Scotland is where I am from,and where my heart and soul belong. We've just returned from half term up there and it was looking beyond beautiful. The leaves, the sweet smelling air, the peace, the cold... it is all heaven to me. My brother and I descended on our mother, with our combined 7 children so it wasn't particularly quiet inside, but outside hours were spent on a swing and we lit bonfires to celebrate nothing in particular. We always have bonfires at home, for all events. This time an old bed was on the pyre, and the boys took turns in chucking branches of a dead tree on the flames.
I had a day away at a neighbour's funeral. She was in her 90's, and was a hero having invented nappies. The funeral was at the church built by my great, great grandfather, and where the family are buried. Anyway, it is a white church which nestles on the hill at the foot of Strathglass and has the river sweeping beneath it. It is an idyllic location which is at once peaceful and spectacularly beautiful. I turned up with a friend for the service, and listened to the 2 black priests singing Ava Maria, as a special tribute to the deceased. The organist came on too soon, frantic waving to stop. I loved the whole thing. There are so many characters up there, and a lot of them were standing around the grave; John, the now blind old keeper, who had a pet deer, Bambie, who made it into the Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest deer in captivity , 23 years old. The neighbour who looks like Jeremy fisher, with long legs that are always crossed, and a permanent cigarette which was lit one second after the service, a step away from the front door of the church. They are all very jolly.
On our last night we set rockets off from the front door. The younger children watched from inside and decided to take all their clothes off in their excitement. The youngest cried throughout for fear that his brave parents who were in charge of the show, would be killed. The elder boys watched from outside on deck chairs, with sunglasses and headphones on.
I love fireworks set off in the garden. That slight suspense of whether the person igniting the fuse will get away in time, the possibility of the rocket going off in the wrong direction. I love that. Somehow organised fireworks, in all their glory, aren't nearly as exciting, as you know nothing will go wrong. My poor uncle lost an eye thanks to a firework, and I think that has stayed with me forever. As a child, we were always wondering what appalling injury would befall us on fireworks night. We were a week early this year, but never mind, and luckily all survived the show.