Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Feeling a Proper Girlie ...

I will sit down and do a proper catch up of all the news over Christmas, but before I do so, I'd just like to say - I have the most wonderful wife-type-thing in the whole world. And, possibly for the first time in my whooole life, I think I've experienced being the recipient of real romance. Not that Fisher hasn't done romantic things for me, but nothing like this. Believe me.

So. My Christmas present took my breath away. She bought me this.

A Tag Heuer Aquaracer. Is it not stunning? I gazed upon it with awe in my heart and loved it instantly. But then Fisher said that, if I wasn't entirely sure about it, I could go back to the jeweller and see if any of the others caught my fancy. I thought long and hard, and decided that no, this one was what I wanted. But we had to go to the jeweller and get the strap adjusted, and while we were there Fisher had me look at all the other choices. There were 4, and each one I rejected, not liking them at all. Seemed like Fisher had done a fantastic job of picking out a gorgeous, elegant watch, exactly to my taste.

And then I saw it. My eyes widened slightly. I pointed it out to Fisher, just as an example of something beautiful.

"Oh, you can have that one if you want," she said blithely.

Oh my GOD. I protested. I objected. I spluttered and babbled. But Fisher had the jeweller take the watch from the window and strap it to my wrist.

Gorgeous. Just ... gorgeous. But unlike Fisher's choice, this was a dress watch. It had none of the robust durability of the Tag Heuer. I could either go for elegant beauty, worn rarely and only as an adornment - or Fisher's original choice, which I could look at every day.

I chose the pretty one. Then I changed my mind. I went for the Tag.

After changing my mind a couple more thousand times, I firmly, delightedly confirmed my choice. The Tag it was. And I skipped out of the shop with birdsong in my heart. I've wanted a beautiful watch for so long. Blarney bought me one for my thirtieth and it's gorgeous and I love it, but this one has diamonds on it!!!

Happyhappyhappy. Until today, when I woke a) feeling like shite on a shingle from an awful cough, merrily festered and fostered within Janus's system over Christmas and now residing painfully in my lungs, and b) with my new watch cutting off the blood supply to my wrist. The jewellers had made it too tight. So back Fisher went to get them to readjust it.

To cheer me up, she also bought me a couple of other presents. I hadn't really liked one of the presents she gave me over Christmas (some chunky wooden beads which were very nice, but not me - I'm chunky enough without making my jewellery emphasise the fact) so she took it back and bought me something else.

"Nothing big," she assured me, handing over a little wrapped package, "just something to cheer you up."

I opened it up, and inside was a dear little black purse with beading. Very pretty. I cooed, and felt very loved.

Oh - and the purse had this in it.


Can you believe that???

No. I know. Nor can I.

I fluttered between horrified at the extravagance and squealing like a proper princess. And, for once, the princess in me (and there is one, buried very very very deep) won hands down. I think I actually went doe eyed. And, yes, I squealed. A lot.

Fisher is just the best and I love her very, very, very much.


Monday, 8 December 2008

Too Much To Report!

Lordy, it's been so long since my last blog I've forgotten how to type.

Where was I? Frankly, who knows? I'll just have to try and think of all the things that have happened recently.

Firstly, there's the fact that Blarney is preggers. Owing to the fact I was massaging her for case studies at the time she found out, I had to know before anyone else. This was therefore my cue to badger her with weekly telephone calls, most of which she treated with kind tolerance, one or two of which provided an opportunity to tell me she was wigging out a bit about having no symptoms whatsoever and was therefore sure she was having a phantom pregnancy. No symptoms, that is, apart from the occasional bout of fatigue, nausea before eating, mood swings ...

I'd like to say now, that not telling your closest friends for 3 months is a stupid idea. It leads you down a path of deception entirely complicit with your friends (who obviously guess within about 3 seconds of you refusing your first alcoholic drink) respecting your privacy and not asking too many prying questions. Of course, Koios was about as subtle as a brick when it came to saying things like: "So what's wrong with you now?" which served only to make Blarney have to come up with some further deception. I understand that losing a foetus means then having to tell all your excited friends that you've miscarried, which is clearly pretty horrendous - but if everyone already knows, as our friends did, then they're going to know you've miscarried as well. Keeping a secret just involves lying a lot, and I can't say it's very healthy. I got round it by saying "all I know is that she would have had to tell me if she was pregnant, 'cos I was massaging her."

At no point did anyone ever say: "So did she tell you?"

I went with her and Spartan when she had her first scan, and my job was to calm her down (owing to the serious Wiggins she was quite naturally having). I decided I wouldn't let her sit in a coffee shop and just think about it, talk about it, and generally work herself into a state - so I refused to go into O'Brian's Sandwich Shop, saying it was a chain and "I don't do chains" and anyway, I wanted somewhere I could sit. So I forced her to show me a lingerie shop/café round the corner, and tried valiantly to profess a sudden interest in bras and pants. Unfortunately, I could only say "oo, that's pretty" a finite number of times, and as I don't possess Koios's ability to talk shite about underwear for hours, I had to take on board Blar's point that Spartan wouldn't exactly be happy having coffee surrounded by ladies' panties (and that if he was, it would open a whooooole new can of worms), so off we went. As I was still refusing O'Brian's, we spent the next 10 minutes prowling the streets in search of a pleasant café, with me hoping to stumble across something wildly exciting, thereby taking Blar's mind off the scan still further.

This didn't happen. In the end I dragged her, now fuming visbly, into the local church community centre, where I had the worst cup of coffee I've ever had in my life and we sat in a large, cafeteria-style hall which was both cold and, to Blar's nose, "reeking of pish." She was now so irate I decided the best thing to do was come up with some witty anecdote about something that had happened recently - but as all I could think about was shitty builders, I was a bit stumped. I didn't want to rant and rave at her. Unfortunately, Blarney then decided to tell me that Spar was very sorry, but the dinner party I was throwing the next day was a no-go. The Boys' Brigade were throwing him a wee birthday celebration, and he was double booked.

I'm sorry? 24 hours before we sit down for a 13 person meal, with choices off a menu, he tells me he can't come? A meal which I've carefully balanced for my brother's enjoyment? A meal where I've planned courses based on numbers? A meal, more to the point, that he has known about for 6 FUCKING WEEKS, for which he accepted an invitation, and which he is now ditching in favour of his FUCKING CULT! Now, I can't be sure, but I'm pretty positive that the BBs didn't give him 6 weeks notice. I'm also pretty positive that etiquette dictates the first invitation stands in such a circumstance. So what Spar was doing was:

1) Fucking up my table plan
2) Fucking up my meal plan
3) Ditching me in favour of a better invitation

All of which added up to one thing. It was FUCKING RUDE. And I do so hate rudeness.

At this point, I should mention that Wheeler had also ditched me only the day before, owing to the fact that he and his ex-wife can't behave like adults and create a schedule around their mutual son. I don't know what the story is there, but it seems the ex-wife is a complete flake and can't plan her way out of a paper bag. None of my business, and no judgement from me thangyewverymuch ... until it directly 1) Fucks up my table plan, 2) Fucks up my meal plan and 3) Ditches me in favour of a better invitation.

So I'm now 2 men down. My brother is coming up, I've said he'll get to see some of the people he hit it off with at the nedding - and now 2 of those people have flaked on me. We were already woman-heavy (no weight jokes please), so now Brother was going to be inundated with females. This isn't necessarily something that would bother him, but I was looking forward to being able to give him some blokes to talk to for a change. He's a man with 2 sisters for Christ's sake. I've got a heavily pregnant sister staying with me, my throat has closed up again (see previous posts for the joy that is my psycho-throat - something that has directly replaced psycho-tummy), my wee nephew Wrecker is adorable but exhausting, and one of my best friends is terrified her unborn wean is a blighted ovum. And I've got to cook a restaurant night meal for over a dozen people.

My tether - rather frayed - now snapped completely. The anger I had attempted to avoid over builders now spewed forth like liberated lava. Even while I was screaming to myself in my head to stop, stop, STOP by all that's holy, this is no way to soothe a frantic friend, I heard myself ranting on and on. Blarney weathered the storm as best she could, especially considering
she was bearing the brunt of fury that should have been directed at her husband. Eventually I managed to take deep breaths, grind my teeth to dust and get a grip on myself. Blarney looked like she'd soiled a couple of pairs of trousers, but didn't help matters by saying:

"We don't tell you these things because this is how you react."

News flash. If you tell me these things with some warning, I don't react like this. 24 hours? Come on!

Anyway, I managed to take deep breaths and get myself under control, which was good for Spartan as he completely avoided getting the bollocking he deserved. Unfortunately, when he arrived, what I'd feared would happen happened: Blar worked herself up into a state. By the time she was due to go to the clinic for her scan, she was about ready to declare herself barren forever more. Her terror directly transferred itself to me and I spent one of the most nerve-wracking hours of my life wandering around, attempting to shop in the retail desert that is the area round that clinic. I went to Habitat, to the lingerie-café again, and then loitered around the clinic door like a Dickensian waif hoping for scraps of Christmas goose.

When they eventually emerged, Blarney's face gave nothing away - but, of course, everything was fine. Blar's lack of symptoms were simply evidence of extreme good fortune. She then made up for it by vomiting freely the next morning - and when she turned up for the actual dinner party, her first words were:

"You're lucky I came at all. I nearly turned round and went home half way up the A9."

At that point I was up to my elbows in cooking and told her in no uncertain terms that if she didn't want to be there, she should feel free to go back to Edinburgh. She declined - but was feeling extremely rough, with a giant cold. I felt slightly sorry for her, but only because of her delicate state. Had she given me her greeting line when un-sprogged, I'd probably still be shouting at her now.

Anyway, the dinner was fine. Let's cut a long story short, eh? Brother's visit was very pleasant. My mother arrived at the beginning of December, and my father arrived a few days ago. We now have a blocked drain outside the house, which means excrement is bobbing around the outside of the pipe like little brown corks, and have just had a visit from some emergency plumbers. They've discovered the blockage is not within the first 8 metres. Woo hoo. They're coming back tomorrow though, so fingers, toes, legs etc etc crossed.

