Archive of ‘My Family & Other Animals’ category
Season’s greetings, everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying a good Christmas/holiday season/Wednesday/delete as appropriate.
*Goes to check that it is, in fact, Wednesday. Realises it’s actually Thursday. Panics slightly at the realisation that OMG, the time, it is passing her by. Stops speaking in the third person, because seriously: ANNOYING.*
I may not be a big fan of the hysteria that surrounds the run-up to Christmas, but I do take a break from the humbugging for the day itself, which is always a good one. This year was no exception, and we’ve spent the past two days at my parents’ place, where we got lots of lovely gifts (many of which you’ll see soon, because they were the type of gifts you can wear…) and had lot and lots (and lots and lots…) of delicious food: so much, in fact, that we were still eating it on Boxing Day. My parents are probably still eating it now, in fact.
(I’m joking: my parents are probably hitting the sales right now. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is all I’m saying…)
Every year, my mum does a different theme for our Christmas table, and this year’s theme was holidays and days out: she’d made an amazing table cloth covered in mementos from our various trips (it totally didn’t photograph well in the low light, which is also why some of these photos are a little yellow…), and we had starters from around the world, before the “traditional” turkey dinner, which actually isn’t particularly traditional in our house, this being the first time we’ve had it in years. We all had far too much too eat, but hey, it’s Christmas: it’s what you do, no?
Rubin, meanwhile, had a slightly more adventurous day, thanks to an intrepid cat, which had the temerity to wander past the house while Rubin was sitting at the window, guarding us all. Well, he wasn’t going to stand for A CAT on his patch (I mean, can you even BELIEVE it?!), so he took off into the garden in hot pursuit (The cat wasn’t actually IN the garden, of course, but outside is outside as far as Rubin’s concerned…), and somehow managed to pull a muscle in his leg in the process. We’ve no idea how he did it – my mum was watching him at the time and says one minute he was running flat-out, and the next he was… well, STILL running flat-out, but now on only three legs, the fourth being tucked up under his belly. We spent the rest of the day fussing over him and trying to get him to lie down and rest, but he didn’t seem to notice anything was amiss and continued to try to jump on and off the furniture and race around after his toys, so I think the whole incident was more traumatic for us humans than it was for him. He’s still limping slightly, but as I write this, he’s just launched himself off the bed and raced downstairs to bark at the Tesco delivery man, so I think he’s probably on the mend…
Hope everyone’s having a good holiday season!
(Skirt: Topshop // sweater: H&M // shoes: Ted Baker Keanah 2 c/o Sarenza // Bow bracelet: ASOS // Petticoat: eBay // Brooch: vintage (gift from my parents)
Well, hello, ’tis I, your redheaded blogger-friend, who hasn’t actually updated her blog in WEEKS, but who still expects you all to be faithfully reading along, even although you probably unsubscribed weeks ago, and are only here now because I kept tweeting the link, and you eventually just clicked on it to shut me up. Bloggers, eh?
I didn’t actually intend to disappear for so long: it’s been a really hectic couple of weeks, though, which culminated at the weekend with this:
That’s my dad (on vocals), my uncle (on guitar) and my cousin (on drums), all being rock stars. Of course, my family have always been rock stars as far as I’m concerned, but back in the 70s, my dad and uncle (who’s my mum’s brother) played in a band together: a band which had assumed almost mythical status in my mind, so much had I heard about it. Although I’d heard all about those days, however, I’d never actually seen the band perform, because by the time I was born, they’d split up, leaving only one fuzzy audio recording, and a whole lot of stories. A few years later, my uncle and aunt moved to Canada, the bass player moved to Texas… basically, there was never really a time when everyone was in the same country at the same time, so a reunion had never been possible.
Until this weekend.
A few months ago, it was decided that the time was right for the great band reunion. A venue was found, flights were booked, people flew in from their various countries, including my cousin, (who I last saw when he was five), who was standing in for the original drummer, who hadn’t been well, and wasn’t sure he’d be able to perform. As it turned out, he did manage to do a couple of songs after all, so the band was reunited, and I finally got to see them.
