January gets a bad rep. It’s a month we’re determined to suffer but when considered fully, surely this four-week festive nemesis is the one that suffers us. Because what wrath is greater than a tide of cold, skint, disenchanted civilians?  January counts abused sales racks, withered Christmas trees and empty pubs among its various unfortunate identifying factors – yet perhaps the biggest ailment of all that poor January suffers is its fresh crowd, nay stampede, of newbie gym-goers.

Most years I like to acknowledge my muffin top misery in regretful swathes, often through mouthfuls of comfort carbs or gulps of supermarket wine. Every January I have the best intentions to improve my (admittedly poor) fitness levels, but somehow when faced with the cold and dark, such goals never quite come to fruition.

Excuses for not doing cardio exercise have slowly grown into a haphazard Grinch mountain of self-deceit. I’m too poor to join, and don’t own any nice gym clothes. Office work is tiring, and  one can’t simply skip an overdue hair wash. The mountain has reached such a height that I enter 2017 feeling a distinct threat of avalanche.

So as 2016 ended with more of my zips flying low than a budget airline, I decided enough was enough. At 5pm on the 2nd of January 2017, I entered into unknown territory. This was not just a gym I walked into. It was a Pure Gym. In name; in nature.

For those who like to make a sport out of people-watching, look no further. This strip-lit grey mass is an anthropological porno; a bleak purgatory, a lure for the socially disparate, bound by a collective desire to sweat out their sins.

As I walked into this newly discovered heaven/hell waiting room, I was able to quickly discern the different tribes. Since I am running late for my next gym date, these will follow in my next post…. Wish me luck.

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In a world clouded with uncertainty, and heightened feelings of scared anxiety surrounding the future of both our own generation and that of our country, I read something recently which lifted my spirits and has stayed with me.

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t yet happened.”

This is one of the best things I’ve ever read, and I think it’s important that we remember it, and above all allow ourselves to believe it. Wasn’t it Steve Jobs who said the best way to predict the future is to invent it? I saw a close family friend recently, the mother of my best friend and a lady who speaks with confidence and clarity and the sort of wisdom you only achieve when you live a life full of love and fearlessness (because without one you cannot fully achieve the other). She told me about her son’s graduation ceremony. 

Although a lovely day, the overarching theme of the speeches given and songs sung seemed to be an idea I’ve heard many times before: suck it up while you can, kids, because your University years are the best of your life. For a day designed to celebrate achievement, this has always seemed to me depressingly defeatist, and now more than ever, a damaging idea to insitll in the minds of a generation of young people entering a world which is not only full of uncertainty, but also apparently on the brink of a relentless downhill spiral. 

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at University. Yet I can acknowledge that while they were good days, they were good for that period of my life; a period which has come to an end – a necessity in order for the next period of my life to take place. I would never seek to taint such fond memories with the misinformed idea that they must now be viewed as stars, squinted at from the gutter in which we with finished degrees now collectively exist.

And to be quite frank, the idea of eating cereal for dinner, existing on pennies at the end of a much abused overdraft, nursing a constant hangover and swallowing caffiene tablets like M&Ms to get through days of revision cramming at the library were in fact my life peak paints a somewhat gloomy, unambitious picture of what one should expect from life.

They say don’t set your expectations too high, or you will feel disappointed. In this case, if you have recently graduated, and are struggling to find a job (been there), are living back at home (feel ya), and you just wish you could be back at the union downing pints of gin and juice, please, please, allow yourself to expect more from life. More is coming: I see it every day.


In the words of C.S. Lewis, there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

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Despite being published over 130 years ago, Jekyll and Hyde’s popularity remains intact. Directors, academics, authors and the riff-raff ourselves have spent centuries analysing what this work of fiction represents. Its themes and nuances transcend generations: magnetic and repellent all at once, the novel holds a place of privilege in the literary world as one of few novels to attract audiences from past, present and I have no doubt far into the future. View Post

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Ah, to be home!

Since moving to Edinburgh just over a year ago, thanks to university and work commitments (among of course irresponsible weekend boozing priorities and consequent days spent in bed), visits back to my seaside hometown of Tayport have been few and far between.

So this weekend I pootled back home in my little blue car to visit my Mum in her crumbling old house on the Tay. Although fairly miserable weather on the Saturday, the Sunday I left to head back to the capital was one of the most glorious autumnal days I have ever seen.

Relishing the prospect of a walk on the beach in the east neuk, senza the usual experience of wind/rain/mad hair/the enjoyable combination of all three, we headed to our local beach Tentsmuir.

Tentsmuir has changed a lot in the years since my childhood. There is now a controversial charge of £2 for the privilege of driving your car there, for example.

HOWEVER. (And here is the “little thing” that inspired this post and brightened most of my weekend, however sad you may think my life is, I do not take any of it back.) In the little corner of the small field of grass next to the forest, there is now a CREPE SHACK. Run by a man from Tiree and his French girlfriend, Tentsmuir’s exciting new addition attracted dog walkers, old couples, and hungry Tayportians like my mum and I to their little corner of creative genius. Complete with bunting, logs, and even an authentic wetsuit hanging on the adjacent tree (surfing on their quiet periods?), the little hut immediately filled my 25-year-old self with a 5-year-old’s sense of excitement.

