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Hi folks! The croftess is still bleating but I now hang out at my own self hosted site. Come and join me there awesome austerity

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@austerityknocks

 

It’s that most wonderful time of the year

Bah Humbug!

Oh, I’m late.  Christmas has been and gone.  Actually I like Christmas.  Even though this years festivities were hampered by infantile insomnia, universal man-flu and doggy incontinence we had a great time.  Helen and Sally have spent the last week fighting over the inflatable pink throne given to Helen by my aunt and I have spent as much time as possible in bed reading my kindle.  I take it all back. I can finally read in bed without Allan grumping at me.  All hail technology.

But New Year…………that is quite a different kettle of fish.  I’ve never really got New Year, or Hogmanay as we Scots prefer.  I remember getting all excited the first year we were allowed to stay up for the bells.  My feelings of anticipation grew and grew, the adults around us grew more and more merry and then…………..Bam!  Dong, dong, dong, dong, etc etc a few kisses and off we went to bed. Compared to Christmas it’s a bit of an anticlimax.  They really shouldn’t be so close together.  Who thought that one up?  Oh I know lets have a really amazing festival with loads of presents and a bearded man who is flown round the world in a giant sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.  Then a week later we’ll get everyone to stay up til midnight, drink too much and sing the first verse of Auld Lang Syne.  Great – I know which holiday I’d go for.

I’ve had a few memorable New Years.  Probably in the brief period where I was a) old enough to drink b) not old enough to be working and c)didn’t have children.  The last couple of years we have spent with mutually afflicted friends where we have taken it in turns to be pregnant so one of us can be smug about the hangovers of the rest of the group the next morning.  This year even they have forsaken us and we are facing the very real prospect of seeing the bells in on our own.

I know, I am do feel a bit sorry for myself.  We finished the last in the series of True Blood last night and unless Allan has been on the roof fixing the Sky Dish whilst simultaneously looking after two children and finding the ducks who flew away yesterday we will have to resort to watching one of Helen’s DVDs.  Oh……you thought I felt sorry for myself because I have to stay in on New Years Eve? No way man. I may have seen Toy story seven times already this year but given the option of a rerun of Buzz and Woody’s adventure or a night of enforced festivities whilst I discreetly try to pretend that I don’t have pneumonia followed by a day of hangover, sleep deprivation and childcare I opt for animated fun all the way.  Also I had to switch off Monsters Inc half way through yesterday as it was too scary for Helen so I still need to find out how that bad boy ends.

So whatever you’re doing tonight I wish you well – anyone who wants to watch Toy Story is welcome to come round but a word of warning – we’ll be tucked up in bed with my Kindle by 11:30pm.

Happy Hogmany

The little princess opens her presents

The little princess opens her presents

 

I've had this dog for ages but I really like it!

I’ve had this dog for ages but I really like it!

 

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy happy happy day!

Well November is over and so is my book – hurrah!

Actually it’s not.  I did what I set out to do and wrote 50,000 words.  Well actually I didn’t, I wrote 65,000 but a few vital scenes are missing so my book isn’t technically finished.  Although I have written the ending already I’m holding off writing ‘The End’ until all the bits in the middle are done as I hear those are the most satisfying words.

It’s been an amazing month.  I’ve managed to write almost every day and my life is still pretty much as I left it.  The house is a bit of a mess and my husband may be a little ratty but to the discerning eye I don’t think there is that much of a visible difference.

