Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Ready, Steady, Glasgow!

Last week was like a wonderful whirlwind.
Our dear friend Leslie of The Dandy Lion Market came up from London for a wee break and Mark and I both volunteered at the Commonwealth Games.
I did two days at the swimming events at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre here in Glasgow and Mark went across to do a day at the diving events held in Edinburgh.
We managed to cram a whole heap of fun stuff into seven days and enjoy the buzzing vibe of positivity that the streets of Glasgow have been awash with during the eleven days of the games.
I absolutely loved being a part of the games and even if the days were pretty long, starting at 7.30am and finishing off at around eleven at night, we had an absolute blast.
Here I am with Chris, Tom and Chris outside Aquatron.
We all got kitted out in the official games volunteering clobber.
The events passed without incident so I didn't actually have to don my scuba gear and get in the water.
One of the judges accidentally dropped a pen in the pool but we were not called upon for that as it was quickly retrieved by a lifeguard.
The Australian team were amazing and swam home a motherload of medals.
Sadly there were no Scottish gold medals won on the two days I was there, so I never got to hear Flower of Scotland.
Personally I prefer this version with Kenneth McKellar...
Gie it Laldy!

It was billed as The Friendly Games and it truly was.
I haven't been in a place filled with so much positivity since the last time I went to a rave.
I would do it again at the drop of a hat!
I think it was a perfect time for Leslie to enjoy Glasgow too, even if Mark and I had to work a lot.
We still managed to have the obligatory drunken night out, visit the Gallery of Modern Art, a funky Pam Hogg exhibition/pop-up shop and a wee trip to the seaside.
Leslie and Mark at The Crystal Palace where we also hooked up with some visiting relatives from down south.
Matt & Leslie battled it out with cues at The Solid Rock Cafe.
Leslie with Clyde at Central Station.
The Pam Hogg exhibition and pop-up shop.
A wee trip to Irvine Beach Park.
It's all back to business as usual for a few days now before we head off for another adventure.
This summer has got to go down as one of the best ones in my life so far, I am loving every minute of it!
I will love you and leave you with an amazing tune that is having me dancing around the house at the moment and lusting for a pair of red jazz trainers...
Hope you are all well peeps.
Loads of love,

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Upon a hill across a blue lake

Bare feet against soft moss, magnificent mountains as far as the eye can see, a light breeze to keep the midgies at bay, that is all it takes to please me. 

I really love injecting a little bit of drama and movement into my pictures because I prefer photos that are a bit quirky. I call my favoured posing style 'Jazz Hands' as it often involves some sort of flailing of the arms and hands.
I was given this magnificent book from the early 1900 by my former boss at The Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden. It contains a collection of  The Sketch, which was a society magazine with regular features on royalty and the aristocracy, theatre, cinema and art studies. It was in print from 1893 to 1959.
I love spending a few hours just flicking through its pages, being wowed by the fabulous theatrical get-ups and picking up posing pointers from ladies that had the old Jazz Hands posing nailed.
I have been a very busy bee of late, since my last post I have become auntie again and bagged a wee freelance gig selling scuba gear on eBay.
The Commonwealth Games have rolled into town and  little old me is taking part, and before you ask...No, I am not racing against Usain Bolt.
I am a member of  The Aquatic Field of Play Intervention Team and I will be doing a couple of shifts at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre here in Glasgow next week.
So, you may be wondering what I will be asked to do if called upon, well, well...
If someone gets into the pool, who should not be there, and the police and security can't persuade them to get out then The Aquatic Field of Play Intervention Team steps in and forcibly removes the person(s) from the water. I really hope that we won't have to step in mainly because it would interrupt the games and ruin the vibe for competitors and spectators alike.

