Monday, 28 September 2015

A lovely end

After picking up Vespa from Lynne's we headed on down to the Tweedbank Community celebration of the opening of the new railway line between Tweedbank and Edinburgh along with Lynne and her two girls, Beth and Emily.

It was the most stunningly beautiful, warm day and the girls were very excited, as was Vespa. I have to say the community had done a great job. Food, bands, actors, magicians, jugglers and even a performing goat all made up for a good afternoon of fun and entertainment.

There was also this amazing scaled reproduction of a steam train, but it was actually made out of chocolate... yes, I said chocolate!

The chocolate train
How incredible is that? I don't know who's going to end up eating it, but I hope they do, cos otherwise it's a bit wasted in my view.

After an hour and a half of pretty well behaved pup (who's only bad bits were when he tried to eat the dropped bits of food) and loads of compliments about how handsome he was (well I know that!), we called it a day and came home to wash my car til it shined and then, because it was still so sunny, we went off for a walk in the woods.

A lovely end to a lovely weekend.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Saturday night's the night to party

For the first time in I don't know when, I went off to a party last night. And I had such a good time.

Lynne in Tweedbank offered to take Vespa for the night and so he went off, very happily, in the afternoon while I got myself ready. I'd even forgotten how long it can take to get ready - well ok, it took me just over half an hour and that includes a shower, but that's quite a long time in my book... I'm a strictly 10 minutes and I'm ready kind of person - and it was actually great fun, trying on outfits and seeing what I might be able to dance in without totally embarrassing myself.

I'd ordered a taxi as it seemed the right thing to do to have a drink. It was my friend's 70th birthday party in a village hall about 15 miles away. The driver was a real sweetie and I had a laugh even before I got to the venue.

The village hall turned out to be an ultra modern, glass surrounded place, the least like a village hall that I could imagine. We were all assigned our seats so there was a good mix round each table and the one I was on was pretty raucous. I met some really delightful people and had a good time dancing, drinking, chatting and then my cab came at 10.45 to pick me up and whisk me home, but not before I had a couple of invites to meet up with folk.

It was a fun evening and it occurred to me that I can't remember the last time I didn't spend Saturday night in front of the TV. How sad is that?

The other thing I'd forgotten about is my capacity for alcohol. In the sense that I don't have much of one and this morning felt a bit fuzzy round the edges.

I think I need a bit more practice at going out and having fun!

Thursday, 24 September 2015


The roof on my house has had a leak for quite a time and no-one could work out where it was coming from. The roof was patched, sealed etc etc, but still it leaked. It only happened on big downpours, but we do get quite a few of them. I used to dread it raining.

About 2 months ago I got a different roofer to come round and check it out. He immediately saw the problem and, because the weather has been so crap this summer, it's taken them this long to get to fix it, but at last it's done. I was even pleased to see heavy rain the other night to see if it was ok... and it was. Such a relief. However, the job wasn't quite finished (due to the rain) and they told me they'd be back when it was dry to put the cement on.

One of the jobs that also needed fixing was a leak in the garden shed, which has a corrugated plastic roof. One of the bits had come apart and it also had been leaking for some time, but because the garden shed wasn't a place I frequented I hadn't realised how bad it was. Since Mountain Man has cleared the shed of all his stuff and I've been able to get the mower out and mow the lawn, get to tools etc, I've been taking more interest in how to fix the leak. I found a piece of corrugated plastic roof that looked like it would do the job, but on Tuesday, when it started raining, I admit I did a bit of an elastoplast job by putting a small piece of plastic that I found in the greenhouse and stuck it over the leaky bit and put a brick on top. Well at least it worked!

I was thinking about how I could go about fixing it properly when yesterday, as I was about to walk the dog, the roofers turned up to put the finishing touches to the main roof. While out walking I thought the least I could do was ask them what was the best way to fix the corrugated plastic and that way I'd be less likely to make mistakes.

