Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016

I haven't written here since March. 2016 has pretty much entirely passed by without me writing so much as a sentence in this space. However, it's New Year's Eve, this blog turns three tomorrow and I thought it might be good (for me) to reflect upon some of what has gone on in 2016.

It's been a strange year with many, many strains and frustrations but also many wonderful moments and opportunities that perhaps I tend to gloss over when I'm thinking about how this year has been.

In February I moved home to Dundee to live with my parents. Whilst it's never easy to return to your hometown with your tail between your legs, it has allowed me the financial freedom to achieve some other pretty significant things this year and it's also meant that Ryan and I have been able to develop a strong bond with my parents through living in such close quarters for nearly a year.

In April I hosted my hen do and had all of the lovely ladies in my life together in one space. There's nothing that can quite prepare you for how excellent it feels to have everyone you love coming together like that and it's a memory I will treasure forever.



Even more wonderful than my hen do was that on the 23rd July 2016 I married the love of my life.  The months preceding that day were spent in a state of financial anxiety, panic about ill fitting kilts and dead flowers, and concern that we would be terrible hosts but when it finally arrived everything went exactly as planned.

Weddings are funny things. The cost and the pressure to please everyone is so intense that the build up is as far from romantic as it could possibly be. It's all stress about money, deadlines and familial obligations but then, all of that dissipates when you get to the day and all you feel is an overwhelmingly warm love that extends far beyond just the two of you. All of your friends and family are in one room together, celebrating you both and sending you all their best wishes for your future. People take time out of their day to send you well wishes by text or on Facebook. They bless you with generous gifts and they write sweet messages in cards. Everybody wants to hug you and congratulate you. You see that people are happy for you and that, in turn, makes you happy. It's the best thing ever and worth every last moment of stress in the build up.










Sorry that the photos have little marks at the side, they are just screenshots because I'm writing this in a rush. All of our photos were by Steven Gallagher. I highly recommend checking him out if you're getting married.

And then of course, you get to go on honeymoon. We decided to split the honeymoon into two because Ryan is self employed and we didn't want to take too much time off. We decided on Madrid immediately after the wedding and Iceland in December. I'd like to tell you that honeymoons are all about the romance but I spent mine with a stinking head cold and a UTI that would not shift so that put a bit of a dampener on any shenanigans. Despite illness (Ryan was ill when we went to Iceland too!) both honeymoons were excellent and I highly recommend visiting both places.

 The view from our hotel in Madrid. 





Reykjavik from Hallgrimskirkja.

Career wise, I started a new job in October. Yes, another one! I know! It's been great so far and I'm looking forward to really getting my teeth into it in the new year. As an aside, I was lucky enough to travel to London in November with work and use that opportunity to catch up with two of my best friends who live down there. 2016 has really been a year where I've managed to spend a lot of time with friends and that's something that I will definitely carry forward into the future.

Then in December I got to see my niece get married to her childhood sweetheart. It was another really great day, filled with so much joy.

So, in short, despite any of my moaning to the contrary, 2016 has been kind of fabulous and I'd like to thank anyone who contributed to that in any way. To my new husband, to my parents and in-laws, to all of my wonderful friends and family and to everyone who sent us well wishes and cards, thank you so very, very much. In a year where we really needed it, you have filled our lives with love and joy. I wish you all the very best for 2017 and beyond.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

March Motivation



Er, so this is a really big photo of my face and was also not taken on my run today but whatever, it illustrates the general gist of the post well.

With the move back home, this month has felt a little bit surreal. While I get settled into my new life my motivation to do much other than work, eat and repeat has taken a bit of a hit. But alas, I am here to write a post telling you that this is about to change. March will be the month where I get my life together, once and for all. Erm, maybe.

It has started somewhat early as this morning I got up and went straight out for a six mile run. It's getting a little easier to convince myself to do that as the sun rises a little earlier and it no longer feels like I'm dragging myself out there in the middle of the night. It was a crisp, slightly frosty morning and the cold air turned my hands red and sent a chill through me as I breathed it in. It felt good. With that, the half marathon training has officially begun and I shall no longer purposely ignore my run keeper notifications. The app sends unfailingly cheery messages such as 'Looking forward to your 12 mile run tomorrow, Kylie?' Recently, these tend to be answered with a resounding 'fuck off'.

No more! Let's be friends again Run keeper. I truly apologise for my contemptuous behaviour.

I also bought myself a nice shiny pink yoga mat in order to encourage more dedication to practicing that more regularly so you can tell that I'm really serious about this lifestyle change.

