Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A writer's life?

Today I had every intention of doing all the things I was supposed to do, but somehow after vacuuming twice because it hadn't been done for a while and doing some washing and walking the dog I slipped into wanting to write, and so spent the whole afternoon writing and rewriting the beginnings of a short story. 

I was brought up short and sharp by the doorbell. It was my Beloved's new employee needing things from the office. Boy was I pleased I'd at least vacuumed! I'm beginning to think that if I'm not careful I have leanings towards being Gordon's answer to Miss Haversham.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Retirement beckons

I did get out to bowls yesterday, and realised that my new found bowls mate (his wife was sadly ill so couldn't make it) was struggling. He's only just begun to play this year. So we spent a pleasant hour in what felt like a force 8 gale, getting to grips with the basics. We decided we'd have another go today. And so we did, which was fine and I was finding getting him back to basics also allowed me to adjust my game too. I was doing brilliantly. Then tonight we both went to bowls and it was as if the last 2 practice sessions had never taken place.... back to the drawing board for both of us I fear.

However, bowls aside, today I really enjoyed myself. I was still up at around 4 this morning as was reading a novel (The Slap, and very good it is too), and just didn't feel sleepy. Eventually I went to sleep only to be woken by a morning call from my Beloved. It was 8.30 am! I made the decision that, as I'd got up so late and really didn't have a whole lot on, today I wouldn't work at all. This included housework. I know the house needs a good clean, but what the heck, will another day matter? I think not.

And I had the best, most relaxing day I've had in a while. The dog and I went walking, I went into Edinburgh for a bit, I read some more, I adjusted a poem I've been working on, I answered emails and watched TV as well as going to bowls.

I could get used to this.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Goodbye Mrs No-Mates?

I haven't played bowls for almost a month. It's partly down to work and being away on a Monday, when it's club night, but it's also down to the awful weather. I'm a fair-weather bowler at the best of times.

However, tonight I'm supposed to be playing with my new found pals from the village, who just started bowling this year. At last I have a couple who actually want to practice with me and I've suddenly become 'Mrs No-Mates' no more. They've been away for 3 weeks holidaying on the West Coast and are only just back. I got a phone call yesterday to see if I wanted to go bowling tonight, and the answer was a decided yes. All going well until I opened the blinds this morning to rain.

I checked the weather forecast and it said sunny intervals... well not here there aren't! Still there's quite a bit of the day to go before the bowls date is supposed to take place, so I'm hopeful I might actually get to fling a bowl before the day is out.

Meanwhile my Beloved is off to France, where he's expecting sunshine and warmth. Looks like the temperature will be in high 20's while he's there, which will be a real shock to his system. Still as the weather people don't seem to be able to predict what's happening here, it'll be interesting to see what he's actually faced with when he gets there. He's off marking the London to Paris route for a Charity bike ride for the company he works for and is really looking forward to it. But before that he has to attend the Mind, Body, Spirit show in London for his own company doings, and meet up with his business partner for hours and hours of chat. At least that's what they usually seem to do when they get together.

So that's me and the dog on our own for the next week. I'm not expecting my Beloved to be back before next Sunday and even then it might spill over into Monday depending on train times. Good thing I've got my new friends to play with then.

Saturday, 28 May 2011


The time has come for my final submission for my current OU course. It's supposed to be at OU Headquarters by 12pm on 2nd June. As said somewhere in here before it's 50% of the marks for the whole course, so it's literally pass or fail time. In all honesty I've not done as well as I'd have liked on this course... my marks come within a 2:1 band all the way through (so far) and I feel I've not really progressed much. But I've put a lot of effort in, especially with this final piece. Anyway, I finished it and sent it on its way last week.

A few days before I sent it off 4 folk in my tutor group asked to read it. I duly sent it to them and I got one reply, with, I have to say, some very nice comments. Well today I get a phone call from another who I rate really highly and she tells me to make some changes. I do. This included putting footnotes in, and rather than manually, as I've been doing before, using Word. I've been using this computer programme for years and I never knew I could do that - still a new skill is a new skill. So I sent it off again. Then I'm just about to put the piece away forever, when I realise that the footnotes have sent the spacing AWOL. I then readjust and send it off yet again.

It made me think though. This is the first time this course has allowed electronic submissions to be made for the final piece of work. Prior to that you had to snailmail them in. In a funny way I really liked it when, once sent, that was it, sent for good.

I'm already 3 submissions down and there's still 5 days to go. I'm now keeping my fingers crossed that no-one else decides to comment, or I may well be heading for the resubmission record, something my Beloved thinks I've already achieved.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

My alter ego

Well here I am in my 'new' hair and wearing my fancy jacket just for Lizzie as she hasn't seen my alter ego until now... Of course because I forgot to take the jacket with me when I went north last weekend, my Beloved is the only one who's actually seen that. Now I'll have to find somewhere I can wear it to.

