Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Counting My Blessings

I originally misspelt that and came out with "Clouting My Blessings", which is not to be recommended.

Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. In fact I'm probably doing that on a fairly permanent basis. 

I feel like I live on the edge of totally not managing, most of the time, but simultaneously manage to just about get away with it. There are consequences, and some times the cracks show. Like how the house is rather untidy, and I only made it to work on time this morning by getting the lovely L to make my lunch and crossing the road without waiting for the green man.

Sorry green man.

I go through phases of thinking I'm getting on ok and maybe even achieving something, and then I go through phases of thinking that I just can't keep up the juggling act. The fact of the matter is that I've probably been living in that grey area in between the two for some time now, and will no doubt keep doing so or some time to come. I can only hope I'm self-aware enough to know when to put one of my proverbial juggling balls down before I drop the whole lot.

In those odd spare moments when I think about what I'm going to blog about each week, I had come quite close to writing something along the lines of this:

Good evening dear Bloggity Buddies,
I'm going a little loopy. Time for a bloggy holiday. See you in a few weeks. 

But then I thought of some other things I might say at the same time, and before you know it there are a couple of hundred words on the screen and we might live to blog another week. And I remembered how some of you occasionally tell me that you read this thing, and that you even glean a measure of enjoyment from doing so. This gives me great pleasure, inflates my ego to dangerous proportions, and I find myself feeling something that the less stone-hearted of you might call "a warm fuzzy feeling". In our house we openly call these "wooshies", in all seriousness, because I am incapable of expressing genuine emotion in proper grown-up language.

A wooshie looks a little like this.

Should I be worried that this looks like a virus?

Sleepies look similar. Their about the same size, but light purple, and like a cube with rounded corners. They gang up and jump on you at exactly half 3 most afternoons.  They are hard to draw, on account of being kinda translucent, and also imaginary.

So, there I was, floating on a small cloud of wooshies (they're disproportionately strong, and gravity-defiant, didn't you know), and I got to actually thinking about those blessings I was trying to count last week.

Last week I couldn't count them through the cloud of internal swearing that was going on in my head. I can't even remember why now, so it can't have been important. This week I'm going to have a go at putting names to them. 

1. I am me. 

I'd be fairly pants at being anyone else.

2. I have a brain. 

I don't always make the best use of it, but I know it's there. I'm perhaps too close to be fully self-aware. I ricochet between "Dear Lord, I'm such an idiot" and "Dear Lord, everyone around me is such an idiot". Those can't both be true, or we'd all be doomed, so I must have some brain cells in there somewhere. 

On Friday I was walking down Union Street trying to work out in my head what the 19th triangle number is. I got it right and everything.

3. I have some skills.

I should remember this. I can play a tin whistle. Yes many many other people can play it better, but many can't pay it at all, and I'm getting better slowly. 

I can't knit but I can crochet. Last Easter I made L this carrot, which is definitely an innocent little carrot, and doesn't look rude at all. 

I can make 3 different types of cake given the recipe and the kitchen to myself. And I can pour wine from the bottle without spilling a drop. I am not entirely devoid of Life Skills. 

4. I can dance.

I'm in there!

So long as it's the sort of dance where there are instructions and no-one ever has to "improvise" or "freestyle" (eeek), I'm ok. I even sometimes manage to get other people to dance. These, I believe, are good things. In a few weeks we're off to IVFDF, where L and I will be calling the Scottish. There's a programme, and music from two very good musicians. I'll never manage to convince you that Scottish Country Dancing is cool, but this should be a cracker of a night and you should be there if you possibly can. 

5. I have a job.

One single, solid job, that I've managed to keep doing for some time now. Even when it was incredibly stressful and not really very enjoyable. I'm ok at it, and I think they want me to keep doing it. That's something, right? They pay me money for it too. That's not to be sneezed at. Moreover I'm able to save some of that money up to pay for this Wedding thing I'm having this year.

My verdict on the whole nine-day-fortnight thing can wait for another week.

6. I have a Fiancee.

I have the best one, if you ask me. This also means I get to plan a big shiny shindig where we all eat lasagne and drink good wine and dance to good music. And I get to go home with a Wife. Ain't that crazy!

