Saturday, 23 February 2013

Coffee plants, tissues and more

I'm well aware that this blog is becoming even more boring than before and has become all about illness and not about coffee plants for what seems like forever. However, I can assure you that the coffee plants have done pretty much zilch in the growing department for the past few months and Mountain Man and I have become world major consumers of tissues thanks to our current bout of illness.

The largest coffee plant in December

The largest coffee plant today
I did manage to get to work yesterday, but as soon as I got home I went back to bed. Today, however, I'm feeling encouraged because MM is 'almost human again' he tells me, and I actually felt quite a better this morning for a couple of hours before sinking back into the pillows armed with yet another box of soft tissues. How one body part can produce so much in the way of fluid is well and truly beyond me.

Anyway, the thing is I am on the mend and thank goodness for that as this week I'm off to London on Wednesday ready for work on Thursday, followed by my mother's 90th birthday party on Friday.

I've been dreading the occasion for a while as it involves quite a lot of family members I've not seen for at least 20 years (which should tell you all you need to know about how much I want to spend time with them), but being ill is just not part of the equation. My mother would not be amused if I wasn't there and under no circumstances would I want to incur any more of her wrath than is usual.

And it is, after all, quite a thing to be 90. Especially as she's reasonably healthy, fit and active - this is the woman who goes to pilates twice a week and is out most nights having a good time - and there's nothing more she loves than a party, especially one that is all about her.

So I will put aside my prejudices about some of my family and hope that my nose will decide to do the decent thing for the occasion. I've got the dress, I've got the boots and I've got the small, clutchy bag thingy that I really don't want to be stuffed to the gunnels with reams of tissues, now do I?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The gift that keeps on giving

Or in my case keeps my nose dripping!

Yes, Mountain Man's generous Valentine's gift has remained with me all week and I've only been out to go to the doctors to check if my ears, which are throbbing unbelievably, are infected. The answer is no, I'm pleased to report. It still doesn't make my ears feel any better, but armed with doctorial advise to keep shoving nasal spray up my nose 4 times a day, no matter that the instructions say once a day, I'm hopeful I'll be ear-canal clear in a day or so.

Because I've been confined to bed and feeling crap with no energy whatsoever, I've done hardly a thing, just sat in my bed coughing and sneezing and waiting for it to pass.

Next year I'm hoping MM will give me something a little more romantic.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Call me cynical

My current virus has, after a busy morning, seen me sitting about for the afternoon, coughing a lot and watching crap on tv. The problem with this is that I tend to get quite twitchy at the adverts that come on.

Here's my current bugbear: there's an ad from SimplyHealth that says there's a potential connection between dental health and heart problems and if you go onto Facebook and 'like' them they will donate £1 for every 'like' they get to heart research. And here's where I have the problem.

Why don't they just donate the money? Why won't they give it without having people 'like' them on Facebook? It irritates the hell out of me.

So what is it with all this 'like' stuff on Facebook? What are they going to gain from it? Will it look like the world loves them? That they have lots of friends? You certainly can't persuade me there's no ulterior motive, there has to be, hasn't there?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's day 2013

There are just some gifts that shouldn't be given, and one of those is a nasty coldy fluey type virus. This is the very one that Mountain Man, the guy who never goes to bed when unwell, has had for the past 5 days and only today has managed to not just get out of bed, but also get out of the house. And this was the very gift I was given for Valentine's Day. Whoopee! Well they do say love shares.

What did I give MM? With all the looking after him I wasn't sure I'd get to the shops in time to get a card, so I went onto and bought one through them. It arrived yesterday. Rather a day early than a day late in my view... and of course those of you who know what I'm like won't be at all surprised by that.

Luckily MM got out today and went to M&S to buy something good to eat for tonight and a card that he gave me tonight (better late than never), while I slogged into work, not sick enough to stay home, and managed to contain my coughing and spluttering for long enough to do today's business. I also managed a quick trip to Boots to get some echinacea and cold medications in the hope that this thing I've got will be firmly and resolutely dampened down. I really can't afford 5 days in bed.

Sadly the virus has meant that my appetite is non-existent and MM's is just beginning to pick up so he wasn't all that hungry either, so all MM's good shopping didn't come to too much good and we just made do with the starter.

A nasty, coldy, fluey virus, a card that came early, a card that came late and a starter courtesy of M&S, yup, that's our Valentine's Day 2013. I certainly hope yours was a bit more romantic.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Good old fashioned methods

Have you ever tried to steam open an envelope?

