We have had a very strange day. Our neighbour the Laird of Towie rang up a little while ago, to say, ‘You know that vegetable garden at F— Castle? They just leave the produce to rot in the ground. It’s a bloody disgrace. We’re going to steal some. You coming?’ What can one say but yes? Thus we ended up in the late morning of Christmas Eve in the grounds of a National Trust property prising miscellaneous root vegetables from the frozen earth in hard frost, beneath a milk-glass sky — we have a celeriac, some sprouts, a red cabbage, enough cavolo nero to keep the River Café going for quite some time, beetroots, a swede, and brussells sprouts. Quite a haul. We had to give up on the parsnips because the ground was frozen solid, but we have done pretty well. On the way out, a pheasant scuttled across the road the way they do, slipped and sat down with a bump, its feet straight in front of it, and skated across the rest of the road on its bottom. I’ve never seen that happen before. We ended up having a triumphalist burglar’s lunch at Towie, which is why, at quarter past four, we have only just got home though we had expected to be back around twelve. It is the first time in months that there has been enough leisure to permit that kind of thing, which made it particularly nice.