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Shauna Reid

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

Eleven. Eleven!

19/Apr/2014

Apple voice dictation

I think I have this voice recognition thing figured out now. I hadn’t noticed that you can change the language settings!

I had it on American English, which made me sound like a drunken lunatic. But thanks to Tamakikat‘s sage comment I discovered that you can download other languages. First I changed it to A stray Liam Australian English which worked a little better, but British English seems to be the most accurate.

For me anyway. It doesn’t like Gareth very much! We both read out this random paragraph from the guardian as an experiment:

Peter Moores has been given a second opportunity to coach England after his appointment was confirmed this morning. The 51-year-old Lancashire coach previously held the job between 2007 and 2009 but was dismissed after disappointing on-field results and a damaging personality clash with then captain Kevin Pietersen, who was also deposed.

My attempt:

Peter Moores has been given a second opportunity to coach England Archie’s appointment was confirmed this morning. The 51-year-old Lancashire coach previously held the job between 2000 and 70,009 that was dismissed after disciplining on film results and damaging personality clash within Capt Kevin Peterson who was also the post.

Disciplining on film! Ooh er.

Gareth’s attempt:

Universe has begun a second opportunity to put a wind that is appointment is confirmed this morning and 51 year old Lancashire Court juicy has adopted 2000 70,009 was dismissed after disappointing onto themselves and damaging personality clash with them Two Kevin Peterson result of the post.

I reckon Apple needs to fly a variety of Scots over to California and get working on this. You may recall that Siri cannae handle the accent either.

I kinda liked the surreal randomness of the American English dictations, maybe I’ll switch it back!

Diane, it’s 3pm

15/Apr/2014

This post is brought to you by Apple’s voice to text dictation thingy.

I had some surgery last week which I’ll write about soon. My left arm is out of action for a couple of weeks. I’m determined not to fail on my writing bet with Jimmy. No not Jimmy I said Jeanette. JENNETTE. But I’m rubbish at typing with one hand. So here I am yapping at the computer feeling like a twit.

It’s weird speaking out loud like this. I always thought I wrote microscope. No not microscope. Wrote like I spoke. It turns out my brain is better connected to my fingertips than it is to my mouth. I’m not feeling very articulate in this format! How did people dictate murders in the old days without feeling like like an idiot? Letters, not murders! I don’t think the computer likes my accent.

My sister is visiting for a few days. Later on she’s going to help me wash my hair which is totally hottie no grotty after a week of neglect. Das Gareth said he was unqualified in the field of hair washing. But he has been making great cups of tea. I’m bloody lucky and thankful for all the groovy people in my life and return the favour as soon as I can.

Net flicks update! I have been watching out of parts. No. House of cards. It’s a come down after Friday night lights, and there is nothing about any of the characters I can remotely warm to, but Kevin Stacey Stacey Stacey SPACEY and Robin Wright – ok how come it understands Robin Wright but not given Stacey, no Kevin Spacey? oh now you’ve got it – are such great actors and so beautiful to look at, that I’m hooked.

It’s taken me half an hour to write this dribble dribble dribble DR I VEL so I will spare you any further disjointed renting renting renting RANTING. Have a good week, good people!

Great Underwhelming Statues of the World

08/Apr/2014

They are iconic. They grace postcards and tea towels. They inspire poetry and plastic replicas. But in reality they’re just a little bit shithouse. When you get up close in person you can’t help thinking, “Is that it?”

Here are the Great Underwhelming Statues of the World I’ve been lucky enough to see…

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh
You know the story – John Gray dies and his faithful hound Bobby keeps vigil over his grave for fourteen years. When the hound died he was immortalised by this statue. He was only a wee dog and the statue is to scale so… hmmm.

Bobby & Mothership, 2004

Bobby & Mothership, 2004

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen
Anti-climax ahoy!

Little Mermaid

Ripped arf!

Manneken Pis, Brussels
I saw the Manneken Pis souvenirs before I saw the statue itself. Creepy chocolate ones, chess pieces; gigantic garden-gnomish replicas. I thought we were in for a mega statue with blush-worthy equipment. But we almost walked straight past it!

Manneken Pis

Where? Wha?

The Dog On The Tuckerbox, Gundagai, Australia.
Driving from Central West New South Wales to Melbourne takes about eight hours, which is equivalent to 125 hours if you’re under ten years old. The only thing that could hush the chorus of are we there yet are we there yet from the back seat was the promise of stopping at Gundagai to see the famed hound atop the lunchbox.

