Saturday, 31 December 2016

How To Survive New Year as an Introvert

Introverting is hard work.   Hiding away and trying to avoid people might not seem like a challenge but, believe me, it very much is.  I am the woman who refuses to answer my door or home phone. In fact, I rarely even answer my mobile phone unless I know who's calling.  My husband tells me I'm terrible on the phone and he's absolutely right.  I see no need for talking when I could send a text message.  Or maybe a carrier pigeon, to get my point across. To be honest, I'm of the introvert category that most of the time I don't even bother *putting* my point across. I don't have the energy for communication that isn't electronic.

Being this adverse to communicating makes Hogmanay (I'm Scottish; this is our word for That Night) a bit of a worry.  Aside from the pressure to do something special, I just really can't cope with having another night of fun when I'm still recovering from all the peopleing I had to do over Christmas.  I need at least a month between events, if not several more.  This is my guide to surviving New Year's Eve as an introvert:

Don't Go Out On The Moors:
Yep, you heard me right.  Stay home, lock your doors, lie on the couch and DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES answer the phone.  Yes, people may think you're horrible and rude but, do you really need those people in your life?  I think not.  Plus, once you spend one NY this way, it's highly likely you'll set a pattern for those to follow.

Set off your own fireworks in the garden and don't invite anyone to watch
Don't Use An Excuse:
Don't feel that you have to tell people you have other plans/are ill/would feel the need to put your bra on if you left the house.  Just say No.  I am the Queen of Excuses and, although they're usually true, I also mostly just don't want to do stuff.  My depression and stomach problems are more than enough to get me out of anything, but even if these weren't an issue, there's every chance I would still be the same.  Stop excusing your introverted ways and take a leaf out of my sister's book.

On Boxing Day, I answered a call at my parent's house from my older sibling.  She has 3 young sons (one of whom was sick) and was knackered from spending the previous days preparing food, wrapping presents and working two jobs.  I took her call to hear her tell me she literally couldn't be bothered coming over for dinner.  She wanted to sit in her jammies and watch football, probably with a glass of Champagne in hand, and just not DO anything.  It amused me that she was so honest.  Between her refusal to go round the houses to tell us she wasn't coming and our completely relaxed and understanding attitute, she knew it wasn't a problem.  This is how I want to be.  And these are the people you need in your life.  But you can't have them because they're mine and I don't do sharing.  Seriously, though: stop excusing yourself.  You don't need to. 

If you don't invite people round, there'll be more Champagne for you...
Have Your Own Party:
As far as I'm aware there's no minimum number of people required in the same space in order for it to qualify as a party.  I am the lone party queen.  Seriously.  I can be found of an evening, dancing around the house on my own, blasting out my music and singing at the top of my voice (I'd like to point out here that I live in the middle of nowhere and that no one else can hear)  This, to me, is way more fun that being stuck in a party dress, eating tiny food and making awkward chat with strangers. 

If you want to introvert on Hogmanay, do it with as many or as few people as you choose. You don't have to be out on the streets of Edinburgh or Cardiff in the freezing cold with thousands of other people.  You don't even have to be down the local pub.  You can simply spend the evening relaxing with close friends and family.  Unless, of course, those friends and family are out on the streets of Edinburgh or Cardiff or down the local pub. Then you might have to rethink your plans. 

Embrace Your Introvert:
You might as well face it: it's the way you are.  If people have a problem with it, it's exactly that: THEIR problem.  Don't make it yours.  This time of year, more than any other, with everyone making promises to change and be better people and all that other crap that gets spouted, why not also make a change? Why not just accept that you're introverted?  You can't help it; you didn't choose it, but it is what it is. Stop making excuses for it and stop feeling bad about it.   Living in a world of extroverts doesn't mean you have to be like them.  it's OK NOT to be like them.  After all, they probably wouldn't want to be like you.  If we were all the same the world would be very boring.  It would also be extremely quiet and we'd all be at home with our dogs, but at least there'd be less fighting, right?  Introverts don't start wars because OHMYGOD the confrontation. 

