Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Tennis Begins

Yessiree, I've spent most of the last two days watching Wimbledon. How I love that tournament. On the other hand, it's not very good for my fitness levels, as it inspires me to play tennis - and then sucks the desire away and tempts me with the sofa and tennis on the TV instead.

Fisher and I have both been struck down with stomach troubles, which is unfortunate. Nothing serious - just a bit of discomfort - but it is causing us to neglect exercise and seek time in dressing gowns with feet up. On the other hand, it's caused us to check out the internet for nedding list gifts - some of which are pure fantasy - and redecorate the new house in our heads. We now go into the new house with a clear idea of what we both want, rather than just what Fisher wants and must therefore convince me is the best plan.

I'm starting to feel a little paranoid. I've sent out quite a few emails of late, and none of them have been answered. I'm hoping there's something amiss in e-land, rather than everyone I know being simultaneously pissed off with me. That, while not inconceivable, would be distressing.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Most Fun Poisoning Ever

Yes indeed, I have been poisoned by Phid. Funnily enough, the last time I was poisoned was also by Phid. I spot an uncomfortable theme.

When I say poisoned I mean, of course, alcohol induced toxic horror. This came about through Phid's invitation to wine and dine - the former of which I took on with far too much enthusiasm. We went to Phid's cottage with dogs in tow, and had a splendid, 3 course meal of sweet potato & mozzarella towers, chilli duck, and home made whisky & Malteser ice cream. Champagne, red wine and dessert wine accompanied in copious draughts. After dinner entertainment involved a very jolly walk through chest-high grass which, for some reason, I found irresistable and into which I wrestled a slightly confused Fisher. Then Wheeler sneakily tangled me in dog leads and pulled me over, so I was forced to pick him up and throw him into the grass also - but failed to actually let go of him and so catapulted myself into a particularly thistly patch. When we got up we were astounded by the enormous patch we'd flattened. It was like a herd of elephants had rolled in it.

From the above it might be reasonably deduced that I'd had quite enough to drink by this point, and going back to the cottage for yet more booze would have just been stupid. So, obviously, we went back to the cottage and consumed whisky. Phid fell asleep on the sofa, their new dog Dougal tucked between her feet, and when 2.30am rolled around we all decided it was time to hit the hay, calling an end to a lovely night. I think I've been waiting for that sort of evening for ages: dinner party in the country with dogs. We really have hit our 30s - and it's great! Of course, most people of our age would probably have kiddies in tow as well, but while I'm looking forward to that step, the ball is definitely not in my court on this one.

Next morning was not a pleasant experience. Having gone to be at 2.30am, I then woke at around 6am feeling like death and couldn't get back to sleep. Wheeler had lent me a book called Red Tape and White Knuckles about a motorbike journey from Tunisia to South Africa by Lois Pryce, and I read 3/4s of it as I strived to take my mind off feeling ghastly. I heard Phid take Dougal out at 7.30, and also Baffie & Bridie, and it crossed my mind to get up and help. Then it crossed back again. I gave a small whimper at the thought of moving my stomach. I'd already got up once to go to the loo and nearly died going down the steep steps as my limbs were shaking so much I could barely hold myself upright. Instead I read with furious concentration, slipping in and out of brief dozes until waves of nausea woke me up again.

Fisher woke up at about 9 and I expected her to look as jaded as I did - but she was bright eyed and bushy tailed. Either those 2 years make an enormous difference in the hangover stakes, or I drank considerably more than her. She got up and went and chatted to Phid while I tried to convince myself I could gird my loins - and failed.

Eventually, at around 10.30, I decided enough was enough. We had to get home to greet an arriving dog at 12, and I wanted to try and make myself look slightly less like a plague-stricken vagabond. I got up, managed to wash (sort of), clean my teeth, and dress before packing up the car (or rather, letting Fisher pack the car while I returned to furious reading owing to movement not improving the state of my stomach). Bidding Phid, Wheeler and little Dougal fond farewell, we set off home.

Back at home I went straight to bed with DVDs of NCIS and dozed for a few hours. It wasn't until about 2pm that I started feeling more human, but even by the time we were due to head out for the evening I wasn't 100%. On the other hand, food was no longer to be viewed with horror, and I was actually feeling quite hungry - which was a good thing, as we were off out for a meal with Brave Bird and Minstrel.

Luckily, BB had been emphatic that the night would be very casual - and so it proved. We sat in their lovely flat as a storm built outside the windows, ate delicious coq au vin (mmm - 2 helpings for me) and home made profiteroles. I did not have any wine. It was a really nice, companionable evening, and we left at 10.45 to get back to our dogs and our guest dog, and before the storm got too bad. I drove home and it was pretty hairy on the windy, narrow roads, where deep puddles were forming at the corners - but slightly fun, too.

