Friday, 28 July 2017

well that went to plan, didn't it?

have you been enjoying my regular updates?!

i know - you know - summer, work, chaos, etc etc etc

i have a brief moment of calm just now. n has gone off with h&j to collect young f from holiday day camp (as h&j's car has rather inconveniently decided to die). i am sitting on the sofa with a gin and tonic (is gin one of the best inventions ever? i mean the wheel is useful and all - but - in terms of just making everything seem a little more bearable - surely gin must be right up there). it's been a long week at work - i have several projects all on the go and it is exciting and fun and exhausting and i love it really but i am tired. i have been to london most days over the past weeks and i am london'd out (samuel whatshisname was wrong - you can still tire of london and be perfectly ok with life in general. also i can't be bothered to look up his name. you shall know me as the ignoramus that i am). i have also frankly had enough of people. i love them too but good heavens they are a needy lot, aren't they? always complaining and asking stupid questions. it's a good thing it's friday really, all said.

unfortunately the machine-dying has not ended with our friends car as n's pc also kicked the bucket this morning. went to the hard drive in the sky? pining for the uranium mines of uganda? anyways it appears to be dead. expensively dead. this after just replacing two pairs of spectacles (so so not cheap) and so many other bits and pieces. we are very fortunate and i know it but we are also very skint and i do worry sometimes. i am not sure how we are going to fix this but i guess i don't have to know right now - we'll work it out - we always do. maybe this is just what life is. new and unusual ways to haemorrhage cash until you die. in which case i am succeeding beyond all expectations!

they are home now - i must go and pour some lifesaving gin for us all (not f, obviously - he gets apple juice). heavens knows we need it...

Monday, 26 June 2017

update - finally!

i've gotten myself into a bad loop - i want to tell you about what happened next after my last post but i keep putting it off and then i want to post something else and i don't because i haven't told you what happened yet. i realise it doesn't actually matter but for some reason i seem unreasonably attached to the linearity of it (not a word? tough). so - i will bite the bullet and unjam the logs (and mix every metaphor available to me in doing so).

after my nice relaxed post i had a nice relaxed evening and went to bed early. at around 230 i woke up hearing rushing water. that's some rain i thought groggily, then i FELT water, on my foot. suddenly, horribly awake, i leapt out of bed, turned on the light, and immediately turned it back off again because there was water streaming down through the light fixture. i ran upstairs - there is a loo above the room i was sleeping in - no taps on or anything but i could hear water. i ran down to the boiler and turned it off just in case and by the time i got back to the corridor outside my room all the lights and power in the house went out and there was a horrific WHHUUHHMP sound (which it turned out was the ceiling of the room i had been sleeping in moments before crashing to the floor).

clearly this was not good. i knew i had to get young f out of there so after making sure he was ok (sleeping soundly) i ran next door to the neighbours who we know as well - the kids all play together. they were immediately helpful and amazing and made a bed for f on the sofa while i went back for him. i carried him over the rubble and we went outside and played "walking outside in our bare feet isn't this fun!" (oh it was so so so not fun!)

once he was ok we tried to figure out what was going on. no one could reach h&j as their lovely boutique hotel had no phone signal and no one answered the landline. we worked out that a pipe under the upstairs bathtub had blown but we couldn't find the stopcock (!!!!!!!!!) to turn the water off. finally someone from southeast water was able to talk us through turning the water off on the street, and the rushing water finally blessedly stopped. at one point the neighbour and i were standing in the street staring helplessly at water literaly gushing out of one of the landing windows. it was beyond awful.

another hour later and a walrus-moustachioed angel arrived in the unlikely form of a southeast water emergency engineer. he found the stopcock, capped the broken pipe, punctured holes in the ground floor ceiling (thus saving that from collapse as well) and was so calm and good natured and matter of fact that i could have married him on the spot. he turned the water back on for the street and disappeared.

somehow a signal made its way to j's phone and he rang - completely freaked out by the 526 million or so missed calls and garbled text messages on both their phones. they drove straight home, and to this day their only concern was that f and i were all right. we're fine  but - ah - your house - ....... your house is not fine.

and we are fine. f thought the whole thing was a fantastic adventure and has shown no sign of trauma whatsoever. i am glad to know my adrenaline system works (!!) and although i still jump at the sound of unexpected water, i have no other ill effects. there was a slab of plasterboard across the pillow if the bed i was sleeping in so heavy that it needed 2 contractors to remove it so it was a lucky break to wake up when i did. apparently litres and litres of water were coming through every second, and if no one had been home the whole house would have flooded. insurance has covered the cost and although it has been a nightmare for h&j the work is pretty much done now.

luckily my plague of stopcock mishaps ended there and life has been much less eventful in recent months, although i have added “stopcock location” to my list of must have information for any premises I may be responsible for at any point.

whew. all caught up. we can now return to our regular posting!

