Monday, 1 January 2018

Family, Food, & Festivities - plus a Candle Scare and a Power Cut

My Christmas:  18th - 30th December 

Christmas means Family and we spent the day with G. St and Nh., opening presents and generally eating too much, with chicken, gammon, roast potatoes and parsnips, lots of sauces and vegetables, followed by mini meringues and fresh fruit salad  We were sent home with enough  food to give us two days' meals,  including a tray of lovely home baking. 

We are not a family for photographing ourselves, though I would have loved to see  a picture taken of G. and Co. in the roomy snuggle jumper she received from a work colleague!.  Plenty of  games are ahead for us playing  Family Trivial Pursuits which was high on the Niamh's Chritmas wish list. l

The week before saw Nh as a hyena in the school concert version of "The Lion King"   and  taking part in the school service in the Church.  As ever the little ones looked so angelic performing the nativity play. 

Christmas for me also means seasonal music  and enjoying all the carols played on radio's Classic FM.  I joined 40-50 others, carol singing in the Square  - a lovely evening, dry and not too cold, with a great accompaniment of a trumpet which helped swell the volume to get in the Christmas spirit. 

 Earlston Christmas Lights in the Square

The most inspiring music came from the TV broadcast of "Carols from Kings"  on Christmas Eve,.  - beautiful  and so  uplifting.   For once BBC did not dumb down, but let tradition triumph,  with the singing, organ accompaniment  and the stained glass and beamed roof of the chapel setting speaking  for themselves.   

Other musical higlights included the Andre Rieu concert from London - I think from the  massive O2 Arena. He has done wonders for popularizing classical music  and the huge audience clearly were in raptures. It is some time since I have watched the broadcasts which were repeated a bit too often on Sky Arts.   But I do feel showmanship has overtaken the quality of the music at times - in particular  the singing seemed one big shout.  I did particularly enjoy hearing  "The Holy City - Jerusalem" - that used to be often played on the radio years ago but is rarely heard now, so it was a treat. 

Other TV highlights - Strictly Come Dancing Special - frothy, but not too OTT. Christmas University Challenge with alumni, not students,  chaired in a genial manner by Jeremy Paxman. The questions were slightly easier so I could answer more which was satisfying! 

On BBC a new production in three episodes of one of my favourite childhood books - "Little Women" by Louise M. Alcott.   It stayed close to the story line, but the girls were all American actresses, amd they seemed to gabble the lines, so I found  their accents a bit difficult to pick up, especially when music is played over the dialogue, which seems the trend in modern productions. However by the final episode, I was both hooked and moved - by Lauries's courtship of Jo, and of course the death of Beth. 

Winter Walks:  The only downer on Christmas Day was the weather - pouring rain which meant we had no incentive to go out for an afternoon walk.  But the next few days redeemed themselves with bright sunshine - ideal for winter walking. 

Snow capped Black Hill, Earlston
Friday 29th December 
We woke up this morning to see snow at lower levels

The postman  giving a splash of colour along our road, 
with the appropriately named White Hill in the background.

The trees on the White Hill, from another viewpoint.
A Cautionary Tale of a Candle Scare and a Power Cut

Wednesday was an eventful night!   I had bought a little lantern, in the shape of a chalet with a red roof and a Christmas tree outside. I put a tea light in it and had it on the mantelpiece. But the roof did not come right off and it was tricky reaching the candle wick with a match and I dropped the match inside the lantern. In no time at all flames shot up and it was quite frightening. N. shouted for me to get a damp cloth and that did the trick but knocked the lantern into the hearth. 

We were so lucky - the wall is slightly scorched but I managed to clean the hearth OK so that has not been stained - I have always liked our fireplace very much and thank goodness the wood surround was unaffected.   But it showed how easily things could have been much much worse. I am not going to bother with tea lights and candles again. The result was in bed I kept having flashbacks of how close we came to a dangerous situation. 

To cap it all, N. stayed up late to watch a film  on TV, but woke me up to say the power had gone off - a rare event here.    N. found the big torch and  I tried to ring the emergency Scottish Power  number on our  landline but the phone would not work, so  would not work, so I hunted out my mobile and got a very helpful girl who confirmed there was a high voltage problem in the Earlston area (not a clue what that meant), and it could be two hours before power was restored. She asked if there were any vulnerable members in the household, so,  I thought I might as well for once play the age card.  Of course all that activity meant  I could not get back off to sleep afterwards and was a bit of a zombie the next day.   We got a phone call from Scottish Power in the morning  to check we had coped and were OK - a nice customer care gesture! 

To end with the Christmas spirit supreme:  

Saturday 30th Decenber 2017
A brilliant evening watching my Chritmas present from N. - a DVD of the Royal Ballet dancing "Coppelia" with Carlos D'Costa in the leading male role.  This was the first ballet I saw with my mother and aunt when I was about ten year's old - an ideal choice for a little girl with the feisty heroine, the handsome hero. comic story, beautiful costumes, and foot-tapping gypsy dances.  I loved it!  (Image is from an old postcard i had)   

Not a great photogrpah, but you can get the idea - A Visit from Santa Claus - when a "sleigh" appeared on our road with the a local rotary club collecting on behalf of the Dodie Weir Fund for Motor Neurone Research - a very popular Borders charity. 



 Journal Jottings
  recording my everyday life for future family historians                 


  1. So interesting to “see” a different Christmas. Love the splash of postie colour but it must have been a hazardous day for him with all the snow and perhaps ice. Whew, what a relief about the candle rescue! Over here you can buy battery powered tea lights...maybe a solution? We got very used to power cuts in Darwin so we aren’t bothered too much though a bread roll with ham was t the ideal New Year’s Eve dinner. In your case it would get pretty cold without heating though. All the best to you and yours for 2018.

    1. A belated thank you, for your comment, Pauleen. Yes, battery candles have only recently appeared here, and I have a set in a dark part of our hallway, but I will definitely not be using the real things again after that scare. Best wishes for 2018.

  2. Have been enjoying your blog and it fits right in with the goal I have for 2018 : to write about my life and share it with my sons and grandchildren.Of course it will include their father and grandfather. I have been writing, life stories, journals, web pages and on and on for years but it is time to start putting it all together so that is the aim... Yes I will be sharing it with family whether they want it or not - because one day they might and I won't be here to do it then. Congratulations on Journal Jottings Cathern Harrison West Island of Montreal Quebec Canada

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Cathern - much appreciated. The blog is primarily for my own interest, but it is rewarding to hear that other readers are enjoying it.