Real Life

Hello its me

Hello old friends, new friends, people who forgot I existed and all those who never even knew it!

For the last three years this blog lay dormant, since its gradual demise in early 2013 following the end of an old relationship and resulting life upheaval. I never really meant the break to last this long.

Life things happened – mostly brilliant life things – and this poor little blog became less and less of a priority in those infamous lists I do love to make.

Since then, every time a real life friend would ask me for my Instagram handle, the one social media crossover between blog-me and real-me, I would hesitate, and explain “well, it’s @debbiedoesdoodles, but listen, on my Instagram profile there’s a link to a blog. It’s this blog I set up years ago. It’s a bit emotional. Don’t read it.”

And close friends would suggest that maybe it would just make sense to remove the link to my blog from my Instagram? If I wasn’t blogging anymore? But I would tell them no no no, I’ll blog again.

So here I am, blogging again. Blogging at gone midnight after a long journey back to Edinburgh from Groningen in the Netherlands. Because all signs seem to be telling me to get back on the blogwaggon. Because I miss writing random stories or ideas and I miss seeing something cool and being able to share it with you here, and because I miss this strange platform of other ordinary people writing about their lives and their ideas and all sorts of incredibly diverse subjects that make up the blogosphere and the internet and LIFE and how did this get so deep already?

So the sudden overwhelming desire to blog again has led to these half past midnight ramblings with nothing better but Adele to illustrate the notion that “Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet”.

But by meet, what I really mean is engage occasionally on this here blogging platform, and I promise not to stand around in the woods on a windy day because my hair would just be full of knots.

See you soon,

Debbie x


Well, let’s not have every rare blogpost open with a ‘sorry I’ve not been here for ages’, because whilst I am sorry that I’ve neglected writing stuff here and reading all the excellent blogs that I like to read, the endless cycle of time off -> apology catch-up post -> more time off -> less exciting apology catch-up post does not sound like fun! Although hopefully more regular posting will resume shortly.

Suffice to say, I’ve been on holiday. And doing a bunch of other stuff because it’s been well over a month. I met an astronaut, for example, and he gave me a NASA badge. Which, to my dismay, I lost a day later. I also conducted keyhole surgery twice, while drinking wine both times. These are the highlights of the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Aside from a new-found love of science, one of the things I discovered during my break is that the Lake District is awesome. Totally amazing. I’ve lived in the UK for the vast majority of my almost 28 years now and I don’t think I’ve ever actually been round that way before. In my head, England looks a certain way. England is green pastures, and forests, and rolling hills, and villages, towns, the occasional city. In my head, I picture where I grew up in the Chiltern Hills, and Yorkshire, and then my mind becomes blank because I have deleted all knowledge of living in Birmingham. And the rest is all Scotland, now and for the foreseeable future. So ladies and gents, as it turns out, the in my head version of England is all wrong! England has mountains! proper snow-capped ones! They cluster around huge, dramatic lakes so that wherever you go you are just a moment’s walk from a picture postcard view.

View from Keswick

An old friend from university, Drunk Laura, got married in the Lake District on Easter Monday. She was called Drunk Laura the entire time we were friends and neighbours, partly to differentiate between her and her flatmate Christian Laura, but during our student years we often thought we should have named her Accident-Prone Laura instead, as she was rarely out of plaster. One time when we were about 20 I persuaded Laura that the flat we were about to go to didn’t have a front door, so we had to access their party through someone’s bedroom window. After I scrambled through, I turned around to see Laura with both feet on the windowsill, clutching the frame. And she shouted my name and let go with both hands. And broke her arm.

I felt very guilty about it, but Laura just laughed. I think that was only a few weeks before she drunkenly leapt on me in the street, bringing us both down to the ground, and fracturing her elbow. And about a year after that she showed up at my house limping, having fallen off the pavement. When frozen peas didn’t help we wheeled her to the nearest hospital on an office chair (not wanting to pay money for a taxi, being impoverished students) and it transpired that she’d actually broken her ankle. By falling off a pavement. Otherwise known as a sidewalk. A kerb. A height of just a few inches.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that despite the groom accidentally kicking that very same ankle during their first dance and drawing quite a lot of blood that caused them to cut the whole thing short, Drunk Laura did not break any bones during her wedding. She looked beautiful, the ceremony was lovely, the speeches made everyone laugh and cry, the happy couple looked SO totally happy and in love, and the dancing was epic. Plus the DJ played Pulp’s Disco 2000 which gave me excuse to dance around and point at myself during the “Deborah, Deborah” bit, which is always fun for everyone (namely me).

Laura bridal suite photoshoot

We also forced the happy couple to have a bridal suite photoshoot on their four poster bed.

