Wednesday, December 31, 2008


A Danish Xmas tree
Originally uploaded by PhylB
While Thomas is taking down our tree, I thought I'd take this chance to blog it and the Scottish reaction to it.
This is our Danish Xmas tree. If you look closely there are a few differences. For starters it isn't a lump of plastic like 80% of Scottish Xmas trees. Danes grow a good percentage of European Xmas trees so wouldn't contemplate a lump of plastic. Many of the elaborate decorations like the large white star on the left were handmade by Brita who taught Charlotte how to make them. The position of the tree is also very alien from a UK perspective. We tend to put a Xmas tree either in the window or in a corner of the room. In Denmark the tree needs to be in middle of the room because the gift giving takes place after you dance around the tree hand in hand. You couldn't do that with my mum's tree for example, as it is in the corner of the room between the couch and an armchair.
But the main difference as to be the fairy lights. They are real candles of course. Most people who dropped by over Xmas looked at us as if we were insane taking three steps back assuming the house was in imminent danger of burning down (of course you don't leave them on when you are out of the room). Aren't they beautiful? And so warm too. By the end of the dancing you are sweating because of the heat coming off the tree!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


lonely and deserted
Originally uploaded by circulating
I don't know if you have read Thomas's prediction for the recession. It is worth a read if you haven't.
I had to drive him into the office this morning as the Express Bus was off on holiday. On the way back I was listening to Radio Clyde - not my usual but that Wogan man was probably on Radio 2 and I wasn't going to risk turning it on just in case. There was a male DJ on rabbiting on about the recession and the sales. He was pointing out that he didn't believe the recession was as bad as people were saying given the sales were so good the shelves in his local Comet and Currys were all empty and big red Out of Stock signs were appearing everywhere.
Let's just analyse that for a minute. People have bought the TVs and laptops in particular but the shop is not restocking despite queues of customers wanting to buy things. Could it be they haven't any credit to restock? Could it be that selling the old stock isn't generating enough money to buy new stuff given the new items will need to be bought abroad with newly devalued pounds but the money they are making is on 50% reduced goods bought with the old strong pound?
I was in the Early Learning Centre yesterday returning a faulty Xmas present. The assistant in there was equally puzzled. We have no stock of these items in any other the Glasgow shops or in the warehouse she said surprised. Hmmmm - another shop which is selling everything 50% off minimum but not restocking shelves. Something deeply sinister is going on and the blinkered shoppers are only seeing what they want to see.
I predict 3 things:
  • The shops that don't make enough to restock will go bust in the next 6 weeks and these will be big chains like those that have already surprised many of us.
  • Some shops will restock but prices will increase by at least 30% to cover the devalued pound.
  • Other shops will start sourcing inferior goods originally meant for the 3rd world markets so that they can continue to sell things at what people consider a reasonable price but the buyers will soon realize what is going on.
Anyone who believes this is good for British manufacturing doesn't realize how many years it would take to reacquire the old, lost skills and how few months we have to do it.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Anna's spork
Originally uploaded by PhylB
Sometimes Charlotte is incredibly sharp. She understands things way beyond her maturity and schooling. Other times Charlotte completely astounds you with her lack of common sense.
In Denmark when babies are christened they often receive engraved silver spoons. Because Anna is not christened, her grandmother brought her a set of engraved silver spoons from Denmark for her first birthday. None of my other kids have engraved silver spoons.
A day or two after Anna's birthday, Charlotte was admiring her spoon. She suddenly stopped dead in her tracks. It says Anna Bridget on Anna's spoon mum - isn't that amazing to find a spoon with Anna Bridget on it? she commented, I was about to reply, though was lost for words at her stupidity, when she flipped the spoon over and squealed in shock - Mum looooook - it says 19-12-07 on it - imagine that - finding a spoon with Anna's name and birthday on it!!!! That shop must have had a hell of a lot of spoons in it! What could I say???? Amazing?


