Friday, 25 May 2012

An easy goal

This morning it was pretty beautiful here at home in the Borders, but once I got about 15 miles nearer to Edinburgh I had to put my fog lights on and the haar stayed all the way to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital where my meeting was. The sun came out later on in the morning, which was perfectly timed for lunchtime. I decided to join the smokers who were all sat outside on the carefully placed picnic tables on the lawn at The Royal Ed and enjoyed the sunshine while eating my sarnie.

After the meeting I headed home to blue sky, warm sunshine, a glass of white wine and joy of joys, a book to review. This is one of those books that goes extremely well with blue sky, sun and a glass of white wine... you know the kind... literary doesn't come into it, but it zips along at quite a rate and is pure escapism. Just the thing for a gorgeous Friday evening in the Scottish Borders.

It also softened the blow that my man is away up a hill or down a dale in Yorkshire for the weekend and then he comes back and we have a couple of hours together and then I head off up to Inverness for two days of teaching. We eventually touch base on Wednesday evening after I get home from my poetry afternoon.

I've got an easy weekend, with finishing up my notes from today, then a bit of bowling tomorrow and then it's just enjoying the sunshine (which I'm apparently guaranteed is going to happen) with my dog and getting as brown as I can. Now that's what I call a goal that I'm sure I can achieve!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

A lovely summer day

A six mile bike ride to start the day, two hours out bowling with my friend this afternoon, followed by a walk with my man later in the afternoon. In between, time in the garden doing garden type things as well as sitting around reading a book. Yes, that was a very lovely day.

Tomorrow is work. Up early, head for Edinburgh to spend all day indoors (nooo...) chairing a meeting.

Oh dear. Still, best not to think about that til I wake up tomorrow.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

New purchases

Because the weather was so gorgeous today and I also had a meeting with some representatives of Raleigh International to meet I decided to wear a dress.

Now wearing a dress isn't something I do very often, but today was the day. In some ways, because the dress I have is half-sleeved, this was a good move because at least it hid the stripe on my arm where I was sitting in the sun yesterday and got my front brown, but sadly the back of my arms is white. All was hidden well.

I started off by going to try and buy some cycling sun glasses and went to the Tri-Centre in Edinburgh, which is where I bought Mountain Man's 60th birthday bike, and where he's such a frequent visitor they're on first name terms.

I managed to find a pair, which, although rather pricey, fit and are extremely comfortable. I hardly took them off the whole day, which is a whole lot better than my last cheapy ones, which were so uncomfortable I didn't like wearing them.

I also wanted some padded shorts, but the ones they had were well beyond what I need and decided not to bother. Then MM, who had to be in Edinburgh for an appointment, came into the shop just as I was leaving. He was on the lookout for a new pair of running shoes and had heard that Newton shoes were just the ticket, which they just happen to sell in the Tri-Centre. And, call me shallow, but they looked so good and after MM had given me the blurb on why they were good for running, I decided I'd try a pair on for walking. They gave us 15% off for buying his and hers shoes, but I'm sure you'll agree they look rather good.

From there I had a bit of garden tidying to do (yes, in a dress) and then off to my poetry class. I even got whistled and shouted at by some workmen, something that definitely doesn't happen every day, and quite frankly I'm pleased it doesn't. My dark glasses came into their own as I studiously ignored them. Some purchases are worth their weight!

I eventually got home after my meeting and took my dress off, donned my new shoes and MM and I went out for a very comfortable walk.

Oh yes, new purchases that actually work... hooray!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Filling my time

What an amazing day! And made even better by being retired from two of my previous jobs, which meant that I could spend the day actually enjoying the sunshine.

After a pleasant potter in the garden and sitting on a garden chair under the cherry blossom doing a bit of reading, Mountain Man and I became the Cycling Couple. We set out on our bikes for a lovely 11 miles along the road to Earlston and then cut off to Mellerstain and then back home for lunch. Next time I'll think about taking a picnic.

