Tuesday, 15 November 2011

And it's goodbye from me!

Well, that's it. The time has come for me and my little suitcase to take ourselves off up to Edinburgh Airport and from there to Paris, followed by a wait of three hours before I board my Air France flight to Johannesburg. I arrive tomorrow at about 11.30 a.m. and have another two hour wait there before embarking on the final leg of my journey, via Kulula airways, to Port Elizabeth. A whole 24 hours of airports and flying to get to the 'trip of a lifetime'.

I've looked on the internet to see what the weather will actually be like. Amazing how much they differ! But the worst bit is that by Thursday it appears there will be rain! Arghh... leaving one damp, dreech country for another was not what I had in mind. I'm consoling myself with the fact that it will be 21 degrees, which is a whole lot warmer than here. And after Thursday's rain it might just want to be sunny... won't it?

I'm off to the theatre on Thursday night for a bit of South African culture. 'Fiela's Child' is on the agenda and is, apparently, a set book for schools in SA. Should be good.

And after that? Well it's road trip time... who knows where? who knows when? I'm bloody well hoping Tracy does!

I may well have no means of accessing my blog from where I'm going, so... as they said at the end of all the Saturday movies when I was a child...  

That's all Folks!

See you in December....

Friday, 11 November 2011

It's not just me that needs warmth...

I had a Skype call with Tracy yesterday (she's the person I'm staying with in South Africa) and we talked about not taking valuables on my 'trip of a lifetime'.

And so it was that Mountain Man and I ventured out to Kelso for our weekly shopfest, and be on the lookout for a cheap watch that would keep me on the right track to get my planes, connections etc, but that I didn't have to worry about.

I found the perfect thing for a whole £9.99.

Unbelievably - and that's for me, MM and the shopkeeper - it's also waterproof to 100 metres, which is brilliant as Tracy has promised snorkeling is on the cards. I'm chuffed with it... what a bargain!

I'm also now loaded up with anti mozzie stuff, stuff in case I get bitten anyway, sun tan lotion, books and cds (these are for Tracy) and enough clothes to see me through the next 6 months - or at least that's how it feels.

So that's me. But I also noticed the other day that one of my coffee plants is looking decidedly morose. The leaves have gone a light green and look like they're going to fall off. I think this is because it's got a lot colder recently and, as we don't have the central heating on that much, the plants dislike the fluctuating temperature.

I decided to take a trip to Dobbie's, the garden emporium, to see if they had anything that could help my babies. The only thing on offer was a roll of fleece, and so it was promptly bought.

Now, as you can see, the plants are all tucked up nice and warm in their cosy, home-made, wraparound, temperature fluctuating beating, little house. MM says he'll buy some sticks and make it a bit more robust while I'm away, which I'm sure they'll appreciate.

Here's hoping it helps them to survive the winter and head on into the new year with renewed vigour. At least I'll know that while I'm on holiday in warmer climes, my plants will also be enjoying a bit of warmth of their own.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Mountain Man is tried to the full

A major disaster!

I was out and about yesterday and when I put my glasses on they didn't quite fit properly. I took them off and noticed one of the arms was bent in a funny way. One touch from me to try to right them and... snap! That was it. The whole arm came off. That left me with a dilemma. I had things to do and needed to see. Tough, no time to change plans, just had to get on with it.

A while later I visited Nigel the Optician Manager and pleaded with him to fix them. Unfortunately my glasses are over 10 years old and they don't make them the same anymore. He promised he'd try, especially when I told him I was heading out of the country next week for my 'trip of a lifetime', but he wasn't all that hopeful.

Meanwhile I had shopping to do and, as I'm long sighted, I can't read anything unless I've got my glasses on. Mountain Man was not amused as I phoned him three times in the space of five minutes to check things that I couldn't read for myself... I keep telling him I'm helping him practice patience, and I think yesterday he exercised that practice to the full.

Sadly, I didn't quite make it unscathed!

