Wednesday 23 April 2014


It's been a difficult week. On Friday I found out that my lovely horse Max was sick. On Saturday, the vet visited and my sister & I made a difficult decision. I saw him on Sunday, and by Monday he was gone.

I don't know if I've written about Max much on this blog, which makes me sad. He was a dream come true. For as long as I can remember, I've been obsessed with horses. I grew up, following in my big sister's footsteps by learning to ride, spending every weekend helping out at a stable, reading anything I could find about horses, and doing all I could to learn about them, to spend all of my time with them.

When I was 14, I realised that, no matter how much I wished, I wouldn't magically just be given a horse - so I decided to take matters into my own hands (sorry mum). I visited every farm/stable within walking distance and asked them how much livery costs would be, and put together a spreadsheet that argued how loaning a horse was actually cheaper than the cost of riding lessons. One of these farms asked about the horse I was bringing... in a panic I said I was also looking for a horse to loan, and they just happened to have one that fitted the bill.

Of course, I agreed to come back, try out the horse & meet the owner (at the time I was just thinking about a free ride), so I had to rope my big sister into coming with me (that wasn't hard). We met Max, we fell in love, and my well-researched case for taking on a horse, somehow, convinced our parents to go along with it.

It turns out, he was a total wimp. At first, we couldn't tie him up in the yard as he was scared to be alone, he would spook at EVERYTHING, including water (I have fond memories of falling off mid-canter as he caught sight of his own reflection in a puddle), and the only time we got a rosette, he ran away from the ribbon. He would beg with his front leg when he wanted something, and had to get his mane cut into a mohawk every summer because he would scratch it off.

But he was the most beautiful, patient horse. He learned to be brave (well, braver) quickly. He neighed when he saw me come into the barn. Whenever you groomed him, he would try to groom you back, and if I was walking through the barn, he would follow me without a lead rope, head gently pressed against my back. Every difficult moment in my life has been made better by spending time with him - either riding, forgetting about everything, or by simply grooming him, listening to his soft whickers, the way he would lean against you, lazily, heavy and comforting and trusting.

I moved away for uni, and my sister took over main owner duties (we had shared him equally up until then). I visited as often as I could, and spent my summers at the farm. Then when I got a job I came home once or twice a week to see him, and ride. Then work got busier, life was more chaotic, and well, things changed. I visited, and rode when I could.

But, oh, how I wish I had visited him more.

In a cold and dreich Spring, the skies turned blue this weekend. Max's last day was spent in the sunshine, grazing in the field with his friends. He had painkillers, so he didn't hurt. I hugged him and he groomed my back, just like he always did. He was 18, and his life was good. We loved him so.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura is Edinburgh's oldest visitor attraction, that sits on the Royal Mile, just down from the Castle. It's a five floor building of illusions & all sorts of trickery, that I've always thought looked super cool, but it seemed like too much of a touristy activity to do myself. Is that weird? I think that's weird. Anyway, it's one of the places that has long been on my list of "oh, I should probably try to do that one day", but I didn't really ever think I'd get round to it....

Until, my moment to play finally arrived with an I Spy Edinburgh invite - a Google City Experts takeover, described as the ultimate schooltrip for grown-ups.

And it was FUN!

Photo by Chris Scott
 The whole place is packed with all sorts of puzzley, bewildering fun. There's a mirror maze! A vortex tunnel! (which is AMAZING, but surprisingly difficult to walk through). An Ames Room, which magically shrinks you (I can't quite get my head around how this works), all sorts of optical illusions and fancy lights and weirdo mirrors, and just millions of things to play with.

If you are a big kid who likes talking millions of photos, you will LOVE it.

We played until we were dizzy (and needed to lie down). I don't know if I could handle it with millions of tiny kids around, but this is the nice thing about Lates-style events getting so popular - adults get to play too!

If you want to come along to events like this, it's really easy - just sign up to Google City Experts. Basically, if you upload reviews & photos of places in your city, then you can join the program and get all sorts of special stuff (including event invites).

There's just been another City Experts event in Edinburgh, held in partnership with the Science Festival (good choice, guys!) which was a massive space party, and it was BRILLIANT. I do like it when work and fun combine! I'll blog about this post-festival, when I'm a little less knackered - I've only got six days to go... 

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Ever So Juliet is three!

Oh goodness me, where does the time go? This week marked a whole three years since I first blogged, which seems all sorts of crazy.

I know I say this pretty much every time I write about blogging, but it honestly amazes me how many people read this. There's loads of you. Thousands (actually tens of thousands). Each bloody month! That is insane, you guys. And I've been rubbish at posting regularly, but you keep coming back, and that's really nice (but bonkers, obviously).

This has been a rollercoaster year for me. Lots of intense things have happened, and while I've tried to keep a cheery face on the surface, I opened up a bit and wrote a very honest blog post. I knew people would read it, but I absolutely hadn't expected the flurry of comments and emails and tweets and facebook messages I got after that. People I had never spoken to before sent me encouraging messages, or just told me about their own stories & how they got through it, and that was so ridiculously touching.

So yeah, I guess this is the year that I properly realised how brilliant blogging is, and how it really connects you to people from all sorts of places, with all sorts of things going on in their lives. It's like having a really cool gang.

Thank you to you if you've read from the very beginning (hi mum), or just started reading today. Thanks if you've sent me a message or tweet, or said hi if you've spotted me in person (that happens! & is often so unexpected that I forget how to speak like a real person!). Thanks for reading my rambles through the good times and the bad. I hope I've taught you something useful (or pointless), and I hope you continue to keep reading!

Bring on year four (where I promise to get back into the swing of things...)!

p.s. if you are thinking 'ooh, I'd quite like to write a blog' then you should DO IT! Here are some blogging tips... you won't regret it.