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Thank you, 2014

It is that time of the year again.
A time for looking back nostalgically at the months past and over-planning the months ahead.

I was speaking with my pal Claire tonight, and we both agreed that while 2014 was rather bumpy in parts, it was one heck of a year. For me, it was a huge year. I was single again for the first time in a long time. That was a shock to my system! I was given my own shop and had ten odd months of training to sign off a store manager, I lost friends, I gained friends, I saw soulmates wed and I saw witnessed once cherished unions part. So, I am going to try and give you a snap shot of my 2014.


I moved in to my new flat on the 31st of January.
It was so daunting to do it but thankfully, I knew the person I was moving in with.
It was the first time in 6 years that I had lived on my own, and at first I found it really tough. I missed the cuddles, I missed having that person there to kiss my forehead before I went to sleep and tell me to have sweet dreams. But there were parts of it I loved. I loved the freedom to come and go as I pleased. Not preparing myself for a grilling about where I had been and who I had been with when I came home. Not feeling guilty that I had worked that extra hour at work. Daunting but liberating.

The other huge part of January was joining my store manager cohort. I remember the first day I met the guys in Livingston. Andy, Callum and I went in to the canteen in the store and Paul and Mark were sitting at the table. Paul had the best chortle I had heard in a long time and Mark looked pained to have to speak to us! Little did I know what this mixed bunch would come to mean to me over the next 12 months or how much they would help me overcome some of the hurdles that life decided to through my way in 2014.


I remember sitting at home one day and my store manager text to find out what days I was working that week. I told him and asked him why he wanted to know. He told me that his boss wanted to have a catch up with me and had asked my hours. I nearly shat myself. I was trying to think of all the thinks I could be in trouble for, and I could think of very little. My manager was being very coy, which was rather unusual for him, and for about three days I was itching to know what was going on.
Meeting day arrived, and James the area manager arrived in to the office. He made small talk for about ten minutes, much to my annoyance and then announced that he had decided to give me my own store. I was so excited, and shocked at the same time. I had to keep it secret for two days, and I can honestly say they were the two longest days of my life! Well, other than December 17th. One of my cohort colleagues was also given a store at the same time, and in mid-February I bade farewell to the cushy life of a deputy manager and gingerly began my live training as a store manager.

The week before I went in to my store, I took a weeks holidays and decided to go on a mini Scottish adventure, so I went to Inverness. My manager had joked that Inverness consisted of a Tesco and that was about it. He wasn't wrong, but my goodness, it is a beautiful town with the most beautiful bookshop. I was there for three or four days, one of which I spent on a trip to Loch Ness and Fort Augustus, and it was beautiful. Next time I would like to head more towards Skye and Oban but for the few days I was there, I loved it (most of the time!)

It was a really pleasant way to unwind and catch up on myself before I start my next adventure in my new store. Though my boredom was twigged by my colleagues due to the ridiculous amount of facebook updates I was posting... darn social media!!


March was a good month.

One memory which stands out, and will probably stay with me forever, is a trip to York I took with my cohort. Actually, the photo of them above is from that trip. We caught the train at 6am or so and it was a really foggy but drizzly morning. The guys were discussing whether it was fog, mist or haar and asked me what I would call it. I said to the boys that in Ireland we would probably say fog but that it was more of a 'soft morning'. Big mistake. They found it hilarious. For about two months after I was getting phone calls telling me it it was a 'soft morning' or a 'semi-soft' afternoon. Even now when I hear the phrase it makes me smile. On that same train journey I told them that the Lithuanian word for milk is peinas. We were in our training room in York, and one of the boys when to make us all tea and coffee. I asked for a little milk as I don't like milky tea. As quick as can be, another one of them turned and said ' What's that Louise? You only like a little bit of peinas?' I'm not sure which was redder, my hair or my cheeks but I learnt my lesson about how to order my tea in future very quickly!

