A – The Archers. I once tweeted something during a particularly exciting episode and it ended up in The Guardian, alongside Stephen Fry (it was Nigel’s death, for those of you who like that sort of thing).
B – Bo’ness. I went to school in a little mining town on the Firth of Forth, not far from Edinburgh. When I was eleven, inspired by my utterly wonderful teacher Miss O’Donnell (“Hello class, I’m Catriona O’Donnell, and I come from Tennessee” – it was miraculous, to a class of small town children from Scotland) I wrote a story called Why Bo’ness Was Built on a Hill and it made the front page of the local paper. She was the first teacher to believe in my writing, and I would love to find her and say thank you.
C – Cats. We have two and a half. Bella is typically Bengal in nature and will help herself to food, even if it means tearing open the bag with her teeth. She never shuts up, and she likes to perch on the side of the bath whilst I’m in there. Ciara Nightly came to us as an adult. She likes to sleep all day and patrol the children’s bedrooms by night. Her brother Paddy moved in with us last year, stayed a few weeks, then decided he liked the house three doors down far better. When we meet in the street now we have a very British exchange, whereby he greets us with affection and a slight look of embarrassment.
D – Doctor Who. Huge, ridiculous, complete obsession. It started in childhood when I was utterly in love with Peter Davidson’s Doctor, a love which had begun with my raging crush on Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small. It carried on, nerdy, and then when the new series began with Christopher Eccleston as nine, I was in heaven.
E – Edith Wharton, one of my favourite authors. Her characterisation is so quietly beautiful, especially in Ethan Frome and Summer.
F – I swear. A lot. It’s being Scottish.
G – Ghosts. I’ve seen more than one.
H – Horses. I was born mad about horses – my mum has no idea where the obsession came from. Favourite pony stories are the Jinny of Finmory books by Patricia Leitch.
I – I can’t think of an I thing. Except igloos and iguanas. I don’t like ice cream.
J – I went through a huge Joni Mitchell phase as a late teenager. Just writing that has made me want to disappear off and find some on Spotify and have a listen.
K – I resisted buying a Kindle until very recently. Whilst I discovered they are amazing for holidays (I read almost 20 books on our child free trip to Turkey) I have found that I don’t recall the stories afterwards. There’s something about a proper book that can’t be replaced.
L – Libraries. They are so, so important. We have the fabulous Atkinson only five minutes from our house and it makes me so happy to see my children disappearing off with their library cards and coming home with their arms full of books.
M – Meditation. I’m almost finished my meditation teacher training and I love it. Even in the midst of all the chaos, I’m finding that there’s still a reserve of peace within me which is hugely comforting. I think I’m addicted.
N – Notes. Constantly scribbled on my hand, in biro. Not very sophisticated but it’s the only way I remember to do everything.
O – Online. It’s a bit addictive, the internet, for a nosey person like me. I spend an awful lot of time looking at stuff and not doing what I’m meant to do, which has led me to
P – Procrastination. Or rather anti-procrastination techniques. I find almost anything becomes enthralling when the alternative is writing. I love writing, but the actual getting-started process is really difficult for me. I end up cleaning the whole house, decluttering cupboards, and finding urgent shopping missions. Then I get started and find it really hard to stop. There’s a balance, somewhere. I hope I’ll find it eventually.
Q – Quite tricky to think of a thing that starts with Q, isn’t it? I can’t stand Queen. There you are.
R – Roller derby. I hadn’t skated for 25 years when I joined the Liverpool Roller Birds at the beginning of this year. It came back to me almost straight away and I loved it with a mad passion. Then I fell over (I wasn’t even skating, I just turned around and lost my footing) and badly broke my ankle. Now I am a massive supporter of my team, but I’m staying off skates for now…
S – Scotland. Home. My family come from Orkney, and from the Highlands. I went to school in quite a few places, but as soon as I arrive back in Inverness, I’m home.
T – Twitter. I love it for answers, advice, inspiration, gossip, news – everything, really. You can find me here, probably either grumbling about the children getting up too early, or ranting about politics whilst listening to Radio 4, or chatting whilst I lie in the bath.
U – Underwater. I am part-dolphin, I swear. I spend far too long in the bath, love swimming, and when I go on holiday I spend most of my time in the sea, floating on my back and watching the sky.
V – We live in a gorgeous, rambling, semi-detached Victorian house in a seaside town. I always dreamed of living in a Victorian house, and this one (complete with friendly little girl ghost) is perfect for our family.
W – Winter is my favourite season (in winter). Actually, I love them all. I love living in a country where we have defined seasons. Much as the sunshine of California would be nice, I’d miss the rain and the snow and the wind.
X – I am NOT a game player. We have an Xbox (see what I did there?) but I genuinely don’t have a gaming bone in me. Lucky, really, because the rest of the house seems to be obsessed with Minecraft and Skyrim.
Y – Yoga. I’m hypermobile. This means I can do lots of bendy yoga stuff without having worked hard at it, which is a bit cheaty. And I can touch my nose with my tongue (but they never asked us to do that in yoga class, mind you).
Z – Zoe. My sister, my best friend.