Friday, 29 August 2014

A day for laughing

Today the rain set in. It's been awful. A real downer. Wall to wall grey with a glimpse of a parting of the clouds for moments to tease me into believing the grey might lift, but no... tease was about it.

However, what has lifted my spirits are my planning for my trip to Spain that's coming up rather soon and also some rather funny letters and emails from East Coast Rail that have totally made me laugh.

I know some of you will have seen the letter I got on Facebook, so if you've already seen it you can look away now. This is what it said:

'Dear Vee Freir.
I am writing to confirm your complaint has been logged and a full response is on its way to you, however there has been a delay with this correspondence and we have enclosed a complimentary ticket.

Due to a stock issue we are unable to enclose this ticket in our response, however I hope to ensure you that a letter and compensation will be with you in due course'.

I collapsed in laughter when I got it, especially as my complaint was because they'd failed to send me the complimentary tickets I was due from a previous compensation. You have to laugh.

(Ok... you can come back now if you'd already seen it.)

Then this afternoon after the previous complimentary tickets did turn up I got this email:  

'Thank you for your phone call on 28 August 2014 regarding the complimentary ticket that you have been expecting.

I am sorry for any inconvenience caused by the delay in sending it to you. I can confirm that it has now been sent by registered post. The tracking reference is ********. I hope that you receive the ticket very soon.

Thank you again for contacting us and I hope that you have an enjoyable journey.'

Jeez... after all that so do I! Still it is a first class ticket and I'm using it for my going and returning from Spain so I shouldn't really complain.

Or maybe I should... you never know I might actually get another!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Off again

This time to London and taking my bug with me.

Yes, it's been over a week of coughing and spluttering and feeling pretty awful and, on the understanding that I'll feel no better nor worse, I'm heading on the train for 24 hours of meetings and probably a very nice dinner to ameliorate the way I feel about the meetings and the bug.

I'm leaving Mountain Man at home, also coughing and spluttering, with a very bouncy dog. Odi has no sympathy with illness whatsoever and just wants to play, play, play.

There is one good thing though about train travel, which affords not just time away from an exuberant hound, but also time to think about a poem that needs written.

A month or so back I did an online course with The Poetry School. And very good it was too. Painful, but good. Painful in the sense that for me to write a poem in a week for 5 weeks was like pulling hen's teeth, but I managed and the group I was with were not just excellent poets, but brilliant critiquers. We decided we wanted to stay together as an online group and yesterday was the first assignment deadline. It passed. I'd thought lots and lots, but nothing came, so I'm determined to spend some of my train time not thinking about the accountant I have to meet with first thing tomorrow, nor all the sensible business-type questions I need to ask, nor the other people I need to see/be nice to /ask sensible questions of etc etc, but thinking of words to put on a page that actually go together and have a poetic quality about them.

Mmmm... maybe the alien world of business might be the easier option after all!

Friday, 22 August 2014

To be or not to be... a hooligan that is

After her hooligan behaviour the other day, Odi redeemed herself yesterday by behaving totally brilliantly at The Edinburgh Book Festival and at Henderson's where my friend and I went for lunch.

I was especially pleased with her behaviour in Henderson's as it was super-crowded and she just stood there looking all Guide Doggy and like she was the real deal. So real in fact that the manager actually thought I was blind and insisted on getting me a table and guiding me up the steps! I did tell her I could see, but she said it was fine and she was pleased to help.

Rather extraordinarily, at the table next door to us, was a work colleague of Guide Dog puppy Folly's puppywalker, who lives in Tweedbank - Folly has been to stay with us when she was smaller and Odi often goes to stay with them for day's when I need to work. And then, after they left, the woman who took her place happened to be an acquaintance of the person I was having lunch with. Weird eh?

Today I had a meeting with a work colleague to sort some workshop details and we met at the garden centre in Kelso as it's not just a nice place to go, but also good training for Odi. Odi, once again, behaved impeccably.

When we got home I let Odi out in the garden and she was sitting there looking all innocent so I went inside for a few minutes to get some things sorted. By the time I went out again, she'd dug several holes in the garden and was sitting eating a piece of coal she'd pilfered from the coal bunker. I was not amused.

The hooligan has definitely not left the building!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The hooligan returns

Odi, who is now 11 months old, has been quite well behaved of late. She did excellently at the local Guide Dog puppy class in Tweedbank a couple of weeks ago and so I thought I'd brave it to the manic class which is held in Aberlady. It's manic because there's about 15 Guide Dog puppies aged between 6 months and 13 months in a village hall and they all tend to want to play instead of work... at least at the beginning of the class.

Sadly, Odi doesn't quite understand the difference between the beginning and the rest of the class and her 'enthusiastic' personality means that she's completely OTT for most of the time. For instance, when it came to recall, Odi came charging up to me, bypassing me completely and rushing off to play with her pals... she was the only one as all the others were perfect. And when we did walking to heel off the lead, I had a bit of treat in my hand and she acted like she'd never been fed... still it was walking (of sorts) to heel!