After lunch we sat out a bit more and then I had to get ready to go to Edinburgh as I was meeting up with a friend who I hadn't seen in quite a while. Edinburgh was quite dull in comparison to the Borders and I was relieved I'd spent most of the day out of the dullness.

I had a delicious meal with my psychiatrist friend, Teresa, at David Bann's and then home for an early night. I have a bit of reading to do and then I'm for bed.

I also had a bit of an honour today... at least I think it's an honour! I've been asked to be on the Board of an Edinburgh charity called Places For People. Well I have to fill my time now I'm not working the same as I was, don't I?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

All in a day's work

I had become so sick and tired of all the dandelions that had decided to take up residence in the lawn, especially after all the effort I went to last year to manually dig them up, and so another gadget arrived chez nous this afternoon in the shape of a weed puller.

A jolly almost hour was spent removing two and three quarters buckets full of weeds with really very little effort on my part, which is all very good news. What's not such good news is that the puller only goes so far down in the earth and so the roots are very firmly left, which means that Mountain Man has a job to do to put organic weed killer into all the holes I made in the lawn. And then of course all those holes will need to be filled in, because at the moment the lawn looks like it's been under attack by some weird, mutant, teeny tiny moles.

It was absolutely fab to be able to spend some time outside today. The temperature rose into double figures, and just in case the sun decided not to ever come back again, I donned shorts and a vest top and spent as much of the day in the great outdoors. I did gardening, bike riding, dog walking and then back to the garden again. Windows have been opened, washing has been done and left outside to dry. And what is even better is the resident blackbird has become almost tame and hopped about begging me to get some decent food for him (which I did) only about a foot from where I was standing. I'm now going to see if I can get him to feed from my hand. That would certainly be something.

Whilst I was down at the garden centre in Kelso to buy the weed grabber I spotted that there's a special offer on sheds of all sorts. We have a lovely big shed, but it's also bit of a waste as it's an absolute sun trap and the verandah bit of it deserves to have a bit of glass so we can sit there on sunny but cold days and at least get some rays when we need to have thermal, Arctic gear on to be in the garden. But a sun lounge cum shed... ah yes now you're talking!

MM was a bit reticent until I told him he wouldn't have to put it up or do anything as all the work would be done by those lovely garden centre people, and so now he's been persuaded that it's quite a good idea. After all he's got quite enough work to do in the aftermath of the new gadget, I think.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

No place like home

Parts of my London experience were wonderful and others were 'room for improvement' kind of situations.

I had a fab meet-up with my OU pals. All of us knew each other apart from one, who's the partner of one of our number. I thought he was amazing to get together with a whole lot of people going on about their EMA's, TMA's, cafe's and all that kind of thing, and yet still join in, was very lovely and a jolly good egg, if you know what I mean. And thank goodness that one of the crowd was going to the same tube station as me at the end of the evening, even tho he was going in the opposite direction. I was gently, but firmly pushed towards my tube. I eventually got in well past midnight and sank into bed. Can't wait for the next meet-up!

The other experiences that could have been better were actually down to my mother, who was on a bit of a roll. If I tell you that I was accused of breaking a coffee cup many years ago, I think that'll probably give you a flavour of some of the difficulties. She's 89 and was very tired so I can let a lot of this wash over me but that's probably nuff said!

I am very pleased to be home and relaxing with my man and my dog. Yes, very pleased.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

As long as it doesn't snow

I'm off to London today for a meal out with my mother tonight, a business meeting tomorrow morning and then an OU meet-up in the evening.

The last time me and the London OU crew were due to meet it snowed and they all cancelled so I'm hoping the same doesn't happen this time as I'm staying down til Saturday instead of coming back tomorrow night specially.

This time we have a rather special venue as one of the group's other halves has won some kind of drinks and eats thing for a party of ten, which sounds rather good to me. And it looks like we will be a party of ten, so that's all worked out pretty well.

