Saturday, 27 September 2014

If only they'd asked

Odi came back from her visit to Forfar seemingly with no after-effects.

It was lovely to have her home and I was relieved that Gordon, who brought her back for me, had asked how she'd got on.

The reply was that she was a lovely dog who got on really well with the other dogs and kennels didn't seem to bother her. The only problem they had was that she had 'a lot of energy' and apparently this was said with a sigh.

Gordon and I had to laugh (he and his wife, Susan, sometimes take Odi for a day if I've got to work, to play with their pup, Folly).... if only they'd asked we both could've told them that!

Friday, 26 September 2014


Last night, there I was sitting quietly and having just decided I'd watch the second Hobbit film on Netflix and the credits were rolling, I suddenly saw a large spider galloping across the sofa towards me and it literally launched itself at me!

I have to admit that I leapt up with a girly scream and flapped around for a minute or two before calming myself and running to get the vacuum. I vacuumed the room but no spider appeared and just as I was about to settle myself down again, there it was on the sofa again. I'm sorry to say that I vacuumed it up. I'm not bad with small spiders these days, but having large ones is a different matter.

We'd already had 2 very large ones in the last week and I'd researched on the web for a humane way to discourage them. Apparently peppermint oil does the trick, but could I find any locally? No... so the other day I'd resorted to Amazon and said peppermint oil was due to arrive this morning.

Was I ever pleased it turned up on time. Now my living room has been vacuumed to within an inch of it's life and sprayed. I'm now off to do the rest of the house as best I can and pray that it works.

Oh yes, and prayers from other sources would be gratefully received... please... I'm very needy here!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

And finally....

Day 1: Arriving in Jerez
My friend Larraine and I arrived in Jerez on a beautiful, sunny, blue sky morning. How we actually managed to meet up in Seville is beyond belief, but we did in spite of my not quite getting the right bus stop and with very limited Spanish (ola, being about as good as it got). What always makes me laugh when I get to Europe is how I immediately begin speaking fairly fluent French and it was this that got me by with 2 police people who pointed me in what they thought might be the right direction. And eventually, as we were both wandering about in the vicinity of the station, we saw each other across a crowded concourse or something like that. Anyway, we arrived.

We were staying in L's sister's apartment, which was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful views across the city and a roof top to sit in the sun and read. There was one tiny hitch and that is that the phone L's sister had lent her didn't have any battery or any money on it. L looked for the battery charger but swore she couldn't find one to fit, so we used my phone to text L's other sister, Annie, who lives in Jerez with her partner, Lesley. L and I then trotted off to have something to eat and drink at a local place and meet up with Annie. All good so far, but then Annie didn't turn up. We ate and drank some more and then we saw Annie walking down the street. Apparently she'd been waiting at another cafe!

Off we went to the phone shop where L spent 8 Euros on a new charger and then we met up with Annie's partner Lesley and, with promises of getting together later that night, we went off for a quick shop for supplies and then back to the apartment to charge the phone.

By 9.30 my eyes were closing (I had been up since 3.45 am) so we excused ourselves from socialising and stayed in and played Scrabble (I won) and drank a glass or two of vino and then it was bed. Was I ever grateful for that.

Day 2: An afternoon at the Bodegas
We got up and realised the phone hadn't charged. The new charger didn't seem to be working. Off we trotted back to the phone shop, where the guy blushingly admitted that they'd given L the wrong cable as the one she'd bought fitted into the headphone socket (!) and he swapped it for the right one. Of course at this point L realised there was a cable back at the apartment and she'd been trying to fit it into the headphone socket too! Ah well... now at least we could charge the phone!

After all that phone drama it was lovely to go and spend the afternoon in a local Bodegas, Bodegas Tradicion. This is an unusual Bodegas as it doesn't have it's own vineyard but specialises in creating sherry and brandy for niche market sales. At the end we had a tasting, which was really interesting and cemented some of the learning we'd had on the tour. However, what's really unusual about this Bodegas is that they have the most extraordinary art collection in a temperature controlled gallery. Paintings by El Greco, Velasquez and Goya to name just three. It was unbelievable to see such art in a private collection.