Big news. I have a new nephew, born this morning at around 1.30am. His name was almost Douglas, but I'm delighted to say it's not. I campaigned pretty hard for Dougal, but am very happy with their final choice. I shall be referring to him as Tertius from here on, though. He was 9 1/2 pounds and born in 2 hours, which seriously caught the folk at Ninewells on the hop. Fisher has already sobbed twice at the mere sight of his little face, and has only relinquished him from her arms after they were crowbarred.

I've missed out loads, but I'm bored now and must get something down, lest my vaaaast number of blogfans (5) think I've abandoned them.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


So the builders have shafted us between the ischial tuberosities. With a whole bunch of stuff left undone, the chief has decided it's too much trouble to actually complete the work, leaving us in the lurch and trying to find someone to fit a stove, plaster over holes in the ceiling, and a hundred other shitty small jobs he should have organised. He's sending us an invoice with the cost of all the incomplete jobs deducted, but I say screw that. I've informed him, by email, that I will be deducting the cost of all the tradesmen we have to employ from his total, and that he will get not a penny more. Luckily we arranged a fixed price at the beginning and have paid him 3/4s, retaining a considerable sum to be paid only on job completion. Well, he ain't completed, so he ain't getting paid. If I need to bring in a lawyer I will do so.

I usually preserve people's identities on this blog, but just in case anyone from this area is thinking of getting building work done:

DO NOT EMPLOY KEVIN TULLOCH PROPERTIES. Their dis-organisation is a joke. They will claim to have ordered things but will not have done. They will send plumbers before tilers have finished, and then you'll never get the plumber back. They will half finish jobs. You will have to chase them every single day with numerous phone calls, many of which will go unanswered. Then they will decide they can't be bothered with the hassle and ditch you for no good reason - certainly never having discussed any problems they may be having, or expressed any discontent. They are, in conclusion, not fit to run a business.

That is all.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Good v Bad

Good Things
  1. Just back from a 4 mile run, much of it uphill.
  2. Have discovered lovely places to eat in and around Perth.
  3. Have lost target 2 pounds this week.
  4. Decorator is reliable, hard-working, good quality, and cheaper than chips. Also pleasant.
  5. Rooms decorated look wonderful. No regrets about colours so far.
  6. New curtains and blinds have arrived.
  7. New gym is better than adequate, with good running machines, a swimming pool and sauna.
  8. Love my lovely PS3.
Bad Things
  1. 4 mile run laughably slow, and am laughably knackered after it. Had to stop for a 30 second break after 5k as had the world's most agonising stitch in right lung
  2. Lovely places to eat mean we keep eating out. Last night consumed own bodyweight at The Angler in Guildtown
  3. Target 2 pounds only achieved by stepping on scale right after my run. Have sneaking suspicion pounds may magically reappear tomorrow as my stunned body realises point 2.
  4. New curtains and blinds have to be hung. This means Fisher has to do it.
  5. Fisher has had to do everything and is in a shitty mood.
  6. New house is cold. My mother will be miserable here.
  7. New gym is great, but made mistake of swimming 1k in the pool, watched by Thinks-He's-Sexy instructor (long hair in pony tail, Russian accent, way with the lay-deez). Since then, he has made winky-jokey remarks about how, next time, I'm going to do 5 'tousand' metres as a warm up. Goddamn it. Now I can't get into the pool and do any less than 1k or I will lose his respect. Also, Fisher and I spent a long time discussing why he would be so impressed with me swimming 1k when he's a fitness instructor and must be used to far more spectacular feats of stamina. It took us 20 minutes before a thought struck me. I blew the dust off my mental Book of Male-Female Flirty-Flirtiness and wondered out loud if he fancied me.
    Fisher laughed and laughed and laughed.
    Which is fair enough. He has seen me in a swimsuit.
  8. Fuses keep blowing. Can't put kettle and cooker on at the same time. This morning the heating fuse blew for no apparant reason.
  9. I have spent so much money I feel physically sick.
  10. Had a small tantrum yesterday as Fisher was grouchy, things had gone wrong in the house - and I just wanted 1 day where everyone and everything was relaxed, happy, and not going fucking tits up.
  11. We have a vile little dog staying who drops little bits of shit all over the house and stinks to high heaven.
  12. We now have another dog staying who is not vile, but who needs enormous amounts of medicine: eye drops in the morning and at night, a pill wrapped in fish paste every meal time, eye wipes every 13 seconds, arse wipes every time she takes a dump ...
  13. Our building chief continues to be a pain in the anus. He will not have everything finished by the time Sister arrives. He is now 6 weeks overdue. He is a cretin.
  14. I am cross.

Friday, 7 November 2008


So, from previous posts I realise I was supposed to be keeping a food diary. We're drawing a veil over the past few weeks, but now Fisher and I have another bet on. Loser must forgo - well, in my case, ALL FOOTBALL! For, I believe, a month. That gives me until Christmas day to lose a stone, while she must lose 10lbs. Seeing as things are not looking peachy, I've decided to go back to the food diary idea. So far, 2 bits toast with Clover and honey. Must go to the gym, or for a run today - but not til this afternoon.

The plumber is supposed to be turning up today, but he was due at 10 and no sign so far. Unless he's sneaked in while I've been in here typing, and has got to work already. This is not inconceivable, as the walls are so thick you can barely hear anything. Still, he's fucked us around for 3 months, so I doubt very much he's had the initiative to just get on with plumbing the washing machine. Better check though.

Ok, he's not here. But Fisher has returned from a trip to buy paint ... and everything's kicked off! Firstly, she's been assured the plumber is coming, despite the fact the joiners yesterday told him we had no sink for the downstairs bathroom (not true) so, and I quote, there was "no point" in him coming. This, regardless of the fact there's a washing machine and tumble drier to plumb - and an entire cloakroom to put in upstairs! I have a sneaking suspicion that we're going to have to find a different plumber, as this guy's a joke. Then again, they're all jokes, so it might be a case of better the devil you know.

Anyway - that's a minor point. The major point is this:

We have an offer on Holly Frot! In fact, we had one yesterday, but it was 10 grand below the asking price so we rejected. Now, I know that was a risk in the current climate, but let me explain.

First off, the first estate agents we went with stated a figure, and told us that the days of 'offers over' were a thing of the past, and we should look to sell for £10,000 less than the asking price. We were a little disappointed with their estimate, so had another agent in to look. They wanted to put it on the market for £65,000 more than the first lot! This was over optimistic, in our book - plus, Fisher realised that, at that price, a lot of advertising would be lost on websites, as people who might be serious buyers wouldn't even get to see it, as it was outside the price bracket of their searches. So we reduced the price by £15,000, and waited.

It didn't look good. In 2 weeks we had only 2 couples look round. One was obviously interested, the others not at all. Then it all went quiet. Nothing. I began to worry that we had a turkey on our hands - but then:

Yesterday we had an offer! Hurrah!

Ten grand below the asking price. Hurroo.

I was disappointed, but the estate agent told us this was a good price, and urged us to accept. I dithered. We knew the buyers were serious, had been renting for a year, and needed land for sheep. We also knew that we had never gone into a negotiation from the offset with our maximum offer. Thirdly, we recognised a pattern: the first agents had suggested we might sell for 10 grand less than the asking price; now, here we were getting an offer 10 grand less than the asking price. Seemed to me, this was advice being given by solicitors, agents, and Sarah Beeney Of The Lovely Breasts. And lastly, thanks to an indiscreet 6 year old son, we knew that the woman's mother was seriously loaded.

I rejected the offer.

Then I realised that, had we gone with the first agents, we'd be looking at an offer that was almost 15% over the asking price. It's a recession: houses have been on the market for 6 months with no movement. Some people don't negotiate - they put in their best offer in the hopes they'll blow competition out of the water. So I pooed myself a little. We heard nothing for the rest of the day, which made me poo even more. It was quite possible they had made their best offer, and that was that.

Now Fisher has returned, and they have made another offer.

It's the asking price.

I did a little happy skipping dance, and immediately gave verbal acceptance. All going well, I think we've done very well for ourselves. It's the figure I hoped, in my secret dreams, to sell for - until, in truth, my head was turned by the original amount stated by the agents we went with. I thought we might get it for that - but, in truth, they were probably expecting to see for 10 grand less, which means only 5 grand more than we actually went with in the end. But then I think about the first agents - who are a bigger, more successful firm and who deal with most properties in Fife - and I realise how shafted we could have been if we'd gone with them. Basically, they were expecting to sell it for £60,000 less than we've agreed!

The thing is - in truth, we could hang on the HC and rent it out until the market turns. But there's no guarantee we'd sell it for much more, and then there's the hassle and faff of finding tenants, dealing with their demands, worrying about general wear and tear - and the depressing thought that this recession could last for God knows how long. In this case, a bird in the hand is definitely worth two in the bush, and I'm very happy. Now, fingers crossed that it all actually goes through ...

I've forgotten what I was originally blogging about, but whatever it was, it's dull in comparison to the thought of recouping some of the ENORMOUS quantities of money I've been blue-ing on our new house. Now, if only I can think of ways in which to wisely invest ...

Woohooooo. Happyhappyhappy. We're not home and dry yet, but fingers, toes and legs crossed and we'll be ok.

On a side note, the reupholstered furniture we inherited from the old owners of our house is arriving today. We thought we'd be thrifty and reuse it, but thrifty my arse! 3 grand later ... but the upholsterer was quite excited by it, and told us we'd never buy anything like it anywhere. It's all around 80 years old, solidly made, and a really interesting shape. It really suits the house, and I think 3 grand is ok for a sofa and 2 armchairs.

Sort of.

God, is it any wonder I'm so relieved to have sold HC?

Friday, 31 October 2008

Greetings, people. How long it's been! I apologise for not keeping the old Blog-o up to date, but I've been slightly busy. Let me give you a brief rundown of events, in bullet-point form.


