Friday, 16 January 2009

Honestly, I'll get better at this blogging lark.

Since we last met many days ago much has occurred.

1. The drains have been fixed (finally) .. did I already mention?
2. The chimney sweep has swept everything.
3.RF and Wheeler and MiniMe came up to ours on Friday and we ate much, talked much, then headed north (and I mean, North) the next morning to fair Brora (a lot North of Inverness, and a little south of Wick) for a whimsical w/end.

This whimsey occurred as TheO said one day: "Do you want to go to Wick, I'd like to see a motorbike there." Me, with my new attitude of saying 'Yes' instead of, 'Oh no, I couldn't possibly I need to tidy something and make sure the books are aligned properly', said "Yes!"(More evidence of that new strategy later.). She then got on t'internet and we eventually found us somewhere to stay (any site that popped up playing 'Scottish Music' was instantly closed, as was any hotel swathed in tartan, or anywhere that just looked shite - and my god, there were a lot of those.).

This whimsey led to excellent walks on a lovely beach (cue happy dogs), a pool to play in (cue happy everyone), mountain biking (cue happy but muddy TheO, Wheeler, MiniMe)... oh and some people went off and looked at a bike. RF summed the bike expedition up nicely by asking of the bike: "what colours does it come in?" Got to love a girl cutting to the chase on that one.

4.Since getting back I have discovered that due to idiots at Amazon refusing to deliver a particular item to a Scottish Island I have lost all my Auntie/Godmutha points as Wrecker therefore lacked a bday gift. I think he might not realise, but his mother will. Eeeek.

5.I have also run 4 miles (in the gym as I am lazy and only get round to running when it's getting dark and love the sauna afterwards) in what I thought was my fastest ever time (35.03) only to get back and be sadly mistaken. Ah well, it was still 4 sub-9-min miles on the trot (all at 1%) so I'm still pleased.

6.Ordered some new trainers - just new versions of my old ones and discovered that they've changed them sooo much that they no longer fit my feet. I am heart broken. I now have to go to a running shop and go through the whole process again. Damn. It is both dull and fraught with the possibility of expensive mistakes.

7. GONE SHOPPING. Oh yes, the proper kind of shopping. Not a trip to Tescos shopping. But shiny things in shiny bags from shop assistants with asymetric hair and 'edgy' clothes. This is where my saying 'yes' leads me.

Now I will admit that saying 'yes' to shopping is not a leap, not even for me. But I am not good without planning. Today TheO asked over breakfast if I wanted to go into the delightful Edinburgh and exchange my Christmas present (it was lovely, but not something I was going to use). I brushed myself up (wearing an outfit, rather than clothes, I've heard tell that people in urban areas do that sort of thing) for fear of looking in changing room mirrors and despairing at every glance, and we headed into town.

Man am I glad I said 'yes' to that trip. I am now the proud owner of some truly fabulous items. So fabulous and so wonderful some cannot be discussed (as I will unveil one for my bday). But others so perfect for me that I sit in a pool of wonder and delight right now. (That sounds both suspicious and more disgusting than I originally intended.)

A great cotton print dress that is both stylish and relaxed.
A fab top/jumper/garment that flows and hides flaws whilst being a little edgier than your average jumper/top/garment.
The unspoken of wonderfulness!
A brilliant green (and by this I do mean bright-fuckoff-green) aline mac.
My Christmas present swap of a lovely leather box for my desk which holds all the various cards I use to write to people.
I am very much Christmased and Birthdayed to the max. :-)

We also managed to fit in a coffee and some antipasto snacks in a rooftop cafe. It really was a day that filled my idea of perfection.

Tomorrow night we have the neighbours coming round for supper. Something else I said yes too (albeit with slight reluctance as I am really a shy recluse at heart).

And on one final note, after trying on lots (and lots) of clothes today I think that despite some evidence I might be a (worse case senario) apple, or (more realistically) a brick, I think I'm really a goblet*. Well, in my heart I'm a goblet and if I pretend I am, then I can, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn 'Make it Work'.**

*For all those who finally think I've lost the plot a £2.81 hard back copy of Trinny & Suzanna's (evil, evil women who think that a man talking to your tits is acceptable as then you've managed to 'make the best of yourself') Body Shape Bible appeared in our house (courtesy of Amazon and the Postman) and I perused it with too much interest.
**Please tell me I'm not the only viewer of Project Catwalk.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

2008 - a review

Thank god for the BIG things that happened in 2008 'cos otherwise it was a fairly unremarkable year.

In order of events: Marathon, Married, Moved. (And they even alliterate, how thoughtful.)

Marathon etc:
This means that early (cough... first 6 months) 2008 involved a lot of running. Also my first ever proper Trade Show and an Art Show @ Edinburgh Art School. But man alive, there was a lot of running. Oooo - got to start that again soon. Luckily the running was worth it and the marathon experience was nothing but positive. So positive I've already signed-up for the next Edinburgh marathon.

