Thursday, 17 February 2011

First green shoots and unexpected news



 There is very little letup in the rain. We’ve tried to not let it keep us in all the time, we have made several trips out to visit friends taking great care with so much standing water in the fields and the roads. Every puddle is now a potential crash site as evidenced by the many signs going up to denote a recent police presence and road cones warning of some of the worst holes in the road. This year it is going to be impossible to drive around without being constantly held up with temporary traffic lights whilst they do a very bad temporary patch. Nobody seems to have realised the scale of this disaster!
 Julie recently opened a Facebook account after a friend from the past  sent her a request, this has led to several other contacts with old acquaintances. One has moved into a city 60 miles north of here  for a year’s contract work so we agreed to meet up in the art gallery. Because it was so disgustingly wet the three of us were able to waste most of the day wandering about discussing the works on show and being us naturally how we would have  displayed them! With a decent cafe and loads of seats around the building we had a great time catching up on so much, sometimes we were all together and usually one of us was chatting to Ronnie and we got on as though she had never been away. We caught the cafe for a last cup of coffee shortly before it was to close and only then did she tell me that there was an Apple store in town just a short walk away so I escaped briefly to go and buy some software. Like many Scottish towns they do do flat very well and I learned that going downhill in slip on  pumps can be hard on the toes, never had this trouble in sandals. I managed back just as they were thrown out at closing time. Because we had eaten so well at lunchtime they expected evening meal together was rejected and  we decided to find a way out of town while there was still some light while Ronnie decided to torture herself with four hours of Nixon in China. We might have been tempted to join her but you need to prepare for something like that like an athlete preparing for a competition!
How stupid to have Valentine’s Day on Monday when all the best restaurants are closed. Instead we chose to go out to a fish restaurant by the sea on a Tuesday when the fresh fish had been landed. Even on Valentine’s Day we usually find another couple to go out with to be the one table being noisily happy while everyone else stares silently into their partner’s eyes. This time there were five of us, including a professor of mediaeval French who is great fun. After the meal we  and stopped off at their house for more chatting coffee. I who know little about computers  gained great kudos by teaching this professor who works with his computer all the time to do so many things which completely puzzled him! The other member of the launch party was one of Julie’s cousins and she came home with us and stayed the night. In effect lunch  took all day. Julie wondered what on earth she would do with her time when she retired…
Some sort of miracle has occurred for each of our sisters, they both have sons in their mid-20s who have never settled down and had nothing but temporary short-term jobs. One has been in Mexico taking diving courses and has finally acquired a teaching qualification!  He can now earn a living doing something he enjoys and I doubt we’ll see much more of him in the next few years. Even more amazing the one who in his early teenage years appeared to be a clone of me has decided to take on a hairdressing apprenticeship and this really enjoying it! Only a year ago he wanted to join the  navy and do something physical! He assures me he has none of my problems! I only hope that is true.
 First signs of spring  are showing now only about halfway through cleaning up the dead vegetation which has fallen under the weight of the snow, get caught by this every year. It is my own fault, one of the pleasures of winter is seeing the bare bones of the previous years growth catching winter sun.




Friday, 11 February 2011

Good things have been happening.

Two evenings of sunsets

You probably all think I have fallen into one of the large potholes created by our two-month glacial period. Living in the freeze thaw zone like we do is hellishly destructive and we now have a crumbling infrastructure which is going to make driving pure misery in the summer as they go round badly patching the countless thousands of dangerous holes. You take your life in your own hands when driving now, you dare not glance at the countryside too often for fear of crashing into the hole found every hundred yards or so. When it is wet it is even scarier since you have no idea where a hole might be.
I have decided to blame my time away on all the online chats I have been having during the last couple of weeks. Like buses, you can wait for months and none turn up, then all of a sudden… Interesting being popular for a change.
Just when you think you have reached the height of your acceptance moments occur which show you that it is even better than you thought. A friend invited a whole crowd of people from different parts of her life to help celebrate a significant birthday. More than 40 of us turned up at an old smart hotel on the southern edge of the Highlands for two night weekend. This was a Christmas present to each other otherwise we would not have been able to afford it. I made a note on the first evening but in our corner Rapunzel tower room there was no sign of a wifi signal so …
Turret room
Here we are at the “Overlook” hotel deep in the highlands and expect to hear the sound of a tricycle ridden along the corridor any moment now. Our room is high up in a conical roof atop a corner tower. The last eight hours vanished in a whirl of conversation drinks and excellent food. Our pal Elspeth certainly created an interesting birthday party experience bringing together many of her circles of friends from far and wide, very far and wide!
Many utilised aeroplanes from places like German and Finland while we only needed to make a fairly short drive. Well we would have done if I had not dropped my snapshot camera on a lawn about a week ago and needed to head off in the opposite direction for half an hour first. The route was fairly obvious but we decided to see what the satnav would come up with. A Magical mystery tour ensued highlighting in dropping down into a deep twisting Glen Farg with the trees covered in a frosted icing, the rocky outcrops were icicle covered and hundreds of the trees had been snapped clean off by the recent heavy snows and chain saw crews were out in force clearing the roads and ensuring no more fell endangering traffic.
Despite a night sleeping out exposed on a lawn where it somehow managed to fall out of my shoulder bag the little silver Lumix burst into life at my first command, I had become resigned to it’s demise but it is tougher than it looks and has been used for a few record shots of those gathered.

late view from the room

I was hardly going to buy a swim costume for one dip in the pool and the spa treatment costs were way out of my league so we sipped wine, chatted and ate our way through the first day while getting in a Whisky distillery at Glen Turret and a drive west  past Loch Earn on the second day before returning to continue the previous day’s activities. We were a noisy crowd! Never heard such a boisterous rendition of that birthday song.
old folks having fun

Apart from the early time a bit scruffy after I had parked the car and towered over some short porter in the lift I have never felt so much like I was totally accepted. To get the look though I spent an age resewing the dropped bottom of my slinky velvet pants, only noticed as they were last going into the luggage!

Frosted casks at Glen Turret Distillery

Few enough from our networld appear at our front door but Louise has appeared twice in the last two weeks and charmed us immediately and shamed us with her style. How this could have been the first social visits Louise had ever made I do not know, check out her story. Julie told her she was far more glamorous than me and that was on the visit before she went for a makeup tutorial though I was the one who got called “darling” by the electricity meter guy!
Know how you all hate long posts so save some catchup for later.