Sunday, 30 December 2012

Two late nights and a slob-out day and the last post of 2012

When our friends from the village, Joyce, Magic Bob and Gill, came over the other night to share Prosecco and canapes, our talk turned to having a local reading group, which is something I've missed since I moved south. However, after having shared a couple of bottles we made the decision, based on the fact that Magic Bob and Mountain Man's preference was to read non-fiction and Joyce, Gill and I preferred novels, not to have a reading group, but, as we all loved the idea of monthly get togethers to do something, thus The Gordon Film Club was born.

The other decision made was that the inaugural film night should be that night, so armed with more food and non-alcoholic drinks we sat until well into Saturday morning watching 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' - and yes I know it's the second time in not so many days, but a good film is a good film and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The reasons for that being our first film is because I had it on my computer and the cable, which goes from my computer to the TV that No. 2 son had ordered for me so I could watch all the films on his hard drive (he's going to leave it with me when he leaves the country for a few months to go travelling and working abroad), arrived that morning and it was all hitched up and ready to go.

Actually it was a very fun evening, though both MM and I were quite tired yesterday and would quite have liked a quiet night, but other friends were coming for dinner and there was no time to rest.

An afternoon of cooking produced a mushroom pate and a fish pie. I'm not sorry to say I bought the dessert (individual fruit pavlovas) which made my job rather easy. A quick tidy and there we were back in the throes of Prosecco and, if I say so myself, a rather tasty meal.

Another late night with good friends - this one leading to more book reviewing (but this one sensible psychology type books rather than novels)... I'm such a sucker for a free book - and we woke up this morning feeling exhausted. This has led to a day of slobbing today while we get ourselves ready for Hogmanay with our dear friends Shirley and Andy and who we've been spending time over Christmas and New Year with for the last 27 years since we met when Shirley and I were pregnant with our youngest children.

So tomorrow sees us heading off to Edinburgh to eat, play and be merry and see the New Year in in good company.

Oh dear... I see another slob-out day appearing on the horizon!

Well everyone, I sincerely hope you have a lovely New Year and that 2013 is a nourishing and healthy one for you all.


Friday, 28 December 2012

A not just poignant moment

I thought I'd tell you about something that happened on Christmas Day that I forgot to put in yesterday's post.

As a family we'd decided ages ago that, once the boys were here, we'd go and scatter the rest of Nell's ashes that weren't scattered in Nepal.

Christmas Day was one of the few that we awoke to when it wasn't raining and, after breakfast and opening presents, decided we'd head off down to the Community Woodland with her ashes. It was a place where Nell had loved to walk and, when we'd first moved here and she was still fit enough, one of her favourite activities was to jump into the small stream there and splash about. It seemed like the ideal location.

Water was always a fascination for Nell and whenever she saw any, if she wasn't stopped, she'd rush at it and throw herself in. There were a few times when the ditches she decided to plunge into were really deep and she'd find herself with her head covered in water and after a momentary look of shock as she surfaced, she'd then rush about in it like a mad thing.

We arrived at the small, wooden bridge and each of us took a handful from the cardboard box and watched as her ashes ran through our fingers and flowed into the fast flowing stream water. We did this a couple of times and very poignant it was too.

Nell was a big dog and we still had rather a large amount of ashes left and it was suggested that, as I was holding the box, I should just gently let the rest flow out. I slowly tipped the box so it was just beyond horizontal, so that her ashes would run lightly into the water. The next thing is... splash! Her ashes had lumped together and she went in one swoop and 'fell' into the stream!

It was actually very funny and typical of her. She'd never have approached the water in a gentle way at all, she'd have gone for it. And we came away laughing and feeling it had been a fitting 'scattering'.

I'm adding a picture of last Christmas... her last Christmas... when she got another ragger. She got one every single year she was with us and she was always thrilled with it. Happy memories.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Well that was that

My boys left today.

We had a lovely time playing games (Dominion is our new favourite), watching far too much telly, eating and drinking. I got some great things amongst which are books - and a big thank you to Karen for a couple of suggestions for those (Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture and The Collected Short Stories by Richard Yates) - and a gorgeous pink and turquoise cocktail glass from my man. My old one broke a couple of years back, so it's lovely to have another. It got quite a bit of use over the last few days.

