Tuesday, December 31, 2013


So at midnight tonight we get to put the clocks forward a year.  Tomorrow won't really be any different from today but it will *feel* different and that's the point.
Who says they don't believe in psychology obviously doesn't make any resolutions - to be broken within the first week - it's tradition!  Even those who promise not to play resolution roulette (which one will it land on? Congratulations, you got "Lose Weight" *audible groan*)  I know I do.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Twelve Years Ago Today

At just after 2 p.m. my life changed forever.  While the memories might be blighted with the realisation that who I had married would always let me down and the annoyance that I still made excuses for him "because of his upbringing" (which was a big old lie like everything else) there is this shining light.

Because no matter what, I will forever have this and that is worth diamonds and gold:

Happy birthday boys

Monday, December 23, 2013

With All The Best Intentions

I have been looking in to the world of art journals and the superbly organised and dedicated people who can and do fulfil their little books with alarming regularity.

As this blog testifies it is an evasive talent and one I wish I could capture and so, once again, and now in my 42nd year I tentatively look to achieving similar in both my art and my writing.  One each day, it doesn't seem too far fetched (she says now.)  I do promise myself this every year, especially around now as Christmas is knocking on the door and the year in about to reset to January again.

I need to work on both to improve, the art soothes my soul and I can even, on occasion, quieten the angry spirit that rises on recalling just how I was so easily discouraged and turned away from something that means so much.  Same goes for the writing.

It is a mistake that as a parent I am determined not to make.  Hell, maybe I might end up good at something for once.  I can do this and I want to do more:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's Been A Heck Of A Year

Eugène Grasset - Décembre 1896

My favourite month, the month of my birth, my sons' birth, Christmas and all the Yuletide festivities and each year gets a little further away from that magical place.  Yet there is still something about December and the dark days (that suit my mood of late). 

I'd much prefer for a cold, frosty month than the wind and icy rain of today.  The skies are so clear, cerulean blue sharpness.  

I feel sad the boys do not experience a large family Christmas but then again the ones I went to were never that good anyway.  I suppose if invited, they would experience whatever happens at their father's new family home with her family but they don't want to.  Youngest is very particular with what happens and I love that about him.  Eldest pretends he isn't that bothered but truly is.

We have a small family and it has been another year in the washing machine, but when we come out the other side we will still, no matter how much more we have to take, we will still be rich in love.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Little Bites

Hearing of someone who got so tired they spent over a minute trying to get into the wrong hotel room.

Picturing the poor sod in said wrong hotel room, covers pulled up to chin and staring into the darkness, as that minute stretched out into a *really* long time.

Sometimes it is the daftest things that make me laugh.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Inspiration From What Is Around You

While spending a very short week in the sunny splendour of Lanzarote we visited the house of the late Cesar Manrique, an artist born in Lanzarote who returned to his homeland in order to save it from the high rise horrors plaguing other tourist spots in Spain.  For that they should be eternally grateful and eternally proud.

I looked out over the football field behind my house today to see all the trees have been mown down to make way for yet another identikit road of houses.  Oh for the power of Manrique to have kept that little wood safe from the greed of developers.  I guess the heron, fox and other wildlife can get lost as long as they make a profit with their "exclusive" houses.

Anyway, stop wittering on.  Cesar Manrique built his house within the volcanic bubbles, while also ensuring the volcanoes remained protected.  He also took inspiration from the landscape and although modern art isn't really my thing I can see and appreciate works like this for the power and beauty they show:

And how many art galleries allow you to happily take photographs, to truly enjoy the art and take home the memories?

Wonder and the impulse which leads us to observation are the secret of analysis. ~ Cesar Manrique

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wish You Were Here

Never mind that.  Wish I was there, wish I'd never left.

Strange experience, either it is the amount of crap I've been dealing with of late or just the overwhelming situation I find myself in but unusually I did not want to return home after our yearly trek to absorb enough sunshine to last the winter.  I love greenery, I love the crisp winter mornings such as this morning brought yet I had a huge desire not to come back.

