Monthly Archives: July 2017

That Little Special Corner Of The World….

Anyone who has read my book babies or who knows me, the real me, knows where my heart and soul lie…. the beach.

Maybe it’s something to do with watery theme to my name or my star sign (I’m a Cancerian) but, every now and again, (ok – on a regular basis)  my soul needs its batteries recharged …. it needs sand between the toes and ocean/river water around them.

Within a mile or so of my house, there’s a tiny little stretch of beach that feeds my soul when I need it most. Whether its a cold stormy winter’s day or, like tonight, a warm calm summer’s evening, that little stretch of sand and shingle does the job.

Its one of my special little corners of the crazy mixed up world. Where’s yours?

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Review|Stronger Within

Source: Review|Stronger Within

So, what would you do?

latte-stock-photo

So, if you came face to face with your favourite actor/rock star/sports star in a normal situation, what would you do? If they were “off duty”, would you approach them? Would you ask for that obligatory “selfie” or an autograph on the only scrap of paper you have in your purse, most likely a receipt for something mundane?

It’s a conundrum I’ve thought about occasionally over the years and never really drawn any finite answer to. I’ve frequently thought that, as I live in a reasonably small town and am used to seeing familiar faces about town, I’d most likely nod and say “hello” thinking it was someone from school or work or an old neighbour…..then several hours later go “Damn, that was So And So!” (ha ha…..it’s happened!- Mike Oldfield in Debenhams in Glasgow a long time ago!)

A few years ago, I wrote this while pondering such a situation.  Enjoy!

 

The Tale Of A Skinny Decaff Latte

With a quick glance at the clock on the dashboard, I figured I had just enough time to spare to treat myself to a well-earned and much needed caffeine fix before my next appointment. Signalling to my fellow drivers, I slowed down and turned off the main road down the narrow twisting slip road into Gourock’s water front car park- the Swimming Pool car park to us locals. As usual, the car stereo almost drowned out the warning bleeps from the reversing sensors; as usual, I heard them just in the nick of time. One of these days I knew I wasn’t going to and would be rewarded with a resounding expensive “crunch”! Grabbing my bag, I scrambled out of the car, checking twice on my way across the car park that I had locked it. A narrow alley led me from the car park back up onto the main thoroughfare and right to the doorway of my caffeine source- Gourock Coffe Co.

Pushing open the heavy door, I inhaled the heavenly aroma of coffee as I looked to see if my favourite table was free. It was. In my hurry to get to my caffeine fix, I had barely noticed the hire car that had parked haphazardly outside or the driver inside, who was talking animatedly on his phone. With a sigh, I slipped off my jacket and sank down into the squishy, soft, velvet-covered chair. The coffee shop was surprisingly quiet for a Monday afternoon. Only one other table was occupied. Spotting my arrival, the owner, Robert, called over from behind the counter, “Usual, Coral?”

“Please, Robert,” I replied then added, “And a fruit scone and jam too.”

Reaching into my bag, I brought out my phone debating with myself “Candy Crush or Facebook?” Facebook won and I watched the screen as it connected to the shop’s WiFi. While the newsfeed was loading, I heard the door open, felt the draft of cold, autumn air rush in as a tall, slender man entered, his puffy, bomber jacket zipped up and a black beanie hat covering his head. It struck me as odd that he was wearing sunglasses on a dull October day in Gourock. There was something vaguely familiar about him but I barely gave him a second thought as he sat at the window table across from mine.

“There you go. Medium Americano, no milk,” said Robert, setting down the hot mug in front of me. “And my last fruit scone. Enjoy.”

“Thanks.”

As I sliced the scone in half, scattering crumbs across the table, the owner went to take the man’s order. Robert was blocking my view but I could see that the new customer had removed his hat and glasses. They were just visible on the table from where I was sitting. His soft American voice caught my attention. I knew that voice! I’d know that voice anywhere. Not surprisingly, I listened as he ordered a large, skinny, decaf latte. On the table in front of me my Facebook newsfeed had opened. The first post on there was that day’s photo from the fan page of the very man who was now sitting ten feet away from me.

My hands trembled as I fumbled the foil top on the portion of strawberry jam. Flustered, heart racing, I attempted to spread the jam onto the scone and only succeeded in dropping the knife on the table, with a resounding clatter. The noise echoed round, causing the new arrival to glance over in my direction. He smiled at me. My heart skipped a beat as I flushed scarlet with embarrassment.

