Saturday, 30 March 2013


Last night was games night at Shirley and Andy's and I was on my own as Mountain Man had personal things to take care of, one of which meant a drive to the Lake District to see his unwell brother-in-law.

After several glasses of rather nice red vino we settled into some board games. Basically I forgot to take my Wii console and so we abandoned the thought of activity for more gentle pursuits.

I can't even remember the name of the first game we played, but I came last in that. Then we moved on to Scrabble and, in spite of having a splendid 7 letter word on my rack and a place to put it before Shirley took my spot, I never recovered and was last again. Then it was Trivial Pursuit... this was not the version that I know and love, but a new-fangled one with the strangest categories... and there we were well past midnight, with Andy getting all the questions I could answer and me getting all the ones I couldn't answer (well, yes I do admit that maybe the wine might have had just a touch to do with this) and I came in last again.

A good night's sleep later, a hilarious scenario with Andy wandering about with a small tube of superglue stuck to his finger this morning and a promise of a return match of games at my house, I'm feeling pretty good in spite of all that wine and losing.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Volunteering at the Commonwealth Games

In January I signed up to volunteer at the Commonwealth Games that are happening in Glasgow next year. I thought it would be a good thing to do, especially as I love watching sport. The deal was that you signed up and then the next step was to be invited to a first round of interviews for a specific location/job.

In my application I stated that my favoured job would be at the Velodrome, Athletics or Meet and Greet at the Athletes Village. And when I got my email inviting me to an interview, what did I get? I got Press Operations!

This reminded me of when I was 16 and looking for a Christmas job. I went to Selfridges and put myself down for the Record Department (as in discs with music on them) or the Toy Department. And what did I get? Ribbons and Sequins.  Oh yes, and the other part to this sad tale is that I'm maths phobic, in that I get freaked out by anything more than simple mathematics and when I was 16 we were still in the age of pounds, shillings and pence.

And this was also the age of the choker - that bit of material, usually ribbon or velvet that was put round your neck, sometimes with a piece of jewellery attached and sometimes a few sequins and sometimes just the choker itself. And in those days the tendency was for people to make their own.

Do you know how long a piece of ribbon or velvet you need to make a choker? We sold it in Selfridges at varying lengths such as 1/2 a yard and 3/4 of a yard, but never a whole yard. And the price per yard? 1shilling and threepence ha'penny. And do you know what that does to a maths phobic? It makes them anxious... very anxious indeed.

I lasted 3 days and quit to go work the Xmas shift at the post office in Paddington instead and spent a very happy month and a half sorting letters and cards for those good folk who lived in Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire.

Back to Press Operations at the Commonwealth Games - I think I have a well deserved skepticism as far as the press is concerned. This wasn't helped when I was centre head for a drop-in cancer service in Inverness and I was given media training and I was told that if the press get things 75% accurate you can count yourself lucky. Then the Press and Journal (one of our local papers), who were supposed to be supporting the centre, interviewed me over the phone to ask how frustrated I was that our purpose-built building was late in being finished (I was based in the Oncology Department at the time). I expressly said I wasn't frustrated at all as the building was a unique build and you can never tell exactly what unforseen problems might appear as a building gets built. What was reported the next day on the second page of the P&J complete with snappy head shot of yours truly? The following:

"Dr Freir, the Centre Head of the new Maggie's Centre in Inverness, would not comment on how frustrated she was at the delayed opening of the new centre, which will be 12 weeks later than planned."

I rest my case re the press.

I can feel my anxiety growing just thinking about being part of Press Operations. But maybe I'll learn that the press aren't all that bad... or else I'll have my fears confirmed and I will be forever linked to media spin and the thought that 75% accurate is bloody good!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Chester musings

I've been away again. This time in Chester delivering a presentation and then a workshop at a one day conference. I was doing this alongside my colleague as part of our NHS Education in Scotland role.

The journey down was uneventful and we arrived at the rather plush Crowne Plaza Hotel. It's amazing how looks can make one think that a hotel is going to be a first-class experience, but I have to say that my initial 'wow' was rather overtaken by a big underwhelm after waiting 15+ minutes for someone to come and book us in at reception.

The room I was given was very comfortable and the goodies I got on my pillow (a duo of spray for my pillow and roll on aromatherapy for my wrist) to help me sleep lifted my hopes, but sadly these were soon dashed again as we went for dinner and were again kept waiting to be seated, kept waiting for our menus, kept waiting for our drinks (and yes, we did have a glass of wine because we both felt we needed it by then), and then kept waiting for an almost just warm soup and an average main course.  The bed was comfortable, but I'm not sure the sleep goodies helped in the slightest as I woke up at 4.30 and spraying and rolling to my heart's content didn't garner me any more sleep.

