Ring out the old …

DSCF0379.JPG So that was 2010. It started with a resolution to sell 14 Lewiston and start a new business in a new land. Rose and Sylvain were staying, and Jo was living with us. As the year comes to its end, Rose and Sylvain are in Montreal, Jo lives in a lovely wee flat beside the Glenurquhart Centre, but is temporarily in hospital in Inverness, and we are living in our caravan in Obernai looking out at the still deep and crisp and even snow.

So much has happened between then and now. A huge amount of work, emotion and organisation, mostly on Dee’s part, went into sorting Jo’s new flat and arranging her care (protracted negotiations with GP, pharmacist, psychiatric services, social work, housing, the Centre and a raft of care providers to name but a few).

DSCF0889.JPGSelling Lewiston was far more difficult than either of us realised, not because of any particular attachment to the bricks and mortar, but largely on account of the overwhelming amount of stuff we had gathered around us over the past 12 years (and before) that had to be got rid of by some means or other, or put into store, or packed for transit in car and caravan.

DSCF3788.JPGThis was my 50th year. Dee and I celebrated not with 50 candles but with 50 treats (mostly shared, some just for me, and 50 was of course a notional number, no-one was really counting and hence a potentially infinite number). We had some memorable holidays and trips away, to the bulb fields in the Spring, down the Danube and up the Rhine in a July heatwave (how strange that seems now, looking out over a freezing, foggy, snow-covered Rhine plain), to the gardens of south-west Scotland in September with Mum, to Belgium with the trailer, to Wales, York, London and a few places in between for work, and Lotte training trips.

There were reports to write and meetings to manage. There was studying to do and exams to sit (I have my Certificate in Horticulture, Dee has her Certificate in French, we both have City & Guilds qualifications in climbing trees and performing aerial rescues).

DSCF1018.JPGThere were some memorable reunions, with Jean in Strathaven, with Dorothy and Ian in Purley, with the Peters in Strasbourg and Lorraine. Family evenings in Glasgow, and when the Dougalls came to visit in the summer. Mum coming back with us to stay for a weekend. Wilf and Gelise delivering our car, and helping to keep us sane during the last few days in Lewiston.

DSCF1230.JPGAnd then, in November, there was the grand departure. For the last six weeks of the year, give or take a few days with Mum and the odd night in a hotel, we’ve been living in Lotte. We are experienced and seasoned (winter!) caravanners. We’ve got a lovely wee home, and we’ve succeeded in getting ourselves, cats, and a selection of our goods and chattels to our intended destination here in Alsace. The plan came together and we are pleased with ourselves for that (the plan did not include mangled fingers but we’re coping with that too, practically and medically). We’ve spent a lot of our time here thinking long and hard about what we’ll do next and where we’ll do it. But that’s a story for another day, another year, more tomorrow.

Our final meal of 2010 has been an entirely appropriate Dee and Jane twist on a local classic – choucroute, potato crush and trout and cep sausage, accompanied by a bottle of Cremant d’Alsace. Gesundheit (as they say).

Bon réveillon tout le monde, happy Hogmanay everyone.

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