Monthly Archives: October 2014

Angel Readings In The Peat Smoke

As it’s almost Halloween I thought I’d share a slightly spooky tale with you. There’s more than hint of the truth and actual events in this one. Enjoy

Angel Readings In The Peat Smoke

From the music and laughter echoing out of the front room as we approached the front door, my friend’s “At Home Hen Party” was already in full swing. Beside me on the doorstep my young daughter danced impatiently from foot to foot as we waited on the door being opened. It was my friend’s mum who eventually opened it, wine glass in hand.

“Ah, you’re here! We were getting worried. You’re the next to go in and Jean’s already been in a while,” she gushed. “Come away in, girls!”

A chill ran through my veins. The main attraction of the “At Home Hen Party” was an angel card reading. Suddenly my sixth sense was twitching. My own angel card experiences were all positive and reassuring but a growing sense of unease flooded my mind.

Too late to turn back now.

I politely declined a glass of bubbly – I had brought the car but the truth was that I didn’t want my senses impaired. As I sat on the couch beside my daughter I tried to relax. In the car I’d explained to her that I would be seeing “the lady” for a card reading and that she would need to wait with her auntie. Despite her pleas to be allowed to accompany me, I said “No.”

“She’s waiting for you, doll,” said the bride-to-be nudging me on the shoulder. “Bedroom on the left at the end of the hall.”

The white painted door was shut tight. Taking a deep breath, I turned the handle and slowly opened the door. A frenzy of wild ash blonde hair, white crocheted shawl and piercing blue eyes flew at me, hugged me tight and declared loudly, “What an energy you’ve brought in!”

With my personal space violated, my “guard” imploded.

“Sit yourself down,” she encouraged dragging me towards a plain wooden chair.

I did as I was told and sat with my feet firmly planted on the ground, my hands on my knees in a frantic attempt to ground myself and regroup my thoughts. Before I could stop her, the woman had taken both of my hands in hers.

“You’re a nurse? Or a doctor? Definitely a healer.”

I shook my head, not trusting myself to speak.

She stared at me intently, looking deep into my very soul. I could feel her mind probing the depths of mine and I was failing to shut the doors on my innermost thoughts as she probed her way around.

“You’re a witch. A healing witch,” she stated bluntly. “And you always have been.”

Instantly my third eye opened up to its past. The distinctive aroma of a peat fire filled the room.

I was no longer in my friend’s mum’s spare bedroom; I was in a low stone cottage on the outskirts of a village in the Outer Hebrides, on the shores of a loch. In front of me a small cooking pot hung over a peat fire. From the additional strong aroma around me, the pot contained fish that appeared to be simmering in some milk. Instinctively I knew that it was to reduce the saltiness of the herring that I’d bought at the pier that morning. As I stirred the pot with a well-worn wooden spoon, the smoke formed into a vision of a baby. Outside I heard the hoodie crow caw twice. It was time. Carefully I swung the pot to one side and banked the fire. Pausing to pick up my small hessian bag containing my medicinal herbs, freshly gathered that morning on the way back from the village, and drew my shawl round my shoulders.

Closing the door behind me I stepped out into the gloaming and walked up the steep scree path to the road. A young boy, his flaming red hair sticking out like a scarecrow’s, came running full pelt towards me.

“Mistress, you need to come now,” he gasped. “My mother needs you. It’s my sister’s time and the bairn’s not turned.”

“Calm down, Fergus. Breathe,” I heard my self say. “All will be well with this bairn and your sister.”

Suddenly I found the right door in my mind and slammed it shut. I snapped back into the present and was relieved to be back in the bedroom, even if “the lady” was still holding my hands.

The wide-eyed look on her face suggested she had share my vision – or was it a memory of my true past?

She loosened her grip on my hands and said quietly, “You’ve a daughter. She’s very like you.”

I didn’t respond.

“She’s got the same guardian angel as you. Same one you’ve had all through time. You’ve seen it. Your daughter sees it.”

“She does?”

“Yes,” replied the woman reaching round for the deck of angel cards that had until now lain forgotten on the bed. “She has a real butterfly personality your little girl. All pinks, blues and purples. There’s always butterflies about her.”

My blood ran cold as I pictured my baby girl sitting in the front room wearing her favourite t-shirt. The blue one with the large pink, purple and silver butterfly emblazoned on the front.

The woman slowly shuffled the deck of cards then, to my mild surprise, drew out a card for me.

“Perfect,” she breathed, handing the card to me.

In my trembling hands I held the image of a beautiful angel with her eyes cast downwards. Her wings were neatly folded behind her and in her hands she held a crystal ball filled with colourful butterflies, all shades of pink, blue and purple.

“There’s nothing I can tell you that you can’t see for yourself, mistress,” she declared staring straight into my unguarded soul. “This card says it all. You’re not ready to face your powers yet. The folded wings signify that. You’re focussed on all you hold dear to you. That’s symbolised by the crystal ball. When you’re ready you’ll lift your face to the world, spread those wings and soar. You and your daughter. She shares your gifts.”

