Friday, 31 December 2010

Hope it's a good one

Happy New Year! Here's hoping it's going to be a good one.

Luckily mine doesn't start until my birthday, so for me tonight isn't as special as it is for others, which is just as well as I managed to put my back out yesterday and am still in quite a bit of pain today. I don't even know how I did it as I was packing my bag to go to Edinburgh for the night and when I stood up, that was it. I think I've trapped a nerve, but quite frankly I don't care what it is I just want it to go away, so at least I have a couple of weeks for it to mend before my true New Year begins.

We had good fun at Shirley and Andy's last night, tho I think the painkillers and the wine didn't mix terribly well and I ended up on every losing team when we were playing Team Trivial Pursuit. Funnily enough I could answer most other people's questions but when it came to mine... blank! Anyway such a good time was had that we are going to have a return match in a few days time, which we're greatly looking forward to.

So folks, enjoy yourselves tonight - or about now for those of you who are in Australia and will just about have had it, and this afternoon for those in Bangkok, this evening for those in South Africa, and early tomorrow morning for those in New York... etc etc

Happy 2011 everyone!

Monday, 27 December 2010

And that's that.

Everyone departed today. Sadly because it snowed last night and this morning, my boys decided that it would be best for them to go too and not to chance the bus but take the train. So my Beloved took everyone off to Berwick station. My mother to go south to London and the boys to go north to Edinburgh. The house is awfully quiet already.

Anyway, I survived!

It was the first visit from my mother for 11 years, and the first xmas visit ever I think. It's one I've pretty much avoided as when I was a child my xmases were awful and punctuated by bad moods and arguments. Still she's 87 and so I thought it would be good to have her here, but of course as she comes from London there'd be no way she could come for the day, so 4 days it was.

I did a lot of disappearing into the kitchen to cook (sometimes it was a bit more Gordon than Nigella) - I noticed No. 2 son accompanied me quite a bit, while my Beloved seemed to have had a lot of work on his computer to do and No. 1 son could be found doing quite a lot of reading. But the Wii was a godsend. She'd never played one before, and apart from one disastrous moment when she smacked her hand off one of our wooden posts in a moment of competitive madness, she absolutely loved it. She also loved the board games and card games we played. And of course the wine helped! She declared it the best Christmas ever and is determined to do it again! Next year it's my brother's turn. Phew!

I'm sad to see the boys go. I felt because my mother was here I never got the chance to spend as much time with them as I would've liked, but never mind. It was lovely to see them, and even though it was more stressful than usual, I think they had fun. They certainly helped me through it all.

So now my Beloved and I are on our own. Only for a day tho as we have friends coming tomorrow night and then we're off to Shirley and Andy's for our annual get together, which we're greatly looking forward to.

But for the rest of today... it's time out. Films to watch, food to eat, wine to be consumed... sounds like Xmas to me!

Friday, 24 December 2010


My boys arrived the other night and it was lovely to have them here. The Xmas games began, though we were all so shattered that the only one we could be bothered with was Whot!

Then we woke up yesterday to even more snow, which I thought might impede my mother's journey north, but no... she phoned to say she was on the train, and as soon as we had that information I went into cleaning overdrive, which proved fatal for the Dyson which collapsed under the pressure and will have to get fixed sometime after the holidays. Thank goodness I have an old Henry.

No. 2 son and I made canapes (which were excellent), while my Beloved and No. 1 son went off to Berwick to pick my mother up. Luckily she was in a good mood when she arrived, but I decided to drink copious quantities of wine just in case her mood changed later.

And so this morning I woke up, slightly worse for wear, and scared in case I have to resort to the same strategy tonight. I'm not sure xmas in a drunken haze is such a great idea.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Old dog, new trick

Well ok, not quite a trick, but after almost 12 years with us our dog, Nell, has acquired a totally new habit and we don't know why.

Nell has always had the strongest of bladders. So much so that it has been a talking point whenever she goes to stay with folk. She has a walk anywhere from 4 - 6 pm and then she has her food and settles down for the evening. Prior to bed around 10 pm she wants her biscuits and then she goes to bed.

