Brakes off, we’re speeding into 2013 and there’s no stopping…

The Earth taken in December 1968 by Apollo 8 astronauts as they became the first humans to circumnavigate the Moon (image courtesy of NASA)
The Earth taken in December 1968 by Apollo 8 astronauts as they became the first humans to circumnavigate the Moon (image courtesy of NASA)

Well, here we are, a week or so into a New Year. What will it bring for us all?

For Kathie and me it started on a positive note – we went to one of the most enjoyable New Year’s Eve events we’ve ever attended.

As we are in Scotland I should properly call it a Hogmanay party, as this is how New Year’s Eve is known here. In fact, it was our first Hogmanay party; last year we were visiting my father in England, two years ago we were at home and before that we were living in London.

The party was held in the old school here in our village of Quoyloo. It is actually one of two old schools in the village, the one that is used as a village hall. The other old school is now the Orkney Brewery & Visitor Centre which is handily placed just beyond the end of our drive.

But even the “village hall” old school – I hope you’re following this – is only ten minutes away on foot so just after 10pm off we set off in sensible walking gear and with a torch.

The set-up for the party was straightforward. Recorded music playing off a computer through large speakers and, down either side of the room, trestle tables and benches. We all brought our own booze and “nibbles” were provided. The adults sat talking and drinking, while the children ran around crazily, loving a late night out.

Ah yes, nibbles. I should have realised this was an Orkney event. We had a large dinner before going out only to discover that by “nibbles” the organisers of the event meant a large spread of delicious food.

Many of the folk we know in the village were there. At midnight we listened to the New Year chimes over the radio and then everyone stood up and circulated around the room, shaking hands, hugging and kissing as they went.

It was a simple event and that was its strength – though it was not without considerable work for the organisers which, I believe, was the community council. Thank you to everyone involved.

And so we go into the New Year with high hopes.

Mrs Brown, Kathie Touin, is busy setting up her Starling Recording Studio and has exciting work coming up through her University of the Highlands & Islands course in Applied Music – though she is hampered at present by a wrist injury after the dog yanked on his long line at Christmas.

I’m planning to clear my office – I love it as a room, particularly since I decorated it last year, but I’ve allowed too much junk to pile up and I want it to be a more relaxing space.

I’m about to take-over as the RSPB Local Group treasurer and I have work to do to promote the photographic competition the group is running with Orkney Camera Club.

Also I hope to have some more paid work at the RSPB and perhaps freelancing elsewhere – but not too much!

Kathie and I will both be busy with Roscoe, our rescue collie dog, who has now been with us for more than six months. He provides endless fun and laughter in the house.

My flying-V ukulele has been neglected in 2012 so that’s a priority for me – and something Roscoe will no doubt enjoy.

And we look forward to welcoming more visitors to Orkney, and to our home, during the spring and summer.

Not everything is rosy for everyone, of course. I know two folk who are each in deadly serious battles with cancer, as well as a close relative who hopes to have beaten cancer. Another friend is trying to cope with a mother who does not recognise her.

We all know people facing these and other issues and, frankly, we never know when they will turn up on our doorstep.

Others on our planet face death and destruction through war, or through natural disaster.

And some folks live in peaceful places but find a random act of unspeakable violence takes away their loved ones.

So I am thankful for good times, reasonable health and the beauty of Orkney, where Kathie and I live. And we pray, each in our own way, for those less lucky now and in the future.

I wish you and yours a peaceful, rewarding New Year.

Graham Brown

To find out more

Starling Recording Studio on Twitter

Kathie Touin

Visit Orkney

Orkney Brewery & Visitor Centre

RSPB Orkney blog

Orkney Camera Club – enter the RSPB Local Group/Orkney Camera Club photographic competition – Wild Orkney: The Way I See It – through this website.