Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Shopping not dropping

Yesterday, after the 'shower incident' at Lizzie's and prior to the meeting I was due to chair in Inverness in the afternoon, I decided, instead of work that should be done, I'd take a look around my old stamping ground instead.

I have my mother's 90th birthday party coming up in four weeks and have been thinking about possibly buying something new. At breakfast Lizzie also just happened to drop into the conversation that on a Tuesday morning in Inverness, it would be unlikely that the Personal Shopper in Debenham's would be busy, and I'm afraid that peeked my interest. I've never done anything like that before.

Well... what a revelation! Liz, the Experienced Personal Debenham's Shopper (that's what it said on her name tag), was wonderful! She and I wandered about picking up garments that we thought might do and off I trotted to the dressing up area to try them all on, while she scouted about for even more.

Interestingly, all the things she chose were ones I'd never have picked for myself usually and yet those were the ones that definitely were the better options. She even went off to scout for a pair of ankle boots to try on (not to buy) so I could see what the dresses might look like without the pink sock effect. I ended up buying a purple, very grown-up, fitted dress for the grand price of £22.50. I did also buy a black jacket that I took a fancy to, which was a trifle more expensive, but what a great way to shop.

My bargain dress

What with the 'shower incident' in the morning and then the afternoon meeting, I really appreciated those couple of stress-free hours in the day. And £22.50... what can I say?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Oh dear!

I'm sure you know the scenario: there you are staying at a friend's house and everyone else has left to go to work and you are there, by yourself, thinking of a leisurely morning while others are slaving over a hot something. So far so good.

You decide to have a shower, but somehow the shower isn't anything like the one's you're used to. You try to use your brain and think, 'it can't be that hard. The others have had a shower this morning and they managed no problem.' And so you turn taps... the first mistake... then you try to turn them off, but they seem to be stuck. You stand back and realise the second mistake... the shower head has been aimed at somewhere beyond the bath and the floor is beginning to soak. You then make the third mistake and panic.

You don't know this scenario? Oh well, that was the start for me this morning. And it wasn't a great one, no not at all!

The culmination was a phone call to the lovely Lizzie, who'd so kindly offered her hospitality to three of us who all used to work together, for dinner, fizz and a good old gossip about the old days and the new days. It was fun. I'm not sure that Lizzie was feeling quite so kindly after my panic phone call and, just as she'd promised she'd be over as quick as quick, the bloody taps freed up and danger was averted. I sheepishly rang her back to cancel the emergency and reassure her.

So, instead of spending my morning getting on with some work, prior to my meeting in Inverness this  afternoon, I've been using my time making sure all is back to normal and Lizzie can come home to her house looking the way she left it.

I know she said as she left, 'We must do this again and soon,' but I have a feeling by the end of the day, and after reading this, she might well have a rethink.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Does it count?

After our meal last night, courtesy of Marks & Spencer's night in for two for £10 - which included a main course, a side dish, a pud (for Mountain Man) and a bottle of wine (for me... no not all of it, just to state my case here) - I woke up this morning, which was supposed to be an activity day on my get fit programme, with a raging headache.

Mountain Man was on mountain man duties and had to go up to Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh to help the Lothian and Borders Police Force look for the body of a man, who it's suspected may have committed suicide. This is the rather unpleasant side of being a Search and Rescue person, but MM, as do all the other Search and Rescue people, does this uncomplainingly. This meant an early start for him.

I, meanwhile, stayed in bed with the telly on to watch Andy Murray sadly lose the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic.

Andy Murray had his chances, after taking the first set, to win the second, but didn't/couldn't take them. At one stage they showed the medic come on to dress the blisters on Andy Murray's feet and I was amazed he could walk, let alone run around. So much admiration for him on that score. But what it made me do was get up and get myself sorted. I mean I just had a headache... he had really, really huge blisters that were red and raw.

And so my day was spent cleaning. Vacuuming and washing floors, scrubbing basins and shelves. I didn't do the exercise that I was planning but I'm hoping all this house cleaning will count. It does doesn't it?

