Friday, 7 December 2012

Hey Jesus, it's your birthday. We're gonna party like it's your birthday.

I've heard a few people talking recently about Advent being a time of penitence, almost like Lent light. There seems to be a line of thinking that we need to prepare ourselves in a solemn and contemplative manner for Christmas. To search our hearts and right our wrongs. Then, as with Easter Sunday, we can actually let loose and be happy on Christmas Day.

This would explain why I've heard such a strong aversion to having Christmas trees and decorations in churches. It doesn't look solemn enough. But of course there was someone I met who thought that Christmas trees were too phallic an image to have in a church. They had an altogether different problem...

Going back to Advent, is it really the counting down of the days that we have left to get our sins in order?

That just plain doesn't make sense to me.

So say that in just over three weeks time it will be your birthday. Are you feeling the need to be penitential? Or are you really freaking excited? Maybe you have big plans to spend time with your family and friends, perhaps having a party and a huge celebration. Maybe you want to spend it with only those nearest and dearest to you and have a quiet meal. Either way, you're probably looking forward to it.

In the Christian calender this is the birthday. This is the one big birthday party that everyone is invited to. Not only those with the most reverent hearts get in at the door. Can you imagine if it was your birthday and everyone decided that to mark the occasion they had to be soor-faced and glum? What a message of peace and love that is.

So why do people do this? Is it that we can't be happy about something to the same degree if we haven't felt some level of sadness leading up to it? How British a notion. Feels positively Victorian. You cannot notice the light unless you have sat in the dark. Sounds a little to me like an excuse for not waking up in the morning and marvelling at the light every single day. Once you notice light and keep your eye on it you will notice when it changes.

I also think that there are many other times of the year to work on this. Even if you need to take a serious look at how you view and value the world, why save it specially for Christmas? This holiday is not based on death, but on life. Easter? Much more fitting. Someone dying for your lack of awareness and love seems a much better time to think about that. The miracle of birth, with grace and peace coming to this world seems much more fitting for joyous thanks and acknowledgement.

At the end of the day we sing "Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant", "God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing ye dismay" and "Joy to the world". Perhaps, and what a thought this is, God might just want us to be happy.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Life Lessons?

Over the years my family have given me some pretty weird advice and coaching. I'm sure many of you have received the same advice from your own parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles... anyone who is feeling particularly full of wisdom when you happen to be nearby.

But I've been thinking a bit about the weird things we tell people, particularly children. As I remember all these interesting little tidbits of "knowledge" my family have given me I can't help but laugh at how ridiculous they are. So I have decided to pass on some of my wisdom to all of you lucky sods. I think you will come out the other side having learnt... something.

"Eat your crusts or you won't get curly hair." My Nana used to tell me this almost every day. I used to tell her almost every day that I didn't actually want curly hair. Turns out that if you gobble them down anyway because of the look you just got your hair will remain to be poker straight. Weird.

"Eat those carrots and you'll be able to see in the dark." Another Nana classic. The sad thing with this one is that my reaction was more along the lines of "Holy mother of vegetables! Super powers at last!" and I ate every single one. And then I did get a super power. The power of being super disappointed.

"You have to wear matching underwear in case you get run over." A gem from Mum. Apparently if I ever get taken into hospital with limbs hanging off, blood spurting out all over the place and half my face left on the pavement I will be all shades of mortified if I'm wearing pink knickers and a blue bra. It gets better. Once, while discussing this with my mother she told me she would be embarrassed to identify me if my underwear wasn't matching. I quote: "No, she can't be mine. MY daughter wouldn't do that." I can only hope she was joking.

"Never wear somebody else's pants. That is just minging." Mum's advice seems to be underwear related. This was made in reference to finding used underwear for sale in a charity shop, but was then extended to be a general rule. And you know what? I actually agree with this one. You don't know where that has been. Or more to the point you do know, and thats worse.

"Ach, don't take your car to Kwik Fit. They'll look at you and think you're, you know, silly. Take it to Sandy. He's no daft." I'm sure this sounded better in my Popa's head. I do take my car to Sandy, as he is indeed 'no daft'. I do also think that Kwik Fit will think I'm a silly girly type and charge me for all kinds of gubbins. All in all sound advice, but its all in the delivery, isn't it?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


From where I sit on the couch I have a pretty good view of all the books on our shelves. I can't help but notice how strange a mix of topics and titles it is. For instance, we have a whole shelf devoted to childrens books which sits beside the design book shelf, the cook book shelf and the poetry shelf. And then there's the novels.

So I've decided to give you all a little taster of the weird and wonderful books we own, with emphasis on the weird. I've chosen these either because the title is awesome or because it highlights the downright odd selection of interests Toben and I have. So here goes.

1. 'Snow White and the Seven Samurai' by Tom Holt. Hilarious writer, I read everything he writes.

2. 'Woody Allen's Complete Prose'. Which snuggles in right next to...

3. 'The Novels of Jane Austen'. One of my all time best charity shop finds. £1 for all the novels of Jane Austen... shut up and take my money!

4. 'Does Anyone Like Midges?', 'Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze?', 'Why Can't Elephants Jump?' and Why Do Men Have Nipples?'. I love all of these question and answer books. I learn a surprising amount from them. Mostly that even scientists get things quite wrong, but thats something at least surely...

5. 'In Praise of Slow' by Carl Honore. Awesome book about a sort of revolution against modern culture's love of fast living.

6. 'Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works'

7. 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' by J. K. Rowling. I'm sure everyone is shocked and surprised that a Harry Potter related book made it on to one of my book lists. I think we'd all be surprised if there wasn't one here, let's be honest now.

8. 'Scaredy Squirrel' by Melanie Watt. This one is for you Lauren. Whenever I read this, it is always in your voice. Then I look at the view.

9. 'The Poetry of Birds'. A book of collected poems about, you guessed it, birds. Seriously though, I adore this book.

10. 'Shades of Grey' by Jasper Fforde. Not that Shades of Grey. This is another one, you know, one that is actually worth reading. Jasper Fforde is another I will read everything he produces from his magical cave of sparkly, nerdy hilarity. The sky is a different colour where he lives, and I would like to live there.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Och aye the noo testament.

Recently I made an excellent find at the charity shop in Craignure (as I usually do!) and I've just started to look at it tonight...

This is what I bought:

Yes, the sticker says £1. Epic.

Tonight I sat and looked up some favourite verses in it and some of the well known ones too, and I wanted to share them because they are, quite frankly, fabulous. I recommend that when you read these you read them out loud. The brain seems to make them make more sense when trying desperately to pronounce it!

 Na, whan ye pray, gang intil your benmaist chaumer an tak the door wi ye, an syne pray til your Faither, at bides whaur nane can see him; an your Faither, at sees aathing at is dune in hidlins, will gie ye your reward.
Matthew 6 v 6

Whaur your treisur is huirdit, een thair will your hairt be an aa.
Matthew 6 v 21
In the beginnin o aa things the Wurd wis there ense, an the Wurd bade wi God, an the Wurd wis God. He wis wi God i the beginnin, an aa things cam tae be throu him, an wiout him no ae thing cam tae be. Aathing at hes come tae be, he wis the life in it, an that life wis the licht o man; an ey the licht shines i the mirk, an the mirk downa slocken it nane.
John 1 v 1-5
Luve is patientfu; luve is couthie an kind; luve is nane jailous; nane sprosie; nane bowdent wi pride; nane mislaired; nane hamedrauchit; nane toustie. Luve keeps nae nickstick o the wrangs it drees; finnds nae pleisur i the ill wark o ithers; is ey liftit up whan truith dings lies; kens ey tae keep a caum souch; is ey sweired tae misdout; ey howps the best; ey bides the warst.
1 Corinthians 13 v 4-7

Than I hard a loud voice cryin frae the Throne: "Nou is God's bidin wi men, an he will bide wi them, an they will be his peiple. God himsel will won wi them, an will dicht ilka tear frae their een; there will be nae mair deith, nor dule, nor cries o wae, nor pyne, for the auld warld is by wi."
Revelation 21 v 4

Monday, 1 October 2012

Reclaiming the rainbow.

