Thursday, 29 August 2013

Call me shallow

I went out and bought a new pair of running shoes, which I happen to think are rather lovely.

Now I have to admit that I don't run and I wanted them for walking... and that actually is for walking around Bangkok when I go off on my hols in a few weeks. Does that qualify as cheating?

Well to argue my case they are ultra-light and I got a very good discount, but even more they have pink laces as well as white so I have 'two-look'shoes.

No? Not persuaded? Ok... you can call me shallow.

Caffeine overdrive

Yesterday saw the start of Old Lady Badminton - this is the one in Galashiels on a Wednesday morning where there's a coffee break half way through. However, as it was the start of the season, we didn't actually get to play badminton and just had the coffee break, and the good ladies plumped for going to the rather upmarket Marmions in Melrose instead of the sports centre in Galashiels.

For those of you who know me well also know that I'm quite reactive to caffeine and consequently only usually have one cup with my breakfast otherwise I get quite 'wired'. But hey... the beginning of Old Lady Badminton and upmarket Marmions saw me order a strong, black coffee. Major mistake!

I was so wired that when I went to order my baht for my trip to Thailand in a few weeks time, I somehow got my figures crossed and only ordered half the amount I needed, so had to go back to the Post Office in Earlston to order the other half. Derek the Postmaster's face was a picture.

As I was staying overnight in Edinburgh I had to go home and pack, which wasn't helped in the least by the caffeine overdrive. I actually left the house and started up the road twice before I finally made the journey as I kept thinking of the things I'd forgotten.

The problem with feeling wired is that by the end of the day I also feel tired, but tired and wired don't go together terribly well and thought processes don't seem to function at their best. And so it was that I ended my day playing Love Letter with my sons, a new game No. 2 Son had bought recently, which was very good, but with my mind all over the place I couldn't quite get the best way to play my cards and ultimately that lead to me losing rather spectacularly.

Lesson learned... until the next time!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Because it's not worth it

I've just finished The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling and I have to say I was very disappointed. One dimensional characters, too much 'grim reality' and a slow plot led to a very unsatisfactory read for me. I was surprised and was hoping for better. And sadly, I can't really recommend it.

What I also can't recommend is a massage by a company called Vital Cosmetics in Edinburgh. I got a Groupon voucher, which meant that for £19 I got a treatment worth £49. Actually, thinking about it, I do think it was worth £19.

I was shown into an office block complete with officious receptionist who took 5 minutes and 23 seconds to open the door for me and then I was shown in to what was an office that had a massage table in it.

I started to feel a bit sorry for the masseur but then her phone went off just as she'd got going and she asked me if it was ok for her to go (all the way down 2 floors) to reception as the receptionist was trying to get hold of her. What could I say? I'm hardly going to say 'no' when I've got 55 minutes of my hour treatment to go. Actually I probably wouldn't have said 'no' even if I'd got 5 minutes to go... call me coward if you must!

Luckily she had turned off the overhead strip lights so she got plus points for that, but the massage itself wasn't what was expected. For the first time ever I started on my back, which meant that when I came to the end I had a lovely imprint of the face bit of the massage table on my face, which lasted for hours. I felt a right whatever walking around Edinburgh to get back to my car.

However, because I like to finish on a positive note: I'm now part way through Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, a book that's definitely worth it.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Good or bad? Who knows...

Today was the day of my long awaited ultrasound on my foot. It turns out I probably don't have a neuroma, which is good news, but the bad news is that I'm still under investigation as no-one knows as yet what the problem is. And it might turn out to be a neuroma after all, but one too small to detect. 

In my view I think it's just too much scarring from the ops my poor toes have had that gets trapped sometimes. It wouldn't be so bad if the pain wasn't like someone had stuck a knife in my toes. But no matter, I will have to soldier on and hope it doesn't happen too often, but I have a fear that my wish to go on a trek in Bhutan will have to remain as a wish and never become a reality. We'll see.

But anyway, enough of that... here's a photo of our lovely veg patch with it's smart new paths and some of our not long planted winter veg, which is doing rather well. Looks great doesn't it?