Our tour guide, Sabrina, is a friend of both of Larraine's sisters and we were lucky enough to have a free tour.

The gallery at Bodegas Tradicion - that's 2 Goya's at the end!
The Goya's slightly closer up

Napoleon by someone famous, but I can't remember who!

More food and drink to finish our day followed.

Day 3: Phonegate and bollardgate
L had work to do as she had her final essay to write for her current OU course, so while she sat at the desk working away, I went and sat on the roof in the sunshine.

Larraine hard at work

L had arranged to go and have something to eat with a friend of hers (I joined them later), but in her haste to go she managed to drop the phone (yes that dratted phone) down the loo. She tried to dry it but hey it had got a real soaking and stopped working. I know I shouldn't have, but I found it extremely funny. L was not amused!

The phone was taken back to the phone shop where L said the guy managed to hide a smirk when she told him what had happened, but the important thing is that he fixed it. Phonegate was over. What a relief.

As we were wandering about the town I managed to turn round quickly and walk straight into a bollard. It was L's turn to laugh at me as I grew a 'spare knee' in no time at all!

Our evening was spent at Annie and Lesley's for dinner along with Sabrina from the Bodegas. Much fun was had by all as well as lots of lovely food and wine and Sabrina gave us a lift back which was really nice.

Day 4: The rock concert
A relaxing day sitting watching the world go by while eating and drinking on one of the main streets, Porvera. Tapas followed by siesta. After that we went out for the evening, had more to eat and drink and then whilst wandering around the town came across a rock band playing. It was hysterical to watch as the audience were sitting in chairs (only one guy danced) politely clapping when they came to the end of a song. At about 9.30 an old lady came out of her house and poked the drummer in the ribs whilst he was playing. She was gesticulating and suggesting they were too loud. They stopped playing not long after that!

Then we wandered around the Alcazar and on to have a quick look at the wine festival, but there were too many people for us so we headed back to the apartment.

Day 5: Out with the horses
As a treat for me (as well as her) Larraine had booked us into the weekly tour and display at La Reserva de Caballos Cartujanos. This is the stud farm for Carthusian horses. What a beautiful place and beautiful display. It was a really hot day and one of the people we had met in Jerez a few days before and was on the tour, fainted. Luckily she wasn't hurt. Luckily the rest of our trip went without incident as we watched the horses do their thing. Mares, stallions, foals, the works. Just gorgeous.

Carriage horses

The stables

Two of the riders

The stallion

9 mares being led by one guy

Mares and foals

Another meal out that night, this time at La Cruz Blanca, a well known Jerez restaurant. The food was lovely, especially the deep fried seabass with a red pepper sauce. The only thing not so good was the service as we had to order twice before we got our drinks and it was all a bit slow, but worth it when it came.

Around the corner from the restaurant a mock Beatles band started up. At least at this concert people were dancing even though the music was fairly awful. We didn't stay long.

Day 6: Eyelidgate
Larraine woke up in the morning with burnt, swollen eyelids. She'd spent too much time in the sun at the stud even though she swore she'd put on suncream. We took a trip to the pharmacy where the pharmacist told her just to put a cold compress on, but she did look at L with an 'idiot tourist' look!

On the Porvera we bumped into the woman who'd fainted the day before. There were no after effects so that was good. Then we went off to meet up with Annie and Lesley for a coffee and chat with them and other friends, David and Joanna. David's first remark to me when he heard I came from Scotland was 'Yes or no?' and I thought he'd gone bonkers. I'd totally forgotten about the Scottish Referendum as relaxed holiday mode had definitely taken over. Once David had got over my faux pas we had a laugh about it while drinking delicious orange juice and then I went off with Lesley to a hotel for a swim and some lunch, leaving L to go to her sister's and get on with her OU studies and avoid the sun.

I had a lovely, relaxing afternoon in the sun, reading my Kindle with the odd swim thrown in for good measure. This is when I discovered that the elastic in my bikini was well past it's best and had to hold on to the bottoms before they drifted off!

