Tuesday, 1 July 2008


On Thursday I hopped on a train at Leuchars, joined by Koios in Edinburgh, and we sped down to London for Wimbledon. Koi managed to get tickets through work, and Blarney - although keen to snaffle that second ticket - was kind and wonderful enough to stand aside in the face of my rabid enthusiasm. Gor' bless her.

Unfortunately, the train ride down was a nightmare. Brother was allowing us to use his and Gaura's house, despite them not being there, and had left a key with a neighbour. Alas, he'd forgotten to tell the neighbour til after he left for his country pad, so followed a great deal of ringing round, only to discover that the neighbour was out that night. His teenaged daughter was in, but it meant I had to telephone her - something I hate doing beyond all things. I'm crap on the phone, even with people I know, so to cold call a stranger and ask a favour was very low on my list of fun. Still, she turned out to be very pleasant, very happy to be of service, even when I said we wouldn't be due in until near enough 11pm.

Alas, naturally, our train was delayed. Lightning struck the signals near York, and we slowed to 50mph, got put in a queue which involved a great deal of standstill, and ended up delayed by 4 hours. I got increasingly fretful. Koios kept reassuring me that a late night was no big deal, as Wimbledon courts only open at noon - until I slightly impatiently reminded her that it was more the fact that we were going to get in at 2am at the earliest, and keeping someone up til that time was hardly fair. Our late night and potentially bleary eyes was the last thing on my mind.

Eventually we chugged into King's Cross, got in a taxi, and found ourselves standing outside the neighbour's house at 2.15am. I scratched upon the door and, after an agonising wait, it was opened by a pie-eyed gentleman who'd obviously been roused from his bed. He handed us the key, I apologised profusely, he was very nice (albeit croaky and half asleep) and we let ourselves into Brother's house. It crossed my mind that it wouldn't be beyond my sibling not to have alerted us to the presence of a burglar alarm. I had visions of it going off, waking the entire street, and leaving me sobbing in frustration and exhaustion in the arms of suspicious London bizzies. Luckily, this wasn't the case and we collapsed into our beds in relief.

Next morning we headed out to Wimbledon by foot and train, arriving in time to see Centre Court's matches begin. Naturally, the heavens opened just as we stepped foot inside the hallowed arena. Grey clouds covering the entire sky filled us with foreboding - but whenever I got crabby, Koi was merry, and when Koi succumbed to a fit of the grumps I managed to find myself in a cheery mood - so in this fashion we bolstered one another. It also helped that we managed to find ourselves a wee table in the food lawn and ordered some Pimm's and some strawberries and cream, brought to our table with no need to queue amongst the hoi polloi. And, just as we were chowing our way through, the announcement came that play would commence on Centre Court in 5 minutes. I high-tailed it, to see if I could see Federer walking onto court, leaving Koi to finish her strawbs and Pimm's in a more leisurely fashion - and I might as well have stayed with her, as I missed the arrival anyway.

Our first match was Federer versus some Frenchman I didn't know - and it was a masterclass of grass court tennis. Fed dispatched the Frenchman in 3 comfortable sets, barely breaking a sweat. We appreciated the beauty of the display without ever really being invested in the game.

Next up was Serena Williams against Amelie Mauresmo. As predicted, Mauresmo went out in straight sets - although the first set was hard fought, and more entertaining from that perspective than any of the Federer 3 sets. The minute we knew Serena was going to walk the second, and the tennis descended into a one-sided bore fest, we headed out to see if we could catch Bagdatis on Court 2. Koi's a big fan of the Cypriot. Unfortunately, it turned out that Centre Court tickets don't allow you onto Court 2 - although we both believed they did - and there was no room for standing. So back to Centre we went, to see Mario Ancic play the 5th seeded David Ferrer.

This turned out to be the match of the day - a rollicking 4 setter, with 2 tie breaks. Ferrer battled back in the 3rd after going 2 sets down, and it looked like he might actually pull off a real come-back - but Ancic's serve got him through, and with the crowd going increasingly crazy he finished it out at 9.15pm, winning the tie-break in the 4th. Koi and I had reservations at The Cinammon Club at 9.30, but we gladly re-booked the table for 10.30.

