pale blinds drawn all day

It felt like ages since I’d seen the sun.

It was hammering with rain on this morning’s dog walk, and again when I walked from the bus station into work.

I had a couple of bits I needed to do over lunch, but the weather wasn’t looking particularly accommodating for a wander round the city centre.

And then at some point, the clouds cleared.

I headed out to get some fresh air.

I carved my way through the office workers on lunch breaks, past all the concrete and glass . The height of the buildings around me made things rather gloomy, although the sky was clear and the sun was shining somewhere.

As I turned onto Buchanan Street and headed down towards Frasers, I was blinded by the full on low winter sun emerging through the buildings down by the river. I struggled to walk in a straight line down the street, dodging people glued to phones coming in the opposite direction, my eyes screwed up and feeling as though I was just emerging from a long sleep. The street was crowded, there were buskers, everywhere noise and crush and busyness.

The light was stunning against the damp pavements, and I wanted to grab a picture. But I couldn’t see at all.

I took my phone out of my bag, picked a spot in the middle of the street, stood for the briefest moment and pressed the button. I hoped for the best and loved the results.

The disc shaped sun in my picture reminded me very slightly of The Weather Project at the Tate Modern, which I was lucky enough to see. I can’t quite believe it was so long ago. I’ll never forget that first glimpse of the Turbine Hall, and the enormous sun beating down silently on the people so far beneath it.

Tonight when I left work, it was still light. Just a little, but it was a real turning point.

It’s coming.

I heard the news today, oh boy

Somehow it’s the middle of January already.

I’m sat on the sofa, disentangling one greyhound from a phone charging cable while maintaining a respectful distance from the other, who will startle and bolt for her bed if I move too quickly.

The new year has brought good things, bad things and sad things already. A poorly friend, hard going at the day job, and then of course the news of David Bowie’s passing came through yesterday morning.

I finished Marcothon on Hogmanay. It was my biggest ever mileage in a calendar month. Then I took a couple of days off running. I should have run the Hardmoors 30 on New Year’s Day, but I decided against it in the end. I felt a little sad about it, but I missed it for the right reasons and it will be there another year.

There are new things in the calendar this year. 3 days in the Lake District at the end of April. 70-odd miles inside 24 hours along the Great Glen Way between Fort William and Inverness in July. Hopefully third time lucky at the 75 miles between South Woodham Ferrers and Salcott cum Virley (with an overnight stop).

I’m so excited about everything that’s coming my way. A little extra food consumed over New Year wasn’t quite run off thanks to those few days off, but I know the extra warmth around the middle will soon disappear once the miles climb up again. I love the security of building my training up – the feeling that progress is being gradually made, and that the preparation I put in now will be felt in every mile I run later this year.

There is a mountain on the German/Austrian border with my name on, and I hope to climb it this year. There’s talk of a trip back to Mont Ventoux, a big (motor)bike ride around the north coast of Scotland, and of hills and mountains to be walked up, run up, cycled up. A couple of long distance trails to be explored. There’s a tent and assorted camping kit to be researched and chosen, and navigation to be practised in whatever weather Scotland cares to throw at me.

Right now, most of all, I can’t wait for the days to draw out a bit so I can get up in the hills behind my house after work.

And for now, I’ll be listening to a lot of music. David Bowie was a huge part of my teenage years after I borrowed the Singles Collection on tape from Stratford-upon-Avon library when I was about 14. It was a great introduction to his music over the years. My dad was a big fan too, and listening to the music that he loved helped me learn a bit more and gave us something else to share.

Dad’s favourite song is Let’s Dance. I have two, and I couldn’t choose between them. I adore Sound and Vision, and I also love Everyone Says Hi from the Heathen album.

I’d had the album for a good few years, but for some reason, I had it in the car the weekend I made the final trip north from Essex to start my new life up in Glasgow. I listened to that song on repeat for much of the journey.

It includes the wonderful lyrics, which are among some of my favourites ever:

Don’t stay in a bad place,

where they don’t care how you are

That’s not to say no one cared because that’s just not true, but I needed to move and start again, and the song felt like a letter from the past wishing me well in the future and reminding me I could come back if it didn’t work out.

Mr Bowie, thank you for everything you did and everything you left behind. I was angry enough about cancer, now even more so.

Someone posted something somewhere yesterday, I can’t remember it exactly, but they were saying how the earth was however many billion years old, and how lucky we’d been to be on the same planet at the same time as David Bowie.

I agree.

Looking up

I have a very exciting project on the go at the moment, it’s top secret and I’m desperate to share it with everyone I know. I need to hold on for just a little longer though!

It combines a few passions of mine all in one go – harps, numbers and my adopted city of Glasgow.

I had a wander around the city I love so much today, and snapped a few photos, trying to find things that you might not notice if you just walked through the streets every day without paying attention. I’ve added a few other favourites at the end of this post.

I found myself thinking about what had brought me here, what keeps me here and how I could possibly communicate all the best things about Glasgow to people who maybe haven’t discovered it yet.

I can barely believe I’ve been here almost three years. This is my third Scottish summer, and so far it has not been the finest. There was a significant dump of snow in the Highlands early in the week, and we can barely believe it’s June.

I feel very free here. I no longer have to plan my journeys around traffic jams. Overall it’s noticeably less busy than the south east of England. I live 10 miles from the city centre but can be in town within 25 minutes at the weekend. I love having the hills on my doorstep. I love the changing of the seasons and the lengthening of the days, which is much much more noticeable than before. I love seeing deer when I’m out for a run. I love how my spirit lifts when the sun comes out.

A few things that happen in Scotland/Glasgow that don’t happen in England:

  • If you are standing in a queue, rather than saying “Next!” they say “First here please”, or as it sounds, Fusssst’heERrRR. It took me ages to get the hang of this, and a few nudges from the people stood behind me (see next point)

  • People stand much closer to you in queues here than they do in England.

  • People call you “pal” rather than “mate” and say “how ye doin?” rather than “Alright?”

  • Scottish people actually eat haggis and wear tartan. This was a surprise to me as I really thought haggis was for tourists and kilts were just for black tie events or weddings.

  • it’s always a surprise what colour of bank note you get at a cashpoint

  • it’s almost impossible to buy Mr Kiplings French Fancies

  • instead, on the bakery aisle in supermarkets, you will see such things as Empire biscuits and pineapple tarts

  • at Christmas in Greggs you will have to specify what type of mince pie you require. A sweet mince pie is a normal one. A mince pie is a savoury one

  • you get an extra bank holiday at new year

  • everyone seems to be able to knock out a tune on at least one instrument