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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Poland, you've got some explaining to do

I've just returned from a fantastic pizza-filled Diva Night at Char's.

We watched the latest episode of Project Runway All Stars, which is the worst show in the world with unlikable designers, crap challenges, crap judges and a terrible 14-month pregnant Alyssa Milano as host. Bring back normal Project Runway NOW.

After the main event, we moved on to YouTubing pop music videos from the early 2000s, as per usual. We watched "He Loves Me Not" by Dream,  "I'm Real", J.Lo's embowering duet with Ja Rule, and even a random girl dressed up to look like Britney Spears performing "I'm a Slave For You" for the MTV show 'Becoming'.

Then I asked Jakub, who is from Poland, if there were any Polish boybands back in the day.

"Yes," he said. "There was one. They were called 'Just 5'."

And in a flash I had Just 5's hit song "Kolorowe sny" blaring through the laptop speakers. It didn't take long for me to realise something was terribly, terribly wrong.

Watch and listen for yourself:


Notice anything strange? No? Well, does the song below ring a bell?

Just because you're singing in gobbledegook doesn't mean we can't tell that song is a BACKSTREET BOYS SONG! It's almost the same exact backing track.

Just 5. Because there are just five of them. Get it?

Something is fishy here, and I bet you anything Lou Pearlman is at the bottom of it.


P.S. Who's cuter, Polish Nick Carter or real Nick Carter?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Word association

I don't have anything to say. But that's never stopped me before and it won't stop me now!

How about a game of word association? Yes! Let's do it.


OK, that makes me think of this block of salt I saw once when I was 10 and in Lake Chelan on a family reunion. My mom told me it was called a 'salt lick' and that it was for deer. They like salt a lot, so people put up 'salt licks' as the deer version of a birdfeeder. The thought of a deer coming across a giant block of salt in the woods and thinking "jackpot!" really tickled me. Still does.


I worry that my diet contains too much salt and that it's raising my blood pressure. High blood pressure is also a common side-effect of my migraine pills. So, this week I bought a blood pressure monitor on Amazon! It already arrived and so far my readings are normal. But I want to test myself after I take down a tray of nachos.


Here's a good example of the small differences between America and the UK. In America, we would say "the Seahawks are pressuring the Patriot's defence". But in the UK, they would say "the Seahawks are pressurising the Patriot's defence". Pressurising! Same goes for "orientated" instead of "oriented" and lots of other words that I can't think of right now.


I hope the Hawks win this SuperBowl and then become really bad again for the foreseeable future so that I don't have to care or support the NFL or argue with my future son about the danger of concussions. Blasphemy, I know.

Image by Tomasz Przechlewski via Wikimedia Commons

Live it up this weekend!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Fat Controller

Nope, that's not (just) the nickname my future children will bestow upon me. It's (also) the name of the guy who manages the railway in Thomas & Friends.

What!? You might be asking yourself. Isn't that man's name Sir Topham Hatt?

Why, yes it is. Sir Topham Hatt is also his name. You see, the man goes by different names in different countries. In the UK, where Thomas the Tank Engine originated, he's The Fat Controller. In America, where fat people's feelings are protected under the Constitution, he's called Sir Topham Hatt.

Image by nicwn via Flickr

I don't have a strong opinion on this. Of course, teaching kids that it's OK to call a man 'The Fat Controller' is potentially worrying. But part of me loves how antiquated and un-PC it is.

What I find troubling is the different status each name implies. The Fat Controller sounds like he's just some working class half-wit. An overworked, underpaid schlub in a borrowed, railway uniform top hat. Sir Topham Hatt, on the other hand, sounds like a boss. Not only does he own that top hat, but he's received a knighthood for Christ's sake!

So which is it? Who is this man? What's his IQ? What does he do for fun? On his lunch breaks, does he sit in his Hyundai Elantra, shovelling pies in his gob while playing Candy Crush on his phone? Or does he head to the country club for some venison and champagne with his pal Baron Bowham Tie?

I've only watched the show a few times when I was younger, so I don't have much insight into the man's personality. All I remember about Thomas & Friends was how creepy, yet appealing, the whole show was.

Parents of the world, can you shed some light?


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow. Just snow.

Three minutes after I filmed this, the snow stopped. Thirty minutes after that, everything that was stuck to the ground had melted.

As a gal born and raised in Western Washington, STORY OF MY LIFE.


Disappointed in Edinburgh,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Will I ever wear a jean skirt again?

I was looking through my old Facebook photos today, as is my routine on 'no TV Tuesdays'. Yet, this time I noticed something I hadn't before:

The jean skirt!

Photos indicate that it was a big part of my life—not that long ago, and for a long time. But what happened to it? Why has it been so absent from my life for the past few summers?

Here are my guesses:

1. It's out of style. Is it out of style? If so, maybe my brain subtly picked up on that.

2. There's been about three sunny days in Scotland since I moved here five years ago, and I wore shorts on those days.

3. You just don't see denim skirts as much here as you do in the States. They're very American. I've abandoned my heritage, and therefore the jean skirt.

4. I discovered £7 black skinny jeans at Primark back in 2011 and haven't looked back.

Char and I in our jean skirts in Malta. 

Typically, after hiatuses such as this, I would rediscover the forgotten garment and begin to work it back into my wardrobe. But I'm 28 now. I have a bowl cut and a Unique Taxpayer Reference number. My jean skirt years might be over for good.

This may be one of the most inane, narcissistic blog posts I've ever written. But that makes me like it even more. I can't wait until I'm 108-years-old, reading this from my 3D Kindle Space virtual reality hovercraft, and chuckling at my 28-year-old self contemplating whether jean skirts still have a place in my life.

Bye for now,

P.S. 'No TV Tuesdays' isn't some television-free day I've committed to doing once a week. It just happens to be the day that I have no TV shows to watch. We have to wait a day to get US shows, and nothing good airs on Mondays.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Baby Nutella

Don't you dare accuse me of not covering the hard-hitting news stories here on Madgespace. This one's hot off the press.

A french judge has just ruled that a couple can't name their newborn daughter Nutella.


Well, as the judge so matter-of-factly stated: it's "the trade name of a spread." You have a point there, judge. But on the other hand, Nutella actually sounds like a girl's name. It's not as crazy as naming your kid Kleenex or Nestle Tollhouse (although that does have a nice ring to it).

Thanks, Anna, for letting me use the torso of your child (without asking).

Here's the kicker. The parents didn't bother to show up at court! So guess what the judge did? He named the girl himself! He went with "Ella", which makes sense as a shortened version of Nutella. But he could have gone with 'Hazel' to keep a bit more with the theme. Or what about 'Nuttah', the traditional Native American name meaning 'my heart'? That would have worked too!

