UK: Scotland – Hogmanay in Pitlochry via St Andrews

Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the old year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year in the Scottish manner. It is normally followed by further celebration on the morning of New Year's Day. Some of the more famous historic ways to ring in the new year include exchanging gifts such as black buns and whisky, while many others partake in the classic tradition of first footing — which refers to the first person stepping into your home on January 1 determining your luck for the year ahead.

🙂 Bagpipes. Highlands. Scottish Dancing. Hogmanay!

31 December 2023 – 01 January 2024

Hogmanay is the Scottish name for new year celebrations It is not known exactly where the word comes from, although it is believed to come from the French word ‘hoginane’ meaning ‘gala day’. It is thought to have first been used widely following Mary, Queen of Scots’ return to Scotland from France in 1561. Dating back to the 9th century, tradition states that in order to bring luck in the coming year the first visitor of the new year should be a tall, dark-haired man bringing gifts of salt, shortbread, whiskey and coal. Gifts of coal during wintertime ensure that you hearth will always be lit and your house warm. Festivities such as fireworks and street parties take place all over Scotland and last for three days, beginning at the end of December and ending on 2 January.

In this post I will work backwards! 🙂

We awoke to Monday, 01 January 2024 in Pitlochry at the Rosemount Hotel with a hangover! This is a surprising large dog friendly hotel which has been owned by a friendly couple for 34years, Anne and Keith were musicians on ships in their youth and they take great care of their guests. Our room was a little on the small side but we had booked rather last minute and we could see that many of the rooms were much larger. After a hearty breakfast we walked into town to join the annual street party. This traditions started 24 years ago – the hotels and shops in the main road had arranged a street party for the Millennium and it was such a raging success that it has continued ever since! Soup is served and you can buy mulled wine, hot chocolate (thumbs up!) coffee etc at the coffee shop. A traditional Kayleigh was in full force when we arrived with everyone dancing in the street – such fun! A freezing fog descended upon us which just added to the heady atmosphere!

Next up was the Pipes – always so moving – just love it! I was specially happy as we had somehow missed the lone piper who came to our hotel at 11.30 while we were having breakfast – DOH.

The night before we had got ourselves dressed and ready for the Dinner and traditional Scottish meal so we dressed in Tartan to celebrate the occasion. Paul had forgotten his cufflinks – but, ”n Boer Maak ‘n Plan’! and he soon fathomed some from the rope on his mapcover! 🙂 Clever chap.

The Entertainer over New Year’s Eve very personable, friendly and inclusive and provided good mix of traditional and modern music, talked through the Ceilidh dances first to get everyone in the floor … he was a little stuck in the 70s though 🙂

But we had fund and then at midnight went out to see the Fireworks and chatted to a few other guests who were mostly Scottish or from the North. It was hilarious as one chap had taken a bet with his wife that Paul was a Colonel in the army as he was dressed in black tie and had polished shoes! LOL. We only got to bed at 3am! So it must have been a good evening!

Sunday, 31 December 2023

Earlier that day we had woken at 07h30 to have a quick breakfast before embarking on our walk. We had thankfully been moved from next to Table 4 🙂

We headed off on the snowy roads and drove a further few Kilometres from where we had parked the day before. Thankfully the weather was much better! We enjoyed a good walk although we were acutely aware that we had forgotten sandwiches but we survived on chocolates and refreshers! We met a lovely group of cross country skiers and had a nice chat with them, It was a perfect way to bid 2023 farewell!

After we headed down we went into Pitlochry to the Old Mill and enjoyed Cullen Skink (delicious traditional Scottish fish soup) and Irish Coffees! Yum.

Saturday, 30 December 2023

We were up at 07h30 for our 08h00 breakfast which was wholesome and hearty.

We left the hotel and did a detour via Kiliekrankie given that was where we were the week before! It is crazy to think that we were in -16C wind chill vs +40C in the Kalahari a week earlier!

A week earlier…!

There was an orange weather warning out there forecasting blizzards and gale force winds so we were a little later in getting to the parking lot at 10h30, than we had planned. We set off but I missed the first fork as I had gone on ahead while Paul did up his boots…that was a mistake because even though it was a more gentle approach to the Munro is twas a much further distance and the orange weather warning soon came to fruition! We were halfway up and had to make a rapid decision to run down with the ominous black skies and then a white out descended with howling winds!

We were pleased to get back to the hotel for a snooze before heading down to the Bar for a drink and dinner. Unfortunately they forgot to serve our food and we were ravenous from our day ou in the mountains and blizzard! To top it all, Table 4 had arrived … a very sweet old couple from Skegness called Steve and Kay …they talked the hind legs off a donkey – non stop… I had to go to the toilet to have a breather and ask what had happened to our food which we had ordered for 19h00! It finally arrived at 20h30 (!) by which time we were exhausted by the one stream conversation, including that the Haulage business is the same as Management Consultancy…. they were due to spend New Years Day where they had been last year with a very rich ex Army Colonel at his mansion on Loch Tey but they could only go after the rest of the family had left – not surprising (!) – shame, our tolerance levels were just so so low after being out in the blizzard and starvingly hungry… we had to request to be moved as we had booked a weekend away to have time with each other… we felt really mean but it was for the best! 🙂

Friday,29 December 2023

I had some Easy Jet Vouchers back from Norway when our flights were cancelled and we had used them to book the flights to Edinburgh. Unfortunately we had to fly from Luton – nightmare airport! Nevertheless we arrived in Edinburgh at 10h30 and collected our hire car and headed to St Andrews. Paul was highly conused wondering why I wanted to have lunch at a gold course – lol – he hadn’t realised it was also a famous University Town with dfascinating ruins! We wnjoyed a delicious steak lunch and then walked around the picturesque town and runs.

We drove on another hour or so and arrived in Pitlochry at the Rosemount Hotel We dropped our bags and headed downstairs to play a 3D version of Dominos which was fun – Paul beat me soundly! Grrr!!! 🙂 There is a fireplace which they do not use, which is a real shame as a fireplace in our opinion makes a venue, especially in winter …but hey, ho. It was otherwise very pleasant and we enjoyed our meal before heading for an early night.

All in all a very satisfactory end to 2023 and a wonderful kick off for 2024! The only sadness was that our beloved Shumba had been diagnosed with Cancer on 11 December and we knew our time with him was limited…such is the cycle of life. HNY! 🙂

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