There’s No Place Like Home(s)

On Friday it was five years since I moved to Scotland. Half a decade?! I cannae believe it, hen.

I’m elligible for proper British citizenship now. That costs Β£655, so I ordered a heart rate monitor instead. You people were very persuasive! Thank you for your comments. As an celebratory experiment I will wear my HRM while eating a deep-fried pizza and see if it has any immediate effect on my ticker.

Yesterday I went walking with Gareth and our mate Steve in the Lomond Hills. We did a 14km loop, featuring steep bits, flat bits, sheep poo, snow, mud, heather and gravel. My dodgy knee hurt a little, no doubt since it had been so long since I’d been in the hills. There was one steep bit where I did my freak-out-and-freeze-with-fear thing, but I took a deep breath and maintained a neutral expression as I slid down the rocks on my arse. Couldn’t have Steve thinking I was a wuss!

Yesterday I learned that it sucks being the slowest person in a walking party. Steve is freakishly fit, compared to me anyway. After four hours we’d reached the final little hill. My face was red, my legs were lead; I was drooling. I slumped over my walking stick as Steve strolled casually, shoulders relaxed and hands in pockets. At least Gareth had the decency to look a bit sweaty!

Also, if you’re slowest – you never get a chance to catch your breath. The lads would stand at the top of each hill, politely admiring the scenery while they waited for me to haul myself up. Then once I’d caught them, they’d set off again! So I’d go too, thus never really getting a rest.

Overall it was a good walk with good company. I used to hate exercising with people – even a crowded Body Pump class felt solo, coz I’d zone out beneath my barbell. But these days, aside from weights at home, all my exercise is social. At kickboxing, you gotta look people in the eye before you whack ’em. Then there’s the lunchtime walks with my work pals. I seem to push myself harder than if I was alone, as I don’t want to look like a slacker or get left behind.

Ahh, humans. They’re like heart rate monitors on legs, really. I didn’t need to buy that contraption at all.

Anyway, Scotland. It’s a great place to be! I’ve moaned about the weather over the years but it’s really a pretty mild climate, if you can get past the rain and dark bits. I remember people warned me I’d "stack it on in Scotland" with all the lager and greasy stuff but in many ways it’s easier to be healthy over here. I’ve become more outdoorsy that I ever thought possible, and I put that down to knowing I won’t roast alive if I go outside. My epidermis favours the Northern Hemisphere. That said, I still miss alfalfa sprouts and cheap mangoes. Both countries have their pros and cons and both countries feel like home. Och aye, mate.

Finally, here’s some shaky footage of Gareth and Steve staggering around at the top of West Lomond yesterday. I’d never seen/heard wind like this before. Howling!

45 thoughts on “There’s No Place Like Home(s)

  1. Holy wind! I experienced a similar phenomenon in a hamlet on the very edge of Cape Breton. The tourist guides told us it was beautiful and “virtually bug free.” They weren’t lying but we now know that VBF means “windy as fuck” and “cold OMFG.”

    AAAAANYWAY, looks like a beautiful spot! Trade you for a zillion feet of filthy snow!

    Congrats on five years AND the time change!

  2. How many hills must a man walk up before you call him a man?
    … The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. [as is the man himself, so it seems.]

  3. Hiya, oooooh this post had me running to my blog to find myself a Scottish boyfriend!
    Know any good one’s for an Aussie girl?! πŸ™‚

    p.s Your blog is fab by the way and so is your book…discovered you about 2mths ago. Love it.

  4. I much prefer to get my exercise outdoors–no smelly gyms or sweaty equipment. Sounds like you had a challenging walk, but much more memorable than spinning for hours!
    I just discovered your blog and I love your sense of humor.

  5. I feel the same way about being the slowest – I feel condescended to when they wait for me, but never get a chance to catch my breath!

    Congrats on the 5-year mark!

  6. Five years!! My lordy time has flown by!!

    Still loving reading, whether you be in Scotland, Aussie or Timbuktu

  7. Congrats on the 5 years!! That’s a long time, you’ll be well acclimatized by now!! lol And well done on tackling the Scottish hills on a windy day like that, takes me all my energy to breathe on a day like yesterday without hill climbing too!! My son phoned from Edinburgh yesterday and I couldnt hear him for the wind… haha Beautiful hills tho, def beats a sweaty gym… Gonna try getting out in the hills myself today after Weight Watchers. Cant wait to hear about the deep fried pizza experiment!!

    Much love

    Tracy XXXX

  8. I know what you mean. Today marks five years since I chucked in Australia for my loverboy in the USA. Both places feel like home. Some days that makes me sad when I can’t decide which place I’d rather live in (and I’m missing people in both places, since all rellies live AWAY from here) and other days it makes me feel so lucky that I have two fab places to call home.

  9. My epidermic thermostat is also wired for Scotland – which often makes me wonder what I’m doing living so far south.
    Anyway, cheers hen and here’s tae the next five years.

