An older house near some water. Ideally by a quiet beach, with some hills or even mountains nearby.
Pets. A dog for taking out in the hills and a dog for curling up on the sofa with afterwards. I love the idea of having a cat but the truth is, I’m not really a cat person and I would like to keep greyhounds.
A room with a view, for writing, for playing, for sitting and reading. With full bookshelves and pictures on the wall. Not too tidy.
A kitchen with a table in. With space to bake and lay out a recipe book. And with a sofa, and a TV. I like to have the telly on while I cook. The kitchen needs to be tidy.
A space for friends to stay when they want or need to.
A garage, or a decent shed or a barn. With a sink and a worktop, and power and shelves and cupboards.
(A small house and a big garage would be the ideal way around)
Outside space. Not too much to maintain, but somewhere to sit with an early evening drink watching the bats on the better weather days, or to stand with a morning brew and listen to the birds. Honeysuckle in summer. A fuchsia bush. Maybe hanging baskets. Maybe part of a farm, with horses and sheep and goats and cows nearby.
Arms to come home to. A voice that doesn’t scold when tears flow. A piece of paper and a house party to celebrate, maybe a pretty dress, maybe jeans and wellies. No diamond ring.
A pub nearby. Or somewhere that people gather to share food and drinks and music and stories.
A station nearby. Or some connection to the outside world that doesn’t require a car at least.
Somehow it’s the middle of October, and going by how quickly the year has flown by so far, it’ll be Hogmanay before I know it.
This has been one of the most hectic years I’ve ever had, on all fronts. Now that harp-related work is winding down for the year, my existence will become slightly more normal and less time-pressured.
Has it been worth it?
Sitting here right now, in this moment, desperately trying to fend off my first proper cold in 18 months, I am exhausted, spent, and rather withdrawn from my normal all-guns-blazing say-yes-to-everything, what’s-the-worst-that-can-happen self, and so no I’m not sure whether it was worth all the effort.
All the time given up, all the money spent, all the things missed out on.
But, looking back, it really has been worth absolutely everything I’ve put in.
I’ve worked really hard for everything that has come my way, and now I’m hoping to be able to relax a bit, to breathe and stretch myself out and shake myself down ready for the next stage.
The debt battle is just a few months away from being won, for good this time.
I can’t quite believe it’ll all finally be gone and I’ll be free of all the things I’ve been carrying around along with those massively depressing numbers.
As a result of that, I’m thinking hard about long term things – about where I want to live and the sort of work I really want to be doing.
Entries for next year’s chosen big running event open very soon, and assuming I get in, my winter will largely be built around training for that. It will involve some very big hills, getting to grips with walking poles and a trip to Switzerland (not to France though, it’s not that one!).
There are big harping plans too, and at last I can say I have a much better relationship with music and my harp than I did at the start of the year. I’d even go as far as saying I think I am figuring it all out. Well, harp-wise anyway.
It will be quite a challenge to keep both harp and running things going together, but I’m gradually learning more and more about what is really, truly important to me, and I’m gaining the confidence to sidestep all the other things that suck my time and my energy. I’m grateful to Helen Mirren on that one – a marvellous quote that is never far from my mind and one I could really do with putting into action a whole lot more.
I have a weekend off, and it really couldn’t have come at a better time.
I finally hit the buffers last night. Something quite silly set it all off but of course, a good night’s sleep fixes most things and so I felt much better this morning.
I was planning a long run in the hills tomorrow but there is a lurgy lurking, a sofa calling, with two big black furry pals to snuggle into. There’s loads of (motor)bike racing on the telly, my Kitchenaid will be called into action to make some pizza dough and I might even paint my nails – my ultimate sign of spare time.
And, assuming this cold makes a swift exit, I hope to blast away the last of the lurgy with a trip out on my motorbike.
The rain is back. After a brief heatwave, Glasgow feels a bit more normal.
At last this week has felt like a good time to start running again properly. I’ve been out and about a little over the last few weeks, gradually building my fitness up again but not really doing anything regular or structured.
I’ve found some new road shoes that I really love, after struggling for a while to find something suitable. These feel like magic shoes – I am gradually managing to get more weight through my right leg to the extent that my right calf feels like it has done some work after a run, and when I am walking I’m aware that both feet are starting to work equally. They’re not the most attractive of shoes, but at the moment a less than ideal colour is a trade-off where price is concerned and so I’m … erm … running with it.
When things get really stressful, eating and sleeping tend to go awry. It has to get pretty bad before this happens, and I’m better at knowing the signs now.
Running makes me hungry and therefore makes me eat. Running makes me tired and therefore helps me sleep. Running gives my brain a rest from thinking too hard, and my lungs take over instead. And yet, I do most of my best thinking when I’m out there.
I had only been running a few months before I moved to Scotland, and I arrived here in the autumn. Running soon became a way to explore my new home, and despite the change in the weather as the winter drew in, I absolutely loved it. Because my early running experience was in consistently wet conditions, I’m not put off when it’s tipping it down. I find it immensely satisfying and utterly invigorating.
And the thing about getting a lot of rain is that you get a LOT of rainbows.
a soggy trot past Dumgoyne with a gannet
2014 Fling relay – image by Graeme Hewitson – cheers!
I ran a very long way last weekend. I completed the Highland Fling, a 53 mile race along the southern section of the West Highland Way. To my surprise, I’ve recovered really well and my legs were feeling ready to run again on Wednesday.
I promised myself a good long break after it though. After a lot of weekends and evenings spent either training or practising for my concert (6 weeks ago now!) or a combination of both, my time is my own again. A bank holiday weekend means an extra day to be savoured.
I’m trying to plot the next adventure, the next goal, the next Big thing. I’ve done a few Big things, particularly over the last year, and I know very well the slightly lost feelings that come in the aftermath.
The desire, or even the need, the urge, to be pushing forward so continously can be quite destructive – putting too much in too soon leads to burnout and exasperation, and if not to over-training then to under-recovery.
But by nature, I’m quite lazy. I think most people would be surprised to hear me say that about myself, but the truth is, unless there’s something right ahead to work for, I can find it quite difficult to stay focused and not let my days off float away in a blur of tea and TV.
Recently though, I’ve been thinking maybe I need a bit of that. I guess it’s all about balance.
So I have designated today a most exceptionally lazy day. I have a stack of reading I’d like to do, some blog posts to write and a LOT of tea to drink.
Other than that, I think the most pressing question will be whether I really should have another piece of the crumbly sticky lemon cake I made yesterday.