Sunday, 27 February 2011

A bit of spontaneity

Around midnight on Friday I was having a phone conversation with one of my new found OU friends, who happens to live just outside Bradford, and we got around to the fact that it was just me and the dog this weekend as my Beloved is off up them thar hills, doing his training bit for Borders Search and Rescue, when she announced she'd never been to Scotland and how much she'd love to come. Well you know how it is... one thing leads to another and there we are, she's coming up on the train on Saturday for a visit.

So yesterday came and off I went to Berwick to meet her at the station. So far so good. Do I know what this woman looks like? No. Does she know what I look like? No. But I did tell her I was taking the dog. The train I thought she'd be on came and went and I was beginning to wonder what I would do. Had I got the time right? Was she actually coming, or had she thought better of something that sounded good at midnight but maybe in the cold light of day wasn't quite so appealing?

I decided to wait for the next train, which was just as well. Luckily taking the dog had been an inspiration... of course it did occur to me that I might not be the only one there with an elderly alsatian, but apart from a rather mangy poodle, there were no other four legged friends to distract and she found us no problem.

There was a moment of awkwardness, but once in the car and on the way back to the house, it was like we'd been friends for years. And that was how it was. Quite a bit of alcohol, good food and lots of chat, which all went to make it a lovely night, and then back to the station this morning to deposit her on the train.

I really enjoyed myself and the whole thing was rather mad and strange when you think about it... but it felt good to do something so spur of the moment, and luckily no regrets!

Friday, 25 February 2011

The joys of train travel

Today I was supposed to co chair a meeting in Dunfermline. First thing was my co chairperson was ill so he couldn't come. Not really a problem, but I had to hastily write down how to actually get to the venue as my colleague is always the one with the directions and seems to know where we're going... I'm a true believer in if someone is good at something, let them get on with it... so there I was stuck on my own with a fistful of directions of how to get from Dunfermline Queen Margaret to Lynebank, and quite looking forward to the 15 minute walk from the station to the venue.

I got to Edinburgh Waverley with lots of time to buy my ticket, get some food for lunch and generally relax, when there was an announcement that said that all trains to Fife were cancelled until further notice. Of course this was after I'd bought my ticket, so had to rush back to the counter, get a refund, dash up the road to pick up my car after phoning to say I'd be late to the meeting. Not great when you're supposed to be chairing, but hey, what else could I do?

I decided as I'd rung to say I'd be late that I'd take my time and not drive like a maniac (no comments thank you people!), and guess what... I arrived in good time, with even a little time to lose my way and go the scenic route around Dunfermline.

Taking the car meant that I could leave the meeting when I wanted to and get home in good time. So I didn't do my bit to save the planet, but I did try tho.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The problem with yes and no

Tonight I was sitting watching TV when I had a phonecall. It was from an opinion poll employed by the Metropolitan Police to garner public opinion that they do a good job. This was to do with the incident that I went through in December last year and I wasn't even the victim.

Ok, one might think this is laudable, but in a way I thought it was a complete and utter waste of money. The questions the poor guy asked were of little relevance to my experience and pissed me off. Before that I was thinking quite charitably about the Met, but now I'm not so sure.

Anyway I decided to opt in for the focus group option. I'd love to get there to explain that these kind of surveys don't do a lot and I'd far prefer to see police on the streets than them waste money on a survey that asks the wrong questions.

I did, of course, feel rather sorry for the poor guy who worked for the company asking the questions as he just wanted yes/no answers, which I'm sorry to say I didn't provide. The 15 minute interview went on for half an hour. Did I feel sorry for him? Yes. But hey, at least he had something to talk about for the night, even if it was that he had a complete pain in the ass on the phone who absolutely refused to answer yes or no!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Reality check

Yesterday was my OU tutorial. I did have a moment of hesitation as to whether I should go as I was feeling a bit stressed with the latest poetry assignment, and it managed to coincide with snowfall. But I made the effort and apart from an 'interesting' start to my journey into Edinburgh, I'm pleased I went.

It was fine once I'd reached the main road, but the bit from our house was a bit terrifying. Slipping and sliding and praying that no vehicles would be coming the other way. There's something about finding myself facing the opposite direction with wheels spinning that sharpened my mind and certainly helped my concentration. And just for the record I was going about 10mph.

There were only 6 of us there (out of a possible 14) and all of us are the regulars. We all get on very well and so it was a relaxing and fun day. My tutor thought it absolutely hysterical that we were all stressing about the poetry TMA, and he gave us a reality check about what he was looking for. We even had a chance to read our TMA poems if we wanted and he said we'd all pass no problem. I did decide though, to junk one of my poems as he wasn't exactly enthused with it, but the exercise we did in the morning produced a quite good poem that he loved and said I should submit. Who am I to argue?  If he likes it, he likes it and I've got witnesses so he can't back down now.

And then we adjourned early to our tutor's favourite Bruntsfield haunt, Inca, and spent a very pleasant couple of hours eating, drinking and laughing. He's promised another of his impromptu tutorials in time for the next TMA, which is very generous. I expect it'll just be the 6 of us at that too, but hey, I'm taking all the help that's offered.

So today I'm not stressing any more about my poems. Just need to rewrite my commentary that has to go with it to take into account the new poem and then I'm sending the bloody thing off.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Do I feel old or what?

Today I went for a back treatment that I'd signed up for through Groupon, the voucher system which gave me £60 worth of treatment for £19. I was met at the door by two gorgeous looking, fit, athletic guys, and then taken off by Andrew, who was, quite frankly young enough to be my son (or even my grandson if I'd started producing very young), and had to go through the embarrassment of having to take my clothes off and look in the mirror while he poked and prodded. I was thankful I had a reasonable bra on!

