After work today I went to Anstruther to meet my sister, as she alighted briefly on the Fife coast as part of The Tour. Although I've visited the deer at Aviemore, it's the first time I've seen her with the sleigh and the team carrying Santa through the streets. It will probably be the last too, as after six or seven years of working as a reindeer herder she is packing it in in January to do something different.
I got off the bus at the harbour just in time to meet the procession, which consisted of a couple of pipers, a stilt-walker, Santa and his sleigh, a bunch of female drummers, the local lifeboat and the fire engine. Although Anstruther isn't a big place, I was still a little surprised the procession was a relatively small affair, as I know getting the reindeer to attend costs a bit. The crowds were a fair size for such a place though, and the number of children trailing behind Santa's sleigh was considerable. They were still queuing to visit Santa and the reindeer in his grotto a couple of hours later when I left.
The reindeer herders dress in Sami gear, which is a bit more dignified than being an elf, while still being picturesque. The reindeer themselves wear red harness with bells while drawing the sleigh, then stand about in a pen to be ogled while Santa does his stuff. They are used to the attention, but aren't particularly keen on being patted too much. They are smaller than folk usually imagine. I saw someone with a particularly massive dog which was comparable in size to the smaller reindeer.
Children inquiring after Rudolf are told he doesn't leave the North Pole until Christmas, as Santa needs him then. None of the herd are ever called Rudolf (or any of the other famous names), as a matter of policy.
We took advantage of being in Anstruther to eat at the fabled Anstruther Fish Bar, as frequented by celebs such as Prince William, Kevin Spacey and Tom Hanks. I didn't have any complaints, but if I'm honest I came away feeling it is perhaps over-rated.
I had my own fifteen minutes for the duration of the journey back home - the bus driver recognised me as a weel-kent face and wouldn't sell me a ticket although I wasn't in a zone covered by my MultiRider.