bookmark_borderDecember in review

The last monthly review of the year! Not sure I’ll keep these going next year but time will tell.



Ahhh December, and your parties and nights out; the work night out was the usual nonsense, the party at a friends with a huge spread of excellent (homemade) party foods was fun, the gym night out was a great cocktail filled laugh, and I started a new tradition with some colleagues (aka Team Awesome) by going to the Panto at the Pavilion which was utterly bonkers brilliant!

The run up to Christmas was nicely busy too, some good times, and apparently I’m now popular enough to get invited to too many places at the same time, which saw my Christmas Eve and Boxing Day both featuring double invites… check me out!

Christmas Day was wonderful as always, a very relaxed day mostly focused on little Lucy, and my ‘second’ Christmas Day (with the ‘family’ I chose) was a wonderful food and drink filled day of laughter (as it always is).

I feel very VERY lucky and very blessed at the moment.



Nothing finished, too busy galavanting! (As my wee granny would’ve said)


The Last Jedi
A must see for any Star Wars fan and whilst I’ll post no spoilers, I did leave the cinema a little underwhelmed. Not massively, it’s still a gloriously large scale sci-fi romp but it didn’t entirely feel part of the same universe? Hard to put my finger on but I bumped on a few scenes in the movie and still not quite sure why. It’s a good movie, but not a great one.

Also watched:
It’s a Wonderful Life.
Saw this at the small local Grosvenor cinema, a bottle of wine, comfy seats and the usual happy tears streaming down my face. Doesn’t matter how many times I watch it. Officially Christmas now!


Nothing new, too busy to stop and think so have just been revisiting favourite bands/albums from the past couple of years. Smatterings of The Go! Team, GoGo Penguin, and a few classical piano playlists have been tiding me over before the Christmas songs descended.

bookmark_borderGig: Honeyblood

Have yourself a Honeybloody Christmas!

Featuring sets by Emme Woods, Man of Moon, and The Spook School (I only got there in time to catch the latter), there was a great atmosphere prior to Honeyblood coming on stage.

Having seen them twice, once supporting Foo Fighters at Murrayfield, and once at the teeny tiny Hug & Pint, I had a sense of what to expect.

Expectation be damned!

Honeyblood have been touring for the past few months, and it shows. Up-tempo versions of some of their tracks ripped along, the tracks from the now one-year-old second album sounded vibrant, and before we knew it they’d rattled their way through their setlist and encore.

As it was a Christmas show, there was a pause mid-show for a dance off – cue a lot of pogo-ing, hands raised twirling – the winners of which got up on stage to play a round of pass the parcel, and as a final song a rather kick-ass version of Merry Christmas that Slade would’ve been proud of!

Special mention to the drummer Cat, she’s recently been playing with Mogwai and from that first gig at the Hug & Pint to the other night at the ABC, she’s turned into an absolute monster of a drummer.

All in all a pretty good gig to round off my year.

bookmark_borderThe day of boxing

It’s over.

Another year and you’ve survived Christmas Day. Well done!

For some Christmas can be an ordeal, a day to be gotten through. For others it’s a day to savour and enjoy. Whatever type of Christmas Day you had, it’s over now.

Boxing Day is a day for leftovers if you have them (trifle for breakfast!) and lazing around in front of the TV. Maybe you’ll go for a walk, maybe you’ll visit some friends, or maybe you’ll simply relax and enjoy the fact that the ‘big day’ has passed once more. I’ll be doing all of the above; trifle for breakfast, then a walk to a friends house.

However you spend these festive days, I hope you are well and can find some happiness and peace.

And whilst I remember, thank you for visiting this odd little blog, for reading and commenting, and sharing your thoughts on the nonsense I post here.

But for now, bugger off, enjoy yourself, and be good to you and yours.

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

Last one of the year (I’m taking next week off to focus on family and friends), I hope you’ve enjoyed these random selections as much as I have. It’s been quite a year, but here is to a wonderful 2018 for everyone.

  • The house that Edek built – and the secret suitcase kept inside
    When Edward “Edek” Hartry and his wife Teresa designed and built their family home near Woking, they created a daringly modern building full of light. Their glass and timber home stood out among the red-brick Tudorbethan of stockbroker Surrey – simple, open-plan and translucent.
    Quite a story, and quite a life they lead.

  • Pinegrove on How Being a Good Artist and a Good Person Are the Same Thing
    Our interview series Icebreaker features artists talking about things—some strange, some amusing, some meaningful—that just might reveal their true selves.
    Been on a bit of a Pinegrove binge (solipsistic moods and all that).

