You know who your friends are…

Corny a line as it seems, I think there are definitely times when it is really obvious who your real friends are; and how well – if possibly too well – they know you. I was reminded of this in a very in-your-face way on Friday evening. Once again, my birthday this year falls in the Easter Holidays and so I’m having a ‘Birthday Season’. Basically this is an excuse for me to have multiple celebrations with various groups of people.

The first of these events (and arguably the main one) was my ‘birthday party’ in St A, on Friday night. We started of at my house playing drinking games, and generally having my favourite people mess around for a bit. It was an odd mix of people, yet somehow perfectly normal in my head. Standard bubble party really. Then we went out, met more people – bringing the odd combos of people from everything I do at Uni. And so the night progressed.

However, I think the most interesting part was at the house.

As always the Ring of Fire/Kings Jug and cards were made use of. Very much standard. We also had some pretty amazing cups – apparently in stock for some up-coming royal wedding? But good fun for us – although I’m sad to say they didn’t seem so good at being watertight. Bit of an issue. Judge how awesome they were for yourself…

Now would seem like a good time to get to the point. And it is thus: sometimes I am surprised how well my friends know me. This should not really be that surprising, but the thought and effort of what people brought (entirely unexpectedly) left me very close to speechless. Not a particularly easy thing to do, some might say. I had made some tray-bake for people to munch on, as I was suspicious of how good my flatmate’s cake would be (very well, as it happened). What I was not expecting was for other friends to turn up bringing trays of cake. And such amazing cake at that! The result of which is that now, after giving lots to people and feeding it to everyone who comes near my house, the kitchen is still full of cake. But as cake is always good, this is not a problem. Here’s the kitchen table the next morning:

Special mention, however, has to go to Mel (, my flatmate and another friend (who shall both remain anonymous for now as I forgot to ask if I could name them). Between then they created and sculpted one of the most amazing birthday cakes I’ve ever had. Fact. These wonderful people – in total secret – got together to make me a meerkat cake! I am slightly obsessed by these little desert dwelling critters and I think they are amazing. The cake was absolutely incredible (not to mention the Kirsch cream that accompanied it), it tasted wonderful – there was even golden glitter to resemble the Kalahari and homemade, meerkat cookies on the top. I was utterly blown away by their thought, dedication and effort. And I still am.

Sometimes there are moments when you realise how amazing your friends are, and this was certainly one of them.



Pointless Charade?

I’ve always found lent a curious concept. This is probably because I don’t subscribe to organised religion, and nothing what-so-ever to do with my utter lack of will-power for things I deem pointless.

Why does a large part of the population enter into this ridiculous charade every year? What does going without something for 40 days really achieve? “Oh, just to prove I can.” Really? How old are you? Surely you know what you are and aren’t capable of? I can, to an extent, understand giving up something that’s bad for you, for example I once had a friend who gave up smoking for lent, with the intention of giving up for good. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

Is starving yourself of chocolate for 40 days going to make you thin? Given that you’re probably quite likely to switch to cake, crisps, or something similar I would hazard to guess it may even have the opposite effect – probably beginning in a moment of gluttony akin to the scene in Chocolat with the priest (or mayor, in the film) in the window of the chocolaterie.

So, if it’s not beneficial health wise, what really is the point?

Who knows, and apparently some things aren’t suitable to give up! For example, according to the po-faced bible-basher I once suggested it to, ‘giving up giving things up’ isn’t entering into the spirit of the season, I imagine giving up ‘going to church’ would not go down so well either. So, there seem to be restrictions on what you can even give up! Ridiculous. Thus this year I’m not giving anything up, I see no point in ‘testing myself’ when I know I could quite easily do it, if I tried. And besides, I don’t want to try.

Having said all this, I guess that ultimately this is all utterly hypocritical as I am doing something. But that’s also exactly it, I’m doing something, I’ve not pointlessly given something up, I’ve taken something up. Every day (probably stretching out beyond Easter Sunday, as it happens) I will go for a walk, a run, a cycle, or a trip to the gym. I’m not doing it to ‘suffer like others’, or by some deluded sense of self-sacrifice for the plight of the world; I’m doing it for me. So there. It seemed as good as any a time to start it and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. There’s been no breakdown, no guzzling, no ‘oh no, I broke lent!’ stress, because ultimately it doesn’t matter if I succeed or not. It’s not really a challenge, how hard is it to find half an hour or an hour in the day? Especially when I’m trying to avoid my mountain of work as much as humanly possible.

So here’s what I get instead of the rumbling stomach and the cravings, I get to look at scenes like these (except this is a photo from last summer, the camera batteries died before I could get something for here!)


Fever Pitch

And so it is that time of year, once again. It’s election day!

I can honestly say that it does not feel like a year since we did this last time round. There’s just one difference now: it’s now doing it one last time. The only candidates from our year are the sabbs. A minorly terrifying prospect, in some cases.

Flyering yesterday I was reminded of how much I actually campaigning for something I believe in (Becca For Pres, currently – and a bit of Dixon DoES on the side). I also think I made the right decision in not standing for DoR. I was shocked by utter lack of knowledge/charisma of some of the candidates, I found some of them uninspiring, and in a couple of cases, utterly laughable. But, it leads to good natured competition – and that I am all for. We also have a really high turnout in our elections – especially last year when there was some very evenly matched candidates, and a lot of feeling – I hope this continues. My gut feeling is that it will, there are a lot of issues people currently care about, both on a national front and also much closer to our doorstep, and this may well bolster the ballot box. But with fewer candidates than before and a different set of teams/voters who knows if last year’s record will be broken or remain stead-fast.

