To do. A list of things.

This morning’s list:

  1. Send off forms for school travel passes (oops – should have been on last week’s list.  Oh well).   😳    
  2. Book our holiday.   😉    Started.  And we’re probably going here:  Dolphin Bay Divers (among other things)
  3. Tax the car   🙁     Why is the simplest thing never simple?
  4. Go through tender application.  A big one. It has to go out tomorrow. There’s a whole bunch of us working on it. I’m near Edinburgh.  They’re in Edinburgh, Weardale, Pembrokeshire, Dublin, Galway.  The world becomes small with email and phone conferencing.  8)
  5. Rearrange podiatry appointment for GP junior.  He’s now hobbling after every football/basketball/tennis/whatever session.  🙁  Good job he likes swimming. 
  6. Wonder if hubbie’s health insurance would deal with it more quickly.  And how do I find out? Arrange it? Find a decent podiatrist? Will it cover follow ups?    😕  
  7. Book our holiday.  Still not done that.   😀 
  8. Finish the next section of my current project. It’s already overdue and time’s running out.   😯       
  9. Find accommodation for September survey. 
  10. Start on next tender for a job in north west Scotland.
  11. Book our holiday     😆   
  12. VAT return.    🙁 
  13. Start (and finish) report for Menai Straits last year.    🙁 
  14. Go for a run – Great Edinburgh Run this weekend.  😯     I’m not in Mud’s league but you do what you can do.  I’m aiming for under an hour this year.  She’s tagged me, by the way – I’ll get round to it soon.  Put in on next week’s list perhaps.
  15. Nag.  When they come in from school, of course   🙄      
  16. Pay credit card bills  🙁     
  17. Hang out the washing.  We escaped for the weekend so there’s a backlog and yes it rained yesterday. 
  18. Wonder why the front door bell’s not working.  Had three different lots of people wondering how to break in yesterday.
  19. Book that holiday   😛      
  20. Displacement activity – write a blog post     😈    

Must dash.  Things to do, you know.

Why do some smilies work sometimes and not at others, she wonders?

Oh, and there are lots of entertaining blog posts to read in my spare time, in another blog carnival over at Mothership.  Do drop by! 

Mothers and Sons

Mothers’ Day was spent sitting at the side of a swimming pool, watching one son win a well-earned bronze medal in backstroke, just reward for recent enthusiasm and hard work, whilst his younger brother swam a valiant 400m with his goggles in his mouth.  You’ll probably realise that the mouth is not the ideal location for a pair of goggles, but they dislodged when he dived in and that’s where they ended up.  He could have stopped and got out, as 400m is a lot of lengths, but he carried on almost as though nothing had happened in a creditable time, all things considered.  They collected more metalwork with their teammates after some exciting relay swims.  All in all, not a bad Mothers’ Day. 

And by coincidence – because it was a long, long day – I happened to finish my current reading matter on poolside.  Reading matter for Mothers’ Day.  “Mothers and Sons”, a collection of short stories by Colm Toibin, has been sitting by my bedside for over a year.  I don’t know why it has taken me so long to get around to reading this as I always enjoy the clarity of Toibin’s writing and, sure enough, once I was into it I couldn’t put it down.  The stories were all very different but they tweaked a few emotional heartstrings and the predominantly Irish setting nudged out a childhood memory or two.  I have to say that they’re not mother and son stories to lift the spirit and gladden the heart, but a good short story most certainly needs a twist in the tail.  If you enjoy short stories, I can surely recommend this, although not necessarily for Mothers’ Day!



School shoes.  2 pairs and maybe some grown out of rejects that have escaped the bin.

Messing around after school shoes.  Scaffy trainers, 2 pairs.

Trying to be cool shoes.  White (yuck!) trainers, but they will insist.

Going to work everyday shoes.

Going to work smart shoes.

Wearing with a dress shoes.  One pair.  Although there might still be some discards at the back of the wardrobe.  Come on, have you ever seen me in a dress? Continue reading

Boys: a miscellany

One hitherto unforeseen advantage of trundling round the house with the vacuum cleaner is that it gives you space to compose blog posts in your head.  One disadvantage is that the instant you switch the machine off, those wonderfully crafted words disappear, sucked up as far as I can tell into the Dyson. 

