Thursday, 27 December 2012

I believe in Santa Claus

It's OK, I'm not having a breakdown so there's no need to send for the men in white coats just yet.

This isn't really about the shed loads of presents that a fat man in a red suit squeezes down everyone's chimney each year, most of which you probably already have anyway, just not this years model or colour.

No. I'm referring to the man himself, or really, his persona.

Here's a guy that has what most teenagers really want these days . . . fame. Yet he's modest with it, but most of all he's kind, generous and thoughtful of others.

One of my friend's parents help out at a local church serving up a christmas meal on the morning of the 25th to whoever turns up, be it the elderly on their own or those in need of a good meal. One volunteer had been at a local supermarket just the day before to buy a dozen christmas puddings. A man behind her in the queue said, "wow, you must really like christmas pudding!" When she explained to him that actually it was for the free community meal the church provided, he took out his wallet and paid for them.

What a great spontaneous act of kindness.

I don't have children of my own, but many of my friends do. Over the past few years I've been invited to one of my friends for Christmas Day, and his sister's kids have always been there, excitedly opening presents, and then fighting over each others. Chaos usually ensues but it's all good fun and smiles and laughter abound, and the joy of Christmas is delivered to us through them.

It is very generous of my friend to invite me to this family gathering.

I definitely enjoy the giving more than the receiving, though I obviously enjoy both, who doesn't. This year I received a home made gift from a close friend. There's something very special about a gift that someone has spent time and imagination over, making it with just you in mind. A very personal gift. A gift that you know you'll always keep.

It's a very thoughtful act when someone takes the time to make something just for you.

So yes, I believe in Santa Claus.

Friday, 21 December 2012


Amazingly this is my 200th blog.

The first was on 29 June 2009, all about a little film project I was trying to get off the ground called Bright Blue Button. In fact, it was that very project that prompted me to start a blog, in the hope that it might add some publicity to the project. I never thought I would continue much beyond the life of that film.

But, every week since, I have posted some nonsense about, well, what's rattling around in my brain I guess. Some of you have been there through the emotional journeys and the great highlights that have peppered the past three years.

Another reason for starting the blog was in some vain hope that by writing to a deadline every week my writing skills and grammar would improve. OK, so maybe I was aiming a little high, but for the majority of the time it has been an enjoyable experience.

My friend Pauline has started a new blog recently. From May 2010 to very recently she was posting the stories generated by her round the world cycle adventure, called The Bicycle Diaries. Her new blog is aptly titled The Outdoor Diaries. If it's well constructed sentences and structured stories you're looking for then Pauline's blog is the one to add to your favourites. Here's the link:

I have just heard that the film Sleepless 'til Seattle was not chosen for the Fargo Film Festival in 2013. This is a bitter blow. It was our favourite stop on the route and featured in the film. Had it been chosen there was every chance I would have attended as it was the week of my 50th birthday. Ah well, win some lose some.

I hope in some way you've enjoyed the 200 blogs over the past few years.

It's been fun.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dancing on ice

It's been two and a half years since I've trekked and camped in the Scottish mountains with my friend Pauline. I guess there was the small matter of a round-the-world cycle in between. So we decided to take the opportunity of a window of available time and head north, though I thought it was going to be hillwalking, not hill skating.

With a good weather forecast we left Edinburgh for Blair Atholl, and the neighbouring valley Glen Tilt, on a late train on Tuesday evening. Arriving in Blair Atholl in the dead of night we were greeted with a bit of a surprise . . . snow!

Having travelled the night before we were in a great position to get an early start to our trek into the hills and Glen Tilt on a glorious day. Not a breath of wind and unbroken blue skies. However it was slow going as all the small streams that crossed the paths were frozen and we gingerly stepped across, occasionally skating as we lost our grip. One bridge was covered with two inches of solid polished ice making it impassable. Our only choice was to detour around.

All around us a frozen mist hung in the valleys and wildlife foraged for food in the frozen landscape. Up ahead roe deer darted across the path, their large white behinds flashing by; a mountain hare in its snowy white winter coat sprinted up the hillside; a puffed up robin kept us company as we trekked along.

We camped for the night next to an old stone bridge and our tents were pitched by four o'clock. By five o'clock, as the sun was casting its fire-red glow onto nearby mountains, the temperature had dropped to minus 5. Just one hour later it had plummeted to minus 10. During the night I was wearing my full thermals, trousers, two pairs of socks, three further layers up top, my hat and buff. Added to that I was wrapped up in a winter season sleeping bag . . . and I was still cold! On the bright side it never got entirely dark due to the clear sky and a proliferation of stars, their light reflecting off the surrounding snow.

The following day we opted to scale a nearby hill, ascending through soft six-inch deep snow, with small flurries of snow gently falling. As we neared the summit we entered some hill fog. I lost sight of Pauline up ahead and resorted to following her footprints in the snow.

Two hours later we were back down and wandering out along the track towards Blair Atholl and a hot bowl of soup. Streams that had flowed the previous day were now frozen due to the very low temperatures of the previous evening, creating an ice rink across our path every 20 feet or so. For five miles we stumbled and slid ungracefully.

Mind you, at one point Pauline almost managed a full pirouette which wouldn't have been out of place on Dancing On Ice. It was a pretty good 7 out of 10.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Trailer opens doors

Following last weeks disappointment when the door was slammed shut on my attempt to enter the film Sleepless 'til Seattle into the Sundance Film Festival, this week came some better news.

I have been working away on creating a trailer for the film for some time, and by Friday last week the final cut version was posted on YouTube. To keep regular visitors to the website up to date I then created a link using a clip from the film on the home page.

Then it was the busy task of emailing all my contacts, and Gordon Millar, the good friend who takes care of all the film's social media needs, started a Twitter and Facebook push. Within just a few hours the trailer had over 100 hits. Then various contacts on Twitter started to "retweet" our message and the hits soared past 500.

As a result it caught the attention of a local newspaper, The Evening News, and they made contact to arrange an interview with myself and Pauline this Friday morning in their offices, with a view to running a story on it all.

I'll include a link to the story on the next blog.

Only just having arranged the interview, and yet another conversation was had with another journalist from The Times newspaper, who have asked that as soon as the film is accepted into its first festival they want to run a story as well.

If you too would like to see the trailer then just click on the film clapperboard on the right and follow the link on the home page.

Just goes to show, as they say, one door closes another opens.