Anyway, the treatment was agony. Something called TAMARS, which uses a machine to realign the spine and then followed by a massage. I know which part I preferred. I'm going back again next week as apparently you can't really tell after one session (yes, good sales technique or what?), and then I'll find out if this is the treatment for me.

Sadly I'm a sucker for massage, and I would far prefer to have just had that, but I'm reserving judgment as it would be great if my neck and shoulder were less painful. We'll see. But in the meantime, after being told I had the start of a widow's hump, all I felt was old.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Tomorrow is funeral day

The smallest coffee plant is no more. Tomorrow it will be buried in the garden. Very sad.

Meanwhile I've been struggling with my poems for the latest round of OU fever. It has been a tough few weeks. For some reason the poetry section in the OU workbook is awful. It has managed to make everything very complicated, which has necessitated spending extra money on further poetry books just to make sense of what the hell I'm supposed to be doing. I'm not alone in this. The forums have been full of complaints, but hey just have to get on with it. Only a couple more weeks before this one has to be in and in some ways I'll be pleased to see the back of it.

On Friday I went to the Tweedbank Indoor Bowls Valentine lunch. What a treat! A couple of hours of bowls followed by soup and a roll... only what I've discovered is that vegetarian is not a strong feature in the Borders clubs and so I had to take my own cheese to put in my roll. At least they make the soup veggie. I played ok in the first round, but pretty crap in the second, so no prizes.

My man has been off doing helicopter training today. So while I was sitting at home with the pleasures of iambic pentameter, he was being hoisted into the air over the damp Cheviots and loving every minute of it. I know which I would have preferred!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Under the influence

Oh dear I seem to have collapsed into an alcoholic haze tonight. But hey, it's Friday so why not? I've got some OU work and some work on a course I'm supposed to be delivering that all has to be done over the weekend, but tonight... well tonight I'm giving myself some time off, so have descended into the delights of martinis.

This has been a busy week. Sometimes it's not a good thing to have so many bits and pieces of work instead of one job and so this week I've found myself jotting from one job to another and hoping I've managed to cover everything. This has made me rethink my situation and have come to the momentous decision that it's time I calmed things down a bit and so am thinking of stopping my private practice. Notice please that this is 'thinking' and not a reality... so I'll wait until I've sobered up and then see what happens from there.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The last week

I'm pleased to be home again, even though I've come back to driving rain and a busy week ahead.

I had a good time in London. My mum gave me the rest of my birthday gifts which were a massage by the guy who massages the dancers from the English National Ballet and then a trip to the theatre, plus a dinner thrown in for good measure. I also met up with some OU people and dinner with friends. Spent a lot of money and I think that's it!

So first of all the massage. The guy was a genius. The only thing I couldn't quite get over was that he's used to massaging all those muscular people and my flabby body must've been a bit of an anomaly. Still my back certainly felt better and my ankle that's been paining me for a while is totally fixed.

The theatre. My mum took me to the National where we saw 'Seasons Greetings' by Alan Ayckbourn. It was very funny and the cast was great, and a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Then we headed off to Sofra, which is a Turkish restaurant and a particular favourite of my mother's with good reason. I've been there a few times and each time doesn't disappoint. The experience was made even better by being given free champagne on arrival, which always goes down well! Anyway they have branches just off Oxford Street and also in Covent Garden so well worth a try if you're down that way.

My OU meeting was hysterical. We had arranged to meet in The Chandos pub in St Martin's Lane, just off Trafalgar Square. So far so good. Only problem was I hadn't a clue what they looked like, apart from (luckily) one person who'd put her photo up on the forum and another who said he always wore a red T shirt. The pub was huge and I had to push my way into the downstairs and look for likely suspects. Then went upstairs and trawled there. Accosted one table, my reason being that they were all disparate ages and one of the guys was wearing a red T, but to my embarrassment it wasn't them. And then just as I was about to leave I spotted the woman in the photo. The guy who said he always wore red was wearing purple, so that wasn't exactly helpful. Anyway I had a lovely evening and rounded it off by falling off my 1/2 inch heels in Trafalgar Square much to the amusement of passers-by. It was quite funny and even I wondered how I managed it. Nothing wounded except a bit of pride.

I also had a great meet up with an old friend who I hadn't seen for years. Such a great time was had that she almost missed her last train. And my various other meets were good too.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot... the actual purpose of my visit to London which was for work, and no problems there.

Now will someone please turn the tap off and stop it raining!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Good news

My last post was a bit previous in the sense of not posting before I go to London. I think I had a mental blip on the day I wrote it and muddled up my days... I'm calling it a senior moment!

Anyway, a lovely Alternative New Year's Eve was had last night.

It started with the delightful Jackie, the hairdresser to the village, coming over and giving us both a haircut. Always good to start a year at least looking the part. She does slightly freak my Beloved out as she always offers to trim his eyebrows. He always accepts as she asks the question with the comb and scissors already in place. I think he's too scared to refuse in case she can't accept rejection and he ends up with some weird modern twist on acceptable eyebrow shaping.

This was followed by a delicious dinner, and we then spent a quiet evening a deux, staying up to see the Alternative New Year in.

So far the New Year has started very well. About three weeks ago I applied to be part of World Book Night. The idea is that you say who you would give 48 free books to and if you get chosen you get to do the deed. And this morning I got the confirmation that I am one of the chosen ones. I am very much hoping this positive trend continues as the year unfolds.

And on that happy note I wish you all a Happy Alternative New Year.

And this really is the last post before I head to London.