At the end of March I went home for my 30th birthday. My Da had organised the most wonderful party for me. Unfortunately most of my mum's family couldn't make it but I had such a great night. My uncle tried his hand at match-making which was mortifying for all involved. The cake was fabulous and my Da even had organised music in the pub. I felt like such a princess and I was spoilt absolutely rotten. His 60th birthday is coming up soon. Fingers crossed I can make him feel as special as he made me feel for mine. My family are a super bunch. Mad as hatters at the best of time, especially when together, but we are a tight bunch. We might not see each other very often but when we do we make the most of it. Over the years, I have had to depend on them a lot and all that love and affection came flooding back on that night. Remembering nearly brings me to tears.


Well, April was my actual 30th.
I spent the day in Glasgow, where I met the lovely Margaret and her kiddies.
We went to GOMA where we got to get creative for a while and I was treated to lunch and to some very tasty birthday cake. I didn't really mind turning 30 if I am honest. I wanted to start a new decade on a more positive note. I wanted a decade which was a focus on me, not on those around me. Selfish I guess, and if I'm honest, not something I was particularly good at this year but irrespective, I loved turning 30.

I had a wee gathering in Edinburgh too.
It was lovely to celebrate with my friends. As always there was too much wine flowiat in 2015. Quantities of wine.

At the end of April, my cohort went to Manchester. It was definitely a trip that will go down in my memory for life. That amount of time in a people carrier with five men is tough work. Especially when a fun game appears to be 'How to torture Louise'. I think this trip was probably the first time I got to know both Paul and Mark quite well too as they were staying over at mine the night before. We hadn't gotten very much sleep and I reckon that may have led to my lack of tolerance in the car journey. It was a fun trip. Long, but fun.

I also had a Doctor Who surprise in April. One of my fabulous friends Caroline, set up a Doctor Who treasure hunt across the city for me. It was so much fun! We even polished off some fishfingers and custard!


I went to my first ball of the year in May.
I absolutely adored it!
I twirled for the night, and I had an array of dance partners to choose from.
It was ace!

May was also the month where I was immortalized into a lego figure.
Callum and Andy from my cohort decided after our trip to our company careline that we should create lego versions of ourselves. We did and they were fabulous!

The month ended on a high too with our day in London as a cohort. We went to visit our head office. Mark, Paul and I travelled down the night before, and met up with some friends of mine for a few drinks. We were staying in an interesting hostel (which advertised itself as a guesthouse) and I just remember us having great fun and banter on that trip. Especially listening to Andy plot how he was going to propose to his girlfriend the following week (She said yes!) There was a certain sadness when the day ended as it was the last official day of the cohort though we knew we had to do our presentations at a later date. May was a very enjoyable month.


The biggest thing that happened in June was my change of housemate. Marc moved out officially and my darling Johnathon moved in. Everyone thought that we would be horrendous housemates, as we both enjoy having a good time but we quickly settled in to domestic bliss. One of the first events of our living together was JPs birthday. We had quickly realised that our domestic arrangement was similar to the two lead characters in Absolutely Fabulous so I bought him the box set. I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he told me that he wanted Christmas. So I gave him Christmas. in June.

In June, I got to go to Manchester again for work, and I got to visit the Highland show here in Edinburgh. It may not have the charm of the North Clare Agricultural show but I was bullied in to taking a photo with a sheep. Those of you who know me, should be aware of my irrational fear sheep. I hate them. Simply hate them. Well, not in this photo!


Oh what a month!!!

So much happened in July.
Claire and I went on a road trip around the west of Ireland. It was superb! It is amazing how little you appreciate what you have until you see it through someone elses eyes. That was definitely the case with the west of Ireland. Don't get me wrong, I have always known I was lucky to grow up where I did but I loved being able to tell Claire all the stories about the fairies, legends and what not as we drove around the countryside.