Two facts about me:

1. I like rainbows.

2. I am not gay.

Some people seem to have a problem with these two facts because they seem to think they contradict each other. It seems like the presence of fact one questions fact two. Like fact two cancels out fact one.

For those who don’t know, the rainbow has been a symbol to the LGBT community and often comes associated with the word ‘Pride’. I’m sure you can put two and two together and not end up a million miles away from four. The rainbow has long been a symbol of hope and better things to come for a very long time, particularly in religious history. The rainbow appears in a few places in the bible as a sign of God’s presence and as a sign of hope. And there is of course the sun-shining-through-the-rain train of thought. Not hard to see why this would be adopted by a community that has had such a hard struggle with being accepted.

That being said, they don’t own it.

I have been asked quite a few times about my sexuality because I’ve been wearing something rainbowy. I will admit this has mostly been on Iona… the island does gather LGBT folk. It’s a safe and accepting place I guess. When I explained that I just like rainbows I was often met with a puzzled look. One person even asked me if I was sure. Their puzzled state puzzles me. Can’t I just like colour? If you look at how I dress you must be able to see I like colour. I appreciate that the rainbow means that for you, but can’t you appreciate that it doesn’t mean that for everyone?

If I’m being honest it annoys me that it is even a symbol for the LGBT community. Now don’t you go thinking I don’t support them. Give me a second to explain. I don’t like that they need it. Needing a sign of hope and pride in who you are shows oppression. Put it this way, there is no straight community and we do not need to march up and down streets waving big rainbow flags to get people to accept that we exist. I am glad that Pride marches happen and that is such a joyful day for everyone involved. I’m sad that they are necessary. Morgan Freeman spoke out about Black History Month in the States, and I think the same applies here. There is no White History Month. There is no I’m So Glad I’m Jewish Day. There is no Happy Hispanic Day. By purposefully singling it out they expose the need for it: racism. By having a symbol of pride it highlights the lack of acceptance.

As I say, I’m glad that people go out and campaign for the cause. I am just sad that somebody has to.

I would like it if the rainbow was just a rainbow. If it was just a selection of pretty colours that I could enjoy because they are pretty and colourful. I would like it if people did not take away the rights of others because of their own fear or ignorance. Just let people be happy, and on a purely selfish note, let me like rainbows.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Being the help.

There's a house on Iona that I look after; keeping it clean, making it ready for people to stay in, doing the weeding... that kind of thing. Doesn't take much time out of my week, and I enjoy doing it most days. Part of that, I have discovered, is because the people staying there have always been gone or out when I go round.

Not this week.

It's used for people coming to redesign some of the displays at the Abbey, and they usually come on a Sunday and leave Friday. I come in Saturday when it's empty. The people this week decided to stay on over the weekend. Not too bad. Or it wouldn't have been if the guy I met wasn't Grumpy McJerkface.

When I saw there was someone there I popped my head round the door to introduce myself and tell him why I was in the house. Reasonable? No, as it turns out. He just looked at me like 'well get on with it then'. I clearly looked confused because he then said 'Do you need anything from me...?' When I told him I didn't he just walked away and ignored me from then on.

I went from human being to 'the help' in mere seconds. Now, I'm not naive enough to think that never happens. It was more that it was so weird to have that happen on Iona. No matter who you are and what you are there to do, the folk on Iona will stand and chat to you for two minutes - like you are a person with feelings. This guy brought in with him one of the worst aspects of 'normal society'.

Naturally, with the next couple of hours of thinking-free work I pondered this train of thought. We as a culture are shocked by topics such as slavery and equality. Why then do we continue to talk down to the person who cleans our houses, or the person who makes your coffee in the morning?

I got this a lot last year while working in the tearoom on Iona. Apparently making coffee for someone instantly makes you an idiot who will do what they are told thank-you-very-much. To me, it's just two people standing on either side of a counter. To some, there appears to be a better side of the counter to stand on. One woman told me I needed to find a man to support me so I could get out of there, as if it was degrading for me to work in such a place.

Unfortunately I have come up with no real answer to this. Is it a throw back from society as it used to be, when wait staff made up of the poorer classes made you and brought you your coffee and cleaned your house for you? Is it that this feeling of servitude lingers? Or is it something else?

If anyone has any thoughts on this, please comment. I'd be interested to know what other people think about this!

Monday, 10 September 2012

My mother loves to boogie, on whatever damn night she pleases thank-you-very-much.

When I posted the Shuffle on your ipod blog post, my mum jokingly said to me that I should have a go at guessing her top 50 songs to see how many I'd get right. That made me curious... how many would I guess correctly? So I'm going to have a go right now, right here.

Instructions for Mum: Leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me which ones you wouldn't put on your top 50 list and if there were any I missed.

Instructions for everyone else: Enjoy this guided tour of music you can dance to that draws from the 70's and 80's and 00's and misses out the 90's entirely.

1. Careless Whisper - George Michael (I'm starting with the obvious)
2. Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum (Mum goes all melty to this)
3. Sylvia - Focus
4. Don't Feel Like Dancing - Scissor Sisters (Because George Michael is not gay enough...)
5. Dancing Queen - Abba
6. Chiquitita - Abba
7. Fields of Gold - Sting
8. So This Is Christmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon (Christmas is cancelled if Mum doesn't hear this played in some shop somewhere in the run up to 25th December)
9. If Paradise Is Half As Nice - Amen Corner 
10. Outside - George Michael 
11. Criticize - Alexander O'Neal (To be blasted loudly throughout the house)
12. Maggie May - Rod Stewart
13. Club Tropicana - Wham (Mum 'secretly' listens to this while lying beside the pool)
14. Desert Rose - Sting
15. Senorita - Justin Timberlake
16. Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty
17. Real Gone Kid - Deacon Blue (Woo ooo woo ooo's and all)
18. Dignity - Deacon Blue
19. Something For The Weekend - The Divine Comedy
20. Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners (The one song Dad will refuse to dance to)
21. Don't Stop - Fleetwood Mac
22. Looking For Linda - Hue and Cry
23. Labour of Love - Hue and Cry
24. Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile) - Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel
25. Bailamos - Enrique Iglesias (Yes, really)
26. Day After Day - Badfinger
27. Clair de Lune - Debussy (Didn't expect that now, did you?!)
28. What A Fool Believes - The Doobie Brothers
29. King Of Rock And Roll - Prefab Sprout (Go on Mum, tell us what it is all about...)
30. Caledonia - Frankie Miller
31. If You Stay - Heidi Talbot
32. I Got You (I Feel Good) - James Brown (To be sung boarding a plane going to a hot country)
33. Crush - Jennifer Paige
34. Jealous Guy - John Lennon or Roxy Music (I couldn't decide)
35. Beautiful Boy - John Lennon
36. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues (Because that bit needs to be sung with gusto)
37. One Vision - Queen
38. Who Wants To Live Forever - Queen (With "Don't see me like this, Connor" added in over the top in a thick Glaswegian accent)
39. If You Think I'm Sexy - Rod Stewart
40. Listen To What The Man Said - Paul McCartney
41. Summer Son - Texas
42. Private Dancer - Tina Turner
43. The Whole Of The Moon - The Waterboys (This song IS my parents. True story)
44. Treat Her Gently - Paul McCartney and Wings
45. To Sir With Love - Lulu
46. It's A Sin - Pet Shop Boys
47. Maria - Blondie
48. Too Funky - George Michael (Ha! Bet you thought you'd seen the last of him!)
49. Star People - George Michael (That was the last, I swear)
50. So Easy - Royksopp This one comes with a video and a story. I'm putting the video on because ironically Mum may not know what this song is called or who it is by. The story will make sense of that. First, here is the video:

