Tuesday, 15 May 2012

What a week.

In the last week I:

*Turned 30 and celebrated with a bunch of my favourite people in the idyllic setting of Dall Mill on the shores of Loch Rannoch.

*Completed the taught section of my Masters. (Just the dissertation to go now.)

*Relocated my whole entire life from Edinburgh to Aviemore after 12 years of city living.

*Hit the ground running in my new country-life and took over welcoming guests to stay in the Yurt and Beermoth at Inshriach for the weekend, which involved driving them across muddy fields in a Landrover I'd never driven.

*And most importantly, settled in to our new cottage.

This time last week I didn't think we'd get here. I was recovering from a weekend of partying and had a huge research proposal doom cloud hanging over my head, with an imminent deadline zooming towards me. The Drummer was on chief packing duty, but was also trying to squeeze in a few last minute Edinburgh gigs, so he was in a different time-zone altogether.

This is what our living room looked like the day before Moving Day.

Needless to say, Moving Day was horrific. We got up at the crack of dawn to finish packing, load the car and clean the flat, and aimed to set off mid-afternoon. Easy? Ha!

After several trips to deposit the 'we need to keep these, but don't need them urgently' boxes at my brothers flat and dispose of some junk at the dump, we realised that we still had far more things than would fit in one car. And we drive a Volvo estate (The Beast). Some ruthless clearing out was called for, along with a plea to a friend, who has a huge flat, to store some more of our things. Luckily he was in, and willing to look after our stereo (and other 'we kind of need them, but could probably live without them for now' things), so finally, at 8pm we had the car packed! Now just the cleaning to get on with...

Much to my mothers horror (no, she didn't know until the next day), we set off for Aviemore at 1am. Just 10 hours behind schedule. The emotional farewell to Edinburgh that I'd envisioned for weeks before was more of a 'let's get the hell out of here' frustrated moment. Oh, and don't forget to pick up the cat! Another of our kind friends was looking after the cat for us over the Birthday Weekend, and had offered to keep him until we were ready to set off. What a star! A fluffy cat rampaging round the flat when we were trying to pack and clean would have been a nightmare.

In the end, the drive up the A9 was fairly uneventful. It was pouring with rain most of the way (oh yeah, did I mention it was torrential rain all day when we were packing and repacking the Beast?!) so I drove carefully and stopped several times to have a wee rest, and by the time we arrived at our new home, dawn was breaking and the birds were out to welcome us. We parked outside the cottage and crept in with a few essential things, and were delighted to see that there was a makeshift bed made up for us on the floor. We were out like a light, and before we knew it, my phone was ringing and the mattress delivery man was here with our fancy new, amazingly comfy and therefore difficult to get out of, mattress. Woohoo!

Life since then has been a bit of a blur. But a much more relaxed and chilled out blur compared to previous weeks. Yes, I've been doing a lot of greeting holiday guests and changing beds already, but I've also had a lot of time to potter about in the cottage, unpacking boxes, baking scones, mastering the art of fire lighting, and generally just enjoying a slower pace and the peace and quiet. Although I love Edinburgh, and will no doubt miss it eventually, I've not really enjoyed living there for the last few years, mostly due to a lack of money and feeling of claustrophobia. I'm hoping that our new life in Aviemore will give me more time to let me find my creativity again (musically and woolly), and I think it may already be working its magic.

Here are a few photos I've taken over the weekend:

View of the snow covered Cairngorms from Aviemore railway station.

Our wee fireplace and wood burner.

MyloCat seems to have settled in just fine.

In amongst the nettles outside our cottage are some forget-me-nots. They make me think of all the lovely people we've left behind in the central belt.

And some primroses too.

I'm planning on posting blogs much more regularly from now on, to keep you all up to date with what I'm up to so stay tuned. A lot of people think we've moved up here for a quiet life, but I have a feeling the next four or five weeks are going to be even more hectic than the last few, since Inshriach becomes home to the Insider Festival from the 15th to the 17th June. I can't wait though!

Monday, 2 April 2012

No news is good news

My Granny always tells me that when she doesn't hear from me for ages she at least knows that no news is good news and that I'm probably just busy with my million different projects.

So I'm just checking in to let you know that I'm ok. Just busy with all of my million different projects. And I'm going to visit my Granny this Friday. I wonder, if I build a nest in her garden, will the Easter Bunny pay a visit like he used to do all those years ago?

I'll be back soon to fill you in on the life-changing things that are happening at the moment. But for now, I need to go and read a bit more about Serious Leisure Perspective.


