Trying to write a novel? Me too.


I wrote a book a few years ago which was published and did rather well much to my delight and to be honest, surprise. It was an autobiographical account of becoming a Mum brought on by the shock of relinquishing my title of  the wild woman of wonga  and turning into a confused, helpless balloon in charge of the most delicious baby on the planet. It still available from some wheelbarrow on the A5 via Amazon. 

That was bloody years ago and this is not a plug for ye olde dusty tome I promise. It is to illustrate just because I churned out my diary in public it is not the same as writing writing.

Since then, I have dabbled scrabbled, noted and scrawled.  Blogged, raged, whispered, railed against the machine and done a thousand different things. But always rumbling in the pit of my heart was the belief I could one day write a novel. A book that is not about me me me. A work of fiction. And so it begins…….

I am exploring all the questions which have made up the battery of excuses as to why I haven’t done it and this time I am bloody well going to finish it. However hard. Part of that process is to be honest about my commitment to writing this elusive thing and that is why ye old blog is to reignited with a view to putting out in the ether on this very page  how I am progressing, or not. Why I am progressing or not. And how much gin I am drinking or wine.

So here goes………JULY 2017.

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Meldrum House -a dog friendly, delightful destination.

I know I know I sound like a stuck record but really. This time of year in our glorious country matches and beats hands down anywhere else on the planet you could meander. In my humble opinion. On the road…the long suffering husband.. Charlie Chorizo Sausage Dog and myself.

 

The sausage at Meldrum House – someone shouted BISCUITS!

 

Originally from the North East I have been there a lot recently as I have been settling my Mum into a Care Home. She has Alzheimers and it has been a rollercoaster of a year but she has gravitated home to Aberdeen where she was born and bred.  She has lived in the Central belt for 15 years and yet the moment she stepped over the threshold of this particular home she just put her hand on my arm and said “This is where I want to live”.  So..a very very long story short..I am splitting my time to be with her and to be in Edinburgh. It’s an easy 2 hour drive and now Mum is  settled the long suffering husband, sausage dog and I decided to go away for a few days to just walk, inhale the delicious fresh air and relax.

 

Old Meldrum Golf Course….wow!

It’s hard to find accommodation last minute in the Aberdeen area especially at this time of year and so with a google, a wing, a prayer and a bit of pot luck we rocked up to Meldrum House, about 30 minutes outside the City on the outskirts of Old Meldrum . And well…. be still my beating heart. Its like  Disney Castle – but the real McCoy – and what  a location!

A wee something whilst we enjoyed a pre dinner bev

Privately owned it really is a very special spot indeed.

There was a wedding on  which they warned us about so we were in the main house. The weddings are in an annex and we honestly didn’t know the huge rollocking party was there.

 

We had a great wander about, a delicious meal and retired early to our huge bedroom where we slept like logs (or dogs in Charlies case) partly because of the giant bed but also because the vast windows were draped in the best black out curtains the world has ever seen. Fabulous.

Being an obsessive foodie it was great to find this chef knows his onions and every other item of food. Delicious food. And their smoked haddock and poached egg in the morning was a thing of beauty. Och it all was. Including the hungover wedding guests clutching their heads and gulping coffee with shaky hands – ah yes those were the days.

The staff were all lovely, chatty and informal. Despite it being mid summer or near enough a huge fire roared in the entrance hall which always makes for a warm welcome and nothing was too much trouble.

If you golf – prepare yourself – it is a beautiful course. Its not cheap to play but the hotel can arrange it all for you. I hit a bucket of balls but didn’t play – well I can’t yet! Having just had my first lesson in 20 years I am currently smitten but if the mere thought of golf repels you don’t be discouraged the gardens are like Life on Earth ….Swans and their signets, Geese and their Goslings, 2 Highland Cows and a few tourists……the full enchilada. Bliss.

Mr & Mrs Goose and their Goslings – gas and air for the poor duchess there were about 12!
Love is in the air for these two hairy galoots.

Sausage still looking for that biscuit ……Seriously refreshed and podged up with lovely food we will be back…….and soon.For now the sausage, husband and I are heading elsewhere on the hunt for more dog friendly places to stay….will keep you posted.
Oh and whatever rate you get on booking.com phone the hotel direct – you aye get the best deal that way…..Here’s their details….Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course
T: +44 (0)1651 872294
F: +44 (0)1651 872464
E: enquiries@meldrumhouse.com

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Confessions of a broadcaster.

