Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Madness reigns

I had visit to the orthotic department of the Borders General Hospital as my old leg brace needs replacing. Zumba has forced me back into wearing it... it weighs a ton and the strappings are done for, so my GP has sent me to get a new one.

I don't really know how to explain the consultant, except to say that people who work with no daylight may well have problems of relating to the real world. I did think it was rather strange that he kept calling me 'an athlete', something I haven't been for far too many years... in a funny way I was quite flattered and anyway I want a new brace so felt that I'd better agree to whatever he was saying.

The new one is coming in 2 weeks and until then he has patched up my old one. A real sticky tape job, but hopefully will work.

Meanwhile I managed to make a total idiot of myself. I am in Edinburgh and No. 1 son came round for the evening. We had a lovely time chatting, watching telly and eating popcorn, then it was time for him to go and I realised he'd forgotten a letter that had come for him and so as he went on his way with his earphones in, I shouted his name... several times... this managed to wake up every dog in the neighbourhood, but No. 1 son didn't hear me. I ran after him and only caught up with him when I was within 2 feet. By this time people had come to their doors. I smiled and nodded apologetically but the deed was done.

Yes, that's me, the mad woman screaming her son's name into the darkness while he pays no attention at all. Maybe the consultant wasn't quite so strange after all.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


I don't know what it's like where you are in the world, but here in the Scottish Borders the weather has turned from not very nice, to not very nice and very cold. I am almost tempted to put the central heating on, but have so far stopped myself. There's just something about central heating and August that somehow don't go together. I might well change my mind by tonight.

So far this week things have been a bit low key compared to the last few weeks, but things are gathering apace. After a slow day yesterday which involved trying to tidy my office - emphasis on the 'trying' - and then making a list of things to be done such as paying bills, whereupon I discovered that it was a Bank Holiday and nowhere was open, today has proven more fruitful. I now do not owe anyone anything, which is always a bonus, and I've managed to put into action the metal frame I need made for my piece of stained glass, and then I was contacted by my work. From a quite easy work week, I've now gone into a rather more hectic work week and Thursday in particular is not the best, as I start at 9.30 am and finish at 9 pm.

A bit of a 'trying' week from all angles!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Working on a chain gang

Yesterday was my Drystone Dyking training course. There were 5 of us, and there were some rather amusing moments as tourists went by and there was mention of us looking like we were doing Community Service... we felt that all that was missing were chains around our ankles! However, I've now learned how to put a wall up and make it solid.

I've also learned that making a wall when there's been severe rain and then it dries up but with damp in the air is perfect for midges... not the best when having to spend all day out and there's nowhere to hide. Still, around 6 metres of wall was erected to about 5 foot in height. Much satisfaction was had at the finished product. If you're passing Pyatshaw just to the right of the archway you'll see my handiwork.

The wall at Pyatshaw

The guy who was teaching us was very patient, and also very interesting. We heard all about how he came to be a Drystone Dyke teacher (is this another of those professions that has a certain cache to it? I think so) and his exploits in wall competitions (yes really!) in Virginia.

His pal who's wall we were erecting was another of those people who you meet and you just know that fate has intervened. He's  a welder who has a workshop at the back of his house, and it just so happens that I need a metal frame made for my piece of stained glass that I bought in Pittenweem... and so now it will be done, which will be great.

After wall building came cheffing. Shaun McCarthy, playwright, came to spend the night and dinner needed to be made. It felt quite funny coming off a building site in my work overalls, boots and gloves, then changing into housewife mode. So while my Beloved hiked off in his truck to pick up the theatrical man, I had an enjoyable hour and a half concocting a lovely meal.

Shaun was a delight as a guest. He was very easy to be with and someone who it felt like we'd known for ages. This of course was aided and abetted by a rather nice white wine, which felt, after my 4 days/nights of abstinence, most welcome. I managed to at least wait until Shaun got here before pouring a glass, which I thought was very good of me considering my hard working day. We stayed up far later than planned chatting and drinking. Hopefully the writing retreats that he wants my Beloved to organise will work out well for all concerned.