A trip to the dentist

I always find it funny when I'm at the dentist, with my mouth open wide and having my teeth and gums poked with a sharp metal instrument, that my dentist will always start talking to me about the strangest things and ask me questions that demand an answer. The conversation seems to come out of the blue and I'm never entirely sure how to respond. Yesterday's conversation went like this:

Chris the Dentist: Mmmm.... you seem to have a bit of gum, just here (poking hard with his metal instrument) that is a bit infected. There was a fascinating programme on telly last night. It was on a dead hippo. Did you watch it?

Me: uhhh

Chris : it was great. it was all about how a dead hippo gets eaten over 4 days.

Me: Uhhh

Chris: Okay, well the hippo is dead on the river bank and then along comes this crocodile and it can't get through the hippo's thick skin. Guess what the only animal that can bite through the hippo's skin is? (He takes the prod out of my mouth)

Me: A jackal?

Chris: Yes! Well done, you. You're brilliant. Actually it's the female jackal. Anyway, then the crocodile comes back and snaps at the jackal so that the jackal has to leave and the crocodile eats what it wants.

Me: Chris I'm just wondering... here I am with you scraping away at my teeth and gums and you suddenly launch into a conversation about a dead hippo. Do I remind you of one?

Chris (laughing): No, of course not!

Me: A crocodile? (Chris shakes his head) A jackal? (shakes his head again, then puts the metal prod back in my mouth).

Chris: Then there's the insects. You'll need to watch this bit of gum, maybe next time you come we'll talk about whether to put a filling in there so there's no gap. Okay, rinse and spit. Did you know they put a transmitter on the insects so they can follow them?

Me (with rinse in my mouth): uhhh

Chris: That's you for today. See you in six months.

Surreal or what?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

At least I did something

The virus I've been suffering with returned with a vengeance yesterday, and I decided on a 'day out' -  resting and trying to get myself fit again. Time wasn't completely wasted though as I caught up with some TV programmes that had been languishing on the record setting of the digibox for far longer than they should.

And so it was that I spent a very pleasant afternoon with Fiona Bruce exploring the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. The upshot of this was that I persuaded Mountain Man that we absolutely had to go to the exhibition of Leonardo's work, which starts at the National Gallery today, when we head for London for our annual Xmas family 'do' next month. The only problem was there were no tickets to be had. MM wasn't all that disappointed so I decided that when I go down in February for a meeting I'll go then instead, which means that MM and I won't be queuing for tickets in December, for which I think he's mightily relieved. Luckily there were still tickets left for the last day of the exhibition and I'm all booked in.

This led me to remember an event at the National a while back. I was walking through the gallery and came across a painting by Bronzino. I couldn't believe it as it looked very like my son when he was about 16. I was stunned by the experience. The memory sparked a story, and so the rest of my afternoon was spent writing for a competition. I'm quite pleased with the result... the writing that is, not necessarily the story, but I'll send it off anyway once I've had a chance to let it settle for a day or two and have had time to do redrafting and corrections.

I felt quite pleased with myself at the end of the day. Not a huge amount achieved, but at least I achieved something.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A date for my diary

I decided ages ago that I didn't want tickets to the London Olympics next year as the thought of going to London with hundreds of thousands of people to add to the usual London chaos is really not my thing. I shall sit at home and watch it on the telly.

However, last night Mountain Man announced that the Olympic torch would be passing our door. Yes that's right, right past our door. And the date for this tour de force will be... drum roll... Thursday 14th June. And that means I will have to change my work day that week all so I can see a man/woman/child of notable worthiness run past my door for probably not much more than 5 seconds of flame carrying.

And more than this, the Olympic torch run past follows hot on the heels of the Jim Clark Rally, and every year a lot of us (some might say idiots, but who am I to comment) stand out in the street, scratching our chins as we watch streaks of testosterone filled, highly coloured cars zip past our doors at high speed.

Two highly charged events in the space of two weeks, and right past my front door. Can't wait!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

It goes from bad to worse

Have you seen Tamara Ecclestone Billion $$ Girl? It was the most hilarious thing I've seen in a long time.

