A Little Bit About…Laughter

Laughter is the best medicine so they say. After my recent weekend away, I can vouch for that being true. Here’s why…

I’m unfortunately very prone to headaches and in particular, to migraines. Although I’ve managed to get them under control over the past few years by cutting lactose out of my diet, I still often get tension headaches and sometimes the odd migraine. Last week was one of those weeks. I had a pretty sore head all day Monday and Tuesday, and I figured it was maybe just tiredness, but by Tuesday night, my whole head was pounding and every single source of light or sound, no matter how small, felt like a sensory overload and was multiplied by hundred. I took the medication I normally take, which normally works, but I woke up on Wednesday feeling awful. Blurred vision, dizzy, nauseous, pounding head. I went to the doctor who gave me an even stronger tablet, but after 24 hours and 3 of doses of medication, I still wasn’t feeling 100%. I stupidly went into work on Thursday, eager not to miss too much and trying to shake off the pain, but after a couple of hours and yet another visit to the doctor who gave me an even stronger dosage of medication, I had to head home. Back to a dark and silent room. 

I had a weekend away with the Spanish girls from work planned from Friday to Sunday, and mid-week, mid-migraine, I seriously doubted whether or not I would be able to go. But the good news was that the weekend we had planned was a mini luxury girls weekend, in a 5-star hotel with spa access. I figured in the worst case scenario, the girls could go out and explore and I could spend all weekend in bed nursing my migraine. After all, if you’re going to have to spend all weekend in bed, it might as well be in a 5-star hotel room, with Egyptian Cotton sheets, fluffy pillows and wearing one of those fuzzy dressing gowns they always give you in fancy hotels.

But thankfully I woke up on Friday morning feeling much better. A little drained, but much better. I went to work, suitcase in hand, ready for the weekend. But still with the expectation I might have to call it a night early and rest up. Little did I know that as soon as the three of us left work that afternoon and headed in the car to our destination, it would be like magic…migraine no more! 

First up, we spent the 3 hour car journey singing our hearts out to some of the most iconic pop tunes and Spanish “reggaetón” music known to man, before arriving to find a gorgeous hotel in the most tranquil spot. We spent Friday night at a candlelit dinner in the hotel courtyard with a live pianist, before having a few glasses (maybe bottles…) of wine and heading to bed. The next day we did a tour of the nearby town Caceres, then spent the afternoon having the spa to ourselves before getting dressed up to go to Atrio, a spectacular Michelin star restaurant in the heart of the old town of Caceres where we enjoyed an out of this world 23 dish tasting menu. On Sunday we spent all morning at the outdoor swimming pool before heading to a nearby town square for lunch to fuel up before the drive home to Madrid. We laughed all weekend, from start to finish, telling old stories, catching up on gossip and taking pictures. 

Although I’m very aware of how lucky I am to have such amazing friends both at home and here in Spain, one thing that never fails to amaze me about my friends here in Spain is how even though I grew up approximately 2000km away, speaking a different language most of my life, in a completely different culture, the three of us have so much in common and it feels like we’re all one in the same. That made us laugh even more. The fact that we grew up listening to the same music, watching the same TV shows and movies (albeit with funnily translated names into Spanish) and wearing the same latest fashion trends. 

The most important thing was that we relaxed. We forgot about work and migraines and Coronavirus. I feel like a new person this week. Laughter really is the best medicine! Either that, or a life of luxury is, I’m not quite sure. But for the sake of my bank card, I’m going to go with laughter. 

A Little Bit About…Spontaneity

Spontaneity is a funny concept, isn’t it? By the very nature of it, it’s not something you can plan. You can’t particularly look forward to it either, or even aspire to it. Plus, some of us are simply “better” at it than others. By that I mean that some personality types simply lend themselves to being more adventurous and flexible, while others prefer to organise and arrange everything in advance, and probably can’t think of anything worse than being spontaneous. 