Thus it was we found ourselves chomping on delicious but spicy food at close to midnight, which is not great for the old digestion. I woke the next morning with a distinct Tandoori flavour in my mouth - not a particularly eddifying start to the day. Still, it's a fantastic restaurant with really interesting dishes, and I'd recommend it to anyone willing to blue over £100 on a dinner for 2 (and the only booze we had was 2 G&Ts and a bottle of King Cobra between us).

The journey home was, thankfully, uneventful, and I was greeted by a car full of Fisher, Janus and Badger at Leuchars. J&B were up for the weekend, and we started by going home and playing a game of About Time in the garden, where the sun was shining ... for a while.

It was a lovely, relaxing weekend. We had our first barbecue of the summer on Saturday night, then, on Sunday, decided to take advantage of the sunshine and walk West Lomond. Janus had done half of it before, but was driven back to the car thanks to driving rain - so this seemed a great opportunity to walk it in the sunshine. So off we went to Falkland, and, at the foot of the West Lomond way was greeted by - yes, indeedy - driving rain. Unwilling to repeat the drowned rat experience, we turned the car about and went instead to Balmerino, where there's a lovely woodland amble along the banks of the Tay, up to a secret garden and back. It's about a 3.5 mile walk, and the dogs romped along with great joy in their hearts - as did we.

Back at the car we headed to Cairnie Fruit Farm for a quick lunch - which turned out to be a rather slow lunch, as the service was as inept as usual and the place was heaving with kids on holiday. I had to hurry everyone because I was due in Edinburgh to give Meeper her 2nd massage of my case studies, and J&B wanted to cadge a lift. All was well, though, and I arrived in Auld Reekie in good time, gave Meeper her massage, and was back home in time for supper with Fisher.

Next day I arranged to give Wheeler his second massage, and as we had a hunk of pork we'd intended for Sunday lunch but for which we ran out of time, we invited Phid to join us. They brought Castor along too. The pork was consumed with gusto, and we followed it with a walk up the hill in the gloaming. Again, the dogs were thrilled - especially little Dougal, who romped along at our heels while Baffie and Bridie showed their utter disregard for our authority and vanished for long spells.

Back at home, Wheeler had a coffee before they all departed. I revealed myself to be something of a strict maiden aunt by frowning disapprovingly* over Castor not giving thanks for the hospitality. I also disapproved of him getting down from the table without asking Fisher or me - although he did have to ask his father, who probably should have told him to ask Fisher. He is, after all, only 11 ... ish? and is still in the process of learning social skills.

I fear I am becoming something of a stickler. I'm sure all my friends will tell me to remove the stick from my backside, and they may well be right, but good manner cost nothing and are such a huge bonus in an increasingly insolent world that I think them more important than they have ever been. If someone is well mannered people are so much more likely to go out of their way to help them. If someone has bad manners it leaves you feeling cross, with no desire whatsoever to make allowances for them, and certainly no wish to perform further services for the ungrateful sons of ...

I hope at this point, Gentle Reader, you realise I'm no longer referring to the very minor incident I was describing, but have once again gone off on one of My Rants. I hope I'm not (yet) so rigid in outlook that I can't put a small boy's lack of mannerly experience in the same category as willful rudeness. However, next time I see him I'll give him a damme good thrashing in the woodshed.

Anyhoo - it was a lovely evening, as ever in such company, and apart from a broken dishwasher leaving huuuuge piles of dirty crockery to depress the spirits (luckily it's now fixed thanks to a dawn call from a plumber), we retired to bed with a great sense of wellbeing.

And that's it for the mo.

*If, by 'frowning disapprovingly' I mean 'shrewishly bitching about it to Phid as they left', who pointed out that he was not her child, which I refuted by pointing out that he was in her care - an observation that may well have incensed her to the point of forcibly restraining herself from picking up a rock and fuzzing it at my head. Luckily, the woman can't throw worth a shite, so I'd have been relatively safe.


Ruth said...

Tell me about it. He still hasn't thanked me for his birthday present - that's the last time he gets a frickin' Wii game from me!