Here is the story:

Sitting one day in my parents living room with my Mother when out of the blue she asks if I can find a song for her.
"Sure," says I, "what is it called?".
"Umm... I don't know," is the reply.
"Ok... who is it by?"
"Umm... I don't know that either."
"It comes from a car advert."
"For what car?"
"Oh. I don't know."
"But it goes 'Oooo ahhh oooo, la la la la la'."
"Uh huh..?"
"Does that help?"

Believe it or not, I then typed into google 'Oooo ahhh oooo, la la la la la'. And found it. Top result on the page and everything. I still can't believe it happened.

So go on Mum, how many did I get?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Favorite photos of you.

I don't like having my picture taken. So I'm not sure about this 'favourite photos of you' thing. But I have raided my pictures none the less and chosen a few.

I've been told this could be my album cover if I were to ever have such a thing. This was taken while waiting for the ferry to go volunteer at the Iona Community Shop in 2009. We were playing around with our friends fancy camera while we waited.

I like this one because that moment was epic. Sorry Sue.

May I present to you all: Squarah face.

This was such a fun day, and I'm so glad that we got this epic photo out of it. There's an awesome one where Natalie looks just like Calvin and Hobbes as they rocket down a hill. Brilliant.

And that is the Blog Challenge finished! Took longer than 30 days... but I didn't promise anything there. I've got some ideas out of it, but if anyone has any suggestions for interesting lists or things to ponder let me know!

Shuffle on your iPod.

I have to admit to not really looking forward to this one. This could be quite embarrassing. Let's face it, we all have secret music that we like but never admit to. All I ask is this: don't judge me.

1. No Other Way - Paolo Nutini
2. Denis - Blondie (Vacuuming music)
3. The Frog Prince - Keane
4. The Pick of Billy Connelly Side One
5. Sorrowlessfield - Karine Polwart (Beautiful... I recommend you go find this)
6. On TV Commercials - Bob Newhart
7. How Body Dysmorphic Disorder Works - Stuff You Should Know podcast
8. A Pirate Looks At Forty - Jack Johnson
9. Smile Like You Mean It - The Killers
10. Me and a Gun - Tori Amos
11. I Dare You To Move - Switchfoot
12. Ticket To Ride - The Beatles (I do love me some Beatles)
13. Good Enough - Sarah McLachlan
14. How Population Works - Stuff You Should Know podcast
15. Across The Universe - The Beatles
16. If I Could - Jack Johnson
17. Clocks - Coldplay (I did not know I have this)
18. Moments Last Forever - John McCusker/ Kris Drever/ Roddy Woomble
19. Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
20. Special - Avenue Q Original Cast Recording
21. Song 2 - Blur
22. Crazy In Love - Snow Patrol (Awesome Beyonce cover)
23. When They Ring The Golden Bells - Heidi Talbot
24. Harvester Of Hearts - Rufus Wainwright
25. Nocturne in G Minor - Chopin
26. Patience of Angels - Boo Hewardine (Had to stop to sing along to this one)
27. How Death-Proof Cars Work - Stuff You Should Know podcast
28. Black Horse And The Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall
29. Ning Nang Nong - Spike Milligan
30. All My Loving - The Beatles
31. Let The Cold Wind Blow - Kate Rusby (Necessary depressing Kate Rusby song)
32. Carousel - Honey Thieves
33. If I Ever Lose My Faith In You - Sting (Suddenly remembers music put on here for Mum to listen to on holiday... puts head in hands)
34. Where Is My Mind - Pixies
35. Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
36. Some Tyrant - Kate Rusby
37. Eternal Clerking - Amateur Transplants (Hilarious but outrageously inappropriate)
38. Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
39. Cast No Shadow - Oasis
40. Right Said Fred - Bernard Cribbins (Dads DIY song...)
41. Wasting Time - Eddi Reader (Can't believe we got to 41 without her!)
42. Tongue That Cannot Lie - Karine Polwart (Haunting and heartbreaking)
43. Sean Maguire's - John McCusker
44. Chiquitita - Abba
45. Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby - O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack
46. The Man Who Looked Like Hitler - Bob Newhart
47. Patience of Angels - Boo Hewardine (Again? Shuffle fail)
48. Kiss From A Rose - Seal
49. Strange Boat - The Waterboys
50. Walk Me By The River - David George (So happy Dado made it on!)

So there you have it. I decided 50 was a good number to stop at. Not many really embarrassing ones I think, but you may disagree with that! There's quite a good mix on there too; some folk, classical, comedy, podcasts and some more well known classics. I just couldn't escape that Abba, could I?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Only two brands of clothes you could wear for the rest of your life.

First of all, I need to say that I'm really not a brands and designer labels person. I couldn't care less about that kind of thing. But I will admit there are brands that I like more than others from a design and style point of view.

I have either a great or very bad relationship with H&M. It is great because I cannot walk into one of their shops or visit their website without finding some delicious new thing to wear and to love. It is very bad because this costs money and I don't really need new things. It helps that H&M can often fit into my if-I-can't-buy-it-for-less-than-£10-I-can't-have-it rule. There are very few shops that do.

The other clothing brand I like is a little bit silly... in that it is a supermarket clothing line. I feel a little ashamed by this. I have the same relationship with George at Asda as I do with H&M, and it's for all the same reasons. Also, I have bought some of the most comfortable clothes I've ever had at George. Now, I don't mean people you see at Walmart kind of comfortable. (I do see the irony in what I just said. Asda is part of the Walmart 'family'.) I mean good looking clothes that don't rub in weird places, or cling when you sit down, or hurt your feet every single time.

Ok, here's the part where I don't play by the rules. Even though I've picked two brands they aren't my real choice. Here are my real two:

1. Charity shop clothes.
2. Things I get for Christmas and birthdays.

I would be quite happy with that, even though they aren't strictly brands. I don't really go shopping much, mainly because of my location (but also because of the whole money thing). My nearest Asda is 123.8 miles from me. My nearest H&M is 137.8 miles from me. Both of these distances are by road instead of as the crow flies, but for me going there that's more accurate! So you can see why I may not frequent these places. Island Castaways Charity Shop in Craignure however, 35 miles. Much better. Plus, I am the Charity Shop Queen. I don't know how I do it, but I can find the most amazing things in them. I'm gifted that way. The best bit? They pretty much price everything at £3. Win.

And what brands do I end up picking up most often when I'm there? That's right, H&M and George. Boo yah.

