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Just Dropping By…

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…to let you know that Google Reader hasn’t updated its cache yet so if you’re subscribing to my new site using it’s going to direct you straight back here. Boo. But you can get around this by subscribing to manually or by clicking the “Subscribe in a Reader” button on my site and following the instructions. See you there!


Change of Address

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If you are seeing this, you follow my blog using the old WordPress URL. Please update your bookmark, reader, other RSS feed or memory to follow or

Looking forward to seeing you over on my shiny, minimalist new page!

Glasgow Randoms

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As promised yesterday, I’m back with all the random snaps from Lola‘s and my Glasgow vintage adventure.

It was drizzling when we got there so we took shelter in the old fashioned Bradford’s tea room and had toasted muffins. Yum!

8 Weeks: Healthy Eating

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Week three of Dani’s 8 Weeks to a Better Me project focuses on healthy eating.Eating properly is something that I’m not bad at. This is partly because Steve does most of the cooking and likes to cram as many vegetables as he can into every dish, but it’s also partly that I just like healthy stuff better. I rarely buy cakes, sweets or biscuits; I’ve never liked fizzy drinks and prefer mint tea to the caffeinated varieties; I can’t always finished restaurant portions because my stomach knows how full is enough (I tried to come up with some “belly half full” joke there but it wasn’t working – please pretend that I got funny for a moment).

So, three healthy eating goals? Um…

  1. Make sure to drink enough. I drink a lot at work but I get distracted and tend to forget at the weekend.
  2. Cut out the boredom eating. I snack a lot more on slow days at work than I do on my days off or when I’m rushed off my feet – I’m not really hungry; it’s just something to do while I wait for our web editor to load a page.
  3. I suppose I could pull my weight a little more in the kitchen… *sigh*

Glasgow Vintage

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On Saturday, Lola and I headed to Glasgow to explore the West End’s vintage shops. We had spotted a few last time we were in the city and found out about a handful more online but we were still bowled over by just how plentiful and reasonably priced they were!

Our adventures took us here:The Glasgow Vintage Co was our first stop and a good start – we both came away with purchases (mine was an 80s-does-50s style white and aqua dress, though I wish that green and orange one in the window would fit me!).Retro. We loved this place with its two floors of vintage frocks. The antiques place next door looked intriguing, too, but we were wary of having to walk around the city laden down with secondhand furniture so we didn’t go in! If you look closely, there’s a cat on the steps.Watermelon (I can’t find a website for them but they’re on Great Western Road). Lola got a fab green cord dress in here which might be a 70s maternity dress but is now her Sunday slobbing frock. I tried on a blouse with couples dancing all over it but was gutted to find it was too small.Starry Starry Night, which includes a little jewellery shop, too (again, no website, but it’s on Dowanside Lane which is a cute little mews where the following three shops, plus another antiques store and a sort of modern-vintage shop can all be found). It was crammed and interesting, with the changing room hidden behind a heap of clothing under the stairs – fun!Relics was amazing! It’s this tiny antiques shop which was so crammed full of stuff we could barely get around; there were piles and piles of boxes we couldn’t get at, meaning layers and layers of stuff nobody could see – but the stuff we could see was a fantastic mix of beautiful antiques and wonderfully kitsch tat. There were a bright yellow and a bright turquoise typewriter either or both of which I would have bought if I hadn’t had to carry them around the city for the rest of the day. I could have spent much, much longer in there than time allowed.

There was a little antiques shop across from it where I got a pack of Singer hand sewing needles with a Delia Smith recipe hand-scrawled on the back. Circa Vintage was lovely – bright and colourful and full of really well selected clothes. I got a black A-line skirt covered in bright red poppies and handmade from super-soft fabric. Across from Circa was a secondhand record store which seemed to be staffed by this ginger cat. He was awfully welcoming.

We had thought that was our lot so we caught the metro back into town (we were overly proud of ourselves for figuring it out, especially given that it’s just one big circle with no possibility of catching any wrong trains!) and went on a hunt for somewhere interesting to eat. We soon found the beautiful Lucky 7 and what should it be conjoined with but another vintage shop, Postcard? Hurrah!Of course, we didn’t go wandering around Glasgow only taking photos of vintage shops; I’ll be back tomorrow with the inevitable shots of ghost signs and random prettiness.