Before Christmas my mother asked me what I wanted. I said 'please no clothes, just a voucher.' I got the voucher, but she just couldn't resist. As well as the couple of tops that are too big that I suspect have been in her drawer for years (no change there then), which will be in the next bag for the Charity shop, I also got an incredibly strange, stretchy top, which might just be kept in case I have a bad taste party to go to, but it feels really weird so I'm not sure. Here's a pic of it, and yes... it really is that small.

My strange stretchy top together with the TV remote to show you how teeny tiny it is

And finally I leave you with a (slightly out of focus) picture of my boys. I don't know why they can't ever let me take a photo of them that's sensible, but I've tried over the years and never seem to have succeeded.

My boys making 'shapes'

Ah well... it was fun while it lasted.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas has begun

My boys arrived yesterday afternoon, the fridge is full of food, films and games have arrived with No. 2 Son (just in case our more traditional games don't appeal) and we settled in to start our Christmas.

No. 2 Son has the most amazing collection of films and TV series and we decided on 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' to start our holiday season off. If you haven't seen it you really should. This is the second time we've watched it and it was even better this time. Then we watched the new 'Karate Kid', though to be honest I'm not actually sure why it was called that and not 'Kung Fu Kid'. I'm still puzzling over that one... incredible what takes up my mind space these days!

Nice food to eat, a game of Pick-up-Sticks and a game of Scrabble, a few of Season One of Father Ted and we were back into our usual Christmas. And just to add to the memory, something was dropped on the new sofa to stain it, so all is normal. Well for our household anyway.

I was remarkably calm about the stain. I did try a bit of warm water spot removal, but it made no difference... it's done, no point stressing, and found the best way to deal with it is to cover it up with a blanket.

Apart from a few last minute things that need to be bought, I think that's us.

So all that remains is for me to wish you all a peaceful, calm and happy Christmas... and remember... don't sweat it, cover it!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas coffee plant update

I bet you couldn't wait for this!

Above is a picture of the healthiest of the plants together with it's much smaller pal (in the foreground). The other two are still struggling, but I daren't put them out in the cold of the window ledge as not sure they could stand the change with the much colder weather. If they survive until Spring, then they'll get moved into the natural light.

I also don't dare move the healthy ones either. They like it where they are and, coffee plants being fussy and notoriously difficult to grow, I'm reluctant to change them over with their ne're doing well neighbours as I'm sure I'd end up with no coffee plants at all.

There's some very good growth on the biggest one, and the other healthy one has also got some good leaves going on there, so I'm still living in hope that one day I might get some berries. What's that cliche?... oh yes... hope springs eternal... that's me folks... eternally hopeful!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

A busy 24 hours

Well hello again. Nothing happened. I'm still here and I'm presuming you are too.

I know I said I'd do a coffee plant update, but I'm leaving that til tomorrow and instead I'm going to tell you about my exploits of the last 24 hours.

Last night I'd been put on the guest list at The Liquid Room in Edinburgh to see The Rezillos. It just so happens that the lead singer is a work colleague... yes really... a psychologist by day and a punk rocker by night. What a great combination!

The Liquid Room is a great venue. It's a gig centre from 7pm - 10pm and then it becomes a club, so everyone has to get out, before they might or might not choose to go in again to club the night away.

So at about 8pm last night MM and I could be found amongst what could only be described as a 'spectrum crowd'. That's one that went from one age spectrum to the other. But what was truly amazing was that the ratio of men to women was something I don't think I've ever seen. There were so many guys there, especially of the middle-aged balding variety that I feel I've now discovered the place to go for the middle-aged single woman. Not that that's me of course, but the moment MM went to the bar to get me a drink I was surrounded and chatted up. In some ways it was quite flattering, but in others I was rather pleased when MM came and rescued me!

I was, of course, dressed in my metal jacket. Also in some rather fetching jeans with studs down the side that I bought in a second-hand shop about 8 years ago. I also decided on my beret, just because I was having a particularly bad hair day, but that's another story.

Me almost ready to go out.
We enjoyed ourselves a lot and, once MM stood beside me and I wasn't being hassled by guys, I enjoyed the gig a lot.

