All weathers

Geth and I are back in Newcastle after a few days in Lancashire with the in-laws. The drive back was fairly ‘interesting’ – ice, fog, snow and low sunlight all featured en route! Got to love winter driving.

Since we got back I’ve been wrapping presents. I love the paper we’ve bought this year, but there’s been some fairly big gifts to wrap and so I’ve already run out of it! Will be going out to pick up some more tomorrow.

Might see about getting some more winter supplies for the car while I’m out there…

Presents under the Christmas tree
Not an OOTD: so many glittery stars! Will try and find some equally pretty paper tomorrow.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tim Minchin – ‘White Wine In The Sun’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Perry Como – ‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas’


My long-awaited lazy day arrived today and I have thoroughly enjoyed it! Geth was out at a Keyforge tournament, so I just spent the day online playing with various running apps and websites that give you achievement badges. Always good for motivation when there are no races coming up in the immediate future!

I feel nice and refreshed now for getting back to work tomorrow.

Fetch Everyone badges
Not an OOTD: my achievement badges (so far – still need to log a lot of my running history) on Fetch Everyone. I certainly earned that ‘running in France’ badge – I didn’t have any GPS files for the runs I did in the Cévennes in July 2015, so I had to create one manually!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Michael Land – The Scumm Bar (MI1)
Traditional – Sospan Bach
Trevor Something – Miami Nights
Altered Images – Don’t Talk To Me About Love
Jackson Browne – Rosie
Howard Jones – I’d Like To Get To Know You Well
Michael Land – Planet Threepwood
Gunship – Dark All Day
USA For Africa – We Are The World
Madness – One Step Beyond
Ed Sheeran and Stormzy – Take Me Back To London
Slade – Cum On Feel The Noize

Rest days up ahead!

I went to Leazes parkrun this morning (it’s a new parkrun in central Newcastle – tourism post to follow), and didn’t do too badly considering that I ran twelve miles yesterday. Definitely need to rest the legs for a few days now though! Fifteen days left till the GNR – getting close…

Have spent the rest of the day chilling out, like a proper Saturday!

Garmin Forerunner 35
Not an OOTD: I look a bit worse for wear after two days of running so I think I’ll just show off my new running watch instead.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Gunship – The Mountain
Arcadia – The Flame
FM-84 and Ollie Wride – Running In The Night

Watched over

I was working most of today, but I’ve also set up my new running watch, which arrived yesterday. It’s a lot more advanced than my old one and does things like judging my sleep quality and pinging me when somebody’s retweeted me or emailed me or something. It also shouts at me to move if I’ve been sitting on the sofa for long enough, which could get annoying after a while.

Looking forward to taking it out for a spin when I go for my run tomorrow morning!

OOTD 20th August 2019
OOTD: new aquamarine watch doesn’t exactly go with everything but I’ll be wearing it 24/7 for a while to test it out! T-shirt Punk Masters (2018), jeans H&M (thrifted from Steff 2016), trainers Reebok (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Trevor Something – Your Sex Is A Dream
Scandroid – Aphelion
Trevor Something – All Night
Calvin Harris – Acceptable In The ’80s
Ollie Wride – Back To Life
Duran Duran – Save A Prayer
Ollie Wride – Miracle Mile
The Midnight – Days Of Thunder
Prince – Little Red Corvette
Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies
The Midnight and Timecop1983 – River Of Darkness

New Year’s Resolutions 2019

I did sit down and write a very long post about plans for 2019, but it got a bit reflective and overwhelming and kind of un-fun.  Instead, I’ve condensed it into a list of New Year’s Resolutions, which I suppose is more traditional anyway!

So, in 2019 I want to:

1. Finish sorting out the house contents.

Refreshing the actual decor of the house such as carpets and walls is going to be a job for next decade (which sounds kind of scary now I’ve written it down), but finishing sorting out the actual contents of the house is definitely something I can get done this year. Most of the stuff I still need to get rid of is only still in the house because it needs scanning first, so once I’ve set up the scanner and shredder in the study, I’ll be able to chip away at this boring job quite efficiently.

2. Write 500,000 words in 2019…

Among the online writing communities I frequent, this is known as a ‘half milwordy’. I know it sounds ridiculous, but between this blog and all the poetry and fiction that I write every day, it’s actually fairly manageable.

3. …and edit and pitch all the words I’ve already written.

I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was four (so it’s actually going to be thirty years on Thursday, OMG), and that is never going to happen if all my writing just stays between me and my computer. This year, I’m going to edit all my existing projects to a finalised state and prepare ten project pitches for sending out to agents and publishers throughout the year.

