Monday, 29 December 2014

Resolutions 2015

Illustrating resolutions with a suitably uplifting pic of a crystal garden kit from Tim and Maria.

Resolutions are more personal things than Projects.

This year I will:

Do pilates regularly, ideally every two days, and go for a walk every day.
Fill my wardrobe with size 14 as I cannot starve myself back down to 12 any more. This is going well after my sales trip... Leen, some small garments may be in the post.
Stop looking at depressing things on the internet, including mopey blogs and health websites.
Go out for food on thursday evenings.
Go to the library or buy books from real bookshops, not all on amazon.
Deep clean the house over the xmas holiday.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Reading Projects 2015

This post is mainly to thank people for very generous xmas gifts towards my reading projects. And to mention some things I've enjoyed reading so far.

Thank you Leen for my january and february women's travel reads: 
Growing old outrageously by hilary linstead and elisabeth davies and
Travels in a single state, cycling across the usa by josie dew.

I will report on these once read.

Also thank you Alistair for Laughter in Ancient Rome, another one by the brilliant Mary Beard. I am currently enjoying her book on Pompeii which discusses many aspects of roman daily life, including why so much art depicts men with big dicks.  (Just funny, apparently). I also really liked 

On the Spartacus road by peter stothard, history, travelogue and personal memoir. I didn't know what happened to spartacus and the gladiators so that was pretty shocking.

I probably approach my reading in totally the wrong way in that it is not systematic but just a scattergun of things I find that look interesting, from the library, bookshops or on my kindle.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Seen from the Road

I often think how lucky I am. The fantastic scenery and gorgeous buildings I see just driving about each day are unbelievable. Aberdeenshire is just stunning.

This is the Tower Lodges at Dunecht House, by Lake of Skene, on my way to work. The lodges were built in 1922 by Marshall Mackenzie and are modelled after traditional scottish tower houses. They must be a lovely place to live, looking out over miles of woodland and a huge, silvery lake.

Dunecht House itself is nestled away in the woods, an enormous fairytale victorian mansion with a three storey 120ft library, colossal chapel and staircase painted with mythological scenes. I was very lucky to visit as it is very private. The history includes a reclusive book collector, an infamous bodysnatching case and a ruthless oil baron. One of my favourite places.

Picture in conte crayon, fixed with elnett hairspray, tweaked on ipad.

Monday, 22 December 2014

This year in review

Looking back this has been a strange year. Almost a year in stasis as everyone north of the border waited for the news. The referendum hung over us all like a sword of damocles. Everything could change or nothing. I'm not going to offer any political comment here due to the divisive nature of the issue, but I'm hoping normal service can resume in 2015.

Personally, there were some developments this year such as the birth of my nephew Archie. A happy moment. I reached the milestone of forty which is fine if you don't think about it. We went on some lovely holidays, especially Strasbourg where I travelled the channel tunnel for the first time ( recommended) and stayed in the St Pancras Hotel, a favourite building and where Alistair first proposed...

Project wise, I went to The Neos art festival for the first time and the Spring Fling dumfriesshire art festival. I did lots of painting and sewing and cooked lots of french food. Next year, women travel books, stone circles, middle eastern food and complex baking.

Work wise, a year of change in which we went through three managers, with varied degrees of success, worked like dogs and came out on top. Next year looks tough though.

Health wise, sadly my knee problem stopped my running but I am still experimenting with pilates and yoga. A regular massage is making progress on my dodgy shoulder and I'm relaxing more. A postive outlook.

Socially, a mixed year. I seem to have grown apart from some friends, but become closer to others. Some, sadly have moved away and some sad times. Lovely Alistair is the centre of things for me, as always.

On a lighter note, film of the year: Guardians of the Galaxy. Recipe of the year: Chocolate Spice cookies. Biography of the year: graphic novel Kiki de Montparnasse. Sight of the year: Chateau de Haut Koenigsberg, Alsace.

Art posts will resume shortly...

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Winter Windows

One of the things I do love about winter and the dark mornings and nights is looking into the lit windows as you pass by. I love looking nosily at people's decor and rooms and ,at the moment, lovely christmas trees. This is a 'seen from the road' window as I drop Alistair off on my way to work. It looks a bit middle eastern here somehow, but is actually a lovely Victorian stair window with coloured glass.

This post is from my ipad so sorry for less than ideal picture photo (no scanner) and funny typesetting. On the plus side, so quick and easy! Brace for many posts over the Xmas period.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Winter Blues

One of the things I find most difficult about living in Aberdeen is the dark winters. At the moment it is only properly light for about six hours a day. After several weeks of feeling sleepy, gloomy and hungry all the time I am getting to grips with this. I bought a daylight lamp to use first thing in the morning, which is vaguely unpleasant, but does get you awake. I am trying to get outside as much as possible in the daylight, get fresh air and eat healthily.
I am trying to not hibernate, watch TV in the day or have the lights on. Actually, I am feeling a bit better even on day one of the regime. I don't know how people manage in northern countries, I would absolutely hate it.

I apologise for the lack of original pictures lately, as our computer seems to be on the blink and I can't scan.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Neolithic Enthusiasm

So, I started this project early...I really should have started it at Midwinter or Yule, which was important to preChristian  people and is around the 23rd of December. This early winter festival was an ancestor of Christmas, featuring lots of feasting and decorative evergreens.

So far I have really enjoyed The Modern Antiquarian by Julian Cope. Julian is a hugely charismatic rock singer, poet and stone circle enthusiast. His encyclopaedic book covers all the neolithic sites in the UK, he has personally visited over five hundred and photographed all of them. You can enjoy him on youtube too in his TV programme of the same name. (slight crush).

A rather more academic and less enjoyable book, but useful book covers the unique stone circles of Aberdeenshire ; Great Crowns of Stone by Adam Welfare. I also enjoyed Hengeworld by the  appropriately named Mike Pitts (lots of detailed archaeology dig stories on Avebury and Stonehenge).

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Resolutions/projects 2015

I do like to make a list of resolutions/projects at the end of each year. Just so my time does not pass in a blur and I have nothing to show for it. I try to make them fun and achievable though...

The picture of Dunnideer is to illustrate a new project I think of as 'the ancient world.' I plan to see and read up on prehistoric monuments (following my stone circle trip) and to discover more about the Greeks and Romans (following impulse buy of a fascinating book by historian Mary Beard) she points out that a knowledge of the classical world was vital for any civilised person until recently. And my knowledge is almost zero, so I'll work on that. I am currently enjoying The Modern Antiquarian by Julian Cope, about prehistoric monuments, faith and belief. It is delightfully esoteric and eccentric and I believe he is an ex rock star(he certainly looks like one).

I am also reading women's travel writing. Interestingly, most travel writing is by men. Do women have less opportunity to travel? Is it because of families? Are they less adventurous (surely not!) I want to discover intrepid women, daring journeys and fascinating cultures.

 Also, to progress my experiments in, variously, French and middle eastern cookery, finding the holy grail exercise class and massage treatment, dressmaking and creating art for this blog....