Thursday 12th. December, 2013 – Not quite as planned and a little disappointing 

My team (Tom and Neil) are hard at work installing services for the summer house

Today did not work out as planned. Not in any way at all! I had expected to be in Sweden taking part in a Green Pilgrimage Planning meeting – and the added joy of being in Sweden today was that I was to stay over for tomorrow and take part in the celebrations for Saint Lucia (Saint Lucy) – a festival of light and a preparation for Christmas. However, the diary commitments of other people led to the urgent business being dealt with by a conference call and the meeting itself has been put back until the New Year – which will be fine (but just a pity to have missed Saint Lucia and all the girls with garlands with lighted candles in their hair. I’ve seen so many pictures but have never seen it for myself.

All over Sweden, Norway and in some parts of Finland and Italy St. Lucia’s Day will be celebrated tomorrow. There will be processions led by one girl with a wreath of candles on her head and followed by other girls each carrying a single candle. In part it all goes back to the days when we used the Julian Calendar which had 13th. December as the day of the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. There are several stories about St, Lucia. In one she is a Sicilian Saint who was executed around 310. In another she was a kind woman who helped Christians hiding in the catacombs during the persecution under the Roman Emperor Diocletian – in order to carry as much food as possible to the Christians she wore candles on her head so that both of her hands would be free. I suppose she was the patron saint of all those who wear torches fitted to their heads so that they can work in the dark with their hands free -- when we are down at the narrow boat we see lots of runners pounding the tow path at night all with their head torches looking like disciples of Saint Lucia. Clearly the festival predates Christianity in Scandinavia and centred around the winter solstice, but the story of St. Lucia has been a way of Christianising the tradition and using it to bolster the new faith in those far off days.

However, not having to make the trip enabled me to be on site for the delivery of the summer house for which we have been waiting for several weeks. Early this morning, after Mix had been walked, Tom and Neil arrived to start getting things ready for the delivery, particularly to prepare for the installation of the services. All went well and we were congratulating ourselves on the excellent day – dry and warm. However, while we were sitting having coffee the phone rang – the delivery van had broken down (its diesel tank had split) and the delivery would be delayed until tomorrow.

Workers’ Playtime

So that was a second disappointment; but I was able to do other things working around telephone calls. I went into Duns and ordered a new seat-belt to replace the one vandalised by Mix before we got him his secure cage to transport him at the back of the car and I took Tom to collect his chain-saw which had been professionally sharpened.

Mum had three friends from Galashiels to visit. They all went off to a lunch at Gavinton Church and when they returned they saw round the farm steading before setting off for home as it got dark. With unexpected time on my hands I went into the barn and found some of the furniture which Rachel had been looking for – two small desks (and the inserts for the table which Olive was wanting).

We dined together as a family in the early evening, enjoying a sherry as we gathered in the farmhouse family room and then back in the Granary I watched Question Time from Johannesburg in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death. It was interesting and reflected both the enormous distance which South Africa has travelled since Mandela became President and the enormous distance which South Africa still has to travel in the years to come.

We got a fright during the evening as Rowan escaped from the garden. Fortunately her joy was in completing the escape and having succeeded she just sat on the other side of the gate wanting to be back with us. I was surprised most of all that it was Rowan and not Mix who had identified the weakness in our defences – it was a little bit of fence which had been covered by foliage which has now died off, exposing a tiny way out of the garden. Tomorrow it will be secured!


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