Tuesday, 30 March 2010


I was very lucky last night as my No 2 son - not in affection you understand, but in age - had his friend over and luckily for me she has an iPhone.

So before they went out to wherever young people congregate in Edinburgh, I got a lesson in how to go online, how to turn the volume up and how to download useful apps (see I've even got the lingo now!) such as Edinburgh bus information, which was free. What I want to know is howcome it's free to get the Edinburgh one, but costs to get the bus info for London. Answers welcome!

I've not downloaded much else as I spent much of the night looking at which buses were working and the bus stops I could get them from. Fascinating, but not terribly useful as I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything, but good to know I could have done if I'd wanted.

Yes, alright a bit of a waste of time. But that's the point I think of having one of these phones. You can spend a lot of time just looking at things that you don't really need but are fascinating nevertheless.

Tonight I'm staying another night in Edinburgh due to the impending doom of snow in the Borders. Luckily Cheryl is here again, and so if I play my cards right she might show me some more useless information so I can spend another fun evening courtesy of Apple.

Monday, 29 March 2010

The proud owner

Okay, well I can look at it... that is my new iPhone of course.

I have made my first telephone call, which was to my son who was sitting downstairs. He was truly nonplussed at my phoning him from a few feet away, but hey a girl needs a bit of safety and he was available.

I've sent my first text message - to my beloved who is in China for a week - and I've sent my first email - to my friend Jenny. She has an iPhone too and I thought she'd be the one to understand the minimalist nature of my message, which was along the lines of 'I'm sending this from my iPhone'.

The only problem is that I don't know how to turn the volume up, don't know how to get it to go online, don't know how to take a photo, and the list of what I don't know could probably fill up several blog pages.

Still it's very pretty to look at and I can turn it on and off and I managed to get it to sync with my laptop all by myself... so on the whole I think I'm doing pretty well under the circumstances.

Anyone do iPhone lessons?

Friday, 26 March 2010

Almost part of the 21st Century

Today I purchased an iPhone G3s and can officially count myself among the 'now' generation. Of course purchasing and actually getting are two distinctly different things, and I won't be an owner until Monday... hopefully.

What amazed me was I went into 2 stores to see what was on offer. I am not a huge fan of my mobile phone, but even I can see that having a device which means I can look at emails, look things up and make sure I'm winning at Scrabble as well as make phone calls can be a real advantage. The fact that my old phone is able to make approximately one and a half telephone calls of about 2 minutes each and then has to be juiced up again is something that even I have recognised means that something needs to be done. And if a new one is what I need, then no point in having something that will just 'do', but to get one that will fulfill all my current needs and all my potential future ones, even if I'm not entirely clear what those might be just now.

But the 2 stores, which resided less than 25 meters from each other, couldn't have been more different.

The first store was empty, and yet the two people serving were chatting away to each other and took a while to even see I was there. The guy I spoke to was very nice, but told me not very much about the kind of deal he could do for me. Which gave me the impression that there was only one kind of option... you give them a lot of money per month and depending on how much and for how long, you get an iPhone. But he told me essentially prices had been set by Apple and there was just the one deal and that was it.

The second store was full. To the extent that I went to do a bit of shopping and went back when it was a bit emptier. A delightfully enthusiastic young man couldn't have been more helpful. He explained that there were all kinds of deals, but that the prices had been set by Apple... ok... am I being pedantic here? The same message but said in a totally different way? He then went through options. I chose a white 16g phone that I pay quite a bit per month but get loads of minutes (less money and more minutes than the other store offered), texts and as much internet access as I can use. Apparently after 9 months if I contact O2 I can get my monthly payment reduced by £5 and this goes on every 9 months until my contract is up - but they won't be contacting me about it, I have to contact them - no surprise there.

It's still costing me some, and I don't actually have it, but in a way it was such a pleasure to talk to someone who seemed to want to sell me something, that I don't seem to mind too much. He's also going to show me how to set it all up when I go and pick it up on Monday and give me a wee bit of discount on a leather cover for it.

So the very next pics I take of my ever growing coffee plants will be coming from the latest technology. And apparently I can watch a film at the same time. How great is that?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Strange happenings at the Auld Kirk... no really!

Last night as I was just about to slob in front of the telly for the night, there was a knock at the door. There was Kev, eldest son of the local village 'mafia boss', aka the president of the bowls club and a life long serving member of the community along with his ex, his current and his kids etc etc. Anyway, Kev asked me how I spell my surname. Why I asked. Well he said, you've won a cup at bowls.

I was truly shocked.

Those who are aware of my playing skills will know that although the competitive spirit is alive and well, sadly the ability has a long way to go to catch up. This has become even more apparent as the carpet bowls played in the Borders is a completely different game to that played up North. So effectively this is the very first year I have ever attempted to play this very weird version, which is a bit like curling on carpet without the brushes or the stones; or alternatively like marbles without the marbles. Small wooden bowls are used that have no bias at all, but remarkably the carpet seems to make up for that in a big way. And I'm pretty useless at it.

