December 26th or Boxing Day going back to when Christmas was a fully religious day and Boxing Day was the day when boxes, or presents were traditionally opened and the landed gentry rode to hounds!

My early memories of the festive season were always Christmas at Auntie Glad and Uncle Tom’s, then everybody crowding round the 9″ TV with the 3″ magnifier, for the Queen’s speech and the cold ride home and getting ready for Boxing Day at my Godmother’s, Auntie Madge.

Circa 1956 the whole  family watching

Maybe 1959?

Later in life Boxing Day was always a local trial and super fun in the snow up on Jumping Downs where the Barham Club ran most of its Trials.

1962 on the Greeves Scottish 9E, Beatles Hat and snow

1964 on the Square Barrel Greeves TES just before I joined the RAF for Officer Training

Later still in the 80’s it was a pheasant shoot somewhere in or around my RAF base and again a load of fun and  great walk round with all the friendly farmers and loopy gundogs.

Classic Lincolnshire Pheasant

Well that was back then, since moving to the USA in 1995 its either been working, as in Phoenix, or more latterly skiing up at Telluride our local resort.

The Dynamic Duo at Telluride

Telluride with Phil

Bluebird Day in Telluride

However this week the weather is not so friendly with the big dump on Christmas Night and a bit of a plough out today before some 9 Ball pool.

Yesterday was mainly clear in the morning but then the next winter storm arrived around 1600 and by bedtime there was about an inch on the rail with a forecast of 2″. We got the 2″ by dawn and today the forecast is 1-3″ and we already have one!

Brenda is off to see Phil in LA again to complete one of her bucket list items, which is the Rose Parade in Pasadena. She is leaving this afternoon from Cortez on a small but comfortable aircraft and goes to LA via Denver. At the moment we can’t get hold of the airline or the airport to see if the flight is on and if the runway is open ?

Later we get the call that it IS on but delayed 1 hour. Plenty of time in the Denver layover so all should be well. I’m back home about 1615 and the temp is already down to 20F. Hypertherm  dragged out of the snow and brushed off before evening light up. Fire lit, plenty of checks on the traveler and before 2200 I get the call saying she has arrived safely and enjoyed the flight.

YYEEESSSS! it really is THAT cold!

3F at bedtime! and the same this morning but now the sun is up its crested 8F. Going to be a COLD, VERY COLD few days and I’ll be watching a fair bit of TV !












Here we are again, Christmas morning 2018. Forecast to snow this afternoon and night and  through most of Boxing Day tomorrow bringing about 7″ of snow ….. we will see.

The weather as it is now

As it will be!

Almost time to prep the vegetables, and then if time permits maybe I’ll try for 5 miles on the bicycle as I haven’t been on it for over a month!

Vegetables prepped, swede done and mashed, parboiling of parsnips and spuds done and the lucky ones set aside for roasting. More wood chopped ready for the snowstorm and the cycling project gets put on a back burner again. At the last count I had knocked up 4644.30 miles on my quest to cycle the Equator. Could still make 4700 for the year but looking outside this morning that is looking unlikely.

That good looking beef!

Swedes first

Spuds peeled

Parsnips ready

Brenda likes them roasted

The last of the veggies

Swedes on the rolling boil

As a surprise gift I got a cycling Stein which is strangely delightful and has a “bicycle bell” on it so that you can ring for another.

Ding .. Ding

I also got a full blown weather station so I can compare my forecast with the experts.

The beef rests, the veg are back on the boil and an excellent Red vino is selected to replace the morning’s champers.


Snoopy and Charlie enjoy their lunch

The eating was as good as the preparation.

Looking in

Time for more films and more classics. we have done Chevy, took on Danny and Bing (always good) so now its Jimmy as George,  and then our huge list of Hallmarks

1600 and a few spots of rain and the weather forecast, which keeps changing, is now saying less than 1/2″ today and 1-3″ tomorrow. Brenda sends out the “Snow Dance Team”.

The rain changes over to snow and very soon the dancers are back inside and take over “Greeter Duties” for the guests that Brenda invited on the 25th by mistake! However we do get an unexpected night stopper.

With the snow really coming down in resort style things are looking very “White Christmas” and Brenda has her wish.

Now this one says it all ….. The Perfect Christmas Night.

However, the snowfall changes over to buckets and the dump is on! Hypertherm can’t take the weight of wet snow and falls over, my new metal trees are bending under the load and team Santakins,  and Claus are none too happy as they try to dock the boat.

