Two weeks in November

Two weeks in November

It’s been a little while since I was last here…

The march towards Christmas gathers pace, even though we’re trying to take it slowly. I’ve said before that I like to do things in order and savour all the late autumnal celebrations first, namely Halloween and bonfire night. But with a six-year-old in the house who attends school, there’s been much anticipation and preparation. They’re giving a Christmas performance of Puss-in-Boots and Joe’s practising his tin whistle. I’m getting a bit anxious about costumes as the messages he’s relaying don’t make much sense at all.

So far we’ve strung up fairy lights in the kitchen and living room. There’s a tangle of them in the (currently disused) fireplace, some draped across the bookcase and cupboard… but the kitchen isn’t quite as tastefully done. There are glowing red Santa lights around the window and multicoloured ones across the old inglenook. I don’t think we’ll be going for a co-ordinated Christmas. I might even - gasp - buy coloured lights for the tree too.

Childhood Christmases were all about the old, faded and fragile glass baubles which we excitedly reacquainted ourselves with each year, the tinsel and the odd little ornaments: a pipecleaner clown suspended on a gold ring, the little green-suited pixie. I remember when my mum decided to go for a more themed look and we went out and bought everything in red and gold. Those old family baubles were given to a family in need and it wasn’t until years later that I wished we’d given away the new ones and kept the old.

So this year, for Joe (and me) it’s not going to be contrived. It’s going to be handmade and maybe a bit gaudy here and there. I loved the coloured lights as a child and would sit there and stare into the tree, narrowing my eyes to make them turn into little stars. I could never decide which I liked best: red, pink, orange, yellow, blue, green.

The weather has finally turned after two weeks of sun and frost. For those two weeks, the wind wasn’t it’s usual Hebridean howling self. You’d find yourself layering up in jumpers, scarves and gloves only to be peeling them back off again.

We’ve been out and about: a steep walk to the lighthouse (and killer climb back) in the sunshine. We walked across the rocks and saw seals. I took Joe down to Stein one Saturday morning and we explored the beach. Jay met us after work and we had lunch at the inn. We’ve wandered up to the monument above the village at dusk and spotted a pair of deer, and looked out across the water.

We drove to Inverness on Sunday for an appointment, and will be heading there again on Saturday for some shopping. Things have to be done in advance when you live up here, and Christmas parcels need sending out. The drive there at the weekend was spectacular. We took a different route to our usual one, following alongside the railway line, and it was stunning. Setting off at 7am, we watched day break as we left the island and headed east. The mist was weaving through the pine forests and the water reflected the clear skies, pink and pale blue. The moon was still out. Frost was on the ground. We passed bracken-covered hills and open plains where the grasses were pastel shades of mint green and apricot, and herds of deer were grazing. It may be a long journey but it’s a quiet one and the surroundings are breathtaking.

The prospect of doing it again - three hours each way - isn’t exactly filling me with enthusiasm, but it has to be done. And we’re starting out later this time. The plan is to stay a little later too, so we can see the Christmas lights. And then Sunday can be spent relaxing with a film or two…

P.S. A sorry-not-sorry moment: lots of pictures of Joe here, but that’s because he’s my pet subject. I do, however, have a series of lovely frost photos too and will be sharing them soon :)