Thursday, 31 December 2009

The roads we travel

It's that time of year when everyone seems to be looking back at what's been and making plans and promises for the future. So I thought I'd join in too.

As many of my friends will know, 2009 has been somewhat of an eventful year for me. To be honest I'm hoping for a quieter time in 2010.

But in terms of a review, in 2009 I have:-

  • become single
  • moved house
  • lost and gained a job
  • got a new boss
  • cried at the funeral of a friend
  • been admitted to hospital as an emergency
  • said goodbye to my feline companion of the last 17 years
  • been on TV
  • learned to snowboard and cross country ski (both after a fashion!)
  • spent more weeks with my sister in one year than the last 10 put together (and enjoyed them!)
  • made new friends and rediscovered old ones
I've also:-
  • climbed a grade 6b (indoors, outdoors perhaps next year?)
  • lost weight and got fit
  • lost more weight and got ill
  • put back on all the weight I lost in the first place
  • started walking to work
  • remembered that I like cooking
  • travelled on a steam train and a paddle steamer
  • laughed till I cried
  • cried more than is good
  • developed crows' feet round my eyes
  • survived rumour and gossip
  • bought a designer suit
  • treated my sister to a girls' day out
  • discovered Wii Fit and Singstar
I've learned:-
  • that good friends are worth their weight in gold
  • too much stress can make you physically ill (see hospital admission above!)
  • being alone isn't the same as being lonely
  • there is such a state as "too thin"
  • being single at 40+ is harder than at 30
  • exercise does make you feel better
  • laughing at good jokes (or even bad ones) is good for the soul
I also know:-
  • how to make a Cosmopolitan
  • how to put on mascara properly (on the top and bottom of the lash)
  • much more about climate change, sustainability and peak oil
  • to look up more and see what there is above eye height
  • that being an Aunty is a great job
  • that my sister is one of my best friends
And as for 2010, my main aim is to have quieter time, and hopefully to be less high maintenance for my friends (thanks guys, for all your help and support this year). I also resolve to:-
  • live life
  • laugh more
  • never act my age
  • take more risks
  • be as good a friend to others as mine have been to me
In fact, this pretty much sums it up. I don't want to look back later in life and wish it had been different.

See you next year.

If I had my life to Live Over - Nadine Stair

I'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
I'd relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I'm one of those people who live
sensibly and sanely hour after hour,
day after day.

Oh, I've had my moments,
And if I had it to do over again,
I'd have more of them.
In fact, I'd try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I've been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat
and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Winter sports adventures

While we haven't got any snow at the house, this was what we had up at Cypress Mountain on Boxing Day. Plenty of snow on the cross country trails, and as you can see, brilliant crisp sunlight too. Definitely my favourite kind of weather.

We were there again last night for the Jack Rabbits Lantern Night Ski. No sunshine, but plenty of atmospheric candle light from the IKEA lanterns all down the sides of a couple of trails. It was really beautiful and actually not too cold for a winter night in Canada.

Unfortunately I managed to prove that the only way I can do a black run, whether it's downhill or cross country, is on my bum - some very inelegant skiing and a sore behind this morning as proof!

Cross country skiing was winter sport number 3 for me this holiday - downhill skiing at Whistler being number 1 and skating being number 2. I'm keeping fairly active this holiday, but sadly I suspect not enough to keep the pounds from creeping on as a result of my sister's excellent cooking and baking skills.

And looking out of the window now, it looks like the rain might just be trying to turn to sleet. Hopefully anytime soon it will evolve into snow (particularly now that we don't really need to go anywhere!).

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Self assembly

Mr Ebb and I spent a delightful afternoon yesterday bonding as in-laws over the assembly of a garden bench my sister had sadistically procured for Christmas.

I can safely say we now know each piece intimately, having put it together and taken it apart on a number of occasions, the precise number of which we have sworn a pact never to reveal. In time honoured self assembly style, the instructions were far from clear, petering out at crucial moments and missing out some steps altogether.

