Monday, 31 July 2017

The end

Well here we are, at the end. 1000 posts!

When I started this blog on 6th February 2010 it was all about the coffee plants, but of course since then, it has been about so much more than that. So much has changed... apart in some ways from the coffee plants themselves. They are still growing very slowly, no flowers, no beans and certainly no cup of coffee will be had for many, many years to come... if ever.

Among other things:

I got divorced and, in spite of my ex-husband having said he wanted to leave he thought he could still live in the house, I kicked him out. I found his idea of being a Buddhist included lying, stealing and cheating was hard to take and wasn't exactly what I thought Buddhism was about. My abiding memory is of when I challenged him about it  - i.e. the principles of Buddhism are right mind, right thought, right action, how could he call himself a Buddhist? And his answer?  - 'I never said I was a good Buddhist'. Well, it made me laugh!

I've also had the pleasure of training 3 Guide Dog puppies and boarded a whole lot more. It's been wonderful to have had the privilege of being part of something that I truly believe changes people's lives. And it's also  great that the people who've ended up with Odi and Vespa are still in touch with me, giving me updates about their exploits and how they're getting on. I do hope that Diesel can do well. That has to be seen, but as he's only 6 months old there's a long way to go.

I've travelled to Thailand, Bhutan, Nepal, South Africa, Australia and France (a couple just once, but most several times) and hopefully there'll be more travel to come. I'm off to Thailand in a couple of months for my annual stint there and have been invited to go back next year. I'm hopeful that the place in China that invited me will be open soon and I can go there in 2018, as well as work I've been offered in New Zealand. Lots of fun to be had methinks!

I've been through an earthquake and come out the other side, feeling blessed and lucky. Also, in a bizarre way, it was good to go through something that momentous, but that comes from the privilege of being able to leave Nepal and not have to live there to see the devastation to the economy and what's happened since. My friends there have all tried to leave to make new lives elsewhere. That does make me feel very lucky that I don't have to do that to live well.

I've published 2 books and had quite a few poems published. I've also written a play, a fact that I'm very proud of myself for doing, even if it wasn't exactly Shakespeare and won't win prizes. 

I've had a few dates since divorcing, but nothing much to write home about. In some ways I feel I'm better off on my own, though strangely I have actually met someone recently, but we're playing it gently and I'll have to see how that develops. You never know, but I'm quite happy with things the way they are. 

I've also been to Holy Isle, off Arran 8 times since I started this blog and I'm due to head off there tomorrow for my annual retreat, so I feel this is a fitting end to this blog.

So all that remains is for me to thank you for staying with me on this journey. And I thought it fitting to finish with a picture of my coffee plants, which are doing pretty well... for them. Still growing, still shedding leaves, still demanding light and water and still nothing to show for it!

Wishing you well.


Saturday, 29 July 2017

The penultimate post

Diesel and I have had a busy weekend so far.

Yesterday we went to the Border Union Show, to walk around, take in the sights and find out where the Guide Dog tent was, as we were due there today to do our bit. That last took some doing! It took me about half an hour to find it!

I've always had a fondness for agricultural shows as I love to see animals at their best and it's a fab place to people watch. Anyway, we found the Guide Dog tent and also Diesel's pal, Millie, who was there helping fundraise. Of course Diesel couldn't understand why it wasn't playtime. But, after a severe telling off, he eventually caught on that he and Millie wouldn't be playing and his job was to stand around and be petted. He wasn't all that happy at the no play situation, but loved being petted.

One of the lovely things about having a Guide Dog puppy is that I get to go places for free and the Border Union Show is no exception. They even allowed me to park for free! And today was the same, free parking and free entry.

We arrived in good time to walk around the show this morning, tasting lovely food and drink before our work stint began. I bought some delicious olives and marinated garlic... yum!

Then we got to the Guide Dog tent and I have to say that Diesel behaved really well. I'm so pleased we went yesterday as he knew what to expect. He enjoyed being petted by all and sundry, though I did have to warn children who were carrying toys to put them out of reach, as Diesel is very fond of soft, fluffy toys.

One thing that did piss me off a bit is how some people with dogs just don't get the Guide Dog thing about not letting their dogs say hello. Diesel has to learn not to interact with dogs in public places and that only happens because we train them to ignore other dogs. The amount of folk who actively encouraged their dogs to come and sniff Diesel was extraordinary. I was very patient and polite, though what was going on in my head was probably not repeatable!

Diesel and me doing our bit

After we'd been at the show for 3 hours, I decided Diesel had had enough. We came home and he immediately went to sleep for the rest of the afternoon.

It's a hard life but someone has to do it!

Sometimes, being petted and being nice to everyone is very hard work... and that's just Diesel... I found it hard too... not being petted obviously, but being nice to people for 3 solid hours was enough to drive me demented. Luckily I have wine and my nice olives to help me relax and enjoy my evening!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Birthday boy

Today, Diesel is 6 months old!

