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    Stronger holidays - Jan 5th, 2020
    My primary goal for 2020 is to be a stronger and more confident me. But if I’m honest, it’s a goal that I have been heading towards for the last few years as I hone the practice of “moving forward” in my grief. And this past holiday season has been one of those events that has helped to show me just how far forward I have travelled in the past 10+ years. [more...]

    A stronger, more confident 2020 - Jan 1st, 2020
    I don’t know about you, but I find annual resolution-setting to be a challenge in itself. I love the idea of a strong resolution to focus on each year, and tend to think of them as a goal to work towards, rather than simply resolving to do-or-not-do something. But it is important to me that these annual goals are part of my on-going desire to improve myself year-on-year, decade-on-decade. [more...]

    A look back at 2019 - Dec 31st, 2019
    And with that, it’s time for another annual re-cap post. Although quite how we’ve got to 31 December 2019, I couldn’t tell you! Yet, here we are on the cusp of 2020. [more...]

    Sharing my New Year’s traditions - Dec 30th, 2019
    I am allowing someone to enter into my little holiday bubble this year. She’s an American PhD student who is “fresh off the boat”, so I extended the invitation with the caveat that she is invited over to share in my traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations. That’s not to say that I won’t begrudgingly happily make amendments to my “normal” celebrations, rather it means that I am not interested in doing something completely different. (Like a party or a drunken whatever.) [more...]

    A Christmas Eve walk to Allermuir and more - Dec 24th, 2019
    As has become a tradition, I went for a Christmas Eve walk in the Pentlands with my friend Adrian this afternoon. This year our mission was “simple”: The summit of Allermuir, a hill I’ve yet to summit despite being nearby it several times over the years. It was also a hill that I planned to summit in 2019, so the timing was great for crossing another win off of my 2019 list! [more...]

    Disassembling Christmas cards - Dec 7th, 2019
    I dug out my Christmas decorations yesterday in anticipation of decorating the cottage in a couple of weeks. And when I dug them out, I was faced with stacks and stacks of old Christmas cards, as I am every year. Only this year is different because this year I have decided to disassemble (most of) the cards so that I can do a bit of upcycling and recycling. [more...]

    Organising 2020 - Nov 23rd, 2019
    At the end of 2018, I had a last-minute idea to use an A5 notebook as a weekly to-do book. The notebook was just a random bit of stationery, but it seemed that I could do something with it. [more...]

    Sing-a-longs with friends - Nov 4th, 2019
    I had a fantastic weekend in Glasgow with friends, despite being a bit run down from last week’s trip to London and Surrey for work. There was a part of me that wanted to cancel so that I could spend the weekend resting and recovering, but the fun more than made up for it, so I am glad that I went out! [more...]

    Saying goodbye to obligatory friends - Oct 13th, 2019
    Last year, I conducted a massive “friend cull” on Facebook. It took about a week to complete the process that, ultimately, led to severing Facebook ties with 125 people. Most of those connections were deleted on the first day of the process, but some people were harder to cut. But a year later, I can fairly say that I have (almost) no regrets. [more...]

    Read my PhD thesis! - Oct 1st, 2019
    After several years of sharing my PhD Dreams with you, it is now time to share my PhD thesis! After all, it is only fair that you get to see the final product from these years of supporting me through this journey. [more...]

    Culture weekends - Sep 22nd, 2019
    The last three weekends have been quite busy for me, with fun activities to keep me busy. The first weekend was the annual Roslin Village Fete, followed by a weekend attending a talk at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, and finishing this past weekend with a visit to the National Galleries of Scotland for an art exhibition. There was quite a bit of walking involved, too! [more...]

    Thoughts on crumbling stones - Sep 7th, 2019
    On my way to the Death Café a couple of weeks ago, I wandered through a couple of old kirkyards at the base of the Edinburgh Castle. And it got me thinking about how headstones crumble over the years, and how one day they will be nothing more than fodder for future historians and archaeologists. [more...]

