Saturday, 31 July 2010

The long and the short of it

It was so great being back showing a pony again. I realised that it had been a couple of years since I'd done any showing and I've missed it. There's something about being out with livestock at their peak condition, with like minded people, that's very engaging.

The first bit of good news is that by the morning the weather forecast had changed totally. No rain was due til the afternoon, so by the time we arrived at the showground the sun was shining, and it was not too hot for the animals, with hardly any wind at all. In other words perfect conditions for showing.

Then the steward directing us turned out to be none other than Doddy Weir, Scotland's Rugby Union lock, who was such a warm smiley person. He was dressed up in some rather natty tartan trews and was head and shoulders taller than anyone else there. He insisted on having his photo taken with me, before wishing us luck.

We spent a pleasant half hour tarting Bridge (full name Bridge of Transy) up, til she was looking good from head to hoof.

Our class was pretty small with 3 Exmoor ponies and 4 Shetlands. We came 3rd after a rather handsome Exmoor stallion and a lovely Exmoor mare, who had the loveliest eye. But because we came ahead of all the other Shetlands we were awarded the Shetland prize and were put forward for the Shetland championship.

After an hour we went forward again, and we won! So we were Shetland overall champion and we got the Transy Cup, which had been donated by The Transy Stud... all very prophetic given that Bridge is a Transy pony. Her name was already engraved on it as she had won it back in 2007, and Anne was delighted. As, I have to say, was I.

And that's where the good luck ended. We went in for the overall show championship but we didn't even get a look in. It was won by a Welsh Section B mare with a foal at foot. And very showy she was too, so well deserved. Still we did pretty well I think.

So we came away with our winnings of £5 for a third prize, some nice rosettes, and a cup, all done in lovely sunny weather. By the time we finished the wind had picked up and the rain had started, so we really were very lucky indeed.

I will post some pics of Bridge with her prizes when my beloved has managed to download them for me, as they're on his iPhone. He just happens to have a busy day doing a 95 mile (yes, I said 95 mile!) bike race round the Borders today, so I will have to do my supporter's bit for him as he did for me yesterday.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

An early start

Tomorrow is the annual Border Union Agricultural Show, and it's my first one. I'm taking my friend Anne's Shetland pony, who I took to the Black Isle Show a couple of years back and did rather well.

I became friends with Anne when I sold her my first ever foal; a gorgeous chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail, who was also a bit of a rogue. We called him Arnie, after Arnold Swarzenegger, because just after he stood up for the first time, he came bold as brass and shoved his face in our faces. He never showed any fear of humans and was hardly shy and retiring. Anne renamed him Charlie for some reason that totally eludes me.

Whenever Anne would come up North to work, she would bring Arnie/Charlie and her other pony to stay with me, so I would do what I called 'pony bed and breakfast' for a couple of months, which was always fun. And then she bought Bridge (the one I'm taking tomorrow) for a stay too, hence my taking her to the Black Isle Show.

Then we moved to the Borders and realised that in Borders terms Anne lives just around the corner (about 15 miles away) in Duns, and I've been out with her and the cart with Arnie/Charlie in the drive shaft, which was great fun.

Fingers crossed that we do well tomorrow, as rain is expected. Nothing worse than standing in the wet and not getting anything as a reward, especially as I have to get up at 5.30 am just for the pleasure.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Honour restored

She Who Must Not Be Named and R arrived in good time yesterday afternoon to partake of over the yardarm beverages... not sure which day's yardarm, but hey who cares? We started off with a rather nice sparkling Pinot Grigio and then went on to the unsparkling version. Not sure quite how much we drank, but suffice it to say that this morning I'm not feeling quite so perky.

After a rather large 3 course meal, where I was trying out some new recipes for the first time, we decided to work off the post dinner feeling with a game or two on the Wii.