Back home by 11.30, we went straight to bed and I was asleep by midnight. Such is the toll of socializing in the manner of a 21 year old on my 31 year old body. Part of the reason I want to go into detail over the horrendousness of my hangover is to act as a deterrent for myself. I really, really don't want to get that drunk any more. Even today I don't feel quite tip top - not too bad, just tired and slightly unsettled - but do I really want to spend entire weekends getting over the effects of a single night?

Not, I hasten to add, that it wasn't worth it! But I think I could have suffered less and enjoyed it just as much. So let it hereby be decreed: from this moment forth, I will drink only as much as will enhance an evening without destroying the following day. In particular, I have no desire whatsoever to ruin the nedding weekend by getting bladdered on Friday night. Anyone reading this blog must remind me of it, should they see me necking back booze like it's going out of fashion. Booze is evil and should be treated with respect.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Plans, Plans, Plans

Fisher and I are still dithering over a noneymoon. Actually, that's not strictly true. I'm still dithering, Fisher has her head firmly in the new house. She's already stripped it bare, redecorated, got bored, redecorated again, built an extension, knocked it down, built a workshop, changed her job, knocked the workshop down, tired of the house, sold it, and now has her sights set on somewhere a little bigger ... like Scone Palace.

So it doesn't really look like we'll get away for a noneymoon - but I've decided to write a list of places in the world I want to visit, ostensibly so I can order them in my mind, but basically because I'm bored. Again. So here are a few places of interest off the top of my head:

1. Antarctica. Pros: Beautiful. No chance of illness as no germs can live there. No people. Probably no chance of sunburn. Cons: Might die. Probably have to get there by rickety tug boat and live off ship's biscuit.
2. Alaska. Pros: Beautiful. Quiet. Low in population. Outdoorsy. Cons: Might get eaten by a bear. Or wolf. Or hungry, Deliverance-type American.
3. San Francisco. Pros: Should probably make a Gay Pilgrimage at some point in my life. (Is there a pink rock to walk widdershins round? Or a gay wall where I'm supposed to whisper Indigo Girls lyrics? Or perhaps a shrine to saint Hairy Mary of the Dungarees at which to light a candle? There - I think I've offended every major religion equally. Ever the pioneer for equality, me.) Also, pretty. Also, lots to see. Also, good food. Cons: Might get eaten by a terrorist. Might get set on fire by a religious nutball. Might get run over by a cable car. Might have to mingle with Lots of People.
4. Italy. Pros: Steeped in history. Beautiful. Food. Fabulous hotels. Cons: Can't understand a bloody word and will end up shouting English loudly at them and demanding egg and chip for tea. May get set on fire by a religious nutball - maybe the Pope. Might get into a big argument about transubstantiation and get excommunicated. Might get eaten by lions in the arena. Fisher might fall in love with some Italian woman who cooks pasta and tidies up after herself.
5. Argentina. Pros: New continent. Beautiful countryside. Great footie. Great nightlife, should we manage to stay up beyond 10.30pm. Cons: Argentinians hate the British. Will undoubtedly have to endure much mockery over the England footie team. Can't understand a bloody word (see point 4). Would rather go to Argentina with Phid and round up cattle on horseback in the pampas (something we ought to do sooner rather than later, otherwise pampas will turn into Pampers).
6. Japan. Pros: Beautiful. Incredible culture. Already feel I know it from playing a lot of Onimusha on PS2. Hilarious menu translations. Great food. Good tourist trade. Cons: Long flight. Might get attacked by Genma, and I do not descend from the Oni. Big cities, lots of people, all of whom will be 1/3rd my size and stare in horror as my arse gets stuck in one of their teeny tiny toilets.
7. Easter Island. Pros: There are massive heids on it - even more massive than Fisher's - and I want to see them. One of the most isolated places on earth. Intriguing, unique culture. Very beautiful. Friendly people. Have to go to Chile first, so double holiday. Cons: Very, very long trip. Might get eaten by a massive heid.

That's all I can think of right now. Obviously there are lots more places, but they're the ones top of my list.

Oo - Fisher has also been doing the wording of our civil ceremony. The original was so hilarious I feel I ought to share at least some of it with people. Here, for example, is one of the suggested readings (complete with poor grammar).


Love is giving, not taking
Mending, not breaking,
trusting, believing, Never deceiving,
patiently bearing and faithfully sharing
Each joy, every sorrow, today and tomorrow.

Love is kind, understanding, but never demanding.
Love is constant, prevailing, its strength never failing.
A promise once spoken, for all time unbroken,
Love's time is forever.

And now say "I do"
Before we all spew.