What with Strictly Come Dancing closely followed by X Factor last night, I was getting a bit bored. I know I shouldn't say this about SCD, but I'm not so enthralled with this season's offerings as in the past few years. And as for the other... well I watch with mounting horror that this comes under the title of finding people who can sing, as there seem to be only a couple of people that I saw who have got anything like star quality and can sing in tune. The majority don't seem to be able to do any better than I've seen down at Gordon Social Club Karaoke night.

And so it was that I turned to the internet to watch Tamara Ecclestone have a melt down over whether she should go to a pitch for her hair products at QVC or visit a Harley Street doctor because she had a spot on her chin... I kid you not! This is 'real' life for some.

The start was great. Let me set the scene for you:
There she is in all her glory, the camera is close-up on her face and she says, 'There are so many misconceptions about me and it does get a bit frustrating.... when people constantly assume the worst in you and that you're a pointless, spoilt and really quite stupid, vacuous human being.' The camera pans wide and we see her sitting having her hair extensions done and having a pedicure.  She then goes on to tell us that she's misjudged etc etc.

Now maybe I'm being cruel, but it was unbelievable that someone who wants the world to take her seriously thinks that this is the way to do it. I also admit here that I couldn't turn it off. I spent a good hour laughing, for all the wrong reasons I'm sure, but laugh I did.

I'm now fearing for my sanity as maybe my illness barometer has moved from Jeremy Kyle to Tamara Ecclestone and this is not, I repeat, not a good thing.

Thank god Downton Abbey is on tonight and I can maybe reclaim myself and get back on the path to good mental health!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

I'm ready... are you?

Today is No. 1 son's 27th birthday and in honour of this event Mountain Man and I took him out to dinner last night to Maison Bleue in Edinburgh. We had a lovely meal, which was enhanced when a couple on the next but one table got engaged. It was a very sweet moment and I've never been in a restaurant where that's happened before.

Then today, No. 1 son and I went shoe shopping. He had asked for clothes, but decided he needed shoes instead. I have to say he's very easy to shop with. One shop and we were done! I know some people who would demand a trip round every shoe shop in Edinburgh before going back to the first one and actually buying. Of course I'm naming no names, but if the cap fits...

We then went off to have a cuppa and buy bits and pieces for my upcoming trip.  Then it was a quick weed in the Edinburgh garden. I'd been spotted by the Garden Mafia who'd paid a trip to my garden last week and I got a phone call to say that grass had grown and I needed to do something about it. By the time I'd got the call, I'd already done most of the weeding, but there were still a few lurking at the back. It seemed best to get on and do it before they came back to check on my progress.

On my way home I did a quick (well as quick as I could manage) Costco trip. The place was humming. Along with all the other 'essentials' I also bought a snow shovel which was being sold at an extremely good price. And I wasn't alone in this purchase, it seemed like pretty much every trolley had one.

And the snow theme continued after I got home. I've been after a Snowrazor (called a Roofrazor in the US) ever since the great snowfall of this year. I spotted them on the internet and they looked like just what we needed, but they were not to be had in this country. I emailed the company in the States and it turned out they were setting up a deal with a guy in Aberdeen. To cut a long story short, my Snowrazor is on it's way this week.

I'm now hoping that with all my snow precautions we might get away with no snow. I know there are some people who love it, but I'm not one of them. But whatever, at least this year I feel prepared.

Friday, 4 November 2011

How to tell I'm not well

Since stopping the antibiotics for my ear infection on Wednesday, my ear, which was improving has now taken a turn for the worse.

I had a dreadful night's sleep last night and felt like I had a temperature as well as a throbbing ear. Luckily I've got people to see this afternoon and not this morning, as it is now 10.15 a.m. and I'm still in my pit.

So this is my test for being ill: I've got Jeremy Kyle on. Yup that's it. I'm not completely unwell as I have it on as background while working on my laptop, rather than sitting actually watching it.

