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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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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 one time 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

Up & Running September winners

03/Sep/2014

Thanks for all your giveaway comments! If you missed out but would like to join us next week, you can use the code TEATIME at checkout for 20% off until Monday. This discount also applies to Up & Moving, which is a great course for beginners and walkers (I finally finished my redo of the course… the six weeks took over two months, eep!).

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

  • Maike - who would serve plum tart for Adele
  • Vera – would whip up her lemon ricotta blueberry cheesecake for Hugh Jackman
  • Siv – who would bring back her dad for tea
  • M – would invite Emma Thompson
  • Roisin – will be serving apple fritters and gingerbread biscuits to a revived and reassembled Anne Boleyn
  • Noreen – would like a tea party with Robert Downey Jr and “chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate”. I’d gatecrash that one Noreen, but I think you guys would rather be alone!

Congratulations, folks… will look forward to chatting on the Forum over the coming weeks! I’ve emailed you with the details so please get in touch ASAP to claim your prize.

All aboard for the Up & Running 5K

Win a spot on the September Up & Running 5k or 10k course

25/Aug/2014

Following on from the Robert Plant post, who would you invite round for tea?

Yep, it’s nosy question time again! We’ve just opened up registration for the final Up & Running courses for 2014, thus I’m making my last attempt to lure you into our international running club.

The 5K Beginners Course starts on Monday 8 September and the 10K Course starts on Thursday 11 September, each going for eight weeks.

Here’s what you get…

  • an eight week training plan to get you 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
  • a delightful sense of wellbeing as the year draws to an end, having achieved something so epic!

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

  1. If you had to invite someone famous round for tea, who would it be and why? (And optionally, what would be on the menu?)
  2. Which course you’d like to do.

  • Entries close 11PM GMT on Monday 1 September.
  • There will be five winners and they have their choice of 5K or 10K 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 Courses are for women only.

Come over for your tea, Robert Plant

13/Aug/2014

Do you think Robert Plant ever Googles himself? I bet he doesn’t because he’s Robert Plant. He’s quietly aware that he’s magnificent and has no need to click through to the 25,675th page of search results to find some random loon banging on, ROBERT PLANT IS MAGNIFICENT. But I’m going to do it anyway.

Last night I was re-watching his set from Glastonbury 2014 (there’s still three days left to catch it on BBC iPlayer) and kept thinking that he’s ace in so many ways. So I made a list.

  • He was in Led Zeppelin, one of the greatest bands of all time, but he doesn’t go on about it. I also saw the documentary Robert Plant: By Myself earlier this year, where talks about their massive success and how great that time was, but he’s kinda modest and matter of fact, and it’s clear that he’s had this whole other life since then.
  • He never rests on his laurels. He’s always evolving, dabbling with new sounds and genres and collaborating with new people.
  • He doesn’t strut around like it’s still 1970 with the bare chest and unfathomably snug jeans. He is where he is, and looks totally cool with that. As you would be, if you were Robert Plant.
    Robert Plant
  • That Glastonbury show is full of classic Zeppelin tunes, because he knows that’s what the people want. He’s not one of those folks that get uptight about playing the old hits…
  • … but he makes them new.  He and his incredible band cooked up cool versions that mix “African Trance, Psychedelia, and 21st century warped dance beats”. It wasn’t at all cringeworthy and at no point do you think WHERE’S JIMMY?
  • (It was a different experience seeing Tom Jones at the Belladrum festival last Friday night. He did It’s Not Unusual with a quasi-reggae beat! And the famous brass intro was nowhere to be heard! That’s the best bloody bit, TOM!)
  • His band is full of brilliant musicians and they feel like a band. He steps aside and listens appreciatively during their solos, letting them have their moment.
  • He looks like he’s having fun the whole time and still sings like he means it. Not phoning it in for the dosh.
  • In one song he lets the guitarist’s son wander up to the front of the stage to dance around. How many stars would put their ego aside for that? He’s Robert Plant, he can share, nae bother!

He’s the perfect blueprint for rock stars on how to grow older gracefully. Stay curious, never stop learning and evolving, be generous to others, keep your mane in good nick… all while retaining your original magic and charisma. He’s at the top of my fantasy Famous Folks To Have Over For Dinner list. No, wait… what the hell would you cook for Robert Plant? That’s too much pressure!

Robert Plant

Photos: hypervocal; anchorshop.

Everyday Life: July 2014

05/Aug/2014

We went down to Dunfermline to visit the in-laws and I spent the whole weekend sneezing and crying. Good ol’ Fife pollen.

