Inside the Bottle: Miss Understood

Oh my, I’ve been quiet of late… again. I must admit it’s probably been nigh on nine months. Maybe it’s longer?

What a flipping time. A time I do not want to repeat.

Earlier in July I handed in my resignation. A lot of factors led me to this point. Seeing and knowing my self worth told me it was the right thing to do.

I felt an enormous amount of relief. I then took 2.5 days leave. On the first full day of leave I sat at the hairdressers, feeling like I had completely run myself into the ground… and after, I basically went home to bed and more or less stayed there for 5 days. Acute sinusitis and a chest infection knocking me for six.

It’s all been a bit of a pain. Talking of pain, I was asked last Tuesday (by a medical professional) what I wanted them to do for my shoulder… huh? Is it that crazy that a woman would like to be able to move her shoulder/arm in order to be able to wear a bra, let alone be free from pain? One of the many stupid questions recently. That and, didn’t you prepare yourself for losing your mother? Really?

I wasn’t prepared at 42 years of age to realise that she was suffering from vascular dementia, seeing her fade before my eyes. So, no.

Nothing “prepares” you for losing a loved one. Never mind eh? I’ll get over it (think that’s the attitude that’s expected.) !!

So I’ve forgotten how to chill out, but I’m trying to do that again. I’ve got a to do list in my head of things I’ve not had the energy to face. Simple things like washing my car, a bit of self TLC, responding to emails, and not fretting about EVERY DAMNED THING.

It has been exhausting.

I also need to pay some attention to whisky… I’m sorry, please forgive me for not having the time to spend enjoying you. I do keep remembering how you teased and toyed with my senses. The first sip of you coating my tongue as I held your liquid in my mouth before swallowing. Feeling you in my mouth, then the moment you slip down my throat and savouring that taste.

I miss that too.

I’ve missed an awful lot to be honest. Sunrises, sunsets, my thinking spot, allowing myself time to get lost in thought. All of it and so much more.

“You know sometimes, I’m so carefree
With a joy that’s hard to hide
Sometimes seems that all I have is worry
And then you’re bound to see my other side
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy, I want you to know
That I never mean to take it out on you

Life has its problems and I get more
Than my share
But that’s one thing I never mean to do
I don’t mean it

People, don’t you know I’m only human
Don’t you know I have faults like any one
But sometimes I find myself alone regretting
Some little thing; some foolish thing
That I have done
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
Don’t let me be misunderstood
I’m just someone whose intentions are good
Don’t let me be misunderstood
Don’t let me be misunderstood”

Some words from Yusuf (Cat Stevens) that kind of fit the way I’m feeling at the moment.

Anyway, I’ve given myself a month to recuperate. I’ll get back into cooking healthier meals, going for walks and being me. Something I’ve not felt for a while…and that saddens me.

So I ended up cleaning my car last Sunday, (well actually two cars at the same time), finally getting to all those little nooks and crannies and making it lovely and shiny once again. So I can be blamed for the rain.

I’ve found myself wanting to get back to the places that give me fond memories… though some can be bittersweet, there’s always the knowledge that something good happened there. Then a smile plays across my lips and it triggers a thought or a moment. I need more times like that. Regret nothing. Live and love. Be daring. Be brave. Fuck people off occasionally…that can be quite invigorating. Be the worm that turned. That’s not saying that’s a bad thing either, putting yourself and your needs first can be just what you need in order to reset. Well, I think so anyway, goodness knows I’ve had people telling me this for years…

I ended up in Speyside, though the sky was grey, it was nice to be out and about and I had a little chat with the ladies in the VC at Glenfarclas too.

It was nice to recall previous trips and enjoyable moments I’ve had in Speyside over the past few years…that always helps.

Just saw some of the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Brum… have to say that made me smile as I’ve had some lovely times there. Smoggy has talent…

Now I’m on my first full week off, so I’m having some quiet days. Thinking days… then attempting some “normal” next week, and continue looking for a new job too.

That would be nice.

Inside the Bottle: Why I love you…

I’ve had a number of draft versions of Inside the Bottle posts half-written in my draft folder since January, all waiting for me to finish them, or should I say “waiting for me to give them some attention?” C’est la vie.

Probably a mix of both to be honest with you, the words dance in my mind as I fall asleep, I wake knowing I should write something…but then the moment is gone once more. Something crops up, barging in on the thought I was in, robbing me of that moment to just think!!

What is love, really? Is it a feeling, is it being loved, is it loving someone? Some thing?

