Unexpectedly, I spent last evening – the day after my birthday – in the Accident & Emergency Department at hospital. A few hours earlier I had closed the side door of my van at work with my right hand, and forgotten to move my left one out of the way. For a split second I feared the worst.
Fortunately, when I opened the door my fingers were still intact, although the pain I could feel and the amount of blood coming from my hand suggested I was in a bad way. I didn’t have anything in the van to stem the bleeding so I went to the nearest house and was given a towel… which did the trick, until I was able to bandage my fingers properly.
Some painkillers, super-glue, and a couple of x-rays later and – thankfully – there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damage. My ring finger and middle finger of my left hand are bandaged, and there’s a measure of swelling and bruising, but after some rest I should be back to normal in no time.
I had my first COVID vaccination today, three days before my birthday. It was a strange half hour wait in the queue, watching everyone going in before me – wondering why l had been chosen to be protected along with all these old people, before I quickly realised that I was one of them too – but it also felt like the beginning of the next chapter.
Hope was in the air this morning – you could taste it. I’m sure most of that was in my head, but we’ve been living with this social claustrophobia for over a year now, so I’m prepared to go with it and believe in the brighter future they keep telling us about.
I also got a cracking idea for a story while I was waiting for the nurse to stick me with the needle, so there’s that too.
As I’ve said before, this is my first time with cats, and it’s also the first time I’ve been aware of the sterilisation of a pet. It was quite a heartbreaking journey to the scalpel this morning, as both Tess and Frankie cried almost the whole way there.
Not to make it about me, but it was quite upsetting to know that they were frightened and confused, and that I was the reason this was happening. They hadn’t asked for it. At least once I wanted to turn around and take them home, but I know this is for the best, and that they will recover quickly.
I hope that this operation won’t change them in any fundamental way, and that their personalities will remain intact. I want Tess to continue to be the inquisitive troublemaker, who loves to sit in boxes and purrs like a Harley Davidson; and Frankie needs to still be the cautious one who takes her sister’s lead, and always looks like she’s trying to do long division in her head.
Most of us (myself included) will be glad to see the back of 2020 when it comes – in fact I know a lot of you would like to personally put it on the back of a truck, drive it off a cliff, and watch the whole thing explode in a bright ball of flames.
We’ve all had to muscle through this year just so we can get to the end of the calendar, and because of that, some of us have come out the other side as different people. Better. Worse. Who knows? Jobs have been lost; lives have been lost. Families have been torn apart. Twelve months ago someone wearing a mask was an oddity; today, you don’t leave home without one.
But nothing magically changes when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, and the promise of a vaccine in the months to come shouldn’t be an excuse to relax. Next year begins with the same fears as this one ends, and dollars to doughnuts, 2021 will not be any better if we don’t all pull together and try to do the right thing to help put this in the rear view.
I started November with good intentions. The plan was to get up a couple of hours early each morning so that I had some quiet time to do some writing, before I went to work. Well I did that for a couple of days before I fell off that particular wagon. It’s not the greatest plan, but I have done it before, and it would work if I had some willpower.
In the brief time I spent with my horror tale about Alexa, I did decide upon a new name for it, which saves me getting into any trouble from Amazon for infringing upon their trademarked tech… but I did little else of any substance.
I’m busy at work as well, and usually too beat when I get home to put on my creative boots. On my days off – especially at this time of year – I’m thinking about Christmas… or, at least, whatever that amounts to this time around.
Like most people I just want to be done with 2020, even if there’s no promise the next calendar will be any better, because sometimes just the act of turning that imaginary page is all the encouragement a person needs.
Early in the month I started writing a horror tale about Alexa, the smart device. I put the first few hundred words down when I got a break from work and have the whole story playing out in my head, so I know exactly where I’m going with it. I think it should be a good one. It’s tentatively titled Not Alexa.
I submitted my flash piece, I Lost My Wife Down the Back of the Sofa, to the monthly contest over at Secret Attic – probably some time in September – and although it didn’t win they have included it in their printed collection of short-listed entries. They didn’t tell me this, of course, but it’s nice to see my name online again.