Can you imagine Fisher and me standing there listening to that? We'd just be staring at the registrar with our mouths open while Arrow and Lu tried really, really hard not to lie on the floor and howl.

Hark! I hear the sounds of Fisher returning. She's been off for a dress fitting and I want to hear all about it. She was worried. She needs her henchwomen to help her out.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Bored, so Blogging

Always an eye-catching title, I feel. Welcome, reader, to the inane ramblings of my Thursday mind.

I ought to mention that, having said I was going to rest my dodgy ankle and knee, I decided I would rather be crippled than lose the paltry levels of fitness I've built up over the last year or two, so went to the gym. Yes, I'm well aware this puts me dangerously close to the category 'Gym Idiot', but I care not! Especially as I suffered no ill effects from the 45 minute treadmill & weights session. In fact, I felt no pain in my kneecap at all - until I took the pooches for a walk on the beach afterwards and walked up a sand dune. Going uphill was very sore, so I think it's patella tenonitis - aka 'jumper's knee.' Seeing as I don't think I've jumped for approximately 24 years, this is heavy (ha ha) irony. It's also much less alarming than it having anything to do with the ACL, though, so I'm pretty happy. If it persists much longer I'll go back to the doc.

Here's something that should make all women angry (oo, oo, my favourite!). I was interested in finding out at what age a woman reaches her physical peak, so I entered "female physical peak" into Google. These are the top 10 websites:

1 & 2. AskMen - Peak Attractiveness. Talks about male prowess in the bedroom, female libido killers.
3. What happens to you when you reach your physical peak/goal? From a website talking about weight loss and looking good - not strength or fitness.
4. Female Sexual Problems.
5. Women's Sexual Health in Midlife and Beyond
6. pponline.co.uk - At last! Peak Performance Online - A website talking about women in sport.
7. Body Image: Female physical attractiveness in Britain ...
8. Investigation of circadian rhythms in peak power and mean power ... A study of exercise and sleep, I think.
9. Does hunger influence judgments of female physical attractiveness? What? I mean ... what?
10. The Peak Experience of Sex/Lasting Longer in Bed

Has anyone spotted why I might be quite cross about this? But before I became extremely irate, I decided to put "male physical peak" into Google. These are the top 10 websites.

1 & 2. Same as the female.
3. Age - climers guide to Everest. Mentions the physical peak of both men and women in the first sentence.
4. CAT.INST. Article about dyspnoea in COPD cases during exercise.
5. Male 18-30 in Peak Physical Condition - some women's mag looking for a male model.
6. Body Image - same as number 7 for the female.
7. Arch Gen Psychiatry. A study on male physical violence and theft.
8. A 33-yr follow-up of peak oxygen uptake and related variabl...zzzzzzzzzsnoorrrre. Yet another scientific study, involving both men and women.
9. Same as female 10.
10. Male Nude Photography by Dylan Ricci.

So, for women, physical prowess is almost exlusively to do with sex. 8/10 of those articles are about sex or self-image, with actual exercise only appearing at number 6. One scientific study relating to exercise (sort of?) appears at number 8. With men, to be fair, it's still pretty dominated by sex and vanity with 6/10 articles. On the other hand, the 3rd article is exercise related and, ironically, answers my question about women within the synopsis lines. The rest are scientific studies, dealing with both men and women - and one is about male violence and theft, which is pretty insulting. I think I'd rather my physical prowess was linked with sex than violence. But what is really frustrating is that you get more information on female physicality by researching male physicality - and while sex is dominant for both sexes, there's definitely more about fitness with men. So what is it about women and fitness? Why is it so hard to link the two?

Ladies, let me say this once and for all: you are supposed to be strong. You are supposed to be muscular. We were built for physical labour. No, we're not as explosively strong as men, but we're not nearly as far off as we think we are, and stamina wise we're just as good, if not better (thinking really, really long distances, thanks to our more effective storage facilities. Hell, I could probably walk to Mars on my fat reserves). If you lift weights, you will not develop bulging muscles and be forced to wear a string bikini while posing with rippling biceps. 21st century woman is flaccid, weak and utterly convinced that physical attractiveness comes from clothing and make up. If women's magazines had any brains, or knowledge of beauty, they would focus primarily on health and fitness, followed by how to enhance this natural state through adornment. But no. Instead of saying - "look, exercise improves your skin, your figure and your state of mind!" they say "look, it's winter, we're all pale and unhealthy from staying inside and doing fuck all, so here are some make up tips which completely fail to disguise the fact you're pale and unhealthy, but create a half decent impression in this world where make-up is universally recognised as a symbol of attractiveness. Oh, and instead of running, or doing some leg weights, put on some stupid shoes so you look taller, your legs look more toned, and you learn to walk in a seemingly graceful manner - which would come naturally if you had the actual muscle tone and loose limbs of the physically fit, but, because it's enforced is actually cripplingly bad for your back, feet, and general posture. And boy will that come and bite you on the arse later in life."

