Friday, 29 June 2012

Am I fit enough?

How amazing it can be to be absolutely exhausted by watching a tennis match.

I was out last night and missed the Nadal / Rosol match, but due to rain stopping play today I managed to catch up with the last set, which was unbelievable. That was tiring enough. But then tonight, watching Federer play against Benneteau, I couldn't believe how much it took out of me and I'm wondering if I'm fit enough to withstand the next week of tennis.

There's loads of research that shows that if you rehearse the game you're playing, your muscles, through micro muscle movement, respond and can be as good as actually doing the training. Well if that's true then I'm truly fit for Wimbledon. As if!!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Strict Woman returns

There I was watching Wimbledon last night when I noticed this small spider on the wall by my bed. It was very inactive and I thought it was rather sweet.

Around 11.30 I got myself ready for bed and got my book out and blow me there it was climbing up my bed. I told it, 'No, I don't want to share my bed with you,' and very nicely took it off and put it back on the wall. Well blow me, but a mere half an hour later it had bloody appeared back on my bed again.

I'm afraid this time I was taking no prisoners and I definitely didn't want to share my bed with it, so I scooped it up on my book and I very carefully put it out of the window.

I would've let it stay in the room, but all this wanting to get close to me was a bit much for me and, as Mountain Man will attest, I'm not called Strict Woman for nothing when it comes to animal behaviour!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Home alone

I spent a lot of yesterday morning in tears. The reality of not having Nell around hit hard and I ended up doing what I always do when upset, which is a) clean and b) play stupid computer games. I did quite a bit of both. And then, come midday, there was Wimbledon to watch.

I love Wimbledon for so many reasons. The fact that all the players have to wear white somehow seems to make a difference to all the other majors and, the screamers aside (who I absolutely refuse to watch until the semis when I'm forced to), the first day was great.

I thought I'd post this photo, which I first posted in 2009, which is Nell lying on her back watching the French Open and always makes me smile.

Lying on the bed watching the French Open in June 2009

This morning saw sunshine and Magic Bob and I went out bowling. Apparently we've both been asked to fill in for the League team in a couple of weeks when some people are away. I'll have to think about that one as after my last debacle I'm not so sure I want to play. Bob is also up in arms about it, but we've decided we'll wait and see.

Then I took Nell's food and bedding down to the vet's. A friend of ours is the vet nurse there and I know her dogs will appreciate the treats; the bed, poop bags and food (for dogs with delicate stomachs) can be used at the vet's. We've decided to give her bowls to the Dog's Home we got her from on The Black Isle up in the Highlands, where we're headed in August for our friend's retiring party, so we'll drop those off then. And now the house seems even emptier. However, there are so many dog hairs in all the carpets that I know she'll be with us for quite a while longer... and I feel I have a poem about that coming on. It's brewing!

And finally, after lots of washing, drying and more vacuuming I settled down to watch the second day at Wimbledon. It was great to see Andy Murray playing with a degree of intensity that I'd not seen before and for the first time in quite a while he actually won through a first round match in 3 sets. I do hope he continues in that vein.

The only problem with Wimbledon and not having a dog to walk is that I fear for my fitness. Even though Nell wasn't walking much in the last couple of months at least I was forced out twice a day. I'm not sure I can count bowls as exercise exactly and at the rate I'm going I'll be lucky to make it past the washing line for the next two weeks, but at least my man is making up for it. After a day of frustration route marking from London to the coast he reached Dover tonight and is heading across the Channel to start marking on French soil tomorrow. I think he's doing enough for both of us... or at least that's my excuse!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Not taking my own advice

Here I am, home alone all this week. My man has gone off to route mark on the London to Paris cycle ride that he's marked for the last few years. I'm hoping the weather's going to be ok, because otherwise the spray paint won't work and then he'll have all sorts of problems.

Meanwhile, I have loads of work to be getting on with, but I'm finding myself in a bit of a slump and am in a 'can't be bothered' kind of mood, which seems to have been surrounding me pretty much all weekend. This is not good news for my latest venture, which has come to a bit of a dead stop right now due to lack of input from me. I keep having second thoughts about why the heck I'm bothering to start such a project and am worried I've taken on too much.

