#339 to #335 to 50

Here’s another catch-up instalment of my photo a day of the last year of my 40s. We’re nearly caught up now.


It was our 28th wedding anniversary! Bob and I headed into Edinburgh on our own and stayed out until after dark. I can’t remember the last time we did that.


We celebrated in style at the Fizz Boutique before heading to the Gin Garden in St Andrew’s Square where we discovered the delights of the rhubarb and ginger gin fizz. Yummy.

We’d had dinner at vegetarian restaurant Hendersons. I didn’t even miss the meat this time.

It was a wonderful evening.



Saturday was mainly about catching up with some lovely friends. Euan and I had our birthdays at the end of July but the others were away. Shan baked us the most delicious chocolate cake which was the perfect end to Linda’s delicious Mexican meal.



How lucky am I to have somewhere like this to take the dog for a walk just across the road from my house?



This is not the clearest photo but I hope you can see that it’s Gordon Brown. Another trip to the book festival in blazing heat.



Don’t grass me up, but I left a Lib Dem meeting early to head to Pokemon Go night at the zoo. Obviously we were taking the kids. That thing you see in Bob’s pocket isn’t a massive battery pack that can power both our phones. Of course it isn’t.

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#344 – #340 to 50

Here’s the next catch-up instalment of my quest to take a photo a day during the last year of my 40s.

We are now back home in Livingston after a wonderful holiday.


I went over for the second day of Pride Glasgow, which was a good deal drier than the first. In fact, by the end of the afternoon, it was glorious sunshine. We must have taken a wee bit of the Black Isle sunshine with us.

I was helping out on a stall, but also managed to hit the very classy tat stands and spent a fortune in flags and teddy bears and other stuff.

I had al lovely lunch, too – stories with black pudding, beetroot and oatcakes.

It was a super day – and great to see my friends’ sons having a whale of a time together.



It’s been a while since we’ve had a cute photo of Hazel.



The kids decided to bake these sticky, gooey, jammy rolls. They were absolutely delicious. Seriously. I only had a tiny corner just to say I’d tasted it, but I loved it.



I had been really rubbish about the Festival this year. Normally I’m never away from the Book Festival but the tickets went on sale just around the time of the Referendum when I was busy or scunnered.

Anyway, on Wednesday morning, I decided to see what was happening that day. To my utter amazement, I discovered that feminist icon Erico Jong (not pronounced Yong) was not sold out. And Vince Cable was!  I also managed to get a return for Vince. What a contrast. Erica Jong was so funny. Ruth Wishart, who was the skilful interviewer, got the best out of her.

Vince was as sage as ever, talking about Brexit and the economy. I don’t agree with him that we just have to accept that Brexit is happening, though.



Edinburgh at sunset.

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#349 – #345 to 50

It’s been a busy few days. Time to catch up on the next instalment of my quest to take one photo a day during the last year of my 40s.



There are so many photos I could choose from today. There was the hot and sunny high tide walk at Rosemarkie Beach. Finding Bob and Hazel all snuggle dup on the grass outside the cottage. The walk in the Ness Islands while the kids went shopping and Bob visited Auntie Patsy. But this one is spectacular. Taken at sunset in Cromarty, it is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. There were so many more rigs than there had been before, each representing hundreds of jobs gone.



Today, I came to this gorgeous, peaceful spot, lay down on my beach towel like I was in the Med somewhere and read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It was bliss.

The family came to join me for lunch at the excellent community run Rosemarkie Beach cafe. They make the best Coronation Chicken sandwiches. I had a mooch round the free exhibition. On one wall, they have a collection of drawings by a 97 year old resident depicting what Rosemarkie was like when she was young. A new one had been added the day before.

We then had an impromptu shopping trip to Inverness before returning to the beach so that the kids could get in the sea. It was marvellous to watch them so happy.



I don’t think I need to explain why I was ok with Hazel getting me out of bed at 6 in the morning to be let out, do I?

Thursday was busy – two trips into Inverness. One to take back an item of shopping from yesterday, one to see my sister and pick up my nephew Ethan from his first day at nursery. My niece Aimee had her first day at high school in a brand new school which had only just been finished. She’d had an extra couple of days’ holiday.

The kids went for another dip in the sea on the way home and we had a curry.