Sadly I feel this may just have been the easy bit.  Although I’ve produced 65,000 words I would say that at least 30,000 are incorrectly spelled.  Sometimes it was just too exciting and I couldn’t stop to spellcheck. Grammatical errors abound and I tend to become obsessed with one adjective and use it four times in a pragraph – most irritating.  So now I need to edit.  Sadly there isn’t a month dedicated to editing with a counter marking off how many spelling errors one has corrected. However I have found something to motivate me.  There’s a writing competition I really want to enter which closes at the end of February.  Therin lies the problem.  Apparently it should take at least a couple of years to write a novel (try telling that to Alexander McCall Smith!) and I’m aiming to have done it in four months.  I’m not sure I’ve got the guts to do what I have to do. I love the male lead so much that he kept sneaking back in even though this wasn’t supposed to be a romantic novel so unless I want to market it as a gory Mills and Boon I suspect rather a lot of lingering looks and sardonic smiles are going to end up on the metaphorical cutting room floor.  Perhaps I should just cut my losses and walk away so I can talk whimsically about the wonderful book I wrote once but ‘didn’t try to get published as the world just wasn’t ready’.

Anyway I’ve always wanted to write a book and now I have.  The satisfyingly large pile of pages taking up space on our worktop attests to that fact.  Now I’ve done it once I know I can do it again so if this one is no good – and everybody says first novels are crap, I know I can try again.

Meanwhile the world has continued turning without me.  One of my friends has had a new baby and despite her obligingly being eleven days late my knitted gift is not yet complete.  The ducklings are no longer ducklings and I’m beginning to feel less cool about the two named Christmas and Dinner.  Sally lamb is hanging out with the tups and is probably pregnant although she still left her buddies on Tuesday to follow us all down to the beach.  Fat Tracey has taken to guerrilla egg laying.  First I found a cache of 3o eggs in the bracken outside the garden then this morning we found ten in the garden, I feel so betrayed.

Maybe my next novel will have to be an expose of cruel battery hen farming methods – Fat Tracey take note!

Here’s a brief excerpt from the great work:

“The body laid out before us is that of a 65 year old man.  He has long skinny arms and legs and a large paunch.  His chest is partly covered by a long, unkempt beard and a tattoo of a large breasted woman who is giving us a lascivious wink.  His fingernails are also long and stained with tobacco, his toenails curl over at the ends.  His abdomen is tinged with green, the skin stretched tight.  The skin of his feet and hands is wrinkled, thickened and white.  The soles of his feet have peeled away and lie next to him on the gurney like a pair of discarded flip flops.”

 

helen and sally in the gardenFollowed by a picture of my children, because that’s not weird!

Illicit activity

I am being unfaithful.  I’m cheating on my novel with my blog.  Kind of like Charles and Camilla.  I know it’s wrong but I just can’t stop myself from going back……

I’m going to have to leave the Royal family analogy now though as part of the reason I have returned to my blog is vanity.  Yes, it turns out my artistic ego is not above swelling in response to gentle massage.  Over the last few days several people told me that they liked my blog.  One person also told me that some of my posts weren’t very good but we’ll leave that aside for now. It’s nice to receive compliments.  So far although I have produced over 10,000 words of top quality crime-fiction nobody has told me they like my book.  Admittedly nobody has been allowed to read my book so far, indeed the rules of NaNoWriMo even prohibit me from reading my own work back as I’m not supposed to edit anything.  This is proving awkward as I have now forgotten the names of two minor characters.

Blogging about my novel is completely acceptable though.  Indeed I’ve learned over the last week that the most important component to being a writer is to talk about your writing, once people stop listening you should start writing about writing, but don’t actually write anything, unless it’s about writing.

A lot of people have wondered how I have the time to write a book.  So far I have claimed that  I don’t know.  However I’ve given this some thought and obviously I must know as I am doing it.  So I’ve compiled a  short list:

Things I have given up in order to write my novel:

  1. Reality television (apart from the Apprentice and Strictly come dancing)
  2. Baths (please don’t be alarmed, I am still washing frequently, however I have exchanged my hour-long bath for a very quick shower)
  3. Conversation with my husband.  There is this skinny blonde guy who lives in my house, the children seem fond of him but I can’t quite place him
  4. Baking, sadly I have gained 10lbs since the summer so this is a blessing
  5. My blog (ahem)
  6. Reading – I am still allowing myself ten minutes before I go to sleep at night but I am rendered so intellectually stunted by my incessant writing and lack of reality television that I have debased myself to the level of re-reading the 50 shades of grey trilogy – yes I know this is weird, let’s move on.
  7. Computer games – fortunately Allan has taken on the onerous task of caring for our virtual dragon farm, what would I do without him?
  8. Sleep – is for losers
  9. Any form of exercise – see above
  10. Photography – sorry no pictures!

