Archive of ‘Walks & Days Out’ category
[Dress (worn as skirt): Miss Selfridge via ebay // top: ancient, no idea // shoes: gift from my parents]
When I was just a few years old, my parents announced that we would be going on holiday to Spain: a trip which would, they told me, involve plenty of time at the beach.
Now, this was my first time abroad, but I was no stranger to the beach: in fact, I’d spent quite a lot of time at North Berwick, on the East Coast of Scotland, which, as I’ve mentioned here many times before, is one of those classic British seaside towns, right out of an Enid Blyton novel. So I knew the beach. And I knew exactly what I would need to wear on it, too. So as my mum started packing my suitcase for this trip to Spain, I rushed off to my wardrobe and returned bearing the two most essential items for the well-dressed beach-going three year-old:
1. A pair of Wellies
2. A waterproof jacket
It took my mum some time to convince me that not ALL beaches in the world were freezing cold, and very, very wet. I was amazed. And I LOVED Spain. But I never stopped loving North Berwick, too: in fact, it’s still one of my favourite places in the world, and I try to go back there at least once a year, only these days I normally leave the wellies at home. Which, seriously? Is a mistake. It’s a mistake my three-year-old self wouldn’t have made. My adult self, however, has obviously learned NOTHING from her past errors, so when Terry suggested we take a drive out to Seacliff beach, to the east of the town, I once again rushed off to my wardrobe, but this time I returned with:
1. A cotton sundress
In my defence, the forecast was for a warm, sunny day. And, you know, it’s August. If you can’t wear a sundress in August, when can you?
Folks, it was FREEZING. Like, seriously freezing. I also took a thick-knit cardigan with me, “just in case”. It’s a cardigan I normally only wear in winter, and which I really didn’t think I’d need, but I was still freezing. And so was Terry, actually, and he wasn’t wearing a sundress
this time, so at least I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t dressed for the weather.
Also, my knickers were on show a lot. A LOT.
Minutes after this photo was taken, Rubin scaled an almost sheer cliff-face, and walked onto the wall of the little harbour (smallest harbour in the UK, fact fans!) there, which was honestly about a million feet high or something. Naturally, I freaked the hell out and started shrieking confusing instructions at him to “COME HERE! NO! STAY THERE! DON’T MOVE! DOOOOOONNNN’T MOOOOOVE!” but Rubin just stared at me, in his “I hear what you’re saying, but I’m going to totally ignore you, and I’m going to do it just because I can,” way. Then he leapt from the harbour wall back to the cliff face, which he then jumped down like a goat, to join a random couple of strangers, who were no doubt quite surprised to suddenly find themselves accompanied by a small white wolf. I, meanwhile, almost collapsed into the harbour myself with relief.
Never work with children or animals, people. Or windy beaches.
(I should probably add here that, despite the aforementioned events, we did have a lovely day out, and as soon as we got home, I rushed straight to the computer to look up East Lothian property prices, just in case they had miraculously become affordable since the last time I looked.)
(I’m definitely going to invest in some “sensible” clothes, though. Like… waterproof jackets. And wellies. And whatever else it is that sensible people wear.)
As I mentioned in my last post, Terry and I decided to take a couple of days off last week to try and take advantage of the drier-than-usual weather (That turned out to be a wise decision, too: I’m typing this on Sunday morning, and I’m fairly sure that’s a Biblical-style rainstorm I can hear drumming against the windows…), and on Thursday we headed to Jupiter Artland, near Edinburgh, which, to lazily quote their own website, is “a contemporary sculpture garden”.
Actually, though, that doesn’t quite sum up what Jupiter Artland is. It’s in the grounds of an old mansion house (the owners live in it, so you can’t just rock up for tea and cakes, unfortunately…), and once you’ve parked up and paid (It was about £8 each, but totally worth it), you begin walking along a woodland path, which leads you past various installations, which seemed to me to be right out of one of the horror movies I love so much:
There’s a cage with a giant hole, leading to who knows where. A gun leaning against a tree. A cemetery entered through a narrow door, and with all the names removed from the gravestones. A gang of creepy girls weeping in the woods, their hair obscuring their faces, horror-movie style.
It was absolutely amazing.