This morning saw a quick escape from Edinburgh, through unbelievable amounts of rain and flooding on the road, to the Borders, in time for a bit of Xmas present wrapping before heading off to Kelso to do a spot of bag packing to raise funds for Borders Search and Rescue Unit.

It was fun but exhausting. Trolley watching added a whole new dimension to people watching I can assure you. And more than that, the Border folk were very generous. I only managed to miss packing two items: a bra, that had somehow slipped down amongst the plethora of plastic bags, and also a mascara that had done the same. The mascara was claimed, but not the bra, by the time we left some 3+ hours after starting, just in case you're wondering.

And now, ensconced in front of the telly, only good for watching Strictly, drinking wine and eating Doritos and dip, I can take a moment to relax a bit before my boys come here for 5 days, which will mean lots of cooking, lots of playing of games and, most of all, good family time.

Friday, 21 December 2012

It's arrived!

The shortest day of 2012 is here!

It also happens to coincide with the 5,125-year Mayan 'Long Count' calendar, which says that the end of the world is nigh. On the BBC website it says that people have been taking precautions, such as panic buying candles in Sichuan Province in China and a whole load of folk in the Pyrenees are expecting an influx of believers to the mountain Pic de Bugarach, as rumours have spread that UFO's will rescue human gatherers.

Sadly, I can't be bothered to take precautions and stockpile candles and tinned food... I hope someone remembers the matches and the tin opener... nor do I have any inclination to make my way to the French Pyrenees.

So... either our days will lengthen from tomorrow and we can all relish the hope that summer will be zooming our way soon, or, the world will have ended and I won't be writing any more on this blog.

If we survive, then I promise I'll write a coffee plant Christmas update.

If we don't... well it was nice knowing y'all.

I wonder if coffee plants survive apocalypses? I'll never know!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Most of the Christmas shopping... hooray!

After a not great start to the morning with a migraine at around 5 am, I managed to make it to the last indoor bowls league match of December, which I'm happy to say we won. A relief as I still wasn't feeling hugely great. Apparently this might put us second in League 2, which will mean we move up into the dizzy heights of League 1 in January. This is not something to look forward to... if I thought the league I was in was competitive enough, then, so I've been told, I have lessons to learn in competitiveness in the upper echelons. It'd be ok if I played well, but sadly still a long way to go on that score.

And then it was off to the outskirts of Edinburgh for a massive shop-out. I think I've got most of the food apart from veggies, which we're getting on Sunday, and I'm feeling mightily relieved. I had visions of eating quorn roast day in day out for the whole of Christmas week as both Mountain Man and I had, separately, taken advantage of the special offer of buy 1 get the 2nd half price in our local supermarket. We now have a quorn roast glut in our freezer. Luckily it can stay in the freezer for ages.

Now, I can relax... well no actually I can't.

After having a couple of days of not working, I have work and meetings to be taken care of before I can finally put my feet up, and then, just to add to the mix, my car has decided to have a bit of a paddy. It's demanded to be taken to the garage to get a check over so we have an early-ish start tomorrow. I'm hoping it's nothing serious, otherwise I'll be well and truly done.

Monday, 17 December 2012

A cheap date

At 3.45 pm this afternoon, Mountain Man and I were to be found in the Dominion Cinema in Morningside, Edinburgh. We had cheap (£4 each) tickets to see The Hobbit courtesy of Groupon.

The cinema is great. One of those with deep leather seats and a switch so that you can put your feet up. Plenty of space to spread out and the seating is arranged so well that there's no problem with tall people being in front of you. Finding the switch to flip the feet up thingy needed a bit of help from those in the seats next door, but once we were ensconced it was comfort all the way.

