Monday, 29 February 2016

If my uncle had been my aunty

If I had still been married, today would've been my wedding anniversary.

But then my first husband used to say, 'If my uncle had been my aunty life would've been so different.' And how true is that one!

Just thought I'd say!

Friday, 26 February 2016

You gotta laugh

This morning the very cute Robbie came to stay. He's so sweet, but has a permanent frown on his face and isn't a terribly confident pup, but we're getting on fine.

Look at me... I'm so cute!

It's lucky he's not too bouncy as I'm exhausted after yesterday and the previous few days antics and then having to get up at 5 this morning to be home for a work phone call that was cancelled at the last minute. I can't say I was amused by that, but c'est la vie.

Then this afternoon, Robbie and I paid a visit to my friend, Iona, in the village. She's a writer and approximately 6 years older than me. As we were leaving, the local Tory farmer, Miles Browne, was in the kitchen talking to Iona's husband Ian. It was rather funny to watch Iona's face as she's as left wing as they come, so having a Tory sitting at her kitchen table was not something to make her smile. But then Miles said to me, 'Oh so you're Iona's daughter' at which point Iona and I just burst out laughing and we couldn't stop ourselves.

Ian was just shocked into silence and couldn't say a word and poor Miles, he tried to make it better, but it did no good, Iona and I couldn't control ourselves. I decided to take it as a compliment though, especially as Isla (Iona's daughter) is 27!

I think the poor man needs some glasses!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Early night? Yes please

The last 3 days has gone just like that. A lot of talking, being a tour guide, eating lots and staying up very late indeed. And it's been very enjoyable.

My pal, Jim, arrived on Monday afternoon and, apart from eating, from when he arrived until 1.30 am we spent our time catching up with all that's been happening for both of us since we went out for dinner on 11th Feb. I took the easy option and made spaghetti sauce and fresh pasta for dinner, which went down a treat. And I'm very pleased to say my pear sorbet was delicious and much appreciated, though another time I'll take it out of the freezer about an hour before to let it warm up a bit. In the end I had to put it in the microwave just to be able to get a spoon in it!

Tuesday we woke up to amazing weather and decided on a walk in the woods. Jim is Scottish, but lives in Perth, Western Australia and so he just loves green and trees and with the sun out the local Community Woodland is breathtakingly beautiful. We walked for over an hour and then back home for a second breakfast and then both of us settled down for work before lunch.

After lunch was a bit more work followed by an early dinner as we were off out to a Melrose Literary Society talk on John Ruskin, which was fascinating, not only because the speaker, a local artist, Philip Hutton, was incredibly informative, but he used a slide projector that looked like it belonged in the 1950's, which we both found rather hilarious. Actually, Philip Hutton also looked like he belonged in the same era! Then went to the pub in Burt's Hotel, where we booked a table for dinner for Wednesday and then headed home for a bottle of wine and a singsong.

Jim is a very talented musician. He writes songs, sings both classical and contemporary and has 2 bands in Perth. That's alongside his day job of being a businessman who flies all over the world dealing in coins. Though no matter how he's tried to explain to me about coin collectors (of which he's definitely not one, but is part of a company that produces them), I just haven't been able to fathom why people would want to collect something that they can't essentially use, but stay in pretty boxes never to see the light of day but to other coin collectors. But there you are. They do. And apparently it's big business. Anyway, Jim is very busy flying around the world doing his thing and then playing songs in between.

It was a really lovely way to spend a night singing all our old favourites. I even found my old sheet music for House Of The Rising Sun, Catch The Wind and other old faves, each one with a price tag of 2 shillings and 6 pence, which I've had since I was a teen. We didn't actually get to sleep til around 3 am so woke up on Wednesday pretty exhausted.

I made the decision not to go to badminton, but instead we went walking around Kelso, stopping to have a second breakfast at around 11 in the garden centre down by the river. It was another spectacular day weather-wise, so was a joy to be out and about.

We came home and both settled down to work for a bit in the afternoon and then out to dinner to the bar restaurant at Burt's. A really delicious meal, then home, more wine, more chat and yet another late night.

Today, we both went in to Edinburgh. Me to have lunch with my friend Shirley (which was lovely as usual) and Jim to get himself organised for the next few days as he's off on some tour or other northwards. After lunch we met up again and decided on going to The Whisky Experience for the afternoon, which both of us enjoyed. I was really lucky as No. 2 Son works in the tourist industry and had given me his card so I got in free and Jim got in half price, which was great.

