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Shauna Reid

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

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Up & Running March 5K winners

26/Feb/2015

Thanks for all your four-legged giveaway comments!

If you missed out but would like to join our only live 5K Course for 2015, you can use the code MARCH2015 at checkout for 20% off until the course starts on Monday 9 March.

This discount can also be used on our other self-paced courses – 10K, Half Marathon and the Up & Moving walking course.

Here are the lucky winners as decided by the Random Number Generator:

  • Cazz - who loves mysterious wild wolves
  • Desiree - adores an elephant
  • Clementine - is an alpaca fan
  • Meg J - is on Team Cat
  • Nicole - loves orcas and also Brutus, her Dogue de Bordeaux.
  • Eloise – is also on Team Cat but is a recent convert to Team Monkey!

I’ve emailed you with the details so please get in touch ASAP to claim your prize. Thanks again for taking part, folks!

All aboard for the Up & Running 5K

Cromarty Firth

Everyday Life: December 2014 and January 2015

19/Feb/2015

Praise be to Christmas lights, for without them a December 4pm would be so depressing…

Inverness high street at Christmas

I know it looks sad but promise we haven’t resorted to dressing up Neighbour Cat. Her December caper was to come in all miserable from the rain and stare at us until we dried her off with a tea towel…

Be merry

We went to London for Christmas. Just myself, Gareth and Rhiannon, it was the laziest low-key Christmas ever. We had breakfast at 11am, lunch at 4pm and dessert at 10pm, with lots of old movies and rum punch between courses.

Rum punch

Rhi had a real Christmas tree, only the second we’ve had. The first was thirteen years earlier back in Australia, where the needles turned brown after a week and our handmade cookie decorations melted then got scoffed by ants.

Christmas tree

The day after Boxing Day we went for a walk in town, where the crowds had gathered for the Changing of the Guard.

Dudes on The Mall in London

St James's Park, London

Alfie waved hello to 2015…

Hello from Alfie

Gareth really got into his bread making.

bread

As per tradition the first two weeks of January were all about laying low and worrying what a new year would bring. I got myself together and spent the rest of the month focusing on Fitbitting 10,000 steps per day, to rack up a small sense of achievement. The snow made it fun.

Snow in the

Speaking of snow, there were some cracking Highland views from the Perth – Inverness train!

Highland views from the Perth - Inverness train

Win a spot on the March Up & Running 5k course

16/Feb/2015

Up & Running

Giveaway time! This is the first and only time I’ll don the Up & Running 5K Course pimp hat this year. The March 5K is the one live course we’re running in 2015*, as we need to clear space for the epic task of creating a new Marathon course.

The course starts on Monday 9 March and goes for eight weeks. Here’s what you get…

  • an eight week training plan to get you 5k race ready, designed to gradually increase your strength and fitness while avoiding injury
  • a daily blog chock full of support materials, like running techniques, drills, videos and inspiring videos
  • unlimited support from expert coach Julia Jones, for all your running questions
  • access to our private community forum so you can cheer/moan every step in a safe, friendly environment.

I’m giving away five free places. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post and answer the following question:

What is your favourite four-legged creature and why?

(I got this question by googling “best random questions”. Hehe.)

  • Entries close 11PM GMT on Wednesday 25 February.
  • There will be five winners and each win a place on the Spring 5K Course.
  • The winner can gift the prize to a friend if desired.
  • Winners will be randomly selected.
  • Winners can be from anywhere in the world. Previous winners are eligible to enter again. Remember the course is for women only.
  • * self-paced versions of all courses still available!

Up and Running

Upping the stakes

13/Feb/2015
Give me all your money

Give us all yer money!

A true win for Consistency last year was my blogging pact with Jennette. I ended up with 37 new posts in 2014, versus 28 in 2013 (both numbers exclude pimping-my-wares posts).

It was very effective having an accountability buddy and using Stickk to manage our commitment. It reminded me that whatever you do consistently shapes the tone of your life. If I want things to be different it’s not about dramatic sweeping changes. It’s repeated tiny actions and slightly smarter decisions, gathering momentum over time.

Likewise with the not-so-healthy consistent actions, like all those episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. If we are what we repeatedly do as Aristotle reckoned, I was a bum-shaped dent on the couch!

There were weeks when the thought of paying Jennette $5 for missing the blog deadline wasn’t sufficiently scary. I really like Jennette! Adding the occasional five bucks to her life never felt like a bad thing.

