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2021 round-up / my third post of the year



Whatever 2021 was, it certainly wasn’t the year of blogging. Blogs, as we all know, are on the decline and mine is no exception. As much as I have loved this space over the past eleven years, time does move on and so I have. I’m not planning to walk away officially and still appreciate this space as an occasional dumping ground for thoughts and reviews - but by and large, I’ve turned my attention elsewhere.

So, what have I turned my attention to? Well, not much really if I’m honest. At the start of the year I wrote my usual probably-too-personal-for-my-own-good goals post where I shared with you all that I wasn’t going to make any goals. I had a few small, personal goals tucked away, but nothing particularly lofty and I could count all of them on one hand. 2021 was very much the year of under-achievement, and I’m okay with that. I passed my Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing with a Credit, which obviously is an impressive achievement worth sharing. I continued learning Scottish Gaelic and can now construct my own sentences for Twitter without the help of a dictionary - though I’m still short of the ability to hold a full conversation. 

I also took up Highland Dancing (for the third time in my life) in early autumn, which was not something I planned. I also didn’t know whether I’d re-run for the Glasgow Green Party Committee at the start of the year. I decided not to re-run, and instead put myself forward for the Membership Committee, which I not only got in to but also hoovered up most of the votes (thanks lads!). 

On a very personal level I decided to work on my anxious attachment and move towards secure attachment. This is partly the reason why I scampered off the internet slightly in a bid to live in the moment and accept myself as I am rather than chasing new ideas and skills every year. 

Still quite personal: 2021 was the year that I would seek out professional therapy. I want to make it clear: I’m absolutely fine and not in crisis. I wasn’t even actively looking for a therapist when I accidentally stumbled upon one on Instagram who was straight-talking but compassionate on issues I struggled with. She’s a psychotherapist who runs a group therapy course focused on women who have had a rough ride with relationships: toxic or even abusive relationships, attachment issues, always attracted to bad boys or Peter Pans, etc etc. It’s been eye-opening so far, and it's nice to be in an environment with other people who share my issues and similar thought patterns (while still being held accountable).  

One of the things that we’ve been working on is oversharing, and why we do it. Tbh, my constant online posting hasn’t always come from the best place. I also know how contradictory it might be to write a blog about oversharing, especially since I only recently reigned myself in. That’s why I’m not going to share where my desire to overshare comes from, just that I’m choosing to put better boundaries down online. If you've been hanging about with me for a while you’ll know that after I came out as bisexual I became a chronic oversharer (there’s a bit of a hint as to one reason why I overshare). I have no regrets writing about my coming out story in depth or how I feel as a long term single woman, because that kind of personal oversharing helps people. But I’ve reigned in sharing a 24/7 commentary of my day. If you follow me on Instagram, when was the last time you saw me posting about mundane life admin tasks? I’m willing to bet you probably didn’t notice that I stopped, which a year ago would have been an upsetting thing for my anxious wee heart to accept but I’m ready now. I’ve also decided to tidy up who I actively see on my social media feeds, so that I’m not seeing running commentaries from other people. No hate: your social media is your choice but I don’t want to watch the kind of behaviour I’m trying to stop, even in cases where I do like the person posting. 

So how do I feel? Actually quite good. While working through issues definitely opens up wounds and forces you outside your comfort zone, it feels gratifying. Posting less on social media has freed up my time for personal relationships, projects and just general life admin. It's also freed up my brain capacity as I’m not constantly in content mode, and it's allowed me to live in the moment. It still feels a bit uncomfortable and I still have a fear that people will think I’m boring because I’m not sharing every moment online but reminding myself that if people are analysing my online content that intently they should probably consider therapy themselves. 

So what do I want to do with 2022? More of the same I reckon. Carry on with learning Gaelic, perfect my Highland Fling, be calm(er) and work on my photography skills which is the new(ish) skill I’m currently working on. I would invite you along for the ride, but alas I’ll only be sharing occasional updates, which I think is going to be a good thing. 

Love, peace and privacy,

Mòrag x


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Vegan eating and things to do in Fort William and Lochaber


If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (or even TikTok since I did recently make my debut) you'll know that me and my parents took a wee trip to the West Highlands in September. We decided to stay in Inchree, which is about 10 minutes south of Fort William (via car) and used that as a base to explore the wider Lochaber area. 

