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If you happen to be free next weekend, Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October, and you’re in reach of the Birnam Hotel in Perthshire, you might like to pop along to the “Meet the Makers” fayre being held there from 10am to 5pm on both days.

It’s hosted by Exclusively Highlands, who are advertising it on their Facebook page.

The reason I mention it is because I’m going to have a stall there, flogging my little book,

some lovely vintage china (not the best of photos, the china looks much better in real life – come and see for yourself),

my sister’s handmade teacosies,

and her cushion covers.

I attended the fayre (I don’t know why they’ve adopted this spelling of the word) last year, the very first time it had been held there, and this year when I found myself with things to sell I thought it might be nice to take a stall and see if I could do a bit of business.

I’ve attended a couple of craft fairs elsewhere in the last few days and noticed that, although there were plenty of punters milling around showing an interest, there was a distinct lack of money changing hands. I’ve spoken to stall holders and other retailers, and they’ve all reported sluggish sales this year.

Quite understandable of course, I myself haven’t bought anything from any of the fairs I’ve been to this year, and in previous years I would almost certainly have shelled out for something.

I watched an interesting series of TV documentaries recently about economics (that might sound a tad dull, but they were enthusiastically presented and well researched), in which the point was made that in order for an economy to work money has to change hands frequently. The problem at the moment seems to be that most of us don’t feel inclined to let go of what we have.

photo courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Part of what makes us feel a bit nervous about spending, even if we have a regular income, is that our money doesn’t seem to be worth as much as it used to be. Only a few years ago my savings account yielded twice as much interest as it gives now, and the media is full of doom and gloom about how things are only going to get worse. Not surprisingly, all of this makes the ordinary chap in the street feel a little protective of the money he’s got.

My dad made the point this morning that, in terms of starting up in business, I’ve picked just about the worst time to do it, which is quite true. I also chose the worst time possible to leave a secure, well-paid, job in 2008, just when the recession struck and companies put a freeze on hiring new staff. However, when you get yourself into a bit of a hole like that, it forces you to use your resourcefulness and challenges you to find new ways of staying optimistic. I can’t say that I always manage to do either of these things, and I confess to spending far too much time worrying about it and feeling somewhat demoralised, but learning to count your blessings is a very useful tool in life, and one that can be equally valuable whether you’re living on the breadline or lounging on your megayacht shovelling away the caviar.

From what I remember of the Birnam Fayre last year, crafts on sale included photographs, sculpture, jewellery, handmade chocolates, children’s books, tweed handbags, glassware, biscuits and wood carvings. I can’t remember how many stalls there were but I would guess at 30+ and most of them were housed in the hotel’s rather grand and very spacious hall upstairs.

I don’t think my stall will be in that room, which is a pity, so if you do call in be sure to have a peek into the other little areas dotted about. I might even give you something for a knock-down price. In fact, if you quote ‘Lorna’s little bargain’ I’ll guarantee you a quid off any item you buy. Can’t say fairer than that in these straitened times.

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For as long as I can remember I’ve needed engaging challenges to make me do stuff.

Having previously promised on this blog not to drone on about my laziness, I will simply say that I often find it hard to motivate myself to do things, even when I actually want to do them, and I sometimes wonder why this is.

I read an article recently by Robert of the Embrace Possibility blog that offered a suggestion. In his words: “The reason we struggle with being disciplined is because we lose sight of what we really want and take action for a lesser want instead.”

That’s certainly true for me. I want to get on with writing, but I mess about on Twitter and check Facebook updates instead. Once I’ve had my fill of social media I remind myself that I want to write, so I go and clean the bathroom.

My usual attitude is not so much this:

Usain Bolt getting on with the job – image courtest of digitaltrackandfield.com

As this:

Messing about on Twitter – image courtesy of sandierpastures.com

However, I have also noticed that if I set myself specific challenges that grab me enough and need to be completed in a set timescale I can actually achieve them.

Right now, at the end of the London Olympics, there are athletes the world over already setting their sights on Rio de Janeiro in 2016. They’re arranging their training regimes and planning a number of targets over the next four years, with the big aim of taking part in the next Olympic Games. To me, who finds it challenging to plan the next 4 days, that is quite a staggering thought, and their inspiring attitudes have made me decide to make my own personal plan for the next 4 years of my life.

I’ve been asking myself recently what I can do that would bring me a sense of real satisfaction. I know that I can do something difficult if I put my mind to it and want it enough, but in order for me to have any hope of achieving it I have to have those two elements: determination and desire. Part of me wants to challenge myself to do something I feel is almost too big a struggle for me, and another part of me wants to find something easier, but I think I can satisfy both types of challenge by making the one big difficult thing my main aim and several smaller, easier, goals my stepping stones to getting there.

One thing that has plagued me for years is the desire to write a novel. I’m overflowing with admiration for someone like Terry Pratchett, who can not only create an entire alternative universe complete with realistic characters, but can churn out a book or more every year for years on end with astonishing dedication and skill (and it’s all the more remarkable since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007).

Given my years of frustrating procrastination, writing a novel is going to be my big goal for 2016, and I need to devise a series of steps that will take me from where I am now (nothing written at all) to the end result. What I want to achieve by 2016 is not only to have written the book, but also (no doubt after many rejections) to have found a publisher and got it published. I believe it takes about 18 months to get a novel published in the UK after it’s been accepted, and publishers can take 3 months or more to reply to submissions, so my aim is to finish the book in 2014, two years from now.

On the face of it, two years seems like a long time to write a novel, but I honestly think I might struggle to do it in that time. However, I am determined to give it my best shot.

Above my desk, along with my motivational card:

image courtest of ncdadogeball.com

oops, wrong one, I do of course mean this one:

image of poster by Karen Tribett, courtesy of allposters.co.uk

I have stuck up a selection of photos chopped out of newspapers of Olympic athletes from this year’s Games.  The people’s favourite, Usain Bolt, is naturally up there, along with the marvellous Mo Farah, and many others. Not all of those at this year’s Games will be heading for Rio, but many of them will, along with others I haven’t even heard of yet.

My thinking behind giving myself this 4 year plan is that as I trudge along, often questioning myself and wondering if I can really achieve my ambitions, I’ll be doing it in excellent company. When I struggle to get out of bed in the morning and feel as if my brain is running backwards all day, the same could well be happening to some of these athletes. There is going to be, I hope, some sort of fellow feeling that I can draw encouragement from.

I don’t know if anyone else might think this a worthwhile pursuit, but perhaps there’s a goal you’d like to achieve, and if so maybe you could use the next Olympic Games as your deadline, too. This year’s Olympics has inspired me more than any other, but perhaps the next one will be the best so far, if I can celebrate the realisation of my own dreams along with those of 2016′s Olympians.

Incidentally, if you feel that having a little mascot to carry around with you might help you to stay inspired after the Olympics, you might like to knit your own Usain Bolt. The Radio Times has published details of how to do it here (utterly perplexing to a non-knitter like myself, but no doubt perfectly clear to knitting gurus):

image courtesy of olympixx.wordpress.com

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 “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.”

- William Butler, 16th Century writer

It must be summer in Perthshire because it’s warm and sunny and local strawberries are appearing all over the place.

There’s a small town called Coupar Angus just a few miles from where I live, and every year a travelling strawberry seller sets up shop on a rough bit of ground next to the Red House Hotel there. I gave him some custom today, and in return he let me take a photo of him and his strawberry kiosk:

These are the strawberries that were purchased from him:

Here they are nestling amongst some fruity chums:

I turned my back for two seconds and what do you know, but the strawberries had hopped away from their fruit comrades and clustered round this tub of double cream. Look how lovingly they’re cosying up to it:

Strawberries and raspberries are a big thing round here, an area often referred to as ‘the soft fruits capital of Scotland’. I do like strawberries but if I had to choose between them and raspberries (which would be dreadful), I would probably go for the raspberries.

In celebration of berries in general,  how about a big cake covered in raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and various other things besides? I poached this from Home is where the boat is, via the lovely Lucinda who posted it on her Crazy for Tea Time Facebook page. When I saw it, I was stunned and delighted:

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If you use Facebook you might be vaguely interested to know that I’ve revamped my Facebook page for Lorna’s Tearoom Delights. It can be found by clicking here.

If, however, that’s of absolutely no interest to you, perhaps I could offer you this nice painting of a tearoom instead. It’s a photo of a card I bought recently. The painting is by Jennifer Thomson and is entitled “Meringue Trio, The Willow Tearoom”.

Jennifer Thomson painting

Jennifer has painted lots of lovely Scottish scenes, so if you like this one why not have a look at some of her others at www.jenniferthomson.com.

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