All I'm saying is this:
  • Nixing 'Nutella' as a baby name? I'm generally OK with the logic behind that. 
  • Taking it upon yourself to pick a new name for the kid? I find that a little presumptuous. At least give the parents another chance at naming her. They can phone you with their second choice (they don't really need to be in court for that).

OK, that's all for today. Anyone else craving crêpes?


Sunday, January 25, 2015

My shampoo's so fancy (you already know)

My dream gig would be writing the copy for shampoo bottles. One time Andy and I stayed at a cool hotel in Glasgow—the CitizenM—and boy was their shampoo copy on point. It actually almost inspired me to write a Tripadvisor review. I didn't end up doing it, but that was the closest I've ever come to contributing to the online travel community.

Anyway, they actually had two types of shampoos in the room. Shampoo for morning people and shampoo for night people. The morning one had a fresh, citrus scent. The night one was more frankincense and myrrh. This is what the bottles said:

Designed for citizens
who embrace the day, 
wrestle with the light of dawn
or who are jetlegged into
thinking it's morning
even though it's midnight. 
CitizenM shower gel and shampoo
will make you feel like
you've just opened your eyes
after the best dream-filled
sleep of your life. 
And perhaps you just have. 

Designed for citizens
who live by the night
dance with the dark and
don't wake up until
the sun goes down.
CitizenM shower gel and shampoo
will make you feel like
you're about to walk out into
wonderland and that somehow
everything tonight will
just fall into place.
And you never know, it just might. 

OK, it's a bit gratuitous for a hair cleaning product, but they get away with it because it's a hotel. You're on vacation! That's exactly the type of "whisk me away" language you want. I love it. I'd recommend the hotel for the shampoo bottle copy alone. 

What got me thinking of all this was my new, Argan Oil of Morocco shampoo I bought today. I was at Boots for the quarterly toiletries shop and thought, hey, why not treat myself? Of course I'll always be loyal to the Herbal Essences family, but it's nice to switch it up every now and then. Plus, the posh, gold-topped Moroccan shampoo was on sale.

This evening after yoga ("Can this blog be anymore middle class"? the British would say), I gave my scalp a good sudsing with the new 'poo. So far, so heavenly. I also like the bottle's short stature. It makes it sturdier and less likely to topple over on our shower floor. We don't have a shelf. 

Hmm...not sure 'poo is a good nickname for shampoo. Maybe shampers is better. 


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Annabelle: Part 2

If you haven't already, read Part 1 before you read this.

"Annabelle?" I shouted again. I couldn't believe I'd remembered her name. I hadn't actually read it off the flyer, but my subconscious must have jotted it down just in case this hero-making moment presented itself. 

I looked back at my friends. 

"Justine, I think it's that lady. The one who's missing," I said in a loud whisper. She looked confused. It didn't register. "The one I told you about on the phone. The old lady!"

"Oh yeah. Oh my god!" Justine said, remembering our brief conversation a half hour earlier. 

The three of us ran up to the bushes, peering through the tangles of leaves and branches. 

We saw her. Frail. On all fours. Crawling through the mud. 

She wore a long, beige trench coat and had a pale blue kerchief tied around her head. As she moved, she dug her bony fingers into the soil, pulling her withered body forward through the sticker bushes.

"Annabelle," I said for a third time. 

She looked up at us, her cheeks hollow and wrinkles deep and dirty like a dry riverbed. Slivers of sunlight pierced through the branches, casting sharp, sinister shadows across her gaunt expression. 

"Hello," she croaked. 

*                      *                      *                      *

Image via Wikimedia Commons

There was no way this 90-year-old, 90-pound woman would make it up those stairs. So, we split up. Justine and I would go get neighbour-man. Connie would stay with Annabelle. Poor Connie—always getting the raw deal. Explaining to the neighbour that, as a matter of fact, I did know where his missing mother-in-law was—that would be awkward. But sitting in a forest cabana with the Wrinkled Witch of West Kenmore? That was worse. 

As expected, pulling up in Justine's Ford Probe, pounding on neighbour-man's door and telling him that we'd found his wife's lost long mother was awkward. It had been less than an hour since he was on my porch asking me to keep an eye out for her. This just seemed too convenient—like I'd kidnapped her and kept her hidden until the 'Missing Mother-in-Law | Reward: $1million' flyers went up. 

The man seemed surprised by our quick discovery, but said he and his wife would follow us in their car back to Connie's. 

Walking down all those steps with the two of them was agony. What were we supposed to talk about? "So, does the old bat escape often?" "Have you heard that the Kenmore Premix is going to be torn down and replaced with a movie theatre?" No—smalltalk didn't seem appropriate. We opted for silence. 

When we finally arrived at the bottom, Connie and Annabelle were sipping bottled waters and chatting. They'd become fast friends. But when Annabelle spotted her daughter and son-in-law, she flipped out. 

"No! No! Don't send me back there!" she pleaded with us. "I won't let that man tell me what to do! Don't make me go!"

With each refusal and accusation, the atmosphere got more and more uncomfortable. I remembered my Mom telling me that people with dementia often lash out and even lie about their loved ones. I decided to believe that was the case with Annabelle. What other choice did I have?

Over Annabelle's squawks, Connie suggested that she ask her neighbours if we could use their electric tram to get the frail old bird back up the hill. It was either that or we tie her to an inflatable pool lounger and drag her up the stairs. Annabelle's middle-aged carers weren't offering up any suggestions either. They just stood there being utterly unhelpful.

While we waited for Connie to call us on the cabana landline with the go-ahead, things got more awkward. Out of nowhere, neighbour-man looked at me and said, "Call 911 to let them know we found her!"


"Call 911 and tell them that we found her. We filed a missing persons report earlier," he said. 

"Oh, ok," I said, too disarmed by his sudden command to question it. I pressed 9-1-1 on the keypad and started speaking to the operator. 

"Uhh. Hi, my name is Margaret and I found an old lady who is a missing person. So, yeah, umm, I just wanted to let you know we found her..." I trailed off. Did neighbour-man realise I was just a 19-year-old idiot? Why was he making me do this? And was calling 911 really necessary?

Eventually, as my "ummms" and "I'm not sures" became more frequent, neighbour-man gestured for me to hand him the phone. He started explaining things to the operator and I tuned him out. I had done what the situation had asked of me, and now I was finished. 

I hightailed it home. The whole thing was too weird. Too tense. I'd never liked meeting new people, and this just confirmed it. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

RIP SkyMall

Annabelle: Part 2 has been delayed until tomorrow because I've been too busy having a GREAT DAY. Yeah! Take that!

Right now, I'm watching 'Big Brother's Bit On The Side' (the Big Brother after show).

Earlier, Andy and I went to the cinema to watch 'Whiplash'. It's a film about a jazz drummer and, despite that premise, it's fantastic. Go see it. I liked it better than Birdman and Foxcatcher.

Before that, I went to Craigie's Farm with Char, Freddie and Elsie. It was typical Scottish hurricane conditions, but there's a café there, so ye-haw!