Whatever you choose to do this New Year, make sure it's YOUR choice.  If you need me, I'll be at home in front of the TV in my jammas, eating rubbish and drinking Champagne with the doors bolted and in the company of my husband.  I can't think of a better way to bring in 2018.  

Happy Hogmanay!

Suz x

Friday, 30 December 2016

The Curse of 2016?

All I’ve heard over the past year is about ‘ The Curse of 2016’. 
From the minute that the general world population was shocked by the death of music icon, David Bowie, back in January, which was closely followed by the passing of Alan Rickman, it seemed very much like it was going to be a long and rather hard 12 months.  A few months later Prince died and the world truly lost its shit.  And it just descended from there.   
Along with the horrendous refugee crisis; the war in Syria; the worryingly odd reports from North Korea, and the general nightmare that seemed to have unleashed itself on so many millions of people, we had the added bonus of rounding off the year knowing that Donald Trump would soon become the President of the United States.    
2016 was SO bad that people actually voted to put a racist, sexist, xenophobic, internet troll with zero political knowledge into one of the highest offices in the world.  Between the collective gasps of sheer disbelief, some of us laughed like hell until it struck us that, although he won't be in charge of OUR country, it is inevitable that his eventual reign will have consequences for us all. 
the curse of 2016
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few days and made the comment to my family over Christmas that 2016 had truly been awful.  And then I actually thought about the year in MY life, as opposed to someone else’s, and discovered that it really hadn’t been.   
In early January, me and Les moved into our beautiful old farmhouse, with an acre of land, in the middle of the countryside and I finally had the chance to blast my music as loud as I wanted without anyone but the local sheep being able to hear it.  On 29th February 2016, I proposed to Les in the finest Leap Year tradition and shocked him into being so speechless that he clearly lost the ability to say ‘OHMYGODNO!!’ and therefore said yes.   
We got married in Santa Fe in September; took trips to Devon, Pisa, Florence and Barcelona, as well as a Honeymoon road tripping through the South Western US.  I struggled with my health for the entire year, but it didn’t stop me from starting my first paid writing job back in October and then being offered a second writing position in December, which had been a life long ambition.
When I look back on the year it hits me that I’ve actually achieved a lot. 
For reasons linked to my health issues and my on-going battle with depression, it often doesn’t feel like it and I struggle to give myself a break and pat myself on the back for the things I’ve managed to get through DESPITE the fact that I’ve pretty much felt like Hell for the best part of the last 12 months.   
As always, I look ahead with some trepidation concerning my physical, as well as my mental, health and hope that 2017 can be another step forward.  It remains to be seen whether this will actually be the case, but here’s hoping things will continue to improve.  
As long as I keep taking the meds, what could possibly go wrong?  Oh, and if someone could pop round to Stephen Fry’s house and hold him under armed guard until next December, that’d be just grand.    
Have a very Happy New Year and I hope that 2017 is all you want it to be.

Suz x

Monday, 19 December 2016

A Very Welsh Christmas

This is our second Christmas as residents of North Wales.  We're actually spending it in Scotland because, family is there and it'd be a bit odd if we stayed in Harlech on our own, wouldn't it?  

As a Scot, I'm accustomed to British traditions, which we celebrate with our own twist and I was keen to find out if my Celtic cousins had any of their own interesting takes on the whole Christmas thing.   I wasn't disappointed... 

Jesus wept...imagine this turning up at your door in the dead of night

Mari Lywd - this appears to originate from Southern Wales and involves a horse's skull attached to a pole and hidden beneath a sheet..obviously.   I mean, what else would you do with those three items than take them round the street and terrify your fellow residents? 
Tradition dictates that groups of men will wander around the streets, arriving at doors and being turned away by owners.   THB, if someone turned up at my door, dressed in a blanket  and snapping some horse jaws at me I'd be straight on the phone to the Heddlu (Welsh police).      Get back, weirdos!   This is not Sicily; there will be no Mafia nonsense here, diolch yn fawr. 

