Sunday, 10 May 2015 activist (campaign experiences and the SNP landslide)

I mentioned in my last post that I'd been campaigning. If you told me then that I'd be sitting here having witnessed our candidate Gavin Newlands win by 9000 votes, I'd have laughed. Of course we were hoping for a win, but every poll said if we achieved it, it would be by 2% - around 900 votes. I stood at my table at the count after standing up since 7am that day, taking samples and thinking mine must be an anomaly - I'd obviously got the good boxes. But my boxes weren't from our traditionally good areas. They were from Labour strongholds. I looked around at the expressions on the faces of me fellow activists, and they echoed my disbelief. We talked to our counterparts in the neighbouring team - those working on Mhairi Black's campaign, and saw our results mirrored. True verificiation can when each of the stood at the podium in the Lagoon Centre, with the screen behind them showing them far ahead of the other candidates. Not for the last time that morning, I stood surrounded by Team Newlands and cried happy, astonished tears as each of them spoke of their commitment to a better future.

Gavin Newlands, MP!!
 If you'd told me the wee party I belong to would become the third biggest part in the UK by some margin I'd have said that's the dream - but to gain all but three of Scotland's seats, sometimes by massive swings, would have been unfathomable. It still is. It is too big to comprehend. The media call it a landslide. Alex Salmond calls it 'the Scottish Lion Roaring'. What it is, is the people of Scotland making themselves heard.

In the months running up to the election, I had the privilege of being part of the most hardworking team imaginable. People who, through belief in the message of the party and the ability of the candidate, gave every spare minute. We leafleted and canvassed every street in our constituency in every weather imaginable. There were days where by noon I'd walked to the point where i felt i couldn't go any further - and was still at it at midnight. I'd wake up the next morning sore, and do the same again. our campaign officially stopped for me when I left our hub at 5am on Friday, and I still hurt. The entire team experienced this. Folk ask me how I think we got such massive gains. and though I can't fathom the enormity of it myself, that's how.
Literally through blood, sweat and tears. Our message has always been positive - a voice for the people of Scotland, anti-austerity, pro-growth, and aiming for a fairer, better future. But without people to deliver it, we wouldn't have had this success. While other parties had leaflets posted by the poor postman, ours were done by activists.
Our activists were part of a team that became like a family, working on a positive campaign, talking to people of all political persuasions and all walks of life. I love campaigning. I'd walk every step again.
Erskine Street Stall - tipping rain

Renfrew Street Stall Selfie

Campaign photo, Banksy style.

SNP Women at Scrap Trident Rally

After Count Party at our campaign hub. A few of the Women's committee members, including #theLaurens. Feminism ahoy. (photo by John Shaw (I think))

The launch of #SNPbeacause (Photo by John Shaw)

Dave performed at Anne McLaughlin's adoption night. Also speaking - Nicola Sturgeon. Anne won 'the Safest Seat in Glasgow', with a swing of 43%. It broke the BBC swingometer.

Top photo by John Shaw, bottom right by George Adam MSP

Centre and bottom left photos by John Shaw.

We face huge challenges now. We had hoped to be part of an alliance with the left leaning parties. With the Tory majority, and the incoming of further brutal cuts, the possible removal of the Human Rights Act and a referendum on EU membership, we have work to do. We go forward with an exceptional leader in Nicola Sturgeon, and with 56 MPs committed to pushing anti-austerity measures, and retaining laws that protect our rights. I'm pleased to know that the person I've worked to send forward has great values, integrity, and an incredible work ethic.

For a few more days though, I will quietly celebrate this amazing win. During the yes campaign, a quote by Nelson Mandela was bounced around a lot. "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears". The people of Scotland have voted with hope, and that is a thing to be celebrated - for a long time, our votes have not counted. At least this time, they have been used to send a party forward to challenge the status quo.

Monday, 13 April 2015

...on the campaign trail.

For the next month, the blog Will be quiet. With less than four weeks to go and polls predicting every eventuality under the sun, and no votes cast, there's work to be done.

Oh, but. Yesterday I met someone pretty cool...

Monday, 23 March 2015

...all change.

So, in January, as ever, I was all 'I'm going to blog every week this year' and as is evident, that went out the window.

The last two months have been very busy. I interviewed for, and got a management position with the care provider I was a support practitioner for. Last week I moved into a new service, and from a front-line support role, up the ladder a bit into a front-line management role. So far it's going well.
I've also finished college as of last Wednesday. Assuming that the one assignment that hasn't been marked is ok, that is. this year's AGM, I took of the roll of Co-Women's Officer in my SNP branch. I am new to the role but enjoying it. After the referendum I was wondering what, other than the usual campaigning, I could do to promote progress and help shape Scoltand's future. For now, this is my bit. There was a point last month where I was trying to finish college, finish stuff at my previous job and start the new one, and campaign and it felt quite fraught. Fortunately I'm in the new job and college is finished, so it's feeling more manageable.

Other than that - I've been to the theatre to see To Kill a Mockingbird and West Side Story, I saw the Decemberists in concert which was amazing, I've read loads and we've been taking advantage of the better weather and have done a lot of walking on the beach/up hills/in the woods with Oscar. And that is where I am now...