I've only done this a couple of times in my life, and I really can't think when I did it the first time, but the thing was, in those days, I put the kettle on and it stayed on and I put the edges of the licked part of the envelope over the steam and it peeled back. No problem.

Today I remembered to send our great-niece, who was born on Wednesday 6th February, a card... a gift was on it's way through separate means. The card had already been put in an envelope, closed and stamped. The only thing I hadn't done was post it. It had lain on the table waiting for a phone call from my sister-in-law to tell me the wee tot was home, and then after I had that phone call I'm afraid I had a senior moment and forgot to take it to the post box.

Today also happened to be the day when I had a thorough read of Saturday's Scotsman Magazine and I happened to come across a very good article for new mums about how to get their babies to settle and thought this might be just the thing for Mountain Man's niece. But... I'd already sealed the envelope. No problem, I thought, I'll steam it open and pop the article into the envelope.

Modern kettles that switch off at the point of boiling are not the thing to steam envelopes I discovered, and a good 15 minutes and a completely botched envelope, stuck down with cellotape later, I was ready to take it to the post.

How do people manage these things? After the kettle incident, with it's health and safety you-can't-switch-me-on-again-straight-after-I've-boiled facility kicked in, I had to go for the unsafe option and almost managed to burn my hand on a pot of boiling water.

Another time I think I'll just put the bloody whatever into another envelope and be damned. Far less costly, I feel, to spend money on another stamp than spend time jumping around the kitchen swearing, blowing on my almost burned fingers, whilst trying to prise open an envelope that definitely doesn't want to be prised.

Steaming open envelopes is not something modern technology can deal with I feel. There are just somethings that need good old fashioned methods and this is definitely one of them.

Sunday, 10 February 2013


Poor Mountain Man is unwell. He has a coldy thing that's been going around the Borders Search and Rescue folk... one just has to hope no-one needs rescuing this week as pretty much the whole team is down with it.

MM doesn't do man-flu... that's me, I admit it totally... so it's quite unusual for him to confine himself to bed, but the past two days he's been bedbound and unable to do much of anything.

I've been trying to nurse him and apparently I performed a crime against humanity in my ministrations. 'What,' I can hear you screaming, 'have you done to the poor man?'

My crime was to buy some Night Nurse and encourage him to have some.

After almost 10 hours of sleep followed by a day of feeling completely knocked out, I've been told in no uncertain terms that Night Nurse is now banned from the medicine cabinet.

That's me told!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Thank you!

There's something about realising the oven needs a really good clean, and I mean really good, that somehow makes my heart sink, so am I ever pleased that, in 2009 when we had our new kitchen put in, we made the decision on getting a pyrolytic self-clean oven.

Tonight, after dinner, as I sat and watched crap Saturday night TV, drank some very palatable red wine that was reduced from £10 to £5, and put our extremely dirty oven on for a clean, I sat back in a rather smug way and let the oven clean itself.

Unbelievably, pyrolytic ovens were introduced as far back as 1963, but this is the first time I've ever had the joy of owning one. Not sure who invented it, and a quick Google search didn't come up with much (ok, I couldn't be bothered to look past the first page - I admit it), but frankly that person should be shaken by the hand.

Thank you so much Mr/Mrs Pyrolytic Oven Inventor... what a great invention!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

You can tell I'm feeling better

The past couple of days had seen a recurrence of my virus, but today I'm feeling a slight bit better. I can tell because not only do I feel better in myself, but I've also started feeling a bit stroppy.

My stroppiness takes the form of wanting to take on the 'giants' of this world. To speak up for the small person. To make a difference. Albeit on rather a selfish level.

Today's difference? Well, if I have a cup-a-soup at lunchtime I have my favourites, which are: for mushroom it's got to be Ainsley Harriot Wild Mushroom, for tomato it's got to be Heinz in the squeezable packet, and for miso it's got to be Clearspring Mellow White with Tofu. Laugh if you will, but that's the way it is.

Sainsbury's in Kelso used to stock the Ainsley Harriot Wild Mushroom, until about a year ago when they didn't. We tried all other makes but they just weren't the same. However, we can still get it in Edinburgh (30 miles away), which is fine when I'm there and shopping.

Mountain Man went shopping yesterday and, because there was no other, he came back with Sainsbury's own, and today when all that would do for my lunch was the taste of mushroom, that was all that was on offer. I drank it. I complained about it. Not at MM, I hasten to add, but at the injustice of not being able to get what I used to be able to get because of some supermarket giant's whim about what the people of the Borders should or should not have. I decided I'd just have to do something about it.