  • Deliverance From 27,000 Feet
    Five Sherpas surrounded the frozen corpse. They swung axes at the body’s edges, trying to pry it from its icy tomb. They knocked chunks of snow from the body, and the shattered pieces skittered down the mountain.
    I’m always fascinated by extremes and the people who take such risks. As horrific as this is.

  • ‘The Basic Grossness of Humans’
    Content moderators review the the dark side of the internet. They don’t escape unscathed.
    The internet can be such a dark and disgusting place, what a job.

  • Want to really understand how bitcoin works? Here’s a gentle primer
    The soaring price of bitcoin—the virtual currency is now worth more than $250 billion—has gotten a lot of attention in recent weeks. But the real significance of bitcoin isn’t just its rising value. It’s the technological breakthrough that allowed the network to exist in the first place.
    Still massively ‘meh’ about this but part of me knows I shouldn’t be. But still. Meh.

  • Hopeful Images From 2017
    2017 has been another year of news stories that produced photos which can often be difficult or disturbing to view. I’ve made it a tradition to compose an essay of uplifting images from the past year.

  • Behold The Most Hilarious Wildlife Photos of 2017
    Wildlife photographer Tibor Kércz would spend a few nights each year camped out in a tent near a tree, hoping to capture photos of little owls and their nestlings. But just before nightfall on one fateful evening, three of the birds flew out onto a short branch.

  • Endlessly zooming art
    DeepDream is a computer vision program created by Google engineer Alexander Mordvintsev which uses a convolutional neural network to find and enhance patterns in images via algorithmic pareidolia, thus creating a dream-like hallucinogenic appearance in the deliberately over-processed images.
    MESMERISING. I just lost 20 mins staring at these.

  • Dancing on roller skates with James Brown’s style
    For the latest installment of the Dance In The Real World series, the NY Times visited a Chicago roller rink where people skate in a JB Style, named after the performer James Brown. I wanted to watch about 10 more minutes of that…and then go roller skating.
    Skating (wheels or blades) is like black magic to me, just… nope… but THIS, I’d love to be able to do this!

  • Jam to These Super-Specific Spotify Playlists
    Writer Grace Spelman collects songs like they’re Legos, in a meticulously sorted tackle box.
    Already decided that 2018 will be a year of musical discovery for me, but I’m a long way from this level of collation!

  • Here’s Why Everyone Should Have an ‘Antilibrary’
    Now is the time when year-end book lists abound, hardcovers are gifted at family holidays, and your favorite writer announces that they’ve got something in store for 2018. But even if it feels like there are too many books and never enough time, that could actually be a good thing.
    An interesting idea, but goes against my desire for ‘less’… still, a mini version might be worth a shot?

  • How to Use Gender-Neutral Pronouns
    If you feel awkward using gender-neutral pronouns—or avoid them because you don’t know how to use them correctly—it’s time to get up to speed.
    Intellectually it’s pretty easy to learn, my struggle has been undoing decades of ‘muscle memory’.

  • A 17-Hour Chronological Playlist of Beatles Songs: 338 Tracks Let You Hear the Band’s Evolution From Talented Boy Band to Legendary Pop Geniuses
    The Beatles have seemingly never been just a band; they’ve been a brand, a history, an institution, a genre, a generational soundtrack, a merchandising empire, and so much more—possessed of the kind of cultural importance that makes it impossible to think of them as only musicians.
    Already decided that 2018 will be a year of musical discovery for me, once I get through this beezer of a playlist!

  • Exclusive interview with Derren Brown as he prepares to take UNDERGROUND back on tour
    As Derren Brown prepares to take his show UNDERGROUND around the country in 2018, he tells us what makes him happy, reflects on the future of magic entertainment and reveals he’ll be back on our TV screens soon. It’s great to see that UNDERGROUND will be back in UK theatres in 2018.

  • Coca-Cola didn’t invent Santa … the 10 biggest Christmas myths debunked
    Are you still boring your relatives with stories about Prince Albert’s tree and the origin of mistletoe kisses. Stop! The truth is much more interesting Christmas is a strange time of the year, when people merrily do all sorts of bizarre things.
    My inner pedant cannot WAIT to unveil some of these beauties to my friends and family (who will LOVE being corrected, so much!)