4. Take weekends off.

Well, other than running, obviously. Apart from the daily to-do list, I’m not scheduling any chores for the weekends.

5. Buy fewer clothes.

I had to buy a whole new wardrobe last year because I’d lost so much weight. It was really fun, but I have enough clothes now. I’ll allow myself one purchase every time I go to a vintage fair, because vintage fairs are awesome.

6. Run a marathon.

It’s booked, it’s planned, I’ve selected the 16-week training plan I’m going to be following starting on the 7th of January. London, here I come! I am 100% certain that this is the only one I will ever do, so I’m determined to do it properly.

7. Perform some of my poetry in public.

This one is absolutely terrifying and as such is the one thing on this list that is at risk of not getting done out of pure fear. Up until now, this is the kind of thing that would have required a lot of Dutch courage, but as it happens, a more important resolution is to…

8. Get sober.

It’s well past time, and from the 6th of January onwards I’ll no longer be consuming alcohol. I’ll do a longer post about this later this week.

9. Get back into the habit of music practice.

I got several small instruments for Christmas including a lovely ukulele – I’d put them on my Christmas list and Dad did a lot more research into them than I had, so I got better versions than I’d asked for! I’m going to get an hour’s practice in every evening that I can, but more importantly, I’m going to sign up for beginners’ classes at the Sage Gateshead, as I find I stick with things better when I have a group or class for accountability (it also gets me out of the house and meeting people).

10. Actually play some videogames.

I didn’t have time for videogaming AT ALL in 2018. I’ve been sorely neglecting both my 3DS and my Steam account (I’ve still got a Steam voucher my brother Malcolm gave me for last Christmas that I’ve not spent yet!) and I’m really itching to get back into it again, especially seeing as I’ve been watching Geth play so many games on the Switch recently. Maybe all those free weekends I’m planning will give me a chance to mash buttons again!

It’ll be interesting to revisit this post in a year’s time!

Stuff I like about my parents’ house #6: seventy years’ worth of Christmas tree decorations

On Wednesday, as I mentioned, I was up in Edinburgh decorating Mum and Dad’s house for Christmas.  My favourite part of doing Christmas decorations is always the tree, and Mum and Dad’s tree is extra especially awesome because the decorations are so old.  I love old things!

Christmas tree 2018
Seventy years in the making.

It is beyond argument that I get my hoarding tendencies from Dad’s side of the family.  Mum actually chucks things out.  Thankfully for this post, Christmas tree decorations are an exception, and so we have an entire family collection going back to the 1940s.  This means that, barring unforeseen circumstances, when I’m in my sixties I will own an entire century’s worth of Christmas tree decorations!  I feel slightly giddy at the prospect.

Let’s go through some of the collection!


These pretty baubles with the indents were on Granny and Grandad MacLeod’s tree for Mum’s first Christmas in 1949.  We have three of them.  We did have four, but I ate one in 1986.  I will tell you the fantastic story of this tasty, tasty bauble another time!


Our tree topper is a bride doll called Myra, which Mum received as a fourth birthday present in 1953.  Her bouquet is a cake decoration, her veil is a handkerchief, and her hair is a bit of Granny MacLeod’s old hairnet!  She’s not looking too shabby considering her age.

Most of the decorated glass baubles on the tree date from Mum’s childhood in the 1950s.  The decoration on them is really gorgeous and intricate in a way that’s not really done anymore, and there are some really interesting shapes.


These two large baubles were bought by Granny MacLeod when Mum was a teenager.  I always hang them on the top branches ’cause they balance out the sparser bit of the tree nicely.


These silver and red glitterball baubles were a later addition to Granny MacLeod’s collection.

These cellophane baubles were bought by Dad when he moved into his first flat in Edinburgh in 1978.  Most of them are a bit worse for wear, because when we had our cat, José, I used to put them at the bottom of the tree so he’d have ornaments to rip down that weren’t the precious mid-century glass baubles.  Cats and Christmas trees aren’t the greatest of mixtures.


We’ve had these cloth octagons with angels on since probably the early ’80s, since I don’t remember a Christmas without them.  They’re not much to look at, but they’re perfumed, and the perfume is absolutely DIVINE – it’s the ultimate smell of Christmas for me, really primal, as it’s been a scent associated with our Christmas tree since I was born.  Dad doesn’t like them, so I always put them round the back of the tree where I know I can go have a sniff whenever I like!

This wooden teddy bear was a gift from Sheila and Jim next door for my first Christmas in 1985.

Every year in the late ’80s, my Cooke grandparents, Grandad and Anne, would bring a homemade decoration each for me and my brother Malcolm, either knitted or embroidered by Anne.  I always still put these on the ‘correct’ side of the tree – we each had a side of the tree that was our own when we were little!

