Friday, 31 January 2014

I was wrong

My birthday celebrations didn't end last weekend. My lovely friend Shirley took me to lunch yesterday at Harvey Nicks in Edinburgh and also gave me some great socks and gloves. I know it's ridiculous at 62 to like having birthdays, but I do. I'm not into big celebrations, but love spending time with friends and family and having genuine 'one on one' time.

So, here we are at the end of January. It's absolutely flown by, which is a little scary to say the least. I've done not much writing and my house is a tip, so that's put paid to my New Year's resolutions, but as today is Chinese New Year (the year of The Wood Horse) I suppose I can always try again, though I'm not convinced the predictions for me for this year sound all that inspiring, but I'm sure I can set a few milestones and see what happens:

Year of The Rabbit
Chasing your dreams can seem like hard work when what you are seeking is far, far away. Worthy goals are rarely achieved overnight, yet you can gain a sense of achievement by setting some milestones which you can race past at regular intervals. When an obstruction appears on your path, there is no need to feel defeated, you know you can often find a way to go around it.

If you want to read about yours you can do so at this link.

新年好 everyone!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The agony and the ecstasy

I had another one of those bizarre accidents that occasionally seem to plague my life.

It was the middle of the night and I needed to go to the loo. I leapt out of bed and rushed to the bathroom and managed to catch my fourth toe on the corner of the wall. That poor toe has been the recipient of a couple of operations - the last one to take the joint out (don't ask) - and is not in the best of shape. Talk about painful!

Yesterday saw me heading to the dentist in Edinburgh, not one of my favourite destinations at the best of times. The only comfortable footwear was my Ugg boots. Amazing though how someone digging about in my gums made the pain in my toe miraculously disappear for at least a short while.

After that I had to go to Dumfries for a meeting. It's a good 2 hour drive, but a wonderful opportunity to open the throttle on my new(ish) car and really let rip down the motorway. It was great! I got to Dumfries in time for lunch and then had to sit about for a while and took the time to start my new book (on my Kindle) 'Instructions for a Heatwave' by Maggie O'Farrell. I'm certainly enjoying the start. An hour's meeting followed and at 4.20 I left Dumfries for the 2 hour drive home, this time along country roads in the dark and rain and not nearly as comfortable as my journey down. I was quite stiff by the time I got home and so my shoulders, rigid from the drive, were quite painful.

I woke this morning with sore toe, sore shoulders and sore lower back and a bit of a headache to boot. I made the decision that badminton wasn't for me today as I didn't want to have any more agony... no thank you!

And the ecstasy? Well I haven't got to that bit yet, but I'm ever hopeful.

Monday, 27 January 2014

I see trouble ahead

Out walking down the old railway line with Odi yesterday in the small bit of sunshine that managed through the rain. We were having fun, she was running around, I was trying to get her to do what I wanted... you know the kind of thing I'm sure.

Because she wasn't coming immediately when called I thought I'd try and do something a little different, so when we got to the familiar path we usually take home I changed it and went a different way. There just happens to be a bit of wire fence along that route, but there are gaps (large ones), one of which I went through. I called Odi and she came dashing towards me... I tried to stop her, but she wasn't listening and went straight, smack into the fence. She yelped... loudly. It happened so quickly and she was obviously a bit shocked, but worse than that she had a cut on her face.

When we got home I bathed it in warm water and gave her some homeopathic remedy... ok, I know the jury's out on that one, but it's always worked for me and my animals and I know it doesn't do any harm. She seemed fine about it. I wasn't. I felt awful. I don't think there's any lasting damage and just have to hope there isn't too much of a scar.

She seemed no worse for wear this morning and, having told people over the weekend about how good she was and not chewing anything, was horrified to learn that Mountain Man found her chewing the skirting board in the utility room. It's now completely covered in Vick.

I'll be glad when this part of Odi's stroppiness is over, I'm just slightly concerned at what bad behaviour she'll demonstrate next. No suggestions necessary thank you, I don't want anyone giving her ideas!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

And they continued

My birthday celebrations that is.

Friday was a Guide Dog training morning at Dobbie's Garden Centre in Edinburgh. I had signed myself up for a day of bowls so Mountain Man went with Odi to meet up with the Puppy Supervisor and 8 other puppies. I gather it was exhausting for all!

While MM was being dragged around Dobbie's I was doing my best at trying to get my bowls to do what I wanted. I wasn't terribly successful, but I was in a team with a brilliant skip and it was all thanks to him that we won both our games, the last by 16 to 3, which meant we won. We each got a rather nice bottle of red wine and I also won a raffle prize.

I had just enough time to get home and get changed ready to go to Edinburgh for the last part of my birthday celebrations: dinner and theatre. But first we had to drop Odi off at her best friend and Guide Dog pal, Nancy's in Lauder. In spite of the fact they'd spent all morning together, the moment Odi got through the door they were delighted to see one another and Odi didn't take a backward glance when we left.

Our first stop was a dinner at Bonsai in Edinburgh for a delicious Japanese meal before heading off to the Festival Theatre to see Warhorse.