Once you’ve strolled through this sinister/beautiful woodland path, however, you emerge into a different kind of dream, this time one filled with the most amazing mounds of earth:
That white thing I’m sitting on in the second-from-top photo? It’s supposed to be a sperm. I was sitting on a sperm. And I only realised after I’d smiled for the camera. Ah, well!
Oh, there are also donkeys:
And a cute little retro caravan/snack bar:
(Yes, we had three cakes. Because we had our invisible friend, Brian, with us, obviously.)
(No, it was because you had to spend more than £10 to be able to pay by card, so we were “forced” to buy another one. Oh, noes!)
There’s a whole more more, too, including a cave in the ground, made entirely out of amethyst:
Unfortunately, it was really hard to do justice to the place on film, which is why I’ve shown you more photos of the snack bar than of the actual artworks. You’ll just have to take my word for how awesome it is, though: or, better still, pay a visit yourself if you’re ever in the area.
Trust me, it’s worth it.
[Capri pants: ASOS // tank top: River Island // shoes: gift from my parents // glasses: eBay // cardigan: shop in Orlando about 8 years ago // Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs c/o Shopbop]
Back in the days when I used to dream about one day being self-employed, I thought the best thing about it would be having the flexibility to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I imagined there would be lots of spontaneous day trips, for instance: times when I woke up and thought, “Hmm, don’t really feel like working today: I think I’ll have the day off!” I also thought that my house would always be immaculate because of all of the extra time I’d have to clean, and that I would spend rainy days curled up by the open fire with a book, rather than chained to my desk, working.
I was pretty stupid, huh? Especially given that we don’t even have an open fire.
The fact is that in the five (!) years I’ve officially been “my own boss”, I’ve hardly ever taken an inpromptu day off just because I felt like it. (And the house is never ”immaculate”, because, well, we’re in it all the time, making a mess. Also: Rubin.) As my fellow self-employed people will testify, working for yourself is one long guilt-trip, in which you’re scared to take any time off AT ALL, because you know that if you do, your business will instantly fail, and you will be sent to the workhouse to eat gruel and wear rags. Or something like that, anyway.
This summer, though, the non-stop rain (hey, did I mention that we’ve had non-stop rain?) and generally gloomy weather has prompted us to change the way we work a little: to be more flexible, so that when the sun does decide to peek out from behind the clouds for a few minutes, we can just drop everything and run outside to bask in it. And I mean that literally: we’ve had so little sun over the past month that the few times it HAS come out, Terry and I have both downed tools and run outside, to sit at our little picnic bench (HA!) and gaze up at the sky, like a couple of country bumpkins seeing our first ever horseless carriage.
With all of this in mind, then, when the weather forecast informed us that this Wednesday would probably be the only dry day this week, and might even be sunny, we knew we had to take full advantage of it. Otherwise we would probably get rickets and die.
We looked forward to Wednesday the way most of you look forward to Christmas. We worked extra hard on Monday and Tuesday, so we could take the day off, and we talked excitedly about what it might be like, this “sun” we had heard so much about. I barely slept on Tuesday night, I was so excited.
Finally, the blessed day came. We woke up on Wednesday morning and… it wasn’t actually that sunny. Oh.
Undeterred, we got ready, and headed off on our planned adventure to Cramond Island, which is an island (the name kinda gives it away, doesn’t it?) in the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh. It’s one of those islands you can reach via a causeway during low tide, so you get that slightly eerie feeling off walking along the sea bed, and knowing that in a few hours time the path you’re walking on will be under several feet of water, and you’ll possibly be stranded on an island which has nothing on it but an old ruined cottage and some World War 2 fortifications (also ruined).
And actually, that would’ve made for a much more exciting blog post, so let me just quickly lower your expectations by telling you that no, it didn’t happen. Instead we had a little picnic, and enjoyed the amazing views of Edinburgh and the Forth, while wandering around the island, which is possibly the most “Famous Five” kind of place I’ve ever been. Seriously, they would have LOVED it there. They would have camped out overnight, and had a “ripping” adventure, featuring smugglers and circus folk, and at least one unnaturally intelligent animal. And then they would’ve gone home to a huge cream tea, with potted meat sandwiches. It would’ve been ace.