So there you have it.  Anybody can write a book as long as you are willing to ignore your husband, stop washing, exercising and sleeping and only eat ready meals. In fact I’m finding it so easy I’ve taken on a really complicated knitting project as well.

I may be gone some time…………

I’ve been told to warn you so here it is.  My blog may be somewhat neglected during the month of November.  Those of you who stuck with me during the distinctly dry months of August and September will be rolling your eyes and cursing my fecklessness.  Wait though!  This time it’s not what you think.  This time I am will be abandoning my blog for a worthy cause.  Yes it’s true – once more into the breach dear friends.  I am to throw myself upon my sword, do battle with my nemesis, pee into the wind.  I’m going to write a book!

I have this friend who has a really irritating habit of finishing what she starts.  It drives me insane.  I am much more of an initial enthusiasm kind of girl, you know the sort of person who throws themself into something 110% (sorry too much x-factor) and then…………………..oh look a butterfly……  A couple of years ago this friend told me about something called National Novel Writing Month or as those in the know call it NaNoWriMo.  The idea is that you sign up with this site and commit yourself along with thousands of other crazed lunatics to write 50,000 words during the month of November.  You have a rolling word count tool and somewhere you can post excerpts from your work so all of your fans can read them.  She was very enthusiastic and I remember feeling quite smug as a veteran writer of first chapters and thinking to myself “ha, no way will you finish this”.  Of course she did – like I said she’s annoying that way.

I’ve finally reached the stage where I don’t think I can survive much longer without actually writing a book.  obviously I’m proud of my achievements so far – 372 abandoned Mill and Boon’s (one formal rejection), several embryonic fantasy novels and 20,000 words on the life of Pontius Pilate but I think I need more.  I think for once in my life I really need to finish what I’ve started.

Support from my family has been pretty minimal.  Sally threw herself off the toy ambulance several times in protest yesterday afternoon then staged a no sleep campaign last night.  Helen is disinterested but did tell me  that my book wasn’t as good as her website.  Oh yes, Helen has her own website.  Often she’ll start singing little songs or quoting poetry which apparently are from her website.  Believe me if I ever work out the URL you guys will be the first to know! Allan’s lack of enthusiasm has been the hardest to bear though.  He told me last night that he thought I did have a book in me but he didn’t think that this was the right time or the right book.  Harsh.  You must remember that he is a deeply damaged man.  Last time I was really serious about writing a book we ended up spending a week in Israel looking at Roman remains and driving a lot closer to the Gazza strip than either of us was completely comfortable with.  Anyway, I’ll show him, that’s why I’m on here blogging.

NaNo whatsity thing doesn’t start until November (no shit Sherlock) but I’m so excited I’ve started already.  Once I know exactly how to link to excerpts I will try to link them to my blog.  Those of you who enjoy my whimsical tales of ducks and hens will be sorely disappointed  – I’ve gone back to my darkest time and made my main character a female pathologist living in Edinburgh.  I imagine I will probably become the next Ian Rankin – except I’ll be a girl who writes about ducks and  hens mainly with the odd murder thrown in.

Anyway here is the line that caught my eye when I started up my laptop at work this morning.

 

“You can’t slam the doors; they’re soft close so he kicks the filing cabinet in our office on his way out.  I sigh and calmly
go about removing the brain.”

 

Oh yeah and for those of you who think I was joking about the trip to Israel…………………..

 

Here I am in the ruined city of Caeserea pretending to drive a chariot – he’s lucky this book is set in Edinburgh.

 

 

Our daily bread

I entered the shop this morning to find that Shopmeister had been left holding the baby.  No, I don’t mean he was running the shop by himself, although he was also doing that, he was literally holding an infant.