Anyway, there I was, mulling over the apparent impossibility of getting GP1 to even think about doing any revision for the forthcoming prelims or perhaps even making a list of what he needs to do.  I don’t ask for much.  His younger brother, on the other hand, also faced with exams, comes out with such gems as “Mum, if I do this past paper could you mark it so that I don’t cheat?”  You’d throw up wouldn’t you, if he wasn’t your own son.  So I just laugh, lavish praise,  agree and wonder why the application genes couldn’t have been divided equally.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to auction tickets for someone to accompany me to Parents’ Evening tonight.  Continue reading

The Auchenstary Aspirants

I’ve been tagged by Lynne to tell you seven things.  I’m not sure there’s much you don’t know about me, as I’ve already dumped a large proportion of my life into these blog pages.  However, prompted by some old photographs I came across the other day, here goes (and apologies if you’re heard most of this already):

1  The first alcohol I ever drank was Red Stripe beer. It was in Daphne’s bar, a roadside shack with reggae blaring out, somewhere by the road between Cow Bay and Kingston on the Jamaican south coast.  We used to dive at Cow Bay every Saturday morning and stop on the way home at Daphne’s for escoveitched fish, sourdough bread and ice cold Red Stripe beer.

2  I was the 2nd woman to land on Rockall – by 5 minutes.  The first woman went on Woman’s Hour to talk about it!   But GPD and I are pretty sure we were the first people to dive with sharks at Rockall.

3  I did the Nevis River race in 1979 or 80, with a crazy bunch of mountaineering friends.  We had to hurl ourselves into a raging torrent clutching a lilo,  shoot the rapids and jump over the waterfall Continue reading

The days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my 3 boys gave to me…
…a basketful of dirty laundry.

So that would be GP1, GP2 and GPD.

It became a basketful or more after I collected 3 wet towels from one bedroom floor and 4 from another then went into the bathroom and threw a wobbly at the pile of clothes on the floor.  I collected it all, dumped it in the sitting room, and proclaimed that henceforth any clothes I picked off the floor would go into a bin bag and then the bin.  And I wouldn’t be the one replacing them.  It worked for a while…

On the 2nd day of Christmas my 3 boys gave to me…
…two piles of ironing and a basketful of dirty laundry.

Nothing new there, then.

On the 3rd day of Christmas my 3 boys gave to me…
…3am vomiting*, two piles of ironing and a basketful of dirty laundry.

*Poetic license. It was only 1 boy – GP2. Too much chocolate rather than alcohol we think hope.  Murphy’s Law, according to the Guardian, states Continue reading

The ages of man and the aging of women

I’m sure you all know how it is that, despite all outward evidence to the contrary, you feel exactly the same inside as you did when you were 20.  The only difference, as far as I can tell from the inside, is that I’m not asked for identification any longer when I try to buy a drink in a pub.  I was well into my twenties before I was able to buy alcohol without being challenged.  Not that I get much opportunity to buy drinks in pubs these days, of course. 

How times change. There I was the other day, idly browsing in a phone shop with GP2 (my mobile has packed up) whilst his older brother was next door in the Disney shop (yes, really) looking to spend money he didn’t have on a present for the girl who isn’t his girlfriend.  Continue reading

The guilt complex

We’re the type of household that gets sacked by cleaners.  You’d think that, working from home, I’d have all the time in the world to keep the house immaculate.  When the children were babies, people used to comment about how lovely it must be to sit and work at home whilst the darlings played happily by themselves, slept on command, gurgled contentedly in their moses basket next to the desk and didn’t start screaming the moment the phone rang.   They went to a childminder.

These days, I dream of waking up one morning to find that not only have I turned into a tidy, well organised person but that the children have suddenly become helpful – “Let me do that, Mum” – and that GPD  has figured out the purpose of the toilet brush.  But, as the first anniverary of last year’s cancer diagnosis approaches, I find myself having to admit that I have recovered from recent traumas rather better than my oven.  Broken ankle? You try cleaning an oven with your leg in plaster.  Hysterectomy? That central line of staples really didn’t help.  Chemotherapy?  OK, you get the idea.  I have tried to restore order, but have had to recognise that there are some jobs noone else is going to do for you.   Not unless you pay them large amounts of money, that is.

