Wednesday, 7 May 2008

A Man Can Diet but Once ...

Well, the official, competitive diet is over. I lost 8lbs 6oz, which I have now put straight back on owing to a 3 day eating-out binge.

Well, not quite - but I'm pretty sure some damage has been done. I'm back on the wagon again now, and with a week devoted solely to learning lots about bones and muscles in time for my test at the weekend, I'm not going to have much time for stuffing my face.

Such a lot to report! And so much fun ...

Most importantly there was Phid's birthday party on Saturday night. It started with me going to give her a massage at 9am so she could have well relaxed muscles for the 22 mile race she was doing that morning. Lunacy. I turned up and Wheeler let me in. My first sight was of Phid's sister's buttocks as she was fast asleep on a mattress on the floor, so that was a jolt to the system. Phid was in the bathroom, and when she emerged she looked at me with something akin to irritation and said:

"What are you doing here?"

"Er ... thought I'd give you a massage," I offered feebly, realising it did all seem rather odd.

"How nice," she responded, in the same tone of voice I use to say "how utterly uninspiring and slightly peculiar."

Nevertheless, I gave her my finest leg massage (trying not to chant 'effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, friction' as I went along) and she accepted it without further comment.

Naturally, my real purpose at their flat at such an ungodly hour was not to give Phid a massage - although I did think she might find it helpful - but to pick up the key to her country cottage from Wheeler. This I needed in order to peg it up to Dollar, meet Fisher, and fill her country cottage with all the gifts I'd been accumulating for the last 2 weeks (something I found so hugely entertaining it was rather disappointing to stop).

So, after completing the massage and bidding her good luck with the race, I snaffled the key from Wheeler and raced off to meet Fisher. Starving after eating a bare bite of pasta for my supper, I had to go to a café in Dollar and buy some takeaway toast and coffee, but I was still there in time. Fisher had arrived before me, with dogs in tow, and had already unloaded Keith the Drover. We had a lovely time laying everything out and labelling them, then jumped into Helga the VW and rocketed back to Edinburgh in time to pick Koios and Janus up and drive to North Berwick where the race finished.

On our way to NB we overtook the runners, and saw Phid toiling bravely in mid-pack. We shot ahead of her, parked beside a handy pavement, wound down the windows and gave good voice. As she passed she gave us the slightest nod of acknowledgement, utterly unfazed to see us. We all wondered just what it would take to cause her any degree of astonishment. If she decided to run across Australia and we left 6 weeks earlier in order to hide behind a strategic dune in a vast erg, we'd leap out with hoarse cries of encouragement, lips parched and skin blackened, only to have her give the same slightly weary nod. She might - just might - stretch to:

"What are you doing here?"

Anyway, we gave her a cheer, then zoomed into NB and parked at the finish line. There we waited, while the dogs crapped all over the street in the most inconvenient fashion, until Phid hoved into view. This time we figured that, if she wasn't going to be impressed with our devotion, we'd just humiliate her as much as possible, so we burst into a rousing and totally tuneless rendition of "Happy Birthday" which was taken up by several random bystanders. Hurrah. Oh - did I mention we also had balloons, lovingly bought and blown up by Koios?

And we wonder why she didn't look all that pleased to see us ...

Actually - lest I make her out to be a completely ungrateful turd of a person - she thanked us very prettily. It's just she's so phlegmatic when running. I believe I've mentioned her 'game face' before. It's very impressive.

Anyway, once she'd finished, and once Baffie had dragged me 300 metres down the road, following the smell of her (hell - even I could smell her) and greeted her with slavish devotion (Baffie, that is. My greeting was rather more restrained), we jumped back in the car and headed back into Edinburgh. We went into town to do some last minute shopping for costume bits and pieces, had lunch at Maison Bleu (prawn & chorizo salad), then did necessary things with supermarkets and dogs. By the time we got back to Koi's flat it was 6pm, leaving barely enough time to shower, suck back a brew, take a few deep breaths, and then get ready for the part-ay.

It was a Wild West theme. Now, I've got a habit of dressing up in the most unflattering costumes when it comes to fancy dress, so this time I was determined to make myself look passable (no mean feat). I thought of going as a tavern courtesan, a barmaid, a ravishing Indian princess ... but then an idea hit me, and I simply couldn't shake the charm of it.

So I went as a horse.

Hey ho. Or should that be neigh-ho?

Still, I tried my best to be a sexy horse, with back-combed hair, cute cardboard ears, and knee-high boots over brown cords (for some reason. They were supposed to be hoof-like, but were actually just an exercise in vanity). I was going to put black socks on my hands with silver horse-shoes attached to the bottom, but I couldn't be arsed to make the horseshoes and then forgot the socks - which was probably just as well.

We took a cab into Leith, and arrived at Bar Deisel to be greeted by Janus, who'd done a rip-roaring job of decorating the place with Wanted posters, complete with embarrassing childhood photos of Phid. Koi and I made quite an entrance, with Koi jumping on my back and 'riding' me inside. God, we're so hilarious ...