7. I am a Christian. 

And I get to say that without risking having my head chopped off. Now there's people out there that would say I wasn't a very good one, on account of that Wife I'm going to have pretty soon, but they don't get to choose, so nerr. I'm lucky that I live in a city where there is a big enough spread of Christian thought that I can find a Church where I can go, with my nearly-Wife, and be welcome. The rumour mill in our place is so slow that someone else congratulates us each week. 

8. I have a supportive family. 

And should probably phone home more often than I do.

9. I have awesome friends.

And pretty darn soon I'm going to get to spent a weekend in a castle with a whole bunch of you. Can't bloody wait. 

Fireplace, candles, freekin' mahoosive dining table, it's got the lot.

10. There is a chicken pie in the oven with my name on it. 

Ok, that's a lie. There are two. But they're quite small and you can't make me feel guilty about it.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Hell is Other People, but Squirrels are ok.

And even then, they're probably all inside my head.

It's ok. There is a tiny squirrel to cheer us all up in the end.

I run a bit hot and cold when it comes to the subject of "people". Don't take it personally. Individually you're all special snowflakes, you should know this, but when bundled together and taken as a collective, I can't always take it.

We're now on day 7 of a new 9-day fortnight thing my office is trialling. 

The early starts are gonna make or break me.

On paper, and probably in practise, I think it could be a really good thing, but it's going to take me some getting used to, I can tell you. The basics are this: I start an hour earlier and take a short lunch. I still finish at five or not long after. Then one Friday I finish at 3 and the next Friday I don't show up at all. That magic day ten hasn't yet arrived, so at the moment I just feel over-worked and tired and grumpy. This Friday I left at 3 and then spent the rest of the evening feeling spectacularly illogically guilty. I'm the first person to tell the people around me to go home on time and not think about work till they're back in the building. I know that it is good and proper and permitted to not think about work when I'm not being paid to be thinking about work. But then I saw that there were emails popping in to my inbox (I didn't read them, give me some credit) and I felt a little bit like I'd abandoned my 9-5 colleagues. I couldn't turn that thought off until about lunchtime on Saturday, when I found some new stuff to worry about.

This is not good, and this is not me. It's not going to get to me. Decision made.

It makes me tired and short-fused and a bit of a pain to be around. I would know, I have to be around me all the flaming time. When I'm like that I get all sweary and me-against-the-world. There's too many of you, and you get in the way, and walk too slow and breathe too loud. You get your damned phones out at the ballet! Why would you do that? This is life or death stuff! Grr.

Then you have the audacity to want me to do totally reasonable things like answer the phone and know the answers to stuff. Don't you know I just want to be a hermit who stays home drinking tea, reading Pratchett and not talking to anyone? Why was that not on the list when the School Careers Whatsit asked me what I wanted to do with my life*, huh?

I found myself laying in bed, being kept awake by the battle between the part of my brain that was trying to count its blessings**, and the part of my brain that was trying to tell the first part where to stick its blessings. There was a third part in the mix, but it just wanted to diddle this tune.

That's enough of all that nonsense. I'll go to bed really early tonight and it'll all be ok. Besides there is a celebration afoot.

This happened.

It's Squiggle's Birthday!

His Cuteness is 2!

He's been a busy little fella, those two years he's been in our lives.

Did I ever tell you the story of how he came to join our little family?

So tonight we're having a party. 

There is pizza, and bunting, and party food. This is a party. Yes, it's a party for a 3" tall stuffed squirrel, but's it's a party nonetheless. 

Did I ever tell you the story of how fell fell out of the tandem squirrel-carrier and got lost and run over, and we had to launch a Police Search and Rescue Mission to find him?

He has cake, and a card, and a packet of biscuits as big as he is. Best Squirrelly Birthday Eva!

I've even been allowed fizzy juice on a school night. That's definitely proof of it being a special occasion. And I'm helping with the pizza too. 

I used the blurry photo because all the ones that were in focus showed up the dark circles around my eyes. I don't think that's a good thing. 

Did I ever tell you about the time Squiggle was hidden by a small forgetful child in a caravan, and then there was an avalanche in the night, and how it was all very dramatic but worked out ok in the end?

*I wanted to be a Vet. Then I got fairly crappy A-levels, and became allergic to cats, and now I've got a broadly-speaking useless degree in Geography. Funny ol' world.
**Which are numerous and wonderful and I should me much, much more grateful for.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Great Barrier Reef

I have a friend, who must now be almost about ten or 11, but when he was a toddler he liked nothing more than watching David Attenborough nature documentaries. 