Sunday was spent in Ballachulish painting mum's living room and doing various little jobs around the house , then we fired back down the road on Monday briefly stopping off in Glen Coe for an impromptu photo session. I always like to bring a wee bag of clobber, accessories and wigs just in case an ideal opportunity presents itself and on Monday it did.
 As it is peak-season now we had an audience of bemused tourists and surprised looking walkers for most of our photo session.
This spot is just next to the main road and cars and trucks are passing all the time but you would never have guessed it from looking at these photographs. Mark is pretty good at cropping out roads, pesky power lines and walkers sporting day-glo.
The frock has been in my collection for well over five years. I haven't worn it before and to be honest when I bought it this was exactly the kind of thing I had in mind for it. I wanted to capture its beauty in some nice pics before letting it go again. I have quite a few frocks with a theatrical vibe and I can't think of a more stunning backdrop for them than the beautiful Highlands.
Look, no Jazz Hands!
 Last year we shot a stunning red velvet frock by Quad and a spectacular bronze coloured extravaganza by Priscilla in the Glen.
This frock is labelled 'California - The Look You Love' and here I am sporting it with a long black wig bought on eBay and a belly-dancing coin belt worn as a headdress that I picked up from a car boot sale in London.
The picture editing frills were added with PicMonkey.
I hope you are all doing grand folks.
I'll leave you with the banging tune that was blasting through the car speakers as we drove through the Glen, Yeehaw!
Loads of love,

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Tearing down the coastline in the blazing sunshine

Last Sunday Mark and I loaded the car up with camping and snorkeling gear and headed out for a wee adventure. 
We followed the Firth of Clyde coastline to the south of Irvine (where we spent a lovely day on the beach last month) and made several little stops on the way.
We frolicked around in Troon, photographed swooping gulls in Ayr and stopped off to explore lovely Dunure.
Gulls take to the air in Ayr.
Jennie almost takes to the air in Ayr.
I was jumping around like a super excited kid all day.
Dunure was really lovely.
Set in a breathtakingly beautiful part of the coastline, its got a cracking castle ruin that you can have a wee wander around for free.
The weather was awesome too, which is always a big bonus.
There were some beautiful pigeons making their home in the doocot next to the castle ruin.
After chilling in the glorious sunshine with flask of coffee we made tracks in search of somewhere to pitch our tent for the night. Although we bought the tent two years ago this was its first time out of the bag.
A bit further along the coast we found the Culzean Castle Campsite.
At just £15.95 per night we both agreed that the stunning views across the Firth of Clyde to the islands of Arran and the Mull of Kintyre was worth that alone.
After the tent was up we headed down to the shoreline to watch the sunset armed with a couple of bottles of  ale. We had hoped for a quick evening dip but the tide was out so we had to settle for a paddle instead.
Thankfully the midgies weren't too bad and we were treated to a spectacular sunset in the company of herons and oyster catchers.
 We "cooked" our dinner (tinned veggie soup) on our Trangia camping stove and then crawled into our sleeping bags after an absolute cracker of a day.
I woke up at 4am bright as a button and considered making a cheeky crop-circle in the field in front but settled for a nice cup of tea and a bit of cloud spotting instead.
After breakfast and a lovely warm shower, we packed up the tent and headed back up the coast to Dunure to do some snorkeling.
The tide was coming back in and it was slightly colder in the water than the day before but we still managed to stay in for about half an hour. 
The kelp was amazing, huge clusters of long swaying tendrils with lots of crabs and little fish hiding among them.
We chilled on the beach for a bit and then headed back home.
A lovely 24 hour getaway :)
I am chuffed to bits that all of this AWESOMENESS can be found almost on my doorstep.
This was the soundtrack as we tore around the coastline in Cato...
Hope you are all doing grand peeps and that the sun is shining where you are.
Loads of love,

PS. You can have a wee peek at the pics above plus some more of the trip over on Flickr.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Happy is what we are when we're together

We've had some cracking summer weather here the past few days and as luck would have it Mark had two days off in a row, yay!
After he finished work on Saturday we bundled all our dive gear, along with four borrowed tanks and weights courtesy of awesome Aquatron, into the car and headed north to Ballachulish.
We stayed the night with mum and on Sunday morning we did our first ever completely solo buddy-team dive in Loch Leven.
There are two popular dive sites within a stone's throw of mum's house, the one that we went to with Ben a while back called Manse Point and another one that is even closer to the village called The Slates.
Unfortunately Mark had forgotten to charge his GoPro camera so we've got no pics or film of what we saw under the surface which was a shame cause the visibility was really rather splendid on the day.
We did two dives of about 40 minutes each, the maximum depth that we went to was 20 meters and the dive highlights were spotting a Ling  and having a close encounter (thankfully not too close) with a large Lion's Mane Jellyfish. The water temperature was a cool 10°C but I kept fairly warm in my Scubapro Climatec Undersuit & Everdry 4 Drysuit combo.