By the end of the evening we had a mostly complete bench, which as you can see my sister rescued in the morning. In keeping with the family tradition, Mummy was indeed able to 'fix it with glue' (and power tools).

Monday, 28 December 2009

The finished article

(For the 'work in progress' pic of this piece, see Have Yarn, Will Travel!) And by finished article or work in progress I mean, of course, the jumper rather than my sister.

The jumper was crocheted using a Mission Falls pattern (but not yarn) and was a Christmas present for my big sister in Canada.

Actually it was all a bit 'coals to Newcastle' since my sister is pretty much a yarn expert and the materials were bought at her local yarn shop, Black Sheep Yarns, on my last visit to Canada. And it was actually meant to be a birthday present in the summer but this year has been a bit manic!

Anyway, it's done now and looking pretty damn good I think.

And as for my sis, well she's just amazing as ever!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

All present and correct

I've just had a pretty special Christmas courtesy of my sister and her family. This was the scene when we finally got round to opening presents. The wee man was incredibly patient and waited until after lunch before the great unwrapping began. Not altogether without complaint but without undue drama for a 6 year old.

Apart from having no snow (which ironically there's tons of in the UK at the moment) and starting a yukky cold, the day has been wonderful.

All finished off with a Wii extravaganza this evening from which I doubt I'll ever quite recover. I'll try to post photos soon, just as quickly as I can work out how to do it with a new camera and unfamiliar computer.

Sweet dreams and happy Christmas everyone.

Friday, 25 December 2009

A Merry Christmas to all our readers

I thought I should get back to the original point of this blog and celebrate some more handmade goodies. Today's festive offering is of a less permanent variety than normal but is handmade all the same.

This is our amazing (and informative) christmas cake. It was made by my sister, inscribed by my nephew and accessorised with sweets (or candies for North American readers) by me.

True to family tradition, the icing was rock hard and has now largely disintegrated. But the cake was delicious, and even better, completely wheat free!

Another chunk anyone?

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

On the Sea to Sky

We're on our way back from Whistler after a quick pre Christmas ski mini break and decided to have a coffee stop in Squamish. This was the view from the car park.

I think I'll need a bit more practice on the climbing wall before I'm ready for the Chief!

Watch this space for some photos of the snow at Whistler.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Have yarn, will travel!

Sitting in terminal 5 at Heathrow with a couple of hours to kill. Lucky I had some portable crafting to while away the time with.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Ceramics part two

As promised, here's the output from last weekend's visit to Ceramic Experience. Two more bowls to complement the salsa pink ones I did last time, and a platter for putting things on - probably not food and not quite sure what exactly - but it looks good (she said modestly!)

And. OMG, ignore the mess in the background! (Note to self, always check the background of all photos!)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Creativity as therapy

Guess where I've been today? Yup, back to Ceramic Experience in Stirling.

I had great fun spending a decidedly wet autumn afternoon painting another pair of bowls and a rather zingy bright platter.

Watch out for photos of the finished article sometime after Tuesday.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

How to travel by train

Well, I'm on my way home now after my lovely mini break in sunny Bristol. Sadly the sun doesn't seem to be following and the sky is getting more and more grey the further north I travel.

4 hours into the journey so far with another 4 to go. I'm just about managing to stave off boredom with my knitting, a selection of magazines and food.

My eco halo is, however, gleaming!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Art for art's sake

For my last day in Bristol I decided to have a look at some culture.

First stop was Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. The very same place that ran the hugely popular Banksy exhibition this summer. Sadly it's now over but for those like me that missed it, if you keep your eyes peeled you can see some of his work in situ outside. This one is on the side of an office just down the road. I don't know if it's genuine or added to complement the exhibition but it is impressive.

Tonight, to finish my day of culture, I'm going to Bristol Old Vic. But just now I'm worshipping at the temple of mammon, otherwise known locally as Cabot's Circus.

