Sunday, 25 December 2011


This beautiful carol, imagining the Nativity in a snowy Northern landscape, was originally written by Christina Rossetti as a Christmas poem in 1872.
Few carols express the quiet heart of Christmas more movingly. It was set to music by Gustav Holst in 1906, the poignant and simple tune is known as ‘Cranham’. I'm not religious but this is my favourite carol.

Another equally lovely tune was composed by the organist Harold Darke in 1909. It has the unusual distinction of varying the melody from verse to verse. You can find this version here.

Wherever you are 
I wish you all a very
peaceful Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A different kind of Christmas ...

Christmas will be a bit different this year, as for the first time in nearly 26 years we will not see either Rhiannon or Tom on Christmas Day.

One of the few recent photographs we have of Rhiannon and Tom together, taken at the Chateau Impney on my 50th birthday. They both look very different now!

It’s not like we have a set routine at Christmas. In the early days Christmas was spent Wales with my parents, or they travelled up to Staffordshire. Tim’s parents would always come on Boxing Day. As the children got older we spent Christmas in Chatel, Haute Savoie skiing with our great friends Anne, Steve and their children.

One memorable Christmas there was a hurricane on Christmas day. All of the ski lifts closed and we marvelled at the roof being blown off a nearby chalet, until we looked down and saw the ski box blow off the roof of our car, never to be seen again!! Christmas lunch was often a baguette or bolognaise on the mountain, and we had our special meal in the evening. Those were wonderful times …

As the children got even older they didn’t want to go away at Christmas as the pull of their friends became stronger. My parents and Tim’s parents died (three of them within a year) and we spent some quieter times at home. I come from a small family, and only my brother and an uncle are left.  

In all of the years when we had our own apartment in Thollon, we didn’t ever visit at Christmas.

The view over Thollon and Lac Leman from the top of the telecabine.

Rhiannon will be spending Christmas with her partner Ben, and his parents visiting his grandparents and family in Southport. They will, I know, have a wonderful time celebrating together as a family. Sally, Ben’s mum, is particularly looking forward to having her three children and their partners all together. I know there are plans to take their dogs Maisie and Lucy for a long walk on the beach.

Tom will be spending Christmas travelling with his girlfriend Meg and international students from the University of Colorado. They will ski at Brekenridge and Copper Mountain, party in Florida, visit a friend in North Carolina, and do what young people do in Washington, New York, Boston and Chicago.

My brother will be spending Christmas with his wife Caireen with her brother and parents in Montreal, and my uncle (who’s wife died earlier this year) is visiting Australia and New Zealand.

So what are we doing this Christmas? We are renting an apartment just down the road from the one we sold almost exactly two years ago!! I’m looking forward to visiting Thollon again as I really miss the mountain environment. I’m told that the snow is a bit late this year, but there is nothing better than fresh powder snow! I haven't quite mastered the technique of skiing through powder but Tim loves it.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A universal thank you ...

10,000 page views … who’da thought it! I've been so busy lately that I've hardly had time to read blogs, let alone think about writing a post.

A little something for you from my virtual jukebox.  Very apt for the time of year from the Annie Lennox album 'A Christmas Cornucopia'


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Not in my name ....

I would normally stay away from political debate via La Petite-Presse because I know that by stating beliefs too vehemently one runs the risk of losing friends. For me the time has come to take this risk ...

 David Cameron has stood up and walked away from the European summit in order to appease his paymasters in the City and the growing band of all powerful Eurosceptics in his party. He had hyped up his position before the meetings, and was then left with nowhere to go except back to the UK. He called in the heavies like Bill Cash (unfortunately my M.P.) to line up behind him to tell him, and us, all what a wonderful job he had done in standing up for our interests.

As a result we are left friendless and powerless within Europe, but with little influence elsewhere in the world either.

I don’t pretend to understand all of the issues involved, but can’t help to feeling diminished by all of this. I believe it is not good for Britain, not good for jobs and not good for business. I'm not sure I trust Sarkhozy, but better to stay in the debate with him than to allow him to proceed unchecked!

I read an interesting article in the Guardian/Observer, but no doubt I would have read something very different in the Mail or the Express!

Mr Cameron, I want you to know that your views are NOT my views, and that this has not been done in my name!

I'd rather be in the tent with everyone else and peeing out, than in the tent on my own with everyone else peeing in!!

I do respect the views of friends who disagree, but as usual we shall have to agree to differ ...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Remember these?

I’m up early today, and hear on the news that in the past forty years 25% of the glacier area in the French Alps has disappeared (melted to be more precise) and the glaciers are in retreat. This mirrors the picture found in other Alpine regions across several nations, in particular Switzerland, Austria and Italy.

It seems an apt time to post some photographs from our archive taken about 10 years ago.

This ariel photograph was taken by Nasa's Landsat spacecraft looking down on Mt Blanc and the Mer de Glace, the biggest French glacier, snaking towards the north west.