Still, Wimbledon starts today so I'm sure that'll cheer me up and will give me more to procrastinate with over the next two weeks. Funny really because my this week's tweet (I do a stress less simple tweet of the week on a Monday morning and can be found on @dr_vee11) was all about cutting out distractions. Shame I can't take my own advice!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

A phone conversation with my mother

My mother: Hello, so what have you been doing?

Me: We went to pick up Nell's ashes this afternoon.

My mother: What did you do that for?

Me: So that we can scatter them.

My mother: Wouldn't the vet get rid of them for you?

Me: What? Ermmm... why would we want the vet to do that? It's something we want to do.

My mother: Really? Oh. Well that's fine then. I have a lovely picture of her with you and Geoffrey* from when he came to stay. She was a dear dog wasn't she?

Me: Yes, she was.

My mother: Well, I'm going to go now because I'm going to the theatre soon.

Me: Ok, well have a good time.

My mother: Yes, fine. Goodbye.

Me (to a dead phone): Bye.

I'm saying nowt!

*My brother

Friday, 22 June 2012

Another busy week goes by

I can hardly believe today is Friday... this week seems to have gone so fast.

Monday was fairly relaxed and then on Tuesday morning I headed for Glasgow. I was due to attend an evening with Jon Kabat-Zinn followed by a day conference with him and others on Wednesday. I was invited to stay with a friend and we'd organised that I would have lunch with her at her flat on Tuesday and get myself settled before going off to meet up with my step-daughter and her son. However, a slip-up on Mountain Man's part and I never made it to see them, which was a bit sad, but I did manage to get myself to Glasgow Uni, the venue for the evening, in good time.

After the evening, which was very good, six of us headed out for a meal at Tchai-Ovna, a brilliant place, which I advise you to visit if you're in Glasgow. They sell over 80 different kinds of tea and we didn't even get to try one! Still a delicious shared platter between us all and our appetites were satisfied. Back to my friend's for the night.

I woke early on Wednesday and was walked to the venue in case I lost my way. I was very grateful as I'm totally direction-dyslexic. The weather was fantastic... warm and sunny and that was at 8 in the morning. I then spent the whole day inside at the conference on what was probably the very best day of the month to be outside and sadly I didn't feel like I got a whole lot from it, however I did get a chance to meet up with a whole load of people and that certainly was good. Then off back to my friend's to collect my car, which I made with only one wrong turn... I was dead proud of myself! And what a beautiful walk it was along the river. Here's a photo... you'd hardly believe this was the centre of Glasgow, would you?

A reasonable drive back to Edinburgh to get ready for work on Thursday, after which a meet up with MM and my friend N for a dinner at the local tapas bar, El Bar, to put a smile on our faces in the dreadful weather that had managed to manifest in Edinburgh for the whole day. Arthur's Seat was completely shrouded in mist and couldn't be seen. We had an amusing conversation about what tourist's to the city might think about the much vaunted dead volcano in the middle of Edinburgh... kind of: 'Volcano? Where? There? But there's nothing there, just a grey blank' sort of conversation.

This morning we had tickets for His Holiness The Dalai Lama's public meeting at Usher Hall. It was a good morning, if somewhat strange in places as we had opera and orchestra at 10 am before HH took to the stage, but I'm so pleased we went. I always find the way HH speaks is truly inspirational and his voice has this resonant depth that's difficult to describe.

From there MM and I went back to the Borders to pick up our Nell's ashes from the vet, which came complete with plastic flowers and a letter of condolence from the crematorium. The box is completely different to what I expected and has a small, gold coloured disk with Nell's name on it, as you can see:

We both felt it was most appropriate to pick this up after being in the presence of the Dalai Lama. The fact that it was pissing down somehow reflected our mood.

However, when I got home I found two lovely things to cheer me up. The first was a copy of The Eildon Tree, which is the Scottish Borders Literary Magazine that decided to publish one of my poems (it felt a bit surreal seeing it in print); and the second was a gift from my friend who has been putting together the catalogue for the David Nash exhibition, which is currently on at Kew Gardens. It's a wonderful publication and I feel so lucky to have been sent a copy.