On Sunday evening we drove back to Glasgow and celebrated our buddy team milestone by cracking open a few bottles of choice ale, awesome!

When we woke up on Monday morning the sun was blazing though the window and although I had planned to spend the day indoors taking photos for the Etsy shop, it would have been a sin to miss out on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year.
So Mark and I decided to grab our snorkeling gear and head to Wemyss Bay for a day by the coast.
Here's Mark all wetsuited and booted running into the Firth of Clyde...
It would have been too cold to go snorkeling for any length of time without wearing a wetsuit but with a protective layer of neoprene we could stay in the water for a good twenty minutes. The water was crystal clear so the visibility was amazing. We spotted lots of crabs and really small jellyfish but I spent most of the time looking for unusual pebbles for my collection.

Here are a few snaps of our lovely day at Wemyss Bay...
We only took a couple of pics at The Slates on Sunday as our minds were pretty preoccupied with getting everything just right..."planning the dive and diving the plan".
The dive site name is spot on. Here I am rocking my fleecy thermal onesie or Monkey Man Suit as I like to call it.
A well deserved cuppa in-between dives.
So that was the tale of our two days of diving and snorkeling fun.

This is the lifestyle Mark and I have been longing for and I can't begin to explain how happy I feel that we finally got our procrastinating act together and made the move up north. I feel tremendously blessed that everything has turned out so good and that we've managed to hook up with such awesome & kindhearted people.
Don't get me wrong, we had a really nice life & lovely friends down in London too but financially we were always chasing our tails. Even if Mark was earning twice as much as he is here in Glasgow we were still always teetering on the brink of being completely broke.
Although the move has not put us in a better place financially at least we are much happier and we get to do loads of fun stuff, which to me is more important than a bulging bank balance anyway.

Last month we were sent a lovely surprise parcel from our friends Kaori, Adam and their cute as a button daughter Maya in Japan. It contained (among other things) two beautiful kimonos and obi belts.
We have been awaiting an opportunity to take some photos of them and on the way up the road last Saturday evening that opportunity presented itself.
We wanted a dramatic backdrop to do these truly stunning garments justice and it doesn't get much more dramatic than the spectacular Buachaille Etive Mor.
It was Mark that choose this spot. I think it's quite Hokusai-esque.
Mark snapped a few solo sans wig ones of me but the midgies were out in force so it had to be a guerrilla style photo session. 
I had some fun with PicMonkey this morning :)
I'll leave you with a cheesetastico tune from the 90s, enjoy  ;)
May this blog post find you happy & healthy.
loads of love,

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Swede sixteen

Life has a habit of motoring along and before you know it another decade is reflected the rearview mirror.
Sixteen years have passed since the whole family last managed to get together, which is far too long!
We are a somewhat scattered brood and that makes it a little bit more difficult to organize a reunion but earlier this year my beloved mother decided that the time had come for us all to gather once more and a date was set.
We had a tremendously fun and fabulous weekend. Three wonderful days packed with laughter, yummy food and amazing Swedish summer weather...PERFECT!
Top left: Dennis (my niece Annelie's boyfriend), Emma (my little brother David's girlfriend), Johnny & David (my brothers), hubby Mark, Per (my brother), Jes (my sister Jessica's husband) & Me
Middle left: Astrid (Jessica & Jes' daughter), Ewa (my wonderful mum), Benjamin (Jessica & Jes' son), Jane (my brother Per's girlfriend
Bottom left: Gunnar (my awesome dad), Jessica & Marie (my sisters) and Annelie (my sister Marie's daughter).
Also featured in the picture Tintin the dog.
The weekend in pics...
On Monday afternoon Mark and I took a train up to Stockholm and strolled around in Gamla Stan for a few hours.
On Tuesday morning we left the clear blue sky behind us and flew back to a cloudy Glasgow. 
 I wish I could have scooped up the glorious Swedish summer weather and brought it back home with me.
We had such a lovely time and a unanimous decision was made to get everyone back together again for my niece's graduation next year, can't wait!
I love my bonkers family :)

I will leave you with a beautiful song by Sweet Laredo...
Hope you are all doing grand and that the sun is shining where you are.
Thanks for your lovely comments on my last post, they are much appreciated.
Loads of love,