Saturday, 28 February 2015

This week's most loved






Photograph of Stevie Nicks found here 

Following on from the introduction to some of my favourite bloggers, I thought I'd try to keep going with this positive vibe I've got over here and share with you a few of my favourite posts/articles/general stuff that I've enjoyed this month.

These type of posts are pretty much done to death in the blogosphere but I DON'T CARE I"M DOING IT ANYWAY. There's a reason so many people do them. That is, it's nice to have a place to document the good things in your week and it's nice to share the love.

Reading

There's kind of a travel theme to the first few posts. I'm not sure what that says about my frame of mind at the moment other than that I probably need to book a holiday pronto.

I enjoyed this return to blogging from Katy at Not Wed or Dead in which she talks about her visit to Iguazu Waterfalls. It definitely looks like a pretty spectacular place to visit but I like the way that Katy doesn't sugar coat anything so you get a real idea of what it's like over and above the splendour of the waterfall.

This post from Travelettes about The Footprints We Leave Behind is really interesting as it raises an issue we don't often consider when we talk about travelling. I'm really interested in the debate about the impact that tourism has on popular destinations and I definitely need to watch the documentary discussed in this post. It seems quite balanced as it takes into account both the positive and negative impacts.

In this post Cat at Oddly Lovely writes about the difference between her and her partner when it comes to travel (He has the travel bug, she doesn't) and the way in which the relationship works despite that. Cat talks about the reasons she feels happy to stay at home while her partner goes off exploring with his friends. As someone who has gone travelling and left my partner at home (twice!!) it's interesting to read about the other perspective and I really enjoyed it.

Sometimes I struggle with the fact that I can't keep things to myself. I cannot feel annoyed at someone without telling them about it. I cannot want something and not ask for (or more likely demand) it. Patience is not a virtue of mine. I am bossy. I am needy. These are traits of mine that our society tends to think of as negative, particularly because I have the audacity to be female and be acting that way. To be feminine is to be passive, to wait for someone else to take the lead, to not say what you want out loud. Fuck that. This post from Shannon at Awash with Wonder is everything. Always speak your mind.

Listening to

Earlier this year I attended a Fleetwood Mac tribute band concert with my parent. I'm beyond cool, I know. Anyway, it was awesome and I discovered a couple of Fleetwood Mac songs that I'd never heard before, probably because I just play Rumours on constant repeat. One of those songs was Landslide and since then I've been playing this over and over. Stevie Nick's voice on this record is just divine. I'm in love.

I like a bit of gravel in female singers' voices (if that makes any sense!?) so I really like the way that Rihanna sounds on her new song FourFiveSeconds. The video is worth a watch for Kanye's terrible dance moves if nothing else.

And now for a seamless link... This week in the Live Lounge, one of my favourite male singers, James Bay, covered FourFiveSeconds and it was perfect. I've been playing most of his songs on repeat recently but I particularly like Sparks.  

Watching: 

We've been happily consuming Better Call Saul recently. I was concerned that it wouldn't live up to my expectations because I loved Breaking Bad so much but actually, it's been pretty good so I'm a happy bunny.

I've also started watching 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' which is funny, but quite close to the bone sometimes so it's not always the most comfortable viewing.




We go together like carbs 'n' cheese.







Pizza card available from Etsy

Have you guys seen the articles floating around on the 36 questions that lead to love. I'm all about getting to the root of what people really feel and think, which is partly why I love reading blogs so much. Of course, after discovering this article, I made Ryan sit and discuss these questions with me one night during the week, when I'm sure he'd much rather have just watched the football. He leads a tough life.

It's quite a nice way to spend an evening although some of the questions we skipped because they're pretty morbid. Numbers 7 and 35 I'm looking at you. Mmmhmmm.

I asked Ryan number eight which is 'Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.'

His reply?

Pizza.





Sunday, 22 February 2015

Blog Love

A completely arbitrary photograph of girls at a tea party. Not entirely sure how this is relevant to the post but it's SO CUTE so I did it anyway. Credit to 100layercakelet.com

Day to day, I read quite a few blogs but I rarely find the time to post a thoughtful comment mainly because I tend to read on my phone and it's just SO MUCH EFFORT. I always feel a little bit guilty that I consume all these words without giving any recognition to the hard work that the writers have put into crafting them.