Marcel and Charlotte have been saving up for an XBOX for months and Thomas and I gave them the last £70 towards it for their Xmas. By the time I had crawled out of my sickbed late Xmas afternoon, the new XBOX was already connected and they were all playing Lego Indiana Jones. Because we'd been sick, we'd missed the family get together. Derek and Amanda must have felt sorry for us because they volunteered to throw together a curry on Boxing Day, should we be feeling up to it. We went over for 6ish and Marcel had a look through Derek's XBOX games. He discovered Guitar Hero and a World tour began. He and Derek played guitar like a pair of kids most of the night. No one was spared a turn. Come midnight Lots and Marcel decided to invite themselves to stay the night and I left with 2 passengers fewer. Saturday of course saw Marcel empty his bank account and buy the blasted noisy game for our house and I was then subjected to half a dozen very noisy songs over and over as he perfected playing them. You choose your level - beginner, easy, medium, hard, expert - there may be a few more. Depending on level you play more and more notes and strum more, gaining points for hitting the notes on time. It looks easy so I had a go, first on easy but when I was booed off on that I tried beginner where you strum but don't play any notes at all - even that was so difficult I only scored 70%. I was left wondering what possible pleasure kids such as Marcel and my brother could possibly get out of this annoying, noisy game!


Bison Eating
Originally uploaded by marttj
I meant to say the other day... have you ever tried bison? We got some bison steaks the other week and they were superb - like a cross between beef and butter - so tender. If you are looking for a nice meal, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Am I simply intolerant? I have several programs on my computer that come free of charge and remove red eye at the click of a button. It's particularly bad with pale-eyed people, and given Léon has the palest eyes on the planet, red eye removal tools are simply imperative. Red eye was the thing I hated most about pre-digital photography and the best thing in the post-digital world. Removing the red takes 2 seconds (you have 2 eyes after all).
I get really irate when I see newspapers with red-eye images on the front page. What kind of journalist is happy to write an interesting front page article and then illustrate it with a nasty piece of nonsense with red eyes? It is sloppiness supreme. There is just no excuse for it these days!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I now know why you should celebrate Xmas on Xmas Eve! It is because when you come down en masse with a vomiting bug on Xmas day at 3am, then you have already had the nice meal and seen your kids open their presents. As it was, we had a smaller nice meal on Xmas Eve, danced round the tree and received the Danish presents but had left everything we were getting from Scottish relatives and friends and the main meal for Xmas day. Thomas started vomiting at 1am and Marcel and I caught up with him at 3am and 4am respectively. By 11am on Xmas morning Marcel, being a child, was back to ok. Thomas and I were close to death. The kids came down and asked if they could open their gifts without us and for the first time in my life I could not get out of bed with my camera. By the time we got up at 4-50pm all the presents had been opened and played with. I have no idea who bought them what. For example they were playing with a fun froggy bubble machine in the bathroom - it could have been from Carol, or Amanda or various others - and I don't know which of the kids received it but thanks anyway - whoever it was!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Xmas tree
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I've been part of a French/German/Danish family since 1985.
The French, like the Germans, like the Danes all celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve.
Basically the day goes somewhat normally till about 4 or 5pm when they start busying themselves with dinner - the kind Brits would eat on the 25th. In France around 7pm they'd suddenly get up, get all formal, kiss you on both cheeks and wish you a happy Christmas, offer a gift and food and drink would be the order of the rest of the evening with the more religious family members nipping out for a church service mid-evening.
In Denmark, it is the other way round. You go about your business normally till you eat a lovely big meal early evening and thereafter you go through to the room with the tree and sing carols dancing round it and at the end of the songs, you receive your gifts. Then again church is involved for the religious.
This is not what I grew up with. In Scotland we worked Christmas eve, and still do, though we often got to go home at 2pm instead of 5pm. Religious neighbours went to a service at 11-30pm. Before going to bed you left out a glass of milk or whisky for Santa and a biscuit of carrot for Rudolph. When you woke up on Christmas day "Santa" had been. There were gifts under the tree. At lunch time relatives came round and gifts were exchanged, and finally a nice meal would be had at 4pm. Thereafter you collapsed full on the couch in front of the Wizard of Oz, while playing a board game!
Now, I know I am a heathen so I am not best placed to question religious things such as Christmas, but isn't Christmas meant to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and isn't his birthday chosen universally to 25th December? Now, my birthday is 4th of February. I get my presents on the 4th. My family drop by on the 4th. We have birthday dinner on the 4th, work permitting...
So here's my confession - for the last 23 Christmases I have wondered why the Europeans are so obsessed with making the eve of the birthday special but the birthday itself a bit of a nothing day. Can any of you foreigners out there explain that one to me? Why does Europe celebrate 'Christmas' on December 24th? Though who am I to complain - I now get two Christmases a year...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Charlotte is a very down to earth practical child. We were out shopping the other day and we passed Starbucks.
I think they should change the spelling of coffee she said. Why would you want that? I asked. Well if they just spelled it ccooffee then you wouldn't have to remember which of the letters were doubled! Can you imagine if they put her in charge of an English spelling reform one day?! By the end of the day English might look like Finnish!

