Monday, 22 June 2009

Exhausted but Merry

I'm so tired at the moment I'm actually finding it hard to fully depress the keys. Can't ... quite ... push ... hard ... enough ...

This last weekend was a hugely entertaining affair. It kicked off on Friday night, with the arrival of Brother, Janus and Badger, and Chopper. Fortuitously, our neighbour-but-one shot a roe deer that was busy gnawing on their roses. Our neighbour Epona then butchered said roe, and gave us a big fat haunch of the most succulent looking meat ever. This we cooked for our Friday night guests. I fried it to seal it, then cooked it in the oven on a high heat for about 40 minutes. I then mixed Brussels paté with mushrooms and pink peppercorns and covered the half cooked haunch with it. I wrapped it all up in puff pastry, and cooked it for another 20 minutes so it was almost rare in the middle. Fisher roasted potatoes and carrots and fried up some asparagus to accompany, and we had some of Epona's savoury bramble jelly in lieu of gravy. It all went down a treat, with some Two Hands shiraz to accompany.

On Saturday, I'd booked us all in for some clay pigeon shooting in Dunkeld. Because there were 6 of us we got 2 instructors. I was with Brother and Badger, while Chops, Fisher and Janus all went together. It was hugely fun, even though it was pissing it down with rain all the way through, and Fisher bagged the prize for best shooting. She got 20 out of 25 - a very good score. Now, of course, she wants to join the club, buy the gun, and start shooting anything that moves, twitches, or looks at her funny.

After we'd shot all the clays available, we headed up to Loch Tay via a pub for some grub. There, we rented a (very) little boat and a couple of fishing rods and attempted to catch us some trout for supper. 2 hours later and the only thing we'd caught was each other - cue 25 minutes of me trying to unfankle the lines, failing, and having to cut and retie everything. It didn't matter a jot, though, as it was a beautiful afternoon to be out on the water, and stunning scenery. We all caught the sun a little, all enjoyed the fresh air, and all agreed that the best way of topping off the afternoon was to go and get afternoon tea at Kinnaird. This we did, and eventually rolled our way back home feeling stuffed and well exercised.

On Saturday night we were joined by Koios and - very breifly - Protagoras, who'd been working all day and had to return to Reekie the same evening as he had school commitments on Sunday, too. We fed Pro, then started laying out the cold meats and salads for general grazing throughout the evening. Remember, we'd finished afternoon tea at 6ish, and could in no way be hungry before, at the very least, 9 pm.

By 9 pm, almost everything was finished. Pro had returned home, and we'd lit the brazier and begun the 'all night vigil' to see in the start of the Longest Day. This was the (incredibly tenuous) reason behind our barbecue weekend, after all. In fact, it was rather lovely to be sat out in the warm evening air, watching the flames and chatting with a few glasses of vino. We'd provided copious amounts of food, and our lovely guests had brought more nibbles than sticks could be shaken at, but still Brother sat down, looked at the brazier burning away and said indignantly:

"What, no marshmallows?"

Naturally, this was very tongue in cheek, but it gave us the idea to heat up a big pot of hot chocolate and melt one of the bars of dark chocolate Chopper had brought with her. We then dipped fresh cherries and homemade shortbread into the chocolate and were soon feeling very sick indeed.

We managed to make it through to about 1am before flaking. We had some good tunes from Bro on his guitar (no Kum by Ah, or Michael Rowing any Goddam' Boats Ashore, thank the Lord), and a small incident with some yobbos in a car driving up and honking their horn in the road outside. Luckily, they were frightened off by the terrifying spectacle of little blonde Fisher standing in the road and staring at them. They roared off at full tilt and were never seen from again. Well ... so far, anyway. Then, having at least witnessed the arrival of the start of the Longest Day (doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, does it?), we retired to bed and slept like a collection of logs of different shapes and sizes.

Sunday - the day of the barbecue - dawned, contrary to the weather forecast, bright and sunny. And it remained so almost all day. In fact, it remained sunny and seriously hot until people started to feel quite uncomfortable. Then, as if by special delivery, some cloud cover arrived and the astonishingly hot sun (this is Scotland, remember - we never expect heat) was tempered. It remained delightfully warm, but not one of our 20 odd guests (some odder than others) burned, or fainted, or even complained in a very British way about needing rain for the garden. Instead, we ate sausages, lamb burgers, sirloin steaks, copious amounts of salad (potato salad, pasta salad, salad salad), tomatoes, bread, and - for 'afters' - Stewart Tower ice cream (fudge, raspberry and white chocolate, and blood orange flavours). Between the main course and pudding, we bashed the crap out of two piñatas - one of which so stubbornly refused to break we ended up with Lubentina and Minstrel bashing the crap out of it, without blindfolds. I can understand Lu's aggression - after all, it was filled with chocolate - but Minstrel's desire to rend the multicoloured bull limb from limb was slightly surprising. He seems so otherwise calm.