Of course this morning the effects of both the alcohol and yesterday's workout with stones took their toll and I'm having an easy day of it.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Another book update

I was told this morning that the taxi driver I was talking to yesterday actually did go straight to Wordpower and buy my book. I can now say that there's at least one taxi driver in Edinburgh who keeps his word. And it just goes to show that random chats with complete unknowns sometimes pays off.

Yesterday I was concerned about all the stressed taxi drivers roaming the streets of Edinburgh and today my concerns turned to what if they all bought a copy of my book?

Mr B has already snorted risibly down the phone (if that's possible to do) at my lack of entrepreneurial mindset, but I'm much better at selling other people's stuff than my own... so folks if anyone wants promoting then I'm your gal... just a shame I can't do it so well for myself!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Edinburgh happenings

The strangest of things happened yesterday when No. 1 son and I were queuing for 'Cul de Sac' a rather surreal play at the Edinburgh Fringe. We were passing the time of day with the people behind us and when I asked them where they came from ... out of politeness you understand... they said they came from my Beloved's home town of Richmond in Yorkshire. On further enquiry it seems that the woman went to school with my sister-in-law. Now how strange is that? Not half as strange as the play I can tell you, but No. 1 son and I agreed that the actors were superb.

Today I went to see 'Allotment' by Jules Horne, who is a writer living in the Borders. She's been along to the Borders Writers Forum in the past to help us hone characters, which was very useful. She does workshops for young people at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and is very well known in this part of the world. The play was fantastic. The best I've seen so far and was a real lesson in storytelling and character creating and general playcraft. I highly recommend it.

On the way over, because I was late, I decided on a taxi, and the driver and I started chatting. The upshot of that conversation is that he said he was going off immediately to WordPower to buy a copy of my book and promised to tell all his taxi driver friends to buy one too. Not sure if he will, but would be great if he did, though I have to admit it was a bit freaky to think of all the stressed Edinburgh taxi drivers on the streets of our capital.

Book update:
WordPower, independent Edinburgh bookshop, have offered to be my book distributors... how great is that?!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A bad night on the bowls green

I bombed! I played really badly and lost the final. This on top of my alcohol ban made for a bit of a not great evening for my Beloved, as I was not in the best of moods.

The person I was playing against was actually very funny... and that's not in the funny ha ha way. She started off by insisting that we changed greens because I told her I'd been out for a short practice in the afternoon. This, you have to understand, is a Scottish player playing against moi, Ms Not Very Good. Then she went on to tell me all about how some people cheat and are so competitive, while moving the mat really far up the green in order to put me off. That didn't work so well for her, but still it was all a bit much. I know it was a final, but really!

Then I was in full swing with a short story for an upcoming competition and was awaiting details from Pat the Police. I'd decided to write it without his input and was getting on well and had just got it finished when his email came through. This demanded a complete rewrite of the whole of the middle section. Of course it was great that he gave me such detailed information, but I was a bit pissed off with myself for having gone ahead and written it prior to getting the info I needed to make it authentic. Still it's done now, and I await feedback from my esteemed pals at the OU.

So not the best of nights, but this too will pass. I'm off to Edinburgh tomorrow and will cheer myself up with the company of No. 1 son and the Edinburgh Fringe. My Beloved, I think, will be rather relieved that he can have a bit of peace and quiet in the house, with me taking my no alcohol, bad mood somewhere else!

The pledge

I think I'm going to have to take myself seriously in hand and give myself a talking to. Last night was a good example. Joyce and Magic Bob and I were out playing bowls and at the end Bob wanted to come round to my house to see my other half to talk about singing bowls, which my man sells in his Ebay shop. Bob then announced that he and Joyce were not drinking alcohol for two weeks. I thought that was a great idea, but then said something along the lines of, 'So does that mean no wine when you come over to mine tonight?' Whereupon Bob rapidly changed his tune.