Her brother Ollie attends and he's lovely and quiet. How come we got the hooligan gene?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Feeling better

Well I did feel better today, but at 5 am this morning (yes, you read that right), with a sore throat and a voice that was disappearing, I made the decision not to attempt to go to my meeting in Inverness. I've now saved that for another day.

By the way, even though there's been no coffee plant update for ages, I'm pleased to be able to tell you that growth continues v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y and I'm not even going to bother with a photo as you'd never be able to tell the difference.

I'm currently spending my recuperation learning to juggle. I used to be able to juggle reasonably well, but haven't done it in years and it's not an easy thing to pick up. So it's been back to the drawing board ably abetted by some lovely soft juggling balls that No. 2 Son gave me as a present. Things are made slightly difficult in that Odi can't have balls (it's a Guide Dog thing) and so I'm confined to upstairs where the ceilings aren't incredibly high. No. 2 Son is absolutely brilliant at juggling and he's often seen doing so outside Camera Obscura (just down from Edinburgh Castle), so if you happen upon him do say 'hi'.

And just in case you're interested I highly recommend Frozen on a cold day when feeling crap. Perfect, mindless rubbish with some singalong tunes.

Monday, 18 August 2014

That autumn feeling

I know I live in Scotland and shouldn't complain that our summer's seem to go by very fast, but they do and I am.

It's the middle of August and yet it's been so cold the last couple of days I've felt like putting the heating on... but I won't. The only reason being that, no matter how cold it gets, it's August and no heating goes on in August. That's the rules!

Meanwhile, to go along with the downturn in weather, both Mountain Man and I have succumbed to a cold of sorts. Both of us feeling crap does not bode well, but as I'm always the one who get's it worse (really I do) I woke up this morning with vomiting. There's no way I'm driving to Inverness today and will just have to hope I feel better enough tomorrow to wake up at 5 and drive all the way up, attend my meeting and drive all the way back down in one day.

So today is a bed day. After writing this I'm going to entertain myself and watch Frozen on the CD my grandson lent me. Mmmm well that sounds a whole lot better than driving up the A9!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Back in the blogosphere

I'm not sure if any of you are still reading this blog, but I've decided to continue it for a while at least, so do let me know if you're still out there or if I'm just writing this for myself.

The Commonwealth Games came and went in a flurry of exhaustion, lovely family time and some unbelievable sport. Standing for 8-10 hours a day for days on the trot was an expensive business... flight socks, freeze gel and some ibuprofen all went to help me get through it all.

On my early days I stayed in Edinburgh and caught up with sons and then on my late shifts, when I wasn't finished until 11.30 pm on some nights (though I was down to finish at half past midnight so perhaps I shouldn't complain) I stayed with my step-daughter and grandson in Glasgow. It was much fun and Nathan (aged 5) very kindly gave me his bed, complete with star canopy, to sleep in, but the payback was sword fighting and balloon badminton at 8 in the morning. Utterly worth it!

Here's a couple of pics from my time, the first one is of the last Thursday team, the one to my right is the Mixed Zone manager and it was her job to keep us all in line. The second pic is of me in the Velodrome where we had a staff party (well they called it that!) at the end.

On the show court at the Emirates Arena
In the Velodrome

I was asked to be the subject of an article for the Commonwealth Games Office magazine, which goes out to all the Commonwealth Games Offices throughout the world. I don't know why I was chosen, but it was lovely to be asked. I'm now waiting to see a copy to see if I made any stupid remarks!

After getting back I discovered one of my OU compatriots, who'd been on my Creative Writing course in 2010, was at the Edinburgh Festival with her daughter. As I wanted to do some stuff with Odi we agreed to meet up. It's a lovely thing to finally meet a person who I've been in contact with over blogs, Facebook and online course cafe. She was as lovely as I expected.

Then this last week has been a flurry of puppy activity as I was asked if I'd take in Quaver, who's now 10 weeks old (9 weeks on arrival). Quaver is Nancy (Odi's best friend) and puppy walker Alec's new puppy. Nancy had to be speyed and needed some peace.

Quaver is the barkiest wee pup I've come across and quite aggressive in some ways, but Odi just loved having her here and the more aggressive the better as far as she's concerned. They had great fun, but Odi just doesn't know when to stop and I had to calm it all down at least once a day. Quaver is very cuddly and would spend as much time as possible sitting on my lap (on the cushion on the floor... no furniture allowed) and the house is unbelievably quiet since she left at lunchtime today. Odi's gone into a bit of a sulk!

Odi and Quaver in a quiet moment

Odi and I also had a bit of time to do training in Edinburgh yesterday. We met up with the lovely Nicola Morgan for lunch at the Museum and Odi behaved impeccably and then we did a bit of festival stuff, which means wandering around while Odi gets admired by lots of folk. Interestingly, we met up with a guy who I'd worked with at the Commonwealth Games and we spent a pleasant half hour chatting about our experiences.

The other thing I was asked to do recently was a book review. Now that's the kind of work I really like... the kind where I sit on my arse and read for hours on end. Sadly the real kind is going to intrude next week when I head up to Inverness for a meeting on Tuesday. If I had my way I know which one I'd choose! Ah well... reality bites!