Lieutenant Colonel Eastman blogs once more from Afghanistan, as a New Year approaches.
My final blog of 2010, and it has been one of those years in my military career when my family has unfortunately had to suffer my absence for the majority of the year. March saw me deploy to Canada for three months on exercise with my Battalion. Between June and August I spent most of my time back in the UK training for the deployment to Afghanistan, before finally departing on operations in September.
Fortunately, my R&R (Rest and Recuperation) is fast approaching, and in the second week of January I will be making the long journey back to Fallingbostel in North Germany for two weeks with my family. It seems almost unimaginable at the moment; when you are separated for this length of time you feel as though you are in another world and it can be quite strange re-immersing yourself back into the home environment. My wife and children will have developed a set routine, and everything will be functioning very well without me there, and then I will come home with my blundering size 8s and upset everything! Then two weeks later I will disappear again, leaving my wife to pick up the pieces.
Don’t get me wrong, we are all desperate to see each other, and we will have a wonderful time during the period that I am home, but we have learnt over many periods of separation to give ourselves time to get to know each other again, and not to upset the routine too much so that when I do leave, the children do not suffer unduly.
Before I go home, though, we still have New Year’s Eve to come, and as we have two Scottish Battalions with us here in Lashkar Gah I suspect that there will be plenty of Hogmanay celebrations for those not out on patrol (albeit without any alcohol!) Luckily, the locals are big fans of the bagpipes so they shouldn’t mind the noise too much. Of course, they may be wondering what the fuss is all about as it is still the year 1389 in Afghanistan and New Year’s Eve isn’t until 21st March on our calendar.
We were fortunate enough to have an embedded BBC journalist with us for Christmas Day, as well as a Reuters Photographer, so making sure that our Christmas activities reached home was relatively straightforward. We have no media with us over the New Year period, so once again I will be masquerading as a (somewhat sub-standard) journalist and taking our broadcast camera across to the Royal Highland Fusiliers and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to get some footage of their celebrations for the TV channels back home. I’m sure that I have said this before, but I must admit that this was not something that I envisaged I would be doing when I joined the Army all those years ago!
I wish you all the very best for the coming year.