I know you are probably fed up with this beach, but I never will be so you are just going to have to put up with it some more.

The weather changed in between the morning walk with the dog (roasting) and the afternoon walk with the dog (freezing).

We’d spent the day chilling at the cottage. I took the kids to Cromarty for afternoon tea at The Pantry. That is a great wee tea room. You always need to mot be in a hurry as the service is usually slow and on this occasion was even more chaotic as they were under-staffed. They were very busy and ran out of virtually all the components of afternoon tea so I had to settle for a sandwich and a cake. It was delicious, though.



Just when you think you have seen this beach every which way, it throws up something new. Saturday morning’s farewell present was a moody, atmospheric walk as the mist hung low at one of the lowest tides of the year.

Hazel met a friend of hers – a Welsh Springer spaniel called Roy whom we’d met on our last walk of our Easter holiday when he was just 6 months old.

Then, sadly, it was time to leave our beautiful Black Isle until the next time.

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354-350 to 50



“Throw my ball for me. Come on. What are you waiting for?”

Other highlights of Thursday – the St Boniface Fair in Fortrose which was unexpectedly dry after it had been tipping down with rain. I took the teenagers into Inverness to the cinema while I went to have dinner with my sister.



Trying to find some dolphins at Chanonry Point. I had been to Inverness earlier in the day to another aqua fit class. I was quite impressed with myself for going to the gym twice on holiday.


A lesson in not believing everything you see on social media. Facebook told me that there were Highland Games at Ballone Castle. This struck me as an excellent opportunity to show our visitor from London the eccentricities of such an event. So, we duly headed up to Balllone Castle near Portmahomack.

When my husband was a child, he spent all his Summers at his grandparent’s farm near the Port. He used to go and play in the ruined Ballone Castle as did the generation before him.

Much later, the owners of Scottish luxury brand ANTA bought and restored the castle and now live in it.You can read more about how they did it here.


We wandered down the muddy path to the shoreline and found a tiny Games arena and a couple of dozen people. It felt like we were intruding on a family party so we slipped away unnoticed.

Bob recounted this all to his aunt when we visited her later in the week. She told him that she’d visited the castle after it had been restored. Apparently she had been told that the job of the restorers had been made so much more difficult by the fact that children had thrown the old masonry down to the shoreline.

Bob takes no responsibility for this. He blames his elders.


Despite being born and raised in Inverness, I had never been on a boat on Loch Ness. None of the rest of the family were remotely interested in doing a cruise, so, after 6 years of trying to persuade them, I gave up and went on my own. I took a 2 hour trip from Dochgarroch Lock on the Caledonian Canal in Inverness. It was beautiful, although the weather was not kind – very wet, cold and windy. For part of the journey, I was the only person brave enough to stay outside on the top deck of the boat.

Now, I took hundreds of photos. I could show you many beautiful views of the Loch. However, it’s been there for millions of years and will no doubt be there for a long time to come.  My image for today is something much more unique.

As we returned to Dochgarroch, we met another boat. On deck was actress Prunella Scales, filming another series of Grand Canal Journeys with her husband Timothy West. Given her struggles with Dementia, it’s amazing that she is still able to do this. I felt quite emotional to see her.


The weather brightened up considerably after that. We actually sat outside on the decking outside our cottage for quite a while. I took Hazel for another walk on the beach and Bob was able to see us through his binoculars. “Are you wearing a maroon top?” he asked me when I phoned him. He’d only been sitting next to me all afternoon…


Monday’s highlight was a trip to Dores Beach with my sister and nephews.

I’d never been there before and it was good to see Loch Ness for the second day running. One of my sister’s friends brought along her springer spaniel, Socks, who was quite keen on having stones thrown into the water so he could chase them. I became his servant for the afternoon.

We needed to make an emergency trip to the shops to buy After Sun when I got back to the Black Isle. Summer had truly arrived.


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359-355 to 50

Here’s the first instalment of my holiday catch up in my quest to post an image a day from the last year of my 40s.

I’ve been away in a holiday cottage with no wifi for two blissful weeks.


On Saturday 6th August, we drove north through rain and frustrating traffic queues to our holiday cottage on the Black Isle just north of Inverness.

It didn’t take me long to decide that I could happily live with this view for a fortnight.



