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Shauna Reid

Welcome, weary traveller! I'm Shauna Reid, an Australian writer who moved to Scotland twelve years ago in pursuit of adventure and kilts

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View from the Edrich Stand Lower Tier at Lord's Cricket Ground

A day at The Ashes

23 Jul 2015

I’ve been busting to go to an Ashes cricket match ever since I got hooked on the thrilling 2005 series. I was too slow to score tickets for 2009 or 2013, but this time around I entered the ballot for the Second Test at Lord’s. I got lucky with two seats for Day 2. Woohoo!

I know most of the people visiting this blog are not from UK or Oz, so to briefly explain: The Ashes is a Test cricket series played between Australia and England. It started in 1882 and happens twice every four years, with the two nations switching hosting duties. The series consists of five matches that each take up to five days to play. After all those days, sometimes it still ends in a draw. These longass matches are known as “Test” cricket as this gruelling form of the game is a “‘test’ of the relative strength of the two sides”.

You may be thinking, well that sounds bloody boring. I used to feel the same! When I was a kid we only had two TV channels, and Test cricket hogged one of them all summer long. And when I got to university I’d curse those months when those pyjama-wearing bastards were on instead of Days Of Our Lives. Who cared about Australia vs England? What about John and Marlena vs Stefano Dimera?!

Stefano DiMera

Lord’s Cricket Ground is in London and is known as “the home of cricket”. I’d been looking forward the day for so many months I thought it might be an anti-climax, but it was fab from the moment we climbed the steps into the Edrich Stand and got our first look at the famous grounds. The weather was perfect, the match exciting, the atmosphere merry, and best of all our stand had a roof over it so I didn’t have to wear my daggy sun hat.

Day 2 at Lord's

Random memories:

  • The contrast of posh folks and ultra casual Aussies
  • Seeing how freaking fast those bowlers hurl the ball down the pitch, after only listening to cricket on the radio these past few years.
  • Seeing Australia’s Steve Smith reach his double century (200 runs) in the morning
  • Watching Australia’s bowlers rip through England’s top order in the afternoon
  • So many red trousers.
  • Watching the steward in front of us doze on and off all day, the most unruly thing he had to deal with being a champagne cork popping onto the field from the stand above us.
  • Stopping at Abbey Road on the way back to the hotel to watch people strut over the famous zebra crossing.
  • Gareth going on a day-long hunger strike after we went to a nearby cafe for breakfast and forgot to look at the prices beforehand and wound up with a £40 bill.

Australia ended up thrashing England by 405 runs to level the series at 1-1. But then the tables turned again today with England kicking Australia’s arse on Day 1 of the 3rd Test. Hmmm. This is when it’s good to be a duel UK/Oz citizen…

Welcome to Lord's

Carry on

22 Jul 2015

Turner Contemporary

I’ve been away visiting friends and family this week and had the bright idea of going ultra minimal with my packing. I planned out a precise mix-and-match wardrobe. I got my transparent lashes and brows tinted so I’d only need to add tinted moisturiser to look alive (plus lippie, in the spirit of Dotto). No gadgets except iPhone as it does everything. So here I am with a small suitcase containing mostly undies and sunscreen.

It’s been a success and I’ve been the picture of smugness… until tonight with the looming Blogging Pact Deadline. Carla tried to warn me about the WordPress iPhone app when I told her my lofty plan to leave laptop at home, but la la la la, I insisted I’d be fine! Well, it has taken me an hour to put that bloody photo up there!

Okay I remembered my sister has a laptop so I’ve switched to that. But now I’m too crabbit to write about what I was supposed to be writing about, which was going to be a deep one about isolation and how that can make you feel batshit crazy, hence the moody pic above from the Turner Contemporary museum which Rhi and I visited yesterday. We saw the Grayson Perry: Provincial Punk exhibition and it was ace.

Anyway, will save that for another day but in the meantime, laptop aside, what a brilliant feeling after years of experimentation to finally crack this packing light malarkey! There’s usually one “why the bloody hell did I bring this!?” thing, but this time every item has earned its place. Booyah!

Are there any other packing enthusiasts out there? Do you obsessively trawl YouTube for tips? Do you decant your toiletries into little bottles or prefer to buy mini sizes? Do you howl with delight when you find a shampoo and conditioner sample sachet in a magazine coz that takes up even less space than the little bottles? Do you roll or fold?!

