Looney Lockdown Bake-off!
Follow the link if you fancy some daft lockdown baking fun.
Looney Lockdown Bake-off!
Follow the link if you fancy some daft lockdown baking fun.
Stop. Start. Stop. Start.
This seems to be the pattern of my writing over the past year.
I have found it extremely difficult to get motivated over the last few months, in all sorts of ways. Restriction after restriction hasn’t stimulated my creative juices. After a hard day at work, the last thing I have felt like doing is pick up pen and paper or laptop.
What is there to say? Who cares anyway?
I enquired about a creative writing online group way before Christmas but was so inundated by life and work I didn’t think it was for me. My creative confidence is at an all time low. I feel I’ve got brain fog most days.
Despite this, I got an email from the group organiser the other day, inviting me along to the meeting this week coming. The theme for the week is ‘body parts’ -write about anything. I thought, I’ve seen more than enough body parts to last me a lifetime- the joys of nursing (again). I could not come up with any ideas. Absolutely zero. Brain fog again.
And yet, I woke at 5am today with an idea. This afternoon, instead of getting organised for my work week ahead, I have written a short story about body parts. And I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. Is it any good? Who knows? Does it matter?
What I do know is that it has made me think about something different from the pandemic, work and how I’m going to cope in the week ahead. My head feels lighter.
I’m so looking forward to Wednesday.
These are strange times indeed.
I’m writing this in a local cafe which has only been reopened a matter of days, having struggled with the cost and practicalities of ever changing guidelines. It has been closed since those misty March days when we first went into lockdown and it is now October, the leaves are changing colour and falling from the trees and there is still a sense of disbelief as to how we have found ourselves here. If the announcement is to be as expected today, this wee cafe will be shut again before it’s had time to find it’s feet.
Life as we once knew it has changed so much. Small aspects of it for the better – the reconnection with friends and family, the slowing down of 21st century life which at times appeared to be on the verge of spiralling out of control. The relief to press pause on the crazy and enjoy the small things we so often take for granted.
For every positive there has been a mountain of negatives – no matter how perfectly we apply our lipstick and brave faces (under our fashion forward masks, of course) I’m sure we can agree there’s been a general increase in anxiety, uncertainty, isolation and loneliness. Trying to work from home can very difficult for all different reasons. In our house having three adults all trying to make calls and attend zoom meetings in a small weavers cottage has been challenging to say the least. Over the spring and summer, my husband made our touring caravan into his makeshift office but that’s not practical now with winter approaching. I find that my car has become my office and this is where I make my most sensitive and difficult phone calls. Not good.
Which brings me to my question. How is everyone managing to switch off and relax when you close the door on the world at night? How are you all escaping when there is very little chance to physically do so?
I have found that our wee caravan has been a lifesaver in all sorts of ways. Not only an office by day, we have managed to clear away the work junk and packed the fridge full of delicious food and booze and headed off on a few adventures over the summer. We have travelled the length of Scotland – from the east coast to the Scottish borders to the highlands. It has been a lifesaver. It has kept us sane when the whole planet appears to be going off it’s rocker. It has allowed us to travel to the back of beyond, go for long walks on deserted beaches, wrap up warm to sit outside at night with only the stars for company. We took the family to Edinburgh just after lockdown ended in June. We were let loose. We all went a bit mad. It was such fun and there was a glimmer of hope we were headed in the right direction.
Fast forward another four months and here we are today, actually no further forward and possibly heading in reverse. Apparently Scotland is to face stricter guidelines again which will affect the already fragile hospitality and travel industry. Who knows if it will ever fully recover? Who knows if any of us will? The dark shadows under the eyes look like they might be here to stay.
