Celebrations and Literary Endeavours

This Week I’m…

Enjoying the sunshine. For one day only, the Celsius hit more than 18 degrees. It was glorious. More of this, please.

Supporting independent publishers, a la Comely Bank Publishing. Lucy’s Lloyd’s Russian Doll is out now, as is The Blogger Who Came in From The Cold. Available direct from the publishers here.

Peeing to help medical research. I spotted a poster recently, recruiting volunteers for research into the effects of the low-carb diet. I like to feel I can be useful so I stuck my hand up and said ‘yes please’, secretly hoping they might do tests and say, ‘Well, you ARE a special snowflake aren’t you? Never seen anyone with so much this, that or the other.’

Part of the initial sign-up involves 24 hours of pee collection. Oof, really? I said to myself. Not sure those flasks will hold everything…

Attending literary events, a la Booked 2018, West Dunbartonshire’s annual festival in celebration of books and writing. The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell is described as ‘a wry and hilarious account of life in Scotland’s biggest second-hand bookshop and the band of eccentrics and book-obsessives who work there’.

Celebrating my wedding anniversary—five years ago and the original raison d’être for this blog. (Flaw in the plan was that a run-up-to-the-wedding blog has a shelf life.) Flowers, chocolates and maybe a wee trip out this weekend beckons…

The Power of Paleo

Salmon super skin recipe

When I gave up office work, I made a lot of plans for the lifestyle I wanted to lead.

Free from the tyranny of the nine to five and without a daily one and a half hour commute, the headiness of more freedom to plan my day was intoxicating. I’d be getting up early still, I decided,  I would immediately get into my work-out gear and I’d head out each morning, come rain or shine for a daily walk/run. I might also throw in 10 minutes or so of morning yoga to ensure I can still cut my own toenails post 60. I’d add in the odd lunchtime gym session and I’d ensure there was fresh air a-plenty every single day.

Oh, and I’d tidy the house from top to bottom and create a minimalist haven where ideas could freely flow, magically imbibing me with prodigious writing capabilities…

OK, OK some of this stuff fell by the way side.  The early starts…? Ho hum! Freed from the shriek of the six-thirty am alarm, I allow myself to wake up naturally these days. As it’s summer, that’s often 4am so I go back to sleep till 8-ish. Ahem, sometimes 9-ish. And our house remains gloriously stuffed full of weird junk. I’m just not hard enough for that ‘one-in/one-out’ malarkey.

However, certain things have happened. I’ve been reading for sometime about the benefits of a Paleo lifestyle – there’s a much better explanation of Paleo principles here, but basically proponents advocate emulating the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The bulk of your diet is meat, fish, eggs and veg, with plenty of natural fats, and a little bit of fruit. You do the odd bit of fasting. You get plenty of sleep, plenty of fresh air and sunshine and you do lots of low-level movement every day, with the odd sprint added in. (You’re pretending to run away from a mammoth/sabre-toothed tiger, say.)

Freelancing/home working does make such a lifestyle more possible. Fresh air does feature more often in my day-to-day life. It’s almost intoxicating. Sunshine is a little harder to come by, seeing as my location is the west of Scotland, but when it comes I make a point of getting out in it. And the diet? Much easier to follow when you’re working from home as knocking up protein and salad lunches is very do-able.

I struggle with the digital detox, especially now that I’m freelance as checking my emails frequently seems compulsory, and the odd TV programme in bed always feels like a nice treat.

Over all though, Paleo living gives me a lot more energy. There are no more afternoon slumps (though from time to time, I take advantage of my non-office working life and take a cheeky wee siesta) and there are productive evenings. Next week, the de-clutter begins…


Sunshine and Wild Garlic Anyone?

Even the cat takes advantage of sunny days...

Even the cat takes advantage of sunny days…

Here’s one of the nice things about being a freelancer. A lot of the time you can work round the weather.

I live in a part of the world that isn’t blessed with a great deal of sunshine (and that’s putting it mildly). In common with many of my countrymen and women I have an absolute obsession with the weather forecast and checking it frequently. I look up the five-day forecast on Monday and spot that Thursday has a big yellow sun on display. Hooray! By Tuesday, that sun has been replaced by the cloud and by Wednesday the forecast is cloud and showers. Boo!

So when the sun shines here, it’s almost obligatory to take advantage and roll out the garden furniture, strip off a layer or two or go out for a walk/cycle run. We did that a couple of days ago and, in proper foraging style, came back with a haul of wild garlic and watercress. Wild garlic is pretty easy to spot – your nose will take you there – but general advice around picking is available here.

Post-wedding, the diet is a little less urgent but I used the wild garlic to create a healthy, easy cook dish that I’m sharing here:

Tofu and Wild Garlic stir-fry – serves 2

Chillies, garlic and ginger - yum!

Chillies, garlic and ginger – yum!

160g pkt Cauldron Foods marinated tofu pieces
100g mushrooms, sliced
Half a red pepper, sliced
Half a courgette, sliced
8 spring onion, sliced into 4cm lengths
50g asparagus tips, sliced in half
Large handful wild garlic, rinsed
1 chilli, sliced (keep the seeds in if you like hot food)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1tbsp rapeseed oil

Heat the oil in a wok and add the mushrooms, pepper, courgette, spring onions and asparagus tips and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add in the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for another minute. Stir in the wild garlic and cook until wilted. Add in the marinated tofu and stir-fry another minute or so. Season to taste with a little soy sauce (you won’t need much as the tofu pieces are already seasoned) and serve with cooked noodles tossed in a little bit of sesame oil.

Happy Holidays! (Hair-free?)

Freddie never worries about excess fur.

Ah autumn, season of mellow fruitfulness – makes one think of cold, crisp days and walks involving satisfying strides through dead leaves…

On the other hand, the rain may set in round about the beginning of October accompanied by strong winds and not let up until early December when the snow starts. To avoid some of the rain and to stock up on Vitamin D*, we’re now off for a week to Tenerife and our last holiday as a legally unattached pair.

The holiday preparation is similar to the kind of things most brides-to-be feel compelled to do – diet, exercise like crazy, write lists, rub in lotions and potions and experiment with different hair styles.

Oh, and remove excess body hair. To this end, I visited a salon today for a spot of depilation as I’ve never mastered the art of waxing my own legs. The salon offered designer, intimate waxing (the mind boggled), which I turned down feeling that my lady bits** were not in need of that kind of attention.

Thinking about the wedding though – given that my legs will be completely covered, does that excuse me from leg waxing and, if I keep my arms pinned to my sides, then that surely means the underarms can be left European? The time I spend on waxing, shaving, plucking and the like can then be put to more productive use.

You might argue that my husband-to-be deserves a hair-free wife on his wedding night. Maybe so, but I suspect that following the excitement of the day and a little ‘refreshment’ or two both of us will be falling into bed exhausted by the end of the day!


*We Scots miss out on the natural acquisition of Vitamin D much of the time and especially so this summer.

**Caitlin Moran’s rather fabulous How to be a Woman has a hilarious chapter on what you should call your lady bits; I favour the coolly quaint quim, myself.