Friday, 25 January 2013


Today I had a meeting in Ayr. It also happened to coincide with an amber weather warning of snow that was coming in from the West supposedly to hit the Scottish Borders around 11 o'clock. Last night I found myself getting anxious about getting stuck and not being able to get home, so phoned one of those who I was meeting with and we agreed that we'd do a telephone meeting instead.

It also happened that Andy Murray got through to the semi-finals of the Australian Open against Roger Federer and the BBC were screening this at 8.30 this morning.

Actually the weather forecasters were wrong. It started snowing at around 7.30 this morning and I was highly relieved I didn't even have to begin the 2.5 hour drive to the West coast, and also that the telephone meeting was to start at 10.45, which gave me an excuse to sit and watch the tennis.

After a great start, Andy Murray lost the second set, which was just when the phone went and I had to scoot off to my office for my phone call. The phone meeting took over an hour and I came back to the TV when Andy Murray was 5-4 up in the 4th set and serving for the match. He lost his serve and Federer went on to win the tie-break. Then Andy Murray upped it and Roger Federer had a dip and it was all over. Whoohoo, Andy Murray in the final!

And just to think at the point Andy Murray won, if I'd have gone to Ayr and actually got there, I would just be getting back into my car and heading back towards the M8, where, according to Traffic Scotland, I would be heading into a large snowfall ready to get stuck - armed, of course, with my travel snow shovel, my blanket, welly boots and other winter accoutrements I permanently travel with these days.

So, all in all, I feel extremely grateful 1) I was stuck at home; 2) there was tennis on the TV; and 3) I'm semi-retired and don't have anywhere particular to be this afternoon. Very grateful indeed.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Judge Vee

A few months ago, the magazine I do book reviews for was asking for readers to be judges in the 2013 Melissa Nathan Award for Fiction about Life and Love. I applied and was told I'd be emailed in due course to let me know if I was going to be needed. I never heard anything and, to be completely honest, had totally forgotten about it. So imagine my surprise when a rather large packet was dropped off by our postman yesterday and inside were 3 novels and instructions for judgely duties, which have to be completed by 8th March.

Although a little taken aback by the suddenness of this, I'm rather pleased and I have to say I feel most encouraged, especially as, unlike the reviews I usually do where I have to finish the books even if I'm not enjoying them, we've been explicitly told the following: 'If you get to chapter 2 and you're not enjoying it and it hasn't made you laugh, then it obviously isn't the winner; so stop reading and throw it away/use it to prop up a wonky table'. Isn't that great!

I am now sworn to secrecy about the actual novels I've been given and not even allowed to tell you what grading I'm giving any of them.

My lips are therefore sealed, I'm staying stum and you'll never hear anything more about it.

The end.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A weather report

What a difference 30 miles makes.

After digging my car out of about 8 inches of snow this morning, it was time to head off for a bit of exercise in the form of badminton in Galashiels. On the way I noticed a car upside down in a field in the snow, which reminded me to drive carefully.

On the road to Galashiels
A fun hour later and home for lunch and to get myself ready to go to Edinburgh for a meeting in the afternoon. I wasn't sure what the roads would be like up there and phoned my colleague. He seemed a bit taken aback at the question.

I left home and it was -1 (at midday) and arrived 50 minutes later in a warm +4. At the side of the roads in the Borders snow is piled high (4 ft or thereabouts over the Sutra) to cross the East Lothian/Edinburgh border and the road was black as black with not even a pinch of snow to be seen.

No wonder he thought I was a bit strange to ask if parking would be an issue!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A bit of togetherness

Tonight, in the cold of a snowy Scottish Border night, was gym night chez nous.

Mountain Man and I decided on a weights in front of the telly kind of exercise, which entails watching crap on TV and doing sets of reps weight-lifting. Of course when I say weight-lifting this means MM lifts with 22lbs on each arm and mine are a whole 3 lbs.

No sharp intakes of breath at the patheticness of my small weights, thank you very much, I certainly don't want to become over-muscled now do I?

His 'n her weights

Monday, 21 January 2013

Age is just a number

Another day and even more snow so, apart from trudging to the local shop armed with my Yaktrax to get some milk and digging my car out, the decision was made to stay home in the warm.