* Diet: Hopeless. Been eating like a horse, and not only has amount been an issue, but quality as well. Being so busy means I've not cooked properly for weeks. A vegetable is a rare sight indeed - and while we hoped to get back on track after the craziness subsided, that just hasn't happened. It's been a bit of an eye-opener, and a depressing one at that, seeing just how easy it is to slip back into very bad habits. It's been years since I've eaten the way I am at the moment, and now there's really no excuse to do so you'd think we'd go back to our healthier ways. But no. Food really is an addiction, and one I'm determined to break. So:

*Exercise: See above. Went for my first run in over 2 weeks yesterday. Headed out the front door, up the road (which I thought was going to be flat, but proved to be a steady climb for over a mile) and ran for 15 minutes. I then ran back, feeling like shite. Still, I completed a half hour run, and was hoping I'd got close to 3 miles in that time. I didn't have a Garmin with me, so could only estimate distance by time run - but I knew Fisher was going out later and would measure it for me. She did. Result? In just under 30 minutes, she claimed I ran 2.4 miles. Two. Point four. I was gutted. My only hope was that the Garmin didn't like our new area, and was playing up - so I measured it in the car, later. Result? 2.2 miles. Fuckaduck. The Garmin is obviously MUCH more accurate.
* Moving: Has happened! We're now happily ensconsed in our new country house, which is charming and wonderful - as are our friends, who gaily helped us move, with the only payment being some roast chicken and copious amounts of booze. Fisher was quite amazed at how much got done in a single day - especially conisdering how little has got done in 3 months by the builders. I'm telling you - there's a fortune to be made by someone with some vague organisational skills who fancies going into the building trade. It's a mess. We've been here nearly a week now, and we've seen 1 brickie and 1 roofer - that's it. No joiner, no plumber, no chief - nothing. I am PISSED OFF. The chief is supposed to be coming round today, but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none, especially after Fisher sent a snotty text and got a slightly snotty one back, leading to yet more outpourings of snot from her, and back and forth it goes. Hey ho. If things are not PERFECT for sister's arrival, I shall withhold payment.

So that's the bullet-point version. What else is there to say? We're having a merry old time exploring the area, but less of a merry old time with the geothermal heating, which is supposed to heat both the house radiators and the water. We've managed to get the water heater to click across, by manually putting the thermostat-dial-thingy on the hot water heater right down to the bottom - but so far, no luck with it automatically doing it itself. And the hot water is barely warm enough to wash your hands - you certainly couldn't have a bath, or really even a shower. We don't get it, and are living off the ermersion heater right now, which is not the idea at all. Still, at least we can get hot water when we want it.

I'm boring myself. God knows how many readers I've got left after my hiatus - and now this load of drivel. I shall stop, and only return with wildly amusing/entertaining things to say.

We're off to see Quantum of Solace tonight with the gang in Edinburgh. I hope it's better than its title. See ya!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Shaaaaame ...

Yes, well, the old diet is going well. Ahem. Yesterday I consumed a full Scottish breakfast - something akin to pouring lard directly into the arteries. However, I did have a good supper and needed no lunch.

Yesterday Breakfast: 1 3/4 sausages, fried egg, 1 piece white toast, 1/2 piece black pudding, 1/2 piece haggis, mushrooms, 2 rashers bacon. All fried. All evil. 2 cups coffee.
Lunch: A slightly sick feeling from too much breakfast
Supper: 1 sea bass, roasted, stuffed with fresh coriander, ginger, garlic, spring onions. Stir fried veg - red & yellow pepper, broccoli, peas, sweetcorn - in sherry & kikkoman. Rice.

We had Phid round for supper, though, so all that was destroyed by the consumption of a citrus tart with cream (quite a small tart, but still ...)

Today has started well enough though, with a yoghurt for breakfast (and usual vat of coffee). May it continue.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Food - O Why Are You So Good?

So, I managed to order fish at Janus's birthday party!


Unfortunately, I failed to realise it would be deep fried and covered in crispy, crispy goodness.


I also failed to resist pudding, or a small vat of alcohol, which left me feeling quite unpleasant the next day. On the other hand, it was a very fine evening of fun and yammer with all my best pals, so sod it.

During the course of the evening, a conversation cropped up that has cropped up before. It's a bone of considerable contention between me and the rest of the Cheese Board, so I think it's about time I addressed it in Blog form.

If a Higher Power were to descend to earth and declare you able only to consume EITHER potatoes OR rice, but not both - which would you choose?

I have always said I would choose rice. Potatoes are heavenly in all their forms - but the thought of going without them doesn't fill me with the sort of horror as forgoing all rice forever more. Yea, verily, I love rice. It's all the flavours I assosciate with rice that are so joyous, so clean and fragrant: ginger, lemongrass, soya sauce, coriander ... the list goes on. How could I live without them?

"I have only one thing to say to you," Koios said, belligerantly.

"And that is?"


But no, I wouldn't be swayed. I was insulted, scorned, mocked and spat upon - but my course remains true. Rice is the food of my soul, and I'll stand by it.

In fact, I'm standing by it to such an extent that I have GIVEN UP POTATOES. Yes folks, just to see if I'm right, I'm going on a spud-free diet. I cannot consume it in any form - not baked, boiled, mashed, roasted, sautéed, Dauphinoised, au gratinated. I cannot let past my lips: chips, crisps, potato waffles, hash browns ... you get the idea. Spuds are OUT.

On the other hand, I can eat bread, pasta, noodles, tortillas, and, of course, rice. Riiiice. Oh - and, because they're only distantly related to potatoes, sweet potatoes (yams) are ok too. Unless someone wants to object, of course, in which case, to save argument I'd cut them out as well.

The ban on spuds will last for at least 2 weeks, but for as a long as I wish to implement it in order to either prove my point, or fall on my starchy sword and admit I am WRONG.

So there. And now on to the dullness that is the food diary.


Breakfast: 1 bowl crunchy nut cornflakes, skimmed milk, coffee.
Lunch: 1/2 bowl Mexican corn chowder, 1/2 bagel with cream cheese & smoked salmon.
Supper: Stir fry chicken and noodles. Pudding: mug hot chocolate, piece tablet.

Result? I feel fat and sick.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Not to put too fine a point on it, but ...


Just got on the scales. Since my lightest, I've put on 9 pounds. Yes, 9 pounds. Granted, I got down to my lightest owing to a nasty tummy bug, but even from my healthy lightest I've put on about half a stone. It's time for some drastic action.

Yes folks. I'm going back on a Diet.

See the capital 'D'? Indeed. It's a proper one. This means that I'll be going back to monitoring what I eat and noting it down in extraordinarily dull fashion in my blog. Seeing as I'm here already, I might as well put down what I've had so far today:

Breakfast - 2 slices white toast with Clover. 1 small vat of coffee. Skimmed milk, 2 sweeteners. To save me writing that last bit down every time, when I say 1 coffee it means with skimmed milk and 2 sweeteners, unless specified. Clear? Good.

Lunch - 30g bowl crunchy nut cornflakes. Skimmed milk.

That is all.

Unfortunately, we're off out to Edinburgh for Janus's 31st birthday tonight (unfortunately for my diet - otherwise, yay!) and being on a diet in a restaurant is just Boresville - for everyone. I shall endeavor to have fish, and no pudding.

Ha. Fat - literally - chance. I am weak.

Thursday, 2 October 2008


Today I massaged the Dentist. She is crazy, in a slightly New Age kind of way, and slightly school-marmish - but I have to admit I kind of fancy her like mad. Fisher thinks this rather funny. In fact, when I said I thought she was fanciable, she looked at me and said:

"I knew at some point you'd say that."

Hm. Clearly Fisher has a highly attuned sense of my taste in women.

At this point I should probably mention that this is a matter of aesthetics. I don't get all twittery and girlish in her presence or anything. It's all very detatched - honest.

Interesting thing about massage. Not being a particularly touchy-feely person, I did worry that the act of performing a massage itself would cause me discomfort - and yet nothing could be further from the truth. Massage is like working out a puzzle with your fingers, while wearing a blindfold. It's all about picturing the muscles beneath the skin, 'seeing' the adhesions, micro-tears, oedemas etc and imagining your hands repairing damage. I think of it as very medical - although, not being a medical person I can't really compare. But when a doctor looks at someone he or she sees a living machine, to be fixed or maintained. It's kind of like that - although with massage therapy being used so heavily in stress reduction, you don't want to get too impersonal.

What I really love about massage is the creativity it allows. The strokes themselves are all a matter of repitition - but people are so different, with different physical and emotional needs, that the best way of providing effect treatment plans is to think of new and different ways of applying those strokes. Plus, with stress relief, there are lots of therapeutic techniques to try out - some you read about, some you invent - and as long as you don't stray into areas that are beyond your abilities, and stay within sensible parameteres, you can have quite a free rein.

I digress. I really only sat down to make a record of my gym session today. After massaging Dentist (who really ought to have a better pseudonym) I went to East Sands Leisure Centre and did a 5k run in 29.24 on the treadmill. I probably ran for a couple of minutes more than that, though, as I decided to start out on a 'weight loss' programme. Unfortunately, I think the machine was broken, as, randomly, it suddenly started whirring and put up the elevation. I knew it was going to after a few minutes - but this happened when the screen showed us still, supposedly, on the flat. The inclination was only supposed to go up to about 3 or 4, too, and this just kept on going! Pretty soon I was gasping, squawking, and hanging on to the handlebars. I just about managed to hit the stop button, while Fisher tried not to laugh as she ran on the machine next to me.

Anyway, I decided it was safer to stick to the usual boring flat run. It was tedious in the extreme, and I am absolutely exhausted from it. I was doing a basic rate of 6 mph, then speeding up to 7 for a minute, then 6.5, then 7, then 6 when I got tired ... and it nearly killed me. Sad. I'm sure I've lost a lot of fitness. And replaced it with fatness. Booo.

After the treadmill I did a weights rotation: Bicep Curl (on 35kg), Chest Press (35, then down to 30), Shoulder Press (20, then 15), Lat Pull (30), Hip Abductor (?), Stomach Press (on 1o. Is that 100kg?), then round again, 3 times in total.

I'm a bit fed up with fitness instructors, actually. Nobody seems to know how much the weight divisions are. It's almost as though the actual weight isn't important when, secretly, everyone knows it is. So if anyone out there knows what the standard weight division is for each machine, let me know. At the moment I'm figuring each arm-based machine at 5kg divisions, and each leg one at 10kg. I don't have any clue what the stomach machine would be. Any info would be gratefully received - in lbs or kgs.