So, “yer nae on the telly much anymore are you?” is a question I get asked a lot. No. I’m not. But as you know life has a habit of giving you a good boot in the bum when you least expect it. Which is exactly what happened to me. I was having a rare old time when the shit hit the fan.

You are reading a Blog written by a woman who has LAM.
What?

OK here it is in its unshortened glory. lymphangioleiomyomatosis

No I can’t pronounce it either.

I don’t want to be health bore and go on and on about it but in  a nutshell my lungs collapsed and surgery was the only option. I did write about it for the LAMpost which is the place people with this rare and inexplicable lung disease can gather and find support. So I thought I would repost what I wrote about it here….if one person in a similar situation reads it and feels better – great. If one person reads it and can add any information or theory as to why it happens then it can only be good.

With only 200 women in the UK with this condition – and a few of them being broadcasters –  there has to be a connection and only by writing and talking about it will we potentially find out what it is.

Might as well be hung for a sheep as a LAM.

Oh and I will be writing this blog about life and how I love being able to live it with my sausage dog, friends and fun as I am a cup runneth over kind of girl once I get this off my chest – pun intended.

My Diagnosis By Alison Craig

I had a collapsed lung five years ago then nothing. It was a fast and virtually pain-free fix. The doctors quickly reinflated my lung and off I went.  I racked my brain as to why this had happened and came to the conclusion that it was because I had choked on a tangerine. After a few days of confusion, I rejoined life with gusto.

In between times I continued working on radio and TV, and enjoying life.
Then out of the blue two years later, the same lung went down and the same procedure took place in the same hospital, but then a week after that, the lung came down a third time.  This time, the doctors decided to ‘stick up’ my lung up to prevent it collapsing again. ‘Stick up’ my lung was slang for a pleurodesis. I didn’t really think about it, it was just what had to be done.   Of course, the reality of the procedure is somewhat gruelling, and not something that bears too much thought.  It involves keyhole surgery during which a camera is inserted to check the lung, repair any holes and to glue the lung to the inside of the chest cavity.

During the process, a biopsy was done as a matter course, and then I was sent home to sleep in an upright position. It transpired this wasnt’ a problem as I felt like I would never sleep again, I was so scared. After ten days, I got a call to come back to the hospital; I suspected something was up – after all I had only just returned home and was still in recovery.  My surgeon told me  I had LAM.

LAM? What on earth is that?

My first question was, ‘Is it a precursor to cancer?’ The dreaded C , the big C, the word we all dread hearing. No, I was informed, but we will want to do the same procedure on your other lung as the chances are it will also collapse when you have recovered from this op. Not what I wanted to hear when still in recovery from my first op, so I went home and concentrated on my recovery, deciding against reading anything about the condition until I was stronger.

About a week later, my other lung collapsed and whilst still weak and I was in for another pleurodesis. Double whammy.  I stopped eating as I was a clenched ball of nerves. Honestly I had been the fittest healthier most robust person up to this point. Never a cold, A flu. A chest infection. A wheeze  and now I was unable to walk upstairs and my whole life was in the balance. Only when I began to get a little stronger did I look on-line for information about LAM. That was my first mistake, and my advice to anyone reading this is do not search on-line for information about LAM. Goodness knows it’s tempting, but don’t. The hysterics, the headline grabbers, the out-of-date information that whirls around in cyberspace will do you no good at all. I know. I searched on Googled and what I found threw me into a black hole of panic and despair. “A fatal lung condition” Stress caused me to lose over two stone.  I stayed in that place in information shutdown until I met Professor Simon Johnson at Nottingham University Hospital.

My second piece of advice is ask to be referred to Simon. The day I met him, my life began again. He has made it his life’s work to study this rare condition and as a result he is the man you want to speak to. As there are so few cases in the UK there is a general ignorance about the condition. GPs, doctors, surgeons  – these people will know very little if anything about LAM so don’t listen to any of them, just listen to the man who knows and the great team at LAM Action.  Simon is the man who has the most up-to-date research and who is the voice of reason in a mire of soundbites and historical, hysterical nonsense.

