Saturday, 30 October 2010


Yesterday I had to go to Glasgow for a meeting and then rush back to Edinburgh, pick up the dog and head home to the Borders. So far so good. It was lovely to be in a place that didn't smell of paint and floor oil, and be able to go through the whole house without being faced with piles of furniture. I decided to have a leisurely dinner and would follow that by getting online and to grips with all the emails that had piled up while I was away in the big city.

I tried to log on and couldn't. I did what any self respecting IT no-nothing would do and that is switch it off and switch it on again. Still nothing. So I left it off and then put it on again this morning. It worked fine.

Anyway, my brother phoned me not long ago to tell me that Edinburgh and the North of England had a BT shutdown fault on internet access yesterday... how amazing is that? Doesn't it make you think that there's something going on here that no-one is telling us?

Conspiracy theory alive and well and living in the Scottish Borders!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Another bonus

Yes folks, yet another bonus of living in a house with limited electrical working goods, and that is that according to the meter that tells me how much electricity I'm using by the second and how much it costs per month... well it's now 28p per day! That's pretty good news.

Of course the gas bill will be horrendous as the painter had the heating on full blast to dry the paint quickly, so in a way it's a case of swings and roundabouts.

But yet again, a bonus is a bonus and I'm happy with that!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

There was one bonus

Well folks... the dog and I moved into the Edinburgh house yesterday. No downstairs lights, no TV, no internet access, no landline phone working. So after a complete freak out on my part, I went next door and asked if I could use their internet, which they kindly let me do. At 10.30 I was still sealing the kitchen floor and I still have the bathroom to do tonight.

I managed to enlist the help of No.1 son to join me in sanding the wood floor today and then have oiled it with a first oiling, will have to do it again before the night is out.

The bonus however was that the electrician who helped restore order after my Beloved's DIY skills went slightly awry, managed to leave a vital, and very expensive piece of kit behind. So when he sent his minions round to get it, they were kind enough (for a cash in hand price of course!) to sort the downstairs lighting and tried to sort the TV. Now I can get BBC4, but not much else... not that there's much on anyway, but it would be nice if the bloody thing worked. Still a bonus is a bonus and I am pleased with that.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Update about updates

Well eventually it took me about 8 hours to download the bloody iPhone upgrade. This was because I was getting so fed up with the whole process that I decided to pause it to see if that might get it to hurry up. Now when I see 'pause' I think it means temporarily stop then start again... if only! No such luck. The whole thing just stopped completely and then started all the way from the beginning. I gave up in the end and let it do it's thing.

Then I got a phone call from the painter who said, and I quote, "Don't worry about the paint on the floor, we're going in today to clean the whole thing and it'll be like new." This would've been great news except I'd already done the cleaning. Still at least it should all be finished by now.

And then I got a phone call from the guy who's been overseeing all the renovation works to tell me that when they went in and switched the lights on the whole thing blew and smoke was coming out! His electrician was straight round and discovered that my Beloved had wired the wall lights in but hadn't quite checked that wires weren't touching. I'm relieved I wasn't the one to find that out. And I have to admit at points like that I feel obliged to play the 'girlie card'. Luckily Davy is a good sort and thought the whole thing was rather funny, but did warn me to warn my Beloved not to play electrician again. Not sure how he'll take that news as he prides himself on his DIY abilities.

So now me and my dawg are off to the bright lights of Edinburgh for the next few days. Wish us luck. It'll be like living in a bedsit. I haven't told Nell yet as I don't want to freak her out before she's even got there!

Sunday, 24 October 2010


I was going to take photos and give you all an update today on my coffee plants, a couple of which are doing incredibly well... ok that's a bit of an exaggeration, but they've got offshoots which is spectacular progress... but sadly I'm trying to update my iPhone. I started about an hour ago and now it's informed me it's got another 3 hours to go. I've got so pissed off you'll just have to take my word on the plants and forego the pleasure of a photo. I will take one at some point, but I can't wait around anymore as I have work to get on with.

You'll be pleased to know that I posted my first OU assignment on Friday, a mere week early, but for me that's like cutting it fine. In the end I managed it all just about ok, but I misread part 3 and thought it demanded 750 words, which I managed no problem and then realised it said 300! That meant a lot of Friday afternoon was spent trying to get it down to the wordcount, and of course it ended up not at all how I wanted, but realised I could spend the next year trying to make it perfect so sent it off and then spent the next day thinking of all the things I could've done to make it better. Ahh well. OU don't you just love it!

My pied-a-terre in Edinburgh has been being done up. New kitchen, new tiles in the bathrooms, and a paint job throughout. So yesterday my Beloved and I spent the whole day cleaning and tidying. Sadly I don't quite know how, but the painter had managed to spray bits of paint all over the wooden floors, which is quite unlike him, but it took a lot of the day to get the bits off. He's supposed to be finishing up tomorrow so I hope he's going to be a bit more careful.