  • The 1883 Krakatoa Explosion Made the Loudest Sound in History–So Loud It Traveled Around the World Four Times
    Think of ourselves though we may as living in a noisy era, none of us — not even members of stadium-filling rock bands known specifically for their high-decibel intensity — have experienced anything like the loudest sound in history.
    I’m sorry. HOW LOUD? Off-the-scale unimaginable. My brain can’t even. Nope.

  • There’s a reason why iPhones get slower after every iOS update
    Have you ever noticed that after a year or so, it feels like your iPhone is just a bit … slower? You might not have downloaded any new apps or even been using your phone significantly more, but everything feels more sluggish.
    Only comment: Apple should’ve been clearer about this (I think they are doing it for the right reasons though). Transparency would’ve nullified this as a news item.

  • “Inemuri,” the Japanese Art of Taking Power Naps at Work, on the Subway, and Other Public Places
    If you’ve visited any big city in Japan, you’ve no doubt seen a fair few commuters sleeping on the subway. The more time you spend there, the more places in which you’ll see normal, everyday-looking folks fast asleep: parks, coffee shops, bookstores, even the workplace during office hours.
    I wholeheartedly approve this notion (but not so much the reasons it came about)

  • These Are the Stunning Photos From the 2017 National …
    Whoever said there’s no greater artist than Mother Nature was right. Thanks to the professional nature photographers of the world, we regular folk can be exposed to all the unimaginably beautiful, surreal, confusing and even disgusting scenes Earth has to offer.
    Interesting how many are (probably) from drones.

  • It Takes a Special Kind of Person to Get Chills From …
    Music seems to have a primal hold on us, reaching the very core of what it means to be human and reminding us that we are all small town girls, living in lonely worlds. And when it finally hits that chorus, you know that you’ll never stop believing.
    IT ME! I goosebump on a few tracks, every damn time. I am Gordon’s raw emotions.

  • No, Matt Damon, you can’t appropriate #MeToo for innocent men
    When my kids were tiny, they had a mechanical Woody from Toy Story doll, who, when you pulled the cord on his back, randomly uttered one of a selection of quotes. Over many years, as my kids got older and lost interest in him, Woody developed a fault.
    FFS. New rule for 2018, ALL MEN JUST SHUT UP.

  • What to do when Bill Gates sends you a 30lb Pusheen. STEP 1.
    PRO TIP: When filling out your reddit gift questionnaire, don’t act like a crazy person in hopes of making sure your santa understands the 1 thing you really care about. Bill Gates might read it. And then you will over-analyze every lame joke you made. #truestory
    The final link of the year. Here’s hoping 2018 is more like this.

bookmark_borderFive pounds

What would you do with a fiver?

That’s the question recently posed by Awesome Foundation Glasgow, as they handed out bright pink envelopes on Buchanan Street. They hoped the fivers would be put to good use; donated to charity, maybe used to purchase food bank items, or used to buy a hot meal for someone who needed one.

I happened to be in town that day and received one of the envelopes. I already had half a mind on what I’d do with it, and it’s been great to see the updates on social media on what others did with theirs. I decided to embrace the ‘fiver’ aspect rather than the monetary amount itself, and thought I’d buy tea and a hot roll for some of the many homeless people I see every morning as I walk to work. One person a day, Monday to Friday.

The homeless situation in Glasgow, like most other cities, is noticeably on the rise these past few years. I give change when I have it, but if I don’t I still try and make eye contact, still try and acknowledge that this is a fellow human being in front of me. I read an article earlier this year that touched on that, that the interaction can be more valuable than the amount, and can make a real difference to break the sense of isolation that many homeless people feel.

With that in mind I tried to spend a few minutes chatting to each guy (all of them were men) each morning. A couple were younger than me, a couple were older, one was foreign and didn’t have much English, one was from London and had heard that Glasgow was a friendly place.

And each morning as I walked away, heading to a warm office, the privilege of my life struck me, alongwith the horrifying realisation of how easily that could happen, to anyone, to me. A few changes of circumstance is all it would take.

The first morning I chatted to a guy called Darren, it wasn’t for more than a few minutes, but as I headed off he thanked me for talking the time to stop and talk to him. “That’s what ah miss most, you know, just chattin tae someone fur a bit”.

There is every chance I’ll see these guys again in the coming weeks and if I do I’ll stop and say hello. I might buy them a cup of tea, or give them a couple of quid, but the real takeaway from my week wasn’t about money.

