The one where life changes…

I’m sorry for not blogging. I’ve actually blogged a lot…if you count all the half written posts in my drafts folder that remain unfinished.

Life has changed a lot in the last month.

My last month in my previous job was pretty horrible. I’m not surprised to hear more people have left since I have left. It is a shame, because it wasn’t a job I hated it. For sure the hours were pants, and the pay was awful. But it was a job that was often a privilege, had fun in the hard slog of each shift.

One week off turned into two – not for good reasons unfortunately. But two weeks ago, I finally became employed again. And I hope I never take it for granted.

For in the last 3 years I’ve discovered that being employed is a privilege that can too easily be taken from us. My parents grew up in an era of working hard and jobs for life. Being able to save to buy your own home. Knowing you had a job to earn money to pay off the mortgage. If you were really lucky you could afford to go on a cheap holiday to France or Spain once a year.

That is not the case anymore.

As we travelled on the train to London, a new colleague asked me why I was taking two jobs. It’s not a daft question – I live with my parents so my rent is minimal, with one part-time job I’ll be earning almost double what I have in the last 3 years. I could survive without working full-time like I have done for the last 10 years. The answer? I want to be able to save up again. To perhaps go on a holiday. To have a car and afford to put petrol in it so I can drive to friends further away. Even my parents who have kindly loaned me money to purchase a car so I could buy it outright and pay them back rather than the garage’s financing agency, have told me not to rush to pay them back as quickly as I would like to. They want me to have the ability to do things that I’ve not been able to do for so long. My Mum wants me and my brother to go on a road trip in the USA next year. Something I’ve dreamed of doing for a very long time.

(We may have to knock me out to get me on the plane mind you…)

My jobs are not guaranteed. There are probation periods. They are both short-term contracts that will come to their end, and if there is no funding, they won’t be renewed.

Hence the desire to save money.

In fact this weekend I met up with old friends, and two of them have this year had to move back in with parents due to redundancies and financial struggles. My generation are struggling in this world of capitalism.

I still fear the phone call to say that I’m going to be unemployed again. I think it will take a long, long time before I can accept this new life. But already, I’ve taken advantage of free weekends and requested a work day swap so I can spend a weekend with a friend who lives close to London before coming back to Scotland. I’m looking up car insurance quotes and going to church on Sunday mornings again. A new friend has asked if I want to try exercising regularly with her on weekends. Old friends are being contacted in the hope of reunions a long time in coming because of train fares I’ve not been able to afford.

The only negative is I’m going to miss weekday visits with my friends who have babies and pre-schoolers!

There are still more changes coming, new routines to work out. Medical issues that still need investigating and sorting.

But I gingerly want to say (and hope this doesn’t jinx anything) that things look to be turning around for the better.

And I have a lot of patient friends that need to be thanked for pulling me through these last 10 years. Those friends are worth more than gold.

What I read in June…

img_8694Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith – the most recent addition to the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, where Mr Polopetsi gets into some difficult bother for being too trusting and Mma Ramotswe goes in search in someone’s childhood to some unexpected results, and a dog doesn’t seem to want to leave Mr J.L.B. Matekoni’s apprentice, Fanwell. As always the book is full of wise ponderings of Mma Ramotswe and reasons to rage against Violet Sepotho. I love that Mr Polopetsi is back in the series again and very excited to find out what will be happening in Gaborone when we go to the book festival in August!

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The Complaints by Ian Rankin – Another Edinburgh author, but with a far more macabre view on things! I read the sequel to this years ago when I went on spa day with my friend Carrie, and didn’t know you sat next swimming pools and read at spa days. I borrowed the book she had brought while she was getting a spa treatment and got hooked. Of course then I had to go and read the first book. I really love the character of Malcolm Fox, and the conspiracy theory elements to these books. I really am hoping for a third…please Mr Rankin?!