My Beloved is off to the hills for a week to do his Mountain Leader Training and so the dog and I are going to have to stay in the Edinburgh house for 4 days so that I can go to work and No 1 son can look after the dog for me. This is going to be a bit of a trial as we won't be able to use the living room, as the floor needs to be waxed before I put the furniture back, and the spare room is off limits waiting for the new carpet so had to have all furniture removed -  and that's not happening for another week. Still at least we can use the kitchen and the bedroom and bathroom, so not all bad.

So good luck to my Beloved. I hope he doesn't freeze up there in them thar hills, and gets back to civilization with his certificate firmly under his belt.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Yesterday when I left the house to go to work it was -1. Today it was +3, and it felt so warm in comparison I almost wondered if summer was making a reappearance!

But the weirdest thing. It usually takes me 55 minutes to drive from my house to my work near Haymarket Station in Edinburgh, so when I set out this morning I was a bit taken aback to discover every large lorry possible seemed to be on the A697, which is the road that runs from Coldstream to Carfraemill. The road from Gordon, our village, cuts into this road and my normal journey it takes me 12-15 minutes to get from our house to Carfraemill. At 30 mph it takes considerably longer. But then usually when I hit the Edinburgh By-pass it is a bit slow and then it gets slower as I head into Edinburgh centre. However, this morning it was clear all the way through  from the By-pass and bizarrely it took me just 57 minutes door to door, a mere 2 minutes longer than normal.

I discovered that the police had closed the A1 due to "investigations into an accident" according to the radio (which word on the street has it was actually a shooting) and the road was shut from the middle of the night right through to midday today, hence all traffic was being diverted along the 'scenic route' which meant it took them about 1.5 hours longer to get to Edinburgh than they might have hoped. Poor sods. Still being stuck behind a whole lot of them and not being able to overtake as they were too wide for the narrow roads was no joke.

I've only just realised that I have a rather strange way of passing the time when driving, which is to work out how long it's going to take me to get anywhere. Oh well, better than listening to the depressing news of spending cuts... or is it?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A waste of time?

Yesterday I was supposed to be getting on an doing my first assignment for the Open University Creative Writing course I've taken on. I don't know what my problem is, but the mere mention of tutors and marking seems to have had the most debilitating effect on me. Previously I've been writing away, even getting up at 5.30 am to do my morning pages before I go to work, but the moment something has to be marked, well that's a different story. I went into mindblock meltdown. I managed to write one paragraph about twenty times in different formats and then junked the whole lot.

However, there was a mention in the core text that some writers use repetitive things like playing Solitaire to get them in the mood, and I decided I'd give that a try to see if I could manufacture a cognitive shift. So, I started back playing Bubble Island on Facebook.

I did really well and even managed to get past the Mountain region of stage 9 and onto the Volcano of stage 10 thereby beating She Who Must Not Be Named and my beloved in one fell swoop.

Writing? Nada - Kudos? Loads!

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Family visits... always an opportunity for fraughtness! Luckily on this occasion it all went pretty well. Just a slight hiccup when my sister-in-law proudly mentioned that her son has just secured a job as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs. My beloved and I managed to stifle any words of disapproval with a raised eyebrow to one another on that one, though I did bring into the equation a book I'd just bought by John Lanchester called 'Whoops! Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay' but that was pretty much ignored.

Sadly I couldn't do the same when we were out to dinner last night and my sister-in-law said she liked and admired Maggie Thatcher. That was just a step too far and I did speak up. Luckily the waiter intervened with pudding so I didn't get embroiled in too much of a contretemps, but it was a close run thing.

And now they've gone and we're back to the peace and quiet of a Sunday. Lots to do before Strictly Come Dancing tonight and will need to watch the recording of what happened last night so I'm firmly in the loop.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Back from across the sea

I got home last night totally exhausted after 5 days of full-on work from 6am until 9pm every day. So now I'm in recovery.

After all the emails I had got prior to going to Holy Isle to warn of high winds and whipped up seas, when I arrived in Brodick it seemed like the weather predictions were all coming to fruition. However it was a complete surprise when after a quick bus ride over the top of Arran and down the other side to Lamlash, it was no longer Autumn, but still Summer. The weather was glorious. Warm, sunny, blue skies, sparkling sea, basking sharks swimming around and seals playing close to the shore.

Consequently I was totally inappropriately dressed and by the time I alighted at Holy Isle I was decidedly hot and sweaty and very uncomfortable. Even more so when I realised I didn't have a single short sleeved t-shirt, but did have woolly hat, vests, jumper and extra warm socks ready for the Winter onslaught I'd been promised!

The weather did get a little colder especially in the early mornings but really was very temperate. On our last morning when we were out doing our Tai Chi on the beach at 7 am we were joined by several of the wild ponies and a host of midges. The ponies weren't terribly impressed and wandered off fairly soon after we started, however the midges hung around so after half an hour and many bites later we left them to it and retreated indoors.

