Monday, 29 November 2010

Stuck at home

Today we are snowed in, and as you can see from this photo my car is completely buried and I've given in. Even if I could get it out, the road is closed so I'm going nowhere.

I've cancelled my meeting in Edinburgh and am spending the day in what feels like a snowhole. That's one of the joys of living in a house where the upstairs windows are all velux. All I can look forward to it seems is, according to the weather forecast, a week or two of enforced hibernation. A bit boring if you ask me. Even my hairdresser, who lives almost opposite and was supposed to come over about 8 pm tomorrow, has just phoned as she's bored stiff and looking for something to do, so I think the whole village will be having their hair cut this afternoon.

I've started measuring how much snow we have by the amount on the garden table, which as you can see is doing pretty well and it's still snowing.

Still I'm wrapped up warm, with my man and my dog for company, so best not complain too much.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


Given that we now have approx 12 inches of snow to contend with I'm really pleased that I'm not due to play bowls in Hawick, which would have meant an hour's drive (at least) in dreadful conditions. A lucky escape I think.

I've also had to cancel tomorrow when I was off to a workshop at Samye Ling. The treacherous conditions and the fact that my little car reacts rather like a snowboard whenever we have snow and ice, and my predisposition to wanting to stay alive and not have the excitement of a drive on a skating rink, means it's a non-starter. I would have borrowed my Beloved's 4 wheel truck but he's off on a Borders Search and Rescue training for the weekend and because of aforementioned reasons decided a car swap was not in his best interests.

We were also due to have friends to stay tonight, but I haven't heard from them and doubt whether they will now make it, so that's a bit of a downer. On the bright side means that I don't have to spend the afternoon cooking, which is a bit of a relief as we don't have a whole lot of food in and venturing to the shops is not on my current agenda.

So it looks like I'm stuck at home with the dog having a quiet weekend. At least we're warm and cosy.

Bowling update
I did pretty well yesterday and although we lost the first game, we came out with a draw on the second game which was totally down to my last bowl. On the strength of that I was asked if I wanted to join in with the women's league. I said I'd think about it.

Coffee plant update
The scrawny one is still alive, but only just. I'm wondering if, because they are so sensitive, any change in temperature just goes for them, especially if they're weak to start with. Probably rather like a person with a weak immune system, once they start to feel poorly it's hard to get over it.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Spooky or what?

About a couple of hours after posting yesterday I got a message to say that I'm not needed for the competition in Hawick on the weekend. The reason given was something about not having enough teams and so they've cut down on entries and the team I was in has been scratched.

Yeh, some excuse. I think they read my blog and decided they didn't want an outsider, with stickers on her bowls to prove it, who is playing in third position on Friday wandering into the Hawick club and perchance picking up their trophy. That would definitely put the cat among the pigeons so to speak. Or in my dreams might be more appropriate!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A member of the club

Today I went for practice for bowls at Tweedbank Indoor Stadium, where I've become a member. I've actually played there twice before, once a practice session on my own, and the second one I joined in what's called a Hat game, where everyone just gets allotted a team and position on the day. Prior to this I played in Inverness Indoor probably about 8 times in all and that was some years ago.

The Hat game I was in I did ok, in fact after about an hour I was beginning to get the hang of it and the consequence of that was that when I signed up for a competition on this coming Friday, I was put in at 3rd, which is the position for experienced folk! The woman who did this dastardly deed said they all thought I'd played loads from my performance at the Hat. Yeh right... I think they just want a fall guy.

Anyway, I thought I'd better get in a bit of practice and so because I had an hour to spare today I went of to Tweedbank to give it a go. To my horror there was a Scottish game going on and there was only one rink left at the end. The guy who's in charge told me to go and play with no problem in spite of my telling him my prevalence for delivering my bowl on the wrong bias. He just laughed. Well not for long!

Within five minutes I'd had to go and retrieve my bowl a couple of times, so he came and gave me club stickers, so now I'm officially a member of Tweedbank Indoor Bowls Club and have the bowls to prove it.

