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Snow Business
by Patrick Vickery
by Patrick Vickery


Patrick Vickery lives in the Scottish Highlands and runs a small hardy perennial nursery (part-time). Patrick is also a part-time garden writer, and part-time special needs teacher.

Married to Liz, they have three children, two goats, two dogs, an assortment of small animals, and lives in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world.

Patrick gardens using a raised bed system and all, of course, chemically free - a chemical free zone!
Visit his blog
His first book was published in January 2002 by Capall Bann Publishers, UK:-
"In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden" (ISBN: 186163 1480)

Also visit his website at

January 2, 2011

In a previous life as a teacher the onset of snow was most welcome. If it was heavy and disruptive enough to shut the school for a day or so then that was wonderful. (Even teachers are human, you know). And for those dour individuals who claim that disrupting a child's education by closing schools in bad weather is educationally harmful - what nonsense. We all need as much fun and variety as possible. I'd even go so far as to encourage the occasional family holiday during term time. Holidays are educational after all and I'm sure they could be included as an activity within the much hyped and rarely defined 'Curriculum For Excellence'. Yes, indeed, 'Holidays For Excellence' would just about cover it.

Moving on, I normally manage to keep my garden business going until Christmas. This year, however, was different because the snow arrived early: Friday, November 27th to be precise. That particular evening we had an assignation in Dingwall at the National Hotel - a meal and a Ceilidh Dance organised by the Dingwall Gaelic Choir. The tickets had come via friends (who had acquired them via friends) and I didn't realise it was a Gaelic Choir 'do' until the event was upon us. Anyway, we dithered and swithered. Should we risk the weather and go, or should we not? The prospect of a good meal, music and some excellent company were the deciding factors, so we headed for Dingwall in anticipation of a good night out. We were not to be disappointed.

Having consumed a hearty meal and enjoyed excellent live music I found myself standing on the steps of the hotel at a quarter to eleven admiring the blizzard (there was a spot of thunder and lightning too) and wondering whether or not we should head for home before the roads became impassable. Two members of the Gaelic Choir joined me on the steps to ponder the same thing. Mentioning in conversation that I would like to hear them sing at some point in the future they thundered spontaneously into enthusiastic song. I have no idea what they were singing about - it was in Gaelic - but it was much appreciated even though I may have looked a bit startled.

I was tempted to reply with an improvised Gaelic song using the only Gaelic phrase I know - "tha ton na goibhre a cur nam chuimhne air mo ghranaidh" - but decided that this was wholly inappropriate and might be perceived as the musical rantings of one who was not in complete control of his faculties. It translates into: "my granny looks like the back end of a goat", which is an endearing reference from a previous Journal column about my welsh granny, Gwyneth, a lovely lady, now deceased, who had the same sort of walk as one of the goats (when viewed from behind anyway). "Tha ton na goibhre a cur nam chuimhne air mo ghranaidh" is a good title for a song though, don't you think?

Anyway, impromptu singing on a cold winter's night on the steps of a hotel by members of an internationally renowned choir for the benefit of a stranger during a snow storm (with a spot of thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure) is just the sort of event to remind me - as if I need reminding - that the Highlands is simply a wonderful place to live.

On this note I wish you a peaceful Christmas and a healthy New Year.

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