I have to say if you haven't been to see the play, then I urge you to if you can manage to get tickets. It was absolutely wonderful. The puppetry was so clever and the story, which I found over-the-top smaltzy in the Hollywood film, was beautifully portrayed and heartrendingly emotional at the end. A great piece of theatre.

When we got back to Odi after 11, she and Nancy were still playing! Apparently they hadn't stopped, except for a short dinner interlude, from when we'd left her at 4.30. The moment she got in the car she fell asleep and although just managed to go out for a pee before bed, that was her for the night. In fact that was her until MM woke her up yesterday just after 7 yesterday morning. She was exhausted!

I had some work to do yesterday in the form of facilitating a group and when I got home at 1.30 Odi was still exhausted. We went for a short walk to the other end of the village where I had to drop a book off, but that was it. We had a very quiet afternoon and evening without needing to do the usual rough and tumble.

And even today, although a bit perkier, there's still a residual tiredness there, which is quite a relief in some ways as there's a yellow weather warning out and I'm not sure we will venture out much today. Poor MM, however, has a Borders Search and Rescue training exercise to do. With gale force winds and heavy rain forecast I don't envy him one bit.

Well I think that's probably the end of my birthday celebrations for this year. It's certainly been a good one.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Almost a professional

When I was in Thailand last year I was introduced to pomelo and there was hardly a day that went by when I didn't have some. I just loved it.

Imagine my surprise when I was in Sainsbury's in Edinburgh and discovered they actually stocked them there. That was back in December. And then, amazingly, I found them in Sainsbury's in Kelso too. I've been trying hard to keep myself to only buying a couple a week, but recently my pomelo craze has become almost a full blown addiction. I just love them.

There's one big problem with pomelos though and that's peeling them. They are one of the hardest things to get the slices out whole, but after almost a month of trying different methods, I have to say, I've become almost a professional and I can now peel one in it's entirety in approximately 15 minutes (it did take me half an hour back in December). The slices aren't quite as beautifully done as the ones I bought from the supermarket in Bangkok, but I'm getting close.

I guess I'll just have to practice a bit more. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sunday lunch

Sunday lunch should always be a relaxing affair. Sadly today's lunch was the absolute opposite. We decided to go out and take Odi with us for our first ever meal out.

We went to Main Street Trading Company, our local independent book store, which also has a cafe. They were  kindness personified when I phoned to ask if it was ok for us to bring Odi and when we got there they'd given us the ideal table.

We ordered a spicy parsnip soup and a sandwich each and sat and waited with great patience. It arrived just as a family with 3 small and quite loud kids arrived and sat on the table next to us. The boy, who was about 2, immediately had tantrum.

Odi behaved perfectly and was complemented by the staff on how well she did. She ate her chew that I'd taken to occupy her and, although initially wanted to jump on the children, lay quite reasonably under my chair.

The only problem was I couldn't relax at all. Mountain Man and I left taking half our sandwich with us. Our sense was that we should leave while we were winning rather than wait for Odi to become distracted.

I prefer a more relaxed Sunday lunch, so I think we either need to practice or not bother. Still it was good to know that we can go out and, even if we don't stay hugely long, Odi can behave and behave well. Maybe if today was anything to go by she will make it to Guide Dog status after all.

Friday, 17 January 2014

A week of firsts

First time Odi was allowed off the lead (as in previous post) and today was the first time she was off the lead totally on her own without another dog to play with. What an unbelievable change!

We went for a walk along the old railway line, closed down by Beeching in the 60's, which makes for a lovely doggy walk and, instead of the mad thing that bounds off and pays very little attention to me (unless called back of course), Odi would go a little way away then come rushing back to me. It almost felt like old times with Nell, who was great on walks.

Odi was absolutely perfect in every way, apart from being clarted in mud which meant my kitchen floor needed cleaning for the second time this morning and that's probably another first!

And to add to the firsts was the lovely birthday lunch my boys took me on yesterday. Usually we all go out together for an evening meal on my birthday, but because I'd chosen to be away that couldn't happen this year.

It was quite special to spend quality time with both boys. I also got my presents - The Forward Book of Poetry 2014 and Scrabble Trickster. Great to have something serious and something fun... though I'm thinking the latter may be more serious than I'd first thought!

I love Scrabble and Mountain Man has to be coerced into playing with me as I usually win, but those thoughtful boys bought the Trickster version in the hope that MM might have a better chance and therefore be more keen to play. That would definitely be another first and I'm hoping it might happen before the week is out. Sadly MM's been on Search and Rescue duty since yesterday afternoon so no chance yet, still there's a couple of days left, so let's hope that first comes to fruition.

I love firsts!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Well that's a relief

I had an interesting birthday meditating the day away at Samye Ling Monastery. It felt like a worthwhile thing for me to do. Whilst I was wandering about I came on the resident peacocks, a male and his 4 missusses, all lined up on a railing. Made for rather a nice photo:

I got back on Sunday night and opened my cards and presents. Mountain Man has got us tickets for Warhorse on 24th January, which is on at Edinburgh Festival Theatre and I've wanted to see for ages, and my mother gave me an M&S voucher, which was very kind of her except that it was written to MM for his xmas present. Suffice it to say she'd already given him an M&S voucher for xmas so I know he wasn't without, but it was a bit weird to get something that didn't really feel like it belonged. Still she is 90 and she did remember to phone me (all the way from South Africa I might add) even though I wasn't there.