Monday, 3 September 2012

What you've learned in the past year.

After a brief pause to allow me to go and bounce around a big muddy field in the rain laughing so hard it hurts (otherwise known as Greenbelt) I am back ready to finish the blog challenge. Only a couple more posts to do now.

I'm not sure if I've learnt anything huge and life changing this year. If I have it isn't making itself known to me right now! I do recognise, however, that I have learnt a few smaller things.

The first is that the crafty, arty side of me that I've always had as a hobby can actually be more than that. I've really enjoyed having the time and the opportunity to try it out this year as a way to make money for myself. Turns out people want to buy what I make. Crazy. I'm enjoying making things, mostly sitting crochetting away merrily, and I'm relieved to find that I'm not getting bored of making the same things over and over.

This is probably because I do other things at the same time to keep my brain going. I listen to podcasts by which I recommend to everyone ever, or I watch programmes on 4od. I was very pleased to find 173 episodes plus all the specials of Time Team on there which I am making my way through. I've learnt, or perhaps relearnt, that I love to learn. Even more so, I need to learn. I don't think I would be able to sit for long periods of time crafting like I do without feeding my brain something. Interestingly, I get bored of what I'm making quicker if I watch trashy tv shows rather than something a little more intellectually challenging. Although I will admit to putting the crochet down for a minute or so to gape at whatever find they just pulled out of a trench.

On a more practical note I learned how to put air in the tyres of my car. That made me feel a little less like a silly girly type. So, yay for that.

I think what I've noticed this year is that I don't seem to need a lot to be happy. I can be quite content when left to it. My world might look quite small to others looking in on it, but I don't think it is. I'm quite happy on this little island reading my way through a stack of books, crochetting my way through a pile of wool, while filling my head with stories of the great wide world. Don't get me wrong, I would like to see the great wide world first hand. And I'm not denying that I like to buy new shiny things just like anyone else. I'm just recognising that it isn't essential to my happiness. Some things, I guess, are more important.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wait ye, with breath bated.

The last few posts of the blog challenge are going to have to wait till next week because...

I'm going to Greenbelt!

If you don't know what that is go look it up! I'm volunteering for them this year which is exciting. Please wish for good weather in the Cheltenham area this weekend; if not good at least try for better than the forecast. We're camping y'see...

Don't worry, I have packed my wellies. And my crochet.

See you all when I get back! Well, talk to you all. Or type randomly to a 'you' in the hope that someone reads this and becomes that 'you'... You catch my drift. (There I go again!)

P.s. Everyone be extra super nice to Toben this weekend as he couldn't get time off to go to Greenbelt. Sad socks. But on the bright side, at least they will be dry socks.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Somewhere you'd like to move.

I've spent the last four or five years going back and forth between Edinburgh and Iona, to the Iona Community and latterly to other places on the island. Since leaving the Community in 2010 I have moved every 4-6 months. In May this year, however, Toben got the job as Warden of Bishops House on Iona. This job has no end date. This is a lovely feeling. We don't have to start the desperate search for winter accommodation this year. Or for a few years to come. Having finally secured both jobs and accommodation on possibly one of the most difficult places to find both these things at the same time, I find it hard to answer this question of 'somewhere you'd like to move'.

I just have moved, and Iona is somewhere I was pretty happy to move to. Beautiful place? Check. Wonderful people? Check. Nice place to live? Check. Enjoyable job? Check. Great way of life? Triple check.

Don't get me wrong, there's loads of places I'd like to go and there are many places that feel like home for me. My parents house in Edinburgh still feels like home, which is not surprising given that I lived in it for about twenty years of my life. Then there are places that I feel very comfortable and familiar with, so much so that they feel a little like home. I feel very at home in a tent in Glencoe in the rain for example. A camper van on a scraggly outcrop on Mull feels very home-like when we go back every year.

But for now at least, I'm happy where I am. I can't really think of anywhere else I would really like to live.

Maybe this should be called "Somewhere you'd like to stay" instead.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Favorite blog posts since you started your blog.

Interestingly, almost all my favourite blog posts have been in this challenge. I only have one post that I did outside of this that I really like. Maybe this means I should keep giving myself 'challenges' with this blog. I'll have to have a think about that!

The one that I did before the blog challenge is School's Out. If you didn't really like school, this one is for you. Or I suppose if you really loved school and can't understand why anyone wouldn't, this one could be very enlightening for you.

I love my post on What's an article of clothing you're deeply attached to? I think I like that the way my thoughts on that sorted themselves out into story form. If I wasn't deeply attached to them before, I am after writing that!

I need to mention A great book that you see yourself in. purely as it is about Alice in Wonderland. So, automatic win there.

Having just read over my entire blog, I've noticed how I seem to like the list ones better than the others generally. I seem to be quite funny in list form. Odd. 10 Likes was a good one, but 10 Dislikes was even better. I've just read it over and I'm still laughing at myself. I also like Top 10 songs for you now because naturally it has all the songs I really like just now on it. Go figure.

The one that I found most interesting was Your Fears. I had to sit and think about that one for ages. I couldn't think of anything I was afraid of. I sat staring at the title on the screen waiting for my brain to give me a list of things, even just one, but nothing came. What's really ridiculous is that in the end I had to ask Toben, who instantly rattled off everything I'm scared of. Every time he said another thing I would say "Oh yeah...". I genuinely couldn't think of a single thing. Isn't that strange?

As I say, I've enjoyed the aspect of the challenge that makes me think about things I've not thought about before. I may continue to set myself mini challenges once this is over. If anyone thinks up a good question or subject just let me know!

Friday, 17 August 2012

5 items you lust after.

1. A Volkswagon camper. I can't even explain how happy I would be to own one of these. Particularly if it was yellow. Or blue. Or green. Or...

I suppose I may have to wait a while for my camper, so in the interim I may have to find an alternative. Oh look, found it! This is a tent. A freakin' tent! I've seen one of these up and it is the same size as an actual van. From a distance you can't tell it's a tent. This is also a slightly more affordable option than the real thing.

2. I would adore this... get it?! Adore... a... door... Joking aside, I really would. So what Dad and Natalie would have to duck like Gandalf?! Toben and I are Hobbit sized, and we're the ones that would use it every day. Just call me Squaro MacBaggins.

3. I would love this satchel. Or a satchel like it. It would make an epic laptop bag. I had one before, but it was quite cheap... and therefore the straps snapped on it after a while. So I would like a proper one that will be more robust. And it could also be yellow.

4. A craft room. A room that is all mine for crafting in. Where I could keep all my craft things in easy to use places instead of tidied away in boxes in the corner. A space where I can just leave everything out if I'm halfway through a project without having to clear everything up so we can use the coffee table. A place that can be bright colours and pretty, shiny things. A Squarah kind of place. Maybe with one of these in the corner.

5. A swing. Specifically an indoor swing. This may sound odd, but I think very clearly on swings. Just gently swinging back and forth. So yes, one of these in a craft room - or in any room - would be wonderful. Failing that, I would settle for this.

So now you all know what I would like for christmas this year. Don't forget to talk to each other and let everyone know who is buying me what so there are no duplicates! Sigh, if only it were that easy...

Improve your relationship with God.

Everything went quiet for me this week. I don't know what it was about this post's title, but it just wasn't doing it for me. I think I maybe feel like I already answered it in the How could you improve your prayer life? post. Most of what I would write here I could pretty much copy and paste over from that.

