‘Return to WordPress’ Ramblings…

Wow, a blog post! Finally! Woo hoo! Yay!

Hi there everyone, I’ve been meaning to get back on here for WEEKS but finally managed to sit my a**e down and do it today. How are you all?

My last post was in August 2016?! I know I said I was going to take a break but even I wasn’t expecting it to be a year long. A bunch of important stuff happened, though. I’ll give you a brief rundown and then get on to cat pictures and Scottish scenery, which, let’s face it, is what everyone would much prefer… 😉

So, as it turned out I didn’t enjoy my new roles within the driver training industry as much as I thought I was going to. As 2016 wore on I was getting more and more unhappy, and wondering what to do about it. Then, I had a wake up call…

In December, hubby’s step-brother died of a sudden heart attack. He was 46 years old, the same age as myself.

I decided life is too short to be stuck doing things that make you unhappy, if there’s any way out of them. After a heartfelt discussion with hubby, I began to make some changes in the New Year. I left The AA, and became an independent driver trainer. I stopped training instructors, and went back to learners and a few qualified drivers. I also went part-time, and acquired another job for three days a week. I am now a Steward for Historic Environment Scotland, based at Inchmahome Priory on the Lake of Menteith. I’ll do a blog post just on this in due course, as there is LOTS to say about it: beautiful scenery, nature, and loads of history, of course!

Although I’m still ironing out a few life niggles (who isn’t?), I’m much happier in my work. It’s a juggling act balancing the two jobs, but I LOVE my Steward’s role. It gets me out of the enclosed environment of the car and into the fresh air, I get to chat Scottish history with lots of people, and – I get to sail a boat! 🙂

The upshot of these positive changes has meant that I actually feel like writing again. So here I am! Also, I need to get back into the way of writing, as I’ve enrolled for my third year with the Open University, continuing with my degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. That starts in October, so I’m getting prepared!

Whew! I think that’s pretty much everything. As promised, here are some photos of what I’ve been up to…

As you can see, the cats are all fine…

Inchmahome Priory

Inchmahome bluebells back in May

Ducks and my little boat in the background

Oh, and the keeping fit has been going pretty well, too. More on that in future. Here’s me looking sweaty after running round the Kelpies. 😀

So, that’s the (abridged) story so far. Hopefully, I’ve found my mojo again and I’ll be back on this blog more often. Tell me what you’ve been up to, readers! Has anyone else made big changes? Or small ones?

Karen xx

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Not Leaving, Just Changing Focus For a While

Some of you may have noticed I haven’t been blogging nearly as regularly as I used to. (Most of you will have not noticed, and that’s fine, because we’re all mega-busy and drop in and out of blogs when we have time, both as readers and writers.) I just wanted to do a little update on what’s been happening, why I haven’t been around, and why I may continue to not be around for a while.

The Day Job

This is taking up more brain power! That’s not to say I didn’t use my brain before, ha ha, but the new role I’ve taken on, training the actual instructors, requires a bit more energy. This means that when I’m at home in the evenings, I’m often too tired to write much. I’m sure that’ll change as I get more used to the new bit of my job, but for the time being, it’s having an effect.

Also, as of the end of August I’m going to be covering the Regional Business Manager’s role while they’re off for a few months, so that’ll take up extra time as well!


The New Project

Project Health! Of course, my day job is extremely sedentary. I’ve been aware for a while that I need to take more exercise, eat healthier and therefore lose some weight. Well, it’s now happening.

One of the perks of my job is I get to meet lots of different people. One of my ex-pupils is a fitness instructor. When I was teaching him to drive, he was just starting his own business. In the spirit of supporting local small businesses, and because we get on great, I’ve joined his gym, started doing fitness classes and met a whole lot of lovely other clients along the way. I’ve also been inspired, of course, by my hubby, who has done amazing things improving his fitness over the last couple of years. (See My Running Man for details.)

Inspirational hubby!

Inspirational hubby!

I started this at the beginning of May, and I’ve lost over a stone, gone down from a size 16/18 in clothes to a size 14, and I’m feeling great. After my summer hols, which are a week away, my short term goal is to lose another stone, and get down to a size 12. I’m also taking part in Supernova, a 5K running event in Falkirk at the beginning of November. My long term goal is to take part in the Tough Mudder event in 2017. I’ve signed up, and will be joining the M.K.Fitness team in all their muddy glory.