From Isfahan to Stonehafan

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If you’re going to tell stories from the Arabian Nights, where better to do so than in a whitewashed basement, surrounded by Persian carpets?

On Friday evening, Grampian Association of Storytellers held an Eastern themed evening in the most perfect venue: this furniture and rug shop in Stonehaven.

Some friends and I went along and spent hours listening to mystical tales, drinking apple tea and chomping dates. And the venue was amazing. Check it out:Also, this is set into the outside wall of the shop; anybody know what it is?

The Week I’ve Had (15th May 2011)

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  • Getting a big haul of furry fabric remnants for £2.20.
  • Attending two events for work.
  • Feeling like my lips were on fire from Steve’s homemade chilli pizza! Yum!
  • Regretting telling my yoga teacher that I have really stiff hips; we spent an hour attempting to stretch our legs out at silly angles.
  • Not quite so crushing a pub quiz defeat as usual. I mean, we were still in the bottom three, but everyone else had such terrible scores this week that we weren’t trailing by much…
  • Being appalled by the characters in Something Borrowed. Lola and I ranted all the way back to my front door.
  • Watching Polly attempt to chase two shoelaces, her own tail and cram herself down the back of the armchair all at the same time. She fell on the floor twice.
  • Putting pyjamas on the moment I got home on Thursday – it was my one bit of free time this week and I did as little as I possibly could.
  • A crazy busy weekend – but more on that to follow in seperate posts! It has been (and promises to continue being) an awful lot of fun.

What’s on my Bookshelf?

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Laura at Make Do and Mend introduced a great new feature this week called What’s on your Bookshelf? Bloggers from all over the place will be sharing pictures of their bookcases and talking about some of the things they display on them.

Today it was my turn (I dusted specially, you know…); head on over and check it out.

8 Weeks: Exercise

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Week two of Dani’s summer goals project focuses on exercise. Eek.

I openly admit: I’ve never been a huge fan of physical exertion. I managed to talk my way out of two solid years of sports classes at school and I got away with it by being one of those sickeningly lucky women who never put on weight. I’m not one of those sickeningly lucky women any more.

A few years ago I realised I was going to have to start moderating my hot chocolate intake and working up the occasional sweat. It was a struggle – I’m neither competitive nor cooperative enough for team sports and I knew I couldn’t motivate myself to exercise alone unless I actually found it enjoyable. So: no point joining a gym.

I discovered yoga… but I also discovered that all the yoga classes I could get to would involve getting off the sofa in the evening and working out with a stuffed stomach. My attendance was somewhat haphazard.

I loved dancing… but twirling on a dodgy leg wasn’t the best of ideas.

I walked four and a half miles home from work every evening… it kept me thin but breathing in dual carriageway fumes for forty-five minutes a day didn’t do much for my health.

But now that I work close to home things have changed: firstly, I need to do some exercise – I can’t rely on long walks home to keep me trim; secondly, working in the city centre, I can get to lunchtime yoga classes – I’ve really got no excuse not to; thirdly, coincidentally, my dodgy leg has now been more or less sorted and I’ve got a boyfriend who will put himself through dance classes for me. Exercise is very much back on my agenda – and now that I’m doing more of it, I’m finding myself actually enjoying the endorphin rush. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much I’ve invested in some totally shattering exercise games for the Wii – and I’m loving them.

So, three exercise goals? Okay, let’s see:

  1. Exercise at least three times a week. Between classes and the Wii that’s a pretty modest target but I have crazy-busy weeks sometimes (like this one!) and I would rather feel proud when I exceed my goal than disillusioned when I just don’t have time to achieve it.
  2. Remember that I’m doing this to get fit not to get thin. Weighing in on the Wii seems like an easy way to track progress but, although I’m not as slim as I used to be, I’m still a healthy weight for my height – it really doesn’t matter how many pounds I gain or lose if my strength, stamina and general all-round health are on the up. So: no checking my weight. Instead, because I know me and I know I need something to prove… something… to myself, I’m going to make a little chart to track how often I’m exercising.
  3. This one’s only a little bit about me: play with Polly properly. She tolerates having me waggle a shoelace at her while I browse the internet with my other hand, but she prefers chasing bits of string from room to room to room and leaping over furniture. It will keep her fit but, also, it can’t do me any harm to be putting a little bit of effort into playing with her!


