Writing prompt: Broken

It’s hard to tell when it started. Looking back, the signs were probably there from early on. The odd hairline crack here, a ragged edge there. Every now again, they would both notice that all was not perfect and frantically fight it out to see who could assign blame first. Or maybe he always knew it wasn’t perfect, but was too fearful to say anything. She forged on in ignorant bliss, believing that the cracks were part of their charm and what kept them together in a bizarre sort of way.

It was them against the world until suddenly the world was against them.

She always said they were soul mates, best friends and meant to be together. She used to feel lost when he wasn’t there. He was the one she thought of first and the one she told everything to. But now, he can only see her flaws. The quirks that were once charming and a magnetic draw for him are now the bane of his existence. She lives in a fantastical world, full of lofty goals and burning ambition. His world is grey and dull, void of any joy. She used to bring him joy. He used to make her laugh.

But not now.

Now there is nothing. No affection. No whispered endearments. No flirting. Just raw hurt, which if left to simmer for long enough will be verging on hatred.

She feels numb. He feels angry. They carefully dance around each other, going about their daily lives, avoiding the need for physical contact. But she wishes he would reach out for her. That he would circle his arms around her waist and squeeze tight. She wants to know he still needs her.

Can they be fixed? Do they need to be fixed? Maybe this is what it’s like after all these years together…everything that needed to be said has been spoked, all their stories have been told. Maybe this is as good as it gets. Maybe slightly broken, slightly mediocre is good enough. They’re still together. They still work, sort of. Maybe it’s time to make do (if not mend).

For now.

Desperately seeking adventure

Friday nights really are not what they used to be.

Once upon a time, a Friday night marked the beginning of The Weekend. For a whole academic year, Friday afternoons marked the beginning of The Weekend. That was the benefit of having biochemistry lab sessions opposite the student union bar – it’s amazing how swiftly you can set up gel electrophoresis when you know there’s a pint waiting for you.

The as life moved on, Friday nights were celebrated in trendy West London cocktail bars or cozy South London pubs. In the summer, it was down by the river in Richmond, Pimms in hand. Or alternatively, if we were feeling antisocial, Friday night was beer/wine/cider and takeaway pizza.

These days, Friday nights are spent negotiating with exhausted children who desperately want to spend another hour swimming (because 3 hours swim training per week is not enough for my amphibian children) but can barely string a sentence together because they’re so tired.

This Friday was different though. This Friday saw us sitting in our cavernous, slightly retro town hall, eagerly awaiting tales of adventure. Despite inter-railing through France and Italy when I was 19, I never really caught the travel bug. Truthfully, Inter-railing terrified the 19 year old me. My entire experience of foreign travel previously had been 2 school trips to Venice on a bus. Family holidays were few and far between and usually to Edinburgh or Aviemore. We did make it to London once, very briefly. But holidays were not something my family did really, nobody did. Flights from the north of Scotland to anywhere were beyond the means of most average working class families. So travel was not something I’d ever really contemplated. I was happy enough travelling to far flung times and places through books really.

But anyway, back to Friday night. We’d gone to listen to the intrepid adventurer Alastair Humphreys, a man who had cycled around the world solo, rowed across the atlantic, swam in the arctic sea, walked across India and ran across the Sahara. Hearing his stories of these amazing adventures was both entertaining and inspiring, but I came home with these golden nuggets of advice:

  1. An adventure can happen anywhere, between 5pm and 9am, between Friday night and Monday morning, up a hill, on a beach or in a forest. It doesn’t need to be in a desert or on a different continent.
  2. The world is full of mostly good people.
  3. Anyone can cycle around the world if they have enough spare time on their hands. You just need a bike and the ability to cycle.

A recurring theme that Alastair talked about was grabbing opportunities. Sometimes things can seem like really stupid ideas (like rowing the atlantic with 3 strangers when you’re not even a rower), but what if you said yes anyway? Alastair spent 45 days rowing the atlantic with 3 strangers. What have I done over the past 45 days that I’m immensely proud of? Have I made 3 new friends? Have I inspired hundreds of school children? Have I even inspired my own children? Nope, probably not.