The theatre was... well, strange. I know 6 Characters in Search of an Author is meant to be strange, but this was well wierd! I think I enjoyed it, but to be honest I'm not really that sure. Hmmm!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sunday morning

Sunshine, good coffee, yarn and the opportunity to eavesdrop other people's conversations. What more could a girl on holiday ask for?

This was my coffee stop this morning at the Watershed Arts Centre where I sat out on the terrace in the blazing Bristol sun, had breakfast and did a few more centimetres of my knitting. (In case you're wondering, I'm making a waistcoat with the yarn I got at Mcaree's in Stirling, who also sell online if you're interested!)

After that I wandered off to meet a friend of a friend who very kindly saved me from eating alone. We had a couple of really great mezze plates at the River Station restaurant, which (as the name suggests) is next to the water).

I then took the opportunity to work off lunch with a homage to my previous years in Bristol with a (longer than I remember) walk up Gloucester Road to where we used to live in Horfield. I completed the round trip by walking back to Whiteladies Road where I stopped for a beautiful pot of jasmine tea at a place I now can't remember the name of. Apparently the tea leaves were all handtied into pearls - but sadly not by the rather nice young man that served me my tea!

I was hoping to end the day with a visit to Bristol Old Vic to see 6 Characters in Search of an Author - but sadly it's not running on a Sunday, perhaps tomorrow night?

Friday, 25 September 2009

Wise words

Says it all really!

(As seen in my Bristol hotel on the way to my room)

This is the life!

Day 2 in Bristol and the sun is still shining. Today I'm rediscovering Clifton and Whiteladies Road.

So far, so good!

The cafe was a nice little spot I found before heading off into the wilds of Durdham and Clifton Downs. The only place you can say, I'm up in the Downs!

I wandered around until I found the Clifton Suspension Bridge - one of Brunel's great Victorian civil engineering marvels for those of you not in the know, and a truly iconic bridge. After that I made my way down a really steep hill to Hotwells and across the Avon to CREATE, Bristol City Council's Records office and sustainability centre. From there I walked back through Bristol's industrial heritage and made my way back to Clifton Triangle, and the Berkley Square Hotel where I'm staying.

Sadly, my room hadn't finished being cleaned so I was 'forced' to pop across the road to Brown's Bar and Brasserie for a (large) glass of rose. It's a hard life, but somone has to live it!!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Indian summer?

Well, here I am on my much belated summer holiday. And who would have thought it, almost the end of September and I'm sitting outside having my lunch without shivering. In the UK! And without 16 layers of jumpers.

As part of my own environmental challenge, I'm having my summer holiday somewhere I didn't need to fly to get to.

So I'm here in Bristol. It's a city I haven't been to in 15 years and I must say so far I'm impressed. Although I suspect the sunshine helps.

The view in the photo is of the much regenerated harbour area, taken from the upper terrace of Mud Dock Cycle Works cafe. And very nice it is too!

The rest of the day was spent perusing Bristol's various shopping areas - St Nicholas Market, Broadmead, the spectacular new Cabot Circus & nearby Quaker's Friar, Christmas Steps and Clifton Triangle. Sore feet at the end of it all, but worth it - and mostly window shopping. I even managed to find my former favourite Bristol shop - the Guild. 101 years old this year - way to go!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Autumn is here!

So back to the yarn projects (courtesy of Macaree's).

Here's my first foray into knitting for a while. A nice slouchy hat all ready for my trip to Bristol tomorrow.

More yarn for the train journey so expect some work-in- progress pics over the next few days.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

What Sundays are made for

The final weekend of our personal Homecoming celebration was rounded off with brunch at Zingerman's on Port Street and then a stomp up Dollar glen with Nanna and Grandpa.

And the sun even shone.

What a great way to finish a fantastic visit. It definitely helped to restore my sanity this summer.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Reality TV?

I celebrated having a houseful of guests again this weekend by dragging them off to the Cartoon Club at the Tolbooth this morning. We spent a fantastic couple of hours watching classic Oliver Postgate cartoons, including the Clangers, Bagpuss and Noggin the Nog.

