Monday, 31 March 2014

Thank goodness that's over

I'm back from London and exhausted. Not from rushing around or doing a lot, no... the reason I'm exhausted is I've had to bite my tongue and sit on the swear words I've wanted to scream for the last 48 hours.

I actually had a wonderful time with my friend Suky on Saturday night. After a long train journey it was great to sit down at Yo Sushi and spend 3 hours chatting and catching up. We've known each other for almost 30 years when we met over pregnancy bumps before we produced our No. 1 Sons and have met up when we can ever since.

Yesterday was a different story. It all started with the egg boiling situation at breakfast when my mother told me I should just put the water on to boil and turn it off for 3 minutes and my boiled eggs would be fine. Yes, I said, as long as you want a 3 minute egg.

For the last 45 years (when I left my parental home) I have perfected the art of boiling an egg to the way I like to eat it, which is hard except for the very centre which is a touch runny - 7.5 mins for a medium sized egg and 8 mins for a large sized egg just in case you're interested. At no point would I ever touch any egg that had only been in hot water for a mere 3 minutes. My mother almost had a fit, but it was Mother's Day so I held my tongue, left my eggs in the pan for the required time, ate them at super quick speed and got out of the kitchen as fast as I could.

Then my brother and his wife and her son came over for champagne before going for lunch. My aunt also turned up wearing a jumper completely covered in moth holes. I didn't know whether to have a quiet word with her, but before I could my mother turned on her with a supercilious tone and told her in no uncertain terms what she thought of said jumper. My aunt retorted, 'well at least my curtains aren't black with dirt!' At which point my mother told her to fuck off.

After my aunt left we all went off to Langan's Brasserie. The idea being that my brother and I would pay for my mother and my brother's wife would be paid for by her banker son. There wasn't enough room in the banker son's car so my brother and I walked while my mother and my brother's wife got driven there. There was nowhere to park so banker son took the car all the way back to my mother's, parked and walked back!

Meanwhile we chose wine (they didn't have it), chose another bottle (it was off) and then eventually had our glasses filled (third time lucky) while we waited for the banker son's return. We then chose our meals. 20 minutes later we discovered the waiter had managed to mess up our order as my and my mother's choice of spinach souffle turned up but the other starters didn't. We had to start otherwise the souffle would collapse. My brother complained and we got our first bottle of wine free.

Then the main course. Poor waiter managed to mess that up too. I think he was having a very bad day as he didn't smile once, or apologise or anything. My mother wasn't amused. Neither was my brother's wife. I'm afraid the banker son and I started to have hysterics until he told me he didn't want to be a banker but a politician or a journalist. I'm afraid that brought me up short and the laughter died. I did manage to smile... just!

I won't go into the rest of the day. Suffice it to say it didn't get better.

Today started off badly because my mother thought the meeting we were attending was at 2 pm and not at 9.30 am as the rest of us knew. She was not amused... again. And so the day went on until I got on the train with a huge sigh of relief to head to the fog bound Scottish Borders.

I'm now home, drinking wine and hoping that by writing all this down I can forget it all and never have to think about it again.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

More than one? No... really... no!

Don't you just love technology? I certainly do and I'm a real gadget queen as you already know.

I've had Kindle Paperwhite for a while now, which is brilliant for when I'm travelling, so imagine my horror when, just as I'm about to head off to London for the weekend, I discover my Kindle has gone awol.

Luckily I managed to find the receipt for it (there's something to be said for keeping all bits of paper), which I bought in John Lewis in Edinburgh less than a year ago and therefore still in warranty.

John Lewis were great. Not even an eyelid bat. They went to get another off the shelf, but the model I had (with wifi and 3G) wasn't in stock, just the one with wifi, so I came away with a new Kindle and £70 in my pocket - though to be honest I don't remember the old one being that much more expensive than the wifi only one.

I'm relieved that I'm now Kindled up and ready to travel. However, rather embarrassingly my new one has named itself 'Vee's 2nd Kindle'. As this is my only Kindle I'm a little pissed off and it won't let me rename it.

Anyone out there know how to get it to change it's name? Do let me know if you have an answer, otherwise if someone looks at it I will forever be known as the profligate person who has more than one Kindle.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A lovely mention

I've had another bout of unwellness this week, but the good thing about that is it's given me the chance to read.

I managed to finish 'Disobedience' by Naomi Alderman and 'One Plus One' by Jojo Moyes. I thoroughly enjoyed both.

