Valentine’s Day is my Dad’s birthday, so my plans weren’t remotely romantic. However, I haven’t been properly dressed in weeks and I wanted to look nice for a wee family lunch. After much wardrobe pondering, I plucked out some old favourites.
I haven’t worn this dress in ages, I loved the swish the petticoat added. I’m been very into the double velvet of late. I think I scrubbed up pretty well even if I had to stick with cushioned comfy shoes.
We took Dad out for lunch and then did a little toy shopping. I even managed to finagle a frozen Coke, which I haven’t had since Australia. I love it, the delicious icy goodness was my valentine.
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Last year was tough. Long covid/Pots really did a number on my already subpar health. It was hard to keep on top of even basic daily tasks. All aspects of my life suffered. In an effort to shake that not quite enough feeling I’ve raided the brain for my 2022 highlights.
I contributed to the book Rebel Bodies by Sarah Graham. It’s an incredible piece of work about the gender gap in healthcare. Sarah covers the intersections of gender, weight, age & disability whilst deconstructing the barriers women & non binary people face when trying to access appropriate medical care. I am so proud to share my story of medical weight stigma and be part of this book.
In April we took my Mum on a birthday trip to Salzburg. She had a big birthday at the end of 2021 & we wanted to do something special. Mum loves The Sound of Music & has always talked about going to Salzburg. This year, she finally got there and it was magical. We stayed at Schloss Leopoldskron, where the movie was filmed, took a private Sound of Music tour and had a generally amazing time. Salzburg is incredibly beautiful and taking Mum on her dream holiday was wonderful.
At the very beginning of ‘22 I was a guest on the Anti Diet Club podcast. The pod creators Gillian Wilson and Tamsin Broster are dedicated to helping others divest from diet culture. I love the work they do and was honoured that they considered my voice worth hearing. It is such a pleasure to connect with others who are committed to fighting fat phobia.
This summer I got to revive a love from my youth. I thought festivals were a thing of the past for me, but thank to TRNSMT’s comprehensive accessibility accommodations I was back in the game. Watching bands, whilst sipping cider in the sun with my bestie & sister made me feel 22 again. Screaming along with The Strokes as the the sun went down was such a highlight.
This one might seem small, but felt significant to me. The Guardian journalist Martin Belam recommended me in his Friday Reads. Having a writer I respect enjoy my work enough to share it felt good. Especially in a year when my health has interfered with my creative output.
Last, but never least is of course being an Auntie. It is my biggest joy. I am so excited to watch all of my niblings grow. Last year they continued to surprise & impress. I am endlessly grateful to be part of their lives.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I’m still not getting out much, but I did wear two cute outfits & have a little fun this week. I used my auntie time to try out some new thrift finds. I’m quite pleased with the results.
First up was some time with my littlest niblings. The babas are walking now and so much fun. I tried my new twirly skirt and it was perfect for sitting on the floor and wrangling babies. Getting back up was a bit of a challenge, but hey ho.
On Saturday I had my first big day out in quite a while. We headed to The Hot Air Balloon festival in my Mum’s village. It was wonderful. I have always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon, but watching them take off was a close second best. My nephew was crazy excited watching them launch. He also had a lot of fun on various rides & bouncy castles. He even managed to convince his Mummy to let him have green hair. For this outing I wore another of my 2nd hand finds; an amazing cat print skirt. I went full crazy auntie & teamed it with a petticoat and nirvana vest. Then finished the whole look with a deeply hippie dippie shawl. I got some looks, but I loved it!
Today I am in recovery mode. I expect it’ll be jammies for the foreseeable. Bronan approves.
Several weeks ago I came across a word I’d never previously encountered. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. It encapsulates a feeling that lives with me, but has eluded succinct definition. The word is Hiraeth.
