I was brought up just outside Glasgow in the second half of the 70’s through to the early 90s. My dad was a nurse and my mum a social worker. We lived in a local authority/council house next to the psychiatric hospital where my dad worked. Luckily we were housed in a nice middle class Scottish suburb of Glasgow with excellent schools.
We weren’t well off so we had a frugal but good childhood, full of friends, family, adventure and fun (along with the usual pain points).
When my sister wasn’t in hospital (she was unlucky and had to undergoing multiple surgeries throughout her childhood to correct a congenital hip condition) we spent weekends going to museums, castles, camping, visiting friends and relatives, marching for one cause or other, attending meetings and rallies.
I went to the usual things – brownies, guides, venture scouts, music camp – and especially enjoyed anything outdoors or craft focussed. I was lucky to make good friends growing up, my closest being those I went to scouts with. We were a unit and traipsed across Scotland and the north of England camping, walking, kayaking, abseiling, potholing, climbing and enjoying life and the beauty of the world. We passed through adolescence to adulthood together.
I always sought opportunities to try new things, broaden my horizons and have a life both in and out of school.
As a family we’d attach a 1950s caravan to the back of the car, or cram a huge heavy canvas tent into the car and drive to France for our summer holidays, or up north for weekends away. Family was important.
My parents were active in the labour party, various other social & local endeavours and were very involved trade unionists. My mum spoke at the Scottish labour party conference and both my parents campaigned, leafleted, helped waifs and strays – many of whom were put up in our already cramped house.
We didn’t mind – it was fun and you really felt a part of working towards a greater good for all, no matter who they were or where they were from.
My parents worked hard to ensure my sisters and I had access to opportunities, and the drive to desire more. We went to good Universities and came out with the usual debt (however a fraction of those choosing to pursue higher education in today’s fee paying world) but much rounder & well educated adults as a result.
My parents have my gratitude every day for the values and drive they instilled in me.
They taught me that everyone is equal and deserves the same opportunities in life. That it is more important to be a good person, stand up for what you believe and for those who can’t stand up for themselves, than be rich or have a lot yourself.
They taught me to understand the value of money – I know what it feels like to have none and I learned early the need to work hard and focus if you want to achieve your goals.
I got my first job at 11 – a cream round, when every Saturday I’d get on my bike and spend all day cycling around with a basket full of cheese, milk & cream selling it around the local estate behind where I lived.
At 13 I got a 7 day a week morning paper round. I’d get up at 6am every day, cycle to the paper shop and sort my papers, bag them and get out and deliver them. I’d then wash up and head to school. Sundays were the worst – the heavy broadsheets and supplements that took and age to sort and weighed a tonne!
At 15 I managed to get a Saturday job in my local supermarket and I worked there until I left school and went to University in Edinburgh to study English Language.
University was fun – and I grew both academically and personally. I got a student grant and loan but they barely paid for my rent and food so throughout University I juggled a lot of different jobs in term and holiday time – halls kitchens, halls cleaning in holidays, zoo, waitress, pub, pleasance fringe, telesales, door to door sales, chamber maid, highland show, temping.
When I wasn’t working or at lectures I spent time with friends and was active in the University Canoe Club both on the Committee as the Publicity Officer and as a keen paddler. I spent a lot of my weekends hurtling down Scottish rivers, training at the outdoor centre or surfing at Seacliff (my favourite Scottish beach).
I graduated in 1999 with an MA in English Language awarded with Honours, spent a month paddling the rivers of the French Alps and then started professional work: professional me.
I love experiencing life and fun, and the wisdom and comfort in who you are that comes with age.
Spending time with family and friends is incredibly important to me. I enjoy painting (acrylic), photography, skiing, live music & dancing, reading, history, politics, economics, discovering new technology, watching good tv, cinema, being outside and active, driving around the country in my Saab convertible with the top down – it’s a happy car! Too many things to list.
I love experiencing new things, cultures and travel – so far I’ve managed to tick off USA, Barbados, Jamaica, Mexico, Ireland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Canaries, Singapore, Australia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and South Africa. So many more places to see and so little time!
I live on the coast and can’t imagine ever living too far from the sea – there is something very calming for the mind being close to water.
I got a pair of roller boots with rainbows on the side for my 40th birthday.
Every experience you have in life makes you into the person you are today. I know who I am and what I believe and I wouldn’t change anything.
Life is about today and what you make your future, not looking back and living in the “what if”.