I think that sometimes the word “love” can be bandied about as being the “in thing”… but to me, love is special. To say “I love you” is such a wonderful thing, yet, I seldom say it unless I feel it in my heart and soul.

Three little words I’m very careful of saying.

I grew up not really knowing what love was, I never had that feeling of being cherished, even wanted. In latter years I’d told someone “I love you…”, their response came back as “I still love you pet”. I’ve questioned that a lot these last few months. Weighing up the past that hangs so heavily around my shoulders…pulling me back, dragging me down.

The realisation that all I remember & imagined from then till now, well, it’s true. Every fear. It’s too late to close the door on the skeletons. They fell to the floor as the questions I asked recently opened the closet doors. They’re all broken now. No putting them back together.

Then as I was falling asleep the other night, it came to me. Why do I love YOU?

I feel this way because even though I’ve seen you sitting there watching me, I’ve passed you by… but you let that be.

You’ve never judged me.

You allow me to indulge in you even if that’s a little indulgence…that’s okay. You let me be me… you have been there for me, waiting.

You’re the one I have turned to in good times. You’ve consoled me in the sad times, if I’ve needed you. You make me feel at ease, you relax me. You soothe my heart & help pull me into happy memories, the ones that make me smile. You make me feel mmmm…

You’ve never once “poked fun at me” for your own pathetic reasons. Your patience with me is unfaltering.. I’ve not dared touch you on occasion, for fear of taking advantage of the way you make me feel… but that’s okay. Nowt wrong with a little restraint eh?

You excite me. You tease me. You remind me of the freshest of days, sunny days, cuddle me close cold days. You’re teasing me right now, softly, I sense you. A delicious scent of vanilla, caramel and hints of chewy fruit and some honey… Oh I could gaze at your legs for hours, the way they hug the sides of the glass, almost reluctant to slip so slowly down the sides.

What’s that? Taste you? Oh go on then… lovely stewed fruits, maybe a little nutty. That’s okay. That lovely sweetness as I swallow, it reminds me of rich caramel sweeties, accompanied with a delicious black coffee. Mmmm, you know I have a soft spot for you. The finish is rich fruit.

You’re not alone, I have a soft spot for a few of you, you all sit there waiting for me to pick you up, give your cork a good tug, and eventually savour what’s in my glass. Perfect!!

Inside the Bottle: There is Light Even in the Darkest Places…

I thought it was time to let the words flow from my heart to the page once more…

Good riddance 2020, definitely an annus horribilis… in some parts anyway, but as they say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!!”

So no whisky festivals this year…my poor ‘go bag’ has been banished to the attic. Fear not my little pink case, our time will return.

I’m sat here with my Thinking Tunes playlist playing on Spotify (private mode) and I’m having some me time as I type. Blinking heck my right ear is burning, I do hope someone is saying nice things about me that would be nice… sorry, off topic.

It IS burning though.

This year, as all of us have been witness to, has been a utterly rotten one, though, and I won’t be pressed on this, but I feel that “there is light, even in the darkest places…”

I know I might come across as a sad soppy person, but that’s probably me just figuring things out. I am an optimist (shock horror), because no matter how dark it becomes, or how close I can be pushed to the edge, I pull back. There is always a glimmer of light. The point is to pull out, sometimes it’s a hard old fight, but take it from me, keep pulling!!

Years ago someone told me quite matter of factly, that I am very ‘open’, that’s maybe some of it too. It’s just having the guts to set some people straight…sometimes it just ain’t worth the words, and then other times the problem just gives up and buggers off of its own accord. Yippee!!

Real life has been a challenge, but in a way, I deserve a rest too. Can’t go hard at it for 36 years without one…and something good is just around the corner…believe me.

Recently someone reminded me of something and I guess this too is reflected by the title of this blog… and it’s something people have said to me before, and I do listen, and…it’s basically to remember the good things (and also that sometimes people might be jealous – I accept that too!!) I think that raised its ugly head this year.

These past (nearly 5 years) have been fun, some have been exhilarating, and some help that smile spread across my lips once more. I love that.

While I was thinking about what to write about, I have spent time thinking about all the whisky festivals I have been to over the past few years, from the first to the last, and I have to say on the whole they were bloody good fun!! What I love is being able to sit and think back to those times, allow certain instances to play back as snippets of footage in my mind…from being a little anxious waiting to go into my first ever whisky festival, to the ones where people stop what they are doing and pull me in for a hug (or a catch up.)

