I'm a fan of the holidays, especially when living in a foreign country. I recall the over-the-top multicolored lights that decorated the already ornate building facades in Prague, the quirky way Lisboetas lit up the fountains in the squares, and the lovely, massive tree by the Prešeren bridge in Ljubljana. Shetland dinnae do much last year, other than the obligatory lights along the main drag, but Inverness. Mismatched multicolored strings of lights line the river and the pedestrian bridges (making for festive views from our living room), and the islands are home to lit, person-sized plastic penguins, polar bears, deer and an igloo. Above the streets of the city center, rectangular outlines of the usual suspects (stockings, packages, Santa + reindeer, etc.) hang between the buildings, which are tacky enough in daylight and shock the senses once night falls (at around 3:30pm) and horrid colored lights confuse the outlines into blobs of lights hovering above the streets. (Side note: this does freak out the drunks; they point and shout, "Look! In the sky!" - have seen this a few times in the past month.) The river does look bonny though.
Lucky Matt had three whole days off in December, so last Monday-Wednesday we took the train down to Edinburgh to see how it does Christmas. I was impressed with Glasgow's Christmas markets and lights and was hoping the Burgh would be similar. Just off Princes Street was a German market with a few rides and a nasty security staff that kicked people out at eight o'clock sharp. I was a bit disappointed with the Royal Mile and George Street, but the lights of Edinburgh are beautiful enough on their own, so adding more to the visual cocktail could lead to overkill.
I love this shot of the trees and the castle. The Scotland skies are just stunning.
Settling into a Highland winter has been easier than it was in Shetland. The light is brighter, more cutting, and having close to six rather than four hours of daylight is easier on the soul. We've had some biting days, and the wind frequently hurls itself against our stone cottage, but then a day will be sunny and warm enough to forego the gloves and hat. I've tried to get out for walks on these days, and watching the trees change and observing the the hills as they're covered with snow is magical. Nature is seductive here. And the river is still the constant, speeding past the cottage on its way from the mountains to the sea. Living by water is a wonderful thing.
So I've been blessed with a flu bug, which has been annoying me since Sunday and will hopefully be through with me soon. I miss American drugs at times like this. M's on nights all this week which also stinks. I have to change the channel when I see the Mastercard ads about being home for Christmas - which is worse, being far from family or leaving your fiance on his own on Christmas which is also his 30th birthday?! Thanks to a massive Christmas box of treats from my darling mother, our tree now looks loved, and Skype will help on the big day. Wishing you a wonderful holiday from the middle of the Highlands.