holly bush

Holly Beating - yeah, it's every bit as weird as it sounds.   On Gwyl San Steffan (Boxing Day, obvs), the male of the species would cut bits of holly from nearby bushes and proceed to sneak around the village and beat the arms and legs of their female servants, or whoever was the last out of bed on Christmas Day.   So, my little sister would be REALLY sore come dinner time.   Mind you, she'd soon leave a trail of dead Welsh boys in her wake, so we'd have to Ebay all our gift vouchers to raise bail money to make sure she could join us for cheese and biscuits.

creepy apple
creepy as

Callenig -  basically, a callenig is an apple.  Sorry, but it's true.  However, this an apple with a difference, as it's decorated. Yay!  It's a muy glamorous apple, adorned with cloves and perched on a stand made of twigs.  TBH, it's the most fancy apple EVER and would not look at all out of place on an episode of Masterchef, served up with a raspberry foam, lime twill and sheep intestine glaze.   Give a callenig to your friends to wish them good crops for next year.   Because everyone needs good crops, right?

church at dawn
I don't get out of bed this early for anyone.

Plygain - basically, the point of this is to get up really early and go to Church.    Now, I consider most Church services as early starters as, you know, Sundays are for hangovers, but the Welsh Plygain tradition really takes the cake.  

In order to adhere to aforementioned tradition, you need to go to Church between 3am and 6am.  I'm not even kidding.   Basically, it sounds like it would be an IDEAL stop on the way back from the pub, if only it served kebabs.    Maybe the tradition would still be going strong if there was some sort of alcohol soaking grub on offer to entice in some homeward bound revellers... 

To be honest, us Scots have our own fair share of wonderfully dotty traditions and that's what makes us so unique.    Stay special, Wales. 

Do you keep up any ancient traditions in your family at Christmas time?

Suzanne x 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

More Christmas Movies For People Who Don't Like Christmas Movies

Last December I wrote about my slight bah humbug attitude towards Christmas in that, you know, I'm not its biggest fan. I'm not against it in any way; I just really can't be bothered with all the hassle. I'd be quite happy if you left me, vegged out in my pyjamas for two weeks, and just came and ordered me into the shower when it was time to go back to work.

Anyway, I do have to make some effort to fit in with everyone else at this time of year, and I’m not totally against sitting on my backside watching movies. I am, however, not a fan of ACTUAL Christmas movies in the traditional sense.  

Therefore, in the spirit of continuing on from the choices I made for Christmas 2015, I’ve decided to compose another list of movies that are ideal viewing for people who don’t really want to watch movies about Christmas, but still want their families to speak to them.   Last year's list included such classics as Die Hard because obviously and, can see the rest of them here.  Although I will be watching all those amazing titles again this season, I thought I'd update my list a little and find another 5 movies that can loosely be tied to Christmas, but without all the weird fake joy and shit.   

Please don't make me watch Four Christmases again.  

Home Alone:
As much as I'm not a fan of the holidays, I am a huge fan of this movie. It's just too much fun to dislike, despite its sometimes cheesy Christmassy nonsense. You simply cannot beat a small child defeating bungling burglars in the most cruel and painful way ever and not glean some sort of enjoyment from the process. I'm willing to bet this movie was responsible for a huge drop in home invasions circa 1990. Also: how much fun is it to be alone in your house and do what the hell you please?  It's like I've been saying all my life...

On Her Majesty's Secret Service:
Nothing says Christmas quite like shooting and blasting, am I right? And nothing says posh Christmas quite like a bit of everyone's favourite dashing and indestructible spy. In this outing, Bond is played by George Lazenby, who was a very short lived, but nonetheless, thoroughly decent actor.  In the true spirit of Christmas, I'd personally like George to be remembered as the First and Best Festive Bond.

In this snow soaked adventure he battles with bad guy, Telly Savalas, and is joined by the lovely Joanna Lumley for fun and frolics in the freezing cold.  Also: there’s an avalanche involved.  What's more seasonal than that, I ask you?  Nothing, that’s what. 

Iron Man 3:
Not even sorry about including this one. If a movie is *set* at Christmas, it's totally eligible, and this one is (hurrah!). Tony Stark returns of the third instalment in the, quite frankly, greatest super hero, action man type character thing EVER created.  I wasn’t even a little bit upset that they made this one a touch Christmassy because Robert Downey Junior can do no wrong in my eyes and that’s just the way it is. 