But, as Lisa Vanderpump would say, today wasn't all diamonds and rosé. I also learned that SkyMall has filed for bankruptcy. If you didn't already know, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

A page out of SkyMall.

Image by nowviskie via Wikimedia Commons

The best way to make yourself feel better when something like this happens is to immediately identify and blame the culprit. In this case, I'm going to blame rich people.

Every time I read SkyMall, I think "Yep. I'd buy that. Yep, that too. Yep. Yep. Yep." Why don't I actually buy the stuff? Because I don't have any money! But rich people, they have no excuse. Damn them. DAMN THEM.

Now where am I going to get a raincoat for my dog? Or a high heel wine holder?


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Goodbye, loads and loads of money!

I paid my taxes today.

And then I cried. Big, fat, indulgent toddler tears.

For a year I've watched that money accumulate in my savings account, knowing it's for taxes but occasionally letting myself believe it was mine, mine, MINE.

When you're a sole trader, you pay all your tax in one tragic go. You go into your online banking, enter the government's bank details and click 'confirm'. It's gut-wrenching.

So, I was sitting there on the couch, sobbing, when I heard a loud knock at the door. Poop! The postman with my Yankee Candles! I froze for a second, then wiped away my tears, threw off the Santa onesie and changed into my fleece bathrobe (still unacceptable for noon on a Wednesday, but more acceptable than a Santa onesie). I opened the door just in time to catch ol' post-face before she disappeared down the stairs.

Now, with the 'Vanilla Cupcake' scent wafting through our flat, I'm feeling a bit better about saying goodbye to all that moolah. It's just money! Now that I've learned my lesson, my plan is to make zero money next year. That way I won't have to pay any tax. Simple! I'll start a vegetable garden. I'll take good care of the clothes that I already have. It will be fine.

Andy always refers to me as a clown. He calls me 'Clown Clownson'. 

Let me just point out that 'Tears of a Clown' by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles is a fantastic tune. I wish I'd written it. You just don't get truly pathetic lyrics like that anymore. Waaaah Waaah. I'm soooo sad. I'm just pretending to be happy. Booooo hooo hooo!

LOVE this song.

Remind yourself:

That's all folks!

'Annabelle: Part 2' will be up tomorrow. If you haven't read Part 1, do so now.


P.S. Click on the 'That's all folks!' link and watch the video. So great!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bruce Jenner

If Kim K was suddenly sporting baggy basketball shorts, a beer-gut and a buzzcut, we would all feel comfortable speculating. She's built her entire life around being a celebrity. We can gossip all we want!

Yet, because it's Bruce—the humble one—the rules aren't as clear. He never seemed to want the fame. He hid in the corner of every KUWTK scene he was in. He was the poor, hen-pecked bloke in a household of crazy.

Still, he did agree to appear on the show. And he is very wealthy because of it.

So, how sensitive should we be to his feelings? Very, medium or not at all? Is his 'new look' any of our business? Is it wrong that we're curious?

Let's see if I can better express my feelings in that most web-friendly of formats, a bullet point list.

  • The In Touch cover — This was mean (and I suspect libellous) of In Touch. The media has more responsibility to cover issues sensitively than, say, a blogger with an audience of 24. But—silver lining—it was hilarious that they put his face on the body of a random British actress! Hahaha. OMG, I die! Imagine being in the supermarket queue and recognising your own shoulders attached the the head of Bruce Jenner. You'd JUST HAVE TO throw the magazine in your cart. The ultimate impulse-buy! Also, referring to In Touch as "the media" is a bit of a stretch. If you expect $2.99 gossip rags to uphold the standards of journalistic ethics, you're fighting a losing battle. More concerning is when legit news sources report on the reports. It's such a cop-out. They want the clicks/ratings but, so they can sleep at night, they reassure you: we didn't start it! What cowards. Stop reporting on Bruce Jenner's fingernails and FIND MH370! COME ON!
  • His forthcoming appearance in Season 10 — Supposedly he's going to discuss his 'changing appearance' in the next season. I'm glad. It's not as much the gender stuff that has people in a tizzy, it's the not knowing. Still, Kris better up his salary.
  • The golf shirt + norm-core slacks + orthopaedic shoes — It doesn't matter what gender you identify with: this ain't a good look. Maybe Bruce needs to spend an evening 'redoing his wardrobe for 2015' with Kanye. 

Hipster or Bruce Jenner? Someone start a Tumblr.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Well, I've exhausted my thoughts on the matter. I'm bored now. Good thing it's 10:27pm and time for bed!

I'm going to try to have the magic carpet ride dream tonight. Have you had that one? It's brilliant. Basically, you float through the sky on a magic carpet ride. If your subconscious is really firing on all cylinders, 'Magic Carpet Ride' by Steppenwolf is playing in the background.

Have a groovy night,

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Remember this?

And this?

OK, I know you're too lazy to click on those links. They go to my previous blog posts on 1) being diagnosed with migraines and 2) the horrors of having an infected tooth canal.

Turns out, I'm pretty sure the two are related. For months I hypothesised that my botched root canal from 2010 was causing my headaches. Same side of the face. The timing of my symptoms matched up. It seemed like the perfect explanation.

But "no no no" said two dentists and my doctor. "There's no way that your tooth would be causing your headaches. That's just impossible!"

This is what going to the dentist is like in the UK. Quick and brutal, but FREE.

As I grow older, and following one particularly bad year of self-diagnosing and vitamin/supplement self-prescribing, I've recognised the value of seeking professional medical advice. I've stopped WebMD-ing and realised that most weird bodily pains just go away after a while. If they don't, then I call in the experts—not Google.

So, I took the docs at their word. I accepted the fact that I'm a migraine sufferer and ate a pill every time that pesky pain behind my brow-bone reared its ugly head.

Then I got my tooth fixed.

Voilà! No more headaches.

Am I cured? Was I right from the beginning? It's too soon to tell. What I will say is that I haven't had a "migraine" since that rotting canal was excavated, stuffed with polymer and sealed with cement.


Dr. Margaret

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bad fan

If you're keeping up with my 'Annabelle' series, Part 2 will be out next week. If you're not keeping up with it, bloody keep up with it already!!!

In the meantime, let's talk about the Hawks.

Hawk Talk.

Yesterday the Seattle Seahawks, an American football team based over in Washington State (upper left corner, just under Canada—like the West Coast version of Maine) played a game against the Green Bay Packers, a team from a place where cheese is made.

The game started at 8:05pm Edinburgh-time, so we ordered Indian takeaway, got situated under a warm duvet and started streaming the big event.

For almost the entire game, the Seahawks were BAD. Not 'bad' in the 80s slang sense of the word—BAD in the 'not good' sense of the word. With about three minutes left in the game, we were down 7 to 19.

It was hard to watch, and it was a school night. So we went to bed. Better luck next season!