I'm getting boy present(s?) tomorrow and a lunch out, so I have that to look forward to.

Yesterday was Odi's first 'free run' which is the first time she's been off the lead out of the house. It has to be done under supervision and after all her inoculations (she had her final one on 3rd January). Because the Puppy Supervisor is inundated with puppies at the moment it fell to her deputy to perform the duties and, because she doesn't always have use of a car, we (as in Odi, me and MM) had to go to Portobello for the pleasure.

As soon as we got to the park and we let the dogs off (the DPS has a 7 month old chocolate lab) a woman with 2 Jack Russell terriers came in and let her dogs off. The woman herself bounded up to Odi and petted and fussed over her, much to my and the DPS's horror, and then wandered off to collect her dogs. One of them, who went by the name of Asbo (need I say more) wouldn't go to her and just wanted to play with Odi and Odi was very obliging and ran off with him. We called her back but she wouldn't come and just when I thought the DPS was going to pull out the red card and declare us failed, Odi came rushing back. After that small hiccup she behaved perfectly, coming when called, even to MM, who's had his trials and tribulations when trying to get her to come to him in the garden.

Odi had a whale of a time, rushing about and rolling in the (very) black mud. When we finished and put them on the lead she was almost beginning to resemble a black lab not a yellow one, and of course none of the mud showed up on the choccy one. I'm now realising that having a yellow lab/retreiver cross, and quite a blond one at that, is not quite so great when out walking in parks or fields, even if she is extremely pretty when cleaned up.

And today we were invited down to Kelso Race Course to go for a runabout with another Guide Dog lab, this one black and 7 months old. It was great to see them rushing around enjoying themselves and Odi even discovered rabbit poo, which was a very tasty snackette for her I think!

It's such a relief to be able to go anywhere and let her off the lead for a good old run. She really needed it. Overnight she's gone from an excitable minx to quite a sleepy, tired out dog. It's worth all the drying and brushing to get her back to her normal colour to see her being allowed to be a 'real' dog at last.

I'm attaching two more photos as evidence of growth. The first was taken when Odi was 8 weeks old and the second was taken on Sunday.

'Devil Eyes' at 8 weeks

'Devil Eyes' at 17 weeks

Friday, 10 January 2014

New Year's Eve part 2

Well here I am on the eve of my 62nd birthday!

This year I've decided it's a spiritual new year for me and am off on a meditation retreat for the weekend, which I think is a very good way to spend it. Of course I always celebrate my birthday for at least a few weeks after so lots of time to be taken out for nice meals and have a bit of pampering (hint, hint MM and Sons 1 & 2).

I also have had a bit of very good news, but I won't share it with you quite yet as it's not set in stone and I don't want to jinx it... so watch this space and (hopefully) all will be revealed in due course.

I'm going to finish here as I have to be away, but will leave you with a rather fetching photo of Odi in her favourite position. She's getting too heavy to do this for much longer, as I'm sure you can imagine, and if anyone wants a bit of neck strength training do drop by, I'm sure she'll oblige!

Dog collar anyone?

Sunday, 5 January 2014

I've done it!

Today is the day that the Xmas decs come down and the new year really gets under way. In other words it's time for a 'cleansing'.

Exercise must be done, alcohol must be cut out, good food must be consumed and I must be free of Facebook for the rest of the month.

Well I've done one of those things already... and it's got nothing to do with exercise, alcohol or food!

Gotta start somewhere!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Hello 2014

I hope you had as lovely a New Year as I did.

I made the decision not to do any web stuff at all from the day before New Year's Eve until well into the new year. I'm not sure that this is really long enough, but at least I've been away from Facebook - and frankly haven't missed it at all and consequently am thinking of having a Facebook free month. It seems to take up quite a bit of my time and I think I have better things to do.

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day was a special time with special friends and then on Thursday we had more friends round, so it's been a social (and sociable) start to 2014 with the need for yesterday as a bit of recovery time.

I had forgotten that Shirley (of Shirley and Andy) hadn't seen Odi since she was about 9 weeks old and so it was great to take a photo of the two of them again on New Year's Day, in a similar pose to 6 weeks ago, to see the difference. Here you go:

Shirley and Odi (aged 9 weeks)

Shirley and Odi (aged 16 weeks)
The only thing to mar our celebrations was that Odi suffered from yet another urinary tract infection. She's now on her 3rd lot of antibiotics and let's hope that works or investigations will have to take place. She now weighs in at 11.55 kg and seems to be putting on a kg per week and has moved from her puppy collars into her adult collar... a major milestone:

Odi grows far quicker than the coffee plants so I'm sure you'll get many more updates on her than you will on them before 2014 ends.

So that's that. The end of the beginning, so to speak. Christmas tree, lights, decorations and cards will come down tomorrow and the holidays will truly be over. Ah well... only 360 days left til the next one!