In Iron Man 3, Stark returns to fight more baddies along with Pepper and the rest of the gang. He ends up making friends with a little boy who reminds him of himself (can't possibly be a bad thing, can it?) in a town decked out for the holidays with lights and trees and all that other stuff.  However, the inclusion of all this unnecessary seasonal backdrop stuff shouldn’t distract you from the real story of Iron Man saving the world.  Again.   And those arms.   

While You Were Sleeping:
As well as not being a fan of Christmas movies, I’m also allergic to ‘chick flicks’ for the most part.   However, While You Were Sleeping and Juno are my only exceptions. I find it almost impossible not to like Sandra Bullock and, believe me, I have put some effort in to it. 

The draw of this film is that I can totally relate to the main character and the massive mess she gets herself into by not being able to let anyone down.  She somehow manages to be completely endearing and absolutely useless at the same time and I like that.   Although the movie is based around the Christmas holidays it manages to focus on severe head injuries and a web of deceit to keep your mind off it.   And there’s nothing wrong with that in my book.

I promised I’m not turning into an emotional old woman.  Well, no more so than usual, but I did like this movie when I watched it forever ago.  I chose it because of John Cusack, who stars in one of my favourite movies of all time; The Runaway Jury, and decided I’d give it a bash.  Despite its overly romantic and unrealistic storyline, I found myself enjoying it.  Not in the same way that I enjoy Die Hard or anything, but I managed to sit through the whole thing without wanting to throw stuff at the TV.  That's progress in my house.  

The movie is a *touch* cheesy but I can handle watching it once a year and enjoying the spectacle of John Cusack (obviously) and rejoicing in how pretty New York looks in the winter.   

Suz x 

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Puppy Love

I love dogs.   Let's just get that out in the open right away.    I love them a LOT.  I know not when my doggo love affair (OK, obsession) started, but it's been a pretty permanent fixture of my life for a long, long time.

I'm not a massive fan of humans, though. They're all judgemental and mean and, well...chatty and stuff.  Dogs don't do that.   Well, not that I've heard, anyway.   Maybe it's a secret thing they do when they're together at the dog park; I just don't know.

What I DO know, however, is that they're nice and kind and affectionate and they don't care in the least if you haven't brushed your teeth or had a shower that day.  Honestly - they couldn't give one.    

This might be because they haven't brushed their teeth or had a shower, either, but I like to think it's because they understand that these aren't really the most important attributes in a best friend.  Regular snack distribution and walks are almost certainly what they're looking for.

puppy love
just LOOK at this face...

I've had dogs pretty much my entire life and, and Les has come to realise, I really do prefer them to people.  Not him, obviously, but most of the other people.

Nothing makes me happier than spotting a dog. I can be driving home for work and will grin out of my window like a maniac because I spot a pup out walking with his Dad, or simply see one on Instagram (thanks, Doug the Pug) and, regardless of how I'm feeling, they always make me smile.    

I once snap chatted a screenshot of the fact the Doug the Pug liked one of my tweets and sent it everyone I knew. I realise, you know, it wasn't *actually* Doug that liked the tweet, but Doug's mum is the brains behind the whole internet phenomenon, so I love her too.  It made my week.   If I had to choose between one of my human idols liking something of mine and some crinkly, squishy faced, adorable little bundle of joy; I'm with the dog every single time.

My Facebook friends consistently post dog videos for me to watch because they've been unable to escape the madness during the time they've known me, and this is brilliant.   The fact that they know I'd rather look at doggos than actual people is deeply satisfying.  Mainly because it's completely true.

puppy love
Squishy puppies are the best.

A few months ago, on one of my rather infrequent runs around my village, I passed a guy with a puppy English Bull Terrier.  I came to a screeching halt before kneeling down and getting a dog snog and snuggle to keep me going for the day.   The dog (Belle, as I discovered later), was just a few months old and her Dad told me that people tend to keep out of her way because of her breed.   Having been a Staffy and American Bulldog owner for years, I knew only too well how short sighted people are and didn't think twice about it. I don't think twice about cuddling any dog; but I am drawn like a moth to any dog with any excess skin on their face, or adorable wrinkles and head like a brick.

