Monday, 26 June 2017

The evidence

Today I was sent a link, by a friend, on Facebook. It was of our visit to Lothian Buses last week. Apart from spelling my surname wrong and not doing the promised... which was to pick a picture that made me look good... it's rather nice to see that the bus people were happy with us.

Diesel and me with the bus people

On Saturday we started out by going to the Farmers Market especially to buy tomatoes only to discover the tomato people were at the Royal Highland Show. Very disappointing. But then it was clock-time.

I'd had a phone call from the clock man on Friday to say the clocks were good to go. Much to everyone's surprise the new bits had arrived in record time and so, on Saturday at midday, clocks were installed and at 11 minutes past they were telling the right time. It's lovely to get my house back to looking good again.

Back to normal

To celebrate the new clocks, my neighbours came round for a glass or two of Prosecco, which turned into a lot of glasses of Prosecco! We had fun and that's all I'm saying about that.

Sunday we paid a visit to my good friends, Shirley and Andy. Poor Shirley had done her knee in and was in worse shape than me with my foot. We spent some time commiserating and a lot of time eating and enjoying sitting in their conservatory. And then it was home before all those people decided to go home from the Royal Highland Show and clog up the Edinburgh By-pass. I managed it... just.

I have just one more week to go before I head for my annual jolly to France. Can't wait!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The countdown begins...

Yesterday my clock was supposed to be put back. The cherry-picker arrived, the clock man arrived, the clock faces arrived and the wrong spindles to put the mechanism in and join the hands up also arrived. So now I have clock faces up in all four places in the clock tower, but none of them can tell the time!

The clock man wasn't amused, but personally I thought it was quite funny!

The clock tower with no clock faces

One of the new faces

The South facing face is in... minus hands!

Meanwhile, Diesel and I left the clock people to it and went off to Galashiels to say hi to the badminton folk before they finish for the season. They were amazed at how big he is now. Then a bit of shopping and back home for lunch.

After that we had a really lovely walk in the woods. The sausages are working fantastically and Diesel now runs to me as soon as he's called. He even left playing with another dog to come and get his sausage treat, which means he's a real joy to go walking with now.

Ok... well I've come to a decision. This is actually the 990th post of this blog and I've decided that I'm going to go to 1000 and then stop. I thought I'd give you a 10 post warning so you can start getting used to the idea of not knowing what I'm doing!

You have 9 more to enjoy...

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Photo call

Today Diesel and I had a day in Edinburgh.

We started out at the back of 8 am driving into the city, where I parked my car at No. 2 Son's house. We then took a bus down to my philosophy class. When that finished at 12.30 it was a quick nip back to the house to feed Diesel and then off we went for a photo shoot.

Diesel is a sponsored pup. He was named by Lothian Buses so we had to do our bit and go to the bus depot and have our pics taken with all the bus folk. Considering there was another Guide Dog there (a proper one), who'd done some fundraising, and her owner and loads of people all wanting to stroke him, Diesel did incredibly well.

He had a lovely time and left most of them with a bit of slobber on their uniforms to remember him by.

I don't actually know what they're going to do with the photos they took, but I'm just hoping we don't end up on the back of a bus!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

I love summer

On one of the most gorgeously hot days of the year so far, Diesel had a busy day.

But first... yesterday, he had lessons from Ziggy as to how to jump into the back of my car, so I didn't have to keep lifting him in. He managed perfectly. But today, because... it was too hot? He's too lazy?  He likes being lifted? Who knows?... he just looked at me when I asked him to jump in. Oh well.

So, having lifted him into the car, we started off going to Boots in Galashiels and meeting up with some of our favourite sales people. They absolutely adore him in there and I think the feeling is mutual.

Then it was off to the The Borders Book Festival for a wander around. I don't think it was Diesel's most enjoyable experience. It was very hot and he's quite a lazy pup, so it was all a bit too much and so we left after about 20 minutes. I'm really pleased I didn't take him on Thursday night, that's for sure.

We had a final drop off at the Championship Dog Show taking place in Kelso. Diesel's face was a picture when he saw a dachsund for the first time ever. It was hysterical! Just sorry I couldn't take a pic, but I'm sure you can imagine. We had a lovely wander around and talked to quite a lot of people while watching some lovely looking doggies doing their thing.

And then it was back home to wait for the clock man to come and (re)measure something for next week's epic of getting my house back in order. Yes...  the clock faces will be back in the clock tower next week and working too. I hope!

We've had a nice end to the day, relaxing in the sunshine and enjoying being in the garden.

I love summer.

Friday, 16 June 2017

And the answer is... sausages!

Yesterday started off with a visit to the physio, who told me that my foot was already 70% healed, which after just 3.5 weeks is a miracle. Still bruising and swelling but that's to be expected. I now have strengthening exercises to get it back to full recovery.

In the afternoon, I took Diesel over to Alex and Jackie's so he could have time with his half-sister, Ziggy, while I got myself ready for my poetry reading at The Borders Book Festival.

He had a brilliant time, but apparently was looking for me when I left him (awww... so sweet... and I thought he'd go with anyone who had food for him) and was really pleased to see me when I got back.

My poetry reading went well considering that I could feel my nerves. It didn't help that I was 9th out of 10 readers and the wait was excruciating. However, one of the other readers, Anita John, a very good Borders poet, who's well known in these parts, was even more anxious than I was. Somehow that helped a bit. Interestingly, she was also part of the play writing competition I was in and she's been on tenterhooks about it... I think she's expecting to win. And I think I'm expecting her to win too.

This morning didn't start well. Diesel and I were supposed to go to Edinburgh and meet up with the puppy supervisor at 9.30 am for help with his recall, which hasn't been brilliant. Diesel works on Diesel-time and that's it!

Anyway, last night I was still awake at 2.45 and that was the last time I remembered until I woke up at one minute before 8. I was a bit shocked as usually Diesel and I get up at 7 and, given that it takes 45 - 60 minutes to get to where we were to meet the PS this wasn't the best start. So there I was with 30 minutes to feed the dog, feed myself, get showered and dressed and get the dog in the car, before having to set off to negotiate the A68 and hope for the best. And unbelievably, I managed. The PS, however, didn't and was nowhere to be seen. It turned out her morning was even worse than mine, with her aunt (who lives with her) feeding her 2 dogs last night without telling her and then the PS fed them too... the results of which were large, not very nice 'parcels' on her kitchen floor this morning, followed by a whole host of problems with the little girl she fosters.

She eventually arrived and we took Diesel to an enclosed part of Fort Kinnaird (who knew such a place existed?) where we let him off the lead and he went off and did his stuff. She could immediately see the problem I've been having and, apart from hiding from him and encouraging him loads, the remedy given was... sausages. Not the kind you cook, but the kind you find in jars that live in brine and are incredibly cheap in Lidl. I was left with instructions of how to use said sausages and so did a quick trip to Lidl when I got back to The Borders.

Given that I've not eaten meat for over 25 years, it wasn't the best experience getting the dratted things out of the jar, cutting them up and putting them in a bag. Then Diesel and I went out for a walk and, following all the PS's instructions, they worked a treat. He bombed back to me at high speed once he knew sausages were on the menu.

The only problem was, was that it was windy and that I'd completely forgotten that my hands were covered in sausage, so when I tried to smooth my hair down it too got covered in sausage... not the best for a non-meat eater.