    Death and cake - Aug 30th, 2019
    I attended my first “Death Café” last weekend. I had heard about these events in the past but had never had the time to attend, so when I saw that Marie Curie Hospice Edinburgh and Just Festival were hosting a Death Café at St John’s Church, I leapt at the chance to go. [more...]

    My 2019 Homeland Holidays - Aug 15th, 2019
    I have been off on my Homeland Holidays the last couple of weeks, and am now home in Scotland settling back into my daily routine. And, as always, I am already looking forward to my next trip home! (As I’ve said before, having two “homes” is hard!) [more...]

    Clearing out and moving on(ish) - Jul 25th, 2019
    I cleared out my PhD office at Edinburgh Napier University today. It was a bit of a strange feeling as I know that I will be back in the office a few more times before the end of the year as I finish up a project that I am working on with my colleague, Gemma. But at the same time, I’ve left. I am no longer a PhD student. I am no longer an associate lecturer. I am no longer a regular employee, although I am still listed as associate staff whilst I do some mop-up work. But mop-up work isn’t quite the same, and the paycheques have ceased! [more...]

    Gunpowder in the glen - Jul 15th, 2019
    Yesterday I enjoyed a gentle 6(ish)-mile walk to and from the old gunpowder mills in the Roslin Glen. It was a great way to stretch my legs at the end of the weekend, and the weather was more than cooperative for the adventure. [more...]

    The doctor is in: Frances Ryan, PhD - Jul 6th, 2019
    It has been a long time coming, but I am finally a doctor. Oh yes, I am now officially Dr Frances Ryan. The PhD kind of doctor, not the medical kind – just so that there is no doubt. [more...]

    My thesis shoes - Jul 1st, 2019
    Regular readers will know that my PhD Dreams have been an important part of my life for a few years now. And excitedly, my PhD Dreams will come true this week when I walk across the stage at Usher Hall to accept my degree from Edinburgh Napier University. Of course, an important walk like that deserves a very special pair of shoes. In fact, an important walk like that deserves a pair of one-of-a-kind thesis shoes! [more...]

    Lovely Ljubljana - Jun 22nd, 2019
    I am back home from my trip to Slovenia and am longing for the lovely Ljubljana already! The weather was wonderful. The city was wonderful. The entire adventure was wonderful! [more...]

    With love from Ljubljana - Jun 19th, 2019
    I am in Ljubljana, Slovenia at the moment for an academic conference, and I am falling in love! Why? Because much like my visit (and subsequent love affair) with Zadar, Croatia, a couple of years ago, I have found myself drawn to the countless graffiti hearts littered around the city. [more...]

    The doctor will be with you shortly - Jun 15th, 2019
    That’s my final thesis submitted and all of the paperwork completed for my PhD graduation on the 4th of July. Are you as excited as I am? [more...]

    14 years a Mrs - May 22nd, 2019
    It has been 14 years since I became Mrs Ryan, although most of that time has been spent as a widow rather than a wife. Yet despite the widowhood, I always feel the need to mark my anniversary in some way. [more...]

    Tolvaptan tales: Two years later - May 13th, 2019
    Wow! It has now been two years since I started taking tolvaptan, a drug that is meant to slow the progression of polycystic kidney disease (PKD). I can’t believe how my experiences with it have changed over these two years as I’ve grown accustomed to the side effects and the day-to-day routines I’ve developed. [more...]

    The border of Berwick and grief - Apr 28th, 2019
    On my way home from visiting my late husband’s grave, I stopped off in Berwick-Upon-Tweed for some adventuring. I thought that it would be a good way to shake off the tears and to make a few happy memories for myself. [more...]

    Ten years a widow - Apr 26th, 2019
    Today marks ten years of widowhood; ten years since my darling husband died so unexpectedly in the middle of the night. These past ten years have felt like a lifetime, yet they’ve gone by in a flash. Sometimes it feels like only yesterday that Paul and I were planning for our bright and happy future. But here I am moving forward into a future that doesn’t include my love walking by my side. [more...]

