Thursday, 31 March 2016

Relief all round

Sue and I did go into Edinburgh on Monday and we did do bus practice. By the time we'd been on 4 buses she'd got the hang of it. We then met up with Jim and stopped at a cafe for some lunch and she did her usual up and down business, but I think the buses and walking round Edinburgh had tired her out, so after about 20 minutes she actually went to sleep. Yeh!

I don't think Jim was terribly impressed with Sue's behaviour as when we were walking back to No. 2 Son's he would say things like, 'Is she supposed to be pulling you like that?' I was concentrating so hard on trying to get Sue to do things right I couldn't swear at him. He was lucky!

We stopped off on the way to get my phone unlocked, so I can now use it in Thailand. Last year when I went over there I bought a cheap local phone. The only thing was no-one could work out how it worked, not even my Thai friends, but at least I had a number and that's all I needed. Anyway, Jim has convinced me to keep this old iPhone I have when I buy a new one (which will be as soon as I can get one of the new small ones) and use it exclusively for when I'm abroad. Sounded good to me. And at least I'll be able to answer it with no difficulties.

Sue and I scooted home in the afternoon and spent time doing some training and then she slept while I worked on my book stuff.

The next day I dropped Sue off at Freda's and went off back up to Edinburgh. I was meeting up with Neil, who I used to work with for lunch, and then spending the evening with Jim. His last night in Edinburgh before he went off to Europe for the rest of the week and then back to Scotland to spend time with his family before he goes back to Australia in just over a week's time.

Lunch was lovely. Neil and I went to David Bann and spent a happy couple of hours talking about what's happening with my old job and was great to hear all that's going on.

My evening with Jim started off with a pre-dinner drink and then went off to The World's End pub as we'd really enjoyed it before. We shared a bottle of wine there and had a lovely meal. Then it was up the road to Whiski Bar - another one of our haunts - to listen to the music, which was traditional Scottish, but a bit low key until Jim decided to join in singing (he was invited by the band). He got an ovation, which I'm not so sure the band appreciated, but Jim was very happy and then spent the rest of the evening basking in the glow of his fanbase, which included whisky. This wasn't a great idea and especially when Jim decided I needed to join him. I'd been on soft drinks since we got there, but, as the clock passed midnight common sense flew out of the window and so I drank up. Not a good plan!

Yesterday morning I woke up with an incredibly bad migraine and had to spend the day sleeping until it wore off. The bad thing about this was that I didn't wake up until just before 4 pm and I was supposed to pick up Sue in Selkirk at 4! Luckily Freda was wonderful about it. The good thing about waking up so late is that I got a message from the optician that my glasses, that were broken over a week ago, were ready to pick up. So before I drove home I went to get them. Such a relief to have them back. Such a relief my migraine was finished. Such a relief that Freda could look after Sue until I could get there. That is until she told me that Sue had come into season overnight. I was not relieved at all about that, but then not much I could do but accept it and get on. But I'm sure Sue's puppy walkers will be highly relieved that she had her season with me and not with them when they get back!

Now, of course, Sue can't go for walks anywhere near here. Today we went into Galashiels for her to get a bit of a walkabout on the lead where she behaved appallingly. In the end I phoned my friend Susan who has withdrawn GD, Folly and her current GD pup, Amber for help to let Sue get rid of some of her energy. And it worked! Sue had a wonderful time. I also had a wonderful time as it was the first time all day I could relax.

Folly, Amber and Sue having fun outside while I sat inside drinking tea!

And by the time I got home, Sue was exhausted. I was, once again, very relieved.

I'm going to miss not bumming around the various night spots of Edinburgh with Jim, but I also have to say I'm not sure my stamina would've been up for many more 3 am finishes. Time to slow back down and be a good country person again. Well that is until I go into Edinburgh next week. I'll save that news for another post.

Monday, 28 March 2016

New book link!

Hello one and all!

I'm really pleased to be able to say that, at last, I've managed to get the landing page sorted for my new e-book.

If you'd like a FREE copy as soon as it's released on 19th April, then please go to this sign up link.

You'll be sent an email on launch day so you can download it from Amazon if I can get it all to work properly!

