2018 Ciders #18: Thatchers Stan’s Cheddar Valley

Geth and I went for a slightly ill-fated Maundy Thursday pint the other night – our favourite pub was absolutely rammed, so I started to feel ill and had to leave without finishing my second drink, which was Stowford Press, already logged.  I did, however, enjoy my first, which was a rough cider I’d not tried before – Cheddar Valley, one of Thatchers’ ‘Stan’s’ line.

Thatchers Stan's Cheddar Valley
Thatchers Stan’s Cheddar Valley.

It was a nice change to have a rough cider – I usually only drink those in the summer – even if the taste of this one was a little dry for my liking.  I’m interested to try the other ciders in the ‘Stan’s’ range now.

2018 Ciders #17: Strongbow Original

I’ve been drinking Strongbow for the last couple of weeks, since I ran out of the Thistly Cross my parents brought down from Edinburgh, but it’s something I drink so often I’d assumed I’d already logged it.  Apparently not, however, so let me rectify that now.

Strongbow Original
Strongbow Original.

Strongbow is my standard home drinking go-to (and often a pub go-to as well – if it’s the type of pub where there’s only one cider available, it’ll almost always be Strongbow), as it’s always cheap and available in supermarkets.  It’s what I consider the ‘baseline’ for cider – it’s a very generic taste, ubiquitous for as long as I can remember (even back in the ’90s when cider was still seen as a bit of a hobo drink, before it became semi-classy in the ’00s with the introduction of Magners and Bulmers and the irritating move to serving it over ice).  Perfectly tasty and refreshing, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Phone Box Thursday: St Andrew Square, Edinburgh

I took this one the day after the Great Winter Run 2016, when I was on my way to the bus station to go back to Newcastle.

Red phone box
Red phone box, St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh, 10th January 2016.

(Coordinates 55°95’48.9″N, 3°19’28.0″W.)

The picture’s a bit blurry, but you can tell from the Louis Vuitton storefront in the background that it’s in the ‘classy’ shopping area of town (other than the bus station).  It was also pouring with rain, which means it was definitely a lot warmer than it had been the day before, when the race took place in absolutely frozen conditions around Arthur’s Seat!

Update March 2022: added coordinates.  Still standing as of September 2020.

Retail therapy

I’ve been buying a lot of stuff the last few weeks.  At first it was all house stuff, but lately it’s been mostly treats for me.  New clothes for my almost-at-target figure!  New makeup for my new makeup storage unit!  New shoes (quite a lot of new shoes) for…uh, they’re not for anything in particular, I just love shoes.

I mentioned before that I always feel a bit guilty if I go on a spending spree, but I’ve found it difficult to resist these last few weeks.  It’s mainly because I’ve been carrying out a ruthless cull of my entire wardrobe and so the state of this particular collection is always on my mind at the moment.  Post-cull, the gaps in my wardrobe are far more apparent, and there are a few areas (underwear, jeans, skirts) where I genuinely do need to buy new things.

I’m not delusional enough to think that’s the case with the shoes, obviously.  But I did get rid of an awful lot in the cull, and shoes are pretty, and shoe shopping makes me feel better at the end of a difficult day.  I’m very aware that I’ll need to replace this habit with something less expensive soon.  Seeing as I can’t go back to binge-drinking now that I’m (sort of) healthy and slim, I imagine it’ll be baths, especially as the bath in our new house is so awesome.  I just have to hope I don’t develop a ‘luxury bathing products’ obsession instead, although in fairness it would be cheaper than shoes.  We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks.

2018 Ciders #16: Thistly Cross Whisky Cask

Due to spending the second week of my Christmas holiday in Edinburgh not drinking much (partly due to an alarmingly big gain at Slimming World after the first week and partly because my brain wasn’t coping with the booze very well, hence my decision to do Dry January), when I left to go home to Newcastle there was still a large undrunk quantity of the Thistly Cross cider that my parents had bought in preparation for my visit.  They kindly brought some of it down with them when they visited earlier this month, which was highly appreciated.

Thistly Cross Whisky Cask
Thistly Cross Whisky Cask.

Whisky Cask is my second favourite of the Thistly Cross varieties (and would probably be top if Ginger weren’t so rare and hard to find).  The whisky taste is gorgeous and really gives the cider a delicious richness.  I’m not a huge fan of whisky itself but I love this.  One of my all-time favourites.

De-hoarding, part 2

Remember when I organised all my bracelets into colour groupings in the hope that I’d wear them more often?