Nell was a rescued dog and although 6 months old when she first came to us, we had to house train her, which actually didn't take very long. And for a while we used to open the back door for her to go out last thing. She would take a look out, turn round and come back in as if to say, 'Very nice out there, not sure why you want me to look, but never mind I've done it now, so please can I go to bed.' (Yes, alright I know, lots of anthropomorphising going on!) and never actually go out. So we stopped doing it.

Anyway, last week when I was staying overnight in Edinburgh, my Beloved phoned me to tell me Nell had been staring at the back door after she'd had her biscuits, so he opened it and she went out and had a wee. She then stopped, but has started again this week and has demanded the same every night.

I'm wondering if it's her age, or if it's the cold. No matter, we shall now have to alter our well trodden night time routine and remember to let her out. This might well prove quite hard for us, creatures of habit that we are.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Sad news

I heard yesterday that Captain Beefheart died on the 17th December. I have very fond memories of listening to his LP Safe as Milk way back when, and I'm pleased to say I still have my copy albeit a bit on the scratched side. Still it'll be one to transfer from vinyl to my computer. Tracks like 'Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do' and 'Abba Zaba' conjure up some of the crazier things I did in the late 60's. I'd better keep those to myself!

And the snow is back. Drew back the blinds on the velux windows this morning to be greeted by the white stuff completely covering them and so now we're back in the snow bolt hole. Approx an inch and a half so far, so nothing like a couple of weeks ago. But snow is snow and I'm fed up with it. Apparently it's worse in Edinburgh and I'm supposed to head there tomorrow for the work xmas party ... or maybe not. And even worse No. 2 son is supposed to be coming up from Bristol today for his xmas break. He's booked on EasyJet so who knows. Nothing anyone can do about it, but keep fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Police update

I had a phone call from the police re the London incident. They asked me if I wanted to press charges as the guy who'd been spat and rammed by the taxi decided he didn't want to. I have to say I wasn't at all surprised by this, as the poor guy couldn't speak very good English and going to court would have been difficult for him.

My decision was not to go to court. But I also asked that the authorities (taxi ones that is) give the taxi driver a warning. I hope I've done the right thing and the taxi driver never behaves like he did again.

But of course having made the decision I'm now beset with worries that it was the right decision. I know I did the right thing in helping the Turkish guy in the first place, and also that I called the police and reported the incident. But it's difficult to know that decisions are the right ones. But it's made now. Done and dusted.

The only thing I won't do is get into a taxi with the license plate T 273 AGH, and I advise you all to do the same.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

It's only taken me 9 years

Ok... what's going on? My iPhone wasn't working and then yesterday it suddenly kicked in and started again, downloading emails by the hundred. I did what any self respecting gadget queen would do and looked it up on the web. I came across an MA research paper entitled 'Disruptive effects of electromagnetic interference on communication and electronic systems.' I thought it would give me answers.

Essentially the summary is this, and I quote:  

"As the reliance on wireless data networks and transmission systems increases to include more critical systems, unintentional and intentional interference have the ability to disrupt these systems and cause temporary or permanent failures, which have the ability to cause catastrophic results due to the unavailability of these wireless data links and the information which they carry. The most effective protection against these types of disruptions is to conduct susceptibility assessments and provide measures of protection against known interference sources at the data link design phase and attempt to protect against currently unknown or unanticipated interference sources using measures employed after system deployment."

So effectively, we know that the more we use our phones, we can get disruption from unintentional and intentional sources. And we need protection. Mmmm no flaw in the argument. Only problem is I could have told you that. For once in my life I actually realise the work I did for my Doctorate was actually ok and at least I came out with some interesting research that said something new. And it's only taken me 9 years to realise it. So thank you to my iPhone for not working for a couple of days... I'm still none the wiser as to why, but at least I have a sense of pride!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Fun and games in London

I'm now back from London. An interesting time was had.

First of all my iPhone decided not to get emails and in spite of the helpful guy at the other end of the phone, when you're trying to press buttons and listen at the same time, it just doesn't work. Now I have to take it back to the shop... any shop apparently, iPhone, O2, whatever and it will be dealt with. Hopefully!

