Archive for the ‘general life’ Category

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Birthdays, lunches, reading, making…but no tinsel

December 5, 2017

I am not doing it. Not yet. No sir. There will be no baubles, tinsel or elves on this blog this week. They might appear next week, but this week is strictly Christmas free. It’s not that I am being bah humbug about this, but I like to leave Christmas decorating until nearer the big day. So you’ll not be finding Christmas decs up at my house just now…that’s a job for this weekend or maybe next week.

So how are you? Hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve been really busy over the last couple of weeks with social events galore. I have barely been in. Last month, there were five family birthdays and four practically family (but not blood or marriage related) birthdays (ie close friends) to celebrate, including my own and the boy’s. Most recently me and the kids were at an 18th party at my friend’s house. Her daughter, who is just lovely and I wish I could adopt her, turned 18 and there was a big family bash. It was a great night. I thoroughly enjoyed it although I partook of too much wine and suffered for it the next day. Happy birthday E…have a great party weekend with your friends this weekend.

I’ve also been lunching and that’s thrown my diet right out of the window so have decided to ditch it until after Christmas when, I hope, my new kitchen may be usable. Talking of that, the extension has been going on good guns: the roof is on, the windows in and they are doing the insulation as I write. Am so excited. It’s already looking amazing.

Other big news and DarkIsle is now available in a special 10th anniversary edition. So go and buy it now. If you know me personally I will be happy to sign it for you.

Also want to give a wee mention to my Uncle Ian who sadly died this month. He was a lovely man, an ex Glasgow policeman who was full of good humour and a brilliant mimic. He will be missed.

What else have I been up to? I’ve been knitting away for my new Etsy shop called CosyCosy Studio (link is here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CosyCosyStudio?ref=shop_sugg). I’ve only got a few things on there just now, but will be adding to it. Would appreciate genuine and helpful feedback on my products if you have the time.  At the moment, there are some hand knitted lap blankets and hand-made cards, but I have some scarves to add this weekend. Am just about to add the lining to them and then they will be ready. The first is a hand knitted yellow Alpaca lap blanket, the second a hand knitted green basket weave pattern blanket and the hand stamped and hand painted Three Kings Christmas card.

Books I have been reading over the last couple of weeks include Ruth Goodman’s How to Be a Tudor (am right into the Tudor era at  the moment) and Alexander Langland’s Craeft. Both of them you may know from the Tudor Farm, Wartime Farm etc programmes (which I love). Ruth, in particular, is a lively and interesting writing and I’ve read books of hers before. This is the first time I’ve read anything of Alex’s and I’m enjoying it too. Hers is about – surprise surprise – ordinary folk in the Tudor era and his is about lost crafts. Loving reading both.

If you are wondering about the photos used in this blog today, they were taken before 9am on various mornings over the past week except for the last one, which was an afternoon pick a few weeks ago. I love the autumn colours and the blue skies. If you look carefully at the pics you’ll see three wee dogs running around having fun. The pics were taken on our daily walks around the River Clyde area where we live. They love it, I love it. Even when it’s freezing cold, it’s great to get out into the fresh air and enjoy the views of the river.

Right I am going to finish up here and wish you adieu until next time!

Dawn xxx

My favourite pic from the last couple of weeks:

 

 

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Meh

November 1, 2017

Hello everyone. How’s things? Hope you’re all well.  Well it’s another miserable day in the west of Scotland today, much to our pug’s disgust. Our Bonya, who has to be prised out of bed most mornings to go on our morning walk, decided she would not walk in the rain (it was only spitting, not too bad), but would stand still in the park, watch us walk around the park and then rejoin us when we were leaving (we had to walk by her). She’s such a lazy wee thing at times. She’ll be back on the lead on the next walk and made to walk, she needs the exercise.

This week has been a bit depressing because we developed two leaks in the kitchen ceiling. The plumber thinks it’s coming from the shower or possibly the enclosed sink unit. Anyway, he’s coming back to rip some things out so he can have a proper look. Meanwhile I have a large hole in my kitchen ceiling which I’ll have to live with until the builders start doing that part of our extension project. Sigh. My house feels like it’s falling apart at the moment. At least by early next year I should have my new extension (I hope…I say this because the extension doesn’t seem to be going at a fast rate, quite the opposite).

