Category: <span>Monthly</span>

Safe to say that March will be memorable for one thing and one thing only. Coronavirus and lockdown. It’s meant adjusting routines, and whilst I’m working the hours are dropping. We remain in good spirits though and if nothing else it’s given me time to crack on with some other things, including a revisit of my long neglected novel.

It also means I’ve newly invested interest – I’ve got an alarm set and everything – in Ken Bruce on Radio 2 and his Popmaster quiz.

Watched

  • I Am Mother – dystopian sci-fi, cleverly layered, and well worth a watch. The story of the first child born in a post-infectious world (ohhh how timely!).
  • Apollo 11 – Using digital remastered footage, this documentary covers the time from blast off to re-entry, and is a stunning testament to the moon landings. Gripping and vivid, I cannot recommend this enough.
  • Various episodes of nonsense TV – Friends, Brooklyn 99, The New Girl – purely as a coping mechanism.

Read

  • Things I Learned From Falling by Claire Nelson – A true story, which makes it all the more remarkable, this book set deeper in my brain than I expected, tackling so much of our modern habits and attitudes alongside the brutal life and death experience of the author who, whilst hiking alone, falls and breaks her pelvis. Already considering re-reading it.
  • How to be a Footballer by Peter Crouch – an amiable saunter through some tales from behind the scenes. Self-effacing and funny, Crouch comes across as genuinely likeable amidst the sea of posing pretentiousness that is the modern day footballer.
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – a twisting tale of a murder, the accused remaining mute, until it all starts to unravel. File under ‘beach read’ (or maybe ‘lockdown read’?) as it’s a page turner for sure, with a wonderful twist or to keeping you on your toes.
  • Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Written magazine interview style, this is the story of a flamed-haired singer and her integration to an already established band. Set in the 70s, it’s a brilliant, lurid run through sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll and may, or may not, have been inspired by Fleetwood Mac.

Listened

  • Gigaton by Pearl Jam – A new album by a favourite artist is always exciting, alas Pearl Jam continue to veer too wildly from their grunge roots to a middle-ground of bland AOR stylings. Some good songs on there but lacklustre for the most part.
  • City of Love by Deacon Blue – A new album by a favourite Scottish artist is always exciting, and this is a wonderful ode to the Deacon Blue of the past. I think this one will get a fair amount of airtime in the coming weeks.

Wrote

  • Chocolate Raisins – written because we laughed so much when I realised what I’d done, because it’s true, and because right now these silly moments are much needed.

My Favourite Photo

Posted for Mothering Sunday.

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Happy Mumsy Day 😍

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I think I will remember February for mostly being wet and windy. Was there a time when there wasn’t a new storm landing on our shores to decimate a weekend? Elsewhere, Sasha has recovered well from her operation and is now happily ensconced back on the sofa (or on my lap) where she should be, and welcoming us on our return home with her usual mixture of fervent joy and toys. We’ve missed that.

My knee rehab has stalled a little as I had a tendinitis flare up in my right foot but I’m on still on track to do a Parkrun before the end of the year. Ohh and I got a new tattoo.

Watched

  • The Morning Show – Challenging many things that are wrong in society, particularly focused on the #metoo movement. Smart writing, Aniston is brilliantly on the edge, Carell plays with good/bad a little too easily(?), Witherspoon is consistently good, with Crudup intriguingly watchable whenever he’s on screen.
  • The West Wing – STILL (re)watching.

Read

  • The Nest – Is money the root of all evil? A story about a family of siblings who are promised funds later in their life and the impact that has on them and their lives.
  • The One – a simple idea that quickly takes a dark turn, this went from emotional intrigue to deadly thriller really quickly, a proper page turner by the end.
  • The Other Half of August Hope – best of the month, wonderfully written, and it’s not often that I cry reading a book but cry I did.

My GoodReads profile

Listened

  • Supergrass – In preparation for their joyful return tour at the Barrowlands.

My Favourite Post

  • Februarius – because when I take time to consider what I’m writing, and edit it properly, I can read it back a month later and find myself surprised that *I* wrote that

My Favourite Photo

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January is over; I’ve been getting physio on my knee (it’s improving, at last!), we celebrated Lucy being four years old, and my Uncle getting married. Our wee dog Sasha had a knee operation and is recovering well. I’m still a vegetarian and feeling good within myself for it. Ohh and we met up with friends over a wonderful meal at Five March.

