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Jim Smith: ‘The wood burner was great, but after 20 hours without power the novelty had worn off’

After the storm the Smith family will have enough firewood for the next five years.
After the storm the Smith family will have enough firewood for the next five years.

As I write this I have spotted a wee red elf sitting above the fireplace.

I’m shocked as I’ve been so busy with comedy and getting cattle home for winter I still thought it was the middle of November!

However Radio 2 have just played Chris Rea’s “Driving Home For Christmas” and a set of step ladders have magically appeared underneath the attic, so obviously I’ll be getting sent up there later to send down boxes of decorations.

To be honest I don’t know who’s more excited about the start of advent in our house.

It really should be Alice, but at only 17 months she doesn’t quite get it yet, while Morag on the other hand is going about the house like a giddy teenager singing along to Christmas songs and trimming holly.

Christmas music means it’s time to delve into the attic – and to get outside picking holly.

Maybe she’s just happy the power is back on.

To be honest it was only off with us for 20 hours, but the lights went off while Alice was in the bath and Morag was home alone as I was out at a gig – hardly the best timing.

Fortunately Morag had the foresight to make sure I had put new batteries in all the torches before I left as the lights were flickering with every gust of wind, plus she always has a stash of candles so when I came home the house looked like a late night jazz bar – without the music of course.

Morag’s dad is ex-army so she has been brought up to be prepared for such eventualities as power cuts/ fuel shortages/nuclear war whereas I tend to be more of a seat-of-my-pants kind of chap, although I think that’s just another term for being disorganised.


So we are now preparing an “emergency box” of candles/ torches/ batteries/ kindling/firewood/matches/ bedding and chocolate for when this happens again.

At least we are fortunate enough to have a wood burner stove so we were able to keep the heat going through the night.

In fact it’s quite ironic that after Friday’s storm we will probably have enough firewood for the next five years.

To be honest as we slept all with duvets round the fire, on Friday, reading books by torch light with the sound of the wind screaming by the house it felt quite comforting – perhaps a reality check how much we have come to take everyday things for granted.

By mid afternoon on Saturday though the novelty had well and truly worn off but thankfully the power was back on by 4 pm, so we got off lightly.

I bet every turkey in the country is praying for another storm Arwen in about three weeks time.


On a lighter note I’m delighted to announce that Morag and I got engaged last month.

After five years, one child and another one on the way I guess you could argue it was long overdue, plus I was racking my brains on what to get her for her birthday and I really didn’t think another selection of scented candles would go down too well – although we could have fair done with them last Friday night.

Sheep have made a fantastic trade this autumn.

I also used to joke that the price of sheep was too low to buy a fancy ring but we got a fantastic trade last month for fat lambs and I stupidly let Morag see the line, so there were no excuses.

However, as she puts it, a shiny ring and a wedding is a small price to pay for getting a shepherdess for life!

We got engaged up north but we had chosen the ring in Edinburgh.

What a beautiful city that really is, I don’t think you appreciate things like that when your younger but I now seem to appreciate how lucky we are to have a place like that as our capital.


On a final note I just wanted to say thanks to everyone that came to my comedy nights in Birnam last week, especially to the Friday night crowd who braved the storm.

You were all fantastic and myself and my fellow comics were delighted you all seemed to enjoy the new material.

It was lovely to be back on stage.

From everyone here at the farm, wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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