Saturday, 27 August 2011


Oooh, I've just ordered my first Graze box. I'm quite excited! They're going to send me a wee box of nibbly treats on Thursday. Mmmm. I do like nibbly treats!

If you fancy trying it, use the code 4C1Y8M9, or follow this link, and you'll get your first box free.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Escape from Edinburgh

As much as I love Edinburgh and its festivals, you just can't beat a couple of days away from it all sometimes. I managed to escape last weekend and spent some time in Rannoch, where I attended my first ever Rannoch Highland Gathering, met some lovely locals, had some 3-generation-girly time with my mum and gran, and finally managed to sample the tasty delights of Treats!

I travelled up on Friday evening after a not-so-fun day at Stag. I was a bit grumpy and just wasn't feeling in the mood to be nice to people... probably cos I already wanted to be in Rannoch! Anyway, the drive up was pretty smooth compared to my last trip in April when we had decided to experiment with public transport. Thanks to Citylink and their inability to stick to a timetable, we ended up having to fork out £40 for a taxi from Pitlochry to Rannoch! Ooft. But, the bonus of that taxi ride was that I discovered the Trinafour road. For those of you who haven't been to Rannoch before, it's located 20 miles west of Pitlochry, along a very twisty road. My one and only car accident happened on that road about 4 years ago and there are quite a few hairy bends. The Trinafour road though is much shorter, less winding, and seems much easier to drive. I think it's my new favourite route!

When I arrived, my mum and gran were already settled into the caravan, dinner in the oven and bottle of wine ready to be cracked open! We had a good natter and got a fairly early night, as Saturday was going to be a long day.

In all the years I've been going to Rannoch (almost 30, ahem...) I've never once been to the Gathering. Madness! This year I'd offered to help man the Rannoch & Tummel Tourism Association stall, along with Annie and Bob, and had printed off a load of visitor and resident surveys to try and get filled in. I'd say our day was a success! We managed to get a good pile of surveys filled in and chatted to a lot of nice people. I met quite a few locals who remembered my great uncle Duncan fondly so that was nice too. If you've been to Rannoch, or if you're lucky enough to live there, feel free to take part in the survey by following these links:

I'm a Resident

I'm a Visitor

You'll be entered into a prize draw to win a £20 voucher which can be redeemed at any of the RTTA member businesses.

There was a really good turn out for the Gathering in general, with a mix of locals and tourists, and the sun shone for most of the day! I think my highlight would have to be watching the winner of the hill race cross the finishing line in 23 minutes and 22 seconds! This is them setting off...

And this is the hill they ran up! Mad, the lot of them!

On Sunday morning, the three of us went for a much gentler walk up at Carie. It's a Forestry Commission site on the south shore of the loch and has some great walks. We just took a short stroll since granny is in her 80's, but managed to find this nice viewpoint.

There's some good facilities too... I'd highly recommend using the loos. Clean and bright with a nice wooden smell, and with a good stock of soap, paper towels and bog roll. What more could you ask for!

This picnic area looks good too. Think I'll go back next time.

This time tho, granny was treating us to lunch at Treats, the new cafe in Kinloch Rannoch! I had a huge mug of tea to begin with, since walking is thirsty work, and ordered the Farmers Platter which I'm pretty sure is meant for sharing, but I was starving.

Mmmm, it was delicious... Pitlochry ham, four different Scottish (and I think organic) cheeses, a lovely salad, a couple of chunks of tasty bread and some chutney. Amazing! I wolfed it all down in no time.

And it was impossible to ignore the tasty looking cakes on the counter, so I also had a massive slab of carrot cake (which I think had either a hint of cardamom or nutmeg in it, instead of the usual cinnamon) and a latte. Now, since I've worked in cafe's in Edinburgh, which serve Artisan Roast coffee and are very particular about how it is served, I've become something of a coffee snob, so I have to apologise to Jane and the lovely staff at Treats. I was expecting my latte to be disappointing. Ok, so the latte glass didn't have an Easyosy cosy round it, and there wasn't a fern or a heart in the milk, but it was much nicer than I thought it would be and I didn't suffer from any post-coffee jitters ! So, I hang my head in coffee-snobbery-shame and take it all back.

Treats is definitely worth a visit. As well as the food being amazingly tasty, the place has a lovely feel about it, there's some fantastic photography on the walls, the staff are really friendly and the wee shop is well stocked with good quality gifts. A welcome addition to the Rannoch area. I'll be back soon!

And now, less than a week later, I'm trying to remember the peace and tranquillity of Rannoch after another manic week in Edinburgh. Although, I have to admit, I am going to miss the mayhem when it's all gone in September...