It will be free for 3 days.

Just sayin'!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Sue update

Sue is lovely to have around, but she's not terribly well behaved.

Today we went for lunch with a friend to the Terrace Cafe at Floors Castle and could I get her to settle? Absolutely not!

She's the sweetest natured dog, but she just doesn't know how to do the 'going to a restaurant' bit. Lots of room for improvement though and we're heading for Edinburgh tomorrow to practice going out for a cuppa and then on the buses, which should be fun as she's only been on one before in her life.

If today's got anything to go by I'm going to have to take as much patience with me as I can. And we all know that patience isn't exactly my strong suit!

However, one thing Sue is very good at is sleeping overnight, which is quite a relief and I'm hugely grateful for that.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

To the world's end and back

After my busy time in London, I had one day... yes, just one day... of respite before my social life took hold again. This is partly because, as of yesterday, my social life is severely curtailed as I have a Guide Dog puppy to stay until 11th April and my friend, Jim, is going back to Australia then, so we decided to spend a couple of fun-filled days in Edinburgh before the pup came.

Wednesday started off with me spending much of the day trying to sort out a landing page for my new e-book and trying to co-ordinate it with another page that can alert people to the fact that my book will be available from 19th April. I spectacularly failed at this!

Then I went into Edinburgh and spent a lovely time with No. 1 Son, catching up with what he'd been doing before heading off to Jim's place. After a couple of glasses of wine, we went to find food. Unbelievably, by 8 pm a lot of places had stopped serving, so we headed for David Bann veggie restaurant, one of my favourites. I don't think Perth, Australia has many veggie places and Jim thought it was one of the best vegetarian meals he'd had. We stayed there almost til closing time and then back to his for music and drinks before I went back to No. 2 Son's house at about 2 am to get some much needed sleep.

Thursday I spent time with No. 2 Son who contacted an ex-girlfriend of his, Kimi, who could possibly help me sort my landing page issue and, as she said she could come over in the evening, I scooted off back to the Borders for a chiropractic appointment and then back to Edinburgh to meet with her. Meanwhile No. 2 Son was cooking a meal for his buddies and Jim and I had arranged to meet at the World's End pub for a meal at around 7.

Kimi had originally said 'after 6', so I made sure I got back before then and waited... and waited... and waited. Poor Kimi was held up at work, so 6.30 came, 6.45 came and then finally I cracked and phoned Jim to say I wouldn't be able to meet until 7.30. At 7.20 Kimi turned up. I really felt for her as, after all, she was doing me a huge favour, but I really had to get going. She told me not to worry but to leave it with her and go for my dinner. I love that girl!

I have to say that the food at The World's End was delicious. By far the best pub food I've had in Edinburgh. Jim was especially pleased as the barman had poured an extra beer by mistake and so he got it free. Why don't these things happen when I'm paying, that's what I'd like to know! From there we went back to Jim's just to hang out. It was another 2 am before I got back to No. 2 Son's. I sometimes wonder howcome Jim and I have so much to talk about, but we do.

So... Friday morning and I came home and got organised for Sue, the Guide Dog puppy's entrance into my life.

To say that she was manic would be an understatement. Positively the worst behaved GD pup I've come across, which is quite funny as her puppywalker is a dog behavioural expert! However, we did have a discussion that the difference between a 'red mist' dog and a Guide Dog is huge, so I think Sue's been allowed to get away with her manic tendencies as she's as far removed from 'red mist' as you can get!

Anyway, she had a mad half hour, where she literally went bananas. Her puppywalker had told me she never goes upstairs, but the moment the stairgate was open she rushed up there and wouldn't come down! I decided to let her run about for a while and once I heard her stop for a second I quietly called and she came so that I could at least get a lead on her. We went out for a walk and then, once home again, she calmed down considerably. I was much relieved!

Sue beginning to calm down

She's a real sweetie and is very affectionate. Though I realised she has a penchant for chewing my hair, which I'm actively discouraging, but the moment I sit on the cushion on the floor she leaps on me and tries to be a lap puppy and then surreptitiously starts on my hair!