When Alastair finished his talk, he spent the night sleeping under the stars in a ruined medieval castle on an island in the middle of one of the most beautiful lochs in the highlands. Because it was the solstice and why the hell not? (I swear this guy is the coolest person I’ve ever met) You see, Alastair now gets his kicks from Microadventures – mini, bite-sized adventures that anyone can achieve if they just stop procrastinating and making excuses.

I’ve been trying to summon up the courage to take the boys on our own Microadventure since February. But I wanted to find the perfect camping spot in the forest…then I decided we should sleep on a deserted beach but I wasn’t sure I could carry all our kit through the woods to the deserted beach…then I decided it should be near another beach, but tucked away in the woods a little bit…then it was too cold/too windy/everyone was too tired…

So we asked Alastair where we should go for our first microadventure…his answer was simple. The garden. Sleep out in your back garden. Just do it. If it’s truly awful and you hate it, you can just get up and walk through your own back door.

This was what I loved about his attitude. Keep it simple. If you have a bike and can cycle, you too can cycle around the world. If you have a garden and you want to sleep out under the stars, that’s where you should do it. You don’t need fancy kit or months of planning to have an adventure. It’s out there, just waiting for you to find it. Even the road outside your front door is full of possibilities…it could be the road to China if you want it to be or simply the road to an unforgettable adventure just round the corner.

So next Friday night, we’re going to have our own microadventure. I’m putting the fun back into Friday. If it’s raining, we’ll sleep in the tent. Ideally I want bivvy bags for us all, so I don’t need to carry a tent. Or maybe some hammocks that we can hang between some trees in the woods, with a tarp above us to keep the rain off us…but that’s complicating matters. No, next weekend we’ll sleep in the garden and that’s all the planning we need. Fun Fridays here we come.

This. But with some wine. And a duvet.

This. But with some wine. And a duvet.


Ever since I bought my first iphone, I have always had a photo of my boys as my screensaver. They are the light of my life after all and just one glance at those cheeky faces is enough to brighten even the dullest of days.

But this year, I changed it. I know, radical right? What a crazy thing to write a blog post about!

But hear me out. This year, for me, is all about bringing some long held dreams into reality. Now, that sort of thing doesn’t happen overnight. It requires focus and planning and a truck load of self belief.

So this is now my screensaver:



And every time I pick up my phone, I’m reminded of those dreams I’m cultivating. I’m reminded that only I can make those dreams come true and I need to put energy and planning into those dreams to bring them to life.

It also reminds me that I’m all about the sparkle. But you knew that already, right?

Sparkle brightly guys and girls.

Writing for the pure joy of it

So, I’m having a bit of a breakthrough this week. An epiphany if you will.

It started with the rediscovery of Leonie Dawson. Now, I stumbled across Leonie a couple of years ago, maybe even just last year…I have no idea. But I had followed her on Instagram at least and possibly elsewhere. Then I decided I didn’t want to follow her anymore. So I stopped. I just wasn’t ready to hear her.

Then last week, I was looking for some blogging inspiration and I remembered that the lovely Jo from Dexterous Diva had some pretty nifty hints and tips. So off I went to her website in search of them and lo and behold, who was she talking about but Leonie Dawson. Hmmm…this got me thinking. If Jo, who is super successfully and knows heaps about blogging and being an entrepreneur had found Leonie’s workbook super useful, maybe I would too?

So instead of dithering and analysing and wondering and procrastinating (which I am pretty awesome at by the way), I immediately went off and downloaded a copy of Leonie’s fabulous “2015 Create Your Shining Year Workbook”. I didn’t get distracted by the talk of tarot cards and crystals (I like to think I have hippy tendencies, but I’m still a scientist at heart), I just let the lovely bright illustrations talk to me and off I went. I starting filling it in immediately (still ignoring the tarot cards).