Saturday mornings are a good day to attend the shop all year round.  There is always a boat on Friday so on Saturdays you can stock up on milk, bread and vegetables.  Although in the winter the boat arrives at lunchtime on the Friday so it’s not advisable to leave your shopping until late on the Saturday morning as you are likely to find that the shelves have been picked clean and there is no milk and no bread and you will be reduced to eating UHT and oatcakes…………..again.

A few weeks ago we had dinner with the couple who live next door (well, in the neighbouring field) and the new school teacher.  We have all moved to Colonsay from cities fairly recently and talk turned quickly to what we missed about the mainland.  Cafes was definitely a common theme.  The Pantry is great but having lived in Edinburgh I was used to there being a cafe on ever corner many with play areas for children.  In fact there was a lovely pub at the end of our street where you could let the little darlings loose in the massive play area whilst drinking yourself into oblivion if you so desired.  They would even help you carry your pram up the steps.

One of the things I am most surprised to miss is the Scotmid at the other end of the road.  For those of you not familiar with Scottish culture Scotmid is a chain of small supermarkets (I think they are owned by the Co-op) they are quite cheap and distinctly un-middle class.  It won’t surprise you to learn that the Scotmid was at the other end of the street from the yummy mummy pub.  Our street acted as a kind of bridge between posh Edinburgh and scummy Edinburgh.  At one end was the baby friendly pub, Valvona and Corolla, John Lewis and the New Town; at the other Scotmid, a betting shop, several (very good) charity shops and a football stadium.  You could say we lived in purgatory.  Anyway, although Scotmid stood next to a very nice little bakery we rarely went in there.  Instead, on a Saturday morning after I had taken Helen to an even more middle class part of Edinburgh to her Tumble-tots class (sort of like SAS training for toddlers) I would pop into Scotmid.  By 11am they would have received a delivery of freshly baked bread, croissants and rolls.  Helen and I would buy a few and stroll home avoiding the dog poop and puddles of vomit on the street to a pleasant family brunch. The bread was always delicious, fresh and soft – one of my favourite things about weekend mornings.

Since moving to Colonsay we’ve had to give up on this kind of thing.  Although there are still plenty of SAS style activities for the children to engage in the only fresh bread that is readily available is my own.  I’m actually quite a good baker – in fact I won first prize for a loaf of non-breadmaker white bread in the recent root and grain show (sorry to blow my own trumpet there) – but getting up on a Saturday morning and making the bread yourself doesn’t create the same leisurely brunch mood.

So you are probably wondering why I’m still wittering on about bread, cafes, Edinburgh and my past life whilst leaving poor Shopmeister stranded in the shop holding Shopbaby.  Let’s just take a minute to discuss Shopbaby.  Shopbaby looks how I would like my children to look.  In fact they often look like she does on leaving the house but by the time we go anywhere they are generally plastered  with food, hair stuck to their faces with snot with questionable stains on at least one item of their apparel. Shopbaby always looks like she has just stepped out of a salon.  She is always well coordinated, I have never seen her with sick in her hair and her hair is always fluffy and shiny not matted with food or non-existent as in the case of my two terrors.  Shop baby was a little grumpy this morning though.  Shopmesiter was holding her in that slightly tentative manner that indicated to all present (me) that she may detonate at any moment.

Fortunately Shopmeistress was not gone long.  She had spent the morning slaving over a hot oven to produce the very same bread that our local shop used to sell!  Evidently the islanders had fallen upon it like starving animals and she had to rush home to bake more.  Word spread like wildfire across the island – people were phoning in their orders and rushing to collect them.  No sooner had she arrived with the second batch it was gone and we were lucky not to have been trampled in the rush! High on refined carbohydrates the islanders had become insatiable.  We managed to emerge victorious from the melee carrying a bloomer, two rolls and a croissant (for Allan).  Helen carried the bread out to the car in a reverent fashion ‘it’s warm mummy, it’s still warm’.  She insisted on holding it all the way home.  Sadly when we reached this house there wasn’t much of it left – next week we’ll have to order double!

A pound of flesh

My parents are going to Oban for the day. Judging from the frenzied activity going on outside my office one might think they were going for a month.  In fact they are going to Oban for an hour.  The summer ferry service which allows day trippers to spend an afternoon on Colonsay doesn’t work quite so well in reverse.

My Dad has ascended and descended the stairs at least six times.  With each ascension the severity and decibel level of his expletives has grown louder and louder.  My mother and I remain silent.  We have extensive experience in dealing with his grumps and much like Helen’s tantrums they are best ignored.

I am cocooned in the spare room (my office).  I have taken to this room as our own house is simply too small for me to get any work done in.  Helen and Sally have no respect whatsoever for the rules of gainful employment and my need to earn an honest living.  On the odd occasion I have tried to work at the kitchen table Helen climbs onto my knee and tries to press the buttons on the laptop whilst Sally stands under the table repeatedly bumping her head, pulling at my trousers leg and irritating Helen.

I am now in the last week of working my notice for the NHS.  Our original plan had been that I would return to Edinburgh and hospital medicine for five weeks.  Allan and the girls would come with me and enjoy a few weeks of mainland fun whilst I fulfilled my obligations.  Instead my boss came up with a project I could do online.  At first I felt very grateful to him for coming up with a rescue package that would prevent the upheaval of my family.  Of course I was bowled over with gratitude, stressed how hard I would work and enthusiastically agreed to an ambitious project.

He’s a smart man my boss.  Had I returned to the mainland I would have been physically present at work between the hours of 9 and 5 each day.  As I am giving up my medical career I would not have felt under any particular obligation to work hard. Now I don’t’ want you to think that I am some sort of evil, work avoiding, embezzler of tax payer’s money.  I would have carried out my allocated tasks well and with good grace and enthusiasm.  However, I am capable of a lot more than this.  Pre-child (and before I decided that I really did not want to spend the rest of my life looking down a microscope at bits of flesh I had hacked to pieces the day before) I was hardcore.  My boss knew this.  How? Because on more than one occasion he had come into the office at 10pm on a Sunday evening to find me hard at work over my microscope – Rock and roll.  We’ve also had the occasional e-mail conversation at 2am (no no no we’re not talking 50 shades of Grey here).  He knows that if I feel obliged to do something then I will forsake all others and get on with it.  He offered me what seemed like a lifeline and has instead extracted a far greater amount of work from me than I would ever have imagined.  No wonder he’s emperor of pathology or whatever his actual title is – he knows how to extract his pound of flesh.

Meanwhile life on the rock still goes on.  We’ve acquired a duck and 8 ducklings.  We haven’t named them yet though as they are still gender unspecified – I fear at least a few of them will be named Christmas Dinner.  We have also acquired two more hens – Kathleen and Karine in honour of the great musicians.  Allan is engaged in a battle royale with whoever it is who does or doesn’t issue building warrants and we hope to have permission to build our house very soon.  Great all we need now is the money!  Sadly that is all spent.  Allan has been led astray by my father and is now the co-owner of an ancient tractor which my Dad is picking up in Oban today.

Helen is pretty much potty trained now although this doesn’t affect me much as I rarely see my children……apart from Sally who I see several times a night, each night…………she too knows how to extract her pound of flesh.

Oh well, my Dad has found his man-bag and he and my mother have roared round to the pier in their dysfunctional car which sorely needs servicing.  It’s being left in Oban to be mended.  I offered to pick my parents up from the pier this evening but they declined – they will drive back round in the tractor.  It’s only three miles I’m sure they will be home by midnight.  Now the house is quiet I’d better get back to work.

p.s. I’m now on the third of the 50 shades trilogy.  I still don’t want to criticise these books as I’m giving up valuable sleeping time to read them but I must say I do understand now why the average Mills and Boon stops after 180 pages.

Laters…………..

50 shades of fuss

I have always known deep down inside that there was no way I wouldn’t like 50 shades of grey.

You see I am a woman who is deeply in touch with the side of her that likes bad fiction. The happiest year of my life was the one where I had a subscription to Mills and Boon. Once a month I would come home to a little parcel of joy. I would read insatiably, briefly transported to a world where it didn’t matter that my husband didn’t know how to work the washing machine and my job didn’t involve washing poo out of other people’s colons. Sadly the romantic fiction clearly worked a little too well. I got pregnant and during the ensuing austerity measures my Mills and Boon subscription was cancelled.

What has made me cross about 50 shades (as we fans like to call it) is the amount of abuse it seems to attract. I have had a lot of time to observe this as I am working on an important project which involves me being sat in front of my computer for eight hours a day. The internet calls…………. It (50 shades) is classed as ‘mummy porn’, ‘the worst book I have ever read’ ‘a waste of time’.

The fact that I liked this book so much has caused rather an existentialist crisis.

I don’t think I am stupid. My academic performance would suggest that I am of above average intelligence although most of my academic achievements were garnered before I became a mummy so perhaps my IQ has dropped a few points. I have read lots of books that are considered good literature. But if I am being completely honest the only classic that has ever captivated me the way 50 shades did was Jane Eyre and, while we’re on the whole honesty drive here, Jane Eyre is just 50 shades of grey without the spanking.

Feeling that I somehow need to justify my enjoyment of this book has really made me think about what we consider ‘good literature’. I have read so many criticisms that this book is badly written. What exactly does that mean? There aren’t any spelling mistakes, the male protagonist doesn’t appear to develop a third hand during a sex scene (this actually happened in a book I read once, it was most disconcerting). Yes the dialogue is peppered with clichés but the thing about clichés is that they have become clichés because people are constantly using them. People learn their sexual dialogue from the media, the media is full of clichés and so it perpetuates. I remember criticising the heroine in the original King Kong film because all she did was scream and kick her legs. A friend then pointed out that if a giant ape caught hold of me and started climbing the empire state building I would be unlikely to remember my best vocabulary and would probably scream and kick my legs. Would those who criticise the book have preferred it if there had been more intellectual chit chat between the lovers?

‘Oh gosh I believe I may be about to ejaculate I do hope that is acceptable to you and will not offend your feminist principles’

‘Please desist at once my good man, I am not using any form of hormonal contraception and I do fear an unwanted pregnancy.’

Is this how other people talk when they are having sex?

Another criticism of the book is the author’s constant reference to her subconscious and her inner goddess. I don’t have an inner goddess but I’m delighted for anyone who does. I do however have an extremely active inner monologue and it enjoyed the book too.  At least I think it did.  It certainly stayed quiet when I was reading it.  Part of the reason I liked this book was because I felt that I identified with the female lead. I found her believable, she often didn’t know what to do – I often don’t know what to do. She feels unattractive – I often feel unattractive (although actually I believe she is very beautiful really, sadly I am not), she has negative voices in her head………………..ok enough along those lines.

Maybe the book is badly written but what does that mean in this day and age? People aren’t reading anymore. We spend most of our time watching movies or box sets on our electronic devices. Or we communicate via Twitter and Facebook. I know people who proudly state they don’t read books, only magazines. Suddenly a book comes along that these people want to read. A whole new (old) media has been opened up to the masses but a certain subgroup of the population are standing in the corner tut-tutting and muttering to each other ‘she doesn’t use nearly enough metaphors.’ I have read the whole of David Copperfield (and that is three weeks of my life I would dearly like back). Is it well written? Apparently so. Did I enjoy reading about every little piece of scenery along the way in the minutest detail? No I did not.

There is nothing new in 50 shades of grey.  It is a love story. There is a little bit of spanking. It’s not erotic fiction, it’s not porn, and it’s certainly not mummy porn (although I am a mummy so maybe I am blinded by this). It is the age old tale of two people trying to reconcile their differences in order that they can build a life together.

