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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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Everyday Life: September 2015

11 Nov 2015

Crikey, I’m way behind on life! There’s so much to catch up on. First of all: September report.

September was obviously a hard month with losing our lovely friend Clare at the start of it. There doesn’t seem to be anything stage-like about the Stages of Grief at all. They happen out of order and/or at the same time and/or in a continuous loop. All your senses are raw and heightened. One minute you’re smiling at a memory, then the next minute you’re raging at the stupid slugs that keep sneaking under the stupid back door of your stupid flat. How come those slimy bastards get to be alive?

There was also a deep, deeper appreciation for everything. For friends near and far, for getting to be here at all, for beautiful feasts for the eyeballs like this one.


How’s that for a clumsy segue?! But we took a drive one Sunday arvo and ended up here, just outside Sheildaig. I reckon that’s the very best thing about Inverness – it’s got all the mod cons, but you’re so close to proper quiet, mind-clearing wilderness.

Another Sunday we woke up to find some rotter had smashed our car window. I love Gareth’s annoyed expression in the remaining glass. When the repair guy came, Neighbour Cat jumped into the back of his van and found a box to sit in.

Smashed car window

Loved the peaceful gardens at the House for an Art Lover in Glasgow.


Neighbour Cat practicing her most forlorn expression.


The best part about the long drive down the A9 is stopping at The Mountain Cafe in Aviemore, the best cafe in the Highlands. It’s crazy popular with the queue usually spilling down the stairs and out the door, but always worth the wait. I believe the owner is a New Zealander! Antipodeans know how to give good cafe. The food is bright and light, yet indulgent and comforting. And of course there’s bloody great cakes and coffee. Hubba hubba!


This is Neighbour Cat’s arch enemy, Little Socks. She’s a real piece of work and in October she beat up Neighbour Cat and scratched her eye. Oooooh I was spewing. I don’t know how parents cope if their child gets bullied. It’s distressing enough when the victim is an indifferent cat that doesn’t even belong to you!


The month ended same as the previous two Septembers – cheering runners at the Inverness Marathon. No friends in action this year but I still loved watching. This marshall at Mile 26 was bloody hilarious, telling the runners, “you’ve come too far to give up now” and that there was free beer at the finish line. At the end of this video you can faintly hear someone asking, “Is there really free beer?” and him muttering, “Naw, there’s no beer.”

I hope you catch lots of bugs in your remaining years

13 Oct 2015

^ That’s what Gareth said in farewell to Neighbour Cat as he left for work on Friday morning.

The black & white assassin is finally away to her new house, fifteen months since she first sauntered into our living room uninvited.

We were so lucky to get seven bonus weeks of cat sitting. Her owner was full of thank you’s for helping her out of a tight spot, but the pleasure was all ours. We loved her already but full time residency let us get to know her lunatic ways on a whole new level.

Since she didn’t have her real family to hang out with, we made an effort to keep her entertained. She really dug our high tech yarn toy. Please excuse the hairy carpet in this video and focus on the cute…

When she wasn’t snoozing on that old duvet she would take up residence atop Gareth’s motorbike leathers.

Alfie on the leathers

She continued to eat like gannet, and on this occasion decided to open the Whiskas herself when Gareth dared to arrive home ten minutes late. Looks like she may have been about to make a sandwich…

It's Whiskas time

She’d frequently tap at this particular window to be let in. She’d never realise it was already open, despite it being the same kind of window as the others she entered through. Please excuse her grubby pawprints and the washing machine on spin cycle and focus on the cute…

“What the hell are we going to do now?” I asked Gareth on Friday night as we stared at an abandoned Dreamie on the kitchen floor.

“We’re going to have Empty Nest Syndrome then get divorced,” he said. “I read about it in The Guardian!”.

There’s a real space left behind by the feline formerly known as Marcel Kitten (’til we found out her real name was Alfie, then subsequently known as Alfie Pops, Alfinator, Alfredo, Alfonso, Alf Stewart, Alfie Pudding, Sprocket, Pantaloons or Lady Poostinks).

But as I said to her owner, it was an honor to know her. If you’d told us two years ago that the highlight of our Highland Experiment would be frequent visits from a sweet, grumpy, hilarious, spider-chasing four-legged stranger, we’d not have believed it. I treasure every swipe, every snore, every snooze on my lap; every furry blurry leap through the window.

Everyday Life: August 2015

30 Sep 2015

It would be easy to post this idyllic scene without comment, and make August look so darn wholesome and perfect…

Assorted poultry at the Old Mill Inn, Brodie

…but if you pulled back the frame you’d have seen the car park full of cars and my forlorn expression as we’d just found out there was nae room at the Old Mill Inn for dinner.