Gradually, the day wound down. People left to deal with dogs, or horses, or both, and eventually it was just me, Fisher, Janus and Badger, and Phid. I for one couldn't face the idea of cooking anything, so, at 7ish, we walked down to the local pub. It was now a grey but still warm evening, and despite the midgies being out in force it was a lovely amble. We spent a very amenable couple of hours drinking some beer, eating some good pub grub and nattering. Then we walked home in the gloaming, trying to convince ourselves that the 2.6 mile walk (in total, there and back) would somehow make a difference to our enormous calory intake.

Back home, we had some hot drinks, read the Sunday papers or watched TV, and gradually drifted off to our beds just after midnight.

And that brings me to today. Badger was the first to leave, having to go to a conference in Aberdeen. Then Brother headed off on his long drive down south. Finally, Janus, Fisher and I went for a walk at Little Glenshee with the pooches before enjoying the final meal of the holiday at Gleneagles. It was delicious, and a very fitting send off for good ol' Janus - first to arrive, last to leave, and eternally enthusiastic throughout. Definitely the sort of buddy worth keeping!

So now I'm delighting in the fact that Fisher and I really do have some time to ourselves - at least for the next few weeks, before heading off to Greece with Ceegar and Meeper. I've got a tennis match to play tomorrow, some work to do for the Blind Soc, but otherwise - it can be all about us! Not, of course, that the barbecue was for anyone else. It was a party for our own sake as well as our friends' pleasure - but it's nice to think we can be by ourselves for a while. We've caught up with everyone we wanted to, including Brave Bird and Minstrel, who'd actually called to cancel a couple of days before. We were very disappointed, but their family had arranged something for Father's Day, so we understood. Then, lo and behold, they actually rearranged it to be a brunch so they could fit us in! It was a terrific surprise and it was lovely to see them. Unfortunately, Spar and Blar haven't learnt how to function on only a few hours sleep yet, so their social life - and that of Baby Belle - remains on hold. None of us expected to see them, so it was no surprise they couldn't face coming up. It was good of Blar to send a text letting us know they weren't coming, though, so we didn't have to save food on the offchance they arrived. Good job, considering how quickly it was wolfed!

Our plans over the next few days may include: a trip to Lunan Bay to see if there's any surf; dinner with the neighbours; lots of exercise; not much food; general relaxation at home; Wimbledon watching in the garden, with the TV facing through the French windows; slow drinking of mint juleps, which I made for the barbecue and which I think we should have permanently on tap; taking the pooches for new and interesting walks; sleeping.

Sounds divine.

Monday, 15 June 2009

New Arrival

On the 6th of June, Fisher and I took an exhausted and in much need of respite Koios out for supper at Creelers. We had a lovely time, joined by Janus and Badger, but I was disappointed that Blar and Spar couldn't join us. Apparently, Blar was 'feeling a bit funny.' Pah. I sent a text saying that Sister was pulling a plough between her TEETH whilst 'feeling a bit funny' and that Blar should either sprog up or stop whining. Well, my pep talk seemed to work because at 8.20 that evening, ten minutes before we all met at Creelers, Blarney spat a small sprog out into the world. The youngest member of the Cheese Board had not only got the good sense to be born female, but arrived in good time to join us at Creelers. Unfortunately for her, Blarney and Spartan were too selfish to fork out cab fare from the hospital and failed to bring her out for a well deserved supper.

Despite their obvious lack of proper enthusiasm for our company, we were magnanimous enough to be delighted for Spar and Blar. Baby Belle was a healthy 7lbs 3oz (none of my nephews were less than 2lbs heavier) and, despite giving her parents a bit of a scare during the birthing process, seems happy enough to be a part of the SparBlar family.