Some of the treasures in The Whisky Experience.

And after all that we had a final dinner and now we've retired to our respective places to stay as I go back to normal life and he goes off jollying around.

It's been a fun few days having a guest to stay and show around, drink wine with and chat a lot to, but time to get back to some normality. And above all an early night!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Domestic goddess

Well ok, maybe domestic goddess is a touch strong, but I've been so domestic today I've shocked myself!

I've got my singer/songwriter pal coming to stay tomorrow for a few days and I thought it was time to clean up a bit for starters. So I've spent today cleaning my house til it shines (it needed it), shopping (the fridge was bare), making bread (none in the bread bin) and making a dessert.  Yes, you read that right... I made a dessert! I rarely make desserts because very sweet things don't really do it for me, but I've got a guest coming and I felt the need.

I found a recipe for pear sorbet and, although a touch time consuming, it seemed easy enough. Well I'm so pleased as not only does it look incredible, it also tastes pretty incredible too. And that's even with me forgetting to take the lemon peel out before blitzing it, but hey, you can't have everything, and it still tastes pretty damn good.

I don't actually know whether my guest likes desserts, but at least I've made the effort. Actually, on second thoughts, I'll be pretty pissed off if he doesn't!

Friday, 19 February 2016

London times

Well here I am. Back home at last. I say at last because my lovely car decided it didn't want to start - yes, again - and so I was stuck in Berwick after I got off the train, waiting for Audi Assist to come to my rescue, which took them over an hour. But the good news is, because it's under warranty it has to go for a free diagnostic check. The bad news is that it has to go for a free diagnostic check and that won't be happening until March 1st, unless the car decides to go on strike again and then it will be dragged in, kicking and screaming, asap while I get given a courtesy car to drive. Thank goodness it's still under warranty!

Ok. Well now... what happened in London? Some of it will stay in London! But suffice it to say I had a great time, apart from a few moments of hilarity with my mother. Let me explain.

I arrived on Tuesday and my mother wasn't well, so she stayed in bed while I went out to have a good time. And a good time was definitely had!

Wednesday morning I went down for breakfast to find that there were 2 boxes of eggs. One, with 4 eggs in, was out of date and then a new box. I managed surreptitiously, when my mother wasn't looking, to throw 2 of the old eggs down the waste disposal and then took 2 eggs out of the new box and put them on to boil, while putting the remaining 2 from the old box in to the new box to await disposal the next day. My mother, you see, can't bear to see anything thrown out and knows her numbers. So much so that most of the food in her cupboard lies uneaten and out of date, and when I say out of date we're talking years here. I even found tins from the 1980's!

Anyway, I put my eggs on to boil in a pan with a lid. My mother strode into the kitchen and accused me of being an imbecile as, and I quote, 'No-one boils an egg in a pan with a lid on!'. She then turned to Bob, her trusty chauffeur and general all round good egg (forgive the pun) and asked him if he did that heinous crime. 'No' he answered, while smiling at me. 'See,' my mother said and then turned to her daily woman, the lovely Mariella from Bulgaria, 'Mariella, do you boil an egg with the lid on?' 'Yes,' Mariella replied, whereupon my mother turned to me and said, 'She doesn't understand the question!', at which point Mariella said, in her broken English, 'No, I understand good. Lid on. Boils quicker.' My mother promptly left the kitchen. Honestly all this before 8.30 in the morning is a bit much!

I left to go and do interviews for the book I'm writing on my family company, which were fascinating, but took all morning. Then Paul, our Company Secretary, joined me and the 2 guys I'd interviewed and we had a lovely lunch. But what he didn't know was, that, because it was his birthday, we'd bought him a cupcake and a champagne shaped candle and secreted it with the kitchen where we were lunching. At the appropriate moment the cake was brought out and the whole place sang happy birthday to him. He was suitably embarrassed. Result!

Then it was a quick back to my mother's house, which was freezing as she doesn't like to put the heating on, so I sat in my coat until it was time to get changed and go on out for a second night of drinks and dinner. I'm also saying no more about that one either, but it was another late night!

Yesterday I got up and waited until my mother had gone out before I attempted the egg boiling, while also putting the other egg that was one of the old ones (my mother had eaten the other one!) down the waste disposal. Now all eggs were up to date. Phew!