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle. Admittedly, I very much like to play by the rules (always have, always will), so sometimes the thought of being impulsive can put me off my game. That being said, as I’ve come through my 20s, taken on adventure after adventure and even moved country, I’ve had no choice but to grow, adapt and become more flexible (in a figurative way of course, I’ve tried yoga and can confirm I am definitely NOT flexible in a physical way). At the ripe old age of 29, I’m probably less of an organiser than I’ve ever been and now actually enjoy “going with the flow”. I believe that’s what the cool kids call it.

What’s funny is that when you look up the definition of spontaneity, two of the synonyms it gives you are naturalness and artlessness, two very contradictory terms. One, naturalness, positively suggests that it’s the purest and most natural way a human can act, while the other, artlessness, negatively suggests it’s a careless and reckless way to act. But which is it?

If I’ve learnt one thing, it’s that even those organised, structured, planning types amongst us can be spontaneous too. It’s just that their spontaneous looks different to that of a free-thinking, thrill-seeking go-getter. For example, if every single day of his life, Bob plans his meals down to a tee, what he’ll eat, where he’ll eat, when he’ll eat…then one day he decides to leave his packed lunch in the fridge and tag along with work colleagues to try something new instead, then Bob could have skydived off the Empire State Building if you ask me! Changing your lunch plans at the last minute might not seem like a big deal to some people, but to others that’s a massive step. It’s all relative!

This weekend my very own level of spontaneity was “tested” so to speak. A fairly new friend of mine suggested a trip to the beach for the day since neither of us had plans. We booked our train tickets last minute and off we went with a few things flung into a backpack (and a face mask of course!) to spend the day. It was a flying visit and the plan was….there was no plan.  Other than to do whatever took our fancy. Spontaneity at its best!

I thought to myself “This type of thing right here is exactly why I moved to Spain. To see new places, hang out with different people, try unfamiliar things”. That was until there was mention of hopping on a motorbike though….! That’s when the breezy, carefree, spontaneous me went out the window and the wary, prudent, overly sensible me stepped in. I’m terrified of Spanish driving and traffic as it is without hopping on the back of a motorbike haha! But thanks to the “there was no plan” plan, me not being very enthusiastic about the prospect of a motorbike didn’t ruin the spontaneous feel of the day, it meant we simply decided to walk instead.

I personally try to keep an open mind as much as possible and do whatever I want, whenever I want…within certain limits of course. Turns out that limit includes motorbikes! But that example aside, I think a bit of spontaneity is great in life. Why not try something different every now and again? When was the last time you did something out of the blue? You never know what you might find out about yourself. 

P.S. Ironically, I actually ended up having a spontaneous Sunday night nap which is why I’m posting this on Monday night instead…oops!

A Little Bit About…The Beach

For me, one of life’s biggest mysteries will forever be how people manage to look glamorous while at the beach. What is the secret?!

You know the people I mean? With the sunkissed skin and freckles, the golden speckles in their hair and just an all-round glow? While I sit there pasty white – partly my natural “hue” and partly the 3 layers of Factor 50 sun tan lotion I have on – probably with prickly heat on my arms and mosquito bites on my legs. Now I know we should never compare ourselves to others and all that jazz…but come on!

Despite it not being when I look my finest, I have always loved the beach. There’s something kind of magical about being by the seaside isn’t there? It’s like you’re nostalgic for memories of old family holidays while eager to create brand new ones at the same time. But lets face it, these people that make look it look effortless are lying!

Firstly there’s the sand. And it’s everywhere, On your skin, in your hair, in your shoes, in your bag, in your car, in your suitcase….in my not-so-professional opinion, you continue to find sand in unexpected places up to 7 days after a visit to the beach. It somehow creeps in even if you’ve already washed and dried everything. Twice!

Then there’s the suncream. Oh, the suncream! Remember when you were a kid and you would get lathered in sun tan lotion and then told to wait 30 minutes before going in the sea to “let it soak in”? Well no matter how old you are, those are STILL guaranteed to be the longest and hottest 30 minutes of your life, just standing waiting for the suncream to dry before you can enjoy a swim in the sea.

And don’t even get me started on the sunburn. It baffles me, but people (sorry to say it, but especially us Brits) seem to convince themselves that if they burn, “it will turn to tan in a few days”. I’ve never heard anything more ridiculous! If you get burnt, you look like a lobster, end of story. Not a good look in my eyes!