It just goes to show the lengths that have to be gone through to train a Guide Dog puppy... so if sausages is it, then sausages it must be and I'll probably end up having to wash my hair much more often!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Back to normal

My puppy is home!

Freda brought him back for me this afternoon and I got a wonderful greeting. He seemed to be pleased to be back, but it must've been confusing. In the last 3.5 weeks he's been to Lynne's, to Clare's, back home for 36 hours and then off to Freda's, so I'm not at all sure he expects to be hanging around for very long! And this will be compounded when we go off to Alex and Jackie's for him to have a play with Ziggy tomorrow afternoon, while I get myself ready for my poetry reading at the Borders Book Festival. He'll probably get a shock when I actually go and pick him up again the same evening!

And he's grown... quite a bit. He'll be 20 weeks on Friday and is the size of a 6 month old pup, but his legs are still far too long for him. It was lovely watching him gambolling about the garden, falling over himself, as he still has problems controlling them.

The boy's come home!

Monday, 12 June 2017

6 weeks? I don't think so!

Today was the first day I've truly felt like my foot is recovered. I can even see the veins on my foot coming out again. Never thought I'd be grateful for that! I know there's still a way to go (I was told 6 weeks for initial recovery and 3 months for full recovery) and I do have to be careful and there's still a lot of bruising and a bit of swelling, but to be walking about without my stick and being able to do things like walk up and down stairs with no problem... well it's fantastic!

My foot, complete with veins. Hooray!

But what's even better is that I'm getting my puppy back on Wednesday. I'm so pleased as I've missed him loads. And of course, there's no more French Open for me to watch. I don't know if you watched it, but for the first time ever the women's final was more exciting than the men's. I never thought I'd say that!

Roll on Wimbledon. Can't wait.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Something to work towards

Today was physio day and it's all really good news.

Apparently my foot is as good as it gets after 11 days. I've been given some exercises, told to walk with a stick and still spend time with my foot up. With a bit of luck and a fair wind I should be able to walk much better by next week. And once I can walk for 20 minutes then Diesel can come home.

Now that really is something to work towards.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Something to work on

The good news is that the healing is going to plan. The bad news is that the plan is incredibly slow.

The swelling on my foot has gone down hugely, but it's still swollen. According to my doctor that's what's to be expected after 10 days and I've now got the proverbial doctor's note to stay sitting with my leg up for most of the day and just get used to it until it's better. However, she also did suggest I went for private physio as waiting for the NHS version could take probably into next year. I've now got an appointment tomorrow. Let's hope that helps.

Meanwhile I've been watching lots of tennis and using up an incredible amount of energy whilst doing so. I sometimes wonder whether watching high level sport is good for me, as my tendency is to get very over-involved and very over-excited.

Diesel came home from Sunday afternoon until yesterday morning and was as perfect as he could have been. No. 1 Son also came for a visit on Sunday, so that was really nice for both Diesel and me.

Yesterday was puppy class and Diesel was handled by Freda, who he was going off with for the next while and so it gave them a chance to get used to each other. It was really interesting for me to see him strutting his stuff and, on the whole, he did well. Even better though was that, at last, I was given my photo of Vespa from when he graduated from Guide Dog school last August. It was truly lovely to have it and it's already on the wall.

My gorgeous boy

I very obviously haven't gone to London, as there was no way I could manage without causing further damage to my foot, which leaves my poor brother having to tell my mother that we're taking her car away. My thoughts will be with him tomorrow.

So that's me. Still feeling a bit sorry for myself, but not quite as sorry as I was the other day. Patience was never my strong point, so it's good to have something to work on!

Friday, 2 June 2017

A trying time

After Monday's accident I've been forced to stay at home for the most part. Yes, I've been able to drive as I have an automatic, which is great. However, getting a shoe on my foot has been another matter.

I've got a lovely pair of Skecher's, which are soft and easy to wear, but I've not even been able to get those on my foot properly until today. Hooray... I can put a shoe on! So today, for the first time since my accident I've been able to go outside and walk around, at least in a limited fashion.

My foot is still quite swollen, bruised and very sore. All I can say is thank goodness for The French Open, which has kept me well occupied whilst I've had my enforced rest. I'm also lucky that I have a freezer with food in and I did a bit of shopping the day before the accident, though my lovely neighbours have offered to get me anything I need.

Diesel has been having fun. He went to stay with Lynne, who was also boarding his great friend Folly and he apparently had a wonderful time. I'm not quite so sure that Folly would agree, but she went home on Wednesday. Lynne was going away today, so it was arranged that he'd go and stay with his other pal, Oscar, last night. Lynne very kindly took him over there and the messages I've had so far from Clare (Oscar's owner - he's a withdrawn GD pup) is that Diesel has been perfectly behaved. Such a relief. I'm going to pick him up on Sunday as Clare can only take him until then and he'll be with me for 24 hours before he gets farmed out again to Freda. That visit was arranged a couple of weeks ago when it became apparent that I needed to get to London to sort stuff out for my mother. We'll see if I can go for that, but anyway, Diesel will go to Freda until I can walk properly again. That's the pup sorted!

Now I just have to be patient - not do too much, but also not let my foot get stiff. Frankly, I'm finding the whole thing depressing and frustrating. According to someone who also had a severely torn ligament recently, it's going to take about 6 weeks to heal fully. 6 weeks? We'll see about that!

Monday, 29 May 2017

A dangerous activity

There I was, out with Freda and Ziggy, giving Diesel a lovely walk down by The Water Wheel in Selkirk, when a very enthusiastic Ziggy ran at full tilt behind me and smacked into my left leg, which ended up with me on the ground and a skinned elbow and an extremely sore foot.

Freda and I collected up the dogs and walked (ok... well I hobbled) back to our cars, where I took some Arnica and then went into the cafe for a cuppa and an ice pack. However, the swelling just got larger and so I made the decision to go to The Borders General to check all was ok.

A quick phone call to friend, Lynne and then off to hers to dump Diesel and she then drove me to A&E. It only took just over an hour (which I thought was pretty good) and I was diagnosed with a severely torn ligament - luckily no break and Lynne came to pick me up.

I'm so grateful for wonderful friends, who've sorted Diesel for at least today, that I drive an automatic and that it was my left foot and not my right - otherwise I'd never have been able to drive myself to Lynne's in the first place.

The person I really felt for was Freda, who was a bit freaked by the whole thing, but is now feeling a bit better as she knows it's nothing too serious and is just pain and swelling, which will go away in due course.

Who knew that dog walking was such a dangerous activity!

Not a pretty sight!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

A taste of freedom

The walkaround arranged by the puppy supervisor for Friday was cancelled due to a funeral she had to attend. That meant that Diesel's free-run, supervised by the PS, was also cancelled, but she told me to go ahead and do it on my own.

This sounds good, but to be honest I've been a little anxious about Diesel's recall. He sometimes comes and sometimes he doesn't. In fact in the garden he seldom pays any attention to me at all and will trash the flowers and eat moss and anything else he can do before even looking in my direction. Not a good start.

However, he needed to start walking off the lead and knowing what a proper dog walk entails, as for the last two months + all we've done is tramp the pavements and do lots of shopping!