It’s Welsh and doesn’t directly translate to English, but it means a homesicknesses for a home to which you cannot return or perhaps never was. It was in an article and I didn’t understand. I had to look it up. When I read that definition it felt like I breathed it in and it found a spot inside me where it fitted perfectly. It explained something I already knew.
It is exactly what I feel in those moments that I’m not sure what I am doing or who I am. The thing caught in my throat when I hear children shout for their Mummy. It’s the longing for a world that only ever comes to life in my head. Except I can feel it. I know the intricacies. I have plans for every eventuality (& even strategies for the inevitable unknowables). Pet names, values & handed down treasures thump in my chest. The sensation of heavy sleeping breath and hot ‘it’s not fair’ tears. The music I play, the books I read them. Dancing in the living room for no reason just like I did with my Mum. I close my eyes and conjure how crushing the responsibility can be. Losing my patience, the swamp of guilt that follows. The days I am certain I said absolutely the right thing. The pain of knowing I missed the mark. I’m not imagining it; I can recall the emotions. They’re fizzing under my skin. The flick of hair from a face or a tut of exasperation are as decernable as memories. I long to go home.
Homesick for the home I couldn’t build. That’s the feeling that perpetually lurks. Now I know it’s name.
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Yesterday I did a thing that I thought I could no longer do. Let me tell you, it felt fucking awesome. For the first time in more than a decade I hit a festival and I am going to tell you all about it.
Trnsmt Festival takes place on Glasgow Green in the centre of my dear home town. Back in my day the Glasgow fest to be at was Gig on the Green. In my youth I saw Feeder, Pulp, the Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, Travis and so many more on this big patch of green in the middle of the city. I loved those days of dancing, drinking and screaming out lyrics. Unfortunately, festivals had been added to the list of the things chronic illness made impossible.
Then came Trnsmt with its excellent accesible facilities and my beautiful sister with her VIP tickets. All of a sudden 41yr old, mobility impaired and pain inflicted me is back with the band(s). They put the effort in to make the festival as accessible as possible. With accommodations for hearing & sight impaired customers. Disabled viewing platforms with amazing views, accessible toilets that catered to all needs, free water taps to fill up and no queue sections at bars/vendors. There was an area for guide dogs to relax as well as a cool chill out zone for people who needed it. Blue badge parking & disabled entrance which cut the trek to the action was also available on request. Of course their were first aiders and medical assistance points. The accessible passes were easy to apply for. A quick online form, proof of PIP (if in receipt, passes were available with a short explanation of your needs without evidence) and Blue Badge number for parking were all that was required. Free companion tickets were available via the same process. I was able to enjoy the full festival experience whilst also having all my needs met. I can’t speak for everyone, but the organisers get a big round of applause from me.
As good as the accessibility was I was still grateful to have those VIP bands. The VIP area was a great staging ground for our day. We were able to sit down, eat and plan in comfort. The toilets in this area were also a huge step up from any porto loo. Extra bonus of separate VIP entrance & exit to avoid the crowds. All considered, the ticket prices aren’t that much more, I would definitely recommend. With the sun shining, music in the air and our free Prosecco in hand we headed into a day to remember.
First on our list was Wet Leg; a band my sis was dying to see. I thought I didn’t know them, but turns out they are big on Tik Tok and I already loved a few of their songs. My bestie and I thought they sounded a lot like the Riot Grrrls of our youth, but the kids were still loving them. After a cider on the grass and a lot of help getting back up again we headed to the King Tut’s stage. Comfortably seated on the viewing platform we bopped to CMAT and Self Esteem. Self Esteem was bloody good, definitely added to my Spotify likes. We could see the crowd demographic shifting to our age group as Maximo Park hit the stage for an energetic set. The cider continued to flow as we enjoyed Jimmy Eat world and then headed back to the main stage for the headliner.