I'm now reading 'Mindless Eating: Why we eat more than we think' by Brian Wansink. Not because I eat too much, tho I do have to admit to mindlessly eating sometimes, but because it's got some fascinating facts about how people are manipulated by brands, appearance and parental habits (yes, looks like us poor parents getting blamed again). I was told about this book while coming back from my Commonwealth Games Training by another volunteer and given the book cost £2 I thought I'd give it a go.

Today Odi and I went off to Berwick-upon-Tweed to meet up with fellow puppy walker Sally and the lovely Glen. I hadn't seen them for about a month and I hadn't realise just how much Odi has grown in that time. She's now taller than Glen, who's a month older than her. She's turning into a proper dog now and looks less and less puppyish by the day. We had a lovely time with the dogs racing along the town walls and then off to a cafe to do a spot of puppy training... better known as having a cuppa and a natter while the dogs lie down quietly under the table.

Tomorrow is Edinburgh and then Friday is meeting day before I head off to London this weekend to spend Mother's Day with my mother and my brother and his wife and then go to a meeting on Monday morning.

Oh yes... and before I forget I want to tell you that I had a wonderful mention from Nicola Morgan in her 2nd newsletter. She made my little pocket book on stress her non-fiction book of the month and this is what she said: 

Start to Stress Less by Dr Vee Freir
START to Stress Less is a little book with big power. It shows how to reduce unwanted stress in five easy, effective steps. As a reviewer said, "Dr Freir doesn't take 200 words to say what can be said in 20 words. She just says 20 words. Her advice does not require you to go into a special room each day (who has time for that?). You can use her advice right in the middle of your worry and anxiety and bring it to an end in a way that leads you to solution to what is worrying you. Absolutely brilliant." And I completely agree. I am not a fan of many self-help books as I often find them patronising or unnecessarily waffly. This is neither.

At £4.95 (+P&P) this is stunningly good value and would be helpful to teenagers as well as adults. You can buy it here and no, I'm not on commission and yes, I did buy my own copy!

If you want to read the newsletter you have to sign up for it and you can do so here if you're interested.

And of course if you want to buy a copy of my book then get in touch by going to this link.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Back to reality

Back from 5 whole days of silent retreat, which was both exhilarating and exhausting.

There is something about being in silence... the relief of not having to talk or be social or sociable... and yet still feeling hugely communal that is very special and something I certainly feel I need more of as I get older.

I went to Gaia House, which is down in Devon. A friend from the Highlands came down to stay the night before the retreat started and we left the house before 7 in the morning and 8.5 hours later arrived in West Ogwell (fairly near Newton Abbot). One of the things we couldn't vouch for was whether or not we would get a single room each and, I'm afraid to say, being women of a 'certain age' neither of us wanted to share with anyone. We'd both pleaded our causes in writing when we applied to go on the retreat and when we got there I was taken to my room. It was a double and I was disappointed, but as I waited and waited and waited for my room-mate to turn up, it dawned on me that actually they'd given in to my pleading letter and I was on my own. My friend wasn't quite so fortunate.

One of the things they ask at Gaia House is that each of us volunteer an hour of our time to help out. I opted for chopping veg, which I absolutely loved. A very meditative experience.

The actual retreat was meditation and qiqong. The meditation teacher was fantastic, but the qiqong teacher left a lot to be desired. He didn't seem to be paying attention to the retreatants or their posture and stood mainly with his eyes closed and expected us to follow. I was watching everyone and wondered who was going to get injured first. It turned out to be me! My lower back went into spasm and I was really pleased I'd packed my cold spray. However, the lesson was very much to take care of myself... if I hadn't been so keen on watching everyone else I might well have noticed when I was overdoing it.

There were some fascinating people there. One of my favourites was the lady (and I mean 'lady') who sat next to me with a chair, a mat and 9 cushions and who turned up every day in a co-ordinated outfit together with make-up carefully applied (including lipstick). I don't know why but I thought she was Swiss or French and in my mind christened her Marie-Christine. I was extremely disappointed at the end when she spoke in an English accent. I never did find out her real name so she is forever Marie-Christine in my book.

So back to reality. Today has been spent answering emails and making phone-calls and catching up with what Odi and MM have been up to in my absence. MM went off and did his 33 mile race and proudly announced that he could still walk up and down stairs the day after, which is totally brilliant. Odi meanwhile went off to spend time with her Guide Dog puppy pal Cathy. She had loads of fun and apparently Susan and Gordon (the Puppy Walkers she stayed with) are finding their house very quiet without Odi around.

