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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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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

The other Mrs Reid

10/Nov/2014

Growing up in rural Oz through the 80s and 90s, I didn’t know any other Shauna’s. I thought my name was daggy and annoying. I longed to be a Jenny, Tracy or Melissa and be spared the indignity of being nicknamed “Shauny Prawn”.

But thanks to the invention of the internet I now know there’s twenty gazillion fellow Shauna’s, and many Shauna Reid’s too. There is one living in Canada. I know this because I often get her emails.

Because of a missing hyphen or full stop or similar, I hear about Canadian Shauna Reid’s PTA meetings, carpool plans, and practice schedules for the school hockey team. Today was the best one though – her son’s metalwork teacher sent me his report card.

The kid scored a solid B. He aced Hand Tools, Power Tools and Lathe Operations. He got an 87 on his Safety quiz. He also did well on both his Hammer and Welded Log projects.

I wrote back:

Hi there Mr W.,

I think you have the wrong email address as I’m a Shauna Reid in Scotland. Looks like J. is doing well with his metalwork though! :)

Best wishes,
Shauna

The teacher thought it was all pretty hilarious. I kinda love the life of this other Shauny Prawn.

I reckon there’s a lot of dramatic potential with doppelnamers. You could do a sinister Scandinavian crime drama about identity theft where the two Shauna Reid’s use email to mess up each others lives on the perpetually rainy streets of Copenhagen. Or a Richard Curtis-esque fluff fest about two twentysomething women with great hair and very similar Gmail addresses. Shauna A* writes back to the yoga teacher or school principal or plumber of Shauna B** to say, Hey You Missed A Hyphen! ***

Shauna A and the plumber start writing back and forth, then fall in love, then decide long distance is just too hard… but then the plumber flies over on Christmas Eve, to say he can’t live without her. Meanwhile Shauna B is all, how about fixing my bloody radiator?

* the better looking one
** the “Hollywood
neurotic yet hot when she takes her glasses off” one
*** possible film title?

Hairdresser, cook or cleaner?

06/Nov/2014

A smiley banana

I was struggling to get to sleep last night so I passed the time by pondering a very deep question:

If given the choice of a weekly visit from a hairdresser, cook or cleaner, which would I take?

Sleep grew even more elusive as I got carried away with the terms and conditions of this fantasy scenario (kind of like when you imagine what you’d do if you won the lottery. How to keep it private, how much is too much, how far out on the family tree do you go paying off mortgages, which charities would you donate to, would you buy a sports team… to the point where you decide being a pretend millionaire is too hard, just forget it.).

I settled on these criteria:

  • Cook – they’d come round and prepare dinners and lunches for a whole week for the entire household. As wholesome or decadent as you please. They’d put stuff in the fridge and freezer so you’d only need to reheat or assemble.
  • Cleaner – weekly clean of the entire house. Proper deep clean when needed. Laundry washed, ironed and put away. The oven and shower would SPARKLE.
  • Hairdresser – I decided the equivalent of the above would be TWO visits a week because even with a whole can of dry shampoo I can’t make a blow dry last all week even if I just sat very still and didn’t leave the house. Cuts, colour or fancy do’s as required.

The cases for and against:

  • Cook
    Pros – Meal planning and preparation takes up way too much of my brain space. Imagine not having to think about that, ever? I’d have more time to do my own freaking hair.
    Cons – House is a mess.
  • Hairdresser
    Pros – A good blow dry can make one feel bloody invincible. Have good hair, will kick arse. It puts a spring in my step. Anyone else feel that way?
    Cons – Wouldn’t ever want to cook or clean as it might muck up the hair.
  • Cleaner
    Pros – A super clean and shiny house is so gloriously calming.
    Cons – What’s for dinner?

At some point I finally fell asleep and don’t remember what I decided, but I do remember dreaming I got sent to prison.

I think my subconscious must still be pining for Natalie. Back in May I hired her to clean our bathroom and kitchen, just a one-off. Things were looking grotty after a few weeks of me being temporarily an arm down (post-melanoma surgery), and Gareth working insane hours (he is the far superior cleaner, by the way).

So I wanted to hit the reset button. Since The Mothership had started me on cleaning duties when I was about seven years old, getting someone else involved felt like such a decadent, rebellious thing to do.