  10. Aw, bless. Five years and you still love the crappy weather, the unreasonably expensive healthy food and the sheep poo infested walks.

    I spent a few days in Cornwall a week or so ago. It was really windy there too, but we also spent a lot of time walking. We laughed at the surfers getting blown off their boards in Newquay. We got woken up by the sheep in the next field baa-ing in prostest at the hailstone. We climbed up a billion steps at Tintagel Castle. All in all a fun and educational trip. (Did have a sulk on the way home that other half was to stingy to pay the entrance fee to go to The Eden Project though!!)

    Anyway, think I’m built for blistering heat – Oz 24 weeks away and counting…….

  11. 5 whole years! Well done! I wish we had hills like that in Dorset. Could you send some down?

  12. Oh man, I can’t believe you came to my blog! I feel awesome by association! πŸ™‚

    I’ve been reading your blog for a month now, and I really love it! I’m sort of shy, though, so I’ve never said anything. But congratulations on all of your wonderful success!

    I lived in Ireland for six months before I came to South Korea, and I wanted so badly to get over to Scotland, but I never did make it. Disappointment! πŸ™‚ I discovered, once I got to Ireland, that the accent I’d ~really~ loved in pop culture all this time was the Scottish accent. DAMN!

  13. Well done on the 5 years around The house of sport and Fife. And to think we used to send convicts to Oz to serve their sentence.

  14. I know exactly what you mean about being the slowest walker in the group! I find myself, red faced and panting, taking sneaky and frankly unconvincing breaks to ‘admire the view’ while my companions amble on about a mile ahead… I am suddenly relieved that my holiday time didn’t coincide with my friends’, making me unable to join them on a walking holiday. What was I even thinking considering it!

  15. Hello Shauna!!

    Just wanted to say that I stumbled upon your blog about a month ago, and last week I finally got round to buying a copy of your book.

    IT IS FAB! I cant put it down.

    It’s interesting seeing how you experienced Scotland coming over from Australia…i live in Scotland so it’s all totally blah boring home-ness to me. You make it sound cool, haha.

    Yeniwhoo, hope you’re having a coosty Monday.


  16. 5 years…
    time certainly flies by when you’re having fun.

    love the footage on ben lomond, how awesome is it up there!!,

    a pain in the arse to get to, but nothing but you and the hills for miles,


    you also get to go through you’re own mini uk weather adventure most days to get there….

    and nothing like the fantastic howling wind to let you know you’re not in OZ!

  17. Hi … can you tell me more about the 5 year citizenship mark? I’ve been in the UK nearly five years, with my Scottish boyfriend, and am trying to make plans about the future. Hopefully which include me here, and my current visa is almost up.

  18. You’re smart Shauna – I went for the citizenship application. I might get an answer – in 6 months’ time!! Am sure a heart monitor would have been a better bet.

    Robin – go to and look at the citizenship requirements – if you are not married (DG is married!) there are conditions you have to meet within that 5 years, best to get it straight from the horse’s mouth.

  19. Thanks for coming by my blog the other day, made my day to see a comment from someone I’ve read for years and admire. Am so jealous of the beautiful hills and your walking adventures! (jealous in a good way)

  20. I know that feeling of being the slow one at the back rather well…but it can be advantageous. This weekend I was trailing the others on a bushwalk near Kiama, NSW, and managed to spot three lyrebirds (one singing!!) and a diamond python. So see what you can spot that the others miss. πŸ˜‰

    I just finished reading your book last night. It was brilliant. I could relate to so much of it and in many ways my journey has been similar to yours and thus I related enormously. Tough family life leading to comfort eating – check. Overachieving academically to seek approval – check. Sneaky comfort eating (I used to make batches of icing and scoff it under my doona and hide the cups for months until Mum discovered them. I also had a “stash” of biscuits and chocolate…) – check. Overeating – check. Massive self esteem issues (self loathing etc) – check. Also, wierdly, I went to UC and did Journo too (graduated in 2004). Who were your lecturers?

    I’m nowhere near as far along in my journey though, and you’ve inspired me to keep going and pushing forwards. I’ve made several large steps forwards (it is hard to eat crap as a vegan…although I seem to find ways) and I’ve learned to love exercise and be happy with my body no matter what shape it is. Someday I hope to be where you are, for my health and because it really would kick ass to fit into size 12 jeans.

    Thanks for your book and your candid insights. They’ve really helped me! I will be pimping your book out to my lady friends and family.

  21. I moved to London 8 years ago – I have to say, since I got here I learnt a concept almost unknown Downunder – I WALK to places. In NZ I was so used to walking out the house and straight into the car – in London it’s walking. Much better.

    I also learnt about vegetables but that’s another story.

    I wondered about Scottish people when I’ve been up there too – despite all this unhealthy food (and they do it so well!) – their (pale) skin does look amazingly healthy. Maybe deep frying is good for you??