Now, I have Zumba on a Tuesday, and I know that it's really far better for me not to drink alcohol the night before, but... well... I did. 2 bottles between the 3 of us if I'm honest, and it ended up with me blaming Bob and Bob blaming me. Joyce only blamed herself, sensible person she is. And of course this morning, feeling tired and dragging myself over to Galashiels, I half heartedly shook my booty in time with the music, but by the time it was finished I was exhausted.

I'm thinking it's time I really had an alcohol break. Well at least until Saturday night when we have the author and playwright, Shaun McCarthy, to stay. He's going to (hopefully) do some work with my Beloved's other company, which is being set up at the moment and doesn't as yet have a website. I also need to be fit enough to go to my Drystone Wall course on Saturday (that I signed up for at The Border Union Show) and if today's anything to go by, a 4 day alcohol ban sounds like just the thing. That way I will still be human and sensible when Mr McCarthy comes round and I won't have any embarrassing wall scenarios to admit to. Also got a busy week doing more Festivalling with No. 1 son and work of course.

So that's me. I've signed the pledge for the next 4 days. Not one drop of alcohol will pass my lips until Saturday night. And that's a promise.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

At last

I'm in total admiration of my friend Cathy, who is reading all of the Booker long list at quite a rate. Meanwhile I've taken the longest time I can pretty much remember to read one book. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (who in my estimation would have had problems passing OU Creative Writing A215 because of his extremely long, long sentences and paragraphs - which sometimes went on for pages) and I have finally finished. I now feel I can get back to reading far more accessible novels.

The book itself was an interesting premise. Charles Lindbergh becomes the 33rd President of the United States and from that moment the US becomes an anti-semitic nation hell bent on becoming an outreach of Hitler's Germany during the Second World War. It sounded so promising, but I have to say by the very unsatisfying end I was just pleased I'd managed to finish it.

Of course it didn't help that I bought a new toy to play with... which is a fold-up keyboard for my iPad and is truly fantastic. Also I was told about an amazing app that allows me to write notes on my iPad. I don't even need a stylus as I can write with my finger... how incredible is that? And then, just to make sure that I didn't spend my time reading I've been playing untold amounts of games from bloody Angry Birds to good old Solitaire. What a waste of time. I've now given myself an ultimatum that I will only allow myself game time for a very short period every day, and it's back to my book pile and getting on with some writing as I have another short story to write for a competition next month.

So what's next? Well I've got two books sitting waiting to be read, One Day by David Nicholls (which has been made into a Hollywood movie starring Anne Hathaway), and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. I think I'm going for the former as I need a bit of light reading to get me back into the flow.

Meanwhile Cathy is already over half way through the BLL. You can read all about her exploits on her blog. She's an industry insider and it's her job, but I have to say I still marvel at her capacity to race through 13 books in a very short space of time. She obviously hasn't got into the delights of Angry Birds... sensible woman!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

A bit off piste...

I had a very strange thought the other day about jobs that I'd like to have. This all came about because of a programme on the telly called 'The Great British Bake Off'. It's the kind of programme that I have on as background, but every now and again I hear something that really makes me pay attention. And then last night I had a rather strange dream about changing my profession.

Well the job on TGBBO was a Food Historian. Now to me that sounds fascinating. The woman who was on was explaining the history of the cupcake. It apparently all started with a cook wanting to make a small cake for 'them's upstairs' and made one in a tea cup, and thus the cupcake was born. Fascinating no? Well alright then, maybe I'm the only one. Anyway, I began to wonder how one goes about becoming a Food Historian, and during my search I came up with this article. From there I wandered over to the University site, and I have to say if I were years younger it might well be something I would be interested in studying. I mean a Masters degree in Gastronomy... who wouldn't want that? And in Italy... what could be better?

So in my dream there I was with my PhD in cupcakes and writing numerous papers in the art of going from a teacup to a paper case, and then I turned back into me, just plodding round my Borders home trying to grow coffee rather unsuccessfully and then I woke up.

Do you think there are actually people who have a PhD in such things? Now I really want to meet one, so if any of you come across such a person do let me know. I have loads of questions.

Bowls update
Last night I played in the semi finals of the women's handicap bowls competition, and I'm very pleased to say that I won, and though I say it myself, I played rather well in the awful conditions. It was like Autumn out there: cold, dark, drizzly and with what felt like a gale force wind, which made it very hard to play. Luckily the person I was playing against had a handicap of only one more than me (she was +6 and I was +5), so we were pretty much even at the start and I won 21 - 15, which I thought was pretty damn good. However there is one downside and that is last year I also got to the final (and lost) and I was immediately docked one of my precious handicap points hence me not being at +6, and that means this year I shall lose another... ah well, I wonder how many I'll lose if I win? Best not go there as I don't want to spook myself before I've even played. Wish me luck!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Delights of the Edinburgh Festival

I'm back from working in Edinburgh and of course spending time at the Festival. I spent yesterday morning at the Elizabeth Blackadder exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery. It was an interesting retrospective, rooms and rooms of her life time of painting.  There were some that weren't to my taste, but some were mindblowing. There were also 2 short films with her, which were incredibly moving.

I then went off to meet up with my boys, who didn't want to go and see anything that smacked of 'theatre, my dear' and so we headed off to see what was on at the Fringe. The answer to that is, too much. It's so hard to make choices when you're faced with literally wall to wall advertising, and they all look so promising. So we opted for one that looked ok, one that No. 2 son wanted to see, and one that I wanted to see. No. 1 son was very happy just to tag along.

The first was Ford and Akram: Humdinger. It was a but surreal in places but very funny too. It's about the friendship between 2 girls and how they get to be best friends and the trials and tribulations they find themselves going through. This all sounds very normal, but trust me it wasn't. They play out stereotypes and I thought it was very clever and Louise Ford in particular was very good indeed. The boys both commented on how good looking they both were... typical!

Then we went to see Jason Cook, stand up comedian. He was ok, but nothing special and I came away a little disappointed to be honest. No. 2 son fell asleep, so maybe that tells you how good it was, but his excuse was that he'd been out all night and hadn't got to bed til 7 this morning, but my feeling is if Jason Cook had been hysterically funny then he'd have stayed awake. Luckily I prodded him before anyone noticed.

No. 2 son decided at that point to call it a day and didn't come and partake in the delights of Zoe Lyons, our 3rd and final comedy act of the day. She was absolutely excellent and both No. 1 son and I found ourselves laughing out loud and I even had tears running down my cheeks at one point. I highly recommend her show.

No. 1 son and I have decided to hang out together next week when I'm back in Edinburgh and he's booking a couple of things that we thought might be good...well they've had good reviews. No. 2 son had to wing his way back to Bristol today, so won't be joining us sadly, and my far wandering husband has work to catch up with so he won't be able to come either.

So it's back to Borders life with clients to see this afternoon and a bowls competition this evening if the weather holds. What a weird life... trudging round the cobbled courtyards of Edinburgh partaking in the delights of listening to someone talk about human misery for an hour one day (which let's face it is where comedians get their material), and the very next listening to someone talk about the misery of their life for an hour and then the trudging round the turf of a Borders Bowls club... mmm now there's a thought.

p.s. a bit of book update: Wordpower the independent bookstore in Edinburgh has said they want to take copies of my book. How fab is that?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Welcome home

This morning I felt the need to go to Zumba. It was like my body was pining for some exercise. The funny thing is that if you'd have asked me if I actually enjoy it, I would have to answer that the first 5 minutes are brilliant and so are the last 5 minutes. And all the rest of the time is rather like a form of torture to music. Still I feel good after... well a few hours after.

And so, about half an hour after my man arrived home complete with a bottle of Tukche apple brandy, which, in spite of coming in an old Tuborg bottle with an old style bottle top that you have to use a bottle opener for, he firmly assured me is the very best that Jomsom has to offer, I headed off for my weekly dose of Zumba.

My bottle of Tukche apple brandy artfully sitting with the sunflowers!

It is lovely to have my Beloved home. Although the weeks he's been away have been busy and I've not really had too much time to miss him, miss him I did. I'm not so sure that Nell did though. She took one look at him, a quick tail wag and that was about it. It seemed as though she'd completely forgotten that he'd been away.

