Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The last days of summer

I am going to need the holiday after this week of moving belongings from room to room to make way for the window fitters, it did not help that the first thing to happen was a change to the work order which meant much of the work to clear a key room had to be undone as it partially filled with stuff. We have far too much stuff since J’s family have been here for 60 years, they brought stuff and then collected more with a vengeance! Even my near thirty years of trips to the dump have not got us anywhere near enough to be as organised as I would like us to be. Thousands of books have gone over the years but we still have too many for the remaining book shelves! Once about ten years ago we cleared J’s mothers room when she died and someone paid us for all the books on 60 feet of shelves, J took the money and straight away started buying more new books from a catalogue! J is the only one who can decide about the accumulated family papers, that should at least keep her busy till the spring.

She does not seem to be as sensitive to the sealant smells as I am, I have escaped to camp amongst the piled junk which now fills the computer room, at least I can stay up late unmolested by calls to come to bed. At last I have found time to feed in a pile of discs which a friend’s daughter Lucy who I have known her whole life, feels I would like. The pile is only a fraction of the fifty classic albums which she borrowed from me at Christmas, her father is hopeless and only seems to be interested in jazz while we are both eclectic in our tastes. I am getting music organised for the time away, there is even a restaurant where we eat where I can pop the ipod in the dock and play my choice!

So far we have had the longest dry period this summer for the window job. The old windows have been in for over 110 years and when they are opened up some of the muck has to be seen to be believed and despite their best efforts it has been impossible to keep the place clean and it has been exhausting running about trying to do so.

At short notice much had to be reorganized, medications topped up appointments changed or in the case of my top lip and a patch on my chin emergency perfecting by electrolysis is required, we are just being fussy now because with the naked eye it looks OK but you can just feel a slight prickle and remember in France there is constant kissing for greetings and departures! Why do I like France?

This is a crazy time to leave the garden when so much is now ready. Apples and pears have gone into cold store or been cooked and frozen ready for a roast pork feast! My garden help, Liz has orders to harvest and distribute anything left when we are gone, the first frost will not be long coming and much will die overnight. The evenings are chill now so not really missing much, next year will be different if I can organise some glazed cover for some crops.

We have now had the longest spell of dry weather this summer and it has coincided with the change of windows. They were slipping a little behind so I played on their male egos and made suggestions that it was a shame that they were not capable of installing the last six in one day and they fell for it! Today since it is after midnight, they have to return to finish internal trim but it is nearly all done. Lucky I never believed that they could finish when they said they would! Twenty six hours from now we will be on our way so don’t expect any comments or posts till the second week in October.

Last time away I was thinking of the posts I would write on my return only to be distracted by all the illness and upturned relationships reported while I was away. My adventures mostly went unreported in the atmosphere of gloom I found on my return. So if you want to read of my exploits please stay healthy and happy.



Saturday, 12 September 2009


Poor soul has not long started and has yet to perfect the bum cleavage, quite wasted on me in any case!

The house is hell on earth. Nearly all the rooms we use have to be partially cleared to fit the new windows which have arrived two weeks early! The carefully organised order of work has naturally been changed by the fitter so the whole house is in upheaval. All my quiet places have vanished. The sauna was first to be stuffed full then my darkroom! The two bedrooms which are upstairs are being done first together so we have moved the spare bed into the computer room so now there is no room or peace to play on the web.

There has not been much silicone used yet but we know from when the test windows were done in the bathroom the stink is horrible and lasted over two weeks. The solution, one which will be a real burden is to leave for a couple of weeks and let the wind blow through. Our neighbour will happily open close the windows according to the weather so the smell should be mostly gone when we return. Where to go? It seems a shame to leave here since the summer sun and dry days have finally arrived! Can’t last so we have booked flights to France. There is work to help with, perhaps pick a few grapes and figs, someone has to do it! We like the south of France at this time of year as the heat abates and the colours change on the hills but the sea temperatures still allow for a few days swimming.

Where we go is a bit end of the world and we have never had access to computers and the web. This may be a challenge since the stupid airline now insists on online checkin! For this they charge £10 per person, then there is £5 per person per flight to be able to make a payment! £3 per person per flight to be in the first half of the passenger scrum to find a sea with any legroom!! £10 per person per flight to be able to load a bag of 15 kg, no souvenirs on way back then! And so it goes on and when you have printed the seven pages of “tickets” and boarding cards there is a small print warning that if you do not bring the online printed boarding cards each person will have to pay an extra £40, the site is so chaotic you could easily miss some of the instructions especially if you traveled with them in the not too distant past when things were so much easier and simpler. They had suggested an exorbitant on flight fee for toilet use! You think I am making this up but I am not. Next time we shall be looking for something less unpleasant, booking took an age and first time round timed out! Because of all the extra information demanded down to every small detail off the passport. You could never book a surprise trip for a friend because if you make even the slightest mistake by a letter in the name or do not have access to their passport there is a £100 penalty!!! Need a holiday to recover from this and several days to recover from the change of times from 10.30am to 6.30am, check in 4.30!!!!!

At least nobody out there is going to be jealous after seeing us suffer so.

Experimental comment survey: If you are going to miss my blogs and comments for the next few weeks comment YES, if not comment NO and if undecided comment ERRR DON’T KNOW. This survey will save me working out how to install a counter to gauge interest in the blog.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Feel a little sick.