Turns out that you don’t need five pounds to make a difference, just five minutes, and we can all spare that.

bookmark_borderSlowing Down

Despite eschewing New Year Resolutions for the past few years I happily set myself the challenge of reading 24 novels this year (tracked in Goodreads). When I was younger I used to read a lot more than I do now but these days, with so many more things fighting for my attention, my ability to carve out a few hours to sit and read can seem like a real challenge. So, I figured, I could game myself into setting aside some time to read.

Even though I’d been attending a semi-regular book club (it’s my attendance that is semi-regular, not the book club), I realised that I was struggling to read enough and that was enough to let some old habits and behaviours creep in. The sign, for me, is that low level anxiety/fear that makes my stomach churn and kicked in when I realised that I wouldn’t manage to read 24 books by the end of the year and so will have ‘failed’, and one thing that my counselling confirmed is that fear of failure is pretty much the stick I use to beat myself with (relentlessly and brutally).

I can happily confirm that I will not manage to complete the challenge this year but as I set out this year I knew it wasn’t really about completing it, it was more to find a way to push myself to slow down and step away from, … well, … everything else and focus on just one moment, one thing at a time.

However, recognising that I was feeling not good about my progress against the reading challenge, I’m stepping back to remind myself of the original reason I wanted to read more books in the first place, it’s the same reason that I enjoy long walks, the same reason that made me start meditating; I need to slow down.

“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” – Walter Hagen

For most of my adult life I’ve set goals for myself, pushed myself to do things, learn things, try things, and I’ve never found it easy to sit still and at peace for any period of time. Even watching movies my brain is still whirring away, analysing lighting choices, word choices, acting choices. It’s why if I’m looking to relax I’ll either watch a big silly blockbuster I’ve already seen – because I can completely switch off and let it wash over me – or an episode of Friends because I’ve seen them all so many times I don’t even need to think about them.

Finding ways to slow down used to be a real challenge and growing up I grabbed onto lots of little examples of how I thought I ‘should be’. We are told that goals are good things. What is your goal in life? What do you want to be when you grow up? You study to pass exams, you compete to win trophies, your have a career path, goal after goal after goal after goal.

Goals are good! Goals give us something to aim for, a reason to keep going, a target to hit. Goals fit with the general mantra of work hard and life will be good.

At least that’s what we are told.

These days I’m not so sure. I do think goals CAN be good, but only in select circumstances, and I’ve been guilty of using them all the time (for emotionally driven reasons, rather than any sense of benefit of achieving said goals).

Everyday life has changed in the past 20 years, and the rise of the ever connected, super productive, smart computers that we have to hand almost 24/7 and it’s no wonder that social media is a drain on our time and the urge to ‘keep up’ is only furthered by the stream of everyone else is doing everything, and living their glamourous, fun-packed lives. Keep up, go faster, Keep Up, do more, KEEP UP!

This sense of urgency to always be busy, to always have to strive for more because it’s what everyone else is doing* is something I had no sight of when I was 10 years old. Back then I didn’t know what any of my friends were doing when I wasn’t with them and it didn’t concern me one bit, I’d find out when we met to play football in the grass at the back of my parents house.

At this point, having figured out that I need to carve out more quiet time away from social media my instinct is always to go big and declare that I was going to have a sabbatical for a week, or maybe a day every week or… something. But the reality is that some form of connection can be good and ~ gosh I think I’ve said this before! ~ when it comes to things like this I know for me it’s more about finding the balance.

It’s important not to discount the upside of social media either. I know I experience compersion when I see other people happy, and even if I’m in a bit of a funk it’s good to have those little glimmers, so cutting out social media completely would be to deny those moments.

That said, dealing with the negative side of social media, the comparisons, the envy, isn’t always something I’ve been good at. Stepping away, in essence taking a time out, is something I’ve been making a conscious decision to do from time to time, even if just for a couple of hours it can be enough to stop me reacting to what I’m seeing. It also means I’ve got pockets of time to myself that I am no longer feeling the need to acknowledge the endless scrolling updates that ping on my screen.

Meditation is definitely a help here, finding even 10 mins in my day to sit quietly with my own thoughts has been a huge boon (as I’ve discussed before). I still use buddifhy on occasion but am just as comfortable with an unguided session and for those I look to Calm or the newer Oak app. Those moments are becoming increasingly important to me and I’m starting to protect my meditation time as much as I do my gym time.

Part of my 2018 will be to continue that practice, and continue to push to find a balance, but I already know that I will be looking to make better use of my time, be it attending more events, seeing friends more often, and generally living life, or just taking some time from my day to sit quietly and slow down.

* newsflash: they aren’t, we are not our social media feeds. (I know you know, just bears repeating).