Three alternative ways to spend Hogmanay
Going overseas, opting for a rural retreat or helping the city's homeless
Juliet Tweedie, 27, senior development officer at Edinburgh International Science Festival
‘I usually spend Hogmanay wrapped up in multiple layers, my thickest scarf and the grim determination of a Scot who refuses to admit that it’s absolutely, definitely too cold to be standing on a street at midnight. But this year, things will be different. Come the 2014 countdown I’ll be on a beach in Unawatuna, a wee coastal town in Sri Lanka that is (approximately) 5550 miles from home.
It feels almost a little rebellious to be away from family and friends over the festive period, but I reckon I’ve got a pretty good excuse. 2013 has been a bit of a whirlwind. It’s been full of big changes (a new job, a big break-up, a much-loved home on the market), and so, an adventure was definitely needed.
I know what I’ll miss at midnight. Fireworks over the castle. Being surrounded by thousands of merry folk, who can’t quite remember the words to ‘Auld Lang Syne’, but give it their best go. Drinking whisky out of a thermos flask. The inevitable Proclaimers singalong. But instead of that, well, I’ll have sand under my toes and one of my best pals by my side. The next morning I’ll wake up to sunshine and palm trees. And then whatever new adventures 2014 brings can begin.’
The Soul Seeker
Nick Loening, 50, owner of ecoYoga,
‘This year at Hogmanay I’m likely to be found sitting around a bonfire outside (weather permitting) with some mulled wine in hand, at our yoga centre near Kilmartin in Argyll. It will be a relaxed, spontaneous affair, and far removed from the bustle of the big city. We’ll have done some yoga earlier in the day, eaten some tasty, organic Middle Eastern, Ottolenghi-inspired food and hopefully be ready to take on a new year. I lived in a big city for over 30 years before moving to Argyll a few years ago with my family, and now we offer others the chance to get away and escape over New Year and enjoy what we have to offer with us. People who come here tend to be those who have experienced and enjoyed yoga before, or those who are total beginners: both like the idea of getting away from it all over the festive period. On New Year’s Day, we’ll head out for a walk on the beach and hopefully bring in 2014 feeling inspired about what’s to come.’
The Charity Worker
Claire Gibson, 34, chief executive at Streetwork,
‘I’ve been working for Streetwork for four years, and the one thing I know is that homelessness and a need to help others doesn’t stop because it’s the holidays, whether it’s Easter, Christmas or Hogmanay. This New Year, I’ll be on call. I’m by no means at the coal face, like some of my colleagues who will be going out on to the streets at Hogmanay to offer support, but my job is as a safety net, really: I’m there to give advice for the more complex cases that might emerge. For many who work here, it’s not a profession – it’s a vocation. Our job is to reach out to those at risk on the street. We don’t wait for people to come out to us. People are on the streets for so many different reasons, whether it be rough sleeping, street begging, addiction or an involvement in sex work. Homelessness is not just about a bed – it’s about circumstances, whether they be mental, physical or emotional.
We need people to know that 24 hours a day, seven days a week we are here: we don’t close our doors. The fact that it’s Hogmanay makes no difference. If anything, this time of year brings into sharper focus why everyone here, including me, does what they do. I’m very proud of that.’