52and40/23 The Selfsame Well

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A friend died recently.  She was my writing teacher first (and my first writing teacher).

I can trace roads from everything I’ve had published in the last two years to Helen, her guidance at every way-marker.  Even with this map I’m disorientated; floundering in comprehending such a special woman being gone.

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In grief, all roads lead inevitably to my Mum.  Every funeral a little her funeral, too.  Profound losses only comforted by the extreme gratitude for having shared some of the world with extraordinary people’s smiles and stories.

Joy and sorrow, innit?

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Read all about #52and40 here.

52and39/51 Back to the Future

I’m feeling festive in fleeting bouts that buzz like wee jingle belled flashbacks, all present and sparkly then, gone.

Nonetheless, home is hyggelig at this time of year.

Following prelims, my son’s deciding what to do with at least some of his future.  My head tells him to go with his heart.  His heart says he mightn’t be good enough.

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Watching someone struggle with a truth that you can’t wrestle to the ground…  it’s hard, isn’t it?  The future will have to wait a little.  For now, back to the (Christmas) present.

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Then just like that, there’s only 1 more week to go of #52and39. Read all about it here

52and39/45 Man-made

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My husband’s rediscovering creativity.  He used to carve stones, dance jitterbug, podcast and collect things – just for breath and beauty.

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Along the way, we downgraded his creativity.  He started pointing at it as a nice luxury item, for when there was more time.  In terms of wisdom, it’s a bit like letting go of gravity and hoping for touchdown.

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He asked me if I’d get him a stone to carve, for Christmas.  I’ve said no.  To wholeheartedly walk the walk again there are some gifts you have to give to yourself.

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The Birds & The Bees

There’s a lovely new, wee shop on Comiston Road in Morningside, just up from the landmark Morningside Clock.   I noticed this when I was running about one Saturday morning, ricocheting from one cash-point to another, trying to find an ATM with cash after what must’ve been a busy Friday night for taxis and local pubs.

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The stylish little oasis of Blackbird Studios‘ frontage called me over and from there, as they say, it was love.  Well, at the very least it was a continuing lusty affair with painted porcelain, stunning stationery and frankly anything with a bird on it that makes me smile and think whimsically (vultures & turkeys need not apply).

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It turns out Blackbird is run by a lady called Sheila Angus who’s moved back to Edinburgh after a long stint in Banchory where she was an art teacher at the local High School.  The very High School, in fact, that my kids would’ve gone to had we stayed in Banchory instead of moving to Edinburgh four years ago.  There’s one of those sliding doors moments again, see?  2015 has been full of them.  I’d never met Sheila before (the kids were in primary school when we left the Aberdeenshire Hood) but I was really pleased to meet her in her new setting and to have a gander among creativity while marvelling at how tiny Scotland is; city or not, most folk here are barely separated by six scones in a tea-room never mind the zoomed out, six degrees, global separation chain of connectedness.

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Anywho, Sheila invited me to her Summer Exhibition Opening the following week where I got a fab chance to wander again, take some photos and to meet another local business – Edward and Irwyn  – whose little workshop with stable door on Morningside Drive has intrigued me in passing every time I’ve driven by over the last few months.  More on them below.

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So, the lowdown on Blackbird Studios according to me is as follows;

Sheila’s business and art are a welcome addition to a Morningside shopping environment that seems to have gone a bit highly-priced-charity-shop-hysterical in recent times.  Shops like Sheila’s help the balance and are essential for keeping the street relevant to a range of shoppers.  Sheila has created and chosen a fantastic range of items and the shop’s vibe is relaxed and non pushy – a total hit with me.  I get the feeling that in a year or so Sheila will be firmly established in the Edinburgh arts and crafts network and the shop will daisy chain into lots of ideas and talent in and around the city.  It already has the feel of a hub for shoppers & artists who appreciate unpretentious, accessible originality – no mean feat in a short time-scale.

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My favourite things were;

1. A Prism of Starlings stationery

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2.  The felt & denim blue tits handmade in Fife

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3.  Sheila’s own ceramic tiles in frames (above) or with hanging wires (below) – a simple, perfectly executed idea in a fab range of colours and designs.  Instant artiness added to a home with these.  I now have two and they’ve really given character to a previously blank space.

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All of the above are super affordable, prices ranging from £6 to £20 (tiles in frames, most of the ones pictured here are £8-£10) with quality and individuality factors being super high: SCORE.

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At the higher end of the offerings there are gorgeous prints, canvases, ceramic plaques and mosaic wall art pieces that would be fantastic statements in a lucky home.  Again, quality is high and pricing is extremely reasonable.  This is indeed a boon for visitors and locals to Morningside alike.

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And so to the chocolate….

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Edward and Irwyn (E&I) make very, very, very good chocolate, i.e., the kind that you are reminded of two weeks after tasting it and the flavour is once again somehow on your tongue, rendering all other chocolate dead to you instantly.  The honeycomb chocolate we tasted on the night of the exhibition opening was made with honey from bees who live idyllically at The Secret Herb Garden where, incidentally, you can do a course to learn how to keep your own bees, should your heart desire that as a possibility.  Remember my post about that lovely place here?  It’s a wee gem that seems to be going quickly from strength to strength and has become a destination for Edinburghers with a day off or spare weekend time.

Back to chocolate for now though.  If you pass E&I during the week there’s a fair chance you’ll see the two best chum chocolatiers sitting outside in their whites having a break between batches.  They always seem to be deep in conversation and happy.  This is happy chocolate made with salt from Iceland and, sometimes, happy bee’s honey.  It’s available from various places around Edinburgh and you can also pop into E&I on a Saturday afternoon to buy some of anything they have left over from the week’s orders.

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Edward & Irwyn are on Twitter @EdwardandIrwyn and Blackbird Studios is happily tweeting from @BlackbirdScot.  That’s my Christmas present ideas totally sorted and we’ve not even finished June.  Happy Days…