It’s hard to believe but it was almost exactly five years ago I headed down to Watford for a training day in preparation for going to South Africa. For me, that trip is so connected with this blog, because I had so much love, encouragement and support from my awesome online community that got me there, and sustained me while I was there.

In all the trips I’ve done where I had no control over who I’d share a room with, I’ve had the best roommates. My friend Gill when we were doing an Erasmus IP in Spain. The fabulous Daniela and Kapook when we were in Germany. And when I was in South Africa it was the awesome Ruky.

July 2009

July 2009

We met up last summer after four years of distance, and I’m so excited to have booked tickets last night to travel to Paris in May to have another roomie reunion. I only got one day in Paris during my interrail trip in 2002, and I’ve always wanted to go back so this is the best excuse to go ever to spend a few days catching up with a great friend. And this time I’ll be a lot less naive about where the Moulin Rouge is.

I know that I’m almost done with my first year of uni and will have a few months off – during which time some of my uni friends will graduate and perhaps leave the country (noooo).  Next summer I might be pulling my hair out trying to do a Masters dissertation and won’t get to take time off for holidays and festival fun. So with that in mind I’m trying to make the most of having a summer to enjoy things. For five years I didn’t leave the UK. Now I’m going out the country TWICE in one year, and my Mum is talking of the two of us going away somewhere for a few days to celebrate me entering my 30s. One of my best friends is having another baby (a new honourary niece and nephew arrives this summer)! Not to mention the tickets I have to see the gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games. And hoping that there’ll be lots of shows that coincide with non-work days in August during Edinburgh Festivals season…

All this to say I’m really looking forward to this summer.

I’m so aware that everything could be taken away or change in an instant, so I want to take every opportunity to have fun.

I’m taking bookings for fun appointments friends!

18 again?

I think my friends have picked up on the fact I love chocolate.

But there’s a wee story I thought was kinda funny about the chocolate heart in the middle right there bought for me by 2 of the guys I went to high school with. In built into me is this rule that I don’t open presents until the day they were meant for – mainly because even at 27 I still fear the wrath of my mother if she finds out. 8O

The boys however insisted that I look inside the bag they’d given to me so they could see my reaction.

I laughed, because I thought they’d done it to make a joke about how I could be ’18 again’. However it was even better story.

When walking through Fort Kinnaird retail park earlier that day (they were getting birthday cards for me & our friend Kate) something caught their eye on the display window at Thorntons. A chocolate heart with the message already written ‘Happy 18th Laurie!‘.

My friends from high school have only ever known me as Laurie (except for Craig who liked to call me by my full name very fast – middle name included). Laurie is not a common name in Scotland at all. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever met another girl called Laurie from the UK. People often think I’m American when they learn of my double barrelled first name & its diminutive form.

Until they hear my accent.

When my friends saw it, they apparently looked from the chocolate heart, to each other and said ‘We’ve gotta do it!’ and purchased said messaged chocolate from the window display. I mean seriously? What were the chances of them choosing such an uncommon name for their display chocolate?!

It made me smile. I don’t think I’m going to eat it. I have eaten some of the chocolate truffles that came with it though. :)

Thorntons had only just started writing personalised messages on chocolate around the time I was born. When my Grandad came to visit his new granddaughter in hospital (me!) he saw this new thing they were doing on easter eggs, and decided to get an easter egg with my name written on & brought it into the ward. It was totally uncharacteristic of him to do something like that, and we still have pictures of that easter egg. My Mum kept it for several years (ick). So my heart shaped chocolate has reminded me of that too.

Piñata Fun!

Because I was away down in London town on my actual birthday, my friends surprised me with a special birthday tea at the weekend. Poor Bringonthejoy and Miss S have been fighting a TON of bugs lately, and I’ve been busybusybusy with work so we’ve not got to see as much of each other as we’d all like! It’s funny to think that this time last year, the Mini Kahuna was still just a bump – he’ll be turning 1 next month. Anyway, Miss S was really excited for the grand finale to the evening which was Piñata!

Rather than the one that you have to beat up, they had got a rather more civilised ‘pull the string’ version…

Miss Sweetroot was the one who managed to break the piñata open, but it did take us a while to loosen the loot!

Through some girl-power teamwork me & Miss S got it sorted. But how to gather the loot? We just didn’t have enough hands…

So being the super-smart chicas we are – we used our initiative. You see a dress, we see a basket! (Plus Miss S’s dress had pockets, very useful!)

Miss S also shared out the loot equally (?) between herself, me, Bringonthejoy & TheStateThatIamIn. I put a question mark there because it seems her Daddy seriously lost out – his pile seemed a lot smaller than mine, Miss S’s & BOTJ’s!

All in all, a fun evening was had, enjoying ‘smallgroup’ style food outside on a lovely summery evening together. I love my friends and wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. :)

You gotta love encouragement

Last week was in a word: HORRIBLE.