So there I am, merrily working my way through this beautiful workbook, just cracking on and pushing away any subconscious desire for it to be ‘perfect’, setting my goals for 2015 and daring to dream my biggest, shiniest dreams so that I can make them reality. Then who should pop up in my Instagram feed with an awesome and perfectly timed new venture but the supremely talented Rachel Lucas with her new website Write For Joy. On the same day that I wrote about blogging for joy. Spooky or what?

I can tell you, I may not be a fully paid up hippy, I may not believe in tarot cards or crystals but when the Universe sends me a sign like this, I’m a believer in all sorts of magic.

Write For Joy. Hell yeah. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.


Just for the sheer joy of it. No other reason.



Sunbeams. See, pouring out of my head already.

Am I still eggdipdip?

Sunbeams. See, pouring out of my head already.

Sunbeams. See, pouring out of my head already.

For months now I’ve pondering what to do with this blog.

It started off as somewhere to safe to write. Somewhere to be creative and write whatever I wanted to write. Then in turned into a way to document our ‘journey’ (sheesh, sounds like I’m on X Factor or something. We’ve been on such an amazing journey dude) as we tried to completely change our way of life, focus and what we wanted our lives to look like and find a way to make it all happen by moving home to Scotland.

But then what?

I decided I did have a novel inside my head after all, after laughing at that very prospect for years. So my writing became on offline activity. But then the novel got a bit stuck, so I published a few bits here to give me some motivation.

So what does that make my blog now? A mishmash I guess. It’s lacking focus and drive, feels unloved and needs a makeover I think.

This year, I’m working my way through Leonie Dawson‘s Create your Shining Year in Biz and Life workbooks. I’m building a list of 100 things I want to do this year and it’s going to be freaking awesome.

Blogging for fun is going on that list right now. Oh yes. 2015 is going to be fabulous darlings.

So am I still Eggdipdip? I think I am. But just shinier, with a bit more glitter and sunbeams shining out of my every pore.

Another chapter perhaps?

The day Aunt Dot died had been a day like any other really. It was early summer, or late spring, depending on how you looked at it. Warm enough to give the tube trains that unique aroma of slightly sweaty bodies mixed with years of discarded food detritus and yesterday’s copy of The Metro stuffed behind the seats.

Thankfully Janice usually managed to avoid the tube. Five years of working in London had taught her that avoidance was the best tactic for coping with London Underground. Every morning, her train spewed out its over-packed contents at Victoria station and Janice made the dash across the station concourse with hundreds of other frantic travellers. A quick side step and a swift negotiation around the smokers hunched over their post-commute fix at the taxi rank, then she was able to set her course past Buckingham Palace, through Green Park and up Bond Street to Hanover Square.

Janice could have chosen any number of routes to get her to work, but from early November through to Christmas, the windows of Tiffany’s were irresistible. There was just something about the entire length of Bond Street actually, a certain mystique and aloofness that Janice found magnetic.

On the day Aunt Dot died, it was shoes that caught Janice’s attention. Bright yellow Swedish Hasbeens. They looked so pretty and odd, Janice was sure Dot would adore them. With their wooden clog like soles and pretty leather embossed straps, they straddled the line between funky and frumpy and would need a certain confidence to carry them off. Janice quickly snapped a pic of them on her phone, mentally promised to send it to Dot later and hurried on to the office.

The day passed in the usual blur of dull meetings, duller spreadsheets and the usual condescending, slightly offensive ‘banter’ her boss liked to throw around the office. Just to prove he was one of the lads and not the under-achieving, overgrown undergraduate drop out he really was.

She managed to escape at lunchtime and headed over to Liberty’s for a quick fix of the most expensive haberdashery department in London. Janice could barely sew on a button, but the row of Liberty print fabrics in colours drawn from the far flung corners of the old British Empire soothed Janice like a lullaby to her senses. It was her secret little Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The call came at 3pm. Janice had just finished assembling yet another laborious PowerPoint presentation when her phone started vibrating. Janice answered immediately, glad of the distraction, only just registering her mum’s name on the screen of her phone.