And, so far, I’ve been managing to stick to my resolutions (more on that soon).

Watched

  • The Expanse (Season 4) – still a fun watch, I think the condensing effect of TV makes the storyline work better than the overly complex and somewhat over whelming novel.
  • The Mandalorian* – If you are even a little bit of a geek for Star Wars you will LOVE this. It’s wry, funny, and perfectly pitched, with enough action to be fun, and enough character development to pull you in. I’ll say no more, just watch it!
  • Watchmen – A slow burn that is worth the wait. Genuinely weird at times (as it should be) and a wonderful sense of foreboding throughout. Clever setting and smart continuation from the movie of the same name (with nods to the original comic) has allowed them to extend this universe without feeling disconnected from it.
  • The West Wing – my favourite TV show and I tend to start rewatching it at this time of year for some reason. Something to do with the long dark nights?

*Link caveat: I watched The Mandalorian via ‘another source’ so YMMV!

Read

  • Cibola Burn by James A.Corey – AKA Book 4 of The Expanse series which I’d started last year and finished just ahead of the TV show. Not sure I’ll read book 5, starting to feel a bit too convoluted and ‘samey’.
  • The Rumour by Lesley Kara – Quite enjoyed this, the story of the impact a rumour can have in a small town, featured some nice twists and turns once it really gets going. Leave time for the last few chapters as you won’t want to stop reading!
  • The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock by Jane Riley – what a lovely and wonderfully observed book. A simple enough premise, with some glorious characters that leap from the page. You’ll laugh and cry.
  • The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe – Wow. What starts out as an easy read soon turns into a brutal examination of life during and after a tragic event. A couple of chapters of this moved me to tears. Be in a good place when you read it.
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – As an older sibling this made me question a lot of my protective thoughts I have for my younger sister. Crisply written, wonderfully observed, the kind of book that keeps you awake until past midnight just so you can finish it.

FYI – Did you know if you are an Amazon Prime users with a Kindle, you can get two novels a month FREE? From a selected list, you can see your choices as part of Amazon First Reads. Caveat: The links to the books above are via my Amazon affiliate link (which earns me almost pennies every year).

Listened

  • Adam Buxton Podcast – various episodes from last year as I was catching up – needless to say Derren Brown and Billy Connolly were well worth it. Just a lovely series of chats with a jolly, silly, friendly man.
  • Marigold by Pinegrove – a more country influenced album than previous efforts, but nice to have them back.
  • Hotspot by Pet Shop Boys – sneaking in under the wire, one listen through so far and it’s the usual catchy fare.

My Favourite post
No contest this month, as ever, writing a birthday letter to my niece is a tradition I’m glad I’ve started.

My Favourite Photo

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Waiting for first orders (taken at 8am)

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November is over and I no longer need to write a new post every day. It’s finished, done, finito. Looking back at what I’ve published and there are some posts in there that I’m pretty proud of, and others that I’m well aware I cobbled together even though I didn’t really have the motivation. But it was a month long challenge and I did it. Kudos and self fives to me!

It’s been a long time since I did something like this; it’s one thing blogging to a schedule as I did in 2018 (3 posts a week), quite another to do it every single day. To that end, having a list of titles provided was more liberating than I thought it would be, even on the topics I was dreading having to write about (hello religion and politics!) I found myself able to construct and firm up some thoughts that I’d normally have left pinging around my little brain as I scrabbled around to write for the topic of the day.

A few years ago I participated in NaNoWriMo – the goal of writing 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November – and managed to complete it even though that felt like a much bigger struggle as it became all encompassing, every evening I sat at the computer with the same base topic churning over and over in my head as I frantically typed and watched the word count rise. It felt like pressure and towards the middle it was a challenge to keep going, the motivation purely to hit a number count, not writing for the enjoyment of writing.

Each of the posts I wrote last month were a breathe of fresh air, given I was free of figuring out what to write about. It allowed my brain to wander and I think the posts are better for it. On the whole I wrote most of them a few days in advance, taking time over the weekends to draft the next four or five, then refining them day by day before scheduling them to appear on the correct day of the month.

And it all started somewhere else entirely.