The awesome Natalie showed up on her scooter, a satchel of products slung over her shoulder. Over the next three hours she totally transformed the two rooms. I didn’t think we were remotely filthy, but I never knew a room could be so freaking CLEAN. The stovetop gleamed, the rug was reborn, the bathtub was blindingly white, and she even carefully arranged the bananas into a smile on the fruit platter. It was miraculous!

My crafty plan was to not say anything to Gareth, and if he noticed I’d pretend I’d single-handedly scrubbed away. There’s no way it would even cross his mind that I’d get a cleaner; he has the same guilt thing going on as me.

He was suspicious as soon as he walked through the door. “What’s going on?”

“What do you mean?”

“Something’s… different.”

“It is?”

“Those tiles. They’re very shiny. Why are those boxes all stacked up so neatly?”

“Oh you know…. I moved some things.”

“That’s not like you? What are you up to? ”

He walked from the kitchen to the bathroom and back again.

“This is not your work!”

“AHH, YA GOT ME!”

Months later we still talk about what Natalie did with the bananas.

Everyday Life: September 2014

11/Oct/2014

Just to clarify, we haven’t moved again – the Brown House was our house in Dunfermline. We rented it out the past year then decided to sell. We’re still in Inverness in the same rental place, where the awesome Neighbour Cat still sneaks through the bathroom window and falls asleep in random places.

Marcel the Cat

Catching up on September… it was one of those months that make it look like I have an actual social life! It started with the annual Jocktoberfest at the brewery. The theme was Wild West and the place looked fab.

More Jocktoberfest

More Jocktoberfest

More Jocktoberfest

We had a weekend in London to see Rhiannon. I’m sure we didn’t just talk our heads off and eat cake but the photo library says otherwise.

London cakes

Spotted in Islington I think…

Joan Rivers

As well as saying goodbye to the old house we had to let the old car go, too. It had done nearly 220,000 miles (354,000 km), the gears were slipping and it couldn’t go over 45 mph which is no bloody use on the A9. We’d inherited it from Gareth’s dad – it was his old company car and they let him keep it when he retired. Since it was a FREE CAR! we kept it alive for as long as possible but when the repair estimate became way more than the car’s value we had to let go. Talk about emotions this month, jeezo!

Goodbye car

Speaking of emotions, that referendum happened!

The day before

The month ended with a bunch of beloved Up & Running friends coming to town to run the Loch Ness 10K. And to drink lots of wine. I’d got myself a bit isolated these past few months, so Social September was the perfect (gin and) tonic.

Jocktoberfest

Farewell to the Brown House

10/Oct/2014

Robin in winter

Last Friday we handed the keys of the Brown House to its new owners. After very smelly beginnings we loved that place in all its 1970s glory. But much has changed since 2009 so it was time to pass the brown baton. Apparently the new owners plan to do all the Someday things – replace the aged kitchen, bathroom, stairs… and put in an en-suite! Looks like they have no need for a bedroom beer cellar.

We paid a visit to finalise things and camped out in the living room for old times’ sake. We narrowed down our favourite Brown House memories. Mine: the time Gareth was putting up curtains and the curtain rod slipped from his grasp and donked him right on the head. He was so infuriated that he chucked the screwdriver across the room where it donked the light switch plate, smashing it in half and giving him twice as many DIY jobs to complete.

His happiest memory was the time I got up early one morning to go down to the loo. I somehow slipped and went down the stairs on my arse with a cartoony CLONK CLONK CLONK CLONK CLONK BANG.

Rhiannon was staying over at the time and both she and Gareth rushed out of their rooms to find me in a crumpled heap on the floor. After quickly establishing I was fine, they howled and howled with laughter as the sound + crumpled heap combo was apparently all too much. To this day Gareth only has to say, “Remember Shauna… the stairs?” and Rhi instantly splutters, “Those clonks! That crumpled pile of Shauna!” as tears of mirth stream down her face.

Maybe your fondest family memories aren’t based on the misfortunes of others, but slapstick is timeless for us!

Anyway. To mark this life transition I wanted to gather some less painful memories…

This Artex. If you stared at the ceiling long enough… self-hypnosis.

Glorious Artex ceilings

The time that Gareth found a typewriter at the tip and spent months restoring it so we could type stupid notes.

typewriter

type3

type2

type

The time the little girls next door gave me this classy manicure. They’d set up a beauty parlour on the street and it only set me back 20p.

Also, this lush green crop in the field behind the house that made a satisfying swishy sound in the wind.