So now I'm home I'm getting ready for the fraternal visit tomorrow. It's my sister-in-law's birthday so have had to make a bit of a song and dance about it all. Shopping done - check, cleaning done - check, beds made - check, smile fixed to the face - a work in progress!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Goodbye til next week

I'm off to Holy Isle today, and so will be incommunicado with the rest of the world until I get home next Wednesday. Not only is there no internet access, there's no mobile phone access, and anyway I'm supposed to be facilitating a retreat so really need to get my head down and get on with it and eschew the delights of the modern world while I spend my days in contemplation.

Which was better than I was last night. Earlier in the evening I'd had a chat with my friend 'She Who Must Not Be Named' where she told me about the delights of a game called Bubble Island on Facebook. So against my better judgment I decided to take a peak. Was that ever a mistake! I then spent the rest of the evening battling bubbles to see how many stages I could overcome - half way through Stage 9 is the answer - but had to give up at 11.15 ish as my Beloved had already gone to bed and the dog was looking mournfully at me as she wanted to go but decided she had to wait for me. If not for that I think I should still be playing this morning.

SWMNBN'd said that she found it quite meditative. I'm not sure I agree I think the word is competitive rather than meditative. I came away with stiff shoulders and what feels distinctly like repetitive strain injury. Thank goodness I've got a few days sitting on my backside contemplating my navel so that I can get over my injuries and no doubt start all over again once I get home.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Getting organised

Here I am getting organised for another trip to Holy Isle off Arran on Friday, where I'm co-facilitating another retreat. Once again the weather is interfering and that's before I've even got there! I got a message from Adam the Manager, who told me that we had to make the earlier ferry from Lamlash to Holy Isle as the winds were going to pick up and the tide was going to be down. Luckily my co-facilitator and I had already planned to take the earlier ferry so that was a bit of luck, so our plans are not, as yet, scuppered.

Meanwhile the week seems to be getting busy. I don't know if that's because I'm working right up to the moment I go, or because getting up in the dark and wet is making me feel tired and flustered and so work seems to be taking it's toll and all I want to do when I get home is slob in front of the telly, but as I was stupid enough to take on an OU course, which needs constant study I'm obliged to leave my slobbing until much much later.

The course started on Saturday, but I'd already started about 3 weeks ago as I'm going to be away for a week and needed to get myself into a position to be able to write my first assessment as soon as I come back, so needed to get a month under my belt asap.

I've also got a tutorial the Saturday after this one when I'm just home from Holy Isle, which also happens to coincide with my brother and his wife coming to stay. So the stress of the tutorial will be ameliorated by going out for posh nosh with family. On the other hand maybe the stress of going out for posh nosh with family will be ameliorated by the tutorial... who knows?

Sunday, 3 October 2010

A night on the town

Unbelievably yesterday was cracking weather. Friday and today, pissing down, but yesterday it was blue sky and sunshine, warm and lovely. Which was just as well as it was the last bowls day of the season, and to celebrate it they had an open pairs competition to celebrate.

Apparently Gordon Bowls club was the very last club in the area not to have shut for the season, so there were folk from across the Borders and beyond come to take advantage of an extra days bowls. My friend, JT, decided to come and accompany me and it was fun to have another game with him as my partner. And another game was all we could manage... absolutely slaughtered by our opponents in the first round. Still because the weather was so good, we hung around watching the others and then left at the quarter final stage.

Then as a final final celebration, there was karaoke in the evening. I wasn't going to go, but thought better of it and so my man and I went across at about 7.30 to be faced with a fairly drunken rabble intent on making as much noise as possible. It was hilariously funny and we managed to leave before being forced into having to sing. Though it was difficult to stop the onslaught of drinks being bought and had to make a quick exit before another round wended its way to our table, with the genuine excuse that my man was needed for Borders Search and Rescue operations today and had to leave at 7 am, so a late night was out of the question. Whew, got away with that one then.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The end

As a lot of you know I am a Scrabble addict. I've been playing Scrabble since I was a very young child, and it has featured in my life quite a lot. I won a Scrabble set off a friend after playing religiously for 3 years at Art School, I've played in competitions, though only local, and won my fair share, and I've coerced my kids and partner to play with me at Christmas on a kind of one game of Scrabble equals one game for each of them that they want to play basis. So when my friend, Tracy, told me about Scrabble on Facebook and that you can play across the web, I of course signed up immediately and was quite happy playing away with various friends across time and space.

That is until about a month or so ago. I turned my Scrabble on and there, horror of horrors, was an overscreen that said that it was some advertising promotion from a sponsor and that I would be returned to the Scrabble screen in 15 seconds. Now I'm the kind of person that whenever there are adverts on the telly, I flick between channels to avoid them. A dreadful habit I know, but there you are, so being faced with adverts was a bit much. But hey, 15 seconds. Ok I can wait.

After about a week, the overscreen was still there and now it said I would be returned to my Scrabble screen in 20 seconds. And from there each week it went up until it was 30 seconds. And that's when I knew that I just did not want to be part of it anymore. The very idea of being 'forced' to watch adverts was complete anathema.

So, it is with sadness that I have now ended all games of Scrabble on Facebook and will refuse to return until advertising is withdrawn. I feel I have a very long wait ahead of me.