Then, this morning Andy wakes me up.

"You won't believe what happened!!"

"Huh? What?"

"You won't believe it!"


"The Seahawks won!"

"You're lying."

"I swear I'm not lying."

"Shut up."

"It's true!"

"You're lying."

"I'm not!"

"You're lying."


"Andy, if you're lying, I'm going to be so mad."

"I'm not lying."

"You're lying."

It went on like this for a good few minutes before I flipped opened my laptop and saw the headlines with my own eyes. He wasn't lying! The Seahawks pulled off a miracle comeback and won the game in overtime.

The things you can do on Powerpoint...

I know giving up and going to bed makes me a bad fan. There's really no excuse. However, allow me to try:
  • I'm thousands of miles away from Seattle. If they had lost, I wouldn't have had the a city's worth of shoulders to cry on. I needed to close the computer and pretend it wasn't happening. 
  • I'm actually such a big fan that I couldn't bear the thought of them losing...even if there was a slim chance of them getting back in the game. It was my super-fanness that caused me to call it quits early!
  • The Indian food was doing a number on my stomach. 
  • I was tired?
OK, ok. None of those are good enough. I've learned my lesson. It won't happen again. You might be mad at me, but remember, I have to live with this. 


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Annabelle: Part 1

It was a beautiful morning. Bright, warm sunlight filled the house. Through the window, between the tall evergreens, you could spot Lake Washington sparkling like sequins in the distance. 

I had just finished my freshman year in college and was back in Kenmore for the summer. My parents were out running errands and I had the house to myself. The plan was to spend all day on my friend Connie's dockswimming, sunbathing, inhaling Otter Pops and pretending we were back in high school.

Image by Shindigs Girl via Flickr

I thew on my swimsuit and grimaced at what two semester's of daily Dominoes orders had done to my beach bod. Just as I was squeezing into my American Eagle shorts, there was a knock at the front door.

Normally I wouldn't have dreamt of answering it. Too risky. Whatever awaited me behind that slab of wood, it wasn't going to be good. A Jehovah's Witness, a kid selling coupon books, the stalker that I didn't know, but assumed, I had. 

But the summer spirit got to me. I scurried down the stairs and swung open the door. A man in his 50stall, white hair, with Costco jeans and a typical middle-aged man belly—stood in front of me. He explained that he was my neighbour from across the street. 

We'd spied on that house from our living room window, trying to figure out the family dynamic. For a while one of their grown children, with a blue pickup and a Siberian Husky, appeared to have moved back in. Occasionally they'd pull weeds in the front flowerbeds. Every December, they would put up a string of blue, icicle Christmas lights. Other than that, we didn't have a clue who they were.  

The man seemed nervous and like he was ashamed to be bothering me. He explained that his mother-in-law, who lived with them, had been missing since 3pm the previous day. He said she had dementia and had wandered off before, but never for this long. He gave me a flyer with her photo and told me to keep an eye out. 

I assured him I would. 

*                      *                      *                      *

As I walked back upstairs, the flyer already crumpling in my hand, my phone started buzzing on the kitchen table.

"Hey Justine"

"Hey—have you left for Connie's yet?"

"No, I was just getting ready."

"Oh, well I'm leaving now if you want me to pick you up."

"Sure, that sounds great."

And that's where the conversation almost ended. Even though my encounter with the neighbour man hadn't left much of an impression on me, something compelled me to bring it up. 

"Alright I'll be there in, like—

"A weird thing just happened before you called."


"Yeah, my neighbour from across the street came over and asked if I'd seen his mother-in-law who has Alzheimer's and has gone missing."


"Yeah. So weird. Anyway, see you soon!"

"OK, bye"

*                      *                      *                      *

Connie greeted us in her driveway and, towels in hand, we started the trek down to the lake. Her house is technically 'on the lake', but you have to navigate your way down at least 300 steps until you're there. It's a good seven-minute walk. 

The meandering wooden staircase is surrounded by giant fir trees, blackberry bushes and your general, unruly Pacific Northwest greenery. Permanently in the shade, the stairs are damp and slippery. A couple years earlier, my flipflop hit a mossy patch and I fell hard. It left a bruise the size, shape and colour of an eggplant on my right thigh. 

On the journey down, we gossiped about high school people and kept our new, college lives tucked away like a secret lover. We'd done this walk so many times. We'd done this day—the lake, the gossiping, the Otter Pops—so many times. The familiarity was intoxicating. 

Finally, the trees began to open up. We passed the gazebo and walked down the final four steps to the grassy ground below. But as we crossed the lawn to the dock, Justine gasped. 

"Something's over there! I saw something move over there!" she said under her breath, pointing to the thick bushes. 

We paused. Whatever it was, it was now obscured by vegetation. We couldn't see anything, but we heard it moving about it in the bramble. It sounded big. Not a cat or even a raccoon. Bigger. 

My heart started to thump. A bear? A mountain lion? Unlikely, but not impossible. 

Justine and Connie ran back to the bottom of the stairs. I started to follow, but then it dawned on me. Suddenly, I knew exactly what I had to do. 

Turning back around, I cupped my hands around my mouth and shouted toward the bushes:


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Polar and Naked Mole Rat

I have two hot water bottles. I know, I know. I'm not usually one to brag, but hot water bottles actually aren't that expensive! And boy do they do a great job of keeping you warm in the freezing Scottish winter.

One sits in a white, faux fur case. I call that one Polar.

The other is blue, with a geometric pattern on its back. That one doesn't have a case, so I call it Naked Mole Rat.

They make a darling pair.

Polar, with his coat of fur, isn't as hot at first, but he stays warm longer. NMR is piping right after you fill him, but he cools down quickly.


Hot water bottle tips
  • Always use boiling water out of the kettle. Yes, this will cause the water bottle to eventually melt and leak. But hot water from the tap simply isn't scalding enough. 
  • Put the hot water bottle under your covers 30 minutes before you plan to get in bed. That way your sheets will be nice and toasty for you at bedtime. 
  • After pouring the boiling water down the neck of the hot water bottle, squeeze it at the shoulders so that it's air-tight around the waterline before you screw the cap back in. This makes the hot water bottle nice and squidgy. If you don't get all the air out, it will feel hard and bloated when you go to cuddle it. 
  • In the middle of the night, when you realise it's gone cold, throw it out of bed like an old sock. It's no good to you anymore and it's taking up precious bed space. Girl bye! 


Friday, January 16, 2015

It's time we talk about Cougar Town

Yesterday I came across some information that shocked me to my core.

Remember that show Cougar Town? The one with Courtney Cox that was a big deal for a second in 2009 because of its terrible name?

Yeah. That show is STILL ON.

It's on its SIXTH BLOODY SEASON. That's 91 episodes!

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Whaaaa!? Who even...?!?!? What's it even..?!?!

