Hurkle-durkle is an old Scots word that means to linger in bed a lot longer than you should. In todays parlance, it’s called a duvet day, and like most people, I have indulged in a good few more of these this year than usual. Though I try not to give in to the grey clouds (both literal and metaphorical) that have been hanging over us constantly since the start of this year, it takes a huge amount of effort to get out of bed in a positive mood and to stay that way for the rest of the day. But I keep trying, and (mostly) it pays off. So without trying to go all rainbows and unicorns on you, I decided for my last blog of this year, to accentuate the positives – and looking back, there are actually lots of them.

Our only 2020 girlie day, back in January at the J M Barrie House

Strange to say, in a world of social distancing, travel bans, and being unable to meet up indoors, I think I’ve kept in touch with my friends and family more than ever. Being one of seven children, all-inclusive family zoom calls are chaotic, but we chat on WhatsApp constantly. My sisters, mum and I were last all together in January in Dumfries, but we’ve tried to compensate for those  regular girlie days and weekends which have had to be cancelled in other ways. I join my mum and sisters to work out using a combination of YouTube and Messenger. We watch Strictly Come Dancing together, using WhatsApp, and of course we’re on the phone all the time. It’s the same with my close friends – virtual coffee calls and WhatsApp help to prop us up, to have a good moan or a good laugh, and most importantly remind us that (cliché alert) we really are all in this together.

Earlier in the year, when we were all out every Thursday clapping our support for the NHS, I got to ‘know’ some of my neighbours better. We still wave. We shout over the garden walls. We share garden produce and baking (though not recipes, I’m afraid, Ronnie has kept the key to his fabulous shortbread a closely-guarded secret). I’m a shy wee thing, but lockdown taught me to be more outgoing. When I go out for a walk, I smile and say hello to every single person I pass. Mostly they smile back.

Posties and couriers are busier than ever, but they seem to be friendlier too these days – or am I seeing the world through rose-tinted spectacles? Home delivery in my rural area was pretty rare until lockdown, but now almost everyone does it, from the big supermarket to local businesses. At last, I can get local oysters and seafood, butcher meat, venison and rabbit delivered – and as you’ll see from previous blogs, I’ve been cooking more than ever as a result. I’m going to ‘fess up here and say that my favourite home delivery comes from Anselmo’s, the local fish and chip shop. Their special king prawn supper (that means with chips, just in case you’re not an aficionado) is absolutely delish.

The best ever shortbread, from my neighbour Ronnie

I’ve talked in other blogs about my lockdown adventures in DIY, cooking and sewing. I have been writing too of course, and both my 2020 releases featured older heroines – my first but absolutely not my last. Though I thoroughly enjoy losing myself in history, there are always days when you don’t feel at all creative, and I’ve had more of these than usual in these turbulent times. So I’ve had to learn not to feel guilty (a very difficult lesson for me, I’m an ace at beating myself up about stuff) and to divert my energy into something else. On the days when I think I’ll never finish another book again, my writing friends on social media are the best medicine. I really, really appreciate all of you out there who chat to me, who write reviews, who email me, and who remind me when I need it most that I can actually write books. I will share more of my upcoming projects in my new year blog, but rest assured, there’s lots in the pipeline that I’m very excited about.

And now, suddenly, it’s nearly Christmas, and it’s going to be very different for almost all of us. I put my lights and my tree up early. I’ve made loads more presents for more people than I usually do. For the first time in my life I’ll be doing a workout on Christmas morning – thank you to Pamela Reif for her Christmas workout, which I’ll be doing with my mum, sisters and a glass of champagne. We will still be playing family games, including the humming game, but it will be on a zoom call. It will be different. But the biggest thing I’ve learned this year is how lucky I am, to have my family, to have my friends, to have my work. On the hurkle-durkle days, that’s what gets me out of bed.

Bishop’s Glen, my favourite Christmas day walk in snowier times

Thank you for joining me here, on Twitter, email, and Facebook. Your company means so much to me. Here is wishing us all a happy, hopeful and healthy new year, and I look forward to sharing it with you.

Share this:

Join the Conversation


  1. What an upbeat wee blog 👍🏼 I’m so glad to be part of your virtual circle…. despite our dramatic initial contact 😲. Have a fabulous festive season Vx

  2. That shortbread looks divine!! I’ve had such a craving this month, LOL. I usually make lots of cookies at Christmas time, but this year I’ve been lazy and just bought ’em. I’m going to make some dough tonight for the one cookie that I have made every year for as long as I can remember – an almond flavored, candy-cane shaped cookie. YUM!

    I’m glad you can look back on the hellscape that was 2020 with an optimistic eye. Personally, I’m looking forward, and at this point I’m just hoping that 2021 will be kinder to us as a whole. I have lots of plans on how to better myself (doesn’t everyone, haha??). I’m looking forward to participating in the #TBRChallenge, and if nothing else, get my reading back on track. I’ve had a nice little holiday bump of romances, and I saw an article in the Guardian today about holiday-set crime novels that I’ve stored away for future reference.

    I love your tree! Happy holidays!!

    1. Ronnie came to the door yesterday with a little individual Christmas cake too, all dressed up with a ribbon which brought a huge smile to my face. I love the sound of your candy cane, I’ve never tried anything like that.

      Of course there have been plenty days when my optimism was at a peep, but I have learned that personally, giving in to it only makes it worse and I abhor of all things a day that I feel has been wasted. But yes, like almost everyone I am looking forward to saying gooodbye to 2020 and determined to make the most of 2021. I hope you enjoy the holidays whatever you do. You are one of the people who has helped me through the dark days, and I look forward to sharing more on-line friendship next year. x

      1. Ronnie sounds completely awesome. Tell him he’s gathered an online fan club, LOL!!

        The candy cane cookie is great – its shaped like a candy cane, with plain and red dough rolled together, but when you bite into it, it’s a nice, mild almond flavor instead of the mint you might expect. Of course, I’m a huge mint fan, too, so I’d love it either way!

        Thank you so much for your kind words 💕 I’ve long been a lurker and an admirer of your work, so actually getting to know you and become an online/reading buddy has been such a treat for me!!

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply