Merry and Bright

I hope you are feeling marginally happier about Christmas than these guys.

In fairness, I'd be pretty pissed off if someone forced a Santa hat on my head and took pictures of me, too.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, filled with love, laughter, Chocolate Oranges and weird-looking dogs. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway.

See you on the other side (*coughMYBIRTHDAYcough*).

Nosy Bitches

Hmm, how to explain the Nosy Bitches? The easiest way to describe them would be a random group of women who chat on twitter, but that would make it sound tragic, so let's call it a network of smart, interesting, funny ladies who originally found each other through the A Practical Wedding community (which is, by the way, scientifically proven to be awesome) and who continue to offer each other support, advice, hilarity and cake through the medium of social networking. Does that sound any better? Probably not. Let's move swiftly on. 

So the super-stylish Ms Bunny organised the first ever Nosy Bitches Non-Denominational Gift Giver. This is essentially a Secret Santa, but shhh, don't tell them I said that. Inevitably, being the Joiner that I am (hello, In Her Own Words and APW Book Club and Any Other Party and Blook Club and and and...), I signed up. Because who doesn't need an extra gift to buy/make and send internationally in the middle of December? Not this girl!

Well, people, let me tell you. The Nosy Bitches are called that for a reason. They know things. Over the last few days, my twitter feed has been packed with incredulous tweets as, one by one, the recipients received thoughtful, meaningful, utterly perfect gifts and asked, without irony and without exception, HOW DID YOU KNOW?? 

The answer, of course, is BECAUSE YOU PUT YOUR WHOLE LIFE ON THE INTERNET FOR EVERYONE TO SEE. Which might be slightly worrying, if it weren't for the fact that there are presents. Presents make up for a lot. And the present my Nosy Bitch sent to me is no exception.

Before I tell you what it was, let's examine the evidence. 


You might not be aware of this, but I recently got a dog. I may have mentioned it once or twice. I'm not sure.


Much as the word "vintage" makes me squirm, I am on record as having a bit of a thing for classic silhouettes and period style. If you were to take a peek at my pins, the sharp-eyed might notice I have a bit of a thing for fashion illustration, like this beautiful watercolour, and if you're a serious, hardcore stalker, you might have clocked the reproduction vintage poster in the background of that picture of Smidgen up there. You might also be sitting outside my house right now. But let's hope not.


Like here, and here, and here. Oh and let's not forget here.

So, let's recap. Likes greyhounds. Likes vintage style and fashion illustration. Likes people posing with dogs. Hmm, if only there was some sort of vintage-style fashion illustration of a person posing with a greyhound sitting under my Christmas tree...

Can you actually believe it? It's so perfect, it's almost creepy. I love it. Thank you so much, Ariel. I am honestly, truly touched that you thought of me and what I might like, and didn't just shove some hole-y knitting and some chocolate in an envelope like I did (I'll tell you what I made for my Nosy Bitch when I know she's received it I've recovered from the shame of my crappy knitting). 

I've written before about internet relationships crossing over into our real, everyday lives. Having this package appear and sit underneath my Christmas tree for a few days, until I finally caved and opened it last night (what? It's meant to be non-denominational, okay?), felt very real to me. It was a tangible, visible reminder of how far I've come in the last 11 months of blogging and how many kind and generous people I've met, whether in person or otherwise.

I hope to be back with another post some time before Christmas but, until then, I hope the next few days are as calm, peaceful and filled with joy as they possibly can be.

{Images: 1. Typewriter by What Kristen Saw taken at the Lovely Pigeon Christmas Event 2. First posted here 3. Gemma Milly, first posted here 4. Me and Smidgen by Lauren McGlynn 5. By me, clearly.}

Dear Passive-Aggressive Neighbour

Writing the words "Please" and "Thank you" in quotation marks kind of defeats the purpose.

Just thought you might need to know that for future neighbourly notes. You're "welcome."