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Sunday went like this:

  • Making a camera case which can be used as either a cushioned pouch inside my handbag or carried by itself:

    I’m quite proud of it as I made it up as I went along. And the fabric is kind of awesome.
  • Wandering around the International Market with Steve and his parents:
  • Dinner at Rustico. It’s not Mother’s Day here in the UK but Steve treated his mum anyway.
  • Mucking about with camera settings:

    (picture of me by Steve)
  • And I’m talking about watching How to Lose Friends and Alienate People now (it’s on TV at nine) although Steve’s expressing doubts.

Not sure about this whole five day working week thing we’ve got starting tomorrow; I’ve been getting a little too used to bank holidays…

The Week I’ve Had (8th May 2011)

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  • Finally watching Sunset Boulevard (and loving it).
  • Catching Polly and Steve’s Rancor having a Who’s Creepier? contest.
  • Doing actual routines on the Wii Zumba game instead of just tutorials. So… unfit… *collapses*
  • Hobbling out of my yoga class. So… unfit… *wobbles*
  • Remembering all the words to Everything About You by Ugly Kid Joe (and singing them at top volume at work).
  • Watching Water for Elephants.
  • Wanting an elephant of my own.
  • Not wanting to go to this party:
  • Just liking how the light was catching here:
  • Eating ice cream.
  • Wearing woolly gloves.
  • Voting.
  • Visiting friends who fed us lovely pumpkin enchiladas.
  • Seeing Robert the Bruce arrive in town on the back of a lorry.
  • An impromptu Friday night spent wining and dining and watching One Man Star Wars.
  • Taking Steve’s folks for Sunday dinner.

Oh So Fluffy

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My last couple of posts have read like adverts for technology, so let’s get back to normal with some gratuitous pictures of cats!

On Thursday night, Steve and I went to visit some friends and their three gorgeous somali cats. Meet the boys:


Bradie!And The Baron Logan!Aren’t they lovely?!


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Just a quick one for the Google Reader users out there…

Of the various readers I’ve given a go, Google’s is my favourite. It just is. It’s simple and reliable which is all I really need. But, for me, it has always had two flaws:

  1. It’s ever so plain and functional – some text, some pictures, no pretty backgrounds or buttons.
  2. Unless you click through to the actual blog, there’s nothing to tell the blogger that you’ve read what they’ve written and their stats look none the better for it (on bad blogging days, slowly increasing stats matter).

Well, yesterday, thanks to Red Boots, I found a solution to those flaws. Click here (or go to Settings > Reader Settings > Goodies) and drag the “Next” button into your bookmark bar. Now, instead of browsing through blogs in your Reader, you can keep clicking the next button and it will take you from blog to blog to blog, whilst marking the entries off as read. It’s more like browsing a magazine – you get to see the lovely layouts; meanwhile, the bloggers get to know you were there. Problems solved.

On Why I Love an E-Reader

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I have a confession to make. It’s one which has made literary friends reel in horror in the past. It’s one which it took me many years to admit to myself. It’s one which I’m still a little scared to type publicly for fear of being scrubbed from your RSS feed. But here it is: I don’t like books*.

I know.

But hear me out.

It’s not that I don’t like reading. I love to read. I’ve read twenty novels already this year and have another four downloaded to my Kindle, waiting to be devoured. Sometimes I struggle to pause in my reading and say hello when Steve gets home. Sometimes I get so absorbed I end up having late night toast for dinner because I’ve forgotten I need to eat. I even skip my evening dose of Facebook now and then because the make-believe lives of some fictional characters are more engrossing than those of my friends.

It’s not the contents I dislike; it’s the books.

It was different when I was younger. I left home at sixteen armed with a bag of clothes, a typewriter and maybe forty cult and/or classic novels in a box. It wasn’t a particularly inspired collection – Trainspotting; The Trick is to Keep Breathing; some books with “Zen” in the title; a little Virginia Woolf – your generic mid-nineties grungey teen feminist selection – but I was very proud of it. I loved looking at all my paperbacks lined up on my dorm room shelf, suggesting cleverness, insight and an intriguing touch of melancholy. I loved when people spotted my books and gasped, “Have you actually read them all?” and would sound vaguely, intentionally horrified when I replied, “Of course I have!” Owning – and, more importantly, displaying – a bunch of critically acclaimed novels was a huge bolster to my shaky self-esteem.

