ELECTIONS are the the slowest of processes and yet the speediest.

During the long weeks of campaigning days merge seamlessly into weeks as campaign workers brave the icy winds to chap doors and engage with voters.

Winter elections have special challenges; can you ring people's doorbells after dark?

Does it seem rude – or thoughtless – if the householder is old, and forced to come stand at an open door with draughts shooting down their hallway?

Choices. But as a journalist who has worked in some nasty dictatorships – Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Belarus to name but two – I'm always struck by how glorious it is that in Scotland we have a flourishing multi-party democracy, and are able to come to one another's doors and debate the issues of the day with civility and in safety.

We owe our rights to the generations before us, who fought and died for our democracy.

Election day passes in a flash. I spent it driving round our huge, beautiful constituency thanking elections workers and officials who were monitoring the count.

I sensed momentum. Turn out was brisk. People had been queuing for polling stations to open. I didn't think that would be to vote for Boris Johnson.

And so it proved. When polls closed and the stacks of ballot papers were tipped on to counting tables it became clear we'd won, and with a healthy majority.

While the Conservatives had swept to victory south of the Border, Scotland had sent "Nicola a message" as requested. Westminster would have to listen.

Candidates learn their fate before anyone else in the room. The Returning Officer summons us into a huddle, hands are shaken, and then it's time for the stage and declaration.

As someone who has known both election victory and defeat, I was acutely aware of how personally painful the process would be for my opponent who was losing his seat.

I knew too how his staff must be feeling facing redundancy just before Christmas. Politics is a brutal business.

With little sleep, the new SNP MPs found ourselves meeting the press at the glorious V&A building in Dundee. There were hugs and shared campaign stories before a dash home and a flight down to London.

As a returning MP and political journalist I know Westminster well. But for many of my new colleagues there are seemingly impenetrable rules.

Men can't carry bags into the Chamber but women can.

Clapping isn't permitted – except when it is.

Friends across the political spectrum aren't allowed to sit together in the tea rooms.

And while you can read the Alloa Advertiser online on your iPad, you can't read the print version in the chamber. That makes Mr Speaker bellow – no one seems to know why.

As I write I'm back down in London ready for the first day back after the Christmas holidays

But I still have no office nor desk. I've no phone for private constituency business.

But I do have a cloak peg and sword hook. En garde Westminster.