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.

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