Such a thrill for a child after five hours cramped up with siblings and suitcases, to finally stop to eat a wilted Vegemite sandwich and gaze upon this masterpiece!

Pic from sydney-australia.biz

Pic from sydney-australia.biz

Do you have any must-see anti-climatic statues, folks? Would love to add more to the list.

Lady in grey

01/Apr/2014

The other day I was slapping some sunscreen on my face when a pair of furry EARS rose up from behind the mirror frame.

The tall mirror, unhung six months after moving in, was leaning against the side of the trusty brown IKEA Malm drawers. On top of the drawers was an open box of Dietgirl paperbacks that I’ve been meaning to deal with for some time. And on top of the Dietgirls sat the evil fluffy cat from next door.

Stink eye cat

He must have come in through the bathroom window and ducked upstairs when I wasn’t looking. He gave me a scornful look when I shrieked in surprise. Then he turned around and nestled back down into the box. I told him to rack off but he just hissed then purred aggressively. So I took a couple of photos, then he went to sleep for half an hour.

Then he woke up, gave me another “what are you looking at?” look before scuttling off downstairs and back out the window, leaving me the books with as much fluff outside as in.

Speaking of the Malm, I have developed a funereal clothing situation. Despite The Mothership’s investment in Getting My Colours Done, somehow over the past few years my wardrobe has reverted to dreary, prison-like shades. Navy, black, grey, brown.

It wasn’t a conscious thing, but now it is clear that as I went through that gloomy, gradual relardification period, I slowly replaced my colourfuls with Don’t Notice Me items. I didn’t clock how bad it had become until a few weeks ago, our friends visited and we all stayed at a pub for the night. The next morning I went to put on the grey top I’d packed, only to find it was actually grey tracky dacks, because I’d grabbed the wrong piece of blah from the Malm.

Also, I’m constantly losing items of clothing, because they all blur together in the drawer. It’s always a frenzy of cotton before my walks as I can never find The Black T-Shirt For Exercise as opposed to The Black T-Shirt For Leaving The House or The Black T-Shirt For Sleeping In. Made worse by having black IKEA Malm compartment thingies and a black laundry basket.

After the Grey Tracky Dacks incident I said to Gareth, “Have you noticed that my clothes are grim as fuck?”

And he said, “Oh yeah. You’re like one of those grannies in mourning.”

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“I thought maybe it was a look you were going for?”

Now that I’ve finally noticed the mourning wardrobe, it is bloody awful! At some point it must have been working for me – the outsides matched the insides. But it’s no longer where I’m at. I’m taking good care of myself; my health and fitness is back on track. Life is pretty cool! I can’t just go replace everything, so I’ve started by dusting off the bright lipsticks and scarves, and I bought a tomato red handbag on eBay that is pure JOY every time I look at it. Bring on the technicolor.

Gee, what colour trackies should we wear today!?

Gee, what colour trackies should we wear today!?

Barcelona, smoke and whisky

25/Mar/2014

Last week I was in Barcelona for an Up & Running workathon with Julia. As always Gareth sniffed, “Away on your holidays again, eh?” but right now we have a big project with a short deadline. When your business partner lives in Italy, no matter how brilliant Skype and Google Docs are, you need proper face time once or twice a year to get things zipping along. And some tapas. Tapas help the creative process.

churros

But before the work was the small matter of Julia running the Barcelona Marathon, along with two wonderful Up & Running alumni Paula G and Paula P. All three did brilliantly. As did the U&R cheer squad of Clare, Honor, Julia K, myself and Paula’s sister Adi. Julia K had brought pom poms all the way from Texas. Unlike the London marathon experience there was no scrambling for a “good spot”, but the small crowds mean we had to make a lot of noise to make up for it. With pom poms in hand, everything is worth celebrating. Go man with green tights! Go runner with tutu! Go pigeon crossing the street! Go abandoned water bottle on the ground!

paulas

It was so good to catch up with some of the U&R gang and witness the fitness.

hats

On Monday it was straight to work. We established a routine of 5.30am wakeup, walk, coffee then workathon! Barcelona is even more beautiful when the streets are empty.

rambla

By the time we left on Friday morning I felt calm and like we’d achieved a lot. Which was such great progress from the snivelling panicky mess I’d been a week earlier!

As much as I’d enjoyed the balmy Barcelona weather, seeing the Cairngorms from the plane felt like home…

plane

… as did the gloriously shithouse weather!