Anyway, enough of my woes. This week we’ve had guising for Halloween (last night, me and the boy and some of his friends and a couple of other mums), my parents’ dog Winston to stay while they are on holiday (they are home today, we will miss him) and I’ve finished my biog of Bess of Hardwick. I am now on to reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which I’ve only just started but am already enjoying. I saw the film, so the Cheryl in my book is Reece Witherspoon. Read the part where her mother dies of cancer this morning and it brought back a lot of memories. However, the rest of the book should be enjoyable and hopefully uplifting.

Spent most of yesterday cleaning the house and sorting things.  Today it looks like I’ve not even touched the house. Sigh.

What is it that causes an entire tv remote to vanish into thin air? And why does it happen on the morning when I want to watch Outlander? Our tv remote has gone walkabout and NOBODY knows anything about it. I actually wonder if my kids are getting properly educated because they never seem to know anything that goes on in the house! 🙂 Anyway, have been forced to order a new remote and it should come tomorrow. In the meanwhile, I am Jamie Fraser-less and feeling peed off about it. It’s just added to all the crap that’s been going on this week: wet weather, two leaks, a messy house, no Outlander….

Anyway, worse things happen at sea and I suppose if these are my only moans this week I am lucky.

Right, I am going to finish up here and go and do some work on future blogs. Til next time.

Dawn xxx

 

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Da da da da Click Click

October 15, 2017

The view from the Grand Circle of the King’s Theatre in Glasgow last night. We were there to see the stage production of The Addams Family. At first I wasn’t sure about it but it was great. The cast were amazing and my daughter really loved it. Unfortunately it was way too hot in the auditorium and my boy felt sick so we missed the last 20 minutes of the show. We could hear it though from the hall outside the Circle where we were cooling off. After a glass of water the boy felt better.

Verdict of show: great.

 

 

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Lego, Goldman and a Deep Deep Trench

August 31, 2017

Forgive me readers for I have been bad. I have not written this blog for some time and the only two excuses I can give are: The Gilmore Girls and work beginning in my garden. The former because I recently bought Netflix and have been glued to the Gilmore Girls, all seven series of it and the winter special. Finally finished it last night after around two-and-a-half weeks of watching it in between mum and housework stuff. There were loads of episodes so I blame the tv company that produced it for a) making so many episodes and b) making it so compelling that I quickly became addicted. Am now feeling bereft because not only is Gilmore Girls watched all the way through, but Game of Thrones has finished for this year. Sigh. My tv watching has suddenly gotten very dull. The second excuse is because we’re getting an extension and I’ve been moving things around in the garden. I removed the old metal swingset, laid a new patio in its place (hark me laying a patio and it actually turned out) and then, with my lovely friends (you know who you are, thank you so much for your help, it was much appreciated) moved the potting shed over so that when the extension is up it doesn’t shade out the potting shed. It was a lot of heavy work, but I am so pleased I managed to do it. Been taking on a lot more things this year, things my beloved hubby would have normally done, including cutting our hedge which is a heavy, tiring job. Feeling that I can do most DIY things now (God help us!) and  quite proud of myself. Watch this space for more makes.

Talking of Game of Thrones. Oh. My. God. Was that not the best series EVER or what? If you don’t watch it, you are so missing out on one of the most fabulous telly experiences ever. Do you remember when it first began and no-one (except me, it felt) watched it and I was bemoaning the fact that I had no one to talk to about? Then it was repeated and  loads more folk started watching it and it grew from there. Can’t wait til next year and the final series.

Right, so apart from shunting things around the garden, I’ve also been doing the odd wee escapade with the kids over the summer holidays. Apart from visiting the Riverside Museum in Glasgow (which we Glaswegians will still call the Transport Museum until we die cos that’s what the old museum used to be called), we also popped into Clydebank Town Hall to see the Lego exhibition. It cost me £13 to get the three of us in and, although it was quite cheap, I still don’t think it was worth the money. Don’t get me wrong, the models were great, but there wasn’t that many of them, I expected a bit more. Anyway, here are some of the models…

There was also a massive castle which for some reason I never took a picture of which is a pity because it was really good.

