Secret Santa and other musings



December is my favourite month, not only is it my birth month, but I do love Christmas, always have done. This year have been a little strange in many ways. I am all by myself in a city that is not yet home, and yes single again. I am not saying that I am sad in any way, I am not, sometimes a little wistful perhaps, and yes I will admit at times a bit lonely. However, every time I feel like I might feel a little sad inevitably something great happens. Not necessarily any thing big, but something that brings a huge smile to my face and makes the world alright again. (Like reading really stupid jokes in a window: Which athlete is warmest in winter? A long jumper… Yes I totally laughed out loud in the middle of the street, bliss!)

The blogger Secret Santa arranged by Laura over at Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish was another one of those little things. Not only did I enjoy picking out a gift for my blogger, Rachel, read her lovely and so kind blog of getting my gift here, the gift from my Secret Santa arrived on a day when I totally needed a lift!

Oh and did she ever do a great job!



Neat stash don’t you think? All courtesy of Hannah over at Mindrunningwild (love the blog name!). Not only did she somehow manage to divine that pistachios are my favourite nut and find a pistachio butter. I seriously had no idea they even did one of them… BUT a dairy free toffee brittle chocolate, totally wonderful! It might not have lasted unopened long after the pictures were taken, so what that it was before 9 am…



I obviously had to do a close up of the bars, and unbeknownst to me at the time my favourite of the lot is actually on top. This is totally not a flavour I would have chosen myself as I tend to be swayed by the mention of chocolate, and stay far away from anything that mentions icing. However that Luna bar was pure perfection, oatmeal and raisin is a classic of course, but the balance here was just right and the icing added just the right touch of sweetness. Thanks for the introduction to this bar Hannah.



Tomorrow is the big summary of everybody that took part in the Secret Santa on Laura’s blog, and I am really looking forward to reading all about it! I also hope to discover a fair few new blogs! Then on Friday it is my birthday… I will definitely come back with more about that one later, it is a big one too! (I got all my baubles from Liberty, their Christmas Shop is a little too good…)


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Today on my run…

A single leaf fell from a tree

I caught it with both my hands just as it was about to touch my heart

I admired the vivid yellow colour and the perfect shape

The edges were turning brown yet that did not make it any less beautiful

I kept it with me for a short while

Then I let it go…

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I am a marathoner!

Longer post and recap to come, but I am majorly excited about this and wanted to post something straight away!

I ran the New York City marathon in 4.56.18, I had a dream of making it in less than 5 hours and I am so stoked that I managed to do just that!

And let me just say this race is amazing the crowds are mental, loud, encouraging, super enthusiastic and makes running a marathon there an extremely rewarding experience. I ran the larger part of the course with a huge grin on my face, totally enjoying being able to run and running this iconic course.

Today my quads are somewhat interesting and I walk a little funny, but it was so worth it, and I’ve already forgotten the pain and want to do another one…

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Light at the end of the tunnel

As I start writing this I am sitting in a coffee shop in Oxford (when I’ll end up posting it is another matter entirely) waiting for the Ashmolean Museum to open. This trip is partly inspired by a lovely new blogger I just discovered Museumdiaries, the Ashmolean was on her list of museums she really wants to visit. The other reason is that I have been to Oxford before and really loved it, so really any excuse to go back is a good one as far as I am concerned…

I have been very quiet on here lately and to be honest that is because this summer has not been the greatest. As might be rather obvious I have left Malta and now live in London, which isn’t really a place I ever wanted to live, but I am going to embrace the opportunities that are available there for as long as I stay, as I do not envisage that to be permanent. To be honest I have lived there a month and it still don’t feel quite real. I’m sure it will sink in in the end.