Now if the beach isn’t my chosen fashion catwalk under normal circumstances, I can confirm that the beach in times of Coronavirus is even less so – wearing a sun hat, sunglasses, a face mask and a swimming costume is in no way a glamorous look. Yet it’s one I proudly rocked all weekend!

I spent a couple of days in a quiet seaside town on the East Coast of Spain this weekend which was delightful, albeit surreal, it being my first ever “socially distant” and “new normal” beach experience. We wore our masks until we were in an open space where we could set up camp and from there on out, kept our distance from anyone else on the beach. There were additional security staff on hand to explain the rules and ensure everyone was abiding by them too, so although it was a surreal experience, it was a safe and sensible one.

Since I’ve lived in Spain I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. Small little “calas” with turquoise water, the whitest sand and to-die-for backdrops. The sound of the waves, of people laughing and playing. The sun slowly setting and leaving everything with a golden glow which you can’t help but smile at. And this weekend was no exception.

That being said, Spain isn’t the only place with goregous beaches. My mum and dad recently reminded me of a funny story of when I was about 14 years old: the 3 of us were on holiday in Florida and went to the beach one night to watch the sunset. I can’t even remember how it happened, as thinking back it seems quite out of character for me, but I got talking to a guy on the beach who was about the same age as me and we decided to wander along the water edge, chattting away. But we clearly got too engrossed in the awkward teenage boy-girl chat because the next thing I know, I heard my mum and dad shouting on me. I turned round and realised we had walked really far away, so much so, my mum and dad were just tiny little figures in the distance. One (my mum) frantically waving, clearly panicked I was about to disappear into a Florida sunset and never look back, the other (my dad) beside her playing it slightly cooler but looking equally as panicked! Lets blame that one on the “sea air” shall we? See, I told you there’s something magical about being by the sea….

Joking aside, I really do find being at the beach so relaxing. Being a city girl at heart, it’s an escape. A fleeting moment of relaxation and quiet. Even if I do have to simultaneously worry about topping up my suncream, keeping sand out of the snacks and making sure the parasol doesn’t blow away.

A Little Bit About…Dads

Today is Father’s Day in many countries, a day to celebrate Dads and father figures everywhere. So guess what today’s inspiration is? That’s right, today I wanted to write A Little Bit About my Dad.

Multi-skilled, in his spare time alone, he’s my tax consultant, property maintenance manager and general life advice guru. Oh, and he also provides a top notch taxi service between Edinburgh airport and home. We have the same initials, same sense of humour and many of the same mannerisms (so my Mum tells us), albeit I definitely watch and play a lot less football than him.

I thought I’d share with you all some of the most important lessons my Dad’s taught me over the years. He’s a pretty private person, but he’s also the biggest fan of this blog, so I’m sure he won’t mind me letting you in on a few of our secrets to life since it’s all for a good cause.  

Dream big – Ever since I’ve been little, my Mum and Dad have both always told me I can do anything I put my mind to. Our minds are powerful things, and my Dad in particular has always taught me to use mine wisely…by thinking positively. And turns out he’s right. It sounds so simple, but this is the biggest and best gift I could ever have asked for so guess we need to add another tally mark on the “what I owe you” list haha!

Somebody else’s food always tastes better – this one is so annoyingly true, do you agree? Regardless of what it is, it could be a takeaway, it could be a bag of crisps, it could be a roast dinner. But someone else’s always tastes better! Luckily, that’s what Dads are for…sharing their food with their daughters haha!

I don’t need 30 pairs of shoes – I’m going to compromise on this one and agree with him that I do not need 30 different pairs of shoes. However, I still stand firmly on the fact that I want and enjoy having 30 different pairs of shoes. I think we’ll just agree to disagree on that one, eh Dad? We can’t all wear the same brand of trainers for 40 odd years…

Be an athlete – my Dad’s always joked with me about being “an athlete”, mostly because, well, I’m not. But that’s ok, because what is important is going out and making the effort to do some exercise. Good for the body, good for the mind! Whether it was running my first cross country race in primary school (and taking so long to come back into the stadium everyone thought I was lost), playing Netball in the Scottish Cup Championship or simply just going to the gym, my Dad’s always been there to support me. Not quite managed to get anyone else other than him (and my Mum) to recognise me for my athletic abilities right enough, but I’m sure that’s just an oversight….