I did some work, but then felt the need to do some exercise and so the Wii Fit was brought into action.

I'm really pleased to be able to report that my Wii Fit age today was 29! Woohoo! Usually I can make it to around 40, which is pretty good. I can't even work out why I was managing the mental and physical exercises so well today. The only difference was I'd been to dig my car out earlier. Maybe that was it? Or far more likely, the fact I've done not much over the last few days and have been keeping it all in reserve!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Of hormones and snow

When a hormonal day collides with snow you just know the combination is probably not going to be a positive one.

On Friday night - the night of the non Borders Search and Rescue dinner (there were several cry-off's, not just us) - Mountain Man got an alert on his pager for a rescue mission to take place yesterday morning. Apparently the situation wasn't urgent as those needing rescuing were safe in a mountain hut with good equipment, but were stuck. The request meant an early start for him.

Meanwhile I woke up with the dreaded 'itchy legs', which is when I know I'm hormonal. Luckily it's not an 'I want chocolate' kind of hormonal, which I'm quite pleased about as it's not been that long since I had one of those and it'd worry me considerably if I had another quite so soon. The itchy legs seem to coincide with feeling moody and a can't be bothered attitude.

Snow always makes me feel like hiding under the duvet and, as there was at least 6 inches out there, this was definitely going to be a day inside. I opted to do some housework, clear the path to the house of snow, feed the birds, cook some spaghetti sauce for our evening meal and then settle down to do some work. This didn't last long and I opted instead to sort out my old psychology books to put in boxes to be taken to the second hand book shop, which was cathartic, but once done I admit I spent the majority of the afternoon staring out of the window at the ice on the road and hoping MM would get back safely.

I'm pleased to report MM arrived home while it was just still light with tales of awful driving conditions and a successful rescue mission, thank goodness, especially as the temperature was dropping by the second and snow was starting again.

The onset of dark and the snow covering the velux windows, which often makes the house feel like a snow hole, found us both feeling that it was quite a lot later than it really was and, although it was only 5.30, suddenly my hormonal state ripped in to wanting a drink. Only a martini would do and only if we had the right kind of olives (small ones with pimento, in case you're interested), which we did. One of those and dinner later saw me wanting another. This was not a good idea. Neither was the glass of red wine I also felt like at about 9 o'clock.

And of course, this morning I've woken up feeling not particularly good, which is hardly surprising. I still have itchy legs though, but today I will be wary of that 'wanting anything at all' kind of feeling and will not be pandering to it under any circumstances.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Working on my guilt

Tonight, as snow falls across Scotland, we were supposed to head on out there for the Borders Search and Rescue Unit Christmas dinner in Kelso, which is never held at Christmas, nor at New Year, but instead on some arbitrary chosen date.

After rushing back from an all day meeting in Edinburgh, I arrived home just as the snow was beginning in earnest. I was told in no uncertain terms that 'it's not really snowing, so it's on', but then just as I'd done my hair (rather brilliantly for once I have to say), I looked out the window to see large snow flakes flustering about in the wind. The road outside the house went white. 'Are you sure we're going?' I asked. 'Yes' was the answer.

A few moments later I said, 'Are you really sure?' 'Well no... let me check.'

Within minutes we went from going to not going.

And within minutes of that the guilt set in. If everyone else was going to make it were we that soft that a bit of snow scared us off? I've been assured by Mountain Man that I don't need to feel guilty, but I'm afraid that doesn't help much.

The only thing I do know is, that I don't want to spend the night stuck in the snow on the road to Kelso waiting to be rescued by the Search and Rescue folk... no sirree... a bit of guilt will have to do!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A pat on the back

Today was supposed to be my annual dental check-up, but at the end of last week I noticed I couldn't have anything remotely cold touch one of my teeth and, as it had got progressively worse over the past few days, I phoned to ask if, alongside my check-up and twice yearly assignation with the hygenist, I could have it fixed.

An hour or so in the dentist chair with Dr Chris, the dentist, chatting away at me (why do they do that?) and a couple of injections, saw an old filling removed and a new one ensconced. A very unpleasant process, but of course I do realise it could have been a whole lot worse than an old, cracked filling needing replaced.

