It’s lucky that we brought plenty of supplies with us. Driving into Aviemore is not easy but we manage to top up with fresh produce thanks to Lucy who has snow tyres, and to Ryan who cycles in with a large rucksack to fill. Ryan has already done a 20km ride on his mountain bike through stunning wilderness. He says he did not see another soul all day.
The children are either play-acting inside and outdoors with Dan and Barns, watching the latest kiddy movies on ‘deeves’ (Lola’s word), colouring and stickers in the kitchen or playing mothers and fathers in one of the ten bedrooms. It’s fairly hectic and noisy but pretty much harmonious all the way.
After supper on Wednesday the adults have their own ‘make and do’ session. Armed with raspberry jellies to dilute, sweetie feet and lips, strings of pink sugared pastille, and strawberry-flavoured jelly tapes, Charlotte and Emma take some jam tart baking trays and basins to create a gelatinous mass, and this will be offered to one of the unwitting cast for an ‘autopsy’.
Thursday brings us our treat. Allan Heaney and Eleanor Honeyborne of OnePotBorrowed come to the house with all their ingredients and cook our dinner. They have compiled a delicious menu for us which includes Mull Cheddar and cauliflower soup with a dash of wholegrain mustard, a venison casserole with herby dumplings, roasted and green vegetables, followed by chocolate and nut individual tartlets garnished with strawberries.
Thirteen of us sit down to enjoy this meal: Sam and Joel are allowed to stay up and we have invited Lucy, Walter and Helen. It’s an opportunity to dress up, a chance for me to sport an aigrette! This is, after all, an Edwardian country house which retains much of its character and most of its original features such as the oak panelling, open fires, period furniture including the 20-seater dining table in the central hall.
You might find yourself sleeping in Mrs Black’s or Mr George’s room, or even the French Maid’s. Inshriach was built in 1906 by the Blacks, a publishing family, as a shooting lodge. The walls bear plenty of evidence of its former occupants.
Before the younger children were put to bed there was the matter of the shooting of the innards’ investigation scene and Ruby, sporting improvised braces to place her in the character of ‘Blair’, was given the opportunity to discover that after a preliminary poke, a confection of jelly and sweeties actually tastes quite good. In the interests of good taste of another kind, this moment does not make the final cut!
Other special effects are subsequently crafted in the cellar at Inshriach when Dan, Barns and Walter fine tune a minor conflagration involving a small fluffy toy dog. These kids have fun too. Smaller folk are long since tucked up in bed.
On Friday morning Nick will have to take Ems and Ruby to Inverness airport for their return flight to London. This is the beginning of the Breaking of The Fellowship for this year.