SH 1T this is getting SERIOUS

Forced out for dog walking in the blizzard of 2018 we all make it back and get into Hallmark.

By dawn’s early light there is the duty 7″ on the rail and the forecasters are saying less than 1/2″ for today and by 1000 the expected melt begins.

A bit excessive Brenda!

But we did win the lighting contest










Brenda decided to have a late brainwave and go for an “impromptu” party tonight and with all the other venues and plans it will be interesting to see “who”, if anybody shows up ?

Some did, and we fed them

Yesterday was a full on action day for me starting with cleaning the activity bus I was using for my 18 hour day yesterday. Duly swept, refueled with 50 gals, and all paperwork completed it was off to Cortez for the Christmas lunch shopping. Fortunately for me I had ordered my Prime Rib as Safeway had sold out unless you had put in a reserve order.


All the usual vegetables are loaded in the cart, leeks, onions, swedes, farticus continus (otherwise known as brussel sprouts), parsnips and corn and carrots at home.

Parsnips, Swedes, and Sprouts all on this section ….. leeks with the onions

Some extra ground beef which is almost the same price per lb as the prime rib!!!

Yesterday we lost our  shivering  polar bear, Polaris, leaving a big gap in the center bed so time to look for a replacement and we now have a shivering snowman to be called, Hypertherm, who is now erected and on duty. On the balcony Olaf got replaced with Snoopy  and Woodstock in the mailbox to go with Brenda’s  peanuts theme.

Happy Christmas to you “Hypertherm”

Olaf spending Christmas with Darth this year

Peanuts gang are taking over the balcony

All wind storm damage rectified, Santakins upright, Mrs Claus back on her feet (“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”) two Teddys back on their steeds and spotlights readjusted.

Teddy back in the saddle

New trees with baubles

“All aboard its Christmas!”

But look ……. it’s The Christmas Star

Now it is Christmas Eve and time to relevel the pool table which means I get to lift the huge piece while she slips some shim plates under two of the legs. Yes, pool tables are bloody heavy but my qualification for World’s Strongest Man is in with about 10 lifts to get her level !

Yes it feels like this!

One last visit into the loft for Christmas gift bags and clear the halls of a box of my old RAF Squadron Shields and trials trophies. Another load of wood to be cut and the last few items to go back in storage, just in case someone shows up tonight?

More guests

Well since the Lighting Contest Judgement Day of last Wednesday the Chamber has been very quiet despite returning to the previous  judging format with well qualified Senior judges. No more school children, thank goodness!  …… So today, Monday, we are told we have officially won. However, in time honored tradition, and in a final tribute to last year here is that little song …….. for the Chamber or is it Chamber Pot ?

Well the lights have all come on, glass in hand, carols playing, let the fun begin! …….and then there’s a knock on the door …..

“I canner decorate every bloody tree in this forest “












Several complaints from Elves, Team Santakin, and of course Father and Mrs Christmas. Every time I venture into my workshop its a stream of non stop questions as to when the ship will be ready to put to sea.

Its the lights I tell you!

The forecast for tomorrow is good, 47F and a light wind so NO excuses as the Broncos are playing today. All seemed simple and I even managed to get my Mojo working at pool and finished in the money at Pool …… about time! Sunday however, did not go at all to plan as I slept nearly all morning in front of the TV and by the time the Patriots were playing the Steelers I declared a rest day.

Monday and a morning fighting with my bank over the telephone re the NEW cards they had sent. I had followed their instructions and destroyed the old one only to find the NEW one keeps coming back Declined!!! Despite 3 phone calls and more instructions, from the last phone call it transpires the bank had put a block on both cards and we now need Brenda to give them some more info to unblock!

During the afternoon much transporting of boxes of goodies sent out to the dock and keel lights go on, replacement multi colored  strings are set and with the majority of snow and ice removed. 3 of team Santa are in their seats.

The Red lights go on topped with the whites

NEW multi colored lights on the top and 3 Santa from the crew in place along with 1st Mate Teddy

Tuesday morning and I now have one day to complete Scuffy as the Christmas Lights judging is tomorrow. So far the bank has now said the blocks are off! No real idea what that was all about but having spoken to many of the customer service agents it seems the bank had to send out these new cards to comply with some UK rules.

I start at the back of the boat and build the present racks and set up the boxes. Some candy canes and the 4 moving Santakins army are added along with Goofy on top of the engine.

Getting there!

Giant bells and ornaments fill the space. Spotlights on the boat and the Lazer House built on both sides, and after an hour untangling all plugged in and working.

