Saturday, 24 October 2009


What do you do to keep a nonagenarian happy? Give him a remote control helicopter. That's what lovely elder son bought for his grandfather, and didn't that make his day!

Granny is not pleased.

Dad comes from the make your own entertainment days, which in his case meant a train set which grew like Topsy until it took up the entire attic. When I was small, a favourite thing when the grass had just been cut was making homes for fairies out of grass cuttings. I was never too particular, I didn't mind what moved in - spuggies, snails, ladybirds, urban pixies - so long as it was alive. The immediate result, however, would be grass stains on a cotton dress.

Mummy was not pleased.

This got me thinking about Mistmantle games. We know that they play First Fives and Find the Heir of Mistmantle, but I expect they build play houses in the forests and make swords out of sticks so they can run through Anemone Wood pretending to be Crispin. Any other thoughts out there?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

squirrel moments

During our holiday last week - when Padra so kindly covered this page for me - we had a few wonderful days in red squirrel country, not far from Aviemore in the Highlands. Quite apart from unexpected autumn sunshine, we saw squirrels everywhere. They were very busy, running about digging holes and collecting nuts. Every time I see them I'm stunned all over again by just how beautiful they are, so small and elegant and athletic.

Not far from the Rothiemurchas estate is Drake's Alpine Nursery, but the plant nursery is only the beginning of it. They also have a coffee room which serves tea, coffee and cakes. Not biscuits, not scones. Just cakes, as in, to die for. And while you enjoy your coffee and cake, you can sit at a wee gallery just at treetop level and watch the squirrels and any number of species of wild birds, all giving the bird feeders a good reason to be there. It's one of the most amazing hidden gems I've ever come across and is popular with the locals, which is always a good sign.

Local. Oh, if only.

PS Mistmantle readers may like to know that Sepia was there. She didn't sing - you can't, while you're eating - but she has the most beautiful table manners.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


Good evening! I understand my brother Fingal has been talking to you, so no doubt he's left you totally confused. Sorry about that. The woman - Queen of Switzensomething-something - who writes our stories has been on holiday for a week and has just come back, and is now pinging about like a squirrel on a spring trying to catch up with work.

I understand that she's trying to make her life less complicated. Uncluttering is the word. I fear a long and fierce struggle is ahead,and she may not be altogether successful. Anyone who goes on holiday and comes back with two china plates, various greeting cards and notelets, a selection of very silly fluffy bobbles for making things with and an assortment of cones, leaves, twiggy bits and lichen can't persuade me that she's seriously uncluttering. I suspect she's making room for a different sort of clutter. Heart love her. And you, too.


Captain Padra