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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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River Ness panorama

Everyday Life: June 2015

08 Jul 2015

June started out grey and miserable, weather wise, all the better backdrop for this magnificent wheel cover thing.


We did a soggy trek up to Fyrish Monument, a hill that offers panoramic views over the Cromarty Firth and beyond. It’s not meant to be a particularly strenuous walk but I’ve done nowt but strut around the flatness of Inverness city centre the past two years, so my face was good ol’ Call The Ambulance Red. From the Wikipedia:

“The Fyrish Monument is a monument built in 1782 on Fyrish Hill (Cnoc Fyrish), in Fyrish near Alness, Easter Ross, Scotland, on the orders of Sir Hector Munro, 8th of Novar, a native lord of the area who had served in India as a general. As the local population were being cleared off their land, employment was a problem and so it was built to give the locals some work. It was said that Sir Hector rolled stones from the top of the hill to the bottom, thereby extending the amount of time worked and paying the laborers for additional hours.”


Neighbour Cat celebrated one year of visiting by taking a snooze on the very same spot where it all began.


Aye, I bought these coz of the packaging.


There was that one sunny day!


I did a lot of walking around the river in June, often pausing to perch on this handy contemplation log.


June’s greatest achievement was figuring out to use the iPhone’s Panorama feature properly. I’d been hitting the shutter every time I moved the phone along the scene, like my digital camera of 2001. But you only press it at the start and finish. DERR! Here is Bught Park looking mighty green.


I love this jewellers in the Victorian Arcade.


Highland blur from the train back north after Mogwai.


My morning routine

02 Jul 2015

The very first thing I do when I wake up is drink a glass of hot water with lemon, say many highly successful people on that bloody Morning Routines website. How does that work? If you have to get out of bed and go down to the kitchen to prepare it, it’s technically not the very first thing you do upon waking, not to be pedantic. But if you were to put the beverage beside your bed the night before it would be a) not hot, and b) kind of manky. You could keep an electric kettle, bowl of lemons and a knife in the room. Or get a butler to bring it in.

Why do I keep reading that website? Part of me likes to snortle at the green juice and meditations at dawn. But a little part of me longs to kick some arse in this life and make my mornings a whirlwind of productivity.

Here is my current routine:

I rise when my thimble-size bladder sounds the alarm and head to the bathroom. Next stop is the kitchen to make a sandwich for Gareth’s work breakfast. Not because I’m a 1950s housewife but the task keeps me awake, and almost two years into the job he’s still rubbish with the early starts. I yell up the stairs, you need to leave for the brewery 10 minutes ago. I hear a duvet-muffled I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. Five minutes later he stumbles down and mumbles one of the following before departing:

  • If I were any more tired, I’d be dead
  • Brewing is a young man’s game
  • Make sure you’ve figured out how I can retire by the time I get home.

Before I worked from home I blamed my morning slacktitude on the day job. If not for the commute, I’d rise at dawn and write 1000 words and do yoga and prepare a savoury breakfast! 9-5 was the source of all woes!

But turns out without the structure and accountability of an employer I was even worse. For much of my first solo year, as soon as Gareth left one of two things happened:

  1. I’d check my phone “just for a minute” to see if things were okay with my clients then feel the need to attend to everything right away lest they think I was a slackarse. At 2pm I’d still be on the couch in my PJs.
  2. I’d go upstairs and put on the workout clothes, a maudlin ensemble optimistically laid out the night before. I’d make the bed then sit on it for “just a minute” to contemplate the universe. Next thing it was 11am and I’d wake in a panic then have to work late into the evening.

This year I’ve slowly been getting my mornings in order. Top tactics so far:

  • Putting the coffee pot beside the stove ready to go, because coffee is the reason for waking up
  • Resisting urge to check phone until I’ve done 20 minutes of something non-worky (usually reading, or walk + podcast) to make a distinction between work and home.
  • Writing a list of the next day’s tasks the night before, so I don’t waste half an hour deciding what to do then another half hour choosing a pen to write the list.
  • GETTING PROPERLY DRESSED for crying out loud.