    Fife in ruins - Mar 31st, 2019
    I have enjoyed a lovely adventure day out to Fife with a friend today, which has left me both energised and exhausted all at once. But I do admit that I like the feeling of a well-earned exhaustion! [more...]

    Passed, with minor corrections - Mar 3rd, 2019
    I am very pleased and extremely relieved to be able to (finally!) announce that I have passed my PhD viva – and with only minor corrections! This good news comes after more than five years of hard work and emotional turmoil, and I am just so thankful that my PhD Dreams are almost a reality. [more...]

    45, yet only 21 - Feb 21st, 2019
    Today is Thursday, 21 February. I was born on Thursday, 21 February. And on this very Thursday, 21 February, I am 21 in Scrabble tiles. [more...]

    A buried church - Feb 16th, 2019
    I enjoyed a quick mini-adventure to uncover treasures at a buried church today. Which probably sounds more mysterious an adventurous than the reality of the adventure! [more...]

    A letter a day - Feb 1st, 2019
    February is letter-writing month, which means I will be writing a letter a day for the whole of February. Regular readers will know that I am an avid letter-writer and that I’ve taken part in “Letter Month” for a few years now (in addition to the letters I write throughout the year). [more...]

    Another Rosslyn day out - Jan 27th, 2019
    One of the lovely things about living so near to the Rosslyn Chapel and the Roslin Glen is that I can explore them whenever I want. And as the weather is a bit too wet and windy for climbing in the even-nearer Pentland Hills, that is just what I did yesterday when my friend came to visit. [more...]

    A mindful 2019 - Jan 1st, 2019
    As is tradition, a new year means a new resolution. Generally, my resolutions are set as a way to focus on self-improvement in realistic terms. Although they are also a bit vague and are rarely measurable (with the exception of my running goals). And this year is no different! [more...]

    Reflecting on 2018 - Dec 31st, 2018
    As 2018 winds to a close, I find myself reflecting on the year and how I’ve fared over the last 12 months. And, as always, I am trying to focus on the positives. Well, I say I am focusing on the positives, but I am also thinking about the negatives. Although to keep the upbeat tone of my annual reflection, I am concentrating on the positive outcomes of any negative bits of the year. [more...]

    A cross in the Pentlands - Dec 28th, 2018
    Tucked away in the Pentland Hills is a memorial to the Tytler family of Woodhouselee. It is so very near to my cottage, yet I have only just now learned of its existence. And so, today’s adventure was a short walk to visit the site. [more...]

    Climbing Castlelaw - Dec 26th, 2018
    For my Boxing Day adventure, I decided to revisit one of my favourite “quick” walks: Castlelaw Hill, in the Pentland Hills by way of the Castlelaw hill fort and souterrain. The walk is nice because I can knock it out in about two hours (including time to stop for photos) and it doesn’t kill my energy for the rest of the day. [more...]

    Rambling through Rullion Green - Dec 24th, 2018
    This afternoon I enjoyed a Christmas Eve walk into Pentland Hills to visit the Battle of Rullion Green memorial with my housemate. The weather was a bit colder than ideal, but at least the frozen ground provided a bit of stability as I made my way across the fields of frost-hardened mud and muck! [more...]

    Half a Marcothon - Dec 18th, 2018
    And with that, my Marcothon days are over. Yes, I have failed in my attempt to run every day throughout December. But at least my attempt means that I ran more days in December than I ordinarily would have. [more...]

    My Marcothon madness - Dec 1st, 2018
    I ran today. And I will run tomorrow. And the next day. And, if all goes well, I will be running every day in December. Yes, I have signed up for Marcothon 2018 and all of the madness that entails. [more...]