After that we wandered back through Stirling, stopping briefly at the barbers on Friars Street for a back to school haircut for the wee guy, and then headed out for a drive to Sheriffmuir Inn.

We finished the day with dinner at the Birds and the Bees in Causewayhead.

A good day all round!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

On the town

I have just finished having the most fabulous day out with my sister in Edinburgh. It started with a quick trot down to the train station to get the express to Edinburgh, from which mercifully the Tartan Army disembarked at Stirling - but leaving behind their empty (mostly) tins of beer.

Once through in Edinburgh we hit the shops, making Harvey Nicks our first stop. While it was supposed to be my big sister's birthday treat, I was the one that ended up splurging the cash on a Paul Smith suit. Well, half of one for now - they didn't have the trousers in my size but are "sending them up from Knightsbridge" for me. Boy, do I feel extravagant!!

I then disappeared to have my hair cut while my sister went off on her own shopping mission. Sadly she wasn't able to find the top she'd been looking for but did come back beautifully made up courtesy of the nice girls at the Benefit counter in Boots. Lunch at John Lewis was followed by coffee at Vin Caffe (I'm sure we did some shopping in between!) and then back to Harvey Nicks for our Champagne Manicure in the wild colours illustrated above. A quick visit to the MAC counter (and another make over for big sis) and then we were ready for our cocktails.

We both look hot to trot now, and more importantly, we've had fun! A highly recommended day out for girls of all ages. Well, over drinking age that is!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


In case you were wondering who my guests are, here they are.

Personally I think the bear is the most normal.

Dress up

One of the wonders of Stirling's Smith Art Gallery and Museum is the way it brings local history to life. Not only are there some great exhibits and information boards, there's also (to the great delight of my nephew) an extensive dress up box.

I'm not entirely sure what this is dress up for, but it's dead cute!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Full steam ahead

So, today we spent the afternoon on a steam train travelling round central Scotland.

It was great fun - combining my love of steam with a nostalgia trip around childhood haunts and a chance to travel on routes not normally open to the public.

I even managed to have my own Brief Encounter moment but without a dashing gentleman to help remove the cinder.

Next trip is in October to the Lake District. Anyone want to join me?

It's a nice day ...

For a white wedding!

And it was too. On my latest trip home my big sis and I went for a walk around Aberdour Castle yesterday afternoon. It was looking beautiful in the late summer sunshine and made a wonderful setting for this wedding we spied.

It was really strange being there as grown ups - everything seemed smaller and the views seemed more open. And then we realised it was just because we were tall enough to see out of the windows properly!

This afternoon's adventure is a steam train trip around Fife, along the Forth to Stirling and back. Check later blog posts for pics and stories!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

Today we ventured out to Blair Drummond Safari Park.

Unfortunately it was very very wet and we got soaked.

It was so wet in fact that one of the tigers hopped in the back of our car to dry off!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Puddings al fresco

Life's little pleasures keep on coming as my house guests continue their holiday with me.

Tonight we finished dinner (after bath time) with puddings on the back steps. Short stop as you can see was well wrapped up against the cooler evening air.

And my day at work ended with an invitation to join them for coffee in town at Beanscene, fabbest coffee shop around. What more could a girl ask for at the end of a busy day at the office?

Monday, 10 August 2009

Homes as they're meant to be!

What a fabulous scene to come home from work to!

Continuing to enjoy having my visitors to stay. It's just a shame I have to go to work really!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Looking for a shrubbery

Today we paid homage to the great Monty Python with a visit to Doune Castle, location for some of the filming of the epic Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Lots of silly singing followed, with one very confused and bemused 6 year old in tow. He religiously looked for shrubbery, rabbits, swallows and witches - but then declared he'd much rather go to Kings Park to play on the slides instead. I think Monty Python would have approved.

We did, however, see a Minstrel (who followed us round the castle, fortunately not commenting on our bravery or otherwise) and a pair of coconut shells being used!!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Natural handmade

Today's offering ... A sand castle.