As I alluded to above the summer wasn’t great, I realised that I could not go on living in Malta, whilst the place is lovely and suit some people it is just not for me. I don’t think I realised before I moved away from it how much I love the changing seasons and the colour palette of northern Europe. From afar endless sunshine and beaches and sea can seem tempting, but in the end it made me feel depressed. I still love the sea, but my love is given to the stormy dark waters of the North Sea rather than the lush azure of the Mediterranean. I also felt that I was stuck in a backwater in Malta, and for me that was true, there certainly are great opportunities there in some areas but not in mine.

I had some tough decisions to make, and to be honest none of the answers were good ones, so it was a case of choosing the lesser of two evils. In the middle of it all I lost a person very dear to me, I will probably write about that later, but for now I am not quite ready. In the end moving to London was the right choice for me, that means a long distance relationship and another uprooting, but it was necessary to regain my sense of purpose and get go. The very fact that I am writing here again shows that it is starting to get better.

Furthermore I have now found a path, I have been rather stuck lately on a professional level. However I have finally figured out where I want to go next! Hence why I am sat in Oxford waiting for a museum to open, next autumn I will be going back to university to study for a masters in curation/museum & gallery studies, and I can’t wait! Museums have been a passion of mine for a long time, and what I refer to as a “happy place”. I tend to try to fit in at least one museum whenever I go somewhere, and well now at last I have the chance to explore London’s famous museums, and all of them not having to chose one just because I am short of time. So this is the light I was referring to at the start of the post, I have found my direction and after being on a bit of a loose limb lately this feels oh so good!

So I warn you now there might be more museum related posts on here from now on, I have a feeling they might be more visual than wordy, but who knows? I seem to find a lot to say about pictures even when I thought I didn’t.

I am also off to the United States in less than a month (on edit make that 4 days!)! The only thing that went well and at many times kept me sane the last few months was running. Of course it has not been without hitches, but I have more or less managed to follow my training plan for the New York marathon and on the 6th of November I will be on Staten Island waiting to cross the Verrazano Bridge and run 26.2 miles through Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and finally Manhattan and crossing the finish line in Central Park. Almost unbelievable and I feel so lucky to be able to do this, and to discover running at a time when I really needed it!

To finish off a post that rarely for me includes not a single photo I would like to give a shout out to the blogs that have helped me keep the fire burning throughout my marathon training:

Health on the Run Hilarious, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and superfast and colourful runner. She is the reason I entered the lottery in the first place and started to run properly, I am forever grateful. Oh and she taught me how to tie my shoes… Yes you are probably doing it wrong…

Fit Chick in the City although she can’t run herself this year, her spirit in the face of injury and infectious love for the New York City marathon has helped me a lot when the training did not go as planned, and the task seemed insurmountable.

Losing weight in the City another blogger training for the NYC marathon, but actually living there. Thus she had the chance to run part of the course, I can live vicariously through her experience. Add to that a seriously funny and interesting blog generally, true winner here. Oh and she started a facebook group for marathon runners, that has also been a huge inspiration!

Food to Run For brilliant recap of her own experience of running the NYC marathon, and just as I needed it this morning a post on how the NYC marathon is the best marathon in the world. Exactly what I needed to hear when nerves started to kick in!

Carrots’n’cake great blog, jam packed with information about food, fitness and fun! Another NYC marathoner in training that I have been following and using as inspiration when the sofa seemed more tempting than a long run…

Mile Posts probably one of the most enthusiastic runners on there, and so fast. However she has worked hard for that and is very frank about that, such an inspiration! Also helps me appreciate what a gift being able to run actually is, this is not something I take for granted, but if I start to become complacent she has a way of reminding me.

I could go on but this will do for now! I promise to come back with a more picture heavy post soon… Got some crackers from the Ashmolean!

To round off…

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One Hit Wonder Wednesday and something completely different…

Sometimes a song is both really silly and really catchy… That makes for a great one hit wonder surely, I found this version from Top of the Pops which is wonderfully bizarre and very very 80s… By the way Dexys Midnight Runners are really only a one hit wonder in the USA, but chances are this is the only song most people have heard. They also have runners in their name so I had to approve right?

