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So, Dearest Readers, I am back. No one actually wants to hear excuses, so let’s skip to the good stuff.

In December, I presented at my very first conference. In the Netherlands. It turns out that it’s one thing to know academically that a country consists largely of dirt dredged up from the bottom of waterways to make fields, and another entirely to see with your own eyes that even these fields consist largely of water, with trenches every 20 feet for runoff and wider channels on every side. The difference between grass and water seemed to be about 8 inches. 8 meagre inches of depth between actually submerged and merely nearly submerged. It actually started to make me think of Edinburgh as a dry place.

Amsterdam, on the other hand, is well built up, with the streets well above the water. More on that soon, with pictures. With Christmas coming on, the streets were especially delightful around twilight. (Which is good, because with the solstice coming on, there was a lot of twilight.)

Christmas happened, as it so often does. We had friends over for mulled wine and board games on Christmas eve, one of which involved being bean farmers, planting different kinds of beans. Very pastoral. This, by the way, is one advantage of having Dutch friends: they often celebrate with their families over St. Nicholas Day (6 December) and are thus conveniently in town come Christmas. And they have funny games with the directions all in Dutch.

Another local friend kindly invited us to a traditional Yorkshire Christmas dinner, complete with a flaming Christmas pud. It was then that I discovered that no British dessert is, apparently, considered complete without its complement of alcohol, including brandy sauce and cherry liqueur in the black forest trifle. Somehow, though, I can’t bring myself to object.

I had a quiet week in the office, as term hadn’t started yet. Yesterday life returned to campus, surprising me with the sheer number of students.

Tune in next time for pictures from Cambridge.

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

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