Anyway, I have also been reading a lot over the summer and most recently finished William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood. I love reading about writing and am currently going through a screenwriters’ books phase. Goldman is famous for a number of film scripts and books including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, the Princess Bride and Which Lie Did I Tell?  The book is well written and full of great anecdotes and musings on how Hollywood works (or worked when he wrote the book…it was published in 1982). If you’re looking for an up-to-date book on Hollywood this isn’t the book for you. Instead it talks about the golden age and how things used to work comparing it to when things changed as tv became more prominent and how studio management changed in the 70s (ie how they were managed). Goldman is bluntly honest and self deprecating throughout. He takes a very measured look at Hollywood and is often funny. He’s the type of guy I think would be a great raconteur at a dinner party. Yup, liked this book. Looking forward to reading Which Lie Did I Tell?

What else have I been doing? You won’t want to hear about the boring stuff, the futile attempts I’ve been making to keep the mud out of my house brought in on the little clippy cloppy paws of the dogs. Our pug, Bonya, had to undergo an operation last week to remove a tumour from her leg. The vet doesn’t think it’s cancerous, but we’re going to keep a wee eye on her. She’s made a great recovery and is, as I write, lying at my feet snoring at the same level of decibels as a full grown man. Delicate pugs ain’t.

Obligatory cute pic of Bonya making herself at home on my bed.

 

You leave your phone down and before you know it one of the kids has decorated a pic.

I have a confession. I have not been writing. Again because of the aforementioned reasons, but also cos I’m a bit stuck about how to end the book I am currently writing. I’ve also been writing up ideas for two more books which I will start writing once I have the other book’s story down. I’ve printed off the 65,000 words I have written so far to re-read in the hope that inspiration will smack me in the face and get me back to the laptop. I do have a strong hope that this will happen. I mean, look at me…I’m actually writing my blog again so that’s a good sign! Right?

Okay, I am going to end this blog here. I have three wee dogs to take out for another walk. Because the back garden is off limits and now open to the street,  I cannot let them run about the way I used to. Apart from the fact one of them will definitely make a break for the street (Millie), I fear one or all three of them will end up the trench that was dug for the foundations. This has already happened. It was my fault, I stupidly drank some wine and then late at night fancied surveying the back garden from the kitchen door. I opened it and before I could stop her Millie (our white Jack Chi cross) ran past me and sailed into fresh air. Luckily she didn’t hurt herself and my daughter managed to coax her into jumping (that dog has springs in her heels). The girl caught her and dragged her out much to my relief as I didn’t fancy climbing into the trench. Apart from the fact it was dark and muddy, I didn’t fancy my chances of getting back out having consumed some wine. I had visions of me getting stuck and having to suffer the humiliation of having the fire service come out to rescue me. Luckily that did not happen. The back door is now kept firmly shut and I haven’t touched a drop since! Damn you wine! Millie lost her lovely pristine appearance that night and it was a brown, mud caked dog that I put into the bath that night to shower down. Thankfully she was not injured and was quickly back to her bossy ways. 🙂

Millie – none the worse for her impromptu flight.

Anyway, on that note, I’ll say adieu. Til next time.

Dawn xxx

 

 

 

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Writing lists and getting things done!

June 11, 2017

It’s amazing what writing a check list does for how much I actually achieve in a day. If I don’t write a list, a few things get done. If I do write a list, I get oh so much more done. It’s like that list has sorted out my head and my memory and makes me do all the jobs I have to do around the house, with the kids and, equally importantly, with my writing. I wrote a long list yesterday and laid out times next to the tasks and do you know what? I managed to achieve it all. Today I am steadily making my way through a new list and I’m doing stuff…such as this blog and I wrote more than 1000 words today, plus did a bit of yoga and cut the grass in the front garden. So, it’s nearly 5pm and I’m feeling mightily chuffed with myself for actually achieving a number of things today instead of sprawling out in from the telly drinking copious amounts of tea!