The final blue lights for the wake and the gold ones for the engine on those gold rocks and the shimmering blue for the moving water effect. Timers reset !

Trees and friends in place

Deers and Teddy ready for switch on

Darth is now on site

“Hello Gringe” note the red berries of the ground cover and white lights, Dolores version of Holly

How it looks from the balcony

All done and ready for Judging

Short Activity Drive for the school and home at 1500 in time to see what damage the gusty winds have done …. not too bad, a Teddy Bear blown off his deer and a Santakins on his side but good enough for the final judging and then on Thursday night I’ll have a walk round for this years final pictures. Fingers crossed on the judging!

Well judging done ….. not even a comment from the Chamber!! and now its Friday and school has finished although I’m taking an all day trip to Colbran tomorrow which is about 250 miles away and I won’t be home until around midnight!

Sad news of the day is my shivering polar bear blew a fuse and tonight despite several fuses I fear the motor is shorting out and beyond sensible repair!

Let’s see what was revealed for the judges (assuming they came)

What you see from the main road

……. and now in more detail as we wander through the winter wonder land………

The Lazers

The Effects

Walk with the Reindeer

There’s a lot of them!

…….and now a run down the Center bed …..

Before my polar bear lost his motor

Gringe and friends

The new sleigh and helpers

New horse and carriage

and now, over to the dock where Santa is powering up the mighty Mercury 100HP motor to get Scuffy out to sea

One hand on the throttle and one of the wheel they look as though they are leaving


All hands on deck from the Santakins and Goofy

Moving away from the dock

“See you on Boxing Day”

There they go then …..

That’s all for the 2018 Decs, back to the house and hang up stockings














With the vicious cold and 8-10″ of snow from last weekend its time to get outside of house set up but its taking a lot of time and made difficult with all the snow.

All ready for layout in Santa’s Workshop

Temps well below freezing time to uncover the fir trees and boat so that I can get some lights and cables in place.

Hard work clearing all the snow off the trees

A melt helps on Wednesday but on Thursday its snowing again and forecast for another 2″ tonight so I’ll give it best today and try again tomorrow.

Friday and as No School Day and the weather is nice! First up clean all the snow off the new balcony ….. and there was a lot of underside ice but its all broken up and over the side ……. let the melt continue!

Snow and ice off the balcony, now time to get the shooting stars and their associated ice lights checked over. All up and working but as yet not on timers. Twirlers next for the 5 balcony upright pillars with their bright LED lights and then the lower row of ice lights which are determined to tangle themselves and also have several lights out and sections not working at all.

By close of play on Sunday ALL front lights are plugged in and as a bonus the rose bed is lit up as well …… now the wait for 1630, then, all being good it should fire right up.

Rose Bed done

Monday, still bitter cold overnight but when the sun comes up it feels warm as there is no wind. Today its an Activity trip up to Ridgway School which will be a pleasant drive but no time to get the front bed finished which is my next task. Home around 2200 and I see a couple of sections of the old ice lights are out!

Tuesday, and the morning is lost to ice lights, now repaired, and checking all the lights for the center bed. An afternoon in the bushes with strings of lights and cables and at 1720 the final plugs, Chevy Chase style, without the drum roll, but, “Joy to the World” as it all lights up and deers start moving.

Main House with the bigger balcony

Wednesday, more in the center bed as more cables are added and the last items, including the Horse & Carriage, now on their own wooden bases, and the two new trees go in along with some spots on special areas. All looks good then the wind gets up, temps drop and it starts snowing again!

Thursday and another activity trip so just time to stand up anything that the wind blew down.

Friday, a little tired after yesterday’s trip and off as a Sub for 4.5 hrs so not much happening outside as the nasty wind is back again. Bus back in it’s slot and home to take some shots of the 2018 center bed display.

Standing guard at the “Backwash Kennel”

Deer and Santa at the Waterfall

Different angle

The Big Picture

The NEW “Horse & Carriage

Shivering Bear and NEW Sleigh  and Trees

Lots of helpers in the sleigh

Center Bed looking towards the Waterfall

Even got a “tree topper” this year

Boathouse Shooting Star

Front Door favorites

With that section complete all that remains is Scuffy for the weekend…………



Much preparation after Thanksgiving Day’s dusting of snow as now the two weeks of lights and staples begins in earnest. Yesterday was the clean up of the Russian sages to expose the waterfall bed and get some clear space for the deer and blue Christmas tree.

Russian Sages on the Waterfall bed

Evidence of Russian Hacking !