So, the Lake District. Totally gorgeous. Here are some photos look, from our bedroom window, and near a lake, and half way up a lofty mountain that we climbed.

View from the windowSomewhere near Keswick Lake District

While climbing said mountain, we discovered that with some parts of the Lake District, the more remote you go the more people there actually are. Just because you’re climbing a mountain doesn’t mean there won’t be streams of people everywhere you look drinking tea and loudly singing songs from The Little Mermaid and giving you a bit of entertaining chat as you pass each other, clinging onto the handrail because it’s actually quite steep and you’re actually quite scared of heights.

We also realised foolishly that seeing snow-capped mountains everywhere around us would obviously mean that the mountain we chose to climb would, duh, have snow at the top. And snow is quite hard to navigate – especially when all those hoards of people have smushed it down into a sludgy kind of ice. But, still, we climbed to the top, we took dramatic jumping photos that were never quite timed perfectly, we flirted with some other mountain climbers, and then we discovered that on the other side of the mountain top (and in the direction of home) there was even more snow. So we invented some innovative new snow-appropriate means of transportation. Lizzie, who last year married Tom, one of my other best friends from university, went with a ‘shuffle step’ that was cautious yet cool, I went with an extremely gravity-friendly form of ‘crabbing’ which didn’t look in any way gracious but did enable me to clamour down icy rocks like a crustacean  while Sam, who has featured in a few blog adventures, invented the ‘squat ski’, as demonstrated below, which in my case occasionally turned into ‘bottom tobogganing’.

Mountain top jumping Squat skiing Lake District

The moral of this story is: climb snow-capped mountains, guys! It’s fun! Also: visit the Lake District.*

* This post is in no way sponsored by the tourism people for the Lake District. I don’t think they’d have approved the term ‘bottom tobogganing’ for starters.

Once its in you it never goes away

Earlier this month I was waxing on about being all committed to the upcoming 30 Days of Lists and my Working List of craft projects and my reading 13 Books in 2013 and my training for a 5K and making my bedroom my own and increasing the quality and quantity of blog posts. I still totally want to do all that stuff. That stuff is awesome stuff. But here’s what I’ve been doing instead this month, and I don’t even feel guilty about it:

  • Watching Scotland totally thrash Italy live in Murrayfield Stadium and partying it up afterwards with friends and strangers as if we all had a hand in the final score and weren’t just doing Mexican waves and cheering a lot.
  • Combining productive days doing exciting and useful things at work with fairly regular gym visits and feeling like one of those “work hard, play hard” arseholes.
  • Skyping friends and family and just loving seeing real faces talking and laughing instead of disembodied voices down a phone line.
  • Going to a brilliant Mardi Gras carnival in Edinburgh’s Summerhall with friends, wearing huge wings, dancing enthusiastically to big brass bands and sousaphones and admiring some amazing costumes on adults and children galore. Even cooler was that while the carnival was happening you could wander round the whole of Summerhall, an art studio, live music venue, workshop, brewery and community space, with the animal anatomy signs and ‘dissection theatre’ nodding to its previous life as a veterinary school. This photo shows part of an exhibit of Summerhall’s resident artist Stephen Thorpe, the neon sign “once it’s in you it never goes away” either beautifully optimistic or seriously depressing, depending on your take.
  • Pulling out a proper wiry grey hair and pretending that’s the only one there is.
  • Spending time with ladies. Remembering what makes a close group of females so special and getting so much enjoyment out of simple movie nights in hoodies, with wine and party rings and gossip.
  • Having lots of fun dating two men simultaneously (it’s OK if they know about it), but increasingly realising that I usually wake up thinking about the tall, bearded, Ghostbuster-quoting, hilariously bad joke-telling, self-confessed geek with the cheeky grin and gorgeous eyes. Whether this lasts or not, right now is pretty fun.

So, it’s the first of March and I don’t have list 1 of my 30 Lists finished. Clash of Kings is sitting half-read and neglected on my bedside table, there’s still an unpacked box hiding behind my room divider, and the one item I’ve finished off my Working List has already fallen apart twice before I’ve even had time to post photos of it here. And I’m off to a hen do this weekend, so don’t expect things to be changing round here too soon!

Bear with me, blog-readers; when I am back here properly like I want to be, at least I’ll have some cool stories to share. Service will resume as normal!