Although, whilst I'm trying to be more motivated, I'm also trying to be a little bit more streamlined. This realisation occurred when I was frantically searching for a triathlon to take part in. The options available to me were the Montrose Triathlon, only a week after the half marathon or Monikie Triathlon two weeks before my wedding. Thoughts of injuring myself and hobbling down the aisle on crutches put the kibosh on that one. (As an aside, isn't that a wonderful idiom. I've spent half an hour on google trying to figure out what it actually means and where it comes from. Short answer is - I have no idea).

In amongst all this triathlon organising a thought occurred to me. Maybe I'm doing enough? Perhaps I don't always need to be cramming stuff in for the sake of it? Couldn't it be said that starting a new job, getting married, running a half marathon and writing a blog is enough for one person to do? I think, if I was being a little less tough on myself, I'd probably think it was.

So for March my goal is thus; focus on the running, the yoga, the wedding and the job and do the other stuff when I have the time and inclination. Hardly an epiphany I know but much needed nonetheless.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Three weeks in

The first few weeks of our new life in Dundee have flown past. A mix of working, living and catching up with lots of people has meant that our days and evenings are full. This was exactly what we wanted after the quiet solitude of our lives in Edinburgh and while it's wonderful, it's also new and overwhelming and we're trying to negotiate with the time and space available to us in order to find the right balance.

Moving back to the place where I grew up brings with it mixed emotions. I'm excited to be closer to home but also, there's a sense of deja vu and perhaps, dare I say, defeat. I sleep in the same bed I did as a teenager. I ride the same bus to work that I rode into town on Saturdays to spend my pocket money. I traverse the city without really thinking about where I'm going or what I'm seeing because I know it too well.

I've been trying to make a conscious effort to get rid of this attitude and take a bit of time to appreciate my surroundings and let myself be surprised by things I find in a city I know well. The best thing about home is that it's only a short run to get out into the countryside and so when the light allows, I've been making sure that my running routes take me away from the grey pavements and out towards the fields and dighty (pronounced di-ch-ty) burn that travels southeastwards on its journey to meet the river Tay.

On our second weekend in our new home we ventured out to the snow covered Sidlaw Hills and I rejoiced in the fresh air and powdery whiteness of my surroundings. Then, that evening we found a new favourite pizza haunt, a most essential thing in any place I expect to call home.










Monday, 8 February 2016

Edinburgh: A Photo Diary and a Farewell

We left Edinburgh a little over a week ago. In the month preceding our leave I tried to commit as much of it as possible to memory. The weather didn't help as it was a little too cold and dark to do so much exploring but I tried nonetheless. I made a conscious effort to look up and gaze towards the Pentlands on my way to work and on the occasion that I spotted a a nicely coloured morning sunrise, I took out my phone and snapped away, mentally framing the vision in my mind too and reminding myself just exactly how deeply I've loved this city with its ragged skyline and Arthur's Seat looming over the spires of the old town.

Running along my usual routes I lifted my gaze from the path in front of me more often than I normally would and tried to permanently scan the scenes around me into my brain for future reference should I ever miss them, which hindsight has shown me that I do.  I didn't manage to get down to Cramond, one of my favourite discoveries during my time living in Edinburgh but I can picture it so vividly that I wonder whether it is possible that the memory will ever fade. Living in a new city meant that every trip out of the house allowed me to explore unknown streets and find new favourite haunts.

I've loved Edinburgh so much but for the last couple of years I've felt like it has been missing something for me. It's fine living in a city that you love, but life isn't really about buildings, and nice running routes and an abundance of restaurants. Initially I loved the feeling of living in a city where we didn't have any ties. It gave me a sense of independence, a feeling that I was out there on my own. I like solitude. It suits me, within reason, and gives me a sense of freedom. Over the last couple of years though, that solitude has become ever more oppressive and my love for the city didn't seem like enough to keep me there.

And so, changing circumstances bring us back to the town I grew up in. I've switched the claustrophobia of solitude for that of a life already lived. When I left six years ago, I didn't think I'd return so happily, imagining instead that I'd want to live in a variety of places and explore more of the world yet I'm excited and positive for this move. It's allowing us the freedom to build our lives from scratch again and because of this we have the opportunity to consider exactly what we want that to look like. The strange thing is that when I really think about what I want my life to be, it's very different from the ideas I had when I was younger about what that would look like. It involves much more stability and routine than I ever imagined would be desirable.

So, here we are. Starting over in my home town, with a new job in a field that I'm really interested in and which seems like a small step in the right direction. And personally, I'm taking some inspiration from my previous efforts on this blog which taught me that I can live a life filled with new experiences right on my own doorstep if only I go out looking for them.

For now, at least, it's likely that Edinburgh won't feature as much on the blog so I thought that I'd share a few of my favourite photos as a way of saying a fond farewell to the city that has been my home for the past six years.