Maybe this is just a UK/US thing, and I'm out of the loop on Cougar Town because I live 5,137 miles from its epicentre (yes, I did just Google: 'Burbank, California to Edinburgh, UK miles').

If you watch Cougar Town, or if you have anymore information that could assist me in deciding how I feel about this, please email me at margaretkaycontent@gmail.com

Thanks and have a groovy weekend, 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Think about this at work tomorrow

The thing about freelancing is, the longer you stay on a project, the more it starts to feel like a 'real job' and the closer you get to freaking out. I'm used to short projects. Write. Send. Edit. Send. Take a Real Housewives break. And then on to the next gig.

When I work on something that drags on and on, I get stressed and itchy.

Still, I do really like my non-job. Note: I didn't say I love it. I've always thought it's obnoxious when people say "I looooove my job". Love? Seriously? Only Beyonce gets to say that. The best us commoners can ask for is 'really like'.

Anyway, yes, I really like being a freelance writer. It sounds fake, like I'm just making something up while I look for a job. It's so mysterious. Freelance writer. What does that even mean? How does it work?

I like writing it down on my customs declaration card when I fly back into the UK. It makes the airport officials more skeptical of me, which makes me like it more. Like how Andy used to hold a calculator up to his ear while walking down the halls of his high school, just so he could be like - HA!' - when a teacher yelled at him for being on his phone.

Yeah, right. Where are the queues? Where are all the queueing people?
I don't buy it. This was staged. It's a staged image! STAGED.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

So tomorrow when I crack open Google docs and get back to work, I'm going to remind myself that I LIKE my 'job'. You should too. Or if you don't like your job, apply for a new one. Sure, there's something to be said for character building. But you should only have 'character building' jobs when you're a teenager and don't know any better. If you're 25 or older and you don't like your job, find a new one.

Just look at these guys. Let them inspire you.


Wow! I'm preachy today. This is what happens when there's a giant, Oprah-sized hole in our daytime TV schedule.


Source: Reddit 

(Madgespace is becoming the new Buzzfeed, where I blatantly just share stuff from the front page of Reddit.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What will shock us when we're older?

Our parents are shocked by rap videos. Their parents were shocked by Elvis' gyrating hips. Their parents were shocked by a glimpse of the female ankle.

What will shock us?

I really can't think of what it will be.

Image Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. via Wikimeda Commons

Each decade, the popstars wear less. It's gotten to the point that they're now just naked. Miley Cyrus posts full on naked pictures of herself on Instagram and we're just like, "Yeah... Anyway, where did you put the pretzels?"

Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, polysexual, pansexual, asexual—we're fine with them all. Everything's great. It's all OK. Not shocking. Increasingly not even interesting.

Every other day I watch a guy shoot fireworks out of his butt on YouTube. I'm not proud of it, but I once watched a 7-minute video of a woman popping her husband's ginormous neck zit. It was only later, lying in bed that night, that it dawned on me: that wasn't a zit at all; it was a BOIL.

Anyway, you get the idea. Nothing is shocking. Not nudity. Not sexual orientation. Not gross stuff.

I absolutely love that we've reached this inclusive, 'who gives a rip' stage in human history (by "we" I mean young liberal people).

But I still have a sneaking suspicion that, when I'm 90, the "kids these days" will do something that shocks me. I'll ask my grandkids to explain it to me, and I'll tell them stories of how "In my day, you used to have to wear clothes at the supermarket." And they'll laugh at the very idea.

I regularly promise myself (with Andy as my witness) that, even as the world changes around me, I will always be open to new ideas. No matter how tempting it is, I'll resist the urge to cling to the past out of fear and nostalgia. It's the better way to be.

Still, I'm curious. What will shock us? Displaying taxidermied human relatives in our living rooms as home décor? Maybe.

Your wise ol' pal,

P.S. Man, there's something about being 28 that makes you think about ageing like you never have before. It's bizarre. Maybe it's the wrinkles I just noticed around my eyes. Or maybe it's the fact that I don't really understand who Calvin Harris is. Whatever it is, it's causing me to cry at HSBC commercials and write blog post oaths to my future 90-year-old self.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Guest post: Miss Teen South Carolina

I did it again. I said I would do a bunch of work that I didn't really have time for! It's all due tomorrow. Andy has agreed to help me because he's now contractually obligated to be nice to me until death do us part. But seriously, what a guy.

Anyway, I wish I could write more tonight. I have a lot on my mind. I've been going crazy thinking about the concept of free speech, boob sagging, Jamie Lynn Spears, The Golden Globes and the rise of wearable tech. Also, today on the way home, our bus had a staring competition with another bus in the lane next to us. We were stopped at a traffic light and everyone in their top deck just stared into our bus. We all stared back. None of us gave a rat's ass. It was fantastic.

Hopefully I'll get to all that important stuff soon, but in the meantime I thought I'd ask my girl Miss Teen South Carolina to fill in for me with a guest post.

Take it away girlfriend!

I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, um, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhh, our education over here in the US should help the US, uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.

Thanks for that, MTSC. (Admit it, you were looking for an excuse to watch it again)

I had a stab at trying to find it.


Monday, January 12, 2015


Edinburgh pedestrians are brazen.

Intersections and zebra crossings (pronounced zEH-bra, not zee-bra) are there for when traffic's backed up. But most of the time people here just use their own eyesight and spatial awareness to judge whether crossing the street is doable. Imagine that!

They weave in between cars that are stopped at traffic lights. They walk right along the edge of the pavement as double-decker buses whoosh by, inches from their shoulders. They cross the road in two acts, going halfway and balancing on the centre median until they spot an opportunity to jet across.

Edinburgh pedestrians will dash in front of an approaching car leaving just milliseconds' room for error. Drivers are equally ballsy, staying firm or even accelerating as they approach darting pedestrians. The message is clear: pick up the pace, or die.

The closer you get to Leith, the crazier the foot traffic. The neighbourhood in north Edinburgh is known for being rough around the edges, but its pedestrians are city-walking virtuosos. From the bus window this evening I spotted:

  • A young mother with a special-needs child in a stroller and a German Shepard crossing the road as a van sped straight toward them. I gasped as I saw her go for it. But she timed it perfectly. 
  • A pack of 'youths' bustling down the side of the road, play-fighting and throwing things at each other as cars zoomed past at 35mph. I thought about screaming, "Be careful!" out the bus window, but I held back. 
  • An ancient man with terrible scoliosis and a fabulous trench coat inch-worming his way across the busy street through rush hour traffic—no zebra crossing needed. 
Ol' Droopy Legs McGee
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps being surrounded by meandering tourists has inspired the locals to be extra savvy on foot. Stupid tourists! We'll show them how it's done! Or maybe it's all the freezing wind and rain that encourages people to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

As for me, I'm conflicted about the pedestrian culture over here. It pits two of my favourite things against each other: Efficiency vs. Safety. I love both so much.

