weekend colour palette // red

Sunday, 6 August 2017

























Last weekend wasn’t the best of weekends, I have to say. There was rather too much rain lashing off the windows, and stress-induced tear-soaked pillows, and tug-of-war matches with words that wouldn’t ease up on me (‘come on, guys. Give me a break here!’). But – even in the tussle of it all – here’s what I noticed. These red things. Popping out of the grey. 

There were odd bits and pieces around the house: books and (actual) Russian dolls, and shoes, and old-things from my late-grandparents found in a silver tin (Granny Chrissy’s tiny driving licence, a favourite photo of my Dad and Grandpa). 

There were things-I-stood-in-the-rain-for: the ferry, the post office doors, some flowers.

There were food related moments. Like the juicy crunch of watermelon triangles, and minestrone soup from the slow-cooker, and a rare outing away from the PhD to catch up with old-flatmates-and-co for dinner (Rosie – the beautiful girl in red up there – is getting married later this year, and moving down to England for a while, so it was a goodbye-for-now dinner. Which was a sad reason to be meeting. But good to visit, nevertheless. She was holding up the silver tray our bill came on at one point, and it cast such a lovely light on her face that I had to leap up and take a picture. Isn’t she lovely?)


I’ve been trying to stay away from my phone the last few weeks as much as possible because it is an MTG – i.e. Major Time Gobbler – so for these pictures, I switched from the iPhone to my DSLR. It was the first time in more than a year that I’ve used my camera and it made me remember that I want to learn how to work all those buttons. I’m adding it to my growing list of Things To Do after this study! Other things include: learn how to make an origami elephant, read Gone with the Wind, travel somewhere in Asia, make steps towards preventing potential-impending-Cat-Lady-future, bask in the bliss of being able to write what I want, watch the rest of the Gilmore Girls guilt-free. 

Following the difficult weekend, this first week of August has been a good, if incredibly full-on, week. May this next one be similarly productive (for me and for you).  

ps. This post has been written bit-by-bit over the last week as I've been working pretty much all day everyday on the thesis. Got there eventually though. Also pps. I've written a little about this colour project - which is actually Lu-from-Beside the Danube's idea - in the previous post). 

weekend colour palette // introduction

Wednesday, 26 July 2017



My friend and lovely writer, Lu (from Beside the Danube), has started up a weekend photo project – #weekendcolourpalette – which I am going to try to join in with when I can. The goal of the project: to notice, and capture on film (or, in my case, iPhone pixels), C O L O U R in the midst of the everyday. This weekend the colour is red. Which – in small quantities – happens to be one of my very favourite colours. So, it seems like a good place to start. (She has, so far, captured: yellow, pink, and blue).  

The photographs-to-come will probably be accompanied by very little actual writing, I’m afraid, as every word in me these days is being rounded up and ushered into the thesis as I hurtle ever closer to the submission date. (Oh goodness.) So, it’s not really a proper return to blogging* yet (I can’t wait wait wait to start back though. Just a few more months to go!).

Anyway... sometimes, in the midst of great stress, you need to be reminded to look for the colour. And, as the pictures Lu (and her gang of merry followers: Natalie, Audrey, Kate) have been taking over the previous weeks have shown, colour is everywhere – in the paint of people’s houses, in the hydrangeas in the garden, in the light across a teacup, in the scuff of someone's shoes.

I used to play a bit of a colour ‘game’ with myself when I was an undergraduate actually, and this project reminds me of that a little. I had a longish walk to and from the university and the train-station, and every so often, on days when I was feeling particularly anxious – which, I’m sad to say, during those years was fairly often, though I rarely talked about it to anyone – I’d intentionally look out for colours-in-rainbow-order in my surroundings to distract from the anxious feelings.  

‘Richard of... Red’ scanning the streets and finding a flash of red silk in the lining of a business woman’s coat flapping open in the wind. ‘Orange...’ there – a George Square pigeon pecking at a single Dorito chip. ‘Richard Of York... Yellow’ a dandelion pushing through a crack the pavement. ‘Green’ a boy with green hair walking further ahead... 

...and so on. All the colours would suddenly sing out to me, popping out of the grey city like they’d been there the whole time. (Which, of course, they had been). Things I’d normally never give a second glance – like stray Doritos or ruby red coke cans sticking out of a bin – would turn into works of colour-filled art.

While I’ve since learned, through mindfulness, that distraction isn’t necessarily the best way to alleviate anxiety... in those days, I did my best with what I knew at the time. And the colour search was often helpful in turning my mind away from difficult thinking patterns (‘I’ll never feel any better than this. What did I do to get stuck with this?’) and out into something other than myself. Plus, it is also just a fun thing to do in general when I have a bit of time on my hands and don’t want to fill it staring at a phone.