And now MM has left me for the weekend to go and medic up at the top of Glenogle for the Rob Roy challenge. Rather him than me in this weather. I shall, in the meantime, have a bit of reflective time... no man, no dog, but a lovely David Nash catalogue and an Eildon Tree to peruse, so not all bad by any means.

Monday, 18 June 2012

A new occupation beckons

For years now I've been using some lip stuff to make my lips less dry. I don't find Lipsalve or petroleum jelly to be very good for me for some reason. It's called LipVolume and I originally bought it on an EasyJet flight when I'd run out of my old one and thought I'd give it a try. It says on the blurb that it increases lip volume without needles, but I don't know about that, I just like the tingly effect. It's not cheap but lasts for ages and I've never found anything that works as well.

Ever since then I've been ordering it off Ebay because the manufacturers website is a good £7 more expensive than on Ebay, but when my last one took ages to turn up and I was getting a bit frantic and dry-lipped, I phoned the company just to check that I couldn't get it cheaper from them. The woman told me I could buy it in bulk and then I'd get it even cheaper than on Ebay and, she stressed this bit, I could sell it on for what the hell I like. The minimum order was six, so I went for it. She now has me down as a salon!

So people, if you fancy trying some Transformulas LipVolume you know where to come. I'll do you a very good deal.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

I feel like an adult

A weekend in Edinburgh, which was marred only by the weather. I think 'deluge' is the appropriate word. I got absolutely soaked when out on a shopping mission and immediately put the heating on and watched the tennis from Queen's Club in my pj's while waiting for my trousers to dry on the radiator.

Mountain Man joined Matchgirl on a date with destiny... or rather Chi Running... at Meadowbank where they spent the day freezing their arses off along with 3 other brave souls. They learned loads apparently, all about their bad running habits and are both now in the process of changing their running style. It's actually very good but takes a while to get used to. Matchgirl told us about it and I've been trying out Chi Walking (obviously a grade down from my faster compatriots) for the past month.

The three of us went out to David Bann's for our meal, which was lovely and then back to ours for a bit more wine. I was very encouraged this morning when I had no evidence of hangover in spite of the amount of alcohol consumed... a bonus in my book!

And just as MM and I were about to enjoy a leisurely Sunday he got a call-out from Borders Search and Rescue and so off he went to do his duty. I'm pleased to report that the person they were looking for was found still alive, but poorly, as the elderly guy had been lying out in a field since Friday. He was carted off to hospital and the latest info is that his body temperature is steadily increasing. Unbelievable that he survived given how cold and horrible the last few days have been.

Meanwhile I came home and settled down to watch the tennis final only to have it cut short as David Nalbandian took out his temper on a court official's chair and in so doing injured said official and was immediately disqualified. So in the middle of the second set there was no more tennis. What a disappointing end. I wanted Cilic to win, but not like that. Roll on Wimbledon!

The only other thing I wanted to tell you is this: as you're aware I have been trying contact lenses for the past few months and a few weeks ago I got a call from my provider to say there was some problem with the dailies I'd been using and could I try some others. I made the decision that it might be good to try monthlies instead. I don't know why, but it has kind of made me feel grown-up in contact lens terms. So now I've joined the brigade of adult contact wearers. I just wish I wasn't quite so cack-handed with them as I keep losing them. I found one on the edge of the sink last night when I thought I'd put it in it's place in the cleaning fluid. I might just have to go back to being a child again at this rate!

Friday, 15 June 2012

And the torch came by

Yesterday started as a warm, sunny day. Shirley and I sat in the garden chatting until lunch time, when it suddenly started to feel quite cold. Mountain Man and I had decided we would fly our Tibetan flag in honour of the Dalai Lama's arrival in the UK on 13th June. I'm not sure that the locals even knew what it was, but they did know it was different from the Union Jacks that they were being sold by a group of Chinese guys, who wisely didn't approach us.

At around 2.15 pm we were aware of people congregating and, even though the Torch Time wasn't supposed to be until 2.50 we decided to go outside and join in the gathering. It was cold out there!