Apparently I played a game with a person called Darren some months back, and we won. The fact that I can't remember either Darren nor the game is somewhat worrying. I do remember going to a club night where I was put with one guy who sighed every time I threw my bowl, so I spent most of the night saying sorry, and I was aware that we did quite well. But I wasn't aware we had won. Apart from that night I'm at a loss to remember another occasion.

Maybe I am suffering from early onset dementia (something that I regularly think about, but then promptly forget), or after all there is something strange going on in the Auld Kirk. My preference is for the latter, and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Sometimes work is a great thing

I have to say that working in Edinburgh certainly has it's payoffs.

The fact that I leave the house just before 7 a.m. and don't get back til after 4.30 p.m. usually is a bit of a downer, but this week Borders Council have taken the great decision to totally resurface the pavement outside our house (where I park my car), and from the size of the diggers and the complaints from my other half about the continual noise, I am beginning to think that being at work all day is actually the very best place for me.

It will only last until Friday according to the head honcho, and I have to say I'll be very grateful for my parking space to be reinstated.

I'm now parking round the corner in the communal car park. It's fine really but this morning the weather forecaster lied and I found myself in my spring gear which was fine in my nice warm centrally heated home, but once I'd made it out into the world beyond my front door, I realised it was freezing out there. No time to go back and change and I had to grin and bear it as walked the 150 yards to my car and scraped the ice off the windscreen.

I was pleased to get into work and get on with my busy day and get messages on my work email about the travails of working from home. Made me feel quite good to be among the roadworks of Edinburgh. Somehow in a city where roadworks are a continual distraction they seem so much further away than outside the front door.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Looking good

As you can see from the photo, the coffee plants have grown again and leaves are all looking green and healthy. Which is a whole lot more than I can say about the owners.

Sadly we were stricken down by some coldy thing so that even John, the intrepid marathon man, who is never ill, was ill. That meant that he had to cancel his yearly extreme sporting competition that is the Mighty Deerstalker Challenge. Very sad he was too when he received messages to say that no-one saw him so they all thought that he had done so well and had finished while they were still somewhere running through a bog.

If only they had known... sitting watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It might be considered extreme for 2 old enough to know better, but could certainly not be called a sport, and I can assure you it will not look so good on the marathon man cv.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Truly strange happenings at the Auld Kirk

Ok... well believe it or not, we are now the proud possessors of a Toast N' Egg. The rather strange, but very sensible concept of making toast and cooking an egg all with the one appliance at the same time.

Even more strange is that it actually works!

It arrived approximately half an hour ago, and approximately 10 minutes ago I finished my poached egg on toast, which I have to admit was absolutely perfectly cooked.

One fly in the ointment perhaps, is that you can only cook one egg at a time, so my other half had to wait for his delight to appear (he was doing the cooking, so I got first dibs).

The slightly frightening thing was that while my toast n' egg were cooking I was reading the instructions out loud and got to the bit where it said "wash all parts of the appliance before cooking" and from the look on the beloved's face I knew this instruction hadn't been followed. I think he must have started reading the manual at page 5 and not from the beginning... I have a feeling that this is not such an odd thing for a man (and yes I know that this is a somewhat sexist comment, but such is life!). And what is also not so odd is that I shall now sit for the rest of the day and wonder if I've been poisoned.

So it seems that there have been no strange happenings at the Auld Kirk after all!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Strange happenings at the Auld Kirk

Of course those of you who know me, know well and fine that I live in a converted Church. Many have asked whether it has a spooky feel and how it feels to live somewhere that has such a history and background, and up to now all I can relate is that it feels very homey and very peaceful. That is until I got home yesterday.

The first admission was that the one and only whisky glass had leapt off the draining rack and shattered into a thousand pieces. Then the trusty toaster that gets used on a daily basis had suddenly gone awol. And the final thing that went wrong was that the shredder that has kept us safe from would be thieves of our identities for some years now also decided to suddenly stop working. What was going on?

The truth is probably that my trusty husband had taken his eye of the ball for a second and missed the shelf as he was washing up. The toaster was approximately six years old and consequently had 'lived' for longer than expected, and the shredder had never been oiled in all its existence and we had never known that it should have had regular sustenance, so it too had done stirling service for the couple of years we have had it.

So the outcome is that we shall have to pay a visit to the Whisky Society for a replacement, which means of course that we shall have to try some of the liquor out, just to make sure that it still tastes the same, poor, poor us... I have investigated toasters and decided on one that not only toasts bread but also can cook an egg at the same time... no really it can... and finally a new shredder arrived at our door this morning only 12 hours after being ordered, which was truly remarkable and will apparently be followed within another 24 hours by the much needed shredder oil.

