Come rain or come shine…

Last Thursday our teachers were on strike (solidarity!), so the little ones had a bonus day off. We decided to make the most of it with a wee woodlands adventure.

Unfortunately the Scottish weather did not play ball. The outdoor portion of day was cut short due to a downpour. The little ones were undaunted & Auntie ly discovered she is cute in the rain. Win, win.

Glasses – Where Light

I opted for layers to combat the changeable weather. Starting with my incredible leopard dungarees, adding anything cosy & topping it all off with a waterproof. I think I achieved the correct balance between practical & crazy auntie.

Fat women with her hands on hips wearing leopard print dungarees and yellow cardi
Dungarees – ASOS Curve
Anorak – M&S

We rounded up the day watching the choppy sea from the cosy car & it was perfect.

Helensburgh

Indie Xmas 2.0…

If you’re still on the look out for original gifts read on. I have more glorious independent businesses & creators for you to explore.

Flamingosaurus Rex is a gorgeous gallery in Edinburgh. They showcases talented artists & always have the most covetable art. You can buy digital prints & funky stationary on their site or drop into the gallery if you’re local.

Topple and Burn make radical, left wing apparel & jewellery. I have so many pieces already and I will undoubtedly buy more. Their ‘Fuck the Tories’ Xmas jumper is an absolute dream. Topple & Burn practise what they preach by supporting excellent causes. You can’t go wrong with a purchase form here.

Juniper & Friends is an animal rescue & rehab. The women behind the store does incredible work with foxes, possums, skunks & more. She rehabilitates injured wildlife & gives a home to animal that cannot be released into the wild. I have been following all the amazing wee creatures in her life on Instagram forever. Watching these animals grow & thrive is wonderful. You can support this incredible work & get yourself some adorable items at the same time. Juniper & Friends have merch ranging from tees to art work created by the animals. These would make the perfect gift for any animal lover.

I will never stop singing the praises of Wilde Mode. Their pieces are size inclusive, gender free and zero waste. All staff are paid a living wage and materials are ethically sourced. They have the most diverse ad campaigns and of course their products are amazing. Their knickers are the comfiest I have ever worn. With an extending product range, there is something for everyone. Go shop!

Finally we have Fugly Plates , recycling old crockery into sweary works of art. I love eveything they do. Re using old things that no one wants is always a good thing. Even better when the final product is so cool. If you have a foul mouthed friend this the place to shop.

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Friday Quickie…

I am by no means a beauty expert. In fact, I doubt I would even qualify as a novice. I’ve never been able to keep up with the big thing in beauty. Nor have I ever had the patience for 12 step bedtime routines. I’m a basic beauty bitch.

It’s mostly cleaning, moisturising & spf in this house. Throw in the a face mask whenever the mood or a break out demands it and you have my whole regime. At 42 I’m beginning to think about the old face a little more. I’m wearing pretty well so far (luck & good genes). I am however a tint bit obsessed with my pores & would like to keep it fresh as long as I can. So, I thought I’d share a few things I have rated & one I didn’t like so much.

Right off the bat I’m a dupe girl. I’m down for all the befits at a fraction of the price. I have also found that supermarket/high street brands are more likely to be cruelty free too. Which, begs the question, if they can do it, why can’t he big boys?

I’ve been using the Lacura Rose Toner from Aldi for a really long time. I love the scent and it makes my skin feel super soft. The Healthy Glow is a new buy, I like it for when those pesky pores are acting up. Both are of course pixie dupes. I used to use the pixie toner and I honestly find these to be the exact same. I like easy and whapping this on with some cotton wool as just that.

Two bottles of Lacura toner

Talking about those pores, am I only person who is addicted to those little blackhead extracting tools? Well, in a effort to reduce my time at the magnifying mirror I bought The Ordinary Salycilic Acid 2%. It gets rave reviews everywhere, but I couldn’t get along with it. I have an aversion to anything that feels oily or greasy & this is oil city. I gave up after a few uses, I just couldn’t stand how it feels. I can’t speak to its efficacy because I didn’t give it time to work. It’s not for me.