I can't stand in-between time, so I speed-walk everywhere. But I'm extremely risk-averse, so I avoid walking under scaffolding and I stand three feet back from the curb at the bus stop. I'm totally down with the swift pace of Edinburgh walkers, but their devil-may-care approach to road crossing makes me nervous.

Andy always does risky road crossings, leaving me standing at the curb like a big, scared baby. He laughs and shakes his head at me as I wait patiently for the light to change. What a smug Libra. But just wait until he's in Seattle where drivers and pedestrians gather daily to hold hands, dance around a May pole, braid each other's hair and sing Kum Ba Yah.


P.S. Perez Hilton is on the UK Big Brother and he's sooooo annoying. Like way worse than you'd even expect, and I expected him to be pretty bad. Michelle Visage on the other hand (lots of Americans this year) is killing it. She's the bookies' favourite to win.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Answers to your burning questions

When does the next season of Drag Race start?

Terrible news. Despite RuPaul confirming a January air-date back in November, the network now says Season 7 won't air until "the spring". What!? Let's hope this is some sort of tragic mistake.

What's Carson Daly up to these days? 

Wow, looks like he's still doing that show Last Call with Carson Daly.

How much money do famous YouTubers make? 

So much! Millions! Especially considering how annoying most of them are. According to Forbes, Swedish vlogger 'PewDiePie' makes around $4 million a year. Holy moly, I think it's time I switched to the spoken word. I'd have to get rid of this vocal fry, but where there's a will, there's a way.

What was World War I all about? 

It was kicked off by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. That was the spark. It just so happened that Europe was super flammable at the time. The rise of Germany had upset the power balance and destabilised what was, up until then, about a hundred-year period of stability in Europe.

So, when Serbian nationalists shot Franz Ferdinand, Austria-Hungary mobilised for war against Serbia. But then Russia stepped in and said, "Hey! Don't bully Serbia, they are our buddies." But then Germany got involved and was like "Wait a second, Russia. Austria-Hungary has the right to be mad at Serbia."

Before you know it, Germany declares war on Russia and France. Germany tries to march through Belgium, so Britain gets involved (Britain and Belgium were mates. Countries that start with the letter 'B' have to stick together). What about Italy? At first they sided with Germany, but they changed their minds halfway through and switched to Team Britain/France/Russia.

In the end, Germany lost. They had to massively downsize and promise to never start a war again. And they never did.


Who's doing the Super Bowl halftime show this year? 

Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz. What a bizarre pairing!

How do you get chewing gum out of your hair? 

Smother it in peanut butter and gradually massage it out of your hair. If that doesn't work, cut it! Bowl cuts are in right now. 

What's the best Real Housewives franchise? 

Beverly Hills.

It's a tough call, but Beverly Hills wins for featuring the richest, yet somehow most likeable, housewives. In other cities, their problems are more 'real' (husbands going to prison, houses foreclosing, massive family feuds, assault charges), but since those are actual, real-life problems, they hide it all during filming and make up their own drama for the show. In Beverly Hills, however, they don't have any 'real' problems, so their ridiculous, petty drama is real.

Does that make sense? Also, since they don't really have any serious problems simmering under the surface, you can watch it without having to feel sad for them.

What should you make for dinner? 

Easy. Homemade pizza. It's not as hard as it sounds. The dough is just flour, yeast, olive oil and a dash of salt. The sauce is just canned tomatoes or fresh ones chopped up and cooked with olive oil. The toppings are whatever you have in the veggie drawer, plus mozzarella cheese.

Who is Rita Ora and why is she famous? 

 She's a singer from the UK (although originally from Kosovo). I used to refer to her as 'British Rihanna'. One of her biggest hits was 'How we do'. She also sings on the Iggy Azalea track 'Black Widow'. Back in the day Rob Kardashian claimed he once got her pregnant, but she denied it. Now she's a judge on The Voice UK. 

This is Rita Ora.
Image by Neon Tommy via Wikimedia Commons.

Why does the moon only affect the tides but nothing else? 

 This question was posed by Andy, and it's far more difficult to answer than the other questions on this list. But here goes nothing.

The gravitational pull of the moon does affect everything, but the effect is tiny. So tiny that it's immeasurable. It's just because the oceans are so massive that we can perceive and measure tides. Oceans are ginormous, but still the moon only causes them to move a few metres. And even though the water level only changes by a few metres, it can seem like more because of the topography of the ocean floor. 

Hopefully I covered them all, but let me know if I missed any of your burning questions and I will endeavour to answer them at my earliest convenience. 

Thank you,
Margaret Kay

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Birdman review

It's really great! Compelling performances. Fast paced. Lots of deep thoughts when you leave the cinema. Yeah, it's great. I think I know what happened in the end, but I also think maybe I don't. Or, you know what, I actually think the point is that you're not supposed to really know what happened. Or that there's no real way of knowing.

See what I mean about the deep thoughts?

Image by Herb Roe via Wikimedia Commons

Wow. Somehow this Saturday just flew by.

8:30am -- Wake up. Holler at Andy to "Do me a favour and come in here and open up the curtains for me." Gotta get that natural light in the morning. 

10:30am -- Emerge into blizzard conditions (by Edinburgh standards) to watch a breakdown assistance man jump-start Andy's car battery.

11:00am -- Walk back to our flat from the auto garage where Andy dropped his car off. 

11:30am -- Read up on the latest MH370 conspiracy theories. Read up on the latest Serial conspiracy theories. 

2:00pm -- Buy tickets for Birdman online. Fill up hot water bottle to take with me to the cinema. 

2:30pm -- Walk to cinema, by way of the supermarket to stock up on snacks (cheddar ploughmans sandwich for me, ham and cheese sandwich for Andy, three cheese twists to share, bottle of diet coke to share, one pack of Frutella to share, gum to share). 

3:20pm -- Watch Birdman, with the hot water bottle on my lap the whole time. Best decision. 

5:45pm -- Leave cinema and start walking to Char's

6:30pm -- Hang out with Freddie, Elsie, Andy, Char, William and Anthony. Eat pizza. Watch 'Take Me Out'. Watch 'Take Me Out: The Gossip'. Watch 'Celebrity Big Brother'.

10:45pm -- Walk home with Andy. 

See how time flies? It's now 11:27pm and I don't have time for a proper blog. As you may have noticed, I just listed my day's movements instead. However, earlier today, predicting that I might not have much time to write tonight, I made a short video for your viewing pleasure.

Back tomorrow,

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hello ladies

Today I used the word 'Ladies' in an email. Ugh. That one really gives me the creeps. But what else am I suppose to call multiple women who I am friendly with, but in an officey way? Addressing the email with a simple 'Hi' or 'Hello' looks naked and too curt. See for yourself:


Thanks for....

- Or -


Thanks for...

It just doesn't look right.