My beloved and I surpassed ourselves by coming last in pretty much everything. When we got down to cow racing I had already decided to head for bed and left the others to it, but am pleased to report that my beloved restored the family honour by winning that one.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

A planned weekend

Now the working week is out of the way and both my beloved and I are at home this weekend, we are maybe going to manage to have a day together. That is unless my beloved changes his mind again and decides to spend the afternoon doing a local hill race. At the moment it's a 'no' to that, but as he was keen yesterday I'm not sure. So apart from a planned shop for much needed food, we might even get a walk in.

We often make grand plans when we're both home, but somehow they always seem to fall through as the day zips by and we realise we haven't done any of the things we said we'd do.

Tomorrow we're expecting She Who Must Not Be Named and R to swing by. We're just not sure what time to expect them but we know they're staying the night. It will be an excuse to spend time planning and cooking a lovely meal rather than our usual thrown together way we have when it's just a deux.

So this weekend is sounding good already, and I'm pleased to say we've managed to fulfil our first task which was to get our diaries together and confirm that we're both free to go on an excursion to La Belle France in late August. We've booked the tickets, booked the car and got our Rough Guide. A few days with friends, a few days on our own going where we decide.... sounds like bliss to me.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Luck confusion

We bought a water butt a while ago, and my beloved, who's usually very good at DIY, got it all sorted. There was just one small problem and that was that as a temporary measure (well that's his story) he put it on an old wooden barrel that had been used for plants. It was working just fine, until I got home on Sunday night and was watering the plants with water from the butt, when I noticed that the downpipe that feeds water into the butt was coming away from the wall. When I really looked realised that the wooden barrel was rotting and the butt, full of water, was on the point of tipping over and dragging the downpipe, the guttering et al along with it.

As another temporary measure I opened the tap and let all the water out, so when I got up yesterday at least the butt was empty and I could move it. No sooner did I try to do that when the downpipe came crashing down and after spending half an hour getting the barrel out and tried, unsuccessfully to get the downpipe into a stable position, I gave up. All this in the pouring rain of course.

We are really lucky to have very nice next door neighbours, who also just as luck would have it, have a son who's a roofer. Norman (the neighbour) took one look at the problem and phoned for pipe assistance from the expert. I had to make a dash to Edinburgh to pick up Nell the dog who had been residing with No. 2 son while my beloved was away and I was working, and when I got home there was Kevin the Roofer, his pal and his Dad, job done and dusted, pipes all beautifully secured to the wall, and the water butt resplendent standing on bricks that Norman just had spare in his garage waiting for the right moment to make an appearance.

Now it all looks great, pipes all safe, water butt secure, and as an added bonus the bricks actually match the harling on the wall.

By my reckoning I think that makes it 5 in the luck stakes: 1. nice neighbours; 2. they have a son who's a roofer; 3. they had some bricks to put the butt on; 4. the pipes were fixed; and 5. the bricks matched the wall;

So as these things come in 3's, I have one more bit of luck to come.

Unless of course you count the fact that it all looks great, and then there's the fact that the butt didn't fall over, oh yes and then that the gutters didn't come down, and also that Kevin the roofer could come over pretty much straight away. I think the last counts as several pieces of luck, so now I'm just plain confused as to how much luck I've got left.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Tidying Fairy

Yesterday at the festival was great. It stayed dry for most of the day and there was a good crowd. I sold quite a bit too so felt I'd earned my keep so to speak. Unlike other festivals it's a stall by invitation only, so it was good to feel that having been asked to take part we were selling the kind of things the organiser felt the crowd would want to buy. Also the festival was supporting The Teenage Cancer Trust and so at least I ended up being able to give them a percentage of the profits as I actually had some, something I wasn't so sure I would after Saturday.

I had one embarrassing moment though yesterday morning when She Who Must Not Be Named paid a visit to my bedroom to look at something I'd bought, and I was suddenly aware that the bedroom was a complete and utter mess. It's funny how easy it is to let the tidying get out of hand when I'm busy. Still it has spurred me on to actually get on and do some tidying. I've still got to put away all the stuff left over from the festival too, so that will take a while.