“Janice. It’s me. Mum”

“What’s up mum? Is dad ok? What’s wrong?” Janice could sense immediately that something was up. For a start, her mum never called her during the daytime and certainly never during work hours.

“It’s Dot darling…” Janice’s mum started to say, before the tears that Janice could already hear in her mum’s voice started to fall.

“What about Dot mum? Mum? Mum! What’s happened?” Janice could feel the panic rising inside her, her eyes wide with frightened anticipation and the prickle of fear starting to work its way up her spine. Dot was the big sister substitute Janice had always wished for. She was the fun aunt that you always read about in sassy, coming of age novels. Dot was a friend, a confident, and a safe haven. It had never mattered that Dot was older than her mum; Janice had enjoyed spending time with her for as long as she could remember. Dot had been the family’s go-to babysitter from when Sarah and Mark, Janice’s older twin siblings had been babies. When Sarah and Mark embarked on their weekly whirlwind of swimming, judo, running club and music lessons, Janice would sit and drink tea with Dot in her chaotic kitchen instead.

Dot had always been there, as a never aging, never judging, and always-welcoming constant in Janice’s life. Her mind froze, refusing to think the worst but suspecting that the worst was exactly what had happened.

“She’s dead darling. Dot’s dead” whispered the broken voice of Janice’s mum.

“But…what? How? When? Are you sure mum?” begged Janice, frantically hoping her mum had made a terrible mistake. Maybe she’s drunk, Janice thought. That’s it. Mum is drunk and confused and there’s nothing wrong with Dot.

“Mum have you been drinking?” Janice asked.

“Well your dad’s just poured me a Balvenie, but…Wait a minute! I’m not drunk you know Janice. This is real, honey. Dot is…” Janice’s mum broke down in tears again and Janice could hear her gulping back the sobs, trying to regain her composure.

Janice could picture her, sitting at the oversized farmhouse style table in the middle of their family kitchen. Her dark auburn hair would be piled up on her head, held almost magically in place with a Biro. She would be twirling any escaped loose ringlets of hair with her right hand, a habitual nervous response that only the family recognised. An effortlessly stylish dresser, her mum looked comfortable in whatever she choose to wear, whether it was wellies and a waterproof or heels and a feather boa.

“I’m sorry mum, it’s just…are you sure?” Janice muttered, her cheeks burning with the shame of offending her mum.

“Yes, we’re sure darling. I’m sorry. I just wanted you to know, I didn’t want to wait until this evening.” Replied her mum as kindly as she could.

Janice sat, dumbstruck, the tears silently tracking their way down her cheeks. It felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. “Okay, thanks mum. For letting me know I mean. I’ll call you later. I just need to…” Janice’s words caught in her throat, if she didn’t get off the phone soon, she was going to vomit. Janice took a deep breath and said goodbye to her mum. “I’ll call you later mum. Love you.” Janice’s words trailed off, floating on a swell of sadness that threatened to overwhelm her. She slowly put her phone on her desk and covered her face with her hands.

How could Dot be gone? How on earth could that be possible? Janice glanced at her phone and accessed up her recent calls list. Sure enough, her mum’s number was right at the top of the list. She hadn’t imagined it unfortunately. Janice had a vivid imagination and could spend hours running through scenarios in her head, rehearsing conversations and imaging the outcomes. One day, she might just put all those mad ramblings down on paper and give everyone a good laugh. But this was one scenario that had never occurred to her. This wasn’t her imagination at work.

Dot was dead and Janice suddenly found herself physically craving her home-town of Speymouth. She needed a dose of the hills and an injection of sea air. She needed to see her parents and stand in Dot’s kitchen, see Dot’s things and say goodbye to her best friend.

