Month: August 2019

Me and my bike

Sponsor Us

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On September 8th, we will be cycling 45 miles from Glasgow to Edinburgh, part of the last ever Pedal for Scotland ‘Classic Challenge’.

We are raising money for Give a Dog a Bone. They are a Glasgow based charity who raise funds to assist the over 60s with rescuing a pet companion. They also have a Community Space project which allows the over 60s to pop in for activities or just a cuppa. To date they have helped over 300 animals find a brighter future – let’s help them increase this number!

SPONSOR US ON JUSTGIVING

I’ve done Pedal for Scotland a few times now, but this is only the second time I’ve done it with a sponsor in mind.

If anyone felt like chipping in a couple of quid it would make a world of difference. We are close to our target!

If nothing else, know that if you do sponsor us, then you’ll have the evil pleasure of knowing you’ve made me cycle for 45 miles and that I won’t be able to walk properly the next day! Go on, do it to make me suffer!!

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Life is a journey

Aftermath

Sometimes when I sit down to write a blog post, ok MOST times when I sit down to write a blog post, I’ve only got a vague idea of what I’m going to write about. I start to type and the words flow and my brain forms ideas as I go and more often than not I end up at a different place than I expected, writing about a whole other thing than the original premise. Most times I’m lucky that it kinda flows together and makes some sense and I can finish what I’m writing without too much effort.

But sometimes whilst the first few hundred words flow out easily, I start to get bogged down more and more as I head towards the end. I have about 6 posts sitting in draft at the moment and 5 of these remain there for exactly this reason. I don’t know how to finish them (the 6th is a list of iOS apps I recommend so that’s more a ‘can I bothered’ issue than anything).

Most recently, what started as a quick post about the ‘aftermath’ of my sisters wedding (which was wonderful) I, as originally planned, started to write and reflect on her future with a view to turning to my own plans for my life, and it was about then I started to get stuck. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find the right words (we know what our plan is for the coming years, that isn’t the issue) it was more that I couldn’t find words that didn’t make it sound like I was bragging or celebrating the fact that it feels like I’ve got my shit together. How very dare I!

Why is that? Why shouldn’t I be proud of being happy, of being in a good place in my life? It doesn’t negate any of the previous experiences I’ve been through, doesn’t minimise the impact others have had on me, and as Becca and I keep saying, we wouldn’t be WHO we are, or WHERE we are if it wasn’t for our pasts. We’ve both made mistakes, both gone through some horrible times, so surely we deserve the right to be able to talk about our plans with a smile and without any shame?

Examining why I struggle to praise myself, why I struggle to stand up and say, despite knowing I have fucked up in the past and will fuck up again and knowing that I still have issues to work through (self-image issues, money/debt issues, etc etc), that I feel so very happy and so very lucky and that that is a GOOD THING… well that’s an entirely other topic (and probably something I’ll figure out mostly in private if it’s all the same to you).

It’s an odd feeling, to be quietly proud and almost secretly happy of our life, and yet still feel like you can’t shout about it. So, frankly, fuck that attitude. We know we are happy and we know that life moves forward so it’s time to embrace that. Looking at my sister as she danced her heart out on her wedding day confirmed, above all, that love is the best thing so I’m gonna focus on that, and use that as a basis for our future.

Anyway, with all of that said and done, here’s the post as it stood round about when I realised I was struggling to finish it and then realised why.

It’s fair to say that my sisters wedding was a huge success, a joyous day all round and it was wonderful to see so many happy faces throughout the day; a testament to my sister and her (now) husband. The happiest of them all was my sister and, during the final songs of the evening when I managed to grab her for a dance, she professed as much. I hugged her tight, we both welled up (as we do) and I told her for the umpteenth time that day that I was just so happy for her, that I loved her, and she deserved all of the love in that room.

What a wonderful day it was, seeing friends and family come together, all the people there to help celebrate with Jennie and Steven, my gorgeous niece stealing the show at every turn, not to mention Bob the Shetland Pony who made an appearance too (the venue is part equestrian centre, I should hasten to add). The staff were superb, the food was good, the band were awesome, and the whole day went off without a hitch.

Emotions ran high, as they should on such a day, and at the end of the evening when Becca and I got back to our room it’s fair to say that the day caught up with me. Tears flowed, happy ones, sad ones, poignant ones, they all came tumbling out. Thoughts of family, my parents, of loved ones that weren’t there, or my future, our future, and everything we already hope it will contain, it was all in there. A wonderful stramash of emotions that reaffirm my belief in love and happiness being at the root of all good things.

The next morning we helped gather up the last of the presents, and the various items from the wedding ceremony that were lying around. As we did, the hotel staff busied themselves for the next wedding happening later that day. A marker that time does not stand still and that, all too soon, normality returns.

When you consider all the planning that goes into a day like that, the myriad choices made months ago, it’s a marvel that they all came together so seamlessly and gave us all, not just the bride and groom, a nice relaxed day with little to no stress for those directly involved.

And so it is with life, or at least so I hope it will be in the coming years.

