Monday, December 24, 2012


I'm in a much better mood now, lest you were concerned. I've prepared Christmas dinner, I've bought all my presents, I've fought for a parking space in Waitrose carpark at 8am, I've sat outside in the car while Nye collected presents from the post office and I'm almost over the fact that we are quarantined to our kitchen and dining room because the whole damn house is infested with cat fleas. Yup, that's right, our lovely new house is hoaching with fleas and my ankles wrists and right butt cheek look like the worse pictures that come up when you google 'flea bites'. Needless to say I'm not too keen on the previous owners. And their cat is pretty high up on my list too.

Anyway, like I said, I'm getting over it, even if I now have to pee in a bucket in the corner of the bedroom because the bathroom is the worst affected area and the most likely place where my ass (literally) is being mauled and I just can't face going in there any more.

I'm even starting to feel a little festive, tentatively. And aside from the fleas, I love our new house. But more about that after the holidays. For now; merry Christmas to you all, I'll see you in the 2013. xx

Friday, December 21, 2012


This is pretty much how I feel about Christmas and life in general at the moment. 
I'll be back when I can muster some cheeriness. If that takes longer than four days then have a wonderful Christmas, if you go in for that sort of thing. 

Friday, December 14, 2012


Guys, did you know that moving house is FUCKING STRESSFUL? I'd kind of forgotten.

But we did it, we got here. And now I'm sitting in our new dining room, at the knackered old desk we're using as a dining table, listening to W&P 'napping' (rioting) in their new bedroom with our new tiny fireplace in it, overlooking our new (very wet) garden.

And one of my favourite 'cheer up, it might be stressful but a wee dance would help' songs just played on the radio. Nye left at 6 this morning, he gets back tomorrow night sometime. W&P are completely unhinged (turns out toddlers find moving kind of stressful too) but I think I might survive.

Thank you for all your well wishes and congratulations and new home cards (seriously, THANK YOU). You're the best.

*print by Colorbee on etsy. I really want this for above my desk, to go with my housewarming present to myself.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In Siberia.

'...accelerated urbanisation over the past century has distanced humanity from the very animal and plant sources of life itself. We are living in disharmony with the elements that comprise the universe, as if we too were not similarly formed, as if we were purely rational beings. We are disregarding the spiritual and instinctive qualities that until now have ensured our survival. We assume grave risks when we distance ourselves from our natural roots, roots which in the past always made us feel part of the whole.' Sebastião Salgado 
These photos from Sebastião Salgado's Genesis project (a huge project spanning 6 years) took my breath away when I was flicking through last weekend's Guardian magazine. Salgado spent 40 days living with the Netets, nomadic reindeer herders of northern Siberia. The pictures he took are epic and yet intimate, painterly and yet distinctly documentary photography.  It's the first time in a long time that I've felt inspired by contemporary photography and the first time in as long as I can remember that I've eagerly awaited a gallery exhibition. Which I'll be able to go to, because I live in London now. 

Photographs: Photograph: Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas/nbpictures, via The Guardian. 

Monday, December 10, 2012


I forgot to allocate time for the most fun part of moving house in The Plan: arguing over what makes the cut if it doesn't all fit in the van. Every time.

Sample conversation:

N: We have too much stuff. Can we throw out our pans? I hate them, I want ones with smaller handles.
C: You want us to move into a new house with no pans?
N: we'll get new ones.
C: No. You don't throw out pans UNTIL you have new ones. 

Conversation we haven't had yet but I know is coming:

N: can I throw out that huge pink lampshade?
C: no, I love it.
N: But it takes up loads of room, doesn't fit in any boxes and is too big for the new house.

Every time.

*Ghose house, by Jin Otagiri. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is what our house would look like if Nye was in charge. Except there would be a mountain bike and some really big speakers. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Plan.

The Plan: 

Today: pack all the things, say goodbye to all the family. 

Tomorrow: clean the whole house

Tuesday: Widdle and Puke and I get on a plane to London, Nye's brother gets off a plane from London. He and Nye pack the house into a hire van, hoping it all fits. Nye's brother's girlfriend (my sister-not-in-law? Maybe we'll just call her 'Mary'), meets us at the airport. We go and pick up the keys for OUR NEW HOUSE then go and stay the night with Mary. Nye and his brother drive for more or less 12 hours through the night with all of the things in the van that may or may not be big enough.

Wednesday: we move all of the things into OUR NEW HOUSE.

Thursday: cry a lot because a) there's all the mess, b) I can't find the coffee pot, c) we finally live in OUR NEW HOUSE. 

Friday: Nye gets on a plane back to Inverness, picks up our car and comes back to The Bat Cave Cottage to get all of the plants and other things that wouldn't fit in the hire van. Then he drives to Glasgow to stay the night with Sophie.

Saturday: Nye drives from Glasgow to London with the plants. 

Sunday: we all live in OUR NEW HOUSE. IN LONDON. 