By the end of holiday I am normally ready for my own bed.  I cannot explain it further but one month from our departure and I'm still feeling the same.  Life trudges on and I'm left in limbo.  This isn't the holiday blues, this is a wish to escape completely.

Colours that have my watercolour palette itching to open.

Step outside the hotel and boom, there's a volcano (dormant)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


We have some...

I should explain, Queen Margaret's Bower, the highest part of Linlithgow Palace, is where she waited for news of her husband, King James, who was off fighting the Battle of Flodden.  It was not to end well.  For some reason I like the small room, though how anyone with all those skirts and underskirts managed those stairs...

Photo taken 500 years to the day (near enough) of the battle, 9th September 1513.  If that doesn't send a shiver down the spine, sitting exactly where Queen Margaret waited, watching over the palace rooftops towards the far off fields.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Well Then

My real life first name is not Two, although it would possibly be better than Paula, which isn't actually my birth name but a shortened version.  I absolutely despised my birth name, lots of negative thoughts around it so Paula was the best of a bad world and closest I could get without a complete name change.

On an internet adventure (click on a link within a link within an article on a page I'm reading) I found this Finnish page which tickled me no end.

From now on when I hear my first name I will no longer cringe but imagine myself in this get up - coffee not included.

"Photo by Noora Ylikoski of the Paula-tyttö; the girl
named Paula that have been a part of Paulig's ads since 1904."

What, you speak Finnish and want the original page?

Okay then.  Clickety link.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Whaur ye bin?*

Summer has gone, the treadmill still runs as fast and this time we have the amazingly full schedule of two high school boys to deal with.  Thankfully, two weeks in, they love it, much more challenging than primary school but that isn't hard; it doesn't feel as though they learn much of anything in that final year.

Primary 7 is an exercise in caging wild animals and now they've been released, all minds working at one hundred miles an hour and hormones crashing in to each other.

It's the last day of August and already the wind brings a nip of Autumn with it.  Already summer seems so distant (yet we still have our holiday in October to enjoy - yay!)

This summer we did this:

And a bit of this:

Some of this;

And of course, this:

But mostly the boys did this:

Which they absolutely loved and will hopefully be doing again next year.

Most memorable of all, we visited my dad's memorial bench at Fintry Bay, Millport.  Whiling away a beautiful afternoon, enjoying the perfect view and thinking of how much he would have enjoyed it.

Add to that, this is the summer I finally received CBT for my CFS and that is AOK.

*Don't think I really need to translate from the Scots but just in case it's very simple - Where (have) you been?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Summer Is Here

Today is summer so enjoy it.  My boys were scheduled to be palace guides today at Linlithgow however one is ill.

Hayfever I curse you.  Was going to have a lovely morning to myself - and that's purely selfish but not being occasionally selfish is part of the reason I'm ill.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

These Busy Hectic Days

In the last few weeks we have been simply running to catch up.  There have been Gala Day rehearsals, summer Palace Guide training, Academy transition days for my boys who finish primary school *next week*,   school shows, Scout camp and add to the mix all the usual things we have to do anyway and it has been a June not for the slow at heart.

I think it would be better coping without the CFS right enough but I battle onwards and upwards, or at least sideways.

So the Gala Day was today - in Linlithgow a bigger fuss is made over the traditional Marches on the preceding Tuesday - Youngest was chosen name-out-the-hat-style to be a guard to the Dowager Queen.  A Dowager at age 13 I tell you.  This resulted in many weeks of rehearsing many children to walk beside a coach or in a straight line.  Not quite sure why it took so long but there you go.  And the best part was my son in traditional Highland dress.  Well, I say traditional - as traditional as the Victorian style gets.  I do like a Glen Garry hat though.
My boy giving it his all!

We stepped into the arena of decorating the house but as I have no clue of these things our decorations were made by ourselves from cardboard and paint rather than the professional and glossy arches that cropped up all over the place.  I did feel I let my boy down but he was happy that we made it ourselves, he wants to keep it all but is satisfied with his name banner and the only thing we made I feel truly happy with - the Black Bitch coat of arms:

Of course it rained, but showers so not too bad.  It did mean the Crowning ceremony was stuck in the church and after collecting Eldest from the Scouts, where he had walked proudly carrying the flag we found the place to be so packed there was no way of getting in to see anything.  Which was a shame and kind of made a farce over handing families wet weather tickets - they allowed anyone in.  Hmmn.