There is so little known about LAM, even in medical circles, that when a patient presents with a collapsed lung or other symptoms which could be related to LAM, she is generally patched up and sent home with no further support, they way I five years ago.
So as I said, do not search for data on-line. Search engines do not update the information on treatment. Data can be out there for years misleading you, me and the next woman to be diagnosed.  It would have helped me immensely to have been handed a sheet on day one which gave the following information:

  • What is LAM in a nutshell.
  • Only women get it.
  • It is believed it maybe oesterogen-based.
  • There is a very wide spectrum of this disease from so mild a patient may never know she has it, to a more severe version.
  • Do not search on-line. (I know I say that a lot, but it is so true. If you were to read the information on the back of a bottle of Night Nurse, you would become hysterical and take it to the local police station rather than take it for a bad cold.)
  • Cherry-pick the information you need and do not immerse yourself in the minutiae – Professor Simon Johnson is there for that. Let him do the medical stuff, you concentrate on looking forward and getting on with life. I do not want you to lose two stone – an effective but unrecommended diet plan .

Until recently, doctors didn’t test for LAM so there may well be thousands of women who have it who had a collapsed lung or other symptoms and never knew what their underlying condition was.



I wish I didn’t know. The main battle with this for me is psychological as the very real questions of ‘why’ and ‘what happens now?’ cannot be answered.  You may feel very alone; I did.  It took me two years to get in touch with LAM Action in the UK and I encourage you, when you feel the time is right, to do so, too. They are great. I am trying to give you a shortcut to peace of mind about the future, though I still lie awake at night wondering was it my diet, pollution, chlorine, living in a city, living by the sea, the hair dye I use, sound studios I worked in for years, stress, bad posture… and so the list goes on until dawn, but whatever it is you and I have in common we have to try and find out what it is.

There are so few of us, the way to beat LAM once and for all is to share every piece of information. I share a lot on my blog (alisonsdiary.com) about life, the universe and everything. In fact, I am going to post this on there too – after all we are all in this together, and we women do LOVE to talk.

I hope one day you will be ready to tell your story and wish you well on your journey.
Alison Craig

 

 

Face Cream that really works? Be still my beating heart.

This woman is 67. I'm lying but read on...
This woman is 67. I’m lying but read on…


The trauma of the mirror continues to horrify on a regular basis. Inside I feel 18 and exterior wise – the swags and tails that used to adorn curtains in the 80’s have moved into my face. Dear God. It is now clear the image of the original gargoyle must have been based on an Aberdonian woman in her 50’s.  So I am at the stage where you will consider anything to fight the ravages of time. Well within reason. So earlier this year I adopted a new regime – a product called Environ.

The guy who developed it is a plastic surgeon from South Africa who noticed when he applied the cream to people recovering from surgery that their skin seemed to improve and rejuvenate. Well I didn’t need to hear that more than once – slap it on! In fact hell I will eat it if it works.

 

We  do love a before and after and so here it is…..
images-3

 

There are an array of different creams you start at Level 1 and as your skin becomes hardened (not the best word in these circumstances – lets go with accustomed) to the Vitamin A in the cream you can gradually increase the potency. ?I am now a good few months down the line withit and I swear my skin is better. Really.

I am not getting sponsored, paid or encouraged to write this but as a 50 something woman its nice to find something that seems to improve things without the aid of a knife, an anaesthetic or a balaclava.

Its nae cheap but then neither is buying every other cream every other day and slapping it on with no continuity. One set of the stuff kept me going for 4 months so it may seem dear but its an investment I am happy to make.

Every good facial involves gunge. Environ is no exception.
Every good facial involves gunge. Environ is no exception.

In addition you can indulge in anEnviron facial – the photo of which is me in full Hannibal Lecter mask – it just adds to the overall treatment and frankly afterwards I felt fresh as a daisy. I still haven’t been ID’d in the local as being potentially underage but I live in hope.

Just thought I’d share the chat – feel free to ignore it!

You do need to find a facialist who stocks Environ – in Edinburgh there are a few – Claires in Edinburgh is who puts up with me –  she is great at what she does so when you are lying around looking like a nitwit fun I do like a laugh.

This article is all about the Dr who developed it  – have a read if you fancy.

Beware you are unlikely to get a lumber wearing this.
Beware you are unlikely to get a lumber wearing this.

From a sweet young boy to a hairy cowboy in a moment.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 

Ben Murphy

Hannibal Hayes and Kid Curry the two most wanted outlaws in the history of the west, and in all the trains and banks they robbed they never shot anyone.

God I loved Ben Murphy.

For no reason whatsoever that intro jumped into my mind this afternoon. I tweeted it and got some banter going with fellow fans of the cowboys. The Virginian, The High Chaparal and Alias Smith and Jones were the only westerns I ever watched.