I totally understand, Dude. I am falling in love with nature documentaries all over again.

This is my latest TV fix. Now that Masterchef is over, that is. Classic David-whispers-at-fish documentary stuff. And it just chills me right out. It's magic.

You see, it's winter in Scotland right now, and I'm a wimp when it comes to the cold. Just totally not cut out for it. Today I gave in and came home past T K Maxx and bought myself a boring (but hopefully warm) black cardigan that is going to become my new work cardigan. Because I have colleagues and they give me funny looks for keeping my coat on.

Apparently (and my google-fu has failed me here) when Titanic came out in cinemas people started complaining that the heating had broken, or asking the staff to turn the heating up. Then (also apparently) when Towering Inferno was on, cinemas had to turn the air conditioning on. People have done the science that says seeing cold things makes you feel cold, and crucially (for me) seeing warm things makes you feel warm. Proper actual science. I think it's a very cool thing (no pun intended) and you should read it.

My new hobby is watching warm beaches and colourful coral reefs and bright shiny sunshine, and trying to convince myself that I too am in some tropical clime where I could wear shorts and flip flops and not die. To trick myself in to picturing nice warm things, even though I am probably fully dressed, in bed, with an extra blanket and a bobble hat on.

There was a moment of great peril last night when a newly-hatched turtle made it all the way to the sea without getting eaten. Many of his little turtle friends and little turtle siblings were eaten by birds and sharks, and I had to be given a cup of tea to calm me down.

There might be another reason I'm getting hooked on this programme. 

We have an Antipodean holiday in the pipeline! Not for time yet, but the saving up and the plotting has begun. We'll be going in the British winter, ergo southern hemisphere summer. I do okay in heat, so right now I'm just thinking warm thoughts and looking forward to a day when I might be able to wear sandals again and have to start worrying about sunscreen.

For the well-travelled amongst you, any suggestions of things to do or see should we find ourselves in Australia or New Zealand?

So, wozhapnin this week?

Last week I told you we were off to do some W-word planning. It was fun and not stressful and really rather successful, thank you.

This week there'll be none of that nonsense. This week is all about tartan and cake, for on Saturday we will eat Haggis and toast a man who wrote lots of poems and died 220 years ago. For this, I am desperately trying to learn to play a tune called The Warlocks. *diddle-dum-pa-dum, diddly-dee-da-diddle-dee* I've played it rather a lot in the last few days and I'm still not sick of it (L might be), so it must be a good tune. 

Come Saturday I will wear my new tartan trousers, eat second helpings of haggis, and then try and play it for you all. Wish me luck. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Getting Married. To each other.

I'm trying to make some more wedding planning happen.

There's a wedding dress outlet place in town I thought we'd try while they've still got a sale on (for we are cheapskates).
"I'd like an appointment for two of us to try on dresses"
"Ok, when are you both getting married"
"So you're both getting married on the same day?"
"yes, to each other"

We are not, it seems, what the wedding industry is expecting.

I'm finding I need to be really quite blunt about the fact that there are two of us and we're both female, and we'll be marrying each other. As opposed to two random silent grooms that I have just neglected to mention. Maybe there's just this accepted model that the bride will get all excited and plan stuff and the groom will just let her get on with it? Seems a bit daft if there is. Fellas - you get to choose stuff too!

I find myself being a little sensitive to the phrase "Bride and Groom", when "couple" would more accurately do the trick - the straight couples wouldn't notice, and I wouldn't feel so left out. I've got thinner skin than I would like to have, metaphorically.

Even the City Council website is at it.

I feel like I should mention it to them, and see if they might fancy changing it. Thing is, I don't really know how to go about it without coming across as the overly-pushy-PC-brigade.

Many of these are businesses that aren't actively discriminating. They want my money irrespective of who I'm gonna end up lawfully wedlocked to. They just haven't quite cracked that equal wedding market thing. Do we think that any of them would give a favourable rate to their first same-sex wedding so they could say they'd done one? Now there's a thought.

I have this notion, which may or may not be a good one, that straight weddings might be a bit more fun, and a bit more personal if the couple didn't feel like they had to stick to the prescribed "groom-does-that-thing, bride-does-this-thing" roles. Maybe Mrs Straightwedding is always the one who is there first and Mr Straightwedding is always late. Why doesn't she do the waiting and he do the aisle-walking, huh?