Rollerblades are great fun, but not the most appropriate footwear – when I was younger, my Dad took me camping for the weekend. At the time it seemed like the biggest adventure I could possibly be going on and I was so excited that 5 minutes after arriving at the campsite near Loch Lomond, I ran straight into the lake…trainers and all. My Mum is the organised one in the family, meaning if she was there I would have had a spare pair of shoes to change into, but this was strictly a Dad and daughter adventure. Meaning no spare shoes and having to wear rollerblades for the next 48 hours until my trainers dried again! Great fun, but definitely NOT practical. Lesson learnt by all!

Always brush your teeth before bed (and don’t crunch polo mints) – my Mum and Dad were never too strict BUT, there was one thing my Dad told me every single night…to brush my teeth. He told me to promise him just that one thing, to always take care of my teeth, as I’d look back and thank him one day. So even now, at 29 years old and over 2000km away, I still brush my teeth every night thinking of that, and I have to say every time I look in the mirror, I am indeed very thankful for my pearly whites! Have to confess, I do love to secretly crunch polo mints though…sorry Dad!

Anyway, those are just a few of my highlights. And what better way to end than with a Braveheart quote: I love you, I’ve always loved you…dad jokes and dad dance included!

A Little Bit About…Meatballs

You know the feeling when you spend hours making a meal, then you eventually sit down to eat it, but the end result somehow doesn’t seem worth all that effort? Or when you order something in a restaurant because the description on the menu had your taste buds tingling, but when the waiter puts it down in front of you it tastes bland and flat in comparison? Well a few months ago, back when we still attended the office every day, I had a pretty traumatic lunch break in work due to that very type of disappointment – obviously I’m exaggerating about the traumatic part, but I can’t help it, especially when it comes to food. I’d had the cold for about a week (don’t worry, just an actual cold, nothing Coronavirus related), so was feeling sorry for myself – no one else would – and decided I wanted something warm and hearty for lunch instead of the usual sandwich or baguette. So I asked in the canteen if they could do takeaway for the hot food and they said yes, bonus! They always have a selection of at least 3 hot mains to choose from. My choices today were:

  • a macaroni cheese type dish – ruled out because of my lactose intolerance
  • swordfish with a selection of season vegetables – ruled out by being too healthy and not quite cutting it on a day where I wanted nothing but stodge
  • meatballs in a delicious looking sauce with a side of roast potatoes – sold!

I practically sprinted back upstairs so that I could dig in to my calorie ridden, carbohydrate infested meal as soon as possible. Just what the doctor ordered (in this instance, by doctor I quite clearly do not mean doctor and obviously mean the bottomless pit that is my stomach). I made the first cut into one of the meatballs, ready to smush (that’s a word, right?) it about in the sauce and take my first bite. Only to see that the “meatball” was white inside. Hmm, strange right? Well you’ll never guess. What I thought were meatballs, were in fact codballs. That’s right, you read that correctly. Flaked codfish, mushed together and rolled into a ball. Codballs. Yuck! Why someone would come up with such an invention I have no idea. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fish dish, but rolled up…no thanks!

Now I like to think that I’m a fairly positive, smiley person. Well not this day. I was in a terrible mood all afternoon. Unhelpful to my colleagues, unmotivated to go to the gym that night (ha, any excuse, right?) and in an all-round bad mood. All because of a few codballs (it doesn’t get any more normal the more you say it, does it?). Does anyone else let the small things in life annoy them this much?

