Sunday, 31 July 2011

Another day at the show

Yesterday the weather was great, and so after watering plants and walking the dog I set off once again for the Border Union Show. So it seemed did most of Berwickshire as getting there took ages, but after parking my car and eventually getting into the showground, I looked to see where Anne, ponies and carriage were. I found them as you can see below, but Anne had apparently failed to see which class she was entered into and missed her spot, so for the second day running wasn't able to show.

My 'grandson' Arnie (on the left) with his pal Fingal
I sat and watched a few carriage classes which were splendid, and then headed off to see what was happening round the rest of the showground. I found a Flea Circus which was very funny. I love the old fashioned things far more than the newer fairground attractions. The clown that was running it was very good and entertained the kids and adults alike. The tent it was housed in was red and what with the sunlight the whole place had a decidedly orange glow as you can see from the photo:

The Flea Circus
I then went to see if the Sheep Show was on, but I was going to have to leave before the next showing so I went round the back and there was the delightful Lenny, who I was so taken with yesterday, waiting for his photo to be taken:

Lenny the Lincoln Longwool
I also happened upon a guy offering Dry Stone Dyking courses and as a special offer just for the show there's a day happening on August 27th in Kelso for £20. I signed up as it sounded too good to miss. And then it was time for me to go and get back to Nell. I'm pleased I left her at home as it would've been too hot for her, but I did buy her a grooming brush which is excellent and within 24 hours I've already taken off 3 bags of shedding fur... yes you read that right... 3 bags!

Joyce and Bob phoned to see if I wanted to go bowling as it was such a lovely evening, but we decided on a last minute change of plan and they came round for a glass of wine on the patio instead. We were joined by my next door neighbour, Terry, who'd been deserted by her husband Norman, as he'd gone off to the show along with his son and several men from the village to wet her grandson's head (no matter that this grandson is now 8 months old and it seems as though there's a head wetting every month, but any excuse it seems will do). We had a lovely, relaxed evening and bowls was rearranged for today.

And finally, the picture you've all been waiting for... drum roll please... yes it's the coffee plants! They're doing ok, a few leaves falling, but are looking healthy at the tops with their lovely shiny green leaves. So here they are, now 5 years old, slowly but steadily growing:

The coffee plants at 5 years old

Friday, 29 July 2011

Show day

I don't know how I did it, but I forgot to turn on my alarm last night. I set the time alright for 5.30 am, but then didn't turn it on. So when I woke up somewhat startled at 6.05, I was in a bit of a rush to get myself organised. Luckily I'd put my clothes out the night before. Anyway, it was all fine and I got to the showground just outside Kelso in good time to meet up with my friend Anne, her granddaughter, Emily and another friend of Anne's, Jacko. There was no problem getting in after I told the gatekeeper my sob story about the trials of the postal system.

Anne had brought the Shetland I won with last year, Bridge, and her foal (who was only along for the ride as there were no classes for him and Jacko kindly took him round the ring so he didn't freak out when his mother trotted round), and then Bridge's daughter, Daisy, aged 4, who Emily was going to ride after she had been shown in hand. Sadly none of us did terribly well. Bridge lost her cup after winning the previous 2 years and we got a slap on the wrist from the rather fastidious judge for showing her with a chain and leather lead... should be for larger ponies don'tya know... and were placed 5th. I have to say this is in a Mountain and Moorland class where Shetlands traditionally don't do so well, so perhaps I should say that we were the 2nd Shetland. Sadly Daisy was last in the class.

Bridge and her foal, Rainbow
Then Daisy was saddled up and Emily got her gear on and mounted. Emily is only six and I have to say was quite composed. She lives in Switzerland and flew over on her own to be with her grandma. She speaks both French and English, but her English is with the cutest French accent. I was very impressed. However, it seems that Anne had entered her in the wrong class as she can't yet canter on her own, and so the judge somewhat harshly disqualified her, but Emily wasn't bothered. She just loved walking and trotting about. She was given the rosette that Bridge and I had won as a consolation and was quite happy with that.

Anne, Emily and Daisy

After lunch we loaded up the ponies and Anne, Emily and Jacko went off while I took time to wander round the showground. It was lovely. The weather wasn't too hot and it was great to sit about watching horses of all varieties perform. I also found The Sheep Show, which was fantastically entertaining and educational mc'd by a New Zealand shepherd called Stuart, who was very, very funny and as well as teaching all about breeds of sheep, showed how to shear one too.

