Friday, 31 December 2010

Rear view

Well, it's that time of year again when it's the done thing to look back at what's been and reflect on it. Far be it for me to disappoint, so here goes...

Actually this year's reflective post has been made all the easier thanks to my best (so far) Christmas present of the year - a complete print out of my 2010 blog courtesy of my fabulous big sis. Reading through the last 12 months worth of my rambling has been an interesting experience - of which more in a moment.

But first I can't resist a short diversion into late Christmases - one of the added benefits of my Canadian Christmas visits is an extended festive season. I hoof it across to Canada, celebrate the joyous day with my sister and her family and then head back to Scotland after New Year to repeat the experience with my mum and dad. Et voila, a 3-4 week Christmas; second only to my birthday month festivities induced entirely by my lack of annual real birthdays.

But I digress. You wanted to hear about 2010. And if you didn't, you should have stopped reading by now because that's what you're about to get.

Looking back, 2010 has been a year of mixed emotions for me (again). I've had lots of fun - with great holidays in Canada, Wales and Spain as well as some great days out in and around home. I've also had some not so good days, although far less than last year mercifully. As regular readers will know, I'm still struggling at times to come to terms with being on my own.

In amongst the angst, however, I've still had time to make some new discoveries, have some fresh experiences and achieve some great things. I've:
I've also reconnected with old friends, re-learned lost skills and remembered good memories. I've also found time to focus on what is good about life, blog about some amazing people and generally be glad to be alive.

Looking back at things I commented on this time last year, I still haven't found a new feline companion or a permanent home. But on the plus side, I do still have my job - which, on the whole, isn't bad -  amazing friends, supportive family and (for the most part) my health.

For 2010 I resolved to have a quieter, less eventful time and to be less high maintenance. The former is undoubtedly true, but I'm not so sure about the latter. I think I've learned to live and laugh a bit more, to take a few more risks and to act my shoe size rather than my age just that bit more often. In short, I think I might just be picking more daisies these days!

And 2011? Well, you'll need to wait until tomorrow to find out my plans for that...

All that remains to say for 2010 is, thanks for reading my ramblings. Keep up the good work, you're all doing very well.


There's a bloke down there with no strides on!

Today's adventure was a trip to the ballet in Vancouver. We saw the Nutcracker Suite and both boys behaved themselves impeccably - although Mr Ebb did have to be consoled when we got to the end of the show and they still hadn't performed the Time Warp. Not even the Cadbury Fruit & Nut Dance would console him!

Actually it was really good fun, some amazing dancers and all in all a lovely post Christmas, pre New Year treat - all rounded off with a visit to Granville Island for dinner in the Market, yum. Much more refined than our (enjoyable if chilly) afternoon stomp round Swamp Lake at Belcarra yesterday (for more pictures of which, check out my Flickr page).

Oh, and we finally finished the turkey today too.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

I get by...

... with a lot of help from my friends.

If you've been reading my blog over the last few days, you'll know I'm back in Canada for Christmas. And having a lovely time with my big sister and her family. And it's been made extra special by the addition of a friend from elsewhere in the Pacific North West to the PoMo madhouse that is home for this couple of weeks. Sadly she had to go home today but we had a great time while she was here and it got me to thinking about all the amazing friends (of all shapes, sizes and types) I am lucky enough to have.

I have 'real-life' friends that I see regularly (and sadly not so regularly) - both new and old. I have rediscovered friends that I thought I'd lost touch but with but am slowly reconnecting with. I have work friends and play friends. I have virtual friends that I've never met but feel like I've known forever. I have family who are friends. I have many many friends.

And what they all have in common is that they're there for me - in reality, virtually, at the end of a phone, electronically - whenever I need them, sometimes when I don't even realise yet that I need them. Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I am truly grateful for the friends I have, for the support they give me and for the joy they bring. Hopefully they don't feel it's all a one-way street. I sometimes worry that it might feel like that, but then again, I guess they wouldn't still be hanging around if they thought it was, would they?