As to the film... what comes to mind for me is 'self-indulgent' and dare I say a bit boring in places. The story lost thrust by, in my view, starting in the wrong place. Instead of getting into the story straight away, Peter Jackson decided to start with Bilbo telling his nephew Frodo all about how his adventure started. That for me was a waste of time. I also thought the initial dwarf scenes, the fight scenes and the escape scenes were far too long. But I suppose if you're Peter Jackson you can do pretty much what you like and still people will flock to see it. I will still go see the next two parts of the trilogy to see how the rest is handled, even though part of me is already complaining about the fact that it's a trilogy in the first place. The other thing I wasn't so keen on was where the film tried to be humorous... completely unnecessary I thought. Oh yes, and the dwarves didn't look dwarvish. Just to set the record straight, I thought in The Lord of the Rings, the dwarf, Gimli, looked... well dwarvish, but in The Hobbit the dwarves just don't.

What MM and I have decided to do from this experience is go to the Dominion more often, especially in the afternoon, just cos we can, and even more especially if we get such a cheap deal.

What we did after that was go for a lovely Japanese meal at Bonsai, also courtesy of Groupon I may add, so a real cheap date in all senses of the word!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

We survived...

... a 2 night stay with my mother.

We went to London for the family firm Christmas lunch on Friday. It was very much a flying visit of getting there, partying and then coming home.

My mother was fine for approximately an hour after we arrived on Thursday evening. Mountain Man and I went out for dinner on our own as she had a previous engagement and we awoke the next morning to a mother in not such a good mood. By yesterday morning and it was time for us to leave, her mood had deteriorated even further. We felt we were lucky to escape relatively unscathed and with only one piece of food from her fridge, out of the three that she gave us, that was out of date (to be eaten by 10th October), which is a third better than usual.

Anyway, enough of that. I thought instead of telling you of the difficulties of being with my family, I'd tell you all about a wonderful thing that happened to me in Selfridges and made me feel very Christmassy indeed.

About 3 months ago I bought a Stila lipstick from somewhere. I can't even remember where, but the sales person specifically told me it was one of those that once on, stays put all day. And I can remember her saying that I could put my lip gloss over the top. I'm sure you're gathering from this that I'm not really a lipstick wearer and haven't a clue what I'm doing. I tried the lipstick on it's own but it made my lips feel dry, so thought the next time I used it I'd put gloss over the top.

When MM took me out for my December birthday I thought I'd put it on and I duly put my gloss on and then discovered that every time I put anything near my mouth (fingers with crudites, glass with wine, fork with food) the bloody stuff came off everywhere and that included bright pinky red lines on the beautiful white serviette. I'm hoping I'm not the only one who goes to Kitchin's and leaves their mark!

So there I was in Selfridges and I saw the Stila counter and, as I happened to have the lipstick with me, I thought I'd ask what the problem was. I was told in no uncertain terms that you cannot put anything on top of it. When I said that it made my lips feel too dry, the assistant said she was sorry, but that was it. Then she asked me if I wanted a refund. I told her if one was on offer I'd accept it gratefully as I certainly wasn't going to be wearing the stuff again.

A manager was called. A very lovely young guy. When I said I'd bought it about 3 months ago, he very kindly told me there was no way they could give me a refund. I wasn't bothered and said thank you to him and it was all fine. We then had a discussion about the kind of lipstick I might want to buy to go to glam nights out and off we went to the Bobbi Brown make-up counter (a brand I do use for eye liner) where I was courteously handed over to another assistant and, as she and I were discussing my needs, the manager came up with a bag of bath goodies for me. I was so surprised. I mean I hadn't even bought the damn lipstick in Selfridges! What also occurred to me was that what he gave me was probably twice the price of the lipstick... what a lovely, kind, Christmassy thing to do, don't you think?

Oh yes and I did buy a Bobbi Brown lipstick, which does stay on relatively well so the next time I go to Kitchin's (please, please let there be a next time), their serviettes can remain relatively pristine!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

My December birthday

After a rather painful visit to Dr Chris, the dentist, where I spent an unpleasant hour trying not to look up his nostrils as he sorted my poor tooth and I had the strange thought that it must be something to have a job where no-one wants to come and see you, it was time to go out to dinner.

Mountain Man didn't tell me where we were going until the last moment. He took me to Kitchin's, lucky me, which was just fab.

Our dinner was excellent and we took almost 3 hours to eat it. Each course was pretty as a picture and just a delight. When MM's dessert came - I'm not a dessert fan, so missed this course - I had the idea to take a photo. I wish I'd taken one of all the food we ate, but I'm sure this will give you the idea of the standard. He said it was delicious. A chocolate and sea buckthorn cake, a chocolate macaroon and a sea buckthorn sorbet. While he was eating this I savoured my second glass of a South African Viognier from the Cape. Just yum.