When I manage to do those things I feel competent, like the day is not a runaway horse. There’s still a mild sense of unease rumbling away in the background but that seems to be normal for the self-employed.

The next mission is breaking the habit of Laptop On Couch. If I can nail that, maybe I can advance to hot water and lemon!

Alarm cat says, blanket + couch is not desk!

I thought I told you to sit at your desk.

Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow

Get off my lawn!

24 Jun 2015

Three moments last week:

#1 – Gareth asked me about the upcoming Glastonbury Festival lineup, so I read out a selection of bands from the website.

“Florence + The Machine. Kanye West. Pharrell Williams. Lionel Richie in the granddad slot. On the Other Stage… Chemical Brothers, Rudimental, Deadmou5. Who the hell are Deadmou5?”

Gareth cackled at my pronounciation. “It’s not dead-mao-five! It’s DEADMOUSE.”

“Bullshit. That makes no sense!”

“Oh come on, you know Deadmau5? He’s the one that wears the big mouse head on stage.”


“Never heard of him. That’s a number 5, not an S!”

“Ha ha! I’m more down with the kids than you!”

“Dead Mao Five sounds better. I’d love to be in Dead Mao Five!”

This may be the point where I start getting the names of things wrong. Just like The Mothership mangling catchphrases (answering machine message: This is ET! Ring home!) and asking me to please tape Fox Files.

Hey I'm Fox, come and have a gander at my files

Hey I’m Fox, come and have a gander at my files


#2 – A bunch of little kids from down the street busted into the next door’s yard to fill up their bottles at the tap and have a big water fight. Then they scurried off and left the tap running. Nothing sets me off like water wastage. Just because it never bloody stops raining in this country doesn’t mean we should flood the streets for sport!

So when they came back for a refill I hammered on our living room window and shouted, “HEY. HEY! TURN OFF THAT TAP, YOU KIDS!”

Ahh it felt great. Of course I said it while hiding at the edge of the window frame so they couldn’t see me, because I’m kind of scared of them.


#3 – On Sunday we went to Glasgow for Mogwai’s 20th Anniversary gig. Doors opened at 6pm with three support acts before Mogwai at 9.30. We checked into the Premier Inn late afternoon and Gareth promptly fell asleep because he is elderly and the Premier Inn beds are so comfy compared to our own complete shitbox of a bed.

So I read my book and kept checking my watch. I should wake him, we’re missing the support acts. Then I imagined being on my feet for all those hours, trying to balance good hydration with the need for loo breaks. Ahh, I’ll let him sleep. In the end I sounded the alarm at 9pm and we arrived at the Barrowlands ten minutes before Mogwai came on. And I insisted on standing towards the back because I wanted air and a hint of personal space.

I justified this doddering behaviour by telling myself I’d done my time right down the front of gigs. All those years covered in other people’s sweat, supporting the support acts and passing out stone cold from excitement.

Still, I felt panicky as Mogwai took the stage. What if I didn’t feel anything anymore? What if I wished I’d stayed home and listened to the record? But thankfully from the very first note… kapow. I was hit by that awesome Mogwai feeling of being smacked in the guts with multiple guitars. Sure, the desire for excitement is battling with a need for comfort. But it’s not over! I’m still aliiiiiiiiive!

Everyday Life: May 2015

04 Jun 2015

We don’t have a garden but started the month with a jaunt to the local garden centre as we heard the cakes were good (agreed!).

If you’ve grown disillusioned by your fruitless search for the Loch Ness monster, you can plop the next best thing in the front yard – only £26.99!

Nessie for your garden

There was also more first-person signage for Gareth to be enraged by. He said this one didn’t bother him so much, as it’s a fair warning.