Last night she slept brilliantly. I put her to bed at around 10.30 and didn't go and get her out until 8 am this morning. She was so pleased to see me that I couldn't get over the morning welcome I got, especially because it wasn't even 24 hours since she'd arrived, but has bonded with me brilliantly. She still has to follow me everywhere as she doesn't like to be left, but I'd expect that in a new place.

I'm off to work at Stobo Castle later today and Sue is going to Freda, who is my boarder, for the afternoon. Will be interesting to see how she is when I go and pick her up later.

Oh yes... and Kimi and the landing page? Nope... she hasn't been able to sort it yet, so I'm going to have to have a rethink. You'll be the first to know when I have something that actually works.

Monday, 21 March 2016

London report

On Thursday I had a phone call from my musician friend, Jim, to ask if I wanted to go and celebrate St Patrick's Day in Edinburgh. Initially I was going to be sensible as was taking the 10.12 am train from Berwick the next day, but then I'm not really known for being sensible, so packed my stuff and headed into Edinburgh for party time. The only thing was, by the time I got there, it seemed that a lot of folk had already had quite a bit to drink and it was relatively quiet. Still, we went out and had a very nice evening and I even got to bed before midnight!

On Friday I scooted back down the road to change suitcases and get my train. By the time I got to London I had had a message from one of the people who'd looked in on my mother to tell me she still wasn't eating, so on the way to her house I stopped and picked up some all-in-one food replacement drinks for her. She wasn't thrilled with the first one, announcing it was too sweet, but amazingly she then went on to have another and it seemed to do the trick and she picked up pretty fast from there on in. Of course, what that meant was, as she was getting to feel better physically, mentally she just got into a bad mood and stayed like that for most of the weekend, and although I started out my weekend as 'good child', by the time I left this morning I was back to being the usual disappointment. So all good there!

I had a really nice dinner out at an Italian restaurant in Covent Garden on Friday night, which was fun.

Then on Saturday, after shopping for my mother in the morning, I spent a lovely afternoon with my ex ex husband's best friend and his wife. We had a great time catching up and gossiping about the old gang and I now have an invite for Sunday lunch the next time I'm down. Then in the evening, I went out with Aisha, a Guide Dog owner and her gorgeous golden retriever, Pearl, who's quite a character, for dinner.

Aisha and Pearl outside Carluccio's at St Pancras station

We decided on going to St Pancras station as Aisha was staying at a Youth Hostel not far from there and it was the easiest place to get to.

Aisha is truly amazing. She's 30 and had very limited vision since birth, but that hasn't stopped her doing anything. She's a full time Social Worker in Manchester and is an absolute inspiration. Pearl has been with her for 8 months and she's never had a dog in her life before, but it's incredible to see them together. And it also made me feel really good about being a Puppy Walker. It really does have the potential to change a life. Although Aisha has done a lot of things, Pearl has brought a whole new dimension to her life, which is wonderful to see. It also made me feel truly lucky that I have my sight.

There was one funny instance that night though, as I woke up at about 3 am and couldn't see much at all. Everything was really fuzzy and then I realised I'd forgotten to take my contact lenses out! But just for a second I did have a momentary thought about losing my sight! I also had the bizarre thought that maybe I could have Vespa back... but that passed as soon as I realised what had happened! No harm done though, thank goodness!

Yesterday, I went to see the stage production of The Lion King, which was absolutely fab. If you haven't seen it, I urge you to go. We had a slight drama when, just after the interval, that there was a technical hitch and we had a 20 minute wait while they sorted it out, but that couldn't spoil what was an incredible production. The staging was so clever.

And then in the evening I went out for yet another dinner, this one with my cousin, Mike, from the States. We went to The Wolseley and had a lovely evening together, but we did have a couple of problems. First of all Mike ordered a bottle of red wine, but when they opened it he announced he didn't like it. The waiter's face was a picture, but to his credit he went off and got the menu so Mike could choose a different wine, which luckily turned out fine. Then my dinner came. I'd ordered halibut, but they brought smoked haddock! I very quietly informed the waiter re the mistake and they rushed it off back to the kitchen. By this time I was wondering if they thought we were absolute pain in the arses, but the manageress came and profusely apologised and we did say we weren't being pains on purpose, which caused much hilarity. Eventually my halibut came and it was absolutely delicious. By the time we'd walked back to my mother's house I was really, really tired and was relieved to be in bed by 11.