They. Were. Amazing.
Seriously: I’ve heard my dad sing, obviously, and I’ve seen my uncle play guitar. I’ve never seen them on stage, performing as a band, though, and pretty much as soon as my dad took to the stage, I started filling up. He was absolutely amazing: I was so proud, and only a tiny bit emotional. OK, a big bit emotional. In a good way, though.
I also took the opportunity to wear Dress # 74. Because, you know, none of the other 73 dresses I own would do, apparently.
(I had literally about two minutes to take some photos for Shoeperwoman before our taxi arrived, so of course every single one of them came out blurry. I’ve bumped up the contrast in a bid to distract you with my extreme pallor, so… er, let’s just pretend that worked, OK? While we’re at it, let’s also pretend I don’t have that random piece of hair sticking out the side of my head. Your co-operation in this matter is greatly appreciated…)
This particular dress was actually free, because I bought it with some River Island vouchers I won. Free dresses totally don’t count, do they?
My uncle and aunt went to Paris last week, and I asked them to pop into Ladurée and get me some OMGMACRONS, so I could be a giant fashion blogger cliché and take a photo of them for my blog. I feel like I finally fit in now, only not really. They were pretty damn tasty, though, let me tell you.
Anyway: it was a fantastic night, and we got to catch up with lots of friends and family we haven’t seen for a while, which made it even better. Now we just have to persuade them all to do it again sometime…
You know how some people like to “bag” Munros? Um, you probably don’t, do you? I think it’s a Scottish thing. Basically a Munro is a type of mountain: we have a whole bunch of them here, and people like to try to collect the set by climbing each one of them: a process known as “bagging”. I know, it sounded like it was going to be more interesting than that, didn’t it?
Anyway, some people like to “bag” Munros, Terry and I like to “bag” castles, by visiting as many of them as we can. (Our friends Ewen and Gillian are also castle baggers, but we don’t really talk about that because I think they’ve bagged more than us. Dammit!) On Easter Sunday, we decided to “bag” Glamis Castle in Angus, although as we’ve already visited it before, Glamis has technically been “double-bagged” by us now. I’ll stop with the “bagging” thing now, I promise.
I did blog about our last visit to Glamis, but as most of the photos in that post got eaten in The Disaster of 2009, and also because I’m trying to get back into the habit of treating this site more like the personal journal it was when I started it, here are some more. You’re welcome!
When I “bag” castles, I like to imagine that I actually own them. I had to kill 17 tourists in order to get this one photo of me standing in front of Glamis all Queen-of-the-Castle-like.
These are some flowers. They look like hearts. That’s the extent of my knowledge here, unfortunately.
Glamis is one of my favourite castles, not just because of the history (it was the childhood home of the Queen Mother, is the fictional setting of MacBeth, etc, etc) but also because of the ghosts. As Terry mentioned in his holiday journal last year, I’m a complete sucker for books and movies about mysterious old houses which have a deep, dark, secret: ideally one which involves a ghost. I can’t get enough of the things. Glamis seems to me like just such a place:
Seriously, tell me this place doesn’t look like it has a deadly secret…
Glamis does have a few quite famous ghosts, but we didn’t see any of them. I expect the throngs of tourists scared them away. This is probably a good thing. (Note: I don’t actually really believe in ghosts, I just like reading about them, and scaring myself silly later that night when the house is dark and silent, and there comes a sudden creak on the stairs…)
Speaking of Terry, which I, er, wasn’t really, quite a few of you have told me you’d like to see MOAR TERRY on this site, so here he is:
And here are the rest of the family, trying to ruin my prechus photo opp:
I got them back for it, though. I forced my dad to carry my emergency flats around all day:
And I didn’t even wear them, either.
And that was our Easter Sunday. How was yours?
P.S. A few weeks ago I realised, but totally forgot to mention, that Forever Amber turned 5 years old this March. The blog, I mean, not me, the person. I’m a bit older than that, although you wouldn’t necessarily know it, would you? Anyway, I have this huge(ish) archive of posts just sitting here doing nothing, so I thought it might be amusing to take a look back at what I was doing on this day (or thereabouts) in…
2006: I decided to kill Bryan
2007: I headed off on my honeymoon. Airplanes scared me.