Monday, 15 August 2011


My knitted latte cosies are being admired by everyone at the Dovecot Cafe by Stag Espresso at the moment, including Debbie McGee, of Paul Daniels magic fame!

"My latte has a little knitted warmer on it. I love all the touches at Dovecot Cafe" @thedebbiemcgee

I've also finally cracked coffee art. Look what I did on Friday!

And my lovely friend Mrs F popped out a tiny wee lady last week! 5 and a bit weeks early, but perfectly happy and healthy, so I've churned out a couple of hats and booties. Pics to follow... when the sun comes out!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Mmmm... coffee...

I just listed 6 new items to my Folksy shop, and it feels good! After the mad rush of Xmas orders (not to mention my own last minute present making!) I needed a bit of a rest from knitting, then the rest of my life got in the way (as you'll know if you read my previous blog) so it's great to be back in the swing of things.

I've also been a bit frustrated lately as my flat can be a bit gloomy if there's no bright sunshine, so it's tricky to get decent photo's of my items. But I had a bit of a break through today, and managed to set up a mock studio for myself. My brother would be proud! The cat was very curious too, so he was banished from the room for a few hours. What a huff he's been in since!

Anyway, here are some links to the new stock. Hand knitted takeaway coffee cup sleeves. I'm doing my bit to save the world, one coffee at a time!

easyosycosy easyosycosy easyosycosy easyosycosy easyosycosy easyosycosy

Monday, 7 March 2011

Time Flies

Jings crivvens!

How did it get to be March?! I'm pretty ashamed that I only managed four blogs then abandoned the idea for 6 months... But it's not that I didn't want to blog. Believe me, I've composed at least one a week in my head since September. I just haven't had a minute to sit down and actually write them.

So I do apologise, and hope that you'll stick by my blog, even though I've ignored you for so long. Do you forgive me?! Here's a quick round-up of what I've been up to since I last blogged:

September - I went back to uni. HUUUUGE shock to the system, but definitely a good thing to do... and next thing I know, it's

December - And I was home to my folks for Christmas, then to Pitlochry for a few days while the Drummer played in Pitlochry Festival Theatre's panto.

No wait, hang on... there must have been other stuff that happened in the middle... Let's try that again.


Yes, I started my Masters and dusted off the old brain. Pretty significant, but I also had a lovely few days in Rannoch with the Canadian. She's been living in Edinburgh for about 4 years, doing a PhD, and I'd been promising her a trip to my favourite hideaway in Scotland all that time. And three months before she returned to Canada, we finally made it! This is the view along the loch that weekend...

The trip was also a chance for me to meet up with some of the locals involved in starting up the Rannoch & Tummel Tourist Association, which I've offered to help out with because Rannoch is a beautiful place and not enough people know about it. And maybe they'll let me put on some events in the area... one day! This is their new website, which is still under construction, but will be finished soon, and if you're on Facebook, you can 'like' Rannoch & Tummel there.

There were also quite a few tie commissions to get through that month too!

October was mostly spent ploughing through the uni assignments, but also, as usual, it was dedicated to Mamie Martin Fund AGM preparations. Fun stuff like doing the accounts, and putting annual reports together... but also getting these gift cards made, which went down a storm at the AGM in November!

November began, as I've said, with the Mamie Martin Fund AGM, which was a really positive day. We had Olivia Giles from 500Miles as a guest speaker. A truly inspirational woman. And it was great to hear news of one of the girls MMF has supported in secondary school now going on to study Prosthetics in Tanzania with a 500Miles scholarship.

There were a lot of cosy commissions to make in November too, as well as mug cosies flying off the Folksy shelves. I'm thanking the snow for that!

Then we got to December. Which I've already mentioned, was topped off with Christmas at home, and a few days in Pitlochry. First uni trimester completed and passed (phew!), and a few more Folksy sales.

January was January. I think I'm probably the same as most... couldn't wait for it to be over! Although I did help the Magpie Market find a new home!

I found a new musical project to get involved with in February. I'm replacing one of the flautists in the Water of Leith Trio and getting ready for our first gig in April! It's good to have something new to work towards, and they're forcing me to play Lady Gaga and such like which I'm sure must be good for my street cred...

The Alevare Duo hasn't been forgotten about though. Don't worry! We're working on some new stuff too, and hope to be gigging again soon.

And now we're in March. My knitting nights at Sofi's Bar in Leith have been going well. Last week we had 13 enthusiastic knitters which was great! All different levels too, so I'm kept on my toes, one minute explaining how to cast-on, the next deciphering complicated patterns! It's good inspiration tho, and as I've not really been doing much knitting yet this year, has got me churning out some new stock for the poor wee, almost empty, shop. So watch this space!