So, thank you Frances for a fantastic addition to my already special holiday. Thank you big sis for inviting her to join us. Thank you all my friends for always being there for me. I really hope you don't find yourselves in the position where I need to return the favour, but if you do, I only hope I can be there for you as much and as well as you've been here for me. I love you guys.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

And now for something completely different...

Guess what? It snowed overnight here and, even though I'd already had about a month of it before I left the UK, I was (am) still so excited!! There's not a huge amount and it's melting fast, but it was snow and that's what counts.

There was even more snow yesterday evening when we visited Cypress Mountain for the Jackrabbit's annual Lantern Ski night - cross country skiing on the night time trails with some additional ones lit by candle lanterns. Very beautiful if the conditions are right, but also very icy and hard work if they're not. Last year was the latter but this year was almost perfect. There'd been fresh snow and the trails were newly groomed, the night was clear and dry and while there were quite a few people out, it wasn't too busy.

And even better, I only fell over once and managed to get down (in one place and upright) the Roller Coaster slope that completely flummoxed me last year!

Earlier in the day we introduced our house guest (I consider myself a regular enough visitor to claim partial ownership of the houseguests by now!) another couple of the obligatory PoMo traditions - bottling wine and a quick walk on the Inlet Trail.

Of such things are relaxing family holidays made - and I love it. Thanks big sis xxx

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Wild horses

Yesterday saw the first visit Outside since arriving in Canada - and it feels almost like the first outing since catching flu at the start of December. Apart from the brief walk from the terminal to the car park at Vancouver Airport and then a very brief stomp outdoors on Boxing Day to help Frances carry her luggage in from the car, today was the first day of breathing fresh air since Friday morning! And we did it in style.

Having been coming to PoMo for a few years now, the trips out now have a lovely comforting routine to them. Vancouver Aquarium, Fort Langley, (trendy) Newport Village, Metropolis and yesterday's destination, Burnaby Village Heritage Museum. (Today are another couple of old faithfuls - Cypress Mountain for cross country skiing and wine bottling at the Wine Shop!) Don't get me wrong, I'm not bored with any of them - far from it. There is something very homely and relaxing about visiting familiar sites.

The company always makes it special too. Yesterday, as well as the little person we were joined by Frances, our visitor for the week. I think she enjoyed it as much as we did and it was great to see it through new eyes.

The other difference with this visit was the holiday theme. I've been at Halloween before when they do all sorts of ghostie things, but never at Christmas. So yesterday, in the seasonal Pacific Wet Coast rain, we did the Christmas Scavenger Hunt, marvelled at the 1920s Christmas decorations and huddled inside the various houses marvelling at how warm the stoves could make the place!

And to finish off the trip in proper style, we all had a ride on the carousel. Great fun.

I even had time to nip into the chemist while I was there and pick up some potions to help us with our Turkey Challenge for the rest of December.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Canadian style

Having finally got round to downloading some photos from my camera, I can now share with you some images of Christmas Canadian style.

Like most families around the globe it was spent opening presents:




Spending quality time together as a family:

And sleeping:

All great fun. Thanks big sis xxx

Sunday, 26 December 2010

And a merry Christmas, one and all

Ok, I confess. It's not the Christmas tree we celebrated the great present ripping open festival in front of yesterday but since I haven't managed to upload any of yesterday's photos yet, this one will need to do for now. Check my Flickr page in due course for the pics. 
But even without the visuals, picture the scene. Small boy, mound of presents - 5 minutes later, small boy, mound of wrapping paper. A great time was had by all!

To be fair, the little person was actually very self disciplined - he waited until after we had eaten ourselves to a stand still, Christmas lunch before the great present opening could begin, and with only a very limited amount of grousing. The wrapping paper was deposited in the recycling box as presents were unwrapped and there was even a cursory glance at the unwrapped goodie before moving on to the next offering. And that was just my brother in law! (Heh, heh!)