I wrote up all the interview material from the day before and then went and did another one, which took literally all morning and some of the afternoon. We didn't finish til 2.

It just so happens that there's a brand new exhibition on at the National Gallery, Delacroix and the rise of modern art, which I really wanted to see, so off I went there for the afternoon. It was a brilliant exhibition and I urge you to go and see it if you can. There were 2 Van Goghs that were just incredible (Still Life With Meadow Flowers and Roses and Olive Trees) and I spent quite a lot of time just contemplating those. It as a very clever thing to juxtapose the Delacroix paintings with all those who were influenced by him, artists such as Renoir, Manet and the like. Fab.

Then I had time to go back to my mother's and get ready to go out with my lovely friend Shirley and her hubby Andy, who live in Scotland, but were in London spending time with their granddaughter on her half-term. We went to a Turkish restaurant, Sofra. The food was good and the company was great, so yet another lovely evening out.

And now home. Time for a bit of downtime and peace and quiet. And definitely no partying. I'm exhausted!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Weighty issues

One of the byproducts of being unwell has meant a bit of a weight loss... and for me that's not good.

My best weight to be is around 8 stone (112 lbs or 50.8 kgs) preferably slightly more rather than less. Yesterday morning I weighed in at 7 stone 9lbs, which for someone of my height (5ft 6 inches) and age is well underweight and not a good look, believe me.

So it was time to do something about it. But I wasn't helped at all yesterday by having a nosebleed on waking up, followed by another, followed by another and then another. It was so awful that it was funny... well no point looking at it any other way.

I went back to bed for the day and relaxed. I mean what else could I do if every time I stood up I got a nosebleed? And actually it was a very good thing to do. I relaxed about the whole thing and filled myself with good food.

I'm off to London tomorrow and need to feel top notch as have a lot planned, both work and social, and, although I was hoping the nosebleeds would've stopped by now, I've already had one this morning. Oh dear!

I also have a bit of very good Guide Dog news. I've got my second boarder coming on 26th Feb. He's the lovely Robbie, who's a yellow lab/retriever cross and is 6 months old and apparently started being a bit of a teenager... that bit I'm not looking forward to, but having a pup around for a full 4 days will be great.

So that's me for this week. I'll be back on Friday and will report all on my return... well maybe not all!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Making my mind up

Today I was supposed to venture forth to Stobo Castle and teach a Qiqong class this afternoon. I was really looking forward to it. Actually, I think I was looking forward to the steam room to help ease my still slightly compromised vocal chords even more. But there was snow.

I really prefer not to drive in the snow unless forced, but this morning it was just a light flutter, so when I phoned Stobo to see what the roads were like over there, I decided I'd go. And then it started snowing even heavier.

By 12.30, with around 3 inches lying and the roads getting whiter by the moment, I phoned Stobo and cancelled. I'm not so bothered about getting there, but getting back, well... my preference is not to be stuck out in the wilds of the Scottish Borders in the freezing cold when it's dark and snowy. I was disappointed, there's no doubt about it, but then I started to think of all the things I could do.

And one of those is going out in the snow and just having fun. So I put on my boots and kitted myself up in my purple hoodie thingy that my boys gave me for Xmas and went for a walk with all those gorgeous large flakes falling all around me and it was just fantastic! There was one hysterical moment when I passed some village kids and their dad out sledding and one of the kids called over, 'Hey Mum, is that you?' I'm afraid it made me laugh out loud as I shouted back, 'No, not your mum, but someone's!' At least their dad thought it was funny!

Yes, it really is me!
I'm so pleased I made my mind up in time to enjoy the white, before all those cars start squashing the fluffiness out of it and it just becomes grey smush. And now I can sit and relax for the rest of the day, knowing there's not much I need to do but stay warm and enjoy myself watching 6 Nations Rugby and old films.


Friday, 12 February 2016

Last of the birthday

Last night I had a fantastic last birthday meal for this year. My voice, apparently sounding sexy and gravelly, held up just fine. I think the Lemsip before I ventured forth definitely helped.

Twenty Princes Street was amazing. If you ever go there and like crab do go for the crab sandwich starter. It was incredible and too hard to even describe, so you'll just have to trust me on this one. And, according to my companion, the haggis ravioli was to die for.

We stayed chatting until almost closing time and then went on for a quick night cap at an establishment nearby. By this time, and we're talking 1.30 a.m., we decided to call it a night and had a brisk walk back to where I was staying, a quick goodnight and then I flopped into bed trying to be quiet, which as we all know means making far more noise than is meant!