I always really enjoy reading posts which share the blog love because it just seems like a really nice way to help people discover other blogs and show a bit of appreciation for the bloggers. The problem is that I don't express genuine enthusiasm that well. My typical position is sarcastic and deprecating so I find it hard to write positively without getting a little bit awkward about it all. I will try though. Just for you. So here's a bit of an introduction to some of my favourite bloggers and some of their posts to get you started.

Possibly my favourite blog ever is A Safe Mooring. I discovered Kirsty's blog before I even really knew what blogging was and I've been hooked ever since. I recommend starting at the beginning and working your way back. You'll laugh a lot, you'll almost definitely cry and you'll probably fall a little bit in love with her (and with her dog).

I love Shannon from Awash with Wonder's writing. Oftentimes I read her posts and I feel as if she has put into words the erratic thoughts flying around in my brain. That's definitely the case for this post: The Girl Who Didn't Go to Paris. My favourite line is 'I didn't know that surrendering to love requires that you give up your idea of what's supposed to be.'

Anyway, go read it and then read through all of the posts on her Start Here page. A couple of other personal favourites include The Importance of Being Naked, Love Advice for Daughters, Permission and, well, I could be here all day so I'll leave it at that.

My favourite blogger series is definitely Feel Good Friday by Charlene at Tartanmouth. Recently I've been avoiding the news because I just can't quite cope with the constant stream of negativity but that discussion probably merits a post all of its own. Anyway, Charlene's series picks out some nice news stories to brighten your week. Start with this one and work your way back. I promise that you'll feel better about the state of the world afterwards.

As per most of my favourite blogs, I'm never quite sure how I stumbled across Hazel Jane but I'm glad that I did because her posts are so well written and the photographs are ace. I'm always impressed by nice photos because I'm so half-arsed about taking them myself. Particular favourite posts of mine include What Would You Do if You Weren't Afraid? and Why do we Love?

I live out my travel dreams vicariously through Katy at Not Wed or Dead. Also, she's the host of Book Bloggers Chat which is pretty much the only blogger chat that I regularly take part in. One of my favourite posts is Why Climbing a Volcano is Snow Joke. As an avid and experienced climber (er, I climbed TWO mountains last year ok!?) I really enjoyed reading about her experience of this.

If I live out my travel dreams through Katy, then I live out my food dreams vicariously via Kirsty of A Dash of Ginger. A good Edinburgh lass like myself, Kirsty's recipes are just spot on. The cakes, oh the cakes.....

One day I'm going to attempt to make these Cinnamon Rolls or maybe Kirsty could just make them and deliver them to me? Thanks. I have made her energy bites though and can confirm that they pleased even a hardened chocolate obsessive.

Recent posts by Peonies and Polaroids such as this one on Living Adventurously  and things she might want to do  were just really what I needed to read right now because, 'hello existential crisis my old friend'. I am trying to write a post about my current situation but I don't think I can put it into words as eloquently as Cara does here so just read that instead.

FFFilth.xyz is just a fucking cool blog and in her own words, is a fitting name for Hanna. Ughhh fuck you SEO title and focus keyword is one of my favourite posts. All the writing is spot on and the photographs are incredible. Did I mention that I'm really impressed by people with photography skills?

Happy reading folks :)

Style Me February without the style

Definite trend towards 'so casual I might as well not bother changing out of my pyjamas' on my Pinterest board.

God, I can't get the quality of these instagram pictures to look any better!!


It was always going to end up this way wasn’t it? Did any of you foresee otherwise? You have way more faith in me than you really should. I heartily recommend dialling that optimism back a little bit.

The February style challenge was a resounding success. If you count four photographs out of twenty eight potential opportunities as a resounding success, which I do so there you go. Setting expectations low guarantees satisfaction. That's my sage advice for the day.

My learnings from the February style challenge are:

1)      I like pyjamas.
2)      I like clothes that are basically just pyjamas appropriate for outside wear. 
3)      I like stripes. 
4)      I like trainers.
5)      I’m not really very stylish am I?
6)      I wish I looked like the people on Pinterest who clearly have their shit together.
7)      I’m not sure that I’ll ever have my shit together.
8)      I should really iron my clothes more often but that would require having my shit together. See point 7.
9)      I quite enjoy having a job where I have to wear a uniform. It strips all sartorial stress away from me.
10)    I think I’d look a little more like I had my shit together if I bought new shoes. Ones which aren’t trainers or £5.00 ballet pumps from Primark ideally.

