Amiet, Bruegel and Christmas

An unprecedentedly mild December set me searching for snowy scenes… in the lull between the twin peaks of festive excess, which are Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The chance to spin my wheels is a rare one; but I have put it to good use: a splendid Lego Millennium Falcon is built for my son, turkey soup has been slurped by all and I have a birthday jigsaw belatedly on the go. 

But the post-Christmas peace will be short lived. Soon I will be pressed into activity and jollity, like the skaters in the younger Bruegel’s “Bird Trap”.

And once that is done, it will be back to work, fitting more people into less space in the manner of his father’s “Census at Bethlehem”.

So I’m enjoying my rare day of solitude. This expanse of white is by Swiss painter Cuno Amiet. It’s his 1904 “Snowy Landscape” discovered on the ever wonderful DailyArt App

The tiny figure looks lost. But on closer inspection he (although it could be a she) seems to have a sense of purpose about them. 

The chance to have a mind as blank as Amiet’s snows is a treat indeed – as is cooking up leftovers and piecing together my New York skyline jigsaw in glorious, if temporary solitude.

Still, returning to Brueghel’s “Bird Trap”, no-one would choose an entirely solitary life… As Aristotle famously said.

The thin string to the tiny dark window is a reminder that neither poor nor alone, I’m very lucky to have food, friends and family all around at Christmas.

Auld langs ache


Starting with a bleeding hand and busted arm, and ending with the cold which took out a quarter of my daughter’s school; December was a hard month.

Still, it’s in the bag. And yesterday for the first time in a month I had energy to burn again. Sure I’m still a bit stiff; and still coughing, but the worst is over.

Long walks, fetching, carrying – even chopping carrots, which for a month has been painfully slow, all systems are nearly go.

What a lesson it has been. A one-way ticket to my later years: unable to cycle; struggling to hold onto handrails as I wheezed and wobbled on and off the steamed-up wintry Number 12 bus.

The Christmas week was a cracker with a temperature, weak knees and a bad chest. But, I got everything I wanted this festive season; and gave of good cheer to my nearest and dearest.

So here’s to better health and a happy New Year.