Friday, 23 August 2013

Too tired to think

I think I've got a little bit too used to the 'retired' bit of semi-retired as I found my visit to Inverness for work matters this week very tiring. So much so that the very thought that I have to do it all again (for the second part of the training) in 2 weeks time is feeling a bit overwhelming. It doesn't help that I've got a workshop to deliver tomorrow in Edinburgh either.

On the other hand I have a feeling that Mountain Man is rather pleased I'm so tired, because it means I can't even be bothered to 'plan'. The latest plan, which he's had to execute according to my exacting standards, has been the veg patch and I think he's slightly worried about the extra work he'll have to do once my thinking is back in order and normal service is resumed.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

A seasoned hoarder

Way back at the beginning of the year I stated I was determined to get my house tidy and lose a goodly amount of the rubbish that I seem to have hoarded over the years. Of course the year has trundled on and I've not cleared half as much as I'd said I would, but the thought of a puppy joining us in approximately 10 weeks time has forced me into starting the big clear out.

So far my poor shredder has gone onto overload and our recycle bin, which is collected every two weeks and is due for collection tomorrow, is full to the brim with shredded paper bits from years back.

The big clear out was in full flow but is about to come to an abrupt halt as I make my way north to Inverness for a few days of teaching this week, and Mountain Man, who has done a sterling job on our utility room, is off to the Lake District for mountain matters.

My hope is, that by the time our puppy (which should be born within the next two or three weeks) is ready to join us, we will be living in a hoard free zone.

Some hope!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Botox rant

Mountain Man is getting a bit fed up with me. Whenever we watch TV I'm (slightly) obsessed with watching for who's had botox. I don't know why I do this... I have the same thing with pronouncing about crap adverts e.g. who'd buy this product on the strength of this advert?... and you can insert pretty much any product in the 'this' slot as far as I'm concerned.

You do have to wonder about the thought processes behind most ads. Also you have to wonder about the thought processes behind people who decide on having botox. The ultra-smooth forehead that's a bit shiny in the middle is the absolute giveaway.

My latest 'victim' is Shane Lynch from Boyzone, who was on Celebrity Masterchef this week. He not only has a forehead that doesn't move, but he's gone for those strange eyebrows that I've seen on many a woman who's been botoxed, but he's the first man I've seen like this.

Why can't people just grow old gracefully and accept that wrinkled foreheads are part of the process? It's beyond me, it really is.

Ok, well that's my rant for this week over. Bet you're pleased about that!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Monday morning questions

I noticed some years ago that my dress size changed. This, I hasten to add, had nothing to do with my gaining or losing weight as my statistics are still pretty much the same, but rather in my opinion more to do with a manufacturing con. I went from a 12 to 10 to an 8 and sometimes even a 6 depending where I'm shopping. I still have clothes that I bought back in the 70's and some are a size 12, but they fit the same.

I was in the supermarket the other day buying eggs and I began to wonder what happened to small size eggs? There are large and medium, but no small. I looked in a box of medium and I could have sworn they were small. And actually it also seems that if I choose to buy a box of 'mixed sizes' I'm pretty sure most of the eggs are not really mixed but actually very small ones, much smaller than the ones in the medium box.

So what is this about size? Am I the only person who remembers being able buy small eggs? Has your dress size migrated down? Is this a female thing (not the size of the eggs of course!) or have men's sizes changed too?

Too many questions for a Monday morning and I'm sure you can tell I'm procrastinating. Fascinating what my mind throws up for me when I have a tax return to do...

Saturday, 10 August 2013

It's happening...

... just not yet.

Yesterday I had a communication with the Guide Dogs For The Blind Puppywalker Supervisor and our puppy should be with us in November!

The reason for the hold-up is that I'm off on another holiday in late September for 3 weeks and then have a trip to London to contend with and, as Mountain Man has a lot of work in September and October, it wouldn't be fair to get a puppy and immediately farm it out to someone else for a month.

Now of course I'll have to start clearing the Puppy Space and generally get a place somewhere else for everything that a puppy could possibly chew that's currently in our utility room. This could be a lot harder than it sounds as MM and I aren't the tidiest of folk.