It was the end to a pretty successful week for my Hobbits.  The transition days are a great improvement from what I had - one short afternoon in June then turn up in August completely lost and terrified at the "big school"!  Both loved it, following their timetable for a couple of days - finding out where everything is, getting a taster for the classes and the fact they have buddies from older classes to help them get around.  Certainly eased a lot of the worries they had.

Actually I am quite jealous as, if there was one thing I would do again, I would go to high school knowing what I know now and I wouldn't listen to people who felt I shouldn't be the least bit ambitious - namely my mother.  She had been in hospital at the start of the month, its a difficult relationship and not getting any easier to be honest - I probably sound quite harsh talking of her so I think it is another post in the making.

Now we have the summer holidays fast closing in and I need to see what is happening with borrowing a pair of Palace Guide uniforms from the primary school.  I have written to the teacher in charge of them but heard nothing back, it was ever thus.  Once I get them expect photos to illustrate what I'm going on about but they'll be giving short tours to visitors in one of our favourite places.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Did I Say I Loved Books?

Now I'm not saying I have enough to fill a place like this but I'd give it a gorram good try!

This is like a huge up yours Kindle & I couldn't agree more.   Reading old style.

Earth Pics (@Earth_Pics) tweeted at 7:15 AM on Fri, Jun 14, 2013: The Trinity Library, Dublin, Ireland. http://t.co/GRQBc2YHeH (https://twitter.com/Earth_Pics/status/345424140473364481)

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Inviting the Tiger to Tea

When I was little I found books to be my way out from the loneliness of being an only child.  As someone who likes to scribble too I adored the Mog books by Judith Kerr and secretly always wished for a certain Tiger to visit our house some evening.  Although what the kindly yet hungry tiger would have made of my mothers cooking - he may have had to go elsewhere sooner.

Then there was When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit which, for some reason best left in the past, I didn't associate with being from the author's own life. Yes, I am totally in awe of Judith Kerr. Pink Rabbit should be part of the curriculum in our schools also. Plus more children would learn how enjoyable reading is if they were introduced via the adventures of Mog rather than the set books they have now.  I know both my boys would stare at our old cat with a mixture of awe and curiosity whenever we had read a Mog story.

There is something to be said about the ability of an author to bring so much love to a character that readers now grown up would gasp in sadness when spotting a new book where said character dies.  Or was that just me?

Interview: Judith Kerr, author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Blondes

Best buddies, well the cat has the upper hand of course.  What else do you expect?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Solution

Am getting fed up of gardengate (oh wait, that doesn't work...nevermind...) So here is the solution if sorts.

With a length of reed screening, put up with help from Youngest Hobbit as fencing nails are tricky little beggars I've created a cosy corner.  Another little garden project to work on but at the moment it's perfect for lounging on my lounger for that is their purpose.  And the doc did say I have to sit in the sun to help boost my vitamin D so really you could say it's what's prescribed.

Plus it offers much needed privacy from the crazies next door.

All in all I may work at a glacial pace thanks to the CFS but when it starts to come together contentment reigns.

The sun has been shining for *nearly a week* - make the most of it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

In the Dark, Dark Woods

The kind of woods the big, bad wolf would live in although to be honest I've always found humans to be more typical of the fairytale nightmare.

Beecraigs, West Lothian

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Deeply Dark

Really must think of something to do before I sink for good.

Some art, and the happy joy of little ones.

Yes that will do it.

Roll on tomorrow.

Breathe in/Breathe out/Repeat

The hedge still lives...for now.  Nasty neighbour's daughter spent the day hacking into the existing hedge ensuring the height and all the greenery ended up in a pile of cuttings.  Sad and I'm trying not to let it bother me, trying not to really mind the loss of privacy as they now have a grand view of our every movement in the garden.  Trying. Trying.