Our first meeting took place on Tuesday. We had, in our company, Sister and all three sons. Sister had been to a funeral in Edinburgh, whilst Fisher and I had taken Gemmill and Wrecker to butterfly 'world' near Dalkeith - which was terrifically successful, despite looking like a run-down polytunnel from the outside. We knew it would be right up Gem's street, as he's a real insect and plant boy, but the look on his face when he walked through the door and saw all these fluttering butterflies flitting from tropical plant to tropical plant was priceless. Wrecker, too, was enchanted - particularly by two butterflies joined together. He kept dragging me back to look at them. I almost felt like apologising to them - but, hell, if they're going to be that exhibitionist about it they can hardly complain. The highlight of the visit has to have been the handling of live critters, though. I don't mind admitting that I am NOT good with creepy crawlies, and I'm afraid I only managed to touch the giant millipede - I avoided letting it crawl over my hands with its flittery fluttery legs. The handler dangled it over his top lip in a millipede moustache, which entertained the boys no end. To be honest, it was more the fact that he'd told us that, after handling, the millipede would wash every inch of its body to rid itself of human stink that put me off. If that's the case, I can't imagine being handled is much fun for the 'pede. Anyway, next up was a python called Monty (obviously) despite it being a girl. That was fine - no problem with big snakes - and she was beautifully smooth and pliable to the touch.

Last but not least came the tarantula. Being a bit of an arachnophobe, I was determined not to flake on this one. I would conquor my irrational, stupid fear. After all, spiders are harmless and do more good than bad in this world, being the consumer of dirty filthy flies that puke and poo on my food. My FOOD! Of course, I'd pushed from my mind that tarantulas aren't quite as harmless. But it turns out their poison is pretty mild, only needing to be strong enough to kill their prey, of which, thankfully, I am not one.

When the big fat hairy monster was produced, my initial reaction was a shudder and sudden feeling of nausea. I listened while the handler told us to hold our hands flat - FLAT - and not to touch her back. Apparently she has fine hairs that disengage when touched and cause a nasty reaction on skin. If you should touch her then rub your eye ... urghurghrghr ...

So, my courage well and truly in its sticking place, I stood alongside a quiveringly excited pair of boys and laid my hand out flat. The tarantula was placed upon it and sat there, deeply unimpressed with everything that was going on. And in the end, I had no qualms whatsoever. The thing is, tarantulas are furry and, well, kind of cute. They don't have hundreds of flutterly little legs. They're almost like little 8 legged pooches. With mandibles.

After the tarantula experienced the joys of my hand, it then marched onto Gem's and, lastly, Wrecker's. I was a bit concerned about Wrecker, as he'd had to be told a few times by the handler to listen - no, listen - or he wouldn't be able to have a go. Luckily, he obeyed perfectly and the 'rantula had an unmolested stint on his hand. Of course, the minute the handler removed the beast, Wrecker lurched forward and attempted to stroke its back. Fortunately the handler was wise to the ways of little boys and whisked the tarantula to safety.

With butterfly world absorbed and delighted in, we piled the boys in the car and went to pick Sister up from the funeral. We'd said we would drop in on Blar and Spar at 4pm, but were running hideously late, which I felt extremely bad about. Our plan, originally, had only been to drop some more useful baby stuff off and make ourselves scarce - but Spar and Blar had professed themselves amenable to seeing us, so we were hardly going to pass up the opportunity to make Baby Belle's aquaintance ... even if we did have two over-stimulated boys with us and a baby. On the other hand, it was a wonderfully sunny and warm day, so we were able to turf the boys out into the garden to play with Blar's birthing ball while we had a good natter and poked BB with a stick. Actually, watching the boys play with the big birthing ball was hilarious. Wrecker kicked it, then raced after it, then tripped and fell on it and promptly bounced a good foot in the air before landing in a heap on the grass. Brilliant.

I think the visit passed relatively painlessly. Spar and Blar were noticeably knackered, for some reason, but managed to hold up their ends of the conversation without too much (noticeable) effort. We were briefly interrupted by the sounds of Gem's howls from the garden, but as it transpired the only thing wrong with him was a bite from the savage jaws of his brother, it was sorted pretty quickly.

Baby Belle she is, of course, quite lovely, and there will be more on her later.

