With Tristan in Scotland
A third.-report from First Lighter Tristan Sanders
TOS Story (part 3)
It was a cold, dark and "dreic'h" (dismal, overcast, rainy) morning in sun baked Lochaber the temperature dropping to a mere -16°C overnight - who's idea was it to head off to work in shorts and sandles? Only a tourist could think that was a
good idea, but thankfully Tracy put me right and gave me Astie's thermals and suggested a pair of jeans might be better than shorts.
Lochaber has been hit by yet another very cold winter and as a result many people were struggling to get to work, even those that were properly dressed! We had our 4x4 ute so no problems getting to the work site down near Duror about 40 minutes drive south of Fort William. Although we could get there, the ground conditions didn't really lend themselves to fencing and as it turned out the Forestry Commission requested that we didn't work until the frost lifted... about 4 weeks later.
So not to be left sitting around doing nothing, Astie had me out there working like a beast, clearing the rhododendrons from the back of their section. Thanks Foster
Dad.. .! So it's true wood keeps you warm 3 times, cutting the bushes/trees down, splitting them and then on the fire, or any case 4 times as when I had cleared a good bit, I had a bonfire with the brash. All of a sudden the log store was filling up, so I was allowed back into the house for a brew and a slice of bread before being sent back to it. Luckily my foster mum saved me and called me in for dinner. It's amazing the heat you get from burning rhododendrons!
With all the snow lying on the ground Astie and I took the opportunity to go for a bit of a tiki tour round the estate and to take a few photos - everywhere was silent and stunning!
.A few weeks previous Astie took me up to Inverness to buy a kilt. After a bit of deliberation I decided on the Cameron Hunting Muted tartan, one of the older designs from the tartan selection, so the material had to be specially made by the mill and sent to Inverness for the kilt to be made. When we bought the kilt they promised that it would be ready before New Year, but as it turned out I had it the weekend before Christmas and of course had to try it on straight away. Immediately it felt really
good, almost as though it was meant to be... Since it's arrived, any excuse to put it on.
Astie was back up to Inverness to pickup a new car, so I took the opportunity to go back to the kilt shop to buy a sporran and a belt, but I'd seen a buckle in the Cameron Museum I liked so didn't by a buckle with the belt. For the buckle, Mrs Muir very kindly opened the museum for me, what a service!
And so Christmas was rapidly coming in. Every year the community of Achnacarry, Bunarkaig and Clunes come together for a Christmas party. This year there was a problem with the venue. Normally the party is held in the village hall but due to the not so tropical temperatures, all the pipes in the hall had frozen with no sign of them defrosting before the party. So, as Tracy was the main organiser this year, the decision on venue fell to her, the invitations went out with the new venue as The Old Kennels, Tracy and Astic's house
The party turned out to be a good day for all. The kids played games that had been organised for them, while the adults had a good chin wag.
I have now seen my first White Christmas, Lochaber had its fair share of snow this year. I think I prefer the sunshine to snow. Maybe that has more to do with losing the snowball fight or falling a few times when we decided to give snowboarding a
try on Astie's neighbour's drive. The pictures of this will remain hidden. .. but Astie and the family got a good laugh at my expense.
Nina was going bananas on the lead up to Christmas Day, especially once we put the tree and the decorations up. On Christmas morning the kids were up really early, about five a.m.
On Christmas day, Astie's mum, dad and a good friend of his came round for a lovely dinner that we had been slaving over a hot stove for a good part of the day to make.
Hogmanay was next on the agenda. Most of the village and a load of Astie and Tracy's mates came round. After yet another lovely meal, this time more of a pot luck buffet, the dining table was moved to the side to make way for the dance floor. After this several heated games took place (in which nearly everyone cheated). In the run up to the bells, Ruaridh Edmond played his accordion for a strip the willow. Then at 12 o'clock, Astie played the New Year in with "Auld Lang Syne" and a few other
sets of tunes that had the house rocking!
The "First Footer's" after the bells were Lochiel, Donald Andrew, and Lochiel's brother and his wife, so a few more drams and a yarn with them to finish off my first Scottish l Hogmanay.
I’ll have one more instalment of my story from Lochaber to come, covering my last few weeks before I fly out on the 20th Feb. We've got a few things planned including the Clan Cameron Association 120th Anniversary Dinner in Glasgow, another excuse for me to get the kilt on, but for the rest you'll have to wait till next time.
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