MM's dessert
And that's it for this year. Twelve months and twelve birthday celebrations. Next year I'll be back to one, but it is next month, so not too long to wait!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The last one of the year...

... birthday's that is.

Today is my final birthday of my 60th year. I don't have a clue what's happening apart from the fact that my man is taking me out for dinner to a secret location. I've been told I have to 'dress up'. This I'm looking forward to as I love an opportunity for gladragging and a bit of make-up.

The only thing that is possibly set to mar today is a visit to the dentist. A tooth is chipped, which is proving very painful in this cold weather. It's not too bad if I keep my mouth shut when out (no comments thank you), but I can't see this as being conducive to a night out in freezing downtown Edinburgh. Hopefully Dr Chris will do his magic and all will be well.

I'll report back tomorrow.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Help wanted

I have a feeling someone somewhere is having a laugh at me.

As some of you may be aware I have a Twitter account and I have to admit don't really do a whole lot with it, but what I have used it for is as an exercise to create a weekly tip on how to deal with stress. Not easy in 140 characters, but I'm quite pleased that I've so far managed 68 tips, which includes one for Christmas, New Year and Firework night. And yes, just in case you ask, the Christmas and New Year ones will be repeated this year... I decided to give myself a bit of a break and not stress about it. The tip goes out on a Monday, usually at 9am, but sometimes at 8 and sometimes at 10 - I don't want to be too predictable!

Just before I went away to Bhutan and Nepal I discovered that on Tweetdeck (a Twitter app) I could schedule updates. This meant that even though I was not online or webified at the time, my tip of the week could go out.

When I got back, I decided I'd keep this up and I'm pleased to be able to report that I now have scheduled tips every Monday up to 14th January.

But... and those that know me well will understand this... I originally wrote 'they're' and I wanted to put 'they are'. All good and fine? No it's not! B****y Tweetdeck won't let me delete any updates and instead, each time I tried, it created a new one! Now I have 4 with 'they're' in them and one with 'they are' and unless I find a way round this there'll be 5 updates all on 7th January which say the same thing.

One way round this is to put them all out at different times, which is ok, but it still doesn't get me to understand how to delete any.

Can you help? Before I become too stressed out that is!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

An evening at the theatre - local style

Last night saw us at Westruther Village Hall for the last night of Borders Banter put on by Odd Productions, a community theatre group in the Scottish Borders.

There were two plays on offer by two local writers, The Gap by Oliver Eade and See Them Rats by Dorothy Bruce.

A glass of wine and a surprising catch up with a few people made for a very good start to the evening.

Both MM and I enjoyed The Gap a lot. It was about what happens to a dysfunctional family when the world splits in two. I know it sounds a bit far fetched, but it was great. The set mover who sang as he worked had the most amazing voice. We talked to Oliver in the interval and he told us he got the idea from when he was caught in an earthquake in China. Fascinating.

I'm always amazed at how my mind works when watching a film or a play. At the very start of The Gap, we see the man of the house waking up complaining about his prostate and urgently needing the loo. Of course all this is forgotten when he finds half his house is on one side of the gap, which contains him and his wife, and the other half contains his daughter, but more importantly the loo. We never do find out when he manages to go, and I was concerned for the poor guy's prostate. Oliver (the author) just smiled indulgently at me at that one... oh well!

See Them Rats was a complete change of pace. The singing set mover sang in this one too. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to hear such a clear, beautiful voice ringing out in the hall. No mike, no music, just pure vocals. This play was about 3 homeless guys, living in a derelict bus in a Scottish Borders scrapyard and what happens when their home is visited by a middle aged female sculptor on the lookout for some scrap metal. She joins them to go joyriding in a tank at the local army barracks... and I'm going to say no more in case you ever get to see the play. I don't want to give the ending away.