The only problem is that I'm due to play in a competition in Hawick on Saturday, as one of the Gordon people was short a team player and he's a member of Hawick Indoor Bowls, so I've been allotted honorary Hawicker membership. I'm not sure he'll look very kindly at my new allegiance and my bowls might have to be stripped of their new resplendent red stickers pretty damn quick!

Monday, 22 November 2010

So nice to be right

About 5 years ago there was a really interesting programme on telly at Xmas, it was all about traffic flow, and showed how one person braking first thing in the morning could cause a hold up later in the day. It was absolutely fascinating.

Well my contention is that one policeman can cause complete havoc by trying to help.

Have you ever noticed that when you're caught in a traffic jam, as long as it's not on a motorway, is very often caused by someone directing the traffic? Well today pretty much proved my theory when an accident happened almost right outside our house.

Of course I missed the whole thing and was only alerted to it when my Beloved came home after an afternoon of food shopping to say, 'Didn't you hear it?' Sadly the answer was no. Not sure if this was because I was at the back of the house or that I'm getting even deafer than I already know I am, but no matter. Essentially a car was pretty much totalled by a tractor on the crossroad that is our village. The tractor went on to total the village flower display.

Anyway, I took the dog out for a walk while the ambulance was still hanging about, but all those caught in the accident were standing around smoking fags and so all seemed to be ok. The traffic was flowing, and there was no problem. By the time the dog and I got back to the house, a policeman was in charge of keeping the traffic doing what it was supposed to do and the whole high street was completely blocked in all directions. The policeman was huffing and puffing and waving his arms and seemed to be enjoying his moment in the spotlight. The traffic was at a standstill.

Point proven I think.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Gaming strategy

Yesterday I had a bit of a 'day off'. That meant not doing very much at all apart from a bit of washing and a bit of reading and left the evening for Strictly etc.

In the afternoon I decided I would have a go at Bubble Island (yet again) as I've been trying to finish it with limited success for the past few weeks. The final stage is an absolute bitch, and in order to help you on your way, the game gives you flags and if you use them then you can slow the game down which makes it a whole lot easier. Problem is they cost you. Well they cost 'coins' which you get by playing (minimum coins), by spinning a daily lottery (quite a few coins) or paying (maximum coins).

Well I'm afraid I never pay. Any game that demands payment is not for me. I don't vote on any TV voting thing either as years ago, during the first Big Brother, I voted for someone to win, Anna the ex nun, and she lost. What a waste I thought, and have never voted again. Especially as the phone voting system seems to be just a way of those who don't need it, to make a profit out of those who do, under the guise of giving the masses a choice. Have you ever seen the papers after a final?

Anyway, I made a decision a couple of weeks ago to do the daily spin and amass so many coins that when I went for the win, I'd use them all up in one go and beat the game. And yesterday afternoon, I decided I'd have a go at starting at the beginning of Stage 10 and see how far I got, as I thought I needed to have 20,000 coins to play with to make it easy on myself and I only had just over 15,000.

And so I started, and bizarrely, without having to touch my pot of gold, I actually made it to the end. It now says 'Game Mastered' by my name!

The only problem is I now have all those coins in my amassed collection and nothing to put them to use with. I think the only answer is to play again.... oh noooo.

Friday, 19 November 2010

More from the OU

The alternative forum has, for some reason, disappeared from existence. No-one knows why, no-one knows who, no-one knows where. And so, after 24 hours, another alternative forum was set up and I was extremely relieved to be invited to join. And the same online camaraderie and support is now in action again.

But then, an interesting thing happened on the Student Cafe forum. We were told by our moderators that we wouldn't be allowed to post on that forum from 4.45 pm today until Monday, because both of them are away for the weekend. Which I have to say sounded a little 'parental'.

So one of our number on the alternative forum waited until 4.43 and posted something a little on the subversive side. It remained for all of 10 minutes when the whole thing was deleted, not even blocked. It was very funny in that schoolboy kind of way, you know, getting one over on your teachers, or at least that's what you think and then at the last minute they manage to get their own back.