Monday, December 22, 2008


H. Samuel Jewellers Clock
Originally uploaded by kenjonbro
You all know I worked in H Samuel over Xmas as a student back at the end of the 80s. I used to come off lunch throughout December to find the punters knee-deep at the counter hitting eachother over the head with their shopping bags in a dispute over the last decent watch in the window.
I was shopping in Silverburn yesterday when I saw an H Samuel in the distance. I thought that would be an interesting yardstick for gauging the recession. I walked over. There were maybe 3 shop assistants on duty, as opposed to the 20 of us there had been in the Sauchiehall street branch all those years ago. There were approximately 3 members of the public in the shop - one talking to an assistant, the other two mulling about, no urgency, no brawling, nothing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


What's that?
Pudge asked once we'd built the carousel for the pots. In retrospect, I should have said a pot shelf because it's never worked properly since he tried to ride on it... We went to Ikea for a new one only to find out the model has been discontinued - I wonder why? - so we now have the new version to install next time we can be bothered taking off the worktop.


Marcel and Granny
Originally uploaded by PhylB
What happened to that wee bitsy man I gave birth to in 1997? No one tells you when you become a parent for the first time that childhood, which till then you have only experienced from the child's perspective, goes much faster when you are viewing it from the parental perspective.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Originally uploaded by dkalsbeek
Léon is on antibiotics for a delicate little infection on the tip of his manhood. No problem there but I am having a real problem with the instructions on the bottle. It says give 4 times a day on an empty stomach and don't eat till an hour after each dose. So he gets up around 9am, his stomach is empty then of course but he hits the breakfast seat within three steps of bed so there's no way I can give him the first dose then as he's too hungry to wait an hour for brekkie. Straight after breakfast at 9-15 is also out because his stomach is no longer empty. We have to make lunch at 12 because of nursery so 11am is the only window for the first dose. He comes home from nursery around 3-45. He can just about have a dose then because he's had a snack at 2-45, and can hold out till 4-45 before I give him something else. Dinner is 6-30 so that rules out 5-30 to 7-30 for dose 3, and he goes to bed just after 8 so I am lucky if I get in dose 3, let alone 4. I wonder if having a dose too few is the worst evil or if taking it on a full stomach is the big no no? Maybe I should waken him up in the night for one as it's about the only time he isn't eating!

Monday, December 15, 2008


When I was a little kid I hated the Xmas song Little Drummer boy. What I found particularly offensive about it was all that 'pa rum pum pum' nonsense. If you can't think of any words that fit into a song, then don't bother. It's a bit of an easy opt out if you ask me, and when it makes up 80% of the song, you really are pushing your luck. I was driving the other day when it came on the radio: the new Aled Jones and that unspeakable man, Terry Wogan, version. I instantly remembered how much it used to annoy me. It being sung by Terry - my least favourite person on the planet - didn't change my opinion of it... Marcel bounced in from school the next day and said, completely unprompted: The school is making us learn that shite Xmas song - Little Drummer Boy - you know the awful thing where they cheat by adding pa rum pum pum pum instead of decent lyrics. That sucks! Are musical likes and dislikes hereditary?

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I never thought I'd agree with Gordon Brown but the Tories have dug up a quote from Gordon's shadow chancellor days and I couldn't have said it better myself: 'a weak currency is a sign of a weak economy, which is the sign of a weak government'. Hmmmm, makes you think...