Age is really catching up with her, as if you go by the 7 dog years to each one of ours then Nell will be 98 next month, which is a great age to get to by any reckoning, so it's hardly surprising that walking far is no longer an option and she spends most of her days asleep. I think my Beloved was a bit taken aback at the non greeting, still once he's been out with her and wandered extremely slowly round all her favourite smelling points I'm sure he'll feel he's well and truly home.

Monday, 15 August 2011

As if by magic

I had a message from the printers that my book, START to Stress Less, would be winging it's way to me today. The only problem was I had to wait for the delivery and I needed to go out and restock the very, very empty fridge so that my man could actually eat something when he gets home tomorrow. I phoned them and a very nice lady told me that she would find out when it was due to be delivered and she'd phone me back, which she duly did 5 minutes later. She told me that my package was on the van and would hopefully be with me shortly. I put the phone down and lo and behold the door bell rang and there was my package... now that's what I call service!

So here's a pic of the book.

If anyone wants a copy, please go to my website and order one from there.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Almost home

I had an email from my Mountain man to say that I should get myself Skype ready at 1 yesterday. I turned everything on but sadly no connection could be made. Another email whizzed through. Somehow the electricity in Pokhara, Nepal doesn't gen up enough to get the Skype to work, so we resorted to a Facebook 'conversation'. Hardly the same I know, but it was the first instant communications we've had for 3 weeks.

At some unearthly hour this morning he's getting a flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu to spend a last, lingering look at the city where he feels most at home and then it's UK bound. He arrives back in this country on Monday evening and then has a sleeper journey from London to Edinburgh where he'll pick up his truck and head on home.

This leaves me with a bit of a dilemma. I have my Zumba class on Tuesday morning and need to leave the house at 9.30, which should be just the time my man is arriving home. Do I forgo the delights of whacking my body around the community hall in Galashiels or stay home and watch my man unpack and sort his stuff out? I'm coming down heavily on the former, though of course I realise this sounds quite selfish, but by my reckoning a couple of hours reconnecting with his UK life could possibly be more preferable than having me hovering.

And then of course on Tuesday night I shall have to head off to Edinburgh, not just for work on Wednesday, but also because my man is not the only one who is coming home this week. No. 2 son is also coming back to the land of his birth, to spend a week soaking up the delights of the Edinburgh Festival.

In actuality what this all means is that I won't be home until Friday. I've arranged to spend the day with both my sons on Thursday, and have taken a day off work to do so. I'm looking forward to a bit of festivalling with them both with a meal thrown in for good measure, and when this was arranged it was with little thought that this would be the week that the Mountain man himself was coming home.

My mistake it seems is that turning the page in my diary to see what's written is a step too far, and so I find myself with what amounts to almost another week before my husband and I can have some quality time together. At least I've managed to keep my diary clear for next weekend... I just have to hope he has too!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The aftermath

Have you noticed that after the riots it was the poor people who weren't involved who had to clean up after? Well that was exactly the same here this morning, when I was forced out of the door at 7 am with a dog with a very uncomfortable stomach. At least I armed myself with lots of poop bags and just as well... I think that's all I shall say about that.

But now I have a dog who is looking extremely green about the gills, is feeling very sorry for herself and who jumps up every time she farts and goes into another room. Now I'm not going to say that a lot of the rioters who've been caught are jumping up and going into another room when they fart, but from the pics I've seen they certainly look very sorry for themselves. But like the dog, it's always someone else who has to clean up the mess, and this morning it was me and I can't say I'm all that happy about it. Nuff said!

Friday, 12 August 2011

In the dog house

For the first time ever Nell became a thief... I don't know if she'd been listening to the riots and thought 'I'll have some of that', but today when I got home I put her bag down on the floor and went to check phone messages.

Nell's bag is the one I use for travelling and holds her biscuits, food and treats. Now I know she loves the treats I buy, which are Dentastix, and she gets one when I go out and leave her. She knows the sound of the packet being touched and becomes very alert and I sometimes wonder whether she prefers to be left at home with a treat than come out with me in the car, but that's another story.

