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Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

July 10, 2017

 

Hello blog readers! How are you? Hope you are all well. Sorry I’ve not written for a couple of weeks. I have no excuses other than me, the kids and the dogs went off for an adventure for a week recently. Luckily the weather wasn’t too bad, in fact there were a couple of stunning days, and the midges didn’t bite too hard (a major issue when holidaying in Scotland) and we had a lovely time.

So where were we I hear you cry? We stayed in a cottage near Skipness which is near Tarbert and directly opposite the isles of Arran and Bute. The cottage itself was…well…it doesn’t have great curb appeal as you can see (we were on the lefthandside without the front porch or plastic chairs)…

…but it was nice enough inside apart from the 1970s avocado green bathroom which was a bit grotty and there was no shower. It didn’t help that they have a private water supply which is peaty (which I don’t mind but the kids did and refused to bathe in the bath). Worse still the tv and dvd player didn’t work and…GASP…there was no Wi-Fi! Well, the girl went on and on and on about that because apparently she can’t live without it…funnily enough despite experiencing days on end without Wi-Fi she is actually still alive! Anyway, we were only there for a week so she just had to deal with it!

So instead of my kids sitting in front of screens all day they…

Paddled and swam in the sea in the lovely little cove at the cottage.

Climbed rocks and collected shells.

 

Ran about a beach with the dogs near Cambeltown when we drove down there.

 

Ran about in his onesy!

We also shopped in Tarbert and picked up some books and the kids bought rock (a prerequisite for a UK holiday). We ate ice cream in Cambeltown and had lunch on a nearby beach. The dogs ran around and loved every minute of it.

My friend Jane and her daughter visited bringing lunch and we took them to Skipness Castle.

We visited the castle again two days later when my parents were up with their dog. It’s a fab 13th century castle that is free to visit and has the most spectacular views of Arran. There’s a smokehouse beside it which sells the most fantastic Cullen Skink. Also nearby is the Skipness Seafood Cabin. This was where I first tried oysters around ten years ago and loved them. Ian didn’t so much. We had drinks there and me and the kids patted their tame doe called Coco and cuddled their Jack Russell called Jim.

Even though the kids maintain the holiday was rubbish, they actually had a great time. The cottage was right on the beach. It was quiet and relaxing and it was nice to spend some time together as a family without electronics getting in the way. The dogs had a brilliant time too.

Okay, so that was the holiday. We did come home a day early due to extreme Wi-Fi moaning by the girl and my desire to get a shower…it was bliss when I finally had one!

What else has been happening? Well, I’ve told you the nice bits first. Now on to the not so nice bits. While we were away the daughter of one of my closest friends was very ill. This girl is like a niece to me and we were all very worried when we found out. Thankfully she’s on the mend. Get well soon E!

This week also saw the anniversary of the death of my lovely husband, Ian. I cannot believe a year has gone by already. It was extremely quick. Just want to thank everyone for their messages and gifts. You really didn’t have to but it was lovely. I think that’s the last of the ‘firsts’ (first birthday without him, first Christmas without him, first wedding anniversary without him etc) so hopefully the various events of the coming year won’t be quite so painful for us. Anyway, moving on…

Books I read on holiday…just managed the one: Dave Eggers’ The Circle which was great. It’s about a woman who joins a major IT company which introduces a variety of IT projects to the world. The only problem is, while these are packaged as essential and desirable inventions (eg the kid tracker), the flip side is that one commercial company is slowing working its way into controlling the world.  It’s beautifully written and had me gripped.

Right, that’s enough for now. I’ve just caught Casper once again eating my lovely new hall rug. There’s a full corner out of it. Time to take the wee nuisance and Millie out for a walk. Bonya, the pug, is currently at the vet’s getting spayed. I left there this morning, feeling a crumb as I kissed her goodbye. You should have seen her ‘where are you going?’ face. We should get her back this afternoon. We’re all missing her already.

Til next time!

Dawn xxx

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Pretty

May 1, 2017

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New post on Fiction Writers’ Friend

January 28, 2017

Hi

I’ve come back to writing my blog on writing and there’s a new post on my other blog (which was set up for folk who want to write). Get it here.

 

Dawn xxx

 

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Socialising, Reading and Watching Films…

January 7, 2017
Kilmahew Castle - will be making more visits to it this year.

Kilmahew Castle

 

Well it’s 2017 at last. I thought 2016 would never end. It seemed to drag on forever…not that I think things will suddenly be amazing because we are in a new year, but I am hoping life will get a little bit better, a little bit easier.