It was  nothing to do with the plot, the setting or the excitement of these programs it was all to do with the early teen hormones.

Unknown-1 UnknownI fancied the Virginian James Drury and Trampass wasn’t half bad played by  Doug McClure – I forgave him that high forehead and of course I was quite partial to  Blue Boy in The High Chaparral  but of course the top cowboy in my life Kid Curry aka Ben Murphy. Swoon.

I had a life size poster of Ben on my bedroom wall in a tin bath smoking a cigar. He must have been about 35 I was 12. I’m surprised my mother didn’t get the vapours. Though maybe seeing him grinning down at her from my wall as she dug through the discarded stuff trying to find the dog and any missing dinner plates and people may have warmed the cockles of her heart too.

I  had gone from Donny Osmond – a truly girl like young man to a great hairy cigar smoking geezer in a flash.  Enjoy this trip down memory lane. I did.

Jackanory with photos. Great new app!

 

Who needs a Playstation?
Who needs a Playstation?

Which creative genius suggested they make a TV show consisting of a person reading out of a book sitting static in a chair for 20 minutes and called it Jackanory. No sets. No special effects. No fancy costumes and yes it was a huge hit! The intimacy as a 5 year old sitting cross legged in front of the telly watching a lucid adult reading you a story was the water cooler moment for the new TV generation in the late 60’s. I can hear the theme tune now….in fact here it is …..

 

Of course things move on and they moved on a pace with Tales of the Riverbank in which Ratty Rat and Hammy Hamster undertook projects. Riveting rivering by anyones standards.

Johnny Morris is the voice of these incredibly creative rodents. I was glued to this as a kid and can’t imagine why we didn’t invite the helpful little critters into our homes and live amongst us.I suppose rat fever and the plague is likely the answer to that

But goodness me how things have come on. Now anyone can make their own wee story using a New app… Adobe Voice . It’s very simple and within seconds I had the hang of it oh – and this makes an Aberdonians heart sing – it’s freeee! Just download  Adobe Voice onto your phone and off you go. Start telling your own Jackanory/Tales of the Riverbank stories.

They clearly had a huge respect for women in those days.
They clearly had a huge respect for women in those days.

I’m sure will get better in time. It’s fun. It’s quick and it brings it all to life. Have a shotty and leave a link on the comments bit of this blog and let’s have a look at what your Ridley Scott influences can achieve.

 

Yogaholic.

 

Not me. Yet.
Not me. Yet.


For those who read this blog you will know I love food drink, dogs, music, dogs and my long suffering family and dogs but the one thing which has eluded me over the high days and holidays, low times and desperate days is the love of exercise. The need to don lycra and thunder over the pavements, inhaling great lungfuls of exhaust fumes or standing in a gym with the waft of rubber and old socks all around as forever been a mystery to me and my undulating thighs. So it has come as a bit of a surprise – nae shock – that I may have found my”thing” I am not claiming to be good at it, or changed outwardly – yet – but for the past couple of weeks I have been doing yoga.

Oh hark the middle aged Aberdonian has discovered yoga surprise surprise.

But I Have.

And I am so convinced that this will be a life – body changer – I am going to document my journey here.

From stiff, lumpy, stressed and hunched to a long languorous lithe young thing – no ok fair enough I got a bit carried away with the superlatives there but change is gonna come…..wish me luck!
P.S I know you don’t believe me

 

PPS written with a glass of wine in my hand – you could have apoint.

Charlie Chorizo – sausage of love.

FtkyaAgRNTW_3bOnoSS5Z_0UQCIwifEn5T_Cl3ZPcgECharlie Chorizo has arrived. A sausage dog. The sausage dog. The ruler of our days. And nights.

Some may think it a little early after the demise of our dear old souls who were wafted off to doggy heaven just few weeks ago. But me without a dog is like Judith Chalmers without a passport, like Russell Brand without a lascivious look in his eye. Even as a child, a student, a scurrilous traveller I have never been without the companionship of a quadroped. In addition I have never had a pedigree chum. Ever. They have aye been scrappy wee unloved individuals from cat & dog homes, the side of the road, a drain, Battersea, Aberdeen, Edinburgh so at this stage in life as I intend to travel by car a lot all round the world I have employed the services of a wirehaired mini dachshund to be my faithful sidecar rider. I need a compact bijou pal and so I thought I will wait until next year before I take the plunge.