But then again, it's so much easier to present an image than to actually spend all that time and effort exercising. After all, who has the time? Work is long and hard, and by the time it's over most people just want to unwind with a glass of wine and the TV. And unless you're actually inclined towards exercise, wasting time on your precious weekends doing exercise is hardly appealing. Not to mention that exercising only once a week isn't nearly enough - so why bother at all?

But I bet you this - if women's magazines, and women's culture started focusing on highlighting how attractive a fit, healthy woman is, and how fashionable it is to play a sport, I bet women would start flocking to join up. Fact is, it's not considered feminine to get all hot and sweaty, and that is the biggest load of bollocks in the world. I can't answer for my male counterparts, but from an attraction point of view, a woman working out is a fine, fine sight. And there are few worse turn-offs than an overly primped, made-up, flaccid creature whose idea of getting some fresh air involves a trip to the local tanning salon.

The point of this rant? Er ... none, really, except to say healthy is sexy, so get out there with your tennis raquets, rounders bats, running shoes, bicycles, swimming costumes, or whatever comes to hand, and start creating an uber-species of magnificent, strong, healthy chicas who might live to 85 but who physically fall apart at 55.

Oh - and get a massage once in a while.

Adendum: A woman's physical peak, according to that Everest website and therefore not medically backed up at all, is in her mid thirties. Hurrah. On the other hand, if anyone can find info from a more reliable source, I'd love to read it. Ta.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


Hmm ... just remembered that 'crocked' in the US means a slightly different thing than it does in the UK. Rest assured, my friends, I have not taken to having a skinful of liquor before 10 am and am not drunkenly singing rude sea-shanties as I type (as is often my wont when pissed). Instead, I am labouring with two injuries that are seriously pissing me off.

First is my left ankle. I believe I've mentioned this several times, but the Achilles tendon is causing considerable discomfort when I walk on it. I've now been resting it for several days, taking ibuprofen to reduce inflammation - but to no avail.

Secondly, I played tennis on Friday - just a quick game of singles, no effort required - and my right knee was very, very sore. It feels like it's the anterior cruciate ligament, as it's right in the middle. On the other hand, there's no swelling or anything - it's just a sharp, fierce pain which comes and goes. After all, I started the tennis game, felt the pain yet managed to finish a full (quick) set. This can't be serious, so I'm hoping that rest, ice, and ibuprofen will do the trick.

I had my first case study yesterday. I think it went well. I feel like a proper therapist and everything, with my forms and questions. I'm supposed to be utterly professional, but it's hard with people you know really well. Some of the instructions made me chuckle and I had to share them with my client.

"To establish a rapport," I read, "it is important to show a genuine interest in your client."

"Well you've not shown any so far," Meeper - friend of 10 years - retorted.

Aside from that, I was pleased with the way the massage went, and how the client responded. I'll be really interested to see if it makes any difference overall. Roll on the next victim!

Again ... I should probably not use such terminology when in professional mode.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Koios's Visit

Had a lovely lazy weekend with Koios and, later, Pro coming to visit. Unfortunately it didn't start very well, with me picking up a nasty tummy bug - but luckily it was out of my system by the time Koi arrived, aided by an afternoon nap. A nap! I am SO old.

This weekend was part of Koi's birthday present, and so designed to be as relaxing as possible for her. I remembered how much she said she loves kedgeree, so I made some for supper and included an asparagus, cheese and ham tart (Fisher made the pastry base to help out). I think it all went down well. I'm not usually a huge fan of kedgeree, but I chose non-dyed smoked haddock which improved things on a visual scale, and the recipe turned out very well. Coriander seeds are a very pleasant addition, and I didn't put any curry in it. I was very pleased with the tart, and thought adding ham to the recipe was probably a good idea as it added just a little saltiness to an otherwise slightly bland concept. In future, I might add just the tiniest taste of mustard to the cheese sauce.

We yattered and nattered, but desipte my afternoon nap I was utterly wiped out by around 11, and had to call it a night. The bug was obviously still causing me some gyp - but Koios and Fisher weren't far behind me (figuratively speaking. Obviously we didn't all get in the same bed) which made me feel slightly less pathetic.

On Saturday we had a leisurely morning. Koi enjoyed tea in bed followed by a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast. She then had a brainwave, suggesting we went into Dundee to buy a new game. Genius! This we duly did, popping along to Borders. The selection was poor, but we found 2 possibles - a game called Apples to Apples, and one called About Time. After giving them the sort of examination usually only undertaken by MEs engaged in autopsies, we decided they both looked potentially fun and got them both. Actually, Kio bought one as a pressie for us, which was lovely.