Third person cactii

(Did you know there’s now a word for this phenomenon – “whackaging”)

Neighbour Cat News: she now prefers to enter by the living room window, sometimes pausing for a snooze halfway through the journey.

Neighbour Cat at the window

Aside from mourning the end of Mad Men, May was a bit work heavy so I didn’t take many photos. Oh hang on, THE OVEN DOOR EXPLODED. I took a picture but I don’t want The Mothership seeing how mucky the oven was. Thank goodness it was safety glass, so it didn’t make too much mess, but there was glass all over the salmon. Of course it worked just fine for all Gareth’s oven chips, it bided its time and waited for something pricey to be inside it.

The month ended on a high with a trip to Edinburgh for a wee Up & Running meetup. Some were racing, some were supporting; all were in great spirits. I know only lived there two years and that was over a decade ago, but every time I get off that train it feels like the most right place in the world.

Edinburgh half marathoner leaders

We did a side trip to Glasgow to visit our awesome friend Clare. There were big blousy rhododendrons everywhere. If that’s what they are?

Rhododendron in Glasgow

I guzzled way too many coffees because there were so many good ones. By Sunday night my head felt like it was about to split in two, but it was so very worth it. Questionable latte art and all.

Questionable latte art

The weekend finished with a spontaneous revival of the Whisky Project. I found one I liked! Royal Lochnagar. I detected a vanilla finish and lots of websites I checked just now mention vanilla, so maybe my taste buds aren’t as clueless as thought. But I reckon anything would have tasted good that night, being so giddy from good times and great company.

Whisky with friends

P.S. Summer in Scotland…

Stormy rainbow

15 Years of Pussycat*

29 May 2015

Dear Blog,

On Wednesday you turned 15. Right on!

Holy fuck Y2K!

It mostly started out of boredom as the About page says, but it was a lot about loneliness. Before the blog I thought if I were ever to share the thoughts and fears stewing away in my brain, a giant trap door would open up beneath me and my friends would stand over it and wave, Good riddance, weirdo!

But of course writing and reading blogs led to finding lots of cool “me too” people, and the happy realisation most of us feel like weirdos much of the time.

Some days I get so overwhelmed by the internet. The noisier it gets the more lonely it can feel. I’m constantly questioning the point of this exercise and/or clamming up in anticipation of negative feedback. But whenever I find the nerve to venture out of the cave and speak from the heart, I never regret it.

Actually I just had a thought, and it’s nearly midnight so it’s not going to make much sense. The internet is so huge now that it’s almost the same as it was in 2000. Back then there wasn’t a large amount of blogs so you felt free to really blurt out your guts. But now there’s SO many blogs, plus endless social networky things, you can hide in plain sight. There is room for everyone. You can find your own quiet corner and blurt away. Ahh I feel better now.

I can picture that May 2000 office cubicle so clearly. The now-tiny monitors, the communal fridge, the empty desks vacated by Y2K consultants after the world did not explode on January 1st. I’d surreptitiously poke around on with no idea of the world about to open up and all the wonderful people I’d meet. And the life-changing things that would enter my orbit over the next decade and a half…

Dry shampoo!

Green & Blacks chocolate!

4-wheel spinner suitcases!

Properly-fitted bras!

Scandinavian crime dramas!

Jon Hamm!

Thanks gazillions for reading, good people.

* I know it doesn’t say What’s New Pussycat? on the blog header anymore but that’s what it’ll always be in my brain.

Keen like a lemon

25 May 2015

How grim is this NHS air freshener? Nothing says KEEN and LEMON like a bland grey stripe. It’s kind of charming, really.

NHS air freshener

Last week I had to get another mole removed; just a precautionary measure. I wish moles were called something more glamorous than moles, what a creepy word. Anyway, it was all very quick with barely enough time for chit chat.

“Remind me what you do for a living?” the doctor asked, while we waited for a second shot of local anaesthetic to kick in.