2008: Terry created a giant hole in the kitchen ceiling. I was not amused.
2009: I had a massive rant about “gingerism”
2010: I… had another massive rant about “gingerism”. I am nothing if not predictable. And ginger.
Wow, time passes fast, doesn’t it? That scares me almost as much as the ghosts..
“You lookin’ at me, punk? I don’t see anyone else around so you must be lookin’ at me…”
So, this is what I wore on Good Friday to go to the local garden centre.
Not quite what you were expecting this post to be about, huh? It’s not what I was expecting it to be about either, to be honest: I mean, I freaking HATE gardening. Seriously, I wake up every Saturday morning, which is the day designated for trying to tame the wilderness that is our “garden”, and I think, “Yay! It’s the weekend!” And then I think, “Damn, I have to mow the lawn today!” And then I wish I’d died in my sleep.
Even although we are very, very old, then, a garden centre is the very last place Terry and I would normally choose to spend Good Friday. Or any other Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday… you can fill in the rest yourself. But this garden centre. This one was said to be different. It is a new garden “supercentre” which opened in our town a few weeks ago. My in-laws have been 1,287 times since it opened (117 of those times were on the opening weekend) and reported it to be a place so full of wonder that even we, garden haterz that we are, would be transported into fits at joy at the very sight of it.
“Have you been?” asked my mother-in-law eagerly, a couple of days after the House of Fun opened its doors.
“No,” I answered. “We hate gardening, remember? I’d rather eat my own head than go to a garden centre.”
“Oh, you should go,” she insisted. “They have EVERYTHING there. Everything you could possibly imagine.”
“Do they have Christian Louboutin shoes?” I asked, suspiciously.
“Well, no,” admitted my mother-in-law. “They no have no shoes.” (She is Greek.) “But they have everything else you can imagine! They even have… ” she paused to wrack her brains. “THEY EVEN HAVE BREAD!” she finished, triumphantly.
Well, Terry and I just couldn’t believe there was a place in the world selling BREAD, so we reported this unlikely piece of information back to my own parents, who, being complete and utter shopaholics (They done raised me good.) had obviously already been to the Pleasure Garden(Centre). They make it their business to visit every new store that opens within a fifty mile radius. It’s like their hobby.
“Oh yes,” confirmed my dad, when we asked him about this place. “It’s actually the best place in the word, ever. A bit like the Magic Kingdom, only better. When you walk through the doors, there is a choir of cherubs playing harps to greet you!”
“A magic unicorn takes your jacket and brings you the elixir of youth!” my mum interrupted, excitedly.
“THEY EVEN SELL BREAD!” they chorused together.
“We’re never going to that place,” Terry told me as we drove home that night. I don’t care if they have the philosopher’s stone, Lord Lucan and Shergar inside it. We’re never going because it makes people crazy.”
So, this Friday, we got dressed and went straight to the garden centre.
Well, you see, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. While Terry and I have been dealing with the MAD STRESS, Rubin has had to be very, very patient. And I should point out here, before you all up and report me to the RSPCA, we have been feeding him, walking him, and otherwise fulfilling our duty of care to our wolf. But we have been very distracted, and although Rubin HAS been repaying us for this by barking at 3am every night without fail, and not stopping until I allow him to sleep on my stomach, he has been a Good Boy about it.
“Let’s go to the pet store and buy Rubin some treats,” said Terry on Friday. “Like a really smelly pig’s ear, or one of those horrible cheese bones that he leaves lying around the house for weeks.”
“OK,” I said, “But rather than getting the treats from the pet store, let’s get them from The Best Garden Centre in the World Ever.”
And then Terry jumped out of the upstairs window and ran away from me as fast as he could. He is still running to this day.
No, I jest. He did take a bit of persuading, though.
“Not you too!” he said in dismay when I presented him with my Garden Centre O’Doom plan. “You’ve been infected by the madness! It’s spreading! AM I THE ONLY SANE ONE LEFT?!”