Remembering Dotto

14 Jul 2015

This photograph may be the greatest thing to come out of my parents’ marriage. It’s from their 1975 wedding and features all four of my grandparents. The maternals are on the left – Nanny looking glam and somewhat unimpressed; Poppy rocking a checked suit and tremendous sideburns. On the right are the paternals – my lovely grandfather standing proudly beside my ravishing-in-red grandmother, Dotto.

My grandparents

I can’t quite remember why she was called Dotto. I think it was because she didn’t want to be a Nan or a Granny; she was too young for a creaky title like that. So, Dorothy became Dotto.

She was feisty, funny and blunt with her opinions. She played golf and loved old Hollywood movies. She’d look annoyed if you arrived for a Sunday visit while a Parramatta Eels game was on, interrupting her date with the handsome Peter Sterling. She took meticulous care of her skin and was always perfectly groomed, wearing lipstick and smelling fantastic.

Every time I saw her she’d tell the same two stories from my toddlerhood: 1) how I once walked up to her, placed a book in her lap and commanded, “READ!”, and 2) the time I told her I loved her “silvery purple” hair.

Everyone would roll their eyes at the repeat, but I loved hearing it again because every time she’d add a new embellishment.

She passed away on Saturday, aged 87. My siblings and I texted the same thought when we heard the news, “I thought she’d live forever”. Maybe it was the always-coloured hair, but mostly it’s the beautiful eccentric spirit. She was pure character… how could someone that wonderful not always be with us? I hate being so far away from Oz right now. There are so many people I want to hug and cry with.

Because my parents were relatively young when I was born, it’s always felt like the living family tree was huge; shading and sheltering above. These last few years the branches have begun to thin out. It’s such a heavy thing to comprehend. But I have a comforting thought that maybe somewhere else, my dear Poppy goes walking by and waves hi to Dotto. And she’s as spunky as ever, snarking about so-and-so’s thick ankles and still rocking her lipstick.

River Ness panorama

Everyday Life: June 2015

08 Jul 2015

June started out grey and miserable, weather wise, all the better backdrop for this magnificent wheel cover thing.

wheel-cover

We did a soggy trek up to Fyrish Monument, a hill that offers panoramic views over the Cromarty Firth and beyond. It’s not meant to be a particularly strenuous walk but I’ve done nowt but strut around the flatness of Inverness city centre the past two years, so my face was good ol’ Call The Ambulance Red. From the Wikipedia:

“The Fyrish Monument is a monument built in 1782 on Fyrish Hill (Cnoc Fyrish), in Fyrish near Alness, Easter Ross, Scotland, on the orders of Sir Hector Munro, 8th of Novar, a native lord of the area who had served in India as a general. As the local population were being cleared off their land, employment was a problem and so it was built to give the locals some work. It was said that Sir Hector rolled stones from the top of the hill to the bottom, thereby extending the amount of time worked and paying the laborers for additional hours.”

fyrish

Neighbour Cat celebrated one year of visiting by taking a snooze on the very same spot where it all began.

alfie-snooze

Aye, I bought these coz of the packaging.

best-eggs

There was that one sunny day!

river-sunny

I did a lot of walking around the river in June, often pausing to perch on this handy contemplation log.

river-contemplation

June’s greatest achievement was figuring out to use the iPhone’s Panorama feature properly. I’d been hitting the shutter every time I moved the phone along the scene, like my digital camera of 2001. But you only press it at the start and finish. DERR! Here is Bught Park looking mighty green.

bught-park

I love this jewellers in the Victorian Arcade.

jewellers

Highland blur from the train back north after Mogwai.

train

My morning routine

02 Jul 2015

The very first thing I do when I wake up is drink a glass of hot water with lemon, say many highly successful people on that bloody Morning Routines website. How does that work? If you have to get out of bed and go down to the kitchen to prepare it, it’s technically not the very first thing you do upon waking, not to be pedantic. But if you were to put the beverage beside your bed the night before it would be a) not hot, and b) kind of manky. You could keep an electric kettle, bowl of lemons and a knife in the room. Or get a butler to bring it in.

Why do I keep reading that website? Part of me likes to snortle at the green juice and meditations at dawn. But a little part of me longs to kick some arse in this life and make my mornings a whirlwind of productivity.