I am very excited at the prospect of a new being coming into our home, but I'm also a bit anxious. I haven't had a puppy around for 15 years and then we had almost 5 acres of woods and fields for a dog to explore. One of the good things of being a puppy walker is that I will have to take the puppy everywhere with me, which includes shops, buses and trains as well as car trips and any other place that I can think of to introduce the puppy to the world at large.

So that's this weekend's exciting news and no doubt you'll get far more regular updates about the puppy situation than you'll ever get about the coffee plants!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

On their way

Yesterday, whilst I was in Edinburgh, Mountain Man was dealing with an accident outside of our house, where a car had gone straight over the crossroads without stopping and smacked straight into an ambulance that was on the main road and had right of way. Luckily no-one was hurt... and from what MM told me, they were all truly lucky.

However, the ambulance ploughed it's way through 4 flower tubs, that have graced our pavements and given the village a colourful air for years, and the debris is now lying scattered all the way along the pavement from the corner to our home.

Apart from looking unsightly, this has also proven to be most unfortunate for MM who parked his car outside last night and woke up this morning to a flat tyre. He's going nowhere for the time being as the AA, who've promised to come and fix the tyre roadside, are still on their way.

Also on their way, apparently, are Borders Council who were supposed to have cleared this yesterday.

So is Christmas I'm tempted to say...

Monday, 5 August 2013

Losses and gains

On Friday I was awoken to the sounds of Mountain Man searching. It seems I'm not the only one who can lose things around here! I'm sure you're dying to know what he lost... well it was the one and only key to our shed. And that meant no painting of anything for me, as all the paraphernalia was locked in said shed and MM needed to break in and then fix the break in and buy a new latch as the old key was nowhere to be found.

Luckily by the end of the weekend the shed was all fixed and we now have 2 keys for it, just in case. Also, by the time the weekend was finished it had started raining, so there's still no painting being done. The rest of the fence and the external woodwork of the windows and doors will just have to wait for another heat wave to hit us.

In the meantime I left MM sorting the shed and getting himself ready for the Tour de Forth bike ride he was doing on Sunday and went off to the Rumi Festival near Hawick on Friday. It just so happened that an old boyfriend of mine was going to be there and we met up for the first time in 40 years. Don't worry it wasn't a shock for either of us as we'd arranged it all.

Our first conversation wasn't quite as expected, because I found my old friend and a pal putting up a yurt and trying to make sure the ties were secure. They were doing it the most peculiar way, which seemed overly complicated to me and after a quick hug hello they got lessons in Vee's simple method of tying down tent ties. They were impressed... or at least that's what they said to my face!

The festival didn't start until later on the Friday night, so there was lots of time to catch up with what had happened to both of us in 40 years and then meet his friends. I went back on Sunday to see some of the performances. There was some great operatic singing, a play, discussion and a fascinating Sufi dancer. I tried to upload the video of the dancer for you, but there was an error every time I tried to upload it. If I can manage another time then I'll do so. But to paint the picture for you, the Sufi dancer dressed in Turkish costume went round and round on the same spot for minutes. It was impressive.

I finally left the festival in the evening just when it was starting to drizzle. This was a good move on my part as my car was sitting in the middle of a rather lush field and I knew from the weather forecast that it was going to tip it down.

It was a good weekend and fun to reminisce, meet new people and be entertained.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Les vacances en France - les pictures

I still haven't found the cable for my camera, but the lovely Denise pointed out I didn't need it and could just upload straight from the memory card... oops, I'd completely forgotten that one!

So here are some pics from my time in France:

I took the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen and was lucky enough to be given a very front seat for the 6 hour sailing.

Setting out from Portsmouth at 2.30 pm

Arriving in France at 9.30 pm - already on French time

Day 1 - After time to play with dogs and sit in the sunshine under the canopy that Krzyzstof put up for our pleasure, we had a jaunt to Sees for a wander and then home to relax.

Asher and Phoenix in the back garden

The back of Sara and Krzyzstof's house with canopy

The town hall in Sees

Day 2: A stay at home day. Reading in the sunshine and doing a few chores - Sara and K mainly... tho I did help a bit!