So I've been putting it off. It's always been in the back of my mind though, and it has gotten to the point where it doesn't feel fun anymore.

So I'm not going to do it.

I know, I know, this doesn't really fit in with the whole point of a challenge. But boo sucks to you with knobs on is what I have to say about that. I do however have a treat for you. Be. Excited.

I have for you a little poem about what I have done this week. I feel it sums it up beautifully. So here it is.



Normal service will resume from now on.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A quote you try to live by.

I don't really have a quote... it's more like a whole poem. It's by Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I've loved this poem for a long time, ever since my first pilgrimage with the Iona Community. It's read aloud at the one crossroads on the island, which is of course quite fitting.

I think I like this so much because I don't think I have taken the road more often travelled, instead I've more or less gone off and created my own little path. I'm happy to have done that. I try to keep it in mind when making big decisions in my life. I don't always choose the road less travelled, and when I do I certainly don't choose it for that reason. I just try to remind myself that I don't have to choose the most common answer, I don't have to follow a crowd and that I can be different and that's ok.

And I honestly do think it has made all the difference.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Your fears.

I'm starting with a disclaimer. My fears are silly.

This is mainly because for the most part I'm afraid of being afraid. When I'm watching a horror film (very rare) I freak myself out so easily. I know the scary bit is coming - those films are so predictable - and because of that I end up anticipating the fear. I get scared because I know I'm about to be scared. This applies to just about everything. I get afraid something to be afraid of will materialise. I get scared that something scary might happen. I am not actually scared of the actual things. I think I'm more afraid of something so scary I haven't even thought of it. It is the one curse of having a great imagination.

I have others that border on the absolutely ridiculous.

I am quite frightened to run over something. I wouldn't know what to do. Not a person, but maybe a bird or something similar. If I ran over a bird and it was lying there dying slowly and painfully I couldn't handle that. I wouldn't be able to bring myself to put it out of it's misery, but I couldn't bear it being in pain like that. On the plus side it makes me a super careful driver around animals.

Wasps, bees and general buzzing things with stingers. Do. Not. Like. I've been stung in possibly all the most painful places on your body to be stung and quite simply I would like to avoid this happening ever again. Ever.

Heights... but not in the way most people are afraid of heights. For most, there seems to be a direct correlation between the height and the amount of fear felt. For me though, I get a bit off edge (no pun intended) at a certain height and over, and it's the same level of fear whether it is 15ft or 100ft. It is also non existent when there is a wall or some sort of proper barrier. When there is only a flimsy handrail however, that's when it gets me. Here's why: I am so incredibly clumsy. When there isn't much to stop me breaking my neck on the ground below when I accidentally trip over my own foot for the seventeenth time that day I get a bit scared, only because it can feel frighteningly likely.

Needles. This isn't really a silly one. I had a severe allergic reaction to an injection when I was 12 and I was rushed to hospital. I was told later that it was a close one; if I had left it much longer before going to the nurse they think my airways would have blocked entirely before I even got to the hospital. I've been told this could happen again so naturally I'm pretty wary of needles coming towards me. Unfortunately it extends to all needles because while I was in the hospital I got poked and prodded with so many different needles that hurt quite a lot. They couldn't find a vein anywhere in either of my arms or hands which left me pretty black and blue with them looking. I like to think of this as my irrational-but-actually-rational fear.

Mostly though, I think I'm a pretty fearless person. I have lots of things that I don't like, and many things that make me feel uncomfortable, but very rarely do these cross over to fears. I don't mean that I am really fearless; if I was being attacked by a shark I would scream and panic just as much as anyone. I mean it more like the fear of a shark attack wouldn't stop me from going in the sea. Things like that don't even occur to me for the most part.

I'm not really even afraid to lose people or any of the really common ones like that. I don't want them to go or to die or course, but I think I'm just realistic that at some point that will happen and I should make the most of these people while I can. I think sometimes fear can hinder that. Although I don't think fear is necessarily unhealthy,  I don't think it should stop you from doing the things you need or want to do.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Something or someone you miss.

Although I am happy to not be working for the Iona Community (not in a bad way, just in a I've done that and moved on way), I do miss something in particular about it.

I miss the freedom of the services. The Iona Community itself is ecumenical, and all the services held are as non-denominational as possible. I really like this, as it really proves that all are welcome. It is not the services themselves that I miss however. I can still go to them, living only on the other side of the field. What I miss is writing and leading them.

As a resident staff member, that was part of my job. I was on the rota to lead services which also meant writing the service, preparing for it and picking all the hymns. I really enjoyed this part of the job; I guess it was a creative process for me. I'm a definite ideas person, and I thrive on being creative. I loved coming up with an idea and thinking through all the possibilities for it. Then diving into the hymn book and the liturgy book to see what I could find in there to match. After being to some churches where everything is set in stone, I found the potential for it to be about anything at all really liberating. And I mean literally anything. I've done services about sleep and the need for rest, being happy about the little things like gummy bears, old and new stone in the abbey, and the wind.

It felt like I was able to ask people to really think outside the box, which by complete coincidence is where I live. I could get people to get up and wander around the abbey feeling all the stone and notice how they were all different but all necessary to build a beautiful church. I could ask people to go to three different areas of the church depending on what they were needing to say and have three separate Alleluia chants happening at the same time, each with a different feel to it but all blending together wonderfully. I could ask people to sit and listen to the raging storm outside and just let themselves feel truly safe and looked after for once. And they would. Things that would be totally unacceptable and out of their comfort zone in any other church seem to be expected in Iona Abbey. I love that.

Sometimes now when I hear a song or read something brilliant I think to myself "That would make a great service". I miss having that creative outlet I think. It's not that I like the preaching aspect, and I certainly don't want to go down that road. I wasn't really a fan of getting up in front of everyone either; it definitely wasn't a limelight thing. I just liked being able to share an interesting thought or point of view. I also know I was good at it, so I miss that nice feeling you get when you do well.

I'm not likely to enter back into the Community any time soon though, so I will just have to keep missing it. Attending will just have to be good enough.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Top 10 songs for you now.

I'm going to try to link in some videos for these where I can. But unfortunately I can't for all of them because some of the songs that are my favourites right now are by friends of mine, and Youtube doesn't know about them yet. But I strongly recommend going looking for their music!

1. King of Anything by Sara Bareilles. This was introduced to me a few days ago by some friends who thought of me when they heard it. It pretty much sums up what I think when I encounter some... interesting people.

2. Cheap Flights by Fascinating Aida. Hilarious. Having just gone through buying flights to go on holiday in October, this is pretty spot on. If you've ever bought flights you will love this.

3. Arctic Winter by Simon de Voil. No video for this I'm afraid. Simon is a friend of mine with a really inspiring life. He writes music that goes straight to my heart. Heartbreakingly beautiful in every way. You can listen to it on his website at

4. Our Love Goes Deeper Than This by Duke Special. This song sounds so cheerful (even though the lyrics aren't if you listen to them). Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy fame does vocals on this track too, which is awesome. I love the video for it too. It really shows off his quirky weirdness perfectly. His albums are consistently brilliant and I recommend you go buy them all!

5. Songs of Love by The Divine Comedy. This felt appropriate to come next! I used to listen to the Casanova album in the car with Mum when I was younger. This was never one of the ones she liked though. I only started listening to him again recently, and I think this is one of my favourites. Some of you may also recognise this as the Father Ted theme tune.