So, if present opening was the highlight for the boy, what did the day mean for the rest of us? From my now somewhat fuzzy memory of the day, it seemed to involve lots of food and a modicum shed load of alcohol. If I ever see turkey again it will be too soon. Darn, my sister has just informed me that we have enough to do until I head back to the UK - turkey breakfast waffle anyone? 

Other than trying to avoid food then, what does today hold in store for your intrepid correspondent? Well, the festivities continue apace with our latest visitor due to arrive at lunchtime. Apparently she's going to text when she makes it across the border - running from the law, or is it the turducken? Little does she know that more (much more!) awaits her here!!

Anyway, hope everyone had a great day yesterday and is having a fun day today. Judging by the Facebook updates it seems like it. Let the merriment continue. 

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Travelling hopefully

Well, they do say it's better to travel hopefully than to arrive, but for once I was much more interested in arriving. After the weather related travel problems the UK has been having for the past few weeks, I wasn't at all sure I would get away for my Christmas break in Canada. But I did - and in a relatively hassle free style too! Apart from the slight (?!) tension of a 90 minute delay leaving Edinburgh, resulting in a very finely cut connection at Heathrow, my journey to Vancouver went without a hitch. Even arriving at Vancouver airport 3 minutes early, sailing through Immigration with no queue and being reunited with my bags at the luggage carousel. Truly amazing.

A short stroll brought me to arrivals, to be reunited with my sister and her family. The sheer joy of being greeted by a half pint sized hug was only slightly diminshed when my sister informed me that my nephew's comment on being hoisted over the barrier for the traditional Welcome to Canada hug was "Why is it always me that has to do this?". I don't know, seven and a half going on 13 - I thought I had a couple more years at least before the teenage angst set in. Oh well, time flies I guess.

The other sheer joy about being away (apart of course from seeing my big sister) is the novelty of running water. Having endured, freezing temperatures, snow, ice, flu and a horrible cold/cough so far this month, to end it all on Thursday my mains water supply decided to freeze up, leaving me with no water supply at all to the flat. Fortunately I have great friends, who gave me coffee first thing, and very tolerant neighbours who let me have a shower at their house and gave me buckets of water to re-fill the toilet cistern. Fortunately I also still have my car so I was able to make an emergency visit to the supermarket for bottled water. I must have been the only person in the entire shop not buying turkey, vegetables or chocolates.

So anyway, I survived and I've made it to my Pacific Coast retreat. All that's left to do now is relax, recover from jet lag, eat lots and watch the little person enjoy Christmas. Bliss!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Must be that time of year again!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

On being ill

"The Land of Counterpane"

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

Sadly being ill as an adult isn't anywhere near as much fun, particularly when you have to get all your own treats, meals, necessities etc. 
But you'll be pleased to hear I'm feeling much better now. I even managed to get outside today - and see the Ice Palace that I'm living in at the moment!! A little bit more progress everyday, by the weekend I might even be able to make it up town for a coffee and some gentle Christmas shopping. 

Finally, a big thanks to all my family and friends for rallying round while I was ill - both virtual and real rallying equally appreciated and cherished!!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Normal(ish) service will be resumed shortly

I apologise to my readers for the lack of posts recently. This hasn't, in fact, been due to heavy snowfall - although it has been heavy and persistent for Scotland at this time of year.

No, I've had flu and today is the first day since Wednesday I've managed to stay vertical for more than 10 minutes at a time. I kid you not. This was the real deal, knock you to the ground and punch you in the stomach flu. And stomp on you with big tackety boots while you're there flu!

So for the time being, here's a pretty flower to look at.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snow inspired

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

And it has!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Her father's daughter

Well, the snow arrived this weekend. Fortunately for me, not so early that I couldn't make it through to my mum and dad's for the weekend. And not enough to cause me to get stuck there. But enough to make the drive home ... interesting!
So having made it back to Stirling what's the first thing I did after sweeping the steps and unloading the car? Warm cup of tea? Light a fire? Make some soup?