Turns out Jennette had been feeling the same in reverse, so she proposed upping the stakes for 2015. Stickk has an “anti charity” feature wherein if you fail to meet your commitment, your money goes to a nominated organisation to which you really do not wish to give money. I chose the UK Conservative Party. Now I have the above image of a grinning Treasurer George Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron taped to my monitor to spur me into action. Win!

 

2014 Review Thingo

31/Jan/2015

I’ve got no bloody idea where January went. I wish I could say it was glamorous book promotion or naked skydiving, but it was mostly stomping around in the snow trying to hit my 10,000 steps per day. A very belated happy new year to you all!

Here’s my untimely annual review. Previous episodes: 2013201220112010 and 2009.

A pot

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?

  • visited the most northerly public toilet in mainland Great Britain.
  • got my eyebrows tinted. After a lifetime of invisible eyebrows and furious pencilling, you can’t imagine the delights of 24/7 definition! Until they faded, then my eyeballs got sorta lost in my face again. Anyone else have this problem? ;)
  • my forearm said goodbye to Wally the skin cancer
  • finally went full time freelance as a writer/web marketing-y type of person (rubbishness at describing skill set no doubt contributed to taking so long to take the plunge).
  • deadlifted 85 kilos (had set a goal of 100kg for 2014, but had to take five months off deadlifts after Wally!).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
I had a word of the year – consistency. It guided me sweetly through the first half of the year but the second half I quite lost it. I didn’t feel drawn to choosing a word this year; I’m kinda guiding actions and decisions based on how I want to feel. It’s not as woo-woo as it sounds! One month in, it’s working well.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Including my best mate Jenny on December 23. She said I could be an honorary Auntie so I plan to dote from afar!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Auntie Marg passed away, one of our beloved quartet of Great Aunts. Still can’t believe her twinkly smile is no longer with us.

5. What countries did you visit?
Spain, France (for a day) and Italy.

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked in this one?
I don’t feel I lacked for anything, except maybe for bargain cast iron pots. Sainsbury’s makes these great Le Creuset-esque pots and they were on sale last January. I had a bunch of Nectar points saved up, so I ordered two huge casserole pots and a griddle pan for all of £40. Then I found out about the melanoma and in a fit of morbid madness I returned the pots.

My reasoning was that since I didn’t actually need the pots, keeping them would be tempting fate, like I was arrogantly assuming I’d be around to use them. What use would Gareth have for a pile of cast iron pots if I died? Would he bury them with me, so I could make tasty slow-cooked casseroles with cheaper cuts of meat in the afterlife?

There was nothing logical at all about my thought processes during that period. And now that I’m currently alive and hankering for a hearty stew I really regret returning those bloody pots.

7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • 23 May – Melanoma all clear!
  • 24 May – After seven fruitless visits, finally spotted dolphins at renowned dolphin-spotting place Chanonry Point. There were twenty dolphins leaping around very close to shore, with the sun setting in the background. Pure magic! Especially since we went for chips afterwards.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Watching all ten seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix in an alarmingly short period of time.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Watching all ten seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix in an alarmingly short period of time.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Aside from Wally, a couple of colds but otherwise dandy!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Vichy Aqualia serum for dehydrated skin- a Sali Hughes recommendation. Lizard face, sorted!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Groceries? I laid low with the spending this year.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The visiting Neighbour Cat!

The borrowed cat

She’s actually teeny tiny under all that fur!

14. What song will always remind you of this year?
The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. Know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em. Great advice, K-Dawg.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?

Happier.

b) thinner or fatter?
Same.

c) richer or poorer?
Slightly poorer but no worries.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Daily stepping.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Denial of reality through the medium of Netflix binges.
(Have now cancelled the Netflix subscription for my own good!)

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In London with Gareth and Rhiannon. Rum punch FTW!

19. Did you fall in love this year?
Definitely that Neighbour Cat.

20. What was your favourite TV program?
I finally watched Breaking Bad and loved it, and The Good Wife was a surprise favourite. But can’t go past Friday Night Lights for pure love and obsession!

21. What was the best book you read?
The Signature of All Things.

22. What was your favourite film of this year?
The Possibilities Are Endless.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 37 and had a low-key day with a walk then lunch at the Dores Inn.

24. What kept you sane?
Bloody brilliant friends! Would not have got through it without you, THANK YOU! :)

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
A toss up between Jesse Pinkman and a Coach Taylor, Tim Riggins, Matt Saracen combo. I’m sure they have real names!