Well what a good strategy that turned out to be! Those guys put down their teas and were off to get their ladder. And so by 11 am yesterday the roof on both the house and the shed were fixed.

However, I also learned a huge amount about putting corrugated plastic roofing on. And now I know that if I ever have to fix one myself I know exactly how to do it - and there's some bits to it I'd never, ever have thought about. So if you need your corrugated plastic roof fixed you know who to call... or alternatively find some good roofing guys having a cup of tea and ask them leading questions. I've found it works far better than batting eyelids or pulling the girlie card.

Monday, 21 September 2015

And finally....

.... Mountain Man came and moved his final things, which I have to say feels absolutely brilliant.

It was raining when he came and about ten minutes after he left the sun came out and I think that's a metaphor for how I feel. It's such a relief now that all is over and done and we don't have to go down that road again.

He was actually very good about clearing up all the mess in the shed and the greenhouse and moving all his boxes and junk from the roof. And now my house is clean and tidy... well apart from the dog hairs!

And yesterday I had a piece of good news in the shape of the delightful Hamish from Borders College, who came round to see about doing some gardening for me. He's just started his Horticulture Course and is happy to have some extra work. It's funny really because I'd just got the garden into pretty good shape all on my own and was thinking that I'd have to put in lots of hours to keep it that way.

Maybe the tide is turning for me at last?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Vespa goes to work

After getting my bedding washed ready for the weekend at 6.45 this morning, Vespa and I scooted out for a quick walk before heading into Edinburgh to do our bit for Guide Dogs.

Our company was requested at Meadowbank, where it was Roller Derby day. I'd never seen it before and it seemed like rugby on skates without a ball... loud, fast and fun.

Vespa did very well until his pal, Labradoodle Albert, who's 7 months old, turned up. Albert is one of those mouthy dogs who loves to tell everyone he's arrived. Vespa, who's not a barker (thank goodness!) got a bit overexcited at the prospect of a pup to play with and started arsing around. I was not amused, especially since yesterday, when we went for a walk with Alex, Jackie and Quaver, he managed to pull me over (on grass luckily, so no damage).

Albert was promptly removed and taken to sit in the arena, while Vespa did his bit out in the foyer. From then on he was very well behaved and we got lots of lovely comments and people were very generous. We stayed on after our stint to watch a bit of the action, but after about half an hour (and we'd been there for over an hour in the foyer) I decided it was time to go.

We then headed off to see my boys... how lovely that was and Vespa thoroughly enjoyed that bit of the day... and then home to do some gardening (I've managed to get it under control at last - yeah me!) while it was still lovely and sunny and then a sit down in front of the TV to watch the Rugby World Cup. It was South Africa and Japan and was the most incredible match. Japan won (34-32) and rightly deserved to do so. It was really tight at the end and super exciting.

So now Vespa's collapsed for the evening and I'm allowing myself a glass or two of vino, which I think I need after such a busy day!

Monday, 14 September 2015

The end...

... of the International Writing Program course from Iowa University, the best writing course I think I've ever been on. It finished last night and I'm missing it already.

When I got the initial email to say I'd been chosen, I thought it was a joke. And then I thought it was a con. How could something like that be free? But it was and it's been incredible.

It was such an intense experience for me. Reading and writing every single day for 9 weeks is not something I've ever done in the past. At least not in that way. Yes, it's brought up a whole lot of anxiety and low confidence moments, but also some highs and also a lovely sense of sharing. I'm so grateful I was chosen.

The other writers in my group were amazing. They were from all over the world and there's something quite magical about reading good writing that has a cultural flavour to it. I actually felt like crying at the end of last night's session!

But as every cliche says, endings bring beginnings...

Friday, 11 September 2015

Another good day

It's always great when someone compliments on how well behaved your puppy is, but when it's another Guide Dog person, and one who's been at it for many years, it is amazing.