Like these ones maybe?


I mentioned before that I’m all about that sensible shoe game and I think that these ones are fancy yet sensible enough to suit my desires. I was sold at the mention of a ‘sturdy, thick sole.’ Stop with the sexy talk Mr Geiger. Seriously though, look at that sole! My arches would be so supported. Heavenly.

The other challenge, which was to run 5k in 20 minutes, was going fairly well, with some impressive improvements in my pace. That was until I just stopped. Work, travel and my comfy bed got in the way of
this challenge recently. Next week is surely my week for picking back up where I left off. Definitely next week, I promise.

Monday, 16 February 2015

An Ode to a ....Suitcase?



As soon as I left my house on Friday night I had a funny feeling that it would be the last trip for my little pink suitcase. I trailed it along behind me and kept thinking to myself 'wouldn't it be sad if it broke?'  I even thought about the idea of writing this very blog post. This suggests that I should perhaps get more extravagant daydreams. Maybe I wished it or maybe it's just old and too travel worn to continue on but on the last day of our trip I realised that my suitcase was broken. I'm more upset about this than I should reasonably be. It is after all, just a suitcase.

I don't remember how it came into my possession. The first I can remember of it is trailing it behind me as I left for my first experience of travelling abroad. It was just me, a rucksack (which I still have) and a tiny, shiny pink suitcase. I wheeled it along behind me from airport to hostel to station to hostel back to station and on again to hostel. You get the gist. The suitcase held more clothes than I thought it would and I lived out of that small thing for two months, washing my clothes by hand, drying them in the Italian sun and placing them back in their little pink home when they were done.

In Rome, pathetically lost as I'm apt to be, I pulled my increasingly heavy suitcase round and round the outside of the Vatican. I stuffed dry crackers into my mouth for energy and chided myself for not carrying enough water. I desperately searched for the bus stop that the hostel website had promised would be there. I found it after what felt like an eternity of climbing uphill and with one last burst of effort I lifted my suitcase to board the bus to the hostel where I was to spend the next ten days.

The suitcase came with me to cabins, hostels and hotels. It made the eight hour journey from Rome to Como perched above my head on the train. It accompanied me to many train stations where it often functioned as a seat while I was waiting for my ride. Once, I attempted to look much cooler than I really was and I leaned casually on my suitcase, smoking a Marlboro lights cigarette. My suitcase promptly decided that I was being a bit of an arse and slipped away from underneath me, depositing me and my horrible cigarette on the ground in front of a station platform filled with stylish Italians who really knew how to look the shit smoking cancer sticks.

The little pink suitcase was there on my first trip away with a boy. The boy. It rested in the overhead lockers as I laughed at his nerves at flying for the first time. Its home for the next few days was a hostel in King's Cross while we explored Christmas markets and Oxford Street together. It's been to London so many times since then. Once for two weeks it resided in Islington while I explored London alone and Ryan interned. I spent lots of time shopping and more time hoping that he wouldn't decide to move down there after graduation.

We didn't move there, but others close to me did and for the past five years that suitcase has been shoved into overhead lockers on planes and trains headed for London. Its been there for a trip down to be fitted for a bridesmaid dress, to watch Beyonce play at Chime for Change, a trip to see Dolly Parton, a visit to Wimbledon and most recently to meet with a new arrival.

The suitcase came with me on a second European adventure. It was by my side when I turned up to the wrong airport on the first day of the trip. It rolled along behind me from Germany to France to Spain and Italy again and it was there when I was fined by a French train conductor for no obvious reason. It came along for the twenty four hour journey from San Sebastien to Nice and at the end of that horrific ordeal it seemed to weigh a great deal more as I dragged it around while we searched, with little joy, for a place to spend the night. I'm sure it was probably kicked a fair few times in the process.

The suitcase was routinely filled and put into my car for journeys home where I could relinquish the responsibility of adulthood and allow my mother to cook my meals and tidy up after me. When I first moved to Edinburgh it was filled every weekend but it lies empty for longer periods of time now.

I'm older and less adventurous now so it almost feels like the breaking of this suitcase is the closing of a chapter. It's likely that my next suitcase won't travel so far, won't ever see the inside of a hostel and won't ever be my only companion on the road. Maybe that's why I'm so sad it's broken.