26. Who did you miss?
The Mothership.

27. Who was the best new person you met?
Does Neighbour Cat count as person? I love that grumpy nutter!

 

Enjoy the process

08/Jan/2015

Julia Jones in da tub

It’s Publication Day for our Up & Running book! Why a pic of Julia Jones in a tub? Well, when Dietgirl came out I didn’t properly enjoy P-Day. I felt scared, fraudulent and undeserving. Back then I still believed if I dared celebrate something I’d be immediately struck down for being so indulgent (see also: iPhone laundering incident).

But now I appreciate that life is random and you can’t dress rehearse disaster (paraphrasing Brené Brown), so you have to soak up these moments!

I went a bit bonkers during the writing part of Dietgirl, too. I had a meltdown over the last chapter, one which Gareth never tires of re-enacting. I somehow wound up kneeling on the floor, punching the seat of my chair while howling, “I CAN’T DOOOO THIIIIIS!”.

This time I declared I would enjoy the process. Every time Gareth looked in while Julia and I were writing he’d ask, “Are you punching the chair yet?” and I’d be all, “Nooooo… still good!” and he’d look disappointed.

I think it comes from knowing you’ve done it before and that it’s meant to be hard, but also from not having your entire self-worth tied up in the project. This time I just loved the act of creation and collaborating, even the months when I had to use that bloody voice dictation software.

So Julia lounging up there in the bathtub (snapped during the book’s photo shoot) sums up a fun and relaaaaaxed process and for once in my life I reckon I’ve been fully present for it all. A large gin shall be quaffed tonight. Woohoo!

If you’d like to know more about the book, here’s the lowdown. I wanted to say mega thanks to my friends and family and blog pals for being so patient during those writing months, to the Up & Running community for your fantastic contributions and for always inspiring us, to the good folks at CICO Books, and of course to Julia for everything!

Rain and gloom on the A9

Everyday Life: November 2014

11/Dec/2014

November began as usual with a birthday, the highlight of which being this card from Rhiannon:

Happy birthday to me

The last of the Autumn colour…

Autumn sun

Arrived home one night, flipped on the lights and found Neighbour Cat waiting.

Step cat

After many long and boring months of slowly re-building the post-surgery forearm strength, I finally got back into proper heavy weight training this month! Mondays is the big lifts with Shona, then I do kettlebells on my own during the week. It’s good to feel back in the groove.

Kettlebells

There were some eerie, foggy days which made the cold feel kind of glamourous…

River Ness footbridge

Gareth made his first ever loaf of bread and reckons it is much harder than brewing. This loaf had a brilliant crust but a bit doughy inside; Loaf #2 was much better!

Gareth's first loaf

At the end of the month the Christmas lights were switched on in town. I switched the Christmas lights on in the flat, handily still up from last Christmas.

Christmas lights

This month I wanted to keep a better eye out for Everyday Life details, but so much of November was poorly lit, rain soaked and/or and me sitting a desk gawking at a computer screen. It was totally mundane. So in the spirit of transparency and possibly an antidote to perfectly manicured house blogs, I’ll share this photo of our dinky rental kitchen/living room that still looks like we moved in yesterday (those beer boxes are storage, not beer; due to cupboard shortage in flat).

Title: Neighbour Cat Sitting On Toolbox, Looking Judgemental.

Toolbox cat

Book 1, Book 2 and 13 teaspoons of whisky

05/Dec/2014

Update on the 52 Whiskys In 52 Weeks Project: It’s Week 49 and I’ve only clocked up 13!

I’ve tried to get into the spirit of things but I think maybe I just don’t like whisky. I’ve dabbled across the islands, Highlands, Lowlands and Speyside and while the milder fellas taste less like punishment, it’s not exciting me like it would if it were 52 gins or 52 chocolate bars.

It’s mostly likely because I just slurp about a teaspoon’s worth then declare, “Bleeeeurgh!”. And I’m still intrigued by the romance and history and culture of whisky, so I’ve decided to persist. Except the timeframe for the project has been extended from 52 Whiskys in 52 Weeks… to 52 Years.

In other news, from January to May this year Julia and I wrote a beginner’s running book. It’ll be published on 8 January!

My author copies arrived yesterday and I’m chuffed with how it turned out. All voice dictation typos removed! Seriously, it’s a beautifully made book and the innards are encouraging, informative and inspiring. And it allegedly, “makes you want to put the book down and go out running right away”, according to Test Reader Rhiannon. All the lowdown is on the Up & Running book page if you’d like to know more.