Yeah, so that turned out to be a bit of a waste of time, given that I threw 90% of them out today.

When I was packing up the old house, I knew that I’d end up chucking quite a lot of stuff out to make things neater, but I didn’t expect that I’d end up being so ruthless with my clothes and accessories.  The thing is, I’m just sick of the hoard.  The hoard is everywhere, I’m currently spending my entire time sorting through it and tripping over piles of it and moving boxes of it about so that I can access more boxes of it, and it’s causing me a lot of anxiety and stress, especially on ‘sorting days’ like today when my hoarding nature means that I have to go through every single thing and devote mental energy to agonising for a few minutes about whether I should keep it.

And with jewellery and hair accessories it literally is EVERY SINGLE THING I’ve ever owned in my life, because you don’t outgrow necklaces and scrunchies the way you do clothes, so my collection genuinely dates back to when my parents first decided they needed to tie my hair back in 1987:

Updo in 1987
New baby bro scheduled to arrive next month, gotta raise my style game.

Yes, I still have those green tartan ribbons.  Of course I do.  They’re not being chucked out (they’re in an inaccessible part of the hoard right now, so I couldn’t even if I wanted to), because if it dates from the ’80s, it obviously stays.  (What, you thought I’d been cured of ALL of my issues?)

Thankfully, I’m coming to the end of the ‘sorting days’ as far as my wardrobe is concerned, but next month, there will be the study.  Oh dear god, the study.  Boxes and boxes and boxes full of old correspondence, and schoolwork, and the first fumbling childhood steps in my lifelong fiction-writing habit, and the most painfully private diaries and poetry – all of which will need to be carefully scanned and then frantically shredded (and ideally burnt, but I’m not sure the atmosphere could cope).  Mounds of receipts and paperwork and keepsakes, which will need to be sorted and filed.  Piles of old broken electronics, and the manuals for the old broken electronics, and the twisted and tangled mess of connector cables for the old broken electronics.  Artwork and other wall decorations that I don’t like any more but have been dragging with me through approximately five house moves.  Cassette singles I bought in the early ’90s, which I won’t throw out, but will instead stare at wistfully for ages, marvelling at their glorious age and endurance, remembering a different century, wasting time when I’m supposed to be getting on with the hoard.

I know I’ll get to the end of it sometime.  It just feels like such a mountain to climb.  A literal mountain of stuff.

But I’m going to climb it, because there’s no other way through for me.

2018 Ciders #15: Vixin Cidre Apple

We’ve finally come to the last of my birthday ciders!  Again, I drank this one on the Tuesday after we moved into the new house.  The reason Futurama is so prominent in the background is because we had to have the TV on the coffee table due to lack of space.

Vixin Cidre Apple
Vixin Cidre Apple.

Vixin is a French cider.  Its website isn’t very clear about exactly where it’s made, but it tasted very similar to Normandy cider to me.  I’ll be looking out for this one again, as I love traditional French cider!


I did parkrun this morning, for the first time in a couple of months.  Between the move and the weather, I’ve just not been feeling like running at all since late January, so it was nice to get back to it.  Lovely day too, and it was perfect running conditions.

I’m hoping that we’ve seen the end of the bad winter weather now, though there are a lot of ominous rumours about a white Easter next weekend.  I sincerely hope it’s not, as Geth and I are visiting the in-laws and the last thing we need is Christmas-style travel disruption.

With the clocks going forward tonight, it would be nice if it could just be spring weather from now on.  Fingers crossed!

2018 Ciders #14: Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider

Yup, it’s another of my birthday ciders.  I drank this one the Tuesday after we moved into the new house – there was a lot of cider that week.

Samuel Smith's Organic Cider
Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider.

What I liked about this one was that it tasted quite rough, a bit like real cider, but sweeter than real cider usually is.  It was quite strong as well – very nice after a day of house stress!


Phone Box Thursday: West Richmond Street, Edinburgh

I spotted this phone box with its door missing on the day I first did the Great Edinburgh Winter Run.  Because the event is so busy, Dad had parked further up the Pleasance while I did the race, and so I was able to grab a picture of this one as we went past afterwards.

Red phone box
Red phone box, West Richmond Street, Edinburgh, 9th January 2016.

(Coordinates 55°94’58.9″N, 3°18’20.0″W.)

According to Google Maps, this one was still there as of June 2017!  It needs a bit of TLC, though.

Update from a December 2021 revisit: the phone box has a door again!