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A New Year, the same cold and I still hate icing sugar
So here’s to 2023
I’ve been a bit quiet. I’m sorry. But we’ve had Christmas and all that that entails, so let’s deal with the icing sugar bit first.
It’s too white, too sweet and too messy. Is that fair? I’ve always got some in because it is so good for making quick ice creams, the ones that need no pre-cooking like strawberry (predictable) or pumpkin (less so) as it blends quickly into the other ingredients. I also need it at Christmas time for the almond paste on the cake but when it comes to sieving it for icings it is just such a pain (I wanted to write faff but don’t know how to spell it: should it be pfaf? Or is that a make of sewing machine?). Icing sugar goes everywhere and makes everything sticky. But this year, with Tina coming from Germany for Christmas, I did sieve the icing sugar before adding lemon juice for a refreshing and less sweet icing on our cake. You’d have thought that after all that it would have had the decency to actually stay on the cake, wouldn’t you? Well, cake decorating is one subject that I haven’t written a book on - and yes, that was the finished cake!
Christmas didn’t work out as planned for so many people and I am certainly still battling the chesty cough that accompanied my cold when it started on the Wednesday before Christmas. The best way of clearing the sinuses is a walk on our beach and we’ve had plenty of those over the holidays. Special days like Christmas and New Year generally involve a loosely planned meeting with the neighbours and their dogs, a dram or two and cake. I take mince pies - they don’t need icing!
The big event of Christmas and Hogmanay for Orcadians is the Ba’, a free-for-all, no rules, rugby-type game played through the streets of the city of Kirkwall with the hand-made (and very beautiful) leather ball being thrown into the waiting pack outside the Cathedral. It’s the Uppies v the Doonies and there is a boys game (up to 16yo) and a mens game each time. All the shops are barricaded - interesting when Christmas shopping - the boards providing useful sitting opportunities whilst waiting for the start. The Council take an ad in the paper to state that they have no responsibility for any of it - well, apart from putting up and removing the defences.
Whichever side people were rooting for, it was a glorious day of weather for sure.
Whilst the Ba’ has been played for centuries, one of Orkney’s newest events is the Farmers Tractor Run raising money for local charities. This year, the second time it has happened, and even with people feeling the financial pinch, it has raised almost £25K for the Orkney Blide Trust, the only dedicated mental health charity in Orkney, and the Orkney Heart Support Group. And it was a spectacular sight. With 178 tractors it was thought to be the biggest run in the UK. Here’s a few pictures, one recognisable and two abstract.
There’s a brief catch-up of the Festive Season in Orkney this year. Now I’m off to try to get creative with left-overs (we had our festive roast three days ago) but I think I need a cuppa and a slice of that cake first before Nick eats it all. Fingers crossed for 2023.
Yes, that’s tangles (kelp) on the beach - masses of it which the birds are enjoying very much.