Manicure from the neighbours' kids | Summertime crop

The moment each year when the bluebells arrived in the woods up the road.

bluebells

Our gardening efforts were patchy… we never could top the huge ass parsnips of 2010!

parsnips

Strawberry wine experiment + always reliable pea shoots.

brew-peas

After the initial de-stinkification efforts we never got around to much decorating, aside from painting the dining room BLUE, as Gareth explains here in an attempted Aussie accent.

That time he photobombed the tiny Christmas tree.

photo-bomb

The snowy moments of 2009 and 2010…

snow-sunset

All the birds…

murmur

Eating Disorder Pigeon & Friends

spuggie

(This “rustic” fence is fixed now, by the way. Thanks Jon!)

Gareth’s garage brewery…

homebrew

The tree that cast groovy shadows on the bedroom wall.

shadows

The sunsets.

sunset

And thus endeth the Brown House adventure!

Scotland dot jock

10/Sep/2014

Scottish Independence Ballot Paper

I’ve never written about politics in 14 years of this blog but thought tonight would be a good time to wade in, while snotty and half delirious with a cold. Next Thursday September 18 is the Scottish Independence Referendum.

I don’t know how much chat is happening outside the UK, so to summarise: we will be voting Yes or No to the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

I’ve never spent so much bloody time pondering a question. I’ve debated with strangers. I have asked learned friends for detailed explanations of their views. I’ve scoured the internet for neutral, solid facts and figures and they are not easy to come by. There are moments when I feel like this is a thrilling once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, then others I cannot get my head around the implications and practicalities and the feeling that as much as I truly love my adopted country, I like being part of the United Kingdom too.

And then my brain swells in confusion and I start to ask totally frivolous questions like:

  • What would happen to my precious Pact Coffee subscription? Would I get charged international shipping?
  • Would we be restricted to River City and Reporting Scotland (snooze) or would they let us watch the proper BBC with the full suite of Scandinavian crime dramas?
  • What would the top level domain be? Answer: dot scot. Not dot jock as Gareth hoped.

Anyway, I need to get my postal vote in post haste. I’d requested one because I got confused and thought the 18th was the Wednesday, when I’ll be on a train coming back from England. Right now I’m procrastifaffing and admiring the stark simplicity of the ballot paper.

If you would like a good and hilarious summary of what’s going on, check out Charlie Brooker – David Cameron can’t help the No campaign – he’s less popular in Scotland than Windows 8.

Independence express

Everyday Life: August 2014

06/Sep/2014

August was a funny old month. Lots of work, yet lots of laziness and idle browsing of #gelato on Instagram!

Daily braindump. I don’t think I’ve ever said the word “yikes” out loud, but it appeared. What’s next? Jeepers!

Diary angst

Spontaneous stop to watch these seals lounging around…

seals3

It was hilarious seeing them scuttle off as the tide crept in, with these two determined to stay put until the last scrap of sand disappeared.

Seals at Dornoch Firth

Morning walk along the Caledonian Canal.

Caledonian Canal

A rainy night at the Belladrum Festival, watching Tom Jones butcher the classics and Gareth nervously watching people drinking beer that he’d made. And other vessel to add to his annoying inanimate objects with first person copy list, too. Mwahahaha.

Belladrum Festival

ITV showed the Star Wars trilogy over three Saturday nights. Marcel/Neighbour Cat invited himself over for the first two, but took off after ten minutes of Return of the Jedi. Even cats know that one stinks.

Cat watching Star Wars

(I hope you appreciate my restraint at only posting one cat photo!)

Greta garbage bin…

Garbage bin

More roses…

More roses in Inverness

Ducks old and new on the River Ness…

ducks

Plus a heron after a rainy night.

Plus a heron after a rainy night

We finished the month with Sunday lunch at the Ben Leva Hotel, which is home to the Loch Ness Brewery. This is my favourite pub up here. It is so laid back and quiet and there’s always a dog or two lounging around, sometimes staring at you mournfully while you eat. A Sunday roast isn’t something that looks particularly good when photographed but it was bloody delicious!

Sunday roast at the Ben Leva Hotel

There’s also this massive, gorgeous tree out the front.

tree

I have no idea what kind of tree it is, but it’s pretty much how I used to imagine the Magic Faraway Tree. Get climbing to the Land of Goodies!

Massive tree at the Ben Leva Hotel

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