Mum’s friend Judy sent this gorgeous metal decoration in 1989.


We’ve had a bit of a Canadian theme going with our tree decorations since long before we acquired my Canadian sister-in-law Steff.  This teddy bear decoration was one we bought on a trip to New Brunswick in 1994.  It was the first time any of us had ever seen an all-year-round Christmas shop, so we had to go in and buy a decoration!

My step-auntie Elaine gave us this pretty delicate gold ornament from Turkey some time in the ’90s.  There’s also a rectangular one in the same material with a heart pattern.

This globe bauble – another nice big bauble for near the top of the tree – was a gift from Grandad and Anne.  I can’t remember exactly where in the world it came from though!

I bought this glitterball bauble in Jenners in Princes Street in 1999 for the small artificial tree in my bedroom, which was all silver that year for the Y2K theme.  One of the many endearing things about the 20th century was that silver = the future.  When I think of 1999, I just remember all my makeup being silver and plum and ice blue, and every piece of clothing I bought that year being shiny and metallic and in similarly cool colours.


Our family friend Billy brought us this souvenir from the Empire State Building in the early ’00s.

We have oodles of these felt things – they were an advent calendar gift from Mum’s friend Elisabet in 2006.  There were so many that Mum gave some to me for my own tree and so I’ll be putting them up in Newcastle this weekend!

I bought this ‘gift’ for José in the late ’00s.  It didn’t have catnip in it, so he wasn’t that interested.  There’s also a ‘Special Dad’ one for Dad that matches it!

We have quite a lot of wooden ornaments from more recent times.  This one was bought by Mum and Dad in the Munich Christmas market in 2009.


Continuing with the Canadian theme, Geth brought this maple leaf back from Toronto in 2010.

Geth and I brought this Guinness bauble back from a trip to Dublin in 2012.  It has its own fancy box!  It’s another one that I hang at the top of the tree.

Mum and Dad bought this pretty wooden snowman ornament in Liverpool in 2014.

Also in 2014, Anne gave Steff this owl ornament (Steff likes owls).  Steff keeps it in Edinburgh as her ‘Edinburgh owl’.

In 2017, Dad, who has really got into Scandi stuff in the last few years, bought this ‘tomten’ in Sweden – apparently it’s a traditional Christmas decoration there.

Also in 2017, Steff’s parents Mike and Antoniette gave us a couple of silver decorations, including this pretty treble clef.

There are so many more, but this is a good selection of highlights!  If the family acquires any more during Christmas 2018, I’ll make sure to tell you about them.

This post called itself ‘1980’ and I liked the way it looked

As hoped, I’ve had quite a productive day, mainly getting on with admin.  Now catching up with various TV and radio shows I’ve recorded, as Geth is out boardgaming tonight.

We had lots of shiny things arrive in the post today, including my new camera and our race numbers for the Yorkshire 10 Mile in a few weeks’ time, but tomorrow something even bigger and more exciting is (hopefully) showing up!

(It’s a house thing, so don’t get too excited.  We’re looking forward to having it, though.)

Stay tuned.

OOTD 24th September 2018
OOTD: this outfit is not done justice by my blurry phone camera (I didn’t have time to set the new one up yet – it’s on the list for tomorrow!) but I expect I will be wearing this new-to-me dress lots in the near future. Dress Triumph (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018), belt H&M (2017), tights Primark (2017), trainers Reebok (2013).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Coldcut and Lisa Stansfield – People Hold On
George Ezra – Shotgun
Des’ree – Kissing You
Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off
Inner City – Good Life

A museum Monday

Canada part nine…


On the Monday, which was my last full day in Toronto, Geth and I decided to go and visit the Royal Ontario Museum.  Before that, however, we headed to Carlton Street for a quick look round the Maple Leaf Gardens, which is next door to the Holiday Inn where Mum and Dad were staying.

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto
The exterior of the building, including the front signage, has stayed the same since it was built in the 1930s. It was originally the tallest structure in the vicinity, but is now dwarfed by its neighbours!

The Maple Leaf Gardens is currently used for sports by Ryerson University (the same uni that was hosting the conference Geth was attending while we were in Toronto).  They took it over and massively refurbished the interior in the early ’10s.  In the ’00s, it lay empty and deserted, but up until 1999, it was a thriving venue for political events and music concerts and was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team (hence the name of the venue).