UP AND RUNNING 5k beginners book

I feel kind of ridiculous to have co-written a book about running. Me with the dodgy knee and preference for walking and weight lifting. But as with our courses Julia brought the gallons of running expertise and I brought the beginner’s perspective and conducted the interviews and organise the information. Then both being writer types we brought it all together in a blur of Google Docs and Skype sessions, tapping and yapping long into the night. Working with Julia through the whole process was the highlight of 2014.

Finally, remember how earlier this year I found the Evil Neighbour Cat (not the good one) sitting in my box of Dietgirl books? I’ve been meaning to say, if anyone would like a copy please just zap me a message and I’ll send one, if you can PayPal the postage costs. Of course, I’ll take out the top layer of furry books first!

UPDATE: All copies gone now.

Stink eye cat

The many inboxes of David

26/Nov/2014

Random bird

I recently discovered something fascinating about my father-in-law David: he has six email inboxes.

He’s been retired for a few years now so wasn’t sure why he would need six. But he has a lot of hobbies. And he likes to keep the email relating to these hobbies completely segregated. So he has: one email account for family correspondence, one for online shopping, one for bird watching, one for the allotment, one for golf and one for photography.

Personally I’m a Gmail devotee, corralling my different email addresses (personal, online shopping, blog & business) into one Gmail inbox so I only have to check one place. It’s obsessively organised with filters, labels and aliases. So I found his One Account Per Subject approach baffling but totally charming. Not to mention admiring his ability to remember six different passwords!

I asked him about the logic of the system and he said, “Some days I only want to think about golf so I just check the golf account. Other days I’ll catch up on my bird watching newsletters and don’t want to bother with other things.”

I can imagine some days he can’t be fussed dealing with pesky son or daughter-in-law emails so he’ll log on to photography instead. Hehehe.

The thing I love about my father-in-law is that he never stops being curious about the world and when he gets into a new hobby, he really gets into it. So I wonder how many email addresses he will end up with?

Anyone else out there take this approach to inbox management?

Everyday Life: October 2014

18/Nov/2014

San Gimignano

October started out with a visit to Italy. First I stayed with Julia for an Up & Running workathon. This included a wee photo shoot to redo all the photos and videos in our running courses.

I’ve been busting to get them done professionally for years. Most of the originals were clumsily shot on my old iPhone 3 in the hallway of an Edinburgh hotel room, on the very first day I met Julia in person. We kept stopping and starting as the cleaner made her way in and out of the rooms with the vacuum cleaner.

They didn’t quite match my vision of perfection but if we’d waited for perfection we’d never have launched anything. I’ve often wrestled with the urge to apologise to our runners for the “rustic charm” of my multimedia efforts. But would apologising draw unnecessary attention to them? Or would silence suggest we didn’t know they looked a bit scruffy? That’s the sort of thing that keeps me awake. What is good enough? At what point do you release something into the wild?

Anyway, we finally budgeted in the photos and the Papermoustache dream team worked their magic. You can see from this photo of the photo how desperately professional help was needed. I managed to chop off the heads of both Julia and the random little dog that hung around us in the park.

I'm a rubbish photographer

After a fab few days with Julia I caught an assortment of trains and buses to San Gimignano. The Mothership was over for an epic tour of Italy, so we took the opportunity to meet up.

San Gimignano is a walled medieval hill town in Tuscany, kind of like a ye olde New York City. Except with lots of wild boar products and amazing gelato.

San Gimignano

It was a very surreal time because the Tuscan views were so freaking Tuscan, with the pointy trees and vineyards and undulating hills… and then The Mothership was there. Twenty years ago the very idea of us somehow hanging out in Italy was unfathomable.

So I will always treasure those few days, where we quickly ditched the idea of any sightseeing and just wandered around the cobbled streets, chatting away. With a daily gelato stop, of course. Thank you, Mum.

 Piazza Cisterna, San Gimignano

Dogs of San Gimignano

San Gimignano

San Gimignano

Tuscany views

Gelateria Dondoli, San Gimignano

I came home covered in mozzie bites. The remaining two thirds of the month were perfectly mundane, with Neighbour Cat still showing up on a regular basis, seated here in the Cat Loaf position…

cat-loaf

… and the weather turning beautifully autumnal.

Inverness in Autumn

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