Anyway, how’s things with you all? Hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year! We had a quieter week this week – thank goodness! – with my parents and Ian’s brother coming over for New Year’s Day dinner. We had a lovely time and my parents stayed over. I gave them my bed – well they are in their early 70s, couldn’t have them lying on a blow up bed – and I slept downstairs. I was up early the next morning to let the dogs out, but unfortunately wasn’t quick enough when they came back in again. Casper (our Yorkie) was past me like a whippet and up the stairs before I could protest. I heard his little feet dart along the corridor and into my bedroom. There was a cry of surprise and then I heard my dad say: “All right Casper I’ve had enough kisses.” The wee monkey had leapt onto the bed, waking my poor mum and lavishing my dad with licks. Luckily they have their own dog, Winston (who was also woken by the little scamp) and were laughing at Casper’s antics. We had a leisurely breakfast (a fry up) before all wrapping up and walking up to Kilmahew Castle which is a ruined castle near to where I live.  We were out about two hours and the sun shone the entire time. Kilmahew is situated on top of the hill and the views up there are stunning. It may have been a beautiful day, but it was really muddy underfoot and the three dogs were caked in mud by the time they got home. Thank God for our outside tap which took the worst of it off before we allowed the shivering trio into the house! All three dogs and my kids were exhausted after the walk, but all of us enjoyed it. It certainly blew the cobwebs away!

What else have we been up to? Well, we met my stepkids for lunch on Wednesday in Glasgow and it was lovely to see them. J has been in Australia for the last year (coming back shortly before his dad died and then returning about a week after Ian’s funeral). He came home for Christmas, surprising his mum and sister, so it was great he came for lunch with us so we could see him too.

I hosted a small brunch get together with some friends on Friday. I see these ladies most Fridays anyway, but I wanted to do something to mark the end of the holidays. Plus one of them had put on an excellent spread for me the week before and I wanted to repay the compliment. I opted for a continental brekkie with bread, ham, cheese and pates. Of course there were cream cakes for afters…well it wouldn’t be a normal Friday morning if there wasn’t!!

This weekend we’re having a quiet time because I still feel the need to chill out before returning to work. In saying that, I never really chill out properly, there’s always so much to do around the house. Today I did a couple of washings, sorted out the ironing which I’ll do tomorrow, did a shop, took the dogs out for a walk, tidied up and filled the small skip I’ve hired to take away the large pile of rubbish that was heaping up around the back of the house. Our council, in their wisdom, decided to go to three week uplifts for our general waste which would have been good if it had started at another time of year and NOT just before Christmas AND if they had given us more notice and not the week we got. If I had had more notice, I could have worked harder to reduce our waste. Instead, because I now have only one bin (instead of two) that is emptied every three weeks, the waste has been building up in binbags in our garden. Sigh. I could have taken it all down to the dump – indeed I started to do that – but it stunk my car out, so I opted for the skip. I am hoping that if I start with a clean slate, I’ll be able to not overfill our general waste bin from now on…that’s the plan anyway, whether that works that way or not remains to be seen. I do try my best. I do recycle. I fill two large recycling bins with recycled waste. I understand why the council are doing this: it’s to meet government targets and, let’s face it, save money. However, just asking householders to reduce their waste isn’t enough…they need to work with supermarkets and other industries to get them to stop using as much packaging in the first place. I mean why do my bananas have to be packaged in a poly bag??

Anyway, enough of my ranting. I will see how it goes.

On a happier note, it’s time to talk about the books I’ve been reading lately. Am about to finish John Mullan’s What Matters in Jane Austen? which is a look at her novels in more detail and why things happen as they do. As an Austen fan, I’m really enjoying it.

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The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - images from the film.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – images from the film.

 

Also recently read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aitken which is a lovely kids book and one I’ve been meaning to read since I saw the film some years ago. Am hoping my kids may read it…will certainly be pushing it forward to them. I finished it the other day (sigh, I hate finishing books I’m enjoying reading) and started Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons simply because I never read it as a child and felt it was a book I should read. It’s a lovely book and I’m really enjoying it.

Regarding films, I’ve been watching all the Harry Potter movies over the last couple of weeks (and I love them still!). I’ve basically been recording films and watching them a little while later and one of those was a surprising hit with me called Albert Nobbs. It’s set in Victorian Dublin and stars Glenn Close as a woman who dresses as a man to work as a waiter in a posh hotle in the city. She meets a painter and it’s this meeting that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for her. I’ll not say anything more as I don’t want to spoil this film for you, but it is a wonderful film. It’s got a great cast and a great script and I loved it.

Glen Close as Albert Nobbs.

Glen Close as Albert Nobbs.

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Right on that note, I will have to end it here. The lightbulb has gone on one of the upper hall lights and the boy is pestering me to get it changed because he can’t sleep if it’s not on. Til next time!

Dawn xxx

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Here’s to a better 2017!!!

