Wow! Look the feeding frenzy known as Christmas is finally over! The cards, the presents, the Need to Eat Turkey is over for another year... and all is quiet - and er strangely green. The other day the Nedster and I emerged from the house to be dazzled by Green Grass. Great patches of the stuff amongst the slush and ice.
Grass wow.
And green?
Ah.. green and peaceful. Lovely...

But hang on... whoah... the peace was too good to last...
Yes the trauma known as a Scottish Hogmanay is right around the corner.

Here it comes. The need to Clean the House.. the need to party like it's Saturday to the power of 100... count down to the BELLS..then kiss everyone... to sing Auld Lang Syne like you know what it means...munch on black bun and shortbread... and go First Footing.
Damn, I need to find a Dark Haired Man to cross my thresh hold with a piece of coal and a bottle of whisky asap.

Meanwhiles Happy New Year! Wish me luck in avoiding Old Mac as the bells ring...
And feel free to join in the ritual singing of gibberish...

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne

They say it's better to give than to receive. I'm not sure of that, seeing's as how already this morning I have received

1. From Ned A walk in clear fresh air through glistening snow in the back woods. (He's a working dog, but seems to earn very little over and above a bowl of Bakers Complete once a day...)

2. From Old Mac, an invitation to the Social Club for drinks later, (on any day apart from Christmas this would be a Worry..)

3. From the Cherub a Present that Cannot be Disclosed, but meant he not only had to navigate a Shop that sells Girly Stuff but also had to Gift Wrap on his own...

4. From the neighbours at No 3 an invite for G&T later (they got my number...)

So as an experiment, here, thanks to the Wonder that is Online Shopping in Virtual Reality comes my Christmas Gifts. Chosen for all those whose blogs and comments I've been enjoying for the past year.

Mr Musgrove - A Christmas Jumper! (Sorry Kev...The Book of Cynicism was sold out...) Yes, yes, yes, I kept the receipt

Roses - THIS Ivy Plant will never die!! See the advantages of virtual reality???

Clyde - Remember those jeans you used to wear in your background picture??? I'm assuming the new dark background means that the old jeans needed replacing....

Rog - Because the Cucumber Bowls last year were a Triumph...

Barb - The Einstein Time Experiment is continuing even as I type....

MmE DeFarge - I know it's been a tough year.. and I k now you are currently out with real huskies, but look, when you get back, have a virtual husky pup from me.

Will the Cute Never End??

Vegetable Assassin - How tough are you to choose presents for??? Mind you since you still seem to have the MOUSE problem...

Nick - AHA! See! You are not so difficult to find pressies for!

Scarlet - Your blogging this year has been woeful. However your past glories live on... I thought you might have use for these guys down south (so to speak..)

And KAZ! I KNOW you're out there. As if I could forget (seeing's how I'm pinching majorly from your blog...) So I'm sending you the best Christmas present anyone could ever want.

I hear his bedside manner is second to none.

And then there's Charlie!, Mapstew, Pat, Pearl, Libby, Malc, Kurt.... all of you guys. I'm sorry I'm running out of time here. What can I do except share my favourite advert of all time.

Check out The BRIDGE (look out for me waving)... follow through to GLASGOW via the Falkirk Bridge and Eileen Donan!

Merry Christmas

Macy

X

Does anyone not know it's the shortest day? This is when the earth finally starts hauling itself around to Spring again - or Autumn as they call it in the Southern Hemisphere. It's also been a day that started with a lunar eclipse.

So it's somehow fitting then, that this is also the evening when Cheesetown Parish Church holds its service for the dead. Or more specifically the bereaved. The Recently Bereaved are invited to attend a service - and I'm still recently bereaved in their books, because I got an invitation.
That's what I was doing at the church. Attending a service because I've been invited, and it's bad manners not to go.

Right...yeah...being polite - and waiting on a sign.

Didn't get one

That'll teach me to be cynical...