This could possibly be chapter 2…

Janice wriggled her toes and snuggled further beneath her duvet. She knew without even looking at her clock that it wasn’t yet 6am and there was no way she was ready to face the day yet.

Her older sister Sarah would be up and out for her daily 5K run, leaving her impossibly handsome husband to wake their impossibly beautiful twin girls. Her older brother John was probably doing something equally wholesome.

From downstairs, Janice could hear the middle class droning of Radio 4 as her mum set the table for breakfast. They’d always been an up and at ‘em early type of family, which Janice secretly loved. But as she lay in the single bed she’d last inhabited as a teenager, the last thing she felt like doing was getting up.

Just 48 hours ago she’d been in her flat in South London. It was nothing fancy and far from being considered a trendy area. Heck, it wasn’t even up and coming. But it was where she’d lived for the past 2 years.

Too poor to afford a place of her own, she’d rented rooms in flat shares for years before finally admitting she wasn’t really the Female Professional all the accommodation ads asked for. She’d tried to fit in, really tried. But nothing ever quite worked out the way she hoped. Damned expectations getting in the way again.

Her first flat share had been in Richmond, close to her first job in publishing and Janice had thought it had sounded ideal. She’d dreamt about running on a Sunday morning in Richmond Park, drinks by the river on Friday evenings and lazy Saturday morning breakfasts overlooking Richmond Green. The reality was an area full of yummy mummy types that went jogging with their Phil & Teds and did yoga in full make-up.

Then there was Wimbledon. This would be the place that Janice finally felt like a grown-up. With the common for fresh air and all that tennis action, surely her desire to be an active, successful young woman would blossom in Wimbledon?

Nope. School run by 4-by-4 hell. Putney? Full of public school types that never quite made the rowing team. Wandsworth? Marginally better than Richmond and a bit grittier, but still not quite right. Clapham? Smug couple central.

Which is why Janice found herself in Croydon of all places. Twenty minutes to London Bridge by train and an authentic London street market. That was about all you could say about Croydon really. Oh and it was reasonably close to Gatwick and the M25.

But now she was back in Speymouth. A tiny dot on the Moray Firth Coast that liked to pretend it was a Proper Town. Technically it was a city, due to the cathedral, but at heart, it was just a typical Scottish seaside town. A dull town full of dull people stuck in the last century.

Janice could hear the running of water next door. Her dad must be in the shower and was bound to knock on her bedroom door within the next 10 minutes with a cheery cry of “Jannie! Got to be early to catch that worm Jannie ma quine!”

Exactly what ‘worm’ he was referring to, Janice couldn’t care less. She loved her dad dearly, but he was one of those eternally positive people that let nothing bother him. Just once she wanted to hear him admit that sometimes life was a bit of a pain in the arse. Just once, just to know he was normal. He didn’t believe in worrying about stuff he couldn’t control, which meant he worried about nothing. He left the worrying over minute details to Janice’s mum, that was her department.

To be fair, her mum and dad didn’t really have much to worry about in the grand scheme of things. Both were lecturers at the local college (dad taught the foundation art course and some evening classes and mum taught computer science). They had no mortgage, no vices and holidays were spent constructively learning the Art of Italian Cooking or Exploring the Vineyards of Burgandy. A tasteful campervan just the right side of boho chic was kept for quick weekend trips over to the West Coast.

“What’s so wrong with that Janice? Has 6 years in London turned you into a cynic as well as a bitch?” Janice’s inner dialogue always reverted to defending Scotland whenever she came home. It would have her voting SNP if she wasn’t careful.

“Okay, okay, you’re right. To each their own.” Janice conceded to her subconscious. Christ, she was talking to herself already and she’d only been home 24 hours.

Home. Was this home? Surely home was Croydon. That was where she lived 358 days of the year, only coming back to Speymouth for a week at Christmas if she couldn’t avoid it. And yet, too often she caught herself thinking about Speymouth as home.