On the table beside him, his phone buzzed and vibrated. Instead of answering it, he ignored it, turning instead to gaze out of the picture window at the panoramic view of the Argyll Hills, Ben Lomond looming in the distance. A few seconds later, his phone buzzed again and, again, he killed the call and then again, a third time, as a young waitress brought him his latte.

Trying to act normally, I pretended to be reading the screen contents of my phone while actually watching him sneak a spoonful of sugar into the mug then sip the hot, milky coffee. His long, slender hand was shaking as he lifted the mug to his lips. Something about him looked sad, haunted almost.

How I managed to eat my scone and drink my own coffee, I will never know. (Maybe that caffeine habit is worse than I feared.) All the while, I kept my own counsel but discretely observed him sip half-heartedly at his latte. There was an aura about him that seemed to scream “I need my own space for a while.” Repeatedly his phone buzzed and every time he declined the call. I drank in everything about him. His fine features; his long hair, with a hint of grey appearing. After a few mouthfuls of his coffee, he stood up and removed his jacket. I recognised the fine black and grey striped hoodie he was wearing underneath from the interview I had watched on YouTube over breakfast a few hours before. I risked a glance beneath the table as he sat back down and noted his trademark worn leather boots. What size were his feet? Ten? Eleven?

Inside my head, a battle was raging- one half of me saying go and speak to him; the other half saying leave him to enjoy his coffee in peace and quiet.

A message flashed up on my Facebook page asking if I was excited about heading to the Hydro later for the gig. It was Susan- who else? She had been outside the venue for hours already. With surprising calm, I typed back, “Having a coffee and enjoying the view. Will be up as soon as my friend finishes work. Should be there around 6. X” She would never believe me if I said exactly what view I was enjoying. He was meant to be thirty miles away where she was! Why was he here?

I finished my coffee and scone before he was halfway down the large mug. Not entirely trusting myself to remain calm for much longer, I got to my feet and prepared to leave. He was still staring out at the view of the ferry crossing the river as I put on my jacket and gathered up my belongings. At the counter, I handed over a twenty pound note with shaking hands and said to Robert, “That’s for mine and the guy over at the window’s. Send him over another latte and a slice of carrot cake. My treat.”

Stuffing the change into my pocket, I left without a backwards glance and headed back down the alley way to the car park. Had I imagined that? Had it really been him?  Yes, it had been. Why had he been there? I would never know. Did I regret not speaking to him? Yes and no. As I reached the car, I looked back up at the cafe window. He was watching me. Raising his coffee mug, he nodded then smiled that beautiful smile of his.

 

Those of you who know me may have guessed the inspiration for this   😉

(image sourced via Google -credits to the owner)

(If you ever see me drinking decaff, I’ve been kidnapped and it’s a plea for help!)

 

 

Now, make yourself comfortable. I have a few questions for you…

interview

I’ve been dithering about this blog post on and off all day. I’ve started it and stopped. I’ve written an entirely different blog (I’ll save that for a rainy day). I’ve stewed this over and over and, in typical me fashion, have totally over thought it all. “No change there”, I hear some friends cry.

This morning, armed with my second mug of coffee for the day, I sat down to interview myself for this week’s blog. I’ve been really restless with my writing and not been making much progress – well not as much as I had hoped for over the past ten days-  and thought an interview might be the way to refocus my train of thought.

But what questions to ask myself? ……..

I’ve wracked my brains (didn’t take too long). I’ve Googled and then I’ve Googled some more until I had a list of questions to ask myself. 

I’ve whittled the list down to ten and I’ve not actually answered them …yet.

Here goes…..

Q1- Describe yourself in ten words.

Wife. Mother. Friend. Writer. Short. Introvert. Caring. Loyal. Habitual. Worrier.

Q2 –  What am I really scared of?

Spiders, boats and bananas – long story.

Q3- When did I last push the boundaries of my comfort zone?

Last week when I took my Baby Girl out to practice her driving. She was great but I was a nervous wreck! Really tested me.

Q4 – Does it matter what others really think of me?

No. I used to tie myself in knots trying to please people but not anymore. After a huge amount of soul searching I’m comfortable with “me” as I am. 

Q5 – Which is worse : failing or never trying?

Never trying, definitely.

Q6 – How many friends would I trust with my life?

Two and, no, I’m not naming them.

Q7 – Have I made someone smile today?