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Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Well this is basically exactly what it says in the title. A friend of Chimamanda asked for advice on raising their daughter to know her gender shouldn’t make her unequal to others. This is a simple and thought provoking read that I think is worth everyone taking time to meditate on…not just parents. And let’s not go into the fact I didn’t manage to get a ticket to see Ms Adichie at the book festival this year. *shakes angry fist at Nicola Sturgeon*

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Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult – It’s rare that I read so much fiction in such a short space of time, but with some unexpected time off and the fact I was still reading Between the World And Me, and a couple of other non-fiction books I felt I needed to keep a fiction book in my Currently Reading pile. Only problem was that I started reading and had to find out what had happened. The story really focuses on a mother and daughter, and a night when a woman was found dead, and the mother found injured at the elephant sanctuary where they worked and lived. As always with Jodi’s books, the different chapters tell different elements of the story from perspective of different characters – their present thoughts, past thoughts and memories.  It’s not quite the ‘real life’ feel of her other novels. The twist at the end was not what I expected, and was saddened by how it ended. But I guess it wouldn’t be a Jodi Picoult novel if I didn’t finish a book without that feeling!

The one where the things don’t entirely go to plan…

This last fortnight has not entirely gone to plan. When I realised that I’d have two weeks with a car and an empty house before I started the first of my new jobs, I was so excited and immediately got started on what became a 3 page long to-do list. I’d hoped to get a lot of things done in my last week at work, but as you know I got taken down by a cold. It’s been a long time since I got affected so badly by one, and it seems that this hideous cold has been making the rounds. I couldn’t afford to be off (and my work couldn’t afford for me to be off either) so when I wasn’t at work I was pretty much contained in my bedroom which was sporting a scent of eau de olbas oil and taking down the rainforest one box of tissues at a time. And trying to force myself to eat.

This week was going to be about doing things further afield and shopping for a car, and it hasn’t happened. For a number of reasons I’ve ended up staying close to home. Firstly I’m still coughing a ton and sporting a very sexy cold sore inside/outside my nose. But also because I’ve suddenly found myself having to save money because I finished work so I’d have a week off before I started a new job. But despite the usual super quick police check update (I’ve had to do be updated by Disclosure Scotland so many times, there must be people in that office who feel like they know me), 3 weeks later and it’s still not arrived. And understandably, I can’t start until it’s come through. However it now means that I’m 2 weeks without pay and there have been no word from the other employer about when I would first start getting paid…so I’m now holding off on the car shopping until I know that I’ve got a more definite start date (and next pay date). I’m trying not to get anxious about it, but after the last decade…that’s easier said than done.

I have however, had the chance to meet a few friends for cake dates, and tried to do as many errands on either side of those to limit what I’m spending on bus fares (as I no longer have my bus pass). And the time at home has enabled me to do a lot of faffy admin things, pick up on multiple unfinished projects and work through the massive ‘to read’ pile.

What I have enjoyed though is peace. The light mornings mean I wake up early (by early I mean by 8 a.m at the latest) and I’ve loved starting the day eating breakfast at a table rather than on my bed. At the start of this month, I got a call from a local bookshop attached to a church in the city centre telling me a book I’d asked about almost 2 years ago had finally come back into print and they had a copy if I wanted it. I was so excited as I’d hunted every book buying website once I’d exhausted my in person buying options (I like to support bookshops, as they are wonderful, wonderful places usually staffed by passionate readers). It’s a book of liturgy written that was partly written by Shane Claiborne, who is someone I deeply respect for his values and his passion for community organising and following teaching of Jesus. The year I moved to Edinburgh I read his book The Irresistible Revolution, and my friend and I phoned each other more than once while reading it. And I think we both bought copies for friends. I’ve had three copies so far, and none of them remain on my bookshelf. I’ve totally lost track of who has them! This book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals is really intended for daily community prayer, but as there’s just me I’m skipping the songs and just enjoying the meditation of prayer and daily readings.

I also managed on Sunday to go to an actual church service.

A combination of work, singleness and social anxiety combined with being treated not particularly well by a church I used to be part of has stopped me being a really active part of a church. Of course, with so many friends who are church leaders and having godchildren I’ve never stopped being part of the church. I’ve been to ordinations, dedications, baptisms and more over the last 3 years. I’ve shared meals, gone on walks and had long conversations about life, God, the universe, politics and more. I was lucky to have built in deep rooted friendships to keep me going, but it’s not as healthy as being deeply connected into your local community in an authentic, honest, warts and all way.

I hope to change that.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the last few hours of having a house all to myself, sun shine and drinking ice cream floats without fear of having to call in sick the next day if my body doesn’t agree with ice cream being put into it (I’m not being totally reckless, I’m using ice cream that is usually the safest and free of evil beta-carotene colourings!).