Me sheltering by the side of the house with our Tibetan flag flying
There were an unbelievable amount of police. Police cars, motorbikes and even several riot vans drove by. They came from the Met force in London, Strathclyde and Lothian and Borders. I'm sure it was a good day for robbing in those areas!

A policeman from the Met having a laugh with the locals
Two of many riot vans

Then the parade began. We had Coca-Cola and Samsung floats go by. I was given a small bottle of coke emblazoned with Olympic rings and others were given frisbees. Samsung weren't giving anything away, but played loud music and tried to rouse the village to do more than look, but sadly even though they tried their best, the good folk of Gordon just took photos and politely smiled.

The Samsung float coming down the street
Then the torch itself. At first we were led to believe that a 16 year old from the village, Callum Airlie, who is an Olympic hopeful at sailing - yes, it's ok to wonder at that one as here we are in a village miles from the sea and yet he learnt to sail, but hey, he is part of the village and a prospective Olympian so that fits, however as you can see from the photos, this person was obviously not 16!

Definitely not 16

And there goes the Olympic Torch with our house in the background
It turns out that the torch was taken half way through the village by Callum Airlie and, for some completely bizarre reason that completely eludes me, at our end of the village we got a 59 year old football coach from Hexham called Douglas Robson. I mean really... couldn't they at least have chosen a Scot?

Anyway, it was over and done with very quickly and we retreated inside to the warmth of the house. It was good that the village was included in all this, but... riot police? a Torch bearer from England? I think that about sums it up!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Back to Inverness and home again

On Sunday when I had to get up the road to Inverness for Monday and Tuesday teaching, I was very reluctant to go. Partly because of feeling like I wanted to hide my head under the duvet and not face the world and partly because I was watching the men's final of the French Open. However, rain stopped play and I managed to pack my bag and get myself out of the door before the match started again. Sometimes it's good to force oneself to work rather than give in to feeling low and I'm pleased to say that I found the match on Radio 5 Live (until it went off again for the day due to more rain) and also that the enforced concentration on work and others allowed me to stop dwelling on my sadness, at least for a couple of days.

One of the delights of staying in the Inverness area is that the wildlife is just so fab. I'm not suggesting that it isn't in the Borders, but being in a village is very different from living out in the countryside. Where I used to live we had resident pheasants, deer and red squirrels, so it was delightful to once again have my breakfast with a red squirrel enjoying it's early morning feast at the same time.

The teaching went well and the feedback was excellent and then on Tuesday night I headed off down the A9 to Edinburgh as I had my last poetry class of the term yesterday, which I'm so pleased I got to. I can't go next week to the actual last class of term as I shall be in Glasgow for a Mindfulness conference, so it was important to me to make it this week. And then it was home to the Borders, to an ever so quiet house.

No time to dwell though as today is the day the Olympic torch passes our door - literally passes our door - and my dear friend Shirley is coming down to partake of the event with us. The road is going to be closed from 11 until 5, though the torch itself isn't due until this afternoon, so we can't really go anywhere or do anything but stay home and wait until the event itself. I'm quite looking forward to it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Trying to get used to our changed lives

Three days on and we are just getting our heads round our loss. The house is quiet and getting out of our over 14 year routine is very strange.

The worst times are first thing in the morning and last thing at night and coming back into the house when we've been out. No beautiful brown eyes or wagging tail to greet us.

But, the other side of that coin is that we don't need to rush home when we've been out and we can begin to plan the holiday that we'd put on hold for the last 18 months. I also can go to Bristol to join No. 2 son for his birthday, something that I couldn't have done if Nell was alive as Mountain Man is off working that weekend.

I'm off up to Inverness tomorrow to facilitate the last 2 days of the 4 day training that was started 2 weeks ago and then it's back down to Edinburgh for my last poetry class on Wednesday and from there back home to await the arrival of the Olympic torch, which will be passing our door on Thursday.

So lots to look forward to, but sadly it doesn't ease the pain.