Saturday, December 13, 2008


We have an official first word!
For weeks we've had something sounding like Daddy, something like Mummy and a Doodah sounding word for milk but none consistent enough to say for definite. Last night in bed I said to Anna Kisses and she repeated Kusses. I wasn't sure so I said Kiss and she replied Kuss. We tried twice more and got 4 definite Kusses. I'm not sure the wee besom will oblige by repeating it again today but last night we definitely had a first word.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I was listening to a news article today where a woman teacher had been sacked for telling some kids in class 3 in England that there was no Santa. I don't really believe it is a capital crime, even if it shows a slight lack of judgement on her part, but it wasn't that that intrigued me it was the age of the kids she was shocking with this news.
Year 3 is the 4th year of English primary schools, that is to say the equivalent of Charlotte's class, so as far as I am aware so we are talking about 7 and 8 year olds. I wonder quite how, in this day and age, people are managing to have kids go to school for four years (and nursery for 2 before that) and not work out the big Santa hoax.
People were phoning in to this particular programme saying they'd be hopping mad if a teacher told their kids that. One woman actually said the words that children should be allowed to retain their childhood as long as possible and that she'd be horrified if a teacher let on to her boys, aged - wait for it 9 and 12!!!!!!
Now maybe my kids are precocious. I know Lots in particular has always seemed mature for her age, but Marcel didn't make it through primary one without working out the Santa myth and Lots informed me totally unperturbed one day in preschool: You know there's no Santa mum? Now like most mums I simply assumed some older child or friend's older sibling had taken delight in popping the bubble, but no, she worked it all out herself thanks to the then number one song by Band aid!
I asked what had led her to that conclusion and she replied, completely undisturbed that if they didn't know it was Christmas in Africa, then Santa didn't go there. There could only be 2 reasons for that - either he didn't exist, or basically he was a complete bastard! Therefore there is no Santa! So who needs the supply teacher to let on? She never liked Santa anyway! And Bits doesn't like him any better.
I can understand some parents can get away with Santa till 5ish but 8, or 12 would really, really surprise me these days.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


When we started cutting down Pudge's intake of my milk shortly after his first birthday, we quickly found out
that he thought formula was about as appealing as liquidized toads. Who could blame him?! Have you ever tasted the stuff? We discovered he loved ASDA 5% fat breakfast milk. He drank that during the day and my milk at bedtime from 14 to 22 months, when he went onto normal full fat cows' milk.
I didn't particularly want to start Anna down that path yet but as you've heard over and over she's a bit of a grinder and my boobs are taking a pounding with her.
So here I am with another wee problem - yeah you can match the baby to the boob using only dental records - so I went to ASDA today for some breakfast milk. They don't sell it any more! What am I to do???

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I decided to show Léon The Snowman to put him in a Christmassy mood. He'd never seen it but was familiar with the Irn Bru version. At the end, I asked if he'd liked it and he wandered off muttering Why didn't he steal the boy's beer?... The power of advertising!


Me and my pal
Originally uploaded by PhylB
I have this dear friend called Carol. I have known her for 18 years and she's one of those caring, loving friends that you know will be there for you through thick and thin. In fact there is only one thing that Carol does that drives me batty and that is the way she texts! When my phone shouts at me Mum, you got a text! in Charlotte's voice, I know there is a message waiting for me. I open it and invariably it is from Thomas, or Marcel or Amanda. Occasionally it says from Carol. Then I start to shake in fear and anticipation of the message awaiting. I know it will be harder to decipher than Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Here is one she sent me on Monday:
  • Jst red it. On way out. P'l b here4A s6 let me no when suits+cd u email Sab2let her no when we'l meet her@restrant?
I know her phone does predictive texting because it is the same as my old one, so I wonder why she goes to all the bother of writing in Greek!
She got in my car and I asked if she'd mind texting Thomas for me as I was driving. I threw her my phone.
What should I write?
she asked.
Rose St corner
I replied.
Thomas had just asked where I would meet him to give him Anna.
A shriek of panic, Oh my God, you've got it doing that thing! she said, you've got on predictive texting
Of course I have - it cuts down the key strokes by 75%, what sane person wouldn't have it on??? So she hits the PQRS button three times, then the MNO button three more and gets the word: Spron.
I say wooooah, no Carol hit PQRS once, she looks very dubious, like I have advised her to go out shopping in a bikini in December, but does it anyway.
Then do I hit MNO 3 times? she asks
Nonononono - just once
. Now she looks dumbfounded, she hits it once, I tell her to hit PQRS once more and of course my phone starts to form the word ROSE, she nearly falls off her seat. She asks if it'll work out 'st' from PQRS followed by TUV and is gobsmacked when I reply yes.
Don't tell me I am finally starting to convert her? Maybe that wouldn't be such a good thing. She is one of a kind - the only one I know who texts in gobbledygook and the only one who sets my mind a mental challenge. If I convert her to predictive texting then I'll no longer approach a Carol text with a mix of fear and astonishment. I won't rant about her texts or laugh about them. I guess what will be will be...
I love you Carol just for being you!