The Sheep Show

Lenny the Sheep
If you ever get a chance to see The Sheep Show performance I highly recommend it. Especially if you have kids, as you can see from the above photo these two were entranced with Lenny who'd jumped down from his podium to entertain them.

Then it was back home to pick up the dog and take her for a walk before settling down for a quiet evening. Anne is taking the pony I sold her many, many years ago to the show tomorrow. He's going to be pulling a carriage along with his mate, so I might, if time allows, go back to support them. I'll have to see what tomorrow brings. If it's warm and sunny then I'll definitely make the effort.

I didn't manage to get a photo of Doddie Weir (ex Scotland lock) this year. He said hello to me, but was a bit caught up with stewarding duties and I didn't like to intrude to ask. So here's the pick from last year to keep you amused.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The best laid plans...

My army-like precision timing was thrown completely out the window the first day I had to head for Edinburgh as No. 2 son and our lovely dog, Nell, decided to throw a spanner in the works.

First of all I had had a telephone call from No. 2 son when he was up visiting with his father in the far flung North, that we would meet on Tuesday evening in Edinburgh. I haven't seen him since Christmas and was looking forward to it. I made sure that I left the Borders in good time and arrived at the house, but no No. 2 son anywhere to be seen. I phoned his mobile to be told in no uncertain terms that my services as provider of entertainment were no longer required as he had friends to see and people to reacquaint with. I was not amused. I immediately rang a friend and made plans.

A few seconds later, Nell decided that a projectile vomit was in order and she jumped purposefully from where she was lying and left the wooden floor to make sure that all vomiting took place on the carpet. Then having produced a rather large pile for me to clean up she promptly headed off down the carpeted stairs vomiting all the way down, only stopping when she got to a wooden floor that had no carpet whatsoever on it.

While on the mammoth task of cleaning up, I decided I couldn't deal with someone coming over and so rang my friend back and cancelled everything. The dog and I spent a bit of an unhappy evening with me cuddling her and telling her it was ok, but she was not feeling great and eventually we both went to our respective beds exhausted from it all.

The next day, we got up early and Nell was in no mood for her breakfast. She also wasn't much in the mood for a walk, so although we were out for nearly half an hour, we didn't actually get very far. I had get to work and was feeling quite concerned at leaving her when she suddenly became quite perky at the ritual of doggy treat and tv on to keep her company. I was mightily relieved.

I had to rush back from work so that she wasn't on her own for much more than 4 hours, and we had a lovely afternoon languishing in the garden enjoying the sunshine. Nell was feeling much better and tore 2 balls to shreds while I sat reading my book. N, my best friend, came on by and we had a lovely evening partaking in the delights of some fizz and putting the world to rights.

Today Nell woke up feeling much more her usual self and, after avoiding the lingering stains on the carpet that she'd so carefully planted, off we went for a morning amble in Holyrood Park. I felt far happier about leaving her today. I spent the day rushing from one meeting to another and then landing back at work to a court order asking for all my notes on a client from 2 years ago.

I now have to do more precision timing next week, as instead of an easy day on Monday, I shall have to rush up to Edinburgh to make sure all is shipshape and correct for the court before doing anything else, which is just an added something I could well have done without.

Tomorrow is Border Union Show day, so Nell is off tonight to the dogminder for a night of R&R. Not quite sure if that's her or me, but given that I have a 5.30 start tomorrow, I feel that she is going to have a much more restful time than I will. I'm showing Shetland ponies and hopefully will have some fun. Last year we won the overall Shetland prize, so we have high standards to keep up. One fly in the ointment and that is my ticket hasn't come through as yet, but hey, it's just one more inconvenience to add to the ever growing list of plans that have gone slightly awry.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Home (almost) alone

My Beloved, Mountain man, trek medic hero and all around jolly good chap, left home today to take intrepid trekkers on a trip to Mount Everest. Actually I think it was just an excuse to get an all expenses paid trip to his spiritual home of Nepal, but that's another story.

His last day at home was punctuated by finishing jobs that had been awaiting his attention for quite a time, while I mowed the grass, groomed the dog - a far harder task than it sounds as I garnered a whole bag full of fur and there's lots more where that came from, and she was not amused - and read my book while sunbathing. All offers of help for job completion were turned down as I think the man himself wanted to leave with his superhero status intact.