After the gym we walked the pooches, came home, and cooked supper. Now I'm planning on going to bed and watching Star Trek Voyager. Hmm ... it's just struck me that the Dentist is a very little bit like Kathryn Janeway. Maybe that explains it ...

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Wining and Dining

It's been what Laura Ingalls Wilder's mother would refer to as a 'whirl of gaity' of late. But first up was a matter of work - meeting a woman with 2 Great Danes who wants me to come and house sit for her. One of the dogs is deaf, the other has a pace maker. The deaf one was neglected as a pup - forced to live in a small, 4 ft square area, with his only human contact being the ability to peer over a baby gate into the kitchen. Needless to say, he's now somewhat boisterous!

When I arrived, the owner greeted me pleasantly and led me into the sitting room. Through French doors I could see two small horses trampling over the small garden. When they caught sight of us, they roared up to the window and started barking in a quite ferocious manner. Even as unfazed by dogs as I am, I have to admit to feeling the smallest sense of unease at the sight of these enormous animals roaring at the top of their voices. But when they were let in, they were simple adorable. Truly the size of the dog is irrelevant. It's all attitude that counts. These two were as soft as butter - especially the older one, who came and sat next to me on the sofa, butt on the seat and paws on the floor, and leaned heavily against me. The other one was a little more excitable - but no hint of aggression at all. He did attempt to curl up on the sofa with us, but trying to fit his enormous frame into a space just about large enough for a small cocker spaniel proved a little too much for him.

These dogs are vast. Standing on hind legs, the older one is 6ft 7inches tall. He now weighs in at just over 10 stone, but in his youth he was a good 12. Looking after them poses a couple of problems - firstly, I don't like the fact they're not walked properly. Not the older one, who's not supposed to do any exercise, but the younger one is in desperate need of a good romp. The garden they have is far too small for them - as is their owner, who is simply not physically strong enough to keep a Great Dane under control. She's very knowledgeable, has had Danes for decades, so possibly she knows exactly what she's doing - but I did detect signs that this younger one was under exercised. Perhaps it was just that day, though. She said her husband takes him out, so maybe it was a one off. Just because they're bigger doesn't necessarily mean they need more exercise than an ordinary dog.

The only thing that's really putting me off is the strong smell of cigarettes in the house. The scent itself is pretty bad, but what I'm more worried about is getting used to it - and then deciding the one thing in the world I could really do with is a fag. I came across an old filofax of mine, with some of those sections in it that are labelled awful things like "Objectives" or "Achievements". Under the one rather hopefully labelled "Interests" I'd listed:

1. Fags

Smoking really was rather wonderful. On the other hand, the legacy of regular respiratory tract infections is less wonderful - and I'm very glad I've given up, in the grand scheme of things.

I'm getting tired and my train of thought is wandering. I was going to talk about the Whirl of Gaity, but got side tracked by pooches. I shall be brief.

On Thursday, Spar & Blar took us out for a really wonderful evening of fine dining at Wedgewood . It was a great night, kicked off by Spar actually dragging a moth-eaten tie from his wardrobe and looking proper swanky. As usual, Blarney decided to amuse herself by taking a topic of conversation she knows full well will set me off on a Class 1 rant and playing Devil's Advocate as only she can. 3 hours later, my throat dry, my nervous system an exhausted wreck, and the waitresses on the verge of mugging me with a tablecloth and bunding me into a waiting looney-van, I think I managed to change absolutely nobody's mind about the Rôle of Wimmin in Society. Especially not the large group of robust Aussie males on a nearby table - but they were having far too much fun with their 2 token birds to pay any attention to us, anyway.

It was a grand evening, and the following day Fisher and I were so buouyant we actually braved IKEA on a Saturday - and got some very productive shopping done.

On Friday night we were back in Edinburgh for Pro's birthday meal at Duck's, and very lovely it was, too. The menu was limited, but all the food was superb - especially the Sticky Toffee Pudding: surely the finest I have ever tasted. It was supposed to come with cinnamon Chantilly cream, but as I hate cinnamon I asked to have the salted caramel ice cream which accompanied a lemon parfait instead. It was perfect in every way. In fact, as I think on it now, I find myself salivating so unbearably I will have to stop.

Today we popped up to the G-Spot and saw that work is, at last, progressing at a visible pace. It was quite thrilling. We also took up all the tiles for My bathroom (they're so preeeeeetty!), much to Helga the VWs disgust. She creaked and croaked her way to Perthshire, groaning under the weight of 600 slate tiles - but not groaning nearly as much as we were when we had to unload them all at the other end.

All in all it's been a very fun, and also very productive few days. Next week I have to get my nose to the grindstone and make sure I'm prepared for my Therapeutic Massage exams in October - but I should be able to do a couple of hours a day and still pay Garry as serious amount of attention.

I'm a little pie-eyed at this point. I'm not sure how much sense this blog makes right now, so it's best for me to turn in. Apologies if this is the dullest thing ever.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Holly Cottage moves one step closer ...

... to being sold.

Today, Fisher and I went into Dundee and ordered some replacement lino for the kitchen floor (destroyed many months ago by visiting dogs) and some for the bathroom. We got the cheapest available and we're still £300 out of pocket. Still, half of that was paid by the dogs' owners back in February, so that's something. This means we only have to get the new bathroom painted, the leak around the base of the sink repaired, and, y'know, maybe hoover? before we stick the old gal on the market.

Ah, HC. HQ of the Cheeseboard. The site of many raucous - and not so raucous parties. Venue of Friends' Christmas, of Murder Mystery New Year, of birthdays and Easters, of Treasure Hunts and epic battles of Who's in the Bag? (If, reader, you do not know this fantastic game then I urge you to go out and buy it. If for some reason you come from an uncivilised part of the universe where this game is unknown, I suggest you make your own version. Instructions for constructing a home made WitB will follow, as well as rules. Christ I'm sad and pathetic.) Of pots of tea and biscuits, morning fry-ups or American style pancakes and bacon, of Janus's allergies and Koios's ravenous appetite, of drunken ramblings and even drunker wailings and twangings in the name of music. And food. Restaurant nights, Sunday roasts, Fisher's Thai Green Curry and Breakfast Bread, hearty winter stews, summer barbecues, salads, chicken pie ... not to mention the sweet stuff. Apple pie with apples straight from the tree, home made ice cream, Auntie Brave Bird's lemon cheesecake, honey and almond wafers ... and, to finish it all, cheese, cheese, cheese. And who could forget copious bottles of red wine, the odd splashing of white-and-fizzy, cocktail parties in proper frocks (and that was just the men), Jamaica Sundays, whisky sours and mint juleps? And talking, and talking, and talking.

Good old HC. She's had a good life with us. But soon we'll be taking all of the above and moving on - to a bigger, better, older, prettier version - with a bedroom for everyone who comes to stay. No more sleeping on the futon, or a blow-up mattress on the floor. No more cramming around a makeshift dining room in the conservatory. No, my friends - it's time to move on, to accept that we are too old to play the student, that we like our comforts and a little civilisation - and haven't we always sought to bring a little éclat to proceedings?

Let this be the mark of a new era! We are still young, though the shadow of our middle years grows ever longer. Let the party continue, though our eyelids flutter like butterflies at the eleventh hour. A new chapter is just around the corner. We will not go gently into the noontime of our lives, but raise two defiant fingers - and a rather fruity glass of Chateauneuf du Pape. Our time is now! We have sung a rousing chorus, people, but oh - the song goes on. And it shall be sung all the sweeter, for we have learnt the tune (even if some of us are a little flat).

Farewell HC! Your era is past. Soon, soon we shall embrace you all again (although not, like, in an icky carkeys-ina-bowl type way) at our new, brighter, better home - the G-Spot. Huzzah!

Yep. It's official. I've gone stark staring looneytunes. Enough of this. Fisher has finished watching America's Next Top Evil Antithesis to Women Ever Being Taken Bloody Seriously and I have some serious telly time to catch up on. Farewell. I leave you, as promised, with the Holy Grail of Games.

Home Made Who's in the Bag
  1. Get a few sheets of A4 paper and hand them round your guests.
  2. Each guest writes a number of famous names in a large list.
  3. Some of these names should have a smiley face next to them. This means they are imitations. Try not to choose names that are completely inimitable, but people who have famous catch-phrases, particular accents, mannerisms etc.
  4. Some of the names should have AP written above, to denote All Play.
  5. Tear the paper into individual names and place all of them in the bag.
  6. Divide into teams of 2 or more. You're ready to play.
Rules of Who's in the Bag
  1. Each team is made up of one reader, and the rest are guessers. The reader changes each round. Everyone must take their turn at being reader.
  2. The reader takes a piece of paper from the bag and must try and get his/her team to guess who is written on the paper. They may do this through song, dance, mime, imitation, or simple explanation - but, obviously, there are a few words they can't say. They can't, for example, say any of the names on the card (duh). Nor can they use 'sounds like.' To make it trickier, there's a house rule that says you can't, in fact, say any names at all. So, for example, if you got Hillary Clinton on your piece of paper, you couldn't say: "Famous wife of ex-president Bill." You could say "famous wife of an ex-president" though. Or, alternatively, "scary woman senator with a face like a slapped arse."
  3. You can pass on ONE card only per turn.
  4. If you pick out a name with a smiley face next to it, you must imitate the person. This does NOT mean you can just describe the person in your ordinary voice but pretend to be imitating them by using the word "I". Example: certain female player pulls out 'Bob Marley' with a smiley face. Her 'imitation' consists of saying this in her ordinary, very English voice: "Er ... I'm a reggae singer. I sang No Woman No Cry. I've got dreadlocks.' This is not acceptable. Anyone doing this should be taken out and shot.
  5. If you pick out a name with AP above the name, this means All Play. Instead of just trying to get your team to guess the name, all players can attempt to guess. The first person to shout out the correct answer wins the card.
  6. The player has one turn of an egg timer (or between 45 seconds-1 minute) to get as many names right as possible. If one card is answered correctly, they should take another one from the bag, and so on until the time runs out. Correctly guessed names should be kept and counted up at the end.
  7. The winning team is the one with the most names in their pile.
  8. Points to note: Sometimes a name gets shouted out correctly after the timer has gone. This means the team doesn't get to keep the name - but there's now a card floating about in there that everyone's already heard. In the interests of fairness, it's better to remove the card entirely.
    If you've made your own version of the game, there is a slight problem in that a large number of the names will be ones you've thought of yourself. You can choose to guess them anyway, or you can exercise honesty and agree that, once you recognise that the name is one you put in, you make no further attempt to help your team. Obviously, this only works in teams of more than 2.
    That's that then.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

A List!

