Changes…Part 2

Well, the last year’s blogging didn’t go so well, did it? After all my good intentions, too. I thought I was settling down into a quiet year and routine, but then stuff happened. Again.

So let’s tackle the sad thing first. My mum passed away last October, aged 82. After successfully battling three forms of cancer and a stroke over the last ten years, aggressive liver cancer took hold. If I’m thankful for anything, it was quick. And that’s all I’m going to say about that just now.

Hubby and I moved house, kind of suddenly, last November. We had thought about moving to a more rural location for some time, and this lovely Lodge House appeared at the right moment, so we had to snap it up. We have been here just over nine months now, and we are loving it. Winter was a bit of an eye-opener, though…brr.

In March, I became a full time Steward for Historic Scotland, at Doune Castle. After working part time with the company in 2017 and really enjoying it, I decided that was the direction I wanted to take. It fulfils my love of Scottish history, stories and legends – and running up and down spiral stairs keeps me much fitter than sitting in a car. (I still do driver training a couple of hours a week, just to keep my hand in).

I completed my third year with the Open University. That was the thing that happened which was actually planned. 😉 Year four starts in just over a month – eek!

So hopefully I can get back to this blog now that things have settled down a bit. I have castle pics and cat pics to share – sometimes they are in the same one!

Hope you’re all well out there in the blogsphere – let me know what you’re up to. Anyone else suddenly change location/career/whatever? 🙂

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Ellen by Coral McCallum is published today!

Hi Folks!

My good friend and fellow rock chick Coral has a new book out today! This rock star romance follows singer Ellen and her beginnings with the band After Life. Those of you who have read Coral’s previous novels may remember this band and their distinctive singer, although you don’t have to have read the Silver Lake series to enjoy this book.

Like all of Coral’s novels this is a page turner. I was lying on a sun lounger when reading it, and I’m glad as I didn’t want to put it down to do boring stuff like chores or go to work! 😉 The story pulls you into the ups and downs of the band After Life as they set out to tour, record and hopefully one day make it big. Ellen has a past that haunts her physically and mentally – is guitarist Tailz the guy to make everything right? Will bassist Luke overcome his personal demons and be able to withstand the gruelling life of a touring rock musician? Only time will tell… If you want to know more, buy the book!

Buy Ellen here:

UK edition

US edition

Enjoy the book, folks, and huge congratulations to Coral on publishing her fourth novel. Big hugs and keep on rockin’! xx

Changes…

Due to unwelcome attention from a stalker, I’ve changed my blog name (and my Twitter handle, and I’m completely off Facebook for the moment). A few of you already know about this, most don’t, so I thought a quick explanation was in order. There have been lots of other changes too, which I will hopefully be able to tell you about in future. However, I have an Open University end of term exam in a week’s time, so I’d better concentrate on that for now… 😉

‘Return to Wordpress’ Ramblings…

Wow, a blog post! Finally! Woo hoo! Yay!

Hi there everyone, I’ve been meaning to get back on here for WEEKS but finally managed to sit my a**e down and do it today. How are you all?

My last post was in August 2016?! I know I said I was going to take a break but even I wasn’t expecting it to be a year long. A bunch of important stuff happened, though. I’ll give you a brief rundown and then get on to cat pictures and Scottish scenery, which, let’s face it, is what everyone would much prefer… 😉

So, as it turned out I didn’t enjoy my new roles within the driver training industry as much as I thought I was going to. As 2016 wore on I was getting more and more unhappy, and wondering what to do about it. Then, I had a wake up call…

In December, hubby’s step-brother died of a sudden heart attack. He was 46 years old, the same age as myself.

I decided life is too short to be stuck doing things that make you unhappy, if there’s any way out of them. After a heartfelt discussion with hubby, I began to make some changes in the New Year. I left The AA, and became an independent driver trainer. I stopped training instructors, and went back to learners and a few qualified drivers. I also went part-time, and acquired another job for three days a week. I am now a Steward for Historic Environment Scotland, based at Inchmahome Priory on the Lake of Menteith. I’ll do a blog post just on this in due course, as there is LOTS to say about it: beautiful scenery, nature, and loads of history, of course!

