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. 


A young Indian girl dances outside the US embassy in New Delhi
* Kevin Frayer/AP via the Guardian

We had our own dance party in the kitchen this morning, Ella shook her nappy while Ammie shouted 'Bobama! Bobama!'

Now UK, let's sit up and pay attention to what can be learned about voting on the side of good, not evil. (Although, if we're honest I find it hard to imagine either option being worth dancing for. Or as a wise woman says...)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012