The view from my bedroom window

Eli and Asher with Sara. Phoenix can just be seen in the background behind K

Day 3: A supermarket shopping trip and then off to look at the 16th C Manoir de Soisay.  It was a strange place. Very beautiful on the outside, and the brickwork on the inside was to die for, but the people that own it are artists and, in their wisdom, have decided to display their works. Sadly penises (penii?) and boobs as modern sculptures don't do it for me, so you don't get any photos of those!

In the evening we had the most amazing storm where we went from no wind/clear skies to high winds/incredible storm clouds/thunder and lightning within seconds. It abated just as quickly.

One of the stags in the grounds of Le Manoir de Soisay

View of Le Manoir from the driveway

 View looking out from Le Manoir. The sculpture in the foreground is one of the few not of a penis or a boob!

Asher watching the storm clouds arriving

Day 4: Day of the Vide Grenier. No pics I'm afraid as I was too busy looking at merchandise! On the way back we stopped to get bread at Mortree and have a quick look at one of the churches.

The church at Mortree

Day 5: This was a day of gardening. We cleared hedges and cut back all kinds of weeds that were growing up the house.

Day 6: Time to go. I took a pic of the chickens for Denise, a pic of Jingle the donkey and Piccolo the pony's arse and my almost annual pic of Sara and K with the dogs, but Eli refused point blank to have his photo taken as he wanted to get in the car and was scared if he did come into the sitting room he'd be shut in and not allowed on the journey! Eli did get in the car and was most disappointed when Sara wouldn't let him come onto the station platform to wave goodbye.

Chickens - the black one is a Caumont and has a rather strange shaped head
Piccolo's arse (he wasn't going to turn around for love nor money) and Jingle

Sara, Phoenix, Krzyzstof and Asher

Sara and Eli at the station

Some incredibly lovely memories.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Oh dear!

Hello one and all. I'm back! Actually I've been back since Monday night and was going to get on and post, but somehow the days have defeated me. I also have to say that I've managed to mislay the power cable to attach my camera to my computer, so you'll have to wait for pics.

Anyway, I had a wonderful time. I did not much at all but play with Great Danes, read a lot, a bit of gardening and my friend Sara and I spent quite a bit of time talking - no surprise there then! We went to a Vide Grenier, which is the French equivalent of a car boot sale, and I managed to get a dress for 1 Euro and Sara bought a top for 1 Euro, but she felt it was better on me, so I got that too... lucky me! We also went to a supermarket where I bought some rather good silicone baking moulds, which were so much cheaper en France, and some other goodies to bring home, so quite a bit of shopping - and no surprise there either!

Meanwhile this week I've kind of finished my OU Understanding The Weather course, in the sense that I finished the test, which apparently gives me a certificate, but sadly there doesn't seem any way to get said certificate, so I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do. I've emailed them and will just have to wait and see.

The other thing that really pissed me off is that I did really well on the test and was aiming for 100%, but the bloody website wouldn't take one of my answers - even tho it was correct - and awarded me 99%. The test was a mere 20 questions, which took me ages (as in 1.5 hours) to answer as some were quite complex, but apart from a couple of cloud ones, which were very hard to see (even my tutor agreed), most of the answers could be found in the course manual. I was not a happy bunny, but I've done my bit and told the powers that be, tho the person I talked to wasn't really that concerned. I think he was more keen on getting me off the phone so he could go home... never mind, at least I tried.

So, do I now understand the weather? Mmmm... not entirely, but I know a whole lot more than I started with. I do still have another chapter and a half to finish before I can finally say I've finished the course and I'll probably start from the beginning again and see if another going through it cements a bit more in my mind, but I have learned a lot, which was the point of the whole thing. I'm pleased I didn't do it as a credit course though as I'd read the EMA questions and they were awful... no I was far better of with my 20 question test!

Drop by in a few days when I should have located the missing cable and you'll be able to see some lovely photos. But just to keep you going here's one of 2 of the 3 Great Danes, which I took on my phone. I know some of you have seen this on Facebook, but it's worth another look.

Phoenix and Eli sleeping off a hard day!