And waiting for the postman to bring that all important PVG update certificate…

The one where I get angry about endometriosis research…

*A Pre-warning, that this blog post contains details that may be considered as ‘TMI’ or ‘oversharing’. If menstruation makes you uncomfortable…don’t read on!*

I don’t talk about this on my blog much anymore, mostly because until very recently this illness that I unofficially got diagnosed with at 22 has not affected my life as much as it once did, thanks to the wonderful NHS, the availability of a contraceptive treatment that also works to control my symptoms in the form of injections into my butt cheek/hip area every 12 weeks. But the other week, this article popped up on my twitter feed, and I felt just a tad enraged about it.
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Why did it make me angry you might ask? Well. First of all the fact that hardly any research money goes into endometriosis. I’m one of the lucky ones. At 22 my life was miserable. I ended up in A&E more than once because of the horrific pain I was in for about 1-2 weeks of every month. I never took myself to A&E…it was usually a friend, or one time a doctor who was driving past when I was collapsed on the pavement dizzy and in pain. I imagine this is because watching their friend wretch (and then start panicking because she has a phobia about being and seeing people be sick) because they are in so much pain while also passing out because they are in so much pain (sometimes hitting their head off bathroom furniture in the process) was a little bit scary to watch. Especially when you are a young adult and not entirely sure what to do because all of a sudden your parents aren’t there to call on. My friends made me go to GPs multiple times and watched as they came up with the most ridiculous answers to the problems I was facing.

Part of the issue was that doctors didn’t know about endometriosis, how to diagnose it and how to properly treat it. Add the fact that at 18 I’d had quite a radical change in my religious beliefs and had chosen to not engage in a particular activity ever again unless I decided to marry someone. Most doctors I met didn’t see the point in checking for a diagnosis or investigating further unless I was at a point of deciding to start a family.

There was no support whatsoever. It was just let’s keep trying every medication we can think of to deal with your symptoms and hope you don’t find out your totally infertile later.

There is little research into treatments, what causes it or cures.

And oh what a shame for these poor men! What about how it effects OUR lives? Or are we still under this weird assumption that women don’t like doing that activity (I’m not a prude, if we were in person I’d say the word, but know if I type it all sorts of issues are created in terms of search engines, spam and people not being able to access this blog).

There is so little funding for women’s health research, so why is THAT a priority?

And then the photo chosen.

How is THAT representative of a woman suffering from endometriosis?

First of all…one hot water bottle ain’t going to do it. I would have them on my front, my back even between my legs because the pain was basically from the inside out and down (if you catch my drift).

Second of all…I would not be that relaxed. If you had a picture of me in the foetal position lying on the floor screaming and crying…sure. Perhaps holding onto a toilet bowl. Basically writhing in pain trying to find anything that makes the pain bearable, and praying to anyone to be able to like…stand, sit or whatever.

Third of all…I would not be lying there in a white vest and pants. Dark clothes, anything comfy and tatty because chances are it’s going to have to be soaked in warm water and be treated with any remedy I’ve heard of that removes blood from clothing before I’m able to put it in a washing machine if I have a chance of being able to wear it again. I might even be wearing two pairs of pants (something my friend used to do – both pairs with a sanitary pad that was meant for ‘night’ use). Even then we could still wake up soaked with blood stained pyjamas and bed sheets…so we would sleep on top of towels.

Fourth of all…I’m going to be a lot more gross and sweaty. Because all those heat packs to try and deal with the pain are making me way too hot and I’m probably wearing a cold wet flannel on my head and arms to compensate….not to mention the pills I’ll be surrounded by and taking maximum doses of every hour I’m safely allowed to.

That’s the reality.

And as I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. At 25 they put me on injections which stopped my menstrual cycle and for the most part that has worked. I put on 2 stone in weight (and thankfully lost 1/2 stone of that eventually) and my hair started falling out and going grey but it was a small price to pay for no longer being in pain and spending a fortune on tampons and sanitary towels which I needed 40% of the month at times. Yes, in the last few months it would seem that I’m having a return of some symptoms and now I’m on a new medication to see if that works before they go down a surgical route. But if you go on the Endometriosis UK forum, there are women who had far worse and symptoms 24/7. I could tell you so many stories of doctors who have been clueless and unhelpful…but some of that is not really their fault. It’s because women’s health is not studied or seen as a priority for research and treatment. You can bet your ass if men had to deal with a uterus and ovaries things would be different.