Then he calmed down and drove us to the garden centre.
(This is the face I made when Terry finally agreed to take me there. I was THAT excited.)
We pulled into the car park in a state of excitement (me) and complete and utter cynicism (Terry). The car park was so busy it was like Disney on the fourth of July. Everywhere we looked, people milled around clutching cameras, full of the excitement of a trip to the GARDEN CENTRE! There were even some tour groups, all wearing t-shirts with “GARDEN CENTRE 2011!” printed on the front, and a group leader with a flag to help keep everyone together.
“This better be %^&$*&^ good,” Terry muttered under his breath.
The doors opened. We expected a choir of angels to burst into the Hallelujah Chorus as we stepped over that hallowed threshold.
They didn’t, though.
Because it was just a garden centre.
Full of … gardening stuff.
And don’t get me wrong: it’s a NICE garden centre, as garden centres go. Their trowels and spades and… other gardening stuff… all looked very nice and shiny. And there’s some other stuff too: amazing patio furniture, designed for millionaires who don’t live anywhere near this country or its weather, for instance. Tropical fish! A restaurant full of lovely, over-priced food!
Terry had only one thing on his mind, though.
“Bread…” he muttered. “Bread… I need to see this freaking BREAD I’ve heard so much about…”
I actually didn’t give a crap about the bread, so I set off to look for the live chickens I’d been told the Garden Centre sells, and which I’ve been trying to persuade my in-laws to buy ever since, so I can gather eggs and pretend to be a farm girl when I go to visit them. (I was thinking a gingham dress, maybe? And an apron?) I couldn’t find them, so I headed back to Terry and found him standing next to the bread display, looking a bit like Dr. Bruce Banner in the seconds before he turns into the Incredible Hulk.
“Look. At. The. Prices.” he said, incredulously. “The bread… it’s SO EXPENSIVE!” And it was. And so was everything else in that food hall. I know, because Terry made me look at every single item of food they were selling, whilst speculating on how much he thought the same item would cost at the supermarket.
“Our families are being duped into buying overpriced bread!” he said, furious. “They must put something into the food in the restaurant. Something that makes people come back here again and again, and buy food at vastly inflated prices!”
So incensed was Terry by this, that I never did find those chickens, and Rubin didn’t get his dog treats, either. In fact, we had to drive straight from there to the supermarket, so Terry could calm himself down by looking at the prices of everything he’d seen in the garden centre and reassuring himself that HE WAS RIGHT and they were all cheaper in the supermarket.
And he was right.
They were all cheaper in the supermarket.
But it was a very nice garden centre…
(Photos by Terry, for Shoe Challenge # 11. Top, D&G; (c/o Shopbop), skirt, Topshop; shoes, New Look)
Mt Flickr Pro account expired a couple of weeks ago, and I’m too mean to pay to renew it right now, so I’m afraid that means some of the photos I would normally have posted there are getting stuck here instead: sorry.
These were taken today, on our first day trip of the year – and given that we were up to our ankles in snow just a couple of weeks ago, it was a joyous occasion indeed. These photos were taken today at Seacliff Beach, in East Lothian: it’s our favourite Scottish beach, and as it’s my mum’s birthday tomorrow (Happy Birthday, mum!) we celebrated with champagne and chocolate cake on the beach: yum!
Here’s hoping for enough good weather to let us have a few more days like this…
So, my dad goes into the Apple store. I’ve no idea why, because my parents now have a total of four computers and, well, there’s only two of them. But presumably my dad felt like playing with some different gadgets for a change, so in he goes, but much to his chagrin, all of the shiny Apple gadgets are in use at the time. Yes, every iPhone, iPod and iWhateverelse is already being played with, but my dad has some time to kill, so he hangs around and sure enough, after a few minutes, a computer becomes free, and so he takes his place in front of it and prepares to explore.
My dad has a good look at this computer. He spends a few minutes opening up programmes, closing down other ones, probably rearranging the desktop and going through the documents for all I know. He’s thoroughly enjoying himself, when all of a sudden, he feels a tap on the shoulder and turns around to see an Apple employee standing there.