I wish there was a Tidying Fairy to make my life easier, so I could spend my day off doing something a bit more inspiring than getting the bedroom sorted. Oh yes and I could also do with a visit from the Cleaning Fairy, the Tax Sorting Fairy (yes, I've still been avoiding that one with a vengeance), the Gardening Fairy, the Cooking Fairy ... in fact I'm in severe need of the whole complement!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Working for less than peanuts, and then some good news

After my clothing dilemma yesterday, I was pleased I had packed a variety of things to wear as we went through all the seasons of the year within the first hour.

The festival was nice and small and there was a great atmosphere, but sadly not many people were buying. In fact I shall have to admit to my beloved that I think I made a deficit, as I had just sold a few bangles and a hat when there was a huge gust of wind and the necklace stand went flying and two were broken, and there was not much activity after that. Anyway, I've said I'll go back tomorrow and see what happens. Though I have to say working for minus way below the minimum wage and beyond is not something to be done every weekend. Still a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do for her man.

On a much brighter note, I'm extremely pleased to report that I beat my bowls nemesis, much to her chagrin. OK, I was given 6 points to start as it was the handicap, and the end score was 21-19, so it was touch and go for a while, but a win is a win, and I don't care what the score ended up as long as it was in my favour. And yes, I fully admit to being totally competitive!

The other good thing to happen today was She Who Must Not Be Named and her man, the one and only R, came for a flying visit on their way to a week's holiday south of the border. They'll be off in the morning and will be swinging by for another night chez nous in a week's time as they head north. Wine will be cooled in readiness.

So all in all, not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Friday, 16 July 2010

What's a girl to wear?

This week my beloved is away doing his bit for the charity cyclists who are mad enough to cycle from Brussels to Frankfurt, and meanwhile after a busy working week, mine doesn't stop there. I now have to prepare myself for going to the Rowchester Festival to sell his Tibetan goodies to the Borders folk tomorrow.

I'm just wondering what on earth your average, respectable ex-hippy wears to sell at festivals these days?

Will it be the delightful kaftan that I've had since I was 16 and wore to every festival, every gig, in fact every every as I rarely wore much else in those dim dark days, or will it be sensible jeans and t-shirt? I think it will most probably be the latter. I would've thought about wearing shorts, but with the weather the way it is, I don't think that would be wise.

I can feel the suitcase coming out, filled with 'just in case' items of clothing, so that I can do a discrete change as and when. In fact the more I think about it the more I think this is the sensible option.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

I'm blaming the birds

As a perk of my job I recently got a Costco card. For those of you who don't know, Costco is a cash and carry membership warehouse that sells pretty much everything. You can buy individual items such as tvs, radios, computers and the like, but everything else is in bulk.

So today I went shopping and spent... well I'm not telling. But 40 loo rolls, 20 rolls of paper towels, and 600 cotton buds were the tip of the iceberg. The great thing is though that a large sack of birdseed cost £5.65 and 50 suet balls were £5.95, which compared to the last lot I bought is about a quarter of the price. The birds don't seem to care as to whether they get expensive or cheap, they just scoff the lot.

So under the illusion of spending less on the birds, I spent a fortune on all sorts of other things that were 'must haves' and I shall leave it all to your active imaginations to think just what those might be!

Monday, 12 July 2010

A new schedule

This is the first week of my new working schedule. I will be working 2 days a week at my regular job, and then this means that I can devote a day a week to the project I'm working on, a day a week to my business concerns up North and down South, and time for my other clients. I think that takes me back to a 5 day week instead of the frenetic sometimes 8 days a week that has been my pattern for the last year.

Being away on Holy Isle certainly allowed me to recognise that my working life was taking over and was completely ridiculous. I was worn out and didn't have much time for doing the other things I like to do, such as writing and framing and, and, and....