December 31, 2016

Hello, how’s things? Hope you’re all well. Just popped in to wish you all an early Happy New Year.

Usually at this time of year I would think about doing a retrospective of my year in the blogosphere, but this year has been so bloody awful I’m not going to do that. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a lot of nice things that have happened, but Ian’s death has overshadowed it all and makes it hard for me to appreciate the good stuff I’ve experienced and/or have in my life. I’m hoping that aspect of the grieving process will vanish at some point, I want to enjoy life fully, but I miss him so much…

Anyway, enough of my moaning. I am sure you don’t want to read about depressing stuff. The weather this morning is awful, there are big dark grey clouds in the sky, so have decided to use nice happy pics to illustrate this week’s blog. That’s why the pics in no way connect to anything I’ll be speaking about…just in case you wondered! I just like them.

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So what’s been happening lately? Well, we went to my parents’ for Christmas dinner (and we stayed over) and once again my mum put on a magnificent spread. It was all good, but her soup was superb as usual…it’s so good, I once spent an entire winter living only on it (at my request) because I love it so much. The entire family was there, but my beloved was not so I can’t say I had a particularly good day despite my best efforts. Anyway, me and the kids stayed over and my dad made us all an excellent fry up the next morning. We were totally spoiled as usual. Me and mum took our dogs a walk to the local beauty spot…the weather was wild, but all five of us (me, my two dogs, mum and her dog) loved it. Really blew the cobwebs away. I remember years ago Ian and I took his two elder children down to Irvine beach around about Christmas time. It was sunny, but so cold we couldn’t feel our faces or ears for ages after coming in…was fab.

Met a few friends for lunch over the past week, which was lovely. Had dinner and went to a panto with other friends on Thursday night. It was the Snaw Queen at the Tron Theatre and it was really very good. The dame was a hoot and the rest of the cast were excellent too. It was all very Glasgow humour, but we all enjoyed it including my kids who were a bit reticent at first, but really got into it later. Yesterday we had lunch at my friend Jane’s followed ( last night) by dinner at yet another friends’ house. It seems – to coin a Glasgow phrase – we really would ‘get a piece at any door’ this week! There’s been a fair bit of eating out and it’s been lovely to spend time with my family and friends. Thanks to you all for the great company and gastronomic events!

Over the next few days we have some family coming for New Year’s dinner (steak pie – natch), we’re meeting up with my stepdaughter for lunch and I’ll probably catch up with a couple of other friends at the end of the week. Another busy week ahead, but a good one.

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In between I’ll be attempting to complete the two outfits I’m making for pug toys I made the kids for Christmas, knit a bit, take the dogs for a walk and do some more reading and writing.

Right, am going to finish up here. One final thing to say: hope you all have a happy New Year and here’s to a much better 2017!!!

Til next time,

Dawn xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing a Manifesto!

November 10, 2016

winter-1-1518871Hello! How’s things? Hope you are all well. How’s your week been? Keeping warm and snuggly in this cold weather I hope!

This week has been busy once again for the household, but let’s begin by a quick rundown for last weekend.

Apart from seeing  a range of family members and friends on Friday and Saturday, the weekend included lunch out in Dumbarton and watching Scottish Take That tribute band, Take This, at the Commodore Hotel in Helensburgh (on Saturday night). It was a good laugh. The boys were very good, but a couple of the audience members were not. There were two rather drunk women there being outrageously funny with their antics and comments. The band took it in good humour and gave as good as they got. Things started getting a little abusive with one of the women – she was very drunk and was getting a bit horrible with her comments – but she disappeared, we think to go home. Her friend wasn’t happy she had left her, but we were!

I went to the concert with two very good friends whilst the husband of one very kindly took my kids to see the Bonfire Night fireworks and shows at Helensburgh seafront. They both enjoyed it a lot, but the boy was most put out by the man who ran the waltzers. Apparently he was bare-chested, which my son thought was very wrong.  Personally I think the guy must have been mad cos it was freezing that night.

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Talking of freezing, why do teenagers insist on going out without jackets? My girl (and some of her friends, I’ve noticed) insist on going to school without a coat. This morning she was shivering so I told her she’d better wear one tomorrow or – dah dah daaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh (dramatic music) – I would take her beloved phone off of her, the one she refers to as ‘her baby’. Works every time. I don’t want her coming down with hypothermia or some other illness because she’s too stupid to dress for the weather. This morning was very cold. It was so cold I had to scrape the car. It’s October for chrissake!! For a girl that’s supposedly intelligent, she can act dumb sometimes!