Little pink suitcase - it's been a blast.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Aerial Assault Course at Edinburgh International Climbing Arena


Photograph courtesy of Edinburgh Leisure

You might have noticed me going on about something exciting that I'd been invited along to this weekend. I'm happy to report that February 2015 has had a little bit of adventure in it courtesy of the good people at Edinburgh Leisure who invited me along to the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho to try out the updated Aerial Assault course. The course is relaunching on the 14th of February so if you're stuck for something to get that special someone for Valentine's day, now you have your answer! Roses are so overrated, honestly.

I was so excited to receive this invite. It was basically all of my favourite things rolled into one. Random activity? Check. Fannying about really high up? Check. Free? Check. See, perfect. Also, I've got a wee soft spot for the climbing centre because last year Ryan and I had a great day there learning to climb and also it's where I did the abseil for March's challenge last year. Remember? The one in which you totally mistook me for Angelina Jolie? No? Okay then.

The aerial assault course is good fun. I use the word 'fun' loosely of course. It's actually quite terrifying but if that's your bag then you're in for a treat. Clearly it is my bag, so I loved it. It's 100ft above the floor of the climbing arena which is pretty darn high and will definitely get your heart racing and your legs shaking. The other thing about being that high up is that it's not entirely conducive to getting lots of photos because (quite sensibly) you're not allowed to take your phone on the course lest you drop it. So, there are not many photos for me to share. Just this one video of me stepping off the edge to make my way over to the course. Just a bit scared. 



The assault course could be pretty tough if you go round it properly. There are lots of ladders, rope nets, climbing challenges and a zip wire. However I have a tendency to half ass things (you might have noticed) so instead what I did was sit down in the harness and swing myself around the course. No upper body DOMS for me tomorrow. I'm sensible like that you see. Also, you feel a lot safer when your entire body weight is supported by the harness. It's a nice wee reminder that you're not going to fall to a grisly death if you lose your balance. When you stand straight up and can't feel the tug of the harness, it's easy to forget that. I like being scared, but not that scared.

You have to be over 145cm tall to take part in the aerial assault course (yes, I made the cut off!!) and it's open Saturday-Sunday, booking recommended. It'll set adults back £11.90 and children £9.60 which is a pretty reasonable price for twenty minutes of absolute terror fun.

A huge thank you to Edinburgh Leisure for inviting me to take part.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Fast February

January was a month of clock watching. A month where the pressure of so much unfilled time weighed heavily on my shoulders. I always assume that I'm desperate for more time but when gifted it, the pressure to do something significant with it is too overwhelming and I mostly feel regretful about failing to spend it wisely.

February is only four days old and already, most of its hours are accounted for. February is a diary filled with notes and obligations. It is a month of working six or seven days a week, of travelling to visit friends and of fulfilling exciting blog related opportunities. This fast February is the perfect antidote to my slow January. It's not sustainable long term to push myself so hard but I need this month to be tough to give me a good kick up the backside. I'm excited about it. Feel free to redirect me to this blog post on the 28th of February when I'm complaining about not having had time to eat/sleep/exercise/breathe etcetera.  

I feel this month, the same way that I did in January of last year. That is, I feel buoyed with excitement about so, so many plans. I like plans. They're kind of my thing. I'm also excited because of the aforementioned blog related stuff which is happening this weekend. I won't give it away just yet but I've been invited to take part in something which is just so up my street it's unreal.

Deciding whether or not to keep blogging is something that I've been mulling over for a while. It's hard to keep writing and putting myself out there, especially when growth is slow. I've started to wonder if anyone likes what I write, if I'm delusional in thinking that I'm not completely terrible at this and if maybe I should just call it a day and stop annoying everyone on Twitter (probably yes). Approximately 10,000 times over the past thirteen months I've thought about just stopping. If I was going to do so though, I would have gone down in a blaze of glory after the twelfth challenge (I mean, it was a little bit glorious, right?). So it looks like you're stuck with me.

There's not a particularly strong reason why I keep going other than that I like it. I likes it so I does it. Even if nobody reads it, I feel proud of myself for producing something (however small and insignificant) and for exercising a muscle that it would be much easier for me to allow to lie dormant.