Welcome to Inverness

On Saturday I didn’t feel like returning to reality, so we went to Cromarty, a gorgeous historic village on the  tip of the Black Isle.

Cromarty lighthouse

It’s a great spot, and reminded me a bit of some of the coastal villages in Fife, except with better food. I’d been wanting to go to Sutor Creek Cafe as it boasts Britain’s most northerly wood fired pizza oven! But I saw someone eating this roast lamb roll when I walked in and got distracted. It was delicious, but I got totally pizza envy later on.

Gareth got a venison burger and was flummoxed by the fried egg on top. “It’s very Burger With The Lot” he said. But I could tell he enjoyed it. He would just never admit it!

Sutor Creek

The town is great for a wander. There was a great antique shop that The Mothership would have loved.

antiques

Praise be to the patron saint of healthy bowels.

regulus

Beautiful blue sky.

crow

On Sunday we were still in the mood for escaping reality so we pootled down to the Glen Grant distillery to get my Whisky Project back on track. I could not face one more bloody distillery tour, despite Gareth’s pleas, “But they have purifiers on the stills! It’s TOTALLY different!”. I took a long wander through Major Grant’s garden instead (and got really annoyed afterwards upon realising I’d left my Fitbit on my pyjamas! ARRGH!).

glen-grant

I joined the end of the tour to watch the magnificent educational video. Somehow it managed to be even more cheesetacular than the Ghost of Roderick Dhu. Major Grant sat by the fire and told us the history of his whisky empire, how he went to Africa and shot a lot of leopards and wildebeest and was a dab hand at salmon fishing, curling, “and other manly pursuits”.

I was trying to take a photo of the video screen without the tartan-trousered guide spotting me. I’d just focused on Major Grant’s gigantic moustache when he said the distillery had expanded so much they had to add “STEAM POWER!”. On those words, two big gusts of artificial smoke blasted out of the mantelpiece and sent myself, Gareth and the septuagenarian Californian couple into coughing fits. It was magic!

The whisky was delicious, too.

smoke

Up & Running March winners

06/Mar/2014

Before I get to the winners, would you get a load of our swanky brand new video? It explains in one minute flat, what Up & Running is all about. I can never quite capture the goodness in words, but the video really brings it together. Sniff sniff.

Thanks for all your giveaway comments. Not only were they excellent answers but I’ve got great fodder for the Netflix queue!

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

  • Penelope – wants to go to Washington with the West Wing folks
  • Julie Earnshaw - “Bon Temps, Louisiana – because I’ve never seen a chubby vampire yet, and I’m certainly up for some shape shifting!”
  • Marion - is also a True Blood fan, and is going to have her way with Eric!
  • Lindsay - will be solving cases in the sun on CSI Miami.
  • Anna May - is off to Nashville to be an amazing country singer and “life would be fairly CountryTastic”
  • Angie - is off to Sunnydale. Buffy forever!

Congratulations, folks – I’ve emailed you with the details. Please get in touch ASAP to claim your prize.

If you missed out this time, there’s still time to tag along - courses start next week!

More of our fab emoticons by saralando.com

The very hungry shark

04/Mar/2014

It’s midnight and I’m just back from dinner. It was a lovely night out on the Black Isle. No light pollution out there so there were a gazillion stars. Plus there’s always an assortment of dogs around at the brewery. Tonight I counted three Jack Russells, two spaniels (one of whom was excellently named Daniel) and a pointer.

I so miss having a dog – I spend way too much time sighing over the Australian Working Dog Rescue Facebook page – but for now I get my fix patting the brewery hounds, without all the faff and hairs of owning one myself.

In case you’ve never had reason to stare at a map of Britain, I must tell you that the Black Isle is not actually an island. It is a peninsula. A mere appendage. When my Aussie friend Jason discovered this he said, “Scotland… built on lies!”.

At the start of the year I made a pact with my friend Jennette to write a blog post every week for eight weeks, OR ELSE. If one fails to write a post, the other scores $5! We used Stickk to make it formal. I’m chuffed to have made writing a habit again, with huge credit to Jennette for spurring me on. I’m not worrying about quality right now; 2014 is the year of Project Consistency (but apologies to you). I made it all the way to the eighth week… before wilting tonight, at the final hurdle! Here I am at 12.30AM feeling delirious and cursing my slackarsery.

