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I was around 2 or 3.  Our house at that time, in Torrance on the outskirts of Glasgow, backed onto a field filled with grass almost as tall as me.  It was a miserable day – probably goes without saying for Scotland – and as I watched the wind batter the grass this way and that, I turned to my parents and announced, “the grass is dancing!”

What an imagination, they said. She’ll be a writer, they said. They soon came to regret this.

Monday mornings in Primary 1 were for sharing news, and on one otherwise dull morning I announced that my mum had had a baby the night before.

I was thrilled when the teacher wrote my big news on the blackboard for everyone to copy, and all day long basked in the excitement of being a new big sister.  I was somewhat less thrilled by everyone’s reactions when my mum, still very much eight months pregnant, waddled in to pick me up from school.  “I couldn’t think of anything else interesting to say,”  I reasonably explained.

By the time they had been called in to school to be questioned about my twin sister who was kidnapped,  discovered that half the kids invited to my 7th birthday party (and provided with loot bags) were imaginary, and confronted at parents’ night with a roomful of teachers all under the impression that my name was Kylie, my parents had started to seriously doubt my sanity.

Luckily as the years trundled by, I mostly grew out of fantasising (though cheerfully apply Mark Twain’s advice to never to let facts get in the way of a good story) and set out to pursue a life that is as interesting and random and entertaining as I could ever invent.

Mae West once said: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”, and that’s pretty much my mission statement.

My sister commented on a Facebook photo recently, “Claire’s daily life is like a scene from a film…” and it may have been the nicest thing she has ever said about me.  Which is particularly generous of her, given that I once convinced all her friends that my parents found her on the street and took her in to save her from the workhouse (I might have been reading The Little Matchgirl at the time).

There are so many things to see and do – glitzy things, random things, scary things – that at times I need a cup of tea and a little lie down in a darkened room at the thought of it all.

I once told somebody that I would love to be a vampire because I’m afraid I won’t live long enough to read all the books I want to, and was a bit taken aback by the funny look they gave me.

There are ups and downs of course, moments when I’ve run out of petrol, alone in the pitch dark middle of nowhere in Central Queensland, or found myself snowed in with a coked up rockstar in remote Canada, when I wonder if a normal life of contentment and security is really so bad; but on the whole, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’m lucky enough to earn my living as a freelance writer, which is useful for my habit of emigrating on a whim.

After getting into a drunken debate with a stranger in the Ladies’ of some bar in Soho over where the actor Jason Priestley comes from (no, I have no idea why either) I moved to his hometown (I was right!), and Vancouver remains one of my favourite places on earth. I didn’t even have that much reason to move to Sweden – I think it had something to do with the fact that ABBA mention Glasgow in Super Trouper – but I’ve spent the last five very happy years living in Stockholm.


  1. // Reply

    Sounds like fun! I visited Stockholm many years ago, in November, and fell in love with it as well. Lucky you!

    1. // Reply

      I know a few other ex pats here with similar stories – Stockholm clearly casts a spell on us all!

  2. // Reply

    I visited Malmö and thought ‘boy, does this place need MY love’, so I moved there…now Malmö is a nicer place to be.

    ~The Dippylomat, Esq.

    1. // Reply

      Pleased to hear it, I have heard that Malmö needed the help. Have only been to Lund, but that was frightening enough.

  3. // Reply

    I love Sweden too and live just outside Stockholm in Vallentuna.

    1. // Reply

      Hello neighbour! Hope you’re also having a gorgeous sunny Saturday… !

  4. // Reply

    Wow what confidence that takes-to just leave everything familiar behind and move.
    I doff my northern cap to you.

    1. // Reply

      Why thank you sir! It’s a little bit easier for me as I’ve been an ex pat since I was 7 (luckily you can take the girl out of Glasgow and she’ll still flatten you for suggesting she isn’t really Glaswegian with such a faint accent), but this was the first time I’ve done it alone to a non English speaking country… it’s been an experience 😉

  5. // Reply

    I love your story and your attitude! You sound like just my kind of crazy 😉 And I LOVE the Mae West quote! Linda.

    1. // Reply

      Thanks! I like to think I’m just the right kind of crazy! Me too – my best friend gave me a mug with it on for my birthday years ago, and it’s been my motto ever since!

  6. // Reply

    My daughter has the Mae West quote tattooed down the centre of her back 🙂 Loved your blog.

