30 Sep 2014

café, s'il vous plait


À cette époque l’année dernière j’étais à Grenoble, qu’est quelque chose qui me semble un peu bizarre puisqu’il aurait pu se passer il y a cent ans. Aujourd’hui j’ai bu un café noir et il faisait du soleil et je réfléchissais à la France et tout qui me manque dans ce pays-là.

En effet, c’est le vin bon marché. Il y a pas beaucoup d’autre.

Mais non, ça ce n’est pas vrai parce que je souviens les montagnes quand j’allais en vélo au campus et mes amis et tout ça… j’y ai passé cinq mois mémorables et il y a des moments lorsqu’elle me manque.

Par exemple, quand je bois le café que j’ai préparé et il a le gout de flaque.

18 Sep 2014

fog report

As a wonderful welcome back to uni treat, Edinburgh has been covered in fog all week.

It never completely abates, even in the middle of the day.

There has been a constant eerie haze over everything since Sunday.

Everything is quiet and spooky all the time.

The topic of conversation for every post-sunset walk home is how much it looks like the cold open of a horror film, and who would die first. So far it turns out I strike most people as monster bait, which is just great.

Everyone's hair is twice its normal size.

I feel like I'm living in an ITV crime drama.

Castle Rock at 8:30am
"Well, maybe it'll burn off later on."
You tried, I suppose.

I'm going to be cold and frizzy forever probably.

1 Sep 2014

craft corner: how to make a thing in an uncertain number of steps

As a sequel to the beach trip that left me with a bowl of idle sea glass on my kitchen table, today I finally did something with that sea glass. And I made a handy guide so that you too can make a thing if you have a bowl of sea glass and the other things I used and nothing better to do.

Step 1: get an embroidery hoop. The bigger the better in this case I think, unless you have something against that. I don't know your life, this is a judgement call you have to make for yourself.

Step 2: get some cotton. You could use string and this would probably be a much easier craft project but I wanted it to look spider-webby so I used pale grey cotton.
You can pose it inside the embroidery hoop for a minute before you start like I did if you want but it's not mandatory. None of this is mandatory. Go outside if you want; your life is your own.

Small intermediary step that doesn't seem worth numbering: take the inside hoop out of the other slightly bigger hoop and work on that one because it's just better that way.

Step 3: proceed as though making a dreamcatcher by looping the cotton/string/entrails of your defeated enemies around the inner hoop, then going around again and looping it through the first row of loops. Continue to do this until the hoops and loops are making your head swim, or until you finish.
 Lo, a beautiful web. Onwards.

Step 4: root through your bowl of sea glass for ages trying to find what you think are the best bits, then begin trying to wind cotton around them while you say "fuck" a lot. You might think the swearing is optional but you'll quickly discover it isn't. Sea glass is very resistant to being tied up in this fashion.

Step 5: get fed up with the previous step and start experimenting with a kind of weaving technique whereby you basically stitch across the web and then trap the sea glass in between the threads. This will seem like a really great idea and you'll be very pleased with yourself for a while until you try and lift it up and all the bits fall out. Say "fuck" a bit more. Make a cup of tea and scowl at the stupid thing.

Step 6: decide to stop buggering about with all the thread and blob a lot of glue on the pieces of glass.
Step 7: forget that you were supposed to be photographing the process and just go straight on to steps 8, 9 and 10 which are: attach the previously cotton-bound bits of sea glass to the bottom curve of the hoop, thus rendering them not as pointless as you thought; replace the inner hoop in the outer hoop and trim the straggly cotton ends; attach a length of ribbon to the top for hanging purposes, if indeed you plan to hang it up and not just gaze at it questioningly, seeing it only as the symbol of an afternoon you will never get back.
NB It's very important that you do all of this without waiting for the glue to dry so that when you get to step 11 (photographing the final product) you can see the glue splodges through the glass. This really adds to the professional feel of the thing.
 There you have it, a thing in just 11(?) easy-to-follow steps. Makes a perfect gift for someone, probably.

15 Aug 2014

please don't die

This is a maidenhair fern. My grandma has one in her dining room and it has always been my favourite because it flutters like moth wings (but not creepy) when you walk past it and casts the loveliest lacy shadows. I bought this one yesterday after I had to accept that my basil plant was no more. I'm hoping against hope that my maidenhair doesn't go the same way. Although to be honest, the basil plant was doing fine until someone told me that they only last a week normally and then it seemed to pop off overnight, so maybe I was the victim of a jinx.

I love plants but I'm not very good at caring for them so, naturally, I blame the universe for their quick exits from this mortal coil.

I feel quite soft and vulnerable at the moment, like if someone had been a bit too rough with my leaves. I'm trying to get myself back to normal but it's tricky because things aren't quite normal, and I'm not sure I want them back to normal either. Edinburgh is a weird place in August - it's not really the city I'm used to and things tend to happen in ways you weren't expecting. Days run together and time passes peculiarly. It's only been two weeks since the start of the month but it feels like much longer.