Which is why I finally cracked Continue reading

The rain in Spain…

I know, I know.  There really is no excuse worth having.  But the gps were very hungry,  and when teens are hungry, instant foraging is essential.  The McDonalds just happened to be next to the Asda carpark when we stopped in Omagh for essential supplies (read alcohol) en route to Donegal.  (I’ve just reread that – I imagine that fine restaurant is always there, not just when we happened to be passing. )  Anyhow, into McDonalds we went. 

Burger outlets always provide me with something of a challenge as, if I eat gluten, it’s not too long before everyone else knows about it and is finding an alternative bathroom.   It’s definitely not recommended on a car journey.  The place with the golden M isn’t too bad as these things go as I can eat their burgers as long as there is no bun attached, and their fries aren’t coated with anything extra to make them crispy.  But just you try asking for a burger without a bun.  I generally lose the will to live quite early in the conversation and settle for the coffee.

This time, though, I thought “I’ll have a salad!” but decided to check its contents before committing myself.  So… Continue reading

Hair today…

“Have you noticed” said a notoriously tactless and insensitive male of my acquaintance, “Have you noticed that your hair’s rather curly?”  I sighed.  I tried to summon a suitably withering are-you-an-alien-from-another-galaxy glare.  Deep breath.  “Well, there are mirrors in our house and, oddly enough, I do tend to take a glance while I’m brushing my teeth in the morning.  Of course I’ve noticed, you ****”. 

But I suppose I’m gradually getting used to the wide-eyed stares and take-two looks from those who haven’t seen me for a while.  Earlier in the summer we went to big sister’s cottage in Co Donegal for a week’s holiday and all four sisters were there at once, which must be something of a record.  They (the other three) took one look at me and fell about laughing.  Sisterly love, eh?  Continue reading

When they’re babies…

mum-chris-or-paul.JPGWhen they’re babies

  1. Yours are perfect and everyone else’s are horrible. 
  2. Childminding is a huge expense, and why isn’t it tax deductible?
  3. They’re smaller than you.  You can pick them up. Just as well, really; you need some sort of head start.  
  4. They generate so much washing.  Sick-covered washing.  Lots of tiny baby grows.
  5. Nappies.  Yuk.  Need I say more?
  6. There are no secrets.  You bath them, you cuddle them, you wipe their bums.
  7. You have at least some idea Continue reading

Protective? Or overprotective?

slide-header.jpg“You’re an overprotective mum. ”  🙄

“No I’m not, I’m just interested.  Do you know all the people on your contact lists?”  ❓

“Of course I do.  Do you think I’m stupid?” 😡

“Well, anyone can see those pictures you’ve put on.” 😕

“No they can’t.  It’s private.  And I haven’t put my surname, or my age, or where I live.  Go away.” 👿

So I did.  I went and googled GP1’s name, then GP2, and I couldn’t find either of them.  I was mildly reassured but note – mildly.  I have done this before but in a fairly desultory sort of way.  Tonight, though, I was just back from the school Continue reading

The Glass Menagerie

venetian_animals.jpgMy birthday is in January and this year, in celebration of my advancing years, we thought we’d go and play at being grown ups for an evening.  So we went to the theatre – and it’s not even the Festival!  Yes, we had to remind ourselves that there is theatre in Edinburgh outside the Festival.  I used to love going to the theatre as a child when my mother would take various of her offspring to the Theatre Royal in Brighton but, in recent years, we’ve more often had trips to the cinema.  And, having children of a certain age, we rarely see anything more advanced than a 12A.  We could, of course, have gone out for the evening on our own but thought we’d like a family outing and would take the children to the theatre with us.  Whether or not they would appreciate The Glass Menagerie at the Lyceum in Edinburgh was, of course, another question entirely.   

January is by now almost lost in the mists of time.  But Continue reading

Spring Bling

strikespan.jpgI seem to have been on a Blog-battical for the last few weeks.  Life getting in the way.  But now the writers’ strike is over, there’s really no excuse is there?  No picket lines to cross.  Oh, you mean I don’t get paid for this, never mind royalties?  Still, we creative types have to stick together, to show some solidarity.    So now the red carpet’s been rolled out,  it would be truly churlish of me not to acknowledge, finally, much overdue, with tears rolling down my face and thanking the angels in the city – where was I? – not to acknowledge an award from Potty Mummy. [excellentblog.jpg] I’m not sure that I deserve this, given my recent silence, but I’ll accept it gladly.  And I promise not to compare it to my agent’s buttocks.  As if. 