 This is one of the most iconic views over Edinburgh and for good reason. From this spot Edinburgh looks at its finest, all towering spires and moody buildings. Edinburgh looks brilliant in the sunshine but it is on a dark day, with a grey sky menacing that the view from Calton Hill really captures its essence.

 The photo above is taken from the very steep walk up one side of Arthur's seat and looks out towards the Forth. the dark shapes just before the river are buildings on Calton Hill so I'm essentially staring back at the vantage point from which I took the first photograph (kind of).

During my training for the Triathlon in 2014 I discovered that a cycle path nearby my house led me straight to Cramond and decided to go off for an adventure. It was the kind of sunny day that had the smell of summer permeating the air and I came across this place for the first time. It quickly became one of my favourite places to cycle to until some bloody buggers stole my bike. It's a little bit of wilderness right in the heart of a bustling city.



Also while on a cycling kick I often ventured down to South Queensferry and felt pretty dwarfed by this view of the Forth Road bridge.

 The photo above is Greyfriar's Kirk which I often liked to pop into if I was walking around the grass market area because I am a creepy bastard who loves graveyards and this is one of Edinburgh's finest. Also - interesting factoid - J.K Rowling was reportedly inspired by the gravestone of one Tom Riddell for the name of her infamous villain, Voldemort.



In keeping with the creepy graveyard aficionado theme, this is the Commonwealth graveyard which was just around the corner from our flat (which was at the back of the buildings in the background). 

And finally, I'll finish with a picture of a pretty spectacular sunrise taken from the window of my work office. The perks of starting at 7.30am!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

2016 plans

Admittedly it's a little bit late for resolutions but regardless, I like to start the year off with a little list of the things I hope to write about on the blog over the course of the coming twelve months. It is, after all, the way in which this blog began and even as the views plateau and my motivation to write wanes, I'm reluctant to abandon this little space completely because it provides me with some focus and encourages me to get out there and do some exploring. The reason for setting this all out in a post at the beginning of the year is that it gives me a sense of accountability. It encourages me to adhere to the goals I've set myself and is there to remind me of them when I stumble or falter along the way.

2015 was a tough one for the blog because once the structure of the monthly challenges of 2014 was gone, I was never really quite sure what to write about. I've tried a variety of posts and I think it's clear that I'm better at writing posts about actually doing things, than I am at the more general, introspective posts that I enjoy reading so much on other blogs. 2015 was a strange year personally too so the lack of structure in my work life impacted my ability to get out adventuring. When you're working six days a week, or your days off are split up then it's quite difficult to motivate yourself to do anything other than sleep on days off.

This year, hopefully my work life will be a little bit more settled, and combined with the realisation of what I like to write about I've decided that I'll take the blog back to basics. The posts probably won't be very frequent, I'll aim for probably one a month at least. This is because I want to write about things I've been exploring or taking part in rather than giving you general updates.

The one thing that I'm really keen to do is make the most of my weekends and explore Scotland a little bit more so you can expect to see a lot of that over the coming year. I've already scheduled a Munro climb in April with my wee climbing pal Andrea and we're hoping to climb another in the summer also. I've always wanted to visit Orkney so I'm going to make an effort to finally make the journey up there this year.

As we're moving away from Edinburgh at the end of this month, there will be less of that featured on the blog but I'll endeavour to get out and about exploring the area of Tayside and Angus, which is where I'll be living for the foreseeable future.

For Christmas, Ryan gave me an IOU voucher for a trip to Iceland so we'll be booking that at some point during the year, although we're trying to figure out the best time to go so am unsure exactly when that will be. We also have a honeymoon to plan and I've got a couple of ideas for that too.

Activity wise, I've signed up for a 10k in February and a half marathon in May so I'll be documenting that on the blog and I'm keeping my eyes peeled for anything else that I can get involved in. As ever, if there's anything that you'd particularly like to read about on the blog then feel free to offer up the suggestion and I'll do my best to incorporate it.

Outside of the blog, my main aims for this year are to try and broaden my horizons somewhat by reading some more non-fiction and learning a second language. As we're thinking about a trip to Spain for honeymoon I've decided to sign up for a beginners' Spanish class. If anyone speaks Spanish and wants to help me progress then please drop me a message! I find that the problem in learning a language is definitely the lack of opportunity to practice. For years, I've been at an awkward stage with my Italian where I know quite a bit, but don't have any opportunity to put it into practice so that when I'm actually confronted with the chance to use it, I panic and can't make the most of it.

So, there are potentially lots of adventures to be written about in 2016. I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank those of you who have been reading over the last two years. I've had a blast writing about my small adventures and hopefully I can bring you some interesting stories throughout this year.