Welcome back to ‘Freedom from the Mundane’, in what is arguably my first post of the new decade (by name), but is most definitely the start of a brand new year.
Twenty-Ten, Two Thousand and Ten, Two-Oh-One-Oh; by whatever way suits I hope you all had a fabulous Hogmanay and have since had a great start to the year. I wish you all the best of luck and prosperity and that 2010 is the best of all that you wish!
As for me, I am shifting gears. Well, it’s more like a cranking of rusty steel but the turn of the year has pushed me into a much better zone, a place where there is more room to manoeuvre and breath, a place where creativity has begun to sprout like the first shoots of spring, which is kind of ironic, because it has been the coldest and whitest Christmas and New Year period Scotland has seen since I was a toddler!
We left for our break at lunchtime on Wednesday and headed north-west from Edinburgh to The Trossachs. With the weather having been so bad up until then we had worried over whether we would make it or not, but there was no need for panic as the roads had been very well cleared all the way through to our destination.
Our home for the nest few days was a cabin overlooking Loch Ard, behind which the Royal Forest sprawled out over mountains and snow-covered peaks. The temperature during the day was around minus 2 degrees at best, but at night we experienced minus 11 degrees centigrade—all good fun and not really noticeable after a few sherbets!
That first night was Party Night with all our families together for the first time; Mikey and Elaine with their children, Abby and Tomas; Craig and his mother, sister and her kids, Isla and Lewis; the Group Captain and his wife, Fiona; and us lot making up the rest of the numbers.
It made for a great night with lots of food, drink, and games being played including a murder mystery where we all had to act out different characters. I was Terence Shrimp, a dodgy photographer not dissimilar in style to Kenneth Williams, so my part suited me perfectly as I could camp it right up! Beer turned to vodka and it was 4am before I got to bed that night.
Hogmanay (Thursday) and a very relaxing day indeed. Miraculously I felt no hangover despite being woken at 7:30am by Mikey’s kids having breakfast (I slept in the kitchen/lounge), and for the rest of the day everyone relaxed, played games, dozed, drank some beers and ate. Gail, Laura and I went for a walk along the banks of Loch Ard before returning to make dinner for everyone.
We all shared a few more drinks and seasonal episodes of Still Game and Only An Excuse, then we saw in the Bells to the sound of the chimes of Big Ben on the stroke of midnight. Much hugging and kissing ensued before the kids went to bed and the rest of us stayed up until 4am, once again with help of old Mr Smirnoff.
If Hogmanay was relaxing, the First Day of the Year (Friday) was a positive sleep walk. A late rise followed by a full English breakfast was then followed by dozing around, watching various films, munching crisps and drinking the odd beer. That pretty much sums it up although an early game of Monopoly followed by a late game of Trivial Pursuit got the party moving again, and yet again we found ourselves drinknig vodka at 4am on the -11 degree balcony.
The 2nd of January (Saturday) was departure day so after packing we all got in our cars and drove into Aberfoyle. There, we rendezvoused at a local tea shop for a brunch of hot filled rolls, soup, paninis and coffee, before we all went our separate ways.
Our next mission was the postponed Christmas Day Clan Gathering at my parent’s house near Glasgow. We arrived around 1pm and got tore into my Father’s hastily opened bottles of Champagne, which was accompanied by lots of present swapping and a most exciting level of noise. Everyone was there; my folks, my sister Lindsay, my other sister Fiona with hubby Nolon and her wee baby Charlotte.
From there we moved into the dining room and cracked open the wine to go down with a superb home-cooked meal consisting of a smoked salmon starter, roast beef with all the trimmings, chocolate gateau or Banoffee Pie for dessert (I had both) and a cheese board with coffee ( I had lots) afterwards.
To appease my father who had purchased several cans of the Black Stuff, I moved onto Guinness soon afterwards and soon I was back in the Land of the Half Cut.
Our original plan had been to leave for home that evening but with heavy snow in West Lothian, a car crash on the M8 and no more room in my parent’s house, we found ourselves more or less stranded. Cue the man of the moment, my mate Mikey, who we had just spent the last few days along with his family up in The Trossachs. He lives up the road from my parents and was only too happy to take us in for the night. We got there around 11pm and with Laura put to bed we sat up and had a few more beers in his kitchen!
Sunday morning and with the partying all but done, we headed back to my parent’s house to say goodbye to everyone but not before I cooked a massive fry-up for everyone. It went down a treat after the day/night before, and soon we were on our way home to Edinburgh.
Conditions were pretty bad but the roads themselves fair enough to cope with if we took things easy. The journey took us twice as long as normal but we got there in the end, and by 4pm I was getting into trouble for snoring in front of the television, such was my exhaustion brought about mainly from excessive lazing about, alcohol and food. Relaxation, in other words!
The heavy snow that had caused us to be stranded out West meant new problems getting work today but I suppose my lateness could be more attributed to my accidentally sleeping in and not being down to any non-running public transport. If it weren’t for a lone taxi on Leith Walk I may never have made it in before 11am, but I did and all is well.
As I sit here tired and with heavy eyes I reflect on what was a wonderful Christmas and New Year. And as I think towards the new year I do so with a glimmer of hope that things are looking much better in a lot of areas. I’m not one to count my chickens before they hatch, but the start of 2010 is looking much better than the end of 2009.
I’ve not had time to upload my holiday snaps just yet but they will be on display tomorrow. Also up tomorrow will be my GDR for January. If you’ve managed to read this far then I thank you and with you once again my wishes for you to have a totally spiffing 2010!
Sounds like a wonderful trip! Well deserved, too.