The arrival of Sister and sons actually occurred on the 8th - Monday. It should have been the night before, but owing to some shenanigins with the car losing battery power, Sister was forced to spend a night in Oban with three fractious children. Not fun. When they eventually arrived on Monday, Wrecker was fast asleep in the car - which usually means a crying fit on awakening - but Gem came rushing in and enveloped his Auntie A in a massive hug, saying "I'm so glad to be here." He then came and gave me a big hug too. Fabulous. And then, when Wrecker did actually wake, there was only a tiny bit of crying. He was far too interested in the idea of playing the Monster Game (PS2) to be really upset.

In fact, they weren't allowed to play any PS2 at all, because Fisher and I took them off to the Adventure Kids park in Stanley. There they ran themselves totally, utterly ragged and loved every swinging, jumping, pedalling minute of it. Fisher and I also had a good time, being full of energy and joy, and delighting in the charge of two extraordinarily happy boys. We were there for 3 hours, until the place shut, and then took them home without a modicum of fuss. It helped that the treat of the Monster Game was still on the table.

Next day was Edinburgh and Butterfly World - as formerly described - precluded by a massive (and I mean MASSIVE - even by my terms) Dim Sum meal at Saigon Saigon. Sister went a bit mad with the ordering, clearly attempting to force several months worth of Chinese food into her straining tum in order to store for the winter, but I can't say I wasn't delighted. There was so much to sample. A real treat.

On the boys' last day, Epona was kind enough to bring Tony Pony round to our garden for the boys to ride. Both absolutely loved it, but Gem more so because he didn't, unlike his wee brother, turn out to be wildly allergic. Poor Wrecker started rubbing his eyes on his second turn, and by the time he'd finished he had one enormously swollen eye and was feeling pretty miserable. Luckily his Auntie A was on hand to cuddle him and give him warm milk and the TV. Gem, meanwhile, was merrily following all Epona's instructions - stretching his arms out in an aeroplane, touching Tony Pony's tail, ears, his own feet ... all without any loss of balance or nervousness. Epona was great, chattering away to him, making sure he was safe while I watched from afar, taking pictures and video for future chuckles. It was kind of idyllic, actually, except for poor Wrecker's allergy and the fact their mother had to miss out on yet more fun because of a Tesco run.

Lastly, we took them all to Stewart Tower for lunch and ice cream before bidding them farewell. It was hard - very hard - to say goodbye. The boys were obviously pretty unhappy to be going, and it only made it worse that Sister then phoned Fisher 10 minutes later, who relayed to me that she'd suggested a wonderful plan that we simply couldn't manage. She wanted a night at Ardanaiseig, with adult chat and some fine food and wine, while the boys ran ragged in the grounds before bed. Unfortunately I had a meeting at the Blind Society the next morning at 10, and a 3 hour drive would have meant getting up at 6. I had to phone back and say no - but Gemmill answered, and his first words were:

"Are you coming to see us tonight?"

I had to say no to a 5 year old, who was obviously pretty upset. Not fun. Made me feel like bawling myself.

Anyway, on the plus side it was obviously a very successful trip. Always leave 'em wanting more, that's my motto.

Next up was the 'official' meeting of Baby Belle. Spar and Blar sent a text round offering the chance to peer adoringly at their new offspring, so, on Friday night, we met up with Janus and Phid and did just that. We all took turns in holding the little rugrat, who screamed unhesitatingly throughout the entire experience. Naturally, no-one ever wants to judge parenthood, but the wean was starving and her legs were freezing cold. It was almost child abuse. Clearly Spar and Blar are useless as parents and need to have someone more responsible take Baby Belle off their hands. Someone like me. She'd be much better off with me. With me, she'd be weaned onto solids in about 10 days and therefore able to sample the delights of Devonshire Gardens cuisine. I've also got 2 very fine baby sitters in the form of Baffie and Bridie, who would teach her to kill rabbits and how to tunnel under fences. What more does a girl need?

Hmm. I wonder how young is too young to start educating the alcoholic pallate?

Anyway, I'm not sure what BB thought of her Tsia Se, or of all the other odd women holding her in varying degrees of awkwardness, but we all thought her enchanting. Now, with that said, I must go and help Fisher clear out the stable. It is very important to do this now, as we may well be having a horse in it.

This winter.


Friday, 5 June 2009

So Much is Happening!

Yet again my lax behaviour ought to be punished, so I'm listening to Mariah Carey. God she's awful.

Ok, punishment over.

*Dabs away blood streaming from ears*

Right. So much to report. Perhaps I should just gloss over it all in bullet point form? Why yes, I think I shall.

