Cairngorms

Griff and I joined the Craggers trip to Scotland late this year; we took the Caledonian Sleeper which was one of the best things about the trip for me because I love trains. Not in an anorak way, you understand, I just love train journeys, especially long ones and the ride from Kings Cross to Aviemore was up there with the overnight journey from Tangiers to Marrackech and the slow train from Athens to the Peleponese, but before I start reminiscing about great train journeys ...   We arrived bright and early at Cairngorm lodge, so early that Drew and Pablo were still in our beds. I had missed out on the training which you need to do every year so I knew I wouldn't be climbing or doing any thing on steep ground, but I was looking forward to the walk up Cairngorm. In previous years this has been something of a trial for us parents as all the kids are generally in tears at some point and need lots of 'gentle persuasion' or in some cases you just have to pull them.   A couple of years ago Ruth agreed to be at the back (always the worst place) and she did a fantastically patient job of jollying along the stragglers but this year, amazingly, we all had a good time, even Ferdy! We had lovely crunchy snow, which always makes everybody happy. It was bright and beautiful at the top and Sean took loads of great pictures, I emailed some of myself and Griffin to the Grannies and they were all suitably impressed.   I did get to do some training on snow anchors which was fun but somehow there is never enough time for everything before the inevitable Craggers run for the ski bus, it doesn't matter how much we plan, we always have to run, fortunately this year it was down the ski runs and there was enough snow to slide and play on the way. Cassie Hoffman-Kazlauskas