He went from this:

Diesel at 7.5 weeks

To this:

Diesel at 6 months

I can hardly believe how much he's grown. And... he still has a whole lot more growing to do!

To celebrate we went into Edinburgh to meet up with Shirley at Jamie Oliver's for lunch, which was lovely and Diesel behaved well. He did have a rather large, disgusting chew to keep him occupied though.

From there we did a quick call in to my 80 year old friend Pat, who's someone I met through poetry classes. Very sadly she has colon cancer and is in the final stage of her life. She was very tired so we didn't stay long, which I think her cat was very relieved by, as she went and sat out in the garden while we were there and wouldn't contemplate coming closer.

And so now we're home and I'm having a glass of wine to celebrate on Diesel's behalf, while he chews on a cheese and marmite filled bone. I think we're both pretty happy.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

A true champion

In 2010 a 14 year old girl from my village in the Scottish Borders had a freak accident, when she was accidentally crushed under the beam of a forklift truck. She broke her back and was paralysed from the waist down.

Today, she wheeled her way into the village for, what she thought, was a quick drink at the pub and she was met with a wall of villagers who had put out the flags, hired a piper all to welcome her back home.


Sammi Kinghorn is a double world paralympic champion. She won 2 golds and a bronze at the paralympic world championships in London.

All the kids were out waving their flags, having spent the last 24 hours putting up bunting and signs for her.  Everyone I spoke to thinks Sammi is wonderful and they all want to be like her, no matter that she's in a wheelchair. For kids today (and I'm talking all age groups here) to look up to someone who can't walk, is really something.

She really is a true inspiration. 

The village making it's prep

Sammi Kinghorn coming down the road completely unaware of everything round the corner

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A moment of confusion

There I was in Costco today, when I spied a pair of Skechers for the knockdown price of £19.99. I love Skechers and have a couple of pairs, but not like these. So I made Diesel sit while I tried them on.

My shoe size is 6.5 so that's the shoe size I tried on. But wtf? Not just small, but way too small. I do know that sometimes different styles demand a half size up or down, but this was ridiculous.

I took a size 7. But no, that was too small too.

A 7.5? No. Have my feet grown that much?

And by this time Diesel was getting very antsy, so I was almost going to give up when a very lovely woman, who was also trying some on, said, 'You do know these are in American sizes and therefore you'll need to go up by 2 compared to UK?' No, I definitely didn't!

We both had a laugh and much to Diesel's relief the size 8's were a perfect fit. 

When I got to the checkout the woman before me had also bought some. However the checkout person said, 'Are you sure you've got the right size? They're American sizes.' No she didn't, so at least I wasn't the only one!

Poor Diesel had another 5 minutes of boredom while we waited for the woman to go get the right size.

However, it was all worth while, for me at least. I don't think Diesel was impressed at all!

Lovely new shoes!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Back to work?

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day weather-wise, which was a bit of a shame as I had to spend most of the morning in my solicitor's office in Edinburgh sorting out some legal bits and pieces.

I also got to check in with my sons, which was a nice interlude, and they couldn't believe how much Diesel had grown. He had a lovely time with them as he just adores people who sit in the floor as it gives him access to their hair and ears, which is a definite favourite of his!

Then it was back home to get on with things, but as I'd been warned that the weather was going to turn today, I decided on a late walk in the woods and down the old railway line. It was wonderful out there.

The old railway line looking fab on a beautiful sunny day

I'm so pleased we did this yesterday as today is as dull as dull and it feels decidedly stormy out there. I managed to get a walk in this morning though, as the rain hasn't hit yet, but I don't think it'll be long now.

Diesel and I have a lunch with a friend in Galashiels to go to, which will occupy us for some of the day, but then there really is no excuse and I'll have to get down to doing some work. I've managed to avoid it since getting home, saying to myself 'well I'll just have Sunday off' and that seems to have morphed into up to today, so have quite a bit to catch up with.

I wish I was still on holiday!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Back to normal

I picked up Diesel yesterday morning and he's grown so much in 2 weeks.

What a big puppy!

It's hard to believe that he's only 5 and a half months old. He was very pleased to see me, but had had a lovely time with his pal, Rose and had been well behaved, which was a relief to hear. I think he was a bit disappointed that Rose couldn't come back with us.

We got home in time to go for a quick shop and then settle down in front of the telly for the last day of Wimbledon. I was so pleased Federer won, but the match itself was a bit disappointing. I was very sad for Cilic as it must be so hard to play badly in a final of such magnitude and seeing him break down in tears part way through was uncomfortable viewing to say the least. Anyway, that's Wimbledone now and roll on the US Open.

Today has been spent out in the sunshine meeting up with friends and their dogs. Diesel had a great afternoon playing with his pals Folly and Millie in a paddling pool. I might even have to fork out and get one for him as he had such fun. The other two weren't so keen on the water and would only go in to retrieve toys, whereas Diesel was like I remember my boys when they were small, in and out, in and out, jumping all about.