Janice rolled over onto her side and reluctantly opened her eyes. Sunlight streamed in through the thin curtains revealing a pretty floral, Cath Kidston décor. At least her mum had taste when it came to decorating. Janice shuddered at the thought of having to gaze at Wet Wet Wet or Deacon Blue posters at the ripe old age of 26. She’s been deeply wounded when her mum had redecorated her bedroom a week after she’d moved to London, but she’d done a good job.

The sound of running water from her parent’s en suite shower stopped and Janice knew her solitude was about to be invaded. That was the thing about coming ‘home’. You were never left alone. People had to be continually checking on you, or asking you questions.

“Still here then? Fed up of all those people in London yet?”

“Any boyfriends Janice?”

“So…how’s the love life? Are you courting yet?”

It was all people in Speymouth cared about. When you’d be moving back, when you’d be getting married and when your first child would be born. All these things made Janice even more determined to never come back.

“Maybe I should just get myself knocked up and be done with it though” thought Janice. “That’d shock them. Wee Janice finally went and did something.”

Reluctantly, Janice threw back the duvet and swung her legs over the side of the narrow bed. If she could make it into the bathroom before her dad decided to launch his daily positivity attack, she could hide in the shower until he was safely engrossed in The Guardian and marmalade on toast.

Slowly opening her bedroom door, Janice peeped out into the empty hallway and finding the coast was clear, made a dash for the bathroom and swiftly locked the door behind her. Glancing at the fancy oversized shower-head, she decided a long soak in the bath was just what she needed to ease her grumpy mood. It was going to be a long day and she needed to protect her solitude for just a wee bit longer.

The funeral would start at 11am, followed by tea and sympathy at The Spey View hotel. A wave of nostalgia washed over Janice. Auntie Dot had always taken her to the Spey View hotel for high tea. They’d gorge on hot tea and toast before tucking into huge portions of steak pie and chips. By the time the cakes arrived, Janice always felt a bit sick, but could never resist a slice of millionaires shortbread to push her over the edge into gluttony. Poor aunt Dot. She’d always had time for Janice and was the only member of the family that spoke to her like a grown up.

“India? What do you want to go to India for Janice? Now don’t be silly, get yourself on that career ladder and get cracking those glass ceilings. Plenty of time for travelling when you retire. Now stop making excuses and get out into the real world.” That had been Dot’s response to Janice’s plan to spend a year travelling post-graduation. Janice smiled at the memory. Aunt Dot knew what it was like to be the younger sister, but she never let Janice get away with using that as an excuse for anything.

“You make your own luck Janice. Nobody is going to hand you a golden ticket. You’ve got to go out and grab it yourself quine. With 2 hands.”

A sample of something that might one day become something else


Janice felt wretched. Why had she agreed to come back? The heat of angry tears threatened just behind her eyelids as she flicked the off button on the car stereo. She was not in the mood for the warbling of love songs tonight. Or any night for that matter.

Was coming home really that bad? Yes, yes it bloody was.

Grabbing her mac from the back seat of the car, she took a deep breath and surrendered herself to the coastal wind and drizzle. The suggestive coconut scent of the gorse bushes immediately engulfed her. She was 11 again, with skint knees and a dodgy blouse bought for 25p in Oxfam. Before life got complicated. Before expectations got in the way. A time when she could just be herself. Before womanhood and having to decide if you were a feminist or not, when homework was so easy it was laughable and boys were just the other half of the class that weren’t very good at talking in coherent sentences.

“C’mon Janice, pull yourself together. Get a grip.” Janice muttered to herself as she pulled her mac around her body and starting walking along the quarry path. There wasn’t a soul to be seen. Too late for the post tea time dog walkers and too early for the teenage cider parties, Janice knew she’d have Primrose Bay to herself. It was one of those secret beaches that everybody knew about locally. The only way to reach it was a 5 minute walk along a disused quarry track scared by long gone trucks, followed by an undignified scramble down a steep cliff path. But the scene and the sounds that greeted you once you set foot on that white sand were well worth it.