Your Neighbour Who Is Now Secretly Plotting To Train Her Dog To Crap Beside Your Car

{Image via Passive Aggressive Notes}

Babies ≠ Pets

One of my dearest friends has just announced that she and her husband are having a baby. Cue high-pitched squeals and the immediate perusing of etsy for all the little tiny baby things. Even though sometimes it feels like I am surrounded by babies, thanks to all you amazing internet ladies who make motherhood look fun and even - gasp! - kind of cool, in fact she is the first of my "real-life" friends to get pregnant, so excitement levels are through the roof.

"I can't believe she's going to have a baby," I said to Fin, for the millionth time since we got the call.

"I know," he replied.

A pause.

"Kind of makes getting a pet look a bit less impressive, doesn't it?"

Yes, Fin. Yes it does.

{Image by Jamie of a desert fete}

Naked as a nightclub in daylight

"The difference between Chinese medicine and Western medicine is the dissection versus the observation of the thing in motion. The difference between reading a story and studying a story is the difference between living the story and killing the story and looking at its guts.
"School! We sat in English class and we dissected the stories that I'd escaped into, laid open their abdomens and tagged their organs, covered their genitals with polite, sterile drapes, recorded dutiful notes en masse that told us what the story was about, but never what the story was. Stories are propaganda, virii that slide past your critical immune system and insert themselves discreetly into your emotions. Kill them and cut them open and they're as naked as a nightclub in daylight."
From Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow
When Maggie O'Farrell spoke at Fringe by the Sea, she talked about her love of poetry, and mentioned how glad she was that she had studied English literature and not creative writing at university. In order to be able to write a novel, she said, it was important to know how to take one apart, examine it, and then carefully put it all back together again.

Naturally, having studied neither literature nor writing but rather something significantly less poetic, I was a little dismayed by her advice. Oh well, too late to go back and change it now. I had the option to study English, or music, or even creative writing. I applied for and was accepted onto courses in all of these subjects at reputable institutions. But by that stage, after thirteen solid years of education, I just wanted to be able to read a book and not be constantly bothered by wondering what the meaning was, what the author was really trying to say. For years, I had been too busy analysing writing to do something as pedestrian as enjoying it. So I chose instead a subject where the words I was analysing were so dreadfully dull that there was no chance anyone could ever actually enjoy them anyway, and in fact the process of analysis at least served as a distraction from the relentless monotony of the text.

Somehow, though, as the years go on, it's easy to forget that there was a reason behind my decisions. It's easy to feel guilty for reading carelessly, for fun, with no thought to the higher aim or purpose of the writer. And it's oh so easy to add "Not having an English literature degree" to the list of Reasons Why I Could Never Be A Writer.

But last night, when I read the words above, I was struck anew by the simple truth that there is nothing wrong with reading, or writing for that matter, purely for pleasure. In fact, you know what? I think that may be kind of the point.

(Yes, I did just use the words "genitals" and "naked" in the same post. Twice. Bring it on, spammers and weirdos. Bring it on.)

Excerpt from the second page (boom!) of Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow, which made its way to me via the excellent Book Crossing project. Image from Day and Night, a series of photographs of Berlin nightclubs by day, on Finding Berlin.

Things my father has taught me, Vol. 1

1. How to play my first ever tune on the piano.

2. Always to question the statistics you hear on TV.

3. That it is possible to function in a room where only 10% of the floor space is visible (but that maybe it would make for an easier life just to tidy up a little bit).

4. Which is the best seat on a roller coaster.

5. That life isn't complete without a little adventure.

Happy Birthday, Dad

(Yes, my family is full of December babies. It can be an expensive month.)

Top image by Lillian and Leonard. Bottom image taken in Cairngorm Car Park, April 1969-ish. Some things never change.

Things my mother has taught me, Vol. 1

1. That poetry can be funny.

2. How to make a mean macaroni cheese.

3. That singing along to a good song is one of life's great joys.

4. The importance of small acts of kindness.

5. How to rock a sheepskin coat.

Happy Birthday, Mum

Top image of my mum first seen on her guest post. Bottom image from my fun picture-taking day with the wonderful Lauren McGlynn. You can see a couple more on her blog here, along with the first of her series on how to take better photographs.

Keeping it real.

