Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Not Everything Went Wrong

 over the Christmas period. On the contrary, a lot went right.

True, a friend delivering a last minute card for me fell down some steps in the dark and hurt her foot;

true, the river came out (burst its banks), and it took a jolly old paddle to get across to the other side;

true, walking in the castle grounds was a merry squelch, each step a fight to stay upright;

true, the backdoor, still not replaced, let lots of rain into the scullery;

true, I took twice the maximum dose of beta blockers for more than a week without realising and  wondered why I was feeling a bit slow at times;

true, by the time we finally sat down to the main event, i.e. the turkey, three of us had to admit defeat long before our plates were empty.

we had electricity,
no flood waters came into the house.
and no trees fell on us during the gales.

We had a lovely time with two dear friends, half of it spent at our house and half at theirs.
There was music, poetry, the Queen’s speech, the ‘Downton Abbey’ special, a pleasant bottle or four (over the whole day) and delicious food, even if all of us passed on the plum pudding due to prior overindulgence, in the true spirit of Christmas.

And now it’s Silvester, or Hogmanay, the end of the year.

Be sure to finish today any work you have in hand, for a task carried over into the New Year will never prosper.

At midnight, prepare to welcome the first visitor of the New Year, whose nature will determine your household’s fortune therein.  This first-footer (or Lucky Bird) should be a tall, well-made man, and in most parts of the country very dark men are preferred. He should not be a doctor, minister, lawyer or policeman; he must not wear any black or carry a knife or edged tool; and, above all, he must come bearing gifts - which should include a loaf, a bottle of whiskey, a piece of coal and perhaps a silver coin. He must enter in silence, and none should speak to him until he has put the coal on the fire, poured a glass for the head of the household, and wished the company

Happy New Year.


  1. I have never heard of the first-footer before. But then again, I learn all kinds of things from you for the first time, Friko. Glad to hear of all the wonderful bits amongst the trials you've been facing lately. Happy 2014!

  2. Oh dear...all that going on......but still you gathered with dear friends and enjoyed That's the spirit!
    I wish you the best of year.......good health and love all around you
    WIsh the gardener a happy new year from me.....I so enjoy his stories of his life. You must be quite the woman to get them out of him....!
    I shall be making merry with the grandchildren tonight with noise makers and funny hats...no tall dark stranger with gifts anywhere to be found...
    Happy New Year Friko.....twice the maximum dose! oh dear.....
    love your writing!!

  3. I love the word Hogamanay but never heard all that goes with it. I mailed it to Rick's brother who is likely to be our first visitor of the new year (and last of the old!) I'm glad your holiday was a good one, filled with riends, warmth and joy. It sounds just delightful. (And my guess is plum pudding made great leftovers.)

  4. happy new year....life is often about perspective, and we have blessings we can def count that many can not...though i would like to walk the castle grounds....smiles....look for the good...and welcome the visitor...happy new year!

  5. We haven't had a first footer for years....I do miss that time of open doors and good heartedness.

    I'm glad you escaped the power cuts and floods and am now stopping all work - on your authority - in order to start the New Year well....

  6. Friko, may I take this opportunity to say that having the opportunity to actually meet you was a 2013 highlight for me. I do look forward to seeing you again to continue our conversation...and I will then be able to tell you my own first footer tale!

    A very Happy New Year to you and yours. xo

  7. Our neighbors were from Scotland. That's wne I first heard about the "first footer" We enjoyed these neighbors and learned so many of their customs.
    Passed on the plum pudding...how could you?
    Happy New Year....Balisha

  8. Happy New Year, Friko! Glad to hear you came through Christmas unscathed and merry! Great post -- yet again!

  9. I am now on the lookout for a tall, dark, well-made man bearing gifts. Happy New Year, Friko!

  10. Your Christmas sounds nice, Friko, and I am glad your house was not flooded or hit by a tree, and the overdose on Beta blockers did not cause you any lasting harm (it sounds quite scary for someone like me who doesn't know much about heart stuff and blood pressure).