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

All these photos mean something… well to me anyway, maybe others too, but they are places on the map which reflect the parts of my journey. Someone also reminded me about the time I was nominated for Communicator of the Year, and it still makes me buzz and feel humbled to have been shortlisted…I still recall the moment I stumbled across it, and I will never find out who put my name forward, but it was obviously done with kindness in mind!! Thank you.

Friends… oh bloody hell, have I missed my friends, and I am hoping that 2021 allows me to be utterly and thoroughly squished!! Be warned…I expect tight hugs!! Really tight hugs…

As ever some delicious whiskies have cropped up as freebies with crisps…ha ha!! If you have seen my timeline then you will know which ones they are. So at least I gave myself a few treats this year. As well as those on tastings too of course, and big thanks to Steve for picking me to partake in them!!

Choccies and fudge have been shelved at the moment, I’ve already explained the reasons for this and I just hope that the new year brings cheaper PPE and an easing of the way items are delivered…it’s all about you my dear customer. So don’t for one moment think “nom nom, it’s all gone !!” has completely gone… Nope.

To those of you who kept in touch, thank you

To those of you who wrote words of strength, thank you

To those that understood, thank you

So I can leave this In 2020 land….To those of you who tried to make a mockery out of me, fuck you!! (apologies for swearing, but these are my true feelings). Yes I could be polite and diplomatic to get this points across, but sometimes, just sometimes I need to speak their language!! Subtle digs too…if you have an issue, speak up!!

At least I finished the year on a positive smiley note: my mammogram results received in the mail this morning were über quick, and the results say they are clear!! I love my boobs (TMI) but there you go…

Big hugs and gratitude to my whisky consultant, and also Andy Watts & Dave aka guv’nor & Atom Brands, and those that have introduced me to new whiskies. Ant and Dec for having a chat with me…and everyone else that’s managed to help me raise a smile. To those that have kept me going…you most definitely know who you are.

Love & hugs, Sarah ❤️

Roll on 2021….

Inside the Bottle: Keep Your Face Towards the Sun…

I always (always) wake up early.

So, once I have done what I need to do, I drive to see if I can catch the sunrise. There’s something very serene about a sunrise, the sun just below the horizon teasing you, clouds reflecting the rays, drawing you in… saying that, sometimes I feel lonely, then I begin to wish that I had someone there with me, appreciating the beauty and sharing the moment.

As the sun rises, a new day of possibilities lies ahead.

That’s what life is about, shared moments, yes, even sunrises!! The simple things some don’t even acknowledge…

I was sat watching one the other morning, the horizon a palate of soft colours, from greys and beige to dusky pink, lilac and the softest yellow shades… so pretty.

That moment…

It’s a good time of day to just be… Allowing my thoughts to go to the things that do actually matter. To the things that I love.

A few weeks back I poured a little something that I have had for a while now…I thought it was high time that I gave it my attention.

The anticipation of what I was about to enjoy was such a tease, would it delight my senses? I was sure it would.

I let it sit a while, letting the delicious aromas that were coming from the glass reach my senses. When I nosed this I was taken in by the scent of rich fruit, think Christmas cake…begging me to nibble.

Gazing at the legs…

What followed was treacle, then dark sugar and berries. A sprinkling of nuts… the aroma is really drawing me in, pulling me close. Oh god that feeling… there’s a little dark sweet cherries in there too. A little ginger and orange and raisin. Just delicious…

That first sip, mmmm, as I swirl this round my palate it’s warming. The rich dark fruit is delicious, it is joined by dark caramel. Rich spices, and cherry. There’s a lovely chewiness… and that treacle again. Hints of ginger. It’s making my cheeks flush pink, there’s only a couple of things that make them do that. A good cask strength whisky is one of them…bliss!!

Honestly, there is nothing better than just switching off from life, pouring a whisky and allowing yourself time to just be. To allow yourself a moment to daydream, to wish, to escape…while a smile plays across your lips. I love that.

The finish was deliciously long, and lingering. The fruit and spices remain, with a feint hint of chocolate… it’s so wonderful to be left with such a pleasant taste on my palate.

If only everything else did the same eh?

Smiles in a glass
Smiles in a Bottle

I get woody notes in whisky, I love that too, and so I say it, write it, and talk about it. Most people do. Whether it’s on the nose, or the palate. It intrigues me… and yes I get a warmth as I swallow. I don’t drink ice cold whisky. I “speak” on social media the same as I do if life. My friends know this. There are plenty of people who do enjoy reading my thoughts…

So. Get over it!!

