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: I Still Love You…

My last blog “there is light, even in the darkest places” feels like a poorly timed title, a mistake.

I’ve sat and thought about it for days now, I posted it on 31 December, I posted it when Mum was still asymptomatic after testing positive for COVID-19, yet the next day she began receiving treatment as she was very poorly, and within 48 hours, we had lost her.

I know I’m grieving. I’m angry. I want to know why being shielded in her little room, that Mum caught it. Why did they then move her (especially as she was asymptomatic) to a floor where others were being treated? Too many questions and what ifs… and I know I need to calm my thoughts and allow my heart to miss her.

Mum was the lady who decided that I was her baby, when two baby girls were left without their tags in cots outside the delivery rooms. She is the woman who taught me to speak properly. She’s the woman who tied red ribbons in my pigtails and gave me sweet girly dresses to wear. Sometimes she even made those dresses too. She taught me how to cook, clean and sew.

I still vividly remember being scooped up into her arms, a washandje over my bleeding mouth, as she ran with a 5 year old me in her arms to the on-call doctor the day I went rather unceremoniously head first through a glass door…and how she had to hold my arms back with my legs trapped between her knees as the doctor stitched my lip up (without a local anaesthetic as he’d had an afternoon brandy.) The time would come for me to care for you.

She also showed me how to be resilient. To keep fighting, and never give up…

I’ve learnt certain things over recent years. Things that made me accept that certain situations were perhaps what they were (mishandled) as it was easier that way. Swept under the carpet. Smile. Carry on…

Her life wasn’t easy. She was born in the Netherlands, growing up during WWII, she told us harrowing tales of seeing childhood classmates being taken away… of having to steal lumps of coal from work sites to help keep her family warm, and living in hunger.

As a young woman she worked for Unilever on a production line, it still makes me smile, and I am while writing this. She said they used to dab some of the concentrated perfume on themselves (even though it was far too strong) and her wolf-whistling at one of the young managers… see, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!!

Mum showed her resilience & strength time and time again. She lost my late father in 2000 after she had nursed him for 13 years following his tragic accident. She lost her two eldest daughter’s too, while she battled two bouts of breast cancer which ravaged her poor body, the scars of what they did to rid her of it… a painful sight, but she focused on making drainage bag covers for the ward, pretty fabrics, a thank you for helping her.

Shortly after her full mastectomy she began to say things that raised concerns in me. Her surgeon assured me it wasn’t the hormonal anti-cancer drugs. After some investigation we found out it was early onset vascular dementia. My heart began to break…

Mum battled on, despite breaking her hip while in hospital which rendered her bedridden… a distant thought may have crossed her mind the times I saw her as a smile spread across her lips. I’ve always maintained we never knew what her level of consciousness was…was she still Mum inside despite the confusion? I always thought so. I still visited in my favourite tights, she always liked them. I’d do her nails and massage her hands. I’d also just sit quietly and hold her hand.

Touch can say so much, give so much…a silent “I’m here, I love you.”

I guard my words, but when I love someone, I tell them…

Mum, I still love you, in my heart I feel your “I still love you too, pet”.

This time we aren’t together to see each other through this sadness. I now know things that I’ve never been able to discuss with you, to tell you I can’t believe you went through that, that it must’ve been so hard. Things you shouldn’t have had to experience in your lifetime. That you were strong…

Rest in peace Mum… I still love you ❤️

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: Looking for the Blue Sky

That’s me…always looking for the blue sky, it’s always there, just sometimes it gets obscured. Saying that, when the sky is blue, it’s also lovely to have a chance to do a bit of cloud watching….

I (and I am sure many others do too) felt like I’ve been treading water, and for someone who worries when I can’t feel any solid ground beneath me, it’s hard, it can tire you out easily. You look for safety…

There is so much bloody uncertainty around, so, so many plans and hopes have been affected, and most importantly lives have been affected. The human cost…

I like most people have been separated from loved ones, friends, and normality. It’s easy to feel lost…

You see, I really do love interacting with people, laughing, talking, feeling at ease, feeling that I have a purpose (a use). I wrote a review recently and gave it the title “Good Things”…yet, what I had written originally, that was cut and I hastily re-wrote the first paragraph (original is below) as it had no bearing on the whisky, other than it coincided with me savouring that whisky.