    1. // Reply

      That is so cool – it’s definitely words to live by! Thanks, and thanks for stopping by!

  7. // Reply

    So glad I finally got around to this! I cant wait to go through your blog archives. And STORY comments are still to come, once I recover from working 10 days straight 🙂 Btw, Scotland is my promised land, so I will probably inundate you w questions about that too 🙂

    1. // Reply

      Thanks – and welcome! Phew, Regan misses you!!

      Certainly – and Russia is one of mine, so I’ll respond in kind 😉

  8. // Reply

    Really enjoying your writing… in that parallel world where we all do fantastic spontaneous things on the spur of the moment (but you actually did) Sweden hovers somewhere between selling ice cream in a 1950s Italian town (biographically impossible) or moving to New York when I was 21 (which I didn’t). This is a bit of a substitute, and I’ll be more knowledgeable next time my partner throws another cool Swedish indie band at me to listen to (as seems to happen every other day).

    1. // Reply

      I think New York is a bit overrated as somewhere to live (travel to is another story!) and as much as I love the fashion, probably the 1950s are too, so Sweden is the clear winner in any case! Thanks so much for visiting, though my appreciation of Swedish music begins and ends with ABBA, so I don’t know if I’ll be much help 😉

  9. // Reply

    This post is a great laugh and a wonderful story – I’m so glad you dropped by my blog as I might not have found you otherwise! I’ve been in love with Sweden since I was twelve, when an obscure Swedish pop group called Play was featured in a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie … I immediately decided that I wanted to be just like them. As a thirteen year old, when other kids were playing the Sims, I was learning Swedish from a CD-rom, never mind the fact that I was living in Canada. I’ve been twice but as fate would have it, I fell in love with a Dutchman and the lovely, melodic Swedish has slowly been replaced with more gutteral sounds 😛 I look forward to reading more of your adventures!

    1. // Reply

      Darn the Dutchman! Thanks, and thanks for visiting back – hope to see you around!

  10. // Reply

    this is probably the most interesting and entertaining ‘about’ pages I’ve read in a long time – I’m looking forward to reading some of your posts

    P.S. thanks for visiting madhatters 😆

    1. // Reply

      Thank you so much, welcome! I will be back to Madhatters for sure…

  11. // Reply

    Hi Claire
    Thanks for following. I’m a happy camper now you are joining me as I trip around by RV, plane, car and time machine to the past.
    Comments, compliments, critiques and wisecracks are most welcome.
    I look forward to reading your blog. Are you as confused as I am? I’m an ex ex-pat but possibly not for long.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Which Way Now 101 aka Carol

  12. // Reply

    I’m so glad you found me! Based on this “about” page, I’m going to *really* enjoy reading your posts and exploring a little of your life! (I haven’t been to Stockholm yet – but will get there, as my Norwegian husband says that outside of Norway (specifically Bergen), it’s the best Scandinavian city to visit. Stay warm!

    1. // Reply

      I hope you come to visit soon Cindi – and I’m planning to explore Norway very soon!

  13. // Reply

    Just read your post on getting deported from Canada. We Canadians are so nice, eh??? Thanks for the follow. Stay warm in Stockholm. CINDI, from above is also an expat living in Northern Europe.

    1. // Reply

      So nice! Despite the minor issue of being deported, I get Canada-sick all the time!

  14. // Reply

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, Claire … and for the follow. So far, I’ve really enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading your future posts.

  15. // Reply

    Hi, Claire. Enjoyed finding and reading your interesting posts and look forward to stopping back often. 🙂

  16. // Reply

    ‘Life as a random ex pat is a bit like riding a runaway horse: exhilarating, terrifying, unforgettable, ridiculous. It can be obscenely fun and screamingly lonely, hair-tearingly frustrating and laugh-out-loud amazing.’ I’ve been an expat for more than 25% of my life (mostly in Southeast Asia but for a year in Europe) and your words resonate perfectly with my experience, Claire.

    1. // Reply

      I’m just chatting up with comments here long after I accepted this award – but thank you again!

      1. // Reply

        I am so glad you did! I haven’t been writing much and having a hard time even getting to any reading…need to slow down! Cheers, Lynne

  17. // Reply

    Nice. I’ve never been to Stockholm but your description makes it sound a very interesting and appealing place. My expat credentials include two years in Mazatlán, Mexico, a very different world I’m sure from Sweden, but overall a positive and happy experience.