Here is my current routine:

I rise when my thimble-size bladder sounds the alarm and head to the bathroom. Next stop is the kitchen to make a sandwich for Gareth’s work breakfast. Not because I’m a 1950s housewife but the task keeps me awake, and almost two years into the job he’s still rubbish with the early starts. I yell up the stairs, you need to leave for the brewery 10 minutes ago. I hear a duvet-muffled I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. Five minutes later he stumbles down and mumbles one of the following before departing:

  • If I were any more tired, I’d be dead
  • Brewing is a young man’s game
  • Make sure you’ve figured out how I can retire by the time I get home.

Before I worked from home I blamed my morning slacktitude on the day job. If not for the commute, I’d rise at dawn and write 1000 words and do yoga and prepare a savoury breakfast! 9-5 was the source of all woes!

But turns out without the structure and accountability of an employer I was even worse. For much of my first solo year, as soon as Gareth left one of two things happened:

  1. I’d check my phone “just for a minute” to see if things were okay with my clients then feel the need to attend to everything right away lest they think I was a slackarse. At 2pm I’d still be on the couch in my PJs.
    OR
  2. I’d go upstairs and put on the workout clothes, a maudlin ensemble optimistically laid out the night before. I’d make the bed then sit on it for “just a minute” to contemplate the universe. Next thing it was 11am and I’d wake in a panic then have to work late into the evening.

This year I’ve slowly been getting my mornings in order. Top tactics so far:

  • Putting the coffee pot beside the stove ready to go, because coffee is the reason for waking up
  • Resisting urge to check phone until I’ve done 20 minutes of something non-worky (usually reading, or walk + podcast) to make a distinction between work and home.
  • Writing a list of the next day’s tasks the night before, so I don’t waste half an hour deciding what to do then another half hour choosing a pen to write the list.
  • GETTING PROPERLY DRESSED for crying out loud.

When I manage to do those things I feel competent, like the day is not a runaway horse. There’s still a mild sense of unease rumbling away in the background but that seems to be normal for the self-employed.

The next mission is breaking the habit of Laptop On Couch. If I can nail that, maybe I can advance to hot water and lemon!

Alarm cat says, blanket + couch is not desk!

I thought I told you to sit at your desk.

Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow

Get off my lawn!

24 Jun 2015

Three moments last week:

#1 – Gareth asked me about the upcoming Glastonbury Festival lineup, so I read out a selection of bands from the website.

“Florence + The Machine. Kanye West. Pharrell Williams. Lionel Richie in the granddad slot. On the Other Stage… Chemical Brothers, Rudimental, Deadmou5. Who the hell are Deadmou5?”

Gareth cackled at my pronounciation. “It’s not dead-mao-five! It’s DEADMOUSE.”

“Bullshit. That makes no sense!”

“Oh come on, you know Deadmau5? He’s the one that wears the big mouse head on stage.”

Deadmau5

“Never heard of him. That’s a number 5, not an S!”

“Ha ha! I’m more down with the kids than you!”

“Dead Mao Five sounds better. I’d love to be in Dead Mao Five!”

This may be the point where I start getting the names of things wrong. Just like The Mothership mangling catchphrases (answering machine message: This is ET! Ring home!) and asking me to please tape Fox Files.

Hey I'm Fox, come and have a gander at my files

Hey I’m Fox, come and have a gander at my files

 

#2 – A bunch of little kids from down the street busted into the next door’s yard to fill up their bottles at the tap and have a big water fight. Then they scurried off and left the tap running. Nothing sets me off like water wastage. Just because it never bloody stops raining in this country doesn’t mean we should flood the streets for sport!

So when they came back for a refill I hammered on our living room window and shouted, “HEY. HEY! TURN OFF THAT TAP, YOU KIDS!”

Ahh it felt great. Of course I said it while hiding at the edge of the window frame so they couldn’t see me, because I’m kind of scared of them.

 

#3 – On Sunday we went to Glasgow for Mogwai’s 20th Anniversary gig. Doors opened at 6pm with three support acts before Mogwai at 9.30. We checked into the Premier Inn late afternoon and Gareth promptly fell asleep because he is elderly and the Premier Inn beds are so comfy compared to our own complete shitbox of a bed.