We then popped along to Matalan, because ... well, frankly, Fisher and Koi can't bloody help themselves. It was very successful for them, though, as they both bought at least one dress - Koi's being a Spanish-style, dotty/floral little number in very dark blue (black?), and Fisher snaffling a simple pink tennis dress and a full length print dress. This done, they meandered slowly to the till as I started to chafe. There's something about Matalan. It's fine for up to 20 minutes, but any more time than that and I start to feel the urge to grab the nearest semi-automatic and start firing.

Back at home we cracked open About Time and discovered it quite delightful. It's a basic board game, but involves guessing the correct date of each question. For example:

"In January, the Act of Union created the United Kingdom. When?"

You have to write down the correct year (Fisher - 1707, thinking it meant the Scottish one. Koios - 1801, spot on but only because she read it in a Sharpe novel. Me - 842, because I confused it with the famous Act of Onion, whereby Anglo Saxon peasants were no longer able to use the onion as a form of currency) and the person closest wins the next turn. The idea is to win tokens with each correct guess, and move your little historical figure closer to the centre. Koios won - a lot. I revealed a complete, utter ignorance about anything that has happened since the death of Henry VIII. Fisher only knows history in art form. But it was still good fun.
Apples to Apples is a simpler form of fun, and will only truly come into its own when we play with the whole Cheese Board - especially, I suspect, Blarney.

Pro turned up as we were in mid game and was immediately roped in, before I gave Koi a massage and we got ready to go out for supper. We went to The Seafood Restaurant in St Monan's, which is a little cuddlier than the austere, chic version in St Andrews. My main course of sea trout and mash was disappointing, being very much just trout and mash, but starter and pud were great. More importantly, both Koi and Pro enjoyed the meal very much and we had a bottle of quite sweet but flavoursome white wine (can't remember it, though), a glass of champagne, and a bottle of Sauterne to finish.

Back home, Pro and I finished the night on some whisky (Bowmore 18 year old - thank you Janus!) and then, again, I had to hit the hay. Pathetic, I tells ya.

Sunday kicked off with pancakes, bacon and sausages for brunch. We then took advantage of a little window of sunshine and sat in the garden playing About Time until it started to rain. Inside, we watched the Artois Championship final (Nadal beat Djorkovic in 2 sets, but it was a good, close game) and the cricket (England beat New Zealand in a 1 day international, and did so quite comfortably). We snacked on picnic food and barely moved all day. I hope this was just what the doctor ordered for Koios. Originally I'd hoped to go for walks and let exercise help with her stress levels, but she broke her toe and can't walk far, so it had to be a lounging weekend.

Koi and Pro left around 5, and I headed out to play some tennis. Unfortunately, Sunday club nights seem to have died a death. There were only 2 other people there - a teenaged boy and an old duffer - so we knocked up for 20 minutes or so, in the hopes that someone else would show and make up a 4, but no-one did. The old duffer then left, so I played singles with the teenage boy and spanked him soundly. Not that it was any of my doing, I assure you. He just couldn't hit any balls over the net, and served at least 2 double faults every game. This, I've noticed is a major aspect of the male learner's game. While girls will just make sure they get the ball in, regardless of how rubbish the technique may be, boys are more likely to want to do it right - which means they simply don't get it in at all. In the long run, getting it right is always going to serve you better - but it doesn't do a 16 year old boy's ego much good to be beaten 6-0 by a slightly decrepit woman in her 30s.

Speaking of slightly decrepit - my left ankle is no better, and now my right knee is extremely painful as well. This is a disaster, so this week I am completely resting. It will drive me crazy, and I daresay I'll crack - but I'll have to limit myself to swimming only. This means I'll come down with some nasty bug owing to the unhygienic nature of swimming in this country. Hey ho. Rather that than lose my fitness levels - such as they are.

So that's that. Today I must do some work on my massage course, do some planning, and generally try and plan the next few months so I stop feeling slightly dizzy over all the things we have to do.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Gym 'n' Not Gettin' Thyn

Yes. I am not losing weight. This is a slight puzzle, as I've been relatively conservative with the old fodder, but it is that time of the month, when I slowly inflate like a water balloon.

Strange the things you don't mind telling the world via blog.

Anyway, my achilles tendonitis was feeling ok today, so I walked the pooches at Tentsmuir with Fisher. It's just under 2.5 miles, so it was a good test of my ankle - which held up fine, even on the sand. The pooches had a whale of a time, swimming after sticks, chowing down on revolting bird carcasses, wading through the stench-packing mud of various ditches and ponds, and - in Bridie's case - going walkabout for a good 5 minutes as we yelled and shrieked for her. Luckily she returned, but we are a little paranoid about the Dark One since her overnight jaunt which caused Fisher, Lubentina and Arrow so much trouble.