  • Had Koios's birthday. Went off roading on Saturday after Dim Sum in the morning at the very delicious Saigon Saigon in Edinburgh. Janus had chicken's feet. They are not pleasant - especially served ice cold and wibbly. Off roading is fun, but not something I find thrilling. It's machines. They're kind of fun, but I don't find them a challenge. Point them in a direction, put in gear, release clutch, press accelerator and off you go. Sometimes they go fast. Sometimes, if you press the middle pedal, they go a bit slower. If you're off-roading in a Drover, you go over very bumpy bits and only have to change between 1st and 2nd gear. It's quite fun - but, you know, it's not exactly challenging. The same is true for the quad biking, which was more fun, but only because we got to go over jumps. I was in a group with Wheeler and Chopper. Wheeler showed off by performing doughnuts on the wet, muddy grass, thereby churning up the ground to be even more slippery for us novices. He got gently told not to do it by our guide. He is a brat. Chopper, on the other hand, is a kamikazi lunatic who was constantly gunning it and ending up spinning round in circles, roaring with laughter. I took things in a more controlled (and cowardly) manner, perfectly content to sit at the back of the little group and give Chops enough space to slide backwards down hills and not run her over. Actually, looking back on it, the quad biking really was fun.
  • Still for Koi's birthday, we went mountain biking on Sunday. This was hilarious, yet also quite disappointing. We (Koi, Janus, Phid, Spartan and I) were driven by Land Rover to the 'top' of a mountain and set free. Actually, for the 'top' of a mountain there were rather a lot of uphills to navigate - but firstly we had to get over the slight obstacle of the fact that Koi can't really ride a bicycle. I mean, she can balance ok, and pedal - just about - but doing those 2 things and attempting to change gear at the same time proved pretty much beyond her. However, the first fall occurred literally 20 seconds after the guide had dropped us from the Drover and set us free. Janus discovered her bike was a little too high for her and, in the process of dismounting, managed to very slowly topple onto her side, like a felled oak. She then rolled down the bank, legs a-kimbo. I'm sorry to have laughed, but really, what would you have done? Especially as she kept eye contact with me the whole way down. Anyway, she was fine apart from a graze to her hip, which she proudly displayed to me some time later. It was, in fact, about 10 minutes later, when she'd paused just before the summit of a little hill. She struggled to get up the hills because, unlike Koi, she simply refused to change gear at all, preferring to keep her bike in 4th at all times - which made it a bit tricky on the tougher climbs. So she got off and walked a few times, which was fine - but on this occasion she paused and showed me her war wound. I looked, admired, and out of the corner of my eye saw a sudden flailing movement from the summit, where Koi, Phid and Spar awaited us. "Did Koios just fall off?" I queried, trying to peer round the slight corner as the road rose away from us. Janus, still studying her seeping graze, said she didn't think so. However, on reaching the top we discovered a disconsolate Koi clambering out of the only ditch on the entire mountain that was full of water. She made a valiant effort to laugh it off, but on the whole it was a bit of a miserable experience for her. She couldn't ride the bike properly, while going downhill was too scary for any of the 3 other girls to properly enjoy. There were some lovely views, but that's not enough to make for an enjoyable experience. I enjoyed myself a lot on the downhills, although I was lucky not to come off nastily on one of the long, rubbly stretches, which cooled me off a bit! Unfortunately, Koios fell off for the 3rd and final time on that very spot, and this time gave her hand a nasty whack on a barbed wire fence. She was a grumpy and unhappy lady. We tried to cheer her up a bit by taking her back to our place and letting her have a recuperative bath while I whipped up a batch of scones. Protagoras was already at our house owing to the fact he'd drunk way too much the night before and been too hungover to join us. Unfortunately this meant that Fisher, who was supposed to be joined in a walk by Pro and Blarney, was left with 3 dogs to control on her own and had a totally miserable time of it. Blarney flaked due to pregnancy, which is sort of excusable - although, frankly, why a pregnant woman can't go for a short walk in beautiful scenery escapes me - but Pro's hangover not only left Fisher dangling, but meant that Koi didn't have her boyfriend's shoulder to cry on when she got off her bike. And I don't think anyone should have to utter the words "no, I can't come out for a fancy dinner because I need to go home and give my boyfriend some TLC" on their 30th birthday. To be fair, Pro tried his best, and would have come along - but we didn't really want to see him suffer, or throw up in any of our vehicles, so we sent him to our house to sleep it off.
  • My mother came to stay for a few days, which was lovely. We had beautiful sunshine, took her shopping, and visited some gardens - including the maze at Scone Palace, which is quite fun. She went home relaxed and cheerful, having thoroughly enjoyed her stay in the UK.
  • Had Arrow round for the Champions' League Final, which was a total damp squib. I did my usual trick of betting on the team I didn't want to win, thereby allowing myself a little compensation. I won several pounds, but it was a shame Man United couldn't put in a better showing. Ronaldo showed himself to be a bit of a disappointment in a big game scenario - again. His selfishness on the ball as he strived to prove himself to be a better player than Messi was certainly a factor in why United couldn't keep possession, and not only did he fail to look like a patch on Messi, but Iniesta outshone everyone else on the field. For me, on that showing, he's the best player in the world - ghosting past everyone, showing himself in exactly the right place at the right time, unerring in his passes - a real play maker. Bit of an arse, though.
  • Took Koi and Pro out for supper on the back of my winnings. We went to Dakota, which was ok, although not nearly as good as it should be. Lovely night though.