We are booked to go away in the wee caravan tomorrow and it may be selfish, but I really want (need) to go. This will be the first time we have taken the van outwith Scotland. We are heading to Northumberland and again it will just be us, the open road, the sky, and peace perfect peace. These are the little things that are keeping us afloat during the hellish landscape of 2020. We’ve been sitting at night creating a wishlist of things we want to do, places we want to see. I hungrily devour the travel articles in the Sunday papers and dream, dream, dream of where we will go. I miss our beloved Cornwall so much but anywhere will do – anywhere that the sun kisses your cheeks and the breeze tastes of salty waves. I’m not a travel snob. I’ve been to different places with different people for different kinds of holidays. We’ve slept in tents, luxurious hotels, even on the beach when we were much younger and skint and personal safety was lower in our priorities. We’ve ridden the Pepsi Max in Blackpool, the tourist train in Benidorm and a bare back stallion in the Caribbean sea across from Barbados.
So, can we have it all back please? We are ready now. Where will we go? Who cares! Let’s go! Pack your bag. These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do.
The caravan is packed and raring to go. So are we. Fingers crossed we will be off on another adventure as planned. It’s time to start living again, whatever the risk.
Young players breaking into the first team is no new phenomenon at Motherwell. Allan Campbell is simply the latest in a long line of success stories, having broken into the squad as a teenager and firmly establishing himself as a key player. Now, however, he is being linked with a move to Aberdeen or Hibernian. […]Motherwell must keep Campbell this year — Kris Johnston Football Blog
I was listening to the radio this morning while catching up with my housework (!) It was a guess the year game and one of the songs was Cher- Turn back Time. I guessed (wrongly it turns out) that it was 1990. This got me thinking about what I was doing in that year and that if we really could turn back time, would we do things any differently? What would we advise our young selves?
It turns out this was a big year for me, although I didn’t realise it at the time (as you don’t when you’re young).
I turned 18 years old in the February and by the May, I had begun my training as a Student Nurse. This was not something I had ever aspired to do, having applied on the spur of the moment. Much to my delight (and apprehension), I was accepted.
I left home to move into the Nurses Home, to a place which was isolated in itself as well as being a good distance away from family and friends. I had grown up in the sprawling steel town of Motherwell and rural Stonehouse was a shock to the system. I never settled and scurried home every day I had off duty.
Life as a student nurse had many highs and numerous lows. My young eyes were opened to unimaginable horrors but also unbelievable miracles on a daily basis. I was witness to incredible kindness and compassion as well as occasional indifference. It was along this rocky path that I learned by good and bad example what kind of nurse and person I aspired to be.
These were exhausting, happy, heartbreaking, wonderful times. Life was a roller coaster, and on many occasions over the following 3 years, I would question my choice of profession. A few times I almost quit.
The support of family, friends and colleagues got me by then, as they do now.
I remember phoning my mum late at night from the Nurses Home after some particularly traumatic shifts, begging her to please come get me. All I wanted at those times was to be home with my family, in the comfort of my own bed. Mum would drive up to collect me, no questions asked, and I would be back on the ward at 7 am the next morning, ready to go again, a little bit wiser, my eyes opened a little wider still -the terror of being in charge of an acute medical ward when I barely felt in charge of myself.
Would I change any of this?
Would I advise my 18 year old self to choose differently?
Maybe I would advise an easier, less stressful career where not as much pressure and responsibility is placed on fragile young shoulders.
But I’m still here, 30 years later, nursing as ever. I still have my love/hate relationship with the profession but do believe my life is richer for choosing to travel this path.
I still have my good and bad days but it is who I am now. I am a nurse. And I try to be the best, kindest, most compassionate nurse I can be, always trying to put my patients first. The day that changes, I know it will be time to move on.
My lovely work colleague sent our team this picture today and for me it kind of sums up nursing and what it means to me – we are all unsung superheroes on a daily basis in an ever changing profession where resources are scarcer than ever while expectations rise every day. We just don’t have our capes any more. 😊😇💗
Written March 2016. Updated 28/1/20
This is my very first post on my very first blog.
At the start of the year I promised myself I was going to write more, take more photographs, travel to new places…..and share this with anyone who was interested.
I have since set up my own Facebook page ‘Sweet Nothings ‘ and have been inspired by an 11 year old girl to write my own blog.
So far so good.
I’m enjoying documenting places I have been, recipes I have enjoyed, photos I love. It gives me a creative outlet which I feel is very important, especially if you have a stressful working life like I do.