As to the snow... well who knows? It's already raining with a bit of hail here and there's snow forecast in parts of the Highlands. I was talking to someone yesterday who'd been over in Germany last week and while it was blowing a gale in the UK in Germany they were all sitting out sipping their beer in the sunshine, wearing t-shirts and shorts. I don't know why I find that thought rather depressing but I do and it's not helped by the constant grey skies that seem to hang over the Scottish Borders these days.

London can't be worse... can it?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A little bit of excitement

I admit it... I'm a bit of a dinosaur where Twitter is concerned. I do have an account and I do post once a week (a very sensible, simple tip to help those feeling stressed), but as to the rest... well I don't really understand it.

I don't read very many people's tweets and I do wonder that people have the time to read the millions that must get put out there every minute of every day, let alone post the millions that are put out there every minute of every day.

However, I am totally intrigued by the people who decide to follow people they know nothing about, especially when one of those people is me. So tonight when I turned my account on I got a message that I had a new follower - number 92 if you must know, so lots of room for improvement in the follower stakes, unlike Mountain Man who's up well beyond 150... but of course it's not a competition... no it's not, really it's not... well ok, it might be if only I could get more followers. Sorry, I digressed for a moment there!

Anyway, back to what I wanted to say. Imagine my interest when I discovered my new follower was none other than the one and only Rex Pickett. Please don't tell me you don't know Rex Pickett? He's the author of a novel that was turned into a film I really, really liked: Sideways. I was amazed, but even more so when I clicked on his name and found that he has 18,720 followers and he doesn't follow all of them. No... Rex Pickett follows a mere 12,000, and me, yes, little old me is number 12,000. How exciting is that!

Monday, 14 May 2012


One whole week and one whole can of Cillit Bang Foam. That's what it took to clean the ensuite shower til it shines to perfection and looks like new.

Oh yes, and a whole load of procrastination.

What am I procrastinating about now, I hear you ask? My very new website and online course that's not actually written yet, is what.

I have been swithering over this for the last few months, wondering whether or not I should do it, whether or not I should give up some of my new found retired time to put energy into something that might or might not work. I have taken opinion and the overwhelming concensus has been that I should go ahead and do it, which is all very well, but I've found myself still wondering and still procrastinating.

I have determined that I shall have to stop all this cleaning and get on with it. And so hopefully in the next month or so I will redirect you to my new venture. I'm keeping it under wraps at the moment to the exact nature of said venture, but suffice it to say, once it is up and running I would welcome your comments.

Another blatant plug

Way back in March 2011 I told you all about Eilean Dubh, which is the photographic masterpiece done by Russell, the lovely man who published my book and who is married to the even lovelier She Who Must Not Be Named.

Russell, who goes by the rather fetching online name of Bassman, has this very same book entered into the Scottish Nature Photography Awards 2012.

If you, dear friends, would be good enough to go and vote, I think Mr Bassman will love you all forever... sorry I was getting carried away... no he won't love you forever, but he will be extremely grateful and even more so if he wins.

All you have to do is follow this link and go down to the thumbnail on the bottom right and vote away.

Thanks one and all.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A bit of dementia

No... not me... Nell!

Nell's usual afternoon/evening routine is to go for a walk about 4.30 - 5 ish and then have her meal and settle down for the evening. She usually goes straight to sleep and then at 9 - 9.30 (it used to be 10 - 10.30 in her younger days) she gets very perky and demands to have her biscuits and go to bed.

Last night I was sitting having a glass or two of wine and watching a bit of crap telly while trying to tidy up a poem at approximately 7.30 and Nell comes wandering over, pestering me. I stroked her, she wagged her tail at me. I stroked her some more, but she wouldn't sit down, just stared at me in that very familiar way, wagging her tail... and then it dawned on me... she wanted to have her biscuits and go to bed! She was told in no uncertain terms that it wasn't time. After trying to stare me out for a minute or so, she decided she was on a loser, however I did let her go upstairs and settle on her bed.