6. King of Birds by Karine Polwart. I went to a Celtic Connections show earlier this year, and she sang this at it. Very beautiful song inspired by the protests outside St Paul's Cathedral. As usual, stunning vocals from Karine Polwart.

7. Shady Grove by Kris Drever. My friends covered this at their gig the other night and I was reminded of how much I love this song. Kris Drever is incredibly talented; there isn't a song he plays or sings that I don't like. This is one of the best though.

8. Act IV by Roddy Woomble. Very interesting to listen to if you know a bit of the back story about their attempted move to Iona. "As if an island could ever break your heart". As I say, interesting. They now live in Kintra on Mull. It speaks a lot to me about Toben and I trying to stay here and how difficult that was. I had always known the song, but suddenly it made sense in a whole new way. He's another like Kris Drever, I like everything he does.

9. A Tisket A Tasket by Ella Fitzgerald. I have a huge fondness for this song. I remember my Nana singing it all the time. I also just love that style of music. Ella Fitzgerald is one of my all time favourites, along with Billie Holiday. Other than it carrying the memory of my Nana in it, I'm not sure why I like this one more than some of the others. It makes me smile for some reason.

10. Ae Ford Kiss written by Robert Burns and performed by Eddi Reader. I love this song. This is always one of my top ten songs for me now. It somehow manages to always be relevant to me in some way. So go listen to it now and fall in love with it.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

How could you improve your prayer life?

I've come to a bit of a grinding halt with this one. I've thought long and hard about what I could do to change and improve. Each time I get stuck though, and for one very good reason. I'm genuinely happy with the way it is. It works; I don't know how to improve it, or even if it needs improved.

I need to point out that in no way do I think I'm perfect or that I have everything sorted. That's not the case at all. I just feel like I have something that works for me right now. I'm not what you would consider a big prayer type in the traditional sense. No "Now I lay me down to sleep" sounding things coming from me. I'm more of a chatty, casual conversation type. Imagine if you were talking things over with a close friend over a cuppa. That image is more accurate. Comfortable, close and informal.

Sometimes there doesn't even have to be words. Like that silence that falls between two friends that isn't in any way awkward. You both know what the other is thinking or feeling but neither feel the need to express it. Yet you both know. It's hard to describe, but it's like a gentle meandering through my thoughts and God is invited in to listen. I don't really feel the need to ask for things or request help. God knows what I want, and most importantly what I need, often before I do. Why tell someone what they already know? The most I need to do is quietly acknowledge it in gentle conversation. I don't feel the need to pile on the formal gratitude either. God knows that the contented sighs and peaceful smiles are filled with thankfulness. I prefer my gladness to seep out of me for all the world and God to see.

Even though I love words, I can sometimes see how meaningless they become. Unfortunately I see this most often with liturgy in churches. Something memorised and repeated so often you forget what it means, forget what you're saying. It can be so noticeable too. You can really spot it in people. The wheel is moving but the hamster is long dead. So it comes down to action for me. To live out my happiness for God to rejoice in, dwell in my sadness so God can stop there too awhile. And like any relationship you see a lot more than can be communicated. You can't express a smile in any way other than to smile it. Why struggle to explain with words when you could just smile at them and have them know?

However with all this I am realistic. I understand that this is what works for me and God right now. But in a while it may not be and I may need to revisit this. I will change and grow as a person and as with all relationships when this happens, I will need to adapt, change and improve communication style to suit.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A Celebration is in Order.

This goes out to whoever just looked at my blog...

You were my thousandth page view! Hooray for you!

Thanks to everyone who reads my ramblings, and a special thanks to all of you who leave comments. It's as exciting as getting mail in the post!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

5 ways to win your heart.

So here's the thing; I'm not really sure how I feel about the name of today's blog challenge post. It makes it sound a little like a recipe to be followed. An ounce of this folded in with one whole that with a dash of the other thing and bing, bang, boom, that's it. So instead I'm going to look at it in terms of 5 things I appreciate...

1. Intelligent conversation. I like being able to hold a conversation with someone beyond the weather, sports, or last nights TV. I like being able to discuss the podcast I listened to and found interesting. Having an opportunity to talk about the book I'm reading and read the really good bits out loud. The flip side of this is that I also get to listen to all the interesting things and read all the really good bits.

2. The appreciation of oddness. This is ever helpful if you want to spend time with me. I'm not one of those people that tries to be weird, it just comes out. Sometimes even I'm surprised. It doesn't really come out that much in my posts. It seems I can get it together in writing. Toben frequently tells me that I am the weirdest person he knows. He also makes it clear this is in no way a bad thing. It works in my favour, so why question it?

3. Clinginess; a lack of. It is very nice be wanted and needed. I do need to be able to leave without a performance every time though. I like that not being an issue. When I get home there is always a nice level of 'Yay, you're back' that doesn't cross over into 'I thought you were never ever coming home so you cannot leave ever again'. I'm very independent, so I do need to be able to come and go a lot of the time. It applies to other things like reading a book. When I'm reading a book that I'm really enjoying I probably won't hear you if you shout my name. You need to not take that personally and understand that I'm in Hogwarts right now, which is a long way away so I can't hear you. Luckily Toben does, which is happy.

4. Silliness. Cracking dumb jokes and awesome puns with geeky references is brilliant. Rolling around laughing uncontrollably is equally brilliant. I like having somebody around that will do this with me. It just makes the day so much better.

5. Achievable expectations and standards. I don't have to try to be anyone but myself. I don't have to look like anyone but me. You would think that is fairly simple as a concept, but in reality so many people miss this. I'm happy being me, and I like being with someone who is happy with me being me. Isn't that the whole point?!

Saturday, 28 July 2012


Now, I bet you're all interested in how this post is going to work for me, being an only child and all. To be quite honest I've been wondering the same all day.

I've been asked before if I ever got lonely without siblings around, and I have to say the answer is a resounding no. Instead I think I have a very healthy ability to amuse myself and be quite comfortable in my own company. I've spoken to many who find it hard to be by themselves, especially when quiet or silence is involved. I have a friend who can never be alone without having the TV or radio on to simulate having other people around. I find this hard to understand; I would go stir crazy without some quiet time.

In fact I sometimes find it goes to the extreme of getting 'peopled out' when I've been around lots of people for a few days in a row. I really need my space after that. I love having people to visit, to go do fun things with them. I'm always super excited to see people when they get here. But there is something glorious about the day after everyone goes home. That first day I get to myself is just delicious.

I think that goes back to being a kid and having my friends over for the weekend. We'd have enormous amounts of fun and then they would go home at the end. Then I'd be by myself. I would bring out all my alone time things that I didn't want to share (not because I was selfish, but because they were precious to me) and spend some time doing the things I had missed doing. I still do that now. People leave and I can get my book to read it without interruption, or settle in to a proper craft session when I can think clearly without feeling like I should let them join in or amuse them.

I just like having little pockets of time where I can decide there and then what I want to do with them. I've gotten used to the luxury of that with there being no siblings occupying the same space as me. Nobody there to say "But I don't want to watch that". It may sound very selfish to some of you, but it isn't that at all. I just enjoy being by myself. I enjoy pottering about doing my own thing. I enjoy the freedom of it. Of course that isn't my entire life. I live with Toben for a start; being alone isn't everything to me. I just like having time to myself when it comes.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Best concert ever and one you want to attend.

This is a hard one; I've been to some pretty amazing concerts.