So what to do? I made the decision that it might be a good idea for us to do the first free-run with another puppy who's recall was completely sound. It just so happened that on Friday I was invited over to the next village where another puppy walker, Kate, lives with her puppy, Robyn and Robyn has a great recall. We arranged to do a walk yesterday and so Diesel and I went back for lunch and a walk.

It went ok. Not brilliant as Diesel still wanted to take his time to do anything if he was engaged in, like sniffing, but at least he came back. We only managed a 15 minute walk as it started raining and also Diesel needed his lunch.

This morning I decided to brave it and take him out on his own and to my complete surprise he was excellent. He came when he was called and he ignored another dog when the owner said she didn't think her's wanted to play. It took quite a lot of treats, but I do think he's got the idea and I'm hoping it'll only get better from here as a good walk is the cure for a lot of doggy problems in my book... as long as he returns when called of course!

My only other bit of news is I've been picked to read one of my poems at the Borders Book Festival in June. I wrote it for the Borders Writers Forum Anthology and there were only 5 of us from BWF picked. I'm now feeling a bit anxious as the other 4 are well-known writers (at least in The Borders) who regularly read their work at festivals. I've only read one of mine out at a small village event way back in 2009, so I'm a complete festival virgin on that score. Funny really... I can talk to a whole conference about anything to do with work, but when it comes to my writing... well that's a different story. It'll be an experience that's for sure. Now I just have to hope it'll be a positive one!

Friday, 19 May 2017

The grand plan

Today Diesel was 16 weeks old. He went to the vet for his jags and was given an A* rating for behaviour and gorgeousness.

The gorgeousness is part and parcel, but the good behaviour was down to an exhausting day for him yesterday.

We started off by going into Edinburgh to meet up with my friend, Shirley. We went to the Market Street Cafe, where Diesel disgraced himself by barking when no-one was paying him any attention. Not great Guide Dog behaviour! But then we went for a walk around town (better known as shopping) and I have to say he was pretty good. He even passed a proper Guide Dog who wanted to say hello, but Diesel (aided and abetted by a treat) walked on by without a blink.

We also had an extraordinary serendipitous meeting. Shirley and I went to pay a visit to the Laura Mercer counter in Harvey Nicks for a spot of eye shadow and the girl that was serving us was asking about my puppy walking. It turns out her boyfriend's grandparents have Diesel's sister, Jinny. I gave her my details to give to them and they were in touch on Facebook. We're going to get the sibs together when they get back from their hols in June. How amazing is that?

Then yesterday evening I was invited to Susan and Gordon's (other puppy walkers) for drinks and nibbles and Gordon even came to pick me and Diesel up. Diesel had a wonderful time playing with his pals, Minnie (formerly Millie/Molly... don't ask) and Folly. We didn't get home until 11.30.

This morning I didn't get him up until 7.30 (we usually get up around 6.45) and when we went to the vet, he walked beautifully in Kelso, showing off his skills... but of course he was really tired from yesterday.

Consequently, next Friday, which is when the puppy supervisor is coming to Kelso for walking around and then assessing Diesel for a free run (his first off the lead experience), I've already arranged with Gordon and Susan that Diesel will be taken over to theirs the night before for a play with his pals. Hopefully this will end with Diesel being exhausted enough to behave well when the PS is down.

That's the plan anyway. I can only hope it'll work!

16 weeks and looking gorgeous!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Sickness, teething and a trip south

How come the days go by so quickly? Here we are on 17th May (I've realised I've not posted in almost 2 weeks) and next month, half the year will have gone by... Xmas next!!

Okay, well... I've had a sick puppy on my hands. He's had diarrhoea, which started almost 2 weeks ago. He was given medication and a light diet and all seemed ok, but then I had to go to London and my friend, Lynne, took him and that night there was a reoccurrence. I did offer to not go (I was off the next morning), but Lynne told me it was fine. I went, feeling super guilty, but she insisted.

Lynne took him to the vet then next morning and he was given more meds and back on the light diet, with a gradual intro to his food. All was going well. I picked him up on Saturday evening and he seemed fine only to revert back to diarrhoea by the next morning. So, after consultation with Guide Dogs, he was back on light diet and I've been slowly putting his own food back in, in the hope that all will be ok. So far so good.

He's actually been teething too, which won't have helped and is due his 16 week jags on Friday, so really needs to be better for them. We'll see what the next couple of days brings.

Meanwhile my trip to London was a great success. Apart from when I got there and my mother had had yet another fall that morning and was feeling sore, but wouldn't accept any help and then didn't remember falling.

I had a lovely social time with friends and my cousin, who was over from The States. I'd actually arranged the trip to spend time with him. We went to a rather fascinating restaurant, Gauthier Soho, where you have to ring the bell to go in. Also, they don't let anyone in the door before 6.30 (when our table was booked) and so, after arriving at 6.15 and being told politely to go away and come back in 15 minutes (I wasn't the only one by any means) and wondering what I was going to do with myself, I needn't have worried. I sneezed and had a nosebleed, so had to find a toilet to go and deal with it. Thank goodness for the Pret A Manger across the street! Anyway, that took up my 15 minutes and then I went back and was let in.

It's a Michelin star type experience (with the price to match), but good fun, good food, good company and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Since getting home I've managed to finish my play and send it off. Now I keep dreaming of all the other dialogue I could have put in. Will it win prizes? I have my doubts, but an achievement is an achievement and I'm super proud I've managed that.

Diesel is growing bigger by the day... literally. He goes to bed and comes out every morning even more leggy and with bigger paws than the day before. He's either going to be a big dog, or look extremely silly and I'm not betting on which of those two it might be!

Diesel showing his two missing top teeth

True relaxation with his best friend, Teddy

Friday, 5 May 2017

It's a dog's life

It's felt like a busy week, except of course that it's not been... just feels like it.

Diesel has had some lovely playtimes, some of which were meant and some definitely weren't! He had a wonderful time with Oscar, who's 18 months, on Sunday. They raced round and round the garden, played tug and did quite a bit of playfighting. 

Diesel with his new best friend, Oscar

Then on Tuesday we had puppy class. Diesel immediately spotted Oscar and decided it had to be playtime. Then there was Folly and Milly and Robyn to name a few and that was that. One decidedly badly behaved puppy who wouldn't do a thing he was asked, apart from a great recall, which surprised everyone.

Wednesday we went to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh to meet up with William (better known as Prince William) a 9.5 week old retriever, who is absolutely gorgeous. He's a big boy and looks like a teddy bear. Diesel thought it must be playtime again and I struggled to get him to walk nicely, which in the end I gave up as a lost cause and we went for a cuppa. Lovely to sit in the sunshine and enjoy some warmth though. I've decided if William is the Prince, then Diesel is the court jester!

Court Jester Diesel and Prince William

From the Botanics we headed for Portobello to meet up with a new boarder. She's going to take Diesel for a day later in the month when I have a writing event to go to. He loved it at hers as she had a great plant at Diesel height and he spent an hour being told off for keeping on attacking it. At least she hasn't refused to take him.

Yesterday my car needed something sorted and so we were given a courtesy car so I could get about. Diesel immediately decided that the lever that moves the seat back and forward was a far better toy than his monkey. I now have to pay for a new one. Oh dear! He was definitely in the dog house for that one!

And from that disaster we went off to Susan and Gordon's, so that I could air my woes and Diesel could play with his chums, Milly and Folly.