I went through a period in primary school when I would constantly whinge to the teacher, “I’ve got nothing to write about”. It’s actually there on my Year 4 (4th Grade) report card, something along the lines of, Shauna needs to stop whinging that she has nothing to write about and get on with her writing.

Then I went through a prolific phase when I could not stop writing. There were such gems as The Very Hungry Shark. It was all about a very hungry shark. It kept following a fishing boat everywhere and the sailors were getting worried. But the captain knew the problem was simply that the shark was very hungry. He came up with the solution of throwing the crew’s breakfast scraps overboard each morning for the shark to eat. Apparently this shark thrived on egg shells and bacon rinds. THE END.

In other news, the exercise portion of Project Consistency has been pretty good. On a recent morning walk the Ness Islands were flooded after mega overnight rain. It was lovely clear water and I saw three herons. THE END.

Flooded islands

flooded2

Scone update: We went back! It was quiet this time, and the scones were still warm from the oven. And delicious. And the size of a toddler.

Almighty scone

Almighty scone

Up & Moving – a new course for beginners + giveaway!

28/Feb/2014

World's best emoticons

It’s been a good six months since I’ve put my fuschia pink pimp hat on, but with Spring cranking up it’s time to talk Up & Running!

This week we launched Up & Moving, the course I’ve been busting to create since we started U&R three years ago. We’ve had so many requests for a step between the couch and the 5K Course. Plus, as one with a dodgy knee, I’ve kinda had “course envy” and wished there was something I could properly join!

Also, I’ve never forgotten how I felt back in 2001 when I started out getting healthier. I was overwhelmed, intimidated and had no idea where to start with exercise. I wanted guidance, but didn’t feel ready for gyms or trainers.

So we created something for absolute beginners, for fitness comebacks, for the dodgy of knee, and/or for those who just love structure and a solid plan to follow. Then we chucked in Julia’s expert coaching, plus bucketloads of support and motivational tools.

Up & Moving is a six-week self-paced course, so you can adapt the plans to where you are at - as you are, right now - and go at a pace that works for you. It combines walking with basic resistance training with easy-to-find household objects.

I road tested the plans last autumn. I’d been stuffing around with my health for YONKS and could not seem to get any momentum going. But six weeks of obeying these plans helped me find my groove again. I’ve consistently walked and weight trained for months now, and more recently the momentum spilled over into finally getting my healthy eating house back in order. Baby steps add up, after all!

If Up & Moving sounds like a good fit for you, you can read more about it right here.

Up & Moving

Now, giveaway time!

Our 5K Beginners Course starts on Monday 10 March and the 10K Course starts on Thursday 13 March, each going for eight weeks. Up & Moving is open now.

Here’s what you get…

  • unlimited support from coach Julia Jones, for all your questions – no question is too big or small!
  • an eight week training plan, tried & tested with 1000s of runners around the globe
  • a daily blog chock full of support materials, like running techniques, drills and inspiring videos
  • access to our private community forum with your fellow Movers/runners

I’m giving away five free places, with the winner choosing the course they’d like to do. All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post and tell me, If you had to move to a town or city of a television show or film, which one would it be? (And optionally, which characters would you hang with?)

(Yeah I am still on that Friday Night Lights bender!)

  • Entries close 11PM GMT on Wednesday 5 March.
  • There will be five winners and they have their choice of Up & Moving, 5K or 10K courses.
  • The winner can gift the prize to a friend, so you can enter if you want to surprise a friend.
  • 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.

World's best emoticons

The long dark winter of Netflix

24/Feb/2014

Since we had to give the telly away I’ve discovered a new life without the box. With all this spare time I’m writing poetry, I’m doing a hundred push ups at sunset; I’m trimming bonsai trees. Except that is a lie… I’m gorging on Netflix.

The first obsession was Twin Peaks. Gareth had seen in it high school but was foggy on the details, whereas I’d missed it completely as back in those olden days our telly didn’t have the channel that it was screened on.

My prior knowledge was the image of Laura Palmer, blue-lipped and wrapped in plastic, as gleaned from my stepmum’s TV Week magazines. I thought the show would be dark and eerie, which it was, but I hadn’t realised it was also hilarious and weird with a brilliant soundtrack and characters that worm their way into your dreams.

(Except for James and Donna, I just wanted to punch them the entire time.)

Agent Cooper on the other hand… swoon! I’d only seen Kyle MacLachlan in Portlandia and Sex and the City up to that point. I’m belatedly amazed how he managed to carry on, after that once-in-a-lifetime-delicious role.