So this morning was an early start as had to leave my mother's house before 9 because of the London traffic. Of course what that meant was there was hardly any traffic and I got to Kings Cross in no time at all, but at least had the chance to sit down and get a breakfast, which was great.

I got home to a letter from Vespa's trainer from Forfar to tell me he's doing very well. She really loves him and is taking him home for Easter. He's still a bit self interested and that's not so good and she also said he loves the kittens at Forfar and I'm not entirely sure exactly what that means! However, the very good news is that I'm going to get invited up to see him work before he goes on to the next part of his training, which means he IS going on to the next part of his training, which I'm so super happy about.

I thought I'd finish this post with this lovely pic of my boy:

My gorgeous Vespa

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Ready for the off

It seems just as though it was yesterday when I got home and now I'm getting ready to go again. Yes, it's yet another London visit.

My cousin, Mike, from America is coming over and we arranged ages ago to meet up on Sunday night. I'm looking forward to it as we get on really well and I thought, as I was going to go to London anyway, I might as well make a weekend of it. It also helped that my train tickets cost £10 each way.

I've got other plans too while I'm there. Tomorrow night I've got a dinner date in Covent Garden, so looking forward to that. Then on Saturday I'm meeting up with my ex-ex-husband's best friend, Douglas, and his wife, Annie, who I've not seen for 29 years, so I'm kind of intrigued as to how that one will go. We were in touch through my ex-ex who wanted me to help out with their daughter when she comes up to Edinburgh in August, so, as I'm going to be in London with free time on Saturday afternoon, it felt like a good thing to do.

My mother is also much better, which means she's getting back to being a bit mean and critical, so in some ways I'm quite pleased about that, even if it does mean biting my tongue again and letting it all sail on past me. 

The only other news I have is that my e-book is gathering pace. I'm now in the process of choosing a cover for it. It took me precisely 5 days to choose a title, so I'm not holding out much hope for the cover taking any less time. I have to say I think it's far easier to write than it ever is to do all the rest of the stuff involved. But hopefully you lot will be the first to know about it when it's good to go and I'll post a link for a free copy for you.

Have a nice weekend one and all and I'll put in my weekend 'report' when I get back.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

A relief to be home

I'm now home from this week's London jaunt, but it was touch and go as to whether I could get back today as my mother was ill and I had to call in the doctor this morning. She has an infection, but the GP said she'd be fine with the meds he gave her and there didn't seem much point in me staying as, arming her with lots of water and instructions to sleep, I could do no more. Also, I was in desperate need of clean clothes, so home seemed the sensible option. She has people coming in in the morning and I'll be back on Friday, but on call so can go back down if necessary.

Anyway, it's lovely to be home. Not only for the clean clothes option, but also because the heating works at my house, which is more than it does at my mother's! The room I stayed in was absolutely freezing and I even had to get dressed to go to bed.

Apart from my mother being unwell, I had a great time.

On Thursday night I went out with one of my very best friends. We went to a new place at Harvey Nicks, called Kurobuta, which we both thought was utterly amazing. There was one seaweed dish we didn't really like, so they took it off our bill, but we ordered more of another dish we loved, a tuna pizza, which was absolutely delicious.

Friday I had an interview for my book to do, which went very well and then on Friday night I had a lovely meal out at Mon Plaisir in Covent Garden with an extraordinary guy, who'd invited me out on a date. A really, really nice guy. Not sure if we'll go out again, but it was certainly an interesting evening.

Yesterday I went to the V&A to an exhibition on the theatre called 'Curtains Up'. It was fascinating and full of theatre costumes from way back to modern times. There was a guy there in Victorian costume doing a show for the kids, but I stayed to watch as he was brilliant.

Great show at the V&A

Sadly my plans got cancelled for last night, so I took myself out to my current favourite Japanese restaurant, Kiko, where I got picked up by an Italian count (who must've been about 75), who told me his job was to smoke cigars and go for months at a time on his yacht! Entertaining if nothing else!