Anyway, there I was checking messages and I thought I heard something going on downstairs, but sometimes she plays with her ragger or ball and I didn't think anything of it. But when I got down there she had taken 2 packs, each had about 5 sticks in, and scoffed the lot. I read her the riot act, but I have to say she didn't even look remorseful in the slightest.

Who me?

Now I shall have to wait and see what effect this is going to have on her system. But for a dog that has been not feeling so well over the past couple of weeks she seems pretty happy with herself and is looking decidedly perky. I don't know what the moral of that tale is, but undoubtedly there'll be one there somewhere!

Butter wouldn't melt...

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A bit of a surprise

I had a bit of a surprise today. I was spending the day doing some research and writing and for some reason decided to look up the retreat centre in Pokhara, Nepal where my man and I stay when we're over there. I followed a link on Google and watched the film. Lo and behold both of us were in the video.

It's not that I'm particularly worried about me being in a short video about a place that I love, but the thing is I never knew that this was knocking around. I do vaguely remember one of the guys a year or so back taking some pics, but I don't remember him asking if it was ok to make them available to the world at large.

It got me to thinking about how often we are photographed or videoed and we probably don't have a clue as to who can see these things. Probably more often than we'd like to think about. Not long ago I was walking about Edinburgh and someone was taking photos of The Pleasance and I just happened to be waiting on someone there. I am now captured for posterity in some unknown person's photo album, which might well find it's way onto some social networking site or other and I'll never know. Well that is until I happen upon it in the same way that I happened on this innocuous bit of film.

Anyway, notwithstanding that I was a bit surprised by finding myself, it was actually lovely to see the place. This is the birthplace of my coffee plants and so I thought I'd delight you all with a pic my friend Tracy took last year when she visited the centre. So here it is, the Mother Bush, god bless her.

The Mother Bush in Ganden Yiga Chozen, Pokhara, Nepal

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Difficult times

I had a bit of a freak out this morning. I turned on the news and heard that the London riots had spread to Bristol where No. 2 son lives. I stopped myself from phoning him at 6 am, but by 9.15 I couldn't wait any longer. It was a great relief to hear his voice, but I'm not so sure he was that pleased to hear from me as I woke him up. However, I was able to go to Zumba with a free mind, which was great from my angle.

It made me think what a bizarre world we live in, where, here I am in the idyllic Scottish Borders carrying on with my rather mundane life and heading off for an exercise class and just less than two hundred miles away in Liverpool there was city that needed to clean up and people had lost their homes and livelihoods.

I feel so sorry for all those poor people, but, and I would have to say, rather selfishly, I feel blessed that I'm lucky enough to live in the peace of the countryside. Gordon suddenly seems like a rather wonderful place to live.

Let's just hope this awfulness ends soon.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

A weekend away

I'm just back from a lovely weekend away at Pittenweem. The journey from the Borders to Fife was painful and there was a moment that I wondered if I'd ever get there. However, once arrived, as usual there was a complete mix of art from the 'interesting' to the downright fantastic. After going for the past few years N and I know the ones to avoid, but still get caught out a bit. It's always a little difficult to go into an exhibit and then almost immediately walk out, but hey... we managed.

On the opening night we started off at Georgie Young's and had a bit of fizz to get ourselves in the mood. And no sooner had we started than people started to throng. N and I both bought one of Georgie's paintings, and were very happy with our choices. Some who came early especially to buy were a bit envious that we'd had an early look in, but that's the way it goes. It was a beautiful, sunny, Fife evening and there were loads of folk there. N and I wandered about and then back to Georgie's to finish off the evening in the company of several friends that had turned up for a bit of a sing song and a whole lot more alcohol.

Yesterday morning the sun was still shining and we went off to hear Helen Denerley, one of the invited artists, speak. Her exhibition was wonderful and it was a joy to hear her talk about how she came to make her extraordinary animals all from discarded metal.