I was hangry as hell after a round of golf with Gareth’s parents at Hopeman, a village on the Moray Coast. They lived there ’til Gareth was 4 years old. David had always wanted to try the course so we finally made it happen. The lads played while Mary and I caddied.

Gareth and David at Hopeman Golf Course

Here’s David taking a shot amongst the heather.

David takes a shot amongst the heather

After 18 holes, 10000 seaside steps, several spectacular shots and quite a few dodgy ones, the game came to this gentlemanly conclusion. AGAIN I had the phone up the wrong bloody way!

The roses were going gangbusters throughout August. There is a great bed of them by the riverside, so I wandered past as often as possible to stick my nose in a bloom or two.

Another great rose in Inverness

The fluffy Buddha continued her residency…

Pat the buddha

Hello, I am cute…

Hello, I am cute

We popped into the brewery one Saturday morning to check on the beers…

Gareth checking on the brews

I met up with Susan for a great lunch with at The Ivy Bar & Kitchen, a tapas place with Scottish-y dishes. I thought I’d play at being a food blogger but somehow the phone focused only on the fried chicken. Which is an accurate reflection of where my mind was at.

Focus on the fried chicken

Remembering Clare

23 Sep 2015

U&R meetup in Glasgow

Two weeks ago my friend Clare passed away and I miss her so much. She was a beloved member of the Up & Running community and a huge part of the last four-and-a-bit years, sharing many globetrotting adventures and thousands of forum words with us.

I’ve been writing down fragments of memories, to make sure I get down all the good things I don’t want to forget.

Like the U&R 5K Course of Summer 2011, when we met. For eight weeks she ran around Glasgow, reporting back wildlife sightings and witty observations, with an uncanny ability to find the positives in even the crummiest run.

The magical Bologna retreat in 2012. A chatty, rainy 6K race with Clare, Julia K and Honor. Dodging puddles and striding along the colonnades, already plotting the next meet up.

Back to Bologna a year later. I started the race in a grumpy, pathetic mood but walking with Clare and Honor upturned the frown as we made a game of overtaking the competition.

A marathon weekend in Edinburgh, when U&R buddies flew in from all over. I’d found a bargain night at the swanky Missoni hotel and asked Clare if she’d be my roomie, even though it made no sense for us locals to stay in a hotel. Of course she was up for it. We lounged in the bathrobes, plundered the “free” mini bar and took all the fancy toiletries home.

A few weeks later, a rainy Sunday cheering on the awesome Paula G for her first Half Ironman. Roomies again, and agreeing wholeheartedly that the pillows in Paula’s cottage were far superior to the Missoni’s.

Barcelona last February, Sunday morning sunshine. The rustle of bright pink pompoms that Julia K brought all the way from Texas, cheering on our marathon heroines. I’ll cart those pompoms to every race now ’til they fall apart.

A year ago this Sunday, our living room here in Inverness. Clare scratched Neighbour Cat behind the ears in a magical spot that made her collapse into a happy pile of purrs. Gareth has got the move down pat, but I can’t bloody do it! And of course he won’t show me how. I think he likes being custodian of the Clare Technique.

Our geeky conversations on the joys of organising and spreadsheets and lists and stationery and the art of packing light. Texts before each U&R meetup about what colour we were painting our toenails. The ongoing discussion about the search for the perfect cross body travel bag. Light enough to walk around a city all day, but stylish enough not to look like a tourist. It’s very important stuff!

I loved Clare’s kindness and compassion. If anyone was going through a difficult time, inevitably the perfect card would pop through the door, with just the right words inside to bring a smile and sense of perspective.

Then when faced with her own illness, she was matter-of-fact, dignified; honest about her fears. Quietly courageous. Hopeful.

I used to hear the phrase they lived life to the full and thought it meant daredevil stuff like bungee jumping or swimming with sharks. But now it makes me think of Clare. The way she filled her life, with purpose and intent. Fully present.

Clare… I’m forever grateful for all the random internet clicks that happened for our paths to cross. And more grateful than ever for my treasured U&R friends and the crazy, precious bond forged over our keyboards.

I miss your calm presence, your thoughtful observations, your wicked wit. I can hear your melodious accent saying the words you’d said in all kinds of situations, Och well. What can you do? You’ve just got to get on with it. But you were so wonderful that you’ll have to let us be with this sadness awhile longer.

I’m celebrating too. All the friendship and good times we packed into those too-few years. We’ll shake our pompoms and raise many a gin and tonic in your name. You will always be with us, along for the next adventure.

Team Up & Running!

The long goodbye

02 Sep 2015

There’s been a development in the Neighbour Cat situation.

First the crap news: our lovely Neighbour moved out two weeks ago. Noooo!

The (temporary) good news: Neighbour is between houses, so was searching for a place for Neighbour Cat to stay a few weeks while a new place is sorted. Long story short – thanks to a chance conversation, Gareth volunteered us for cat sitting duties!

