you press the subscribe button on the right hand side, or, if you press the blue follow button, that will also sign you up and the posts will appear in your Google reader. I sadly don't have an email facility, but I hope either of those might work for you.


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