No, none of those. I built a snowman of course! I truly am my father's daughter. And proud of it.

So, duty done now it's time to settle down with tea, fire, dvd and not venture out again until work forces me tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Chilly here but no real snow yet. Just an icing sugar dusting on the hills this morning, and some half hearted flurries first thing.

More cold weather forecast so perhaps some proper winter wonderland before too long.

Call me a big kid but I've always loved winter best. And snow most of all!

Monday, 22 November 2010

What If

If you can keep your money when governments about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust your neighbour when they trust not you
And they be very nosy too;
If you can await the warm delights of summer
Then summer comes and goes with sun not seen,
And pay so much for drinking water
Knowing that the water is unclean.

If you seek peace in times of war creation,
And you can see that oil merchants are to blame,
If you can meet a pimp or politician,
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you cannot bear dis-united nations
And you think this new world order is a trick,
If you've ever tried to build good race relations,
And watch bad policing mess your work up quick.

If you can make one heap of all your savings
And risk buying a small house and plot,
Then sit back and watch the economy inflating
Then have to deal with the negative equity you've got;
If you can force your mind and body to continue
When all the social services have gone,
If you struggle on when there is nothing in you,
Except the knowledge that justice can be wrong.

If you can speak the truth to common people
Or walk with Kings and Queens and live no lie,
If you can see how power can be evil
And know that every censor is a spy;
If you can fill an unforgiving lifetime
With years of working hard to make ends meet,
You may not be wealthy but I am sure you will find
That you can hold your head high as you walk the streets.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

34 days and counting - apparently

Well, the festive season is well and truly on us I guess. Stirling switched on its Christmas lights this evening so it must be true.

And I'm valiantly trying to get organised! Amazingly I have actually bought a couple of presents but for the vast majority the furtherest I've got so far is to start a list!

Oh well, 33 days to get organised I suppose!

PS a big shout out today for Kerr and Laura who definitely went above and beyond the call of duty to prance around Stirling City centre today dressed very fetchingly as elves to publicise the lights switch on!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Cooking up a storm

As regular readers of my blog will now, I really enjoy cooking. It's one of my relaxations. Amazingly, after a tough day or week at work, I really do find comfort and calm from messing about in my kitchen and rustling up something to eat from whatever I can lay my hands on.

I must confess, however, I had got myself into a bit of a rut. Same old favourite recipes time after time. Last year, partly in celebration at being able to cook pretty much whatever I liked now that I was only catering for one and partly to get myself out of my rut, I started trying out new recipes again. I joined the local library with the express purpose of getting out cookery books and my Mum bought me a subscription to the fabulous Delicious magazine. And since then, I've been cooking up a storm.

There is something wonderful about creating your own food. One of my favourite things (yes, I'm that sad) is to do a whole batch of cooking, eat what I can manage that night and then divide the rest up into portions for the freezer. Sadly, what I'm not so good at doing is labelling what I've made so defrosted meals can sometimes be a bit of a voyage of discovery!

Probably another reason I do so much of my own cooking is that I have a food allergy - I can't tolerate much wheat. And I've found that the safest way to know that your food is allergen free is to choose and combine the ingredients yourself. It's amazing how much stuff wheat gets hidden in and unless you can be bothered to spend time reading ALL the labels, it really is quicker - and more fun - to make it from scratch yourself.

(Incidentally, if you love cooking too and haven't yet watched the film Julie and Julia, it's a must. Even if you don't love cooking, you'll probably love the film. Highly recommended.)

But there is one thing about cooking that I just can't stand - and that's the washing up! Sadly it's always there, waiting, lurking, doing it's best to spoil an otherwise joyful experience. In a kitchen as small as mine, there's no room for a mechanical dishwasher, and try as I might I just haven't managed to secure a replacement human one yet either!!

