Posted by: Andrea | January 12, 2009

Hogmanay!

There are many holidays that I love.  Christmas.  Thanksgiving.  Spring Break.  I know, not technically a holiday, but go with me.  I love holidays that are full of family and good food and tradition.  I even love the stupid traditions like going to see the Nutcracker ballet or making that exact same electric-salmon colored jello dish every year, even though I pick out all the cherries and I always seem to forget to add the sour cream at the right moment, forcing me to remelt the jello and start again (no, I should NOT be allowed to cook for anyone but myself).  There are also holidays that I actively LOATHE.  Valentine’s Day is at the top of that list, and yes, that goes double for when I have a boyfriend.  There is nothing less sexy or romantic than a holiday that requires you to buy a gift whether you want to or not.  I’d rather just skip it altogether and we can just get dinner some other night.  The other holiday I particularly dislike is New Years.

I really really REALLY hate New Years.  It’s another holiday where you’re required to have a ‘moment’ just like Valentine’s Day.  It’s like if you don’t go out, spend lots of money, drink buckets of alcohol and have THE MOST AWESOME TIME you’re doing it wrong.  I am fully capable of having an awesome time, but as soon as a holiday requires it of me, I immediately don’t want to do it.  Sorry, I’m just sort of ornery that way.  I’ve avoided most New Years for the majority of my adult life.  For three or four years in a row I went to a movie that I specifically knew would last past midnight.  Yes, I DID spend new years 2000 in a movie theatre.  I believe we saw something in the James Bond persuasion.  The last two years I spent it alone at my parent’s house watching tv.  I am a party animal.

The one year I actually celebrated New Years was in 2002 when I was living in Edinburgh.  A friend of mine and I spent all night in the pubs, ogling men in kilts before sprinting up to the castle to see the fireworks.  There is nothing cooler than seeing huge fireworks like those are going off literally right above your head.  After the stroke of midnight we spent the next three hours kissing random strangers in bars, because apparently, in Scotland everybody will just come up and kiss you to celebrate New Year.  You walk by someone, catch his eye and suddenly it’s ‘Happy New Year!’ *kiss*.   It’s a practice I can definitely get on board with.

So this year, when I found out that I would both be in Scotland again for New Years and not working, I was in a bit of a quandary.  What to do, what to do?  I couldn’t bear the thought of wrangling with the crowds, especially when they’d be so drunk.  I mean they’re drunk most weekend nights (ok, most nights period), but they’d be super-duper-especially drunk on New Years.  Plus there’s no way we’d be able to get a taxi so we’d have to walk home.  Plus it’d be so expensive it’d probably cost me a month’s rent just to buy drinks all night.  Ugh.  I hate this holiday.

On the other hand there was the whole ‘scottish men in kilts liberally kissing me all night’ thing.  I HAVE been single for awhile…

But no, after consultation with friends, who were all in agreement with the NEW YEARS IS EXPENSIVE AND SUCKS idea, we decided to get out of Glasgow all together.  We threw around some ideas.  Highlands?  Borders?  Glencoe?  England?

Nah, we wouldn’t do that to ourselves.

My only requirement was ‘somewhere that I can get a kiss at midnight.’  Everything else optional.  Ok, somewhere pretty.  That’d be nice too.

We finally settled on Arran, a little island off the west coast of Scotland.  It was so handy it was almost obscene.  50 minutes on the train, then 55 minutes on the ferry.  Less than two hours and we were truly AWAY from Glasgow.  We rented a little cottage in a tiny village a few miles from Brodick (the main village on Arran) that was literally a row of houses along the main road.  One minute long, tops.  It was gorgeous.

For starters, we did A LOT of lounging around.  We slept in late (though being jetlagged, it was virtually impossible for me to sleep past 9:30), read books, took naps and went on long walks.  Scotland is so far north that we only get daylight between 9-4, so that limited the amount of activities we could do without stumbling around in the forest in the dark.  We made large elaborate meals and drank wine.  We read books.  We went for walks on the beach and collected seashells.  We played scrabble and watched extremely funny british comedies.  And all this before New Year!

On Hogmanay we ate lots of food (Haggis, Neeps and Tatties!) and then wandered along to the local pub at around 11:30.  I finally got out of my pajamas to attempt to be presentable.  I donned my cutest top (which wasn’t saying much) but kicked my high heels under the bed because really, who are we kidding?  We arrived on the doorstep to be told by the bar owner that they were closing up to celebrate ‘the bells’ on their own.  The look of dejection on our five faces must have been comical because he almost immediately offered to let us in for ‘just one drink.’  We heartily agreed, thanking him profusely before claiming the second of the two booths in the pub.  I happily rung in the new year while participating in my first ever lock in!  I was very excited.  (for all those unfamiliar with the term, a ‘lock in’ is when a pub shuts to the public but allows a select few to stay in and drink as long as they want.  Generally you have to be on pretty familiar terms with the bar owner and/or living in a small town where this sort of thing is more common.  Living in Glasgow and knowing exactly zero bar owners means that I have never been lucky enough to participate.  Until now!)  But no, except for a kiss on the cheek from the bar owner, I didn’t get kissed at midnight.  All those plans for nothing!