Milly looking adorable

Diesel was warmly welcomed and even got to sit on Susan's knee for a cuddle.

'Don't take my pic!' - Oh dear - too late!

Before finally heading home and crashing for the afternoon.

Exhausted at last!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

It's that time!

Time for a coffee plant update!

As you can see the plants are doing well. There has been some brown leaf problem, which is something that happened to the large one that never recovered and was eventually 'removed'. I do so hope that doesn't happen to these two.

You probably can't see, but there are quite a lot of new leaves growing. As always the plants don't like it when the temperature fluctuates too much. They like it warm and sunny. The sunny I provide in the way of the lamp they're under, but sadly I can't do much about the awful weather we've been having this week. We went from an ambient 14 degrees on Sunday to 1 degree on Monday and we even had snow. I have had the heating back on, but I think the plants think it's not on as it should be spring and heading for warm.

I have to say I fully agree with them!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A proud mother moment

I had a phone call this evening from No. 2 Son announcing a bit of good news. He'd been at Edinburgh Comic Con this weekend and had taken part in the Cosplay championship, where you have to dress up like a character from a comic film.

He made his costume himself of No Name from Spirited Away. And out of about 150 people, he came 3rd.

Well, ok... it's not the Nobel Prize, but it was a prize and he was super happy and therefore, so am I.

Proud? Of course I am!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Change of plans

I'm finding life with Diesel is full of doing not much at all and yet seemingly very busy.

We've been out to play with various other Guide Dog puppies, done lots of shopping (he's quite the star attraction in Boots in Galashiels and Sainsburys in Kelso. And the security guard in Asda has done quite a good job of checking our Guide Dog credentials every time we go), a bit of training and not a lot else.

I do have one funny episode to report, which is when I was trundling around Sainsburys and talking to Diesel while doing so. You know... things like, 'And now I have to get eggs and bread' and stuff like that. Well one couple were looking at me very strangely and so I said, 'I'm not talking to myself, really I'm not. I'm talking to the puppy.' And they just looked at me as though I was completely bonkers and walked off. I only realised after that, that talking 'shop' to a puppy is quite as bonkers as talking to myself. I'm going to have to curb that one before I get a reputation!

I'm in the process of writing a play for Treading The Borders, a theatre company that has got some Scottish Arts funding to stage a Noel Coward play and one by one us new writers (there's 15 of us). I signed up for the project as I thought I'd get to learn about writing for the stage (I did), but I hadn't realised I actually had to write one for an actual performance (I do). That'll teach me not to read the small print! It's still very much in the process and has to be done by 23rd May. I'm finding the constant interruptions of having to say 'no' and 'don't bite' and 'off' is not conducive for a good working session.

We did, however, have a lovely intrusion into our routine yesterday, when my friend, Shirley, came for a visit. Diesel loved having her here too and spent a lot of time on her lap on the beanbag, trying to bite her fingers. I was just relieved it wasn't mine for a change!

Diesel having a good old chew!

We're off this afternoon to Melrose Rugby Football ground for the league final. We're on the guest list. Should be fun, but not sure how long we'll be able to stay. Diesel hasn't yet learned to do anything (that doesn't involve chewing) for very long at all.

Meanwhile, my work plans for this year have changed. I was due to go for my usual stint at Chiva Som in Hua Hin, Thailand in July. It was supposed to be for 2.5 weeks. Anyhow, they asked me to change dates, which turned out not possible from my end. So instead, they've given me the whole month of June next year and, having looked into things, I've decided to completely change tack as July isn't the best time weather-wise in Thailand in July and I'm already feeling a lack of hot sunshine and certainly don't want rain on my hols if at all possible. So I'm now due to go to France and see my friends over there instead. I usually go in August, but it turns out that July is now better for us all.

Always good to have something nice to look forward to.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A new experience

Guide Dog puppies are supposed to be introduced to all kinds of different circumstances, but today was the first time, with all the puppies I've either walked or boarded, that I've taken a puppy to a funeral.

Today was the funeral of the amazing Alison Brown. She and her sister, Betty, puppy walked 98 Guide Dog puppies between them. That is a literally a lifetime's worth of service to a cause. Rather nice to know that their last puppy (from 18 months ago) is now a working dog.

There were about 10 puppies and a couple of actual Guide Dogs there. Not the easiest to negotiate singing hymns and standing and sitting at the appropriate points when you've got a 9.5 week old puppy to handle, with other dogs, children and all sorts of interesting things as distraction. But we managed it. We did have to go out once for a quick pee and I did use half a bag of treats to keep Diesel quiet, but luckily he's a squeaker not a barker, unlike a couple of other pups. One who never even made it through the door as she was barking her head off before we even started to troop into the crem.

All good experience though... and that's for both Diesel and me.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

1st class

Today was Diesel's first puppy class and, much to my amazement, he did brilliantly. However, I have no photos whatsoever as I had to concentrate on him.

When we got there it was time to play and his pals, Folly and Millie were very willing to oblige! Also there was Rose, who he's going to stay with when I'm off to Thailand in late June, and Robyn - a 15 week old gorgeous blonde lab/retriever cross. Actually, Diesel did better than Robyn did because he's got his 'down' down to a tee, whereas she was struggling a bit. I even had a proud mama moment when his recall, which is hopeless at home, was perfection.

So, all in all, I was very pleased. And when I think back to Odi and Vespa there's no comparison. Odi was a hooligan right from the off and Vespa, well at every class he disgraced himself (until the Christmas party where he actually won prizes) by doing something or other, so, having a puppy who actually did what I asked, was pretty amazing for me.

However, Vespa was really good at home and Odi, well, apart from being a hooligan, she wasn't all that bad at home, but Diesel? Well Diesel is a very, very mischievous pup. He's into everything and, when I leave him in the kitchen on his own for a few minutes, he's already off creating as much mischief as he can.

It's interesting for me, as in some ways I like a puppy who behaves well at home. But then the accolades of people when my puppy behaves well in class is a new thing for me. And frankly, I'm reveling in it... well just for now, of course, because you can never tell with a puppy. By next month Diesel might have decided that behaving in class isn't really a going thing.

Roll on next month and we'll all find out then.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Busy doing nothing

I can hardly believe that Diesel has now been with me for nearly 3 weeks. He now sits and lies down on command (unless being distracted by anything or anyone else) and walks on the lead (preferably while holding part of it in his mouth). He's actually a very good. The house training is coming on and we've had some successes and some failures, but as he's only 9 weeks old, that's to be expected. And that's the good bit.

The bad bit is, he's a biter and wants to bite everything, which includes a lot of my kitchen. So I've had to be camping out in the kitchen for much of the day while he's awake, just to supervise and shout 'NO!' quite a lot.

Consequently, I've done virtually nothing. I've written one very short poem and two pages of the 30 minute play that I'm supposed to be writing and that, folks, is about it.

We've had a couple of trips into Edinburgh and today we went to see the lovely Neymar, who I boarded just before Diesel came. They had such fun together and Diesel really enjoyed being dragged round the floor while holding on to Neymar's toy.

Now, though, Diesel is utterly exhausted and will probably spend the rest of today (and maybe tomorrow?) sleeping to make up for it all.