I’ve been quietly using micro.blog for a few weeks now, mostly just to try it out, prompted by randomly browsing the archives of my own site and remembering a time where I didn’t care about the volume of each post as sometimes a thought can be captured in a few lines of text and nothing else is needed. I started following a few people there and towards the end of October, one of the people Jean MacDonald (a founder of micro.blog) said she was going to try something akin to NaNoWriMo just on a smaller scale and with a randomly generated word being used to prompt one post a day in November.

What a great way to force myself to use micro.blog everyday and so I followed suit and you can view them all here. They’ve been cross posted to Twitter as well, garnering a few likes on that platform which was interesting too.

Quickly after that, in response to Jean setting the challenge, another person on micro.blog – Andrew Canion – said he was doing a blog challenge in November along similar lines and before I realised we were into the middle of the first week of Thursday and I was committed to completing both challenges.

Both challenges have been fun and challenging in different ways; Keeping the micro.blog posts short and succinct has led to some creative thinking and forced me to boil down what I’m writing to only the essential words, the longer blog posts I’ve published here have allowed me to roam and think about the given topic and I’ve learnt a lot about myself on the way too, isn’t it always the way?

Part of me is glad the blog challenge is over, writing a new topic every day is taxing at times, but part of me wonders if I could keep it going, if given a decent list of topics to tackle. Having that focus removes all of the writers block for me, no more staring at an empty screen and hoping inspiration strikes, as each topic was enough to prompt at least a few lines of thought that I could pull together and expand on.

Equally the micro.blog challenge offered a different approach but the same freedom to explore.

Perhaps my occasional malaise about my blog is simply lack of inspiration.

Perhaps I will look to this approach more often in the future.

Perhaps.

For now, I’m glad to be able to not have to think about what I’m going to write tomorrow…
P.S. Did you spot the one that used the first letter of the prompt word to start each new paragraph?

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

Lived

Highlights

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.

Stepcount: WHO CARES IT’S CHRISTMAS!

Read

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

Watched

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!

Listened

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.

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Lived

Highlights

A busy month that has flown in, with many highlights. I’m still waxing lyrical about Slava’s Snowshow which was beguilingly magical, two stonkingly good gigs, my first (and second) trips to Murrayfield, and I even wrote a couple of reviews which was a bit weird as I’ve not really done that since the Yelp community in Glasgow got shut down (boooo to Yelp!).

Visits to my family, time with friends new and old, seem to have set me up for a great December, and writing this piece was a big piece of that too. It was a lot more cathartic than I’d realised and despite being so busy these past few weeks, life continues to improve in other ways and I’m already looking at 2018 with a big smile on my face. Well done November, well done November.

Stepcount: 285, 398.

Read

Talking as fast as I can by Lauren Graham
Bought on a whim, and because Gilmore Girls, this was a short sweet read, that centres around Lauren’s time on Gilmore Girls but reaches out to her childhood and formative years. Funny, melancholy at times, but endearingly lovely I’d highly recommend it if you are a GG fan.

Also read:
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Not quite finished this one, but the second book in the Mr.Mercedes crime thriller trilogy. I am trying to read this to learn how to develop characters and how to write dialogue but, as always, it’s so easily written to read that I’m just being swept along.

Watched

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
If you have Netflix. Stop everything and watch this now. I don’t care if you aren’t a Jim Carrey fan, this is WAY more than that. Focussing on the making of Man on the Moon (the Andy Kaufman story) it is an utterly transfixing documentary, revealing a man who seems a little lost yet entirely calm and centred. Featuring footage shot, by Kaufman’s family, during the making of the movie (some 20 years ago now), it follows Carrey’s utter disappearance into the role and find him reflecting on life after it in an utterly compelling interview. I cannot recommend this enough, but don’t want to say any more than I have. WATCH IT.

Also watched:
George Michael: Freedom
Finally got around to watching this. Had no idea how big he was in the USA, and I guess the legal fight wasn’t something I was fully aware of. But ohhh the songs, the voice. What a loss.

Listened

Mostly Gorillaz and Royal Blood, but also IDLES, Go Team!, and Thundercat. The latter thanks to the ever fabulous 6Music that I don’t get enough time to listen these days (must sort that out).