I realise this makes it sound like I'm miserable right now which isn't true at all. My head's been a bit mixed up and it's something that doesn't really happen to me so I'm just trying to work my way through it. But it's the Fringe! There's an almost excessive amount of atmosphere in this city at the moment and so much to see. I've developed a kind of universal desensitisation to anything that I might have previously considered a bit odd and now simply accept the presence of a man in a pair of ladies knickers and a cloth bear head (shout out to bear man) like I accept the sun rising in the morning.

In conclusion: my fern and I are doing fine for the time being. This has been a vague and unnecessary blog post. You are welcome.

12 Aug 2014

trains to the north

Just a wee video of some things from the last few months

4 Aug 2014

sea glass

 Katie came to stay and we took the train to the seaside and basically willed the sun into coming out long enough for us to go in the water. The beach in North Queensferry is so covered in sea glass you don't even have to look for it, just pick up a handful of beach and you've got lumps as big as your eye of bottles and pottery, periwinkles and mussel shells. The rocks are all covered in bright yellow and orange algae that forms these circular patterns like wallpaper in the 70s. There's a house on a clifftop that I would one day like to own.

21 Jul 2014

fire safety for cows

The first fire safety talk I had at school stands out in my mind thanks to an anecdote the fireman told us. When asked whether the fire brigade had ever really been called to rescue a cat from a tree, he scratched his chin. “No, we haven’t,” he replied, stretching out his legs in their thick rustling trousers, “But we did have to rescue a cow once. The daft thing ran off the edge of a cliff and ended up in a tree. Took us a few hours to sort that one out.”

For a long time after the talk, the cow in the tree occupied my every thought – I obsessed over the logistics of the accident and the rescue, dreamt of it mooing miserably as its legs trod thin air. I wrote a number of odes to the cow in the tree (I was in my ode-writing phase) and every countryside walk became an exercise in spotting the place where it might have happened. I was undeterred by people telling me that the fireman had made the story up for our sakes. At the time, my trust in the authority of uniformed officials was embarrassingly absolute.

Another, later fire safety talk was memorable for less entertaining reasons. On this occasion it was a brusque grey-haired man who held his helmet underneath his arm the whole time he was talking. He told us just how dangerous fire was and how almost anything could start one – I was horrified to learn that even a washing machine had the potential to burst into flames with no provocation, despite the confusing involvement of water. He made us watch a video of a family escaping a house fire in the middle of the night and I hardly slept for over a year. At the time we were living with my grandparents, who would let the washing machine run at night even after I’d told them that it could combust at a moment’s notice. For months I spent my nights getting up every hour or so to stand at the top of the stairs and sniff the air for smoke, convinced that I was the only one who could save my family from the inevitable inferno. I was the one who’d had the fire safety talk, after all.

The priorities of children are peculiar things. When you consider what you remember being told as a child you realise that there is little rhyme and less reason to them; that they were often innocuous things that became warped somehow. Just like when I became convinced I could somehow unravel myself by accidentally turning out my bellybutton – or how I refused to be left alone in a parked car if the engine was running, visions of the vehicle accelerating into a wall or down a hill of its own accord. There is a weirdness to the perceptions of children that frequently enters the realms of horror stories.

When my grandpa was a little boy his mother told him that the ends of bananas were poisonous and to this day he cuts them off. My mum can't go to bed with the TV remote sitting on the arm of the sofa because of some vague fear of battery acid eating into the upholstery, planted in her youth. In amongst all the lessons we learn as we grow, we also retain these weird little nuggets of childish logic that are far less shakeable than reasoned, adult conclusions. That's how you can end up with generations of strident atheists who still determinedly believe they can get ink poisoning from chewing on the end of a pen.

I was never called upon to save my family from a fire, but sometimes a strain of that childhood paranoia slips to the forefront and I start panicking in the shower, wondering if it’s possible to drown on water vapour (I’m told the heat would kill you first, which is reassuring).

And to be honest, I still think about that cow in the tree a lot.

14 Jul 2014


I feel like I've been living in a lifestyle blog the past couple of weeks. I moved into my new flat and I love it so much. Being back in my favourite city is so heartwarming after being away for a year and since I still don't have a job (hey, someone hire me, all my teachers said I was a delight to have in the class - a delight I tell you) I have a good amount of free time to spend pottering around, drawing, reading, cooking, drinking my tea in the morning as I look out at the castle. Yep, I can see the castle from my flat. It's like the Scottish version of all those films set in Paris where you can miraculously see the Eiffel Tower from every apartment window.

I'm so easy to please these days; a bowl of avocados, a hanging lantern, a functioning microwave and a wifi connection and I'm good. All I need is a cat and I'm basically living my dream.