I was browsing other peoples' blogs and came across this list of books. The blogger - one Sarah Barlow - says that she got it from a book club, where the average person has only read 6 out of 100. She also made up the last 2 because they were missed off the list she had - so I've made up the last 2 as well. One I have read, one I feel I ought to.

The reason I'm including this is because every book list I ever see makes me feel inferior and rubbish. For someone with an MA in English, I'm always woefully read. This one didn't make me feel too bad about myself, because it's full of some mind bending choices. The Faraway Tree? And no Tom Sawyer? Do the list yourselves and rejoice. I've put the ones I've read in bold.

Seriously - 6???

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (loved the movie, too, every time I see it!)
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible (the majority of it)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (I've only seen it on stage.)
11. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller. Not for want of trying. I just can't get into it.
14. Complete work of Shakespere (as near as dammit)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (anyone who says they have is lying.)
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (I'm SURE I must have, but can't for the life of me recall)
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (Loved it.)
37. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
38. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
39. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
40. Animal Farm - George Orwell
41. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
42. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
43. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving (I've read over half of it, so it goes in. Hate it)
44. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
45. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
46. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy. Got half way through. Lost the book.
47. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
48. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
49. Atonement - Ian McEwan
50. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
51. Dune - Frank Herbert
52. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
53. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
54. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
55. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
56. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
57. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
58. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
59. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
60. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
61. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
62. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
63. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
64. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
65. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
66. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
67. Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
68. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdi
69. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
70. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
71. Dracula - Bram Stoker (the most overrated book in the history of literature)
72. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
73. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
74. Ulysses - James Joyce
75. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
76. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
77. Germinal - Emile Zola
78. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
79. Possession - AS Byatt
80. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
81. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
82. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
83. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
84. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
85. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
86. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
87. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
88. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
89. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
90. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
91. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
92. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
93. Watership Down - Richard Adams
94. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
95. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
96. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
97. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
98. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
99. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susannah Clarke
100. The Magic Mountain - Thomas Mann. It's sitting on my bookshelf. I WILL read it.

SO, I score 52. Or 53. I lost count. I console myself with the thought that most of these books I've actively rejected, not never come into contact with. I have no desire to read Jude the Obscure. I read the 'because we are too meny' bit and nearly died from despair. I do love him, but not that much. And I've seen a few of these books in play or film form and never felt the urge to read them in the original. So there.

Anyway - head over to the blog 'A Little Dose of Crazy' for the post I got it from.

I'm Back - Briefly

It's been right mental over the past few months, so apologies for my blogs being so intermittent.

First - the throat thing is all cleared up. I went to the ultrasound doctor, who covered me in an inordinate amount of goop, considering he was only looking at a small part of my neck (I was wiping it out of my pants for days) and told me what the endocrinologist, 2 GPs and an ENT specialist couldn't:

"It's a lymph node."

I made a sound much like 'y-whaaa??'

"It might be thyroglossal remnant," he offered. "Either way, it's nothing."

All my other symptoms have pretty much vanished. I still get a lump in my throat sometimes - particularly at the end of the day, if I've been yakking (talking - not throwing up) or singing a lot. I'm still croaky for a while in the mornings, and at some points throughout the day. BUT - the PND has cleared up, I'm having no trouble swallowing (alas for my waistline), and I no longer think I'm about to keel over from an enormous cancerous growth invading my miiiiind. So that's all well and good.

I had to play catch-up with my massage course, which I loathed and abhorred. I had to go to the tutor's house, give her daughter a massage and get assessed, and make a total numpty of myself by not knowing where any of the muscles she asked about were, how many vertebrae there are in each section of the spine, where the bony landmarks are, or the difference between my arse and elbow. It was somewhat painful. And, to be honest, I'm no more enlightened now. I really, really have to get my nose to the grindstone - but I find it so hard to memorise! I've not had nearly the same sort of trouble learning the physiological side. I think it's to do with stories. If something has a story, I can learn it - no matter how dull said story may be. Here's a cell. These are the characters (mitochondria, golgi bodies, nucleus etc etc). This is what the characters do, this is their plot, and this is their conclusion. The same can be said for anything with a function. But learning muscles is just a case of remembering their name and where they are. It's mindless, parrot-fashion learning and I'm RUBBISH at it. How the feck are you supposed to remember which one is a 'process' and which a 'tuberosity'? As for the goddamned muscles of the neck ... splenius capitis, splenius cervicis, semispinalis capitis, and sternocleidomastoid ... they don't exactly roll off the tongue, do they?

So, I've reached a part of my course I'm not exactly enjoying, as well as discovering I'm a bit thick with things like this. I'm liking the client case studies, but finding time for them is proving troublesome, and seeing as they're all due in November I really have to press on.

And, of course, there's the house. To be honest I can't really complain about it. Fisher has done everything. The men are at work, ripping bits up, throwing bits down, preparing for our long awaited move - but there's so much still to do, not least put HC on the market. This means finishing the bathroom and putting new lino down in the kitchen first. I'm determined that, after this weekend's tutorial of horrors, where my humiliation will doubtless be complete, I'm going to get right on the business of house selling. Or, should the market be dead, house renting. Or, should it be truly dead, suicide.

It hasn't all been work and no play, though. We had a lovely weekend at the beginning of September at the Countryside Fair, with Koi, Badger, Janus, Blar & Spar. We witnessed some impressive stunt riding, in front of the least easily impressed crowd you're ever likely to see. The smattering of applause following each stunt was in direct contrast to how pleased with themselves the riders were - especially a tall, blond, handsome young man (with a much uglier brother for whom we all felt sorry) who thrust his chest out like a narked pigeon. We hoped he'd fall off and be trampled beneath the hooves, but it wasn't to be. There was also a, frankly hilarious, demonstration of a princess being captured by evil King's Guards. She had a bag of treasure she was trying to save, but the evil guards were bearing down on her ...

"They're coming!" bellowed the narrator over the tannoy, with an audible rustle of the crisp packet she was eating from at the time. "Poor princess! Run, princess!"

The princess gave a terrified scream, followed by a swift look over her shoulder. Seeing that she was outstripping the horses by a considerable margin, she slowed to a trot then, visibly irked, to a shuffle. The horses 'bore' down on her. She gave another scream, slightly more irritated than terrified, and waved her hands in the air.

"They've almost got the treasure!" cried the tannoy, in a fine spray of crisp dust.

Actually, they were nowhere near the treasure, so the princess gave an actually-quite-angry-now scream, threw the treasure at them and leaped into her captor's arms. I'm not certain, but I think I saw her mouth: "For fuck's sake, Bob, where were you?"

Bob attempted to haul her up behind him, but she was a buxom lass and not easy to haul, so there was a bit of an undignified scrabble before she was safely riding at his back. They exited stage left, to the faint clappa-ca-lappa of unimpressed applause.

"Let's hear it for our brave princess and her vile captors!" mumbled the tannoy, to a torrent of silence.

"Talk about girl power," I snorted loudly. "That was the most pathetic display I've ever seen!"

"His goolies were there to be battered," Fisher agreed.

We all had a vocal discussion about what a wet fart in a rainstorm the princess had proved, until we realised the chap beside us was recording the whole proceedings on video for his brood of under 6s and we were completely destroying the 'magic' with our feminist rantings.

Aside from stunt horses, we ... er ... well, ate a lot. There was the hog roast, the sweetie bar, the fresh-cooked crepe stand ... Oh, Spar and I did some archery (my humiliation continues). Other than that, the dogs had a lovely time, including Dougal who we were looking after for Phid and Wheeler.

Other social events on my calendar included a cheery night with the Cheese Board, which involved me massaging Blarney, Janus, Koi and Spartan, and everyone else getting quite pissed and annoying me by teasing Spar for ... well, basically being a bloke in a pair of boxers. I ask you - do I come to their work and take the piss out of their clients? I do not. Then again, they don't have to work in the middle of what was, ostensibly, a middle-aged pyjama party.

Also, Wheeler and Phid had a housewarming party. We brought barbecue, food and booze. They provided the place in which to put said barbecue, room in the garden for a tent - and a comfy air mattress. Also a 'head torch' ceilidh with music blasting from Norman the van, and a bonfire. We arrived and soon needed to light the barbecue. This was an epic task in itself as they had no lighter fuel and no impregnated charcoal, so I had to use sticks. Still, there were a couple of blokes wandering around looking irritated that I was usurping their role of fire gods, so I took great delight in lighting it with wood, paper, and then cooking food far more efficiently and, frankly, tastily than the gas barbie. The guy who was in charge of that seemed to believe that a) it took 45 minutes to cook a sausage and b) he needed to come and tell me that my barbecue would never light and give me some handy pointers like 'if you wait for a minute or two, I'll come and help you out.' Luckily, the fire was a-glow by the time he turned back to help this damsel in distress, and I'd already cooked 2 sausages - and consumed them. It then turned into an astonishing barbecue rivalry. None of Wheeler's friends would eat my offerings out of loyalty to gas-man. I offered, but was told each time that no, they were waiting for the gas barbecue. This actually suited us down to the ground, as the wood and charcoal barbie was turning over fodder like Jesus let loose in a bakery-fishmonger. We were soon happily fed, chatting in a corner and sucking back beer. There were some nice people there, so we managed not to be utterly antisocial and actually had entertaining chats with strangers. Wonders will never cease. Unfortunately, I developed a cracking headache just before midnight, which even ibuprofen would not shift, so I turned in to our tent. All the other Cheese Boarders buggered off back to the warmth of their beds at home, which was, frankly, pathetic of them. I curled up with a book, which I couldn't actually read without my eyes throbbing, and was blissfully asleep before Fisher arrived back to the tent and woke me up. Even that small sleep had dulled the headache considerable, and when I next awoke - at 2am ish - it was the call of my bladder that was the culprit. I simply cannot camp without needing to pee every 3 or so hours, and getting in and out of a mummy-bag as well as a tent is no joke. There are several occasions I've seriously considered wetting myself.