I bumped into the pair a few times over the subsequent weeks and always stopped for a cuddle.  With the dog; not her Dad.  I even got the man's name, which I always forget about, and therefore could stop referring to him as 'Belle's Dad'.  I recall being over the moon on one occasion when Noel (AKA Belle's Dad) told me that she'd been so calm and relaxed her entire walk until she spotted me and then got excited.  It's possibly the loveliest thing I've ever heard.  Stuff your 'I love you' or 'you look great today', but tell me your dog likes me and I'm all set.  I rushed back to the cottage to tell Les who was, as usual, slightly alarmed by my level of crazy dog lady-ness (I'm sure that's a thing).

Fast forward a month or so and one of the staff at the surgery where Les works showed him a photo of her brother's Bull Terrier.   We live in a small village, so he immediately knew it had to be Belle and informed Gwenan of JUST how much he'd already heard about her.  This then led to Belle coming round to my house to visit.   

puppy love
I adore a set of crinkle chops 

THIS, people is how you make friends.  None of that club joining; fitness class persevering or randomly trying to make friends in a new place when you move.   All you need to do is run around anywhere with Excellent Dog Walking Potential and the rest will just fall into place. Who wants human friends when you can have dogs?? 

Unfortunately, it's currently pouring down outside, so running's probably not on the cards today.   There's unlikely to be that many doggos out in this for very long, anyway.   I checked, though, and the weather looks much brighter tomorrow.   I'll wait until then to go out and meet my new furry buddies.

And their humans, of course.   But mainly just the dogs. 

Suz x

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Pros and Cons of Rural Living

I live in the middle of Snowdonia National Park, so it's safe to say I'm rural. My idea of rural living is having tons of space and peace and quiet, so I hear nothing but the chirping of birds with the morning sun and the irrational fear of ending up having Truman Capote write a book about my horrific demise, a la 'In Cold Blood'.

The Silence:

None of the above statements is actually true. I haven't been savagely murdered in the night (obviously...) and, although I do wake up to animal noises in the morning, these are from the cows in the farm next door and not the relaxing bird tweeting I was hoping for.

Apart from the cows chatting excitedly in the nearby fields, and the chug of the last train from the local station (by last train, I mean 10pm...), there is no other noise. And it takes a bit of getting used to.

When we lived in Scotland, I owned a detached house, but it was still so close to my neighbours that I was always mindful of my music being too loud or hoovering at 7am*. 

When I moved to be with Les in Stirling, we were in a semi detached and you could hear the people next door putting their kettle on. I'm not even kidding.

These days when I get home from work first, there's absolute silence. This is generally shattered by me stubbing my toe on a stair, or dropping something in the kitchen, so it rarely lasts for too long. But, it's there, and it's now my favourite thing about coming home. I'm surrounded by people all day and, when I get back to the cottage, there's not another soul in sight…if I discount that rabbit that lives in my garden and keeps munching on my butternut squash (not a euphemism).

Just me and the silence

Phone Signal:

Dyffryn Ardudwy, like many little towns and villages in North Wales, is the place where phone signals come to die.

I often worry about the whole 'In Cold Blood' scenario I mentioned earlier so, should two random drifters decide to descend up my rural North Walian village, I'll be able to shout for help, but I won't be able to use my mobile.  Well, I will…for text messages and Facebook, but not to actually make any calls.  

I can't use my mobile phone anywhere within the cottage. If I want to speak to someone, I have to venture outside. Not to the front of the house, though; to the back.  I can get signal roughly halfway between my patio and the fish pond. It’s all kinds of inconvenient.

I imagine, if being attacked by serial killers, I *might* be able to slip outside, but I don't really fancy my chances, tbh. I'll simply have to rely on that baseball bat I keep under the bed for assistance. Even if I could call the Police, trying to direct them to my house would surely use up the last few minutes of my life: 

'You know when you come into Dyffryn from the Harlech end? yeah? Well you'll see the 30mph signs and then you'll see a sign for the farm on your right hand side. You need to turn right there. If you go past the bus stop, you've gone too far....and I'll be dead'. This is how I imagine my last conversation with Heddlu would pan out.