Such fun!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Sleepless in the Borders

My very cute Guide Dog puppy, Diesel (aged 7.5 weeks) arrived on Tuesday afternoon. He's very cute and very mischievous. He's also a chewer, so I can hardly leave him alone for a moment in case my kitchen gets eaten. I have sprayed peppermint oil all over the wooden furniture and I'm hoping that will help. Next step is spreading Vick all over it and I'd rather not do that if at all possible as Vick and eating don't go quite hand in hand!

Diesel's original name was Justin, but he was sponsored by Lothian Buses, who gave him his name. I would have thought they'd be better off calling him Go Electric. Apparently Lothian Buses sponsored 3 pups, so Diesel has Marine (after the depot at Seafield) and Buster to keep him company on his Guide Dog journey.

Our first night together was interesting. Diesel went to bed at 10.30 and I was awake waiting for him to wake up. I eventually fell asleep, but woke with a start at about 5 and there was still no noise. I was quite anxious in case something had happened to him, so went down, but no... there he was bright as anything and just fine. Me? I was exhausted!

Last night he was very sleepy all evening so I eventually gave in and put him to bed at 10. He slept until 2.30 when he squeaked. I let him out and he had a pee and then back to bed and slept through until 6.30. Me? I took about 2 hours to get back to sleep. So he's doing well and I'm still exhausted!

The bad bits: he likes to not just eat my kitchen furniture, but me too. I've already lost a handful of hair and my hands are quite sore. Those teeth are so damned sharp!

However, he now knows his name and is beginning to understand 'sit'. He's peed and poo'd (mostly) outside, so that's not too bad. And he's got into the habit of taking himself off to his bed when he's tired, which is great.

Sleeping puppy having taken himself to his bed

And he has now got his collar and Guide Dog tag on and we attempted to walk around the kitchen on the lead. I can see that he's going to make me look like an idiot in the street when we eventually get there, as distracting him from chewing the lead is a monumental task.

Diesel, complete with collar and tag, doing a good impression of a sit and wait!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Puppy free

Neymar has now gone home. It's quite nice, in some ways, to be able to tidy up and get things sorted without a very big, black presence at my heels. But then I also miss having a dog around. Those may well be famous last words as I have until Tuesday, at approximately 4 pm, until my next puppy arrives.

For a last treat, Neymar and I went to the theatre before I dropped him off at his home. We went to see Hay Fever at The Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. We were very kindly given seats in the box at the back of the stalls so he could have lots of room to lie down.

Neymar and me at the theatre.

The show was good, with lots of laughs and just the thing for a very dreary Saturday afternoon in Edinburgh.

Straight after that I took Neymar home as his folks had arrived back from their hols in the US. They were really lovely and, in spite of my protestations, gave me a rather nice candle.

This morning I've been getting things ready for the new puppy. Putting all the large toys away and getting out the teeny ones. So now the pup's bed is ready and toys are waiting. I've heard from the brood bitch's owner, who has told me my puppy is very mischievous (oh no!) and loves cuddles (oh yes!).

Now all I need to do is to enjoy my puppy free days.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Stress relief

Yesterday afternoon, as Neymar the Guide Dog puppy and I were settling down for some quiet time, my phone went.

'Are you the owner of The Mindful Consultancy website?' a very nice voiced lady asked.

'Yes,' I replied.

'Well you're in infringement of copyright.'

To say I was taken aback would be an understatement, because the person who designed the pictures for that website assured me that we could use all the pictures with no problem. I took a moment and did a couple of my instant stress management techniques and then very politely explained.

'Oh,' she said, 'well let's look.' It was then that we discovered it wasn't, but Boy, was I ever relieved!

We then had a conversation about how she could get in touch with these people. She told me she was really pleased that it wasn't me that she was going to have to deal with as I was such a nice person and she didn't want to cause me hassle.

All I could think was how lucky I was that I had stress management techniques at my finger tips, as for a moment there I was in danger of a complete freak out!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

All checked up.

Today I had to go for my six week check-up. It went really well and I've been told not to come back until next year. I also had my back checked out and I'm pleased to report that there was nothing to report.

Meanwhile Neymar and I have been having a lovely time together. He went off today for the day with another puppy walker and he had lots of fun. It's been great having him here and it's been a good thing to get me back into having a pup here. Sadly he's going a day earlier than I thought, because his puppywalker made a mistake and forgot to tell the organiser that she's coming back from the US on Saturday and not Sunday.

It'll turn out ok though, as Neymar and I are going to the theatre on Saturday afternoon to see Noel Coward's Hay Fever and I can drop him back at his home on the way back to the Borders. I shall be sad to see him go, but then I won't have long to wait until my new pup comes on Tuesday.

So now I shall just have to make the best of the next 2.5 days and enjoy his good behaviour, cos sure as eggs is eggs the new one will take a while, if ever, to become that well behaved!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

It's puppy time!

Today I headed for the Odeon Cinema at Fort Kinnaird, Edinburgh for 10.15 am. I was there as part of a Guide Dog practice for 7 Guide Dog puppies (all over 6 months old), who were there to have a cinema experience.

We sat and watched a whole raft of previews of films that are coming up over the next couple of months. All I can say is, don't bother to go to the flicks... they were all crap... unless you love killing and noise!

However, the Guide Dog pups behaved perfectly and weren't bothered at all with all the sounds and flashes coming from the screen.

And then I got to take the very handsome Neymar home with me. Neymar is 10 months old and is going to be with me for 10 days. He's an absolute delight and lovely to have around. We spent the rest of our day doing a bit of shopping and then going to have a playdate with Folly and Millie (formerly Mollie). Neymar had a ball! As did the other 2. They got on a treat. Then Neymar and I went out for a walk, had a play and now we're settling down for our first evening together.

I'd almost forgotten how lovely it is to have a puppy here, which is great considering my own puppy is coming in just 12 days time. Thank goodness I'm getting a bit of practice!

The very handsome Neymar

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A day off

Today, being my last day of being without a puppy was determined as my day off.

I went to badminton and had fun. Quite a few games with the men, which I always enjoy, and much laughter.

And this was followed by going to Older People's cinema in Galashiels.

On a Wednesday they offer a current good film for just £5 for over 60's. The cinema also throw in tea and biscuits, but that was a step too far for me, so I politely declined. One of my friends from badminton was there, along with her husband and a couple of friends, so it was rather nice to have people to sit with.

We saw Manchester By The Sea. Was it good? Yes. Did I enjoy it all? No. I felt, cinematographically, that it could have been done better, especially with the flashbacks, but all in all it was an enjoyable afternoon at the flicks.

It's been ages since I've been to the cinema and, with my new puppy coming, it's probably going to be a while until I can go again. But you never know. I could possibly persuade a Guide Dog pal to take my puppy in exchange for taking theirs so I could have a few hours respite. We'll have to see.

I'm now feeling a bit daunted with it all. Neymar (aged 10 months old) is coming tomorrow for 10 days and then I have 36 hours before my new puppy comes. I'm now wondering wtf I've done in deciding to take another one!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Change is afoot

My mother's birthday went without a hitch, I'm pleased to say. She was so tired from her recent travels to Barcelona that she managed to get up for lunch yesterday, but that was it. She was in bed for the whole of the rest of the time I was there.

My brother booked for us to go to Angler, at South Place Hotel. It's a Michelin starred restaurant and the food was superb and so were the prices... for the restaurant that is! Still it was a lovely treat including the champagne to start.