Ok.

Rant over.

(For now).

 

The one where I don’t give up my oyster card…

So it’s fair to say that’s it’s been a rough couple of weeks for the UK. And I have to say that I’m so thankful to live in a country with decent gun control laws.

“Terrorism” has been something I’ve been aware of all my life. We were dealing with it long before September 11th 2001 before a certain American made it purely to be synonymous with “Islam”. Some of my earliest memories are of the Lockerbie bombing on the news and being evacuated from shopping centres because of IRA bomb threats. My friends who grew up in Northern Ireland have even more memories of what “terrorism” meant. Bombs and checkpoints were just part of daily life there for a long time.

I saw on social media before news officially broke that something had happened in Manchester. My friend posted a warning telling everyone to stay out the city centre because something bad had happened, and wanted to let people know he was safe. Later I found out that I knew two people who were at the Manchester Arena that night, both taking their daughters to their first Ariana Grande concert. My friend, a proud Mancunian, got emotional telling me of being woken up to hear the news knowing that it was totally chance that her nieces weren’t there that night.

And last night I saw the news about London Bridge and Borough Market.

I’ve seen the news headlines in the USA as a certain “president” uses this news as some kind of fuel for his fascist like ideas and hate. Republicans and NRA enthusiasts telling us how if Muslims didn’t live here we wouldn’t have terrorism, or that everyone would be alive if we were armed. Thankfully, we came together as a country after a mentally ill man went into a primary school to massacre a bunch of innocent school children with a gun. We don’t get to go into shops to buy guns here. Otherwise there would likely be far more victims when people go on a rampage of violence like this.

I’ve also seen comments like “London is reeling” or “Britain is bleeding“. I think…No we’re not. Right now as I type, most people are settling down to watch a live concert organised by Ariana Grande in Manchester.

I mean, I can’t speak for everyone who shares this bunch of islands as their home. We’re more than mildly ticked off. You might see a few of us using some cuss words. Apologies, but…some circumstances I think allow for strong language. But this morning, my pals in London were still posting their Sunday brunch pictures on instagram. Everyone carried on as usual, while still thinking of those whose lives were forever changed last night. Sure, those of us who are teachers and youth workers are thinking about the ‘unexpected emergency incident’ element of our risk assessments when planning trips to concerts and city centres a bit more than usual. But as my Mum and I are always saying “one of us could get runover by a bus tomorrow” (she used to say “Don’t say that!” to me but now she replies with something like “well, exactly.“).

In 3 weeks I’ll be boarding a train to London Kings Cross. Just as my Nana did many times in the last years of the war to go visit her family. My Nana was born and bred in London until she married her Scottish husband during the war and moved up here. She told me of how the sirens would go off and the train would have to stop in a tunnel as bombs were dropped on the city. Of patrolling the streets of West London during the Blackout. Of going out to the dancing.

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My Nana (we shared a middle name). She was 84 in this photo I took of her in Christmas 2003. 

And folks, my Nana was a WORRIER. This was the woman who freaked out if I didn’t arrive home from school 5 minutes after the bell went. Who was convinced if I got my ears pierced my lobes would get infected. Who told her eldest daughter (in her 40s at the time) to be careful crossing the road to the corner shop to get the paper and a pint of milk. She died before I got my tattoo, but I’m pretty sure that if she’d known about it, she would be fretting that ink on my skin would most likely lead to me being a future member of a prison chain gang or something.