Friday, 17 March 2017


i'm babysitting young f tonight. it's his dad's 50th birthday so they're off to a posh hotel to celebrate with dinner and a night away. after an evening building lightbulbs (disclosure - i had no idea what he was doing - his electrical knowledge surpassed mine some time ago and my role is wire holder, tape cutter, and general enthusiast), he's gone to bed without complaint. his bedtime story is the lion the witch and the wardrobe - good heavens - it is really quite scary! edmund nearly had his throat cut tonight! i don't remember being scared when i was a kid and i read those books over and over again. now i'm drinking a lovely glass of wine (his parents bribe me shamelessly) and watching tv. it's a flashback to how i spent many evenings as a teenager except there was no wine then and in my memories i was always watching moonlighting. it can't all have been moonlighting but that's all i can remember.

it's been a trying week. last friday the stopcock under the kitchen started leaking - well - it may have leaked for ages but that was when we finally figured it out. cue limited water, and what quickly became a complete (yet typical) british farce trying to get it all sorted out. it took until tuesday lunchtime, involved 2 plumbers and the water company, and included the phrase "we think we've found the external stopcock but there's a car parked on it". i had an awful cold so i was less annoyed than i might have been about having to work (sneeze and splutter) from home for two days whilst a parade of muddy-booted plumbers and water men traipsed through the house but it didn't do much for my general mood.

and today my phone died. it just won't turn on at all - it has bricked. as in might as well be a brick. i bought it off a colleague a few years ago so i suppose it has had a good life - but - dear god - i really do everything on my phone now. i keep reaching for it. f's house doesn't even have a land line so we are reduced to updates through my laptop and facebook messenger. i hope i can figure out a way to fix it as spending a few hundred quid on a new phone is not in my budget plan in any way. on the other hand, maybe a phoneless weekend will be quite - well - if not nice, at least liberating. i sure am used to being connected all the time though. i feel a bit - shipwrecked. slightly bereft.

i wonder what i was worrying about when i was watching moonlighting. school probably. growing up. pining for adulthood (i was never very good at being a kid). i'm glad it's now, and even if things are frustrating sometimes and there's bits of adulting that are ridiculous and even faintly psychotic, it's much much better than i could have ever imagined back then. it's probably good to remember that every so often.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

the highlands

wow. wow wow wow wow wow. i was prepared to be impressed but wow. neal's cousin lives an hours drive north of inverness. it's not in the middle of nowhere, because we drove to the middle of nowhere and it took about twenty minutes, but it's close. they live in the most charming, cosiest house i have ever seen. it is heated with a wood stove and a rayburn (a sort of wood stove/boiler/magician combo), stacked with books, and "guarded" by brodie, a rescue german shepard who is my new best friend.

i am brodie, and these ears do not scratch themselves, you know!
outside the house is a whole bunch of this:

on sunday we went on a road trip further north. we made a big loop through unapool and kylesku, around scourie and down past loch shin, through laird and back to ardgay. mostly i was too busy rhapsodising about the colours and the light and the moss and the heather and the light - did i mention the light? and i didn't take very good pictures but this gives you an idea.

that night we sat up in the "summer house" drinking whiskey and talking - they were such fantastic company and great story tellers. hearing about the characters they've met and how things work in this environment - it was a fascinating window into another world and the hours flew by. we braved the cold (although we did have a fairly good whiskey insulation!) and looked out at the stars - no light pollution there - just bright bright stars as far as you could see.

on monday we woke up to this:

and after a few walks in the woods we went up to the beach at dornoch - all soft sand and gentle dunes and a sky that went straight to the arctic circle!


i had no idea there was that much space in the uk. we really are all crammed in down here. coming back to the south was a bit of a shock - gatwick being rather horrid at the best of times. luckily our friend picked us up from the airport and drove us home so we didn't have to face london after our weekend of serene calm.

it feels like we've been away for a week. i'm so glad we finally made it up for a visit - i have a feeling this will be the first trip of many. i hope so. there's a lot of exploring to be done.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017


my cold is still little (yay!). it is just enough to drag me down a bit - not enough to be actually sick. at work today, brooke and christina diagnosed this as classic man-flu which at least made us all laugh. i have to be up early tomorrow - i have a safe cracker coming to one of our sites to bust into 5 safes for which we have no keys. surprisingly few questions have been raised about this entire escapade - not from the company who supplies the safe-man nor from anyone who has signed off the purchase orders. i asked if it would be noisy and they said "not if he can pick them - otherwise he'll have to drill." i admit, i am curious.

in light of this i have declined to join n who has gone off to hear some of our friends playing in a pub tonight. the amazing terry, in fact, who did our kitchen. small town england is a small world. i have to run tomorrow as well - and since i need to be on an early train and i'm meeting a friend for a drink after work - that means hauling my running gear into work and running at lunch. phhhttttpt. i shouldn't complain - i work close enough to regent's park to run there and down the regent's canal - past london zoo and camden market. it's a run many people would dream of - but i hate getting all sweaty and the showers at work are cold and you have to stretch on the bare (dirty) lino floor. but, as per yesterday's post, not running is no longer an option.