As for us, we finished our sandwiches, packed up, and headed back across the causeway and into Edinburgh, where we engaged in the not particularly adventurous, but still very enjoyable, activities of “drooling at the shoes in Harvey Nichols” and “having dinner at Jamie’s Italian“. It was a good day. It was a day we will no doubt look back on and describe as “summer 2012″. And not a single dot was worn that day…
(P.S. Yes, I wore low wedges and stood briefly on sand and OMGROCKS. And the world did not end, and nothing bad happened, because they’re really comfortable and easy to walk in…)
[Dress: River Island (old) // Cardigan: H&M (new, but couldn't find it on the website) // brooch: New Look (old) // Shoes: Carvela 'Australia' c/o Sarenza]
Over the weekend, Terry and I noticed that we were starting to get some breaks in the non-stop downpour we’ve been experiencing for the past few
weeks months. At first we were afraid. What did it mean, this end to the rain? What was that bright light in the sky that would appear for a few, fleeting seconds, and then be switched off, plunging us once again into miserable darkness?
Well, we waited it out for a while, not trusting the dry spell to continue, but after a few hours without any sign of rain, we decided to chance our luck, and attempt one of our favourite summertime activities: exploring old houses and, well, drinking champagne. So off we went to Hopetoun House, which is an old mansion house which also serves high tea: score!
Unfortunately for me, although the weather was dry and warm(ish), it was also very, very windy. What’s the LAST thing you should wear on a windy day, folks? That’s right: a big-skirted dress with lots and lots of fabric, which will fly up at the slightest breeze.
So, naturally, that’s what I wore.
The dress in question is from River Island, and had actually been on my “to be eBayed” pile up until last week, when I decided to go through said pile and try a few of the things on before selling them/donating them. So I did that, and then… I put all of them back in my wardrobe again. Whoops.
It was only as I stepped out of the car, and immediately flashed two innocent bystanders, that I remembered WHY I had decided to part ways with this dress. Remember this post? The one where I flashed a bunch of people while wearing a big-skirted dress? THIS was that dress. And now it has struck again.
Obviously the dress has a plan. And obviously it’s a plan which mostly revolves around forcing me to flash my underwear as many times as possible. Actually, scratch that: the plan doesn’t revolve around that. That IS the plan. It’s simple, yet powerful in its ability to cause the maximum amount of humiliation in the shortest amount of time. The two people I flashed in the car park, for instance? Got to see my underwear twice. Because first the dress flew up at the front, then, as soon as I grabbed it and pulled it down, it instantly – INSTANTLY – flew up at the back. Mortified.
At least the house was pretty, though.
(Yes, we took too many photos. The place was just too picturesque not to. “It must be nice in the summer,” I said to Terry at one point. He had to remind me that this actually IS “summer”, and not Autumn, which is what it felt like…)
(New Look dress (with belt worn as headband), Charlotte Russe shoes, Gucci sunglasses)
Yup, I’m STILL talking about last weekend, and how sunny it was, and how awesome it was that it was sunny, and hey, did I ever mention that I like the sun? I did? OK, let’s talk about the clothes, instead…
I got this dress in New Look a few years ago now. It has the distinction of being what I’m pretty sure is the only dress New Look have ever made which isn’t approximately butt-length. It’s certainly the only dress I’ve ever bought from them, because all the rest are either a) so short I couldn’t even sneeze in them without worrying about flashing my knickers, or b) so high waisted that the waistline hits somewhere just under my armpits: not a good look.
(OK, that last point isn’t actually their fault: it’s because of my freakishly long torso, which means that almost all dresses are empire line on me. God, I HATE empire lines.)
What’s interesting about this dress, though (and by “interesting”, I mean, “not really, but it’s not like I have anything else to talk about right now”) is that when I bought it, I was still right at the very start of my dress obsession, and basically wearing a uniform of jeans and a top every single day in life. So each time I wore this dress (which actually wasn’t all that often, on account of how scared I was of being “different”), I felt like I was doing something really brave and revolutionary: wearing a DRESS, while all around me, people were wearing JEANS, by God. I felt a bit like Che Guevara or something. I expect one day people will sing songs about me around campfires and stuff, only not really, because seriously, when I look back now and think that just a few years ago a simple sundress was a huge departure for me, it just makes me laugh. If only my (slightly) younger self could see the inside of her closet now…
In other news: swans!