Then I was involved in an incident in Oxford Street. Well not me personally, but a poor Turkish trishaw rider who was spat at by a taxi driver, before said driver smashed into the trishaw and sped off in the opposite direction. Racial abuse was involved too. No-one even blinked, let alone went to help, except me. The poor guy had only been in the country 3 weeks, didn't speak incredibly good English and he was pretty shaken up by it all. I phoned the police and waited almost 40 minutes for them to turn up.

What happened was the taxi driver was having a barney with a different trishaw rider who was black. The trishaw rider rode off with the taxi driver shouting abuse at him, then the Turkish guy is riding past minding his own business, when the taxi driver leaned out of his window and spat. This trishaw rider got off to see what was going on, and the taxi driver went for his trishaw. I watched the whole thing, including getting the taxi's reg number. I had to relate my story to this incredibly young cop, including the immortal lines, 'Fucking black cunt' which was what the taxi driver shouted. Apparently the police were more interested in the racial abuse and the spitting, and not the driving into the trishaw, which I have to admit was remarkably robust and hardly had a mark on it. Now I wait to see if I'm needed to give my version again. Might be quite amusing to have to say in court, 'Yes, m'lud, he called him a fucking black cunt.' Time will tell.

Apart from all that, it was party time. My first Xmas party of the season and with plenty more to come. I'm now pleased to be back at home before it starts to snow again. I didn't fancy getting stuck in London. 48 hours with my Mum was more than enough for me. It was a practice for when she comes up for Xmas for a whole 4 days!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Ageing fast

Today I was sick, and I feel ancient. Two weeks ago someone commented that they thought I was 45, which was very complimentary. On Wednesday I went to my OU group, and the conversation turned to age. A lot of this is because we are quite diverse age-wise, with the youngest being 26 and the oldest being me. Anyway, they thought I was 52. Not quite so complimentary. So I'm really pleased no one has seen me today as I think I look about 70.
Amazing, that means that I have gained 25 years in the space of two weeks. This doesn't bode well for the xmas parties, as old lady clothes are really not my thing.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

All done

Being stuck in Edinburgh has had it's payoffs.

First of all I spent some very productive hours writing the first draft of my next assignment for my OU course. Then I posted it onto the student forum for some feedback, which duly came and was redone. Then more feedback, so was done again, and then redone again, and so now is in its fourth draft and awaiting more feedback. Luckily this doesn't have to be in for a few weeks (we get a week off for xmas) and so will have plenty more time for more rewrites.

Then I decided to go xmas shopping, and now feel much more confident that xmas will be happening in our house as I've now got presents for everyone. This includes my mother, who is the woman who has everything, so it was a huge relief to have found something for her. Not terribly inspirational, but definitely useful. And of course they came from M&S so she can take them back if she doesn't like them. Or knowing her I'll probably get them back next year when she looks through her drawer and picks something she's been given to give to me! She does tend to do this and as I'm a size or so smaller than her, which renders her present giving a little redundant. Still I think the local Charity shop has done rather well over the years.

I also had a leisurely get up this morning for the meeting I needed to be at, so that was great. A good meeting too, and I felt nice and relaxed.

And finally, tonight is another OU meeting across town, which I am going to. I certainly wouldn't have bothered to come up from the Borders but being in Edinburgh means that it's no problem at all.

So all in all a pretty good week.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Hooray for No. 1 son

A few weeks back I ordered a chair for the Edinburgh house. I was phoned yesterday to say that delivery would be today. All fine and good I thought.

And when I got up this morning we had bright weather, no problems at all, so a quick check on the internet and the roads to Edinburgh all seemed clear. So I decided to head off early just in case the delivery was in the morning... yes it was one of those cheap stores that tell you the day, but don't give you a time and you're expected to wait in all day for them to arrive.

I got half way when it was white out conditions. What to do? Turn back or keep going? I decided, and yes, I admit it was pretty stupid to continue, but continue I did. The Edinburgh by-pass was appalling and it got worse from there on in. My usual approx 45 minute journey took over and hour and a half. I felt truly sorry though for those going in the opposite direction as a bus had broken down and there was a queue of cars going back about a mile. At least my side of the road was slow but clear.

The worst bit was actually turning into the mews where the house is. I skidded and swerved but my trusty Honda got me there and almost completely into the parking space. I felt blessed I'd got there in one piece.