Although I’m still ironing out a few life niggles (who isn’t?), I’m much happier in my work. It’s a juggling act balancing the two jobs, but I LOVE my Steward’s role. It gets me out of the enclosed environment of the car and into the fresh air, I get to chat Scottish history with lots of people, and – I get to sail a boat! 🙂

The upshot of these positive changes has meant that I actually feel like writing again. So here I am! Also, I need to get back into the way of writing, as I’ve enrolled for my third year with the Open University, continuing with my degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. That starts in October, so I’m getting prepared!

Whew! I think that’s pretty much everything. As promised, here are some photos of what I’ve been up to…

As you can see, the cats are all fine…

Inchmahome Priory

Inchmahome bluebells back in May

Ducks and my little boat in the background

Oh, and the keeping fit has been going pretty well, too. More on that in future. Here’s me looking sweaty after running round the Kelpies. 😀

So, that’s the (abridged) story so far. Hopefully, I’ve found my mojo again and I’ll be back on this blog more often. Tell me what you’ve been up to, readers! Has anyone else made big changes? Or small ones?

Karen xx

Not Leaving, Just Changing Focus For a While

Some of you may have noticed I haven’t been blogging nearly as regularly as I used to. (Most of you will have not noticed, and that’s fine, because we’re all mega-busy and drop in and out of blogs when we have time, both as readers and writers.) I just wanted to do a little update on what’s been happening, why I haven’t been around, and why I may continue to not be around for a while.

The Day Job

This is taking up more brain power! That’s not to say I didn’t use my brain before, ha ha, but the new role I’ve taken on, training the actual instructors, requires a bit more energy. This means that when I’m at home in the evenings, I’m often too tired to write much. I’m sure that’ll change as I get more used to the new bit of my job, but for the time being, it’s having an effect.

Also, as of the end of August I’m going to be covering the Regional Business Manager’s role while they’re off for a few months, so that’ll take up extra time as well!


The New Project

Project Health! Of course, my day job is extremely sedentary. I’ve been aware for a while that I need to take more exercise, eat healthier and therefore lose some weight. Well, it’s now happening.

One of the perks of my job is I get to meet lots of different people. One of my ex-pupils is a fitness instructor. When I was teaching him to drive, he was just starting his own business. In the spirit of supporting local small businesses, and because we get on great, I’ve joined his gym, started doing fitness classes and met a whole lot of lovely other clients along the way. I’ve also been inspired, of course, by my hubby, who has done amazing things improving his fitness over the last couple of years. (See My Running Man for details.)

Inspirational hubby!

Inspirational hubby!

I started this at the beginning of May, and I’ve lost over a stone, gone down from a size 16/18 in clothes to a size 14, and I’m feeling great. After my summer hols, which are a week away, my short term goal is to lose another stone, and get down to a size 12. I’m also taking part in Supernova, a 5K running event in Falkirk at the beginning of November. My long term goal is to take part in the Tough Mudder event in 2017. I’ve signed up, and will be joining the M.K.Fitness team in all their muddy glory.

So getting fitter is taking up some of my time, too. But it’s a good use of time. Although I’m a firm believer in ‘having it all’, I don’t believe you can have it all at once – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. At the moment, I’m focusing on my day job and on getting fitter, so writing has had to take a bit of a back seat. I was stressing about this for a while, but then I realised that was silly. My priorities have changed, for the time being at least. Writing is meant to be fun. If I’m forcing myself to do it when I’m tired, or should be doing something else, that’s not fun.

This blog post is as much for me as for you, lovely readers. I’m giving myself permission to not write.

That said, I’m sure I’ll simply not write as much. I’ll still blog about fun things I’ve done. I’ve got a couple of short stories already written that’ll be appearing on here. And I’m sure that, having permitted myself not to write, ideas will jump into my head that I simply have to write about!

Okay, I’m off to make dinner, feed the cats, and all those kind of necessary tasks. Oh, and see if hubby needs any help – he’s up a ladder fixing something! 😀

I’ll see you when I see you, folks.