(This photo makes me laugh so hard. Not because my mum and I ARE laughing in it -as is Rubin, actually – but because my dad is so resolutely NOT. LAUGHING. He’s all, “GOD, lookit them! Why are they laughing? Why am I with these lunatics? Humbug!”)
Anyway, my closet may have changed since this dress was purchased, but the dress itself is still going strong, and for its latest adventure, I wore it on a day out to Lanark Loch with Terry and my parents. And Rubin, of course, who’d had a haircut by that point. (I feel I should point out that he DOES still have a tail, even although you can’t see it in the photo above…) Luckily, Terry had thought to check the weather report the night before, and we’d discovered that it was to be about 10 degrees warmer there than it would be on the east coast, and that was good enough for us, so off we went. Honestly, I’d have gone to Mordor if I thought it would have slightly better weather, I’m not even joking.
Aaaaand I think I’m finally done re-capping my weekend. Just in time for the NEXT one. Don’t worry, though: today is officially my last day of work before my holiday, but it turns out we’re actually leaving a day earlier than I thought (I just found this out last week. My parents and Terry all read my blog post in which I mentioned spending next Friday packing, and not one of them thought to tell me that if I did that, I’d be left behind. Which makes me wonder if they were trying to intentionally leave me behind, hmmm?) and we also have our friends’ wedding to go to next week, so I’ll probably have limited time for blogging. Then again, I might just procrastinate to the point where I spend ALL my time blogging, and have to pack my suitcase at the last possible second again. You’ll just have to wait and see…
(ASOS skirt, Jasper Conran shoes, Primark tee, eBay sunglasses)
If you’re a regular reader of this here blog, and you happen to be based in the UK, you’ve probably been expecting this post. “Oh great,” I can almost hear you thinking. “The sun’s out, so that means we’ll be subjected to endless photos of Amber prancing around the countryside, gushing about how OMGAMAZING the weather is.” And you’re right. It DOES mean that.
See, last week I finally managed to get (mostly) on top of my pre-holiday workload, and this just so happened to coincide with the sun finally coming out, so I’ve basically spent the past few days basking in it and doing the aforementioned gushing. This started on Friday afternoon, when I decided it would be a great idea to go for a picnic in the countryside. “We’ll just throw some home-made cupcakes into our delightfully kitschy picnic basket, along with some charmingly mis-matched vintage crockery!” I said to Terry. Then I remembered that we don’t actually own a picnic basket at all, let alone a delightfully kitschy one. And our crockery is all from Ikea. Oh, and a quick inspection of the kitchen cupboards and fridge revealed that all we had to eat was a bottle of wine and half a block of Stilton. Honestly, some days it amazes me that I’m even allowed to call myself a fashion blogger. Or, you know, an adult.
Anyway, we abandoned the picnic plans and decided to just go for a walk instead, but I figured, what the hell, if I can’t HAVE a picnic, I may as well dress like one. So I did, in this ASOS gingham skirt, which I bought during the winter and then squirrelled away for a sunny day. And which I actually forgot about until last week, so it was almost like getting free clothes. Almost.
These are just a few (no, seriously) of the 1,653,876 photos we took. Sorry. I think the British countryside in summertime is one of my favourite things ever, though, and the thing I’d miss most (other than people) if I ever moved away from here. Well, that and greasy chip-shop chips, some of which I also had this weekend. Seriously: best weekend ever. And given that we had such a lovely weekend, and have just a few more days left to work before we’re off on holiday, I figured I should probably do something to screw things up, before the universe can do it for me. With that in mind, I’ve booked myself in for an HD Brows treatment on Wednesday afternoon. There’s just no way that can go wrong, is there?
(Dress, River Island last year; Shoes, TK Maxx, about 6 years ago.)
For some reason, sunny weather (Oh, hey, did I mention we’ve been having sunny weather recently? Did I? Because I feel like I haven’t gushed about it quite enough yet…) brings out my inner fashion blogger, and if I’m not prancing around in a field of flowers, there I’ll be: jumping. And jumping in that “look! I’m hovering!” kinda way that you only ever see fashion bloggers do, too. I hope you’ll all join me next week, when I will be touching my hair while gazing pensively at my feet. Oh no, wait: I’ve already done that. I’ll just try to behave like a normal person, in that case. It’ll be hard, but I’ll try.