If you've never explored this area of Scotland then let me post a spoiler and say that it is absolutely stunning, even after summer has passed. There's also a lot to do and the three days we spent there still weren't enough to cover everything. It's also very touristy, with Fort William known as The Outdoor Capital of the UK, so you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to attractions, accommodation and dining options. My dad has been to Fort William many times in his life and even he was finding new spots to visit. 

Eating vegan food in Fort William

Whenever I come back from holiday the first question I get asked is: how was it for vegans?! Fort William was amazing and while the wider Lochabar area isn't great it's not undoable. We had a cool box with us so we packed sandwiches and snacks for road trips and I'd recommend you do the same. However, I did manage to find a few gems. 

The Wildcat

Fort William's dedicated vegan café was just as good as I had heard it was. It's very popular though and even though me and my mum arrived only an hour after opening we were told to leave our numbers and we'd be called when a table became available. Thankfully we got a call ten minutes later and hadn't went too far.

I had the avocano which is fake avocado made from (if I remember correctly) mashed up edamame beans, peas and seasoning. It was very believable and a lot more sustainable. I also had a beetroot latte and a handful of raw cakes. Their Facebook page however makes it look like they switch up their menu regularly so check before you visit as what I had might not be available. 

Ben Nevis Inn

If you had told me a month ago that I'd eat one of my best vegan meals at a small inn on a rainy day at the base of Ben Nevis I wouldn't have believed you. This cozy cottage has a separate vegan menu (remember to ask for it) and I opted for the wild mushroom and asparagus gnocchi which was glorious. My mum, who is not vegan, opted for the veggie burger and thoroughly enjoyed her meal too. My dad had the regular beef burger and was also pleased with his choice. This place isn't the cheapest but was well worth the extra pennies. They also have a generous selection of local alcoholic beverages on tap. 

Ben Nevis Bar

The Ben Nevis Bar in Fort William, according to my dad, is one of those quintessential Highland pubs that has been there for decades. Apparently he's had many drams and pints there over the years. They also have a vegan option in the form of a curry (they were only offering their reduced menu that day but on the website there's also a veggie chili bean burger). It was marked as vegetarian on the menu but I was assured it was vegan and when eating it I couldn't taste and dairy. 

On the whole, the Ben Nevis Bar is lovely and I can understand why my dad has popped in numerous times over the years. Even if you're not hungry, it's still well worth stopping by for a look at the whisky bar. 

Aroma

Sorry but it's time for a bit of a meh review. Aroma is a Chinese takeaway in Fort William which we popped by one night to grab something to take back to our chalet. It wasn't horrible and was definitely edible and did the job for a takeaway but I have had a lot better. Sorry. 

Sound Bites

Okay, so a bit of an honorary mention here. I didn't actually stop in by Sound Bites while in Arisiag since we had food in our car and our priority was getting out to Mallaig - but the menu looked lovely and I kind of wish I had delayed Mallaig for it! If I'm ever in that area again I'll make it a priority to stop by for some vegan haggis bon bons. 

Things to do

Fort William and Lochaber have no shortage of things to do, even if you're not particularly outdoorsy. Believe me, I had no intention of walking up Ben Nevis (my parents have both attempted it in the past but had to turn back due to bad weather and safety concerns). Here's what you can do on a slightly more chilled holiday in the West Highlands. 

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan is a lovely hamlet a few miles west of Fort William and is home to the Glenfinnan Monument, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the Glenfinnan Museum and some lovely walking trails with beautiful views. Yes, this is also the location that is used for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films but the viaduct and Jacobite Train have a much longer and very important history in Scotland. 

Remember to look up the time of the Jacobite Train so you can watch it glide across the viaduct (and you can even book a seat on it to boot!).  As for the walks, I was wearing gym leggings on this day, but still had on my Converse and my handbag and got on okay along the Viaduct Walk. And remember to stop by the Glenfinnan Museum at the operating Glenfinnan Railway Station. It's small but talks you through the history of the viaduct and railways in general. The entry fee is a donation of your choice. 

Loch Morar

The whole reason we were in the west Highlands to begin with was so I could visited Loch Morar, aka the home of Nessie's lesser-known cousin Morag! Loch Morar is a much calmer spot that Loch Ness and in fact, the road doesn't go very far round it; if you want to see it all you'll have to get your walking boots on or bring a canoe! I also popped on my swimming costume on for a bit of wild swimming! 

Silver Sands of Morar

More wild swimming! The Silver Sands of Morar were much chillier than Loch Morar (though lacking its own monster!) but the incredibly soft sand made up for it. Like Loch Morar just a few minutes away, I consider the Silver Sands to be a must visit. And similarly to Loch Morar, wasn't overrun with people. 