The end. 

image by Gemma Correll

Monday, December 03, 2012


Next week I'm getting on a plane, with toddlers, two toddlers. Just me and two toddlers. I don't like getting on planes at the best of times (I'm not scared of them, they just smell bad and they're uncomfortable and the whole thing takes sooooooooo looooooooooong and I can't afford the good seats.) me, alone with two toddlers is not the best of times.

How do I entertain two toddlers for 2 hours? Two toddlers who do not like sitting still unless there's awful tv to watch and I don't have any devices for watching awful tv on the move so please don't suggest awful tv. 

The wise Christine suggested sticky plasters (band aids) to unwrap and stick. And Celia is all about the snacks which I think might be a goer, seeing as they're not allowed unscheduled snacks the rest of the time (we're very French/mean like that.) Between snacks and sticky plasters I think we've got about 15 minutes covered. What else have you got? 

Also, do I sit between them so they don't fight, on the aisle so they can't escape? Or do I sit by the window and order a glass of wine, trusting that the doors are locked and they can't go anywhere? Dilemmas. 

*I'm sorry, I don't have a credit but the picture was too good not to use. I imagine it's from a shiny fashion magazine, the kind I won't get to read on the plane. 
UPDATE: image is by Helmut Newton, thanks Mr T

Friday, November 30, 2012

gift etiquette.

What's the etiquette with buying someone a book for Christmas that you really want to read? Are you allowed to read it before you give it to them? Or is that really not okay? What if the book is second hand already? Does that make a difference? While we're on the topic, are you allowed to watch DVDs before you give them? What about trying out perfume?

(I really want to read this book.) 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

And the bride wore...

shoes with ears.

This wedding was ridiculously gorgeous, from the shoes with ears upwards. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My 7 point guide to celebrating the purchase/sale of a property.

We've bought and sold a few houses over the last 8 years, this seven step plan has never let me down.

1. Refuse to believe that you have actually bought/sold a house until your partner provides documentary evidence.  
2. On sight of such evidence, frown a lot.  
3. Tell him you've changed your mind and you don't want to move, you're too tired.  
4. Frown a lot more, until it hurts.  
5. Go to bed and have a long nap, your frowning muscles need some time to rest.  
6. Get up, bake a cake. One with icing and sprinkles. Frown throughout.  
7. Develop a fever, go back to bed. 

Repeat steps 3 - 7 as necessary while someone more competent orders packing boxes, tape, a removals and looks after your children. (We exchanged contracts, as of December 7th we will own a house in London. Whether I will be able to rouse myself to actually move into it is another matter.)

*image of Flat Stanley by Junkaholique

Monday, November 26, 2012


Sorry about the interruption  It doesn't seem to matter how often I set up my domain to automatically renew, every year it runs out without warning and every year my blog turns into an advert for backpacking on valium. Anyway, we're back and apparently everything will be fine next November 21st. We'll see.

We still live in the highlands. Despite having paid a hefty deposit on a house in south London. We were supposed to exchange contracts on Friday. Then we were supposed to exchange contracts today. Today no one bothered to even pretend that we're supposed to exchange contracts tomorrow.

The highlands are.... interesting.  For the first six weeks the countryside was beautiful and there was daylight, which was nice to get outside in. Now it's dark, almost all the time, and fungi has started growing in every corner of our cottage. Dry laundry left on the floor near a wall is not dry when you return to pick it up. Daylight doesn't penetrate the 2ft deep walls and you end the day realising that you haven't seen the sky once, in fact you can't actually be certain that the sun rose today. It was dark when you got up and it was dark when you went to bed, and those two bits of the day, lying under the velux window are the only times of the day when you see anything above ground level, the rest of the windows in the house being a ground level and looking right our onto other peoples' walls.

Darkness, inactivity, isolation, November, are getting to you. It's too cold to exercise outdoors, so you just don't. Instead you watch a lot of telly and drink a lot of Lidl wine. The £3.65 Cote du Rhone is surprisingly tasty. At least, it was until that night you drank too much of it, and some gin too, and today when you queued in Lidl to buy your muesli, the placement of the drinks aisle next to the queue you inevitably have to spend 20 minutes waiting, it very presence made you feel slightly queasy. Abstinence.

Despite this, I'm glad we tried this 'countryside' thing. I always thought we wanted to live in the countryside, I secretly worried that London was a bit of a fall back plan because we weren't ready to take the plunge into rural living. It turns out that we really, definitely, absolutely don't want to live in the countryside. We're city people, which has come as a surprise to both of us. I'm glad that we learned this now, that we're moving to London having let go of the thought that we'd be moving to The Island if only we could work from there.

There's a lot that I've loved about being here though; woods, beaches, cows, breweries, time spent with my mum, fish and chips, sticks with moss growing on them, farm shops where you can buy 30 eggs for £4 and a week's worth of fruit and veg for £8.

I'm ready for London now though. I miss my friends and public transport and leaving the house on foot and there being more options than 'up the road to the horses' or 'down the road to the chickens'. Not that those aren't both excellent options, but I feel like maybe we've done them to death for this winter. Universe, please.