The rest of the month has been about raising kittens (because I became a father a couple of weeks ago) and looking for a new car (because the MOT this time around just about bankrupted me). Those two things stole a lot of my limited spare time towards the end of the month. Even reading has proven to be a problem because Tess will sleep anywhere…
Some are cat people; some are dog people. I’m a dog guy. I’ve had a lot of them. My parents used to foster them, so we had a lot until such time as they found a more permanent home. Oddly however, I’ve not had any dogs since childhood.
I’ve never owned a cat. I don’t dislike them. I just generally prefer the personality and nature of a dog. It’s just as I said – you’re one or the other, aren’t you?
I’m on the first day of a two-day training course, which makes this my first day of actual work in very nearly six months. I had to get up at 7am for an 8.30am start, but that still feels like mid-morning when I used to be halfway through my shift by then.
Of course, there are teething problems with the training, and the class has now been pushed by an hour or so, so I’m taking the opportunity to post this. It would seem that while a lot of things have changed recently, some things – like delays and red tape – have not.
So, this is the beginning of a new chapter. If I’m honest, I don’t want this one to last very long – I want something different; something better – but in this Covid world, beggars and choosers and all that.
Oddly, I always did more writing when I was working full-time as well, so that’s a bonus I can look forward to. I have a few new ideas that I’ve been mulling over for a while now, so I’ll probably be able to get them fleshed out a little over the weekend.
When I was on my own I was a far more frequent visitor of B&B’s, because my narrow-minded belief is that they are tailored more to the lone soul than the couple looking for a quiet and romantic escape.
Ardtorna, a luxurious B&B just a whistle north of Oban on the west coast of Scotland, has shown me that not only is that opinion wrong, but that maybe I have missed a lot of fantastic overnight opportunities over the years.
I have never stayed in such a well-presented and beautifully decorated establishment. Everything is crisp and clean and intended to make your stay the best it can be, and it’s clear that owner Karen takes immense pride in providing that service for all her guests.
Running a bed and breakfast is difficult, and owners of these places don’t get enough credit for the love they put in to their work every single day. Karen does this all with a smile and some friendly conversation. You may think that’s easy, but I promise you, most of us wouldn’t last a week in such a cutthroat environment.
Of course, Ardtorna is not for everyone. Everything here is immaculate. If you’re the kind of person who treats a hotel room as your personal rubbish bin, and doesn’t think twice about spilling wine or breaking a glass, you should find somewhere else to stay – this place is not for you.
Well I didn’t take a thing from Ardtorna, not even any of the Celebrations that were in the mini fridge… and they were factored into the cost! Why? This care and attention to the comfort of the people she has welcomed into her home deserves to be respected, and I don’t want to take advantage of such dedication and hard work. I can see that she has gone above and beyond, and she will wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.
I didn’t start this post as a love letter to Ardtorna, but now that it’s done it feels like that is just what I’ve written. So thank you Karen, for a wonderful bookend to our extended weekend away from home. I’m sure we will be back.
We left the hotel in Invergarry after a couple of nights there, with the intention of taking a leisurely drive down towards the bed & breakfast I had booked for one night, before our trip back home. We had a lot of time to play with before check-in at 4pm.
But the weather had other ideas.
The rain has never been far away since we left home, which is a shame but this is Scotland. That would be like an Arab complaining he was getting too much sun.
But this was next level annoying. At 9am on a Sunday the road we were taking to drive south – the only possible road south – was blocked. Flooded. We waited for ninety minutes (the length of time it should have taken us to reach our destination) while we watched the police stand about and do very little, only for one of them to eventually come over to tell us we’d better turn around.
Sure. Except where we had to be was down there, not all the way back up that way. So we were forced into making a 130 mile diversion – extremely frustrating at the best of times, but when the sky is making the whole experience miserable… well, we almost decided to pack our bags and just head home a day early. Non-refundable room be damned.
But it was all worth it when we found our way to Ardtorna B&B, probably the most exquisite bed and breakfast I’ve ever stayed at. Granted, we have not yet slept or had breakfast, but if the views over Loch Creran from the floor to ceiling windows, and the sumptuous anti-pasti platter we were served are anything to go by, this will definitely be a stay to remember.