I've said it before and I'll say it again. We're causing it! I'll not be avoiding nuts with my kids, sorry.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Here's a photo of Glasgow's Buchanan street in December 2006.
At the tail end of the last recession, when I was still a student, I worked in H Samuel over Christmas. Sauchiehall street looked the same back then. I had to fight my way through queues of shoppers every time I tried to go behind the counter after my lunch break.
Realizing that Friday is the last posting date for EU countries Thomas went Christmas shopping straight after work yesterday. All the big shops in town are now open till 8pm for Christmas. The out-of-town malls are open till 11pm or midnight. He went in around 6-15pm and wandered around till 7-45pm. All the shops were full... of goods, not people. He was alone in Waterstones and Tk Maxx.
I guess we should be out there taking advantage of the current prices in shops because let's face it - when we import the next batch of toys, TVs, CDs and everything else, it'll all cost us 25% more given the fall in the value of the pound.
I hear the Tories are clapping their hands that the falling pound will be great for exports. Emmmm???? Pity the UK doesn't really make anything for export any more. Last time I looked my TV, fridge, washing machine, power tools, car, toys, couch, play station etcetcetc were all imports. Oh so they all just went up 25%. Great - a big round of applause for our wonderful ex-chancellor who forgot to join the Euro when the pound was worth something.
It's nice to know the country is in such safe hands, and that the alternative is equally capable. I'd advise my kids to immigrate when they get old enough, if only I thought I'd have enough money to visit them elsewhere. If it wasn't for my current custody agreement, I think I'd be on the lookout for a oneway ticket to the sun too.

I suppose I should look on the bright side. At least this didn't happen a decade ago. There is no way Thomas, or anyone like him, would have come to the UK if the pound had been worth this little then. Like all bright, educated foreigners with something to offer he'd simply have looked for a job in the Eurozone where his salary would have better matched his value, and would not have risked being devalued with a currency.
So we can look forward not only to all the bright young graduates deserting the UK imminently but also the cream of the rest of the world avoiding us like the plague...

Ho hum

Monday, December 08, 2008


Thomas hired Arsenic and Old Lace at the weekend. I had heard of it of course, but never seen it. Late Saturday afternoon everything was a bit manic - big kids squabbling, DIY hell, little kids sick, so he suggested we all stop for a coffee break and watch it as a breath of fresh air.
It was interesting at first to see quite how slow moving films were back in the 40s. It's been many years since I have watched an old movie. You could almost watch it while doing other things as it didn't take much concentration. In fact both Marcel and Charlotte did. Charlotte followed the whole thing while playing with Pudge, Marcel from behind a laptop exploring Amazon's new MP3 site.
As it went on though it became quite deranged. That stupid man constantly charging up the stairs making a noise with his bugle did my head in for starters. Cary Grant forgetting constantly about the new wife and the taxi, stressing about having the medical papers signed to commit his brother to some asylum was mildly annoying. The criminal brother turning up and all the mad running around began to make me twitch. The last manic half hour was on a par with an hour in the asylum that is my house and far from feeling relaxed after it I felt like I could use a second coffee break or even a gin to calm my nerves!
I think Thomas, Marcel and Lots enjoyed it though so 3 out of 4 isn't bad.


