Artists Town by Emma Baird

Book Covers, Fish and Chips and More…

This week in pictures…

Three runners cross the start line at the Paisley 10k

Put your hands in the air just like you just don’t care… (I’m on the right).

Completed the Paisley 10k. With a slower time than I did for the 10k I ran at the start of June (1.03 as opposed to 1 hour 58 seconds), HOW, HOW, HOW? (#Emails organisers to double check they measured the route right#) Weirdly, I felt much more comfortable than I did back in June as the day was a lot cooler and the course flatter. Hey ho!

And still a feeling at the end of it akin to “Feck! For the half-marathon next month, I’ll have to do all this again and then some…”

fish and chips McMAte fish and chips to celebrate. Well, battered fish and mushy peas, anyway. My Fitbit told me the run used up 590 calories. Usually, I’m a low-carb gal, but my glycogen-starved muscles shrieked carbs loudly by the end of my run. And battered fish expertly cooked and doused in salt and malt vinegar is a glorious thing. McMonagles claims to be the world’s first sail-thru fish and chip restaurant.

AT VERSIONSSorted out the cover for Artists Town, my forthcoming book. It’s beautiful, hmm? Jennifer Underwood did the cover for me. Now, to decide on a release date and hope it recoups its costs. And persuades people to buy some of my other books.

fruit and nutBought some fruit and nut. Not that I’m going to eat it…* This week marked the eighth anniversary of my dad’s death and one of his favourite things to eat was Cadbury’s fruit and nut.

As food is often one of the things that brings us together – as family, as couples, as friends, as neighbours – it has always seemed appropriate for my family and I to mark the occasion this way. My sister and her kids did it with sausages, beans and mash.

a ginger and white cat sitting on a window sill Welcomed a new part-time resident. Meet Mr Biggles, whose ‘home’ if you can ever call one place a cat’s home, is two doors up from us. Of late, he’s taken to spending increasing amounts of time Chez Baird-Birnie.

His official residence contains two adults, one other cat, three kids and a dog, so perhaps he likes the peace and quiet of our house?

How’s your week been? And where the best place for fish and chips near you?


*Well, a weak moment might happen at some point later next week…


Kettle Bells: the Russians can keep ’em!

Madge: I am a teenager of the 80s. Of course I love her…

Madonna; marvellous woman. Wouldn’t want her love life but her arms are something a girl might covet.

To this end, and as I have elected for a sleeveless wedding dress and confess to a degree or 20 of bodily vanity, I have enlisted the help of a personal trainer and charged him with giving me Madonna like limbs. (Kind of regretted this, as he has taken me at my word.)

We’ve been working together for a couple of months. Press-ups feature a lot, as do kettle bells. When I began working out years ago, I remember doing bicep curls, tricep dips and the odd movement with a barbell. Fast forward 15 years and exercise got that rather more difficult. It’s not enough to move one muscle at a time – you’ve got to use a few of them at the same time and get a wee bit out of puff too.

Working to fail seems to be pretty popular these days too. It’s no use to pick up a 3kg weight (no matter what Tracy Anderson says, I think that the lean body weight she promises is more to do with the starvation diet than anything else!) and lift it 50 or so times without breaking a sweat. Trainers these days prefer you to lift really heavy weight, struggle and only manage 10 or so.

Groaning, swearing, cursing the trainer and the woman who brought him into the world all seems to be the norm with such sessions. But it’s all part of the journey to something (better muscles, living mindfully through exercise, doing something when you think you can’t etc etc) so er… watch this space?!

The Plank and Teenage Confessions

Oh, I don’t mean to boast…

It’s just not British, and particularly not Scottish, to boast. Self-depreciation is our national sport and we view with suspicion (often rightly) those who blow their own trumpets. But er… here goes…

Some people don’t like them; I kinda love them.

I’ve joined a gym. Relevance to wedding blog – it’s probably obvious. I’m striving for Madonna arms ahead of planned wedding dress perusal venture planned in the next few months. Last night, said establishment held an abs challenge in class and I won [I’ve shrunk the font size to try to minimise the boast] as I held the plank for 5 minutes and 35 seconds.

The plank is a move beloved of gym instructors and you can see a good demonstration of how to do it here. I felt like a woman of STEEL afterwards!

I’m now going to try to justify this boast. My school days were relatively happy and incident-free once we’d all got beyond the age of 15 (the height of teenage girl dreadfulness); however, I used to absolutely dread PE classes as they involved mainly competitive sports and I was utterly rubbish.

Like many teenage girls, I dropped PE as soon as I could and wrote myself off as an unfit, unsporty person. I’m hoping that doesn’t sound too self-pitying. Worry not, dear readers – my lack of sporting ability didn’t damage me that badly and not having to run around a frozen hockey pitch on a Saturday morning as those whose ball skills far exceeded mine had to do was definitely a big bonus.

As a result of this early sporting uselessness, any fitness achievement means a great deal to me. It’s a way of saying ‘ya boo sucks’ to that PE department of old. So indulge me my turn on the trumpet (does that sound vaguely rude?); it’s closure on teen failure!

The Taming of the Shoulder

Ladies, when we wed, it’s likely our shoulders will be on show…

So, what to do to create great shoulders? Watching the Olympics recently I have been admiring many examples of fabulous shoulders. It’s that little line thing that makes shoulders look like epaulettes which I aspire to. (The wee links here are all to pics of splendid shoulders, go look as it’s so worth it – one, two and three.)

Encouragingly, shoulders are a cinch to sculpt (unlike bloomin’ stomachs) and I’ve been surfing to find out the best shoulder workouts based on what I think works. I can’t pretend expertise in the exercise arena, but I’ve been working out since I was a teenager (sadly that’s more than a few years away now) and I read extensively about exercise and fitness.

Old school press ups – yup, they so do work. And you can find out how to do it properly on this site. Adding in lateral raises with light-ish dumbbells is also good and the fab ex Navy Seal Stew Smith has plenty of adviceon his website. If you work out on a Power Plate, using the hideously difficult cables also moulds the shoulder.

There’s a great saying though, that you can’t out-train a bad diet. (Sadly). So, sensible, healthy eating which strips back the body fat so your muscles can happily shine through is a very important part of the whole equation.

Happy shoulder shaping!