The morning presentation went ok, I felt. It was us and 3 other people from around the UK telling how our services were doing to about 40 delegates. Then the delegates had to choose which workshop they wanted to go to and here, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit, we didn't do well at all. We had the grand total of 4 participants!

Actually it turned out ok. We didn't quite do the workshop we'd planned but we did get an opportunity to help a psychiatrist who's setting up services in Brazil and someone else who's doing some specialist work. And then it was the final plenary, which went well and I felt a lot better at that point.

So on reflection, it was probably my worst conference experience, but then the law of averages says it's got to happen some time. Sad really that it went like that for this particular group as I'm not going to be working with any of them again and I'd far rather have gone out on a high, but hey, it's all in the past now so can only look to the next one and hope for better things.

Getting back to Edinburgh late last night (put my key in the door just after 10 pm) and a reasonable sleep to wake up to snow this morning has left me tired and definitely not amused, but with a couple of days of downtime ahead I should perk up a bit, especially as I'm home alone for the next few days so can delight myself with my OU course manual and a lot of staring out of the window, which is, I believe, a course requirement!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Back in the blog saddle

I've not visited my blog for quite a while, mainly due to being ill and frankly I couldn't bear to write about it anymore. My illness was a series of one day feeling slightly better and the next feeling quite ill again and this went on and on, until one day three and a half weeks after it started, I woke up in the morning and knew it was over. I had energy, my head cleared, my nose cleared and all just like that.

I was relieved that everyone else who had it had the same, so it wasn't just me being pathetic, but it was one of those virus's that came and went in its own good time.

Meanwhile I had a few messages asking what's been going on, so have decided it's time to take up my laptop and get blogging again.

So here' s a resume of what's been going on:

End of February I went to London - this is still during my recovery period of one day good, next day bad, so had to conserve what I could of my energy and just get on with the things that needed getting on with e.g. work, which was a priority. Meetings went fine, which was a relief.

Then No. 2 Son showed up from Italy and it was lovely to spend a bit of time with him. Next my mother took me out to her local library, where I enjoyed Ruth Rendell imparting words of wisdom and talking about her life as a writer. My mother very kindly bought me a book Ruth had signed, which is now languishing in my 'To be read' pile.

Ruth Rendell in serious mode

The next day was my mother's 90th birthday party. Mountain Man and No. 1 Son arrived in good time to wash and scrub up and look fantastic. We all made it to the party in good humour, but the smile that was eventually fixed to our faces throughout the meal at having to make polite conversation with folk who we'd never choose to spend time with was quite funny it itself. I'm telling you no more, but that we survived. Oh yes, and I and one other wore purple, everyone else wore black!

A couple of photos for you:

Me and my men!

Me, my mother and my broher

The very next day we skipped on a train and out of town as fast as we could. I then had a day of exhaustion from having kept myself together for London doings and then it was off to Birmingham to speak at a conference at the NEC, which went rather well. I also spent a lovely evening prior to the conference with an OU friend having dinner and relaxing before my stage time.

And from then on it's been work, a bit more work, and a bit more work than that.

Last weekend we had a visit to my brother and his wife's, but I'm staying relatively schtum about that one apart from telling you that being with a woman in her 60's who had a tantrum at 10-pin bowling was not the most uncomfortable bit. 'Nuff said!

Which brings me to my work, which drastically altered this past Friday when I reached a momentous milestone. I have finished all my clinical one-to-one work! It's been a year since this was put in motion, but clinical work isn't 'clean' in the sense it needs working up to the end if at all possible. I felt this way was both respectful to both me and my clients.

So that's it. I'm still a Clinical Psychologist as I had to do my registration a few weeks ago and it lasts for 2 years, and still have lots of teaching work and conference work and workshops, but it really is a big change for me. And, because undoubtedly I shall have some spare time, I've decided to take on a short OU course called Understanding The Weather, which starts on 6th April... yes, ok, I know I probably should've given myself a bit of down time, but it's the very last time this course is being presented and I've wanted to do it for a while. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

We went to NT Live at the Pavilion in Galashiels on Thursday night, which was a brilliant production of Alan Bennett's new play 'People' and very good it was too.

Last night was Gordon Film Club night. We watched Michael Clayton (starring George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack) while sipping Prosecco and eating delicious nibbles in great company. It's not actually a film I would've taken myself to, which is why think a Film Club is such a great idea and certainly opens my mind to other movies than my usual diet.

Tomorrow I'm off to Chester with a colleague to deliver another conference presentation and also a workshop. It would've been wonderfully easy if I could've rolled out my presentation from Birmingham, but no such luck.

And that's that... apart from telling you there's no change on the coffee plant front, but the Sweetheart plant I've had since 1983 and moved to the bathroom a couple of months ago is absolutely loving it's new home.

Phew! That really is the end of today's blog!