Well, as my faithful reader will know this was bloody marvellous. Probably the best days of my life. Still damn happy about the whole shebang. And still loving all the wonderful nedding presents that we use every day. I could go on more about the fabulousness of TheO but the British in me knows it would only get embarrassing.

A long and protracted process which I am delighted is over. Bears comparison to child-birth. You know it's going to be hideous but nothing really prepares you for the raw physicality when it actually does. (Esp if you move everything yourselves. A process that now I can take some pride in - but at the time was murderous.)

Moving also makes you reassess your life in terms of possessions. I love possessions. I love my 'stuff'. But even though over the last 5 years I've really got to grips with my love/compulsion of buying and spending; there was a lot of crap to throw out/recycle. Even today whenever I open a box (only 84 still to go) I find more stuff I don't need or want.

I think now, that 30 (more of that soon) may be the time when I really start to think even more carefully about what I buy. I have a passion for luxury. You just have to be prepared to have less stuff, but stuff that's better quality. I'd rather have one lovely cashmere jumper that I wear to death than 4 different ones from Next. (Current jumper being sported has mended holes and 2 paint stripes across the back - hell, if I can't see them I don't care so much ... that attitude also runs to my arse!)

Now things are finally a little more settled. Our old house was sold with little fuss and I've just spent the day unpacking most of the bits and pieces from my study so my desk is now set up and I'm typing in comfort rather than perched on a chair with my nose practically pressed up against the screen as my hands cramp from the keyboard being at a weird angle. The simplest form of bliss.

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TheO also had a busy year where she increased her talents by becoming a trained massage therapist. Genius! She passed her exams with flying colours (96%) and is ready to "heal" for 2009.
Another aspect of this massage malarkey was that her case studies had a knock-on effect for me. I got to spend some quality time with our friends in much smaller number. It made me appreciate the power of a good chat and some food made in company and eaten at leisure. Sometimes all you need with people is time, then you have a proper chat and some good quality catch-up.

With friends in mind I was also delighted to discover quite how well our friends know us. Their planning of the HAG w/end echoed our plans for the nedding so perfectly (damn them) it was almost spooky. Bless em and their fiendish ways.

I don't know what 2009 holds. I love that. After such a busy year with so many plans it seems great to have a few things sketched into the future (that pesky marathon keeps lurking) but nothing too definite. TheO is fixed on more travel and I need to work more (not the most compatible of pairings but we always work it out). I'd also like to get the house *finished*. I know all those who have ever moved into a 'project' house are laughing now. I know we'll never really be finished, but I'd like to get the first stages of work done - the things we planned before moving in, that would be nice.

There will also (all things being right) be our first CheeseBoard baby. An event that makes me so delighted I can hardly contain myself. So delighted I think the actual parents might like me to contain myself a little more. Hell, if we can't breed it's great that people I love dearly are prepared to have some little mini-them running around.

As with 90% of the Western world I also intend to reach a healthy weight this year. I'm a little pissed off that I didn't manage it by 30. I still could ... but only if I didn't have 28lb to lose and 17 days before the bell tolls. Ah well, as with all goals that are not quite achieved - I'll make sure I do it within the year in which I'm 30, like running a 10K and making sure I do it within the hour (and yes, 60:43 does - sort of - count!).

My only concern is that 29 and correspondingly 2008 was such a great year (one I really can look back with true gratefulness) that I'm not sure 30 and 2009 can top it. However I also know that as with everything in life you really do only get out what you put in.

(Unless it's food, then using that philosophy will only end in tears.)

Saturday, 3 January 2009

The giant catch-up - get a coffe and come back.

It's been a while folks. But I am back. At home. With no additional guests. I'm going to try and give you the high/low lights of the last 3 weeks as fast as possible. Life seems to be either puttering along at a very sedate pace or manic. Maybe that's just us; or maybe that's just the Crimbo time.

13/14 Dec: It's Islander's birthday and MaYa is intent to throw a full-on kids bday party with cake, balloons, pass-the-parcel, she gave birth less than 24h before but the manic state induced by birth gives her the energy to not only prepare gifts, but shop and make cakes too. A fine time was had by all. And we managed to hold off on the kids food so enjoyed a lovely adults supper at dinner time. Excellent roast beef and champagne.

During their stay the delightful nephews also managed to get red play-doh on the cream rug in the nice 'grown-up sitting room'. Also projectile vomited onto said rug. Joy. Got to love the predictability of a cream rug and small children.

The drains did indeed get fixed - thank god - but I showed a severe lack of knowledge about our access points and now I need the nice drain dudes to return and fix the rest of it. And it's new year, so I've had to wait...

17th Dec: All family (including BroinLaw who popped up for a flying visit to see Jr) leave in a flurry of things forgotten.

18th Dec: We do all our xmas shopping at top pace. Even going into E'burgh to have tea with Blarney and meet Expat for a lovely steak. It was good to catch-up and all too brief.