With a good walk under our belts, we decided to head to Cairnie Fruit Farm for lunch. They have a good café with panninis and the like - and we got some strawberries and a wee treat for Koios for when she comes up at the weekend.

So that was a pleasant way to spend the morning, and, because my ankle had behaved I agreed to toddle off to the gym for a wee workout. I haven't been in an age, so I thought I'd take it easy. Of course, once there I decided (why, why??) to do some Yassos. I managed 4 sets of 2 laps, with the first lap at 8mph and the second at 7mph (sort of - actually I usually managed slightly more than 1 1/4 laps on 8). Christ, it's knackering - but so very, very satisfying. I was dripping by the end of it. I finished off the 5k distance at a steady 5.5mph recovery pace, and completed 5k in around 32 minutes, which with the 1 lap walk between each set of 2, was fine. Fisher tells me that one should build up to doing 10 Yassos. I told Fisher to go the hell to Hell.

This just in! Exciting news!

Our completion date for the new house is the 11th July! We therefore should get this old tub on the market very soon, and, god willing, sell the place by the end of summer. We have a few bits and pieces to do before it's shipshape, but otherwise there's nothing stopping us getting the Estate Agents in, showing them round, then murdering them and burying them in the garden.

House hunting gives you a certain distaste for those of that ilk.

Now I'm off to trawl the internet for fun things to put on the nedding list. A bientôt, mes amis.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Catch Up

Went for my first run in over a week on Friday and did, I think, my fastest Tentsmuir time at 33 minutes dead. I don't really understand why I can't run as fast outside as I can inside - but there we go. Never mind. It was a warm, beautiful day and even though I found the run really uncomfortable, with indigestion settling in (possibly due to taking ibuprofen before hand), I was truly glad I'd done it. Unfortunately, my ankle wasn't happy at all. I've got tendonitis in the achilles tendon of my left ankle, and even though I've been resting it and icing it, it doesn't seem to be getting any better. The doc says rest and ibuprofen, so obviously I've been doing nothing of the sort. Idiot. This week I'm determined not to do any excercise on it, and so far (since Friday) I've only been swimming with the nevvies - which I'm sure doesn't count.

I had my course at the weekend. Yawnsville. The test was hard, the days long, and my patience wore thin - but I'd much rather know the things we're learning than not. Knowledge is fun. Learning is rubbish.

Over the course of the weekend I stayed with Koios and Protagoras, in their spare room. On Saturday I joined in a pre-planned dinner party with Ceegar and Meeper, for which Koios had spent much of the day preparing. Unfortunately, she then dropped a bottle of wine on her foot. Much drama followed, with Pro carrying her onto the couch where she set up a caterwauling of impressive proportions - increasing the volume every time she looked at her blackening toenails. After a while, when the pain hadn't subsided, I was pretty sure she'd broken it, but delicately suggested Pro didn't take her to A&E as all they'd do was keep her waiting for hours, then give her pain killers and strap one toe to the other - if anything at all. Instead she took ibuprofen, put ice on it, and managed to get through the evening like a trooper. I remember when I cracked my middle toe playing hockey. God it was sore. It didn't help that I kept playing hockey on it and made it swell up like the fecking Goodyear Blimp, or that I saved a goal shot at me by our county-playing centre forward and it struck me squarely on the injured party. That certainly brought tears to my eyes!

Next day I got a text saying she'd fractured the second toe, had the blood drained from under her nails, and that it's going to take 6 weeks to heal. Poor Koi. So sore! At least it's not the big or little toe - but that's scant consolation. And at least she managed to save the bottle of wine from smashing. Good to know she has her priorities correct. After all, she has 9 other toes, and there were only 4 bottles of wine.

Back home on Sunday night, we were soon joined by visiting Islander, Sister and sons. Sister was having a scan in Ninewells to check the wean is all well and good. It was a great visit - very relaxed, with the boys happy and charming , if sleepless. I particularly enjoyed watching Wrecker race into the garder like Elmer Fudd, calling the rabbits.

"Rabbits!" he called, bending to look beneath the Laurel hedge. "Raaaaabits!"

He obviously hoped they'd come hopping over to him like in a Disney film. Very sweet. Gemmill was in good form, too - very chatty, not too many bouts of angry crying, and easy to entertain. We took them swimming - as mentioned - and splashed around in the Olympia toddler pool very merrily. Then to the DCA for lunch, which was, frankly, very poor indeed. The food was either bland and tasteless or soused in tinned sauces. It also takes forever to come. That's the last time we're going there.