The ordinary salicylic acid

In the ordinary’s place I picked up Primark’s Salicylic Booster Serum. This one I like. The serum feels much nicer in my skin. I use it every other day and I am already noticing an improvement after 3ish weeks.

My skin always gets dry at this time of year, I think because the weather is harsher. Anyway, it seemed like a good time to try out a new moisturiser. When I saw this Drunk Elephant dupe in the magical middle aisle, I grabbed it. I haven’t used the original, so can’t compare. I am enjoying the Lacura version, though. Super hydrating and soothing. I know nothing about all the varied ingredients and claims. Only that it takes care of the wee dry patches & it feels gorgeous on my face.

Last up is L’Occitane Body Ice Gel. It was a gift from my Mum that is definitely going to become a staple. It’s mint & verbena which are two of my fav scents. It has the most amazing cooling & refreshing sensation when applied. I use it on my hands constantly. At the end of a busy day it also feels so good on my feet. Apparently it is also a fantastic after sun if you bung it in the fridge. I’m sure my ghostly skin will appreciate that next summer.

Small Xmas 2022…

We all know by now that it’s good to shop small. Buying from small business allows you buy products that meet your ethical standards whilst also supporting your local community. This year more than ever those businesses need your support. Thus, I give you the first instalment of Xmas gift guide.

I came across Graceful Favours via a friend’s post on social media & I’m sold. They make pretty wedding favours and do some special chrismassy treats. The paint your Xmas cookies are just so cute. I know my little ones would enjoy this as a wee festive craft. Truth to be told, I would too.

Festively iced biscuits

Ebony and Black make the most incredible scented candles & melts. The inspiration for their fragrances comes from historical figures, places and moments, which I think is an excellent idea. For instance their Reign range, influenced by Mary Stuart’s return to Scotland has a beautiful fresh scent. I have this one burning as I type; my whole whole house smells like windswept seaside meadow. Everything is vegan and handmade in Scotland. Such care is taken over all the little details, these make a gorgeous gift.

Burning candle and wax melting

If you’re looking for something a little more personal Ruby etc is offfering original pet portraits (hurry spots are selling out fast). Ruby etc creates witty & unique art. I’m a long time fan, their work immediately ups the cool factor of any room.

If you follow me at all you can’t have failed to notice that I adore Pockets and Sedition. Handmade, size inclusive with pockets! They also donate a percentage of profits to very worthy causes. If you’re into all of that I imagine you will share my excitement at the launch of their Xmas range. Pyjamas & clothes in joyous Xmas prints plus some glam dresses for all those nights out. I bloody love some festive jammies for all that Xmas slouching, another must have.

Pyjamas with festive dinosaur print

Last, but not least we have Glad Rags, my favourite thrift shop. If you’re in the Glasgow area I cannot recommend this south side gem highly enough. Their stock is varied & wonderful, profits are redirected into the community and they support many local creators. Glad Rags also run lots of fun workshops & activities. They are not unique, second hand shops exist everywhere and are a vital part in reducing the volume of waste we produce. They are also an excellent alternative/antidote to fast fashion.

The easiest entry in my present list is already taken care of. All Bronan wants are unlimited paper bags and all of my attention.

Black and white cat in a paper bag

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My week in spooky season pictures…

It’s the October week holidays here. Of course that means some fun adventures & more spooky nails. It’s getting chilly out there, so I’ve been getting into the cosy looks.

I went a bit horror on the nails and tried out some chuckyish stitched wounds. I didn’t want them to be too gruesome, so nothing realistic here.

