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Last week I popped into Casa Amiga for a (decaff) flat white and a nata.Oddly enough I’d only ever been in for a takeaway or sat in if with friends but I  plonked myself down and enjoyed a bit of respite. The decaff tasted fine by the way.  And natas I adore. £3.90 for such joy!  Cafe Amiga also has a small deli selection. Some of the goods I remember from my South African childhood – Marie biscuits anyone! They have very tempting pastries and cakes.

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Causewayside by Anne Redpath

I love this picture. Today is slightly springlike. And great drama due to the eclipse. Pictures later. I keep on wanting to look at things which make me feel good. It may be springlike today but  winter seems to have gone on for a long time . My internal winter has gone on for a very long time. Illness has dragged on and on, and meanwhile the everyday stuff of life must be delt with, loo roll buying, provisioning, work.To be honest the cleaning apart from the bare minimum has gone by the wayside. Days are punctuated by rests before energy can be gathered for work. And sadly more often than not social occasions are turned down as I conserve what energy I do have for the essentials.

What to do? How to live? How to have a good life? Where to expend one’s limited energy? All questions which swill around my brain. To be answered sometime into the future.

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On Monday I had a few hours in London before getting a late train back. I wandered around Bloomsbury. Taking photos, reacquainting myself with haunts, visiting secondhand bookshops and The London Review of Bookshop. Finally I stopped and sat outside the British Museum with a hot chocolate (in this simply marvellous cup!) and wrote a few postcards and finally admitted to myself how tired I was and how I really just wanted to rest. Why is this so hard? Funnily enough I’ve given up coffee and have massively cut down on my caffeine intake in the last two weeks. It makes me wonder if frankly I’ve been using the coffee ( 3 moka espresso worth a day) to mask my tiredness and perhaps I just need to STOP! Not much likelihood of that in the next few weeks but I’ll do my best.

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Taking the 35 bus on Hogmanay up to the High St a Spanish family got on at Easter Road, Mum, Dad and two kids. A tiny wee bairn of 3 hopped up on the back seat wearing a little Stuart tartan kilt. However her mum had obviously worried about her getting cold with all those pleats so had sewn along the bottom of her kilt keeping them in place! Dad had also gone to town wearing a Gordon Hunting Tartan kilt (full marks!) but also was concerned about the cold.. he was wearing what looked like thermal tights underneath! I Hope that they had a fab evening.

Later on in Princes Street Gardens we formed a small circle of #blogmanay bloggers to sing Auld Lang Syne and I stuck my camera in my pocket and just lived in the moment. It almost makes me feel teary thinking about it. And someone offered me some short bread (off gluten at the moment so a no no!).

#blogmanay is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported byETAG,EventScotland,VisitScotland,and co-creators Haggis Adventures. Created and produced byUnique Events. As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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I’ve been meaning to write a long and considered response to all the thoughful comments on my Mallaig piece but have been taken up with the job-for-money and I never seem to have the right amount of time/space to reply. I have also managed to lose another digital camera. Thank god it was only a cheapie from the pawn shop… I am struggling even to find time to return to it to get a replacement.

 

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I chose to suggest to my mother that we do the West Highland Line as I thought it would be a fun trip away and also my mother is very fond of trains. Our birthdays are both in September but really as a joint celebration due to my mother’s packed schedule and mine, October was the first date we could both make it together.

I owe my mother my love of landscape especially mountains. Growing up in South Africa instead of going to the beach like every other white family we took off to the Drakensburg Mountains where we stayed in basic self catering taking our food into the interior, walking up to ancient caves, marvelling at the most bejewelled insects. My father was a member of the South African Mountain Club when my mother met him at University. We were lucky when we got to Scotland in 1977 my grandmother remembered some connections from Roma University in Botswana who had returned to Scotland. So every summer we travelled to the west coast to spend our holidays on the Isle of Mull. In the unacknowledged but aching pain of exile the landscape soothed me.

I have an enormously complicated and difficult relationship with Scotland, some 15 years ago I spent a year making a documentary exploring some of these issues. It was painful, revelatory and I thought helped close a chapter. I learned to live with Scotland.

Then the referendum happened.

Now it has been made quite clear that I am will never be Scottish enough. And it isn’t just Scottish people who articulate this. So sitting in a train chugging through the Western Highlands a woman from Manchester yes Manchester. insisted that both my mother and I were not Scottish. ‘But yes’ she said ‘where are you really from?’ when I said that there were people with all different accents living in Scotland. ‘No; she insisted ‘Where are you really from’ ‘We’ve lived here for 37 years’ said my mother patiently. To no avail this (Black) woman would not allow us to belong to Scotland.

Oh how can I explain how odd how difficult this all is. My great Aunt Mary whom I’m named after is a founding member of the Scottish National Party which has effectively ensured there will never be a place for me in my adopted home. My mother’s family has an extraordinary long intertwined history with the arts and culture of Scotland though our ex family business, through relatives like this person but to no avail.

Meanwhile my mother reminisces about coming up the West Highland Railway as  a student at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1960’s to do VSO work building a road to some very remote crofts in Glenuig. Where we had some distant relatives who were crofters. Walking 25 minutes along from the station at Lochailort to pick up a boat.

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