Other things. I got an iphone and instantly got sucked back into the world of instagram. I joined it back in the spring, when we lived in Glasgow and I had a crappy, cracked android phone, but I barely used it because it was so slow and made my phone crash two times out of three. Then we moved here and there's no phone reception so I just put my phone in a drawer and forgot about it. During that time I realised how much my blog was losing content to instagram and twitter and vowed that I was giving up both. Yeah, that didn't work. I use twitter a lot less now but instagram is irresistible  This is me, if you want to follow. I like instagram and I like filters, I have no time for people complaining that being able to make them instantly pretty lets anyone think they can take a good photo. So there. I won't be posting any more iphone pictures here though, if you want to see them you can follow me.

I think that's it for now. Feel free to ask me questions if there's anything I've missed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Nye (muttering under his breath as he discovers some scene of carnage): 'oh, you little bollocks' 
Ammie (loudly and excitedly): 'Ammie bollock!' 
Ella (concernedly) 'Ella not bollock, Ammie bollock.' 
Nye: 'oh god.' 
Cara (in another room): laughs hysterically, leaves room to prompt numerous repetitions of toddler bad language.
Parenting fail.

I started a tumblr, recording Widdle and Puke's adventures in language. It amazes me continuously how much they understand and how fast their brains are moving, it's no wonder that they short circuit sometimes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

On photography.

"But seeing – really seeing – has nothing to do with photography. And it rewards you with pleasure. The most important thing – and if any photographer wants to disagree with me, they can go off into oblivion – is your emotional approach. 
Some people say that truthfulness is impossible in photography. But if you're in a battle in Vietnam, watching young men dying and trying to kill other men, and there's no truth in that, where is there truth? When you see Eddie Adams' picture of the police chief shooting a man in Saigon, there is absolutely no doubt in your mind that you are looking at the ultimate disgusting truth of what happened that day. 
This is why I really believe photography is about making an emotional commitment to where you are and what you're doing. I try to cut out the technical side as much as possible. If you're in a refugee camp, the knapsack you carry on your back is the weight of moral obligation, and the fear of failing. 
Even now, when I stand on the edge of a field here in Somerset to take a landscape picture, it's not about getting the photograph, it's about being there. Don't waste time. Look at what's in front of you." 
Don McCullin, on photography. 

I'm not going to be pretentious enough to compare war photography to taking pictures of kids and weddings. Except, well, that's kind of exactly what I'm doing. Forgive me. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What do you daydream about?

By Tracie Taylor

A friend asked this recently, on realising that she spends most of her daydreaming time daydreaming about childcare, its possible permutations and eventualities and their impact on her time.

At the moment I just don't have the mental capacity to focus on any one daydream for more than about 4 seconds, preferring to flit from thought to thought, only returning to one when I've completely forgotten what I was thinking in the first place. 

Here though, in rough descending order of frequency and duration, are the things that currently occupy my thoughts, when I am awake enough to have them. 

* Nye and I lying on a deserted beach somewhere warm with kids who are happily occupied playing with sand and shells and someone on hand to bring us vast quantities of food. 
* More generally, just food: What I would like to eat and how nice it would be to have someone to cook it for me.  
* storage: for books, toys, kitchen implements, bathroom ephemera, booze.  
* living in London. (Subcategories: the galleries to visit, the friends to spend time with, the food to eat.) 
* A better wardrobe.   
* having Good Hair.

I conclude that my life is lacking sunshine, London and somewhere to keep all my crap, and that I need to eat more and book an appointment with a hairdresser. 

What do you daydream about and what does it tell you about your life right now?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

people's reactions when you tell them you're moving to London.

There are three ways that the conversation goes:

them: 'I hear you're moving to London.'
us: 'yes'. 
them: 'I take it you're moving for work?' (implied: why would you move to London if you didn't have to?)
us: 'no, we can work from anywhere, we just want to live in London.'
them: puzzled silence.  
them: 'You're moving to London? Why? It's a horrible place. I HATE London.'
us: puzzled silence. 

them: 'You're moving to London?! I LOVE London, I'm so jealous!' 
us: 'thank you, we're really excited!' 

Alternative endings to Conversation 1 include 'rather you than me', 'good luck', 'don't people usually move out of London when they have children?' but we haven't had one single conversation about moving to London that hasn't followed one of these three basic templates. My favourites are the people who tell me how dangerous London is. I can't help but laugh and point out that we're moving there from Glasgowand that in doing so our household insurance premium halved. Just something to think about.

*I actually kind of love Glasgow and never felt unsafe once in the 6 years that I lived there. It does make South London look like a day out in the Cotswolds though.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Second birthday

We forgot until we were half way through making breakfast, when we turned to each other: 'they're two! You're two!' 

Celebratory toast and jam and then frantic packing and cleaning to get to the ferry on time after a long holiday on a windy isle. 

Ferry fish and chips for lunch, plans to stop in Skye for some birthday cake derailed by two two year olds, fast asleep in the back of the car. 

A long drive home, through mountains and moors and forests. Pizza for dinner, a low-nutrient day. 

A bath and bed and asleep before the lights are out. Us and them.

Two. Two two year olds. Two.