We got the royal tour of the allotment…

Sweet peas

It’s unrecognisable from the weedy wasteland we inherited back in 2011. It’s now crammed with tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries, leeks, onions, carrots, pumpkins, broad beans, peas, rhubarb, courgettes and even wee apple trees. David and Mary have put so much hard work into it.

Allotment

Peas and raspberry

Meanwhile back in Inverness there’s only one plant in our little rental back yard, but it’s a goodun. It heaved with bees all through July, and a few butterflies too…

Backyard butterfly

Neighbour’s Cat/Donut/Marcel Kitten spent much of the month sprawled out on the deck looking like a sheep waiting to be shorn. He stared up at the insects and occasionally got up to try (and fail) to catch one.

Lounging cat

This packet of bread rolls cracked me up.

One of the better bakers

Things are hotting up with only 43 days until the Scottish independence referendum. The Yes stickers seems to be slathered on more objects than No Thanks stickers round these parts.

Referendum

Lots of nice sunny days in July…

Sunshine on Inverness

… but some rainy ones too, of course. Here’s some a band of American and Canadian pipers getting soaked at the Inverness Highland Games.

Inverness Highland Games

All month I was obsessed with spotting roses on my walks. It was so bloody windy I could never quite catch them in the frame.

Roses

Pool party

29/Jul/2014

This crumbling beauty is Tarlair Swimming Pool in Macduff, Aberdeenshire. It was built in the 1930s in Art Deco style and is one of only three surviving outdoor seaside pools in Scotland.

Tarlair swimming pool

The pool’s outer wall was designed to be fractionally below high-tide level, so the waves could roll in over the edge, refilling it with clean sea water twice a day.

In its heyday it was the place to be, but it closed in 1996 after the impact of indoor heated pools and cheap overseas holidays took hold.

Tarlair swimming pool

The pool then fell into decay. At once point there was a proposal to turn it into a lobster hatchery! That would have been sacrilege for this glamorous old duck.

Tarlair swimming pool

We’d stopped for a nosy on the way back from visiting Pennan, the tiny village where one of Gareth’s favourite films Local Hero was made. Apparently not the original phone box, but Gareth and all the other Children of the 80s wandering around with cameras seemed happy enough…

Pennan

… anyway, I bloody loved this pool! Well, I loved my fantasy version of this pool. Imagine sitting there in a figure-flattering 50s swimsuit and a gigantic hat, sipping a cocktail. Sunny but not skin cancer sunny. Watching bronzed blokes stroll by from behind giant sunglasses.

Tarlair Swimming Pool

Of course the reality would have been children bellowing over their fallen ice creams, and truly shitty weather 90% of the time.

Tarlair swimming pool

Good news: local Macduff residents had a Save Tarlair campaign and eventually a £300,000 essential repairs programme was announced.

Tarlair swimming pool

It doesn’t look like there’s enough dosh to restore it to a working pool, but it’s good to know it will be around.

Tarlair

Life: you’re doing it all wrong

23/Jul/2014
Battling ropes

Chalky hands + battling ropes = happiness

  • Do you ever have those grumpy, paranoid weeks where you feel like you’re the most incompetent person on the planet? That you have nothing of interest to offer and you’ll soon be living in a cardboard box? I’m sure studies have found this phenomenon is 73% more common amongst the self-employed, as there’s no one around to tell you to please be quiet and go make a round of tea for the team.
  • Thank goodness for exercise to restore perspective. I switched my weekly personal training session to 6.30AM as part of Operation Morning Person, which after a decade in operation has finally stuck. Today Shona let me loose on the battling ropes, those weighted rope thingies that you wave up and down. Holy whole body workout, Batman! I could only manage short intervals but afterwards I felt calm, determined; brain realigned with body.
  • We tried to figure out the name of that cat by calling out test names and seeing if he reacted. Hey Tiddles. Bawbag. Fluffhead. Heisenberg. He never really reacts to us anyway so the results were inconclusive. Gareth now generally calls him Donut; I call him Marcel Kitten (that’s one for the Tour de France nerds).
  • The Commonwealth Games start in Glasgow TONIGHT! Bring on the lawn bowls and weird Australian team uniforms! Back in the mid-naughties I worked for a member of the bid team and the 2014 Games sounded impossibly far away. I remember typing up various letters and documents and thinking, I will be so old in 2014 but I’ll be all glamorous and together by then. Ahh, youth!
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