One piece of very good news is that I'm to have another poem published. It'll appear in the Spring edition of The Eildon Tree. Whoopee!

And tomorrow? Back to meetings and work. Oh dear!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

March coffee plant update

And here they are!
All the coffee plants survived the winter, but haven't done a huge amount in the growth department. Well that's that update then!

In the meantime I'm off away on retreat to Devon and will be home on the 20th, so no more posts until I get home.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A day of celebrations

Today is Mountain Man's birthday. He's 63 years old and on Saturday is doing a 33 mile run in Aberdeenshire. He's now saying marathon distance is wuss distance... though he might well have a different story to tell after the event!

And 6 months ago today Odi was born. So here's a pic of the two of them taken this morning:

And here's Odi's 6 month portrait, which I think is absolutely gorgeous:

Come back tomorrow and you'll get a coffee plant update, which I can tell you already will not be a long post!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Back on the sofa

After a morning at an Antique Fleamarket fair in Kelso yesterday, we sat and watched the Paralympics. I'm hooked! Well, I knew I would be, it's sport after all and I can watch sport all day everyday given the opportunity. And it's a weekend and I have the opportunity.

Mountain Man is off on a Borders Search and Rescue worky thing today so I have been on dog duty. Odi and I had a lovely walk in the woods this morning, but after that it was back to the sofa to see the latest action. Luckily it's on Channel 4, which means lots of ad breaks which I can't stand, so that gives me the impetus to at least get up and get some food and a drink or two and I have vacuumed the living room, but that's about it.

Anyway, gotta go... there's sport to be watched!

Friday, 7 March 2014


Today was my Commonwealth Games volunteer training. I'm not allowed to say too much. I can't tell you about the uniform - but I will reveal it looks wearable and we get a water bottle, a bag and an umbrella - ooops, that might be too much info, so don't tell anyone.

It was fun to be part of it. Lots of razzamatazz and a goody bag to take away. Next stop is Role Specific training. I'm in Press Ops and I'm not sure if this means that I have to perfect the art of making a cup of tea for our friends from the newspapers whilst maintaining a smile, or something else. I'll have to wait until May 22nd to find out.

I checked on the Commonwealth Games website and, in spite of telling us we weren't supposed to say anything, they've put the uniform up themselves! So if you go to this link you'll be able to see what I'll be wearing come Games time.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

School uniform

Yesterday was puppy class at Tweedbank. I was feeling quite unwell... a cold and blocked sinuses which rapidly turned into a migraine. Not the best for puppy training. And Odi was certainly not the best at puppy training!

It's quite something when a 16 week old puppy does everything beautifully, while my 6 month old monster shows how not to do it. Nevertheless we came away with a 'Guide Dog Puppy in training' jacket, which I think makes Odi look all grown up.

'school uniform'

My migraine was so bad by the time I got home that I was only good to go to bed and stay there the rest of the day. I was so pleased Mountain Man was at home as I don't know what I'd have done with Odi otherwise.

Today I woke up and still felt pretty lousy, but it was lovely to have a cuddle first thing.

No comments needed thank you!

Even changing a set of sheets and putting a wash on was enough to make me feel like I wanted to go back to bed, but I fought it and went out to Kelso to get a few things we needed. Odi unbelievably behaved impeccably and I was so proud of her in her smart new uniform, looking and behaving a treat. Let's hope it lasts!

Monday, 3 March 2014


I received a text the other day to tell me I was due for an upgrade on my iPhone. So today I went and visited the o2 shop in Galashiels to check out the phones on offer, but when I looked at them, I couldn't really see the point of upgrading. My phone is fine, it works well. Ok, well I was tempted by a hot pink iPhone 5s, but when I talked to the guy in the shop he told me they weren't really all that different to the 4s I have.

I asked him what would happen if I kept my phone. I was pretty surprised at the answer, which is that I can get my contract reduced from £28 per month to £11 per month. To hot pink or not that was the final question, but underneath it all I can be quite a cheapskate.

So a phone call to o2 headquarters (the guy in the shop told me they might give me some special deal if I phoned rather than go through them) and I now have my £11 per month phone contract, which gives me everything I had before + I could opt for free phone calls to other o2 phones or free landline phones. I went for landline as they always seem more expensive calls and I regularly phone Mountain Man at home when I'm off gallivanting.

I'm now a happy bunny.