“Those bagpipes sound lovely.” Did I just say that out loud?

I live opposite a saxophonist. I consider this an absolute pleasure as I often leave the flat to what feels like my own personal theme tune. This may not be the opinion of his actual neighbour’s in situ, but my goodness, a sax solo creeping its way above rush hour traffic is enough to make me go weak at the knees.

So as a lifelong muso and champion of the art form, it pains me to say this, but the mind-boggling instrument they call bagpipes, have never really been my (ahem) bag. As much as I’ve tried, my ears simply cannot compute the torturous sound that, in my opinion, is up there with foxes crying and the universally annoying moped engine. Shudder.

I fully appreciate the skill involved in mastering the tartan beast, but the effects…not so much. So why did I find myself drawn to their non-dulcet tones on a recent trip to Hampton Court? Perhaps it was the setting or the glorious sunshine, but something strange happened and I found myself enjoying bagpipe music. I may’ve even done a little jig the sound thrilled me so.

It turns out that a gentleman had placed himself in a park opposite the palace and was filling the air with a fantastic array of Scottish folk music. The outdoor acoustics were staggeringly appropriate and carried his melodies far and beyond. As young and old stopped to enjoy his performance, it really made me smile. Something as simple as taking a practise session al fresco, sent myself and many others on our way, with a very Scottish spring in our step.

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Mr Bagpipe – music to my surprised ears

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Winter Blues? Think Again

It’s winter. There’s no denying it. Waking up to dark, dingy mornings, steeped in drizzle and condensation is no fun. And what’s worse, is the simple fact that most of us arrive home from work, in exactly the same conditions as when we left – dismal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when the temperature drops enough for me to don my favourite bobble hat or navy knit, but it’s difficult not to think of sunnier climes when the big chill strikes. Much like preparing for a big family event or Christmas (too early?), I think planning and researching a summer holiday should be relished.

This winter, Anthropologie's, Homeward Pom Pom Beanie, will be one of my staples

This winter, Anthropologie’s, Homeward Pom Pom Beanie, will be one of my staples

On Friday’s commute, while the bus was stuck behind some temporary traffic lights, I found myself ideally positioned alongside a taxi bay. One of the driver’s sat utterly content in his seat, smiling from ear-to-woolly-hat-covered-ear. His face was a picture and I soon realised why. He was sitting with his iPad, flicking through the most luxurious looking beachside hotels. I rapidly wished I hadn’t been so nosey.

My thoughts naturally turned to sun, sea and all things factor 50. In this day and age, it’s so easy to reminisce about distant holiday memories; a simple click on my iPhoto icon and I’m transported to a virtual paradise, surrounded by breath-taking turquoise ocean, views too-good-to-be-true and thoughts of refreshingly addictive coconut water (and no matter how expensive the carton version is you get in supermarkets, it never tastes quite as good as that fresh from the nut!).

Coconut water - nothing tastes fresher

Coconut water – nothing tastes fresher

But let’s not forget those added extras that come with enjoying a sun-filled holiday of a lifetime:

  • Sunburn in places you’ve never considered putting sun cream
  • Sand (enough said)
  • Chasing geckos around your room at 2.00am
  • Dragging your suitcase across one mile of untouched sandy beach because you just had to stay at the hotel that gave you a real ‘island experience’
  • Lost in translation menus (when I ordered a ‘Three Tomato Salad’, I expected a little more than three slices of tomato garnished with a leaf of basil)
Never underestimate the speed of a gecko..never!

Never underestimate the speed of a gecko..never!

Come to think of it, winter has its plus points. So for now, I’ll settle for my fluffy new dressing gown, snuggling up in front of the latest reality TV show and lighting my favourite, True Grace, scented candle. Summer can wait.