It’s been a bittersweet couple of weeks – all this top quality Neighbour Cat time, but knowing it will be over any day.

Watching a bug on the ceiling, in the company of a hooded Gareth

Watching a bug on the ceiling, in the company of a behooded Gareth. How shit are those curtains, btw.

Once the cat flap was locked next door, she adapted quickly to the new arrangement. It’s not much different from before, it’s just the naps are longer. She finishes each day snoozed upon either the couch, the office chair, the foot of our bed , or on a folded up pair of Gareth’s tracky dacks (sweatpants). Gotta be the navy ones with the red stripe.

Gareth thinks I’m paranoid but I think she thinks we’re rubbish compared to her Real Owner. I’ll catch her staring plaintively out the window, ears perking up when car tyres crunch in the driveway. Gareth says she’s probably watching a spider (she doesn’t chase birds, only insects) or plotting her next fight with our other neighbour’s cat. But I dunno. Sometimes she has this withering look that’s all, “I see you, and I find you lacking”.

Yeah, that look

Yeah, that look.

But I’ve more besotted than ever. Withering looks aside, she’s a sweetie and no trouble at all.

I also love the way she eats. “Like a gannet” as her owner warned. I’ve been re-reading Intuitive Eating lately and she’s a champion intuitive eater, clearly never swayed from her natural instincts by glossy magazines or crash diets:

  1. She’s in tune with her appetite – when she’s hungry she lets you know by a fixed, steely stare and/or by nudging the cat food box to the floor.
  2. She eats only what she really wants – I made the beginner’s error of buying Kit-E-Kat instead of Whiskas and Her Majesty would have none of it.
  3. She eats with unconfined joy – at first savouring slowly, then working up to an all-out scoff, chunks spraying out of the bowl in an arc.
  4. She stops when she’s full – and saunters off, knowing the Inadequate Substitute Humans will tidy up, then plops down on the rug for some elaborate grooming.

I promise you I’m not going to turn into a crazy cat lady around here. I’m more convinced than ever I don’t actually want my own cat, I just like knowing this cranky, fluffy, hilarious one.

I’m going to miss her so, so much.

Aerial view of the ever-hungry house guest

Aerial view of the ever-hungry house guest

Everyday Life: July 2015

12 Aug 2015

July = rose time!


Gareth reckons Neighbour Cat looks like an Angry Bird in this pic. The combo of her face/frilly neck remind me of a black and white cookie.


We caught the Caledonian Sleeper down to London ready for the cricket. I love the Sleeper. It leaves Inverness at 8.45pm then you wake up in London at 7.45 the next morning. There’s no wifi, so all you can do is get into your little bunk bed and read trashy books then fall asleep. Or if you’re Gareth, have a classy wee picnic…


After the cricket we had a side trip to Bedford to spend a great weekend with friends.


As mentioned before Rhiannon and I went to Margate to visit the Turner Contemporary gallery. I enjoyed the window views as much as the art.


My friend Frances taught me the sensible travel rule that for every cultural activity there must be a corresponding eating activity…


We walked past the Tudor House and I was secretly glad it was closed as my peanut brain can’t handle culture and history in one day.


And then, back north to Scotland. It was cheaper to get the train than fly which seemed sensible at the time of purchase but man, 8.5 hours is a long time sitting on your butt. We got to the Forth Road Bridge and I thought, “Yay! Nearly home!” then the realisation dawned it was still another 3.5 hours to Inverness.

But who cares about a numb arse when the views are so good…


The wall of eggs

05 Aug 2015

Forget The Ashes – last weekend I ticked off an even more thrilling Bucket List ambition: a visit to the egg vending machine!

The Egg Box Shop, Cromarty

Another glorious summer’s day in Scotland

I think I first heard about The Egg Box Shop on Susan’s blog, when she spotted it on a day out in Cromarty. It’s located on a farm where the chooks roam free and produce award-winning eggs for the local community. The farm owners came up with the idea of having a vending machine so they could sell direct to the public, 24/7.

I love a good vending machine. You can’t beat the gadgety joy of pressing a button… bleep! You win a prize! Even though you paid for it. So yes, totally worth a 40 mile round trip for the novelty of vending machine eggs.

Behold, the WALL OF EGGS. There were small, medium, large and even double yolkers!

Wall of Eggs

I filmed Gareth making our purchase. I was so eggcited that I forgot to turn my phone into the horizontal position, hence the really annoying crop.

Note the slow and methodical way he puts the coins into the machine. He chops onions in this same manner and every time I have to bite my tongue from saying, “Shove over and let me chop before we starve to death!”.

This vending machine is particularly awesome as the little doors gives one a small insight into how it must feel to have a safe deposit box at a bank. But instead of bars of gold and top secret documents you get eggs! Delicious, tasty eggs.

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.

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