Mostly, I hope we'll come up with the sort of homespun affair that the wedding industry would rather we didn't have, but there are going to be some aspects in which we'll have to dip a toe in the crazy world of wedding stuff. I'm thinking of getting t-shirts made up:

"I'm marrying her --->"   "<---I'm marrying her"

This week is full.

Like it's hit that point where to get any more things in you'd have to put them in a blender and then pour them in the edges and hope that there are some tiny air bubbles that could get displaced. In fact, that's pretty much how this post has been thrown together.

This is my evening schedule for the week:

Monday - teaching dancing. Well taught dancing really, because it happened already. And was okay in the end, I think.
Tuesday- committee-ing (which is what happens at committee meetings)
Wednesday - trying to remember how to play the whistle
Thursday - maybe trying on big white dresses, followed fairly immediately by going dancing again.
Friday - off to visit the room we're going to get married in and chat up the Registrar.

I hope as many of these things can be accompanied by coffee as possible. It will help.

Some time in the next day or so I need to (1) find my whistle, and (2) plan another dance class.

In a week's time I might be able to tell you how much nearer we are to having somewhere to get married in, and something to wear whilst doing it. For these are both useful, and you've got to start somewhere!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

My New-Year Resolution is to Throw More Wine and Cheese Parties

I like wine and I like cheese. What's to lose?

Happy New Year!

This is Stonehaven harbour, minutes before the bells. I'm technically in this photo, I think. Anyone who even remotely enjoys pretty landscape photographs should go follow this guy on Facebook. 

So... this is a post about all the stuff that happened in the snapshot of my world that was 2015. And what might be coming up for 2016, because it's hard to talk about one without the other. Like those round-robin letters people put in with their Christmas cards and no-one reads.

Some are good, some are sad. Some are things I'm proud of. Some are things I might have done differently had I another shottie. But this is the internet, so there's some selective sharing going on here. You guys see the good stuff, and some of the less-than-amazing stuff is prone to getting moderated out of the picture. I'm human too!

Dancing happened.

I taught a term of an advanced Scottish Country Dance class. Share-taught, I must point out, but I was there and I did it. I'm even about to launch in to another term. It's tough stuff, I'll admit. And I'll be honest, I'm still not yet sure whether the enjoyment and achievement factor is enough to cancel out the stress that also comes with the territory. That's a thing I guess I'm about to find out. And to see if I can't tip the balance in favour of the former.
I went to France and did some dancing. I learned the Broadswords. We managed to get through the Kelpie of Loch Whatsits on stage, in front of an audience. Like, properly, without having to rescue anyone. Those of you know understand will understand. Much achievement was achieved. We went to Carcassonne and I wore a hat.

And didn't look at all like a sweaty British Tourist, no.

I haven't played so much music this year. That's a bit of a sad thing. The band that accompanied us to France benefited from other musicians who can play the same instrument as me, but much much better, so I took the whistle along, but resolved to only play it in dark corridors whilst standing on one foot.

There has been talk recently of starting up a "Slow Session", which I think might be right up my street. Like a real session but with sheet music and fewer expectations, so there's hope for me yet.

I made a life-size set of Cluedo.

Then I was so excited about playing it, I wound up so drunk that all I could do was take photographs.

This year we're off on the same weekend away once more and I am very much looking forward to it. I've been looking forward to it since I was dragged away at the end of the last one. The Life-Size Cluedo will be hard to follow, and we'll need to nail down a plan soon. I have ideas, but nothing that could reasonably be defined as a plan. It will no doubt get blogged about after the fact, so you can have that to look forward to in February.

I became a Godparent. 

Godchild slept through the whole thing, which I took as a form of confirmation that we have at least one thing in common - the ability to sleep through Church.

I'm still not sure if I can handle the responsibility. Godparent. It's like someone grabbed the two scariest words they could think of and stuck them together. I'm choosing to redefine the term as "Pseudo-Grown-Up-Responsible-For-Playing-Aeroplanes" which I'm much better at. Eventually I might explore "Pseudo-Grown-Up-Totally-Not-Responsible-For-Acquisition-Of-Slightly-Naughty-Words", but right now Godchild still thinks everything is called Da-da.

I started a Business.