Glen Nevis

There was no way I was climbing Ben Nevis having only ever completed one other Munro back when I was sixteen (it was Lochnagar). But I'm glad my mum mentioned Glen Nevis to me which is an easier walk (a mix between uphill and downhill) into a beautiful glen that isn't reachable any other way. I was wearing my gym trainers, gym leggings, waterproof jacket and a small rucksack with water and snacks. It isn't the hardest of walks but you definitely need a reasonable level of fitness and weather-appropriate clothing that you can move in. I also wouldn't recommended if you have young children. 

Nevis Range Gondola

So, uh, we made the decision to go up the cable car on a cloudy day praying that the clouds would split before the top. They didn't so my review is lacking. Though there were vegan options in the mountain top restaurant.

West Highlands Museum

I adored this pint-sized museum in the middle of Fort William. It focuses primarily on the Jacobites but it also hosts a few extra pieces of local history. I loved the fashion room where I learned more about tartan and the various outfits of Queen Victoria. Entry is donation only and I picked up two new books in the gift shop.

Where we stayed


Whenever I go on holiday I avoid staying in accommodation that should be someone's house, especially when I'm visiting somewhere where there is a housing shortage. The West Highlands has suffered because people are buying holiday homes and AirBnBs making it harder for locals to stay in the area, and I point blanked told my parents I wouldn't come if they booked a holiday home. 

We settled on the Inchree Chalets, which were just lovely. They are self-catering and the kitchen came with everything we needed to create simple meals (okay, my dad moaned that there were no whisky glasses). The chalet we stayed in (Glen Crenan) was home to three bedrooms: a master double downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs with two single beds each. The living room was also home to a couch, tv and dining table. There's also a separate building with laundry facilities if you're staying longer. I was with my mum and dad, but this would have also been a lovely chalet for a group of friends, especially if there was a couple who could take the downstairs bedroom. Me and parents all agreed we would consider staying here again. 

What to pack

The West Highlands is one of the wettest areas of Scotland, so take waterproofs and sensible shoes even if you're travelling in summer. As for evening outfits, no one was particularly dressed up while dining in Fort William and a lot of people were still wearing their walking gear at the pub. If you really want to look more put together for dinner, jeans and a nice top is probably your best bet (anything more than that and you'll be overdressed). 

Etc. 

Fort William is very popular and can get extremely busy in the high season. We visited just outside of high season on purpose so we could avoid the crowds. It was still busy and we got stuck in a few traffic jams. We also managed to book our accommodation with only two months notice but my parents know, from personal experience, that you sometimes have to book summer accommodation a year in advance. I wouldn't recommend just turning up and hoping to find something.

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Growing up on the aromantic spectrum but not yet having the language to understand it


15-year-old emo me. 

One of the most common queerphobic traits you come across is people moaning about how many words there are for people to explain their sexual orientation, romantic orientation and gender identity. You're making stuff up they cry! In my day you were only straight or gay, what is this nonsense. Pansexuals are just bisexuals who need attention. Asexuals just haven't met the right person! 

Etc etc. 

The thing is language matters. Language helps people express how they feel. Having one word to wrap up you're entire experience is handy. As a person who identifies as both bisexual and grey-romantic, two separate queer labels, I know first hand how meaningful it is to have words that help me express myself succinctly. 

(for the unaware, grey-romantic is a label on the aromantic spectrum when someone can experience romantic attraction but not very frequently). 

These words are important to me on a personal level because having these words helped me figure out who I was. I was lucky enough to discover the word bisexual before I actively began to experience sexual (and limited romantic) attraction, but I didn't know there was an aromantic spectrum until I was 28. This has made my two coming out journeys rather different. 

I was closeted bisexual until I was 27 and I have made no secret that I struggled with my sexuality. But I knew what I was from a young age, which did alleviate some of the negative internal feelings. That thank you goes to teenage magazines which, despite their flaws, were one of the few resources I had in the 00s to understand that not everyone was straight and that was okay. 

I however went through my teenage years and most of my twenties not having a fucking scooby why people thought the way I dated was weird. Even I didn't understand that I didn't date that way I was meant to and was constantly perplexed by the invasive questions. For years I thought people who had romantic crushes on a regular basis were massive fakers and were just desperate! (Obviously, I know now that's not true). 