So that's me and the dog left behind with a daily schedule of watering veggies and feeding birds and getting to work... that's me not the dog, obviously... that will necessitate an army-like timing precision, and I'm sure that the three weeks my man is away will undoubtedly zip by.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Summer has arrived

Summer definitely arrived at The Old Free Church yesterday. I know this for two reasons.

The first:
because we had our first set of visitors. No... these are not the kind that you invite and come to stay, nor are they the kind who drop in unannounced to say hi to you personally because they are passing. These are the kind who ring your doorbell demanding to know when the next service is and if they can come and join in, or they want to come in and look at the architectural features, such as the altar.

The first year we were here and we didn't used to lock the front door much (we live in a very lovely, peaceful village where even the kids leave their bikes outside their houses with no locks on them), and on several occasions when we were sitting about or eating a meal, the front door would open and strangers would come in with their religious and spiritual needs to the fore. They were rapidly put in their place and sent off to churches that are still churches. After a couple of these incidents we made sure we locked ourselves in. And thank goodness we did, because yesterday's lot came when we were still in bed having a bit of a lazy morning. So that could have been a completely different spiritual experience and potentially put them off their beliefs for good!

The second:
because for the first time this year I wore a dress. My Beloved and I went out for dinner last night as he's off to Everest soon and we decided to have a dinner a deux in the very swanky Roxburghe Hotel. And I felt I should glam up for the occasion and put on a rather fetching red summer dress that I bought some years ago from Benneton and though I say it myself, I thought I looked pretty good, especially as I went as my alter ego and wore my wig.

The meal itself was good but not great unlike my lunch experience when I was reviewing, and there were some 'interesting' moments. For example my starter of crab and prawn cocktail that had no prawn in it (we're due something good when we go back apparently as a compensation), and then when it came to pay we were kept waiting for quite some time as there was a wedding party of 40 who seemingly were taking up most of the staffs' time. I also noticed I'd been undercharged for my wine, which I pointed out, but they just laughed and let me have it cheaper. And finally it took 5 goes with the credit card thingy as apparently the thick walls of the ancient house mean that telephone signals are not optimum, something us folks that live in an old church know all about.

So yes...visitors and a dress all in one day, summer definitely arrived at the Old Free Church.

Friday, 22 July 2011


After a good day at work yesterday where all my clients seemed to get a lot out of our sessions, I got home to find that I'd had a rejection from an online poetry magazine in the States for my one and only poem that I've submitted in quite a long while.

The problem with rejection is that if there's no reason(s) added to it, as in this case where I got an email that was very polite but said not much at all, I am left with a serious doubt in my mind as to whether the poem was that bad and I should never bother to pick up a pen again, or whether there was any merit in it at all and I should go ahead and submit somewhere else.

Of course with the way my mind works, it's always the former and never the latter and this is further evidenced by the fact that the site that I uploaded my poem onto now won't let me into it at all. I only wanted to go and see if they'd left any other nuggets of info about my rejection in their column 'comments from editorial staff' but that's obviously off the agenda. And so I'm left with the feeling that maybe it was so awful that they never want to hear of me again and I've been barred from entering the site by the powers that be to ensure that I never darken their virtual doors again.

Oh well, if they were trying to stop me it hasn't worked, because this morning when I was in the shower, a line of a poem streamed into my mind, and was immediately committed to paper to be worked on as the days go by. There... that'll teach 'em!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Decision has been made

Today I finally, finally made the decision not to do the Advanced Creative Writing course with the OU... at least not for this year. I have been spending quite a lot of time thinking about it (too much time really), and I just don't feel the time is right for me.

And of course, now I've made the decision I will undoubtedly have many regrets. There are quite a lot of people who I've virtually met through the OU Creative Writing course that I'm awaiting the results for, and it was very tempting to go ahead and do the next one alongside them. But what I've realised is that I need to spend more time writing and not so much thinking. My head is full of stories, but usually I fail miserably to get them down. So now I will give myself 12 months to keep writing and only if I manage to keep to that will I venture down the Advanced Creative Writing route.

I'm hoping to start entering competitions, something I've only done in a limited way before, and the hope is that it'll spur me on. I managed to buy the course book for the Advanced Creative Writing a month or so back for £4.25... a whole lot cheaper than the £700 course fee... so I can work my way through that, and because of the OU forum I belong to I can still get feedback.  This means the only thing I'll be missing out on is getting a mark for my work and the anxiety that goes along with that. Not much to miss there then.

So that's me all sorted. Phew!