Having now become used to me in this wig, I'm now thinking of getting another just so that my alter ego has an alter ego of her own...you never know when it might come in handy!

Monday, 23 May 2011

The report

What a lovely wedding!

She Who Must Not Be Named, Bassman, my Beloved and I set off for Inverness to meet up with a former colleague, Anne and her man, John. They were staying the night at another friend's house, Lizzie's, as Lizzie is currently in Australia with her love for 6 glorious months. Champagne was drunk, which I knew was going to be a bit of a mistake for me as these days I seem to feel drunk on the tiniest bit of alcohol, but I also don't seem to have the capacity to say 'No'. After that I was absolutely starving as we'd had nothing to eat after our porridge breakfast and it was nearing the time (2 pm) when the actual service was supposed to start.

Off to church, feeling slightly pissed, hungry and I'd forgotten to go to the loo before I left Lizzie's house. Some people never learn!

The bride looked gorgeous (but our Tracy would look gorgeous in a bin liner) and Pat the Police was in a kilt, looking pretty good too. One freaky thing was that the best man turned out to be my ex babysitter from some must be about 16 years ago. A slight shock.

Over an hour later I was still in the same state when the service finished, only more so, so a quick trip to Lizzie's for a toilet stop, then to the supermarket to buy a sandwich before heading to the reception. SWMNBN, Bassman, my Beloved and I sat in our car in Tesco's carpark as the rain started, chomping our sarnies, while I sobered up a bit. And then it was reception time.

The reception was held at Ness Castle Lodges, a beautiful spot on the banks of the Ness, and it was fun to catch up with people I hadn't seen for a couple of years and some for even longer. Food was good, speeches were funny and then there was dancing. Now my Beloved hates dancing and I love it. I managed to get him on the dance floor for a quick spin around, and then he decided that was it. By this time (almost 10.30 pm) SWMNBN and Bassman wanted to go. She had to get a flight to Shetland the next day and was beginning to feel a bit headachy, and both Bassman and my Beloved had had enough of being social... and me? Well of course I could have gone on for quite a while longer, which I probably would have regretted the next day, so all in all it was a good thing for us to leave when we did.

Yesterday, my Beloved and I left SWMNBN and Bassman to their own devices before she had to leave for Shetland and went off to stay our last night with my very old friend Rosemary and her husband, Nasir. Rosemary was the very first friend I had in Inverness when I moved there in 1986. So a pleasant afternoon and evening were spent with them. Nasir is a wonderful cook, with curries being his speciality, and he made us one of his dhaal numbers, which was great. Lovely food, lovely wine, lovely company and lovely memories as we ended up looking at old photos of us and our children when they were still in the cute stages.

This morning we awoke to storms. I had a meeting to attend and that went fine, after which my Beloved and I wended our way back to the Borders, being blown and buffeted by high winds and tearing rain pretty much the whole way down.

Tonight is supposed to be bowls but I'm not sure that I'll bother... too windy, too rainy and too tired. Not the best combination.

Ok... well finally I have an admission to make. When I was in London I bought a wig. I'm sure you're all thinking you've got to be joking, but it's true. And very good it is too. I decided I'd wear it to the wedding after it got SWMNBNd's blessing. I was a bit neurotic about it and kept fiddling with it, but people kept coming up to me, telling me my hair looked fantastic and when did I have it done etc etc! I really wasn't sure how to react to that at all, but had promised my Beloved that I'd say nowt. I'm sure if I'd had a couple more wines I would've probably taken it off but luckily we left before that happy event happened. I'm still not convinced that people didn't guess, but what the heck, it was fun and I didn't get hat hair, and I could swish it from my eyes, so what more could I ask?

p.s. for Lizzie... I forgot to take the jacket, but I promise to pose in jacket and wig and post the pic in the next day or two. Watch this space!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Getting ready for the wedding

So here we are sitting in She Who Must Not Be Named and Bassman's lovely cottage on The Black Isle, in our wedding finery, waiting for the off.

My Beloved and I arrived here last night after having to stop on the way up yesterday to collect my lottery winnings...yes, for the second time in my life I had 4 numbers on the lottery and this time I won £80, which is £10 less than I won previously, about 10 years ago. Still a win is a win and I'm very grateful for it.

Then we went off to Sutor Creek, a lovely bistro in Cromarty and had a delicious meal, then it was off to bed as we were really tired.

This morning I was handed my copy of Eilean Dubh, Bassman's book (along with his colleagues), which is absolutely beautiful and, if you haven't already bought a copy, you really should.

So now we sit and wait until it's time to go. Will report more after the event.