So home at last and unbelievably I met my friend Patricia, who I facilitate my retreats with, on the train, which made for a very lovely journey home. The sun was just going off the horizon as we got out at Berwick and the view was to die for.

Berwick at its best
A relief to be home.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Party girl!

This last couple of days I've been in party mode in Edinburgh. It's been lots of fun.

My musician pal, Jim, had been finding cool places to go for dinner and then pubs that have music and was keen to show me what I've been missing living in the quiet of the Scottish Borders.

On Sunday night we started off by going to Petit Paris, a French restaurant in The Grassmarket, which was very French, including rather off hand French waiters! But the food was good. They have a special menu before 7, which makes it quite cheap for 2 courses and pretty good value. After that we headed for The Royal Mile and, after scouting several places along there and around South Bridge, ended up at Whiski Bar, where music was supposed to come on around 9.30.

We were told we could sit at the band's table until they arrived and just as we got settled, a couple at another table got up to leave and luckily we spotted them before anyone else did. And just as Jim went off to the bar to get the drinks in, the band (a three-piece) arrived and took up their position just where we'd been sitting.

The drummer took quite a shine to me and offered to buy me a drink, which was very flattering - well ok, it would've been if he hadn't been a bit short, with long hair tied in a pony tail, which is not quite my look! Jim thought it was highly amusing.

We stayed there until the band had played both their sets of traditional Scottish/Irish with a modern twist, so us punters could singalong and enjoy ourselves. The atmosphere was really good and the place was packed. We eventually left to get me back to where I was staying before the witching hour.

Yesterday, we decided on starting out at Jim's, sharing a bottle of wine and some nibbles at around 6.30 and before we knew it, it was 9.30! We quickly got ourselves together and, after some aborted attempts at getting pubs to serve us food, we ended up back at Whiski Bar, who told us that the chef was just about to pack up, but would feed us first. Luckily our food arrived pretty quickly and we settled down to eat while listening to a duo, who were ok, but not a patch on the previous night's band. So after food we left there and went to another of Jim's haunts, Whistlebinkies, where he'd got up and played on Friday night.

They had open mic night and it was pretty good. Another late night!

I was quite relieved to get home today and sort out my e-book to get it off to the editor (the amazing Russell Turner, better known as Bassman of Bassman Books) and then settle down for a quiet evening.

Hopefully tomorrow will be quiet too as, apart from badminton, I have more book stuff to sort and then on Thursday I head for the bright lights of London, where some more social stuff is happening. 

I'm becoming quite the party girl!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Loving it

A coffee plant update!

When I was tidying my house a couple of weeks back as I had a guest to stay, I made the big decision to move the coffee plants into a new spot, out of the upper hallway, so out of sight. They got moved into the room that my erstwhile last husband used for an office/storeroom and has now become my ironing room.

As I've said before, the coffee plants usually take exception to the slightest change in their environment and they show their objection by drooping and then dropping leaves like no tomorrow.

Well... what a surprise... they love their new home! So much so they're absolutely blooming. Especially the smaller ones, which have new growth and lots of shiny green leaves.

Look how luscious and green the smaller ones are

The larger one is also doing well, but I noticed a few white spots on the leaves the other day, so it's been given a dose of medicine and now seems to be in recovery.

The largest one

Of course, as we all know, coffee plants don't do much in the growth department, so it'll be interesting to see if this is just a Spring growth or something more.

Whatever, it's great to see them responding well to a new situation. I never thought that'd happen!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

What a relief!

As you know, I had to take my car in to the Audi garage in Edinburgh for it's diagnostic check on Tuesday. It needed to stay in overnight and on Wednesday I got the call that there was indeed a fault. Apparently one of the speaker boosters was faulty and draining the battery. All that meant it needed to stay in for another 24 hours and as I needed to be on the road, Audi gave me a courtesy car.