Monday, 18 July 2011

What's in a name?

This morning I received a copy of the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway Food and Drink Guide 2011-2012 in the post. And there it was, my name in print as a contributor. It would have been even more exciting if they'd spelled my surname correctly. One of the few things I kept, alongside children and dogs and debt, was my first husband's surname. I always liked it and so, in spite of divorce and remarriage, decided to keep it. I know it shouldn't annoy me that people spell it wrong, but I'm afraid it does. A swift email was sent off to the Food and Drink Guide head office to tell them of my disappointment. I'm sure I'll get an apology, but the deed is done.

The good thing about having the Guide is that it's full of all the local places to go and eat which I never knew about. There are some which I've seen, but never bothered to go to, but now I think it's time to re-energise my passion for going out for meals and now we have the trusty guide to guide us, there's really no excuse.

I've also had a thought. I owe Mr Bassman a dinner when he and She Who Must Not Be Named next come down this way, so although the delights of Edinburgh have been already named, I'm thinking maybe The Dining Room at the Roxburghe Hotel might be just as good.

The Roxburghe Hotel was my first ever food review, but I never made it to the main restaurant as at the time I was given a choice of lunch or dinner and I plumped for lunch, which was in The Library of the said establishment. I made this decision as I felt I had more chance of not having more than a glass of wine at lunch time and thus being sober enough to write the damn thing in the first place. I felt it was a good decision on my part, especially as I was still a review virgin at the time.

Of course our choice of dinner venue will necessitate Mountain man and me going to check it out first, which will be fun. And then second, will be persuading Mr and Mrs B to eschew the delights of the grand capital. This, I feel, may be a whole lot harder.

In the meantime, spelled wrong or not, I am in print and I have the evidence to prove it. And what's more they want me back next year, which hopefully will give the powers that be the opportunity to get it right. Only time will tell.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

All dressed up and nowhere to go

Yesterday was a complete festival disaster. I stayed at home and watched Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone while the intrepid mountain man that is my husband stayed through a deluge until just past 5 pm when he arrived home, wet, despondent and having wasted pretty much a whole day and all for £30.

After a night where the rain continued to fall in torrents until well into the early morning we awoke to sunshine and made our decision that we would both go to the festival, but in separate cars so that I could come away when I needed to walk the dog without compromising any of his activities.

I got dressed in my festival gear, which comprises jeans and a rather nice long tie dye t-shirt, that I bought from Tesco's last year for the very same festival and that a younger person could probably wear as a dress but quite frankly would make me very much mutton, and the ubiquitous wellies. A small rucksack filled with wet gear, dry gear, something to eat and drink and a bit of money and I was ready for the off.

Rowchester is a mere 15 minutes away and yet in that time we headed from the bright sunshine of our Borders village into the murk and mire of the one down the road. The rain, it seemed, had not left that area at all, and as we drew nearer to the festival we had to pull over for the droves that were leaving down the single track roads. Not a good sign. Then as we got to the gates it became increasingly obvious that my little Honda, with its low profile body and tires would probably not get much further than a few feet beyond the gate as the mud had well and truly set in. By this time it was pouring with rain. A quick decision that my festival stint was over before it started and I would head back home to get some work done while the intrepid man, together with his trusty 4 wheel truck, would stay and see.

On the way home, as I neared our village, I could actually see the dividing line where we were bathed in sunshine and Rowchester was cast into the gloom.

A quick phone call ascertained that quite a few festival folk had left last night and the remainder were in the process of leaving this morning. They were wet and many tents had died a death in the awful weather, poor people, and as there was no chance of the rain letting up had called it a day. Gritting his teeth the man himself stayed on, but given that the only people left were the bands and their families it became rapidly apparent that the festival was a complete disaster for all concerned and so my Beloved helped out for a while before returning home to the summer weather, where he found me, still in my festival clothes, knee deep in a CD production line for a group I'm running in a few weeks.

In order to make the very best of what could just be a weather blip in our village, we have made yet another decision for today. We'll head off to the community woodland to walk in the sunshine. Wellies will undoubtedly be needed, but I'm going to chance it and leave my wet weather gear at home, and poor Nell who is, I think, rather confused at the comings and goings and strange clothes, will be mightily glad that all is back to normal.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Should I stay or should I go?

