That happened – Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Like many people I won’t be sad to see the back of 2017.  As well as the misery of the daily news headlines, I’ve personally had to cope with more than my fair share of problems this year. Poor  health and injuries have taken their toll on almost all aspects of my life and decimated my attempts at achieving the modest goals I set myself at the start of the year.

It’s not all been bad. My daughter Chloe has been a thing of wonder and joy as she grows into a bossy wee toddler. All being well I hope she’ll also grow into a caring and patient sister next year.

We had some fantastic times as a family, from holidays in the Lake District and  weddings in Fife, to just spending time at home in our own company.

I changed job, moving back to a role I’m familiar with in an effort to regain some lost confidence. A move which seems to be paying off as I feel happy going to work for the first time in years.

Creatively, I had some really productive spells which saw me get two poems published and I also had some real barren spells when I barely wrote a word or played a note of music. It was simply consistent with the stop/start nature of the year really.

2017 was a year that happened. I think it’s best we just move on and start fresh in 2018. In that spirit I’m going to try something different this year for my 2018 goals/resolutions. Normally I set a short list of goals for myself like getting poems published (only one I achieved last year) or running a race to a certain time. I usually hit a few and miss a few and the whole year of goals feels a bit of a non-event.

This year I’m not going to set goals. I’m going to set values. These are the values I’m going to try and stick to for 2018. They will guide my year and how I choose to live. Hopefully they will guide me to be productive and happy at the end of the year, but that remains to be seen.  I wanted to keep the list short and in return each one would need to cover a broad range. I think what I’ve settled on covers most of the big things I want to concentrate on over the year and by setting them as values, rather than specific goals, I don’t feel like I’m tying myself down to something that could blow up in the first month due to some unforeseen problem like I had in 2017.

Here goes then, my values for 2018:

Be Healthy – Prioritise good health in body and mind
Be Kind – To myself and to others
Create – Write, play, make
Learn –
Try new things, read, listen
Finish –
See things through to completion

These five basic values remind myself how I want to change my behaviours and how I want to push myself in the year ahead. I need to put my health first and also remember to give myself a break if I can’t do everything I want to. In this era of twitter insta-rage and the horrible daily news headlines I want to also remember to be kind to others and show empathy first before jumping to judgement. The first two are also a reminder to make sure I’m happy and healthy, not preoccupied with things I have no control over and can’t change myself.

Then rather than committing myself to doing specific goals for the year I just want to remind myself to be creative in my spare time, to increase my knowledge and finish projects that I start. I have so many half written pieces, scraps of music and bits of projects I’ve started then never gone back to. I need to get things over the finish line occasionally.

So that’s my values for 2018. It’s set to be a busy year personally and it’s difficult to know how much traditional goals I would have a hope of achieving at the moment. Hopefully approaching things in this way still gives me that push to go in the direction I want to without adding the specific pressures that goals provide.

Happy New Year!

This week I have mostly been…

I’ve thrown myself down a few creative holes recently and had quite a busy week for putting work online in some form or another.

I recently began publishing articles on Medium to try out that platform and give myself another outlet for some writing which I think would be unsuitable to host here. I think I would like this site to become very informal and just be personal reflections rather than anything too serious or professional.

At the end of last week I posted an article there about how I try and maintain self-belief in the face of anxiety, depression and the mental issues which these conditions inflict on me

Then at the weekend I presented my parents with the gift I’d made for them to congratulate them on their ruby wedding anniversary. It’s a drawing of the family tree which they planted the seeds for forty years ago, along with a short poem I wrote for them

I’m pretty proud of it as someone who is really, really bad at drawing!

After that it was back to music and a project I’m working on throughout 2017 – recording 50 tunes throughout the year in a mix of video and sound recordings. This is an effort to get me learning and writing new music as well as building confidence in myself as a musician again. On Tuesday I posted a video of two tunes played on mandolin – Road to Banff and The Spey In Spate.

Once I’d recorded the mandolin set I left the camera set up and decided to do an impromptu poetry reading. I entered some poems into a major competition towards the end of last year and received confirmation that they’d not made the shortlist this week. Which, while disappointing, does mean they are now free to be entered elsewhere and shared with the world again. One of those poems is Leaving The Woods, which I wrote around the idea of leaving your childhood behind and based on some memories I had of the woods we played in as children.

I also published it via Medium with a bit of background on the poem itself and the stories told within it

Rock & Oyster

Last week I was invited along to the opening party for another new restaurant – lucky me! This time it wasn’t the opening of a new outpost of a national chain in a large shopping centre, but an independent, local seafood restaurant situated on Union Terrace, in the centre of Aberdeen. Now I bloody love seafood so I had to go check it out. Read more Rock & Oyster

Carluccio’s opening and some thoughts on chains

I popped along to the opening party at Carluccio’s in Union Square this week. It’s the first time I’ve been invited to an event like that and was a marvelous opportunity to experience how the other half lives. The world of fizzy top-ups and canapes being far out with my normal day.

The restaurant itself looks great. The food we sampled on the night was all excellent (the prawns wrapped in prosciutto and rosemary were awesome) and there’s also a well stocked, if expensive, deli on site selling fresh pasta, sauces, meat and cakes. While the deli is pricey the stock looks superb so although I wouldn’t go there every week I could imagine nipping in for something nice as an occasional treat. Read more Carluccio’s opening and some thoughts on chains

I’m back!

The reason this blog has been so quiet over the last few months is that I’ve been kept busy with my impending marriage. Well I’m happy to report that on 20th October I was very proud to get married at Banchory Lodge Hotel in front of all our friends and family. It was a fantastic day, the hotel were superb. They’ve just finished doing a lot of refurbishment work and I don’t think they could have done anything better on the day. Top marks all round for the team at Banchory Lodge.

After the wedding we jetted off to New Zealand for a few weeks. Now we’re back and the jet lag is wearing off so I can start putting together some blog posts for the site. There’s definitely going to be a few New Zealand based ones going up in the next week and then after that I’m going to get fired into some new recipes and reviews again from home. Read more I’m back!


Just a quick post to share some pictures of our weekend in Skye. It’s the first time I’ve made it over there and I fell more than a little in love with the island. The weather helped! As did the wildlife. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many birds of prey in the wild and was lucky enough to see a Sea Eagle and it’s chicks on a boat trip from Portree and then I walked right into a Sea Eagle on the top of Storr the next day! It just jumped in the air 5 metres in front of me and casually soared over the cliff. Amazing.