But still, it's not enough to spoil the Joy of Cooking altogether, and for the timebeing I'm quite happy to take the rough with the smooth and soldier on.

And if you're wondering, the dishes above are (respectively) Tray Baked Asian Crusted Salmon - with fillets bought from our local Farmers Market, yum; Asparagus and Spinach Quiche; and Gourmet Mushroom Pies, complete with homemade Rough Puff (gluten free) pastry.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Being a Quaker, I'm no big fan of military events, churches or pomp and ceremony, but I must admit today I was honoured to be part of our local Remembrance ceremony and lay a wreath on behalf of my work.

"When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today." 

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Being big

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
Nelson Mandela, 1994
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

No, it's not a blog post about weight or diet, or even about height. Other than perhaps in a metaphorical sense. This is a follow up to a couple of conversations I've had this week that have really got me thinking. 

The first was a discussion about power and abuse of power at a leadership development session I attended earlier in the week. Mostly when we talk about abuse of power, we tend to think about how people exercise a power to the detriment of those around them - but it's equally an abuse if the exercise of power (or perhaps talent?) is witheld. When inaction leads to less than satisfactory outcomes, the sins of omission and not just commision. 

The second was a very deep and philosophical discussion last night after half a bottle of bubbly with a good friend, about the moral imperative to 'be big', to stand up and be counted, to use and share your talents for the greater good, as well as for your own sanity and self worth.

And while both of these have got me thinking, I'm not quite sure where they're taking me. I blogged previously about the importance of being who you are, and allowing, encouraging others to be who they are too. It was also a post about coming to terms with who you are and embracing it. What I'm now starting to think about is whether or not I use the talents that I have to the best of my abilities and to the greater good (oh dear, that sounds really pompous but as someone who strongly believes in public value and the importance of having a moral purpose, that's a real driving force for me). 

No conclusions yet but a different set of thoughts to follow for a while. If I get anywhere I'll share it with you, in the meantime, feel free to ponder on this set of issues and decide for yourself whether it's a challenge you want to take on/are already taking on. 

"Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."
Matthew 5:15 

Birds of a feather ...

Flock together.

What better way to end the week than 2 rounds of fun times with good friends?

Round 1: coffee and chat with friends at work instead of the 'serious' meeting we were supposed to have.

Round 2: champagne, food and gossip with another friend.

And in between, the opportunity to present awards for achievement to some very special people whose endeavours put me to shame.

What a great start to the weekend!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Euphemistically yours

A euphemism is (according to Wikipedia), a:

"substitution for an expression that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the receiver, using instead an agreeable or less offensive expression"
According to the less reverent (if that's the opposite of irreverent - incidentally, one of my unique qualities according to my boss. Hmm, not sure about that as a good reference comment!) Urban Dictionary, it's also variously defined as:

"the substitution of a milder, vaguer word or expression for one considered to be offensive or unpleasant"
"trying to make the mean things you say sound nicer by using different words"
As in, Let's be friends instead of, You're kidding, not even with a paper bag on your head!

Some of my favourite euphemisms are
  • 'falling pregnant' - which makes it sound like you can just trip in the street and whoops, there you go, pregnant again (or with child if you prefer). You could always be expecting or have a bun in the oven instead.
  • tired and emotional - sounds so much better than p*ssed. Thank you, Private Eye!
  • sleeping with - although it's a bit of a dim memory at the moment, I seem to remember, if it's at all worthwhile, not a lot of sleeping gets done. 
  • calling on Huey, or for my non-Scottish readers, talking to God on the great white telephone, losing your lunch, or (apparently) blowing chunks. 
  • Gardening leave
What about you? Any particular favourites you want to share?

But be warned, if you feel like doing a Google search for some choice examples and are of a delicate disposition, don't! Perhaps not unsurprisingly most of the euphemisms relate to matters of a sexual nature, or indeed intimate bodily functions (she said euphemistically!). On the other hand, if you want to broaden your education, go ahead, have fun with Google!!