    1. // Reply

      Sounds fascinating – I have never been to Mexico, but it’s on my bucket list for sure. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, and welcome virtually to Sweden!

  18. // Reply

    Thrilled to meet you, Claire. Cheers to vampirism and dancing grass and the kind of storytelling that makes the world more liveable than it really is! Your passion is infectious 🙂

  19. // Reply

    I love you already, you crazy woman, you. Also, am exhausted reading about everything you have accomplished. Had to sit and have a glass of wine! As for the coked up rock star, not the Bieber, right? Am thinking, someone from Bachman Turner Overdrive.. maybe too old. I’ve got it, Anne Murray???? Ha! Ha!

    1. // Reply

      Likewise! I am totally in awe of your amazing trip – I would love to do something like that one day! As for the rockstar, not the Bieber (not sure he was born then! 😉 ) but Canadian… 😀

  20. // Reply

    Hmmmm… Bachman Turner Overdrive….one of them, or Bryan Adams? Too old?

    1. // Reply

      I little bit younger! Actually, I accidentally stalked Bryan Adams once. It was right before I moved to Vancouver, and I overheard a Canadian accent in a grocery store – I was seized with this weird impulse to announce, “hi there! I’m moving to your country next week!” but the guy (I hadn’t seen him yet, just heard his voice… there might have been a little bit of alcohol involved) was on his phone.

      So I followed, in my mind, waiting politely until his call was finished, until he finally hung up and turn to me with an annoyed, ‘can I help you?’ look… and it was Bryan Adams.

      Annoyingly, I was so mortified I just slunk away and never explained that I wasn’t a celebrity-stalker, but a Canadian-stalker!!

  21. // Reply

    Ha! Ha! Made me snort some of my wine. Because a Canadian Stalker is so much better than a celebrity stalker. Too funny. I’m going to have to sleep on who it might be! BTW that’s a post right there! 🙂

  22. // Reply

    Claire, thanks for stopping by my blog–I’ve lived around, too, and know how you feel! I like your gusto for life. Cheers, sister 🙂

  23. // Reply

    What a fun story! It makes me a little bit proud in a way to hear that you like Stockholm so much. And I find it a bit funny that I’m a Swede (living very close to Stockholm) who is moving to Glasgow, while you’re a Glaswegian who has moved to Sweden. I hope I’ll love Glasgow as much as you love Stockholm!
    Thank you for visiting my blog 🙂

  24. // Reply

    Without a doubt, one of the best ‘About’ pages I’ve come across. Gee, can I pay you to write mine? 😀 Seriously, I enjoyed reading this – you have a great sense of adventure and joyful spirit.

    1. // Reply

      I’m available for very reasonable rates 😉 Thank you very much!!

  25. // Reply

    I’ve seen many “About” pages and yours fascinates me the most!
    So brave of you to move to a new place where you didn’t know a soul. I don’t think I could do it.
    Imagination, adventure, and stories. That is what life is all about.

    1. // Reply

      That you ever so much! It’s been a crazy ride for sure – possibly if I’d really thought it through I might have chickened out, which is an excellent argument for not really thinking things through if you ask me!

  26. // Reply

    It is so nice that I’m moving to Stockholm in 1th July and found your blog today. I was wondering if there was any crazy-nice-amazing-funny woman in Sweden to talk… 😛
    I’m Brazilian. I speak Portuguese and now improving my English – and learning Swedish. My life is a mess and I it is reconforting to read your articles. Thank you!
    (I’m a freelancer programmer – it should be the reason I enjoyed this blog so much)

  27. // Reply

    What a great story, Claire. I envy your sense of adventure. When I was young, I traveled around and thought I’d never settle down, but lots of things changed and here I am living in Massachusetts with a family, about 50 miles from where I was born. I’m happy, though. But I can’t help thinking that maybe when the kids get older and decide to move out, I’ll get back to wandering again. Stockholm sounds like a lovely place to be.

    1. // Reply

      Stockholm is gorgeous- and so are the bits of Massachussettes I’ve visited! I think a balance of adventure and home is perfect 😉

  28. // Reply

    First of all – I absolutely love your “the grass is dancing” .url. I immediately wanted to know the person behind the dancing grass.
    I also see that you have set forth on a daily blogging project. Power to you, sister! I can’t wait to see what you write.

Am I chatting total nonsense? Tell me what you think!