    Some of the requirements for the first-footer are certainly matched by RJ, but will he count as my first visitor? He has arrived yesterday and will stay until the 2nd of January, but since we'll be out tonight and he'll come home with me from the New Year's Eve "do" as my first guest in the New Year, I think that counts.
    Unfortunately, there is no fire in my home where coal would come in useful.

  11. Oh lord, where am I going to find a First Footer who fits those requirements? You do make it hard on me, Friko. I will wish you a Happy New Year anyway and pretend you didn't say that. :)

  12. The First Footer? That's a new one on me but certainly as good as wish as any. May mine be rich, blonde and buxom!

  13. Christmas sounds just right !
    And as for a First Footer ... pick the right one , won't you . My oldest uncle will never be allowed to forget the year he was sent off just before midnight , armed with whisky and coal , to return as my grandparents first footer ... and didn't get back till lunchtime . He'd got waylaid by some neighbours ......

  14. It's the last day already? Damn, I better get busy and finish up a few things! Thanks for the reminder! After that I'll spray on some fake tan and be the first-footer.

  15. Frico het was fijn om je blog te volgen ook wij wensen je veel geluk,liefde en gezondheid. cobie en bas.

  16. Oops, oh dear. I've just put off the remaining bit of a job I started today, in the thought that at least I'd be bright and fresh to put up an extended curtain rail. But now you tell me I've banjaxed the whole thing?

    Ah well, Happy New Year to one and all, just the same.

  17. My new year is already doomed because of many unfinished projects.

    Wishing you and your Beloved a most happy and prosperous New Year!

  18. Crumbs Friko wish you'd told me a few weeks ago - it'll take me a few weeks to be at that stage!

    So pleased you're safe to the wild weather we seem to be having ... it's very soggy down here. Christmas sounds just wonderful .. quiet, yet lots of pleasures to eat and drink ...

    Happy New Year to you both .. cheers Hilary

  19. Happy New Year, Friko. Four bottles? White or red?

  20. Love your description of the "first-footer." I have always wondered why Germans refer to New Years' Eve as Silvester. So glad you had a happy Christmas. All best to you, Beloved, Gardener, and all in 2014!

  21. Must remember to send O/H for the last little shovel of coal - he used to have a wonderful head of black hair - it's gone a little bit sparse and silver now, but he'll do for me. Happy New Year, Friko to both you and your Beloved and not forgetting Gardener too

  22. Gosh - now I'll be looking for a tall, dark man - does it count if he used to have dark hair which has now turned white? I came by to tell you I'm thinking of you at the cusp of the New Year, Friko. Let the fun begin!

  23. Great...I do not think I know a tall, dark man who would bring us gifts. So...wonder what this bodes for our incoming year?

  24. Bring he whiskey and he'll find a right welcome, be he whatever shade or standing.

  25. No tall dark men are likely to be the first stepping into my door unless it is my creepy neighbor having lost his way home in a drugged state. I too had never heard of the tradition untiil this year, and this is the second time. Maybe I should be in search of a tall dark stranger. Have the happiest of all new years.

  26. Happy New Year! We'll have Downton Abbey soon.


  27. No first footers here.
    Have a wonderful, happy and healthy New Year.

  28. ✦✧✦╗╔╔╗╔╗╔╗╗╔─╔╗╔╗╗╦╔─╗╔╔╗╔╗╔╗║✧✦✧

  29. My Irish wish for you for 2014:

    may your hands always be stretched out in friendship and never in want, dear Friko.