Yeah, I know…

Believe me there is no need for me to justify myself, none whatsoever. I’m just trying to figure out why I’m receiving comments suggesting descriptions I’ve written are “smut”…?

The other associated “comments” are not on, nor are they necessary.

Shouldn’t we show kindness?

All I’ll say is this, be kind. If I don’t answer a question, it’s because I don’t care to, or it’s something I’d rather keep to myself.

As I face the sun, the shadows do fall behind me…perfect!!

Inside the Bottle: Togetherness

Today is World Mental Health Day.

We are all fully aware that this year has been a fraught one, a hard one, a test. And it’s only October. 

This got me thinking when I was lying in bed last night (hoping I’d sleep & therefore dream…and writing this) that sometimes this year has felt like togetherness has somehow fallen by the wayside. It has happened through circumstances beyond our control. I like having control.

The world has become so bitter, so bloody angry… and it’s sad. Really it is. 

Believe me, I’m not at all interested in politics, I guess that’s my upbringing, but I see that there is blame not only within different political parties, but also country against country too…and let’s face it we ain’t that big an island!! We should get along. 

I hasten to add, I don’t agree with what any “leader” has offered by way of “dealing” with these unprecedented times either. Almost daily I see complete and utter (I’ll be polite) muppets making their own rules…selfishly too, and perhaps at the possible cost of other’s lives. That’s what some people have come to…so I steer clear of the news. 

We need to avoid the misery and look for the good. Be calm in our thoughts. Look forward to better times once again…

But I digress.

There’s going to be whisky in here…

Well it’s Saturday now. It’s absolutely bloody chucking it down… But I’m sat in my car at a place I like to call my “thinking spot”, and I’m listening to music. I do think music soothes the soul… It can nourish the heart too. However daft that might sound. It does that for me. Some tunes are making me smile as I listen to them, others give me a strength, they spur me on. Give me faith in things… (NOT in a religious sense…) They are on my “thinking tunes” list for good reason. That’s all I’ll say.

It’s lovely and still out there. Staring into the distance, imagining the view zonder a city, sprawling hills replacing them. That would be nice. I guess that’s why I took some time out and headed to Dufftown again the other day. 

My first stop was the Mortlach Distillery, which is tucked down on the left hand side as I drive in. The sky was stunningly blue so I stopped to take a few pics. I do like snapping pics of the pagodas. When turning to leave I spotted the worm tubs at the back…didn’t manage to get a pic this time. I have just poured a little sample of the 20 year old Mortlach that I was kindly given by Colin (Dunn) in Stoke last year. The only other bottle I have is the Murray McDavid 1994 21 year old (Mission Gold) but it’s still not open yet.

Next an opportune visit to Glenfiddich and thankfully they had a space so I could enjoy a coffee (and a comfort break, lol) in their newly opened whisky lounge. I think it’s the right time of year to be inside…even with a mask. A roaring fire in the room with the bar. I think that had I stopped for a dram, they probably would have had to grab me a blanket and let me cuddle up on a chair and just soak it all in. Turn the lights off when you go… Bliss!!

Leaving the visitor centre and heading to the car, the heavens opened… and I had another distillery in my sights. This was the Glenrothes Distillery on Rothes. Despite the rain I jumped out to take some photos. The brave little ducks in a row were lovely to see as were the “distillertrees”… the beautiful colours of the leaves against the striking colour of the trunk and branches covered with Baudoinia Compniacensis aka distillery fungus. Not forgetting the distillery itself. If you’ve enjoyed any Glenrothes releases from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, then you’ll see the graveyard on the label and this is across the road from the distillery.

Hoping the weather would improve I took to the road again, passing a few more distilleries on the way, the last one I saw was BenRiach. I headed for the coast, and way (way) in the distance across the Cromarty Firth, far beyond what my eyes could see was the Invergordon Distillery.

It was then time to head home, en route stopping at the lovely picturesque Strathisla Distillery. I do love it from the back… and that’s where I headed. A little too early for the lights on the bridge to be one, but still lovely to see. I love seeing the back of it and have taken a few pics of this view over the years. 

I know others enjoy seeing these photos too, a lady on Twitter said “Just saying hi and thanks for the “postcards” while we stay put for now”, and if my visits and photos give some joy, then my work is done. 

So, I’ll finish with this thought, that while we cannot be together physically at this time, perhaps we can share moments through images & memories of a journey which will continue…one day.