Collins runs a children's Christmas party every year for kids aged 0-11. It has done for about five years now. It is particularly good for smaller kids - especially about 3 to 7 or 8. For a very small ticket price, you get copious sweets, drinks, bouncy castles, a disco and a visit to Santa. Who would choose any other way to take their kids to visit Santa given the option? No long queues, nice gifts, and they even let you take a photo of your kid on Santa's knee and don't try to charge you a tenner for their photo like many of the shops in town.
The one drawback is that when you put your name down for tickets the application form makes you state name, age and sex. No problem there unless you have a child like Charlotte, who is 8 and female, but who wants me to fill in the form with Charlotte Gautier, Boy, age 11. For at least 3 of the last 5 years the one low point of the party for Lots is the Santa visit. He invariably gives her a Bratz doll or a Barbie which she keeps in the packaging, gives to charity or keeps for whichever friend's birthday comes round first. She has never 'done' girl toys. She sees no use for dolls... Tell a lie, she once shaved a Barbie's head - it was the only 2 minutes of pleasure she has ever taken from a doll in her life.
So Santa came round again and she received the usual doll (left) and was considering whether to give it to Amy (Carol's daughter) or leave it behind. She was a very sad girl. But Léon had received three cars and a loop track so she was fairly upbeat at the thought of playing with that. At the end of the party as Santa was packing up she noticed he had 3 leftover boy presents for the 9-11 age group. She moaned how she wished she'd got whatever was in that instead. Chancing my arm I asked Santa's elf what was to become of the leftover presents as the rightful owners hadn't shown up. She didn't know - figured they'd just return them. I asked if Santa would be offended if she traded her Bratz doll for a boy parcel and after a little consideration the elf handed over a package whispering to me: Are you sure? - I think these are footballs. Lots opened up a leather football and beamed from ear to ear. I had become her hero. I had traded the doll from hell for a football that even matched her football boots.
Strange child! It takes all sorts to make up the world I guess. I would have been so devastated with a football from Santa when I was 8!

Sunday, December 07, 2008


This is our old kitchen. It has come a fair way since we first started demolishing it in the summer. However, I am not sure it is as far along that path as I'd like it to be. I had imagined that by the time Thomas's parents came for Xmas it might have been decorated in the pale blue wallpaper we bought months ago and the beautiful solid wood flooring might be down. I had imagined a sofabed and some furniture. Realizing a few weeks ago that that was too ambitious I hoped the water and gas pipes might at least be boxed in. Now, with only 2 DIY days left before they arrive, I am pinning my hopes on it having walls, or even a floor... I blame it on 4 kids, 2 chest infections, 1 laryngitis and 10 years of DIY overload...

Thursday, December 04, 2008


We had one when I was a kid. The B&Bs we visited on holiday in the early 70s had them too. I probably last saw a toast rack about 33 years ago. A few months back Thomas insisted we needed a toast rack. I had no idea why but he does like his kitchen stuff so I humoured him. But he was right! Instead of two crispy pieces of toast with a soggy pile underneath on a plate at breakfast as we usually have for six at the weekends, we now each have a beautifully crispy slice or two. Who'd have believed it?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


This poor plant is wondering why it's so damned cold. I can't imagine passion flowers are overly used to the ice.
And why is it that ice comes as such a huge shock to us here in Scotland? I mean, obviously ice can be coped with - otherwise there wouldn't be such places as ski resorts, but this morning I woke to find that overnight it had thawed, rained and frozen quickly. The result of course was very thick black ice. I couldn't actually get up my garden path to the car - that took more than ten minutes carrying Anna, poor Pudge looked like Bambi on ice and resorted to lying on his front on the path crying awaiting rescue. Once I got to the car (to take Anna to the doc for an emergency appointment for a chest infection and conjunctivitis) I couldn't get in. The door was iced shut and I could hardly lie the sick baby on the pavement to pull it open so I tugged with one hand while trying to keep my balance, hold Anna and keep Bambi upright. Then of course my de-icer couldn't penetrate the 2cm of ice on the windscreen, I kid you not. When I finally got going, ten minutes after I was meant to arrive at the doc, the road had NOT been gritted so it was the people carrier doing the Bambi impression frantically flashing the dashboard's ABS lights at me. Why exactly had Newton Mearns not been gritted last night? I expected the main road would be ok, but again that was doing its impression of a championship slalom ski run all the way to the Ayr road. We got to the doc and survived the drive. We even watched a few less fortunate cars pirouette past us on our way up Capelrig road, missing us by millimetres! When I lived in a ski region in France the gritters simply passed my front window every 15 minutes pouring out salt, just in case. Maybe we should try taking a leaf out of their book.