Another lovely dinner with Annie and Lesley and then on the way home to the apartment we discovered a flamenco singer singing in the square.

Day 7: L finishes her EMA
L really needed to get her essay sent off so she went back to Annie's to use the computer while I had a lovely day wandering about on my own. I went to the Alcazar where it was free to get in, but I couldn't go up to the Camera Obscura. Gorgeous gardens, ancient walls, giant olive press and all sorts to capture the avid tourist.

The inner court at the Alcazar


Fab garden
Then I did a bit of shopping and back to the apartment to spend my siesta time sitting on the roof in the sunshine before heading back to Annie and Lesleys' to pick up L who'd got her assignment sent off and was feeling hugely relieved. We stayed for a couple of hours chatting and Annie gave me an olive dish (as I had tried to find one, but couldn't, as a pressie for No. 2 Son as I'd broken his many years ago and thought it'd be nice to replace it), which was very sweet.

And after all that it was off for our final meal out. We went to Albala and had the best meal of all in Jerez. What a way to finish! If you ever do get to Jerez do go and have the prawn hamburger - no meat at all and came with rice noodles and was absolutely delish and the tempura asparagus were also fantastic.

Day 8: Time to go home
I had to get up at 4.45 am to get the train to Seville. L very kindly accompanied me to the station and waved me off. I managed the journey from the train station at Seville to the airport with no problems at all. Once at the airport I bought a fresh orange juice from an amazing machine, which chopped the oranges in half, squeezed them, threw out the squeezed orange juice halves and fresh juice appeared. It took 3 to make one glass and was lovely.

My flight to Gatwick was uneventful and I arrived back London with enough time to go to my mother's and dump my suitcase before heading off to a meeting, which lasted all afternoon. I had time after this to go back to my mother's and freshen up before heading out to the theatre with my cousin from the US who'd gotten us tickets to see Richard III with Martin Freeman and Gina McKee. It was really good and made me think how nothing much changes. People who want power will do anything pretty much to get it. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the day.

And there you have it. My hols in Jerez. I had a lovely relaxing time, ate loads, drank more than I usually do and enjoyed it all immensely. I'm going to leave you with my two favourite photos both taken at the Alcazar:

An unusual window with a great view

Sometimes looking up says it all

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Odi goes on an adventure

Ok.... well the good news is that I found the cable for my camera, but sadly not before ordering the new one, which is on it's way and I'm hoping I can return. So yes, Lizzie, you were right!

I didn't take very many pics and they're not totally wonderful (sigh), but you'll get the lowdown tomorrow as I'm off out to dinner soon and I want to tell you the latest Odi news.

Odi has gone to Forfar, to Guide Dog Central Office or 'Big School' as I often refer to it, to get the next assessment to see if she'll make it as a brood bitch. She's gone to have a scan and this has meant a few days stay.

I felt quite sad handing her over to the Puppy Supervisor in the car park at Carfraemill as she hadn't a clue what she was heading for and I worry in case she doesn't settle. I won't know as I don't think they're going to get in touch with me, but she'll be back on Friday afternoon, so it's not all that long. Her start was good as she leapt out of my car and straight into the PS's car no problem, so that boded well.

On the drive home a spreader had left a whole load of muck on the road and the 4x4 I was following threw it up and spattered my lovely white car. So as well as cleaning the house I also had my car to clean, but by the time I got to it it was like it was baked on. I took myself off to the diy car wash in Kelso as it was impossible to get it clean with a bucket and sponge.

The good thing about all this is that it took my mind off Odi not being at home, cos it sure is quiet around here without my lovely bumptious puppy to keep me occupied.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Slight hiccup

I've lost the cable to release the photos from my camera onto my computer, in spite of a wall-to-wall search throughout the house, and for some bizarre reason my computer has decided it doesn't want to recognise the disc, so photos remain secure, but undownloadable.

A cable has been ordered and will be with me shortly and the report from my trip to Jerez will have to wait a few more days as I've already been told off once for not putting photos on and don't want to go there again.

