Thursday, 24 July 2014


scottish man kilt purple thistle highland cow scotland scottishisms scots language western isles isle of lewis outer hebrides island life freckles and all blog

Being the language enthusiast that I am, I love the fact that the Western Isles of Scotland is a bilingual community. Here on the Isle of Lewis, English and Gaelic have equal language status and a large proportion of children are taught exclusively in Gaelic. This being the case, I was prepared for a few language difficulties when I moved up from Essex. Little did I know though, that it wouldn't only be Gaelic that I'd have trouble understanding.

I naively assumed, as a native English speaker, that the only thing to prevent me from understanding my mother tongue in Scotland would be the unfamiliar accent. It soon became apparent though that there are fair few words and phrases used in Scotland that we don't really come across south of the border. Initially these idiosyncrasies baffled me, but two years down the line I've grown to love the quirks of Scottish English.

With the spotlight on Glasgow this week for the Commonwealth Games, I thought there's no better time to share a few of my favourite Scottish-isms.

Here they are with (I hope, accurate!) translations:

noun: blether
long-winded talk with no real substance, chat

adjective: bonny
pretty, beautiful, attractive

adjective: boggin
disgusting, unpleasant, vile, ugly

adjective: canny
having or showing shrewdness and good judgement

noun: chancer
trickster, person who pushes their luck

adjective: crabbit
grumpy, bad-tempered

noun: dafty
a silly person

adjective: dreich
dreary, bleak (especially of weather)

adjective: glaikit
not very bright, gormless

verb: gonny
going to

phrase: getting the messages
doing the shopping

phrase: haud yer wheesht!
be quiet!

noun: neb

noun: neep

adverb: noo

adjective: peelie-wally
off colour, pale looking

verb: shoogle
shake about

noun: tattie

Huge thanks go to my bonny pal from Perthshire whose translations have stopped me looking like a dafty on numerous occasions. She's brightened many a dreich day since I've been a wee bit peelie wally and is always there for a good blether. I'm gonny miss her heaps when we move back down south! 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014


I'm not normally one to admit it when I'm struggling, but over the last week or so I really have been.

After the highs of having friends to stay and making it out on adventures, the inevitable payback kicked in. Payback, or post-exertional malaise, is a defining feature of ME / CFS. It is a period of intense exhaustion and flu-like symptoms which follows physical, mental or emotional exertion. This time for me payback meant muscle weakness, migraines, nausea and extra fatigue. Although I knew it was coming and had readied myself for the physical side of things, I wasn't prepared for how drastically it would affect my mood. It left me feeling extremely low and very lonely.

Since falling ill I've had to work hard at maintaining a positive outlook and have built up a sort-of mood-boosting and loneliness-alleviating toolkit. I eat reasonably healthily, move about when I can, keep a gratitude journal and give myself small craft-y projects to focus on. Generally, these among other things keep me upbeat despite feeling unwell.

Throughout the most recent bout of payback though, my cheer-up strategies just weren't doing the trick. I was constantly on the brink of tears, noticed negative thoughts creeping in, and felt frustration building by the hour. It all came to a head when, flicking through a Speech Therapy magazine, I saw an advert for a 'dream job'. Knowing that I'm not well enough currently to even consider working in such a role, I burst into tears and began hysterically sobbing. It was completely irrational, but at that moment, in my mind, the job symbolised everything that I'd lost since becoming ill.

Close friends and family know that I refer to my lower moments as 'wobbles'. A brilliant friend of mine always says to me 'Don't wobble by yourself. Call me' but I never normally do. I pick up the phone, but talk myself out of it before dialling. It's a pride thing mostly, I think - wanting to be stronger than that. As well as wanting to be seen as someone who is dealing well with illness and not moaning all the time.

This time though, I did call. I'm not sure what made me do it but I'm so glad I did. Once I'd somehow, between sobs, got out a garbled 'I'm so fed up', my aforementioned brilliant friend proceeded to say a series of all the right things. Having talked my feelings through and cried my little heart out, I came off the phone feeling better than I had for a while. When I tried looking for the positives a little later on, they came that much quicker than before my release of emotion.

Of all the brilliant things said to me during that phone call, the most memorable and comforting was definitely : 'Of course you're upset. It's crap'.

Something I've struggled with time and time again is that, in trying so hard to stay positive and deal with my illness well, I push aside the difficult feelings that come with it. This often means that the negative feelings, having not been processed, build up and come back two-fold.

It's taken a while, but I'm slowly getting my head around the fact that, in order to reach a point where I'm able to truly be positive, those negative feelings, which are very real and demand to be felt, cannot be swept under the rug.

Being okay with not being okay hasn't come easily to me, but I feel like this week someone has flicked a switch and it's clicked. It may not sound like the most positive revelation in the world, but for me it is. In order to be genuinely positive, I need a clean slate. Processing and releasing a lot of negative emotion has given me exactly that.



Leurbost, North Lochs, Isle of Lewis

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