“Sir?” says the employee. “Sir, that’s our cash register you’re playing with.”
After that, my dad didn’t go into the Apple store no more. He confirms that they have some mighty fine cash registers in there, though…
(Note: no Apple products were harmed in the making of this post)
A few weeks ago, I decided – pretty much on a whim – to start tracing my family tree. I think, like most people who do this, I was secretly hoping I’d find out I was directly descended from Cleopatra or something, although, as it turns out, that would be pretty difficult because, with the exception of one adventurous branch of the family who emigrated to the States in the 19th century, only to return ten years later (possibly thrown out?), it would seem my ancestors have spent hundreds of years diligently mining coal all over Scotland, except for a few renegade souls, who mined clay instead. I’d imagine it was a bit like living inside a DH Lawrence novel, only grittier, and more Scottish.
My ancestors also appear to have cunningly avoided doing anything that might have drawn attention to themselves throughout their lives, which makes them a little harder to trace. I didn’t read all of those Famous Five books as a child for nothing, though, so I have persevered, and one thing I have managed to find out (mostly because it was, er, already known to my parents) is that my maternal great-grandparents, and their parents before them, lived in Helensburgh, which is a little town on the Clyde, in the west of Scotland.
Anyway, this Sunday was Easter, obviously, but it was better known in our family by the much more important title of “My Mum’s Birthday”, so, to celebrate, my dad thought it would be a nice idea to take my mum “back to her roots”, so to speak, and take a little drive to Helensburgh. And because Terry and I like to hang around like a bad smell all the time, we went too. Look, here’s me and my mum having a whale of a time in the local cemetery! Happy Easter!
Honestly, if there’s a better way to celebrate your mother’s birthday than by taking her to a graveyard, I don’t know what it is. Happy birthday, mum!
Unfortunately, our ancestors continued to be elusive, and we didn’t manage to find any of their graves – we think they’re probably unmarked, or marked by a tree or something – so we drew a blank there. We did, however, have a few addresses we knew some of them had lived in, and we managed to find those. Here’s me, Terry and Rubin looking slightly suspicious as we loiter outside the building my great-grandfather once lived in:
West Princes Street
Note: he was not a dentist. And actually, despite what I said above, these Helensburgh ancestors weren’t coal miners either, or even clay miners. No, my great-grandad was a plasterer, which I would imagine was quite daring of him at the time. We visited a couple of other streets we knew the family had lived on, but although most of the rest of the streets were still intact, and dated back to the late nineteeth/early twentieth century, the buildings the early Forever Ambers had lived in had been knocked down. We’re assuming this had nothing to do with our family, but you never really know…
Anyway, because nothing works up a good appetite quite like poking around graveyards, we retired to the waterfront to eat ice cream and bags of greasy chips. Here are the disembodied heads of me and my parents floating above a host of golden daffodils:
Daffodils: host of
I have my eyes closed because, seriously, you have no idea how many photos I have managed to ruin by doing that. It’s like some freaky skill I have, to always know the exact moment the shutter will close, and to close my eyes in sympathy with it. Here’s a rare shot of me with my eyes open, just after lunch:
I like to think my ancient ancestors once stood on this same spot, gazing pensively out over the Clyde and thinking deep thoughts. Sadly for them, though, they were probably too busy huddling together for warmth or weaving rough sweaters out of coal, or whatever people did in those days, to have much time for pensive staring. Which was probably a good thing, really, because look where Pensive Staring has got me?
After that, we drove along the Clyde to Loch Long, which is a loch, and is long:
Loch Long: both long and loch-like
Loch Long has no associations with my ancestors, as far as I know, but my uncle did almost catch his death of cold once in Arrochar, on its banks, so it sort of counts.
Then we went to Loch Lomond, which, again, has absolutely nothing to do with our family, but which is just nice. Its banks were looking suitably bonny, I thought:
"Mountains, Gandalf, mountains!" (for Erin)
And then we came home. So, in conclusion, we didn’t find out too much about my ancestors, but a good day was had by all: