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 cafĂ© 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.