At about 10.45 I decided I'd make myself a hot drink and head for bed and realised Nell hadn't woken up for her night time biccies, but as soon as I woke her and mentioned that fact she was keen to make up for lost time.

Off we went down to the utility room. She had the biscuits, had a drink, went out in the garden for a pee and by the time she came back in I'd made my drink and was ready to go up... but no... not her... she actually stood there looking from me to the biscuit box. And yes, she wanted more! When I said 'no' to that, she looked at me in absolute disbelief, with a glare that said, 'But why are you starving me? I need my biscuits!' No amount of persuading on my part would do, but I didn't give in, I went and got my cup from the kitchen and told her 'Upstairs.' Very reluctantly she complied.

Although this is quite funny, in a sad kind of a way, it also reminds me that she's not got that much longer to live. She really is quite elderly now and it did occur to me that an extra biscuit or two probably wouldn't make a huge difference.

I'm not inclined to pander (Mountain Man doesn't call me Strict Woman for nothing), but I'm wondering, what would you do in these circumstances?

Friday, 11 May 2012

My May birthday

I can hardly believe that a whole month has gone by since I was down in Dumfries and trying out what was to turn out to be my April birthday present to myself.

This month's effort has been seriously dampened. It started yesterday with full on rain non stop for 24 hours. It had a slight pause and then poured through the night. Because I live in a house with velux windows the sound of the rain is exacerbated and when, at just about 2 am the pouring went on to sheets of rain, which lasted until 10 past 4, I resigned myself to a sleepless night and allowed myself to relax to the sound. I finally fell asleep as dawn was rising. Not the best way to start a birthday.

Mountain Man had an assignation on the South Downs, medicking for an event called Just Walk for Across The Divide, one of the companies he works for on Charity events, and so had to head off just after 8 am. Before he left he gave me a great card (a group of meerkats looking out and it says 'Which way's the party?!') and a very useful gift of a cycle computer so I can know how far I'm cycling, which I'm sure will be fab if only I can get it to work. I'm waiting til MM comes home to sort it out for me, cos I've lost patience with it. And anyway, with the weather the way it is, I'm not going to be going far if I get to go out at all until next week, so a wait won't really matter.

The morning was relatively rain free and I'd arranged to go bowling with my friends this afternoon, but by lunchtime the rain had set in again. Bowls was cancelled until tomorrow, when I'm assured by the BBC weather report that it will be sunny. Fingers crossed.

And so I spent a lazy birthday doing not much at all but reading and commenting on OU friends' final assignments, trying to write a poem (emphasis on the trying) and eating the M&S food I bought yesterday.

So that's my 5th birthday pretty much done and dusted. Nell and I are going to have a quiet night in. I shall have a glass or two of vino and she will be sleeping... some things just don't change for either of us!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Wondering away

There are some things that really make me wonder. Here are today's:

1. I had a hospital appointment for my ankle, which entails going to the Orthopaedic Department waiting area of the Borders General Hospital. They very kindly provide a TV which has the news on it with the sound turned down so low that no-one could hear it and also on the side of the screen is room for NHS messages. This was what one of those messages said:

'There has been an increase of a vomiting and diarrhoea bug across Scotland. If you or someone you live with has these symptoms please do not attend hospital until you have been symptom free for at least two days.'

Now I don't know about you, but in my view, isn't it a bit 'locking the stable after the horse has bolted' kind of thing?

I wonder why Health and Safety haven't locked on to this? Oh well, I'm not telling them otherwise I can see them having a field day.

2. After my hospital visit I went to Marks & Spencer Food Only in Galashiels. I bought four small items and went to pay. As the assistant was passing my goods over the scanner I was packing my bag. She then asked me if I needed help packing. Now this really got to me and I said, 'Do I look like I need help?' Ok, well I know this looks a bit antagonistic, but I absolutely promise you it was said in a very gentle, kindly tone. She informed me it was company policy to ask everyone.

I then decided to take this a bit further and so asked to see the Manager, while assuring the poor girl that it was nothing to do with her, just the policy.