But they were still a pain to read.

They still got dusty and were difficult to clean. They still got crumbs stuck between their pages. The crinkly yellow paper of the second hand books I was told to find romantic still creeped me out and made me want to wash my hands.

And speaking of my hands: reading books made them hurt. I don’t know if it’s just that I have lousy circulation (which I do), but holding a book in one hand leaves great gouged bruises across my palms; propping books open with my thumbs causes me pins and needles; twisting them back and forth so whichever side I’m reading is in the light tires my shoulders and eventually gives me eye strain. Books: they’re a health and safety risk.

A lot of my friends disagree with me. They deny ever having felt the frustration of a book flipping closed on them. They deny ever having struggled to find a bookmark or a receipt or a ripped out bit of magazine with which to mark their place. They claim never to have felt guilt or anxiety about turning down a corner or breaking a spine – because those things just don’t happen to them. They love their books. They could never throw one out.

But I can.

It was a slow process. The first few times I moved, I clung on to all my books – even the trashy romances which had come free with magazines and which I was acutely embarrassed to have lounging against my Kafkas and Kunderas. Getting rid of a book seemed wrong.

But the more I read and the more I moved home and the more boxes I was going to have to cart around with me, the easier it became. It was liberating, picking up my German language editions of Brecht and telling myself, “You know what? I’m never going to read this again. Ever. Not once. I really don’t need to keep this.”

With each move, with each de-clutter, it got a little bit easier. More and more books were donated to charity shops. Novels which were loaned out but never found their way home, I stopped mourning quite so much. I’ve been reading sixty books a years for the seventeen years since leaving home but I’m now at a stage where I have maybe 100 novels in my bookcase.

And I’m happier for it. I don’t need to be lumbered with books I never expect to read again. I don’t need objects to tell strangers who I am. I don’t need the discomfort of trying to read a 500 page novel with feeble thumbs.

All of which is my long and wordy way of saying that I love my Kindle. I wasn’t sure I would. I thought it would feel weird reading books on something akin to a mobile phone (and, in hindsight, David Sedaris was not the best author to start with – it was too much like reading a blog). But I love how slim and light and easy to hold it is. I love having all my books stored neatly in one virtual place. I love that that place can now easily be my handbag.

What about you? Do you have a Kindle or other e-reader? Could you ever replace your paperbacks?

*This does not apply to big, shiny books full of pretty pictures. I will always love those.

8 Weeks: Blogging

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When Dani at Sometimes Sweet first started dropping hints about this project I had my doubts: spending my summer setting and achieving goals? Please! It’s enough of a challenge deciding whether to risk bare legs each morning, never mind writing a novel and climbing a mountain. But now that the introductory post is up I’ve got to admit: I’m intrigued.

Starting today (well, yesterday, depending on your time zone) and for the next seven Sunday-Mondays, Dani and her guest blogger(s) will be introducing a new topic each week and encouraging participants to set themselves three related goals. Sounds manageable, right? Three small goals to achieve in a week? And possibly three good new habits formed by the end of it?

Great. Only… I’m finding it a real challenge. And I’ve been thinking about why. I thought it was that I’m not very goal-oriented (true) or that I find self-imposed deadlines easy to ignore (true) or that my weeks tend to be busy and unpredictable (true about half of the time)… but I think it’s just that I’m very protective of my free time. The thought of being required to do (or not do) anything else with my evenings and weekends is stressing me out. It’s a by-product of working in cinemas, I think, when evenings off were short, short notice and never on the same days as the people who mattered the most to me; a whole weekend without working was not to be wasted on practical things.

Setting myself three goals each week seems like a recipe for self-recrimination.

But I love the idea of thinking about one key area each week and how I would like to improve my approach to it. So I’m going to play along in my own little way.