  30. Aye, 'tis Hogmanay, but we'll not be up late celebratin' — nor do we expect visitors bringing a loaf and a lump of coal, but 'tis a fine auld tradition I've known about all my life.
    I'm so glad you had a good Christmas with good friends, Friko. It sounds as if the weather could hardly have been worse but, of course, if it had been, you'd have had more problems than water in the scullery.
    We encountered some wild and snowy weather in our post-Christmas travels to see my husband's daughters and all the grandchildren. Lindy was such a good girl in the hotel for three nights, and she loved being right in the middle of the action when the grandchildren were playing. With her degenerating vision, she couldn't see the children, but they were making plenty of noise, so she always knew where they were, so she was there, too, smiling her Golden Retriever smile and waving her tail around.
    Wishing you and yours the very best of the coming year, and I'm looking forward to your very interesting and, as someone mentioned, often educational posts.
    Luv, K

  31. However unlikely, I do hope you get your idea First Footer over your doorstep. I can't imagine how to make that happen here.

  32. I like your idea of half at your house, half at theirs!
    Glad the bad weather did not unduly affect your celebrations, and the "overindulgence" sounds familiar here too!
    I am guilty of leaving a job undone yesterday, and will have to hope that it prospers notwithstanding, as it's not for me but an organisation that I volunteer with, keep your fingers crossed for me please!
    Happy New Year!

  33. I have been having a bit of a problem in being dropped, sink, skeedoodled visiting your blog of late, Frko. Thought I would try my smart phone, which is much smarter than I. Now I can read you. Here is hoping I can comment and wish you a happy and healthy new year. Penny

  34. Wow! My first visitor of the year was my next-door neighbour Sandy. She brought me hugs, but no whiskey or candy, alas! But a very welcome guest she was anyway.

    May 2014 be bright and beautiful for you. xoxo

  35. Hallo Friko,
    trotz aller Widrigkeiten, die Du in der ersten Hälfte beschreibst, wünsche ich Dir und Deinen Lieben ein frohes neues Jahr 2014 !

    Gruß Dieter

  36. seems to me one night be able to rent oneself out as an auspicious first footer, eh?

  37. How interesting.. the first-footer. My first and only visitor was a deer at the steps of the deck. Other than that, it's just me and the kitties today. I hope your friend heals quickly. Happy New Year, dear Friko.

  38. Friko, the New Year still in nappies I dare say it's not too late to wish you a good one too.

    When I saw your headline "Not everything went wrong..." I laughed and tinged with a faint shade of envy at the same time: It's the sort of subject line I like to come up with. As it were, sitting tight, trying not to move and promptly following asleep before midnight (the sacrilege of it!) I was safe from misfortune befalling me.

    The first footer (not a visitor since he lives here - also blond, blue eyed and therefore fair) was the Angel at about four in the morning. He bore no gifts other than a bear hug for his mother. So that was good.

    Considering your "Be sure to finish today any work you have in hand, for a task carried over into the New Year will never prosper" I am doomed.

    Best wishes,


  39. "A task carried over into the new Year will never prosper"?

    Damn, I wish I'd known that before today.
    Happy New Year.

  40. No dark man came to my door at midnight - I don't know if I'm relieved or disappointed - and many a task gets carried over the threshold of my new year; be that as it may, it sounds as though you had a merry season despite the weather. Hope this new year brings you prosperity and luck. Just curious - did a dark stranger enter your door with the requisite items? (Which culture did that spring from?)

  41. Happy New Year, Friko!
    I wish health, good weather and good friends!

  42. I love the title of this post, which fit our own experience of the season, in our case including snow and treacherous ice at just the time guests were set to come and go, and one set of friends with a punctured tire as they were leaving on Boxing Day. (Miraculously, a tire place was open to outfit them with a proper spare--missing from their rental car.) New Year's Day, peace descended once again, and J made a new dish from the Moro cookbook, duck breast with pomegranate molasses. My, it was good! Today we are expecting to be snowed in again, and it remains very cold. Wishing you and beloved all good things in the year ahead.

  43. Since I run a business, it isn't actually possible to finish year-end tasks before January!

    Here's to a bright 2014!


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