i am more excited because we are going to inverness on saturday for a long weekend. how thrilling is that? i've never been north of edinburgh or glasgow in the uk and n's cousin, whom we are going to see, lives some way north of inverness. we bought cheap easyjet tickets ages ago but - as the last 6 weeks have disappeared into the ether - suddenly it is upon us.

i am determined to be healthy and have a very good time indeed. so early to bed for me, and running at lunch time. at least "man-flu" doesn't slow you down too much!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


so that 10k race i signed up for in the autumn is in four weeks. with the best intentions in the world, and with all the optimism i can muster, even i can see that this is going to make it difficult to start and complete my eight week training programme. i have been running, and even some long(ish) runs, but they've been sporadic - one week loads next week not so much. so i have devised a new plan - it is part get-your-sorry-arse-out-of-the-door-and-run-no-run-further-than-that and part lowering of expectations. i mean i could run 10k now, it just wouldn't be much fun for the last few ks. so, if i have to walk on the race that's fine, and if i'm really slow that's fine too. i'll try to build up my long runs by a k a week for the next month and i won't be far off. still have no idea how the last 6 weeks have just evaporated though.

i did get in 6k this morning. spring is in the air. i ran by crocuses (crocii?) and daffodils, and the willow trees have sprouted bright green catkins. no new leaves yet but - there was just a hint of the smell of spring - green and fresh. yesterday was freakishly warm (that won't last) and the sheer delight in being outside in just a cardigan was wondrous.

it's tuesday so it's brass band practice tonight i have a bit of a cold which is going to make playing my trombone somewhat challenging tonight. we have a concert in a few weeks so our bandmaster is working us hard. luckily "all by myself" has not made a reappearance for this concert. one of the pieces we are doing is a selection of tom jones songs - the bass trombone part in "delilah" is so much fun to play!
da da DA DAAAAA!!!!!

but before that there's supper and getting ready for tomorrow and n should be home from work soon. and the beat goes on...

Sunday, 22 January 2017

foggy frozen morning run

Friday, 20 January 2017

it's friday evening....

.... and the possibilities are endless.

we've survived a bit of a brutal week. n got sick sick sick last weekend with a horrible fever/flu/cough deal that slayed him for most of the week. i can't remember the last time he was that sick. he's on the mend now (thanks to antibiotics) and was even (shakily) back to work today but ugh. poor puppy.

i have been in rude health but work has been full on and there's been some pretty intense meetings/coercion sessions (i am the one who is supposed to be doing the coercion but i have moments of - self-doubt? clarity? where i am not at all sure who is coercing whom).

and remember that incredibly well paid city job? well, one of my friends at work went for it after i declined and got it (the position above it actually - even more money!) and his leaving do was last night. i have to admit, i'm relieved it's him and not me. he is panicking at what they are going to expect with this much cash, although with even a fleeting knowledge of how messed up the world is, i don't think he should be worried. still, i really like my job and i'm glad i'm not leaving just yet. and for him this is perfect - it's a good fit. it was a robust send off and i was suffering this morning. project strategy meetings all afternoon did not help. i sank into my train seat on the way home like a drunk into a bar stool. take me home.

probably much like last night come to think of it, although entirely less literal.

but tonight two days of freedom stretch out endlessly before us and all is well.

happy friday.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

5 buttons! take that, everest

human beings are capable of great feats of strength, determination, and the will to succeed against all odds. traversing the south pole, climbing everest, sailing around the world, swimming the english channel - all unimaginable accomplishments.

until now.

for today i can count myself among this mighty pantheon, having sewn 5 - (FIVE!) - buttons onto felix's christmas cardigan a mere 3 weeks after i was supposed to give it to him, and a good three months after i finished knitting the damn thing.

it must be an incredible achievement for it took me months to work up to it and the final push involved a lot of huffing and swearing which we all know is the hallmark of genius. not for nothing all those weeks of guiltily catching sight of it and quickly averting my gaze and muttering darkly about "really needing to get down to that sometime soon". the weaselly rationalisation - "no kid wants clothes for christmas anyways" and "you know helen won't mind if it's late" - came through in the end. the (admittedly idiosyncratic) training really paid off.

and henceforth we can safely assume that all future cardigans will have zippers, as no one in this household has the appetite to go through that again.

genuine brilliance, after all, can never truly be repeated.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


i've just caught myself meaninglessly scrolling down facebook and hopping from blog to blog on the blog reader with no new content to speak of and no purpose in sight. i am too lazy to go get a book (the windowsill - so so far). dinner is in the oven (jacket potatoes that will be stuffed with salmon and cottage cheese). it is tuesday so there is no wine to drown out the drifting ennui. there is the matter of young f's christmas jumper that i still need to sew the buttons on - but - eh. i'm not bored, just trying to get out of the habit of mindless clickbait consumption.

how can it only be tuesday? i need to summon up some verve.

at least to get to the windowsill and back.