Last night, two friends who we hadn't seen since the wedding came over for dinner. Before long, we found ourselves talking about the wedding; what an amazing day it was, how much fun we all had, how there was a bizarre one-day plague of greenflies on the beach but how it didn't matter in the slightest. They looked through our photos, all 600+ of them, because they are superheroes, or too polite to say no.

We shared stories, trading them back and forth between us. My favourite anecdote was one that had completely slipped from my mind. 

It goes like this.

The packed dance floor heaves and swells. As the song comes to a triumphant end, a woman picks up her heavy white skirts and wades awkwardly through them towards the bar. Unsurprisingly, she doesn't get far.

"Oh my god, Kirsty! You look amaaaazing!! I'm having sooooo much fun! Are you having a good night?!"

"I am," she smiles, sparkly-eyed, emitting that ubiquitous bridal glow. "It's been the best day ever."

A pause.

"But it's also the first time I've experienced sweaty shins."

If you're in favour of keeping it real when it comes to weddings, or if you know someone who is getting married or who is married or who one day maybe might get married, or if you just give a shit about supporting people who give a shit, you need to be participating in the Great APW Book Buy of 2011. I'm not even joking. Buy this book. Today. Now. You won't regret it.

{Wedding pictures by Lillian and Leonard}

December just keeps getting better!

I WON A COMPETITION!! You have no idea how exciting this is for me. Especially when all I had to do was retweet a tweet, which I totally would have just done anyway, because the lady in question is awesome. 

My prize was a pack of ten prints by the very talented Becky of Bexphoto, who also blogs at Olive Dragonfly and has been a supporter of my wee blog for aaaages (see, here's her first ever comment! Oh yes, I remember you all, you little de-blurkers). I was lucky enough to chat with Becky at Any Other Party and she made my night when she "recognised" me at the bar. I felt like a celeb, for approximately five seconds, until I blurted out "aaaaah, hiiiii, so glad there's another Scottish person here!". Not cool.

I chose her Scottish landscape set (just look at those moody skies - swoon), but her Underwater set is pretty gorgeous too. A nice little stocking filler for the aspiring marine biologist in your life, perhaps?

Thank you so much Becky! I can't wait to get my grubby little mitts on my prize. Now I must dash, I'm off to continue my winning streak by buying a euromillions ticket. If you never hear from me again, you'll know what happened.

{Gratuitous and completely irrelevant picture of hot Neville, aka Matthew Lewis, from here. Image of Black Rock Cottage, Glen Coe by Bexphoto.}

It's heeeeeeere!

FINALLY. I've been itching for the festive season to officially start for a long, long time, but somehow December has snuck up on me and I can't quite believe it's that time of year again. I haven't even got myself an advent calendar/advent candle/hand-crafted super-duper advent extravaganza yet, and as for Christmas presents... well. The less said about that, the better. I do have some sparkly boots though, so don't go thinking I'm *completely* unprepared for the festivities.

I am stupidly busy at the moment, but my Christmas present to myself (oh and birthday present. Did I mention it's my birthday in December too? No? It is. Two days after Christmas, in fact. You might hear me mention it once or twice. Or a million times. One side-effect of having a birthday so close to Christmas is that I feel the need to bring it up at every opportunity, lest anyone should come even remotely close to forgetting it. Or - even worse - wrapping my birthday presents in Christmas paper. WHY DO PEOPLE DO THAT?) is to devote a little more time to blogging for the rest of the month. I'm not all that far away from my one-year bloggiversary and I don't want to limp halfheartedly across that threshold, dragging my pale, lifeless blog along behind me like a shrivelled limb, oh no. I want to skip across it wearing sparkly boots and singing Christmas songs. Even though it will be January by then. Whatever.

In this spirit, I am so excited to be hanging out with the lovely Lauren McGlynn this weekend and hopefully taking a few pictures of the newest and most photogenic member of my little family. I might even be in some of them too, and if you're VERY lucky (and I don't look like a total weirdo in them), you might get to see them. Merry Christmas.

Anyone else getting into the Christmas spirit? No? Just me...?
(That isn't Smidgen in the antlers, by the way. Not yet, anyway. You know how I feel about dogs wearing clothes.)


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