I arrived home last night after an exhausting three days of travel, early starts and full on meetings, which were interspersed with great food, good networking and reflection time. I felt it was quite onerous in some ways being responsible for representing the views of the NHS in Scotland on the Mindfulness score and how we do things here compared to our University compatriots south of the border. I also braved it and said 'no' to a piece of work, which went down like a lead balloon and some people were very unhappy with me but was the right decision, and said a potential 'yes' to some other work, which made some people very happy but I might yet live to regret that one. It was lovely to get home to an enthusiastic dog and husband and to catch up with all that's been happening at home, but most of all it was great to be back in my own bed.

Today is the Rowchester festival and already the rain has set in. Apparently we're due heavy rain and thunderstorms all day, which is going to make the festival an interesting experience. The forecast for tomorrow is pretty much the same. As I'm supposed to be going to help sell Tibetan goodies to the willing folk of the Scottish Borders, it's looking increasingly like my services may well not be required. My Beloved is off to check it all out and put up his tent later in the morning ready for the proper get go this afternoon, and a decision will be made then as to whether I make an appearance or whether I stay home in the dry. Luckily the venue is only about 1/4 of an hour away so it's an easy thing to jump in the car and head off there if I get the emergency call that things are selling well and I'm needed as relief merchant. I'm not sure that the smell of wet dog would add anything so I think poor old Nell's fate is sealed and she'll be staying at home.

A shame really as I was quite looking forward to it, but I'm really a fair weather festival person and the thought of idiot dancing in my wellies and totally encompassing wet gear just doesn't do it for me. Of course if I'm needed then that's different, but I think my man is fully capable of managing on his own... well fingers crossed.

Monday, 11 July 2011

A bad mother

This week I'm away on retreat and although looking forward to it there's one thing I'm really going to miss... and that's No 2 son's 25th birthday on Wednesday. I suddenly feel like the worst mother, putting her own things before that of her child.

Of course I'm not actually sure he would have thanked me for hiving myself off down to Bristol to force him to take me out clubbing and embarrass the hell out of him (yet again).

My first complete coup de grace in that department was when I had stick on fruit baskets as a bikini top... no pics you'll just have to use your imagination... when the eldest was about 6. My mother had brought me a pack of four from the States for a laugh and I had put them on and paraded round the garden. The boys were horrified, terrified, mortified and begged me never wear them again, especially not anywhere that I might be seen. The last two in the pack were brought out on many occasions as in: "if you don't behave I'll just have to put on my fruit baskets", and became known from thence forth as 'the ultimate weapon'. A godsend for any parent I'm sure you'll agree. Interestingly I still have the last two. I never had to use them, so they absolutely worked a dream.

No, far better that I go to Birmingham and contemplate my navel and leave No 1 son to go and spend bonding fraternal time instead... not that he won't insist on being taken out clubbing and embarrassing the hell out of him, but it's different if it's your brother rather than your mother.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Getting ready again

This week I'm off to Birmingham on retreat. A bit of a strange place to go on retreat I think, but given that it's a National Network retreat, which involves all those involved in training trainers in Mindfulness across the UK, Birmingham makes sense. I'll be intrigued to see what the centre is like, given that Birmingham has never struck me as the centre of quiet and contemplation... but we'll see.

I've only been to one of these events before. You have to be invited, so it's not something anyone can sign up for. The last time was 18 months ago and I had been in my current NES post for just under a year then. I only got the nod to go because the person who's job I took was invited but couldn't go and so she pointed those in the know to me. I felt very privileged.

It's one of those retreats that is all work, but comes in the guise of a lot of personal time for reflection as well as opportunities to network and get some solid work in. Last time we came out with some guidelines that have now been adopted across the UK which was very pleasing.

Of course now I shall spend the next 24 hours contemplating my wardrobe. Retreat trousers - tick, comfy shoes that are easy to put on and take off - tick, suitcase full of various tops from vests to warm winter gear - still a work in progress.

After all, these days just because it's July means nothing weather-wise. Yesterday we had sun, followed by downpour, followed by hail, followed by thunder and that was all in the space of an hour, so a whole few days in the centre of Birmingham in what is supposed to be mid-summer means a girl's got to be prepared for anything.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


You know how it is, you think you know how to do things and then something comes along and shows you you're an 'innocent'. Well this morning was one of those.

I have several people who I 'met' on my OU creative writing course who decided to start writing blogs or pick up their blogs again when the course ended. Some here on and some on Wordpress. I found no problem at all in becoming a follower on Blogger, but I didn't know how to become one on Wordpress. I think each site has an inbuilt hatred of its rival and tries to make it difficult, so no pointers are given.