  • Had an epic 'foodie' weekend with Ceegar and Meeper, and a friend of theirs from work. We started with a picnic in the blazing sunshine, by the river in Dollar. We followed this with a night at Hotel du Vin in Glasgow and supper at 1 Devonshire Gardens, which is still my favourite restaurant for food, and still lets you down pretty badly on service. They don't mean to be inept, and they're never anything other than wonderfully friendly and polite - but there's always something really shit about it. This time they managed to screw up Meeper's starter, bringing her the wrong rabbit dish. The wine waiter is also deeply uninspiring. He may know his onions, but he doesn't really give that impression, being a bit of an 'awkward teen' if you know what I mean. Oo! Oo! That reminds me of something to put on my List of Hate!
  • Saturday saw us walk down to Heart Buchanan, through the streets of Glasgow. We took a bit of a detour, as one of the receptionists at Hotel du Vin sent us on a wild goosechase in search of a deli, and saw some really lovely houses. Heart Buchanan is a deli and café at the top of Byres Road, and has some truly fantastic food. We had a coffee, Meeper had a cake, and bought up a whole bunch of gorgeous looking stuff which we put in a cool bag for our evening meal. Nexy stop was supposed to be the Paisley farmers' market, but having spent so much time getting to Byres Road and perusing Heart's, we missed it. Not to worry, though - we headed off to Bridge of Allan and Clive Ramsay's deli. This wasn't quite as good as Heart's, but still invited a great deal of examination, sampling and conversation. Ceegar, his mate and I also went into a wee wine shop on the corner and had a good natter with the lady about what would go well with our evening meal of gathered bits. She had an open bottle of chenin blanc - Californian - to try, and it was surprisingly delicious, so we bought a couple. We also took a few Italian reds, which I was excited to try because I know nothing - nothing! - about Italian wine.
  • Cromlix House. This deserves a bullet point all to itself, and not just because I can't quite work out how to turn the bullet points on and off in order to paragraph. (I am aware that 'paragraph' is not a verb. Leave me alone.) This is the name of a delightful hotel not far from Dunblane, set in beautiful grounds and with a very eccentric men's lavatory, that Ceegar insisted I see (just in case you think I frequent men's lavatories). It's right out of Billy Bunter. I half expected to see a fag warming the loo seat. Men's loos aside, though(!), we partook of one of the best afternoon teas I've had, ever. For the princely sum of £10 crisp pounds, we each had: 3 finger sandwiches - ham & mustard, egg, and smoked salmon; 2 biscuits - ginger, shortbread; 4 types of sweet cake, including a strawberry meringue; a big fat delicious scone with cream and jam; tea or coffee. Most importantly, the tea was leaf, not bag, and the coffee deliciously strong. All this and blazing sunshine too. We consumed all with glee, and then Ceegar's pal had to head back into Reekie for a concert that night. The rest of us returned home, and were joined - much later on - by Shah and Epona for drinks. Although invited for dinner, they were just going to stay for drinks. Just a quick drink. Only one. Maybe two. Ok, three. And a glass of champagne? Why, I don't mind if I do. And you insist we stay for dinner? Oh, well, if our arms are twisted ...
  • Sunday saw us pootle our way across to the East coast and the lovely marvellous Sangsters in Elie for Sunday lunch. This, if you get the chance, is more worth it than I can express. For £25 you get 3 Michelin starred courses and coffee. The wine is priced so reasonably as to almost seem incorrect - and if you dawdle, you're quite likely to get a chat with Bruce the chef, who shared his langoustine tips with me. It was a terrific end to a marvellous weekend.
  • Fisher has developed an unhealthy love of gardening, and her frantic weeding has inspired me to get the veg patch started. So, a couple of days ago I started preparing one of the beds in the 'picture' garden. I cleared it - which puts me in mind of another addition to the Hate List - and began turning it over. I dug my first trench and transported each spadeful of soil to the end of the plot, in order to use it to fill in the last trench. After spadeful number 4 I felt my back utter a sharp pang of protest. However, because it didn't protest loudly enough I continued to dig up another 5 trench-worths of soil, and only when I stopped did I realise it was probably quite a bad idea. I had to leave half the bed un-turned, and, because we were in Reekie entertaining Blarney yesterday, I only got round to finishing it off today. However, that is now done and it's ready for phase 2. Whatever phase 2 may be. I'm hoping Alan Titchmarsh ('Titch') will tell me.
So that's that. Yesterday with Blar was great fun, despite us being irritatingly late, and we went shopping all over the place - from Matalan to Louis Vuitton. We had lunch at Harvey Nicks, which was disappointing on the food side, but lovely otherwise, and even managed to see a grey-looking Spartan for a brief moment or two before heading home. He's working so hard at the house, hardly ever being in bed before midnight, as well as doing his normal job that I'm starting to be a little concerned. He's eating badly and running the risk of pelting full tilt into exhaustion - and that's before the wean arrives! I might suggest an evening off, where I bring food and massage to the needy - but not tonight! I just came back from a 4 mile run, inspired by getting on the scales, screaming, and leaping off like a burnt cat. It took me 54 minutes to do those paltry 4 miles, and even though I went up the hill, this is shite even for me. It wasn't helped by the fact that, just before the top of the hill I had to stop. I thought a) I was going to throw up and b) my womb was falling out. The pain was incredible. I sat down on the verge. Then I lay down. Then I knelt. Then I knelt on all fours. Then I got up and walked. Then I sat down again. Only when I admitted defeat and started walking downhill again did the pain start to subside. After another minute or so the pain had dulled to a point where I tried jogging again. All was ok and I started to quite enjoy the easy downhill. Then I made the mistake of looking back over my shoulder at all the uphill that had defeated me.