Did you know that when your gutter falls off under the weight of 20 cm of snow, it sounds like 35 cats being dragged off the roof all at once? Claws screeching down the tiles, before landing with aloud thump on the perma snow below.

Well it does. I know this because my gutter finally went south last Wednesday. It's not a biggie; gutters have been falling down all around Cheesetown. Some poor souls have lost conservatory roofs and sunporches to the snow sliding off their roof. Since The Nedster wasn't patrolling the back yard at the time, we can afford to be sanguine.

She Who Walks is just going to have to become She Who Phones.

And I found a gutter repair man on only the third attempt!
A gutter repair man in possession of a 4x4, who can visit the scene of the disaster and pronounce "Aye, its straightforward enough, ken* but there's no much ah kin do thi now"

Because of the snow?

Nah, yi cannae get the materiuls.. there's nae guttrin anywhur ken"

It's the unreported calamities that are the real news of this Big Freeze. Our wee nation state has run out of building materials!
Lesson 10 Snow can disrupt the laws of supply and demand.

*"Ken" = "you know" if you live on the East Coast. Every time I hear it I'm reminded of the old Leslie Nielson joke
"Surely you can't be serious?"
"I am, and stop calling me Shirley"

She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways

And went her messages by helicopter

(W Wordsworth + T Leonard)

Bear with me, Canadian readers especially, I know, I know I've mentioned the snow before... I know that as a News Item, it's marginally less interesting than cat coughs hairball.. but look if it's boring you, it'll all be over by next April..

Meanwhiles

Meanwhiles here in Cheesetown it is the gift that keeps on giving.

As of last Sunday it's been three weeks (count them!) three weeks since the Mazda got its last outing. We have main roads open, but the road through the square, and most definitely the hill out of Macy's is still under a couple of inches of snow and ice.
This makes driving a lightweight two seater, rear wheel drive sports vehicle impossible.

As far as I know you can't fit caterpillar tracks to a Mazda.

Three weeks is a long time if you live in the back of beyond - and for these purposes "Back of Beyond" is defined as more than 4 miles from the nearest supermarket.

Organised people will of course have ordered online from Tesco direct. People continuing to live in a state of denial about the weather won't.

And people fast running out of life's necessities such as pasta, dog food and wine are liable to have stupid ideas. Which is a very long explanation of how the dog and I came to spend most of Sunday afternoon crunching through the deep and crisp and even etc between Cheesetown and our nearest superstore.

Today's moral. Always buy the wine in the BOX.

Sometimes it occurs to me I do actually have a purpose in life, I am possibly a fantastic example of what not to do. A fantastic Warning to Others. Really.. I mean here's a few lessons I learned yesterday.

Lesson 1. Do not ever, never ever ever believe the weather forecast over the evidence of your own eyes. Look at me! Early yesterday morning whilst climbing over the snowbanks on either side of the main Cheesetown road, through the latest in what was one of our now regular blizzards, I continued to believe that we would have mild wintry showers, clearing later. All the snow was going to move south. Today all snow would be English Snow.
And just as well too, because I mean who much longer can anyone work from home? Chiz at this rate The Extremely Eminent and Respected Institute of Edinburgh is going to find out what a doddle my job is, and find a cheaper chimp to do it.
Except when I tried to buy a new weekly season ticket to Edinburgh my bus driver said
"Are you sure???"

Lesson 2. Your bus driver might know something you don't.
Four miles down the road it was clear that The Met Office might have been a bit economical with their adverse weather warnings. By the time I got to the Institute the Athens of the North had just become the Reykjavik of the South.
However Penny is not a woman to be easily panicked. through all the rumours "the trains have been cancelled! The M8's blocked! There's no bus services!" she continued to maintain that it would all just blow over.

Lesson 3. Your boss is not ever and never a meteorological expert. Not even if she works in the Met Office (see lesson 1 above)
At half 12 despite Penny's predictions, the snow had failed to blow over, melt and resolve itself into a dew. So we were Sent Home. All we could do was share cars. Which is how I came to share a car with Big D. The Institutes's most learned and senior Expert in Things Obscure.