Pink Floyd, “Another brick in the wall” to save you scratching your heads.

Norma will not be too pleased to see me tomorrow! Another lump of tooth fell off, all that soup and every way with a corgette soft food was no help and I can only hope there is still enough left to do something with.

What really makes me fell unwell is having to quote for work. Usually people call and trust me to do the work and get a very reasonable bill at the end but in this case it is an organisation 60 miles away with Royal at the front of the name in a place I don’t know and they have been very vague about “all” the details and they want the work done in an unreasonable time scale with very limited access, normally I would work all hours I could stay awake to do this but not allowed! I still feel a fraud doing digital photographs on an OK camera but it is not like the past when I could compete with anyone on quality and cost. Think It may well be a wasted trip but nice to be asked. I suspect a certain person from my past who I recently met has had a hand in suggesting they ask me which makes it a little embarrassing. We have already visited Edinburgh this week to see Festival exhibitions without the crowds. Friends wanted to see world press photographs at the Parliament Building, what a pantomime to get in with X rays and searches. First time we went the speaker of the house took us round, gave us food and wine, showed us round his private offices where he had hung a friends paintings, now we have to be frisked! All was forgiven though because I walked in behind a girl who was 3 inches taller than me and in flats! Not often I feel petite.

Disastrous week for weight control, a friend who was so grateful for all the help and company whilst he went through his two eye operations and subsequent recovery gave me a box of favourite sweets, 3500 calories! I could have frozen them to keep them out of harms way but ate them instead! A little help from Julie but she did not help enough!

The plum tree which we got as a wedding present 26 years ago decided that I was serious when I told it it’s days were numbered since it hardly ever produced more than a handfull of fruit and the wasps often beat us to them. A glut this year, giving them away and eating a few every time I pass by. I had decided to build a glass house on the plum tree site, I did give it one of the best spots in the garden, what a dilemma.

Most of this “summer” it has rained but this week for 36 hours non stop it RAINED. The £12,000,000 refurbished museum in town got flooded through faulty roof! The part of the country where we were last week has cars piled up in the river where they were swept in the floods. Actually made use of every thing being soaked and spent the day out in the rain with the high pressure washer, all paths scrubbed clean and slip free for the winter. Julie had abandoned my winter downie which she uses all summer, last night was cold! Tonight will be warm as toast. Autumn is on the way here.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Intimate at last!

Yesterday for the first time in years I was really intimate with someone. Norma who I had been joking with as now being a rock chick groupie since she has taken up with a lead guitarist in a rock band clasped her breast to my head and gave my lips and tongue the most amazing sensations! Then she drilled out the roots of one of my teeth. Oh well, in my world that counts as really intimate! I have been trying to get some dialogue going about this subject but there is a great reluctance to actually say anything about the emotions surrounding this which I find somewhat frustrating when I lay my raw soul open to examination all the time.

We went for a Highland jaunt driving on the wildest twistiest mountain roads through the deserted ski resorts to visit several exhibitions by friends. For some reason Julie booked us into a Buddhist retreat instead of a bed and breakfast place at Findhorn, the alternative capital of Britain. Less like a scene from Easy Rider than it used to be but there is still the hold hands in a circle to give thanks for the vegetarian wine free meal to come and a half hour of meditation to clear the mind before breakfast. For someone like me who has spent years more than the typical Buddhist monk in silent contemplation this was hardly the peaceful experience which it must seem to their typical visitors. The people we met were an interesting bunch and had been drawn in from as far as Australia! From their reactions we are not coming over as a typical married couple even to these less conventional types.

The first exhibition was at a new gallery space built within a local authority arts centre built within the Findhorn Foundation. The paintings are by the husband of one of Julie’s university friends, she had given Julie free choice from her collection as a farewell donation to the gallery collection where she has been working, A $50,000 donation! They may not forget her for a while and let us see if anyone can trump that!

We are now living on air! Which is just what the paintings were about, cloudscapes as seen on the west coast, a perfect meditation piece, each and every one.

We also visited friends on the west coast where they had built a modern interpretation of the traditional But ‘n’ Ben two roomed cottage. A dream site on an old family croft farm overlooking one of the most beautiful sea views over a group of islands. Even better they took us for a meal where the husbands caught the scallops and prawns and salmon and their wives cooked it to perfection, the Buddhists would have been shocked if they knew what we were up to!

The trip was just over 500 miles through purple mountains on some of the most interesting driving roads you could find anywhere including most of the remaining single track roads with passing places one of which is a car width clinging to the space between sea and cliff, great fun for someone like me who drives a wee car with the heart and soul of a motorcyclist seeking the perfect line through every bend, the whole trip was nothing but bends. This is the first trip like this since the testosterone was cut off. What a difference! Before, even though I would not have qualified as aggressive male, was driven to go fast which switched on adrenalin which drove you faster and closer to the limit with no margin for error! Testosterone free speed has to be chosen, the mind is clear and the heart beat slow and regular, the flow of bends there to be enjoyed for hour after hour without fatigue. Pure joy.

Don’t tell anyone about these roads, we had them almost to ourselves for 500 miles! And would like to keep them this way.