So getting fitter is taking up some of my time, too. But it’s a good use of time. Although I’m a firm believer in ‘having it all’, I don’t believe you can have it all at once – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. At the moment, I’m focusing on my day job and on getting fitter, so writing has had to take a bit of a back seat. I was stressing about this for a while, but then I realised that was silly. My priorities have changed, for the time being at least. Writing is meant to be fun. If I’m forcing myself to do it when I’m tired, or should be doing something else, that’s not fun.

This blog post is as much for me as for you, lovely readers. I’m giving myself permission to not write.

That said, I’m sure I’ll simply not write as much. I’ll still blog about fun things I’ve done. I’ve got a couple of short stories already written that’ll be appearing on here. And I’m sure that, having permitted myself not to write, ideas will jump into my head that I simply have to write about!

Okay, I’m off to make dinner, feed the cats, and all those kind of necessary tasks. Oh, and see if hubby needs any help – he’s up a ladder fixing something! 😀

I’ll see you when I see you, folks.

Karen xx

Excuses, Excuses…

Bloomin’ heck, nearly a month since my last blog post! Why’s that, then? Well, I’ve been kind of busy with a variety of things – not to mention catching THE COLD FROM HELL a week ago. Here’s a rundown:

New instructor training role in my driving day job is great, but it’s keeping me busy with more paperwork, planning, etc.

Paid a visit to deepest darkest Aberdeenshire to see my mad best friend (for what that’s like, read my post Pictures From A Wild Weekend). Except this time we weren’t too wild – we went to the ballet. Scottish Ballet’s new production of Swan Lake, to be exact. Very contemporary and very beautiful in a stripped back sort of way (if you’re looking for tutus and feathers, don’t go…)

Started PROPERLY trying to get fit again. One of my ex-driving pupils is a personal trainer, and together with his wife, runs a mix of personal training sessions and classes, together with a lifestyle and nutrition plan. So I’ve signed up (there may be more on this in the future, let’s wait and see…) 😉

Somewhat throwing in a spanner into the works of the latter, I caught THE COLD FROM HELL just over a week ago and was basically out of action for most of last week. No energy, no voice, sniffly nose…you get the idea. Worse than any cold I had during the winter – and it waits until May to turn up! Bah! It’s still hanging around, although it’s going…slowly. Too bloody slowly.

In spite of this, managed to hand in my end-of-module assessment for my Open University degree on time last week. Phew! No studying again until October.

So that’s my feeble list of excuses for not blogging. Hopefully now my OU coursework is finished and my head not full of tiny annoying germs, things’ll get back to normal. And after next week, I’ll definitely have something to blog about, because I’m off on a mystery holiday. What? Yes, hubby has organised a trip somewhere, and it’s a surprise. I will need euros, apparently. I think I’ve figured it out, but sshh, don’t tell him. I may be wrong though, so you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out where I’m going and what I did there. How exciting!

(For those of you who may be concerned about this, thinking I could be getting carted off to The Museum Of Running Shoes or The Exhibition Of The World’s Greatest Kit Car Parts, don’t worry. Hubby is actually pretty good at surprises. I’m confident that wherever we’re going, it’ll be enjoyable and interesting. And apparently there’s beer involved, so there’s a plus point already.) 😀

Hope you guys out there are all well and enjoying some good spring weather, in between rain showers. Or autumn weather, if you’re on the other side of the globe. I’m off now to study a map of Europe to get more clues…

Happy 3rd Blogiversary To Me!

Pic courtesy of littlebcakes.com

Pic courtesy of littlebcakes.com


It is 3 years to the day since I published my 1st blog post. Woo hoo! *stuffs face with cake* *chokes* *swigs champagne to wash it down*

Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time for my usual ‘what have I achieved in this last year of blogging and writing’ bit. GROAN – long-suffering hubby and everyone else

Oh shush, you lot. I’ll rattle through the list, and get back to posting cute cat pictures asap. Number 1 definitely has to be…

I kept blogging! And writing!
It turned out to be a much busier year than expected. Mum and I sold the house I grew up in (I inherited my Dad’s share), and hubby and I helped Mum move into a lovely bungalow. From my share of the house sale, hubby and I were able to undertake some major renovations to our house. All this took up most of the summer. Then, in the autumn, I unexpectedly got not one, but two promotions at work. Eek!
The promotions would have been no problem…except because not much had been happening at work prior to this, I had undertaken two new writing-related projects in September, so suddenly everything was happening at once. Aarrgh! In the face of all this, I’m delighted I kept up my blog, and my short story writing. Although in all fairness, the latter was helped by one of the aforementioned projects, namely, me joining…

Falkirk Writers’ Circle
This turned out to be a great idea. The Circle has a busy programme of events, so I’ve attended workshops, read my work aloud, written new stuff, and will even have a chance to perform some of my work in front of an audience during a Words and Music evening in May. The latter is part of the Falkirk Tryst, an Arts Festival which takes place every year. The music part is supplied by a local folk band.