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Lived

Highlights

My birthday month, something I am increasingly not bothered about celebrating (hence why it doesn’t pop up on Facebook) and a few gigs as we start to roll into gig season. Weezer were fab, Grizzly Bear were ok. Also got some more tickets for gigs next year, nothing major really… Roger Waters, Foo Fighters, just small gigs… tell that to my bank account mind you.

And despite ordering it weeks in advance, the Halloween costume I ordered failed to show in time for the party I was attending, but my backup t-shirt was just fine (simply read ‘Error 404 – Costume not found’).

Gym is still a thing. Feels like I’m turning a corner with it, three times a week now.

Caught up with a guy I went to school with, hadn’t seen him since then so was both odd and familiar in a weird way.

Ohh and finally got a contract extension for 6 months to see me through to next year. Makes Xmas a little more relaxed.

Stepcount: 265,833.

Read

The Loney
My choice for book club and I enjoyed it. A dark story that slowly gets darker and darker, touching on religious fanaticism and a very mature young boy and his brother as they travel to a religious retreat. The events that unfold are a little too telegraphed but I liked this. Some good writing and a reasonable story.

Watched

Stranger Things. No, not the second series, the first. I hadn’t watched it as I didn’t really think it was my thing but, and I’m only a few episodes in, I’m really enjoying it. It’s not as ‘horror’ as I’d been made to believe, but is nicely weird with that wonderful 80s theme going on. Yeah, ok, you were all right, it’s fab!

Also good

  • Thor: Ragnarok – Utterly silly big movie stuff this, but it’s funny, self-deprecating and fun. I do like that the ‘Avengers’ movies each have their own styles (Thor = big and fun, Captain America = dour and lifeless?)
  • Blue Planet II – always MUST WATCH TV and with the advances in technology there is some stunning imagery. Fascinating, engaging, and informative.

Listened

Weezer. Mostly. To prepare for the gig. Also some Grizzly Bear for the same reason.

Nothing notably new that stuck though, but then I didn’t really go looking for anything this month, too much else going on.

Monthly

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Lived

Highlights

A good month, quieter than August even though it was my Mum’s birthday at the start of the month, and my Dads at the end. Singapore envy not withstanding (my friends were there again), I confirmed a six month extension to my contract, attended one of the best gigs ever, got a new tattoo, had a wonderful day out at a gin festival, and attended my interview for Glasgow 2018 volunteering, so fingers crossed I make the cut (9k+ people applied for around 3k positions), ohhh and I randomly caught up with some old school friends who I haven’t seen for more than 20 years.

Food wise, Babs continues to impress, had my last Buntzel (the vendor is moving to Manchester), and Book Club had brunch at Ocho which was underwhelming…

Health-wise the physio on my knee is going well, and Conditioning classes at the gym are keeping me ticking over to Bootcamp starting on the 4th October.

And I’ve seen a little more of my beautiful niece who is continuing to delight! She is learning lots of new words (not quite got Uncle G down yet…) and it’s so much fun to see her personality emerging.

Stepcount: 258,586.

Read

The Other Mrs Walker
Book club choice and I thoroughly enjoyed this. A little slow paced at times, but the author – Mary Paulson-Ellis – has a nice turn of phrase. At times wry, at times dark, the story of a middle-aged woman who finds her own life oddly twisted up in the death of an unrelated old woman.

Watched

Blade Runner. Ahead of the upcoming new Blade Runner movie (for which I have high hopes) I thought it worth revisiting the original which is still stunningly realised, dark, moving, and sets the bar pretty high for the new movie.

Also good

  • The Good Place – an odd, quirky little show on Netflix. 20 min episodes about a woman who has made it to The Good Place after she dies, despite not really deserving to be there.
  • The Expanse – season 2 of this sci-fi world. I think it’s now caught up to where I stopped reading the books so season 3 will be interesting

Listened

Ahead of their gig later this year, I’ve been listening to a lot of Post Modern Jukebox. They do covers of contemporary songs in older styles (swing, big band, etc). There is something delightful and full of joy brought to the songs that are re-worked, and I can’t wait for the gig!

Other than that, Nadine Shahs new album continues to see her evolve but retaining that wonderful voice, Queens of the Stone Age released another album which ticks all the QOTSA boxes, as did the Foo Fighters who released an album not short of obvious influences.

Also worth a listen is Lorde on Song Exploder podcast, breaking down the making of her song Sober.

Monthly

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