This week, the topic Dani has set is:I blog for pretty clear reasons and they are:

  • Because taking photos fills me with joy. Blogging gives me a reason to keep taking pictures and a place for me to put the finished images.
  • Because it gives me a reason to look for bright sides. I believe the more you look for positives, the more positive you become; my blog is by and large a happy place and I’ve been a happier person since starting it.
  • Because – while I don’t need outside approval, while I love my friends in Aberdeen – blogging makes the world seem like a friendlier place; there are so many people out there talking about things I find interesting and, while I am by no means reaching Dani’s level of recognition (I have a whopping one follower on Blog Lovin’ – hello out there, whoever you are!), I like to think that sometimes people stumble across my blog and recognise something in me.

So what else do I want to achieve with my blog? Well…

  • I want to write more. I post heaps of photos but the text is often minimal. I used to write a weekly “column” style blog (this may have been about the time I discovered Sex and the City); it was fairly popular and lots of fun for me, but I’m out of that writing routine.
  • I want to spruce it up a bit. I always want to spruce it up a bit and am a bit frustrated with not being able to edit the CSS or use things like Friend Connect in But I don’t want to pay for a personal blog. So: any hosting recommendations, anyone?
  • And finally… do you know, this is difficult. I’m not looking to turn my blog into a business or a source of income; it’s just a bit of fun and I’m not convinced it needs rigid goals. So: I don’t want my blog to turn into a burden. I am happy having one regular post per week; anything over and above that I do just for the love of it.

Mixology (Side Two)

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Over the weekend, I made my Mixology CD. There was no theme to it – I just sat beside my CD collection and picked discs at random – but it’s ended up being a collection of some of my all-time favourite tunes.

This morning, I made the cover using Photoshop and some old sheet music I found in a charity shop. Fingers crossed whoever the recipient ends up being loves these tunes, too.

The Week I’ve Had (1st May 2011)

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  • Reading Tina Fey’s autobiography. I admire Tina Fey so much that I even got a little bit excited when she said she couldn’t drive – “Hey! Me, too! We could be such good friends!
  • Going back to lunchtime yoga classes after three weeks off. Aaaaaaaah, so nice to replace all the bad aches and pains with good ones!
  • Tuesday evening: exploding light bulbs; cat poop excitement; a thorough beating at the pub quiz. Oof.
  • Receiving this fab 1971 dress pattern creation kit. I don’t even care if I never use it.
  • Holding hands with the cat.
  • Chilli, wine and Strange Days.
  • Pay day! But every penny’s already allocated. Boo! Cheapo May it is, then.
  • Not needing to watch the Royal Wedding because my Facebook news feed was providing such comprehensive coverage (but still flicking it on now and then to check out the frocks).
  • Heading to the pub with girls from work.

The Torcher Parade 2011

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Last night, Kirsty, Steve and I went to watch the Torcher Parade, an enormous annual charity event which is run by local students.

The parade starts at half seven right by Steve’s and my flat and ends roughly two hours later… right by Steve’s and my flat… so we got to watch the floats setting off on their journey around the city centre and returning with burning torches after dark.

Of course, I took loads of photos; I’ve chosen my favourite 45 (*cough*) but I heard a rumour than not everyone wants to go scrolling through tons of images so if you would like to see the full set please click the link. I swear at least three of them are worth the bandwidth! Read the rest of this entry

The People’s Piano

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Today, Steve, Alistair, Elinor and I headed to The Breadmaker for yummy sandwiches and enormous cakes. On our walk back into town, we spotted some guy playing a brightly painted piano on the other side of the street; on closer inspection, it turned out to be a travelling “People’s Piano” for anyone to muck about on. Which obviously – despite knowing how to play a total of one four line ditty between the four of us – we did.

(photo of me by Alistair)

Parasol Purses

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Last time I was in Edinburgh, I bought the prettiest vintage headscarf. It was covered in parasols. And mysterious stains.

On Sunday, I chopped the headscarf up (the unstained bits) and turned it into a vaguely protective cover for my Kindle.

Polly was a big help. Here she is measuring the fabric: It was cat sized x cat sized, so just right for lying and licking her bottom on while I waited to chop it up.

There was loads of fabric left over so I also made a compact camera case for Lola; she has a fondness for umbrellas so I hoped parasols would seem like the next best thing.

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