I hope my pages inspire other people to notice the sweet nothings around them too.💕
We had a chat with our boys recently when we were away on one of our family weekends. On this occasion, we were all walking part of the West Highland Way and staying overnight in a ‘haunted’ pub/hotel. It had been a real fun day of walking, chatting, good food and laughs.
I had asked what their friends were doing for the weekend and the answer was ‘nothing much, really’. On further probing, the boys told us that ‘no – one else does things like us’.
This got me thinking about all the holidays we have gone on over the years and the adventures we have had as a family.
We have always included the boys in our adventures, even when they were very small. We just adapted activities to suit them. We have camped, caravanned, holidayed in a Finca in the middle of the Spanish mountains, swam in rivers where the dragonflies were as large as your hand and Andalucian horses quietly took a cooling dip nearby.
We have so many memories and photographs, so many stories to tell.
My plan is to share some of our adventures and maybe inspire others to travel with their children more. I believe that holidays with children don’t need to cost a fortune- some of our happiest times have been with very little expense.
Our two boys are now teenagers and they still love to come away with us. We love having them with us too and dread the day they no longer want to. However, when that happens our adventures will continue and who knows – maybe one day they’ll rejoin us with little ones of their own.
Of course, there are the basics: the cooking, the cleaning, the school run, the taxi run (everywhere). All of this while trying to balance the practicalities of work and home and trying to remain reasonably sane – not always possible!
While all these things are an essential and unavoidable part of motherhood, I do believe that it’s the small, often overlooked things that matter more – the goodnight kisses, the wiping of tears (and snotters), the plaster on yet another skint knee.
I realise how important these little things are, especially now that my children are grown – I don’t care what anyone says, teenagers can be difficult to love sometimes!
For this reason, I am so glad to have been a ‘collector of little things’ my whole life. I have boxes and boxes crammed full of memories, not just of my own children, but from when I was little – things my own mum saved for me (also a hoarder!).
I have a ragdoll I made when I was in Primary 2 – bright pigtails with one eye missing. I have my teenage diary which is both hillarious and touching to read, my words full of wisdom (?) and drama!
When I was a young nurse working long stetches of nightshift in a land far,far away (Stonehouse), my friends and then boyfriend (now husband) would post me silly letters to cheer me up. I still have them and they still make me giggle all these years later.
I found my Inter-Rail tickets the other day, from when I back-packed round Europe in my early twenties (again with my boyfriend now husband). They were inside the journal in which I had recorded all our travels and adventures – full of all the wee things we would have forgotten by now : how blue the sea was; what new, unusual things we had for dinner; how noisy the train to Rome was with everyone singing out the windows….
I read my scribbles and think with a smile, ‘Oh yeah, remember that?’.
When it comes to my own children, I have first shoes, first curls, first scribbles. I’ve saved their notes and stories – so precious to me now. When my younger son was having terrible nightmares around 6 years old, we made a dream catcher which we then hung above his bed, telling him it would catch all his horrible dreams before they got to him in his sleep. Amazingly, it worked and the nightmares disappeared. The dream catcher was squirrelled away into one of my boxes.
I’ve got half finished puppets with the pins still holding them together (my boys didn’t really ‘do’ sewing!), and hundreds and hundreds of photographs.
I feel I have to point out here that I don’t live in a mansion with endless rooms – I live in a Weavers Cottage with no storage space or loft so I have had to be very selective over the years!
To me, all these things are what being a mum (or dad) is about.
Yes, all the big stuff is important too, but these little memories matter just as much, if not more. It’s all about making sure your child feels loved, secure, safe and happy and also for being there on those days when they might be feeling scared, angry or sad (whether they’re a toddler or a teenager).
These days, I might not be able to reach out so much to ruffle a scruffy little head or gently wipe a chocolate-smudged face (although I still try sometimes to great howls of teenage disapproval!), but I know I can still find all that again in one of my memory boxes. After a difficult day, sometimes that’s all that’s needed to calm my heart and my nerves.
My only worry as the years go by is where I’m going to store them all. My house isn’t getting any bigger and my collection isn’t going to get any smaller any decade soon!