“I do freelance writing. Mostly online stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“Writing blog posts for businesses.”

“What kinds of businesses?”

“All kinds of businesses.”

“How come they can’t write their own blog posts?”

“Because they’re too busy? Or they don’t like writing?”

“How do you manage to write about so many different topics?”

“I ask lots of questions. Or I visit the places I write about. Or I get on Google.”

“Ahh but there is so much rubbish on Google. All those sites that look legitimate but are actually dodgy.”

“True, but I’m pretty good at weeding out the rubbish!”

I still wasn’t quite numb so we had to go for a third shot.

“This is getting embarrassing,” I said. “I read somewhere that people with red hair need more anaesthesia.”

The doctor burst out laughing. “What did I just tell you about Google?”

Everyday Life: April 2015

08 May 2015

Fuck yeah, spring!

The Mothership was still in town for the first half of April and seemed to be digging the Highland life. She was inspired to borrow my library card and revisit the Outlander series of books. I remember her devouring them in the 90s, while I was busy sneaking off with her Danielle Steeles and Flowers In The Attic.

Various touristy websites claim that Clava Cairns, the prehistoric burial cairns just outside Inverness, were the inspiration for the Craigh na Dun stone circle in the book…

Clava Cairns

… although Diana Gabaldon says on her website she’d never been to Scotland before writing it. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place, regardless. The river nearby felt straight out of a romantic saga.

Near Clava Cairns

Gareth and I had previously visited Clava Cairns in 2006, when he likes to remind me I let rip with a big fart in front of an elderly tourist and completely ruined the serenity. I can’t remember the details but there must’ve been an earlier Full Scottish Breakfast to blame.

Clava Cairns

All that history put Mum and I in the mood to check out the Outlander TV series. I was set to cringe, expecting tartan Jock McSporran cliches, but got reeled right in. When it comes down to it, I love a rollicking good story. A smart, feisty heroine with an outstanding complexion and aspirational curls helps too. Oh alright, a bloke prone to shedding his shirt is also useful.

As well as Outlander immersion, there were more pub trips, a high tea and lots of walking and talking, trying to cram in years of everyday contact into a short visit. Plus rainbows.

Mothership snaps the rainbow

Mum also did a day trip to Skye… hairy coos ahoy!

Highland cows on Skye

We did a quick jaunt south to Fife to hang out with the in-laws.

Snow on the A9

On Mum’s last night we went back to Hootananny as she’d become a fan of the lamb stovies and Black Isle Porter. I still love watching Gareth nervously watching people drink the beer he’s brewed.

Night at the pub

Speaking of beer, Marks & Spencer have managed to turn Marmite into an artisan product. As one married to a brewer, the term “brewer’s paste” pure gives me the boak.

Brewer's Paste... ew

Once The Mothership departed the rest of April was happily busy with new clients, getting hooked on this baked oatmeal (works well without the sugar; not that sugar is a crime), rediscovering MotoGP (it’s stopped being boring!), becoming a devoted fan of Nosy Miss Cookie the highly judgemental cat on Instagram, and my first bike ride in years… ow ow ow my nethers!

For the last eighteen months I’ve taken many walks along the Caledonian Canal, but only in one direction. Total derr moment to realise if you go the other way you get the gorgeous sight of River Ness on the left and Caledonian Canal on the right.

River Ness meets Caledonian Canal

Meanwhile in the flat, the amaryllis was back in action – four flowers this year!

Amaryllis in bloom

The pollen count of this post is off the charts.

Daffs on the Ness

The ethics of a guest cat

01 May 2015

It was Mumsnet that gave me the guilts. As much as my cat-owning friends said it was common for moggies to adopt second homes, we had mixed feelings. One afternoon Neighbour Cat was yet again snoozing on the living room rug, fluffy belly-up like a sheep about to be shorn.

“Do you think this is right?” Gareth said, “She comes over here an awful lot.”

“I know! We better throw her out. Do you want to do it?”