Do you want to know the only thing that put a smile on my face again later that night? It was when I remembered this…When I was in my late teens/early 20s, my friends and I used to always hang out at the same friend’s house, as he had converted the garage at his mum and dad’s house into a hang-out space for us all (I can’t believe I just used the word hang-out, I feel like that majorly undermines the coolness of it but I’m not really sure what else to call it to be honest). We spent endless nights there, drinking, eating, dancing, singing, laughing. But regardless of the occasion, or who was there, we ALWAYS used to watch the same movie before everyone eventually crashed out, Michael Jackson’s This Is It. So why did this seemingly irrelevant anecdote end up making me smile after the codball catastrophe? Because every single “morning after” the epic night before, when we’d all wake up with sore heads, the TV was always still on and had been playing the advert at the end of the Michael Jackson DVD on repeat. That advert was for the kid’s movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

To this day I’ve still never watched the actual movie itself, but somehow it holds such a strong meaning for me. Somehow, that random thought process cheered me up and put a smile on my face, making me forget about the white mush of a lunch I spent 8.99€ on and making me think happier thoughts, back to the great times spent with friends (and the not so great clean-ups the morning after the party the night before).

A Little Bit About…Close Calls

I’m in one of those phases where I’m trying to “branch out” into listening to new music, something other than the same 5 Spotify Pop Music Playlists I always have on shuffle. So I’ve started to listen to some country music. When I say country, I really mean country pop. Therefore, not that different. But anyway, baby steps.

One of the things I’ve started to love about country music is the lyrics, because for some reason they seem a little bit more profound and insightful than your typical pop song. One of my favourite artists at the moment is Thomas Rhett (who also happens to have a song with the lyrics “ain’t nothing that a beer can’t fix”, but I promise that’s not the ONLY reason I like his music).

Anyway, one of his songs is called Almost and talks about how we should be grateful for the “close calls” in our life, the good and the bad, because they’ve made us who we are today. He uses examples of how he almost gave up playing guitar when he was younger, yet now he’s a world renowned musician, and how he almost didn’t kiss the girl…who turned out to be his wife.

Think about it. I mean, there are so many different types of close calls. It got me thinking a lot about some of my own, and made me realise it’s such a positive way to look at things

The things you ALMOST gave up on but looking back now, you’re glad you didn’t: Like sticking to your diet or keeping running when you wanted to give up. I remember thinking in my Spanish classes so many times throughout school and university that I must be mental to WANT to subject myself to embarrassing myself in front of an entire class by having to speak a foreign language out loud and probably (almost always at the beginning) say something wrong. I almost gave up. But I didn’t, I persevered. And thank goodness. Because if I did, I wouldn’t be fluent and I probably would never have taken the opportunity to move to Spain. When things get tough, it’s human instinct to want to bail. But some things are worth sticking to.

The things you ALMOST didn’t even do in the first place: Like talking to that person in the playground when you were 5 years old who turned out to be your best friend to this very day. Think just how differently your life would have turned out if you didn’t even do some of the things you have done over the years? So I say apply for the job, phone that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with, start that new hobby no matter what age you are – if something is for you, it won’t go by you (as Grans all over the UK would say)!

The “ALMOSTS” which simply turn out not to be for you: Like certain boyfriends and girlfriends, or jobs you didn’t get but wished you did. When these things start to fall apart, it can feel like the world is crashing down around you. But looking back, you can appreciate some things just aren’t mean to be because you have a different path to take in life.

The “ALMOSTS” that could have turned out worse than they did: Like falling and hurting your foot but thankfully not breaking it, or losing your phone but luckily having all of your contacts and files backed up. One pretty prominent example sticks out in my mind for this one. I was in a car accident with a colleague about 18 months ago (a story for another day!) whereby a large container truck changed lane on the motorway without checking his mirrors, and hit our car, sending us into a spin. THANKFULLY, there were no other cars in any of the 4 lanes right at that moment in time, so our car eventually spun out and hit the crash barrier before finally coming to a halt. Albeit the car was written off and we suffered some pretty sore sprains and fractures due to whiplash, we were OKAY! If it had happened even one second before or after, there would have been more cars involved and the situation could have escalated, meaning it was ALMOST even worse. Looking back, I’m so thankful it happened the way it did (albeit I would rather not ever have to go through that again).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say we have to look at absolutely everything in life through a set of rose tinted lenses and put a positive spin on it all. But I do think being thankful for the “almosts” and “close calls” in life is a helpful way to look at certain things. Even if it is just something as simple as “I almost forgot to stock up on chocolate yesterday at the supermarket, thank goodness they put those KitKats at the checkout otherwise I would have no Sunday night snack” (true story)!