But the best part of the whole trip was the next day.  There was a small ceilidh being held at the town hall in Brodick, just up the road.  We all decided to go and headed over there, drinks in tow (it was byob after all) to settle in and check out the situation.  First of all, there were A LOT of children.  Lots.  All running around and generally being noisy and getting underfoot.  Secondly there were A LOT of old people.  But they were at least more adorable, doing all the different ceilidh dances way better than we ever could.  We ended up getting there too late to participate in many of them, but the ones we did were endless fun.  They involved a lot of twirling about and racing up and down and generally getting sweaty and out of breath while listening to pipe music.  The band was called the ‘String Road Pot Holes’ after the only road that runs from the east to west coast on the island.

After two hours of ceilidh music the band packed away their instruments and the dj stepped up.  We danced A LOT after that.  I think the best and most amusing thing about the entire night was the huge group of very early-twenties guys who were sitting across the hall from us.  There were virtually no girls of comparable age, but the entire group of them (must have been between 10-15 in their group) all got up and danced together!  They looked like they were having the best time and didn’t even care that there were no girls to dance with.  I honestly think it was the first time I’d seen so many guys dancing together with such abandon.  Most of the time guys just look uncomfortable and as if they’ve been forced to dance in an effort to get closer to some woman they’ve scoped out on the dancefloor.  I was absolutely tickled with how much fun these guys were having.  We had a pretty good time too.

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Responses

  1. I think your New Year’s Eve sounds perfect. I spent the evening talking to my brother about his band and promptly fell asleep at 1 pm. Valentine’s Day… or what I call ‘Singles Awareness Day’ is my least favorite day of the year. Wait… that would actually be the day I go to my OBGYN and get weighed right before she feels me up.

    OK, 2nd least favorite day of the year. It’s an entire day devoted to people younger than me who say, “It’s not too late for you… don’t give up on love” and to my older relatives who bemoan that I’m still single and tell me I either gave up my chance for perfect happiness by not marrying my boyfriend when I was 21 or that God is saving someone for me in the here after since I obviously won’t be getting married in this lifetime (BTW: I didn’t make any of those comments up as I’ve heard all 3 of them).

    This year is a bit different as I’ve got someone in my life but his birthday is a week before V-Day. Also, he lives a few states away and I’m moving that weekend so I’m pretty sure I’ll be alone once again. Which I’m fine with, actually.

  2. In honor of National De-lurking Day, I decided to leave a comment. I find your blog entertaining and always look forward to your posts.

    I think your New Year’s Eve sounds great. Just because one thing is a tradition, it doesn’t mean you can’t start a tradition of your own! Maybe this New Year’s Eve was the start of a new tradition for you and your friends?

    I’ve always stayed home on New Year’s Eve. Well, with the exception of one trip to visit a friend up north, but I was home waaay before the ball dropped. I just don’t have the urge to go out that night.

  3. Hello oregonsunshine! So glad to hear from a fellow Oregonian. I’d love it if this became a new tradition with my friends but I’ll most likely be back in Oregon for next new years. Either way, I’ll be sure to plan some quality time with friends. It makes all the difference.

    Oh Pammy, you are a woman after my own heart! I HATE getting weighed at the doctor and actually had severe phobias about it in high school. I’d go on insane diets for the few weeks before I had to go, just to get that number down. Though it sounds like having relatives tell you you’re a dried up old spinster who won’t be getting married anytime soon just about takes the cake! But I’m so glad to hear that you have a man in your life these days. Are you moving out of LA? Or just to a different LA area? Good luck with the move and with your romance!

  4. No, I’m staying in LA for the time being. I’d like to move back to DC but the economy is horrible and I can’t go anywhere without a job… so I’m searching and hoping. I’m moving into a BRAND NEW PLACE with it’s own fridge (most apts in LA don’t come with a fridge) about 11 blocks from my current residence. Small (very small) but all mine! We’ll see where this romance goes. 🙂

  5. Oh I’m totally with you about the apartment. My flat is tiny, but it’s all mine! I don’t need tons of space, just my OWN space.

  6. Boo on holidays that force you to have a “moment!” And yay for those that encourage you to have haggis :o)

  7. Sco–agreed on general dislike of most “traditional” holidays. And the ones made up by the greeting card companies. But hooray for Haggis!

  8. Yeah, I love haggis. I know, it’s strange, but I can’t help it! It’s good stuff! Black pudding on the other hand, not so much.


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