The second season was long and wandered off into batshit bonkers territory. I started whinging to Gareth, I don’t know if I can make it to the end! and he’d say Just hold on!  If I’d said that all breathily and put a mullet wig on Gareth, it would have been a total James and Donna moment.

And then, deep in the throes of Agent Cooper lust, I accidentally spoiled the ending with a wayward Google image search. After suffering all those Season 2 hours of crazy, I could have screamed. But we ploughed on and it was great.

Agent Cooper

(Tangent: I just saw on Facebook, did you know Laura Palmer died 25 years ago today? 24 Feburary 1989!)

We’ve also dabbled in 30 Rock. I love it but they’ve lost me a bit in Season 6. There’ve been a few gimmicky episodes, and has Jack Donaghy trimmed down? Call me shallow but his appeal was the contrast between his conniving ways and his slightly lumpy exterior. The emerging cheekbones have somewhat quelled the flames.

It took ages to find our next obsession, Gareth scrolling impatiently through Netflix while moaning, ‘THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO WATCH IN THE WORLD, IT’S ALL SHITE!’. Then I saw Friday Night Lights and remembered someone saying on Facebook half a decade ago that they were really looking forward it, so we decided to give it bash.

I’m so in love, y’all.

I never thought small town Texas and American football would be something I’d get into but here I am, obsessed! I’ve crushed my way all around the town. Tyra and Landry are my favourites. I love Coach Taylor and all his Let me tell you somethings. I’d let him tell me something. I love Matt… those eyes! And at first with that Tim Riggins I was all, “Put down the drink and wash your hair, young man”. But then, you know… phwoar.

A minor highlight: Buddy Garrity begging his wife for forgiveness. It’s fantastic all the syllables you can cram into “Pam” with that accent. PAY-UM. PAY-UM. PAAAYYYY-UHM!

Why do I love “The Football”, as we call it round here? Because the characters basically do what people do in real life: they say and do stupid things, then they realise they’re idiots, then they do their best to fix it up. But unlike real life, they have amazing hair throughout the process.

Now Season 3 is over and some of my favourites are off to college and I fear it’s downhill from here. If that’s the case, please don’t tell me!

Perhaps the best thing about it is the excellent work by redheads. Gingers on the telly are usually psychopaths, sexual deviants, stalkers or power-crazed biatches, or all four at once.  In Friday Night Lights they get more range. I love Mrs Taylor, dispensing advice while looking ravishing. I gaze at her and daydream, Okay I just need to grow my hair another few inches and lose a gazillion pounds and adopt a drawl and we’d totally be twins and kick some ass. Never mind the show finished years ago and she’s on Nashville now. I also love Landry/Ginger Matt Damon. There was a scene with both of them, in which Mrs T reassures Landry that he’ll be fighting off the ladies when he grows up and I thought I’d keel over from sheer gingers-on-the-telly delight.

But Spring is almost here, y’all. So we shall shut down the laptop and head back out into the light.

Friday Night Lights

Somebody call National Geographic

16/Feb/2014

Today we went to Dores, a village on the south shore of Loch Ness. The premise was to go for a walk but we both knew it was really about getting a scone from the Dores Inn. Gareth went on a wee bike ride to Dores last November and stopped at the Dores Inn for a chocolate chip scone and has been going on about its tastiness ever since. Gareth never goes on about carbohydrates that are not beer, so I knew it must be special.

So we walked for half an hour, icy wind numbing our faces, until the token effort had been made. We headed to the pub, only to be thwarted by approximately 475 people crammed inside… nae room at the inn. If I was going to eat a scone I wanted to really savour it and unlike a sheep on a neep, I can’t just plonk down in a crowd and enjoy my food.

But at least we saw some surfing ducks by the shore of Loch Ness. The wind had whipped up some waves and the ducks were riding them, over and over. Don’t come for the Monster, people… it’s all about the ducks. Now brace yourself for dazzling cinematography…

Yesterday I went Sheep on Neep stalking, as requested by Vickie in the comments of the last post. I hid in some bushes by the side of the road, trying to catch them with the shitty built-in zoom of my ye olde camera.

I love the guy on the left here kneeling down to get closer to the goods.

More sheep on neeps

I was a good 20 metres from them and hidden by branches but they still managed to stare eerily at me, then run away. I don’t like people watching me eat either, to be fair.

More sheep on neeps

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