Next on the menu was all the soft cushions and seats before the snow ruins them all. Somehow the lights in the boiler room had been wrenched apart but a couple of new connectors and all is well. All soft cushions stacked, chain saws and strimmers to the tool shed and the Workshop tided and carpets cleaned with the shop vac.

Last of the dead and dying summer long plants dumped and nice pots saved for next year. More wood chopped and ready for the fireplace.

The herd of reindeer are brought down from the workshop loft and given their yearly service! As usual with Christmas lights, some are out and easy to replace while others are major sections requiring a lot of individual searching to find either the missing or broken bulb. Four new deer are purchased for this year and are now on their stands. The old golden one with its sleigh was in poor condition and the sleigh got the heave-ho and a new one joined the fold. While I was waiting “Goldie” got some repairs but will be sleighless  this year. I did find some “eyes” for these poor creatures and will fit them today.

Waterfall “Herd” ready for layout

“One blind deer, ………. “

“Eye, Eye,  Captain Santa “

A couple of  new metal trees will join the display this year along with a big Cinderella carriage, yet to be unboxed and built.

Upstairs all the boxes came down from the loft and Brenda has been hard at it getting the indoor decorations up. The tree has been a pain for the last two years as the lights have been causing problems and it is getting to the point of major frustrations and once again has had a complete rewire.

The Tree and garlands are done

Garlands look great

Outside progress seems slow but as always there has been a lot of things to patch up and check over. The Stump of the old cottonwood where the shivering polar bear has stood all these years has rotted through and needed a new “table top” to secure the decoration.

More checking of lights and other pieces are now ready for the front beds. Polar bears in place and all the deer now on the rockery. Darth gets some glue and the Scuffy crew of Santas get inspected.

Snoopy in place, lights to come

Herd in place not yet connected

Snoopy joins the team for 2018 and appropriately takes his place by the dog kennel frost protector for that “Backwash Valve”. Running out of time I manage to take down the Gazebo and get that put away before tonight’s first real dump of snow.

1st dump of the season

Friday 30th November and 3-4″ on the rail so very pleased with my work on the Gazebo yesterday. Its a heavy wet snow and the forecast says a lot more to come in the next few days.

Saturday morning and now into December and the advent calendar is up along with the house’s shooting star. All the decoration boxes are now back up in the loft and one last deer gets a quick set of 50 lights and work begins on the new “Horse & Carriage” that Brenda got from Home Depot.

Horse complete

More snow overnight and about 6″ on the rail this morning and another 4″ to come from this storm. Obviously the cycling has come to a stop while other missions take center stage and a daily “Plan B” is at the ready, as I still have downstairs to do as well.

Just the final tidy up of wires and things and the carriage will be done which leaves the two new brown twig trees for the center bed and then construction should be done on the new stuff.

Sunday morning and snowing again and 2″ already. Time for the final building of new things, a bit of NFL and some more skiing to catch up on. It snows just about all day and after yesterday’s melt back to zero we have another 4″ back on the rail but overall about 8-10″ on the lawn swing and picnic table.

Last bit of glue on the leg braces

After the horse & carriage the trees were a breeze!

All the NEW stuff is complete!

A bit TOO deep for layout this morning so I need a bit of a “melt” before I venture out in it.

Yesterday, snowed nearly all day

No better in the afternoon

This morning, 4-6″ and only 8F !!!

Monday morning and it will be downstairs in the office/lobby area and back inside the Lodge Room.

Lodge Room complete and now a ‘holding stable” while we wait for layout conditions

Carriage in waiting

Fireplace complete

Deer, deer me

Lobby garland complete

It warms up to about 21F but now at 1730 its back down to 16F with a forecast low of 6F !!! Downstairs actually got finished so now I’m left with about a weeks work outside and really waiting for a bit of a melt before laying out cables and goodies.

Tuesday morning and VERY cold!     1F !!! and a high of only mid 20’s so I don’t see a lot getting done although I would like to do the sides of the Shade Garden and Boat House beds and get the shooting stars working. Might even knock some snow off the center bed trees and Scuffy.

Snow knocked off

Hard work banging off the frozen snow and exposing the front fir trees so that I can put the lights and cables on as I’m plunging around in up to 10″ of the white stuff. Driving D31 on the Rico run this afternoon.

Wednesday and the sun is shining and the melt starts and I manage to get both sides of the house complete with working ice lights and shooting stars.

Dismal Thursday, overcast, slightly warmer, but snowing and now starting to settle which is annoying and upsetting my layout plans, but what can you do?