Smithvale Stables was a real success; about 80 people turned up despite the winter storm that was causing difficult driving conditions on highways and byways. Our diplomatic friends loved the snowshoeing between sleigh rides, the horses didn't seem to mind the snow and the campfire at the pick-up spot burned brightly, with Carol handing out marshmallows to stick on skewers and toast in the glowing cinders. If you tried to remove the burnt crust from your melting marshmallow, your fingers got very sticky. Everyone was smiling and, indoors, feet were tapping to the Irish and Scottish tunes that the band was playing.
Some of the diplomats' families were experiencing their first winter here. Outside, under the trees a little way beyond the stables, nine horses were on the loose, kicking up the snow with their playful hooves and snorting at us. Among them were young ones, experiencing their first winter, too.