Am trying hard to cut down the amount of waste we produce in the household. There are two main reasons for this:

  • Environment – I worry about the amount of plastic and crap we dump in landfills or burn. So toxic for the planet. I worry about our health and the future of the planet. Might sound a bit hippy-ish to you, but it’s a very real, very urgent problem.
  • Our council, in its great wisdom, has decided to go for three weekly bin uplifts for general waste, which would have been fine if they had given us a bigger lead in and not produce one o f the most confusing calendars of when uplifts are happening on the smallest bit of paper. They have a key code where different circles mean different things, but two of the colours are very similar and are difficult to differentiate, especially if, like me, you are colourblind. I just hope it was indeed the glass bin (mine is full, but in my defence I haven’t put it out for about six months) that was to be put out this morning and not something else.

I want to cut down on our environmental footprint anyway. I used to be really good at recycling and being environmentally savvie, but the past few months this has all fallen by the wayside. However, we’re getting back on track…

Firstly, I’ve been reading up on reducing waste and alternatives to plastic. Secondly, I’ve signed up for veg box scheme where organic veg is delivered to our door every week. This is so we don’t have to eat all the toxic weedkillers (etc) you get on shop bought food and to cut down on packaging. I did, however, have to buy some veg from Waitrose over the weekend, so I took it out of the packaging and placed it in their bins before I left the shop…well, I don’t want it.

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I was speaking to the boy about reducing plastic and we were at the checkout at Waitrose and he said to me: “Mum, I thought we were cutting down on plastic.” I said we were, but he quite rightly pointed out that nearly everything on the conveyor belt was wrapped in or housed in plastic. It’s really really difficult to get away from it…it’s everywhere. The thing is plastic packaging leaches into food, particularly if you cook your food in the container, which means we’re taking a lot of chemicals into our bodies. It’s a horrible thought.

So, I’m on a mission to cut down and cut out; to reduce our waste and have a smaller carbon footprint.

  • The veg box is great and included some vegetables I wouldn’t normally buy. There were lovely yellow beetroots so I steamed them to have with a meal last week and also put one in the lentil soup I made yesterday. The soup is now in glass jars in the freezer. The veg box is more expensive than what I’d normally pay for veg, but it’s making me make more veg filled meals and we’re trying different things.
  • I need to track down staples such as milk that is in glass jars and not plastic bottles or plastic lined cartons.
  • Tinned food is just as bad and manufacturers line their tins with plastic to stop rusting. I think I may have to swap to dried beans and making my own chopped tomatoes and baked beans.
  • For bread, I have a bread maker so there’s no reason why I can’t make my own.
  • For biscuits and treats, I could make these meaning I don’t have to buy shop bought.
  • Other foodstuffs – I can make a lot of stuff from scratch, I prefer to do that anyway, and quite fancy giving things like cheese making a go. Could be fun.
  • Meat is going to be a challenge as is toilet roll as both come wrapped in plastic. Hmmm need to think about that one.
  • Binbags – I think you can get biodegradable ones. I need to check that out.
  • Household cleaners – I am switching over to vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and borax. Very effective cleaners and non toxic for us and wildlife. I did this before, but, again, it fell by the wayside.
  • Shampoo and soap – I’ll need to look into this, likewise toothpaste and deodorant.

For now, I’m just going to use up what I already have and try and cut down gradually. The main thing I have to do is encourage the kids to scrape food waste into the food bin every time and not just when I’m around to remind them.

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Anyway, it’ll mean a wee bit extra work, but it’ll be worth it to have two kids that are as healthy as I can possibly get them without all the trappings of a toxic environment such as asthma, eczema and bowel problems. The aim is to get them eating more healthily (cos we haven’t been very good over the last few months…it was a case of just bung something in the oven for a while there), walking more (with the dogs) and living in a less toxic environment (ie no bleach which can affect breathing etc).

God, I feel like I’ve just written up a manifesto!!

Anyway, getting back to my original post…other news this week includes my mum’s birthday on Friday (happy birthday mum!) and chilling out over the weekend and recharging my batteries. That’s the plan. Of course, I will also be chopping up vegetables and making things for the week ahead, but I will do this with some good music on and doing a bop around the living room!!

The boy was sick at the beginning of the week…wee soul was puking rings around himself! Luckily he’s much better now and is back at school. There’s some sort of stomach bug going around. It definitely wasn’t the bean stew I made the other day which he said was disgusting and blamed that for being sick! Cheek!

Right, I think I’ve written enough for this week. Til next time!

Dawn xxx

PS remember that lentil soup I made last week? Well I had to throw three of the bottles out – I had overfilled them and not left enough expansion space (despite thinking I had!) and well the bottles cracked and my lovely delicious soup was lost. Sigh.

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Too cute for words!

November 5, 2016
Casper

Casper

 

Millie

Millie

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