This morning I was looking at one particular blog, Solway Scribbles, and I couldn't work out how, even though it was on Blogger, I didn't show up as a follower as I had become one the first day it opened for business. On a bit of investigation I discovered that Blogger randomly decided whether or not I would become a 'public' or a 'private' follower. The reason it has to be random is that I've never said that I wanted to be one or the other but assumed that if I pressed the follower button it would let me be a follower, but on Solway Scribbles I was in a different part of the follower bit than all the others. It turns out that for all the other blogs I follow, bar one other, Blogger decided to make me a public follower, but for this particular site and also for Eileen Thornton's it made me a private follower. Why? I haven't a clue. But it led me to part of the Blogger site that I never knew existed.

The outcome of all of this is I've discovered how to follow who I want where I want. I've also discovered how to make myself private or public. I've also discovered that I feel a bit of a idiot (no comments thank you Mr Bassman!) because I've been writing my blog now since February 2010 and I never looked beyond the actual writing it bit.

So to Eileen and Mari, you weren't really being followed privately... well you were, but not of my doing. Well ok it was my doing, but not knowingly.

And here ends my lesson in following, and if you all follow all of that then you're doing well!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Repetitive strain injury

I've not been well today, and sadly I have to admit to playing an online game that is most addictive. It's called 'Spot the difference', where two pics are put up side by side and you have one minute to spot 5 differences. I seem to have been playing for hours and now not only do I feel sick, I also have a sore wrist to add to my misery.

Meanwhile my mountain man is off again. This time it's the Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon, which involves a swim across Loch Tay, run or walk 7 munros, kayak from Milton Mornish down Loch Tay, and then finish with a 35 mile cycle around Loch Tay. My man is extremely jealous of those taking part as it's the kind of event he loves, but he'll just have to satisfy himself with being an angel of mercy for those who injure themselves.

Luckily my injuries did not mean that he had to stay home to minister to me as that could have been a very embarrassing conversation: 'Sorry folks, I'm not going to be able to come and look after all those athletic types this weekend because my wife has injured herself whilst in bed playing a game on her computer'. Nope that's definitely not a conversation I think I could live down!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

There goes the tan

Just when I was beginning to go a nice golden brown, I opened the blinds today to abject grey skies and loads of rain. I'm a bit of a tan obsessive so have been revelling in the joys of the day to day sunshine of the past week.

We have just bought new blinds, so for the past few days it's been quite amazing to open them as I haven't a clue what the weather is going to be like. Our last blinds were... well pretty useless actually. They let so much light in, which was no problem in the depths of winter, but in the summer the 4 a.m. morning sky always saw me wide awake. I always knew what the weather was like before I opened the blinds. Bright sunshine would invade my space before there was any need to open them. Equally well dull days were obvious too.

Anyway, we decided to invest in some blackout blinds. They're terrific. Velux make blinds for their windows that snap into place, so it made the whole changeover really easy and the blinds actually made it onto the windows in record time, rather than sitting in the box for weeks waiting for the DIY to get going.

Now the room is in complete darkness. We hadn't realised just how much light the old blinds let in... I think what I mean is, we did, but since moving here nearly 3 years ago we became enured to their ineffectual ability. But I happened to be passing a blind shop in Edinburgh a few weeks ago and stopped to look. I'm so pleased I did. Now we need to order two more sets for the spare rooms.

There's a rather childlike delight in opening the blinds and not knowing what's out there. Today, however, I think I'd have preferred not to know!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Zumba comes to Galashiels

Well to be honest, Vee goes to Galashiels and does Zumba. Apparently it's been in Galashiels for some months, but it was only yesterday, when I was out bowling with Magic Bob and Joyce, that Joyce told me about it and invited me along.

It was a really good work out and apart from looking like a beetroot at the end of it, I certainly felt the benefit. As luck, or otherwise, would have it, it's not on next week, so it'll be a whole two weeks before I go back and I'm sure it'll be back to the beginning as far as the moves go.

The guy who takes it looks like ex-army, but he keeps a smile on his face, probably laughing at the women of the Borders shaking their booty in time to the music. There's a real mix of people, some quite elderly (one who sat on a chair the whole time, but moved her feet and arms) through to the young and fit.

Thank goodness I took a very large bottle of water and the towel was a definite necessity.

Anyway, I highly recommend it for those of you who want to be fit, but have some fun.