Pale white hands with stitched wound design manicure

On Wednesday we decided to introduce my nephew to a place my sis & I have loved since childhood. The Burrell Collection is an art gallery/museum in Glasgow that has recently reopened after a refurb and shake up of exhibits. The exhibits are presented in the most incredible building surrounded by woodlands, but in the middle of the city. It is one of my very favourite places and it was wonderful to see the boy enjoy it too.

Long white corridor leading to huge window looking out to forest

The revamp is great. They have maintained the heart of the collection whilst adding excellent interactive aspects. The boy loved playing the games & puzzles, all of which helped him better understand the exhibits. The cafe has a great vegan & child friendly menu. The Burrell also ticks the accessibility box. Lots of space to manoeuvre, lifts to all exhibits, loads of places to sit down when you need to rest.

White woman and child playing an interactive game
The Burrell Collection interior
The Burrell Collection interiors

After The Burrell we checked out the also revamped swing park. Thus I needed to be both cosy and waterproof. I opted for this lovely jumper dress & light weight rain jacket; both presents from my Mum.

Fat white women with hands on her hips wearing blue jumper dress& khaki rain mac
Dress – In The Style
Rain Max – Marks & Spencer
Tights – Pretty Polly
Glasses – Where Light

I chipped my Chucky nails, necessitating a premature change. I went for some creepy trees and sparkly bats. Let’s hope I can manage not to wreck this design right away.

My nephew has recently developed a love for golf; crazy golf in particular. Today we indulged that new found passion with a trip to Paradise Golf. He loved it, claiming two hole in ones & ultimately the game. Auntie ly struggled a little, but luckily I had my perfect little man to play for me when I needed a sit down.

Child playing crazy golf

We had a little sushi for lunch, picked up some shark wellies & grabbed a doughnut before heading home. It’s always too hot at Xscape and I kept that in mind when choosing my outfit. I wore a bunch of old favs today including my comfy shoes & a skirt with pockets!

Fat white woman with hands on her hips wearing swing skirt and t shirt
T-Shirt – Curated By Girls
Skirt – Lindy Bop
Tights – Snag
Pillow Slides – Primark

Haunted…

It’s that time of year again. Yup, that’s right, Spooky Season! I love a bit halloweeny fun, especially on my nails. I’m a bit slow off the mark this year, but I have loads more spooky designs planned.

I eased into the Halloween nails with a cute little crescent moon & love heart web.

Hands with lilac manicure with black crescent moon,  cat & spider web

A little glitter made these drippy, swirly nails a sparkly spook.

Park white hands with purple manicure with white swirls and glittery black drips

Currently sporting my favourite so far. I tried The Shining themed nails before, but I think I nailed (!) it this time.

The shining themed manicure

Also in keeping with the season are my new (to me) Iron Fist shoes. Fangs & leopard print, what more could a girl want? I missed these when they were in the shops, but found a brand new, unworn pair on Vinted. Thrifting win.

Tattooed pale white feet in shoes with Leopard fangs and black cat
Pale white feet in Leopard print flats and black cat

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More than embarrassing…

We’re all familiar with the reminder letters and campaigns urging us not to miss our cervical smear test. We are rightly told how important they are in detecting cancers early. I’m glad these tests are available. I am also happy that we are educated on why these tests are so necessary. However, I find myself increasingly frustrated with the messaging.

So often when a person or organisation wants to encourage people to attend cervical screenings they focus on how easy it is. We’re told it is silly to be embarrassed and it will be over in a flash. Don’t risk your life over 5 mins of feeling awkward is repeated. Smear tests are confidently declared to be not painful. Just a little discomfort, nothing to worry about. While that might be true for lots, it is not full the picture. The patronising assumption that people miss smear tests because they’re self-conscious is harmful. Many people have valid reasons for their reticence. Addressing those issues would be a more effective way of increasing uptake numbers.

Research from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Rape crisis revealed that 72% of women who have experienced sexual violence have skipped or delayed a smear test. When you consider that at least 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted you can begin to understand the scale of the issue.