I don’t know if it’s because part of my family grew up in London, but it always feels like a second home to me. My friends who live there always tell me how everyone is rude and doesn’t speak to each other. I never have that experience when I visit. I’m always catching the eye of someone riding the tube sharing a look about something we see that amuses us. In 2013 me and Miss Sweetroot were having a giggle about some of the station names on the Northern Line, and I caught the suited up Londoner smirking as he overheard our conversation about how “Goodge Street sounds like a place filled with bogies” (when I caught his eye, he of course went back to staring straight ahead, but I know our chat cheered you up dude). When I was there before Christmas, I got stopped several times to be asked about the green Hulk bear I was carrying in a box for my godson. London is so used to ‘security threats’ that most of the time when you hear an announcement about it on the tube, everyone just sighs, grunts and goes back to reading their papers/books/kindles/phones while we wait for the tube train to start moving again. And you bet your ass when things do happen, Londoners band together. That’s why you had cabbies yelling warnings to pedestrians near Borough Market and doctors and nurses running out of hospitals across Westminster Bridge. It’s why we have pictures from the 1940s of people drinking cups of tea sitting on piles of rubble that was once a building they called home. And it’s why not a single Brit is surprised to see a picture of someone running away still carrying their pint of lager without spilling a drop…because London prices people. He paid £6 for that pint, and no ‘terrorist’ was going to keep him from it.

So I’ll go to London. My Mum might worry a little bit, though logic will tell her that I could just as easily go into our city centre and be caught up in something there. I’ll likely be on the tube, riding the escalator singing the “London Underground” song in my head. I will be that annoying Scottish lass who totally ignores the proper London etiquette and smiles at strangers, tries to engage them in conversation and thanks TfL staff. But don’t worry Londoners: I won’t do what really annoys you… I’ll have my oyster card ready BEFORE I get to the ticket barriers. 😉

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In all seriousness…let’s remember that acts of evil, acts of hate, acts of violence have been happening since humans roamed the earth trying to exert their power over other humans. It is heinous. It is awful. And we must raise our children to understand these power dynamics, to recognise their privilege and how they should not use it to continue the oppression of others. We must raise our children to love.

To everyone who has been affected by events led by people trying to divide us and kill the good in this world. I’m thinking of you.

I’m also going to keep calm and carry on.

Because it’s exactly what they don’t want me to do.

Adam Hills is an Aussie, but a lot of us Edinburgers have loved him since he first came to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe a couple of decades ago. I pretty much see his and his wife’s shows every year they are here. What he said on his show, The Last Leg I think really does reflect the sentiment of most Brits I know. (Just a heads up, there is a swear word that rhymes with ‘buck’ in his rant if you are offended by curse words).

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Much love,

The Chatty Brunette Koala who intends to keep using her Transport for London Oyster Card x

The one where I’m glad I bought the Kleenex that was on offer…

Photo on 01-06-2017 at 23.22

I was about to start getting back to how I used to blog. Job hunting has become such a huge part of my life, I actually had to stop myself going into places that had ‘Staff Wanted’ signs and every evening I’m still reaching for my laptop to go on websites looking for jobs and will be clicking on links before I realise “Oh yeah…I don’t need to do that anymore!”

I have 3 days off this week, the first two were used to schedule meetings and appointments that I’ve had to put off for ages and to catch up with a friend who’s about to move South. I’m now house sitting while my Mum and her husband are on holiday which means I have a house to myself and the use of a car. Today I finally felt my body starting to relax…and in true BK style, as the day has gone on I’ve got steadily more and more filled with snot. Yep. I’ve got that cold people. (My friends Ruth and Lynn have reported colds too and starting to wonder if they can actually be passed through facetime. Ha ha!)

Not to worry, this Girl Guide is always prepared – she saw boxes of tissues on offer a while ago and bought them because she knew they’d get used at some point when she next caught a cold. And hey, when you work with children, you know it’s inevitable that it will happen!

And I’ve got my food shop in, paid my rent, bought s’mores supplies for the next campfire, put the dishwasher on, done all my laundry and I’m almost caught up with The Good Fight. In case the parentals have discovered my blog…yes. I remembered to put your bins out. And I’ve thought of about another page worth of stuff that I should put on my ‘to-do list’ for the next fortnight. So all in all, I feel like I got quite a few things accomplished before I have to go back to work for the weekend.

And one of those things on the to-do list is….WRITE THE POST ABOUT THE ETHICAL MAKE UP!

