Thursday 19th. December, 2013 – It is bright, cold and calm 

Carol singing at Longformacus – lousy photo of a grand occasion

I think it was in ‘As Time Goes By’ that we were for ever being given the weather forecast (or rather the shipping forecast) in the English Chanel by Geoffrey Palmer’s housekeeper. I seem to have become her spiritual successor. The storm of last night has all passed by. It is bright and cold and calm and everything in our estate has survived – but the wind was really noisy during the night and I see from the BBC website that many people are without power this morning.

As I lay in bed listening to the wind I found myself thinking about what I had (or hadn’t) written in my diary. As I waited last evening for Lucan to start there was a rather sentimental programme called Surprise on the channel I was waiting for. The reason for commenting on it was that two of the guests were Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean. I remember so vividly when they won their Olympic medal in 1984, twenty-nine years ago, and they really didn’t look old enough on the programme yesterday to have been champions so long ago. Skating must be good for you! It was good to watch them again.

The other thought was about the difference between crime and white-collar crime. Train robbers, rightly, get bundled into jail for lengthy periods, but those who run institutions which arguably cause far more misery through corporately doing bad things seem to survive. Can’t be right.

Walked Mix but didn’t go across for breakfast because Olive and Digger had set off early for Dundee where Olive is to pick up some examination scripts to be marked. Tom arrived and announced that the task for today was to lay the floor and that I would be doing my fair share of the work. Trembled as I have never laid a floor before but Tom is a good teacher and showed me how to hammer the boards together, nail through the tongue of the plank and then hit the nail with a nail punch to push it into the wood. It was a long, but an enormously satisfying job.

The task for today was to lay a floor

By lunch time it was almost completed so we adjourned for lunch and returned after lunch to do the final stretch – I learned a great deal more. There was still a bit of time in hand so we installed the electrics and when Rachel came home from having had her hair done, there was a lovely glow coming from the summer house. There was also a real glow of achievement coming from me!

Haven’t we done well?

Yesterday Rachel went to Dun s five times, today she only made the return journey four times. First following me as I took my car to the garage to have a new seat belt fitted, second to take Mum to the Gavinton Guild Christmas party, third to get her hair done, ands fourth to take me to collect my car. She is becoming quite a taxi service! As you’ll have gathered I got my car back with its new seat belt (£156 caused by Mix). Once I got the car back I was able to pack away all of the excess wood from the summer house into the hen house by the light from the summer house. We will not get anything major done to the summer house now until after the Christmas festivities. But what progress has been made.

After an early tea I drove up to Longformacus for the street carol singing (Tom provided the music on his squeeze-box). Longformacus is one of the congregations within our parish linking. Until very recently there were services in the church here but those have now come to an end so it was good to have carol singing around the doors here. After the carols we all went off to the Village Hall where we enjoyed mincemeat pies and cake.

The Village Hall at Longformacus

As well as congregational and village members there were several folk from a Christian Centre which works with young men who have been disadvantaged or suffer from an addiction. I enjoyed speaking both to them and to some of the staff from the centre.

Longformacus struck me as being a very odd name. It is a tiny little village six miles or so north of Duns, along a windy and lonely road. The name comes from the gaelic Longphort Mhacais and the village’s main claim to fame is that Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor is set here. Two walks – the Southern Upland Way and the Sir Walter Scott Way – both pass through Longformacus.

Back home, Rachel and I watched Where Eagles Dare. It is an old film but special to us because on the evening of our wedding, after we had set off on honeymoon, many of our guests went off to see this new film at the local cinema. (I was married in England where the celebrations were at lunch time and we left by the early evening – I dare say it is different now.) Enjoyed the film (although I was a bit taken aback at the indiscriminate killing -- were we more violent back in the 60s?, and walked the dogs before bed. Am I stiff after all that kneeling and hammering? I expect to be sore in the morning.


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