354-350 to 50

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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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#363 to 50

FullSizeRenderThe early part of today was mainly about exasperation. I will spare you the gory details of the domestic minutiae that annoyed me so much, but I will express my utter contempt for the various random bits of wildlife and poultry that seemed to have a death wish every time I tried to drive anywhere. Settling down in the middle of an A road for a chat with your feathered friends is not an intelligent thing to do even if you have only basic instincts of self preservation. It’s not as if this happened once, but on FOUR separate occasions today.

I did a Zumba class which was brutal. Just when you thought you were getting the hang of it, she changes it all. I have no co-ordination at the best of times but I reckon if I’m moving and putting some energy into it, it doesn’t really matter if I’m not going exactly in the same direction as everyone else.

Tonight I went out with the family for a belated birthday dinner. It’s not a great idea to go out for dinner the night before a weigh-in, so we postponed it from Sunday to tonight. We chose our favourite Indian restaurant, Zaika in Livingston. I’ve never had as good a curry anywhere else. Ever. As always the meal was wonderful and the service beyond brilliant.

My niece, Laura, took the photo of Bob and I above outside the restaurant. Bob was perfectly happy, but he tends to have that look like he has a broom stuck in a place no broom should ever really go in all photos, including our wedding ones.

People had asked to see a recent photo to show our weight loss. Since April 2015 (Bob) and October 2015 (me), we have lost 6 and 4 stone respectively. It’s still very much a work in progress. Effectively, though, we’ve lost my sister, which amuses her. We’ve been on the Slimming World plan. Bob goes to a class every week but I have an online membership which gives me access to the app and recipes and the like.

One of our great sources of support is a private Facebook group for Lib Dems trying to lose weight. Since I set it up in January, our members have lost well into double figures of stones.If you’re a Lib Dem and want to join us, email me on caronlindsaylibdem@gmail.com. I was surprised that I was able to keep going through both the Scottish election and the referendum and I’m sure that being around people who understood the stresses of an election helped with that.

By the time I reach my 50th, I’d like to have lost at least another 3 stone. If I can do that, I’ll have got back to the same weight I was when I had a 6 week old baby. This is still very much a work in progress.

 

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#365 and #364 to 50

I’m having to face up to the fact that on July 31st, 2017, I’m going to turn 50. When I was young ,50 seemed ancient. Now I’m almost in its embrace, I feel confused, because in my heart I’m still in my 20s. I am so not ready to even be middle aged.

For the run-up, I am going to shamelessly rip off an idea from my friend Emma Farthing-Sykes who posted an image every day for the last year of her 20s.

Now, I’m not a particularly brave sort so the chances of me making a bucket list with things like abseiling off the Forth Rail Bridge on it are less than zero.  I do intend to have a fair bit of fun on the way to my half century though and to share it with you.

Actually, #365 to 50 was yesterday. We went to a place called Bowling, the western end of the Forth and Clyde canal, to visit the Dug Cafe. You can’t really wish for more than tea and cake with dogs running around. Our Hazel found it a bit overwhelming, and hid under the table for a while. Here she is after she ventured out.

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#364 to 50

Today I’ve got my sleek new hairdo for my upcoming holiday, shopped like a demon and spent a bit of time out in the garden reading. Reading and food are two of my favourite things in the world so give me a cookery book and I’m in heaven. Give me a cookery book with feminism, political gossip and Lib Demmery and I’m very happy indeed. Miriam Gonzalez Durantez’s Made In Spain has kept me amused today and I’ll be writing my review tomorrow.

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My aim is to have two years of fun and celebration. The first to get used to the idea of hitting 50, the second to cope with the reality. There’s no other way to deal with it that I can see.  Come along and enjoy the journey with me.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton on Edinburgh schools “fiasco”

As 17 schools in Edinburgh remain closed, here’s the statement  Lothians and Edinburgh Western Lib Dem candidate Alex Cole-Hamilton made over the weekend:

Our first priority in the PPP1 schools debacle is to ensure pupil and teacher safety.

Nearly 10,000 Edinburgh kids and their families will face considerable disruption in the coming days, so it’s vital we ascertain the structural integrity of these Schools as soon as possible.

Coming as this does on the eve of the May exams I’m calling on the Scottish Qualification Authority to consider steps to mitigate the impact schools closures may have on the ability of pupils to prepare for exams, postponing certain papers if necessary.

I think it a measure of the strength of our community that today we’ve seen church leaders offering halls and chapels to local schools for the purpose of classes and exams, I’m sure this will be welcome to School staff and pupils alike.

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