The funny thing was, expectations were always at the root of Janice’s problems. The youngest of 3 by a good 7 years and with 2 busy parents, her elder brother and sister had already achieved all the major milestones by the time she reached adulthood. Both her siblings had excelled at university, married lovely people, launched successful careers and produced a brood of gorgeous grandchildren. All bases were well and truly covered. Nobody expected anything of wee Janice, she was just an after thought.

“Just follow your heart Janice, we don’t expect you to follow the same paths as your brother and sister…” her mum used to coo, thinking she was being helpful. But Janice never really knew what that meant. Where did her heart want to take her? She was buggered if she knew.

Finally reaching the cliff path, Janice now regretted her choice of Birkenstocks as sensible footwear. The gorse bushes and brambles scratched at her bare legs as she pushed past them, ignoring the part of her brain that tried to suggest she would at least have some jam making to look forward to with all those brambles.

“You’re 26 not 46 Janice. Quit thinking about bloody jam.” She muttered under her breath as she negotiated the final stretch of path that led onto the beach,

Taking great lungfuls of air to try and chase away the tears that still threatened, Janice sat down on a rock smoothed by age and put her head in her hands. What the hell was she doing coming back to this godforsaken place?

“…because you don’t belong in London, that’s why” said the voice inside Janice’s head.

Janice shook her head and stared out at the horizon. The tide was coming in and the rhythmic whoosh of the sea rushing over the pebbles, forcing them to jostle for position was hypnotic. That noise had always soothed her, it was like a lullabye. Reassuring and strong, always there, dependable. Unlike…but no, Janice shook her head again. I’ve got to stop this, she thought. I’ve got to get a grip.

A movement caught Janice’s eye, just offshore and her heart leapt. The dolphins! She watched the calm sea closely and sure enough, a dorsal fin elegantly arced out of the water, closely followed by the flick of tail. Janice slipped off her Birkenstocks and buried her toes in sand so soft her skin barely registered it’s existence. She could smell the salty brine of the sea, the not entirely unpleasant whiff of rotting seaweed that reminded her of afternoons spent down at the harbour and an undercurrent of the coconut scent of the gorse that encircled the bay. The wind and drizzle had disappeared in typical Scottish fashion and the bay was based in sunlight. A smile slowly pulled at the corners of her mouth.

The dolphins were a good sign. A happy omen. Their presence always filled her with wonder. Where had they been? Where were they going? Did they know or were they just following some ancient instinct that told them now was the time to head west? Were they following their heart?

Janice closed her eyes and leant her head back so her face caught the glow of the setting sun. The warmth felt good on her face and she finally felt the threat of tears dissolve. This was her home. This little corner of Scotland was in her bones, no matter how long she had tried to deny it. What was it her granny used to say? You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Well, maybe it was time to make pig’s ear purses instead. Lined with Harris tweed they’d be all the rage. Janice suppressed a giggle and opened her eyes again. Two more dorsal fins arced out of the sea.

There now. Surely a life of escaping to this little bay of paradise on sunny evenings to watch the dolphins wasn’t so bad, was it? Janice thought.

“No, it’s not so bad at all…” Janice murmured.


Dreaming of an Italian family adventure


Yesterday I wanted to hibernate. The ex hurricane Bertha came to visit earlier in the week you see, unceremoniously crashed through our front door, stomped all over the country side with big hob-nailed boots, and gave us a great big smack in the face on her way out again. This is all figuratively speaking thankfully and our little McMansion on the hill remains weather-proof. The flooding to the surrounding area was quite dramatic though and the weather was more winter than mid-august. Unsurprisingly, conversation turned to holidays. The grandparents decided to kidnap our children for the night, so with the rain battering the windows in a vain attempt to enter our cosy house and the wind whipping down the street as if it were in a rage, glasses of red wine were filled as we reminisced over some old photo albums. (Is that not just a typical sign of middle age when red wine, photo albums and a cosy sofa is classed as an ideal night in?).