Friday, 5 November 2010

They were all yellow

Well, it was another grey, wet and rainy day today. But, do you know what? Not for me it wasn't.

I had the same weather as everyone else of course, but I decided it wasn't going to get to me. And I don't mean, get to me in the same way as it got to me yesterday as I struggled home from Edinburgh up the Royal Mile in the pouring rain and then home from Stirling station in the torrential downpour that graced central Scotland yesterday evening.

No, I mean get to me as in make me grumpy and sad. All I had to do was look out of my window at this ray of light and my heart lifted. That, and the fact that it was Friday and my day started well, I had time for lunch (even if I did have to sit on my own) and I also had time (and company) for coffee.

I may only have got one thing done. It may have rained most of the day. I may not have been invited to a firework party this evening. I may be super exhausted. I may have had some grumpy moments.

But, on the whole, life is good. And that's good enough for me.

After all, look how they shine for you. And all the things that you do.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A poem lovely as a tree

Waiting to go
all the leaves want to go
though they have achieved
their kingly robes.

Weary of colours,
they think of black earth,
they think of
white snow.

Stealthily, delicately
as a safebreaker
they unlock themselves
from branches.

And from their royal towers
they sift silently down
to become part of
the proleteriat of mud.

(Autumn, Norman MacCaig)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Routes to work

Can I just say,  isn't this a great sight to see on my way to work?

Unfortunately the photo doesn't really do the colours justice. But suffice to say, I walked on a golden carpet to work today!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Happy Monday/Blue Monday

Rainbow over the Craigs roundabout

Well, apparently yesterday was the most depressing day of the year here in the UK - the day after the clocks change for the end of British Summer Time, when the evenings start getting really dark, the weather gets cold and wet and even the golden leaves of autumn start disappearing. 

After a gorgeous start to the day, even the weather seemed to have had enough with the early sunshine soon overtaken by wave upon wave of heavy wet rain.

(By the way, for interested readers, while popular fiction is that the Inuit language has several hundred words for snow, I firmly believe that we have far more words for rain here in Scotland - and for the same metereological reason as the Inuit and snow - there's just so damn much of it!!)

My mood decided to try to follow suit. I was heading for a depression of a similar magnitude to the one undoubtedly causing our lovely 1st November weather, when I remembered only the day before I had given in to silliness - and whilst baking a tasty (but not particularly attractive) pear and ginger cake I'd finally got round to listening to my new Monty Python Sings album (thanks Frances for the idea!).

I mean, I ask you - who could ever remain depressed and at the same time listen to such classics as Every Sperm is Sacred, I Like Chinese and Knights of the Round Table? If you're not laughing out loud, you're wondering how on earth they got away with lyrics like those!

PS The photo wasn't taken yesterday - the rain was much heavier than that and there were definitely no rainbows - but I like the pic, and it's especially for my good friend Kitty - the cheeriest person I know - and her rainbow project.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

That time of the year

Halloween, Day of the Dead, Samhain - call it what you like, it's very definitely that time of the year again. The time when the nights start getting much darker, days of fog or frost, leaves falling off trees, smoke in the air and gloves, hats and scarves all round.

This morning, after the clocks went back for the end of British Summer Time (possibly for the last time?), Halloween kicked off to a gloriously autumnal foggy start. Before too long, the sun starting breaking through and we were set for one of the fabulous 'tail end of the year' days. No more inspiration was required - before heading off for my tango class I managed a quick walk round Stirling and caught some beautifully atmospheric shots with my camera. Wreathed in mist, with the reds and golds of the falling leaves competing with the last shoots of green, the city looked so pretty - I swear there is nowhere better on days like this.

What do you think?

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Laugh, and the world laughs with you

I was reminded of this classic by a friend on Facebook tonight. And it really took me back, and made me laugh out loud. In fact I've spent the latter part of the evening on YouTube finding clips.