Yesterday, my list included ironing (regular readers will know how much I hate ironing, but I stuck it out and completed it), walking the dogs (which I do daily anyway) and taking the kids to the school Gala Day. Regarding the Gala Day, it was really good. A lot of time and effort had been put in by the PTA and it was a huge success. The theme was on cowboys and cowgirls so there were a lot of kids and adults dressed up. A local line dancing club did a demo for the crowd. The club consisted of older men and women, dressed up in cowboy-ish clothes line dancing. There was also some ‘gunslingers’ having a ‘fight’ which also consisted of older men and women dressed in cowboy-ish clothes pretending to shoot each other. There were loads of stalls (I got a lovely Toffee the Heilan Coo brooch from my friend Sharon’s…aka Sew Silly Lily…stall

and lovely honey bread biscuits from my friend Zuzka’s…aka Honeybread Cottage…stall. I have such talented friends!).

There were bouncy castles and a dog competition and throw sponges at the teachers and a saloon and tonnes of things for everyone to do. I helped out at the cactus hoopla stall and bash the rat game….both of which were a big hit with parents and kids (see the simple things really are the best). I also had a good old chat to lots of other mums I hadn’t seen in a while. It was a great afternoon (had to drag the boy away from it cos he wanted to stay longer) and well done to the organisers for creating it.

What else have I been doing? Well my neighbours must be thinking I’m doing an online business because quite a number of parcels arrived over the last few days. Do not worry, dear friends, I am not doing an online business merely buying up presents for Father’s Day and some birthdays that are coming up in July and September. I like to be organised because if I’m not it’s always a mad panic to buy stuff in time. My memory is not good, it never was, but has been much worse over this last year, so if I buy up cards and presents now at least I have them in for the correct dates of the aforementioned birthdays and Father’s Day. Okay, so after promising myself I would stop buying books, I did indulge in a little book buying spree for myself and the kids too. What can I say? I am a book addict! It’s my only vice (she says with an innocent look on her face!).

Regarding books, following last week’s confession of being totally gripped by The Dog Whisperer’s programme I went out and ordered his book (Cesar’s Way by Cesar Milan) from Amazon. I started reading it a couple of days ago and it’s fab. I am also reading Leap In: A Woman, Some Waves and the Will to Swim by Alexandra Heminsley about her bid to do wild water swimming, something I’ve always wanted to (okay so I have swam in a loch and at the seaside when I was younger and more stupid cos I didn’t have a wetsuit, but I want to go out deeper and really swim in the wild). Anyway, am enjoying reading about her trials and tribulations as she overcomes her terror of swimming in the sea.

Right, I need to go. I have some hungry weans hovering whining about being hungry and ‘when’s dinner ready?’. Apparently they are both about to fade away through lack of food. The chilli is on, but it’s not yet ready. The house smells amazing thanks to the spices and it’s sending the kids crazy…a bit like the Bisto kids of the adverts of old! Til next time.

Dawn xx

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June 6, 2017

I did not pooh in the Girl’s bedroom. Nope, wasn’t me. What do you mean you saw me do it?

 

What a bloody awful day it is outside. It is pouring. Of course there are far worse things happening in this world – the terrible losses of life in Manchester, London and Syria etc (where there are far more atrocities, but we never seem to hear about them…what’s that about?) – but I don’t want to dwell on those in this post. It’s not that I don’t want to mark them, it’s just there are so many news stories and articles and blog posts about them all over the world that I wanted to write something to take my mind and your mind off it all.