Life size Amur leopard

Life size croc
Daisy the cow

Life size camel
 Then we went to Kate Downie's talk about her inspiration for her drawings. It was absolutely fascinating and I even found out something new... Maggie Thatcher almost ruined the Forth Rail Bridge by suspending repairs for 9 years. The consequence of that is, even now, there is permanent scaffolding up. I'd always wondered why the scaffolding never disappears and now I know.

Apart from those two I wasn't so impressed by the other invited artists. But there were some really great exhibitions. I bought a piece of stained glass from Anne Ferguson, and another glass piece from the Coach House - a small shop that last year I bought a glass bird from which fell and broke a few months later. This year I bought a lovely sunflower glass piece which hopefully will be a whole lot more robust, but only time will tell.

My friend N's friend Robert Melville had some lovely photos, but it was his garden that caught people's imaginations. It was really funny to watch people's faces as they passed it. Pretty much everyone stopped and looked, many took photos and it was a true highlight.
Robert Melville's garden
N and I did dinner for Georgie and her partner, Fiona, last night. Much fizz was partaken and we had a very fun evening. This morning the rain had well and truly set in. I decided to head off for home and dog collection at lunchtime. The journey home was as painful as the journey there, but I'd had a great time. I will have to wait for my piece of stained glass and my painting, but the sunflower glass piece is already installed and looks great.

Home and tired and now having to think about the week ahead. It'll be only a week before my man arrives home and I'll be looking forward to his arrival as will the dog. She didn't seem to have such a good weekend as she was off her food, but seemed very happy to be home, and I was very happy to have her home too.

Now work beckons. I have a myriad of things to catch up with and a busy time ahead. Nice memories though of a fun time away.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Off for the weekend

Today is the start of the Pittenweem Arts Festival, and I'm off there to take in the delights for yet another year. Luckily Nell has picked up a bit and is feeling a whole lot better and is going to the dogminder, which will be better for me, as I can be out all day without having to worry about walking, feeding and petting. I'm not sure if it was yesterday's visit by No. 1 son that sealed it, but I left her in his capable hands while I went off to say farewell to my secretary who's heading back to New Zealand. We had after work drinks to say goodbye. Sad for me as she's been wonderful, but probably very, very good for her. The new person seems nice enough, but only time will tell if she has Dawn's ability to manage my idiosyncrasies with such equanimity. Anyway, by the time I got home the dog was a bit perkier than she had been for the last few days, and the only difference is that No. 1 son came to visit, so I'm left with the feeling that her recovery has to be down to him.

I love going to the annual Pittenweem event. It's a chance to spend time with N, which is always a treat, but it's also fun as we spend our time nipping in and out of all the exhibitions and then relaxing as only we know how. We also have a few hours looking after Georgie Young's exhibition to give her and her partner, Fiona, time off for good behaviour. Otherwise they'd be locked in their space for the duration, so having a few hours off is always welcome and N and I enjoy the opportunity to show our sales skills. This is not hard in Georgie's case and she's a brilliant artist and sells prolifically. Usually by the time our stint comes the place is littered with red stickers so it's easy to entice people to part with their money.

It's been a real 'arty' week in some ways as on Wednesday my friend Shirley accompanied me to the preview of Hiroshi Sugimoto's exhibition at Modern Art 2 in Edinburgh. It's unusual for me to like every single piece in an exhibition, but his was fantastic and I highly recommend it. I was actually blown away by some of the photos. They were extraordinary.

Luckily I noticed that the gallery had copies of the current Edinburgh List Food and Drink Guide which I'd forgotten to buy this year, so as we exited the exhibition and were deliberating on where to go, we sat in her car and studied restaurants. We decided in the end to go to Sweet Melinda's. I've been there before with N on her last birthday, but it was Shirley's first time. It was a good choice and we had a lovely evening.

There is one problem with the Pittenweem Arts Festival and also all that's going on in Edinburgh at the moment and that is that August is well and truly here. I can't believe this year has zipped by so quickly. I was lying in bed this morning and trying to work out if I'll get to France this summer and realised that summer is not with us for that much longer. We're over half way through the year, I'm nearer to 60 than I was a couple of months ago and I'm not going to mention the 'Ch' word in case someone throws something at me. 