Friday, 16 January 2015

...walking in the snow

This morning was the first time we've had proper snow since Oscar came to live with us, and since I'm on back shift today, I got to take him out in actual daylight. It snowed quite heavily, and watching him run about and have a play with other dogs in it was lovely.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

...making the best of the bleak mid-winter

So, after a 2014 filled with glorious summer and autumn and a mild start to winter, the second week in 2015 has brought full pelt storms - rain, sleet, snow, and brutal, Gale force winds. This week, I have pretty much being getting to and from the places I need to be as quickly (and dryly) as possible, and then getting home where it's cosy and warm. That's when I'm not walking the dog in the tipping rain, obviously.

With the horrible weather - the true bleak mid-winter - has come a need for hearty soups and stews. We've eaten well*, we've kept on top of housework, we've watched many, many episodes of Friends (Dave found them on Netflix), finished watching Derek (the second season is pretty brutal in places, but also so funny), and I've started back at college and am on top of college work and enjoying the course. I've managed to fit in a bit of non-academic reading too, including keeping on top of blogs.

*I concur with Hannah of Seeds and Stitches on this one - here's her take - The Case Against the New Year Diet.

Some other posts I've enjoyed this week...
+ Dave has taken to writing again. His post on recent events in France say what I think, much better than I could.
+TYCI Blog's Trailblazers post on Alanis Morrisette
+The return of Serena to the blogosphere was to my great delight. I've always loved her writing, and this foray into smart, hilarious political commentary does not disappoint. Her most recent post is about the beginnings of the General Election campaign.
+And because it's topical (in Hughesville) and funny, Aparentment Therapy's 10 Decorating Lessons to learn from Friends

I hope everyone else is surviving!!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

...ready for a New Year (a festive catch-up)

Today is the last day of nine days off for me. I haven't has a long run of days off since June, and they were needed.

I worked Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year, for the first time in 8 years. Around my shift on Christmas day, we visited family, exchanged presents, ate, drank and were merry. This is our first Christmas with Oscar, and there were presents for him too. I received an absolutely beautiful Kenwood Patissier mixer. Dave cooked dinner while I was at work, and it was perfect and delicious. On boxing day, I did an early shift, came home early afternoon for Christmas leftover sandwiches, tea and beer. In the evening more family visiting, and a trip to the pub with friends.

The following nine days of holiday were glorious. A weekend of eating leftover Christmas food, watching Christmas telly, easy cooking and magazine reading. A day spent with the kids I used to look after, and one spent having lunch, drinking cocktails, and laughing a lot with my two BFFs from home. A trip to Wales to see Dave's dad and step-mum - wood fires, Hogmanay visitors, food, helping a bit on the farm and a lovely (if rainy) New Years Day walk in the welsh hills. Yesterday, a day spent in the house doing a bit of organising, and then an evening at our friends' eating a delicious meal of roast lamb and a brilliant cheese board   and chatting till quite late. And today. my last day of holiday, spent mostly in one place, on the sofa, drinking pots of tea, reading, and snuggling with Oscar while Dave does copious amounts of writing for work.

I can get very caught up in life. 2014 has passed in a blur of work and college and there have been times when I have felt quite overwhelmed. But among this have been lots of evenings and days like the ones I've just described. and there have been weddings and birthday and achievements to e celebrated. Oscar has been an amazing addition to our lives, and we have always had food and shelter and heat and entertainment. There is a lot to be grateful for - an awful lot. And that is what Ill carry with me in this new year.
As so, tomorrow for all intents and purposes, 2015 really begins. Lets see what it holds...

Thursday, 11 December 2014

...a Secret Santa again (Recipe post - Mince Pie Tiffin)

As I mentioned in my last post, part of Blogging Six Christmas (yup, that's what we call it!) is a Secret Santa swap. Each person buys a gift and also makes something. When it comes to making presents food is my go-to thing.

My gift recipient was Becca, and I made her spiced caramel sauce (basically Nigella's salted caramel sauce, with booze and spices in instead of salt), Black Forest Truffles, and this festive take on a traditional tiffin -Mince Pie Tiffin. I used shortbread to give the sweet pastry flavour and keep a bit of crunch, and mincemeat instead of raisins. Its easy, mostly stirring, and it is ready to go in about three hours. It is also friggin delicious.

for the base

225g good quality milk chocolate
2tbsp butter
2tsp golden syrup
200g shortbread, crushed
150g mincemeat

for the topping

100g milk chocolate
2tbsp golden syrup
sprinkles to decorate (optional)

  • Line a loaf tin with grease proof paper
  • to make the base, put the chocolate, syrup and butter in a pot, heat over a low heat till melted, stirring frequently to combine
  • add crushed shortbread
  • add mincemeat is 1/2tsp sized blobs
  • stir to combine
  • tip into loaf tin and spread till the top is even.
  • Put in the fridge to chill for two hours
  • it will firm up and hold shape, but be a little squidgy (like soft fudge).
  • melt the chocolate and syrup for the topping in a pot, and pour over the base, spreading to coat evenly.
  • Add sprinkles if you wish
  • chill for an hour

This can be sliced with a sharp knife, and will keep for about a week if wrapped in greaseproof paper in an airtight tin. It wont last a week though!