Right, so, as I was saying, the weather is awful today. Bloody awful is how I actually put it and the mutts and I have been forced to stay in. They are not even keen to go out in the garden today, not even Millie who is our resident furry water baby. So we’re indoors and they were snoozing until I put on a recording of the Dog Whisperer. Have you seen this programme? It’s about a very well groomed Mexican gentleman called Cesar Millan (above) who teaches humans how to properly train their dogs and, well, he’s quite frankly a miracle worker. And he also has the loveliest eyes, but that’s a by the by. Anyway, it’s a hoot when I put it on because my three just love watching it and having a wee bark at the dogs too. I enjoy it because it gives me useful tips on dogs – let’s face it Millie needs to be a bit better behaved what with her not coming when she’s called – plus I go away thinking ‘no problem, I can do that’. Then I try it on the dogs and they give me a look like ‘who does she think she is?’ and refuse to perform. I think I need to get Cesar over here to sort out my three…well actually, again it’s just Millie. Casper and Bonya are very well behaved on the whole although Bonya got caught short this morning in the Girl’s room and did a big pooh. Cue: lots of screaming and shouts of ‘naughty girl’. Am I a bad mother for thinking it was all highly amusing?? AND I made her clean it up…heee hee heeee!! (whaaaat? it’s all payback for the times she’s refused to clean out HER guinea pig and for all the times she’s messed up the living room, en suite and other rooms in the house).

So. How have you been since the last blog? It’s been nearly two weeks and that’s my fault because I have been so busy cleaning out cupboards and the garage and other places that have been totally neglected over the past couple of years that the blog went out of my mind. Anyway, I’m here now. I’me generally good, although I’ve not been sleeping all that well recently. I am not sure of the reason. Millie keeps waking me at 2am to let her out (we’re working on that…I am now putting down dog matts so she has that option, but am not getting up to let her out. It sounds harsh, but isn’t. She needs to learn to sleep through the night like she used to. Also, this morning, when I opened the back door to let the dogs out to relieve themselves, guess who didn’t go? Yup, Millie. I supposed the urgent 2am need for outside wasn’t so urgent after all!). Anyway, am finding it difficult to drop off, so I need to get back to my Mindful Meditation which always sorts that out. Apart from that, the kids and I are good. The dogs are full of health except Bonya who is shedding like crazy all over the place…the amount of hair she is losing would stuff a pillow!!

Over the weekend we went up to the westend of Glasgow to meet my friend AJ and her daughters for lunch. We went to a wee pizza place on the corner of Great Western Road and Otago Street – I forget it’s name – and it was lovely. I knew the place when it was a bank and then a coffee shop and was pleasantly surprised at the change in decor which went from Starbucks (or the other one) to a little piece of Italy! The menu also surprised me. I’ve never seen such a small one…not physically but in the few thing you could buy on it. They had options for about eight different pizzas and about five puddings. You could also get wine and fizzy drinks, but that was essentially it. We all ordered. The pizzas arrived really quickly and were lovely (all crisp and delicious from their pizza oven). It was fab to see AJ who is one of my oldest friends and catch up. We had intended to walk up Great Western Road and go down Byres Road and look in the shops (they have lots of fab charity shops for treasure hunting in!), but it was pouring down, literally stoating off the ground, and we were reluctantly forced to call a halt to the afternoon.

Martha Gellhorn.

 

On Sunday, I made myself breakfast in bed and spent far too much time looking at Facebook before reading some more of my book, Martha Gellhorn: A Life by Caroline Moorehead. I am close to finishing this book, one chapter left, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Martha was a very well known American journalist and writer who covered a large number of stories including the Great Depression, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War and wars in the Far East. She was also Ernest Hemingway’s second wife. She led a really interesting, exciting, often dangerous life that took her all over the world. However, she also seemed to have often been a very difficult person to be with, someone who was selfish, who went off and did her own thing no matter the cost to other people, but who was passionate about justice for others, about telling their stories and how the great event (war, depression etc) affected them and what the Governments should do about it. She was strong. She was a restless spirit. She didn’t take any crap from anyone. I’m not sure she and I would have gotten on, but I’ve greatly enjoyed reading about her. The book is really well written and goes at a good pace. I shall be sad when it’s finished, but this book will stay in my collection (as opposed to being donated to our local library as something I’ll never read again).

I’m not sure what my next read will be, but I have quite a few to choose from, which is both vexing and exciting at the same time. Vexing because it takes me ages to decide. Exciting because I love jumping into and being immersed in a new story and going places I’ve never been before.