Nothing spooky happening here then, except perhaps the miraculous amount of money I seem to be able to spend in a very short time, and the fact that the postal system is working far better than I could ever expect. Nothing to do with living in an Auld Kirk at all.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Spring has sprung!

Spring is definitely upon us.

You might be interested to know how I know this. Is the it croci out in bloom in the centre of Edinburgh? Is it the daffodils beginning to appear? Is it the cock pheasants fighting at the side of the road on their own particular kamikaze sortis? Is it the birds that have twigs in their beaks flying around looking to line their new homes?

The answer to all of the above is a resounding "no"... the reason I know spring has sprung is that I awoke this morning with a leg covered in insect bites... ah yes, the joys of the warmer weather are truly upon us!

Monday, 15 March 2010

New growth

I'm pleased to be able to report that the coffee plants are responding well to their new, swish and very expensive circumstances.

I attach a photo of the two biggest plants showing a remarkable proliferation of new leaves. The marks that can be seen are just from spraying them with water which is something you're supposed to do and they're supposed to love, but I'm beginning to wonder if this has been a problem and why the leaves have had a tendency to go brown. We've recently started spraying them once the Growlight has gone out, but I think I shall try giving them a delicate polishing and leave out the spraying for a week or two and see what happens.

Anyway, I'm thrilled with the new growth and am hopeful that the illusive cup of coffee might actually happen before my previous 10 year 'deadline'. Bets anyone?

Friday, 12 March 2010

The joys of modern technology

Today I had a meeting between myself and others who reside in the far north of Scotland, and instead of hacking the many miles up the A9 we decided to have our very first Skype meeting.

It worked really well... the technology that is. Sadly human frailties have a way of making life rather difficult. And so it was that this morning I awoke feeling very nauseous and headachy. Ok, I had been out with my hubby to celebrate his one less than 60th birthday a day early with no.1 son, and N, my oldest, closest friend. And I do admit to eating quite a variety of delicious tapas and also a couple of glasses of vino, but I absolutely did not expect to feel the way I did.

Nevertheless the hour came for the meeting and I had to face not just the ignominy of being seen by professional working people (luckily friends too) looking like illness personified, but even worse had to start the meeting by saying 'sorry folks, I'm going to have to go and be sick' and then come back a few minutes later and have to hold what was supposed to be a sensible, thought-provoking, sensitive meeting.

The outcome was however a very good meeting in the end, them thinking I was very brave for carrying on, and me feeling a whole lot better as time went on.

Still I'm not so sure that having a meeting in my pj's, with red face, puffy eyes, and a rather strange hairstyle from spending the half hour prior to the meeting with my head under the pillow, let alone leaving the virtual space to go and have an intimacy with the toilet bowl and then come straight back when people know exactly what has been going on, is the kind of image that I want to portray as a modern day woman about town professional.

There's one thing about leaving a lasting impression but it would be nice to leave the right one. I'm blaming Skype myself.

Monday, 8 March 2010

After the calm...

I had a very restful weekend and then on turning the page in my diary realised I have one helluva week coming up. Still today was one of those rare things in my week, a Monday when I don't have to be anywhere working.

I did a little bit of work at home this morning and then went off to the monthly writing group get together in Kelso, which is full of illustrious luminaries who do nothing for my confidence as a writer, but are an interesting bunch. I can only rarely go to this group as since I joined I've been working most Mondays when they meet, and I'm about to start a stint of facilitating a group on Mondays through until May...still at least my writing self-esteem won't get such a battering for a while.

I also managed to get in a bit of shopping. I found an amazing shop at the back of Kelso that sells all sorts of interesting items, like Hotmax, which is an incredible substance for woodburning stoves that apparently doesn't need kindling to get it started and burns at a slow rate, but gives off great heat. Why oh why has it taken me all winter to find something to help me be warm and makes lighting the fire dead easy just as the temperature has risen to +6 today and I've forsaken my vest for the first time in months?

And of course now all I want to do is to sit in front of the woodburner and create heat for myself so that I can bask in some warmth, whereas the reality is that I shall only be home enough for the rest of the week to enjoy a quick breakfast at 6.30 a.m. and then collapse into bed at the other end of the day.

Still someone has to earn the pennies to pay for those coffee plants to enjoy their luxury accommodation!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Poirot calls

Today I have officially given myself a day off.

Aided and abetted by the alcohol consumed last night when friends we hadn't seen for quite a while came to stay the night and pleasantries went on until well after midnight, as well as a particularly strenuous working week, the call of an afternoon with Poirot sounds rather delightful.

The fact that I have a wonderful husband who has shooed me away with the instruction to 'get some rest' has also helped, and I have to add it was he who pointed out that Mr P was on the telly this afternoon, so I relinquish all feelings of guilt and think I'll go for the pleasure principle instead.