You can tell what my school days were like.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Banned from the OU

Tonight was an evening with my OU colleagues, held in Inca, a bijou place in Bruntsfield in Edinburgh, where us writers in the supposed making met with our tutor, Ray, who's actually quite a star. Very droll, very dry, and impressively well read and immensely helpful. And then I got home to a message from the OU to say I'd be removed from an online forum.

Now I need to go into a bit of history here: the OU offers us students an online cafe, where we can post our scribblings, our thoughts etc etc. However, about 3 weeks ago there was a post that omitted in the subject line that the content was 'strong'. There was a complaint by one of our number and the transgressor had a virtual wrist slap by the ever vigilant moderators. So the friend of the transgressor decided to start a different cafe. One where you had to ask to go and be accepted and where there were no holds barred. I couldn't bear to be left out so duly asked, and was accepted. It is actually full of extremely erudite, very good writers, and anything goes. And I've found it a place full of online cameraderie and sometimes very funny indeed. And tonight when I got home I was barred from entering and told the guy who'd set it all up had decided that I didn't belong.

My paranoia set in and weirdly found myself feeling rather bereft. Why had I been banned? Hadn't I sworn enough? Hadn't I been rude enough? What was the problem?

It turns out that everyone has been thrown out. A computer glitch or an OU masterplan? More to come on this methinks.

Monday, 15 November 2010

What a bit of kit!

Today I unwrapped my Ion Profile usp turntable which I bought online from a company called Firebox. I know I could probably have got it a bit cheaper but they were so helpful and it was free p&p. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is it is a brilliant bit of kit!

I can now play all my old vinyl, lp's, ep's, 45's and they can be played through the computer sound system or downloaded onto iplayer with one click of a button. It was all so easy that even I managed it. So watch out if you come and stay, you might be forced to listen to all my good old fave's.

Dylan rules... OK!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Home early to some sadness

I arrived home this afternoon as all of us participating in spiritual nourishment decided that leaving during daylight hours would be the most nourishing of all.

It was a very good weekend and I'm now about to spend a bit of time catching up on Strictly so that I can be well informed come the results time tonight. But before I do, I have some sad news.

Although I've been spiritually nourished one of my coffee plants is in the withering stage and definitely in need of something, though I know not what. The poor thing is the weakest since the other weakest one died on me and this one seems to be doing the same. The leaves go brown and start to crumble and then there's a couple left on the top which are green for a while and then they go brown and that seems to be it. I'm at a loss to know what to do, but I fear it's not long for this world. So five might well become four in the very near future. The others are blooming and I'm just hoping that they don't decide to go down the withering route.

Friday, 12 November 2010

A weekend of spiritual nourishment?

I'm packing my clothes again today to head off to Samye Ling for a weekend of spiritual nourishment. The sad thing is that my preference would be to stay home, tucked up in the warmth of my 100% polyester, pink slanket watching unending rubbish on telly. I know I shouldn't, but all the unutterable crap that's on right now on Saturday/Sunday nights allows me to shout rude things at the TV and somehow seems to be an antidote for my work situation at present. I know really I should be reading erudite wordy works, but by the time Saturday night comes round I just can't be bothered... so a glass or two of vino and a good spleen venting seems like a good idea.

Of course going to meditate for a weekend means that I'll have to let go of any ideas of alcohol or venting of the spleen and satisfy myself that for this weekend, just this once, I'm going to be a 'good person' and nurture my soul instead.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

I'm dreaming of a magic carpet

For all you eagle-eyed folk out there you might have noticed that I put I'd travelled a 261 mile journey... if only! The Borders to Aberdeen was already 164 miles and then the approx 100 from Aberdeen to Inverness would make it 264, so how I managed to get all the way back to the Borders in -3 miles is beyond me... unless of course I have a magic carpet which I don't.

So just for the record it was 361 miles in all and it certainly felt like it!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Social pariah

I'm just home after a strenuous 261 mile journey from the Borders to Aberdeen to Inverness to the Borders, and now I'm officially knackered!

I started out yesterday morning with fear and trepidation re the weather which was supposed to be snow and high winds, and I didn't encounter much at all. The wind picked up around Stonehaven, but apart from that the journey was a doddle. I then had my meeting which went well and then headed off to Inverness to spend the night and be ready for my meeting this morning.