Friday, 20 May 2011

And away again

After work today my Beloved and I have a trip into Edinburgh to drop off Nell at the dog minder and then head off north to Inverness for the wedding of Pat the Police and Tracy.

I'm now committed to my outfit as it's too late to get anything else. I've had the jitters about it as I'm not so sure it's really wedding material, but I'm hoping my hat (the only smart hat I've ever owned) will do the wedding trick and pass me off as conventional. Don't want to ruin things by turning up as the only one in no-go outfit.

Before the wedding we have one night with She Who Must Not Be Named and Bassman and we're off out to celebrate with the delights of Cromarty... yes all you naysayers, Cromarty does have some delights apart from being a weather forecasting station. We're looking forward to catching up with them. Should be fun.

After the wedding we're off to other friends for another night and then a meeting in Inverness on Monday morning and then home again. I've not even bothered to turn the page in my diary as I can't bear to think about whether next week will involve more packing!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

And back again

Back from London, where everything went well I'm pleased to report. No major problems, no major fallouts, just a lovely dinner with my OU pal and another good one with my mother, who was in good form.

My mother enlisted my help in clearing out one side of one cupboard of her umpteen wardrobes as she's trying to get rid of some clothes, partly to give to a charity shop and partly because she needs to get rid, a task which I have to say will probably take her the rest of her life and then after that it will all be down to my brother and I.

Anyway, I managed to persuade her that a lot of her clothes are either not to my taste, or a size or two too big, and therefore I wasn't going to hike them back to the Borders, and we never exchanged even anything like a cross word... that's a big change I can tell you. But I actually did bring back a rather nice FrostFrench jazzy jacket that I think 'She Who Must Not Be Named' might be rather envious of. It's purple with glitzy accoutrements, beautiful collar and interesting sleeves. I'm rather pleased, but can't think where I'll wear it to.

This weekend my Beloved and I are off to a wedding up north and we're staying with SWMNBN and the delightful Bassman, but I'm not taking the jacket... I don't think it's quite wedding material. I'm not sure the outfit I've chosen is exactly wedding material either, but it's extremely comfortable (with loads of stretch to allow myself to eat and drink) and I'm pretty sure no-one else will be wearing the same which is always a bonus.

I've got another busy week ahead before venturing north and tomorrow will be heading to Edinburgh for a couple of days working. All I seem to do these days is pack and unpack bags... ah well shouldn't complain.

Oh yes, by the way, I can highly recommend watching films on long train journeys. It certainly passed the time and I absolutely love my iPad.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

And I'm off again...

Off to London in a couple of hours for a day of meetings... mainly work, but in between I have the joy of meeting up with one of my OU pals for dinner, which I'm looking forward to immensely and then tomorrow afternoon I'm having a follow-up massage (that is follow-up from when I was down in February) with the lovely Dominic, masseur to the English National Ballet, which I'm really looking forward to. My neck is needing adjustment again and last time he was so wonderful that I felt like a new woman for a lot longer than I thought any massage could lead to, and hopefully it'll be the same this time.

Apart from that I also have a date for dinner with my mother. And whether we have a good time or not is very mood dependent... hers not mine I hasten to add. And so far it doesn't bode well as she broke her wrist a few weeks back and this has sent her into a full on bad one, and combined with the phone call I received last night where she told me how tired she was I think my patience might be sorely tried, but hopefully last week's retreat will have given me some resilience!

Just because I downloaded it, here's a picture of Holy Isle:

You see the speck that is the white farmhouse? Well that's where I was... and now London beckons. Talk about extremes!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Blogger meltdown

Hello... I'm back!

I tried to get on here this morning to tell you all about my days on Holy Isle and all I could get was a 'sorry but blogger.com is out of action'. Apparently they had something happen earlier in the week and the site was down for writing, but you good folks could look at all old messages, so just the writing site wasn't working. How interesting... I wondered if they were suffering from something similar to Sony, and they'd had an infiltrator who was so interested in garnering knowledge about people's blogs so that they could steal all the revealing information... mmmm didn't last long tho so maybe not that interesting after all?

Anyway, Holy Isle. Well the weather was awful, more like October than May. Apparently before we arrived they had wonderful sunshine, but the day we turned up it all went belly up. So the same as last time I was there, they had to send for the rib from Brodick to take us over. I actually love going on the rib as it's like being on a fair ground ride and adds a touch of drama to the whole thing.

The retreat itself went very well and the feedback was excellent with several participants asking if we were going to run it again next year as they want to come back. Can't really ask for more than that. It's very flattering that people thought the programme was really good as I put it together myself. Last year of course we had a strange weather event, where half of the retreat had to leave half way through, while the other half had to stay on an extra day, so it was rather like doing 2 separate retreats. But this year it went ahead as planned for the whole 5 days, so in effect was the first time I've done the whole thing as it was supposed to be.