I only had to wait 3 hours and my chair turned up. The delivery guys said it was only the second delivery they'd been able to do all day. I really felt for them. However, my chair is great. Huge, squashy and comfortable. It's the kind of chair I can curl up in and I've already decided it's going to be my reading chair. I'm so pleased with it.

Because the whole mews was completely covered in snow and ice, I spent a very active afternoon digging the snow out and trying to make it a bit easier for everyone. Several mews people came out and helped, and we got quite a bit done, but because my No. 1 son is regarded as the snow shoveller supreme I tried to get him to come and help, but he wasn't answering his phone. He was left a message.

When I'd given in because my back was getting a bit sore, and the others were starting to give up, No. 1 son turned up for his stint at shovelling snow. He was a real trouper and, in spite of being left on his own as everyone left him to it, he stayed on and did most of the mews on his own.

What a hero! So consequently he was allowed to be the first visitor to try my new chair. Not sure he appreciated it, but at least I tried.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

It's Saturday again

We managed it! Got to Edinburgh, with the only bit that was a trial was from our house to the main road. Once we'd negotiated that it was black stuff all the way. And it was so worth it. The food was amazing and, because others had had to cry off due to illness, it meant that N didn't need to spend her birthday night all on her own.

One strange thing was that the police station almost opposite the house was cordoned off with a message that said the building was dangerous... I wonder what that could mean? Any more dangerous than any other police station? The building going on the attack? The police inside going bananas over stupid phone calls? Apparently one woman had phoned them up to say thieves had stolen her snowman. She'd put coins in for eyes, and was ranting that it just wasn't on and what were the police going to do about it. Some people really are that stupid!

Anyway, we got home this morning and managed to dig out my car, which was under several feet of snow, and get it moved before the snow from the roof fell on it. If that had happened I don't know when I'd have seen it again. Then luckily a farming neighbour decided to help so his tractor cleared all the snow from the pavement in front of our house and carted it off somewhere. What a hero.

I'm now heading for a hot bath, then getting into my all in one warm suit and sitting, with a glass of wine firmly in hand, ready for the weekly telly fest that is Saturday night.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Big city here we come... well maybe

Today is my friend N's birthday and, after planning this a few weeks ago, we were looking forward to going to Edinburgh this evening for a fun filled jaunt to Sweet Melinda's for our dinner. Because the forecast said no more snow today we felt so positive that I phoned N to tell her in spite of our recent incarceration chez nous, we're going to be there.

We were further encouraged this morning by a Borders snow plough, which had been directed to our village to clear snow from the road and make things a whole lot easier for us, and the guys on board had said something along the lines of once having cleared to the school and up the west end of the village they'd be heading in our direction. They'd ring the bell when they wanted us to move our cars. I did think this was a little ambitious as, in spite of a good hour trying to dig my car out yesterday, it still remains in its snow tomb and moving it looks like an impossible task.

I needn't have worried. They gave up clearing the snow once they'd got to the school and headed off for the bright lights of Earlston. So my car is definitely not going anywhere.

And, guess what? It has just started to snow again. I should've reckoned on that once I'd heard the forecast this morning say 'definitely no more snow' - that was a recipe for it to chuck it down; added to which, Kevin, our next door neighbour's roofing son, came over to clear some of the snow off the roof for us, in the hope that we won't get a leak when the snow eventually melts. I cannot help but feel that this must've been a red rag to the Snow God, who is now getting his/her own back.

So all we can do is wait and see. Decisions will be made at 4 pm.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Out and about

Today I had a taste of freedom, as my Beloved wasn't required for Borders Search and Rescue duty and was able to ferry me to Galashiels for shopping duty. I usually hate shopping, but it was such a relief to get out of the village and out and about that I felt like a small child having a day off school.

The road to Gala was mainly full of 4 x 4's trundling their way and very few ordinary cars. Asda car park was just about ok, but when we decided to call by M&S for a treat for our lunch, it was awful and only parkable with 4 wheel capacity.

My short lived sense of freedom was exactly that, short lived.

Although the way there wasn't too bad, as there were a few snow flurries but bright sunshine, on the way back it was white out in places. So sadly I was rather relieved to get back home to my nice warm house and it looks like I'm not going anywhere for the next 24 hours at least.