Towards the end of primary school, classmates began having crushes and the girls I was friends with began chatting about the boys they fancied. The way they fancied people was different from my experience. I was beginning to experience sexual attraction and could tell when I thought someone was so cute I might want to kiss them. But swooning? Wasn't something I could relate to. 

High school was a little different. I did go on to have a romantic crush on someone in high school...and that person was my only crush throughout all of high school. Not because they were amazing and everyone else was shit (it was quite the opposite in hindsight) but because it was just the way I was built. Even at the time, I remember getting frustrated at my inability to find anyone else attractive. In the later years of high school, people were falling in love and I was just some kind of brick wall. 

It didn't go unnoticed by other people. I was regularly pressurised into telling people who I fancied (or even my Top 5 hahahaha) and was regularly not believed when I told them no one. I even told a few lies to shut people up and then the news would get out and everyone thought I fancied someone that I didn't. 

My family were roughly the same. It's not unusual for family members to tease teenage children as they enter their teenage years about who they fancy. But for queer kids, it can be frustrating at best and traumatic at worst. For myself, I was simultaneously dealing with that fact that my sexual attraction didn't exclusively gear towards boys along with not actually having much interest in dating at all. I once had a big fight with my mum because she asked who I was trying to look cute for in my new jumper. Obviously, a shouting match over that question is an over the top reaction, but combined with the newly found teenage hormones I was also just...confused....and tired...and not really understanding why I needed to have a crush. 

Nothing I've described so far is something you wouldn't get over. But fast forward to university and something did happen that is not uncommon amongst queer people of all identities: to get people off my back I faked a romantic relationship. I had the misfortune of sharing a flat with a genuinely not nice girl who was horrible to me about not having had a boyfriend by the age of 18. This really didn't help (remember I was still closeted bisexual and she was edging a wee bit too close to that information) so I got a boyfriend to shut her up (and everyone else who made comments along the way). 

But surprise surprise: when you get into a relationship for the wrong reasons that relationship has little chance of being healthy. He didn't care that much about me and I had little autonomy within the relationship, but I tolerated it because I thought a relationship was what I was meant to do. I've not spoken to him in over a decade and I've never asked him why he was with me, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he didn't enter our relationship for the correct reasons either. I would end up leaving this relationship because I developed an actual romantic crush on someone else (who at this point was still only my second romantic rush to date). 

My second relationship, despite having romantic feelings for that person, was also not that great. After both relationships ended, I made the promise that I would never enter a relationship again just to be in a relationship. I would be on the receiving end of more pressure during my twenties but I was a lot better at brushing away that pressure (aside from some weird situationship when I was 23). 

Queer people regularly confirm to keep people off our backs. Compulsory heterosexuality is a thing that is being spoken about a lot more. In my case it wasn't specifically heterosexuality I was confirming to but instead pretending to be alloromantic. It's not an uncommon experience for aromantic and asexual people to enter relationships that they don't really want to be in. Sometimes I wonder that if the aromantic spectrum was something I (and wider society) had heard about as a teenager would I maybe have turned down my first boyfriend and saved myself a lot of grief.  

I would discover the aromantic spectrum at 28. Here's a link to the blog post where I first discovered the word grey-romantic. By this point, I had realised that I experienced romantic attraction less frequently than most and had made my peace with it. It was still nice to discover the word and a whole online community who shared my feelings. Saying that there was no coming out. When I came out as a bisexual there was a practical element to coming out (I want cute people of all genders to know they can graft me) but with grey-romantic no one really needs to know about it. It's not that relevant or important. When I talk about being grey-romantic publicly it's more about raising awareness so that baby aromantics understand their feelings quicker than I did (and hopefully dodge a horrible relationship along the way). 

It's common for aphobes to claim that aromantics don't suffer in the same way that gay or bisexual people do. Of course we don't: it's an entirely different identity so the oppression doesn't show up the same way. Same as why bisexuals and gay people don't suffer exactly the same way, so we have the word biphobia that sits separately from homophobia. I've been on the receiving end of both biphobia and aphobia and they both fucking suck but in different ways. It was scarier to come out as bisexual but realising that I was grey-romantic was a longer and more confusing journey. No one in my own age group has ever tried to claim that my bisexuality is caused by an underlying mental health problem, but people have tried to convince me that my grey-romanticism can be fixed. Both had a negative effect on my mental health as a teenager.  It's not the oppression Olympics and I don't enjoy people trying to play my identities off against each other. 

So, aye, language matters and giving kids access to that language is important if you want them to discover who they are as young and swiftly as possible. I could have definitely benefited from it when I was younger, and so could many others. 

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