Birth trauma & pregnancy loss also impact a significant portion of those who require smear tests. Gynae exams & cervical screening require being in vulnerable positions that can trigger a trauma response. Recent research is finding that baby loss & birth trauma often results in PTSD. So, it’s easy to see why a smear test would be not a easy exam for those who are affected.

There are also medical conditions/physicalitys that can make a smear test very difficult. Conditions like ,vaginisimus, endometriosis, cervical ectropion and more can make smear tests painful or difficult. Cervical position, vaginal dryness, menopausal changes and FGM can also impact how a smear test feels.

Trans men may find smear tests hard for all obvious reason. Dysphoria, stigma, discrimination and more. I’m sure everyone can understand how having to deal with any or all of those things is a frightening prospect. It can also be difficult to access information; trans men may not be invited for cervical screening, there is confusion about who requires the test etc. Of course this may be combined with any of the other issues on this list.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I just want to be clear that there are many real reason for a person to avoid cervical screening. That being said, how can we make it easier? Well, there are actually a lot of accommodations you can ask for. I don’t see this talked about enough, so I wanted to share that information.

Before I get into the details, I want to be clear that you do not have to disclose anything you are not ready to discuss. You can ask for accommodations without revealing your trauma.

Before the Test

You can ask you GP to take your name off the automatic reminder list if those letters are distressing.

Ask for the test to be performed by a person of your preferred gender.

If you have an established relationship with a Dr/Nurse you can ask to have them do your smear test.

Make an appointment to talk about the smear test. Discuss anything you need to talk about. Be that how the test is done, why is it done, your fears, worries etc.

Request a double appointment to allow time breaks, extra time.

Plan what you will do after the test. You may not feel up to returning to work or you might not want to be alone.

The Test

Take an emotional support person to the appointment.

Request a chaperone be present for the test.

Ask to talk through the ‘mechanics’ of the test before you start. Have the Dr/Nurse show you the instruments used.

Tell the person performing the test any words or phrases that could be triggering for you. If there are words of comfort that are helpful for you ask them to use those.

Explain how heavy/light a touch you are comfortable. If there are areas you would like them to avoid touching if possible, tell the Dr/Nurse.

Ask to insert the speculum yourself.

If you are concerned about specific trauma/pain response discuss that with the Dr/Nurse. For example tell them this part of the exam is usually painful for me or I might be unable to chat/answer questions.

Agree a plan of action beforehand; what would you like to happen if you are triggered/pain is too much. You can decide on a word or sign to use if you are in distress.

Combatting Pain/Distress

Mindfulness Techniques – Exercises like naming three things you can see, smell, hear can help route you in the now.

Distraction – Play music, make small talk with Dr/Nurse, your support person.

Squared Breathing – This sometimes helps me get through acute pain/the onset of panic. Breath in for 4, hold for 4, breath out for 4, hold for 4. Repeat.

Take a comforting object. Fidget object. Scent that invokes calming feeling. Hold support person’s hand.

Discuss having medication prescribed. Things like benzodiazepines can help with anxiety, allow your body to be less tense. Maybe you need a stronger pain medication to deal with the test/after effects.

Know Your Limits

It is ok to stop at any point. If any part of the process becomes too much, stop. You can reschedule the appointment. It is ok to try as many times as you need. This test is for you. You are not obligated to fit into anyone else’s timeline or expectations.

Smear test are an important part of early cancer detection, but your whole health & well being are equally important. Shaming people or dismissing the reason for their reluctance does not help. If we are to increase the uptake rates we need to acknowledge what is actually preventing people from attending. We also need to facilitate ways to address those concerns.

If you require more support you can contact :

My Body Back Project

Rape Crisis (Helpline – 08088 01 03 02)

Action For Trans Health

Jo’s Trust

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A very big house in the country…

It was my birthday last week. I have reached the enormous age of 42 and it was a chill affair. I spent the actual day with my wonderful bestie and her little monkeys. Then at the weekend I was whisked off for a lovely surprise. I was instructed to pack a bag and bring a swimsuit. No further information was forthcoming.

