How I Know It’s Spring: The Scotland Edition

Scotland is famous for many things. Tartan, whisky, deep frying anything we can get our hands on, crap weather…

Fortunately, after a winter that’s lasted for several years and a snowstorm so bad it shut down the country, it’s starting to look like spring. How can I be sure, when I live somewhere you have to dress for all four seasons in one day? Well, I’ll tell you!

It hasn’t snowed for over a week

Particularly relevant this year. Scotland has a reasonably temperate climate at the best of times, and I live on the coast so it’s even milder, but it snowed this year for longer than I can remember. Now the temperatures are consistently above zero! Nothing is frozen! SPRING.

beast
Oh Beast from the East, I do not miss you.

I’ve turned the central heating off

IT IS REAL. As someone who likes the house to be roughly the surface temperature of the sun, you know the seasons are changing when I turn the heating off for good. I’m sure the people who come round to visit and end up sweating profusely on my sofa are glad.

It’s sunny, cold and windy instead of cloudy, cold and windy

Before lambs, leaves and daffodils, spring is here when the sun reappears and the country either whips off their shirts or crumbles into dust. It has happened (finally), and the temperature is starting to hint towards double digits, but make no mistake: it’s still freezing. It’s Scotland, of course it is.

hill

I’m not scared to pee at work

My office may have a dog, but I’ll tell you what it doesn’t have: central heating. I am delighted that the temperature is increasing purely because I don’t have to wait until I’m cultivating a kidney stone to brave the toilet.

And, in that vein…

It’s time to stop wearing thermals

I came to this decision after dragging myself up the hill after work yesterday, sweating profusely. Now that I’m not attempting to set myself on fire with the aforementioned propane heater, it might be time to scale back the layers.

edinburgh

The last Christmas song has been removed from my playlists

There’s always one I forget in the January purge. This year it was Ring Out Solstice Bells by Jethro Tull.

*

Spring is here! As we say in Scotland, taps aff. Enjoy the heatwave that’s apparently happening.

Not here, of course. We’ll settle for moderate cloud.

Sing when you’re ginning: Edinburgh Book Festival

In order to break up what risks being a series of me counting my top five anythings and being a thoroughly sarcastic cow about all of them, I thought I’d actually write about Some Things That I’ve Done. Particularly since this weekend I washed my hair, wore clothes that weren’t pyjamas, found some lipstick I didn’t know I owned and actually left the house.

I ended up in Edinburgh yesterday for a Fringe show (planned) and a wander round the book festival (unplanned). A trip to the book festival always leaves me feeling like a bit of a fraud. I have this real complex – that I’m trying to shake off – about how I’m n o t a w r i t e r because nobody’s read anything I’ve written, I’ve never been published, if it comes up in conversation I have nothing to show for myself. I’m not a Real Writer™. The last time I went to a book festival was Dundee Lit Festival while I was doing my MLitt, and it made me so cripplingly stressed that I’ve made all the right noises about going to one without actually going ever since.

I know it’s the stupidest thing in the world, because obviously you don’t have to be writer to go to a book festival, same way you don’t have to be an comedian to go and see one at the Fringe, but Imposter Syndrome is a powerful thing and whenever I go to them I feel like this:

shame.gif

I took Sean and Richard with me, because I thought if I’m going to feel horribly self-conscious I’m going to do it with people who aren’t afraid to tell me to get a grip. Plus they both likes books and Richard can hear a bottle of gin being opened from 200 metres, so that helps too.

In this vein, I discovered that a good way to beat imposter syndrome is by buying half pint glasses of Pinot Grigio within about thirty seconds of being inside Charlotte Square. Which is exactly what we did.

blog 4

Wine always tastes different when you’re outside drinking it out of a plastic cup, and I’m going to blame that for why I got so tipsy very quickly and went on a big rant on why voices in YA fiction are important all the way round the Children’s Book Market tent.

Sean and Richard got bored of listening to me eventually and became enthralled in an adventure.

blog 3

Two double gins in pint glasses – PINT GLASSES OF GIN, FRIENDS, the future is here – and a spontaneous rendition of “The Internet is for Porn” later and I’d spent the cash that was meant to do me the whole day on books and booze. I have no regrets, mainly because I picked up the following:

blog 2

  • A signed copy of Wing Jones. I love signed books. I think it’s got something to do with the fact that there’s a direct link between you and the author. You’re holding something that they picked up and wrote on. It’s easy to forget that an author isn’t just a name printed on the front cover or a Twitter picture that rolls down your newsfeed. An actual human being poured hours of graft and heart into the words between the covers, and I love that in a signed copy of a book you’ve actually got words that came from a pen in their ACTUAL HAND.
  • Beneath the Skin by Sandra Ireland – Sandra is a fellow MLitt graduate from the University of Dundee – she was in my class and is a wonderful writer. Beneath the Skin came out last year and despite thinking “right, I’m going to pick it up this week” for more times than I can count life inevitably got in the way, or I forgot, or I went into a bookshop and it wasn’t there. I knew from social media that it was on sale at the festival so I promptly dispatched the team to look for the Polygon stand. Now I’m looking forward to starting it. Can you sign my copy at some point Sandra? 😀
  • The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. I don’t know if I’m just a n00b and sometimes festivals have advanced copies of books? I didn’t think Loneliest Girl was due to come out until next month but it’s been getting such rave reviews had already decided weeks ago that I was going to be picking this up, so when I clocked it in the book tent I’m pretty sure I nearly clotheslined a child by mistake in my haste to double check that my eyes were not deceiving me. (They weren’t, and I’m sorry if that was your child. It’s next on my TBR list, if that makes it any better.)

Book Festival was a resounding success. I think next year I’d probably pull my finger out and actually look at the event schedule and see what’s on when and book some tickets, since going this year was a bit of a  last minute decision.

I also, in a moment of gin-fuelled madness, announced that by the time next year’s festival rolls around I’ll have completed a first draft of a book. We’ll see how much I hate myself for this in the coming months.

blog 1