Have you ever noticed that if you choose to be happy, and come at the day with a positive air, things tend to work out better for you? As someone who experiences intermittent low mood and mild anxiety (I don’t say “suffer” because I’m not a victim – none of us are) I know it’s not always easy to do so.

I also know that there’s a big difference between being happy and plastering a smile on your face to get through the day.

So, in these past 18 months of ups and downs, and sometimes, as my boyfriend will account for, acting first rate cray-cray, here are the things I tell myself so I can hold on to that light when it flickers or fades. View Post

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In my last post I spoke about the various types of gym-goers I’ve noticed so far in my not at all clichéd “new year new me” journey. Here’s a list of the 5 characters who have stoof out for me so far. Any I’ve missed out?

The hulk

You know who I mean. A specimen whose reputation precedes him (as it is most often a ‘him’). Found in his natural habitat, the heavy weights section, the hulk swaggers his way from dumbbell to bench press, forehead vein and biceps pulsating in tandem.

Arms always a good few inches away from actual body. Legs either meaty or comparatively skinny: hulks don’t do inbetween.

Always in a wife beater.

The skinny boy

Exist to confirm the hulks’ sense of purpose. If I was a boy I would probably fit into this category. Shifting nervously around the jungle of equipment, face crumpled into a deeply painful expression when lifting anything.

Often sporting converse and/or baggy t-shirt.

The insta-conscious female

Feels as if they should go to the gym but lack of sweat, intact false eyelashes and hair extensions insinuates they don’t do much. Indulges in self-congratulatory selfie for online followers in the changing rooms after some sit-ups.

Always in branded sports bra.

Normally operate in pairs.

The middle-class, middle-aged lady

Saw one of these on the apparently gender specific inner thigh leg machine before 10 mins light jogging on treadmill in leopard print leggings and matching top.

Can be seen in comfort zone of legs, bums n tums class (‘LBT’ if you’re in the in-crowd.)

The old school tank

Often an older guy. Favoured attire of cycling shorts or spandex. Level of commitment easily gauged by the leather gloves worn to lift gym’s heaviest weights.

Identifiable by the sound of rythmic grunts.

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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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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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