So I read my book and kept checking my watch. I should wake him, we’re missing the support acts. Then I imagined being on my feet for all those hours, trying to balance good hydration with the need for loo breaks. Ahh, I’ll let him sleep. In the end I sounded the alarm at 9pm and we arrived at the Barrowlands ten minutes before Mogwai came on. And I insisted on standing towards the back because I wanted air and a hint of personal space.

I justified this doddering behaviour by telling myself I’d done my time right down the front of gigs. All those years covered in other people’s sweat, supporting the support acts and passing out stone cold from excitement.

Still, I felt panicky as Mogwai took the stage. What if I didn’t feel anything anymore? What if I wished I’d stayed home and listened to the record? But thankfully from the very first note… kapow. I was hit by that awesome Mogwai feeling of being smacked in the guts with multiple guitars. Sure, the desire for excitement is battling with a need for comfort. But it’s not over! I’m still aliiiiiiiiive!

Everyday Life: May 2015

04 Jun 2015

We don’t have a garden but started the month with a jaunt to the local garden centre as we heard the cakes were good (agreed!).

If you’ve grown disillusioned by your fruitless search for the Loch Ness monster, you can plop the next best thing in the front yard – only £26.99!

Nessie for your garden

There was also more first-person signage for Gareth to be enraged by. He said this one didn’t bother him so much, as it’s a fair warning.

Third person cactii

(Did you know there’s now a word for this phenomenon – “whackaging”)

Neighbour Cat News: she now prefers to enter by the living room window, sometimes pausing for a snooze halfway through the journey.

Neighbour Cat at the window

Aside from mourning the end of Mad Men, May was a bit work heavy so I didn’t take many photos. Oh hang on, THE OVEN DOOR EXPLODED. I took a picture but I don’t want The Mothership seeing how mucky the oven was. Thank goodness it was safety glass, so it didn’t make too much mess, but there was glass all over the salmon. Of course it worked just fine for all Gareth’s oven chips, it bided its time and waited for something pricey to be inside it.

The month ended on a high with a trip to Edinburgh for a wee Up & Running meetup. Some were racing, some were supporting; all were in great spirits. I know only lived there two years and that was over a decade ago, but every time I get off that train it feels like the most right place in the world.

Edinburgh half marathoner leaders

We did a side trip to Glasgow to visit our awesome friend Clare. There were big blousy rhododendrons everywhere. If that’s what they are?

Rhododendron in Glasgow

I guzzled way too many coffees because there were so many good ones. By Sunday night my head felt like it was about to split in two, but it was so very worth it. Questionable latte art and all.

Questionable latte art

The weekend finished with a spontaneous revival of the Whisky Project. I found one I liked! Royal Lochnagar. I detected a vanilla finish and lots of websites I checked just now mention vanilla, so maybe my taste buds aren’t as clueless as thought. But I reckon anything would have tasted good that night, being so giddy from good times and great company.

Whisky with friends

P.S. Summer in Scotland…

Stormy rainbow

15 Years of Pussycat*

29 May 2015

Dear Blog,

On Wednesday you turned 15. Right on!

Holy fuck Y2K!

It mostly started out of boredom as the About page says, but it was a lot about loneliness. Before the blog I thought if I were ever to share the thoughts and fears stewing away in my brain, a giant trap door would open up beneath me and my friends would stand over it and wave, Good riddance, weirdo!

But of course writing and reading blogs led to finding lots of cool “me too” people, and the happy realisation most of us feel like weirdos much of the time.

Some days I get so overwhelmed by the internet. The noisier it gets the more lonely it can feel. I’m constantly questioning the point of this exercise and/or clamming up in anticipation of negative feedback. But whenever I find the nerve to venture out of the cave and speak from the heart, I never regret it.

Actually I just had a thought, and it’s nearly midnight so it’s not going to make much sense. The internet is so huge now that it’s almost the same as it was in 2000. Back then there wasn’t a large amount of blogs so you felt free to really blurt out your guts. But now there’s SO many blogs, plus endless social networky things, you can hide in plain sight. There is room for everyone. You can find your own quiet corner and blurt away. Ahh I feel better now.

I can picture that May 2000 office cubicle so clearly. The now-tiny monitors, the communal fridge, the empty desks vacated by Y2K consultants after the world did not explode on January 1st. I’d surreptitiously poke around on Blogger.com with no idea of the world about to open up and all the wonderful people I’d meet. And the life-changing things that would enter my orbit over the next decade and a half…

Dry shampoo!