This weekend: LOVELY

Today I dropped my 3 City Church stowaways off at the airport as they headed off to their first residential with DNA. Man, had we been churching it up this weekend – we got our tea at 10 p.m. last night while being subjected to watching a documentary programme (read: car crash trashy tv) called My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, which my Mum had got sucked into somehow.

And then I headed in cheerfully to pick up one of our volunteers as we headed to do a schools visit – this particular visit I always dread every year – it’s all about the ethics and so-called ‘Christian viewpoint’ of abortion. (You wouldn’t believe the utter crap they teach about Christianity in Religious Education, more about sin and rituals than Jesus, faith, love, compassion, forgiveness or restoration). But this year it went the smoothest it’s ever gone. And I’d just like to thank Joy and Linsey for reminding me of a way of facilitating learning & debate I’d forgotten about!

I went back to the office (where I’ve been absent for the last fortnight with all the travelling about), and found out something really encouraging. Let’s just say it’s LOVELY to know that people DO learn something positive from youth workshops I & others have facilitated in high school classrooms in the past…

Tomorrow, it’s the first day of Inter:act. I’m feeling positive about it, even if I’m already 4 days behind in my bible reading. I know Starbucks is round the corner and Luca’s is next door if it all gets too much and I need an emergency hot fudge sundae or cinnamon swirl. ;) Plus I’ve got my coloured pens & my recycled paper notepad, plus the pen with my pregnancy centre logo which have turned out to be pretty decent pens to write with.

Turns out a weekend of training, late night chats, car crash tv, road trips and lots of laughs, tears, hugs and smiley worship and praying for one another was just what was needed to turn me around.

Oh, and watching people try on the empathy belly! :D (Props to Jonny for being game to being the first guy to give it a go on Saturday).

Of course, tomorrow I might be on here wailing and crying because of the early start, full day, ending with a trustee meeting in the evening. Our DP says the early morning starts at Inter:act may be the making of me, but I don’t think she’s spoken to well, basically anyone who knows me and has had firsthand experience of ‘La in the morning’. I wonder if I could attend the morning seminars via Videolink for the rest of the year…..hmmmmmm……..

I also have to remember to call myself Laurie (I’ve reverted back to Laura Anne/La after a weekend in the ‘deen!)

Plus the cute media messages I was getting of Miss S as a flowergirl, Mini Kahuna all dressed for a wedding and so on I got this weekend from Mrs BringontheJoy. And a pile of my friends are pregnant again.

Ok. Really need to go and um, get started on October’s reading… and pray for Mairead.

What to say?

To be honest I feel a little snowed under this weekend. Trying to organise things for going down to work in the marketplace at Momentum – I’m camping this year and I don’t know the person working with me, so it’s making things more complicated.

By the way, if you happen to be going, do please come say hello! I’ll be on the green and pink stall that has stuff about pregnancy and stuff. :)

Things are better at the centre, we’ve been so encouraged by people really supporting us through fundraising and so on – and it’s made a HUGE difference. Now if we can just get a bunch of not easily embarrassed people willing to give up a few hours of their time next year to help with youth and schools work! I’ve also ordered (what I hope will be) a really cool resource. There may be pics and video when it arrives…

I also got reunited with one of my oldest friends – Fi and I have been friends since our first year at high school, and when we finally moved into North Leith, Fi and I walked together to school pretty much every day. Most mornings we’d arrive to find her trying to simultaneously get dressed, eat breakfast and brush her teeth. She bet me a wensleydale cheese sandwich I’d come back to school after S4 (which I did) but she lost the bet that I’d stay for S6 (I went to uni a year early instead). Apparently she was late to school pretty much every day of S6 as a result.

this is not the best photo of us...but there we go...

Fi now lives and works in Spain, and it’s so rare for us to see each other now. Booooo! But we always just seem to pick up our friendship exactly where we left off when we do. That’s what years of memories created such as inventing our own version of ‘Happy Birthday’ during a theatre workshop, jelly bean fights, sleepovers, rubber chickens, Dawson’s Creek, bacon rolls, chocolate, guide camps, Edinburgh festival fun, Choir, dance club, enduring school and studying French & Spanish together (ahhh….remember Veronica from the Standard Grade listening tapes?). She even got her Mum to keep the magazine clipping of the guy I had a MASSIVE crush on in high school. That’s a whole other story though ;) We also know that our Mums used to share ‘intel’ on the bus to work often.

Basically we both love to be silly and have fun, and the number one thing I associate with Fi is laughter. And lots of it. :D Oh, and Boyzone.

There’s also the fact that I need to get properly prepared for the fact that over the next week, I’ll be hanging out at our church holiday club – ‘Rocky’s Plaice (for my American friends, this is our equivalent of VBS). I think it’s going to be great fun, but it’s certainly been a while since I helped at a holiday club. And it’s been even longer since I’ve done dance stuff with kids  - and I’m leading the dance workshop – teaching the kids actions to a Doug Horley song about God’s power.