Sister, Islander and the boys then went to the hospital to see the scan. The babe is about 14 weeks old, due at the beginning of December, and has been nicknamed 'Foggy.' Gemmill was 'Blobby' because he was large and immobile when scanned, while Wrecker was 'Little Baby Jumping' (LBJ). You see the theme ...

After the scan we then took the boys home, after stopping briefly at Sensation to see Robox - who was charging, but got switched on just for the boys. Then home for a movie (Aladdin) and the opportunity for Wrecker to fall into a deep slumber for an hour and half, much to the chagrin of Sister when she returned who knew he'd then not sleep. Which, indeed he didn't. He was up until around 11pm, and even my serenading him on the guitar for what seemed like hours, singing about naughty Kate the sheepdog chasing a sheep onto a rock and brave Wrecker wading out to save it only to get trapped on the same rock and having to be rescued by Daddy and then going home for breakfast and pancakes, didn't make him drop off. Shocker.

They all left only a few hours ago, which is giving us the opportunity to chill out and recharge before getting into the nitty gritty of moving house. We're awaiting the papers to find out when D-Day is, and then we'll have to put things in action.

Enough. Am bored of this blogging lark.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


I'd be lying if I said we were looking forward to Island with unbounded pleasure. On the one hand, we were delighted to be seeing Sister, Islander and sons. On the other, I'd promised a restaurant night and with May being as utterly insane as it is, I simply didn't see where the time was coming from to organise, shop and buy for it. Luckily, Sister was wise to this and recommended we drop the idea. Instead we came to a compromise - I did a semi-restaurant night involving a choice of 3 starters but no choice of main course or pudding.

We went to Oban on Thursday night and stayed at the Caledonian Hotel. On the way, Fisher started complaining about nasty tummy pain. She often suffers from digestive issues, so I didn't pay it much mind. Alas, by nightfall she was throwing up and running to and from the loo with serious unpleasantness. This girl is never ill. I was deeply concerned, and if she'd decided what she wanted to do was get back in the car and go home, that's what we would have done. She didn't, and after a terrible night's sleep she was ready to get on the ferry - albeit slowly, with much pain. She slept almost all the 3 hour trip, and I kept the boys away from her. Gemmill is a proper little bastard now, with serious disobedience issues, temper tantrums and a bit of a mean streak. I'm hoping it's just being 4 - but there were some things he did that I thought were ominous, like being told to give his brother half the slice of bread he was eating and stuffing it all in his face. Also, he's started to laugh when people suffer a bit of misfortune, like when I got hit in the head going over a bumpy bit of road - but if someone laughs at his misfortune, then he goes utterly crazy - even if that person isn't even laughing at him. I'm sure these are just exploratory personalities, but it worries me that he seems to suffer deeply from a lack of empathy. Come to think of it, his father has been known to say some things that show an inability to judge a situtation - like telling a tablefull of people I don't know very well that the pudding I made only turned out the way it did because I screwed up. Not a big deal, but he didn't think I might want to keep that under wraps, and that it might be a little embarrassing.

Anyway - while Gemmill is suffering from the nasty 4s, he's also showing some great characteristics. He's really interested in creepy-crawlies, dinosaurs, volcanoes, earthquakes - all sorts of things - and I truly love sitting with him and talking about the natural world. He's not fussed by mammals. Anything furry is uninteresting. Anything scaly, weird looking, or slimy is utterly fascinating. He tests my limited scientific knowledge, but I love going through his nature book with him, learning as I go along and trying to break it down so he understands. I also find that looking at the insect world through a child's eyes starts to break down some of my learned revulsions.

Gemmill is also very eloquent for a 4 year old, meaning you can have wonderful chats with him. He's enthusiastic about walks and outdoorsy stuff. I remember when I was little my father used to call out if I wanted to go and walk the dogs - and I was deeply uninspired. I'd much rather have been in my room with a book. Gemmill loves books and stories, but when I asked if he wanted to walk the dogs to the White House beach, he was immediately willing. We had a lovely wander, he built a sand face, and I set him to hunting out different types of stone to keep him happy - something he entered into with a will. He's still easy to entertain, and underneath some of his more visible unpleasantnesses I'm convinced there's an amiable, fun child.

On the other hand, Fisher's godson Wrecker is an absolute dream child. No signs of the terrible twos exist in this child, who greets the world with a sunny smile and a great deal of lovable mischief. Islander preaches caution in that because he's adorable he can get away with murder - and I'm sure this is the case. On the other hand, during our trip I saw none of the more sinister behaviour Gemmill portrayed - and only the occasional bit of naughtiness. His temper is far more even than Gemmill's, which makes things easier. We'll have to wait and see how the years treat them both - but, I hasten to add, they're both great children and I love their company.