🙂

The one where the door finally opens…

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And so hopefully it’s now ok to share with you some news. If you’ve followed me from Musings of a Koala to Learning from Sophie to here, you’ll have known me for close to 10 years. You’ll know my journey and that it’s been somewhat tumultuous. Some of you knew me, supported me and prayed for me when I made the decision to go out to South Africa in 2009. Some of you even remember the jokey pictures a few friends and I had about a camper van and doing church on the beach. You’ve been there when I was asked to speak at conferences and FREAKED OUT about it. You let me into your homes when I was a total stranger to you when I went on my road trip around the UK in my first summer working as a partner for the pregnancy crisis centres network. You were there when I struggled to lead worship. You joined me in praying for people who were very sick. You signed up to be organ donors. You joined in with Airmail Christmas. You cheered me on when I went back to Girlguiding, and then when I went back to university. You were there for me when I lost my job. And lots of you have been there to encourage me for the last 3 years where I’ve faced rejection, after rejection to the point where I wondered if there was even a point of still living.

Apparently jobs are like buses…you wait for 3 years and then two come at once.

They were both jobs I really wanted, but never dreamed I’d get offered both. What is more amazing is they are both part-time, so I can DO both!

On 10th June I’ll be saying goodbye to my lovely colleagues at my current part-time job, and taking a week off before starting the first of the two jobs – as long as my PVG update comes through on time (it should, since I’m already registered through volunteering with Girlguiding, People Know How and Scripture Union Scotland. I’m pretty sure people working in the Disclosure Scotland office must know exactly who I am from the amount of times my paperwork has been sent through their offices over the last 16 years!). Then the week after I head down to London to do my induction for the second of the two jobs.

One job is a youth work job engaging with young women.

The other is a fundraising job for a national charity that I’ve supported for a very long time, since a friend of a friend told me about the support she received from them years ago after her second child was born premature.

There is a lot to do – like I need to get my own car, I need to clear out space so I have room to work from home (the ergonomics of working on my bed which is what I have to do with girlguiding admin is probably not a good long term strategy!) and just trying to get my head around it all.

I am nervous, but excited.

I’ve had so many lovely messages since I shared the news with friends on social media, and I appreciate every single good wish. Quite a few people told me that recently they’d be praying more than usual for me about finding a job, so I guess that tattoo on my foot and all those rainbows I’ve kept seeing haven’t been for nothing after all. 😉 Thank you kind friends xx

Here’s to the next adventure…

And to all those still waiting for a door to open…please don’t give up knocking on them. At times I did, and it was hard to keep trying new doors when they remained closed or got slammed in your face. Eventually, one is going to say ‘Open Me’. I really believe that for you and I know that’s not easy to keep believing…

BK’s Book Pouch: What I’ve finished reading…

At the start of the year, I was reading lots but then I lost my energy. In the last week though, I’ve felt able to pick up a book and focus on it and I’m now trying to catch up on the reading challenge I set for myself this year. I’ve finished a couple of books that I’d been trying to read for a while, and hopefully close to finishing a third.

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – This has been on my ‘I better check out’ list for a while as some of the young women I work with through Girlguiding had mentioned this book to me a few times as one that had really made them think. They recently started a library of books to share, and this was one of the first books they requested for the shelf. Of course then the netflix series based on the book aired during the Easter Holidays, and I was more than slightly concerned about what I watched. So the girls allowed me to borrow a copy and I was relieved to find it a lot less dramatic and more realistic than the TV series. (The TV series has added A LOT of extra stories). Mental health is one of the biggest taboos and issues facing young people I work with today, and I don’t think any book, film or TV show will portray issues perfectly, but hopefully these forms of art can help bring taboo subjects into the open and discuss them in a way that leads to people being more aware and better supported.

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Happy Mum Happy Baby by Giovanna Fletcher – A strange one to be on my list as I’m not a parent, but lots of my friends are and I’ve spent a lot of years of my life supporting women through pregnancy, pregnancy loss and parenting. I’ve followed Giovanna Fletcher, her husband, Tom’s and his sister Carrie’s vlogs on YouTube for a while. I really enjoyed the read, and appreciated the honesty and oversharing! I’m sure it’s a book that will encourage lots of parents and I’d love to see a similar book written by a Dad.

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The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking – I was slightly dubious about the tables full of ‘hygge’ books I’d seen in the bookshops, especially with the following of people posting about their ‘hygge’ on instagram and facebook all.the.time… I was concerned about the cultural appropriation, how authentic the books claiming to be experts on this thing called ‘hygge’, and what the Danish thought ‘hygge’ was (because if I’m to believe Sandi Toksvig, who is actually Danish, it just means going round to someone’s house and drinking wine and chilling out). However, a certain blogger convinced me to try it out, and I trust her book recommendations. I also appreciated that the book was written by someone who was Danish and lived in Denmark as opposed to someone who had visited Denmark a few times! I still think his idea of living hygge on a ‘budget’ shows the privileged position he talks from, but it was an interesting read and echoed some of my beliefs about community.