“Well, she is asleep. It would be rude to disturb her.”

“Yeah, she should finish her five-hour power nap, right?”

While we waited we told Google neighbour’s cat keeps coming over, and it sent us to various discussion threads on Mumsnet, Netmums and similar, each full of outraged cat owners whose traitorous beasts had been hanging out next door.

Dignity. Always dignity.

Dignity. Always dignity.

One neighbour had bought a visiting cat a sparkling new collar.

Another had bought the cat a new collar and its own cat bed.

Another said their neighbour smoked and would douse the moggie with stinky perfume to try and disguise the smell!

AIBU? cried the wounded owners. Which I now know means, Am I Being Unreasonable?

YANBU! came the replies! You Are Not Being Unreasonable! It was highly illegal. Highly immoral. The neighbours were “batshit cat thieves”. They should be reported to the RSPCA. They should be reported to the police!

Were we batshit cat thieves? This came not long after I’d read Takashi Hiraide’s The Guest Cat, which for some reason had jumped out at me at the bookshop:

“A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another.

One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again.

New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife…”

The woman in this novel not only fashioned a bed out of a cardboard box for Chibi the Neighbour Cat, she would regularly fry her up a mackerel and cut it into little pieces and leave it out in a special dish.

“We’re not that bad!” I said to Gareth. There are no box beds nor mackerels round here. We’re basically being used for a quiet place to sleep. She’s still mostly indifferent to us, zipping back out the window as soon as she hears the tyres of her owner’s car crunching on the gravel driveway.

But my guilt came from feeling so emotionally attached to a strangers’ cat. I have no interest in any other cats, I’m just besotted with this one. Yes, our poky wee bathroom is damp and dark so the window does need to be opened a lot to prevent mould… but really, all day, in the dead of winter? Deep down I knew that every time I heard the plip-plop of paws leaping from window ledge to bathtub to bathroom floor, my sad and lonely freelancer’s heart skipped a happy beat.

So I decided to come clean with Neighbour Cat’s owner. It was time to put an end to this cat borrowing, as much as it pained me to do so. I met her in the car park one morning.

“Hi! Umm… have you got a minute to chat?”

“Oh!” she said, “Is it my cat again? Has she been bothering you?!”

“No! Not at all. It’s just that she comes in almost every day, and I thought you should know where she was. And also to assure you we’re not cat-nappers! She just comes in through the bathroom window and finds somewhere for a snooze.”

“She really is a sweet cat.”

“Sure is,” I said casually, though inside I was screaming SHE IS THE GREATEST!

“Well… just chuck her out if she starts to annoy you!”

“Will do!”

So far she hasn’t annoyed me, and she still chucks herself out when ready.

Neighbour cat exits


NB: The comment form is not working properly for everyone the moment, my apologies. In the meantime we can chat on Facebook if you like!

Spring has sprung

Friday night frights

24 Apr 2015

It’s Friday night and there’s 47 minutes until my Scary Blog Deadline. The post I’ve been working on today won’t come together in time so I’ll blurt an old fashioned update.

I keep thinking of the lovely Jen’s comment on the Phoning It In post asking if there was any reluctance to blog stemming from unpleasant comments received in the weight loss blog days. I replied that while that does cross my mind sometimes, it’s mostly my being disorganised or knackered from work-related computering. But thinking deeper on it, I reckon there’s a bit of a stage fright.

I don’t know why but ever since Wally’s demise I’m full of big emotions all the bloody time. It’s either intense, frilly, full-o-the-joys thoughts or black humour morbid kind of thoughts. I shuffle paragraphs around in my head and by the time I open up WordPress I get all tongue tied. Will keep working on that.