The Manager was lovely, but 'yes' she said it was company policy. I did say that I thought it was a bit condescending, if not downright ridiculous to ask someone who looks (relatively) fit and healthy, who'd already packed two thirds of their four items if they needed help with packing. But she said they even have people come round and check that this question is asked. She did agree with me though and we decided that she'd send an email to head office. She then said it would be much better if I sent an email too, and would I like to? I liked to and I have. Now I'll have to wait and see if there's any response.

I wonder why employees aren't encouraged to use their initiative?

3. I got home from all of this to find a package waiting for me. Inside was an amazing vegetarian recipe book by Yotam Ottolenghi, which a friend had decided to send me. A week or so ago we were talking about a couple of his recipes she'd tried that had been in The Guardian Saturday food section a while back, which we both then downloaded.

And so I ended my day wondering what the hell I'd done to deserve such an incredibly lovely gift? I still don't know, but I do know I'm one helluva lucky person in spite of sometimes being a very grumpy old woman.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

It all goes wrong

The frustration when one thing goes wrong is bad enough, but I'm giving up on today as there's been too many to count, but to give you a flavour:

My iPad has decided it doesn't like the internet and won't log on.

I paid for something through PayPal and although it says I've paid, the company I was buying from said they didn't have a record of the transaction. They told me to go into my PayPal account and cancel the transaction. I tried, I really did, but eventually had to bite the bullet and phone PayPal. This was unbelievably frustrating. I had to go through approx five layers of different machine choices (enough to drive me nuts to start with) and then get hold of someone who tells me that in spite of their website which says all you have to do is click on the transaction and cancel, this is the kind of transaction that can only be cancelled by the seller. Nowhere on PayPal website does it say this. They tell me I have to get in touch with the seller and get them to get in touch with PayPal (god help the poor sods) and then they will hopefully sort it out. The selling company have so far been very good, in that they've said they'll get in touch with PayPal. This story might run on and on...

My credit card has decided to stop working. Nowhere can I find a problem with it. I don't owe money, I still have plenty of credit.

I wanted to go outside for a bit of exercise, preferably on my bike, but each time I have a spare moment it starts chucking it down, and when I say chucking, I mean chucking. I know I'm a fair weather outdoors person, but I'm already miserable, so being wet and miserable doesn't seem like a great option.

I'm giving up on today. I'm going to hide my head under my duvet and only get up when life has returned to a semblance of unfrustratingness. I might have a very long wait.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

It's a dog's life

Nell was feeling her age when we went out for a Sunday stroll this morning. She hobbled up the road to the field, a walk that used to take her 5 minutes, which now takes about 12. A quick 2 minutes in the field, a quick eat of a bit of rabbit poo, and then she wanted to go home.

As we exited the field we caught up with a couple of greyhound pals, one of whom looked decidedly worse for wear. He's only 9 but isn't doing too well, while his 10 year old chum was very jolly. Nell certainly perked up at the sight of them. I think when she saw the poorly one, she decided she wasn't quite that bad and started to be a bit playful with his mate, while his owner (last year's outdoor bowls club president) and I chatted bowls or lack thereof.

After a few minutes, Nell was still wagging her tail and looking perky as the others were dragged off for their morning constitutional. As soon as the dogs were out of sight she went back to limping slowly home.

I'm not absolutely sure who's benefit that show was for, but I have a feeling it's a case of not letting down one's dog public.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Love is...

Mountain Man has a new toy. It's a blood pressure monitor, which he bought after his recent bout in hospital. The reason for him actually buying it, is so that he can stay one step ahead of those who were trying to get him to take quantities of medication. He also wanted to prove to himself that he can, by exercising sensibly and eating even more sensibly, manage his health without resorting to tablets.

He bought a rather fetching, simple machine off eBay for half the price it's advertised for.

For the last week since it arrived MM has been religiously taking his blood pressure morning and night, and recording it for posterity, or at least for the next time he goes to the GP for his heart check-up.

