I added up how many years I’d been involved in Christmas tour with the reindeer the other day, and was astounded to realise that this was my eighth season. As I frequently tell visitors, “I only came for the summer!” but I seem to have fallen under the spell of the reindeer and the Cairngorms. Hen has been here even longer than me. So with several new herders this year, Fiona sent us off with Morna, with the idea that we’d show her the ropes as it were. Morna has been working with the herd all year, so knew the reindeer very well, but Christmas tour brings its own challenges which can take some adjusting to.
Over the months running up to Christmas, we’d been fairly entertained by the enthusiasm of Morna, Ruth and Olly about tour, and wondered how long it would take for the novelty to wear off! But spirits were certainly high as we got ready to set off for our week away, and we had great fun working out our team name: usually we’re just Handi, but this time we would be even MORHANDI!
I hope you enjoy the photos below – we certainly enjoyed our week, and it was really odd when we dropped Morna off to visit her family and were left with just two of us in the cab… it felt like we’d lost part of our team!
Leading our team off the hill
Quick pose for a team photo – unintentionally matching outfits!
As Morna couldn’t drive the truck, her task was to keep Hen and me entertained and hence alert, primarily through some good DJ and karaoke work!
Reindeer happy in their overnight accommodation. Riding arenas aren’t just for horses…
We went for a look round the stables and met all the ponies and assorted menagerie that live there.
One of the ponies, Haggis, is a legend amongst herders as he just loves to play with zips. Problem is, he’s small and brown, like most of the ponies. Our solution is to walk round offering our jacket to every pony until we find a taker!
Hard frost the next morning.
We exercise the reindeer loose every morning – here they are having a trot round the field. Sometimes they have more “bounce” than others!
Why lead two reindeer each when Hen can lead the lot?!
The drive down to Wales was all too much for Morna
Lovely welcome from our hosts at the Welsh base
We took the reindeer for a run in the field, but first Morna had to escape the attentions of some grown-up pet lambs!
Ready for the parade! This was Matto’s (the white one) and Morna’s first ever parade in public, and he didn’t put a foot wrong. She did alright too!
The reindeer are always happy to load and travel brilliantly – they are loose in the back of the truck and frequently lie down and have a snooze, as seen here.
One of the perks to tour – you sometimes have time to cook a lovely breakfast!
Here’s Morna doing a great job (with Matto again) leading the parade at Stockeld park. Though she was trying to redeem herself after breaking the decorations and a (non-essential) part of the sleigh in the same morning!
The team were incredibly relaxed and loving their enormous pen at the event.