Gareth is away at a work thing tonight so I’ve had a highly productive on my lonesome. As well as the blog post faffing I’ve:

  • mucked around with one of those “airbrush your face” iPhone apps, where they smooth your cheeks and douse you in sparkly Bratz doll eyeshadow. But technology could do nowt for my dark circles, inherited from my Mum’s side. They make the brunettes look brooding and mysterious but on ol’ ginger locks here it just looks like I’ve been in a brawl.
  • ran Gareth’s face through the same app; even more fun.
  • read six posts on the rather addictive My Morning Routines blog. Summarise: the key to world domination is to get up early and don’t check your email until you’ve done a thing that really means something to you.
  • enjoyed a brief visit by a certain fluffy creature who snoozed on Gareth’s backpack. I took a photo to send to Gareth but it couldn’t be delivered as his phone has buckled under the weight of fluffy creature updates and cannae take nae more.


19 Apr 2015

We whisked The Mothership away to Orkney for a few days, because as you may recall she loves, “The history, Shauna, THE HISTORY!”. These islands, ten miles off the north coast of Scotland, have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years. First by Mesolithic and Neolithic tribes… then by the Picts… then invaded and annexed by Norway in 875… then re-annexed to the Scottish Crown in 1472.

All that means HISTORY GALORE, with some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe. We started with the Ring of Brodgar, thought to be erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. Turns out The Mothership is a big fan of a good stone circle. If the gale force winds had not blown her back towards the car, I think she would have pottered round there all day.

Ring of Brodgar

By the way, here’s a map for context if you like that sort of thing. I do! Whenever someone writes about their travels I have to look it up on Google Maps so I can picture the journey. In this case, picture a very choppy ferry crossing, Mum chattering merrily with Gareth and myself a wussy shade of green.

Road to Orkney

Tangent: whenever I watch historical documentaries and they show pictures of old maps, I always think about the ye olde explorers toiling away at them. Then I wonder if the first folks that flew into space looked back down at the earth and thought, Hey shit, it looks just like the maps! And then I say this out loud to Gareth and he says, “Yeah!” and I realise I’ve expressed that same thought every time we’ve watched a documentary for the past ten years and I need to get some new material.

Anyway, back to the Ring of Brodgar. The stones have been up there for thousands of years so they weren’t ruffled by the weather, but Gareth was forced to retract hands and retreat into the hood of his jacket.


I will keep this one in case he ever needs a cover for a prog rock album.


Another day, this time with blue skies. The pile of big rocks on the left is one of the Churchill Barriers, four causeways built in the 1940s as naval defences to protect Scapa Flow, but now serve as road links.


We also went to the beautiful Italian Chapel. It was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war, who were housed on the island while working on the construction of the Churchill Barriers. From the Wikipedia:

“The chapel was constructed from limited materials by the prisoners. Two Nissen huts were joined end-to-end. The corrugated interior was then covered with plasterboard and the altar and altar rail were constructed from concrete left over from work on the barriers. Most of the interior decoration was done by Domenico Chiocchetti, a prisoner from Moena.[4] He painted the sanctuary end of the chapel and fellow-prisoners decorated the entire interior. They created a facade out of concrete, concealing the shape of the hut and making the building look like a church. The light holders were made out of corned beef tins. The baptismal font was made from the inside of a car exhaust covered in a layer of concrete.”



Next stop was Skara Brae, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a stone-built Neolithic settlement consisting of eight clustered houses, and was occupied from roughly 3200 – 2500 BC. Older than the Pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge, as the little stone plaques remind you as you walk down to the site. Being a sketchy-weathered and non-touristy time of year there were no other visitors that morning, just a wind-battered guide roaming round. I nearly did a runner back to the shop for a cuppa, because I feel awkward in such situations. I always overcompensate for the lack of crowds and go, “REEEEALLYYYY that’s so INTEResting!” then buy a souvenir that I immediately regret. But this guide was brilliant and really brought it all to life.




Aside from all the history, there were walks, tea breaks and sampling of local ales.



Then back on the ferry then home again, where Neighbour Cat pounced on the unpacked suitcase.


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