These photos were taken on Tuesday, when it was once again sunny and warm (Did I mention it’s been sunny and warm?) and Terry and I decided to go for a walk in the country with the dog.
We walked for a bit, sticking to the nice, easy footpath you see in the photo above. And then… we abruptly left that path, and plunged into the undergrowth, where we became instantly lost, and had to wander around for ages, trying to find our way back to the car. Our circuitous route took us up hill, down dale, and also over quite a few of those stupid wire fences, which Terry had to lift both Rubin and I over. And all the while, I was expecting to come face to face with a farmer with a shotgun, going, “Ger orfa ma land, varmints!”
But we didn’t. And I lived to jump another day.
Tomorrow is our fifth wedding anniversary, which is something I still can’t quite get my head around. I mean, five whole years? Really? That’s, like, half a DECADE. I seriously feel like my life is on fast-forward or something, and I’ll wake up next week and be 90. (Actually, sometimes I LOOK like I’m 90 when I wake up, so that’s not too far fetched, really.) Terry and I will be celebrating with my best friend, Stephanie, who’s in town for the weekend with her husband Nick and their gorgeous little boy, Dylan. Stephanie lives in the south of England, and the last time she made it this far north was ALSO five years ago tomorrow, when she did a reading at my wedding while just a few months pregnant with Dylan. We have seen them since then, but this will be the first time we’ll be re-uniting on our old turf (Steph and I met on our first day at Edinburgh university) so it’ll be fantastic to catch up. Naturally, the beautiful weather is forecast to come to a screeching halt at roughly the same time their train pulls into the station, but hey, we enjoyed it while we had it. And you, my friends, will get to enjoy EVEN MORE OF IT next week, when I post the approximately 45,567 other photos I took of it. It’ll be like the sunshine never ended…
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This afternoon, we decided to jump in the car and take Rubin for a long walk in the countryside just outside town. We actually thought we were being pretty clever here (Yeah, I know: famous last words…), because the thing is, our house is surrounded by woodland. And Rubin’s fur is like velcro. So, basically, every time we walk him during Autumn/Winter (so from September – May, really), he comes home looking a bit like an Ent, with entire trees tangled up in his fur, and, well, it’s not much fun for any of us, really.
“I know!” said Terry this afternoon. “We’ll take him on a different walk, far, far from the wicked trees! Then the worst we’ll have to worry about will be a bit of mud!”
Or, you know, a LOT of mud. Like, OMGTHATISALOTOFMUD. And also quite a lot of trees, to be honest, because it’s not like there are NO TREES in the countryside, is it?
Trees. In the countryside. WHO KNEW?
Rubin really enjoyed his walk, though. Terry and I? Not so much, to be honest. Not once we got him home, anyway, and had to spend the best part of an hour bathing him, then cleaning the bath, cleaning the floors, scraping mud off the walls, ceiling, and all of the other places Rubin managed to shake it. And did Rubin care?
Well, what do YOU think?
Oh yeah, I also managed to capture a UFO, out there on that lonely road:
Or possibly a scary ghost, which has been following me around, ever since it ransacked my kitchen (who, me, exaggerate?) and switched on my TV the other night? At first I thought it was just the reflection of the sun or moon in a puddle, but this photo is actually a duplicate of the one above Rubin, and as you can see, there’s no water there. Definitely a ghost, then. That, or my iPhone case creating weird effects again. My money’s on “ghost”, though.
This weekend, I caught two separate people doing a McNaughty.
I also had a really lovely day out with my family, so I’m going to show you the photos from that first, and then those of you who feel like listening to me rant for a few thousand words can come back a bit later in the week for that one: sound fair?
So, when Terry and I were on our honeymoon, we were driving around aimlessly one day, when we discovered a stretch of beach which was right next to the airport runway, and I mean RIGHT NEXT TO IT. As in, the planes would fly over your head, and then two seconds later, they’d have landed. As in, you could see the whites of the pilot’s eyes as they flew overhead. It. Was. Terrifying.
Well, Terry and I have always wanted to scare the crap out of ourselves in the same way again, so on Sunday we drove to our local airport to try to recreate the experience, and we took my parents with us so they could be scared silly by giant aircraft flying over their heads, too.