Usually I just write both of their names. "Hi Susan and Rebecca", for example. Or sometimes I'll go with "Hi all" or "Hi both". But that didn't seem right in this case either, because I had just left a meeting with the two women and I needed something more casual, less distant/formal.


Image by Jonathan Billinger via Wikimedia Commons

As soon as I clicked send, I regretted it. Ladies. I've never been comfortable with that word. Is it too young? Is it too mature? It's somehow both degrading and girl-powerish at the same time. It feels self-congratulatory. It's too girly, but also too womanly. It's like "I am woman, hear me roar", but also "little ol' me". Hmm. Hard to explain. I just don't like it and I'm sorry I wrote it.

That's all for now because it's Friday night, I've been away from my computer for five hours and I have some serious net-surfing to do.

I'm going to see Birdman tomorrow. Maybe I'll review it right here on Madgespace. Maybe I won't. I don't know! We'll just have to wait and see.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

On tongues

"I just stick my tongue out because I hate smiling in pictures. 
It's so awkward. It looks so cheesy."
— Miley Cyrus

I can't clean my tongue enough. Every morning and (most) evenings I give it a good, vigorous wash with the toothbrush. I scrape and I scrape. I rinse, reload on toothpaste and repeat. Yet still, those bits of beige persist. 

What must I do to get the perfect red tongue I so desperately want? 

I want it to look like a ripe strawberry—NOT like our old comforter, lumpy from the tumbledryer and covered in tea stains.  

Listerine works wonders. It may not get me the red I want, but a lengthly gargle of the poison will leave my tongue a nice pale pink. Still, it doesn't last long. A few hours later and ol' tonguey will be back to that disgusting khaki hue it prefers. 

Image by Duncan Kenneth Winter via Wikimedia Commons

Speaking of tongues, it's best not to think about yours too much. Just like with breathing and blinking, overthinking it—asking too many meddling questions—is enough to prompt a full-on panic attack. 

There are certain aspects of our biology that we should just accept at face value. Thinking too hard about that thick, slimy, spatulate muscle (the human body's strongest!) is not a road you want to go down. But sometimes you just can't help it!

GOD, what's the point of it anyway? When I'm not using it to propel globs of chewed up pizza down my gullet, what does it do all day? What's it up to? All it does is sit there, clinging to the roof of my mouth like one of those plastic bubble swimming pool covers. Yet, it doesn't ever fully relax. If it did, I'd swallow it. I think. That could just be a rumour. Either way, it's a horrific thought. 

Also, I get that it's attached to the back of my throat. But to what exactly? Where does it start? 



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bad news

I don't know how to feel about the news.

When I see a horrific headline, part of me wants to slam my laptop shut, jump in a hot shower and sing Motown songs at the top of my lungs until the uncomfortable feeling passes. The other part of me wants to read everything I can about it. Watch the shaky iPhone footage. Delve deep into Reddit threads. Scroll through the #prayfor[victim] hashtags on Twitter and bathe in the sorrow, tragedy, shock and horror of it all.

One day, I'm a wise Mr. Roger's type, reminding myself that most people are good and then sticking my head deep in the sand. The next day I'm the worst rubbernecking motorist on the road.

Whenever something about 'the world' upsets me (goddamn you, the world!), Andy tells me to think of my nieces and nephews. He says, "Just think about Freddie!"

It's fantastic advice.

You know those people who say 'I hate kids'? What assholes!
It's not an original thing to say, but people who say it think they're being super cutting-edge. 
If you don't have a baby or toddler in your life, I suggest you get one posthaste. It doesn't have to be one of your own—a friend's will do. Before you run for the shower or the Dailymail or the Smokey Robinson album or CNN, think about your toddler of choice. Picture their gap-toothed grin, goofy walk and tiny human clothing. Think about their moronic sense of humour and how much they adore their parents. Realise how wonderful it is that you know someone so pure and happy.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The saga continues

...and it looks like Ringo's to blame.

No, not that Ringo.

RingGo the cashless parking solution! Turns out, it hasn't solved anything! It's just created more problems!

Andy has received five parking tickets in the past month. FIVE. His defence: he paid through the RingGo app in every instance for which he's accused. He claims he was charged for the parking and the money has been taken from his account.

This was his response to Edinburgh Council's Department of Parking Services:

Spelled 'correspondence' wrong - but don't worry, he caught the mistake. 
I'll let you know how he gets on.

In other news, I cried at an HSBC commercial today.

The plot: a Chinese-American 20-something who works in a hair salon gets a cheque from three of her old lady customers to pay for her fashion design school tuition.

Cue the waterworks! I mean, yes, HSBC is a bank and banks are evil. But on the other hand, I've never claimed to be emotionally stable and HSBC refused bailout money back in the day so I have a bit of a soft spot for them.

Oh heck, just watch it for yourself.


Found out I don't have to work tomorrow, which means a good blog post is coming your way soon. Look out for it!


Monday, January 5, 2015

Madonna sucks now

It's the ugly truth.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

As Jack Black said in High Fidelity:

Top 5 musical crimes perpetrated by Stevie Wonder in the 80s and 90s—go! Sub-question: is it in fact unfair to criticise a formerly great artist for his latter day sins? Is it better to burn out or fade awaaay?

Char, Andy and I discuss.

Let me know what you think.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

January nerds

It's the first Sunday in January. If there was ever a time to bring your A-game, it's now.

As the first non-holiday week of the year stretches out before us, this is our chance for a fresh start. Stick out your tongue. Can you taste that? It's tiny particles of hope and opportunity floating through the air like a salty ocean mist. But these taste like acai berry and Febreze.

This evening Andy and I cracked on with our 2015 'Live Your Best Life' (© Oprah) plan. We made up two giant pots of tortellini soup to portion and freeze for our lunches throughout the week. We also blended up six water bottles worth of smoothies for a delightful breakfast drink on the go!

January is such a nerdy month. Everyone goes to the gym and promises to eats chocolate only in the evening. People set goals for their career, open ISAs and sign up for 10Ks. We clean, we diet, we run, we save. Some of us will take things too far and embark on a juice cleanse or sign up for a gruelling workout bootcamp. SO nerdy!!!

Really, there's nothing wrong with embracing our inner Goop every January. It can be quite refreshing. Let's just remember that:

1) Life improvement plans are boring. Most people don't care. Don't waffle on about your paleo recipes to work colleagues.

2) Mental health is just as important as physical health (Probably, I think. Unless you're HUGE). Don't punish yourself for being human. Take off the hair-shirt and spend a day doing absolutely nothing every now and then. Buy some new shoes. Eat a bagel.

Best of luck,

Saturday, January 3, 2015

7 toilet paper alternatives

In Italy there aren't any seats on the toilets. They are completely normal toilets, just with the seats removed. You can still see the two holes where the seat was once bolted on.

