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Another Burns season done and dusted

Me and Iain at his Burns Supper

In the years since I got involved in doing a turn at Burns’ Suppers, I’ve been to all sorts of takes on them. From the grand affairs with over 100 people packed into a splendid hall to those held in people’s homes. To me, so long as people enjoy a bit of Burns and have a good time, it doesn’t really matter what the scale or venue or conformity to tradition is.

My 2015 Burns season comprised of five very different events and I enjoyed each of them in different ways. Which is why I thought I’d give my account of them here, so that I might look back in years to come and be reminded of an almost perfect collection of ways to celebrate Robert Burns.

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The Who at The Hydro

The Who at The Hydro

Earlier this year, when the tickets originally went on sale for the Who, kicking off their 50th anniversary tour at The Hydro, I scoffed at the price and made my peace with the fact I’d probably never get to see them live. Fast forward to three weeks before the gig and, by virtue of a workmate who had tickets but now couldn’t make it, I jumped at the chance and paid him the substantial face value to secure the pair of them for me and my mate Adrian.

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In the champions league

TKD-champions-league-wishaw-sparring

In the two years or so since I first took up Taekwon-do, most of the students at roughly the same grade as me had taken part in several competitions but, for various reasons, I just never put myself forward. I did like the idea of competing, though, so back in June I opted to skip a grading in order to hone my technique so that I could compete at blue tag level at the Taekwon-do Champions League event in September.

However, when September rolled around the event was held for juniors only and I didn’t want to hold off on grading any longer. Reluctantly I did my blue belt grading and figured that once people got to that standard they’d know what they were doing in competitions and I’d only get schooled now I’d left it so late.

Still, my friends in the class kept telling me I should at least give it a go because, as the belts progress, there’s only a very narrow window before you get to black belt and at that point the standard really does ramp up. I was keen to give it a go before the chance was gone. Read the rest of this entry →

The long awaited summer

The view from Ben Bouie on the afternoon of September 21st 2014

Since moving back to the west of Scotland six and a half years ago, we’ve not had the best of luck with the weather during the summer months. 2009 was a complete washout across the whole country and it was an especially miserable one for me. The years that followed didn’t deliver much of an improvement and I was really starting to rue the decision to move back here.

Things took a turn for the better in 2013, though, with July being simply fantastic with week after week of beautiful blue skies. I hoped for more of the same this year and boy did we get that and more. Even over the easter weekend in April the weather was fantastic, but really, from when we came back from the family holiday in Orlando at the end of june the weather this summer was just incredible, with the exception of a very wet end to July.

I’ve noted before that good weather is a great enabler for me. It gets me out and active and that in turn just helps me stay energized and positive.

2014-07-10 19.22.24The list of things I enjoyed doing during summer 2014 is practically endless. From riding my cruiser skateboard into work almost every day, to re-joining the tennis club and making the most of it. We went out on Loch Lomond aboard Crazy Uncle John’s boat. We played baseball on the grass field by the house in the evenings. We did the Swing Park Challenge again. We spent sunny weekend afternoons in Helensburgh on our skateboards and scooters, just soaking up the vibrant mood brought on by the glorious sunshine.

For as long as it lasted, I knew that in late September we’d all too soon be wrapping up for the wind and rain. So, on what I thought would be the very last weekend of good weather for the year, I set off and climbed Ben Bouie to take some pictures of the town basking in sunshine.

But it turned out I was wrong and the good weather rolled on for a few weeks after that. There were even days in October that were t-shirt temperature in Glasgow and I was able to ride the cruiser down the hill to the station a few more times than I could have reasonably hoped for.

The view from Ben Bouie, September 21st 2014Anyway, going back to that day I climbed Ben Bouie – it was my way of doffing my cap to what had been one of the most enjoyable seasons I can remember. As the clocks went back to mark the end of British Summer time I had to concede that regardless of how brutal the winter is, that summer was one I’ll not soon forget.

Unless 2015 can better it, of course. Fingers crossed!