The next installment about life in a Scottish Castle, from guest blogger Emma Macalister Hall, as the family charge into their first Christmas at Torrisdale Castle.

Preparations have been gathering pace for our very first castle Christmas, and the excitement is building. I am hosting Christmas lunch for the very first time, and I’m experiencing a mixed bag of emotions from mild panic (about the turkey) to extreme terror (about the turkey).  This will be the first time our two families have been together at Christmas and the first in years that my husband has spent with his parents * so I really want it to be special.  I’m envisaging that final scene from It’s a Wonderful Life when they’re all gathered round the huge tree, laughing and hugging, but am in no doubt the reality will be more like The Muppets: A Christmas Carol. Or Die Hard.

bruce w

There will be fifteen of us, including my two littlies and a vegetarian cousin, but for some obscure reason I deemed it necessary to order a 25lb turkey which could comfortably feed thirty. For a fortnight. Some doubt remains as to whether or not it will fit in the Aga but I’m trying to remain optimistic. That’s more or less the weight of my two year old and although it’s a tight squeeze, she fits in quite well. Coincidentally, it also represents my weight-loss goal for the New Year. I have a wedding (not mine) and a 40th birthday (mine *wails uncontrollably*) within days of each other in May, and I would like the option of not having to wear stretchy black leggings and a baggy tunic which have become my bulge-concealing wardrobe staples. (And this is BEFORE consumption of a 25lb turkey plus trimmings…).

It has been great fun decking the halls and garlanding the stairs. Having up-sized considerably from an average bungalow in suburbia, I was slightly concerned that our meagre collection of decorations would look a bit sparse. Luckily we have an expert florist on hand who helped create the garland and fireplace decorations from foraged greenery and cheap baubles. The results are fabulous, although we may have peaked too soon, as there has already been significant droppage of pine needles and subsequent minor foot injuries. There will be no such problem with our tree, however, which is faker than Sharon Osbourne and not much taller.  My dreams of a 12ft Norwegian pine gracing our hall were dashed by my over-worked husband, who understandably couldn’t face trekking out in horizontal rain and gale-force winds to chop one down and drag it back. I’ve let it go this year**. 


And so the countdown begins. My parents arrive later today which will kick off the chaos nicely, as my mother will no doubt make her usual ebullient entrance followed by the mandatory crossed-legged hobble to the loo, whilst my poor father struggles behind her carrying his one, neatly packed case and as many of her over-flowing carrier bags as he can manage.  From then on it will be a slippery slope of gin and scrabble and petty arguments and wrong presents and wet pants and lots of laughter. It won’t be perfect but it will be wonderful and I’m going to chill out about the turkey and try to channel Mary Berry and Nigella. And Bruce Willis. If all else fails, I’m clinging on to the fact that for one day only, it’s perfectly acceptable to be drunk by 11am.

Bottoms up and Merry Christmas one and all!

 * Massive sore point. We always went to my family as I kept playing my trump card – “But it could be granny’s last Christmas!” Sadly, last year it was, and the fabulous old goat passed away in June, aged 100. 

** I haven’t really

Emma blogs about life at the Castle: I Swallowed a Hippo and you can find out all about the “real” Torrisdale Castle

This post is linked to Me Add Three Christmas Countdown

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