When I got back from Edinburgh on Thursday I was rather fascinated by the process and demanded a shot. My blood pressure is lower than a lot of people's, but has, I believe, crept up into the more normal range as I've gotten older.

It's a strange thing taking your blood pressure with a digital thingy. Once the band is in the right place you press the button and it tightens and tightens and tightens and just as you wonder if it will ever stop tightening, it lets go and then you have to wait for it to do it's thing and come out with a reading at the end. Is it simple to use? Yes. Is it accurate? Who knows, but the reviews are good. Is it frightening? Yes! Each time I use it I worry that it won't stop tightening. I'm sure this raises my blood pressure somewhat, but as it's low anyway, I'm not all that sure it matters.

And so there we are, the odd couple. Last thing at night, sitting side by side in bed taking turns in taking our blood pressure. Romantic or what!

Friday, 4 May 2012

The season begins

Because it was actually sunny yesterday and the temperature was in actual double figures I decided that it would be the start of my outdoor bowls season.

Joyce and the wonderfully named Magic Bob had already begun over a week ago when I was away on Holy Isle, but a quick chat while I was on my way to vote yesterday morning in the village hall led to my first session.

By the time we got on the bowls green it was just after 5 pm and the sun was lovely and warm, which made up for the fact that all 3 of us took a while to get the hang of what we were supposed to be doing. Still, it was fun.

We played for an hour and a half - and just for the record I won by one point (9 to Joyce's 8 and Bob got 1) - and then decided to start our season the way we meant to go on, which meant retiring to my house for a G&T and Twiglets. Definitely a great start.

We were going to play again today, but it seems as though the weather has stepped in to see if we're up to bowling in a force 8 gale like true bowlers. The answer is a resounding no. I just have to hope that my bowls season wasn't over in one short day.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Why, oh why?

Some of you may know that Mountain Man has an Ebay shop where he sells Tibetan artifacts. He sells these to make some money for himself, but also to support Tibetan refugees in Nepal. He knows his suppliers personally and also who makes a lot of the items.

Recently he's had a spate of emails from Ebay to say people are unhappy with his service and they want their money back. Now MM prides himself on his service. A whiff of unhappiness and he deals with it instantly, which is why he is a Power Seller and has always been in the top seller status.

It turns out that these emails are spoofs. They are so well done that they look like they've come direct from Ebay. No 'And please send me money because I have a special deal for you' and no dodgy graphics or simplistic layout. These are so real looking that you have to really look to spot the dodginess. The mistake they're making is that, right at the very bottom, they say they paid in dollars not pounds. However, it probably won't be long before they cotton on and realise the mistake.

What I don't understand is why someone would go to all that trouble? Let alone that it's so awful for a person to do that to another person, if they're that bloody talented in creating these emails, they're obviously wasting that talent doing what they're doing.

What a shame they don't put their brilliance to better use, but frankly I can see I'm pissing in the wind on this one.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Now there's a scary thought

I went to a new hairdresser today as my hair was beyond any form of being able to do anything with it whatsoever. Jackie from the village, who usually cuts my hair, isn't a stylist. She's very good at cutting but you have to know what you want. I wanted to grow mine, but that was a bit of mistake as I was beginning to look like Coco the Clown on a good day and I just didn't know what to do. And so began the internet search for someone who had the wherewithall to actually cut my rather strange hair.

The person I ended up with has won awards and doesn't cost the earth, so I thought I'd give him a try. Our phone conversation was interesting and I think he wondered what was going to come through his door this morning and when I did turn up he tried not to look too shocked but didn't hide it well. I think his assistant was stifling a giggle at the time.

As he was chopping away he asked what I did for a living. I told him he had to guess. His one and only guess before he gave up was...

a publisher!

Now that really is scary, don't you think?

Probably on a par with getting a new haircut in my view. And the verdict re the haircut is... well it's ok. I'm getting used to it. I'll see how I feel tomorrow before I decide whether I'll ever go back.