So that's us. Settling back into our normal routine. I have a couple of weeks before I head off again, this time to facilitate my annual retreat on Holy Isle off Arran. I think Diesel will be a bit disappointed as he's going to stay with Freda, who doesn't have another dog, but it might do him good to be on his own as I think Rose taught him a few tricks while he was with her e.g. rolling in horrible things and going upstairs for starters and I could well do without any more of that kind of nonsense!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Adventures away from home

I had, what can only be described as, a surreal time both in London and in France.

It all started when I was in London before going off to France for my hols. There I was, having come in from dinner out at my favourite Japanese restaurant and I was watching tv in the back room off my mother's kitchen, when I suddenly heard her coming down. I was drinking bottled water, which she hates with a vengeance (don't ask me) and I just felt I couldn't face her at that moment, so I went and hid in the bathroom, just about remembering to take the evidence with me.

So there I was, sitting on the edge of the bath, in the dark and my mother actually came into the back room. At this point it did occur to me that, if she ventured into the bathroom, I would have little explanation as to what I was doing sitting in a dark bathroom with a 2 litre bottle of water on my lap, when she went off. But then 5 minutes later she came down again. I'm really sorry to say that I hid again. Held my breath again. And luckily she went out without seeing me.

Ok, well I realise how ridiculous this all must sound to you. It even sounds totally ridiculous to me, but it was also incredibly funny/sad/surreal all at the same time. And yes... before you ask... I am 65 not 15, but some things just don't seem to change!

Then France. It just so happened that a very old friend, who's recently bereaved, turned up and the two of us had a lot of laughs together. However, at one time I was almost convinced I was in a Fellini film it was so bizarre and I think that's pretty much all I'm going to say about that.

I did, however, get to see some adorable puppies, buy a couple of lovely tops in the local market, spend time with my friends and their Great Danes, muck out stables, drink a lot of wine and put the world to rights with deep, meaningful conversations that went on far into the night. I ended up getting back to London feeling exhausted.

Clarence the Great Dane relaxing!

2 of the 5 adorable Dogue de Bordeaux puppies

9 English Mastiff puppies having lunch!

Sara with one of the Dogue de Bordeaux pups

One of the English Mastiff pups

Sara with Jaconde, the English Mastiff mum

Instead of going back the way I came (on the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen),  I accepted a ride in a car and a trip on the Eurotunnel. I've never done that before and, apart from losing our way by not getting off at the right exit at Calais and hitting the M25 at the wrong time when we got to the UK, it was pretty uneventful. It was great to have someone to chat to instead of a 7 hour ferry crossing on my own and we went for dinner in Uxbridge (yeah, well someone has to!) before I got on a bus and got to my mother's house with no problem at all.

Yesterday I took myself off to the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A. You must go if you get the chance. I danced my way round the exhibition and had a great time.

A fantastic stained glass window from The Dark Side Of The Moon album cover

One of the Floyd exhibits

I then spent the afternoon watching Wimbledon with my mother, who insisted on having the subtitles on (another don't ask me) and talking all the way through, before heading out for a final dinner in London before I head home this morning.

I'm looking forward to getting home and relaxing and, of course, seeing Diesel, who I'm off to fetch tomorrow morning. I'm sure he'll have grown since I left him 2 weeks ago.

And finally, I got an email the day before yesterday from the wife of the guy who has Vespa and it was just great to see him looking like the happy dog I remember.

Vespa looking gorgeous

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Winning the lottery!

They say 'be careful what you wish for'.... well on Friday I decided to buy a lottery ticket and this isn't something I do very often, but hey... I was feeling lucky. I didn't even realise there was an £87,570,000 prize fund, but imagine my surprise when yesterday I received an email to tell me I was a lucky winner.

I won! No... not £87,570,000 but £3.10! A winner yes, but maybe not quite as much as I was hoping for!

Also on Friday Diesel passed a new Guide Dog milestone, as his brand new Guide Dog Puppy In Training jacket arrived in the post. And he looks very handsome in it.
Diesel modelling his new jacket

It was slightly marred yesterday when we went to a garden centre in Edinburgh and some complete dipstick came charging towards Diesel with his hand outstretched. When I said he was actually in training to work he said, 'Oh. I thought the blue jacket meant they weren't working.' I can't tell you what I really wanted to say to him as I don't think it's repeatable in a public forum, but, because when we're out with our pups we're representatives of Guide Dogs and therefore have to be super polite, I managed a smile and told him he was wrong.

I'm now getting ready for my annual jolly to France to spend time with my friends in Normandy. I'm really looking forward to it and, of course, I will no doubt be spending my lottery winnings. Oh. I've just realised, I've already spent it on an avocado pear, some grapes and bread. Never mind... money isn't everything!