The Strokes were superb. Classics mixed with newer stuff. An amusing jam whilst an amp was fixed. Some slightly odd banter and even a nod to Monty Python. I had missed the feeling of partying in a field with thousands of other people more than I knew. Watching the sun go down as your favs blast out songs you love is quite the buzz. I have so many amazing memories set to The Strokes, most of them with my sis and Pam. It was incredible to be making more with them.
The vibe at Trnsmt was just like the old days. Friendly, drunk and pleasantly raucous. I particularly loved all the body liberation on show. Folks of all shapes, sizes, genders and ages rocking whatever they wanted. All looking fabulous and giving zero fucks. I was also chuffed to discover that I haven’t lost all my party girl credentials. I can still guzzle the cider without embarrassing myself. Even better several pints and a tonne of water in, I was still able to go the entire day with visiting a loo. Anyone who has ever been to a festival (or whose every step hurts) knows that is the ultimate skill.
The day was all the better for being with my sister and best friend. They always help me without making me feel like a horrible burden. Plus of course, they are the fucking best fun ever. Here’s to accessibility and good times!
It’s been a while since I did a week in pictures. Mainly because I have not been doing anything all that exciting. I have had a few family dos of late, so I’m doing a share.
First up was my youngest nibling’s first birthday party. The first year of these baba’s life has gone at lightening speed. They have been an absolute delight from day one and continue to be wee darlings. They are now very much on the move, starting to find words and full of fun. Their party was lovely. The babies enjoyed their new toys, grown ups enjoyed a cuddle and bigger kids loved running riot.
Following on the family fun theme I had a gorgeous Easter lunch with my Mum, Sister & her boys. My sis made a superhero afternoon tea with plenty of vegan friendly options for me. The boy opened some Easter gifts and then we set off to his swing park for a bit of carry on.
After all that activity, I required a wee bit of rest. I had a quiet few days at home. Wore my comfies, tried to finish some work and painted my nails. I also had some yummy comfort food & bought Bronan some new catnip, which went down well. Strangely it also increased his paper fascination.
Thursday brought some Auntie time. My sister needed me to watch the boy for a few hours in the morning. This worked out perfectly as it gave him an opportunity to try out the blocks that Geomag* kindly sent me. I had intended to get a few of my littles to try them out, but this boy fell in love with them. He played all morning, took them home to play all afternoon too. The Magicubes are magnetic blocks that connect and hold on all six sides, meaning kids can build anything with them. I’ll definitely be buying more for the rest of my nibling gang.
I finished off the week with blood boost. A transfusion can be a nuisance, but necessary. Ultimately I am very grateful to have access to the medical care I need. Plus it gives you a good excuse to stay still and listen to a podcast all afternoon. I came home to huffy cat (annoyed that his dinner was late) & a lovely sunset. Not the wildest Friday night, but I’ll take it.
If you have been eagerly anticipating the second part of holiday escapades, today is your day. When last I left you I was chugging out of Munich. So, let’s get going on magical Salzburg.
Our trip was a 70th birthday present for my darling Mum. Her favourite film is The Sound of Music. She never tires of Sister Maria and all the Captain’s children. Thus our (& now the grandkid’s) childhoods overflowed with edelweiss & doe a deer. Mum has talked about visiting Salzburg forever, the big 7-0 seemed the perfect opportunity to take her there. Purpose explained it won’t surprise you to discover that we stayed in the hotel where they filmed the movie.
Schloss Leopoldskron was a dream. Everything about the hotel is luxe. The rooms are gorgeous, the views are breathtaking and you have breakfast in a ballroom.
The hotel is gated. When you arrive it feels like you have entered a secret world. Wandering around the grounds I grew up watching on screen was so lovely. Sound of Music aside, it is a beautiful place. The grounds sit right on the river, looking out onto the most picturesque mountain scape. The only sounds are the ducks & geese on water. The air feels fresher. It is a wonderful spot for a complete escape from real life.
The hotel (& Salzburg in general) aren’t big on the film connection. It wasn’t a hit in Austria for various reasons & the hotel is keen to focus on its links with Harvard. That doesn’t take anything away from the experience if you are a fan.