Admiral Fallow in Tobermory were awesome to see live in such a tiny wee room. That was pretty good. But not the best.

The Kris Drever, John McCusker, Roddy Woomble, Heidi Talbot and Boo Hewardine gig was great, as I got to see all those talented people play together. Eddi Reader showed up too and was dragged up on to the stage. Then I MET HER and that was AWESOME. But technically I met her after the gig, so that doesn't count. So, not the best.

Newton Faulkner was incredible. He does some mind bending things with his guitar including using it as a drum kit at the same time as playing it normally. So confusing but so wonderful to watch. Also, we were this close.

But the best? Well, you might think this is kind of cheating. Eddi Reader wins. Always. Every time I've seen her it's been the best. I love going to see her do concerts on her own. When it's her gig she can really let her hair down and have fun, dancing around the stage like a lunatic. I've seen her at Phil Cunningham's Christmas Songbook too, and that is always a great night. Phil Cunningham, John McCusker, Kris Drever and Karen Matheson help it along too. The same selection of people (minus Kris Drever) did a one off show called Monumental Scott celebrating Sir Walter Scott. That was a really amazing show. Eddi Reader had us all spellbound when she sang Ave Maria. I would pay to see that over and over every day for the rest of my life.

And that brings us neatly to one I would like to attend. Of course, I will continue to want to attend Eddi Reader concerts in all their various guises. But is there one I would really want to go to other than that?

Why yes, there is. And what luck! They are playing in Iona soon. So come one and all and see Boggy Boots with me! My lovely friends Margaret, Tom and Jane will be serenading us sweetly in the very near future. I can't wait!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

My Middle Name.

Sarah May Macdonald.

As with most middle names mine is a family name. On my granny's side there are the May family. They hail from Cornwall originally, making it up to Edinburgh eventually via London. My granny herself carries the middle name herself. Elizabeth May Macdonald. Also my Dad was very close to his granny, whose maiden name was May.

I'm not sure there is a huge amount more to say... Other than that I think I got off lightly! My Nana was Margaret Jesse Newall Robertson Hazlewood. Phew.

Monday, 23 July 2012

A picture of yourself.

This is what happens when you let Squarahs play with make up.

In fairness, I was dressing up as "80's disco' for a fancy dress party... I back combed all of my hair. I couldn't actually brush it out afterwards, I had to wash it out. Even then it was challenging! The hair bobble had to be cut out my hair...

I chose this picture because I don't often wear lots of make up, and a lot of you may not even have seen me out of jeans and wellies. So here I am, after having raided my mum's make up box (no joke) and having borrowed her original 80's jewellery that she just couldn't part with. Oh, and sequins don't forget the sequins.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

A letter to anyone.

Dear Lego man,

How are you, my yellow headed friend? I hope you are well. Have you made a new friend? I hope so. I imagine you sitting on a windowsill, or perhaps a shelf beside someone else's books.

Where did they find you? Did you leave yourself outside a shop again? Just waiting for somebody to see you in the long grass? You looked like you had been there a while when I found you outside the Community Shop. You were all wet and a little bit muddy from being out in the rain. But then we went inside and got you all dry, before you explored my room for somewhere to sit. You ended up on the little shelf under the mirror. I think you liked it; you could see everything from up there.

You came with me when I left too. We had a few houses to live in. I have to admit, your spot in Knock Na Cross wasn't very good. I was surprised you picked it, beside all my hair clips on the dresser. I wondered if you used them as skis when I wasn't looking. I bet you did.

Where did you go when we left Knock Na Cross? I know you came to Edinburgh with us. I remember you choosing a spot in the dolls house in my room. But then you weren't there. I came to tell you we were going to Bishops House next, and you had gone. I know you don't like goodbyes, so I do understand. I get curious though.

I hope you are with somebody nice, who will look after you. I hope you still have your little broom too. You always held on to it so tightly that I presumed you must be very fond of it.

If you ever find yourself on Iona again, do come and say hello. I'll always have a little shelf space with your name on it if you need it.

Sarah Squarah

Thursday, 19 July 2012

10. Dislikes

1. You have no idea how true this is. When I'm out somewhere, usually round at someones house, and I am offered biscuits I will just about always head right for the chocolate chip cookie. But sometimes I end up with a raisin cookie flavoured with cardboard while everyone else noms on a bourbon. This is not acceptable.

2. I cannot express how sad crocs make me. There are so many pairs of beautiful shoes in the world, and that was seriously the best option for you? Worse is the whole family matching croc combo. With those stupid little pins through them to make them look 'pretty'. Urgh. I know someone with hiking crocs. I kid you not. Hiking. Crocs. We aren't close...

3. I really don't know what to add to this. When I was 11 nothing was complicated. That was what being 11 was for. I just... don't understand.

4. I love the English language, so when people can't use it I get kind of sad. I am the kind of person who types out numbers just because I like words. Also, I cling to this so at least I know that somebody somewhere knows how to spell thirteen. Sigh.

 5. All over the country ducks are saddened and ashamed that their beautiful beak like exteriors are being abused in such a fashion. I appeal to you, oh reader of potential sensibleness, to never make the face. Please, for the ducks.

6. I'm looking at you Dad. Right at you. And only you. Mr leaves one biscuit in the pack and shapes it like it is full before walking away feeling like a boss. Not ok.

7. This is not what facebook is for. Neither is it for hourly weather updates. That is why we have the Met Office. If this leaves you with nothing to say that is ok. Really, it's fine. Nobody reads it anyway.

8. I have fat hands. They are disproportionately chubby to the rest of me. This means eating pringles is a bit of an ordeal for me. Wearing bangles, also an issue.

9. This is another English language nerd pet peeve. Inappropriate O usage. Examples: 'to funny' and 'I don't want to loose it'.

10. I really think I have this. It works with tiny repetitive movements too. Like the leg jiggle. Nothing drives me more ballistic than the person next to me doing the leg jiggle. I just can't handle it. If I have ever given you the full on Squarah glarey face while you were eating; this is why! Mouth breathers and tea slurpers beware!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


1. HARRY FREAKING POTTER. Ahem... Now I've gotten that out, I think I can continue.

2. Books. How they smell when they are new. How they smell when they are old. How they smell in between. Reading them. Looking at their shiny covers. Looking at their shiny words. Happy.

3. Colours. I love colour. I love seeing wonderful colour combinations that I wouldn't have thought of. A colourful world is never boring, and what luck, I live in one!

"You were full of living colours and such a sense of wonder"
This Could Be My Last Day - Duke Special 

4. Wool. This has something to do with the colour thing I think. Wool comes in so many different colours, textures and patterns. Finding great wool is always happy making, particularly in a certain charity shop in Craignure where the woman only charged me 20p a ball. I liked her.

5. Buttons. I have already confessed my love of buttons in an earlier post, so this should be no surprise. As with wool, they come in so many colours, textures and patterns, and can often be found cheap in charity shops, just waiting for someone to come along and love them. I volunteer myself for that job a lot. I really like that they can be used for so many things too. The number of crafty uses I've found for them is astounding. I have/have made button earrings, a button necklace, button pins, button hair clips, button rings, button cards, buttons on slippers, buttons on scarves... the list could go on... and on. My friend Margaret and I even decorated the Abbey with buttons for a service.

6. My Mum's post card writing style. It just makes me laugh. Short, to the point and vaguely informative. An accurate description of both the postcards and the one that writes them. Here is an example:

"Dear S+T,

Having a lovely time + we are having fun. Walked along a coastal path near here. Oh + the Race was okay too.