Ok, not seriously.

Next morning was pretty - sunshine where there'd been rain the evening before, which put a bit of a dampner (har har) on the roaring fire - at least, for those not sitting under tarpaulin cover. Fisher and I had to go home and give the dogs some exercise and attention, as well as sort out some housey stuff, so we couldn't join them at the pub for brunch. We figured it would be easier to sort out feeding fewer people anyway, as many pubs turn pale at the sight of a large party of hungry campers - so home we went and left them to it.

And that's all. Nothing else has happened except me getting back into a tentative exercise regime, struggling to remember muscles and bones of the body (and failing), and gearing up for this weekend's tutorial. Hope everyone out there in the ether is well.


Thursday, 4 September 2008

Quickie Update

Just got back from Ninewells for my appointment with the endocrine fella, who was supposed to check out my lump. To begin with he wasn't there, so my history was taken by the most terrified 4th year student I've ever seen. I was tempted to say:

"Look, I'm no doctor, but the first thing they teach anyone in a medical field - even blimmin' massage - is to create an aura of confidence. You're about as confident as a field mouse facing a feral tabby."

I then reeled off a list of symptoms with as many medical terms as I could remember - at which his pen hand, I kid thee not, went from mildly quivering to a full-on shake. I was wildly entertained - until the specialist remained AWOL for 35 minutes and I was stuck with the quivering fool staring at me, gulping, saying "I really don't know what else to ask you. Is there ... er ... anything you think you should tell me?"

I thought carefully.

"I'm not a big fan of the cock," I said - just to see what colour he'd go.

Unfortunately, that's not true. Anyway, the specialist eventually rocked up and we chatted briefly.

"And ... er ... why have they sent you to me?" he said, in a not very encouraging way. "I deal with the endocrine system."

"Possibly because I have a thyroglossal cyst?" I hedged. Christ ... do I have to do everything myself? I thought. I'm not hugely keen on self-diagnosis, but if he asks me to whack out a scalpel, I'm outta here.

"Oh, all right," he shrugged amenably, and proceeded to poke my neck with a stick. Upon finding said lump, he gave a porcine snort and crowed:

"That's tiny!"

"Yes, but it's what you do with it that counts," I retorted, inexplicably narked.

"Waha," he chortled. "Wa-hahaha. Well, I'm not going to do anything to it. Cutting it out would probably do more harm than good, and would just give you a bloody great scar. You're booked in for an ultrasound anyway, so get it checked out - but my recommendation is just to forget about it."

Just forget about it. Good lord, why didn't I think of that?

So, while there's no need to be alarmed any more, I'm still no closer to figuring out what's wrong with my throat, or why my voice is a bit croaky and weak. The antacids I've been prescribed have done no good. However - the ENT appointment stands, so I've got until the beginning of October to see if things improve, and for the ultrasound department to have a peek at the lump and say "that's tiny" in tones of contempt.

Now leave me alone. I have stuff to learn for my massage tutorial and it won't get done rabbiting away to you lot.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Long TIme No Blog

I'd like to apologise to my loyal reader for not blogging for ages. There's been a lot going on in my head of late, which has rather occupied me. I can laugh it off now (just about) but at the time I was given a real insight into the misery of potentially serious diagnosis. I also discovered I'm a totally pathetic individual.

Basically, I worked myself up into quite a state over the lump in my neck, and the peculiar sensations in my throat. I went to see the doctor twice - once to be told he felt no unusual lumps or bumps but that he'd set up an ENT appointment for me; twice because despite him saying he felt nothing, I knew there was something there and made the (different) doctor feel it. She said she thought it was a thyroglossal duct cyst, that it was nothing serious and that I shouldn't worry. When I said I'd go private to get it sorted out, she actually phoned me at home to recommend I didn't. As she was 100% certain it wasn't cancer, going private would be extremely expensive and might even give worse care, as there didn't seem to be an ENT specialist in private care in Scotland. She told me to hold out for the NHS appointment at Ninewells. I was reassured - for about 20 minutes. Then my mind went back to believing the absolute worst. Sore throat, a feeling of a large golf ball stuck in it, coupled with the long-term feeling that my singing voice has been compromised, just made me believe there was something more than a thyroglossal cyst. Perhaps I have a thyroglossal cyst because I have cancer, I thought.

Luckily, in a miracle of NHS efficiency, I had only about a week to wait from my second appointment (about 2 from my first). Ninewells called on Monday to say they had a slot available on the Wednesday, which I grasped with both hands. Living in a state of anxiety is not something I do well. It would probably help if I had a structured work life to take my mind off something, but the trouble with being a wastrel is that you have absolutely nothing stopping you from sitting on the sofa, imagining you have only months to live, wasting your day attempting to take your mind off it through the magic of TV and books.

On the Wednesday in question, Fisher took me to the hospital and came into the consultation with me, to make sure I mentioned all my symptoms and was totally reassured. Astonishingly, the appointment was for 2pm, and we were seen at about 2.05. The professor who saw me was the same guy who used to see Fisher when she was a lass, so no lack of experience there!

I told him all my symptoms. He felt my throat where I pointed out the lump, and all round it. He then told me to go and sit on a different chair while he had a look down my throat.

"This is where you stick a lovely tube down my throat, then," I whimpered.

"No no," he assured me. Yay, I thought. "It actually goes up your nose - then down your throat."

"Oh joy," I responded, which made him smile like the devil.

"It's really not so bad," the sympathetic nurse told me. "It'll be over in a jiffy." This reassured me, until she handed me a wad of tissues and added: "You'll need these. It'd make a glass eye cry."

It was far from pleasant, but really only uncomfortable. It wasn't painful or anything. He had a look at the nasal passages, then pushed it deep into my throat (urgle) and had a root around. Eventually he pulled it out (urgle) and said he saw absolutely nothing wrong, apart from a little redness around the trachea. Nor, apparantly, had he felt anything unusual in my throat. Puzzling, as I can clearly feel it - and so could the 2nd doctor. But, hey, he's the pro - and it was great news. He prescribed me some antacids as he thinks I have acid reflux splashes in the throat.

So that was that. He did set up an ultrasound, so the lump isn't completely ignored - but he was sure there wasn't anything seriously wrong. Unfortunately, discomfort in my throat continues today, with the feeling of something stuck at the back of my soft pallate. But I shall take some antihistamines and see if it's hay fever related. It's harvest, after all.

With the throat thing put, if not to bed, then at least down for a nap, I felt a great weight roll from my shoulders. I played a tennis match, racing about like a wild thing, having done no exercise for weeks owing to my inability to inspire myself out of the sitting room. Literally, all I did was sit around and watch the Olympics.

Unfortunately, during the tennis match I felt my lower back 'go'. I was running for a ball when - ping - a sharp pain shot through my hips and lumbar region. Luckily I was 1 game away from winning the match, which I managed to do by smacking the ball without moving my feet at all. I crept back to the car and drove home, stopping at Spar to pick up some baking potatoes for supper. Alas, my attempts at actually getting out of the car failed dismally and I was forced to drive home and sit miserably in the driver's seat until Fisher came and helped me out. Did I feel pathetic? Why, yes I did.

Fisher then departed for Island to take part in the half marathon. I was supposed to be doing my massage course, but with my back in its appalling state there was no way I could manage, so I had to give it a miss. I had an entertaining morning where it took me ages to actually get out of bed - not helped by Bridie deciding the odd noises I was making meant a game and jumping on my chest, flattening me back to the mattress with a howl of agony. I made a swift appointment with the osteo, who gave me the usual elbow-prodding (as in he prodded me with his elbow in my tender joints - he didn't prod my elbow. That would seem pointless. Unlike his elbows) and cracked my vertebrae with his usual energetic charm. It really isn't a pleasant experience - but seeing as it never fails to help, it's definitely worth it. 5 days after the cracking, my back is so much better I actually went for a run in the gym.

Now, it's been over 2 weeks since my last 5k, so I thought I'd take it easy. I put the machine on weight loss and thought I'd try 10 minutes. The weight loss programme starts the run on flat, then puts it up to a gradient of about 3%, then back to flat again. Frankly, I didn't really notice the gradient - but I'm assured it was there. After 10 minutes I noticed that I'd done over 1mile, thanks to the irritating 3 minute warm up at the start, so I decided to finish on 2 miles. I have 6 songs on my iPod's On-The-Go playlist, and at the 2 mile point I'd reached the 4th song - so I thought I'd stop after I'd listened to all 6. Then, of course, at the end of the 6th song I was so close to doing 5k I figured I might as well finish. I did the whole 5k in about 31 1/2 minutes, with a 3 minute walk at the start, and never dropped below a 10 minute mile pace. I was very pleased.

What other news? Not much. Works to the new house have been agreed, and the men will start very soon. They estimate we'll be ready by the 3rd or 4th week in September, which means we're still on track for Janus's footie 'n' food party - if she can round people up and pin them down to a date. Not an easy task.

That's me for a while. Hopefully I'll be more prompt in updating from now on.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Olympic Bid

Ok, I've looked at the 2012 website, and narrowed down some options.

1. Archery. How hard can it be? Lift up bow, pull back string, twang. To Do List: get a bow and a target. Alternatively, stand Fisher in the garden with an apple on her head.
2. Handball. For this, I will recruit the rest of the Cheese Board and one other person. Chopper, maybe? Although we'd probably be disqualified for dirty play. To Do List: persuade Cheese Board that glory is inevitable. Train. Find out what the hell Handball actually is.
3. Hockey. I was a bloody good goalkeeper at school. Perhaps I should get back into it? To Do List: Find a hockey team in need of a goalkeeper. Put on an enormous amount of weight so all I have to do is stand in the goal, fill it, and become the greatest goalkeeper of all time.
4. Shooting. See Archery. Lift up gun, pull back trigger, bang. To Do List: buy a gun and a target. Alternatively, stand Fisher in the garden with a clay pigeon on her head.