In Edinburgh, I've encountered seatless toilets in the odd dodgy pub. The busted seat is usually right there on the floor, next to bits of toilet paper and suspicious wet patches. But in those cases, it's just wear and tear from tipsy patrons doing the twist manoeuvre to speed things up. In Italy, the seats have been removed intentionally.

Why? Because Italians think sitting on public toilet seats is gross. Plus, with bidets a feature of every residential bathroom, they're born hoverers. When it comes to communal commodes, of course they opt for squatting over sitting.

Anyway. As I Googled "Why don't the toilets in Italy have seats?" and read the various Yahoo Answers, it got me thinking about bidets, wiping and butt hygiene in general.

I've often thought that future generations will look back on our (the West's) wadded-up-bunch-of-paper method and cringe with disgust, the way we do when we think about chamber pots and dumping raw sewage out the window onto the street below. Flushable wet wipes have been slow to take off, but once they become the norm, the current 'dry method' will be mocked like acid-wash jeans, tupperware parties and other relics of yesteryear.

Until then, let's address a serious, all too common situation we find ourselves in. You're sitting on the John, you've done the deed and—SHITE—no toilet paper. It's not ideal, but you have options. Here they are:

1. Paper towels

When I was living in University of Edinburgh student accommodation, I had my own apartment but shared a bathroom with another girl on my hall. She was Chinese, but went by Deborah. When Chinese students study abroad in the UK, they pick an English name to go by and it's almost always a 1950s housewife name (Susan, Barbara, Margaret...my kind of women!).

Even though it was university accommodation, we had to buy our own TP and carry it down the hall with us each time we needed the toilet. Too cheap and lazy to buy my own rolls, I would simply use the thick, blue paper towels from the dispenser in the bathroom (which, unlike the TP, were provided by Edinburgh Uni).

Well, Deborah must have spotted some lingering bits of blue paper in the toilet bowl because one day there was a Post-It note waiting for me on the mirror.

Dear Neighbour, 

You use my toilet paper please. I leave it here. Do not use hand towels.

Thank you, 

I felt bad. Was she annoyed that there weren't as many paper towels left for her? Did she think the paper towels clogged the toilet? Did the thought of that rough paper scraping against my arse cause her distress? Whatever the reason was, I decided to start buying my own toilet paper. I was growing up.

The point of all this is: paper towels are a decent alternative, if you have some.

2. Paper napkins

If you have a stack of paper napkins, leftover from a picnic or children's birthday party, use them! Stacks of napkins on the back of the toilet seat were a common sight in our house growing up. I'd go as far to say they were a bit of a treat.

3. The roll

No paper towels or napkins tucked away in the kitchen cupboards? Sit and ponder your predicament all you want, but your answer is staring you right in the eye. The roll. It's nobody's idea of a good time, but it's as reliable as the moon.

4. Cloth towel 

Of course, if you're willing to say goodbye (immediately and forever) to a good cloth hand towel, go right ahead. But this is only an option if you're in your own home. My mom once found a hand towel in the bathroom garbage that was used exactly for this purpose. She had only just returned from vacation. A sibling of hers (who shall remain nameless) had been housesitting while she was away.

The towel was revolting, but the revenge was sweet. She put the dirty cloth in a big box, wrapped it in beautiful paper and tied it with a giant bow. She kept it for months until, come December, she gave it to the culprit for Christmas.

5. Your own underwear

If you have a long day/night ahead of you, you're willing to go commando, and you think they're absorbent enough, this is just crazy enough to work.

6. Shower

If you think about it, what's a shower if not just a giant bidet?

7. Paper plates

You'd have to be incredibly desperate, but I've known at least one person who's attempted the paper plate route. Watch out for cardboard cuts. They make paper cuts feel like a relaxing Thai massage.


Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 predictions

I'm blogging from a train! How exotic!

It's £2 for an hour of (slow) Internet. Hopefully some day, when free WiFi flows like water, we'll look back on that and laugh.

Well, the holidays are officially over. Tonight we return to Edinburgh following the big Italy/Exeter world tour. Not to be an old fogie, but I'm looking forward to getting back to my routine.

We've celebrated. We've indulged. We've napped...ever day for the past ten days.

There's been lots cheese. There's been lots chocolate. There's even been cheese smothered on chocolate (no joke—last night I carved the caramel out of a chocolate, stuffed it with creamy Blue Stilton and fed it to Andy's brother).

Now it's time to put the sharp cheddar down and pick up the yoga mat. Also, clean the flat, return emails, check the bank account and make a bowl cut appointment.

But before all that, let's do some predictions for 2015.

Superbowl winner

Celebrity break-up
Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick

New Apple product 
iSandal (high tech footwear that moulds perfectly to your arch, calculates your steps and warns you of approaching piles of dog poop)

Hipster food trend
Artisan potstickers


Mad Men finale
Don Draper takes a bullet for Peggy and dies (not sure who the shooter is...but possibly Margaret, Roger's daughter)

Viral video
Skydiving iguana

Celeb in rehab
Justin Bieber

Popular music
Nelly Furtado comeback album

British TV show remade in America
Goggle Box

What do you predict?


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Like sand through the hourglass...

Oh dear. I've left this far too late. It's 11:45pm and I have just 15 minutes to write this post.

We've been playing a new board game called 'LINKEE' and time got the better of me. The game is great, by the way. Not sure if there's an American version (and I don't have the time to check).

OK. So. Happy new year.

Now enjoy these anecdotes from our Italy trip.

Notable moments from Italy

When I heard a euro coin drop on the ground as we were leaving a cafe. I picked it up, looked around and asked the closest person—a middle aged Italian man—"Did you drop a coin?" in loud, accidentally aggressive English. He was startled. Then he went "Wha..huh?" and shrugged his shoulders as those Mediterranean folk do. I turned back to Andy. He was laughing and told me he had put the coin into my hat while I was sipping my tea. It was my euro coin all along.

When Andy and I bought moisturiser at a supermarket in Bologna, to cure our dry-as-toast skin. I spent all morning rubbing it into my legs and all over my body. But something wasn't right. It was too thin. Too difficult to rub in. I Google-Translated the words on the bottle. It was body wash. I had been rubbing SOAP into my dry skin! The horror.

When the couple at the table next to us at dinner got in a fight. They were Spanish and we listened to the whole thing escalate until it reached the breaking point and the guy stormed out. It was one of those tiny Italian restaurants too. They were right next to us. I had to consciously keep my elbows in so as not to touch the girl. You could cut the tension with a pizza cutter. Andy and I loved it. It was Day 9 of our trip and we've long run out of things to say to each other. After dinner, when we were roaming around Rome, we saw the couple again! They were lost and consulting a map. Haha. More stress for them, more entertainment for us.

When my bowl cut got so long that I had to sculpt it into a horrific boy/pixie/mullet thing. See photo below.

When this ad auto-loaded before a YouTube video we watched (watch it to the end):


More tomorrow,

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