New Years’ Eve found about 30 or 40 of us gathered together at Highclere to dance and dine our way through to 2016. My parents were not particularly bothered and did not always stay up to see the New Year in which, as children, we always found rather disappointing. As a result I try to gather a good selection of friends together amidst laughter and Scottish reeling to mark the advent of another year.


I love reeling and organised many such evenings with various friends whilst at St Andrews University. If you combine that with being the eldest of six sisters as well as an ex- Paulina (a Girls’ Day School in London which my husband says only produces students who are all fairly bossy),  you can understand that we were all going to reel, whatever each individual’s level of skill or ability.  In fact it is, and was, the most enormous fun and no-one is left out, whatever their age.

The Saloon at the Castle is the perfect size for four Eightsomes or one long line for reels that need to go the length of the room. My mother-in- law joined in with the Dashing White Sergeant which was great fun and twice repeated. Others sat and watched as the dances proceeded. Sally was in charge of one Eightsome and lost time during the tea-pots  which was very funny.  Later I began dancing the Reel of the 51st with Tom and by the end was still standing despite his best efforts to spin me round at an ever greater rate. I was delighted to see him look quite tired too given he is training for the London Marathon.


After a late dinner, we were then ready with a glass of champagne to look forward to 2016 and feel thankful for all the challenges and memories of the previous year.

As a child I often wished lessons away or thought time would never pass and could not wait to change place or occupation. Today I find each year gallops past and, as there is always so much happening here, I just try to live in each day. Looking forwards, the newspapers are now full of New Year’s resolutions and I have tape recorded mine for WWSG, a speakers’ bureau I work with in the USA (you can also see this video on our Facebook page).

On reflection, I am glad that I made them all positive rather than restrictive (except for the one about promising my husband no more dogs). I don’t think I want to start New Year weighed down by more rules but think instead what I could do better. Enthusiasm, ideas, reflection and action. And I am, like many others here in the UK, looking forward to Spring and no rain!