Right, on that note, I am going to finish up here. The rain has just gone off and I am toying with the idea of getting the dogs out for a quick walk before I need to collect the boy from school.

Til next time!

Dawn xxx

 

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Barcelona!

May 17, 2017

Oh my God! What can I say about Barcelona that would do this city any justice? It’s an amazing place with the most stunning architecture…I’ve included some pictures of a tiny fraction of the buildings above, but there are far bigger, better and stunning buildings in this city. We just didn’t have the time to see them all.

How we got there…the ship docked in the early hours that Friday morning at Barcelona’s port. We took a taxi to the airport, dumped our suitcases with Left Luggage (because we were flying home later that day) and then took a bus from the airport to the Plaza Espanya near the city centre.  Look how amazing this square is…

And here’s what else is near there…

It’s the Museum of Catalunya. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go and see it. Instead we headed down a wide tree filled street (stopping at a really nice wee pizza place for lunch first) to find the Sagrada Familia (pictured at the start of this post) which is something I’ve always wanted to see. The place was hoaching with tourists, but it was well worth having a look at…the cathedral is truly inspiring and amazing to look at. Every nook and cranny is filled with exquisitely carved modern art. As you can see from the cranes, the building is still not finished more than 100 years after it was first begun. I loved it.

After that we headed for the city’s beach area which my mother assured us wasn’t that far to walk. It took us about an hour with a stop off for some drinks because the weather was so hot. Because it was Good Friday, there was a right festival atmosphere about the city and the place was jumping with locals and tourists. There were a range of street stalls and myself and the kids spent the rest of our holiday money on bits and pieces to take home – I bought two lovely fans painted in a modern style. I was really hot on holiday, but I knew I’d use them again back home…being a right Northerner, I get hot in muggy weather and stuffy offices, so the fans will come in handy. Plus we do get the odd hot day in Scotland. There are also some cheeky folk who would point out that I am a lady of a certain age who is hurtling towards 50 and therefore menopause, but as I am still only 25 (in my head) and will be forever, this will never happen!

Anyway, after the beach we walked up the packed Ramblas. It was uncomfortably busy, but didn’t put me off the city…in fact I’d love to return there for a long weekend at some point in the near future. We caught a bus at the Placa de Catalunya to get back to the airport in time for dinner and then our flight home. We only had a few hours in Barcelona, but I loved it. Verdict on Barcelona: fab. Will definitely go back. Only issue: I had the song ‘Barcelona’ by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe ringing through my head the entire time I was there and every time I think of the word ‘Barcelona’. It’s a great song, but really annoying if you can’t get it out of your head!

Anyway, that’s the holiday. We arrived back home around midnight that night and it was great being back in Scotland, but I really loved the holiday. We all loved the holiday.

Right, so back to real life. This week is the first full week I’ve had since leaving work and it’s already Wednesday and I don’t know where my time is going? Okay so this week, I have walked the dogs every day (and got soaked on Monday), I have had lunch with a friend (down at Ardardan today) and visited my father-in-law yesterday who is very old and frail. On Monday morning I also went to a pilates class with another friend. These events took up a few hours each day, so that’s my excuse for not achieving a huge amount over the last three days. The big news is that I have gone back to writing my book for adults…the one I started last year. I can’t say it’s been easy getting back into the swing of things, but I have written up my workplan and I intend to stick to it.

The rest of the week will be spent doing the bits and pieces around the house that need doing and assembling my new bike. I have great plans to take the kids out cycling more over the summer. There are some great routes around here plus I have a cycle carrier which we can use for further afield.

Over to books and I am currently reading: Caroline Moorhead’s ‘Martha Gellhorn: A Life’, which is a great read. On holiday, I got through several books:

The first three were fantastic. You cannot beat a Pratchett for humour and a good read, and Joanna’s books are just so funny and a great beach/poolside read. I had hoped to enjoy McIlvanney’s book more because he so revered as a writer, but it was alright. I doubt I’d read it again.

Right, I think I will finish up here and say adieu until next time! See you then.

Dawn xxx

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