Superstition is not something I believe in, I think the idea that one person can substantially change the outcome of something (I know, it’s an election, etc. – bare with me) is utter codswallop. [Vastly underused word]. In saying this, I do seem to have a habit of picking the losing side – three previous years of sabb campaigning, 4 different candidates and I’m yet to be on the winning team. Perhaps this is because I go with who I think is best for the job. Maybe my sense of ‘what’s good for the union’ doesn’t match up with the electorate as a whole. What ever it is, I believe I am backing the best candidates for their positions, and I hope they do considerably better than those I’ve previously ‘helped’.

Also my apologies, I haven’t edited this, there will be a mistake somewhere!



A Gentleman Thug

A fan? Why, that’s something that you waft in front of your face to keep you cool.

Not that kind. Perhaps supporter is more descriptive.

It has been said that football is a game with gentlemen on the pitch (questionable, in my opinion) and thugs in the stands (no comment); whilst rugby is a game for thugs, with gentlemen in the stands. Perhaps this is a rugby maxim for pretending to be more civilised that the sporting cousins (although wine in a plastic cup with a foil lid, Murrayfield? Perhaps Darwin was wrong about evolution being unidirectional). Well, there are certainly many fewer police present at Murrayfield than there ever are at Tynecastle or Easter Rd, and who can imagine a riot at the rugby (excluding the Edinburgh/Glasgow derby)?

For the past few years the Scotland international team rugby team have played, lets say, less than optimally. The autumn tests and last year’s tour in South America tour they played well, but these are (I am sad to say) exceptions to the rule. The funny thing is that I think Scotland are the only team who can be beaten but still come out of it smiling because of some benign little triumph. Take this year’s Calcutta cup at the weekend, we lost, we didn’t play marvellously, but Patterson’s tackle was good enough to make us all smile. The rest of the time was just shouting. Standard.

There is the slight problem that we are currently well on course to collecting another wooden spoon to add to the (regrettably large) collection which Murrayfield plays host to. Without getting too political about it, this is a serious problem and although I think the large gentleman behind me at the Ireland match couldn’t have done a better job (as he claimed, very loudly) I believe he had a point.

That said, just because we’re crap (and believe me, we are) I love the passion which keeps the support there. I won’t stop shouting – unless, like at the Ireland match, I lose my voice from shouting too much – and it is probably unlikely that my feelings won’t be shared through the medium of expletives, because I still love my shirt. Regardless. Maybe it isn’t about the winning after all? Perhaps it really is all in the taking part (a.k.a. ‘deferring success’, getting thrashed), but for once, can we please have a little of that winning feeling against Italia? And perhaps only have wooden spoons for baking purposes this year.

I am a bit gutted that I am not going to be there on Saturday (especially as I had to turn down a ticket because I’m working), but perhaps that might be so bad. Wait, who am I kidding. Maybe I don’t fit in? Recently one kind member of my family decided to remind me of the first time they took me to a match, Scotland Vs Spain (we won, considerably). In short I think it’s fair to say I caused a few mildly concerned looks/laughter (and my dad considerable embarrassment) when the seven year old version of myself imparted the following wisdom to my team on the pitch: “Just punch him in the face when the ref’s not looking, then run away with the ball!” What was I saying about those who watch rugby from the stands?

(Yes, it was taken around sunset)





It’s just a word, yet it can conjure up an image, a little piece of magic. A half forgotten image of the dying embers of a glorious summers day; the final glimpse of winter fireball-in-the-sky, giving the snow a golden-yellow glow (in a good, clean way)

My name is Craig and I am a sunsetaholic.

For those who are regular viewers of Contemplating (i.e. me, and my fragile ego) and the other long-suffering individuals who I relentlessly show photos to, this probably does not come as anything close to a surprise. If I turn around, there are six pictures of sunsets on my walls, and I dread to think how many on my laptop. And there are a few online as well (although not the header to this page, that is sunrise. Essentially as amazing, but I rarely see it). I see a sunset and I sigh. A happy sigh. And I smile. I just can’t help it. I am a very lucky person, I’ve travelled a fair bit in my time and I’ve seen some amazing sunsets – from South Africa, to the Caribbean, Tanzania, France, the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, New York and so on – but I also live in St Andrews, and I’ve seen some here that rival (and often beat) them all. I’m sure a more learned photographer could prattle on about light conditions, latitude, and what have you, but all I can say is I love it. LOVE it.

This might not be my favourite photo, but it’s one I took recently and it’s warm glow just made me smile on my way home from a long Marine Acoustics class which made my head hurt.

I imagine a psychologist could tell me that looking at certain sunsets will remind me of some other memory that I associate with it, etc. etc.. Whether or not this is true I can honestly say that I do not care. What I do care about is that smile that’s spreading across my face. This one is possibly my favourite (hard a choice as it is), I took in when in Zanzibar in 2009 a couple of days after climbing Mt Kilimanjaro (I am shamelessly proud of myself, even now). So perhaps that’s why I love it. Maybe it’s the memories of that trip – and above all else the amazing friends I have from it – not THIS particular snap shot that I revel in. Well, whatever it is I hope you can enjoy it almost, if not quite, as much as I do.