We started off with our wedding album, laughing at the drunken antics of our guests and trying to remember if that was great-aunt Sue or second cousin third removed Shirley with the flamboyant hat. Then we moved on to our honeymoon album. Two weeks in glorious Sicily that seemed like a lifetime ago. A perfect holiday where I wished upon a falling star (yes, really!) from a boat within view of Stromboli’s nightly show of erupting power…that was when I wished for parenthood.

We vowed to return to Sicily and promised ourselves we would spend our next holiday exploring Italy. I’d spent an odd, slightly disjointed summer in Tuscany as a student, waiting for the travel bug to bite and wondering what all the fuss about Inter-railing was about. I’m more of a destination person, enjoying the journey has always been an issue for me. So I promised my new husband that I would take him to Tuscany. I would show him the towers of San Gimignano, feed our souls on the art of Florence and fill our tummies with pasta, pizza and gelato. Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 13.59.36 But that wish I made upon a star during our honeymoon came true, so we now have 2 little people to cater for on any Italian adventure we embark upon. I’ve looking into camping, touring around Italy with a smart tent and eating pizza in front of a camp fire every night. But Hubbie has decreed that self-catering holidays are banned (LOVE HIM!) and he’s not so keen on the camping aspect either…I can sort of see his point. Holidays with young children are only a true holiday if they include some aspect of luxury we’ve discovered. Otherwise the cooking, the negotiations and the daily peace keeping just feel like you’re at home. But without the home comforts. Somewhere like Villa Pia would be ideal for our Italian adventure though. All inclusive, child friendly and in Tuscany. Perfect. They even offer cookery courses for the kids – how perfect would that be? We’d return from 2 weeks of Italian sun to the kids cooking us some Italian cuisine. My 8 year old foodie would be in heaven, while the 4 year old could exhaust himself on the trampolines. Meanwhile, I can’t stop imagining myself lying by this pool, something cold and sparkling in a glass within reach and a pile of trashy novels…well, a girl can dream.Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 12.44.17


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To my darling boy on the eve of your 8th birthday






Tomorrow you turn 8. Eight.

You’ve gone to bed full of excitement and declaring that there’s no way you’ll be able to sleep. I just peeped in at you 5 minutes ago and you’re snoring, arms flung above your head in abandonment. The carefree pose of a sleep untroubled by worry.

The past couple of months have been a bit of struggle, I’ll be honest. You’re a sensitive soul at times , but being such a sociable, optimistic boy has caused you a bit of heartache. Like me, you wear your heart on your sleeve. I need to teach you how to protect that delicate heart just a little bit better without hiding it away. I forget that you’re still just 7. You’re so eloquent and know how yo express your mind and your feelings in a very adult manner. But you are just 7. I need to remember that.

My little bookworm, I wonder where your inquisitive mind and thirst for knowledge will take you next year. But I promise we’ll help you balance that book knowledge with some more playground friendly skills, like football! Sadly, you’ve inherited our ability when it comes to team sports – neither your dad nor I have any talent there. But football is what everybody plays and football is what you want to learn, so football we shall play.

But let us fill this 8th year of yours with lots of new experiences! Kayaking, orienteering, mountain biking! You’ve already fallen in love with skiing, so let’s see what else makes your heart sing.

I promise there will be more dancing, more kitchen discos, more laughter. We’ll still be silly and make up stories, we’ll still explore and have adventures. You’ve a lot of childhood to get through yet and I want to cram as much fun and love into these years as I can.

I’m not always the mum you deserve and for that, I am sorry. I hope you know that you are loved deeply and fiercely. You make me so incredibly proud and when I look at you, I think I can’t be doing too badly. You’re growing up to have lovely manners, a strong sense of justice and fairness and a love of knowledge. These are 3 traits I’m pretty darn pleased with. You’re also a compassionate and patient older brother and hope you both cherish and nurture that relationship as you grow up.

My darling boy. Happy birthday.