Hogmanay!

My boyfriend’s parents live in Scotland and so I travelled up there on the 29th of December, once I’d fulfilled my own family’s Christmas duties. Last year travelling up to Scotland post-Christmas and pre-New Year was an incredibly stressful experience which involved lots of crying on various train platforms across the country, embarrassing myself in my state of desperation to get up North.

But this year the train journey was an absolute dream and I zoomed down to Scotland on a mere two trains, with no trouble at all (with the exception of a blind man stealing my pre-booked seat which was exceptionally awkward) and rocked up in Pitlochry at 15.20. It was ideal!

Oli picked me up in his parents car and we went and met his family in the local pub for a much needed glass of mulled wine; it was the perfect start to Hogmanay.

I love Christmas so much and when it’s over I feel a pang of sadness because I know that the decorations will soon disappear and all the good cheer will be packed up and most importantly I’ll be back to work in a jiffy. But New Year in Scotland feels just as big as Christmas, if not bigger in some Scot’s eyes. Hogmanay is the perfect excuse to carry on with the season’s festivities. There’s still a residue of joy and celebration about the place, there’s still reason to play silly board games and to drink alcohol with every meal and to constantly graze on chocolate and turkish delight and salted peanuts. And I love it.

New Year’s Eve was the perfect end to the year. Oli and I got up and enjoyed one of his Mum’s amazing cooked breakfast featuring the stars of the show that are black pudding and haggis. Oh my, salty but satisfying! We pulled on old jeans, thick socks and walking boots and headed off to climb Craig Gower. It was a brilliant walk and we spent the entire ascent singing our hearts out to a random assortment of songs. We stopped at the top to catch a glimpse of the view but sadly there was fog smeared all over the horizon. But in Oli’s rucksack was a whole chocolate orange, a tube of fruit pastels and several litres of water. This mini-mountain-peak-feast certainly made up for the lack of visibility.

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Once we were back in town we ordered delicious homemade sandwiches from the Deli and sat in the window seats devouring meat and sundried tomatoes as we watched the Pitlochry locals and Hogmanay visitors going about their New Year’s Eve preparations. We then popped into a local cafe and whiled away the afternoon drinking coffee and hot chocolates and eating tray bakes a plenty.

Later in the evening, showers had and gladrags on, we all headed down to the local church for a Hogmanay party. It was honestly so much fun, an evening full of games, laughs and plenty of caleigh dancing. Seeing in the New Year, sneaking sips from a very alcoholic Shloer, between whizzing about on the dance floor with the man I love was such a delight. Having the bagpipes play live in the hall was also pretty special and gripping hands with perfect strangers and belting out lines from Auld Lang Syne made me feel so very excited about the new year ahead.

New Year’s Day was even more fun as we headed to the Pitlochry street party for yet more marvellous caleigh dancing, alongside free sausage rolls, mulled wine and hot vegetable soup. There was a Scottish marching band belting out Scottish tunes with bagpipes fit to bust, it was a truly amazing sound. I couldn’t have hoped for a better, richer start and end to the year.

I’ve really grown to love Scotland, the air feels fresher and life seems more lovely and simple there. People are friendly, the seem kinder than what I’m used to. One day I want that, I want to live in a place where street parties are held annually and there’s a palpable sense of community.

Our last day was spent in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, trekking up Arthur’s seat, wandering around the last of the Christmas markets and gaping at the castle because we didn’t have enough money to go in. I’ve seen Edinburgh in the summer and now in the winter and it’s exquisite and enchanting and Harry Potter-esque in both seasons. Go! Now!

If you’re looking for somewhere to spend Hogmanay in 2016, I can wholeheartedly recommended an escape to Scotland.

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