Love Mum +Dad 

7. Brambles. This is my little kitty cat who lives with my parents in Edinburgh. But everyone knows she is mine really. She is adorable in a fluffy, soppy, talks-to-you kind of way. No really, she actually tries to hold conversations with you. Smart cat.

8. Barley. This is the other kitty that lives with my parents. He is adorable in a fluffy, drooly, pat me ok now feed me ok now pat me ok now feed me kind of way.  Technically he is Mum's cat, and if you've ever seen the Barley and Alison cuddle extravaganza you'd probably agree. Though I bet he feels like he's partly mine too... we did have some pretty extensive playtime with the dolls cot when I was little. And he will always sleep on my head when I'm there. Which is... nice.

9. House. As in the tv programme. I could watch it for hours, and often do when I'm crafting. I got a little tired with all the medical dramas on tv, but House is so refreshingly different and clever. Also a little weird at times. Good weird though.

10. My bed. Ok, so this is a completely unoriginal thought. I like my bed. I really do. We have a really cosy duvet with some epic covers. I like it when I get in at night because it's all cold and lovely compared to the rest of the flat which accumulates all the heat from the laundry room over the course of the day, making it a bit too hot for me. I like it in the morning when I'm still in it because it is much warmer and cosier than the rest of the flat which is a bit chilly from having the window open all night. I don't really like getting out of it though. But who does?!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Best Compliment Ever.

The first thing that came to mind, rather oddly, is something a guest said to me while I was the Housekeeper at the Mac for the Iona Community. As I was leaving to go home she said "Wow, you're much less scary without an apron on!" I'm not entirely sure why that was the very first place my brain went to...


A Community Member told me (several times) that I'm the best Housekeeper he has ever seen in his many, many years visiting the centres. That made me pretty happy. Not sure it's the best ever though. Especially as I don't want to be a housekeeper.

Somebody once told me "Your eyes are very... expressive." They did mean it as a compliment, even though it didn't come out like one! I will admit that they are though. Everyone can see what I'm thinking at all times! Even if I get the rest of my face under control my eyes will still be looking at the person saying "That is the dumbest idea I have ever heard" or something similar. I am also quite good at getting other people to crack up laughing in awkward situations just by giving them a look. I must say, I really do brighten up meetings and social functions I attend for my friends.

Another compliment(?) along the same nature came from Jeni. "Your face is hilarious." I was telling a story and making all the right faces to go along with it... which she seemed to appreciate. In particular the face that goes with a strangled cry...

In short, the compliments that seem to mean the most to me appear to be the ones that express my oddness. Curiouser and curiouser...

Monday, 16 July 2012

What are you looking forward to the most in the next 6 months?

This is where I will be going in October. Lovely, sunny Mallorca.

I need to clarify that this will not be a post filled with longing to the point of negativity, "I wishes" or the need for escapism. It's not going to be 800 words on why "I really need a holiday!!!!!" The first reason is because I believe very firmly in grammar and punctuation, and the over-use of exclamation marks is one of the reasons I would like our current 'culture' to go die quietly in a corner. The second reason is that I am very happy with my life and do not want to escape from it. A holiday is a chance for me to go somewhere different and experience that place.

Which is what I love so much about going to Mallorca. I've been so many times now that I really do feel that I experience it. I haven't been in a few years though, so I'm expecting a few things to have changed. I like that I will notice that they have changed. I like that I am that familiar with it. It's lovely to know your way around somewhere like that; to be a tourist but a knowledgeable one. To know which are the best restaurants, cafes, shops, places to visit but to still be able to wander round them with my camera out taking hundreds of pictures. And I do mean hundreds of pictures. Sometimes thousands.

I'm also excited to take Toben along and show him all the things I talk about a lot. I'm excited that Toben is excited. I've told him about the traditional Mallorcan train that still runs the length of the island so the five year old inside him is, of course, dying to go on it. We've talked about the long afternoons cycling around all the little back lanes in the sunshine, stopping for photos or ice cream where we may. Splooshing about in the sea... which is warm! Visiting the markets and buying fresh watermelon, mango, pineapple or any other kind of fruit that Toben has missed now he lives in the inhospitable climate we call Scotland. Most of all, I think he is looking forward to being a sun worshipper. I have to say, that doesn't sound too bad myself.

I'm looking forward to some good food too! I love knowing that the fish on my plate was probably caught earlier that day in the bay, or at least the day before. Not eight weeks ago somewhere off the coast of Japan. This is going to sound silly, but all the food very noticeably tastes like food. Anyone who has ever shopped at a Supermarket and been disappointed will know what I mean. Oh, that would be all of you.

Mostly, I'm excited to go somewhere where this can happen.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Best Day Ever.

This is going to sound really terrible, but I don't think I have a best day ever. I don't want you to think that my life is sad, because it really isn't. It's quite the opposite. I have so many good days that I can't pick one out of them all. So instead of giving an in depth description of my best day ever, I am going to give a taste of some pretty great days.

  • The day I left school. That was a GREAT day. If you've read my post on my school life you'll know why. After I walked out of that ugly entrance hall that last time I walked all the way home with two of my dearest friends (who I did not go to school with and came down to meet me specially for this occasion). We didn't go straight home though. We wandered past a shop and bought sweets, crisps, juice... general tasty things. Then we went to the swing park. I remember swinging so high on the swing I felt like I was part of the sky. I felt as free as I suddenly realised I was. I saw my feet walking up the sky; thinking I could do anything.
  • Any day any that the Harry Potter books/films came out. Bouncing. Off. The. Walls. Particularly the last film, which I waited for ages to eventually make it to my tiny end of the world. But the Screen Machine came to Mull, and I found myself inside a truck with 25 other people staring at the back wall in awe as He Who Shall Not Be Named was finally named and shamed. Brilliant.
  • The day Toben and I were considered islanders. We went to catch the ferry and got a lift in the staffa boat to Mull instead. Yes!
  • All the days I've seen Eddi Reader live. Magic has happened on those days.
  • The day I met Eddi Reader. She turned up to a Drever/McCusker/ Woomble gig I was at and I spotted her in the audience. Naturally I did the awkward fan thing of hanging around while everyone else left and got to go talk to her. She chatted with me, signed my ticket and gave me her cold when she hugged me. Then I went for chips with my (very patient) friends. Happy happy happy. 
  • The day I met J.K. Rowling. Back when she wasn't famous, I went to the release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in a tiny bookshop in Edinburgh. I stood in line with my parents behind the other nine people there feeling excited. I had never been to a book signing before, and this felt like a great way to start! When I got to the front of the queue I was delighted. Not only was J.K.Rowling right there in front of me; we were wearing the same jacket. We simultaneously looked at each other, looked down, looked at each other, looked down. Yes, it was the exact same jacket. After a brief chat I left the shop elated, with a copy of her new book signed "Sarah, I'd like a coat like that. Love, J.K.Rowling".
  • When my Dad got a book signed for me. He went to a book signing held for Jasper Fforde and as well as buying a copy for himself, bought one for me. Long story short; I have a copy of One of Our Thursdays Is Missing that reads "Sarah, I'd like a coat like that. Love, Jasper Fforde." Apparently, Mr Fforde was "fair tickled" with the idea.

There are many more wonderful days in the life and times of Squarah, but that feels like a nice place to leave off. And long may they continue!