Apparently we’re all getting ‘commissioned’ in church tomorrow morning (=totally out of my comfort zone) but please pray for the safety of the kids, that we all have fun and that I don’t corrupt any children. Though my aim is to  help them learn about Jesus, and also learn how to do some mean air guitar moves. Obviously Jesus is more important than the air guitar.

Travelling Tuesday: Poi-ing in Polzeath

Back in my student days, my friend Liz introduced some of our Assent cell to the wonderousness of poi. Raz got addicted, I got addicted, and by the time Imagine rolled round one of my fave people from City Church, Kath had her own set of flag poi. I got a set in Australia and since then have taken poi to Imagine which has been a great tool to reach out to some of the youth on the fringes of the event.

I took it to Cornwall, onto the beach after the surfer’s blessing and the next thing you know this is going on…isn’t it good that the BrunetteKoala paparazzi was on hand again? Tee hee hee!



Baby T found the Daddies poi display mucho amusing…

IMGP0719As did me and their significant others – bring on the joy and ‘Lucy’ (Mrs Rev gor renamed when the girls informed her that she was their big sister)…and a couple from the Rev’s church who we met later that day and shared these pics from.

Who knew The State That I Am In or The Rev were closet happy clappy charismatics?!! Grace and peace to you brothers…grace and peace…because you knew this post was coming…. ;)

Happy birthday Sesame Street!

So uh, not really a secret that I’m a fan of Sesame Street. Can you believe it’s been going for 40 years today.

Google told me this morning

Picture 2

My fave characters are absolutely Elmo and Cookie Monster. Elmo loves pizza, Cookie Monster loves chocolate chip cookies. I mean we have so much in common!

And how can you not love a show that gets famous celebrities to act like totally OTT crazy people with cute little furry monsters for free?

I mean, have you ever seen anyone so excited about octagons?! :)

Some more fave celebrity visits of mine: Johnny Cash singing with Oscar the Grouch, various celebrities including Ray Charles, Star Trek guy, Ellen DeGeneres, Susan Sarandon and one of the monks from Sister Act 2 singing the Alphabet Song, Ricky Gervais and Elmo, Natalie Portman pretending to be an elephant

And remember folks…. C is for Cookie

The power of imaginary make up

We had an impromptu smallgroup barbecue on Sunday afternoon (and it didn’t even rain…woot!) mainly so as smallgroupers we could make the sacrifice of serving Bringonthejoy and TheStateThatIAmIn by consuming a lot of leftover puddings they had from BOTJ’s leaving party the evening before as pictured below…

NB: I notice Jesus is there, suspiciously near some bottles of water…I wonder what he’s planning?


But you know, Miss S, she’s started a sort of beauty salon and when Gavin arrived she used her skills to turn him into ‘a handsome prince’. Here is Gavin in the make up chair as Miss S shows off her face painting skills…


What do you mean you can’t tell the difference?! (you guys lack imagination…honestly…)

Later another of our smallgroupers came along and she visited Miss S’s shop and became a pirate…


…just another day in the life of our smallgroup…

We do honestly you know, pray and read the bible and stuff as well as doing the eating of yummy food and the silliness (sometimes we multi-task and do both at the same time).

In fact, we’re about to start working on a set of studies based on a book by Bill Hybels called ‘Just Walk Across The Room‘. As the majority of our group consists on introverts, this could be interesting! :) I’m sure we’ll be letting you know how it goes via the blogosphere…

Not walking this Wednesday

Sorry as I never got the chance to write a Wednesday’s Walk post yesterday.

Thinking of one Miss Sweetroot to the Beetroot though, who is starting school today!

There continues to be lots going on and am enjoying catching up with friends gradually before I head to Somerset on Friday for Momentum where I’m working in the marketplace on behalf of a certain pregnancy crisis and pregnancy loss charity. I know there’ll be a few Soul in the City Durban folks there so looking forward to catching up with some of them at the same time.

And tonight I’m going to see Stephen K Amos at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival! Woot!

Apparently I have a life outside the blogosphere…

….or at least this week I do!

Sorry for not getting that last South Africa post up yet, or my Wednesday’s Walk post which I had pretty much written yesterday morning, but just didn’t get a chance to finish it.

Basically a really good friend of mine is up from London with his girlfriend this week and we’re enjoying the delights of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!

And sometimes I’m working. Or spending time with smallgroupers. Or I’m getting upset about people in Summer Bay dying. (Damn that Seven Network!!!)

Been taking lots of pics, and doing a great job of acting like a tourist. In fact I’m doing such an amazing job of it, I got offered a free map of Edinburgh from some map-handing-out person in St Andrew’s Square on Tuesday afternoon!

Hopefully this will make for some good Flower of Scotland Friday posts to come.

Seriously though, as one proud Edinburger Scot, I absolutely love showing people round this city and country. Even at work today I was telling people about parts of the fringe they should check out, bits of the city they hadn’t realised were there and so on!

So yes, this is why I’m not blogging quite so much as I usually am.

Hope you’ll forgive me and my backlog of unfinished blog posts! :)