So that's it for this year. My birthday has been just wonderful from start to finish. Couldn't ask for better... until next year maybe?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Time will tell

If I woke up on Tuesday morning with no voice, today I woke up with minus a voice!

I made the decision to go to the doctor's because my chest was beginning to hurt. A virus is one thing but a chest infection is something completely different. But have you ever tried making an appointment when you have no voice? No? Well it's bloody difficult!

The only way I could manage was to get myself dressed and over to the surgery, which is in the next village along, 4 miles away. When I got there the receptionist interpreted my teeny whisper  (I did have a pen and pad in my bag just in case) and told me to go home and she'd phone me, saying not to worry, she'd manage to communicate with me. So off I went.

About ten minutes after I got back I got the phone call to come back in. So off I went and luckily had taken my book to read as an hour and a half later the doctor called me in. I was very grateful though so no complaining. Anyway, after a thorough check, she announced that I had a virus and not an infection and, I quote, there's a nasty bug going around that takes 6 to 8 weeks to finally disappear. Great I thought, well at least I don't have to take antibiotics, but time will literally tell as to whether I have that dreaded lurgy or some other one.

So it was back home and into bed for the day. No talking at all, not even to myself. Just taking it easy, doing some writing and some reading and some sleeping.

Actually I don't feel too bad. I haven't tried my voice and don't intend to until the morning. My lovely friend, Shirley has, after an email exchange, cancelled our lunch tomorrow and, as we're due to meet up in London next week, I feel we'll have time to catch up, so another morning's rest should see me (hopefully) feeling ok. But if I make a miraculous cure by the morning we'll change back to Plan A and go for lunch tomorrow as well.

I still have my dinner date to go, which is with my song writing pal from across the sea and as he's happy to do all the talking, I reckon it should be fine. And as it's my final, final birthday celebration for this year - yes, ok, I know I should've grown out of all that by the age of 64, but I haven't and so tomorrow is the month of my birthday fun being up - we're going to Twenty Prince's Street, which is where my boys took me in January. It was so nice that the two of us decided it would be a good place to go for a birthday bash, even if it'll be a rather one sided affair, given my vocal capabilities.

I'm all Vicked up for the night now and with a Lemsip on the way I'm heading for an early night.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The sound of silence

On Friday, when Amber came, I had the beginnings of a sore throat. By the time she left on Saturday it was getting worse and, because I had a workshop coming up (today in fact), I spent the weekend in pretty much non-speaking mode in the hope that it would get better and I'd be fit for purpose.

Sadly it just got worse!

Yesterday I went to Edinburgh to get ready for the workshop and meet up with my co-facilitator. We had a lovely dinner, where I did minimal talking and lots of eating and then, propped up by Lemsip had an early night.

When I woke up this morning there was no voice! Just silence when I tried to talk. What's a girl to do? The show must go on and all that, so I downed a Lemsip and scooted to the chemist on my way in and bought a throat spray. It worked minimally, but at least I had a teeny bit of voice. More Lemsip at lunchtime and my co-facilitator had to do most of the talking, but I managed the whole day. But I'm just hoping, if I get to rest my voice tonight and tomorrow, then I'll be good to go on Thursday when I have not just a lunch date, but a dinner date too.

And I couldn't even whoop for joy when I got an email from Vespa's trainer to say he was doing really well. He's settled and happy and has taken to the harness no problem at all. I am thrilled to say the least!

And saying the least is the least I shall be doing!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

So much fun!

The absolutely gorgeous Amber, labradoodle Guide Dog puppy turned up yesterday afternoon and it was just lovely to have her with me. She's so much fun. Really cute... not cuddly... but loves to lie touching me. I've missed having a puppy around, so I'm making the best of it while I can.

The gorgeously cute Amber

She reminds me of a teeny tiny Irish Wolfhound, but she's soooo small! I couldn't believe what it as like to have such a lightweight on the end of the lead. I mean, Odi, was such a strong girl and Vespa... well he was just a tank, so having a pup, who's tiny paws tap tap away and who, even when she pulls, has no weight behind her, is a revelation. Here's an example: She has 120 grams of food twice a day. Vespa had 200!

There's no point being sad that she's only staying for such a short time, but to relish the time she's with me.

I LOVE having a puppy here!