Aside my fear of not being able to call the Police because I have no phone signal, it also means that no one can get in touch with me for last minute get togethers. This, however, is a very, very positive thing. There's nothing better for someone with social anxiety to genuinely be able to say 'I didn't get your text' and not feel horribly guilty about it afterwards.

Don't try to call me, there's no point
TV Signal:

We don’t watch a lot of TV in our house; mainly because we don’t have much time.  Because of this, we see no use in paying for satellite.   And because we don’t have satellite, we don’t watch much TV.  Also: we have no signal.  On our regular TV, we have three channels that work, all of which are largely shit.  This makes it very difficult to keep up with any of the good shows which happen to be on terrestrial TV, like GBBO and, well…that’s pretty much it, to be honest.  

I decided to buy a smart TV and sign up for a subscription to Netflix.   Now I can scroll through all manner of shows that I still don’t have any time to actually watch, which seems like such a pointless waste of money.  It does, however, have lots of crime shows, and they’re a perfect background companion to my silent evenings spent writing in my office.  My love of anything murder related, in all likelihood, is the reason for my fear of being murdered in bed. 


I’m not much of a shopper.  I’m not a huge fan of wandering through department stores, trying stuff on and then attempting, poorly, to match it up with something else.  It’s not really for me.  I love going to my three local charity shops in Dolgellau, though, which I do a couple of times a week on my lunch break.   The thing about living in a rural area is that there really are no shops…or, at least, not the ones I’d generally choose to buy from.  

My closest Dorothy Perkins is an hours’ drive away and the same goes for Debenhams, Next, etc.   My closest town centre is a half hour drive and this is a big deal as it has a Tesco, Lidl and Aldi.  I have a tiny little Spar store in my village, which can be used for those all-important Wednesday night wine emergencies but, for everything else, it’s a case of being very, very organised during the week.   

In Scotland, I lived next to a Tesco in Stirling and the biggest shopping centre in Scotland when I was in Mid Calder.  I have every supermarket you can think of, as well as tons of restaurants, a multi screen cinema, retail parks, and actual stores that *just* sold wine.  From my own little piece of heaven in North Wales, it’s more than an hour to the nearest Asda and retail park, and I genuinely don’t even know if there’s a Sainsbury’s within a two hour drive.  Not that I need one, you understand, I’m just used to knowing where it is.

Because of this, my shopping habits have had to change quite dramatically.  In my previous life, I probably went to the supermarket 5 or 6 times a week and picked up different meals.  Now I go once for my weekly shopping, and occasionally pop to the little Coop near my office if I need emergency crisps.  

On the flip side, I save unfathomable amounts of money in Wales.  This is primarily because I *can’t* go the supermarket all the time and also because I no longer have earth’s largest shopping centre on my doorstep.  This is a very good thing indeed.  I honestly can’t recall the last time I bought clothes anywhere other than a charity shop and I can only thank the very well dressed women in the area for their commitment to visit Monsoon, Debenhams and Oasis so that I don’t have to. 

If nothing else, I'm saving a fortune.  

Small Town Familiarity:

I often found myself working on small Scottish Islands and was instantly noticeable to locals because I wasn’t, well…local.   I was also instantly noticeable because I was working for VisitScotland and was on the island to conduct property inspections.  This didn’t always make me that popular.   As much as I loved the remote area of my home nation that I worked on, I always liked coming home and blending in to the background.  I don’t like standing out and I hate being the centre of attention. 

When I moved to Wales, I pretty much made myself the centre of attention (or that’s how it felt to me) because I am, quite literally, the only Scot in the village.  And I’m only Scot I’ve actually met in 18 months of living here.  I think most of us chose Australia over North Wales, tbh.  I have no idea why, though, as Wales is lush. 

What I find most difficult is having no where to hide.  In my village and all of the surrounding towns, everyone seems to know everyone else.  I can’t go a day without someone asking me if I heard that Glyn from Barmouth has hooked up with Deilwen from Bala and how she’s Alun’s daughter’s boyfriends best mate from Porthmadog.   It’s not even a widespread at seven degrees of separation, it’s usually just the three.  I, therefore, assume that everyone else is asking everyone else if they’ve met the new Dr and his wife.   