Made by our own fair hands at the sandcastle competition at the Aberdour Festival. There were some amazing creations - much larger than our meagre chateau. Strangely enough, we didn't win.
But we did have fun!

It was really nice to see the beach so busy. My big sis and I used to play on the beach when we were much smaller so it was nice to be able to take my nephew down this morning and see him enjoying it just as we used to. Well, not quite as we used to - I don't remember a puppet show, loudspeakers or beach volleyball when we were young - but the sand's the same.

We went back this afternoon to see the raft race - a much more successful endeavour than the one I took part in (cough cough) 24 years ago. As I remember, that time we were dressed as babies (for some reason) and the raft only made it 10 feet from the shore before sinking and plunging us ingloriously into knee deep (cold) water! At least the 4 that were taking part this year all stayed afloat and made it round the (much longer) course.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The finished article

My fabulous big sis picked my bowls up from the ceramic painting place today. And here they are!

I can't wait to start using them. Already planning the next colour combination!
Shades of blue I think.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

All in a (Scottish) day's entertainment

Day 5 in my visitors' great Scottish holiday adventure saw a trip for us all to a genuine Scottish highland games. The trip on the train to Bridge of Allan was an added bonus I think for at least one of the party.

My sister and I enjoyed the brunch at Zingerman's too!

(And no, we didn't know pursuit cycling was a traditional Scottish sport either!!)

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Back to handmade

Today, as well as some sightseeing, we managed to fit in some craft time.

A visit to the fabulous Ceramic Experience this afternoon was very therapeutic, and even better produced 2 much needed pudding bowls for the flat.

'Finished' photos will appear some time after Monday.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Balloon models

As I said, so far this holiday we have mostly been making balloon models.

This one (in case you can't tell) is a motor bike... with a handle as all the best bikes have of course.

Other offerings include a parrot's beak (all that was left after the model burst while being made), a mutant dog, an odd looking mouse and a bunch of gametic tulips.

I don't think the local children's entertainers need to worry.

I guess it's back to work for me on Monday! Sigh.

Little people make a house into a home

All that preparation was worth it.

My visitors arrived on Tuesday and as you can see they've quickly made themselves at home!

The flat is now full of toys and laughter (and strange shaped balloon animals)
- but that's a whole different blog post for another day.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Last preparations

On the home strait now for getting the flat ready for the arrival of my long awaited visitors! Beds all changed, shopping all (nearly) done and just the last bits of cleaning still to do.

The cat is asking whether she should leave home. I've told her that as long as she stops shedding fur she's free to stay. She is packing her suitcase as we speak.

But seriously I'm so excited. Only one more night and then they're here.

Oh, and ifyou think the duvet cover in this picture is looking a bit, well melted, yes, the colours did run. I now have a pair of pretty pink pants too - not to mention pink socks, dishtowels and pillow cases. Grrr!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Summer is here!

Auntie B went shopping today and look what jumped into her shopping bag. All sorts of lovely bright meal time treats for her favourite man. I just hope he likes them.

If you look carefully you can even see there are some little ice cream dishes, all ready for homemade sundaes.

3 days and counting!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Oh ye of little faith

A quick pic just to prove to my sister that the weather is actually ok here in Scotland.

It's 7 pm and I'm sitting outside on my steps, in my shorts and enjoying the sunshine.

Unfortunately it means you have to see my pale and interesting legs to prove the point, but sometimes pursuit of the truth must push such inconveniences aside!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The fabulous Grey Goat

I just had to post a picture of the wonderful new top I just got through the mail. It's by Grey Goat on Etsy and is just so amazingly gorgeous it's not true.

Why not get one for yourself from her Etsy shop.

I wore it to work today and was the envy of all. It also goes perfectly with my new Harlot shoes posted a few days ago.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

And while we're doing entrances ...

Here's a pic of my front door.
(and those dustbins again!!)

Guided tour is now pretty much complete.