We stayed in Galway city and spent a day touring around Connemara (amazingly we only got lost once) and we spent a day touring around my home county of Clare. As I said above, I adored showing off my native territory to Claire. I think she rather enjoyed seeing it!
One of my favourite moments was heading to dinner with my pals Brianan and Andy and their adorable daughters Aliona and Claudia. When I left for Scotland, Claudia was a very young, very quiet child. This time she was full of news, and banter and repeatedly asked Claire if she was busy making sandwiches. I loved her!

Claire learnt many interesting things while in Ireland, such as the greeting 'Is it yerself, that's in it?', the need for potatoes with everything, and of course that any quote from Father Ted will lead to a quality conversation with anyone you meet.

Eventually Claire had to head back to Scotland, and I continued homewards to Clare again to attend my best pals wedding. Whoop!

The wedding was superb. Edel looked like a princess, and Bob her husband was literally swooning with pride for the day. My Da was my date and we had a wonderful time together. Not only was my Da there, one of my dearest friends,Adrian, was there with his girlfriend. It was my first time seeing him since the break-up from James and he was on hand to give a hug (not so much a twirl) as needed.

When I got back to Scotland, I had won
tickets to the precursor to the commonwealth games; The Summer Series. JP came with me and we had so much fun! We got interviewed by someone (still no idea who), he finally got to meet Paul. It was a really good experience to share with my lovely Johnathon.


August started out well

Adrian and Chrissie came to visit during the festival. If that wasn't mega enough, they then announced that they had gotten engaged! It was so exciting being the first person that they told but with such knowledge comes the pressure of secret keeping. But I kept it well! It was so lovely to be able to show them around my humble abode and my lovely wee city. I enjoyed having them over immensely.

The festival was great, and I had a great night out with some of my colleagues at a show. I remember little of the show other than the third act being hilarious and punny. The other two didn't stay with me at all but the night in itself was ace.

At the end of the month I found out some devastating news.
One of my dearest friends died from complications due to alcoholism.
I won't go in to it all again. You can read the post from the time here.
The news broke my heart, and I cried more in the following two weeks than I did in the two years prior to them. Something amazing happened that time. My friends just rallied around me, one in particular and held me up while letting me cry. I have always been really uncomfortable with my emotions, especially since my sister passed away ten years ago. I don't like people to see the really vulnerable side of me. It gets broken too easily. It makes me too fragile. Dan's death forced the vulnerability out and in some ways I am really glad. One of my friends Mark was particularly brilliant during this time. He has always been able to figure me out which I hate. I dislike how easily he can read me, but he kept giving me songs to help me cry out my emotions. The one that I still listen to ALL the time is this. And I will always be truly grateful for it.

I was supposed to go to Glasgow for a meeting the day after I found out about Dan. I made it to Glasgow but I couldn't go. I was too upset. So I went to one of my favourite places in Glasgow, Kelvingrove and I sat in the park listening to that song over and over on my phone. I must have looked a pure state crying on my own under the trees but it was so releasing. I don't think I will ever be able to write the words to say how much my friends, and their support means to me from that time. All I wanted to do was run away. My friends convinced me I would be running away from home.


September was a busy month!

I got a new housemate! (I can really go through them, can't I!)
Temmy moved in at the start of September (his photo makes an appearance soon)

I had more amazing visitors from Ireland, Brianan and Dee which was fabulous! I do love those ladies! I was working a lot but it was rather lovely being able to see them.

I also was in Birmingham for a conference in September which was good craic. One of my favourite photos was taken at the conference. It was of me and my pal, Callum.


My auntie Vera came to visit in October. It was so wonderful to see her! I really enjoyed spending some quality time with her. I miss Vera dreadfully as I have always been very close to her and very fond of her. She has always been a pillar of support when I need one and I adore her for it. We walked much of the city but I think the highlight for me was when I got to see Vera meet her Highlander!!

There was an abundance of weddings in October. Unfortunately, I only managed to make it to one but it was a wonderful event! My colleague Ingrid was married and she looked sensational! It was wonderful being part of the day and I wish her and Lee a lifetime of happiness together!