I like populist fiction. I liked Twilight, I liked The Hunger Games. I like reading compelling, fast paced stories about characters who remind me a little bit of myself. I like being transported to another world where I don’t have to worry about the mould along the side of our bath. So there it is, I’ve outed myself. I will probably lose half of my followers and most of my friends on Facebook. I will be ousted from the book festival committee least I contaminate Ian Rankin with my prole like tendencies. But………..before you all judge me………just try reading it. Take your snidey, I don’t want to like this so I shan’t hat off. Don’t read it out loud to your friends in a supercilious ‘aren’t we clever’ kind of way. Sneak off to your bedroom like a teenager, suspend disbelief and just give it a try. It will only take you four hours which is a lot less time than I invested in David Copperfield…………..

What you still don’t like it?

Is it wrong that I feel a little bit sorry for you?

That's not me by the way

10 reasons Colonsay is better than Edinburgh

1. My commute

In Edinburgh this involved an hour on a bus surrounded by sweaty strangers many of whom were clearly not acquainted with the bristly end of a toothbrush. On colonsay 20 minutes by bike during which I may not encounter another human being but am guaranteed stunning scenery and unpolluted air.

2. The shop

In the Colonsay general store it is acceptable for ones two year old to wander in without you, meander up to the carousel, select an apple and start eating it. If you forget your purse arrangements can always be made and if you happen to be partial to a particular flavour of crisp you may just come in one day to find that Shopmeister has saved you the last packet from the box.

3. Hedgerow pickings

I can’t really imagine finding things to eat on a walk in Edinburgh – I suppose one could rake through the bins as one went along, this technique seems to work well for tramps. Today we picked brambles (blackberries) as we walked, both girls looked like vampires by the time we got home!

4. The quiet

Last night I couldn’t sleep for the sound of my mother-in-laws Pekinese snoring in the next room. In Edinburgh we were often kept awake by sirens, traffic noise, football fans, people randomly shouting in our stairwell and if all else failed the people upstairs snoring. Muffin (the snoring canine) is in fact an Edinburgh resident and therefore the fact I couldn’t sleep last night is the fault of our mighty capital!

5. Sarah Moss’s cakes

You may think you have tasted good cake, you may even consider yourself a good baker but you have not lived until you have sampled the culinary delights of this local heroine. Even better you can purchase these little nuggets of heaven any time day or night via a self service cake counter in her porch. If you prefer to eat your cake in a more formal setting you can visit the lovely wee cafe at Colonsay House Gardens and have some of Willie Joll’s delicious bread to start. Even Edinburgh’s Michelin star restaurants can’t compete.

6. My mum is here

Edinburgh’s loss is Colonsay’s gain.

7. The weather

Really? I hear you say with incredulity. Yes really. OK things got off to a bad start this summer but over the last month we have pretty much had sun everyday. Helen even has a wee farmer tan despite my best efforts with the factor 50.

8. No library fines

Yes it’s true, you can borrow books from the well stocked library in the Service point and bring them back when you’ve read them without living in fear of crippling fines. I’ll never forget the time I ran up a fine of £16.05 on a single Mills and Boon.

9. The Edinburgh Festival

Ok I may complain about Colonsay being busy but that’s nothing compared to the amount of whining I did during the festival each year. You have no idea how irritating it is to be working full time in a city which is populated by tourists and performers who seem to think that life is just one big holiday. Each morning and afternoon I would have to run the gauntlet of walking up The Bridges to my bus stop with only my wits and my icy glare protecting me from being buried in a mountain of flyers for shows I would never have the chance to attend because I’M WORKING. Also is Edinburgh the only city in the world where you have to pay to get on the bus? I only ask because the average festival tourist always seems surprised to be asked for a fare when they are MAKING ME LATE FOR WORK. Speaking of buses and being late for work I leave you with reason number ten……….

10. The Edinburgh Tram Project

I rest my case.

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It’s so hot here we even eat naked!

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Helen post berries.

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