End of January update

Well, we’re already into the second month of 2012, and once again I can’t believe how fast it’s going :O

I’m going to try and regularly track my progress on my vague-sort-of-resolutions that I made earlier.

Goal setting: has been going ok. I’ve been setting myself weekly and monthly ones and mostly been keeping to them. I am generally much more organised and on top of things than I used to be even a few months ago. Maybe I’ll write about the things that helped me get here sometime. (I’m still a bit worried that my goals are a bit aimless and not really leading up to anything coherent, but I have some longer term ideas forming in my mind. Maybe I need to give them a bit more time to form).

Meditation: good, have been doing it a few times a week, will hopefully gradually increase it over time. Some days it really does seem to help.

Weight loss: not good… still slowly gaining πŸ™ but I feel it’s low-ish on my priorities right now. I guess January is the best time of year for getting exercise if you prefer outdoor activities (which I do).

Concentrate on the people who are worth it: check πŸ™‚

Piano playing: very pleased with this. It’s going better than it has in ages and I’m enjoying it a lot. I can play the Fugue in A Minor from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier book 1 reasonably well now, which I always thought would be beyond me. Also started on something else, but it maybe deserves its own post in a bit. And I have an interesting idea for a piano-computer hybrid project which I might get onto soon.

Dancing: another positive thing. Been back to dance class not once, not twice, but three times so far in 2012. Have also booked myself on two weekends away with the dance society, both in the next few weeks. So that’s something to look forward to.

Walking and photography: it’s not really the best time of year for it at the moment. But we did have our Stirling weekend, and planning a Glasgow museum visit tomorrow.

Creativity: paid work projects are going pretty well (though very busy – I now have 3 separate things to work on, where I previously had only one. It’s lucky the two new ones are both things I can get really excited about). Spare time programming projects are going ok, though I’ve possibly bitten off more than I can chew with the latest one. On the minus side I haven’t written as much (or as interesting) stuff as I wanted on here. I do have a list of ideas though, so maybe I’ll get round to putting up something more substantial soon.

Gigs: got two gigs booked so far (Fascinating Aida and Derren Brown) and about to book another one (Ross Noble, without a doubt my favourite stand-up comedian of all time). Still want to do a festival this year as well.

Other stuff: I’ve been cooking a lot more food from scratch, partly thanks to being in a relationship with someone who does it all the time, partly thanks to the lovely recipe books I got for my last birthday and Christmas from several people, and partly just because I’ve been meaning to for ages. I’m not sure it’s actually any cheaper or healthier than my previous diet, but it’s certainly more fun and tastes a lot nicer.

(On the subject of new year and resolutions and all that, I found this postΒ on one of the blogs I like to read very inspiring. Plus I can always get behind anything that encourages me to act like a big kid πŸ˜‰ ).

The Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond

Been a busy weekend. Last night was Gavin’s 21st birthday party. (His actual birthday was over 2 months ago but I’m sure you’ll all agree, that’s no excuse for not having a party). I managed to keep to my resolve not to drink for the moment, and I feel it would be unfair of me to recount the drinking games from the point of view of a sober person. So I won’t.

Handily, staying over at Gavin’s meant I was much closer to Loch Lomond for my walk today than I would have been at home. Not so handily, I only managed to get about 3 hours of sleep… but I felt surprisingly OK. The weather looked promising as I set out towards the Erskine Bridge. I soon found I’d massively overestimated how long it would take to get there – only 9 miles remaining to Balloch and still an hour til the meeting time. So I tried not to think longingly of the precious extra minutes of sleep I could have had, and instead turned off into Bowling to have a wander round the western terminal of the Forth and Clyde Canal and take some pics.

Looking up the Clyde to the Erskine Bridge, which I’d just crossed.

The canal basin itself. Bowling is sort of special to me, in a bittersweet kind of way. Some of my favourite days out ever were when I walked the whole of the canal with my uncle and auntie as a teenager, and Bowling was where we started one crisp November morning. (I say bittersweet because my uncle died suddenly at a young age a few years ago. Coming to Bowling always reminds me of him and the best of the time we spent together. So far every time I come it seems quiet and still and cold and bright just as it was that day, and makes me feel happy and sad at the same time. Rest in peace Ian).

Looking down the Clyde now. Looking like a good day for a walk.

After I’d passed enough time wandering round the basin and finding somewhere to get a coffee, I got back in my car and headed to Balloch. I didn’t remember much of the place, which maybe wasn’t surprising since I think it was 1991 when I was last there, and Lomond Shores hadn’t even been built. But the loch was still the same.

(Ben Lomond in the distance looks much clearer than it was when we climbed it back in June and I took this photograph from the summit. Yes, that is a real photo. I have a similar one taken from the top of Ben Nevis as well).

After meeting the others (small group today… only 4 of us) our first stop was the cafe, then we went for a wander along the shore. I’m more or less over my swan phobia now, which is a good thing considering I like walking by water so much.

We decided to head up to the castle we could see in the distance and have a closer look at it. That meant walking down the River Leven to cross it at the bridge in Balloch, then back up the other side. There were loads of boats of all shapes, sizes and states of repair moored there, though not many actually moving at this time of year.

The castle was all closed up and fenced off, looking as if it needs some work. For some reason that made me really want to get inside and explore it, whereas if it had been open to the public I probably wouldn’t have been all that bothered. That’s the way my contrary mind seems to work.

But I contented myself with photographing its features from the outside. A bright sunny morning with lots of families walking past is no time for exploring semi-derelict buildings, anyway.

Finally, on our way back towards Balloch itself, we saw the walled garden.

We were very lucky indeed with the weather… it was actually warm enough to sit outside for a while.

The walk was rounded off nicely with a snack in The Tullie Inn, then I decided it was time to leave before last night caught up with me and I got too sleepy to drive. It was a good day. Thanks Charlene for organising :).

(The car seems to be enjoying its new spark plugs. It got 56 miles per gallon on the way home from Balloch which is more than usual and not bad at all for a petrol car of its age and size. Unfortunately though the passenger door is now resolutely refusing to open so maybe I’ll be posting about car maintenance again sooner than planned).