Little trees

So I am embarking again on what will hopefully be a successful attempt at growing my own bonsai trees. Of particular excitement for me is the cherry tree seeds that mean that each year I could have a cherry blossom festival at home. This kit is very similar to the most successful one I’ve had in the past — so here’s hoping!



The Write Gruff

Another month, another entry into the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Words Competition. I think this one is sound, though having already submitted it I do wish I’d thought to do the second version below.


“Fine,” said the greedy troll. “I’ll wait for your brother, who you say will be tastier.”

The little goat smiled with relief and scampered along the bridge.

“However,” said the troll, snatching the goat and hoisting him over its mouth, “I’m (apparently) greedy and could use an hors d’oeuvre.”


The troll leaned back against the bridge’s railing and picked at his teeth with a tiny goat rib. A satisfied burp escaped from his mouth and wafted away.

The trouble with goats, he thought, is that you always want a bit more when you’re done.

Obligingly he heard the clicking of hooves on his bridge…

The whole world is moving

It’s Thursday evening and I am sitting by myself in the living room, drinking zero-calorie Irn Bru and listening to The Weepies.

I watch the stars from my window sill;
The whole world is moving and I’m standing still.

It’s been a challenging week, psychologically. I’ve starting my new job at my new school with new responsibilities and a host of things that I need to catch up with. Sadie’s started her job this week, which puts additional time-strain on us because she’s working early in the morning and then late in the evening, often while taking care of the children all day.

And everything that I said I’d do
Like make the world brand new and take the time for you…
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on.

I’ve been a bit crusty with the children these last two nights, which doesn’t make me very happy in myself. I’m usually fine until I reach a breaking point and then I explode.

The last time I was like this — quick to anger and often irrationally so — I sought professional help and started the course of SSRIs that I’m still on today. (I can say with some degree of certainty that the admittedly light dose I’m on still doesn’t mix with the Laphroiag I had before the Irn Bru.) There isn’t much of a difference between my work when I was last like this: I was pretending to be the Head of Department at my old school and am now pretending that I have some sense of what to do as Head of Department at my new school. This, of course, leads me to believe that it was a mistake to take the next step. Then I hear the rumours of what’s afoot at my old school, and I’m really not that sad about leaving that place.

I am certain I will be fine in my new role… it is just that this week is hard and I am unreasonable.

The night is here
The day is gone
And the world spins madly on.

Sadie and I have been exercising with some degree of success. I’ve almost reached the halfway point of P90X3. Genuinely. It’s really hard word, I don’t mind saying.

But I took a break from it tonight because I was feeling sorry for myself.

Sadie tells me that she has a recurring dream where I’ve written something and had it published. Maybe that will be in my future. Just for the moment, it’s something that’s too large to wrap my head around.

It’s supposed to be lucky

I have to say: I really struggled with the August prompt for the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Words contest. I wanted to play with the idea of fairies and an iron horseshoe being a barrier to them, perhaps linked to unrequited love. In the end, I erred on the side of horseshoes being symbolic of luck, but the consensus being out on whether it is an upright or inverted horseshoe that is lucky or unlucky.

Your mileage will vary.


The house ablaze, the alarm woke him in the lounge. He felt lucky until he found the horseshoe over the door inverted, heels holding the door in place. He frantically jolted the handle until, at last, with a ringing clang, the horseshoe fell to the floor. As did the handle.

The word you’re looking for is ‘bracing’

I was really proud of my entry in June’s Scottish Book Trust – 50 Words contest. I even thought it was better than the story chosen as the winner. I suppose that’s fair; we’re entitled to disagree on such things.

I’m less confident on this entry — it’s supposed to be inspired by a trip to the seafront. I was captivated by the idea of a beach scene turned sinister by a viking raid. I’ve not done the best job of conveying that here, but they’re not all going to work. I suppose.


The breeze builds, spinning a parasol planted in the sand, a defiant banner in a war against the North Sea, so that it falls. A beachball is dislodged, severed, to roll free and bob on water turned to blood in the sunset. A longboat drifts away, its raiders victorious.

Make Like a Tree

Despite my best efforts to the contrary, I’ve managed to (yet again!) enter the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Words competition. It’s been a nice series of exercises and I feel like it’s spurred me to write more elsewhere.

The prompt for this one was to write a story that takes place in an enchanted forest.


One morning we noticed that the trees had all gone, pulled up their roots and creaked away in the night.

Why did they leave? There was an explanation etched by a branch in the turf.

Not that any of us could read Treelish.

You Must Give Me the Recipe

For the fifth month, albeit only just under the wire, I’ve entered the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Words competition. There were a great many variations of this over the past few weeks, but I hit upon a… formula that I enjoyed. Sadie also seemed to enjoy it.


You Must Give Me the Recipe

Saute steaks in butter.

More butter.
Sweat shallots.
Add mushrooms, more butter, garlic, Worcestershire, mustard. Brandy. Ignite!
Add cream.

Season to taste.

Pour sauce over steak, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

If not the cyanide in the salt-shaker, perhaps heart disease.
She was nothing if not patient.