Hogmanay 1998

This is the third time I've sat and tried to write about our festive break in Fort Bill. Each previous attempt has degenerated into a long-winded essay of the "What I did on my holidays" variety. So, I'll try to summarise it briefly.

Post-Christmas, myself and many friends headed north to Fort William for a week of drinking and munro-bagging. I'm more than a little ashamed to admit that I didn't do anything more strenuous than take a stroll down Glen Nevis, but that didn't stop me having a great time.

Five of us had clubbed together to rent a house for the week, and various others joined us for a few days at a time, throwing money in towards the rent and food. I think this free-n-easy coming and going scenario helped keep the week interesting - a variety of people to chat and drink with, but never too overcrowded.

It's not often that I've felt so relaxed or at ease with myself as during this week. Usually being in such a remote location, sans internet etc would merely lead to boredom. But I was far from being bored. The nights were fun, and more than a little alcoholic. Indeed, everybody returned to England vowing to lay off the grog for a couple of weeks (though how many of us actually did so was never ascertained).

The chronology of the week has now blurred itself in my memory, so that I'm left with just a group of unconnected anecdotes, or funny moments:

  • George trying to woo the highland women by shouting "BLAAAARGGH!" in their faces at high volume.

  • A race in supermarket trolleys, fuelled by copious quantities of bacardia (I mean us, not the trolleys).

  • Taking the Corran ferry on the way to Strontian and getting confused about which island we were on - I was quite embarrassed to learn we had never left the UK mainland.

  • The mad hogmanay ceilidh, where a dappy girl "fainted", dozens of youths started a fight, and Andy tried to kill Paul over a matter of 30 quid. And later that night, Lex and Kim getting it together, only to be disturbed by a drunken George clambering into bed with them at 6am.

  • "They're coming out!"

  • The endless bacon, irn bru, and beer (natch).
  • The drive to the Glenfiddan monument, where we sheltered from the torrential rain for 10 minutes before heading back again.

It was all just plain good fun, really. Very relaxing. I could say more, but I'd bore you.

Those who were left at home weren't relaxed, though. As we drove back down south on Saturday 2nd January, my mobile phone beeped crazily to alert me to a backlog of messages, all of which were from worried family members. There had been a fatal avalanche in Fort Bill during our stay, which had panicked those who knew I'd been up there. At least, those who didn't realise that I was more likely to be slumped in an armchair watching a Bond movie than on the highest summits in the country.

Then, Sunday 3rd January. Finally heading back to South Yorkshire on a train from Lexy's pad in Manchester. Incredibly depressing, having to get back to your 'real life' after such a fun vacation. But no matter, we'll be back up there again soon, I've no doubt.