There was also a night of karaoke in Glasgow which I will remember fondly. I got to spend some time with my cohort boys. It was ace! And shameful!

October ended quite cruelly too. One of my best friends found out that he had stomach cancer. He rang me at work to tell me and it took me every bit of strength that I had not to cry down the phone. I spoke to my usual rock, and I told him what was going on. He was so good to me and knew exactly what to say to calm me down. One thing that he did say was that I am a strong person and I would get through it and I would be able to help my friend. I remember being so angry at his words. Why do I always have to be strong? Why can't I have a year without needing super strength. But I thought about what he said, and he was right. And three months later his wisdom is still shinning through.  Thankfully my pal is doing great, but part of me will always worry about him. Just in case....


November was a rollercoaster month.
We finally did our presentations so that Mark and Paul could sign off. They did! I was so proud of both of the guys. It was really good getting it done, and it was a good way to finish off the cohort.

Craig and I attended the 'Forget me not ball', which was so much fun and for such a good cause. I felt like a princess in my purple dress and my date spun me around the dance floor as though there was nobody else on it. It was a great night!

The big one for November was Marguerites 10 year anniversary. I spent the night in Glasgow with Mark and Paul and I had a ball. It is amazing how, as I am writing this, I realise just how much those two have been there for me this year. Not just when times have been tough, but when things have been great. When I got back to Edinburgh that night I met Craig for a couple more drinks and it was lovely having a hug at 11pm to remember when.

I was also introduced to a new song which makes me cry. But I love it and I can't stop listening to it. You should have a listen but listen to the  intro first. It makes it more memorable.


Oh what a month!
The highlight of the month was without doubt my sign off on December 17th!
It was wonderful finally finishing my training and I adored having Andy my fellow store manager in training to celebrate with!
My team worked their socks off to support me, and I have never felt such pride in my life as I did walking my assessors around my shop. I will be forever grateful for my wee team. They did me and themselves so proud that day.

We had our store manager night in Crieff that night and I twirled my socks off. It was superb!!

I also had to say farewell to my lovely dep Richard who I had working with me for 7 weeks. It was so fabulous having him work with me, he just knows how to make me smile when I am stressed, and he is all about the twirling too. I had a great night out with him and Mark in Edinburgh and it was actually a highlight of the month (though the resulting hangover was not)

Then of course there was Christmas.
I celebrated Christmas with Temmy, my pal Craig and a lovely girl I have recently just met called Lorna. It was a nice, relaxed day with too much food and too much wine but it was superb!
I always thought I hid my inner geekiness well. I was wrong. I got the geekiest gifts ever, and I LOVED them!

We also managed to bring Christmas cheer to Temmy. Job well done!

So all in all, 2014 was a great year.
I have learnt some harsh lessons on life and love this year but only a fool ever regrets a life lesson.
I spent 2014 trying to prove to myself that I didn't need James.
2015 will be proving to myself that I don't need anyone. I am fabulous just as I am! (There is a better way to phrase that but I got the point across and I've already done a lot of writing!)

Thank you to everyone who reads the blog. Thank you for all the lovely emails I receive on the back of what I write. It makes me warm inside when I read your kind words. Please, keep them coming!

I wish you all a wonderful new year.
Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhaoibh

With Love,
Lu xx

PS, I know that there have been many more fabulous moments this year. Fun days, parties, dinner dates in St. Andrews.... I hope I have not offended anyone by not including everything! x


  1. Congrats on your sign off Louise! And your fabulous year. The girls and I met over Christmas to mark Marguerite's anniversary, it's hard to believe ten years have passed. Didn't get a chance to find the photos as they're packed away and someone else is renting that house but hopefully next time I'm back I will

  2. I feel sad i"m just now reading this. I didn't know SO much that was mentioned here. Geez it really throws "tif's a bad friend" in my face. I hope this year is good and new and fresh and lovely.


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