And so the drinking began. Now, I'm not a big drinker. I generally don't drink at all, unless in company - so 4 pints was pretty guaranteed to set me off ... and set me off it did. I started talking at 8.30 pm and didn't stop for breath until I was in bed, reading Four-Four-Two, with my eyes drunkenly closing at 2am. During the course of all this incessant chatter I did manage to meet quite a few nice people I'd not met before (Seshat Talks To Strangers Shock), as well as invite someone to the party without consulting Phid. Oops. Still, it was an old pal from uni, so I figured she'd be welcome. She's now a Doctor, working in Reekie, and hasn't changed a bit - except, joy of joys, to have discovered her taste buds at last. In uni she'd just eat bowls of fuel, but now, apparantly, she's learned the error of her ways.

The night was a blast, culminating in me giggling non-stop for 5 minutes as I listened to Wheeler try and speak. The trouble was we were both so drunk that a) I'd lost my powers of comprehension and b) he'd lost his powers of erudition. I'm pretty sure he was trying to tell me something about a garden bench he'd bought and that he liked the garden bench I'd bought them, but I kept getting confused about which bench he was referring to.

At the end of the night we walked the 1 - 2 miles home to Koi's flat, which knackered my booted feet (ah, vanity) but probably staved off a worse hangover than the one I awoke with at 7.45am. God I hate being drunk. There's that hideous moment where you're sitting on the bed thinking how much you don't want to go to sleep because you know that when you wake up you're going to feel like crap on a stick. Well, sleep came, and so did the crap on a stick - but luckily, after going back to sleep for another few hours, then waking, having a shower and a litre of water, I was relatively human.

Sunday was the Cheeseboard treat. We took her to a secret location, stripped her naked and drove off ...

Not really. We took her to a secret location that turned out to be Dalhousie Castle, gave her a lovely lunch in their Orangery, then had a long afternoon in the spa, with 2 treatments - a shoulder and back massage, and a sea-salt scrub. I have to say, I'm not really a spa girl - although I do like the sauna and the hydropool and stuff. The massages are all very well, but I find I tense up a bit (there's a STRANGER and she's TOUCHING me) and they're generally a bit ineffectual. The sea-salt scrub was very nice smelling and left my skin as smooth as silk, but it hurt like hell on my back. Nevertheless, Phid seemed to enjoy it all, which was the point.

It was very relaxing, though, and at 6 we departed, heading back to Edinburgh and the 'surprise' supper at Iglu on Jamaica Street. There was a moment of stress when the waitress said she'd not received email confirmation of the party, which I definitely sent (I have the evidence in my email sent box) - but it didn't matter, as she'd kept the table for us anyway.

Supper was lovely - lots of cheery banter with Cheeseboard and boys, and gift exchange. Koi gave Phid a beautiful 18th century map of Scotland in a frame. It was funny because when she said what she'd got, I distinctly remembered suggesting it to her. She looked a little puzzled when I mentioned it - and then I remembered I'd not suggested it to her at all, but had the conversation while wandering around an antique shop looking for pressies for Phid with Fisher. I thought it would be a lovely thing to buy her - but, luckily, none of the maps I saw had Clackmannanshire on them, so I let it pass. None of them were nearly as nice as the one Koi bought, either - but it's funny we both thought of it, completely separate to one another.

I suppose, considering how well we all know each other, it's not so suprising after all.

After supper, the weekend of festivities was over and we bade each other farewell. Back to Fife went Fisher and I, growing more and more heavy-lidded as we grew closer to home, and it was all we could do to unpack the dogs and fall into bed. So much fun! And so much alcohol to process! I could have slept for a week.

But, instead, the next day we had Ceegar and Meeper to meet for supper, while Fisher had to get a long run (22 miles) under her belt. I decided to accompany her on my bike, which was all very well but at the 14 mile mark I got myself a puncture and had to leave her to it. It looked like I was in for a long walk home - and then I remembered there's a cycle shop in Leuchars. I threw myself on their mercy (I had no money on me) and they kindly sorted me out, allowing me to peg it off to Tentsmuir and meet Fisher, allowing us to finish the run-ride together. We then, later, discovered that Ceegar and Meeper couldn't make it after all - but we had to go into Edinburgh that evening as we had a house in the Borders to look at on Tuesday, and staying the night midway down seemed like a good idea.

We threw ourselves on the hospitality of Spartan and Blarney, taking Chinese food with us to scarf in their living room, and then fell gladly into bed.

Off to the Borders we went and looked at the house. Lovely. Old, falling apart, but very much my ideal country house - except for the location. I simply can't get enthusiastic about the Borders. They're too generic. They could be anywhere in Britain. I want mountains, not hills, and lochs - not nearby reservoirs. And, it turns out, I really am a Scot. I want to be in Scotland.
It's my home. So the search continues.

Last but not least, we had to go and pick Keith up from Phid's cottage - so took them out to The Unicorn in Kincardine for supper. Poor Phid wasn't feeling very well, so couldn't do any justice to her food, but Wheeler and I were very happy tucking into a vast Chateubriand - and the puddings were marvellous. I had a Brownie with white chocolate ice cream. Mmmmm .... pecans. Mmmmm .... white chocolate ice cream. Mmmmm .... gooey chocolate centre. Mmmmm .... I'm not getting on the scales for a full week after the last 3 days.

And that brings me just about up to date with my activities. Exercise wise I've done the 22 mile bike ride, and also a 700m swim yesterday (I can't believe how few calories you're supposed to burn doing front crawl. Surely something so knackering should burn MORE than breast stroke? But according to many knowledgeable looking websites, that's simply not the case. Pah) but I've, obviously, been extremely crap with food. Back on the wagon now, though.