Our first afternoon saw Fisher sleep off most of her tummy trouble, while I entertained the boys. Friday was the evening of the dinner party, which was good fun. Sister's friends are all excellent company, and the food seemed to go down well. Starters were: quails eggs with salty-celery (a home made alternative to celery salt) and salad, Arbroath smokie salad with caper and lime mayonnaise, or skewers of king prawns cooked in butter, Indian spices and rose petals - which, I have to say, turned out very well. The main course was venison and duck 'crueset' (stew cooked in a le crueset casserole dish). I used juniper berries, red wine, wild boar salami and redcurrant jelly to flavour it. Pancetta and leek mashed potato accompanied, thanks to Fisher, as well as pan fried asparagus. We were also supposed to have mini courgettes smeared with mustard, but we shall not speak of the horror they turned into. The mustard seeds all burned under the grill, turning them into a bitter mess.

I wasn't too pleased with the stew. It tasted good, but I cooked it on too high a heat (Sister's oven is gas and I'm unfamiliar with gas marks) so some of it dried out a little. It wasn't very thick, which was fine, but did look messy on a plate. Still, everyone finished every scrap, so it can't have gone down too badly.

Pudding was lime and basil sorbet (an old favourite) and grapefruit & champagne granita. I didn't cook off the alcohol, so it was quite an alkie's dream. I'm not sure it was to everyone's taste, but the cheese plate from Mellis certainly went down well. Also slipping far too easily down the hatch was Pimms, red wine, and a 55% Laphroaig after dinner - without water - that was just a big fat mistake. I was hammered, and to clear my head I did most of the washing and tidying of the kitchen while everyone else hit the hay. When I collapsed into bed I felt so dreadful I couldn't sleep ... and then the duck hit my system, with the whisky, and I had to make a lurching run to the loo. In an example of sod's mighty law, Islander also woke and needed the loo with, I believe, similar urgency. Actually, Sister told us the next day that he got up, wandered around the room for a bit, and then informed her that he was going to get the burgers and sausages. He then woke up enough to realise he needed the loo, badly, found me inside (not literally - the door was locked) and had to thunder off downstairs.

After my visit (I'm not sure I can believe I'm actually blogging this, but hey ho) I managed to fall asleep while reading Edward Trencom's Nose (good - I recommend it - particularly to Phid). Next morning I felt pretty delicate, and thanked the lord when I was allowed a luxurious lie in while Fisher took the boys up to Ballyhaugh, where Sister and Islander were preparing for the evening's barbecue in honour of Project Trust's 40 year anniversary. I was therefore allowed to sit on the patio, sunning myself in the stunning, Mediterranean weather, reading and banishing my delicacy.

Alas, it turned out that Fisher was suffering from the evening's largesse. She'd hit the food too soon after her illness, causing a severe relapse, and she had to sleep away the afternoon and miss the barbecue. I went, and it was fine. I think it's difficult to go to a party where you don't know many people, and those you do know are a little busy with other pals and children. I'm sure Blarney & Spartan would have found many people to chat to with gusto, but I'm crap at that. I did my best, and had a pleasant natter with one of Island's resisdent artists, whom I'd met before and with whom I'd hit it off, and with a couple of other people, too. I gave the dogs a wander, checked on Fisher back at home, and ate too much barbecue. I watched Gemmill and Wrecker strutt their stuff on the dancefloor, which was very amusing. An incident of particular note was when Wrecker started dancing with a babe some 10 years his senior. Gemmill came roaring up, yanked his hands out of the babe's hands, and tried to dance with him himself. Wrecker was having none of it, refused to let Gemmill be his partner, and tried to get back to the babe ... but it was too late.

I really hope this isn't going to become a theme ...

At around 8, I decided to walk home with the dogs, leaving Sister the car. It was a lovely, sunny evening, and I felt the benefits of the mile or so wander immediately. Back at home, Fisher was feeling slightly better, to my relief, and I was able to enjoy an hour or so's quite reading before the descent of the family once more.

Sunday morning was the best of the bunch. We took ourselves down to Cliad beach where Sister and Islander have a little motor boat. The sun baked us as we rode the waves, fishing rods at the ready, and at the first drop of my line I caught a saithe - the biggest fish I've ever caught. 5 mackrel followed later, but the real joy was just being out there on a calm sea, feeling warm sun tanning my vitamin D starved skin, and waiting patiently for a bite.

It was sad to have to leave on the afternoon ferry. I badly wanted to stay another day, but we had to return for Fisher's work and, frankly, my own. Which I haven't done, and which I should get to.

See you later.