On the subject of those writing-related projects I undertook, the other one was me deciding to do my…

Open University Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing
I’m nearing the end of my current course, as I write this post. I have enjoyed it – but I think I may miss out next year and resume my studies in a year’s time. Work, and the Writers’ Circle, is making fitting in studying difficult, and to be honest I’d rather concentrate on those first two for now.

And finally…

Published work
Short story ‘Cu-sielge Dubh’ in The Sirens Call eZine (Issue #22 Supernatural Horror).
An article in Divine Magazine, an LGBTQ publication, on a topic that’s close to home for me.
I’ve been featured on the Flash Fiction Podcast ‘No Extra Words’, with my story The House.
I have also, through my work with Falkirk Writers’ Circle, had three short stories published in the local newspaper, The Falkirk Herald.

So all in all, not a bad year! In the coming year, I intend to:

Keep blogging, and publishing short fiction on my blog (of course!)

Continue working with Falkirk Writers’ Circle

Keep submitting stories to magazines and anthologies

And of course, keep posting cute kitty pics! I promised you some, didn’t I? Here they are:

Thanks and big hugs to all my readers!

Karen xx

3 Years Of Blogging!

Gosh, it’s 3 years since I published my 1st blog post! I can still remember my finger hovering over that ‘publish’ button, wondering if anyone would be remotely interested in my ramblings. To my astonishment, many of you were, and I found a community where I got encouragement, help, and advice – and made many wonderful friends. Some of you I’ve now met in person! Big thanks to all my readers, across all the social media platforms I pester you on. 😀
For those of you who haven’t known me since the beginning, here’s the story of why I started blogging, and writing ‘seriously’ (whatever that means 😉 ).

**********

Well I’ve finally done it! Set up this blog, that is. So what will I be writing about? My life, I guess. Trying to be a ‘career woman’ (ugh), a wife, a friend, read a lot, keep fit, go to gigs and shows, travel, and now write as well?! Obviously I’m crazy.

I also write fiction. That will probably appear on here at some point in the future.

I’ve used the words “light and dark and funny and serious” in the tag line for my blog, because I think my writing, like me, will be a mixture of all of these. Be warned, there probably will be funny pictures of my cats. Did I forget to mention I’m also a crazy cat lady? If you can’t handle that, best leave now. But to begin with, I thought I’d explain what led me to set up this blog, and that’s a little bit on the ‘dark’ side of things.

Pretty much exactly one year ago, my elderly father, who has suffered from dementia for a few years, took a fall down the stairs and was in hospital for several months. During this time, my mother went into hospital for a routine procedure which went wrong, and the upshot was that the doctors discovered she had oesophageal cancer. There was already some doubt about whether or not my dad could ever live at home again; this news about my mum was the deciding factor. My dad was admitted to a nursing home in the summer, and in the autumn my mum had surgery to remove her whole oesophagus. She came through the surgery, but is still recovering six months on; it was a major procedure.

Due to my mum’s ill health, it fell to my husband and I to choose a nursing home for my dad, deal with getting him moved there and all the subsequent paperwork (there’s a lot; it’s still ongoing). We also had to deal with my mum undergoing such a huge operation, visit her in hospital and help take care of her afterwards. The hospitals involved, the nursing home, our house and my mum’s house are in completely different towns, so we were run ragged. This inevitably led to a lot of strain between my husband and I, some major arguments, and on one or two occasions, nearly the breakup of our marriage. An awesome summer holiday to visit friends in the USA had to be cancelled, we hardly saw friends or went anywhere as we were either busy, arguing, or knackered. All in all, 2012 was not a good year.

But…it made me realise that I didn’t want to be in the position my mum and dad are in now and think “I wish I’d done that when I had the chance” – the chance is NOW. I’ve always enjoyed writing, I’ve done it for fun, for my company newsletter, that kind of thing, so NOW is my chance to take it a step further. I was also inspired last year by some of my favourite musicians – I know I sound like a teenager, but I found an album where pretty much every track seemed to suggest an idea for a story, or just be about my life at that time. I love music, and l believe that, like a good book, it can help get you through the dark times. So big thanks to…well, more on them later.