The journey was a bit more tortuous as only the A96 can be, and I was supposed to meet friends in the pub on the outskirts of town. When I got there I switched my mobile phone on to find messages from pretty much everyone to say they couldn't make it for one reason or another, which reminded me of something that happened 39 years ago:

Dave, who I was going out with at the time, was in a band and they'd just got back from being on tour. He and I had talked about everyone coming over to mine for dinner and he'd agreed he'd tell everyone, so I left it to him. I then spent 2 days cooking my socks off on my 2 ring Baby Belling cooker with the pint sized oven, and then glammed myself up for the appointed hour. No-one came. I can remember feeling mortified. When Dave came round the next day he was very blase about the whole thing and said something along the lines of, 'oh well I don't know what you're fussing about, it was only a dinner and I can't help that I forgot,' which was not entirely helpful, and hardly surprisingly our relationship didn't last.

I can remember sitting in my flat in Chalk Farm that night feeling like a social pariah, and obviously the memory has been restirred.

At least last night She Who Must Not Be Named and Sheelagh made it, which was good. Though the arrangement with Sheelagh went slightly askew and SWMNBN and I were starving by the time said Sheelagh turned up. Still a glass of wine and some home made fishcakes made up for it, and it was good to catch up in person rather than over the phone.

And now I'm home. Not for long however. I'm off to Edinburgh tomorrow and staying there until Friday, when I head for Samye Ling (about an hour away from home) to take part in a weekend gathering with those who were on a course with me there earlier in the year. There were supposed to be 8 of us, but 2 people have already had to cry off and I've been in charge of the arrangements. Oh dear... I wonder how many more won't be able to make it.

Do you think the universe is trying to tell me something?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Home and away again

Well, my time in Wordsworth country had its good bits and bad bits. The awful memories of last year came flooding back as I sat around the table in the Jerwood Centre surrounded by fantastic first editions of handwritten William and Dorothy Wordsworth, and some very, very good modern day poets who showed their true brilliance by writing off the cuff poems of utter captivation. Mine of course were slightly more on the pedestrian side, but I tried.

I had to leave early as I'm heading off to Aberdeen tomorrow early in the morning and needed to be home to unpack, pack and get back on the road. Having time to do my washing was a blessing. I missed the last workshop, but did have the privilege of a critique of my work. Not great for the old confidence, but needed nevertheless... ah well.

And now it's time to enjoy the last episode of Downton Abbey and a good nights sleep before getting back in my trusty Honda and heading northwards for meetings and greetings back in my old stamping ground.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Glutton for punishment

I'm off again this weekend, but this time to The Wordsworth Centre in Grasmere for a weekend of writing poetry. This is the second year I've done this and last year was in some ways very difficult. Everyone there was a published poet and very good, and then there was me... no comment!

So why have I decided to go back and do the whole thing again? Because in spite of being the worst there and not enjoying it so much, I learnt a huge amount and the participants were really lovely and the same folk are going again.

I'm hoping this year I'll be able to cope with it better and not feel so anxious about my abilities. That's the theory... let's see about the practice!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Things to report

I got my OU assignment back... it was in record time as my tutor took only 3 days after the date it was supposed to be in to mark it, which was a huge relief. I got 72% which was pretty good, and I was pleased... for all of 5 minutes. Of course after that all the 'well why didn't I do better' self talk started and has been going on ever since. Some things just never change.

But the house in Edinburgh is looking good. Still got things all over the floor, but now we have curtains. It was at the second attempt. The first lot I bought from John Lewis were too plain and had to go back, so with much thanks to the curtain assistant who spotted the perfect curtains and then to my friend, Shirley, who persuaded me that they would be great and then, after a lovely birthday lunch (hers) at Harvey Nicks we went back to the house and she helped me hang them. She has obviously done these things a whole lot more than I have and they were done in no time.

And now we're in the process of celebrating No 1 son's 26th birthday a couple of days early as I'm away on the real day (5th November). So lots of love and Happy Birthday son... Christ... 26! How did that happen?