I’ve never really been one for grand long term plans and as age/life experience starts to offer me what may be referred to as wisdom by others, certainly not by me, the futility of such things seems all the more imposing given how often life will throw in some curveballs just when you think things are on track. Conversely, it may be those very curveballs that define the direction of your life, even if you don’t realise it at the time, yet I still find myself striving for a plan, after all what is life without some sense of direction, some view of what’s next? The cliche stands; life is a journey.

As I started to wonder what was next for my sister (I have a rough idea!) it prompted that very question – what’s next? – to start rattling around my own brain although, truth be told, I know roughly what the next things are so my mind quickly turned to the more practical matter of how to make them happen. This is all very “5 year plan” of me and part of that makes me uneasy for I know those curveballs are waiting in the wings yet, despite that and for the first time in a long time, these things feel achievable.

I’m not really planning in great detail though, but having a clear direction of where I want to be, where we want to be, in a few years time makes things much easier to deal with, much easier to prioritise.

wedding rings

And then she got married

I can remember when I opened the packaging and laid it out in all its glory. I put my Action Man down on the bed to compare and was delighted to find that my new outfit matched his perfectly; head to toe camouflaged jumpsuit and red beret. I knew my parents would be home from the hospital soon so I put it on and decided to hide in the large fuchsia bush in the front garden, a perfect spot with its dark green foliage and red flowers!

Soon my parents pulled in to the driveway – and they definitely did NOT spot me in my hiding place, nope, no way! – and after they recovered from their surprise when I leapt out at them, it turns out they were bringing home a tiny sleeping baby, my little sister.

That seems so long ago now (because it is) but the sentiment has always been the same. She’s my wee sister. She’s been through a lot in the intervening years, and more recently she’s found a guy who loves her and they are both proving to be wonderful parents to their amazing daughter, which is all as we expected.

And today my baby sister – who I fed from a bottle, who I used to torment on long car rides, who shares my love of a tuna baked potato and a tendency to get over emotional about, well, just about anything – got married. She is now a wife, another label to add to mother, daughter, sister, and so on.

My sister got married today.

I was lucky enough to be asked to deliver a reading during the ceremony and, as I’m writing this post in advance, I can only hope it went down well given that:

  1. I wrote it myself.
  2. Our family propensity to tear up…

That said, I’m sure it was well received and, if not, then it’s just another ‘wedding story’ for people to tell. I don’t really mind either way because the more important fact is simply that.

My wee sister got married today!


And for those interested, here’s what I read…

“Would you speak at our wedding”,
she asked me that day,
and since then I’ve been hunting,
for words I can say.

Should it be funny, or silly, or poignant, or new,
to be part of the promises made by you two.

Should this be about Jennie, this little ode,
Or a poem of love, for young and for old.

Should I focus on Steven, my brother to be,
And find words of welcome, from our fami-leee?

It struck me as well, that you two are three,
How could I forget Lucy, I’m Uncle Gee!

Yet, search as I might, I just could not find,
A poem or saying, nowt came to mind.

I know Dad will speak later, as is expected
And I know that these words will not be rejected,
But ohhh how I wish I knew how to say,
All the thoughts in my head that are right for today.

Perhaps I could just borrow some words for a while,
An excerpt from someone to make us all smile,
Perhaps warm words of family at this loving time,
But … others will do that, before we all dine.

I so wanted to speak to the love that I see,
The laughter and jokes, and unbridled glee,
And the warmth of your home, and the love in your hearts,
But I couldn’t find words to sum up these parts.

Instead I have penned, in terrible prose,
My desires for you both as your shared life grows,
May the road rise up to meet you, with the wind at your back!
Yeah I stole that bit, ach now I’ve lost track…

So … here you are now, as husband and wife,
To continue the slide down the bannister of life,
and with that in mind I’ll conclude and just say,
I hope that the splinters never point the wrong way!

Jupiter Artland house

Art in the woods

I am my mother’s son. Growing up my mother’s penchant for a list was well documented, lists of things to do in the garden, lists of presents received at Christmas/lists of thank you letters to write, lists for shopping, lists for holidays, it’s something that I picked up without really realising but looking through my Notes app on my phone and it’s full of, yup you guessed it, lists!

Right now I have a folder in there called Lists with the following:

  • Things to do
  • Places to eat
  • Books
  • Hard to kill houseplants
  • Sipping Tequilas
  • Set lists (from a gig)
  • Bucket List
  • Present Ideas

And it’s from that first list that we ended up visiting Jupiter Artland last week, a place that had been in my list of “Things to do” for a couple of years now after originally spotting it via some friends who posted some amazing photos.

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A wander

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We got lucky with the weather, which was handy as it’s virtually all outside, and spent a couple of hours wandering the woods, along well maintained paths, stopping to admire the various art installations that feature. What a wonderful space it is, plenty of wild flowers, bees buzzing, butterflies and moths flitting, snails snoozing on branches, all to the soundtrack of birds singing in the tree tops. Every now and then you stop and marvel at some art, then you finish the afternoon off with a snack or lunch.

It’s the kind of place that it’s hard to describe but I can’t recommend it highly enough. A couple of the installations were utterly mesmerising – the hauntingly creepy “Weeping Girls” and the beauty of “The light pours out of me” were definite highlights – but each installation gave pause. It’s a wonderful space, and one we will definitely revisit.

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More from this magical place…

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