Green & Blacks chocolate!

4-wheel spinner suitcases!

Properly-fitted bras!

Scandinavian crime dramas!

Jon Hamm!

Thanks gazillions for reading, good people.

* I know it doesn’t say What’s New Pussycat? on the blog header anymore but that’s what it’ll always be in my brain.

Keen like a lemon

25 May 2015

How grim is this NHS air freshener? Nothing says KEEN and LEMON like a bland grey stripe. It’s kind of charming, really.

NHS air freshener

Last week I had to get another mole removed; just a precautionary measure. I wish moles were called something more glamorous than moles, what a creepy word. Anyway, it was all very quick with barely enough time for chit chat.

“Remind me what you do for a living?” the doctor asked, while we waited for a second shot of local anaesthetic to kick in.

“I do freelance writing. Mostly online stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“Writing blog posts for businesses.”

“What kinds of businesses?”

“All kinds of businesses.”

“How come they can’t write their own blog posts?”

“Because they’re too busy? Or they don’t like writing?”

“How do you manage to write about so many different topics?”

“I ask lots of questions. Or I visit the places I write about. Or I get on Google.”

“Ahh but there is so much rubbish on Google. All those sites that look legitimate but are actually dodgy.”

“True, but I’m pretty good at weeding out the rubbish!”

I still wasn’t quite numb so we had to go for a third shot.

“This is getting embarrassing,” I said. “I read somewhere that people with red hair need more anaesthesia.”

The doctor burst out laughing. “What did I just tell you about Google?”

Everyday Life: April 2015

08 May 2015

Fuck yeah, spring!

The Mothership was still in town for the first half of April and seemed to be digging the Highland life. She was inspired to borrow my library card and revisit the Outlander series of books. I remember her devouring them in the 90s, while I was busy sneaking off with her Danielle Steeles and Flowers In The Attic.

Various touristy websites claim that Clava Cairns, the prehistoric burial cairns just outside Inverness, were the inspiration for the Craigh na Dun stone circle in the book…

Clava Cairns

… although Diana Gabaldon says on her website she’d never been to Scotland before writing it. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place, regardless. The river nearby felt straight out of a romantic saga.

Near Clava Cairns

Gareth and I had previously visited Clava Cairns in 2006, when he likes to remind me I let rip with a big fart in front of an elderly tourist and completely ruined the serenity. I can’t remember the details but there must’ve been an earlier Full Scottish Breakfast to blame.

Clava Cairns

All that history put Mum and I in the mood to check out the Outlander TV series. I was set to cringe, expecting tartan Jock McSporran cliches, but got reeled right in. When it comes down to it, I love a rollicking good story. A smart, feisty heroine with an outstanding complexion and aspirational curls helps too. Oh alright, a bloke prone to shedding his shirt is also useful.

As well as Outlander immersion, there were more pub trips, a high tea and lots of walking and talking, trying to cram in years of everyday contact into a short visit. Plus rainbows.

Mothership snaps the rainbow

Mum also did a day trip to Skye… hairy coos ahoy!

Highland cows on Skye

We did a quick jaunt south to Fife to hang out with the in-laws.

Snow on the A9

On Mum’s last night we went back to Hootananny as she’d become a fan of the lamb stovies and Black Isle Porter. I still love watching Gareth nervously watching people drink the beer he’s brewed.

Night at the pub

Speaking of beer, Marks & Spencer have managed to turn Marmite into an artisan product. As one married to a brewer, the term “brewer’s paste” pure gives me the boak.

Brewer's Paste... ew

Once The Mothership departed the rest of April was happily busy with new clients, getting hooked on this baked oatmeal (works well without the sugar; not that sugar is a crime), rediscovering MotoGP (it’s stopped being boring!), becoming a devoted fan of Nosy Miss Cookie the highly judgemental cat on Instagram, and my first bike ride in years… ow ow ow my nethers!

For the last eighteen months I’ve taken many walks along the Caledonian Canal, but only in one direction. Total derr moment to realise if you go the other way you get the gorgeous sight of River Ness on the left and Caledonian Canal on the right.

River Ness meets Caledonian Canal

Meanwhile in the flat, the amaryllis was back in action – four flowers this year!

Amaryllis in bloom

The pollen count of this post is off the charts.

Daffs on the Ness

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