To quote from Potty Mummy, this award originated with a Canadian blogger, who stated:  Continue reading

In praise of…

london-bus-5.jpg…London buses.  With apologies to The Guardian.  Lest I become permanently marked as a moaner and ranter, I thought it was time to write something positive. And I always enjoy the “In Praise of…” piece on the Guardian Leader page – an antidote to the ranting and complaining of so much media.  I would like to write something about GP1’s recent school report.  But that would be too depressing and would definitely negate the required positive, enthusiastic, upbeat tone I need.  Perhaps I’ll wait until after Parents’ Evening for that one.  So London buses it is.

I think it’s about 3 years, maybe 2, since our last extended visit to London.   That was over Easter and was mainly memorable for GP2 breaking his two front teeth on a bench in the Imperial War Museum.  We were in the Trenches at the time.  Easter Monday was spent in dental casualty at Guys.

Our visit this New Year was less eventful, thank goodness,  Continue reading

High days and Holy days

grumpyowl.jpgThis is going to be a very selfish, mean-spirited, churlish, curmudgeonly, whingeing and Grumpy Old Woman sort of post.  There.  You’ve been warned.  For more enlightened, friendly, positive, cheerful reading you could try some of the links on my blogroll instead.  Iota’s started posting again about life in the States and she’s always entertaining and currently much more enthusiastic than me.  Or there’s Reluctant Memsahib who writes about homeschooling, schooling of the boarding variety but mainly day to day living in the Tanzanian outback.  And you could try Potty Mummy, Mother at Large and Pig in the Kitchen for general entertainment and cooking tips.  Oh, and I nearly forgot Fidra books who are offering to give away books to schools.  I hope you’ve all gone now so I can complain in peace.

Well, brother-in-law got engaged at Christmas. Good news! Exciting news, even, as his fiancee only appeared on the scene in September; Mother-in-law had, I think, secretly started to give up hope of any more grandchildren and suddenly hope came galloping into our Christmas celebrations.  Sister-in-law to be, who keeps Continue reading

In remission

celebration.jpgIt’s official!  My CA125 level – the blood marker for ovarian tumours – is already back to normal and there was absolutely nothing of interest on the CT scan.  So I really am in remission – what a great Christmas present!  I feel like I’m starting to see daylight again.  Round 3 of the chemo is tomorrow, so when we get back after New Year I’ll be half way through.  It looks like I won’t be clear to dive for 6 months after the chemo finishes but that seems a small price to pay.

We’re off to my mother in law in Somerset on Sunday.  It’s her first Christmas without her husband of 50 years and it won’t be easy for her.  After that we’re heading Continue reading

Rant No. 3: money laundering

laundered-money.jpgThe Alliance & Leicester Building Society.

You may be wondering what’s happened to Rants No 1 – the CT Scan and No 2 – the Cashless Catering Card which is indeed cashless.  I just haven’t got round to writing them yet.  And I am so cross after my visit to the building society on Friday that they’ve paled into insignificance and may not get written.

So, to the Alliance & Leicester. 

Act 1

I first fell out with them a few years ago when they opened the wrong type of account for the children.  Similarities with snow coming up. Continue reading

Tales of a cocktail cabinet

4am.  That’s an hour of the night that really doesn’t impinge upon my consciousness.  I like to be wrapped cosily inside a totally unmemorable dream at 4am.  I appreciate that there are folks who have to function at that time of the night or for whom 4am means breakfast but me?  Well, I generally only see that hour when there’s a low spring tide to catch in a Shetland mid-summer and, of course, being Shetland, the sun has barely dimmed.   But 4am in an Edinburgh November is a cold, dark moment and the only place to be is bed.  So you’ll understand that it was something of a shock to find myself setting the alarm for such a secret time last Friday, and sneaking along to the kitchen for toast and tablets.  Yes, this is when the chemo started.  Ten steroid tablets (that’s right – 10) to be swallowed with food at 4am.    Admittedly they were only very small tablets – perhaps they wouldn’t work if they were scrunched up into one big one, surface area:volume ratios and all that – but somehow it didn’t seem quite legal. It’s just a good job I’ve decided to give next year’s Olympics a miss. 

“You’ll never get back to sleep” was the advice from many quarters but it was too cold to read so I snuck off back to bed.   And suddenly – 7.30am.  I’d overslept.  Continue reading