Monday, 4 July 2011

It's over

Well that's that for another year. Wimbledon is finished. I'm already thinking about what I'll do come 12 o'clock today.

This has been the first year I can remember when I've not been working throughout the whole of Wimbledon fortnight and I've loved it. Just the fact that quite a few days I could luxuriate in watching TV from midday onwards has been great. And of course the weather in Scotland, apart from this weekend, has been pretty awful, so in some ways that made it even better as I could sit and watch the tennis knowing that I didn't want to be outside anyway.

I missed the women's final because of the singathon, but wasn't so taken with it as one of the 'screamers' was on. I like women's tennis but can't stand a lot of the noises they make, so I was happy that Kvitova, last year's semi-finalist and a definite non-screamer, won, and I enjoyed watching the highlights while I soothed my singer's throat with a glass of white wine.

The men's final lived up to expectation and I was really pleased Djokovic was the winner. It's always good when the old order is toppled and new people come through. I don't think Andy Murray would have stood a chance against either Nadal or Djokovic the way they were playing yesterday. He has a lot of work to do, in my view, to make it. And most of that work is psychological. Hopefully he'll come back stronger next year. If Djokovic can do it, there's no reason Andy can't.

And now we're on to the Tour de France. Luckily I don't feel I have watch it moment by moment, I just catch up with the highlights at the end of the day. June and July are sporting heaven. On Thursday there's the Scottish Open, which is taking place in my old hometown of Inverness. Then there's the British Open on Sunday. And of course the British Grand Prix has to be squeezed in this weekend... the sporting calendar goes on and on.

In August it all changes to becoming theatrical as it's the Edinburgh Festival, but I won't be having TV arse for that as I shall be off to see what's what. No. 2 son is coming up from Bristol to spend a fun filled holiday in Edinburgh so I will be taking time off work to accompany him to whatever he wants to see. Can't wait.

Meanwhile today is another gorgeous sunny day, and although work will have to be done and I have to be in Edinburgh later on, I shall spend this morning walking the dog and then going to play bowls for an hour or so before getting changed into work clothes and heading off.

And finally, a day I used to celebrate fully when I lived in the US...happy 4th July to everyone!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Scotland Sings for Water

Today was the great singathon that was Scotland Sings for Water, in aid of WaterAid (and a huge thank you to all those who donated, I actually raised £560 which is brilliant). The day started well as the weather was sunny and warm. N and I, along with the other 298 people, went for the rehearsal at 10, which lasted an hour and a half, and then had lunch before heading to Parliament Square.

We started singing at 1pm and didn't finish until 3.45. My voice was rapidly deteriorating by then (and as the starting voice was not top notch, the end voice was decidedly dodgy), and great fun was had by all. We sounded amazing according to those who were listening and I had tired legs as discovered that I can't possibly sing without dancing at the same time.

Most important of all a lot of money was raised for a really good cause.

There is one downside to all this, and that is that I have those bloody songs going round and round in my head. I'm hoping it's not going to be too long before I forget them, but I fear I may have a few nights of dreaming of water before I do.

Friday, 1 July 2011


I belong to a fantastic arts group called Spin, where we meet once a month at a gallery in Edinburgh that's running a modern art exhibition for discussion, along with the artist or curator, about a current exhibition.

Well last night it was at the Royal Botanic Garden on a beautiful, balmy, summer evening. We were there for the Thomas Houseago exhibition, which was very interesting and provoked a lot of active chat. We've now been invited to the opening of his next exhibition there on the 28th July, where the artist himself is due over from Los Angeles to meet and greet. As I have a very early start the next day for Shetland showing at the Border Union show, I'm not sure I'll be able to go. It'll depend on what time it starts and will have to wait for the invite itself to arrive before making my mind up.

After the evenings activities, my friend N and I retired to our favourite haunt, El Bar, which just happens to be round the corner from our Edinburgh abodes (and by the way is also the place I wrote about to get my restaurant reviewer gig), and we were accompanied by two other Spinners, cousins Eleanor and Carol. Eleanor lives in Larbert and was supposed to get the train home, but was enjoying herself so much decided to join us in another bottle of wine and stay the night with Carol.

So what was supposed to be a nice quiet arty night, with a bit of tapas and wine, ended up being quite a night out and I didn't fall into bed until almost midnight, and am relieved that I have a day off today to recover and watch the men's semi finals at Wimbledon and get myself ready for the great singathon tomorrow.