Most anti-social neighbours build huge tall fences.  Sigh.  I fear I may have to write a note (yes a note because I'm not stupid enough to go to her door and give her the opportunity for another shout) regarding them hacking in to the new hedge when it grows - and they will.

Ex had offered to build a fence, knowing his capacity for letting us down I said no.  It would probably have been better to wait ten years for the joy of a fence they couldn't peek over.

God but it's petty and I hate it but they have very little in their lives to contend with so this is their sustenance.

To think of better days and not care, not be pulled into this nonsense.  I need some good luck to come our way.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Madness of Feeling

I have a problem. Not a major problem and I am sure many would hashtag it as a "firstworldproblem" which is patronising and condescending in both meaning and action.

Anyway I have a problem. I'm crap at lying. Oh I don't mean the little white lies: the "of course I don't mind you being late", the "that dress is fine" even the "no, no, I'm fine".  I mean the great big fanciful whoppers. The ones told that when found out make me always puzzle at the effort put in by people not usually known for their sparkling imagination.  With my reputation I rarely get asked for an opinion they don't want to here, tactfully put is what occurs after I've said it.

This is a problem mainly because when someone then tells an untruth about me, well I would travel the world to prove it wrong if I could. It has happened often and every time has been infuriating.

Yesterday it happened again and in such a peculiar way.

So, back story time.  Since last year there has been a cracking great gap in the fence between our garden and the woman next-door's.  Previously known as nutty neighbour due to her behaviour she is now known as nasty neighbour and suddenly I see why other neighbours are feart of her.

I bought some hedging plants to replace the fence, to join on to the existing hedge.  Out I go, merrily digging away a small trench where the fence was and not on her side of the boundary.  Out she comes shouting and swearing and all of a sudden making accusations that I called the social workers on her because her 15 year old daughter "was seen having sex in a field".  Well now.

That is one way to broadcast to the entire neighbourhood what your kid gets up to.  The long and short of it is, she threatened to tell social workers on me (possibly for random hedge planting, I don't know) and also to punch my face.  Both of which I dared her to do - what? I was boiling angry by then.

I dislike the fact I lowered myself to her level and gave twice as good as I got.   I dislike the fact she said such horrible things like they were fact.  She said her social worker told her it was me and a quick call will be getting made to the department on Tuesday, even the bank holiday is annoying me now.

My inability to smooth over life with a coating of lies has once again caused me irritation.   I just cannot let it lie.

(Note on gap-in-the-fence fixingfrom advice given by both lawyer and property expert friends - I'm in the right.  Also I would have told her had I not made it my priority to avoid all contact with her for matters I may inflict on here at some point.  And that's before mentioning that all other neighbours do the same.)

Monday, April 22, 2013

So - This Happened

About two or so years ago both Hobbits decided they would like pets of their own. I had the dog, the cats...well they had themselves and whoever had a warm lap on offer but the boys, geared on by their friends' pet ownership, wanted to take care of something by themselves.

As they already unquestioningly help care for the current pets I was fairly open to this suggestion.  Now what would the pet be?

Having had a guinea pig & hamster I knew the ropes as far as those animals were concerned.  Rabbits, well I've never thought they particularly liked small people that much & remembering my aunt's beast, who would eat the curtains & attack any ankle that dared pass by, we quickly ruled that out.  I would have loved another guinea pig, Brownie (for that was her name) would cuddle into my cardi as I did my homework, making those adorable squeaks as she chatted away to me.  What can I say, being an only child sucked.

Rules were set out, the pets would be each boy's responsibility.  Before they were chosen each boy would also have to show a good knowledge of care.  I've raised the boys to understand animals have a right to be cared for properly & it is something we are all passionate about. 

Eldest decided on a hamster, along came Dragonborn & he does a good job of looking after him.  I showed him how to clean the cage twice & Eldest has done everything himself since, more than occasionally getting annoyed when I say "Have you remembered...?" Eye roll & sarcastic inflect on response "Yes, mum!"

Youngest, however, set his heart on a gecko of all things.  Oh crikey, thought I, how would you take care of that?  Unlike Eldest I would have no tips or prior experience.  Youngest was set the task to become a gecko expert & had to wait until I felt he was old enough for the this.