For those who don't know, this is just a very small clip from the late 1980s/early 1990s comedy show, The Mary Whitehouse Experience. Not to be confused with the real Mary Whitehouse, who most definitely would NOT have approved of said show.

I laughed so much I bought the show (on eBay) to paraphrase that old advert - and a prize to anyone who can tell me what the advert was for.

Anyway, thanks Emma for leading me back to the joys of Messrs Baddiel, Newman, Punt and Dennis. Guys, you were great together!

Friday, 29 October 2010

3rd time lucky?

This is the third time I've tried to crochet the sleeve for this cardigan. Hopefully this time I've got it right!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Spooky times

Today was a first for me - I received my first ever Halloween car. (Thanks Frances!) It was sat waiting for my on my doormat when I got home (late) from work tonight - all resplendent in its pumpkin orange envelope. What a treat - not just my first ever Halloween card, but a piece of lovely mail when all too often all I get is bills or circulars.

And it's reminded me that this weekend is indeed Halloween. Tomorrow is spooky Friday at work - I've promised to take in my witches' hat and wear it for at least some of the day. I also think I need to find myself something spooky to do over the course of the weekend. There's bound to be plenty on, the trick will be finding it - although probably nothing will compare with the 2 Halloweens I've spent with my nephew; one in Scotland when he was very little and somewhat bemused by the whole dressing up and guising tradition, and one in Canada when he was a bit older and which incorporated all sorts of North American Halloween festivity - pumpkins, spooky skates, trick or treating and fantastically decorated houses and yards. 

And it's also got me thinking about (and looking forward to) my next trip to see said nephew (and his mum and dad) at Christmas. Under 2 months now - tickets all booked and anticipation well in hand - on both sides of the pond!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend, readers. Feel free to share your spooky adventures with the world in the comments section!!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Midweek mini-break

I just want to say - I had a fabulous day today! By chance I'd managed to book myself a midweek day off and (having business I needed to do in Glasgow anyway) I decided to treat myself to a visit to a place I've been meaning to go to for months but never quite got round to - Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. It was just the kind of pick-me-up I was needing.

For those who don't know, the Kelvingrove is a fabulous late Victorian building, purpose built as a museum and designed to look on the outside like a Spanish church and on the inside, like an Italian palace. It followed on from 2 of the great Empire inspired International Exhibitions that were the vogue at that time and placed Glasgow on the map as (allegedly) Britain's second city. And, it truly is an amazing building in its own right, without even talking about what's inside.

I happily spent a good few hours wandering round the various exhibitions that make up the Kelvingrove collection - paintings, natural history, archaeology, sculptures and more. There were lots of amazing things to see, all laid out in a very easy to access way.

I loved it on my own level but I also think my almost 8 year old nephew would love it too and I've already got it on my list of places to visit with him when he (hopefully) is across next summer. I don't think he'll like the same things as me and his mum, but I think the viking boat, the dinosaurs, the engines and airplanes and all the hands on exhibits might just be a winner! I think he'll probably like the Phantom of the Opera style organ recital that takes place every lunchtime too!!

 From my own perspective, also a winner was the restaurant - a great range of food and - miracle of miracles! - gluten free bread for the sandwiches and an extensive menu that I could eat. I opted for burger with goats cheese and chips (fries), all washed down with a glass of red wine - and I have to say it was a great choice and added a very decadent touch to my midweek treat.

Happy days. Maybe it will help me keep with the happy faces from the Kelvingrove aerial sculpture - and away from the sad ones.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Taking (back) control

OK, I confess up front. I've been having an off few days just recently. Life as a single gal has been getting me down a bit. Quite a bit. Well, a lot really. I've been really down for some time and the last couple of weeks have been tough.