A Little Bit About…Time

A Little Bit About: Time

I know it’s such a cliché, but time really does fly by doesn’t it? As much as lockdown is taking its toll on everyone, I can’t help but feel that time is passing fairly quickly. I last left my friends and colleagues in the office when it was the beginning of March. Suddenly it’s the end of May. How did that happen?

Back in 2016, I had a work trip abroad for 3 days with non-stop meetings. It was great, and very productive, but it left me with a ton of follow up work to do and an accumulation of emails to deal with. So on the plane home I got my laptop out to do some work. I had an important presentation due in the next day and wanted to use my time effectively, instead of wasting 3 hours watching Netflix or listening to Spotify. In the seat next to me there was a young mum, probably the same age as me, with a one-year-old baby sitting on her lap. I made some brief small talk with her as the flight was taking off. The baby, naturally, was wriggling about, arms flailing all flight long. I constantly reassured the mum that the baby was simply doing what babies do best: playing. Until…

Right as the air steward made the announcement that we were approaching landing and so all electronic devices had to be stowed away (side note, do we EVER use the word stowed in any other context?), I was about to save and shut down my laptop when the baby slammed her cute, chubby little hand down on the keyboard, coincidentally (and soul destroying-ly) holding down the delete button. It was ALL gone. All of it. I genuinely thought things like that only happened in cartoons, not real life! Now I’m starting to realise that maybe all of these things have happened to me to give me good blog content….

Anyway, what does this story have to do with time flying in (apologies, that was a looooong tangent)? Well now fast forward to Christmas time 2019 and I was boarding my flight home to Scotland, when in the row in front of me was the very same young mum and the baby who was now FOUR YEARS OLD! This time the woman’s husband was with them and they had another new born baby. I remember that like it was yesterday (clearly traumatised having to re-do 3 hours of work later on that night) yet three whole years had passed.

I was actually talking to a really close friend of mine recently about this, and we got to talking about what our lives might look like in 3 years’ time, because if we look back 3 years, we never would have guessed we’d be where we are. Back then I was travelling back and forth between Spain and Scotland, practically living out of a suitcase, trying to keep on top of work, my personal life and a whole lot of packing and unpacking. Yet 3 years down the line I now live in Spain and it feels like a lifetime ago I was travelling back and forth. Where will I be in another 3 years? Hopefully not still in lockdown at least…

A Little Bit About…Alba

I’ve attempted a few times to write about life abroad or more specifically, my decision to move from Scotland to Spain. It’s funny actually, when I tell people I have a blog, they always assume that is what I write about all the time, when it’s actually what I find the hardest to write about.

It’s difficult trying to express in words how at home I feel in both places. How I rarely feel like I’m in a FOREIGN country. How I feel just as at home in Spain as I do in Scotland. How I absolutely love my life in Spain, and can say hand on heart I prefer the Spanish lifestyle (it’s hard to argue with so much sun and a constant combination of siestas and fiestas). Yet living here has made me more fiercely proud to be Scottish than ever, and makes me miss Scotland and all of its beauty (even if it is shadowed by grey clouds 90% of the year).

Do I miss home sometimes? Absolutely. I’m not trying to pretend that life in Spain is rosy 100% of the time (particularly in current circumstances). But at the end of the day, Scotland, my family and my true friends will always be there for me, regardless of where I – or they – live.

Do cultural differences sometimes drive me up the wall? Of course they do! Like the fact that people don’t queue up for things in Spain, or the fact they are so direct when they speak. But I’ve grown to love these “quirks” and find they make me appreciate an orderly queue of polite people every time I’m back home more than normal!

Do I get sick of speaking Spanish all the time? Yes, and no. I absolutely love being able to speak another language, and feel like I can express myself differently in both languages. But my poor wee brain sometimes gets tired, that’s for sure.   