Right. Next stage involves narrowing down the list. This will take some thought. I expect to reach a decision by 2011, leaving me a good 12 months to learn, practice, and become the best in the world.

A doddle.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Slight Freak Out ... and Gym

Yes, the slight freak out is because as well as the tightness in my throat there's also a peculiar lump. It doesn't hurt (well ... it didn't. It sort of does now, but I have a feeling that's because I keep poking it) but I can't figure out what it can be. It's on the right side of my epiglotis - it actually feels like it's almost on the epiglotis, and Fisher doesn't have one.

My immediate and unshiftable belief is that it's throat cancer and I'm a single step away from the graaaaave. But in saner moments I consider the possibility it's a further manifestation of a throat nodule (hopefully not a polyp) - or else a raised gland from the nasty tummy bug I had last week. Perhaps a cervical gland?

Anyway - no use driving myself crazy. I'm going to see the ENT people anyway, so I'll find out whether there's anything wrong then. Or be dead before I get an appointment (of old age). Either way - no sense in worrying.

The gym was a bit of a success. I did 5k in 28.35, which is good for me (possibly my best. Depressing, non?). I then did a circuit of 3 weight machines - the bicep curl, the pectoral pushy thing, and the lat machine.

Bicep = 1 x 12 on 7, 1 x 12 on 6, 1 x 12 on 5
Pec = 1 x 12 on 7, 2 x 12 on 6
Lat = 1 x 12 on 7, 1 x 12 on 6, 1 x 12 on 5 (v tired by this point).

Then I went and picked a blue Fisher up from the Old Course, where she finished her 10 mile run and was feeling very morose. Her athsma is not her friend. She had to stop and walk a couple of times - albeit for only short distances - because her lungs don't feel right. I had to point out that, despite it not being a good time, it was still 10 miles - and the number of people in the world who can run 10 miles off the bat is still considerably fewer than those who can't. She is marvellous and should never forget it.

In a bid to make this blog more interesting, I've decided to peruse the Olympic 2012 website and look at a list of all the events (if such a thing exists). Then I shall pick a sport and train for the next 4 years, in the hopes that I can enter the Olympics and shower myself with glory.

So there.

Watch this space. O yes. Watch this space.



Yes, folks, I've just read over the last few entries and decided my blog needs an overhaul, for it is verily as dull as ditchwater. It is, in fact, ditchwater's twin. So from now on I will only post interesting things.

Er ...

Is this interesting? I went to the doctor to get my throat checked out, and ...

Wait! No, really, it might be interesting!

So, anyhoo, I've been concerned about my throat for a while. I sing a lot, but over the last couple of months I've noticed my throat growing a little - I dunno - hot? - when I sing for more than a few minutes. It's a bit rough. And it doesn't have any of the force it used to. Plus, I keep missing notes. It's very strange. So I used my dodgy right knee and tendonitis in my left ankle as an excuse to go and see the doc, and do the old "oh, and while I'm here" routine.

The doctor felt my throat, had a quick look, and said he couldn't see anything immediately wrong, but he was willing to take it seriously enough to make an appointment for me to go and see "the ENT guys" up at Ninewells hospital. As it's on the NHS, I'll probably have an answer for you all next year or so.


Oh - and he made an appointment for me to see a physio over my knee and ankle, too. I am, officially, falling apart at the seams.

Having said that, I felt together enough to play some tennis on Friday. It was wonderful to be out there again, smacking balls back and forth in a real game. I love chucking balls for Fisher, but there's nothing better than pitting your wits against an opponent of roughly your ability, or better.

Watching the Olympics today, it made me realise how little time I have for sports that involve sheer physical superiority. Faster, higher, stronger - whatever. You can argue as much as you like about the role strategy plays, but in the end, most athletics comes down to who has the better body - and where's the fun in that? When you play a team sport, there's so much more to rely on than who can run faster than everyone else.

Enough. Fisher has just come through to tell me she's been given the quote on the work we want done on our new house. Bad news. It's way, way too expensive. We're going to have to have a major rethink.

Bah, bah, and thrice bah.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Catch Up


For the last 3 days I've been struggling with a vicious tummy bug - the likes of which I've not experienced since, oh, last fecking month. Actually, to be fair, it was just before I went to Wimbledon with Koi, so over a month ago, but it was just as unpleasant then as it is now. Sadly, I'd promised to massage Phid's Mum and Dad every day while they were up, but had to bail on them for not only that but a HC invitation including walks, dinner and a bed for the night. I felt crappy (in all senses of the word). I hate bailing on people. Hopefully, when I see them today I might prevail upon them to come to HC on Monday instead, to make up for it.

Aside from feeling weak and run down, I'm on the mend - albeit with the help of astonishingly strong pills and extreme temperence (I've lost 4 pounds - some good may come of this!) and last night was able to go with Fisher to The Artist's house for supper. It was a dinner party, which meant convening with strangers - but they were all very pleasant. In fact, one of the strangers wasn't a stranger at all, but an old friend of Sister's whom I've known a very long time and is great fun. It was a very lovely night, with the only shame being I couldn't do any of the dishes justice. But at least it gave Fisher the opportunity to drink, which she did with gusto - but, luckily, not to the extremes she has shown in the past. Quite moderate, in fact. Not a speck of red vomit in sight. Tonight sees us entertain Sister, sans children (!!), and we've invited The Artist as well, as he was keen to see her. Unfortunately, the Seafood Restaurant in St Andrews couldn't take 4 people instead of 3 (idiots) so we've had to book the one in St Monan's instead, which means an extra drive for Sister and changing plans for Artist's train, but GOD this is dull, so I shall move onto more interesting things.

Fisher and I went to check on the new house t'other week, and left HC in miserable fog and drizzle. Not 10 minutes later we were driving out into beautiful sunshine and considerable heat. I glared angrily at Fisher, suddenly realising that living on the East Coast of Scotland had deprived me of much needed vitamin D for the last 8 years. And it's all her fault. Had she not been so goddamned addicted to Fife, we could have moved somewhere far more exotic years ago. Like Clackmannanshire. Which, by the way, is more than you imagine. (See press releases for confirmation).


Ok, this is now several days later. I planned on taking a small break, but couldn't get back to the old blog before going out for supper with Sister, Fisher and Artist. We went to St Andrews after all, and had pleasant grub - but, unfortunately, it proved too much for my recovering tummy and I was plunged back into hideousness which laid me out for a further day. I've been sensible today, though, and feel much better. With any luck tomorrow will see me right as rain.

So, where was I?

Oh yer. Fisher and I took a jaunt up to the new house, to check it was still standing and to feed our inherited bantams. I was concerned they might all have died, or been scattered to the 4 winds, especially after whistling for them for some minutes and seeing hide nor hair. Or, rather, hide nor feather. However, after we'd looked round the house, checked all was sound, and returned to the garden 15 minutes later, there they were under the tree looking for bounty. We duly provided, and they clucked and pecked in that comfortable way chickens have.

After looking at the house, Fisher and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and decided to seek out the nearest loch - Loch Tullybelton. It didn't look too far away on the map, but it was a fair drive to an appropriate parking place, where we left the car, unloaded the pooches, and set off to ramble. It was an easy walk, probably a little over 2 miles there and back, and the sun beat down all the way. The pooches bounded at the ends of their leads, with Bridie very keen on a mutton supper, and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, utterly enchanted at the thought of this being our new back garden.

At the loch, I was determined to have an outdoor swim, having missed out at Loch Awe due to ... well, abject cowardice and a loathing of cold water, to be fair. Getting to the lochside proved slightly harder than it originally looked, as a lot of it was marshy at the edges and surrounded by deceptive reeds. We found a miniature beach, though, and I stripped down to undies and shirt. The bottom was muddy, and it was a little murky, so I gave up on the idea of a swim and waded out knee-deep instead. Bridie followed gamely on the lead, swimming and snorting like a sleek black otter. To get maximum refreshment, I crouched down and sank up to my waist, before deciding the bottom really was quite grim between my toes and it was time to go back to the shore. I felt much cooler, and it was a beautiful, soul-soothing spot.

On dry land, Fisher handed me the golden dog and began to wade in for her own spot of paddling, when I felt something ticklish on my ankle. I looked down and, to my horror, saw what I first took to be a slug writhing on my skin.

"A leech!" I cried, with loathing. "There's a leech on me!"

Luckily it came off with a quick brush as it hadn't got its teeth into me, so I was spared a Laura Ingalls Wilder scene of pulling the bastard off, watching it get longer and longer before detatching, leaving a trickle of blood in its place. It squirmed and thrashed in the sand for a while before perishing, and Fisher, upon spying some 20 leeches on various rocks by the shore, decided she could do without a paddle.


Even so, it was a lovely walk, and the paddling was desperately needed owing to how hot it was, so the leech can go to Hell.

Like I said, the rest of the week has been sadly marred by this evil tummy bug. I wasn't able to entertain Phid's parents, or even finish more than 2 massages. Phid and Wheeler were supposed to come for massages tomorrow, but they've kindly put it off to give me an extra day to recover. Phid will now get done on Thursday, but Wheeler won't be around so I have to do him next week some time. This puts me rather behind schedule, even with the extra 2 from Phid's Mum - so I may have to go into Edinburgh later in the week and start some new people. God, what a pain in the arse this massage course is turning out to be. I can't exactly ask people to come to me, but I don't think it's designed for people whose clients are over an hour's journey away. Pain. In. The. Arse.

Bah. I'm just feeling tetchy, tired and really fed up with not being well. I've also just made the mistake of watching Dr Alice on TV talking about the stomach and intestines, and am now convinced that my tummy bug is actually bowel cancer and I have weeks to live.

I'm going to bed.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

NEDDING! Part 4. Sunday farewell.