A rather sad thought occurred to me a month or so ago, sometimes I don’t even know how to say hello… even though I want to.
On several occasions it has been hard to get a word in edgeways too…
Again… I hide. I go quiet. I want to reach out, but also yearn to be reached out for.
I need friendship. I need old times and good memories. I offer that too!! 
I need a hand on my back. I need connection.
You (I) hide from the brash and (overly) opinionated. It’s better that way…I don’t care to know what people earn (even more so now), (or what they’ve been offered (let’s face it, people are taking their own lives because of money and real life worries)) etc. 
I hope 2021 comes soon. I truly know (believe) life will come good. I just wish it was now. Being impatient is my thing…. Always hopeful, and grateful for the good that still exists, I’m thankful for the things that I have.
I just (blinking/bloody/fucking) miss life…and I make no apology for swearing.
Oh, and PS. Hello…
That’s it simply ‘hello’… how are you? I have had some contact with people….and oh my goodness, I hope they realise what that meant….!!
Please don’t read this with alarm, read it as if I am reaching out, that in some way I feel I need to apologise for my distance, which is silly, but true. Read it as someone who spotted some blue sky… You can’t change the weather, but you can shelter from the storms.

There’s a storm, and it had been raging around me on and off since mid March. It had been dark, it had been intense. It was trying to take my breath away as the wind tore round me, distorting my view. It was sapping my strength… tiring me out.

It created an energy (an emotion) that was begging for release.

I was on my knees… 

Maybe I should give into it, surrender to it?

No. Not my style.

I will harness the energy it has created. I’ll take it and let it come inside me..

The disruption and distractions which it brought in its wake will go. It will burn itself out… the storm will subside. It will pass.

It always does.

“Nana korobi yaoki jinsei wa kore kara da.”

“Fall seven times, rise eight times, life begins now.”

I WANT more (of the good things) I know that. I know it will happen.

As I was contemplating these feelings, I was sat with a cask strength whisky as my companion…it’s making me address the storm….

I guess this is the beauty of whisky… It draws me into it. It captivates me with its aroma, and as I sit and appreciate what’s in my glass, it takes me far away from the storm, and it allows me to appreciate the moments, and curl up in memories (of the good things…there have been wonderful moments during this same period…they keep me focused & smiling, I love that, and I need them…oh, how I need them, and I will fight for them.)

The Devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today I whispered in the Devil’s ear, “I am the storm’

Something I have learnt in life is: follow your heart.

I guess that again recently I have had a lot of “you were right(s)”…I think I do tend to agree, especially when I have recalled the situation in which I first spoke. This takes me to following my heart, you can bend, twist and turn to accommodate people, and though this is okay, you also have to protect the one thing that keeps you alive. I very much intend to make a massive effort to do this in all areas of my life. One day I will tell myself “you were right”!!

I promise!!

So, over the past few months… I’ve been getting up, and now travel restrictions have been eased, I can drive to my thinking spot, and wait for the sunrises, waiting for the sun, waiting for the day to say “I’m here”.

What else? I’ve spent some time travelling around distilleries, and as I have mentioned previously, the majority of them are still closed…some have visitor centres that you can pop in to. You can see them from the roadside however. Find a place to park up, get out of the car, stretch your legs and take a ruddy deep breath in….out, and relax. Just be there.

I think it is nice that the trip to and from Dufftown seems quite short these days, I think you get that when you travel somewhere quite regularly, it’s almost as if the familiarity of the journey shortens the distance. Brings it closer. I like that… (read on below.)

When I stop at the distilleries, I think about the times I’ve been there, what were my thoughts, why I enjoyed it…what was it that captured my heart, and why have I sought these out at this time? I think it is because I felt welcomed, or there was something that made me smile, a feeling, or the whisky I bought when I’ve been there, the ones I now enjoy. Sometimes I don’t need to explain it, or even reason it out, I just enjoy the moment and settle into my thoughts, and when I am home, do it with a little something good beside me….bliss x