19th Dec: Tigger and Badger arrive that eve. I make manic call to HH as I bought the perfik gift for RF then lost it - no really, just gone. Luckily HH went and bought me another. That was quite a moment. I still don't know how it happened. I just hope whomever has it loves it, and wears it. Buggers

20th Dec: Quickest trip to the Bridge to see my would-be god mother. She makes amazing xmas food as presents every year. I'd very unsubtly told her that there would be lots of us for xmas - she did me proud. Amazing pies, cakes, puddings, and biscuits - everyone was delighted.

We then hightailed it to do the world's largest tesco shop (again). A giant family size trolley and we were still carrying the rest of it to the till. Finally we got everything packed into the car - including presents, dogs, sledges, guitar, food ... it seemed like we'd be set for any eventuality.

Arrived at our holiday house to discover it was a thing of wonder. Huge, warm, welcoming and nice enough to be a real holiday but not so prissy you worried about coasters and if your dogs were going to destroy e/thing.

All set to do too much eating for 7 days straight.

22nd Dec: Took a huge walk up Ben-y-vrackie. Not the final peak but the rest of it. It was stunning and a great dog walk. We all felt truly energised and managed to enjoy all the food at the excellent Moulin Inn.

23rd Dec: Went for a random rambling run with hills. Eek. Manged to get through 5K in 34min. Both RF and I were just happy to get the trainers on and enjoy a really perfect winters day.

24th Dec: Really lovely day making stuff in xmas preparation. Sauces. A terrible angel cake. So bad we remade it. And therefore had another terrible angel cake. Luckily all else was a great success. HH and Balrney did masses and were in fine spirits all day. TheO, Teech, Spartan and RF went skiing and had a marvellous time.

25th Dec: Excellent loot and the best xmas food ever. It was a spectacular day and getting into Black Tie was a stroke of genius. I loved every minute, even if I am shit at sardines. Really, really shit.

26th Dec: A lovely 3-ish mile walk along the Cateran trail with some happy dogs and a chatty RF. Spartan and Blarney did their best to get lost but eventually found us and got a glimpse of the far mountains covered in snow and mist beginning to fill the valley. Excellent boxing day shenanigans.

27th Dec: We made light work of packing up and were efficient as all get-out. However when splitting up the left over food and booze we discovered that we had planned and bought food and drink as if we were 21. Apparently all we drink is a wee gin and tonic of an evening and a few glasses of wine. It was almost embarrassing how much we had neglected to devour.

28th Dec: After a nice relaxing evening at home we made it into town to get TheO's xmas watch adjusted. She looked at the others and eventually chose the one I had picked out. But her eyes did light up at a far dressier watch too. She deserves surprises and great gifts as she's always so thoughtful and fantastic to me (huuuuurl) so I asked the assistant to put that one aside so I could collect it the following day. A very exciting thought.

29th Dec: TheO was horribly ill with 'the cold' that has swept through all of us. She felt miserable and just needed to curl up. I popped into town to get her xmas watch adjusted (luckily a great excuse to head in) and do some shopping. I managed to find a great little black evening bag to pop her new watch into and give as a surprise. She'd hated one of my gifts at friends xmas so I'd taken it back (necklace - wooden, chunky - apparently everything she's not fond of, who knew; we've only been together 10 years - you think I'd have noticed); this also gave an excellent ruse to then get her another gift all wrapped up to cheer her up at home.

One of my best memories is her opening the bag and taking out the watch, then suddenly realising that it was the watch that she'd seen the day before. She did squeel and couldn't believe it. Her reaction was everything I could have wanted. I hope I can manage to pull it off again - hopefully she wont have to wait for another 10 years. Images available at:

31st Dec: We do more shopping and start to cook up a storm. Blarney and Spartan are coming for New Year with her parents. As there were only 6 of us we could try some new stuff for the food which was great. I made nibbles (cheese palmiers), we had smoked salmon and brown bread for a bit of tradition; amazing roast lamb and my first ever dauphinoise (which worked despite being slightly overcooked on top); then ginger syllabub (RFs inspiration) and TheO made Brandy snaps - bloody gorgeous. All washed down with some nice wine and champagne. (I love this time of year, champagne at every turn.xx)

Our nearest neighbour had popped in and invited us round the next evening. So we suggested first footing which they were happy to accommodate. We had an excellent evening of songs and cheer followed by a short walk up the road to see our neighbours (and their neighbours) - everyone was exceptionally welcoming and the drink was flowing copiously.

The next morning we all managed not to be too worse for wear and I think Blarney's parents couldn't quite believe the fully Scottish experience of new year that had just had. To be honest neither could I, it was my first experience of 'first-footing' too!

1st January 2009: The year started with as much oomph as the last finished.
Cousin popping in for tea with wife, dog and daughter.
Round to the neighbours again for drinks and nibbles (omg blackpudding and goats cheese).
Out to dinner with Ceegar and Meeper.

Then rest.

Yesterday was nothing but some take out and Christmas pudding (not a fine combo) after a lovely crisp 3-3.5mile walk around Kinnoul woods with our well behaved dogs.

2009 has a lot to offer. My thoughts on 2008 and aims for 2009 to follow. (Bet that manages to hold your interest......... )