We set off early on rainy Saturday morning and four ish hours later we arrived at Thainstone House. The sun was shining up north and our destination was perfect. A beautiful country house hotel set in gorgeous grounds. Complete with swimming pool & spa; I was in heaven.

Country house hotel covered in Ivy
Thainstone House

My Mum & Sister were behind the treat. Of course my nephew was along for the ride. We had a weekend of fine dining, swimming and carry on in luxury setting. It was a gorgeous birthday present.

Is it a hotel stay without a pic in my pants?

After dinner and late swim on Saturday we introduced the boy to Monopoly. He had been dying to try it and it turns out he is a shark. He showed no mercy as he bought up streets and flung hotels on them. His absolute glee every time I landed in jail was hilarious.

On our way home we stopped in Inverurie for a little shopping and outfit photos. The boy managed to leave with a monster truck & Gran stocked up on enough expensive scarfs to last a good few winters. All in all a successful weekend.

Not bad for an old bird.

This week I have mostly…

doing not much. It’s been mostly sedentary activities and background music has been essential. These have been my most played.

Obviously Lewis Capaldi’s new song has been on repeat. Like the rest of the sane population I have been dying for him to release new music. Forget Me doesn’t disappoint. Poignant lyrics and epic remake of a wham video clearly add up to a hit. I even bought the single. The first single I have purchased since the 90’s. It must be good. Factor in the bonus of having him back of social media and the world is a better place.

Forget Me vinyl single

Reflecting Light wormed it’s way into my play list via Gilmore Girls. I’m currently very annoyed at that stupid show. I started it in a fit of insomnia because a friend told me it was great (you know who you are!). Gilmore Girls is not amazing. It is a sort of ok sitcom with a few really annoying characters and main folk doing occasionally hideous things. I couldn’t stop watching, though because they suckered me in with Lorelai & Luke. I can resist a meant for each other but keep fucking couple. Thus, I had to press on to ensure they ended up together. Amongst my tears & frustration came Sam Phillips singing Reflecting Light.

I rode the pain down, got off and looked up Looked into your eyes The lost open windows, all around My dark heart lit up the skies’

The waltzing and those lines got me. I’ve been humming it all week.

Another Love by Tom Odell is the song you hear in the videos of Iranian protests. An uprising prompted by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22 yr old woman beaten to death by morality police for not wearing a hijab. The courage of women refusing to submit to these laws is immense. It is incredible to watch people stand up to this totalitarian regime. Their bravery is awe inspiring. I get shivers every time I get this song.

Protester holding up photo of Mahsa Amini

Last but not least we have Harry Styles’ Matilda. It’s just such a beautifully sad song. I can’t relate, my family are wonderful, it’s still making me cry. Something about that reassuring voice saying it’s ok to let go just gets me. Poor Matilda.

Bronan approves of both the tunes and the sitting still.

Black and white cat sleeping on his paw

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Pale September…

I just lit the first pumpkin shaped candle of the season. It is rainy, windy and cold. The timing is right.

Today did not bring my favourite autumnal weather. The gloom did, however suit my mood. I had the long awaited appointment with the consultant this week & she had no good news for me. PoTs ✔️ Treatment to improve symptoms ✖️. I can’t take beta blockers & I’m already doing everything that is supposed to help. She also thinks I need to see someone else about the extreme breathlessness. So, it’s status quo with the passing out every two seconds. Oh and back to square one on referrals & tests re breathlessness. I’m very tired and exceptionally fed up. This is what happens when I pin all my hopes on one Dr.

On the bright side I live in Glasgow and it’s nearly October. I am certain I will have many opportunities to wallow in gloomy weather. I also know a very annoying man. No doubt he will frustrate me so much that I will occasionally forgot almost no part of my body works.

Gold pumpkin candle holder on bookcase with picture frames

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