I stared at the card in total disbelief at what I was hearing but at the same time recognising it as the truth I’d been denying for so long.

Something fluttering near the light caught my eye. It was a white butterfly dancing near the brightly lit bulb.

The smell of peat smoke filled my nostrils once more and, in the distance, I heard the first wails of a new born babe.



A Smokin’ Girls Night Out

This week the third bus – sorry concert- came along and in its own way this one was extra special.

This one fell the day after one of my best friend’s birthdays. Over the years (almost forty of them) we’ve laughed together,cried together, got drunk together and worked together  many times but, apart from a few musical evenings in the local pub way back in the day pre-children, we’ve never been to a gig together. I’ll be honest, it’s never crossed my mind to suggest it before now. However this one came along at an opportune time and seemed to be the perfect solution to the annual birthday present dilemma. (This particular friend has a habit of saying “I don’t know” when you ask what she would like as a gift. A habit that earned her a gift of a small box with “I don’t know” neatly written on a piece of paper inside it on one occasion)

I was secretly thrilled when she said she’d like to come along.

And the band of choice? – Blackberry Smoke, a southern/country rock band from Atlanta, Georgia.

Thursday, concert day, was one of those days where anything that could go wrong did. All thoughts of a relaxing day off work before heading out for the evening went up in smoke! By the time I picked my friend up, I was a frazzled wreck, running late (which for those who know me is a rarity and a national disaster in my book) and completely and utterly harassed. Somehow we made it to the station in time for our train and I collapsed into the seat with a sigh of relief.

As the train pulled out of the station we both left the stresses and strains of our real lives behind us for a few hours.

The venue for the evening yet again was Glasgow’s O2 ABC (think I’ve got a season ticket for it!) and, after a very welcome, very strong caffeine fix at my usual haunt across the street, we joined a very long queue to get in.  One that snaked up one of the steepest streets in Glasgow. The show was Sold Out. A beautiful thing.

As we climbed the stairs to the larger of the two halls, I debated silently with myself about where we should aim to stand. Near the front? (Neither of us are particularly tall so front is good) Near the back? (Perhaps less crowded and more personal space)

Over our coffees, my friend had confessed to never having stood at a rock show before and to never really having been to one either. Her education has been sadly lacking in this area but I’ll take some of the blame for that.

I guided her over to the merchandising stall and treated her to a purple Blackberry Smoke T-shirt to celebrate the loss of her concert virginity!

There was still space just off the barrier, so in for a penny in for a pound as they say, and we took our places.

The support act for the evening totally blew me away. It was Aaron Keylock, an extremely talented young blues guitarist. He’s been on the professional blues circuit for about four years according to his website bio. Doubly impressive when you realise he’s only 16 years old. Jimmy Page, watch your back! Dressed in vibrant purple corduroy flares and with a body like the gable end of a £5 pound note, this talented young man had me mesmerised for his entire half hour set. I only wish I’d bought his CD at the merchandise stall. Next time!

Bang on eight thirty, and after a mad dash through the 1300 strong crowd to the little girl’s room (sorry to anyone I may have trodden on or elbowed) I re-took my place beside my friend. The lights dimmed. The curtains glided back. Cue the start of ninety minutes of high class southern rock. We sang. We clapped along (well, as best as I could considering I have precious little sense of rhythm!) Both of us loved every minute of it, as did the other 1300 folk around us.

When the evening came to an end, as all good things must, the lights came up and we began to make our way to the exit. Everyone around us seemed relaxed and smiling. It really had been a great feel good show.

When we were almost at the door I found myself behind two concert-goers who had obviously enjoyed themselves. In front of me, along with their humans, were two guide dogs. From the tail whipping that my knees took, those pooches had enjoyed Blackberry Smoke as much as everyone else. Humbling.

I wonder if their favourite song of the night was “Sleepin’ Dogs”?

Blackberry Smoke collage

A Massive night out

I mentioned a couple of posts back that concerts were like buses. None for months then WHAM- a musical deluge.

Last week it was Boy Child’s turn to chaperone his lovely mother aka ME! By coincidence we were heading back to the same venue as I’d visited with Girl Child two weeks ago. And, like the last time, this was the first gig I’d gone to when it was just me and one of my little darlings. Mother and Son night out.

This time we were off to see Massive, a fabulous up and coming Australian rock band. I had the pleasure of reviewing their debut album, Full Throttle, a few weeks back  for Phoenix Music Online ( and it’s been a long time since a band has blown me away like Massive have. Having played the album constantly for weeks, I was more than a little excited to see them play live. They were the first of two support bands for the headliners, UK band The Treatment, who, I don’t mind admitting, I knew nothing about.

Having taken the train to Glasgow, hiked up Renfield St and Sauchiehall St to the O2 ABC, trying to keep pace with Boy Child and those long legs of his, we hid out in a nearby coffee shop until the venue’s doors opened. (OK we hid in the coffee chop to thaw out Boy Child who had, in his teenage wisdom, decided he would be warm enough in a t-shirt without a jacket. It’s Glasgow in October, Boy!! He was wrong. He was frozen!)