Now I have three massive tents and a bedroom full of air-beds, tent pegs and candles. We have covered many miles and met many interesting people in the name of pop-up accommodation. Here's to another successful year. I can't say I'm any way nearly ready for another season, but we'll give it a go anyway. Time we did some boring planning and stuff. We have our best "business" meetings when we go to Cosmo's for tea on a weeknight. There's a thought...

I got engaged.

Maybe this should be at the top of the page. It's a bit of a big deal, I'm told.

You all read the post, you know all the details. I am very, very happy. We drank a lot of fizz, and I mean a lot. Some very limited wedding planning has since happened. It's a bit sad we can't yet get married at Church like normal people, but it's a huge achievement for equality that we can actually get married, and I'm coming round to the plan that we now have. There might even be lasagne. I should get on to organising that.

One thing that will most certainly feature in 2016 is a wedding. Eek.

And last of all,

I kept on writing this little blog.

Most weeks, that is. Must do better. 43 posts exist that didn't exist a year ago. Those twelve months tally up to 7946 pageviews, if you would like to know. And even if you don't. I wonder how many words...

Who knows? Maybe I'll work it all out one day. Maybe I won't. But I think I might just keep writing them. Happy 2016.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Freedom, but in moderation.

Stop the clock. I'm not ready. I can't even keep up with an advent calendar. 

So rubbish am I at eating one chocolate per day, that L takes the chocolate out of the little pocket on the little twee snowman thing and puts it in a little bowl. This has come to represent my advent backlog.

My 3/4 cup spilleth over. 23, 24 and 25 are still in the snowman, this is just the backlog.

Not sure how the bourbon biscuit got there. It's gone now any way. A bit soft but still edible.

I finished work today

Two weeks from today I will have just had my first 2016 working day. Ahead of me are 13 days of glorious freedom (I think it's 13, I haven't properly counted) in which many lovely things are planned to happen, and I shall endeavour to make the most of them and not be too much of a grumpy over-socialised pain in the behind. But I'm free. The Out of Office message is turned on, my work mug has come home to go in the dishwasher, I have changed out of office clothes in to jeans and a hoody (both of which should probably be declared "inside clothes" and not allowed out any more), and I have turned off the notifications on my phone from my work email. I am symbolically free.

There shall be much Church-going, many miles, plenty of visiting of relatives and soon-to-be relatives, and much general merrymaking all round. One hopes, that is. Gallons and gallons of tea, that much is for sure.

This time round, I am looking forward to this Christmas in a big way. For it is a First.  

This will be the first year I am taking L home for Christmas. 

My home that is. Where for a number of years I have gone on my own and been a bit sad and woeful and missed her, because I'm a softy really. And for some of those years, I'd been too worried about what reception I would receive to even mention her, for I am a bit of a wimp.

It comes as quite a surprise, to me as much as anyone else, that I am doing my first Christmas with a Fiancee in tow. It's a very nice sort of different. Feels a bit like I'm catching up on missed time. The only downside is that I'll spend Christmas sleeping on my own bedroom floor. I'll cope. This is the year in which I bought 9 air-beds!

Seriously though, people have been pretty well-behaved over the whole engagement announcement thing. I mean, I felt the need to write that post, and I sometimes get a bit frustrated by having to always be nice and patient and wait and hope that people will come round. But then if we'd been born 30 years ago things would have been a whole heap different, so I really shouldn't complain. It's not yet been a whole year that we could have been married (here in Scotland). I have never been a trailblazer before. It's quite exciting.

Next week might be a run-down of the things I have done and not done (getting engaged and tidying my room, respectively) in 2015 so I won't get too deep and thoughtful just yet.

Instead I think I'll just tell you about my weekend 

Because this is my blog and I get to choose, and it was a pretty full on weekend.

This is a blurry picture of me holding a bottle of prosecco and wearing a coat which has a pocket that I can fit that whole bottle of prosecco in to. This picture was not taken this weekend, but I feel is somewhat representative of it, as I will try and explain.

Friday, L's birthday. I go to work at 9, have a meeting at half 9 that lasts until our half past ten visit from a somewhat secretive Santa, which lasts until about 12. At quarter to 1 we all go for a free Christmas lunch, and then I had the afternoon off. Go me! I met L at Ki:lau and drank happy tea while she caught up on lunch-eating. Then we drove out to Tyrebagger forest, where they sell real Christmas trees, with no intention of buying a Christmas tree. I just wanted to look at them all and smell them. They thought I was a bit odd. We went for a walk in the forest in the almost-dark just so we hadn't actually just been there, smelled some dead trees and left again. We went to Inverurie, and bought those last couple of presents that needed buying. We even bought one for someone we'd already bought a gift for, but had forgotten about, so useful we were.