And on that happy note, I'm away to the seaside before my thoughts get the better of me!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Result time

Last night I got home to an email from the Open University telling me my course results would be available within 24 hours. To me this was the worst bit of communication from them ever. I mean we'd already been told to expect our results by Friday 5th, so why oh why send out something to freak us poor students out? And freak us out it did. The forum changed within seconds to a kind of manicness that's not been around since... well since getting our last mark back.

As I've already stated I'd decided not to go on and do the Advanced Creative Writing course, but an OU friend is not happy with me and so we made a pact... if I got 85% (which is what she thought I'd get for my exam piece) then I promised I'd sign up for the ACW. Luckily for me I was a whole lot more accurate with my marks prediction than she and I don't have to sign up for anything.

I didn't do particularly well at all in my final piece, but nevertheless I miraculously ended up with a Grade 2 pass, which I'm pretty chuffed with. I now have to wait for up to 3 weeks to get the written feedback, which apparently is minimal, but quite frankly the course is now done and dusted so I'm not all that bothered, just relieved it's all over.

However, I'd be fascinated to know why the OU thought it would be a good thing to give students 24 hours notice. For me the result didn't matter too much as I wasn't doing the course for a degree, so a question of pride really, but for those who it matters for how frustrating must that have been? All I can think is that there'll be thousands of people who've had a sleepless night pressing the refresh button on their OU results page. Poor sods!

Monday, 1 August 2011

One down, two to go

My Mountain man has been away for a whole week. I got an email that told me because of lots of fog at Lukla for two days running, sadly there was to be no Everest trek and instead the group have headed off to the Annapurna range for a circumambulation of them instead. The Mountain man was not amused, but had to make do as if they kept to plan A they could still be sitting in Kathmandu waiting for the fog to lift.

A few years ago I went to see Everest. Because of the body I have there was no way I could walk it, or at least not in the time span allotted, so opted for a flypast. In order to do this you have to arrive at Kathmandu airport at 6 am just as they're opening the airport - and I kid you not this is done with one of those padlocks that you used to be able to buy in Woolworth's - and then you have to sit there and wait and wait until the weather is deemed ok. Sometimes you just can't fly for days and days as the fog can be thick around the mountains. I was lucky as I only had to wait a few hours, but I know others who've had to wait in the airport then go back to where they're staying and do the same process for a couple of days before actually getting to see the mighty majesty of the Himalayas. Totally worth it though.

So me and the dog have survived our first week home alone. Nell seems to be feeling a bit better today. I was quite worried yesterday that she was on her last legs and wasn't going to last the night, but luckily has perked up lots and even ate her biscuits this morning. The brush I bought at the Border Union Show has meant that whether she's feeling good or bad at least she looks sleek. I took another  bag of fur off her yesterday and will have another go today. It's completely unbelievable that she has so much 'spare'. I'm hoping in a day or so she'll stop leaking and I can down tools for a while. I think she'll be glad too. At least she doesn't mind this one as much as the old cattle comb I used to use, but I still get the feeling that being combed to within an inch of her life is not her favourite pastime.

I've now got to contemplate a busy week ahead. The joys of work and leisure in equal measure culminating in my annual visit to the Pittenweem Arts Festival for the weekend which should be fun. This year it's been announced that there's going to be no firework display. Not sure why, but it won't impede my enjoyment of the event as I stay with my friend N and we are usually tied up with dinner for our friends Georgie and Fiona, and so far we've never made it to the fireworks themselves, but have watched them from N's garden under the influence of several glasses of wine where we ooh and aah along with the rest of the East Neuk of Fife.

And finally... advertising warning coming up... I'm hoping this week to receive copies of my little self help book on stress from the printers. Yes, thank to Bassman Publishers, it will be available from Amazon, but of course I'd be happy to supply you with a copy. It's only going to cost £4.95 plus p&p which is cheaper than 2 pints of beer. And hopefully the after effects will last a whole lot longer.