(Incidentally, it’s always really annoyed me that the team are called the Maple Leafs rather than the grammatically-correct Maple Leaves.  This is why I will never get into watching ice hockey.  #proofreaderproblems)

As a concert venue, the Maple Leaf Gardens hosted Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and pretty much everyone else who was big in the 20th century.  In 1984, Duran Duran filmed the video for The Reflex there, which was one of my main reasons for wanting to go and have a nosey around.

Inside the building, there are lots of boards on the walls telling you about the history of the venue.  The number of famous sayings that were apparently coined there is difficult to believe!

'Elvis has left the building'
‘Elvis has left the building’.

‘Elvis has left the building’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Wikipedia claims differently.

'He shoots, he scores'
‘He shoots, he scores’.

‘He shoots, he scores’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary do back this one up.


‘Hat-trick’ – apparently originated at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Geth didn’t believe this one for a second, and again Wikipedia claims differently – cricket players were using the term almost a century earlier.

Still, I guess one out of three turning out to be true is not bad going.

After a pleasant wander around the venue, we headed over to the Royal Ontario Museum.  Geth just wanted to have a look around the main museum, but I was more interested in one of the exhibitions they had on – a collection of work by fashion designer Iris van Herpen and her interesting collaborations with architect Philip Beesley.  The creative and design process behind making the pieces was fascinating – there was a short film all about it that was being shown in the exhibition hall – but it was the beautiful dresses being shown in the hall that were the best thing:

Iris van Herpen couture dress
Perhaps a little impractical for the supermarket, but it’s very pretty.

The shiny installations dangling from the ceiling were nice as well!

Philip Beesley installations
I wouldn’t mind some of these for the house, though sadly I don’t think our ceilings are high enough.

After I’d finished looking around the exhibition, I met back up with Geth and we took a quick trip to the dinosaur floor.  They had some good skeletons, both real and replica, but it was a bit too full of kids having pictures taken with the T-Rex, so we eventually decamped to the Museum Tavern nearby, which is one of our favourite pubs in Toronto, for a couple of pints and a good chat with the barman.

In the evening, we met up with Mum, Dad, Malcolm and Steff for our last meal in Toronto, at Scaddabush.  This involved more pizza (which was served on a board with SPECIAL PIZZA SCISSORS for cutting it up!  They were amazing and I want a pair!), more cheesecake, and more crayons for scribbling on the table:

Restaurant table scribblings
Message from Steff on our last family dinner table!

After the meal, we said goodbye to Steff – she was working and wouldn’t be able to see us off the next day – and Geth and I headed back to our suite at the Grand for one last sleep in the city (for me, anyway).

Vintage fair haul: Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair

It was so nice to get back to vintage fair trawling today!

I took a break from the drudgery of my all-encompassing project this afternoon to go to the Boiler Shop in central Newcastle, where I’ve been for different vintage fairs before.  Today it was hosting Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, which I’ve previously been to at different venues.  They all kind of chop and change about in that way.

Anyway, on with the haul:

Vintage fair haul
Left to right: grey leather jacket, silver silk blouse, purple/black/white chiffon blouse.

I’m really pleased with today’s purchases!  The jacket will do me perfectly for spring and autumn (and probably for the cooler bits of summer as well, let’s face it!).  The blouses, meanwhile, are to mitigate the fact that post-cull I’ve been lacking in pretty tops.  Probably my favourite vintage fair trip so far – I really feel like I’m learning to spot stuff that I really like, and not just buying things for the sake of it.

Shoe storage!

One of the shelving projects that Dad and I (mostly Dad) did over the weekend was for my shoes.  Even though I got rid of a lot of shoes, I still need a good amount of storage for my remaining 59 62 pairs, especially as I’ve been on a bit of a shoe binge lately (though I think I’m satiated for now).  Some of my pairs are ‘legacy shoes’ (i.e. old pairs I’ll never wear again but am keeping in storage boxes or on display for sentimental reasons), and there are a couple of pairs for gardening that I’m keeping in the cupboard off the kitchen, and my dancing shoes live in my gym bag, and my running shoes tend to stay in the Skubb hanger I bought for the hallway…but that still leaves a good 48 pairs that needed a place to live in the dressing room.  Which they now have:

Shoe storage
Dad built the shelves, out of our old Billy bookcases, to fit around the wardrobes, chests of drawers and mirror that I have in the dressing room.

As you can see, there’s plenty space for more, which is probably a good thing knowing me.

Shoe storage
My shelf for all my tall goth boots.

Shoe storage
The wall is looking nice and colourful now though it probably needs a few more pairs.

It’s very nice having all my shoes to hand.  Of course, since I put them all up, it’s been pouring with rain and I’ve not been out (save for a very wet run this morning) so I’ve been living in my slippers indoors.  It will be good to get some use out of them once the weather clears up, though!