"Oh fuck it," I cried, even as my feet turned and took me back up the hill again.

I ended up running all the way through the farm at the top and to the end of the dirt track before turning and going downhill again. Returning home took me to 3.6 miles, so I reasoned I might as well make it a round number. Also, I was aware that all that was waiting for me back home was a cursing Fisher, who is in the throes of cleaning out the boiler room and turning it into the world's shittiest workshop (a workshit). This is because Perth council refused her a grant, despite all but promising her one. Bastards.

So that's that. I leave you with my List of Hate. Ta ta fer noo.

List of Hate - Number 2.

Wine waiters! Even good ones always refill the glasses of those people who drink faster without considering that slower drinkers may wish to have a second glass. Before you know it the bottle's gone and you have to choose whether to buy another bottle or let the laggards be content with less. Of course, this is why they exist - to make you buy more booze - but I can't stand it! I know I'm a bit of a control freak, but my sense of justice in this is pretty understandable. If you're forking out £40 for a bottle of wine, you want everyone to share in it equally - and people are almost always greedy about wine in a way they wouldn't be about food.
I always got embarrassed because my Dad would get annoyed about wine waiters. Now I've taken the mantle from him, and get just as irked. Just give me the fucking bottle and piss off! I can pour the wine myself and make sure all who wish for a 2nd glass get one, rather than just those who drink like parched camels. (By the way - I drink faster than anyone else I know and benefit greatly from wine waiters, just in case you think this is inspired by greed).

List of Hate - number 3.

Creeping - fucking - buttercup! How can anything that delicate looking on top be so screamingly frustratingly stubbornly strong underneath? Hmm ... perhaps Creeping Buttercup should be Phidippida's new pseudonym?

Afternote: Having had a conversation with Blar, who scolded me for the list of hate thing, I've decided I ought to have a counteractive 'List of Love.' So the first thing that goes on my List of Love is:

Shady Bard. He's so dreamy and drifty. Perfect for a mellow day in the sunshine.