One of the good things about the wall-to-wall search is that it turned up all sorts of things I'd completely forgotten about, for instance my much loved stopwatch that I couldn't find about 4 years ago when I needed it and my Sony Walkman that I thought had taken a walk on the wild side when we moved, but had obviously been put in a very safe place.

So come back in another few days and Jerez, complete with undoubtedly not terribly good photos, will be with you.

Friday, 19 September 2014

For Denise

I omitted to post a photo of Odi and pony and cart in my last post. Basically because I haven't as yet learned how to get photos from my phone onto the blog without having to download them first and I hadn't had the time (inclination?), tho had put it on Facebook so those of you who've already seen it can look away now. Anyway, after a resounding telling off for not posting the pic from Denise here it is:

Odi having a fun day out

Tales from Jerez will follow shortly.....

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Still coughing

I am feeling better, but very slowly. I had a bit of a bad day yesterday cough-wise, but that was after doing an all day workshop the day before. But I thought I'd ring the doctor and check and see if there was anything could be done, as I really don't want to be coughing my way to Spain. However, it looks like I will be as the Doc said there didn't seem to be any infection and she could give me steroids to help dampen down the cough, but I declined that offer and went on my coughing way.

One of the lovely things Odi and I did get to do yesterday morning, was go out with my friend Ann (affectionately known as Mad Ann by Mountain Man and me). I met her years ago when she bought my very first Shetland foal off me. She phone me up and asked if Odi and I would like to accompany her on a bit of a pony drive out in Gordon Community Woodland as she would be passing my door. Sounded like fun, and ever such good training for Odi... so off we trotted in a pony and trap accompanied by a frenzied Odi and Ann's Dandy Dinmont, Wizzie. Wizzie is a bit wary of Odi as she's not really a play-type dog and Odi, as we all know, is.

Anyway, the dogs behaved well and Odi settled down to run ahead of the pony trap. It was so much fun being out in the sunshine along the old railway line. There was only one muddy bit and Odi, much to Wizzie's consternation, lay down and rolled in it, but that was the only negative thing she did, so I felt pretty good about it all.

Today, we had a quick trip into Edinburgh this morning and then I've spent the rest of the day looking at what I'm going to take to Spain with me. As I'm quite a last minute packer I feel like I'm ahead of the game here. I always leave something behind though, so it'll be interesting to find out what that might be.

So that's me. I probably won't do a blog entry tomorrow and I'm off on Monday, so rejoin me here on or around the 18th September and I'll tell you all about my Spanish adventures, which I'm hoping won't include too much coughing.

Take care one and all!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Positivity needed

After a weekend of non-stop coughing I'm hoping that this week it all clears up. The last time I had a virus that went on and on was a few of years back when Mountain Man and I both got flu and it wiped us out for over a month. Neither of us can afford the time for illness. MM is about to go off on several trips abroad to ride his bike and look after people while they ride theirs and I've got workshop on Thursday and other work that needs concentration. Neither of which is easy for me when I seem to have to cough every other minute.

On Saturday I facilitated an all day workshop on my own aided and abetted by Lemsip and other medications to keep as much of my cough at bay as I could. It went incredibly well for the clients, but it wiped me out, so yesterday was spent in recovery. This entailed going to Melrose with the dog and sitting outside a cafe enjoying the sunshine and a toasted sandwich and then coming home and sitting out in the garden reading. I wasn't good for much else.

I also don't want to still have this next week when I'm off to (hopefully) sunny Spain to spend time with my friend Larraine at her sister's apartment in Jerez. I'm pretty well up to speed now with my travel arrangements and only have my Euros to get and then it's just a last minute flinging of clothes and sun tan lotion in the suitcase and I'll be good to go. I certainly don't want a cough as an accompaniment.

Right, enough of that... time to think positive and thoughts about wellness. And I'd be very grateful if anyone who wants to add to that positivity did so. Or keep your fingers crossed. Or anything really that might help me feel better.

Thank you!