After retiring to bed ridiculously early on Saturday night, after dancing up a storm and nearly vomiting down Spartan's back as he hefted me over his shoulder, there was some excuse for melancholy in the Fisher-Seshat boudoir. After over a year of discussion, planning, arrangement of surprises, invitations, plotting, deception, and blood-fizzing excitement, it was all nearly over. But, in the end, there wasn't any sadness at all. We had Sunday to look forward to, and look forward we did.

The day dawned bright and sunny - yet another miracle - and we headed down for breakfast.

Breakfast, in fact, turned out to be an unexpected joy. I'd spared no thought for this mundane part of the day, simply nodding and agreeing when our nedding planner mentioned that it was part of the package. What I failed to recognise was that it was, in fact, another full meal at which everyone participated, and that it was delicious. Fisher and I entered the room, saw every table all but filled with cheerful diners, and chose our places. Snowy tablecloths, sparkling cutlery, the aroma of coffee and toast ... it was marvellous. I had been about to order a boiled egg and soldiers, but seduced by the rest of my table's insistence on a full Scottish breakfast, I, too, succumbed. And I'm delighted I did. It was extremely good - salty bacon, softly herbed sausages, a poached egg, toast, coffee, fruit juice ... mmmmm. I was well set up for the day.

We all had to be out of our rooms by 11am, and if I had any criticism of Ardanaiseig it would be for the manager. His manner alternated wildly between accommodating and pissy, and while I appreciate that getting 31 adults out of their rooms in time for the hotel to become public once more is a daunting task, we were all very much 'on' it, and he had no need to remind me with a stern, patrician glare.

Everyone was out in good time, and people started enjoying the hotel for their last few hours. There were walks about the grounds, people lazed in the public rooms, and some of us decided to take the boats out. Thus I found myself in a rowing boat with Koios and Phid, giving encouragement to them both as they took it in turns to row us out onto the loch. After a shaky start, Phid took us part of the way out. I took over for a bit, then Koi had a go. It was lovely. The water was a little choppy when we cleared the banks, but nothing to concern us, and meanwhile the other boat had been commandeered by Wheeler and Spartan. They cheated and used the motor, but they had fishing rods and clearly wanted to get to the best fishing spots fast!

I do love messing about in boats. It's wonderfully tranquil, even if you are being mocked by two homoerotically repressed buddies with an outboard. Before you could say Mouse Race, time had ticked by and it was approaching the hour of Mouse Race results. We'd told everyone to gather in the yurt, and I'd instructed the manager to serve our last lunch at 1. He reminded me that we'd originally said 11.30 am, which is nonsense, but we had possibly said 12 or 12.30 - but seeing as there was no cooking involved, we'd always been told we could play it a little by ear. So play it we did, and said 1. This didn't stop him bringing all the food out at 12.30 as Fisher & I were totting up the Mouse Race points total.

"Is it going to be all right sitting out for half an hour?" I asked politely, but pointedly, at which he whined:

"Well, you said 11.30 originally, and then decided 12.30."

"I said 1," I smiled icily. At which he sulkily turned to the entourage, laden with plates of cold food, and barked: "Take it back! Take it all back!"


Nevertheless, Fisher and I ignored him totally and he was soon forgotten in the excitement of discovering the Mouse Race winner.

Back in the yurt, with the assembled throng on the edge of their cushions (or not), we kicked off proceedings with some bonus prizes. There was the winner of the Treasure Hunt to announce, and it was sweet to see Gemmill's little face get all big-eyed and nervous. He, aparantly, had basically dragged his team of Blarney, Wheeler and FW round the course and insisted all clues were gathered - so he was very much hoping to be the winner. So, naturally, when I announced that Gemmill's team was victorious, he raised his arms in triumph and was rewarded with a dinosaur board game. Later, he informed me it was lucky he'd won, or else an adult might have won the game and not liked it. Sage words from a 5 year old.

There was also a prize of 2 books for 'casual croquet' which went to Wrecker, who'd spent a good portion of yesterday's croquet tournament whacking his own ball about, once or twice actually getting it through a hoop, and often disrupting the tournaments by insisting on stealing balls of a more interesting colour than his own. There was also a prize for best rescue - a bottle of champagne to Fisher's Dad and Guardian - for saving Ceegar's life, and a 'pity prize' of red wine for Ceegar. Although he was always going to be given something for driving the minibus and being our MC, so the 'pity prize' thing was just to lighten the incident.

And thus - to the Mouse Race. Everyone put in an excellent showing, and with much fanfare we read out the top 8. The top 3 got prizes, and there was a definite air of tension about the place when I got to number 4. But in 3rd place, with an admirable 219 points, was Spartan. He got a book (Callum's Road, which we traversed together on Raasay) and a bottle of red. Second, tan tan ta-raaaa, was ... Protagoras! Even without swimming all the way to the island he managed to get second place through writing an epic poem and joining in absolutely everything. He managed 245 points and won a book of traditional recipes, as read about in books of your childhood like Enid Blyton, and a bottle of fizz. But the winner, by a clear margin of 48 points, was Wheeler - and to Phid's delight, the prize was a night at Hotel du Vin in Glasgow, with supper thrown in. Not breakfast, though - and not booze with supper. What can I say? I'm cheap.

Now, because we only announced the top 8 on the day, I am going to give a full list of the Mouse Race order, winner to loooosah. Ahem.

1. Wheeler, 293 points
2. Protagoras, 245 points
3. Spartan, 219 points
4. Koios, 212 points
5. Pistol, the tall fella, 202 points
6. Ceegar, 192 points
7 = Chopper, 182 points
7= Janus, 182 points
9. Champaign Charlie, 177 points
10. Meeper, 174 points
11. Silver Arrow, 152 points
12. Phidippida, 142 points
13. Guardian, 132 points (also winner of Best Rescue)
14. Lubentina, 121 points
15. Fisher's Dad, 116 (also winner of Best Rescue)
16. Badger, 102 points
17. Minstrel, 90 points
18. Brave Bird, 87 points
19 = The Boat House Contingent (i.e Ma), 80 points
19 = Sister, 80 points
19 = Gemmill, 80 points
22. Islander (who gets no points for sleeping, though he did it best), 68 points
23. Wrecker, 40 points
24. Blarney, -2 points (-100 for cheating, otherwise she would have come 17th with 98)

Those were the competitors, those were the standings, and the referees's decision is final. FINAL, I tell you.

There was much clapping and laughter, and then the announcements were over and we could all have lunch. I went to tell the kitchen they could bring it out when they were ready (avoiding snotty manager man) and then rejoined my buddies for our final chow.

It was a lovely, relaxing, fitting end to a fabulous weekend. We had strawberries (well - I didn't, as I foolishly thought I'd have them after my savouries - and they were all gone), scones, leftover cheese from the Nedding Cake of Cheese (we had this at the barbecue the night before - did I forget to mention) and little croque monsieur thingies. I think. The food is now all getting mixed up in my head. There was so much of it! And it was all so goooood! Anyway, we took our plates and sat on the lawn with our legs dangling down the slope, and chatted happily in the sunshine.

Last Moments

Gradually, people started drifting away. The Cheese Boys were eager to get on their way in their lovely JagMKII - although Spartan lingered, yakking away as is his wont. Eventually an impatient Pro and Wheeler came and picked him up between them and literally carried him away, still gossipping. We bade them farewell - and then everyone was preparing to leave. Brother and Gaura had left after breakfast in order to go to A&E and get an x-ray of Brother's eye (alas the radiologist wasn't there so Bro had to wait until he was home. He had a consultation on Friday, and I will find out how it went today). Both sets of parents were soon waving us goodbye, too - and soon it was just the minibussers, Sister & Sons and the Cheese Boarders who were left. Sister & Sons were giving Awesome a lift back to Fife, as she was staying with some friends in Crail and Sister was coming for a wee holiday with us, and to buy some goldfish for Gemmill. The minibus left with much fanfare, and soon Sister followed. The Cheese Board were set and ready to go. We jumped in the hire car, and I began to drive away.

Then the snitty manager came out and inquired as to how I would like to pay. Or did I just want it "comped"?

Sheepishly, I went inside and actually paid the bill. 15 minutes later, and I was back in the car - no longer a criminal. We drove away, and that was that. The end of it all.

But not quite. The journey back was as much part of it as anything else, as we chatted, dissected the weekend, and generally enjoyed one another's company. We dropped Phid off in Dollar, then on to Edinburgh and more chat, vows to meet up and see the Vanity Fair exhibition, and the other girls were back home. Fisher and I were alone.

But not really. Back at HC, Sister & Sons awaited us - and so did Awesome, whom we'd prevailed upon to stay the night, seeing as her Crail friends weren't back until midnight the next day. There was no time for melancholy, as the next couple of days were a whirl of boyish fun.

We went to Cairnie Fruit Farm and Gemmill made a good stab at the Mega Maze, while Wrecker attempted to control a mini digger and had a tantrum when at last taken away. Then we went swimming at East Sands Leisure Centre, and Wrecker braved the enormous inflatable walkway, only falling off and being caught by me once. The day after that, Gemmill bought his fish and the family departed, returning home on the ferry. With any luck the fish are still alive. Awesome Girl went to see her friends, but I unfortunately didn't manage to say a proper goodbye as there was a lack of communication, and Fisher failed to meet us after swimming as we'd planned.

And then there were none. It was just me and Fisher - and that's when I expected to feel flat.

Not so. Such was the fun, and so rich the memories, that still, today I feel bouyed by them. I feel happy every time I think of that loch swim, and that 1920s dinner - and even though there are, as yet, very few photos of me and Fisher, and certainly none I actually like, it doesn't make any difference. The photographs are very vivid in my mind. (And it serves us right for not having an official photographer. Friends only take photos of the things they're interested in, and that doesn't include making sure they've got lovely, flattering pics of the hostesses. Or, in some cases, any pics of the hostesses. But still I'm glad we didn't have some bearded arse marching around, ordering us about, and getting us to pose in places we might actually have gone to of our own free will had we not been forced to pose for photos. If the downside of this is not having any photographic evidence we're willing to share, then so be it.)

That, then, is that. It's done. It will not occur again.

At least, not until 2018 and our 20th (proper)/10th (nedding) anniversary ...