Shortly before seven we headed across the street and into the sanctuary of the O2 ABC 2. This intimate venue is starting to grow on me.

Bang on schedule Massive took to the stage in front of a small but growing appreciative audience. All bar one rock fan hung back a bit off the barrier, a little wary of this new act. Unusual for a Glasgow crowd. After Massive had stormed their way through their set opener, the band’s charismatic front man, Brad Marr, invited us to come closer. We did!

Ensconced on the barrier Boy Child and I  and everyone else, who was lucky enough to be there, were treated to an amazing performance of RnFnR! The highlight of Massive’s half hour set for me was a song called Ghost. I love love love that song!( Check it out on You Tube - – You won’t regret it.)

When the band bade us a fond farewell and left the stage, I asked the roadie to pass me the set list that had been on stage in front of us. He handed it over with a smile and a couple of Massive guitar picks. Thank you, sir!

“Operation Autograph” was immediately launched! It wasn’t too hard a task as these musicians just love being among their fans and the added attraction of the beer at the bar helped. First to adorn the set list was front man, Brad Marr. It was a pleasure to chat all too briefly with him. While Boy Child and I were talking to him, drummer, Jarrod Medwin, came over and obligingly signed the slightly damp (beer stains from the band’s beer) set list. He admired Boy Child’s Alter Bridge t-shirt then we left them in peace to chat to other fans over a beer.

As the next band, Buffalo Summer, took to the stage I kept my eyes peeled for Massive’s bass player and guitarist. Eventually I spotted bass player, Aidan McGarrigle, near the rear of the room and went over to ask if he would sign the set list. As accommodating as his fellow band members, he set down his pint and penned his signature – very neatly, I may add! Having thanked him, I returned to my spot on the barrier beside Boy Child. The bass player remained behind us looking a little weary and a little lost. I nearly went back to invite him over to join us.

Three down – one to go.

It took me almost another hour but finally we saw the elusive guitarist coming back into the room. Quickly I followed him over to the merchandising stand, put my hand on his shoulder and commented that he was a hard man to find. With a shy smile and a slightly startled look in his eyes, he too signed the now less soggy set list. Thank you, Ben Laguda, and apologies if I startled you.

Mission accomplished.

A simple souvenir that is now framed and renting space on Girl Child’s wall.

Who knows in years to come when Massive really make it big, because it’s going to happen, I’ll look back at this beer stained souvenir and smile, remembering that I was right there at the front when they played their first ever gig in Scotland. Hurry back, boys!

 Massive collage

As for the headline act, The Treatment, they were great too. Perhaps because I had no expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed their hour long set. It’s been a while since this rock mum has been stood on the barrier head banging without a care in the world as to who was watching. (Not so good the next day when I had a pounding headache)

the treatment collage

The stars of the night though were most definitely the wizards from Oz- Massive! \M/

One Tiny Little Word That I Find Almost Impossible To Articulate……

It’s no secret that I love words- books, poems, song lyrics and all quirky sayings including  feel good mottos.

However I often wonder why we find some words harder to say than other. I’m not just meaning the pronunciation of some but to actually allow them to pass your lips.

Yes, it’s funny to see folk struggle with some words. As a child I could never get my tongue around “linoleum” or “abominable” (even now I take a deep breath before tackling them.) Girl Child tied herself in knots for long enough trying to say “ambulance” and more recently “superfluous”.

Then there’s the Big Green Gummi Bear’s pronunciation of “dinosore” rather than “dinosaur” that winds the rest of us into a frenzy.

Boy Child mutters and mumbles incoherently most of the time so the jury is still out on him……sorry son 😉

None of us are perfect and I’m pretty sure there are a few “tricky” words echoing round in your own minds right now.

The word that gives me the biggest difficulty is a small word. One that toddlers learn with ease and often use to stubborn excess but one that for me is always a challenge.

Too many times I’ve come out of meetings with a pile of actions to take forward all because I can’t articulate this one word.

On countless occasions through work, friends and family, I’ve been roped into organising things all because of my lifelong struggle with this word.

The kids have honed in on this failing, using it to their advantage and the advantage of their friends especially when it involves lift home  late at night that take me miles out of my way.

A while back I read a book, and subsequently watched the film, that may hold the key to the solution of this problem. One of the central characters is mute and has two words tattooed onto the palms of his hands. One of these could solve my problem! I may have to resort to ink here that is more permanent than a Sharpie marker.

My struggle with using this word has on numerous occasions left me stretched to breaking point, exhausted, over committed, inconvenienced, out of pocket and generally worn out.

Do I honestly regret being this inarticulate in respect of this small word?

Seldom. (I’d be lying if I said never)

The simple fact is that it’s not in my nature to use this word in most situations. I’m too obliging for my own good.

And the word in question? Have you guessed?

The word is “no”.