In the evening I had to go and meet up with a psychologist friend, along with another friend of hers and we ate pizza and drank wine over a 4 hour dinner. To say I was completely full up by the time I hit my bed at almost midnight is an understatement!

On Monday after I arrived in London, I went out for a lovely sushi dinner and then off to the opera. It was at the London Coliseum and was the world premiere of A Winter's Tale. It was good but not spectacular, though I think Simon Callow, who was sitting nearby, thought it was great by the 'bravos' he was shouting at the end.

Tuesday I went to a great exhibition at The National Gallery. It was about 3 Australian expressionist painters and I thought it was fab. Then off for a massage, which was even more fab, followed by dinner at one of my current favourite restaurants, Kirobuta, which was a fun evening of chat and good food.

Wednesday, prior to the birthday lunch I went to the V&A to see an exhibition about John Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard Kipling's father), which was absolutely fascinating. It's also free so if you're in London I do recommend it.

So after all that activity I'm ready for a rest. Just a shame I have work tomorrow morning, but at least after that I can relax a bit. I'm going to need it as I've been told my new Guide Dog puppy is coming on 21st March. And before that I'm boarding a pup (though he's about 10 months old), for 10 days, so things will be changing... and quite drastically... next Thursday!

Monday, 27 February 2017

And it goes on

Here's what happened:

I was parking my car outside my house, when I noticed a 4x4 parked opposite and a guy talking to my neighbour across the street. I got out and the guy said goodbye to my neighbour and looked at me and crossed over.

'Did you used to live outside of Inverness?' he asked.

'Yes,' I replied.

'Did you have a 4 x 4 that you sold me? It was a white Discovery.'

OMG! Yes, was my answer. I sold that car in 1991! I knew the guy lived near Greenlaw and, in fact, when I moved here I'd wondered a touch if the guy still lived there.

This guy, lives about 2 miles from me, where he farms. He recognised my number plate (ok, yes, I am pretentious enough to have a personalised number plate) and he'd stopped to ask my neighbour if I was around.

How strange is that?

Is the Universe trying to tell me something? And if so... what? And I wonder how many more strange situations where my past is now my present are going to come to light?

I'm now off to London and you never know... maybe more instances might unveil themselves, but in the meantime I have my mother's 94th birthday lunch to contend with, which seems to me to be far more anxiety making than anything the Universe might have in store. Or maybe that's famous last words!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

When worlds collide

Last night I was invited to a Salon Venn event run by Chris, who I'd met at The Golden Hour Goes White event I attended last year.

Chris seems to know everyone there is to know in Edinburgh - musicians, poets, artists, you name them and he most likely knows them.

He started the Salon Venn a couple of years ago as a place where artistes could come and perform and an audience could come and enjoy. No-one gets paid or pays, people just perform or listen because they want to. And he called it Salon, after the French salons that artists used to attend and Venn, after a Venn diagram.

So anyway, there I was, convinced I'd know no-one but Chris, but within seconds of my getting there Chris introduced me to Shona. And Shona, so it happens, turned out to be the woman who changed the course of my life.

Back in the late 90's I was on the Clinical Doctorate course at Edinburgh Uni and having a lot of problems one way and another and the head of the course at the time was a bit of a bastard (and that's putting it nicely!) and Shona just happened to be in the role of a mentor. I was all ready to quit as, from what I'd seen of the Clinical Psychologists on that course and their egos and all the other destructive qualities they had, I didn't want to be one. Shona told me that the only way to change the system was from the inside and I remember spending an hour with her talking about how I could do things differently. And from her words of wisdom I decided to stay on and become a Clinical Psychologist and the rest, as they say, is history.

Shona remembered me - I knew I knew her, but couldn't think where from but she was straight on the case -  she was really pleased that her words had had such an impact. What is slightly odd is that she's only in her early 50's and here I am retired. She told me I was a role model for her... what a turnaround!

Next. Another woman, who I'd actually met with Chris at The Golden Hour event, was Juliet. It turned out that her best friend is someone I'd worked with in The Highlands when I was in Child Psychology services in 1996.

And next, one of the performers, Roy (part of the duo Mount Juliet) was a guy who managed one of the services of the charity I used to be on the Board of Directors of until force of circumstances led me to quit a couple of years ago.

Then there was Ryan, who was my poetry tutor on one of my Poetry School courses. It was as though wherever I looked there were people coming out of the woodwork joining my past, my present and my future!

A rather weird and wonderful evening that ended for me at about 1 a.m., feeling that I'd was slightly drunk on a mixture of wine and life!

P.S. Oh yes, and the musicians were excellent (headlined by Mersault) as were the poets. One of the poems performed was by Jewel Mathieson called We Have Come To Be Danced, which was just brilliant. You can find it here if you're interested, though to be honest the actress who performed it last night I think performed it better than it's author.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Clothing twins

Today was my philosophy class and, after all that intensive brain work, I went off to have lunch with my friend Shirley at Jamie Oliver's in Rose Street, Edinburgh.

When Shirley turned up she had bought a lovely, very comfortable pair of boots from John Lewis, that had been £130, but had been reduced to £65 and there were 2 more pairs left in our size. So after our delicious lunch we wandered off to John Lewis so I could try a pair on.

By the time we got there, there was just one pair left. I bought them, but as I had some John Lewis vouchers to the amount of £30, my boots cost me just £35. I was very pleased.

The only problem is that Shirley is a great shopping resource. I love the things she buys and quite often have been known to go and purchase the same item. We now have to be very careful and text each other before we meet to say what we're wearing for fear of turning out like a pair of clothing twins (especially in the earring department), as that would never do!

My '£35' boots

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Great to be home

Well that was a fun week!

My course was great and very enlightening and I had lots of social things to do in the evening.

On Sunday night I went out with my dear friend, Suky. We've known each other when our firstborns were first born, so that's 32 years and we always have a great time.

Monday night was dinner out at a Chinese restaurant with friends and Tuesday was the most disastrous date ever, but also very funny. It was a blind date and lasted all of 35 minutes. We were not enchanted with each other to put it mildly!

Then on Wednesday I went to meet Charlotte, who used to be a war correspondent and now heads up a women's refugee charity making films to help them. I met her on a train back last year and we've stayed in touch. She's fascinating. However, after Tuesday's disaster it was rather nice, while I was waiting for Charlotte to appear, to be chatted up by Ramon Vega, who uses to play for Spurs back in the 80's. He was hilarious and given that I'm 20 years older than him, was also great for my self-esteem. And then Charlotte turned up so I had to leave him and his pals to it while she and I went off to chat about more serious stuff.

Thursday I went to see The English National Opera perform The Pirates of Penzance. It wasn't the best production I've seen, though I loved the set design. I don't think it was helped by sitting in the gods, in the most uncomfortable seat ever and having an inebriated elderly gent behind me, who was drinking wine all the way through and laughing in very odd places. At one stage I was worried in case he spilled his wine down my back, but at least I was spared that.

And last night I came home. I arrived back in my house at 11.20 pm and it was great to be in my own space. I think my journey back was helped by my having a free back massage whilst waiting in the First Class Lounge at Kings Cross. Virgin East Coast hire Massage Angels to come and give weary passengers a massage and I had the lovely Harriet who was great. I was very grateful.