For the penultimate peek at my living accommodation, and forthcoming holiday home of my nephew, I bring you entrances.

This is the view of my hall taken from just outside the living room. To the right of the picture is the bathroom (complete with washing machine). To the extreme right is the front door (not seen). The room visible to the left is the study - or Kit's room to use it's official title.

Beyond Kit's room, the hall leads to the kitchen while directly behind the photographer is the living room and to the right of that are the main bedroom and my walk in wardrobe (yes, really!).

So now, dear viewer, you know all there is to know about my flat.

Monday, 20 July 2009

And for the fashion stalker

Look what turned up in the post today. Celebration shoes!

This means I now have 6 pairs of Hard Hearted Harlot shoes to my name.


And the one he's been waiting for!

Apparently what my nephew really wanted to see was the kitchen. So here it is.

I'm not sure why he's so interested in the kitchen (other than that's where the food will come from) but curiousity must be satisfied. I suspect he may be disappointed.

It's much smaller than what he's used to. (And what I'm used to come to think of it).

Let's put it this way. If my cat were a swinger, she would struggle in this bijoux facility.

(Outdoor entertainment zone pictures will follow in a future post)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

More tales from the inside

So having seen his sleeping accommodation for his visit to Scotland, today's offering covers the entertainment zone.

This is my living room.

Note beautiful big bay window with built in window seat. Also gorgeous fireplace with wood burning stove for the cooler evenings (like last night!).

But probably of most interest to my young stalker, tv with freeview and dvd player.

Outside entertainment zone pics in the next installment.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

For my little stalker

My 6 year old nephew who is coming to stay with me in 10 days time has demanded some pictures of the inside of my flat to go with the photo of my back yard posted earlier today.

So here we go!

For starters, this is the bedroom he'll be sharing with his mum when he comes to stay.

Watch this space for more updates tomorrow and over the next week.

And by the way, I made those curtains myself.
Plus the canvas on the bookshelf is a beautiful print from the very talented Gorjuss

My back yard

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, today's blog is a quick picture of my back yard.

Taken from the kitchen window in between rain showers and featuring my bargain table and chair set. Also visible are some of my new pots, planted up today in the rain and looking very pretty. I'm slowly disguising the concrete!

Also just visible is the hedge I tried to trim last weekend. Unfortunately as those who know me will realise, I was too short to trim the top properly and now it just looks like it's had a run in with a bad barber! Short back and sides but a bit straggly still on top!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Wild harvest

Sitting out in the back yard today and I realised that the strawberries are ripening fast.

I've already had the first three in a fruit salad. It looks like I'll be having strawberries and cream for pudding before too long.

Sadly I don't think they will last another 2 weeks until big sis and the wee one get here. All the more for me then!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Never too old to play with your food.

Since this is a creative blog, or at least is meant to be, I thought it was about time I showed you some.

So here it is - a multi media creation by a little known 71 year old artist from Scotland. Let me know what you think!

(The accusation that he just didn't want to eat it is entirely spurious.)

Monday, 29 June 2009

My new garden

Ok maybe not as big or green as the last one, but definitely more manageable!

Please excuse the rubbish bins sneaking in to the top of the pic. It's a bit difficult to get the shot without them. Unless of course I moved them and I didn't think of that!

The flowers just looked so pretty when I got in tonight that I thought a blog was called for. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Things seen from the window.

I guess it must be prom time.

I spotted this stretch Hummer driving past this afternoon. Swiftly followed by a stretch cadillac, also pink!

Summer is here!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Cat meets new garden

Today was the first day since my move that I've felt brave enough to let the girl out into the back yard.

And so far she seems quite happy.

Cat gate working ok so far too!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Jewellery as therapy

Look what I bought myself today as a cheerie up present!

Or at least past of my treat. The real gift is off being sized and will be unveiled in a week or so.

Keep watching this space (now that I've managed to re-synch my phone and blog).

PS don't my hands look old and wrinkled? Time for new hand cream I think!