We've just returned from an amazing week's holiday in Cornwall. Jen and I stayed at a place we’ve returned to again and again. Trelowarren is an old estate on the Lizard that rents out lovely cottages deep in a forest. Besides brilliant woodlands to walk away the stresses of work, they also have an excellent restaurant, pool, spa and tennis court. We always go out of season. Then we have the run of the place for walks and snuggling in front of the wood-burning stove while watching endless episodes of The West Wing or The Sopranos.
We’ve just returned from an fantastical festive break in the Highlands of Scotland. It had an ominous start though. We kept just ahead of the worsening weather on the train from London to Glasgow. But when we set out from Greenock with my doom-saying 89-year-old dad as co-driver the white out began in earnest.
While we inched our way up the blizzarding A9 my snow hating Dad, " the only place for snow is on a bloody christmas card", made constant pleas for sanity and a hasty retreat south. But when we finally slithered our way through the forest of the Rosehaugh Estate late at night to Red Kite Cottage we were as relieved as we were exhausted.
Our own little gingerbread house was everything we'd hoped for on the inside inside but it was only with the morning sun that we realised how lucky we were on the outside. Regular heavy snow falls and freezing temperatures, (down to -16 degrees celsius) meant we woke to find ourselves in a winter wonderland. The area north of Inverness that is known as the Black Isle had become the White Isle.
Despite living, working and playing in the north for years I’d never seen conditions like it. Everywhere, trees bent under the weight of continual dumps of snow. Ice crystals grown by frost glistened all around as drifts of freezing mist added to the drama of the landscape.
Day after day the conditions became more awe-inspiring. A lovely Christmas with family, warming visits to friends, great meals burnt off by long walks and suicidal sledging made for the perfect holiday.
I'm not going to write much as I'm getting to be a lazy, lazy man in the French sun but here are a few Provençal impressions from the last week or so.