Today, Vespa went off with Mary from Kelso while Oli and his pal came by to pick up Mountain Man's remaining stuff. The first thing she said was what a good job I'd done with Vespa and that just made my heart sing. I still won't know til he goes off in 4 months or so whether he'll make the grade, but it feels like a good start.

Meanwhile MM had done another miscalculation so sadly there's still some of his stuff left (sigh), but never mind, no time to waste on wanting things to be different. Oli and his pal had me in fits as they packed stuff from the shed and the 3 of us made it into a fun afternoon. It turns out Oli's not so keen on spiders (like me) and clearing out the shed meant that at least one or two rather large ones were disturbed. I have a humane spider catcher and it was well used this afternoon, much to Oli's relief, though I'm not sure if I hadn't been about that it might not have turned into spider graveyard.

The rest of my Vespa-free day was spent digging the garden and starting to get things into shape out there. I took 2 car loads of garden waste to the dump and it was such a relief to see the back of it. There'll be a good few more bags to go, but I've made a start and that's the important thing.

A garden where I can see the earth and a puppy who behaves well. Yup... all good.

I thought I'd leave you with this rather delightful pic of Vespa and the resident hedgehog. They seem to be getting on well and can now be quite close to each other without a) the hedgehog curling up; and b) Vespa being over-interested.


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A good day

Today, was back to Old Lady Badminton. I had such a great time and it was fab to be playing again. Because of my circumstances I can't leave Vespa at home alone for too long. I don't mind for 2 hours (and Guide Dogs make us sign a statement to say that the longest pups will be left is 3 hours) while Vespa gets used to being left behind. It takes me around 20 minutes to drive to the venue so, with 20 minutes to drive home again and leaving time for traffic problems, it leaves me with just one hour of badminton instead of two. But the 2 games I played I won, even though they were quite competitive. It was also really good fun. For some reason we couldn't stop laughing and I came away with a huge smile on my face.

Then it was home for a quick lunch before going shopping and meeting up with my friend for a cuppa. We were supposed to be going to Mellerstain House, but it was closed, so we headed off down to Kelso to the Garden Centre where we spent a pleasant afternoon in the coffee shop having a natter. The last thing either of us wanted to do was go to Tweedbank and see the Queen open the new railway, but I'll be pleased to hop on that train next week and head to Edinburgh. Apparently it was chaos anyway, so it was good to stay away.

The phone hasn't stopped since I got in, so today has been lots of laughs and lots of talking and now I'm ready to relax with a glass of vino and wait for The Great British Bake Off to start.

It's a hard life being seven-eighths retired, but someone has to do it!


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Miss some, gain one

Today we had the Tour of Britain bike ride go through the Scottish Borders, but because a friend had booked me in to have a reflexology appointment while she took Vespa for me, it meant I missed the whole thing... though Vespa saw it all!

While I was lying back relaxing, Vespa was down at Tweedbank Primary School with all the kids and had a great time watching bikes whizz by. Apparently he was most taken with the police motor bikes that put their sirens on for the kids and not phased one bit by the noise and clapping. I think that might well have been the point where I started snoring... gently I might add, but snoring nevertheless.

Once I got home I decided it was time to book my train travel to London for my October trip for work. Unbelievably they were selling 1st Class tickets for less than 2nd Class for my return journey and there was only one left for the train I wanted. I couldn't believe it. I really don't understand how that works, but I'm not complaining. So I might have missed the razzmatazz of the Tour of Britain, but I got a cheap 1st Class rail ticket and if you'd asked me which I'd have preferred, I would tell you I'm extremely happy with the way things panned out!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Moving day

Yesterday was the day Mountain Man's stuff was supposed to be being moved. I'd spent the last three weeks packing boxes and it was all ready to go. A man with a van was supposed to be coming with his mate to collect it all at 10.15.

Just after 9 I took Vespa off to Lynne's at Tweedbank where he could spend the day away from the disruption. He was super happy to see her even though there were no pups there for him to play with.