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Fate took over as that very day I met a hairy wee scruff called Snook in Aberdeen a stoating wee dog. The next question was where did he come from? The answer was the name of a breeder who I phoned several times and had no answer. Then last Sunday she picked up.

We talked.
“I have one 9 week old “ she said.

“I want a bitch” I replied. Birds of a feather and all that.

“Daxy boys aren’t like normal dogs “she said “they are very loyal and affectionate – more so than the girls.”
Sceptical I asked her to send me a photo.

She did.

On impact of course the heart began to beat a little faster.

A little chocolate drop. Tiny.

“Let’s will drive over and see him and have a chat.” I said to the long suffering husband.

“Of course if we go we will end up with him” he said rolling his eyeballs.

“Not necessarily” I said sounding as convincing as I could.

So we arrived into the home of 14 daxys. They were barking and jumping and squirming. “Quiet” the breeder shouted and they all stood silent watching us with their raisin like direct stares. “Lets hope they don’t turn on us” I whispered under my breath to the LSH who unlike me has not been in the company of the dog breeder madness that we were witnessing. The fact is if I wasn’t married I would like have at least 14 dogs and a few pigs but I chose not to impart that information at this particular moment.
“That’s the Dad” Elizabeth the breeder said pointing at this titian haired beezer. “He’s French”.

Now I am no dog show judge but he was a noble hairy faced wee man.

“That’s the Mum” she said showing me a hairy wee thing amongst the other yappers.

And there’s the pups she said pointing to the corner of the room where a small pen held two leaping pups.
One dog. One bitch. One heart lost. Mine.

CC Snuggle

I picked him up. He’s so tiny. And he’s not got any wire hair.

“His fixings are coming in” she said pointing out the small moustache that was growing under each eye. He was a wee bit shy unlike the girl who was running up the leg of my trousers and pushing him out of the way.

We talked about it and as Dave and I looked at each other we knew.

We would like to take him home.

And so…the new adventure begins with Charlie Chorizo Sausage Dog. He is so small if we cut the end of a sock he could wear it as a coat. That’s what I am going to do as he not over endowed with hair yet and clearly the Scottish winter is a hell of a time to arrive in the world. I will write about him again and display my new sock invention coat….but for now……he is sitting on my foot, demanding he is picked up for a cuddle. Hell someone’s got to it. Swoon.

Menopausal munching for Xmas

UnknownI have just consumed an entire Thomas The tank engine advent calendar I had bought for a friends son.

25 wee bits of shiny not very chocolatey chocolate – pop, gulp,  pop, gulp, pop, gulp , pop, gulp, pop x 25. All gone.
Well I need some comfort I have lost my voice.
A joy for my friends and family but a nightmare for me – the shouty one.

Some bright spark said go to bed and sleep until you feel better. I tried that but I can’t sleep.

I have been reliably informed that one of the side effects of the menopause – yes boys read the words and cringe – is ye cannae sleep.

If I can’t sleep. I must eat.

Lots.

Which I do and if I pause for too long

I become particularly grumpy.

Probably because my belly expands daily because I cant stop eating.

Because I’m not sleeping.

And lets face it  – comfort comes in the shape of chocolate, cheese , rum & coke. Not necessarily all in the same glass but hey ho never say never.

Hell maybe it’s just me.

The fact is I am a health freak in a dysfunctional middle aged womans body.

There.

Spleen vented I’m off for another Advent calendar.

Peppa Pig where are you?

 

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Blipfoto. Oh God here we go another time wasting extravaganza here.

Oh look another way to fritter away time.

Blipfoto.

It’s addictive.

Que Sera sera. The futures not ours to see - well it is if you subscribe to Blipfoto I suppose.
Que Sera sera. The futures not ours to see – well it is if you subscribe to Blipfoto I suppose.

But then so are booze, chocolate, dogs, wasabi peas and eggs benedict and that never stopped us.  So what the heck….here we go again.

My friend KC got hooked on this last year. She has kept it up. Posting a photo every day. Charting her year. Her life. Her highs. Lows. Sherrys, dogs, and light sponge cakes with sauce. All in all looking back an interesting slice of life. So love a bandwagon. I’m on.

First entry is a cheat. It was taken on Hogmanay but hey ho. It was the start of this year, the last time I had an alcoholic drink and therefore a moment marked. Though I am heading gin wise now…..well? What of it?

 

So my name on Blipfoto is Gogglebox. I dont’ know why other than it is the funniest TV show I have seen in years.  So www.blipfoto.com/gogglebox

Have a good night.