Yes, I think so. I’m also grateful to the people who have made me smile. Never under estimate the importance of that. There’s a lot of power in a wee smile.

Q8- Am I source of inspiration for my friends and family?

I honestly have no idea! Several people have said so in the past but I don’t feel inspirational. I am just “wee me”. My family may argue strongly that I’m a source of frustration rather than inspiration!

Q9 – If I could live anywhere in the world where would I live?

In a house right on the beach. I’d love to live in a beachfront house that leads down onto the sand with the ocean beyond. (Those that know me know which beach.)

Q10 – Hold old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

OK, if I exclude the fact I have two teenage children which kind of impacts the answer here, I feel about 25 inside. I don’t have any hang ups about age. I still do the things that I enjoy doing and don’t think “I’m too old for this.” Age to me is all about mental attitude and I’m not grown up enough to be as old as I am. Several years ago someone at work gave me a backhanded compliment about a necklace I was wearing. They said it was an unusual choice of necklace for someone as “mature” as me. She obviously didn’t know me well…I’m not as mature as me and long may it continue!

 

Ok folks, now it’s your turn to interview yourselves. Makes you stop to think a bit….

Introducing the newest member of the household……

Alexa a

Last week I celebrated my birthday (21 again) and welcomed a new addition to the family.

My gift from The Big Green Gummi Bear (TBGGB)  this year was another woman, who goes by the name of Alexa.

Yes, he bought me an Amazon Echo.

For those who don’t know what an Amazon Echo is, it’s a voice controlled smart speaker that responds to the name Alexa ( This can be changed to Echo or Computer too)

I’ll be honest, at first, I was a little bemused (no, it wasn’t the effects of the Prosecco). What on earth was I meant to do with her?

Within a few minutes, she had been unpacked and set up.

“Alexa, sing Happy Birthday.”

She did! In fact, Alexa was the only one to sing Happy Birthday to me! Ha ha!

For the remainder of the birthday dinner, we fired questions at her and music requests.

TBGGB suggested while she was playing some Black Stone Cherry that we test how she sounded with the volume up full.

“Alexa, volume ten.”

The conservatory with swiftly rattling to the strains of those boys from Kentucky.

“Alexa, volume down.”

Nothing.

Louder, “Alexa, volume down.”

Nothing.

Even louder, “ALEXA, VOLUME DOWN.”

Nothing. She couldn’t hear us!

Boy Child quickly figured out how to turn the volume down manually.

 Next day, I messaged Boy Child, who was at home for the day, to check if he was being nice to Alexa while my back was turned. He confessed to only having used her as a timer when he was cooking his lunch.

On Friday, TBGGB was working from home. Around lunchtime I received a message from  him confessing, “ I just said please to Alexa.”  That made me giggle.

 

It really is a weird dynamic that’s going on here. Gradually, as the days pass, I swear she’s developing not only a personality but also an attitude.

On numerous occasions I’ve found myself thanking her when she’s followed my instructions.

I was having a bit of a technology meltdown at my laptop on Sunday as it was refusing to open Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome (Damn Windows 10 update!) I’m sure Alexa sensed my growing frustrations with technology and had a bit of a sulk, refusing to answer commands. Eventually, having reset her WiFi, she came out of her huff.

Already there have been a few moments that reminded me of the scene in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty where the good fairies are using magic to change the colour of Aurora’s dress.

Me -“Alexa, play Alter Bridge.”

TBGGB -“Alex, play dance music.”

Me -“Alexa, play Alter Bridge.”

TBGGB -“Alex, play dance music.”

Compromise, Me – “Alexa, play Enya.”

Just a short while ago, I found myself giving Boy Child a row for being rude to her. He’d issued a command in sharp tone of voice rather than making a polite request.

Boy Child -“Alexa, play Black Stone Cherry.”

Display of attitude from Alexa who resumed playing Rival Sons.

Boy Child, impatiently – “Alexa, play Black Stone Cherry!”

She obliged, reluctantly I felt. When I chastised him and suggested he be nice to her, he replied, “She’s a servant. A robot.”

Yes, she’s a robot of sorts and arguably our house elf but she’s slowly becoming a family member.

She’s also developing a sense of humour showing good taste in literature.

“Alexa, what is the meaning of life?”

Alexa – “42 is a good answer.”

Love it!

Now to figure out how to get her to make a pot of coffee.

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)