    An adventure to the anatomical museum - Nov 25th, 2018
    Yesterday’s adventure day out was a trip to the Anatomical Museum at The University of Edinburgh. The museum was never really on my radar, but I learned through last weekend’s Bloodscape adventure that it would be open this weekend. So, it just seemed that visiting was “meant to be”. And to further the kismet-ness of the day, as I waited for my bus into town, I visited the museum’s Twitter feed and learned that there was a lecture about William Burke that was due to start shortly after my planned arrival time. [more...]

    Bloodscape: An adventure - Nov 18th, 2018
    I took part in a fun, blood-themed scavenger hunt yesterday. The event, Bloodscape, was designed to explore changing blood trends as part of the 2018 Being Human Festival. As someone who has a rare blood disease, and who loves geeky learning adventures, I was thrilled to be able to participate! [more...]

    November down - Nov 15th, 2018
    Remember when I talked about the frustrations of the chronically ill? Well, my failed plans for an active November are a part of that frustration! Yes, I am half-way through my planned super-productive, super-active, and super-plugged-in November, and I've accomplished nothing. There's nothing like a bit of chronic illness to remind you that you're not actually in charge of your own health! [more...]

    Thesis = Submitted! - Nov 1st, 2018
    As any regular Just Frances reader will know, my PhD Dreams began a few years ago. And my actual PhD studies began nearly five years ago. And now, I have finally submitted my PhD thesis for examination. (Yay!) [more...]

    Thesis season: September update - Sep 1st, 2018
    As thesis season continues, I am starting to feel more and more confident that I will manage to complete my thesis without (too terribly much) stress. And as September begins, I am excited (and nervous) about the next 61 days. (Yikes! Only 61 days to finish writing. How scary!) [more...]

    The fewer; the prouder: 100 years later - Aug 13th, 2018
    One hundred years ago, in 1918, Opha May Johnson became the first woman to (officially*) enlist in the United States Marine Corps. Back then, women were only able to be in the reserves, but she helped to forge the way forward and 30 years later, women were able to enlist as “regular” Marines. Although, in my experience, women Marines are more than regular; women Marines are remarkable! [more...]

    Thesis season: August update - Aug 2nd, 2018
    With August now upon us, I am aware that there are only three months remaining for “thesis season”. And that is a scary realisation when I stop to think about how much work I have yet to do. And so, the next three months will be spent writing, writing, writing… and writing a bit more. [more...]

    Frustrations of the chronically ill - Jul 17th, 2018
    I have been thinking about illness a lot lately. Especially about the frustrations of being chronically ill. Even more about the frustrations of being chronically ill, yet also being relatively healthy. And, of course, I have been thinking about how being ill and healthy at (almost) the same time is, at times, soul-destroying. [more...]

    Thesis season - Jul 1st, 2018
    Wow! It is the 1st of July already. And that means that my PhD thesis is due in just four months’ time. Yikes! Of course, that means that the next four months will be all about my thesis. Thesis, thesis, thesis. And writing, writing, writing. And, most likely, stressing, stressing, stressing. [more...]

    No, that’s not breast cancer either - Jun 27th, 2018
    It was nearly five years ago that I first felt a lump in my breast and panicked about the possibility of cancer. At that time, a quick trip to my doctor’s office laid my fears to rest. But then I found another lump; a larger one that was very different from anything I’d felt before. [more...]

    All holidays must come to an end - Jun 19th, 2018
    And with that, my Homeland Holidays have come to an end. Yes, after two (and a bit) weeks in America, I am now back in Scotland; back to my reality. But I had a great holiday and created a lot of new memories to keep me going until my next visit. [more...]

    The spirit of wild horses - Jun 14th, 2018
    Today was another wonderful day of enjoying my Homeland Holiday. This time, it started out with a drive to Vantage to visit the Wild Horses Monument with my Daddy. Although, the monument is technically called “Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies”. But as all of the public signage calls it Wild Horses, that’s the name it’s best known by. [more...]

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