Home, hot chocolate, nap. 

Then... yes, there's more. Then I took L out to the fanciest restaurant I might ever have eaten in. Now I don't do a hell of a lot of eating out, so there are fancier places out there, granted, but this place was fancypants. I even wore heels and got a bit nervous. So I got all the birthday girlfriend points and will keep feeling slightly smug for just a little while longer.

Saturday. We went to the gym, and then to Sainsbury's, which was quite a scary place to go, but we bought my little brother a really huge box of biscuits, so it was probably worth it. Then we went to an awesome little party where I might have had a bit too much to drink, which is really why I'm telling this story.

Totally not worth it.

Sunday was my pre-Christmas warning that my tolerance for alcohol is really not much, and I should remember to go easy on it. Like really easy on it. Sunday was not fun. I was just ill. And had no choice but to get on with it, for Sunday saw Rowan Tree Tents take a little role in the Aboyne Winter Festival festivities.

No-one likes pitching a tent in December with a splitting headache and legs that don't work. Especially when they have no cause to moan about it.

So, here's the thing, you guys. Go easy on your little livers if you can possibly help it. Tea is good. You might be allowed fizzy juice if you've been really good this year. Wine out of a really big glass with some home-made gin thrown in for good measure will get the better of you, if you're anything like me.

Y'know I might just leave it at that. I'm a dufus, but I think I've learned my lesson for a wee while.

I wish you all of the good things. I hope the people you have prepared gifts for think they're awesome and that you are the best present-giver that ever there was. I hope the turkey is not too pink and not too dry. I hope you are warm and happy and healthy. I hope that you are neither lonely nor forced to spend too much time with people. I hope you get a lie-in, and really enjoy it. I hope those of you who I have written cards for but not yet posted forgive me if they arrive somewhat late.

Happy Christmas - Look after your silly selves and look after each other!

And I shall endeavour to look after silly old me.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Have Yourself a Grown-Up Little Christmas

Or, y'know, don't. You choose.

Today I opened a bottle of coke, felt very chuffed that it didn't spill over, had a sip, knocked it off the desk, caught it before too much fell out, mopped the worst off my jumper, face and desk, and got back on with my work. Without anyone in the office noticing. I think.

This week there's a picture.

So I started making two lists. One about being a grown-up, which I seem somewhat obsessed with, which I think means I'm very much still at the "hopelessly-trying-to-pass-as-an-adult" stage of my life, which may continue indefinitely. The other was about Christmassy things. But I only had like 3 ideas for each, so here is the combined version.

I've missed out things like:

  • You own a car and can drive it home for Christmas, +1 point
  • ... but you're very good at ignoring that weird noise it makes, -1 point
  • You bought cute stuffed toys for all the children, +1 point
  • ... but you also bought more stuffed toys for yourself, -1 point
  • ... and took the Tiny Squirrel to a Christmas market and a Christingle service, -3 points

So I drew you all a happy Christmassy picture. 

*In my quest to encourage you all to not be grown-ups, because I tried once and it's totally overrated, I feel obliged to share this (possibly again - have I ever shared this? I can't remember).

I've never tried this, and my parents' cat would very much not be up for it. Anyone got a cat I can practice on? Please, you could film it and we could become this year's internet sensation. Then me and your cat could split our new-found riches and they could eat that fancy food that doesn't smell so bad for the rest of their days, and everyone would be happy. I'm a genius, right?

Tent News!

In tent-based news, as well as a fine trickle of 2016 queries (eek!), we have a booking this weekend coming. In December! This Sunday we will be at the Aboyne Winter Festival, chillin' with Santa.
You should come and sit in our cosy tent and listen to stories being told. Not by me, don't panic, but a proper storyteller person. There'll be reindeer. Probably not in the tent, although I would totally let that happen just for the photo opportunity.

Today, for the first time in months, I woke up before the alarm went off. It used to always be the way. I'd wake up a few seconds before the beeps. For so long I've been so sleepy the alarm has been pulling me out of proper deep sleep.

So that's my wish for you. May you be sufficiently un-tired that you wake up before your alarm. clocks.