Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Catching Up

Firstly, I hope all my readers, old and new, had a wonderful Christmas (if that's your bag) and that 2006 is as prosperous as you hope it to be.

The last twelve days have been a roller-coaster ride through the Christmas and New Year celebration period. I shall attempt a brief run through the last few days before completing my GDR round-up for December and the year 2005. The reason it is only coming now is because I take my family away each Christmas for a holiday into the highlands of Scotland and so have no time to sit and write during this time. So although writing gets done, it is a great chance to recharge, look back and look forward to what has to happen next.

Christmas Eve was hectic; last minute shopping and tidying up to do plus I had offered to make a starter and dessert for my MIL's Christmas dinner to ease the burden. Freshly smoked Salmon slices rolled up with salmon pate, a slice of lemon and some parsley sprinkled on top. For dessert; pineapple cake. A syrup-biscuit base with a layer of butter-cream, pineapple then fresh cream on top and chocolate shavings to top it off.

After it was all done and Santa had paid his visit, we settled down in front of the TV to relax for a bit with a glass of wine. We probably shouldn't have stayed up until 2am because when the wee one rose at the back of seven o‘clock, it made for one long and tiring day.

We opened our presents together - our first Christmas as a family in our new home - and Laura was delighted with her haul. I was finally able to get my hands on the tropical fish tank Gail bought me - years of waiting to get my hands on it finally over! We went to MIL's for dinner later on and my salmon starter proved not to be in much demand by the unadventurous, but the pineapple cake, as always, went down a treat. MIL made a traditional turkey dinner and the whole lot was topped off by some large glasses of Glenfiddoch Malt Whisky.

Boxing Day was not a relaxing one. We had to tidy the house again after all the pressie opening and then get all our nags packed and prepared for visiting my parents the next day and then for our holiday the day after. I did my lot as soon as I could so when Gail went out to do some shopping in the Sales, I got started on my tank; washing out all the gravel, roots and rocks, cleaning the tank and finally filling it, attaching the heater, pump and lights and turning it on. It looks great but it will be next week at least before it is even near ready for fish to be installed.

The 27th saw the Galbraith's take to the motorway and head through to the west of Scotland. We arrived at my parents at around one o'clock joining my two sisters and Nolon who will be my BIL in around seven months. We sat down to exchange gifts when I suddenly remembered putting them down in the kitchen while I checked everything was locked up. I never picked the bag up on my way out - I had forgotten all the gifts!

Still, we had a great dinner and family bevy. We played games and just had a laugh, which was good. It's not often the entire family gets together like this so it's always good when it does come off. Next time will be Fiona and Nolon's wedding in July up in Perthshire.

Gail went shopping with my Mum and Laura the next day leaving me to sit around and talk shop with my dad. When they finally got back home time was ticking away from us and our journey north ended up being made in darkness and in some sheer patches of fog making it not altogether very pleasant. When we finally arrived we were greeted by Mike and Elaine and Craig with some food and drinks - the rest of the party not expected until the next day.

The snow fell heavily the next day (29th) and stayed with us throughout the next few days. There were around fifteen of us at any one time including two babies and three kids. We worked our way through a horrendous amount of food and drink, using the nearby hotel bar, swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, curling rink and snow-covered fields to full advantage.

Hogmanay saw a huge snow-ball fight ensue with just about everyone involved. We made huge snowmen and then drank whisky to heat ourselves up. For the Bells we all headed into Aberfoyle for a meal and dance at the Claddach Hotel owned by a friend of mine. We had to leave slightly earlier than the rest in the hotel to ensure we made it home with all the kids in time, but once they were down and sleeping the party raged on until the early hours. I remember it passing five am, but after that not much else.

New Years Day was quiet. I took the kids swimming and curling and then everyone gathered for a large steak-pie dinner, a huge game of Trivial Pursuit and of course, more drinking. All the snow outside had started to melt but each night the freezing temperatures froze everything to black ice and made it treacherous to move around.

It was our last night, though, and on the 2nd we packed up and headed home after a great few days in The Trossachs. It's always good to get together for everyone, always relaxing and always good to forget about life and just be happy among friends, do what you want to do and not have to worry.

The road home was much easier than the journey north and we made it back for around dinner time. I was hoping to have been able to start putting fish in my tank but a disaster had occurred when we got back. At some point after we left my water pump and aerator had slipped below the water surface. This meant the water was not getting re-oxygenated. Added to this the stain of the water from the lava rock and tree roots meant the tank water was tea-coloured and full of gunk.

I changed 50% of the water but over night it had made no difference. I had to start again from scratch, giving everything a good cleaning and sifting, which took most of my evening of the third. By this morning, it was running smoothly so hopefully in the next ten days I'll be able to start adding fish.

Gail went shopping in the morning. She returned in the afternoon with a new car. Well - it's been bought because our current motor is almost at its wits end and so it's is really acting as a money saver. It's a nice wee Ford Focus; a step up and onwards we go.

I returned to work today. Edinburgh is cold and quiet with most people still away on their breaks. By mid-afternoon it was freezing again and between two and three o'clock the entire city suddenly became enveloped in a dense, white fog. It was surreal how quickly it fell around us.

I have so much work to do now January is here it is quite unbelievable. I have lots to catch up on and lots to get on with so my return to snooker tonight is most unwelcome. I could really be doing with staying in and getting myself organised.

This moves me into my GDR, but I'll have to leave that until tomorrow. In the meantime, I forgot to mention some publication-related news while I was away:

* The Scruffy Dog Review was launched at the start of January - look out for my feature interview with Ian Rankin, my first column entitled Scotland's Treasure and my book review on Porno by Irvine Welsh. The whole magazine looks awesome and this year, I'm sure, will see this venture grow and grow.
* I submitted Hunting Jack to the Undiscovered Authors Competition
* One Story have been bought over and so returned my four poem submissions
* Big Ugly Fiction rejected Heart of a Child

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Colin 1:32 pm


Great post. I really liked it. You may like my blog about tropical fish . Please take a look and leave a comment about it.

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