But that's the test. Sad or what?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Sense prevails

I have a niece who posted a picture of her and her husband on Facebook. The photo was taken some time ago, but the freaky thing was her man looked just like my brother minus about 20 years and without mutton chops (yes, I'm not fond, but apparently his current wife loves the look). I immediately composed a message, and a moment before pressing the button I paused. The niece's husband and my brother are not always the best of friends, but I've realised they are so alike. And that's not just in the looks department.

I asked Mountain Man what he thought and he said, 'Go on, post it', but something was telling me 'NO' in capitals twice the size of these.

I'm so pleased I paused and didn't pay attention to MM. Can you imagine getting a post on Facebook that says, 'Well hey you, you look just like the father-in-law you don't get on with'? Yes, I could imagine it too, and the result was not pleasant.

Suffice it to say, none of the individuals here has ever read this blog, or has any intention of reading it. Well thank **** for that... and thank goodness I don't always take what MM says as gospel! Phew!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Women on a mission

Jenny came to stay last night all the way from Inverness and led me into bad ways.

We started well with a fab dinner at David Bann, followed by sharing a bottle of Prosecco and a night of catch up chat. We had a reasonably early start this morning, which saw us at work by the back of 9, but we managed to finish that in pretty good time and then it was 'women on a mission' time.

And the mission was? To march to all our favourite haunts in Edinburgh to try on clothes and spend more money than we should.

By 2pm when we realised just how hungry we were, and went to A Room In The West End for lunch. This is the 2nd time I've been there and I have to say I was just as impressed this time as I was last time. Jenny was impressed too and we ahhed our way through Sea Bream, fried potatoes, curly kale and tartare sauce (me), and sea trout, asparagus, potatoes and tomato, carrot and coriander sauce (Jenny) complete with fresh vegetables perfectly cooked.

From there we got a bus back to the house, but not before I bought a pair of earrings by a woman called Joanna Cave (called Daphne B in the earring section if you're interested), which I absolutely love, and once back at the house we realised that we had about 20 minutes to get Jenny to Waverley to get the train back to Inverness.

I've totted up the bill for purchases today, and I have to admit... mission complete!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Minus 2 months and not that many days

It's the strangest thing, but the fact that I am almost of pensionable age has now hit me and I'm actually quite excited. I know a lot of people are worried about reaching 60, but for some reason I'm not. I think I'm looking forward to it. I say 'thinking' because I have a moment of doubt every now and then when it strikes me that for someone who never thought they'd reach 30 let alone double that, it has a bit of resonance.

Yesterday I went to the Post Office to get some Rand for my 'trip of a lifetime' to South Africa in a couple of weeks, and while I was there I decided to pick up the Government leaflets on free bus passes for over 60's. I picked up 2 because Mountain Man hasn't got his bus pass yet and he turned 60 nine months ago. I was surprised he hadn't done this as it's quite a perk. Free bus travel to anywhere in Scotland with the flick of a photocard... what's not to want?

And other perks potentially coming my way? A rail card, cheap cinema tickets, theatre concessions, and that, I feel, is the tip of the iceberg.

Of course the down side to all this is that I will get sent all the Over 60's things that the government and for some odd reason, clothing stores, seem to think I need. The fact that these two are inexorably linked has always worried me. When I turned 50 I suddenly got a Saga magazine through my door along with catalogues with the kind of clothes I wouldn't be seen dead in. How did they know my birthday? I can only make a guess, but it doesn't take a genius to know that somewhere someone down the line is selling all this info.

It'll be interesting to see what comes fluttering through my door to tell me that I'm now an OAP and should dress in a way that befits the age... yeh... that'll be right!

But before I get to *the birthday* I have No 1 son's birthday this weekend and then the dreaded C stuff after I get back from SA to contend with. Lots to keep me busy without thinking about what outrageous things I can do to show them all that over 60 doesn't mean flowery prints and lots of grey baggy things in large sizes - what is it that makes these catalogues assume that the moment you hit a certain age your body miraculously balloons to matronly proportions?

Surely I can come up with something....?