So, this weekend: red. Next week: green. You could join in too if you like. 


Notes.

Image by Marc Johns. (Sorry this is a big of a word-heavy post. I'm writing this quickly in between PhD tasks. Lots of pictures to follow.) 

*PS. Isn’t ‘blogging’ kind of an ugly word? I love what it means, but it has an unpleasant clunk to it (I think I just dislike double G words in general. Snogging, jogging, hogging, flogging). Anyway... that is what it’s called, but I might need to think of a different word purely for myself, so I don’t shudder every time I write it. 

PPS. If you don't follow me on Instagram, that's where I've been 'micro-blogging' over the past few months (in the absence of writing on here). Things might be a little quiet over weekdays on there for the next few weeks, but you should come say hello

notes from the hermitage // forget me not

Thursday, 23 February 2017


There are so many things I want to write to you about, friends.

I want to tell you about how it snowed this morning so now the house is glowing with brilliant white light, and about the full moon I saw one evening back in the autumn while I was on my way to buy carrots from Aldi – it took my breath away and I chased it around the village in my car on the drive home. I need to tell you about the life-changing discovery that is: roasted broccoli* (um, hello, Green Deliciousness. Where have you been all my life?). I’ve been blown away by so many wonderful novels the last couple of months, and I’ve been saving up things to write about them because: trust me, you need to read these books**. They’ll change your life for the better. There are pictures and pictures and pictures on my laptop that I want to show you from the places I travelled to last year: from rainy Amsterdam, to the Southern heat of Georgia and North Carolina (where I was complemented by a gargoyle. Yep, you heard me right), to the green-doored Moniack Mhor (which is the most beautiful writing centre up in the North of Scotland. I spent maybe the best week of 2016 up there and fell back in love with writing while discussing the importance of stories with kindred spirits and eating, amongst other things, some great quiche). 


Oh goodness, there's so much to write. But *scratching record sound* – not for another few months. (Dangit.) This blog is on hold for a little bit longer because of the Great Time Consumer and Attention Demander and Monolithic Mega Project that is The PhD

I’ve mentioned that I’m doing a Creative Writing PhD before, I’m sure. But in case you didn’t know: that’s what my full-time – albeit unpaid – work is at the moment. I’m in my final year and that word – final – brings with it a very real sense of urgency as the countdown till the submission date ticks a little louder, and a little louder, in my ears. I’m very deep in the heart of finishing off the novel just now (and enjoying getting a clear run at working on it. I feel most 'alive' while I'm writing, even if also I find it very difficult). But I'm a terrible multi-tasker. So, to get to the end of the novel, I’ve had to become a bit of a hermit for a while. The only way to 'hear' the story is to switch off all the other noises, it seems. Noises like: Facebook, and watching TV, and, I’m afraid to say, the news (because, heaven help us all, it just frazzles my brain these days. But being stunned into panic isn’t helpful to anyone. I’ll re-engage with it when the book's finished). All those are things I could do with less of anyway, but other noises that I’ve had to turn down include, yes, this blog and other good things like: leaving the house sometimes, and seeing my friends more than once in a blue moon***It's just for a season though. I believe in the work. It'll be worth it in the end (...right? *nervous laughing*).  


Anyway – I just wanted to say: please do keep checking back on this blog, because I’ll be returning to it in a few months. Writing on here is one of my favourite things and I was overwhelmed last year by so many of your generous comments on my posts (thank-you). I will be back. 

In the meantime, I have been ‘micro-blogging’ over on Instagram since the new year if you're interested. What does that look like? Well, I’m trying to take at least one picture a day that tells a story. And I also talk a lot on there about how much I love Jane Eyre and how the writing is coming along. You can find me under @teaandascone). See y'soon. 

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Notes:

*Broccoli: Okay, this can’t wait. Here’s what to do. Chop the broccoli into little trees, toss with a little olive oil (if you have garlic infused oil, all the better), salt and pepper and bung it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes (turning it a few times so it gets crispy all over) and: voila! (You could also add some lemon zest, chilli flakes and a little grated parmesan. Amazing. Even if you don’t think you like broccoli: try it. Let me know if you like it).

**Books: the good books include Olive Kitteridge, All the Light We Cannot See, I Capture the Castle, and Jane Eyre (obviously).

***friends that I haven't seen in a while: I haven't forgot about you. I still love you. (Don't forget me ). I'll be back in the world soon.

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