The customer service person in Kelso was very polite, but virtually said it was nothing to do with them as they were a small store and didn't have that much room. I did point out that 1) they used to stock it, and 2) there were loads and loads of other makes so surely they could take a couple of rows of those out and put in some Ainsley Harriot? He then said he could certainly take my query to head office, but actually it would be much better coming from me, as customer's views do count, and he gave me the number.

A call later to Sainsbury's HQ and I can report that they took my query seriously (really they did) and they're going to see if they can action it.

Ok *rubbing hands together*... who's next on the strop list?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Less is more

Over the weekend I was trying to put together a PowerPoint presentation for one of the conference's I'm speaking at in March and today was the day we were having a Skype meeting to firm up the details. My colleague wanted the 'less is more' approach, "Just 3 slides," he said.

I don't know about you, but for me PowerPoint used to be very simple. You got a few words, a couple of graphics and you got them to tastefully appear on the screen when you wanted.

This weekend I discovered a whole new world of PowerPoint that comes in the form of 'SmartArt', essentially supposed to make the job of 'less is more' a whole lot easier. Well yes, as long as you don't want to change shapes, colours, connectors or anything else, you'll be fine.

Many, many hours later I managed to get 3, rather good, fully animated, colour co-ordinated slides that, though I say so myself, look pretty damn professional.

At today's Skype meeting my colleague said, "I just wonder if we couldn't add this other slide I have? It's fully animated and should be fine. The colours are slightly different though, so perhaps you'll play with it and get it to fit?"

Famous last words, 'should be fine',  'colours are slightly different' and 'get it to fit'. I should've known better! A bleeping few hours later and I managed to get the bleeping slide to co-ordinate with the rest of the bleeping presentation.

Less is more? Right... well it might look like that to you, but I know different.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Faecal matters

Being a woman of a 'certain age' means that I seem to get quite a lot of invitations to have tests. This January saw a bowel cancer screening test dropping through my letterbox. I had one of these a couple of years ago and declined the offer as, quite frankly, having time to sit on the loo and scrape bits of poo onto a card, was something I didn't have - this was the year I had 5 jobs and a week's holiday the whole year (don't ask).

Anyway, as I'm now semi-retired and I do have time and I also seem to have been suffering with stomach pain of some sort or another for quite a few months, I decided to go ahead with the test.

It was an interesting affair that involved some careful manoevering and I don't think I'll go into more detail just in case there's some sensitive folk out there, but, after sending it off, and yes - these things do go through the post - I forgot all about it.

I'm pleased to be able to tell you that I got confirmation today that my poo was clear and as far as the NHS are concerned I don't have any problems as far as they can tell... but of course they also say they can't be accurate and I might really have a problem, but that's the end of that as far as they're concerned for the next two years.

A relief, but also I can't say I'm looking forward to going through that particular process again.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Games night at ours

It was our turn to host games night last night. Our dear friends, Shirley and Andy, came round to eat, drink, be merry and, of course, play games.

We started well. Team Trivial Pursuit - won by us girls; QI - won (rather unbelievably) by me; and then on to Wii to use up some of the calories gained by the food and drink we managed to consume.

Bowling was our starting point, which Shirley and Andy tied for top spot, then me, and Mountain Man coming last. Then we decided on Tiger Woods PGA Golf 2011. And here is where everything went rather pear-shaped.

Apart from taking about 20 minutes to get our golf identities, Andy's controller decided to have a life of it's own. Part of me wondered whether it was because he'd chosen to be Ian Poulter, who'd had a recent spat with Johnny Miller of NBC after said Johnny Miller accused Ian Poulter of taking too long to take a putt, and this jinxed Andy's chances, but suffice it to say it took us ages to finish 9 holes (which Shirley won, followed by me, and Andy and MM coming equal last), followed by an 'interesting' half hour or so of trying to work out whose controller's belonged to whom.

All I can say was I was very relieved when my head finally hit my pillow at around 1.30 in the morning. As always with Shirley and Andy, it was a fun night, in spite of the trauma of 'controller-gate'.

Oh yes, and if you're looking for a very nice bottle of red wine, I can highly recommend Finca Los Principes El Rihuelo Rioja 2011, two bottles of which were in a box of wine my mother gave me for Christmas and which I was saving for the right moment. Not one drop was left by the time the night was over. Yum. Happily have that one again.