Macs on tour: a weekend adventure.

I’m back! Did you miss me?

I’m writing this sitting in Gatwick with a double gin. It’s doing marvellous things.

gin

The past weekend has been spent in England with my sister. While talking to her work colleagues she accidentally made me sound like my granny’s Labrador, who frequently ambles off into the woods and gets lost. One of her colleagues even offered to come and pick me up from the town centre and take me to the office in case I struggled.

Really, it only took four people in three countries and two continents to help me find the train I needed to be on. I don’t see why everyone is so concerned. And in my defence, Reading station is horribly lacking in information.

rain

Anyway, once I’d FINALLY managed to navigate the travel infrastructure of Berkshire and meet Megan, here’s some fun stuff we did:

  • Played with Alexa the Amazon Echo. After a couple of beers I realised that Alexa would play songs on request, which is frankly delightful. Unfortunately every single song we asked for was also playing on Andrew’s phone…in South Korea. At 7am. We only found out when he asked us to stop playing dinner jazz. Thank you Andrew for not playing something horrifying into my ears at 5am in retort.
  • We went to Camden Market and I was allowed to be smug since I managed to navigate back to the awesome burger place I went to last time from memory. Honest Burger, everyone. They do gluten free AND cute cocktails in tiny cups.
  • Drank warm spiced cider. Because it’s warm, it’s spiced and it’s cider.

me and megan

  • Went on a great beret hunt.
  • Sat in Zizzi between two kiddie birthday parties and had two other random children chasing each other round our table. Didn’t harpy scream at any of them.
  • Carried out some wedding planning. By that I mean we watched a lot Say Yes to the Dress and bought two magazines in M&S to read while we went to the pub.

wedding planning

On top of all this, I managed to tick off something I called out in my 2018 Challenges blog. Flew from Gatwick to Edinburgh on my own for the first time ever, which was stressful due to a) my tendency to panic and b) the fact that I really don’t like flying. It went more smoothly than I thought it would. I didn’t get lost, didn’t get swabbed, scanned, flagged or felt up at security (as I frequently do) had enough time for a gin before the flight. Even when we hit a tiny bit of turbulence just before we landed I managed to refrain from having a nervous breakdown in the arms of the poor lassie next to me.

Thanks Mini Mac – see ya real soon!

see ya real soon

2017: A year in review.

Happy New Year’s Eve! Or Hogmanay as we celebrate in the Frozen North, a word that causes a fair amount of consternation everywhere else.

As is customary at this time of year, we look back on the past twelve months and reflect. I’m not going to waste my time on some of the crap bits of 2017 – of which there were mercifully few. Instead, here’s the things that happened this year that made it an absolute belter.

I got engaged

After two years of shit jokes and nerd stuff, Sean decided that I was tolerable enough and marrying me wasn’t the worst idea in the world.

It wasn’t rose petals, candles and writing my name in the sand. He casually sidled up to me at work after failing to find one of those flexible rulers and said “what ring size are you? I’m just curious.” Being not stupid, I twigged on what he was up to, and he proposed in the middle of our living room with a picture of the ring on his iPhone, much to the delight of our family and friends. It’s a story I’ll likely never get tired of telling.

We’re getting married in the summer of 2019, which means that this year I should probably organise stuff. This’ll be a laugh.

bridge
At least we booked the venues. Behold!

So did my sister

Not one hour after my sister had accompanied me to a wedding fair and seen more dresses she’d like than I had, her boyfriend of six years proposed. I gather Andrew was more subtle than Sean was. Very excited to be involved in a wedding that is not my own. As well as my own, obviously.

We all went to Orlando

After multiple evenings spent weeping from envy and nostalgia in my parents’ living room, I finally got to step into Disneyworld after fifteen years. I can’t really say more about it than I did in this blog post, but I’ve managed to convince Sean that we should go back for our honeymoon.

florida
Sun, cloudless sky, and Disney. Words don’t do it justice.

Forth Magic was born

2016 saw the doors close for the last time on our regular Magic: the Gathering venue. Not to be deterred, some of my best friends and I managed to band together to secure a venue (the excellent Yellow Café in Rosyth), organise our own events, and keep the momentum even as an unsanctioned playgroup. We even ran our own PPTQ before we unfortunately lost our sanctioning.

The Scottish MtG is one of the best communities that I know and I’m very proud to be involved in contributing to that.

The best video on the internet arrived

Have you seen the video of the Fleming family attempting to remove a rogue bat from their kitchen in County Kerry? If not, please experience it right now.