Friday, 5 February 2016

I'm not the only one

When I was out and about the other day I glanced up at the clock on the clock tower attached to my house and realised that it wasn't quite showing the right time. Actually, all four clock faces were showing completely different times.

The clock is usually very good, but it doesn't like ice, snow and cold. And I also wonder whether it's all that keen on the wind. And as you know, we've been in the grip of several storms, one after the other, so I'm not surprised that the clock had a bit of a hissy fit and decided to throw itself into confusion. Funny to have a clock that dislikes the winter weather as much as I do!

I do know how to fix it, but, as part of the deal with the Council, it's actually their job to do so. Also, I'm aware of my inherent clumsiness sometimes and I really don't want to incur the wrath of the whole village as I drop bits of clock mechanism down in the tower and have to retrieve them amongst all the potential spiders that might be lurking.

I don't actually know if there are any spiders there, but you know what? I don't want to find out... and anyway, my imagination has done some good work here... so a quick phone call to the Borders Council and a charming lady told me not to worry, she was on the case. The clock would get sorted asap.

Apparently, it's not the only clock in the area to go AWOL. The one in Coldstream has done just the same, so the nice clock man will be down to fix both clocks in one go... that's the theory... let's see what the reality is.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Silver lining

Today was absolutely the most gorgeous day! Blue sky, sunshine and no wind at all... amazing!

I had a very lazy morning, but had a meeting with the person I run my retreats with in the afternoon and so headed on down to Kelso early so I could go for a walk along the river. And it was just beautiful.

River Tweed looking down towards Floors Castle

Along the path 

My meeting went extremely well and after almost 3 hours we packed up our stuff and headed on our separate ways.

I was supposed to go down to Yorkshire tomorrow, but the friend I was supposed to be spending a couple of days with had had some work difficulties and so couldn't take the time off, so we cancelled.

But there's always a silver lining to each cloud and although sad it was cancelled, I got a call from my Guide Dog pal who asked me if I could look after the gorgeous Amber, the labradoodle puppy, on Friday night. Could I? I'm looking forward to it!

She'll be my very first boarded Guide Dog puppy and I'm so excited at having a puppy around again, albeit for just 24 hours. Whoohoo!

So be ready people... puppy pics will be posted!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Back to puppy class

Today was the first Guide Dog puppy class of the year (the January one is always not on) and it was such a joy to get there (complete with invisible puppy who behaved superlatively throughout!) and to have a chance to cuddle puppies and catch up with all the chat.

We'd been informed that the Puppy Supervisor couldn't make it a few weeks ago, so Lynne, who's an excellent dog trainer had offered to step into the breach. She's such a great dog trainer and instead of the usual sitting about while the PS tells us all that's going on in Guide Dogs, Lynne just got straight on with it and she commandeered me to help out, so that was fun.

There were 6 puppies there, all of various ages, from 16 weeks to 2 years (the latter being a withdrawn GD, but was still allowed to come to classes) and it was great to see them do their thing... some better than others, it must be said, with one, who's 6 months and just turned the corner into adolescence, who was appalling. Before Xmas he was a model puppy. Funny what those hormones can do.

What was lovely was that the people with the 16 week old puppy (it was their first ever class) turned out to be the ones that I'd met on Vespa's birthday, when we met in Galashiels and they were asking me all kinds of questions about being a puppy walker. Well apparently, after that conversation, they went straight home and did all the paperwork and their gorgeous 16 week old puppy is the result! How great is that?

Puppies being put through their paces... that's the 16 week old on it's hind legs... cute!

After puppy class it was home to sort out some things, one of which being I'd been charged a whole lot more for my internet and phone this month, so I got in touch and, according to Plusnet, I'm supposed to keep going on line to see when my contract is up. According to me, that's their job. In the end they were going to give me something of a deal, but guess what? Their internet was down! I'm afraid I thought that was pretty hysterical. What's even worse is that it was still down when they phoned me back later this afternoon and will be in touch tomorrow. Gotta laugh!

And then it was study tidy time. My desk has been lost under a swathe of papers for quite a while and so it was time for a clear out. I've done quite a good job, though I say it myself, and at last I can see the actual top of my desk. Of course now I have no excuse for not doing any work at it. Or as my brother so nicely put it when I was in London, 'You've got rid of your husband, your children and your dog, so there's no excuses!' Oh I don't know about that, I'm sure I can always find an excuse somewhere!