Phew, that was a bit heavy, wasn’t it? That’s quite enough of that! Anyway, that’s the story of what led me to start writing again, set up this blog, and in the process, become completely addicted to Twitter. Oh well, I suppose there are worse things I could be addicted to. Many thanks to the authors I’ve met on Twitter who have inspired or encouraged me to do this. Also, many thanks to my husband for all his support (yes, he’s still here, I did say we nearly broke up). I promise my next blog will be more light-hearted. Now, where did I put that picture of my cat upside-down in a saucepan?

Not in a saucepan, but in the clean washing!

Not in a saucepan, but in the clean washing!

Goodbye To 2015

Hi folks! Hope you all survived the festive season, however you chose to celebrate it (or not celebrate it). Mine was quite low key, which suited me (and long-suffering hubby) just fine, as the second half of 2015 was rather manic. We are partying at New Year, though, so I’m gearing up for that, and trying to decide if I can brave the shops to buy a new sparkly top in the sales.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, as I think it’s just a way to put pressure on yourself and then feel extra bad when things don’t go as planned. One thing I’ve realised over the past few years is that life loves to throw curve balls at you, and sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Take 2015. Nothing much happened in the first half, apart from helping my mum move into her new bungalow, and a fun mini break to Liverpool in May. Then: bam! All at once, our plan for major house renovations came together, and we took a holiday to Turkey, including a trip to Istanbul, right in the middle of it all. When we got back, it was full steam ahead to get the renovations finished – and then my mum had a stroke and spent four weeks in hospital. She has made a pretty full recovery and is back in her wee bungalow, but that gave everyone a bit of a fright. No sooner had the house been put back together, than I started my Open University degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. I’d also joined the local Writers’ Circle in September, which I’m very much enjoying. And to cap it off, early in December I heard I’d got a promotion at work, so I’m going to be even busier in 2016. Eek!

Me studying... ;)

Me studying… 😉

I fully admit I’ve struggled a bit to keep up this blog during 2015, simply due to lack of time – and with my OU degree, the Writers’ Circle, and more of the day job in 2016, I’m certainly not going to have any extra time next year! But I DO want to keep blogging – I love the community of readers, writers and all kinds of people I’ve met through doing it. So I’m telling myself here not to mentally beat myself up, and if my blog is a little less regular than weekly or even fortnightly, that’s okay. Some of the stuff I write for the Circle or for my OU course may end up as a blog post as well, killing the proverbial two birds with one stone. 😉

In spite of my lack of time, when I look back I’m pretty pleased with my writing achievements for 2015. I’ve had short stories and articles in two magazines and one newspaper. I’ve featured on a flash fiction podcast. I’ve read some of my work at my Writers’ Circle and I think the latter has improved my skills at reading a story out loud. And I have blogged quite a bit (most of you will have noticed my shameless links to some of my posts in the second paragraph). As well as those, my top posts for 2015 were:

What Is A Kelpie, Anyway?

What Goes On Tour (WARNING: this is naughty!)

Is That Really..? Yes, it is. The Pineapple.

There you go, shameless plugging of own work over. 😀 How about you? What did you achieve in 2015 that you’re proud of? Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Whatever you’re doing, have a great last few days of 2015 and a super 2016!

On Recent Events: Thinking Too Much (Can Lead To Not Blogging)

Hi there folks, a friend commented the other day that I’d been very quiet recently. Online, she meant. I guess, like many others, I’ve been suffering a bit from not knowing what to say about recent events in Paris and other parts of the world. Should I say anything? Do I have something to say that others haven’t already said? I came to the conclusion that the answer to that last question was no. But it seemed frivolous to be waffling on about writing stories and what my cats were up to and all that stuff, when such terrible things were going on. So I kind of stopped saying anything about anything.

And that’s exactly playing into the hands of the terrorists. Yes, in a very small way, and I’m only one little person – but I stopped doing what I normally do. I thought it seemed wrong to keep having fun – and to be talking about it. Well, SOD THAT!

Hubby and I have always said that we won’t be put off from travelling or doing things. Hell, we were all set to still visit Tunisia in August until the tour operators stopped going altogether. We stand by that. And I’ll keep posting about cats and dragons, because that’s what I do. Others have made tributes and statements far better than I could.

So, here is a contented cat to cheer us all up. I’m off to write something spooky or sexy or scary…or maybe all three, who knows? 😉

Love to my friends all over the world.

Karen xx

Frodo reminding me of the little but important things in life

Frodo reminding me of the little but important things in life