To make my point clearer, several patients have been in to my husband’s surgery following our return from honeymoon (people he’s never met) and offered him their congratulations.  That creates a bit of stunned silence and is instantly unnerving to me.  It's not that I think these people have been stalking us, it's just that I'm not used to anyone knowing anything about me.    

At one level, this is lovely as everyone’s looking out for each other and there’s a real community spirit here that I’ve never really experienced before.  On the other hand, it makes me worry about that little road rage incident I had last Monday when I honked at some bloke in a BMW who was driving like an idiot and overtook me on a blind corner.  He could well be my local butcher for all I know.  

He might have gone home and told his wife about the foul mouthed woman in the Toyota Yaris and then his wife was all ‘A grey ’58 plate?  That’s that Dr Tam’s wife.  She’s Scottish, she is…works in the Job Centre.  Lives round in Dyffryn…’   Or something like that.  Before I know it, I’ll be known locally as That Angry Driver From Glasgow.   I’m not even from Glasgow, but everyone that meets me knows of its existence and assumes I must be from there.         

At the end of the day, though, if I do get slain in the style of the Clutter family from Holcomb, Kansas, as retold in Truman Capote’s controversial book, someone is *bound* to notice that I’m missing real quick.   And that can’t possibly be a bad thing, can it?

Suz x

*I've never hoovered at 7am in my life. And have absolutely no intention of doing so. Just because I can, doesn't mean I will.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

How To Be Friends With An Introvert

Being introverted makes a lot of things in life a bit, well...awkward.    Never is this more keenly felt than when it comes to making friends.

Introverts, in my experience, tend not to have a massive amount of friends, and this is mainly because we don't really like spending a whole lot of time with people.  Being mates can be a touch tricky when you never see anyone.    However, it doesn't mean we're not great friends.  You just need to get to know us and understand our quirks.  

Understand The Need For Time Out:

One of the things that fills me with dread is visitors.  Not short term visitors; those I can cope with.  It's longer term visitors I find hard to handle.    

A few years ago, our family were chatting about renting out a villa somewhere sunny and all going away together. The  idea of this is fine, but the reality of it is altogether different.   It's difficult to explain why, on a joint holiday, you need to be away from everyone for a while.  I daresay it's often seen as rude, but it's not.   

Introverts find too much social interaction knackering.  We can do a couple of hours but, after that, we really need a rest.   It might just be going to the bathroom for 5 minutes and getting away from everything, but anything is better than nothing.

If I'm in company for too long, I get very anxious and fidgety.   Les is an expert at picking up on this and generally knows that I've reached my limit and need to get out.  

Introverts find social situations really stressful.  Remember that it's nothing to do with your company; it's just the way it is!  It's way more stressful for them than it is for you.   

How to be friends with an introvert
Don't make me go out...I beg you!

Be Patient:

Accept that your plans will be broken.  There's no way round that, unless your friend is so scared of you that they're genuinely terrified of letting you down.  And, if this is the situation, then it's hardly much of a friendship, anyway, no?

I made two friends at work when I moved to Wales.    Work is where I make friends because I have to be around the same people every day or I'd get sacked.  If you left me to make friends by, like, going out and stuff, It would never happen.   And I'd be fine with that.   I'm not the lonely sort.

However, the reason I made these friends, apart from the fact that they're stuck with me, is that they're both similar to me; despite being entirely different people.  One is chatty and straight to the point; exactly the type of person that usually scares the pants off me, but underneath, she's a big softie.  

She tells me exactly what she thinks and I like that.   I would *never* dream of doing the same, but I like that she can.  She's kind and thoughtful and her language is just as colourful as mine.  She is offended by nothing and she knows that I'm the same.   

My other friend is gentle and incredibly thoughtful. She doesn't take any crap and is clearly an extremely strong woman. These are things I admire, despite the fact that they're the complete opposite to qualities that I possess.    She has a great sense of humour and the way she talks about her kids is just the best thing ever.   I've never heard someone speak with so much love.  It's obvious that she adores them and their relationships are great.   