Is there anything you’ve been reading recently that you’ve enjoyed?

The one where I see baby penguins…

It’s been a crazy month. And I haven’t been able to talk about it much. If you know me and have been around my blogs and social media a while, you’ll know already that I’m an over-sharer. So many nights in the last week I’ve gone on my laptop wanting to write and I’ve had to just shut it again. I’ve also had a lot of friends checking in with me and it’s been difficult to reply as so much at the moment is up in the air. And then my heart has been hurt with some upsetting news from South Africa followed by the horrific news from Manchester (home to several friends, and it turned out my friend’s daughter & grandaughter were at the Ariana Grande concert – they are thankfully fine and physically unharmed. But many were not so lucky. Several Scottish girls who travelled down to the concert are still missing). So instead of talking about all that is going on in my brain right now, I’m going to share about new baby penguins.

On Saturday, I finished work earlier than usual. It was a miserable day, with bucketing rain but I wanted to stop by Edinburgh Zoo before I went home, camera in tow. Because BABY PENGUINS people…BABY PENGUINS. Yes, this happens every year. And no, it doesn’t get old.IMG_2249

I mentioned on my last blog that for the first time in many years, a baby Rockhopper penguin has been born at the zoo. Another regular visitor hiding from the rain gazing at the gentoo nests pointed me in the direction of the Rockhopper nests. The nest is located in a bit where you can’t get very close to it – there’s a garden area on the other side of the fence of their enclosure. It’s maybe a good thing though for the little chick to get some peace and quiet. With some difficulty and the help of my long lens, I did manage to get this pic…

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I really hope this little one survives and thrives. I love the rockhoppers, and they are always the ones that come right up to the fence and pose for my phone and say hi! Case in point: Exhibit A below…

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Quite a few of the penguins are looking a little scruffy and uncomfortable at the moment because they are moulting. Usually the King Penguins are all very tall and sleek, and felt very sorry for this poor dude. It’s really strange to see a King Penguin looking so cuddly, fluffy and rotund!

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I hope the photos make you smile, and please know that if you are reading from Cottonlands or been affected by what happened last night in Manchester…I am thinking of you.

Much love,

BK x

The one where I visited some fairy woods…

So, it’s safe to say I’m pretty wiped out. Last week I struggled through with sore throat so I figured it was another cold  coming on care of the children of Edinburgh, but on Sunday I woke up with no voice. New self-diagnosis: laryngitis!

Suffice to say, it’s hard to do my work without a voice, so I’ve been resting it as much as possible today before I have to do some youth work stuff tonight. In an attempt to stay awake I thought I’d blog to share some photos from last weekend…

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For the first time in a long time, I rode in Davina. She is still green rather than blue but I’m pleased to say that I didn’t have to pray for her engine to start. Sadly though it was a grey drizzly morning at the beach…so no beam work. Luckily though, members of the church had this very luxurious RV with a canopy for everyone to shelter under. I say everyone, most of the kids wanted to climb all over Davina and run around in the rain.

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While people ate bacon rolls (I keep kosher) I sat in a camping chair snapping pics at strange angles in between having conversations. But this lad may have been my favourite subject to photograph. Even my friend who is an actual professional photographer saw pics and said “That is the most photogenic dog!”. He also woofs along when people sing Happy Birthday.

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While we were there we looked up to see a group who were galloping across the beach on horseback. I’ve only ever seen one or two horse riders at a time, and it was really cool to watch. Especially with the backdrop of Bass Rock in the background. I felt so sorry for the horse that kept lagging behind. I can empathise.

And after going back to my friends’ home to warm up and collect their lovely beagle, we ventured back outdoors to a wood where fairies live…

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I’ve also heard that some baby penguins have been born including a baby rockhopper (the Northern Rockhopper penguins are my faves…they always come to say hello through the fence, and they look like punks so what’s not to love?). It’s the first time in 8 years a baby Rockhopper has been born. Usually it’s only gentoos that hatch eggs. A visit to the zoo is on my to-do list. 🙂