The Day Of Boxing And Continued Tranquility

Boxing Day 2002

On a small peninsula of land, near the castle.

Boxing Day was very much like Christmas Day, except without the presents or messages in bottles. A day of extreme relaxation and regeneration. We took another walk, this time along the cliffs to the south, towards the nearby village of Collieston. We came across a rather charming beach and bay, albeit one contaminated by filth and pollution. I found a little cave which I insisted upon inspecting. My mother and sister were less enthusiastic, though I'm sure if I'd found a corpse or gold they'd have been more impressed. The rest of the day continued in the relaxed fashion of the day before. We ate a curry made by mum in the evening. Another soothing and carefree day.

The pretty, but very polluted, bay midway between the castle and Collieston.

Mum and Morag.

The Day of Christmas, Peace And Tranquility, and The Message In A Bottle

Christmas Day 2002

The Castle.

My Christmas of 2002 was spent at home in the castle with my mother and my sister, Morag. My brother Ian was at his fiancee's parents in Kilmarnock. It was my first ever alternative Christmas, i.e. one spent at my own home. It proved divinely serene. After several months of seemingly continuous nights of excess in which I was returning home on average of about two nights of seven, to spend a whole day without worries at home, in the beautiful remote coastal countryside forty minutes drive north of Aberdeen, was sheer heaven.

The opening of the presents.

In the morning we opened our presents under the tree (kindly brought and assembled by mum) - I received socks, pants, money, chocolate and a jumper. Before lunch we went for a walk round the abandoned house nearby and then the north beach. The day was still and not too cold. It was down the north beach that I stumbled upon a message in a bottle, sent two months prior by an 8-year-old girl in Hartlepool. All three of us were quite enchanted by this discovery. Some would call it a Christmas miracle, but they'd be cheery sentimental freaks.

A Christmas miracle! Less of a miracle, however, is my decidely camp pose, which I apologise for.

Lunch was fun - we popped open a bottle of champagne over the south balcony - and for the rest of the day we simply lounged in front of the fire watching TV, talking, playing board games or simply relaxing. In the remote north-east of Scotland, there was no possibility of disturbance, and time and space were bigger than in usual reality. It really cannot be emphasised enough how relaxing and pleasant the whole day was, away from the higher tempo of normal life at normal Christmases.

Enjoying Christmas lunch. I assure you it was a more cheerful affair than this photo suggests.

Morag, my sister - four and a half years younger than me, studying medicine, lives in Aberdeen. Has been my sister all her life.

Ian, my brother - a year younger, just moved down to Edinburgh with his fiancee, bar manager.

Mother - a teacher in my hometown of Dingwall.


2003, or "The Year Of The Castle", was perhaps my most entertaining - and certainly my most messed up - year to date. Before even the start of the year I had an inkling it might be this way. Living in a near-derelict house, surrounded by the ruins of an 800-year-old castle, with cliffs and beaches and gorgeous scenery, I could hardly have dreamed of living in a more inspiring, or remote, location. When added to this I had an explosive combination of flatmates - or "castlemates" - and a social life that was hellbent on screwing myself and everyone else up as much as physically possible, it looked a good bet 2003 might be quite fun.

Fun it was. But not without its ups and downs, or its unexpected turns.

The idea of recording the year in photos had occurred to me only in late 2002. Anticipating the year ahead being interesting, and a little more varied than a regular 9-to-5 existence while living in a city centre flat, daily photos seemed like a good way to record a potentially memorable year for posterity. This was in the days before digital cameras, for me at least, so it was all done on regular film. This was not cheap: just a humble dishwasher on minimum wage for the most part, I estimate I spent over 15% of my annual budget that year on film and photos.

There was little in the way of planning or organisation in the project. Very little thought had been done on implementation. How hard could it be, I reckoned. Just point and click every day. This ramshackle approach, combined with recklessness, sabotage and downright stupidity, makes for a minor miracle the photo diary survived the year intact. Luck, it strongly seems, was on my side in 2003.

Anyway, after years of delays, and gathering together masses of loose papers, slowly re-writing notes, typing up scrawled entries, scanning photos and getting everything to make sense, here it all is. The Photo Diary 2003.

------note on editing and layout------

The internet was not the original intention for the photo diary. Instead, and as seen within the photo diary, it was meant to be collected together in book form. This is still my intention, one day. But for now, I need to get this thing up, instead of having it sit on my hard drive. Therefore, for now, the layout is for function rather than aesthetics. I've also added annoations for clarity.

There has also been a little editing for content, for obvious reasons (if you knew what the content was...). This is marked with an asterix.