Patience pays off & welcome to the clan Arby the leopard gecko!

She's very sweet & has taken to perching on Youngest's shoulder when out of her vivarium.  Incredibly nosy, she'll come running up to see who's come into the room & will tap the glass with her fingernails to be let out.  Youngest hovers around the thermometer,  updating nearly hourly until I told him, unless its too hot or too cold don't worry!  The live hoppers are fairly stupid, we covered up their pen to stop them banging the side with their heads.  All in all she is a great addition to the family.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

And on another day of bad news I'll leave you this...

Sometimes you just have to stop and be at peace with the world, no matter what atrocities humanity has done that day.

Find a happy calm in everything that surrounds you.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Holidays At Home

Not home home as such but this year, instead of a solitary day on the Isle of Cumbrae where we go to remember my dad we spent an entire, delicious week.

Just like the holidays I had at my boys' age only colder, it being a Scottish Easter and much earlier this year than last.  So it ended up that as we were leaving the (very slightly) warmer weather was arriving.

Still, the boys managed the obligatory and much fun cycle round the island, I did my best before the CFS kicked in - I'm really feeling it now but glad I pushed through, sometimes consequences are worth it!  We spent the days roaming the town of Millport us and the dog, exploring everywhere, rockpools, beaches, ice cream at the Ritz Cafe.  Bliss.  And by evening, when tiredness washed over me at least, we played board games and did jigsaws because we're rock n' roll like that.

Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, the rocks are made for clambering

Three islands in one, taken from Cumbrae, looking over to the isle of Bute with Arran in the background.

On a clear day Arran makes a spectacular view.

The castle on Wee Cumbrae island, privately owned and for sale the island is which is not really a good thing.
The view from the bay where my dad rests, I always think he'd enjoying it greatly.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

My Sons Think They're Mountain Goats

On a day out to Callander we decided to venture up to the Bracklinn Falls. 
Impressive stuff tucked away in the hills behind the town.  Huge boulders shaped by centuries of pounding, wild fresh water.  Of course rocks are meant to be clambered upon. 
Spot my two in this photo adding more grey hairs to mum's head. I can't really condemn them as I'd have done the same at their age.  I know lots of parents wouldn't let their precious ones anywhere near the water but you've got to stand back & let them do their own risk assessment at 11.  Otherwise how do they learn?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hey There Mr Bird

Hey there Mr Buzzard what're you looking at?

Oh, hey, no, that's Happy Dog - hands off!

Champion of the World

Not quite, maybe someday though. Champion in this house (the very meaning of his name, coincidence?  I think not!) and champion of the school chess club.

He doesn't get enough opportunities for an esteem boost.  Bullying at school by the "well off" brats (ironically usually the worst behaved thanks to a grand sense of entitlement) left a dent in his self-confidence.

So here he is, rightly proud & so am I!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

This February

Has been actually jolly nice weather wise so come with me on a walk to nearby Bo'Ness which is a nicer town than some of the people in it make it to be.  Take of that what you will. (While enjoying a walk along the water front I overheard ned-speak which, if repeated here, would certainly raise a few eyebrows.  Let's put it this way, you wouldn't want to pick up any socks in this boys house, especially when he doesn't want to inconvenience his girlfriend the night before ifyougetwhatImean.)

Anyway...apologies for quality, these were taken from my mobile phone.  I plan on getting a new camera.  At some point...
A little bit of snow left on the hills behind Culross across the Forth.
Oh dear Mr Fox, not very fortunate, why did I take a pic of this?  Why did I share it?
The Forth is underused, we could make much more of our waterways - especially if we're basing our independence on being more Scandinavian.
Further on past the harbour wall (and it is just a wall) the Forth bridges can be made out in the distance.
And there were lots of these little birds paddling about in the shallows.  
Look very closely for this one! Finally this little chap decided to sunbathe in the mud, he jostled about for position for a while before swimming off, only to return when he realised the humans (and various dogs) were looking just at him.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Balmy 7º In Scotland

Shirt sleeves weather for us & long may it continue says Happy Dog!
Sun worshipping Dafty Cat also approves.