For me, Rosemarkie Beach is my favourite place on earth. I have walked on it with everyone I have ever loved. It has wonderful, vibrant greenery, a dramatic rockscape, rich pinky-caramel sand and a view that always, always delivers. Its restorative tranquility is good for the soul.

It’s not just me who’s a fan. I have never seen a dog as happy as Hazel was when she realised she was back there even though it was blowing a gale.



I headed into Inverness to spend some time with my sister and her family. While I was there, I read one of the best things I have ever read in my life. It was my niece Aimee’s school project. She was allowed to do it on any subject of her choice. She very cleverly produced a report of a criminal investigation into the horrible and brutal murder of Mr Penguin. Aimee as detective deduced who had committed the crime from a list of suspects from her family. In doing so she looked at a number of actual forensic science techniques and did experiments. It was very well done. Her teacher’s comment was something like “This is completely bonkers but brilliant.”

I should point out that no actual penguins were harmed in the making of this project.



A day at the Highland Wildlife Park for Bob and the teenagers while I took Hazel to Loch Morlich. She wasn’t very keen on the area at all and walked with very bad grace. She made it clear that this was not what she had envisaged doing on her 2nd birthday. The photo shows her new collar embellishments chosen by the teenagers.





Dogs aren’t allowed on the sofas in the holiday cottage so Bob snuggled up with Hazel on the floor. This dog isn’t in any way spoiled….

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#361 and #360 to 50

The last two days have been busy, busy, busy. I’ve had so much to do before going off on holiday and seem to have succeeded in doing very little of it. We’ve welcomed another teenager who is going to be coming on holiday with us for the third Summer. She’s an absolute delight to have around and the two of them are a brilliant laugh together. Boy, though, can they cheat at board games.

Last night I went into Edinburgh to see former Lib Dem MEP Elspeth Attwooll take a lawyer’s look at Scotland’s options around Brexit. It was a lively and thoughtful discussion with the consensus in the room being that we need to be very clear that we are opposed to Brexit and get in the business of changing hearts and minds.

Here is Elspeth speaking.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 00.10.44

Today has bene frantic – juggling medical appointments, niecely chauffeuring duties, packing and writing . I also managed to nip to the gym for a fly half hour on a cross-trainer and a quick dip in the pool.

Tomorrow we head to the Highlands. You may well end up getting #359 to #345 in a oner in two weeks’ time as I have managed to book a cottage with no wifi. I am already having separation anxiety from the internet, but maybe a digital detox, much in the news this week, is what I need.

This break is the first time we’ve been away for a fortnight since 2008. Typically, storms and gales are predicted for tomorrow as we arrive. I hope they will subside quickly so that I can  take the dog for long walks on Rosemarkie Beach. Being there  just melts my heart. It is one of the few places I have walked with everyone I have ever loved and I feel that I have them all with me when I am there..

I’ll be able to read lots, chill out and watch the Olympics. I’m sitting here watching the opening ceremony. It doesn’t quite have the emotional punch of London 2012. It couldn’t possibly because that was home. It’s enjoyable, though. My image for today is therefore this:

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#362 to 50

I’m a bit sad today. It’s  now dark when I do my nightly returning of teenagers to their own homes so that they can plausibly claim that they don’t actually live in our house.

It’s been another day of making blue-bottomed insects look dilatory. Shopping, transporting people, more zumbaing, sorting out LDV, housework and all the stuff that goes with getting ready for holidays. AND, some more flipping birds decided they wanted to mess with me on the road. What is going on here?

I don’t often do the Wednesday Zumba class but I felt that the curry I ate last night merited some extra exercise. I am just starting to get the hang of the moves, despite the best efforts of the instructor who mixes it all up and confuses me. No doubt I’ll forget them all by the time I get back.

One thing that never ceases to amaze us about Hazel is that she apparently can’t hear “Hazel, come” in a commanding tone right next to her but she can hear the rustling of a biscuit packet from about 4 streets away. I took her out for a walk this morning and she just didn’t appreciate the urgency of getting to her appointment at the Groomer’s on time. She couldn’t possibly hurry when there are blades of grass to be sniffed.

She would like you to know that she is very unimpressed with all this pampering nonsense.


I’m just really chuffed that she still has her wee curls on the top of her head. I was worried that the groomer might have trimmed them back too far.

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