I got home at 10 and prepared myself for the removal men. At 10.45 they still hadn't come. Then I get a phone call from MM, who's away on an event, to tell me the man with the van's had two of his tires slashed in Hawick so he's going to have to wait to get them fixed and will be along after that. By 11.45 there was still no sign. I phoned MM, who gave me the van man's number and I talked to him myself. He was still waiting on his tires turning up. Another hour passed. I phoned van man again. Nope, nothing happening. Another hour and van man phones me to say he won't be able to make it so he's sending his chum Oli with another van.

After another half hour Oli, a guy of about 22 and his mate, who was about 19, arrive. Actually they were very sweet and cracked on with moving things.

When the move was first mooted I asked MM to order boxes, which he did, but they were so big that I couldn't get them up the stairs and around the bend to the upper corridor when put together. There was no way those boxes were going to get to come down, so different boxes were ordered and the giant ones were put away in the shed, ready to be moved with all the other stuff from in there. These other boxes arrived, but these ones were still a bit big (4ft by 2ft 6 ins), but at least they could manage the staircase. The only problem was they were made of very thin cardboard. I told MM, but he said they'd be fine, so those are the ones I packed.

When Oli and pal were lifting the boxes we were all aware that the bottoms looked like they would come apart any minute and the moment they were lifted into the van and stacked they started to come apart at the corners. Oh well, not much we could do but carry on. The stuff in the house was pretty much packed (I'd put a few valuable and delicate things to one side for MM to pick up another time) and it was time to start on the shed. They packed a few things in the van, but then said they'd have to do the move in 2 loads so would be back for the next lot some time in the evening. I phoned MM who was fine about it and also Iain, MM's friend in Edinburgh who was going to help with the unload to a lock-up near him. All good so far.

I spent the rest of the time before I had to pick up Vespa vacuuming and cleaning and at last, my house was looking like it was back to normal. Hooray!

Vespa was very pleased to see me and he had a star report from Lynne and we came home and settled in to wait for Oli and pal to return. At 7.30 pm I got a call from MM. The boxes had split while being disgorged from the van and things had just been shoved in the lock-up and there was no more room for the rest of the stuff until MM was home to sort it all out. I can't say I was thrilled, but what could I do? 

Hopefully by the end of next week all the move will be complete.

So... lessons learned:
1. When moving buy boxes about 2ft 6 by 2ft.
2. Make sure they're sturdy enough.
3. Don't park my car anywhere in Hawick.

That should cover it!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Marked for life?

Yesterday was Guide Dog puppy class and being sensible I decided to take Vespa for a run before class to get rid of some of his energy. We went up to Abbotsford, where there's a fab field so he could run about to his heart's content, which he certainly did. And then, as it was time to get ready to go to class, I called him. He came hurtling towards me and, just as I bent down to tell him what a good boy he'd been, he jumped up at me and we smashed faces. I'm sure you can tell who came off worse in that encounter!

Vespa of course didn't feel a thing and he couldn't work out why I suddenly bent over with blood streaming through my fingers. I really thought he'd either broken a tooth or cracked my jaw or something, but no.... it turned out to that he'd just embedded his tooth in the bit just below my chin, while my tooth went into my gum on the other side.

I carry antiseptic wipes and tissues in my car, thank goodness, so managed to stem the flow. I also carry arnica, so took some of that. The wound wasn't huge, but it was surprisingly painful, but I soldiered on and went to puppy class.

Vespa wasn't badly behaved, but he wasn't all that good either and I was quite pleased when the end came and I could go home and check on my face. All was ok. I cleaned it again, this time with surgical spirit and carried on my day.

I woke up this morning to find myself with what I can only call something that looks like I've had a facial piercing that's gone horribly wrong and the inside of my mouth is also quite a picture - but I promise I won't show any pics as it's not pleasant viewing.

I managed to cover the damage with some concealer as I didn't really want the good public of The Scottish Borders to think their resident Clinical Psychologist had gone punk. Now I'm hoping I'm not marked for life.