Since we are fans we booked The Sound of Music Tour. As it was a special trip we opted for the private tour. It was expensive, but felt it was worth it. The hotel doesn’t grant access to the tours, so if you aren’t staying you can only see the captain’s house locations from across the river. We were very happy to have had access to those spots, but there is still plenty more to see. Our wonderful guide, Alenka knew everything there was to know about the film & the city. She led sings songs on the drive out to the mountain locations & made the experience a total delight.
All of the locations on the tour were accessible. The group tour is on a coach, which would present accessibility problems. Our hotel had great accessibility; lifts in both buildings, wheelchair accessible entry and adapted bathrooms (on request). On the Covid front I felt pretty safe the entire trip. Masks were mandated indoors and we had to present our vaccine passports to enter any premises.
The final chapter of my holiday saga will be coming soon & it includes a castle.
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I returned from my German speaking adventure a week ago and am only now in possession of the spoons to tell you all about. I had such an amazing time that I wore myself out entirely.
We started with a few days in Munich. We got unbelievably lucky weather wise. The sun shone every single day. It was so warm that I wished I’d brought less cardigans and more floaty items. Don’t worry, I still put together some excellent outfits. We also saw many excellent sights and had a grand old time.
Our first stop was Munich’s old town hall. It is an incredible building located in a square full of beautiful architecture. The boy loved all the gargoyles and crazy creatures sculpted in stone. We enjoyed the sunny square whilst we waited for town hall clock to do its thing. Its thing was worth the wait. At the stroke of noon court characters began to dance and play the organ high above us. Royalty, drummers, jesters and even a joisting match spun above us as the gold clock glinted in the sun.
Just around the corner from the town hall is Munich’s old fruit market. These days the stalls have a variety of wares; hand made crafts, flowers, cheese, fruit and plenty of beer. The market is also home to lots of drinking water fountains and my nephew adored them. You can take a 4 year old anywhere in the world and they will be happiest playing with simplest of things. Thus he spent many a delighted minute emptying & refilling water bottles.
After a wander around the picturesque market, with our handmade delights purchased we found a lovely outdoor cafe to sample some German yums. The boy selected authentic Bavarian sausages and munched the lot. His Mummy & I played it safe with giant pretzels. Gran went for a truly a delicious apple strudel. We were mildly pleased with ourselves for navigating the German menu with the help of google. Even happier to receive what we had intended to order!
We rounded off the square with stop at the the exquisite St Peter’s chapel. Although I am not Catholicism’s biggest fan, I do enjoy the beautiful architecture. My Mum, who is regular worshipper, took the opportunity to say a prayer. Meanwhile the & boy I lit a candle for our respective Grans. As we waited outside for my Mum the boy was overjoyed to meet a headless busker. Watching him come up with explanations for the man’s lack of head was exceptionally entertaining.
Our final stop in Munich was the Englischer Garten, an awesome oasis in the city. This park is the perfect sunny day outing. As you enter you can see people surfing on the man made river. The water moves so fast, watching folk brave the rapids is amazing. A few steps into the park there is the cutest little cafe, which we took advantage of. Refreshed, we ventured further and discover a fab play park for the boy to rascal. After a little rest for Gran and Auntie ly we continued on to admire ducks, pretty bridges and have a tonne of carry on.
Munich is a handsome city. There was so much more to see, but we only had two days. We ate lots of yummy food and found the people to be really friendly. If you can catch the city in the sun even better. Public transport is abundant. If you’re struggling (like I was) street taxis are all over the place and I got Ubers really quickly when he weren’t near a rank. It’s fairly flat city which makes it easier to walk. I also found most places to have good accessibility. I’d rate it a good city for spoonies to get around.
On day three we were Austria bound on the train. Stay tuned for the next chapter of the adventure.
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