Hi folks, and Happy New Year! OK, so I’m 10 days late but I have a good excuse! Honest, I do! I spent a great few days away with Peter and Janice,my best friends, along with their 5-month-old son Andrew and Janice’s brother, Colin, and his girlfriend Jacqui in a tiny wee village called Lochgoilhead, which is in Argyll. We had hired a lodge for a week or so and it alowed us all to enjoy some quiet time, as well as see in the New Year in the most amazing scenery you can imagine. On a personal note, I was really looking forward to this holiday as it was the first time I had been away in over 18 months when I didn’t have a magic convention or pool tournament to go to. None of the “I want to see [insert performer’s name here]’s lecture” or “I want to see [insert pool player’s name here]’s match” that I usually have when I’m away. I could just relax. When I arrived, it was amazing to see that the lodge we were going to be staying in, the same one that we stayed in for Peter’s surprise 30th birthday weekend in April 2004, had been totally refurbished and that all 3 bedrooms now had their own bathrooms! Very handy and allowed everyone their own privacy. My journey was a little on the spectacular side. I had to travel the day after everyone else, as I was working a couple of days between Christmas and New Year. I travelled by train to Helensburgh, then had to get a bus from Helensburgh to Lochgoilhead. The first part was easy and I arrived in Helensburgh with a little over an hour to kill (spent in some unknown pub near the bus stop watching Channel 4’s “Deal Or No Deal” – THE most addictive show on TV at the moment!). It was during the journey on the bus that the snow started. By the time we reached the turn-off onto the single track road (yes, I said single track!), it was dark and the snow was coming down so heavy that outside looked like a scene from Star Wars where they travel at light speed! Pretty amazing, but somewhat scary, stuff!

After that, it was down to the busy job of relaxing and enjoying myself. Getting up whenever and doing whatever we wanted when Andrew allowed us (remember, he is 5 months old!). I am not complaining – having the wee man around was great fun and it is amazing how much he has grown in the last wee while.

Hogmanay itself was great fun with a huge party taking place in the main function room of the Estate where pretty much all of the activities (swimming, bowling, snooker, etc.) were. Janice, Colin, Jacqui and I were joined by our good friends Linda and Wayne to go up to the party. Peter had decided to stay behind and look after Andrew and that Janice would go down before midnight so they could see in the New Year together. It was a great night, with one missing element – Peter! Janice enjoyed herself, but really missed Peter, even though he was only down the road looking after their son. I had the great pleasure of “first footing” (a Scottish tradition where someone “tall, dark and handsome” – well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad! – is the first visitor to set foot into your house after midnight, which is supposed to bring good luck to the householder for the coming year) Peter and Janice when I went to escort her back to the party after the bells. It was a great night and lots of fun – oh and I wore my kilt, and felt bloody great in it!

There is so much from the weekend that I could go on and on for a long, long time. I’ll save you all that much only to tell you that I’ve posted some pictures online for you to look at and you can find them by clicking here.

I hope you have a great 2006!

Best wishes

The Cardman 🙂

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