There was a new addition to the McArmstrong family

In Octover, after months of wondering whether or not Stella was lonely and unstimulated while we were out at work all day, we decided to get another cat. Thus Brando came into our lives.

brando

I’m not sure Stella has forgiven us yet. She was a laid back, delicate, deliberate kitten. Brando is a feline wrecking ball, bereft of any sense of danger or decency, prone to jumping on her without notice and ignoring any hissing and smacks on the head she doles out. He’s a cuddler, a curtain climber, a bottomless pit, and we love him. Even Stella’s been caught licking him when she thinks nobody is looking.

I wish he’d grow out of licking my ears when he wants fed, though.

I started this blog

My greatest achievement of this year has been this blog. I’ve started blogs before, but writer’s block and self-consciousness saw them fall into the pile of stuff I’ve started and ploughed into before my motivation dribbled away and died. I’ve made my mother cry, my friends routinely tell me how much they enjoy reading it (even if it is for the tone and sarcasm and not the content, right Dan?) and I’ve amassed 40 blog followers and over 100 Facebook followers since I started. I’m hardly a big fish, but I’m pretty pleased with myself.

*

2017 was a good year. I’m currently in the holiday mood where everything is winding down and brand new at the same time, so expect a post about 2018 and where I hope it takes me very soon…

Have a Hallmark Jolly Christmas

Disappointed that Christmas is over? Here’s a fun way to prolong the festive spirit: curating next year’s movie schedule. Forget Elf and Jingle All The Way: tacky made for TV movies are where the real magic is. Sometimes.

I’ve spent a lot of time with my Granny over the past few weeks and we’ve watched a veritable plethora of films of varying quality. For your viewing entertainment next year – or this year, if you can’t bear to give up the festive spirit yet – here is a rundown of some of the most memorable that graced the TV this year.

A Christmas Reunion

Premise: New York hotshot comes back to small town in the wake of her aunt’s death, only to find that the other benefactor of her aunt’s bakery is her ex-boyfriend. They decide to run the bakery and the traditional holiday baking competition for one more Christmas.

This is a good place to start. As soft as marshmallow fluff and so happy you’ll be able to feel the enamel corroding off your teeth.

Verdict: That’s all I can find to say about it, which is a decent signal of how inoffensive it is. Would watch agan.

Chasing Christmas

Premise: miserable old arsehole has banned Christmas because his wife cheated on him one year. A Christmas Carol retelling with a twist. The twist is that Christmas Past gives up and goes on a bender.

Most of the movies I watched I enjoyed on at least some superficial level. This one was trash, but not good trash, like the trash you find in the reduced section in Tesco at 10:30pm.

The main character is obnoxious beyond words. The Ghost of Christmas Present is so stereotypically dim you’ll want to strangle her. There’s a romantic subplot that will make you throw up in your mouth, and it’s all so bad you’re constantly wishing for the sweet release of death.

The real MVP is Miserable Old Arsehole’s teenage daughter, who can’t hide her dislike of him. You and me both, hen.

Verdict: Avoid. Do literally anything else instead.

My Christmas Dream

Premise: Department store manager is in charge of legendary annual Christmas display, with a high- profile job in Paris at stake. This is very stressful for her, given that she apparently has no imagination. Her heart is warmed by a little boy, who turns out to be the son of a painter she fired the day before. Of course he is.

How do you make a Christmas movie more heartwarming? Add a precocious, blue eyed blonde haired six year old boy, who absolutely steals the show amongst the generic offering of Christmas Romcom Characters.

It also boasts the most celebrity appearance of any of the films I saw, with Danica McKellar playing the store manager.

Verdict: Cute. Most likely to make you cry if you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine.

On The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Premise: journalist starts sending anonymous secret santa presents to the radio DJ she fancied at uni when she finds out he hates Christmas now.

In the pantheon of shit Christmas movies I saw this year, this was the pinnacle. I loved it. It had characters I genuinely enjoyed – yes, even the crabbit grinchy one – and it’s the only one where I’ve actively shipped the main characters. Very good.

Verdict: would watch again. In fact, will be looking through the Channel 5 TV guide to see when it’s on again next year.

A Christmas Prince

Premise: Journalist accidentally ends up posing as governess for (presumably) European royal family. There’s an attractive, reluctant prince.

The most livetweeted Christmas movie of the year, courtesy of Netflix. Imagine being stuck in a fur-lined cuddle between The Princess Diaries, The Sound of Music and any rom com. That’s The Christmas Prince. It’s tacky. It’s awful. I couldn’t turn it off. It’s become an internet sensation, the most unmissable Christmas film of the year.

Although I must know the answer to one of life’s biggest questions: why is it, according to the accents, that every made up European principality is located somewhere in Berkshire?

Verdict: 10/10 would get drunk and make fun of with friends every year.

*

Please let me know if I’ve missed any howlers from my list. I’m on the lookout for additions to next year’s list…

And it’s still not too late to watch A Christmas Prince. I’m just saying.