Debbie x

I’d like to put it out there that in general I have decent taste in TV shows. I like a lot of the popular good quality programming like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. I am a big fan of those short-lived series that have gained cult status, like Wonderfalls, Freaks & Geeks and Firefly. I enjoy funny shows featuring quirky women like New Girl, Cougar Town and Miranda. I watch decent crime shows, gritty British dramas and clever Danish thrillers. But then there are those guilty pleasures; those shows that you make an awkward joke about when someone catches you watching them. I love Judge Judy. And I love The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

I don’t know what it is that gets me hooked on these shows. The concept is fairly solid – get together a group of attractive, successful people of similar ages, all making an effort to find someone for a serious committed relationship, give them exciting things to do in stunning locations while famous people play them romantic music, and really there’s no reason why they shouldn’t find love. But then there’s the competitiveness that comes from having just one girl or guy to fight over, the ‘ I’m not here to make friends’ one, the one that’s not there for ‘the right reasons’, the one that shows up in a wedding dress or gets a tattoo after one date… and that’s where the entertainment lies. But, anyway, I have found that watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette as a single person is a bit depressing. Because there are no limos full of eligible bachelors showing up at my front door.


Except that recently I had a weird revelation. In my efforts to get back in the saddle, I joined an Internet dating site last weekend and have been having so much fun with it. I’ve had a lot of weirdos message me, with the super imaginative saying only “hi”. There was the 60 year old guy, the guy who proposed we go straight to the wedding chapel when we first meet (we won’t meet), and a fair few guys who seem to speak without any punctuation whatsoever. I’m a stickler for good grammar when it comes to online dating prospects. But there have also been a surprising number of normal guys getting in touch. Attractive, suitably aged, funny, interesting guys. I find myself drawn to guys who identify themselves as ‘geeks’ so online dating seems to be a bit of a man gold mine.

Tomorrow I’ll be going on my first real life date for quite some time. I am extremely nervous, but have warned the guy that I tend to tell awkward jokes, and my 96 year-old Granddad told me some good ones lately, mostly featuring old men on buses  The additionally awkward thing is that I am currently messaging and flirting with a few different guys. Which makes me feel like I am in fact The Bachelorette, or else I’m just a heartless harlot. Although it seems complicit with this online dating thing that everyone is just constantly checking out everyone else. So the guy I’m meeting tomorrow is probably messaging other women too. And those women are probably messaging other guys, and so on and so forth until we all become a giant M. C. Escher drawing.

So, in an online world where everyone is semi-dating everyone else, we are all The Bachelorette. That is what I have decided. It’s just about finding everyone’s best fit, out of all the possibilities. And it applies in real life, when we randomly meet someone and start something datey; we are actively choosing them over all the other possibles out there.

This is not a world-changing revelation. It’s so obvious that this is probably not news to everyone else. But it’s changed how I feel about dating. Instead of trying to show my best sides and win over guys I like, it’s become about me picking out the guys I like most. I have adopted a Bachelorette mentality to dating, and hopefully this means that eventually I will end up with my… (searching for a successful couple that’s still together after their season of The Bachelorette aired)… JP? They’re still going, right?!

This is a far, far longer and more heartfelt blog post than is normal, but on the plus side there are some mixed metaphors about fishes and cycling, dramatic stories of near-death experiences, a child falling over and a conga chain of dogs riding bicycles…

fish riding bicycle

Images via Wikimedia Commons: Stout beardfish (brilliant name) and 1990s ladies bicycle, put together by yours truly

What’s that expression about a fish riding a bicycle? Well, if the break-up clichés are true, not only are there plenty more fish in the sea, but apparently at some point you also need to get back in the saddle. In order to find those fish. In the sea. See, that’s where the metaphor gets confusing.

It’s easy to focus on the positives in life when it comes to blogging, maybe because this online world can be whatever we choose it to be. We create our own personas and will be judged only on what we choose to show. I love blogging, and that’s partly because I can be the version of myself online that I want to be all the time. Blogging about interesting or exciting things pick me up when I’m not quite myself in real life. But it’s time for me to be real: life is hard right now. I am struggling with the day to day. I am struggling to see a future where I will be ready to get back in the saddle, let alone be in the kind of state where I could find a new fish. Because I’m not sure I’m a whole fish myself right now.

Ok, am I stretching the metaphor here? I can’t tell. It’s making me feel vaguely Little Mermaid-y.

My break-up happened almost three months ago, but I’ve only really been able to process everything that this means since I actually moved out of our shared flat a couple of weeks ago. And some days the absence of this man I loved so much is almost too huge to bear. When I was younger I suffered from depression for a few years – and despite those being pretty key rites of passage kind of years, that whole stage of my life is a blur; hazy memories of friendships and half-hearted studying and a physically repressed feeling, kind of similar to claustrophobia. When I look back on what I remember from that time now it’s like watching a TV show from underwater. And I have been so scared – and still in fact am – that that feeling would return to me now. So I am working hard (with the support of really lovely friends and family) on keeping myself positive and physically healthy, as well as sharing and communicating, to pull myself out of this. This rare ‘what I am actually feeling right now’ blog post is a part of that.