Oh and as I am easily amused, and remember very clearly trying to make sense of English song lyrics long before my English was at a level where that was possible… Here’s the “misheard lyrics version”…

Because a little bit of Monty Python is never wrong…

And because I wanted to write about something completely different… Mainly Biffy Clyro! This is a Scottish band that I rather love, and they have been touring in the US recently with Foo Fighters, YES I KNOW! FOO FIGHTERS! How cool is that? Anyways this is one of my favourite songs of theirs, the lyrics are particularly wonderfully confusing… (Did I get slightly lost in the adverbs there?)

Oh and I know what you are thinking I just made a perfect opening for posting some Foo didn’t I? Why, yes I did! Here you go… (Gotta be a ballad as it is getting late here 😉 )

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Weekend Wanderings: Procrastination Edition

I had one of those weekends where starting just about anything seemed like an insurmountable chore… Not that I even had that much I needed to do, track training with Mellieha AC on Saturday morning and long run on Sunday morning. (Well morning was the idea at least)

On Saturday I got up and out early, as after all these practices start at a set time and I have to be there, I can normally manage that. I was supposed to meet a team mate in Mosta and get a ride there, unfortunately she couldn’t make it, and due to me sending her my phone number somewhat too late we didn’t manage to communicate. So I did the only logical thing… I started to run there, it is not that far… I was already late when I started running, but luckily about half way there I got picked up by another runner on the team and got there just after the warm up, which I had covered anyway! We were doing five 800m repeats, I really enjoy these tempo trainings on the track, it is not something I have ever done before.

Then I needed to pick up a book, yes this is really important, it was book 3 in a series of 4… I had managed to get hold of 1,2 and 4, so getting my grubby hands on the last one was amazing! I managed to snap a few pictures as we were heading home from the book excursion, however no pictures at all were taken on Sunday…

You see the weather was less than stellar, well Malta standard that is, if I had been in Scotland it would have been classed as a gorgeous day. That combined with the fact that I just really could not be arsed to get out there, lead to my morning run being much more of an afternoon run. On the plus side the cooker is spotless and my magazines are sorted in size order, still need them chronological, but I though that was taking the  procrastination just a wee bit too far… I did manage to get out there and covered just under 10 miles in a few minutes less than two hours, it was not easy, but I am very proud that I did it!

The photos that follow are the best ones that I captured on Saturday, I think the theme might be straw or potentially drying out or no theme at all…


Oh yes I found a lock… The gate does not seem to have much purpose as the wall is easy enough to climb, I guess it stops cars now that I think about it…


I think this might be another gate, I just liked the straw growing against the metal pole.


There had to be a flower in there somewhere didn’t it? I am going to enjoy them whilst we still have them, it will be too dry for them soon enough.


I think this all goes back to my foundation year in art and design, but I do rather enjoy a motif where several different textures are present.


Tall grass… At least when I crouch down… That also makes the houses look small, which pleases me…


I like the combination of shapes here and I always had a weakness for just that particular kind of grass, it’s just something about the shape that is sort of archetypal, well in my mind at least.


As I mentioned earlier, it is drying up here… Apparently we have a storm coming in, but that is likely to be one of the last rain falls for quite some time, and the colours are fading as a result. Prepare to see a lot of yellow…


Remember that I mentioned texture above? This is another case in point…


This is the same piece of wall but in situ this time.


I liked the movement in this picture, although I need to work on the focus when I take pictures of such dense vegetation.


We actually have stuff growing in our front yard!


I’ll leave you with a close up of the bumblebee, I am really impressed with the resolution on my camera… I know I shouldn’t really be surprised, but I had about 5 seconds to snap this picture. This bumblebee was not a poser…

Just because I called one of my pictures “Big Sky” on flickr and I wrote a post about Scotland yesterday and I miss it, I’ll leave you with this…

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On Scotland: Edinburgh, in and around the Meadows

The Meadows in Edinburgh really are rather special, I guess that is the case with a lot of large green spaces, however I will write about this one as it is one I know and love.