And Scotland, what can I say! The land of breathtaking scenery, friendly people, square sausages, irn-bru, tattie scones and ridiculously hairy cows. Like I said beforehand, living abroad makes me even prouder to be Scottish than I have ever been. Hearing a Scottish accent or a set of bagpipes is enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Bonnie Scotland – I’ll move home one day!

So what made me think about all of this? A good – and very artistic – friend of mine recently drew a cartoon portrait of me and I reckon he summed me up perfectly: he drew me sitting writing at my laptop (he took the liberty of upgrading me to a Macbook, if you’re reading, thanks for that by the way), with a glass of wine at arm’s reach (naturally) and with a window and bookshelf behind me. Through the window you can see some of both Glasgow AND Madrid’s most famous sights. And on the bookshelf, there’s a little Scottish AND a Spanish flag.

I know it might sound silly, as it’s maybe an obvious fact consider I am Scottish and live in Spain. But for me it hit home that both Spain and Scotland make up who I am now, and both play such an important role in my life and heart.

Anyway, why did I decide to write all of this tonight? Because it took me back to why I chose to use the name Alba on this blog. Fun fact, it isn’t a coincidence. Alba is my actual name translated into Spanish. But it also means Scotland in Gaelic. Tell me that is not fate? Oh, and it was just pure luck it also stands for A Little Bit About.

Scotland, I love ye, I’ve always loved ye.

Spain, te quiero, y siempre te querré.

A Little Bit About…Blood Tests

Don’t worry, this post isn’t as ominous as it sounds. I’m fortunate enough to have had very little health issues over the years, but for some reason every time I need to get blood taken, things turn eventful. It’s not that I’m scared of needles, it’s seems to be more a case of being squeamish. I think. Anyway, I have a blood test scheduled for tomorrow and it got me thinking.

The first time I properly remember getting blood taken was when I was in my teens, and I went to the doctor with my mum. I can’t quite remember what I was going for, but the doctor – a small, 5ft 6inch Irishman – decided to take some blood just to check everything was ok. He asked if I was okay with needles, I said yes (as that’s not really something you know the answer to until it’s too late) and he talked me through the process as he was doing it. Aside from what felt like a small and sharp pinch, it was as quick as lightening! He gave me some cotton wool and a plaster to put on and that was me, good to go. He told me the test results would be available in 3-5 working days, my mum and I said thanks for everything and off we went. Well, off my mum went. I on the hand only lasted about 8 seconds on my feet before feeling really dizzy and fainting.

The next time I went to the doctors to get blood taken several years later, it was a different doctor, and she too asked if I was okay with needles. I said yes. Why? Because I figured that one time I fainted was a fluke. So she took the blood, I felt fine, we exchanged some small talk while she cleaned my arm up, gave me a plaster and off I went. This time I made it to the waiting room where my boyfriend of the time was waiting on me. He asked how it went, and I started to tell him as we stood in line at reception to make a follow up appointment. Then BOOM, the room started spinning, I started to feel faint and down I went. Funny thing was (I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was NOT happy), for some reason his instinct was to catch my handbag instead of me!

The time after that was with a nurse who, as seems to be usual procedure, asked me if I was okay with needles. Guess what I said? “Yes, no problem whatsoever”. Why? Well, I lasted a whole 8 minutes without fainting the last time, this time would surely be a doddle I thought to myself. It wasn’t. I didn’t actually faint this time, but I did ask the nurse if I could have a couple of minutes before getting up as I felt a bit dizzy. She took my blood pressure and it was really low, so she let me lie down for 15 minutes before checking on me again. When she did, she took my blood pressure again. This time it was through the roof, so she told me to stay lying down for another 15 minutes until it stabilised. The next time she came back to check on me, the blood pressure monitor just showed two little dashes like this – – as it couldn’t even find my blood pressure this time!! So I had to stay lying down again. 45 minutes later I was finally cleared to go!