Just one small problem: it was a gear shift and I've not driven one of those for a couple of years. They guy in charge took me out to a rather nice, silver A3 Sportback and was showing me the ropes. One of the questions I had asked was whether the car had satnav to which I was told 'no', at which point I was trying to think how on earth I'd get to go where I needed to by using my phone, as I'm notoriously good at getting lost and need something to help.

'In you get,' he said, 'start her up and we'll go round the car park to let you get used to it.' Well could I remember where my feet were to go? No! I'd completely forgotten there were 3 pedals and was depressing the clutch and lifting off the brake... I'm sure you can imagine what that did! The guy's face was a picture as I eventually managed to realise what I was doing wrong and actually got the car to move.

'Would you like me to go round the block with you?' the guy said, but I think he had his fingers severely crossed at this moment and the look of relief when I told him I'd be fine was hysterical! And what was even better was it turned out it did have satnav. Phew! Now I was relieved too!

So off I went to Tullibody with no problems at all and had a really lovely evening with Shirley and Andy. The bed I slept in had the softest mattress I've slept in for as long as I can remember and I really liked it. It was like being enveloped. I don't think it did great things for my back, but was a good experience for a night. Can't wait to go back and get another shot!

Today I went to my Qiqong instructor's house in East Kilbride and got a severe tongue lashing for proverbial crimes to the practice. Good thing I went, even if my ego did get a bit of a bashing. So now it's practice, practice, practice until I go back in a few weeks for another session.

Then it was back to Audi in Edinburgh to pick up my car, which had been given a clean inside and out and now doesn't look like the mobile dog kennel it was when I took it in. It was great to get back to the normality of automation and heated front seats and Audi were equally relieved to get their car back in one piece after 24 hours in my care.

A good ending all round!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Win some, lose some

It's been a busy couple of days.

Robbie went home on Monday. He was lovely to have around. I've now got Sue, another yellow lab/retriever cross in the diary. She's coming on 25th March for 17 days, so that should be both fun and hard work and will curtail my social life somewhat, but I'm not sure that's such a bad thing!

Robbie in the garden

Yesterday I went over to Stobo to do my class. It was pretty quiet in the place and even the swim exercise class that's usually full to bursting had only 4 people in it, so I wasn't expecting much. Only one person (Alison, a 70 something lovely person) turned up, but she's a member (the first one I've had in one of my classes) and was an absolute delight. She loved the Qiqong so much that when the manager came down, she asked her why there wasn't a course put on. And now it looks like I might be asked to teach a 3 week course just for the members some time in the summer. Alison is off for an operation and so won't be around for 3 or 4 weeks, but really wants to come back to my class. So that's all good.

Then I had to scoot into Edinburgh to take my car to the garage for it's diagnostic check, then a bus into Edinburgh with enough time to get myself ready for a night out for dinner with Jim, my Scotstralian friend. He's staying in this amazing place that used to be the Old Gold Hall in Blair Street. It has the most amazing domed ceiling. We started off our evening with a glass of wine and a quick catch up as he's been off on a Highland bus tour, which apparently was a hoot and well worth it.

Jim decided he wanted to go to a French restaurant in Grassmarket, but when we got there, there was only room in the gloomy, unatmospheric downstairs, so we skipped that and went to Howie's instead. And we remained there until almost 11. Then it was time for me to get back to No. 2 Son's. Off I went, and it was then I realised I'd lost one of my earrings!

I retraced my steps, but couldn't see it anywhere, so when I got back, I went online and ordered a new pair. They are my current favourites and it just seemed the right thing to do.

Today, I'm waiting for Audi to announce what's wrong with my car before I go pick it up and head on out to Shirley and Andy's in Tullibody, where I'm staying tonight and then Thursday I'm off to East Kilbride to meet up for a private lesson with my Qiqong instructor, which I'm looking forward to immensely.

One piece of very good news is, that I've finished the first draft of the e-book I'm writing. I could hardly believe that it came in a day early. Such a relief. Of course now the hard work really begins, with editing and formatting and all that stuff, but at least I've got something to edit.

So, ok, in the last couple of days, I lost an earring, but I might have gained a course and I've certainly gained a book.  Definitely winning more than losing. Though of course I've still got to hear about my car and that one I'm not sure which side it's going to come down on!