Nell in one of her favourite places, doing a bit of back seat driving in Mountain Man's car

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

RIP Nell (with us from 1st March 1998 to 6th June 2012)

After the problems of last night, we made the decision that today would be the day. And so at 11 a.m. the vet and the vet nurse turned up at our door. Nell hardly raised her head and we knew we'd made the right decision.

We are very sad to lose a dear friend, who enriched our lives in so many ways over the fourteen years and three months she spent with us. From her dreadful start of being badly abused so that when she arrived with us, at approximately 6 months old, she was so thin she could get through the bars of a baby gate and not being able to walk because she had no leg muscles to speak of; to becoming a Therapet and going to work with us every day, giving pleasure to so many people; to the end of her life where she was just Nell, our quiet, lovely, lovely dog.

One of my favourite photos taken a couple of months ago

A bit of a nightmare

There I was, glass of white wine in my hand, watching the beginning of the 5th set of the men's quarter finals at The French Open, when the doorbell went. It was the league captain from the bowls club who had been let down by a player and asked if I could step in at short notice. I reluctantly agreed, basically because it was raining and I absolutely hate playing in the rain. I also was very happy sitting on the couch watching the tennis (which was utterly amazing) and was beginning to wish I hadn't started my glass of wine. But when I'm asked to help out I will always say yes.

When I got to the club one member looked at me and said (and I quote) 'Oh, are you playing?' (in quite a derogatory tone), I said 'yes' and that was about the measure of it. Only one person said thank you to me for playing, the other 3 in my team hardly spoke to me and in fact the opposing team said more to me than my own team did. And as for shaking hands... the least said about that the better!

So 2 hours later, freezing cold and wet through, we finished. My team still weren't talking to me, but by that time they actually had a point as I didn't play well at all and we were the only team out of 4 who lost. I'm afraid as I hadn't had anything to eat I made my excuses and left and didn't even join the rest in the bar. I decided my need for food was greater than my need for politeness and what the f**k, I don't think anyone missed me and if they did, that's their problem.

After a hot shower, some hot food and some cold wine, I felt a bit better. Still I suppose the good thing is that I definitely won't be asked again.

Mountain Man and I went to sleep only to be woken just after midnight by a very sick dog. What I have a feeling is going to be a nightmare for you once you've read about it, is the picture of MM totally naked armed with a packet of paper towels and a plastic bag, and me totally naked armed with a J-cloth and a plastic bowl cleaning up the floor together. Yes, that definitely is a nightmare in the making!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The man is fit, but the tests go on

Yesterday my man had to head off to the hospital for a meeting with the cardiologist and a running machine. He had to prove that he could tolerate exercise and he came out of it with flying colours, was discharged and pronounced fit for life. Hooray!

He was then strapped up to a 24 hour blood pressure monitor, which his GP had requested. Every half hour a beep goes off and the machine starts whirring as his blood pressure is taken. Not much of a problem during the day, but being woken up every half hour during the night is no joke.

This afternoon the dreaded contraption will be removed and taken down the road to the GP's to be downloaded onto some system so that a discussion can take place about medication. My understanding of the situation is that MM's pretty anti meds and was just interested in having the test done.

And me? I was interested for about half an hour, but that dreaded beep is driving me nuts. Frankly I can't wait until the 24 hours is up, as for the first time in my life I'm contemplating my own blood pressure being high!

Monday, 4 June 2012

What did you do on Jubilee Day?

I spent a lot of the morning engrossed in the French Open. It didn't help that I had a stomach ache until the wee small hours, which continued on and off throughout the day. I didn't feel great at all. So when our village celebrations started at 2 pm I, rather bravely in my estimation, got myself out there, in the drizzle and cloud, to see what was going on. The answer was not very much at all. A few kids under a large awning doing face painting and that was about it. We came home and went back to the French Open.

Later in the evening as the sky cleared and a rock band started to play Mountain Man came over all anti-social and decided he didn't want to go back. I think some of this was due to having spent the whole evening on Friday in the company of loads of very drunk petrol heads who were taking part in the Jim Clark Rally and he'd had enough of drunk folk to last him the summer.

There we were, watching the French Open until the bitter end. Caught up with the news (the flotilla down the Thames was spectacular) and then watched the final of The Apprentice.

