|Image: Roger Barker|
And They’re Off – “they” being “me” and everyone else who has set themselves new goals, dreams and/or resolutions for the New Year. We’ve looked at where we are, know where we want to be and, more importantly, how we think we can get there.
But now the talking is over and the horses are lined up across the field. The tape is up and the race is on; not a race against each other, but a marathon where the smart ones will pace themselves to their own advantage, while pushing their personal boundaries bit by bit in an effort to squeeze out as much positive creativity as possible.
Once again, I hope everyone had a great New Year celebration. Whether you had a quiet or raucous time, I hope you all had fun as 2008 ended and 2009 came to life.
We all had an excellent up in The Trossachs. The cabin we stayed is part of a hotel estate, which has a large (and posh) hotel with bar/restaurant, swimming pool, gymnasium, tennis courts etc., and is set on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Forest overlooking Loch Ard. Our balcony provides an amazing view across the loch and on a clear day one can see for miles.
We were lucky to have some very fine weather this year. Although it was well below zero there was no snow and no rain, which made driving and walking around a lot easier then in previous years.
We arrived on Tuesday around 4pm and were greeted with glasses of wine, champers and beer. Presents were handed out to all the kids as more people arrived – mostly friends and family of friends – until the cabin was pretty much overflowing. The party on the first night went on well into the wee small hours, and by Wednesday morning there were more than a few sore heads.
Hogmanay was more relaxed. After a hearty breakfast and seeing off our friends who were heading back south, we all went swimming in the hotel pool, and relaxed our hangovers away in the steam room and sauna. Then it was back top the cabin for a relaxing couple of hours before Gail and I went out for a drive along the shores of Loch Ard and into the forest. Gail took a whole bunch of snaps before the freezing fog moved in too much and became too unbearable. We headed back to the cabin where the party – albeit a smaller one – began again as the Bells approached.
For Hogmanay there was five of us – my family, my mate Michael and his wife Elaine (their two young children were upstairs in bed), and my mate Craig. At five to midnight we charged our glasses (I was drinking beautiful malt called The Balvennie Doublewood) and tuned into BBC1 for the sound of the Edinburgh Gun firing, and Big Ben counting us in to 2009. The hotel put on a large firework display, which was one of the more spectacular I can remember them doing over the past few years. Once again, we partied until 4am; having a great laugh and everyone really enjoying themselves.
Elaine’s parents arrived yesterday morning and Michael took everyone out for lunch to the hotel restaurant. There was a special buffet on offer, which included delights such as soup with olive-baked bread, fresh smoked salmon with caviar, mixed vegetables, salad, Shepherd’s Pie, pasta, pate, chocolate mousse, carrot cake, and a variety of drinks. I plumped for the soup, Shepherd’s Pie and both desserts, with a Bloody Mary to wash it all down. Delish!
After relaxing for the rest of the afternoon we packed the car and headed home, arriving back at The Manse at 5pm (our house used to be one – owned by the Church of Scotland). Thereafter, the only word to describe the rest of our evening is “lazy”.
Most people were still on holiday today, but not me. Although there was still only a Sunday bus service of offer, I found myself leaving for work in the chilling early morning Edinburgh climate at 7:30am. The office was mostly empty but it meant I could catch up on everything I’d missed over the past few days.
Gail was off with Laura, which meant I was able to get picked up from work when it was all over, and with Gail out with her pal for the evening, Laura and I did the inevitable: ordered pizzas and watched a movie.
One thing that wasn’t so inevitable was the activity Laura persuaded me to take part in: nail manicuring. Towards the tail end of last year I put to the sword a 25-year old serious nail biting habit and now have myself a set of smart looking nails on either hand. The problem is, after so long as a dedicated biter (I used to bite and tear until I bled) I am the world’s worst nail cutter, knowing not how to use a pair of scissors.
Thankfully, Laura got a nail manicuring set from Santa, so she gave my nails, cuticles, and surrounding skin the once-over. Unfortunately this also meant nail polish, so I now have bright green and red nails. A small price to pay, I’m sure.
* Work on Blood Ties
* Write one new flash/short story
* Re-submit any rejected/recalled short stories
* Enter the Fort William Mountain Festival short story competition
* Work on the fiction output from October’s Muse Festival
* Write one poem per week
* Work on Scotland’s Treasure column for SDR Spring edition (Apr)
* Query higher paying writing markets, not more lower paying ones
* Remain flexible for any TLB assignments that come through
* Keep company accounts up to date
* Continue work amalgamating web design and freelance writing sites to compassfreelance.co.uk (need more content and search engine)
* Examine at TLB contracts prior to re-negotiation
* Stay on top of RR submissions
* Start laying out RR issue 6
Marketing and Promotion
* Brainstorm ideas for podcasts/videos
* Publish January newsletter
* Prepare February newsletter
* Publish GDR Full 2009 Plan
* Publish January GDR Plan
* Prepare January GDR Review
* Prepare February GDR Plan
* Keep website(s) up to date
Reading & Learning
* Closed Doors by Ian Rankin
* Start new diet