Today I'm feeling fab. Don't ask me why as it's a windy, grey day out there, but there's something about being in my own home that just can't be beat.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Off to London

After a really lovely night last night, with sparkling Shiraz shared with friends and lot of laughs and chat, it was a great way to end my birthday.

And, so it turned out, there was a lot to celebrate on the nose front as it's really looking not bad at all. I've still got a bump on my nose where there shouldn't be one and a touch of redness, but all in all I'm pretty pleased. I'm not ready to share photos yet, but watch this space and I'll post one soon.

Today I'm off to London for a 5 day course I'm on. It's partly to do with my Qiqong work and partly just for interest. It also means that I'll be staying at my mother's house. And that means I'm going out a lot!

The only night I'm not doing something is tomorrow, but I might be able to manufacture something. In fact, I know I will, as spending more than an hour with my mother at a time is more than I can deal with.

I'll report back when I'm home again on Friday.

Friday, 10 February 2017

The end of the birthday is nigh

I had my stitches out today, though it was a touch traumatic... not for me, but for the nurse as the scab and the stitches had become one and she was a bit nervous about it all. However, as far as all concerned goes, the wound seems to be healing well and the scar has been proclaimed 'nice' by the doc.

Of course for me, all I see is a bloody great bit of red and bruising all the way down my nose, but I suppose that will go in time. Either that or I'll get used to it!

Tomorrow is the end of my birthday month. I traditionally celebrate for a month just because January is such a bad time to have a birthday and people get fed up partying after Xmas and New Year, so I extend it to enable some partying to go on. And tomorrow I have a couple of friends coming over for drinks and a catch up, one of whom had her birthday on the day after mine, so in a way it's a chance for us both to celebrate each other's birthdays.

It's also a damn good way to celebrate my stitches coming out and I shall definitely make the most out of that!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Council act

My clock tower is now bereft of all clocks.

The Borders council reps came down last Friday, along with the clock man, and took pics and hummed and hawed. The outcome of it all was that new faces were needed and they should be made of perspex, so there'll be no cracking or expanding or contracting. And more importantly the fixings won't rust.

I did ask if it would be possible to keep a clock face as a memento for the house. They agreed.

Then on Monday I got a phone call from the guy in charge at the Council to say that he wanted me to move my car immediately, just in case. And he wasn't happy at all with the fixings on the rest of the clock faces and they would have to be removed forthwith. Phone calls were exchanged and the clock man arranged to come down today and do the deed.

So now my poor clock tower is without a clock and looks a bit sorry for itself.

However, yesterday, while chatting with my neighbour and his son, they pointed out that the clock surrounds were made of brass and were quite valuable, so I should ask if I could keep all of them and see what I could get for them... in the end it might actually pay for the excess on my car if the Council don't cough up. My neighbour said I should play the 'girlie card' and express innocence in all things metal and just talk about memories.

I duly played my part and I'm now the proud owner of 3 clock faces and 3 brass surrounds. One of the faces is metal and didn't need a surround, hence there were only 3 surrounds and one of them was the guilty party in falling into my car.

I very nicely asked the guys if they'd be kind enough to put the faces and surrounds in the shed for me, as they were so heavy. As they did so the clock man said, 'but these surrounds are made from brass. They're worth something!' So I said, 'well they're mine now as they're in my shed!' and he laughed and that was that.

The clock face holes are all boarded up and the building looks slightly derelict, but hopefully it won't be too long before the new faces are made and fitted.

And at least the guy from the Council is in a happy place now that all bits and pieces that belong to them have been removed. I think he was genuinely scared that another astronomical insurance claim for mending my car might have been on its way!

The East facing clock face is on the ground and the guys are in the process of taking down the South facing face

South and East clock faces ready for their journey to my shed!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


Today was my cancer procedure.

I stayed overnight last night with my lovely friends, Shirley and Andy, who live half way between me and the hospital in Glasgow. We had a really great evening, which included wine, food and a very fancy telescope, but not necessarily in that order.

This morning it was an early start and I left just after 7 a.m. for a supposed 50 minute drive ready to arrive early (such is my habit), leaving lots of time, at 8.15 (I was supposed to be there at 8.30). I actually arrived at 9. It wasn't the best start to the day, but nevertheless, with Shirley phoning on my behalf to tell the hospital I was going to be late and then my just relaxing with the traffic jam, it all seemed to flow ok in the end.

The procedure itself took about 3.5 hours all in all and I've ended up cancer-free with 5 stitches and a lot of bruising. But at least I didn't lose half of my nose as proposed by the NHS guy. I have the stitches out in 9 days time, which will happen at my GP's and then have to go back and see the surgeon in 6 weeks.

And that, as they say, is that.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Time to go home

I fly out from Port Elizabeth to Durban this afternoon and from there to Dubai and from Dubai to Glasgow. I should arrive on Friday at some point in the afternoon and am getting chauffered from there to my house to see what awaits there after the clock debacle.

The insurance company has already arranged for me to pick up a hire car, but I have to get to the garage before 5 otherwise it'll be Monday before I can be out and about on the road. I'm keeping everything crossed that things will work.

I had a fabulous weekend. The time with friends at the ocean was particularly spectacular

The view from my deckchair


We spent about 3 hours there all in all. Good company and swimming in the sea, what more could I ask for? That was followed by an extremely jovial braii, so a real fun day.

The last few days have been peppered with walking about, being out in the sun and still more reading. A thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing time.

Tracy and I went out for our last dinner together on Tuesday night as Mel (who I'd been with at the ocean) wanted to come for a last night dinner. So last night the 3 of us went to a lovely sushi place and had a great time.

And that's it! Time for holiday to end and get back to a cold and dark Scotland! However, one of my friends who I went walking on the beach with yesterday morning has said that she and her husband want to spend a Christmas in the UK. Well we got talking and thought about a house swap. So who knows? Maybe, just maybe, at some time in the future, I'll be back here in PE for some more delight in the sun.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Only a few days left

Here I am with just 5 days to go before I head home. It feels a bit surreal to be in the wonderful sunshine and spending my days in shorts and a vest top when I know I'll be back in thick sweaters, socks and furry lined boots all too soon.

I've had the most wonderful, restful holiday. Spent my time walking, swimming, being sociable, eating, drinking and reading. Lots and lots of reading.

Today we're heading out for lunch with a friend and to spend the afternoon with more of the same. Tomorrow I go to the beach with other friends followed by braii (SA bbq) and wine and quite frankly I can't remember what I'm doing on Monday.

One of the things we have arranged to do is go to our favourite restaurant on Wednesday, my last night. It's a lovely place down by the ocean called La Kouzina, which I highly recommend if you're over here. They do a really great line in cocktails and delicious sushi. I've been twice so far and the margaritas are just wonderful, though did make a slight error last time and had 2!

We also went to a night market, which was fab. You choose the food you want from quite an array. I started with a potato cake smothered in grilled veg and followed it up with a fish taco... yum!

Will probably do one more post before I leave, so watch out for that one.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Another freak accident

I'm not superstitious but...

On Friday 13th my day started with me spilling a whole cup of very strong coffee all over the neutral coloured carpet in my bedroom. Not the best start to the day, but I did manage to clean it up and then go and buy some white vinegar and mix it with soap and water and get the stain out. It took quite a while.