So when my grandchildren ask me 'What did you do on Jubilee Day?' I shall have to be honest and say I was mainly stuck in front of my TV fulfilling my tennis obsession alongside my sleeping dog and loving husband.

Not the most exciting, I'm sure you'll admit, but the tennis was very, very good!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

It's a dog's life

Our beloved German Shepherd, Nell, is elderly. At 14 and a half, an age we never thought she'd reach, her life has become one of sleeping and eating and going out for an extremely short stroll in the morning and afternoon and that's pretty much it.

Last weekend, when Mountain Man was away, she really struggled up the stairs and this was one of the things that MM and I had talked about as being a pointer to us that it was time to call in the vet.

When MM got home on Sunday and before I escaped up the A9 to Inverness, we had a long talk while sitting in the sunshine. Nell was sitting quietly under the cherry tree, but (anyone who hates anthropomorphism turn away now) as soon as she heard what we were saying she grabbed her ball and wanted to play, as if to say to us 'Not yet, folks, I'm not ready.'

The rest of the week, according to MM, she has been back to normal - as in sleeping all day every day and only getting up to go for a stroll. Both MM and I have spent quite a bit of our week, albeit separately, thinking about this, and then when we were out walking yesterday and out of Nell's earshot we discussed it.

It's very difficult when you don't want your dear friend to suffer, but do we know whether she's actually suffering? It seemed to both of us that it was us who were suffering with watching her not doing what she used to and not having much of a life, just a sleeping existence.

For most of her life, Nell has been allowed onto our bed first thing in the morning, when we've invited her and then in the evening. A kind of 'pack treat', both for her and for us. We welcome her closeness to us - maybe not the mountain of hair that accompanies it, but there's always a downside! For the last 6 - 9 months Nell hasn't been able to jump on the bed and we've got out of the habit of her being there.

Imagine my surprise this morning, not long after I woke up and was contemplating the day's activities to find Nell by my side of the bed. On enquiring what she wanted it became obvious that she wanted to join us and so MM got out of bed and lifted her up. It was a lovely start to our day to have our old friend back with us.

Not only did she partake of the old morning bed routine, she also went and had her morning biscuits, something else she hasn't done in a while.

So I just thought I'd let you know that the vet won't be called this weekend.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Home and away

I was up in my old stamping ground, Inverness, this week. It was a real chore driving up the A9 and it made me think about how often I used to do that journey only a few years ago and how I never really thought about it. I've obviously become a Southern Softie!

It was also quite serendipitous that a bunch of my old workmates were having a work 'away day' in the same building where I was facilitating a teaching event, and so I had an opportunity to catch up with them, which was lovely.

When I left home on Sunday it was around 25 degrees and stayed that way pretty much all the way up. I wore my shorts and a vest top to drive in, which was eminently sensible. What wasn't quite so sensible was, that although I'd taken a variety of clothing just in case it turned back to winter overnight, I'd forgotten my waterproof jacket. And it did turn virtually into winter. A wopping 15 degrees colder in 12 hours!

I had a bit of a dilemma with the 'no jacket' situation as my plan had been to drive back to Edinburgh on Wednesday morning and go to my poetry group in the afternoon and then to a physio appointment and stay in Edinburgh overnight ready for work yesterday and then another stay over as I had an art thing followed by dinner last night. But the weather forecast said cold and rain for Thursday and I thought of the sense of trucking round Edinburgh with no jacket and decided against it.

Due to circumstances of a social nature I didn't make it to my poetry group and headed on back to the Borders after my physio and then got up early yesterday. Was I pleased I did! It bucketed down all day and although I always carry my brolly in the car, there was no way that would've been enough.

However, here I am at home now. A bit sick and tired of all the driving I've done this week and determined to have a bit of a low key weekend.

Mountain Man is off to do some medicking with the Search and Rescue guys tonight for the Jim Clark Rally. I'm not going along as I don't think I'd relish all those petrol heads for more than a couple of hours in our not-so-warm-anymore-summer, but tomorrow may well find me sitting on my stoop watching all them boys and their toys racing around our roads.