    Anyway, here’s to a happy 5 years wherever you end up in the next 5 years πŸ™‚

    Scott F πŸ™‚

  22. Congratulations! I managed 5 years in the UK (LOndon and a wee bit of Glasgow) and now my partner has made it to 5 years in Sydney (with a wee bit of Perth). Where will we end up – who knows. With a wee buba on the way and the prospect of a single income for the next year it might make our decisions for us. I wish I could transport a bit of the UK back to Australia and all would be perfect. The bits I miss:
    * The shops – M&S especially (don’t know why – posh supermarket maybe)
    * Being able to rug up on a cold day
    * Springtime when all the trees get their leaves again
    * the telly (Eastenders, Location Location Location etc)
    * The proximity to europe – 1 hour and you are in a whole new world

    The things I will miss about Australia:
    * Butcher, Greengrocer, Fishmonger – specialists with good produce
    * Winter sunshine – being 20 degrees and comfy in a Sydney winter
    * The ocean/bush
    * Good coffee and eating out

    So if someone can just merge the two – would be fab!


  23. You almost made me homesick. I was born and lived in the Lake District for the first 28 years of my life before moving to NZ and then Sydney, and I miss the hills. The weather here is heaps better but I am still freaked by the spiders and snakes – been overseas for 7 years now – when will the fear disappear.

  24. Hi Shauna I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your book it was just fantastic I could relate to so much of it congratulations and thank you and now I know how I can read your blog here’s to your next 5 years here xx

  25. I was always the slowest when we went hillwalking at school, and well remember that feeling when peching up to the rest of the group as they sat on their rucksacks, only for them to leap up, rested and raring to go. Sigh.

    I later found out my boots were probably a bit small for me (they fitted my sister fine when handed down, and she’s got little feet). That can’t have helped.

    It’s so true about exercising with others, though, if you can get past feeling shy about it. Running with others definitely makes me push myself harder, but it’s important to get the level right – if everyone else is WAY better than me, I get discouraged and lose hope. A bit like with hillwalking all those years ago…

  26. Hi DG, i keep seeing ‘gmtv dietgirl’ and ‘dietgirl on gmtv’ coming up in my search terms… whassup? You on the morning telly circuit already? πŸ˜‰

  27. Hi Shauna!
    Congrats on the 5 years! I’ll notch up 10 years in Denmark this May. I’ve grown used to living here, but Oz will always be home. At least you have hills in Scotland!We just have the wind over here!

  28. Quick Scottish lingo question for either DG or other Scots a’reading….

    Does the pet name “hen” refer to the English pet name “hon” with a Scottish accent, or does it mean hen as in “chicken”?

    After reading this entire blog – archives and all, I’ve decided to speak in a semi-Aussie, semi-Scottish accent for a while and see if my friends and family find it as charming as I do.

  29. Oooh, enjoy the HRM! A much better investment – who would have thought citizenship would be so pricey?

    I don’t like to walk with anyone. As short as I am, I’m always the slowest person, and find myself half-running to keep up with everyone else strolling.

  30. It’s pretty easy and cheap to sprout your own alfafa. Just need seeds, an old jam jar and a clean bit of old tights.

  31. Loved your description of the walk! That sounds like me, I’m always way behind puffing and panting while my other half leaps ahead like a mountain goat.

  32. Hi Shauna! Wow! Five years is a heck of a milestone, bet its flown, especially since you found lurve!!!

    The walk sounds fab. I tried my first (ahem….. and rather over due) training “run” (for that read brisk stroll) for Race for Life, this week. Not much in the way of hills, even tho the course itself is very hilly!! I was the colour of an aubergine and as breathless as a very breathless thing within a few minutes. That was when I decided a power walk would be better for me!!

    I have amended my email address now, Shauna. (My own typo, sorry). Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to me, even though you are so busy. I value it!! Maybe next time….!!

  33. What’s that you say about Scotland weather? ‘a pretty mild climate’? Well… in a wet and wild sort of way, according to my limited experience. I’ve been to Scotland twice and never saw anything on account of the mist and getting a cold both times. But now I’m inspired to try again. Let me know when the next sunny day is due. πŸ˜‰
    Wow, check out that wind! Just like Australia at the moment (check Keks blog)


  34. I have ben living in scotland for over 5 years too! first studying then working in Edinburgh.

    It’s felt like spring for the first time this week! This gives me hope that it won’t be wet and cold forever.

  35. Thanks for all these rockin comments guys. I got a bit behind last week so sorry I didn’t get to join in!

  36. I hear you on the problems of being a slowest person in a walking group. I can only tell you that it will get better over time – or that you will learn to care less.

    Also, it’s not so difficult to grow your own alfalfa sprouts. Mangoes not so much.

  37. Oh, I also wanted to say … I recently got a dog so that I’d have to get my lazy bum off the couch and out for walkies …. She is a great walking companion except for the fact that she is presently in much better shape than I and keeps showing me up … Baby steps … baby steps … lol πŸ™‚

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