Now of course I have the time and no excuses. Except there are always excuses. I was having a laugh with She Who Must Not Be Named the other day as I was telling her all about a book I was recommended on procrastination, but sadly I've procrastinated so much I haven't actually read it yet!

Coffee Plant update: I thought I'd entrance you all with the latest pic of my babies. They are looking good and I'm thinking that cup of home made coffee can only be about 9 years away now....

Friday, 9 July 2010

Summer in Scotland

Well I arrived back.... eventually. Actually even getting to Holy Isle was a bit of a trial as they had to lay on a special rib, brought all the way round from Brodick to Lamlash Bay due to rough seas. It was rather funny as we had taken the bus after getting off the ferry, when we could have just got on the rib at Brodick and been taken straight over. The rib was fun though, rather like being on a fairground ride.

The weather on Holy Isle was unbelievable with high wind, high waves and driving rain at times, so a decision was made on Monday that we either had to leave on Tuesday (a day early) or on Thursday (a day late) as no boats were going to be braving the waves on Wednesday. My co-leader wanted to get home to Inverness and wanted to leave on the Tuesday, so that left me staying to carry on regardless.

Half our number had to leave on the Tuesday, but those that were left reformed, restormed, renormed and reperformed, and actually it was brilliant. It was like two separate retreats had happened, the first one went really well, but the hardy folk who decided to stay on had a sense of togetherness that only adversity brings, and it brought a whole new aspect to the second one.

Thank goodness for my Handpresso. I was utterly exhausted with leading on my own and my morning caffeine fix was much needed. It also became a real talking point, with the resident Rinpoche being absolutely fascinated by it. Every morning became like my very own meditative coffee ceremony and added to the whole experience. The Gadget Queen definitely reigns!

What was a little weird was that when we arrived on Arran - a mere mile or so from Holy Isle - the weather was completely different. I'd left Holy Isle wearing as many layers as I could and while waiting for the ferry to take me from Brodick to Ardrossen I had to strip down to my vest top as it was so warm.

Of course by the time I'd arrived back home in the Borders, the weather had changed again and, although slightly warmer than on Holy Isle, was still rather October like and dull and overcast. According to the weather forecast we are now due loads of rain.

Don't you just love the Scottish summer!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Holy Isle here I come

Well folks, this will be the last you'll here of me until late next week. I'm off to Holy Isle off Arran to co-facilitate a retreat. I think I'm probably more in need of retreating than most of the participants!

Of course I still have today to go. I've already been out practising my bowls in the hope of getting better (not yet) and then No 1 son is graduating this afternoon, so my beloved and I are heading for Edinburgh to do our bit in our smart gear. I'm hoping Andy Murray's game will be delayed long enough for me to at least listen on the radio on the way home.

I can't believe I managed to arrange to go on retreat during Wimbledon finals. The first I've missed in a long while. So my beloved's mission for the weekend is to tape the finals for me. Of course now we have the Tour de France to contend with too, so he may well be swung into the temptation of taping that instead and of course there will be nothing I can do about it as by the time I get home it will all be long over and done with... but here's hoping.

Plant life is going well. We've had some lovely tomatoes that have just ripened and are delicious, and are onto our second crop of salad leaves. And I'm pleased to say that the coffee plants are doing just fine.

My friend, She Who Must Not Be Named, reminded me the other day just how 'blokish' we both are. We love our gadgets. My latest is a Handpresso. It makes a lovely cup of espresso coffee and is made specifically for travelling. No electrics, nothing. It's based rather bizarrely on a bicycle pump action, but the main thing is that it works. I only like real coffee and not the stuff that comes out of a jar, and sadly on Holy Isle the only coffee available is pretty awful. Each year when I go I avoid it like the plague and end up being very virtuous and drink only water and herbal teas. But I miss having a great cup of coffee first thing in the morning, so I'm very pleased my new coffee contraption will give me my daily dose.

I will be back next week hopefully fully rested and ready to get on with things, but at least I'll be fully caffeinated.