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Greetings from a snowy hillside!
The last time I experienced snow like this past three weeks was 35 years ago when I lived in Lappland, Sweden! Kayoko doesn't like it but I think she's looking at it all through the eyes of a car driver. For me, it's like suddenly being in a foreign country without ever having travelled; everything is new, different, beautiful and exciting.
So, a very merry Christmas to all readers of this blog....and of course a very happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year. It's been a long time since I wrote any blog at all....probably about two months ago now, far back in 2009. It's January 2010 already and our next guest will be arriving soon, in just four weeks from now. We look forward to it. The time has gone quickly since the trip down south to England, the one Kayoko has covered these last few weeks in her Japanese language blog. It's now my turn to share a few of the events of the last month since coming back. As I write it continues to snow.
Amy, our daughter in Kyoto, came for the first time since she became a mother. Her little girl, Yui, was one during her time here and so we had a little birthday party for her on 19th December, just after they arrived. Soon after, Mari arrived from London with her little boy, Harry. He's just nine months old and so our house instantly became more of a kindergarten than the home it had been beforehand. High chairs, travel cots, car seats, push chairs and all sorts of baby gear suddenly appeared. I am sure mothers carry more gear these days than they ever used to, at least when we were parents of little ones. All in all though, it was great fun to have a houseful of little voices alongside our own children. There were a total of eight of us over the season. It has snowed almost every day with just Christmas Day being a day of thaw when maybe half of what had fallen by then melted away.
So, along with the birthday party, Christmas celebrations, presents galore, abundant food and ample quantities of champagne, beer, wine, sherry, port, other liquers and spirits, we overdid the gluttony bit and woke up on Boxing Day...that's the day after Christmas, ready to go for a walk to rid ourselves of at least some of the guilt of it all. A friend who I met in the mountains of Central Japan four years ago (in Magometoge) was visiting Ediburgh from his home in Dublin and decided to join us on the walk down to the village. As we set out it began snowing again and half of the gang chickened out of venturing into what was at times a blizzard.
By the time we were home, everything was white again and my friend's taxi had a little trouble getting up to us.
Between the Christmas break and New Year celebrations, Yui once again was centre stage when she was baptised at the Sunday early morning Mass. It was the Feast of the Holy Family-an appropriate day for a baptism indeed. Her full name is Yuiri Frances. She wore a pretty new dress her dad had bought for her, and a white cape covering everything. She was baptised alongside a little boy whose name, we learned there, was Alfred Francis. His mother was from Minsk in Belorus so with Japan, England, Ireland, Scotland and Belorus represented amongst our two families, and by coincidence sharing the same Christian name, we thought it all very appropriate indeed. Yui's godmother, Amy decided, would be Erin, our youngest daughter.
Afterwards, we all went to the Edinburgh Sheraton Hotel to feast yet again, this time on a celebration carvery lunch. Of course, it snowed on us yet again and made the journey back home an obstacle course.
Little people were central to this year's Christmas, as you can imagine, and such moments as bath time were great fun. Here's Yui and Harry getting ready for their bath one evening. It was delightful to see the way they enjoyed playing together, oblivious of the snow outside, or that it made us a little concerned about how they would get home again.
As if by design, snow stopped falling for the morning both families were departing. Mari and Nigel took Harry to the Waverley, our main railway station in the city centre, by taxi, while we took Amy and Yui to the airport just 15 minutes from our house. It was slow going but we did it in plenty of time, just in case extra security checks were already in place (the pants bomber had struck just two days previous to this). Amy flew with Yui to Amsterdam before continuing to Osaka. Luckily, for both, all went very smoothly and no delays or cancellations occurred, but for us, upon arriving back home, almost on cue the skies took on a gray steel hue and large white flakes of snow started to blew around the house once again.
We stayed put, cleared the paths and way into our garage for the car and for most of the time we have been at home, relaxing and just enjoying the quiet and peace of it all. We visited a neighbour's house for gluchwein and mince tarts and then went to a friend's place in the New Town to celebrate Hogmanay. It was just a quiet evening in really, with two other friends. So, six of us sat down for supper and then went upstairs to see the magnificent firework display over the castle-easily comparable in both size and quality with the Sydney Harbour Bridge display in Australia.
A strange thing happened while there........ I took a series of pictures before we started supper. I thought nothing more of them until I came to download them. I later found just one with a strange "aura" surrounding Helene sitting across the table in front of me. What do you think? Is it a ghost? When I showed Pamela and Douglas they told me that someone had told them they had seen a ghost in that room some years ago. I don't believe in ghosts but there was nothing on any other picture and I took maybe six in quick succession.
So, it is now the 2nd January 2010 already. It is 3:35pm in the afternoon and already getting dark. Earlier, it stopped snowing for a short time and there was a little patch of pale blue around a very milky sun that sat low on the hills and which left purple and pink shadows around the golden yellow snow in the full sunlight. It was once again very beautiful but as I got ready to go for a walk, the clouds grabbed it out of sight and the steely gray background took over once more and yet again even more snow fell.
Small sugary snow is falling as I write this and the garden once more is completely white. I wonder when the thaw will finally arrive.
Have a happy new year, everyone, everywhere. I hope it will be a successful one for you, as well as peaceful and prosperous, happy and healthy for us all. Best Wishes from both of us in Colinton.