Yes, I am wearing a crop top. I’ve actually had this top for about ten years now, and have considered getting rid of it numerous times, but something held me back: something that perhaps knew that one day I would buy this red skirt in the River Island sale and suddenly want to wear a crop top with it.
We actually couldn’t quite recreate the experience we’d had on holiday. Where we were standing was probably a good half mile from the end of the runway, so although the planes were pretty low, they weren’t quite as close as they had been in Spain. It was still pretty amazing, though. If you like really loud noises and feeling like you’re about to die, I recommend it.
Once we’d had our fill of scary aircraft, we headed into the countryside nearby for a walk:
We, er, took quite a few photos. Also, Terry wore a red shirt to match my skirt. We’re very matchy-matchy that way*.
(*He didn’t. My dad did, though.)
Then we made the short drive to Crammond, and had lunch sitting outside in the sun, next to the river.
We had lashings and lashings of ginger beer. OK, we had one can of ginger beer between four of us. And my dad drunk most of it. The Famous Five would have totally approved, though. Just before we started eating, my mum reached into her bag and produced a bottle of handwash and some wipes. “I brought these,” she said, “Because I knew Amber would try to touch any furry animal that happened to cross her path.”
And she was right:
(The furry animal in the second picture is mine, of course.) It’s funny: over the course of the day, we must’ve seen a few dozen dogs, at least. Rubin didn’t show the slightest interest in any of them… until we met these two Bichons at Crammond. And it’s almost like they KNEW they’d met one of their own. We actually had to drag Rubin away from them, and the other two dogs stood looking longingly after him as we went. Maybe we should get him a friend?
(No! We are NOT getting Rubin a “friend”. No matter how much I might secretly want one. Every time that thought comes into my head I will just think about that one time Rubin ate my favourite pair of shoes when he was a puppy. And that other time he ate my SECOND favourite pair of shoes. Also that time he dug up a shrub and brought it into the house. Oh, and let’s not forget the time he escaped from the car IN A PETROL STATION, and had to be rounded up by a team of truckers. NO. PUPPIES.)
Anyway. I was sad to come home at the end of the day. I really love these summer days we occasionally (very occasionally) get here. It makes me feel like I’m on holiday again, and I don’t want it to end.
Roll on next weekend. And please, please be sunny…
This weekend, Terry and I decided to take up “swinging”. Well, you know, we’d been hearing a lot about it, we thought we might as well give it a go…
And honestly, now that we’ve tried it, I just don’t get what the fuss was about. I mean, people act like swinging is all controversial, but it’s brilliant!
Terry is particularly good at it:
We did our swinging at Traquair House, in the Borders:
We look like we’re about to move in here, no? We didn’t, though: it was built in the 12th century and, you know, I require better heating than that. Imagine what it must be like when it snows!
Rubin DID get a bit “King of the Castle” about it, though:
This was another double-bagging for Terry and I, and because we’ve seen round the house before, we just stuck to the grounds this time, so the wolf could come too.
Here I am in the maze:
I was dancing like Lady Gaga. As you do.
And here I am in front of Rosslyn Castle, which webagged on the way to Traquair (or double-bagged, I should say. We really need to widen our net here and stop repeating castles…):
Yes, it is next to the famous chapel of the same name. No, we didn’t go in, because we’ve bagged the chapel before, and there were eleventy-one people all queuing outside it. Also, the castle is better, even although it’s ruined. On the way there, Terry discovered an American woman lying in front of one of the walls, as if dead. He started to move towards her to make sure she was OK, whereupon she jumped up, introduced herself, and explained that she HAD intended to go to the chapel, but the particular wall she was lying in front of had “called to her”, and she had been drawn to it by its energy.
“Can you feel its energy?” she asked Terry.
Terry could not feel its energy.
I could, though:
Terry’s new friend then went on to tell him that she could also feel HIS energy, and that it was a GOOD energy. So he was happy. It’s nice when strangers are nice, isn’t it?
I, meanwhile, was told by two separate people who passed me that my shoes were RONG and I shouldn’t be wearing them to walk in because they are OMGHIGH. Because that’s the kind of thing that happens to me. Terry has good energy, I just have RONG SHOOZ.
(They are one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I own, by the way. I walked for miles in them completely comfortably. AND I WILL WEAR THEM AGAIN TO CASTLE BAG, JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE.)