I am not good at being brave. Which is possibly why this break-up is hitting me so much harder than I had expected, and so much harder than other break-ups over the years. Because in this relationship I had been brave, and totally let go. I was entirely convinced that this was ‘the one’. And now with the wise old eyes of hindsight I can see that the relationship was far from perfect, and I was not entirely myself while I was in it. But at the time I was totally trusting in it. I was this girl:

So, to return to the metaphor… almost two years ago I had a bike accident. I was mountain biking with a couple of guy friends at the bike trails at Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders. Being a not particularly brave person, I took the rear in the exciting down-y slopes so that I could take a moment to sum up the courage for each big drop and retain some vague feeling of control, which actually helped me let go of being scared and just enjoy it. After a while I got into the swing of it. And then, as we flew down quite a steep gravel track running between the woodland trails, a stranger in front of us braked suddenly. My friend Mike went into the back of him, and flatmate Chris crashed into him. I remember seeing this pile-up of bikes and cyclists and thinking I had to brake. And that’s the last thing I remember.

For the next half hour, I had goldfish brain – I would ask Chris why we were in the forest, why there were other people’s clothes laid on me, who was this stranger sitting next to me, and then about 40 seconds later I would ask him the same questions again. Gradually I began remembering the answers  he was telling me – we had been mountain biking, we had had an accident, I had hit my head pretty hard, I was in shock and had become very cold, this was a park ranger, paramedics were coming… My bike helmet, split up one side, was in my lap. Eventually an ambulance came and asked me where I lived (no idea), who the Prime Minister was (Nick Clegg? – haha, clearly even head-injury Debbie couldn’t stomach the idea of a Tory Britain) and gave me some gas and air. I was kept in overnight for observation and released (still in my bloody mountain-biking clothes) 24 hours later to return to the flat which I now remembered clearly. It took me a couple of weeks, but I recovered. I got to keep my cracked helmet and my discharge papers have ‘amnesia’ written on them, which makes me feel pretty soap opera-y.

scraped up bicycle helmet

But, here’s the thing: while the tale eventually had a happy ending, I haven’t cycled since. I was never a particularly frequently cyclist, and I hate trying to cycle in a country covered in hills, but I actually enjoyed riding a bike. I used to au pair in Italy and an afternoon cycle became my absolute favourite thing. Even though this wasn’t my first near-death cycling experience! A 19 year-old Debbie once took a seriously wrong turn cycling along a busy Italian road and I found myself riding an old fixed-gear granny bike with a basket and no lights through a major Italian galleria (a tunnel through a mountain) without road lights, pavement or hard shoulder. I had to cycle for about fifteen minutes as cars honked at me while zooming past , and I honestly believed I would die. The expression “light at the end of the tunnel” has never been more appropriate than when I finally rounded a corner, saw daylight, and realised that I was going to make it.

So, following my second near-death cycling experience,  this lack of bravery has now stopped me from getting back in the bicycle saddle. But I desperately don’t want it to stop me getting back out there socially, to be confident with new people and one day find a new fish. I’m not exactly searching for one yet, but in true rebound fashion, I am instantly developing major crushes on any eligible bachelor I speak to. But I find myself nervous and awkward. I went out this weekend and our small group of normally-dressed females in skirts or jeans and regular colour skin was surprisingly popular in a club full of teeny tiny dresses, push up bras and orange faces. So I talked to a few men. And I either mocked their outfit choices (drunken Debbie is MEAN!) or made incredibly awkward self-depreciating jokes. I think I need some practise here.

I don’t believe that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. (see, I remembered it eventually). Because I know how amazing it feels to be with someone that you consider a partner. I guess I have to keep that in mind when I think about the future. But right now I need to focus on being a whole me… a whole fish. And stop falling in love with strangers. And maybe start cycling again? After all, if these dogs can do it, what possible excuse can I have?

So after all that, I think what I am saying is: I’m going to be brave, I’m going to persevere, and the bicycle is there, so when I am ready I will get back on it.

And also: always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Seriously.

Guess where I am right now?!

Holiday in Tenerife


Last week I was just feeling very ‘meh’ and spoke to a friend down in London (Samantha, of Rain Room fun) when we figured out we both had two days of annual leave for 2012 left over… and a great desire to see some sunshine! So we found somewhere warm, easy to fly to, with connections from both Edinburgh and London over one of the few weekends we were both free. At this time of year hotels are ludicrously cheap, and while it won’t be totally scorchio it’ll be so lovely just to feel a little heat, lounge all day reading books, and maybe even swim in the sea. Great girlie chats are guaranteed and a vague hint of a tan may even be gained.

So if you’ll excuse my absence, I’m just oh so busy lapping up the sun as I lie on a beach in the Canary Islands. Hasta la vista!