Not that many people would necessarily know. One of my traits is to 'put on a good face' in public and keep up the 'life and soul' character I tend to adopt in my everyday dealings. In part, this is about not wanting to inflict my unhappiness on other people, and in part it's pure self preservation - I can't talk about it without getting upset and the last thing I want is for people to see me too upset. Of course, there are friends that I have been a bit more open with - and some of my online buddies will be thinking, what's she talking about? She's pretty candid with us about being miserable! - but on the whole I tend to keep stuff to myself until it gets too much and I ex/implode.

But the point at which I feel I have to speak to someone about it is usually a pretty good sign that I need to get a grip. Being tearful for no reason in public is not something I enjoy, and 18 months after becoming (voluntarily) single again, it's not something that gets - or deserves, to be fair - a lot of sympathy. I am, however, blessed by amazing friends who, once they know, really go out of their way to cheer me up - and for that I am truly grateful. I only hope I'm half as good a friend to them as they are to me when/if the time ever comes.

But to get to the point of the post - I have been feeling sorry for myself recently. Struggling with being entirely on my own - left to deal with all the mishaps and daily tribulations of modern life. It's hard when you come home from a crap day at work and there's no-one there to share your pain, give you a hug and be utterly and completely on your side. It's hard waking up morning after morning on your own, when the only physical contact you get is at your dance class or the beauty salon. It's hard rocking up to events on your own and launching yourself into other people's conversations rather than stand around the edge feeling like a spare part among all the couples around you. It's hard when you feel like you're imposing on other people's lives, when you need to rely on friends for social company when you know they have so many other calls on their times. In short, it's hard being one in a world made for two.

Today at work I was researching something online* and I stumbled across a couple of quotes - the first made me think about how I come to the issues I face in my life and the degree to which I let them control me, rather than me take charge of them. It chimed with 2 conversations I've had recently with well-meaning friends but whose advice I wasn't ready to take at the time - both of them, in their separate ways, said what I need is a plan, an active approach to sorting myself out, a concerted effort on my part to fix my problems rather than waiting for the world to do it for me.

The second quote reminded me that we only get one shot at all of this, and it's far preferable to have a good time than a bad one.

Now I know it's not that easy. Just thinking doesn't actually make it so. But it can help. And being positive, thinking happy thoughts and finding joy in my every day life will all make me feel better. And if I feel better, it's much more likely that it will be better. My life, all in all, isn't really that bad - it's difficult at times but I have my health, I can afford to live, I have family and friends who love me and I am safe. When you look at it that way, I'm pretty lucky really!

So, now (if you're still awake) you're wondering what the quotes were? Number one was

"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so"

Good old Willie Shakespeare with his tragic hero and deep thinker, Hamlet (although in retrospect, perhaps not such a good role model for throwing off melancholy and tragedy!)

And number two was

"You live longer once you realise that any time spent being unhappy is wasted"

As for the photograph, I have been wallowing a bit over recent weeks!!

*If you're interested, I was researching for a discussion on deprivation and poverty that's coming up next month. I was looking for a quote that had been used at a seminar I was at the other week - which I found on a brilliant quotes website and which I've now got bookmarked at work and at home. 

But I also found a couple of other pithy comments, my favourite of which is probably

The poor we have always with us, and the purpose
of the Lord in providing the poor is to enable us
of the better classes to amuse ourselves by
investigating them and uplifting them and at dinners
telling how charitable we are. The poor don't like
it much. They have no gratitude. ...But if they are
taken firmly in hand they can be kept reasonably
dependent and interesting for years.
--Sinclair Lewis (1885—1951)
closely followed by
Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity
over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the
criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the
well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.
--Herman Melville (1819—1891)

but there were lots more too, including some challenging ones that I'll probably use. 

And the one I was looking for?

I used to think I was poor. Then they told me I was not poor, I was
needy. Then they said it was self-defeating to think I was needy;
instead, I was deprived. Then they said deprived had a bad image;
I was really underpriviledged. The they said underprivileged
was overused, I was disadvantaged. 
I still do not have a dime but I have a great vocabulary.
--Jules Feiffer