A game of patience

5 Dec

The inspiration for this post was my rather splendid new Christmas jumper, which you can see in the photo below. Christmas jumpers have become a bit of a thing in recent years (I know they were around before that, but they were mocked rather than mandatory) and I didn’t have one last year, so I decided to make one for this Christmas.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
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By hook or by crook

23 Nov

Anyone who has seen me out and about in Glasgow recently may have spotted me, hook in hand, working away at a large blue and white object. This is my Christmas jumper which I have been crocheting for what feels like aeons (since last winter, actually, with a big break for the summer) and which I intend to finish before I go carol singing on the 7th of December.

YARN WITH CROCHET HOOKS
Image by Davina Harrison on Flickr

But crochet hooks aren’t only good for giving me repetitive strain injury, they also have a variety of household uses – so much so that I think every home should have at least one.

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Can’t do right for doing wrong

9 Nov

Those of you who follow this blog will know I’m quite into my eco-friendliness. I wrote an earlier post about my efforts to reduce plastic waste in my life, by doing things like using natural materials, switching to solid shampoo and carrying a shopping bag in my handbag. However, as with many things, being eco-friendly is much more complicated than it at first appears.

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What I learned at DyslexiFest

12 Oct

This was supposed supposed to be a proper reblog, where the original post appears below, and you can read the first part of it right here, but I’m currently away from my laptop and it turns out not to be so easy on a phone. I’m doing my best, OK?

Anyway, the point of this pseudo-reblog is that I’ve just written a wee piece for Dyslexia Scotland’s blog, A Life Less Ordinary, about four things I learnt at DyslexiFest.

DyslexiFest (which I find ironically hard to spell) was a “celebration of all things dyslexic” that was held in Glasgow last weekend. Don’t think there’s anything to celebrate about dyslexia? Read my previous posts on the subject (here and here) or just have a read of the Dyslexia Scotland blog.

Anyway, you can read about it the event here: #DyslexiFest

Meanwhile, I will think fondly of my laptop sitting obediently on my desk. But with a smartphone (and, importantly, a charger) in my bag, I’m sure I will find plenty of ways to amuse myself while pretending I’m working.

Image

The Gate of Desire Ajar

21 Sep

There’s a poem on the wall next to platform 10 in Glasgow Central station. posted up there to mark the relaunch of the Caledonian Sleeper service (unfortunately with sharply increased prices, meaning that I will be unlikely ever to sample its comforts). It’s by Alfred Cochrane, an English cricketer and I was rather taken by it, so I looked for it on the web, naturally, and couldn’t find it – well, not apart from a couple of references in old issues of the Oban Times.

It is called “Northward Bound”, apparently (or
“Northward Bound Once Again”), and it beautifully sums up the call of the Highlands, which even the least energetic among us (i.e. me) feel the power of. It has a rather poignant, bittersweet beginning, but works its way up to a much more uplifting ending.

I think it deserves to be more widely known, so as it’s not online, I’m going to put it there. (Don’t worry, it’s out of copyright – just.)

And in case you have difficulty reading from the photos, or you’re using text-to-speech, here’s the full text:

Does your heart still beat with the old excitement
As you wait where the Scotch expresses are?
Does it answer still to the old indictment
Of a fond delight in a sleeping car,
As it did when the rush through the autumn night
Meant the gate of desire ajar?

Or has the enchanting task grown tougher?
Has the arrow beyond you flown?
The hill that was once rough enough grown roughter,
The steepest climb you’ve ever known?
For the forest abhors a veteran duffer,
Sorely beaten and blown.

Ah, the years, the years, they are rusty and mothy;
The flesh it is weak, that once was strong.
But the brown burn over the stone falls frothy;
The music it sings is a siren song
And the pony’ll take you as far as the bothy,
And that’ll help you along.

See! From the tops the mist is stealing!
Out with the stalking glass for a spy!
Round Craig an Eran an eagle is wheeling,
Black on the blue September sky.
A fig for the years! Why, youth and healing
At the end of your journey lie.

Alfred Cochrane

I like pretty women, I like good wine

3 Sep

And extra marks to the person who gets that obscure song reference.*

The title alludes to the fact that my piece on Albanian wine has been published in Wine Tourist Magazine, so you can make yourself very jealous reading about what I did with my summer / educate yourself about Albanian wine varieties and history (delete as appropriate).

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How to (try to) get published

15 Aug

I’ve got a book coming out at the end of this month that I had been meaning to write and release for ages, but I got a little push a few months back when a friend from church asked me how she would go about getting her almost-finished novel published.

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By popular request – a post in Albanian (postim ne shqip)

25 Jul

(Ok, readers who don’t speak Albanian, just skip to the next post – this one’s for the Albanians who don’t speak English.)

Te dashur lexues shqiptarë, ja një postim në shqip me në fund. Do të më falni për gabimet në shkrimin.

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An Albanian Summer

23 Jul

I’m on holiday this month, but as a self-employed writer it’s very much a busman’s holiday, of course. I’ve been researching an article on Albanian vineyards, working on part two of The Sarcophagus Scroll (called Daughters of Fire, since you asked), and editing a booklet called How to Get Published, which will be available free to newsletter subscribers in September.

But I have also found time to have fun and enjoy the beauty of Albania (as if touring vineyards wasn’t fun!). So here’s a nice photo post for you.

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Drowning in a tsundoku

12 Jun

There is a word in Japanese, they tell me, that means letting books pile up without reading them: tsundoku. I don’t speak Japanese, but it sounds appropriate, reminding me both of sudoku, something stressful and time-consuming, and tsunami, which is what happens when your to-read pile becomes unstable.

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