Then, there I was checking on emails when I suddenly got one from the garage I'd bought my car at. My next door neighbour had taken my car there because... and get this as a completely freak accident... one of the clock faces on the clock tower of my house had fallen off and smashed through the back window of my car, denting the roof, boot and sides of my car on the way. Would you ever credit it?

Luckily no-one was hurt and my car was placed under wraps, away from snow, ice and prying eyes to await insurance people coming to get it.

Then it necessitated my getting in touch with my insurance company. Great, I thought, I can fill out the online application form and get the process started. But no... nothing could be that simple. The form demanded I put a driver on the form and it couldn't be me, as the only way to claim for this strange twist of fate was to tick a particular box on the form, but then it wouldn't accept me as the driver. Frustrating or what?

In the end I found out (thanks to Tracy) that I could use Skype as a phone if I put some money on it and phone the UK for 4p per minute. I never knew that and it's one of the most useful things I've discovered.

So then it was a long winded call to my insurance company that cost me all of 80p and now my car is going to get sorted. 

There are problems though - when is anything simple? - as the clock is officially the property of Scottish Borders Council (my neighbour did phone them and tell them what had happened) and one of it's faces is currently residing, smashed to bits, in the boot of my car. However, the insurance company will be claiming from the Council. How much do you bet that SBC don't pay out? Then of course, that means that officially the car will have 'fault' on my policy, which means that my no claims bonus is stuffed.

Oh well... nothing I can do. But it does make me aware how grateful I am to have such lovely neighbours (I always leave my car keys with them when I'm away so the car can be started now and again to keep the battery ok) who took my car off the street and got in touch with the Council on my behalf. Also the guy at the garage who emailed me pics and told me not to worry and enjoy the rest of my holiday as it was only metal and glass that was damaged. And finally, that no-one was in the car at the time or that anyone was passing... that would've been a completely different kettle of fish.

The clock stuff will get sorted, but it is interesting that the clock man had been round to repair it just a couple of weeks ago, so maybe the Council will point the finger at him? Who knows?

The clock face in happier times being fixed last summer

The same clock face now residing in the back of my car!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

65 + 1 day

Yesterday was my 65th birthday and was amazing.

We started the day at 7 am and set out for Adrenalin Addo. When we got there it was on with the gear and climbing up the hillside to the top so we could zip wire down. The views were incredible (as was the flora). I had made the decision on rising that I wouldn't take my camera. I just wanted to experience the day firsthand without having to resort to taking pics too. Tracy, however, had other thoughts and she took hers, determined that I'd have some photos to remember the day with.

Getting ready for action
About to let go!

The experience was exhilerating, but also a bit weird as I ended up going down backwards for pretty much all of it. Not seeing where I was going added another dimension to the whole experience!

After that we headed for the swing. You get put in a harness and pulled up into the sky and then they just let go. It was terrifying and that's all I'm going to say about it!

Smiling here!

I wasn't smiling here!

After a sit down and recovery from the action we were given our paddles and canoe and off we went down the Sundays River. It was so beautiful. It's been years since I canoed and I really enjoyed this part of the day. So much so, we did the course (2km) and decided to do it again.

Paddling down the Sundays River. Fab!

We sat about in the cool after our exertions and made the decision to go to Addo Elephant National Park... one of my favourite places... for the rest of the day.

And so there we were, driving round the reserve on the lookout for wild animals. It was a very hot day and was about midday when we got there, so not the best for animal spotting... you'd think. However, not long after we got there we saw a buffalo sitting in one of the mud pools, followed by some kudu, springbok, zebra and a lone ele. And then we saw a whole lot of vehicles lining up at the side of the road. We went to investigate. When it came to our turn there was a giant lion's paw just peeking out from the bush. I could see his mane moving with his breath. I've never seen a lion at Addo before and ok, I didn't actually see a whole one this time, but it was thrilling nevertheless.

We headed off after that and saw a jackal in the scrub, who was just standing watching us. I've only seen one of these at night, so it was another thrill.

Finally we came upon a wonderful scene. Many ele families all at a waterhole. Tracy turned the engine off and we sat for about an hour just watching the interactions of the large bulls, seemingly telling their herds what to do, the docile females guarding their gorgeous babies and the naughty boys off playing in the water and acting in, what can only be described, as hooligan behaviour. So wonderful to see.

One naughty boy getting out of the pool

Looking for trouble!

Daddy standing guard

C'mon in ... I dare you!

On our way to the exit we came across a lone ostrich.

All alone

and a lovely warthog and her teeny tiny baby

So cute!

And at the final waterhole before the exit we'd chosen to leave by we saw another small herd of eles, together with warthog and zebra with a this year's foal. A fitting end to our Addo experience.

At the waterhole

What a lovely foal!

From there it was back to Port Elizabeth and after a brief swim in the pool, time to get ready for dinner. We went to a sea food restaurant and I had delicious grilled king prawns and a glass of wine and then realised how exhausted we were.

We got home and I collapsed into my bed with all the wonderful memories of my 65th swimming round my head.

A truly memorable birthday!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Tales from South Africa

I got here, to Port Elizabeth, eventually. It was a long 24+ hours of flying and waiting for flights in various airports. But the sun has been shining and it's been great to be back.

It was touch and go though as about 10 minutes before I left my house for the airport I had a phone call from one of the people who check my mother's house. My mother had fallen in the night and was refusing to go to the hospital or the GP. I'm very sorry to say that I phoned my brother and let him handle it all. I needed to be away and she was ok, if a bit shaken. I heard later that she was fine and just a bit sore. Not the best start to my get away from it all trip.

So... South Africa:

On Saturday morning I had to get up at 5 to get to the Secret Sunrise event that Tracy had booked for me to attend. It was a fun hour of meditation, dancing and visualisation with approximately 99 other people. We wore headsets so no one passing could hear what was being said, which must've looked pretty odd for those passing by. And we did indeed get some very strange looks. It was fun though. Tracy (who didn't want to attend as she doesn't like crowds) took her dog, Senge, for a walk and came back to pick me up. Apparently some people passing were asking her if it was a religious thing! No it wasn't!!


After that though, it was time for me to collapse. I hadn't quite realised how much the traveling had taken out of me, so I spent the day in recovery and felt great when I got up on Sunday morning.

Sunday morning was another early start. This time it was for a walk along the Indian Ocean. It was supposed to be for a couple of hours, but Tracy's lovely friend Mel and her 2 girls, Holly and Claire came along too. Claire (who's 11) declared, after about 45 minutes, that she'd had enough. We sat for a while and then headed back. And then, sadly, Tracy was taken ill for the rest of the day, so I sat by the pool and read my book and ate good food and that was that.

Mel, Claire, Holly (with Jason) and me walking on the beach by the Indian Ocean

Yesterday Tracy was still not 100%, so I had another laid back day floating in the pool, sunning myself, going for a short walk and generally having some downtime, which was great.

Today Tracy is back to normal. It was something she ate she thinks. We have some shopping to do and getting ourselves together before tomorrow... the 'big day' when I turn 65 and go zip wiring on the longest double zip wire in Africa, canoeing and swinging at Addo Adrenalin Rush, which is Tracy's birthday present to me. For her 40th in 2015 we went skydiving, so in some ways this will small potatoes... but I'll let you know!