And the wild Eriskay ponies had a foal in their midst and the Soay sheep had their lambs, who were all absolutely gorgeous. They might be wild, but they aren't at all worried about humans so I spent one early morning sitting among the lambs and watching them interact. It was special. One of our number actually saw an otter. I missed it, but hopefully will be getting a photo.

However, although a good time was had, it really is lovely to be home again, with no responsibilities for a couple of days as I recover from the experience and then it's off to London on Sunday for a business meeting early on Monday morning. I've just unpacked my bag and will have to think about packing it again! Of course retreat trousers and Qigong exercises will be firmly left at home and it'll be out with the glad rags and the make-up.

By the way, I didn't watch the Eat, Pray, Love. I've decided to save it for the train to London. I'm also going to download the King's Speech for the journey home so the train journey in both directions will be spent engrossed in my iPad. Can't wait!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Au revoir

So that's it for the week folks. I'm off to sit on my bum and gaze at my navel until the 12th.

Jenny, my co-facilitator, has come to stay in readiness for an early off to Ardrossan and from there to Brodick. Then from Brodick to Lamlash (which I've just discovered is, historically, the 'capital' of Arran), and finally the small ferry to Holy Isle.

We have one night to drink wine and generally let our hair down before sober times ahead along with 11 brave souls who've decided to take our course. It's pretty full on as we're 'on' from 7 am right up until 9 pm but I've been going over to Holy Isle for the last number of years and each time I go, although it's hard work, I've found it to be a pleasure to be there. It's something to do with being with animals who are free to roam - there are wild ponies, sheep and goats as well as lots of lovely bird life - and food that is mainly grown on the island and the cook manages to conjure up some lovely dishes, which is always a treat.

So wishing you all a good week and I'll let you know how it's been when I get back.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Getting ready

Do you ever get the feeling that you've just not done what you're supposed to? Well I certainly had that feeling yesterday, and realised that this weekend I'm off co-facilitating a retreat on Holy Isle.

Once again this year seems to be hell bent on catching me out and zipping along at such a rate that I often don't know what month it is, let alone what day of the week we're on. And so I spent yesterday trying to get all the paperwork done, all the print outs printed and get my basic 'kit' ready. Not quite finished, but feeling a whole lot better about it now.

I'm looking forward to a week away from computers and all the other things that I seem to spend my time on. The luxury of being away on an island with no distractions (apart from the ever present midges) is a luxury indeed. Well I might just take my iPad. Not to email you understand, or surf the world wide interweb, but no, I've learnt the art of downloading films I've rented onto it. And the one I'm taking with me on retreat? 'Eat, Pray, Love' of course. A treat to look forward to on the last night I think.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Work intrudes

Today I had to travel all the way to Dumfries for a meeting that lasted just over an hour. This meant I travelled for four and a half hours. I'm not sure this is a good use of my time especially as it was such a beautiful day, but when I got home my Beloved was heading off to Edinburgh for a date of climbing at Ratho with Pat the Police, which meant that the dog and I had a very pleasant stroll in the warm afternoon sun. What a lovely way to end a day.

I was a bit pissed off if truth be told as it looks like today was the one day this week that the sun was guaranteed to be shining and the rest of the week it's going to be increasingly cloudy. This is not good news as I'm on holiday. Well on holiday from my Edinburgh job. It seems like my grand master plan to cut back on working hasn't worked as yet. I'm hopeful that as the months unfold things will get a bit easier for me. I can but hope!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Sunny days

Isn't it wonderful to have so many consecutive sunny days? It's hard to believe that a mere seven weeks ago I was worrying about another burst of snow.

All of this sunny weather is however bringing out the revenge of the dandelions and I seem to spend all my spare moments scouring the lawn for signs of more of the intruders. I've already dug up two and a half buckets full of the blighters and still they come. I wouldn't mind if they'd keep themselves to the borders, as I like a burst of yellow, but somehow having them decide that they can make their home anywhere they choose is not on.

Meanwhile our other plant life are also doing well. The coffee plants are looking verdant, though I know if I post a pic you'll not notice much of a difference between now and a month ago, as they are so very slow. Our potatoes are also coming on a treat, and we have loads of delicious veggies sprouting to grace our salad plates all through the summer.

Let's hope this year it's going to be a good one for rather more than a few days of consecutive warmth.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Raising money

As some of you might know I'm raising money for WaterAid, which is a fantastic charity. Just in case you hadn't heard and wanted to donate, I've created a page on the JustGiving website, which seemed the easiest way to start the ball rolling.

If any of you want to donate money, please go to: http://www.justgiving.com/Vee-Freir

Thank you!