And then it was off to the hygenist for an equally unpleasant time.

I don't know what it is about the hygenist, but the only way I can describe it is like being back at school waiting for a telling off from the teacher.

'What brush do you use?'

'What toothpaste do you use?'

'What floss do you use?'

All apparently answered correctly and followed by a huge sense of relief when the 20 something-year-old hygenist told me how good I've been in the tooth brushing and flossing department, which made me blush with pride and felt like I'd been awarded the class prize.


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Alternative realities

Ok... my man and I were having a discussion about expanding universes and alternative realities today and, on the back of my post the other day, I'm now wondering if the me in the other reality, the one that's collecting all the things that have jumped from this to that, is doing all the activity and taking away my energy.

Yes, today was one of those lazy Sunday's and when I say lazy, I mean completely and utterly indolent, when I did nothing but stress a touch over a presentation I have to do at a conference in March and then decided it was too soon to be truly anxious, so gave up on that too.

Anyway, if I'm reading this somewhere else, please take note... I have a busy week coming up and would like my energy back. Please? Pretty please?

Now I'll just have to wait and see if I take note.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

My (proper) birthday

January's not the best time of year for a birthday, especially in the first 2 weeks, mainly because people are just getting back into work and want some 'down time' after the partying over the Christmas/New Year holiday. Also, in Scotland, a lot of good places to go out to eat are closed at this time of year, so for someone like me, who loves to go out for dinner, it can be a bit of a damp squib. And, worst of all, it's usually the post holiday bug season.

This year I seem to have had some kind of viral thing that's been on the go for week or so and I'm heartily sick of it. It's of the headachy, feeling a bit sick, no energy variety... just what I needed for my 61st birthday... but in spite of this I managed to make it into Edinburgh for a massage, which was great and then, apart from an interlude with a man coming to check the roof as we've had a leak and finding tiles need replacing (oh dear!), I relaxed for the afternoon until Mountain Man arrived. No. 1 Son came for a while, bringing with him some fizz and flowers and then it was out to dinner at a Tapas bar down the road. Very yum it was too. And finally back to the house to get to bed early-ish.

I had some great gifts e.g. a hand-knitted scarf from No. 2 Son (no, he didn't knit it, but his friend's Mum did), a pamper day from Mountain Man and No. 1 Son's delights, and lots of lovely cards and phone calls. A very happy birthday.

Now all I need is to feel a bit better...

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Where do they go?

Do you ever have items that mysteriously go missing, never to surface again? I certainly seem to.

Take today, for example.

There I was at 'Old Lady' badminton with my £1 coin tucked into my racket cover all ready and willing to pay. I opened the cover and the £1 dropped out. I heard it drop onto the floor and a couple of others heard it too, but could any of us find it? Absolutely not. It had disappeared into the ether never to be found by me again. Luckily I had another so didn't have to beg or borrow.

In the afternoon my eyes were tired and a bit sore, so I took my contact lenses out and put them in the lens case and wore my glasses until it was time to go to bowls. I took the right contact lens out and put it in my eye. It jumped out and then, there it was... gone... disappeared. I put my glasses back on and looked and looked but it was nowhere to be seen. I gave up and put a new one in.

And that was just today. So far this year I've lost a book, a pair of socks and a letter, and that's just in the last couple of weeks. They were there and then they weren't. Scary!

But what I want to know is, where do these things disappear to? Is it to an alternative reality where there's a mound of ever growing items that have skipped from this dimension into another? Or some other equally bizarre explanation? Or maybe a simple explanation?

Anyway, if you have any ideas do let me know. I'm finding myself quite frustrated at all these losses. Mind you, if I carry on at this rate, by the end of 2013, the clearing out of 1/3rd of the 'stuff' that I promised myself I'd get rid of this year will be done for me. Maybe I shouldn't complain!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Trouble in gadget-land?

New gadgets are great aren't they? Especially when they work!

Today I received my new bluetooth keyboard cum cover for my iPad. I bought it with a Groupon voucher which made it 63% cheaper than the original price. That's the good news. The bad news was that I charged as it said in the instructions and then couldn't get it to work.