I recently had a knock in my car and sent a message to one of them.  Before I knew it, she was round with pain gel and ice packs. This is just the way she is, but she also understands how I am and so she text first.  If it wasn't for them being so understanding, there's no way I'd have been accepted.  Most people think I'm odd/rude.  

I'll be back here if anyone needs me.

Never Be Pushy:

Never harass an introvert.   It's the worst thing you can do to them.  I hate telling people I can't keep plans and I always feel awful about it, but not as awful as I'd feel if I actually go through with them.

Constantly asking an introvert if they're going somewhere will merely make them keep their distance. It makes us feel horrendously guilty and then we keep out of your way for a while because we don't know how to proceed.  

Don't Expect Them To Be The Life and Soul:

I can force myself to be all happy and outgoing, but that's exactly what it is:  forced.   Naturally, I'm pretty quiet, unless I'm in a familiar situation with familiar people, and then I'm absolutely fine.  That doesn't mean I don't find it exhausting, though.

If you have an introvert friend, you'll often find them at the outskirts of things; often chatting to any pets that may be around.   By all means, invite them to your party, but don't expect too much from them when they're there.  Them *being* there is often a huge thing, so leave them be.

I often arrive late and leave early, so don't judge them harshly - they're just trying to cope and keep you happy.  

Don't Make Them Feel Crap About Not Going Out:

I can't count the number of times in my life that I've cancelled plans because I genuinely couldn't face them.   I like making plans *at the time*, but it's impossible to know how I'll feel on the actual day.   Because of this, I'm not the most reliable.   

Some of my reluctance is due to my chronic IBS, so I rarely ever feel like getting dressed up and I'm mostly too uncomfortable to do it, anyway.  The other aspect of this is that I just don't like going out.  My idea of an ideal night is me and Les, a bottle of wine, and something to watch on Netflix.  This makes me happy.   

If you have an introverted friend, this is what you're up against.  It's not that we don't adore you; it's just that we can't cope with going out a lot because of All The Other People.   Ask us to come round to yours in our onesies with a bottle of wine and we'll be right over.   Hey...was that your doorbell?

Suz x

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Oban Chocolate Company

On arriving in Oban, I battled against the driving wind and rain, along Corran Esplanade, and entered beneath the inviting purple facade, looking a bit more windswept than interesting.  Walking into its cosy surroundings, on hard wood floors, the smell of chocolate immediately hit me and, despite resembling some wild eyed, messy haired, scary woman, I could feel myself starting to relax.   Also, after an epic 2.5 hour drive to get there, I was in dire need of coffee.

Oban Chocolate Company coffe and tasting platter

The menu at OCC is extensive and, obviously, contains A LOT of chocolate.   This includes a wide array of hot chocolate drinks, which came in a variety of guises and were just a little too high in calories for me to justify before lunchtime.   Everything in moderation, and all that.   I opted for a chocolate tasting plate, which comprised 6 individual chocolates, as well as a small tub of chocolate buttons, all presented on a piece of slate.   

LT, on the other hand, who is not concerned about calories on account of his hollow legs, went all out and ordered banana chocolate waffles with whipped cream and a large hot choc.   Obviously, I had to try this (for research purposes only).  The little bit I tried then became a slightly bigger bit.  What can I tell you? I have no willpower.   

We sat at a little table, looking out through the massive picture windows and over the water.  The weather was so stormy that we learned the ferries from Oban to Jura, Islay and Mull had all been cancelled.  I'm assuming this meant that people were stuck on these islands and were unable to make it back to the mainland for chocolate.   My heart went out to them all.  

Anyway, after filling out boots, mouths and stomachs (and having to ask the waitress to give us a bag that we could load the stuff we couldn't finish), we checked out the chocolate making process, which can be done by gazing longingly through the window into the kitchen/chocolate wizardry area.  If this isn't quite enough for you, there's also a shop on site where you can purchase all your favourite chocolate to load up your car with for the journey home.  

I was already feeling slightly heavier than when I first arrived, so I didn't make any additional purchases before waddling back to the car. 

Oban Chocolate Company - taster platter

Suz x