I remember the Meadows from my very first visit to Edinburgh as we stayed in a youth hostel, that has since closed, next to Bruntsfield Links. So to get to town and back you had to walk through the Meadows, not that we knew at the time as we were all totally clueless as to where we were and the most effective way around the place.

When we returned the year after I had a morning to myself to explore it and enjoy the beautiful morning light across the green lawns. However it wasn’t until I moved to Edinburgh that I realised that the Meadows are so much more than a pretty green space. This place is loved and in constant use. It is where you go to walk your dog, go for a run, meet up with friends for a kick about or a round of golf, and during the summer and especially when the Fringe is on it is theming with life and all sorts of activities.

Due to its shape and size different parts of the Meadows have a totally different feel to them, one exit leads you towards the Museum of Scotland and the Royal Mile, one towards the University, one Nicholson Street and yet another towards my old stomping ground of Morningside and Merchiston. It is also worth mentioning that a new development called Quarter Mile have been developed at the exit that leads to the Museum of Scotland etc. I mention that because one of my all time favourite cafes in Edinburgh are situated here: Peter’s Yard. Maybe it is the Scandinavian in me that makes me love this place, it is Swedish themed and they do make some mean yeast bakes. (Their different twists on the traditional cinnamon buns are amazing) I will add this though, their coffee is one of the best in town! I got a particularly beautiful one there when the barista realised I was a fellow Norwegian…

I have taken lots and lots and lots of photos of the Meadows, all with my old point and shoot, a Nikon Coolpix 5200. An antique now of course, and also held together with sportstape, but the thing is it does not matter so much about the camera when the subject is so photogenic. Here’s a few of my best shots:


Pictures at low lights are not something that my point and shoot is very good at, however this one almost manage to capture some of the mood.


A very Scottish sky…


Autumn is definitely my favourite season, most of my pictures from the Meadows were indeed captured during this season.


Both in this picture and the one before I like how the wet asphalt offsets the colour of the leaves, and makes them appear even more vibrant.


Here follows my trio of morning sun shining between trees photos


All of these pictures are taken on the walk from the flat where the Mr lived at the time to our workplace.


I think this particular one is called Townswomen’s Guild Walk…


This door is not completely adjacent to the Meadows, but up one of the streets in Merchiston, I love the contrast between the blue and the red.


It is something very Edinburgh about this picture…


Have I ever mentioned that I like clouds? Wonderful cirrus clouds happening here…


This is not far from Bruntsfield Links, which is the upper part of the Meadows, and on the way there from my old flat. Doubt that any of my old flatmates read this blog, but if they do: Hello Stephen & David! How are the horses?


One day when I was between jobs (luckily this did not last too long) I lucked out as I was up early enough to catch the first frost on the Meadows, absolutely stunning! My photos doesn’t really do it justice.


Just starting to melt at the tips of some of the grass, but the leaf is still covered in ice crystals…


The footsteps of someone who walked across the grass is still visible…(It wasn’t me… No really, my feet are not that big!)


Just a little bit further up there was one really red tree in front of all the yellow and green…


The leaves situated where the sun hit had started to melt, whereas the other ones were still covered in frost. This created a lovely contrast.


The frost had completely disappeared from these, leaving behind lovely water droplets.


For some reason this picture always reminded me of Japan, it might be because it think it looks like the depiction of cherry blossoms in Sumi-e.


I really liked the freshness of this bud with the new leaf and the background that is familiar enough to make out, but yet not…


This picture shows a totally different side to the Meadows, the harpist was playing in one of the busiest crossings during the Fringe. She was a wonderful player, and the picture was too good to miss. In short, the Meadows is a wonderful place, go there if you can…

Posted in Edinburgh, Photography, Scotland, Thoughts | 9 Comments