I phoned the place it came from and the man on the other end of the phone very patiently asked me if I'd turned it on. I won't tell you what went through my mind to say at that point, but I'm sure it won't take much for you to imagine. Anyway, what was decidedly irritating is that as he was talking the bloody thing decided that it didn't want to go back from whence it came and started working immediately. This left me feeling just as stupid as if I hadn't switched it on in the first place!

Since then it's been rather good. Now all I can hope is that it doesn't decide every time I want it on that I need to make a phone call to it's erstwhile 'daddy' first. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 5 January 2013


After another day of feeling unwell and trying to make myself feel better, I took time to finish my book, 'Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture'.

It's actually a novel but, it comes across as so real, quoting all the characters that were around in the years that the novel is set e.g. Alan Turing and Srinivasa Ramanujan to name just two, that in places it's hard to believe it's fiction.

There is something about books on mathematics that I find truly fascinating even though I'm quite maths phobic, thanks, I think, to my first arithmetic teacher and her penchant for liking to hit me on the knuckles with her ruler. I think it's something to do with the creativity, determination and drama that the people involved seem to have to have that grabs me.

One of my favourite's is Simon Singh's 'Fermat's Last Theorem', which would probably, if push comes to shove, be the book I'd take to a desert island with me. After all, not only is it a jolly good story and well written, it would, of course, take me a lifetime to get to grips with the actual maths bit. That's my desert island life sorted then.

Friday, 4 January 2013

The Toblerone effect

I don't like chocolate, it's just not one of my things. However, about once every six months I have a craving for a piece and last night was such a time. I know this feeling is connected to me feeling hormonal, and this I also know gives poor Mountain Man a real chance to practice his patience.

One Christmas, many moons ago, my boys each got a Toblerone in their stocking. If my memory serves, they each ate it in one sitting, most probably before breakfast, and declared they never wanted to see another Toblerone again. Thus was born the family tradition of the boys getting a Toblerone of some sort in their stocking every year. Yes... I know... it's perverse, but there you go! This year I bought a box of lots and lots of tiny Toblerone bars, some dark, some white and some original. I noticed a 'Oh here's the Toblerone's' from the boys, but no real objections this year when they got their stockings and, as they only had six each (two of each type), there were loads left over.

So last night, when I suddenly got the urge for chocolate, there was pretty much a whole box to choose from. I decided that only the original ones would do and Mountain Man very kindly went downstairs and got me two. I ate them. For one very small moment I thought, 'Yum'... and then the reality set in. The aftertaste was disgusting! And even worse, I couldn't get to sleep and was watching films we'd taped until the wee small hours.

When I eventually did get to sleep I slept badly and woke this morning with a migraine. It took ages to be able to get up and even then only managed a shower and the taking down of the Christmas decorations and after that, I'm afraid, it was back to bed to feel sorry for myself, read my book (Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture) and watch Jason and the Argonauts.

I can ill afford a day out to feel unwell so I'm hoping this urge doesn't come about again in the foreseeable future. Mountain Man is also hoping this urge doesn't come around again soon. I'm sure you can understand his reasoning!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

A wonderful start

In my view, there's nothing better than bringing in the new year with close, lovely friends.

We had such a fab time and it wasn't even marred by the disappearance of Mountain Man, who was called out by the Search and Rescue team to go look for someone who'd been mislaid at Glentress just before half past seven. Off he went and returned over 2 hours later with the person having been found before MM had managed to get there. He had to go home to get his kit before heading off to Glentress and just as he approached he got the stand-down. I'm not sure if he was pleased about this or not, but luckily he got back in good time to take part in several games before the New Year was called in and the fireworks started.

I'm not the hugest fan of fireworks, but seeing them through the window in the warmth of Shirley and Andy's abode, while sipping red wine and having a New Year's kiss made me appreciate them in a new light.

And so 2013 has started. From a southern Scottish perspective it's rather good so far. A startlingly sunny, blue-skied, beautiful day and, although I find myself rather tired from last night's exertions, I'm off out for a walk with my man to take it all in before the rain starts again.

Definitely a good start. I can only hope yours was as good.