Sitting in the glorious rays of autumn sunshine on little decorated, cushioned tree stumps, eating a ham, cheese and beetroot chutney crepe rolled into a cone and oozing with deliciousness, with a cup of coffee decorated in snowflakes (the miserable readers among you may find this Christmas gesture has come a pinch early but I for one embraced this bold gesture from the Crepe Shack!) I was quite honestly happy beyond words.

Thus, the true point of this silly little blog post is really that, whatever trials and tribulations you may face in your life, whatever crap happens, whoever is grinding your gears and however negative you might feel at any one point, you should know that if you take the time (approximately 20 seconds to consume said crepe personally) to appreciate the little things and let them enhance your mood, the big things you let get to you can be brought down to size, too. Amen to the crepe shack, in all its bunt-iful glory.

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’60s architecture, bouncing rain and a stray ginger cat staring gloomily out from underneath a nearby tree are the main components making up my current vision. I am also in all seriousness wearing my jacket inside as the office is a wee bit chilly. I could do with a cup of tea but they only have espresso machines here. There are also a lot of vowel sounds floating about, lax working hours and a suspicious amount of male ponytails. If it wasn’t for those select clues probably neither of us would realise I am in fact in Italy.

And so it is that I find myself embarking on a 3 month long internship in the Communications Department of the European Training Foundation, based in Turin, Italy. A decentralised agency of the European Union, the ETF works with 30 partner countries, ranging from Albania to Tajikistan and beyond, helping to harness the potential of human capital in developing or transitional countries, through reforms such as Vocational Education and Training (VET) and ‘skills matching’ research and workshops.

That all sounds quite important, but as a Comms Intern it is my general job to post regular updates on social media, write follow-up news articles for the website and generally attempt to engage with the public in a way which is, er, engaging. Hopefully.

Although I am glad to be here, working a job which is actually relevant to my English and Journalism degrees, I currently gain most of my daily entertainment from the buses I have to catch to get to work. The first – a number 52 – from the nearest main street to me, Corso Vittorio Emmanuele II, is relatively civil. Aside from the old man who occasionally rides it, who has his own vacant smile accompanied by a vague whiff of urine which ensures him a metre wide radius, most of the people are commuting to work (maybe he is too, and just wanted to ensure spacial luxury, we will never know, because I do not speak Italian yet). Either way he seems quite happy so all is well.

I then change buses down at the River Po, where I wait patiently for the number 73 (it doesn’t seem to have a fixed time it arrives, and much like any Italian body, whenever the hell it wants; a  difficult concept for my British brain to cope  with at first but I have come to accept this state of affairs.) When the 73 eventually approaches, I imagine it to be the autobus version of the skinny freckled kid who was picked on in the playground.

Half the size of a normal bus – potentially, in fact, the smallest ‘functioning’ bus I have seen in some time, if perhaps ever – the 73 whizzes into view round the junction, before coughing and wheezing its asthmatic way towards its gathering of patient passengers-to-be. At our own peril.

We all squeeze on and stand in the aisle. The challenge to stay vertical is rather a tough one aboard the number 73. Most of the poles designed to help you stay upright would I believe carry out the opposite effect. Half unscrewed from the ceiling or ground and wobbling dangerously when touched, the brave number 73 commuters generally attempt to grasp bus seats or walls for leverage while the bus crawls up the hill. Sometimes in the middle of the journey the back doors burst open but of course us seasoned passengers don’t even blink now when confronted with fast moving concrete inches from our dubious footing. Only the other day the bus engine refused to restart after allowing a passenger off at one of the uphill stops, and we began rolling backwards down the hill, to which the driver bellowed for us to PREGARE PER LE VOSTRE ANIME. PRAY FOR YOUR SOULS!

To the majority of you this probably sounds like somewhat of a traumatic morning commute but I think in its own little way it may be one of my favourites yet. More Italiano updates to come soon, after I have done some token afternoon writing for the work blog, rather than my own… Ciao, e parlare presto!

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Separated from the mainland by only a tiny stretch of water, over which is built the charming humpback Clachan Bridge, or “Bridge over the Atlantic” as it is also known (turns out the stretch of water is in fact the Atlantic Sea – albeit a mere dribble of it), lies Seil Island, an amazing landmark I had the pleasure of visiting a couple of weeks ago. seilisland

Covered in lush greenery, rocky crags and – as you may imagine, it being an island and all – surrounded by water, the views are absolutely incredible. The weekend we visited, the days were long and sunny and the light transformed the island into a vision of incomparable beauty. The landscapes there are ones that could only ever be seen in Scotland.

Although really quite a poor Scottish traveller – I have only been to one other island (Arran) before this little adventure – I was struck by the same feeling upon visiting both peninsulas. I have climbed Macchu Picchu at sunrise, visited the Bolivian floating Islands, observed medieval ruins in the Tuscan hills, walked through Venice at night and skied at sunrise in the Austrian Alps, yet the Scottish Islands have been the only place whose beauty can move me to tears. Raw and defiant, beautiful in its roughness, the Scottish islands are where I believe the heart of Scotland and its people truly lie. They don’t need to be anything other than what they are, and what they are nobody can take away from. The beauty of these islands lies as much in their spirit as in their scenery.

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Can you believe this bizarre little abandoned Wild West themed street is in the heart of Morningside? Just another reason why, despite my Weegie loyalties, the city of Edinburgh continues to win my affections. For it is true, there is something inexplicably alluring about being kept guessing, and among the cobblestones of this enigmatic city you never know quite what you might find.

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