And so on and so on. Will I ever learn? I consider myself a very honest and truthful person. Yet when a doctor or nurse asks me how I am with needles, I seem to turn into a pathological liar. Thinking of making a t-shirt to wear tomorrow saying “Ignore me when I say I’m okay with needles, I’m not”. What do you think?

Joking aside, I’ve luckily gotten to know the nurses at my local surgery really well over the last few years since living in Spain. They don’t let me lie. They don’t even ask me anymore, they simply make me lie down from the word go and distract me with all kinds of stories until they’ve done the test and enough time has passed for me to feel ok. I guess being the only Scottish patient makes me memorable. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up for debate!

A Little Bit About…The Things Kids Do

Whether you’re a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or none of the above, you have to admit that children sure know how to brighten up your day. No doubt half of you will be missing seeing the kids in your life right now due to lockdown restrictions…and the other half of you (the parents) will be run ragged trying to keep them entertained 24/7.

Now I don’t have any children of my own yet, so I’m no expert. And living abroad, away from family and friends, means I don’t get to see my cousins’ and friends’ kids as often as I’d like. It also means they seem to grow up even quicker in between times when I do see them. That being said, everyone is pretty good at keeping me updated with photos and videos of what they are up to and all their new talents. They really do crack me up, and it got me thinking – imagine we did some of the things that kids do, but now, as adults?

At what age does it become socially unacceptable to do the things we used to do when we were 4 years old? Like just staying sitting on the ground when you fall down, like nothing happened. Or using your imagination to pretend a cardboard box is really a spaceship on its way to the moon.

I really think we could learn a lot from kids, and here’s why:

They say exactly what they want, when they want – Kids are so smart and yet innocent enough at the same time to say exactly what they feel at any given time – no frills: “I don’t want to play that game anymore”, “I don’t like that broccoli soup”, “your hair looks funny today”. Wouldn’t adult life be easier if we did the same thing? “I don’t want to go out tonight”, “I’d rather have the cheeseburger and fries please”, “I think you should wear the black t-shirt instead”.

They keep things short and sweet – My friend sent me a funny video recently of her little girl playing with a pretend mobile phone, and she both answered it and hung up on the imaginary person in the space of 4 seconds. Her conversation went something like this “Hello, oh hi, it’s you, ok bye bye”. Now I know she was just playing…but how much do you wish you could hang up the phone half of the time? She has the right idea if you ask me.

They’re determined – Resilience is something we seem to lose a little bit (or a lot) of as we grow up, which in turn leads us to sometimes lose determination and passion about something, out of fear of failure or rejection. Yet kids seem to bounce back so naturally and approach things with such determination. A friend sent me a hilarious video of her daughter trying to give their pet dog a kiss, who was having none of it, paying very little attention, and quite happy just lying where he was. But she continued reaching over, pouting her lips without giving up. Now I’m not saying we should all go around pouting our lips at people we want to kiss until they kiss us back (I’m not going that far to get myself a date!), but what a simple example of going after something you want!

They don’t pretend to be interested when they’re not – This is a bad habit we have as adults, where we’re too polite or empathetic to tell someone when we’re not interested in something, so we nod along, wasting everyone’s time. Yet this is something that even the tiniest babies have mastered. Us adults sing songs, play peek-a-boo and generally speak in a ridiculously high pitched tone trying to make them smile and laugh. And if they don’t find us funny, that blank stare we get back sure does let us know!

They wear whatever outfit they have on with confidence – whether it’s a clown-like outfit their mum put them in (thanks mum, you can tell I’m still not over that, even 29 years later haha) or an outfit they pick out themselves, kids have the confidence to wear whatever wild outfit combination they please. And the best bit, people still say “aww look, how cute”. Yet how many of us change top at least 3 times before leaving the house purely out of self-doubt?

They are fearless – my cousin is terrified of spiders, always has been. Yet her little boy has been cracking us up this week by being nature’s best friend, reaching out and touching spiders as if it was a big fluffy teddy bear. I love this about kids! They’re so brave and daring.

Adulting is damn hard, let’s not lie. So why not take the best bits of our childhoods and give them a comeback? A little bit of curiosity, imagination and creativity could go a long way.