Karen xx

Romans and Riesling – Our Trip to Trier

In my last blog post I mentioned that hubby and I had recently visited the German city of Trier. This was a surprise trip for me, and had been sneakily organised over Facebook by hubby and our friend Iris, who lives in Trier with her hubby Christof. (See, another example of the good side of social media!)

Trier is a Roman city, the oldest city in Germany, and an architectural extravaganza. Cue lots of photographs. Last lot until after our summer holiday, I promise!

We explored quite a bit over our three days there, starting with the very imposing Porta Nigra (Black Gate), the best-preserved of Roman city gates in the world.

The Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra

The Basilika started out as Emperor Constantine’s throne room, and is now a church, with a magnificent organ. There was no way to fit the whole exterior in the picture!

Trier Museum has so many Roman finds they can’t display them all, and if someone discovers something new in the city, the archaeologists take a photograph and say: very good, now put it back where you found it! 😀 I think if I’d found those coins I’d have sneaked a few away…

There are many Medieval buildings and remains in Trier, too. Note where the ‘door’ is on the House of the Three Magi. Yes, it’s meant to be up there. This house was built before the medieval city wall was finished, and so the door was accessed by a ladder which could be pulled up in case of attack. Clever, huh?

There was a lovely open air market selling all kinds of things, all gathered around the Market Cross. Poor Christof was chained to the Pillory by angry townsfolk! 😉 Luckily he didn’t have any rotten fruit and veg thrown at him.

The Cathedral displays architecture and artwork from 1650 years of history. Hubby and I spent a whole morning in there.

Trier Cathedral

Trier Cathedral


So, we’ve seen the Romans – where does the Riesling come in? Well, Iris and Christof know the owners of the local winemaker Zilliken. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon wine tasting at their lovely premises, with the expert knowledge of Patrick Zilliken to guide us. We sadly couldn’t bring any back as we only had cabin baggage, but rest assured we shall be ordering some!

Wine tasting! L-R: Patrick (the owner), hubby, me, Iris

Wine tasting! L-R: Patrick (the owner), hubby, me, Iris

I’ll finish with a pic of Iris and me. We had just finished eating schnitzel, after the wine tasting. Hence why I’m a bit pink. 😉 Hubby is taking the pic, and drinking the local beer.

I can heartily recommend a visit to Trier, especially if you love history (and beer, and wine)!

Our wonderful host Iris, and me

Our wonderful host Iris, and me

A Larky Day Out in Luxembourg City

Well, I’ve finally got back to my blog! (Stupid day job.) As I mentioned in my last post, hubby recently organised a surprise holiday for me. I had an inkling of where we were going, but was still delighted when I found out it was to Trier, in Germany. But you said Luxembourg..? – confused wails from everyone Bear with me, people. Trier is home to a couple of friends of ours, who showed us round their city and treated us to lots of lovely German delicacies (more on Trier next time). However, work commitments had to be met, and on the first day our friends weren’t free. So hubby decided he would like to visit Luxembourg City, which was only about an hour away from Trier by train.

Luxembourg City Old Town is perched on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the gorge cut by the Petrusse and Alzette rivers.


A new bridge is under construction over the gorge. Wouldn’t fancy that job!

IMG_0285

The Old Town has plenty of pleasant squares, old architecture, and cobbled streets – complete with coach loads of elderly people also on a day out! 😉

The city also has a modern business and administrative side. We took the obligatory open-topped bus tour to see as much as possible.

Once off the bus, we explored some of the old streets. Found this awesome sign which heartily met with my approval!

If we’d had more time there were plenty of museums, galleries and other places we could have visited. As it was, we had a great day out and caught a flavour of this vibrant city. The weather, which had been threatening rain all day (you can see the clouds in some of the pics), finally turned just as we were leaving, so that was good timing! We grabbed a local beer before catching the train.

(Follow the link if you fancy knowing more about Luxembourg City and what to do there.)

So: arrived in one country, promptly popped over to another, and then headed back to Germany for more food, drink and sightseeing. Now to sort out my Trier photos for the next blog post… 😉