What was truly impressive with both these pieces of writing is that it was the first time either had written for the theatre. They were apparently spurred on by a workshop by Jane Houston Green of Treading The Borders fame, which sadly I hadn't been able to go to earlier on in the year. But Jane just happened to be sitting behind us last night and I've been invited to join her jolly band of writing folk. They did have a get-together today, but sadly I have a client to see, so couldn't go. But next time....

Friday, 7 December 2012

Xmas west coast style

I'm now home safe and sound from the Dumfriesshire Xmas party.

It was a relaxed affair added to by the presence of 3 gorgeous dogs and a rather bossy cat. Delicious food, great hostessing, fab presents and all in all a thoroughly good time.

The hot-tub was brilliant and I can thoroughly recommend being in one in the depths of a very dark and cold West of Scotland night... though I am pleased to be able to tell you that I wasn't one of those who decided on it's delights on the overnight shift (name no names etc).

I even got a wonderful doggy wake up call, when I was landed on by a giant alsatian and his much smaller terrier buddy this morning. They then proceeded to get super high and have a mock fight, but after a swift telling off by their mistress order was soon restored.

My thoroughly doggified clothes, a horse shoe, bright green striped fingerless gloves, a Spanish spoon rest and my new reindeer socks (which I think were rather lucky to survive the hairy onslaught) are all wonderful reminders of Xmas West Coast style.

My lovely reindeer socks

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

It's started

The Christmas party season, that is.

Last night saw me out in Edinburgh with my co-supervisees after our supervision session. I know a bunch of psychologists all together might not seem like fun to you, but, believe me, when we get together we know how to party. One of our number is also a musician in quite a famous Scottish punk-type band and so we've all been invited to her next gig on 21st December, where we're all expected to dress 'appropriately'. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I think it'll mean an outing for my metal jacket. We'll have to see.

My metal jacket
Tomorrow sees me off to near Dumfries for another get together. This one is going to be Christmas comes early, as we've decided on having the whole Christmas dinner thing - as well as a bit of hot-tubbing and I suspect drinking quite a bit.

I won't be back until Friday late afternoon, which will be just enough time for me to recover before work next week and then off to London for more partying.

In some ways I'm rather pleased Christmas is only once a year, I'm not sure my system could cope otherwise!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dancing the night away

Well, most of it anyway.

Tomorrow is my dear friend N's 60th birthday and in honour of the event she had a party last night. We've known each other for 44 years, having met at our first day of 6th form college in London and we spent many a happy time negotiating our teenage years and a whole lot more besides.

The party was held in the tapas bar and adjoining flamenco studio around the corner to our Edinburgh abodes (both of us having houses in the same mews a mere 3 doors apart) and No. 1 Son was asked to be the bouncer for the night to keep those not on the guest list out in the freezing Edinburgh streets, while the rest of us enjoyed the frivolities in the warmth indoors. No. 2 Son is in Bristol so he couldn't share in the delights of being the muscle for the night (not that with his skinny frame he would've helped his brother much though).

It was lovely to see my boy looking very smart in his suit, with his beard neatly trimmed. N had lots of photos from her 6 decades and there was one lovely one of her and me and both my boys aged 5 and 6 in Portugal one sunny summer. How cute they were... of course I'm not suggesting they're not cute now, but... well they've certainly changed! I did get to spend a little bit of time chatting with No. 1 Son before the needs must of the dance floor drew me away.

N and I waved our bodies around, just as we'd done in the days of our youth, until she was called away to say au revoir to departing roisters. As I have mentioned on this blog before, my man does not like to dance, but he did well in joining me for a couple until others were brave enough to gyrate around in the glare of the disco lights.

Nothing much stops me from dancing, though I did have a moment when I got quite hot and decided to divest myself of my top layer. It did occur to me that I might be better off sitting out for a while rather than revealing my skimpy top and rather tight black trousers, but after getting the nod from MM that I wasn't causing too much consternation, I continued bravely on.

I had a meeting today all afternoon and after an hour or so of dancing I decided that I needed to be sensible and so it was, before the witching hour, MM and I departed the party and went off to bed.

I think MM was quite grateful that, due to my good sense, I stopped dancing before it became too embarrassing. Actually I think No. 1 Son was grateful too. In fact when I think about it, it was an all round jolly good thing that I didn't dance the whole night away!