Jonathan: Hardly! Frankly, the dreariest Christmas I can ever recall, what with the never-ending barrage of wind and rain. This is without any shadow of doubt the worst autumn and winter since we moved to the islands more than nine years ago. And it’s not as if the earlier part of the year was much better. May – normally the best month of the year, and reliably so – was gales and rain from beginning to end: so little light and warmth that the tomatoes plants never really got going and we lost out both cash sales to tourists and tomatoes for ourselves, including preserved for the winter. Other crops suffered too – and the bees;. But to cap it all the rats – the winters here are too ‘mild’ to kill them off – are this year so numerous and so hungry that they’ve been digging up and eating our carrots and parsnips: they’ve got into the potting shed too and eaten or damaged lots of the potatoes. The nerve of it! But we can’t live without carrots: when the Co-op reopens after New Year we will indeed have to bury our pride and for the first time ever (in Uist) stop by the vegetable display, grit our teeth, master the strong impulse to throw up at the mere thought of having to actually choose something from that morgue-like display of dead vegetables – and buy some something to put on our plates. But where do we put them? I don’t know what mainland folk do, but we normally keep our vegetables in the ground until we need them: even in the depths of winter, we can go out into the garden and pick them for a meal that day – and they’re still alive. I suppose, they’ll have to go with the potatoes (which we do harvest in autumn and store – more a matter of convenience than necessity). Except that we’ve had to bring the potatoes into the house to keep them from the rats. Yes, the carrots will have to go in the weaving room too, then. At least there’s plenty of peas and beans in the freezer, and winter cabbage in the greenhouse – the rats haven’t got that far … yet!