Lesson 4 It pays to have a fund of small talk, because you never know when you're going to be stuck in a car with a Senior Member of Staff. For four hours.
For four hours (count them...) we inched slowly out of Edinburgh, with a couple of thousand other cars. At one point we spent no less than 40 minutes watching the traffic lights around the Gyle change from red to green and back to red again without moving a single inch.
After the first four hours it was dark. Between us Big D and I had agreed on the causes of the Banking Crisis, the futility of Fair Value Accounting and the likelihood of the stagnation of the economy failing a reformation of the banking regulations (Did I mention I am good at talking?) We'd agreed to disagree on the brilliance of Mad Men. sigh And from the traffic news it was becoming clear that the entire central belt of Scotland had had a total collapse of its traffic infrastructure .

Lesson 5. Sometimes you can be in the middle of a National Emergency and it is still boring.

Lesson 6. You can always walk.
Did I mention I'm good at walking? I can walk. Hell in these conditions I could walk faster than any other vehicle on the A80. I wished Big D well. He had to get to Glasgow, and on current calculations wasn't due to arrive there much before midnight. And he wished me well as I strode off into the dark and snowy wastes which were the fields behind the airport. Because I knew a shortcut back to Cheesetown. Ha! It's only 3 fields from the end of the runway. Which is why I also now know

Lesson 7. Walking alone over fields through in the dark is stupid.
It is stupid because it is dark and the only reason you can still see anything is because of the white glow that comes from the snow, which is freezing, and over the top of your wellies. And the white glow and the freezing fog make it scary.
Super scary. Scary enough that I have to rehearse my happy thoughts for the hour it takes me to cross over to the old mill.
Thoughts like "Well if anything does happen to me at least it'll be an interesting death. If any bastard does leap out the bushes, hes not getting the iPhone...If anything does happen The Cherub is well provided for ...

Lesson 8 Never underestimate the comfort of adequate Life Assurance.

I like to think that some sense in this somewhere, because I got home last night. Hundreds didn't.
Big D spent the night in his car somewhere on the M8. I like to think he had time to re-think his opinion of Mad Men.

Snow? I know.. I know.. I know.. I don't want to write about snow either. Everywhere's got snow. It's white stuff and it falls on you. And it's cold and Canada gets more of it.... but listen up we had 30 cm of snow.
That's a lot of snow.
For Cheesetown.

Taking one border collie as a useful unit of measurement, this is what six centimetres looks like...
Just past paw level. Pretty huh? Add some tinsel and it'd be festive even...

This is what 30cm of the stuff looks like.

See the difference? This might be funny if you want the dog to suffer for getting you out of bed at 5:30 for the third morning in a row...
But with the snow also over the tops of your own wellies it gets less funny fast.
Trust me on that...

30 centimetres... well 30 centimeters means..
• It means that the snow is six inches higher than your doorstep. Open the door and it falls in on you.
• It means that Cheesetown looks like a village of midgets, as all the gravestones are only a couple of inches above snow level.
• It means that the entire world is silent..because Edinburgh International Airport is closed for days. The whole runway! No airplanes!
• And it means that there's no cars, no buses...there's no transport in or out of Cheesetown. The BRIDGE has closed for the first time in 46 years.

And in a fresh twist to anyone elses Snow Saga, 30 centimetres of snow means that it has fallen on me to help the Cherub with his maths revision.

Yeah with no school it's down to me to explain why the merry hell
$x=\frac{-b \pm \sqrt {b^2-4ac}}{2a},$

## Welcome to the car crash...

I have a complicated bereavement. I was only reconciled with my ex, W, months before he died of cancer. Luckily (for him) I was made redundant and able to care for him while he died here at home - October 20th.
Currently getting through it with our son, aka the Cherub, dog Ned, and friends here in CHEESETOWN.

## Who Needs a Booker Prize?

Sunny Thinks I'm Stylish

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