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.
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.
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.
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.