Every time I get really close to quitting, something happens which reaffirms my faith and tells me just to keep plugging away. I'll read a comment which is so thoughtful and considered that it reminds me that even if people aren't reading and commenting in their droves, those who are doing so are awesome. On one occasion I discovered that I'd been nominated for an Edinblogger award. It completely surprised me and reminded me that those page views I notice on my blogger home page aren't just numbers, but they're people reading and (seemingly) enjoying what goes on here. Other times, I've been overawed to notice a stream of traffic from a website and realise that I've made it onto someone's blog roll or been mentioned in an article about the best fitness bloggers in Edinburgh.

These things all make me loathe to stop blogging but those accolades are few and far between and so largely I post to an overwhelming sound of silence and assume that it's only me and my Mum reading my meandering posts. Actually I think even my Mum has stopped reading. Mummy?

During the dry spells self-doubt inevitably creeps in and I get close to calling it a day. That's exactly how I was feeling last week when I checked my email inbox and on two separate occasions found emails asking me to take part in something so relevant to my blog that I actually felt a little gobsmacked. How the frig did these people find me? Is this real life (or is this just fantasy!? - Sorry, couldn't help myself)

I didn't start this blog with hopes of receiving such opportunities. I started it to raise money for charity and to practice writing, which was something that I humoured myself I might be vaguely competent at. That someone got in touch with me about this, without my having to go out looking for it, is beyond my comprehension and I feel so grateful and excited. I think it means so much to me right now because it's just a timely reminder that showing up consistently is worth it, even when it's quiet and you think you're doing a shitty job. It has reminded me that putting a bit of effort into something will eventually attract opportunities that I'll be excited about. Finally, those emails reaffirmed to me that everything arises in small, baby steps. I really needed to be reminded of that right now.

I suppose what I'm saying, in my typical long-winded fashion, is this;

If you read what I write - thank you.
If you ever comment on what I write - thank you.
If you nominated me for the Edinblogger award - thank you.
If you've ever written about me - thank you.
If you've ever taken the time to email to ask me to get involved in something - thank you.

Just thank you.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Space

Lately I've been feeling like I need a little bit more space. I love Edinburgh but sometimes it can get a bit claustrophobic. This feeling is surely exaggerated by the fact that I've been spending a lot of time in my flat at the moment. We're thinking of buying a place soon but every time we look at one it reminds us of just how little space we can afford. City living has many benefits but spacious housing is not one of them. I've been back to Dundee to stay with my parents for a couple of nights recently and it was nice to be in a house with a bit of room to rattle around in and a garden beckoning for me to stretch my legs, even if it was too cold to venture out.

Cabin fever isn't something new for me. I don't like to be hemmed in and I don't like to sit still. When I worked in an office, I couldn't sit at my desk for more than forty minutes. I had an insatiable urge to get up and wander about. It burned me up. I'd look out of the window and feel resentful that I was trapped inside. The sound of the air con pumping recycled air through the room taunted me. I'd finish the day and trap myself in my small car to make the journey back into the city at rush hour. A multitude of cars surrounded mine. The roads here seem narrow and so, so full. Every road is busy. One of the best things about living in a city is the way that it throbs with life, a frenetic, exciting heartbeat. One of the worst things about living in a city  is the way that it throbs with life, a tiring, noisy heartbeat.

Growing up, I kept horses and that meant that every single day, come rain or shine, I was outside. There were acres of fields to gallop through, woods to wander in, huge barns full of haybales to jump around on and plenty of space to just run free. I miss having a reason to get outside, because it's too easy to make excuses and keep myself bundled up in my small, warm flat.

If you asked most people who know me well, they probably wouldn't describe me as an outdoorsy person. I get cold really quickly and complain constantly about the wind whipping my hair about. I love being outside though. It's good for my soul I think, to feel like there's infinite space around me, to feel the pinch of the cold air on my face and to let my legs move themselves in whatever direction they desire.

One of the great things about living in this particular city is that it's easy enough to get away from the crowded streets and find a little bit of space.

I took a trip up to Arthur's Seat today which is an inactive volcano positioned at the bottom of Edinburgh's Royal Mile. It's a popular walking spot so it isn't particularly quiet but it does make up for that with its splendour. It makes me really happy to look down on the city and see that the buildings which were bearing down on me only five minutes before, look miniscule from this viewpoint. It makes me feel like I'm gigantic. It also reminds me that a bit of distance from things makes them seem much less imposing.

I'm not much of a photographer, nor do I really have the patience or inclination to learn properly but I've taken some iPhone snaps for you anyway. Ps - In the third photograph down you can see Calton Hill in the background.