WELCOME!


Welcome to my blog. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you'll stay and enjoy reading about where I've been and what I've been doing!

I don't mean this to be a replacement for personal emails, but it gives me the chance to put up photos and my scrapbook layouts, so I don't block up your in-boxes, or have to send the same photos and stories to everyone separately!
Thanks, and welcome, to the followers of my blog. I'm very honoured that you enjoy it. Drop me some comments from time to time! It's good to hear what you think about the posts. Come back again soon.

Thanks also to Mary of Mary's Mixes for doing all the work on the blog's heading. You are great, Mary!


Monday, 29 December 2008

Christmas

Well, I hope you all had a good Christmas, Hanukka or other special occasion you celebrate around now. Sorry I never sent out Christmas cards, but do watch your Inbox before long - you just might find something there soon!
I had a very pleasant Christmas day with a visit to my late friend Vina's family with Christmas presents - her grandchildren are growing up so quickly and I began to struggle with presents they would enjoy, but be a bit different. I think they liked what I chose! If they didn't they both hid it very well indeed! Then it was time for a dinner out at a local hotel with my friend Linda. We have eaten out together on Christmas Day for several years, both being on our own, and neither of us that keen on preparing a Christmas dinner. We followed tradition in choosing roast turkey though didn't go for the Christmas plum pudding! Too much, though all very nice!
Got some nice presents, including a box of acrylic paints and some canvases!!! No excuses now! I'll have to do a masterpiece!!!!! Linda gave me a garden thermometer that I admired recently when we were out shopping! It ranges from 50 degrees Celsius ( as if...) to minus 40C, so should cope very well with our temperatures, say about 28/29C down to -10 (though -10 is not so common here these days! When I was a child there was always lots of snow in the winter, and the local duckpond always froze - usually enough for some skating or in our case sliding in wellington boots! We would go sledging on Blackford Hill, getting soaked through as we fell off our sledges to roll over and over in double figure inches of snow! Great fun! It doesn't happen too often now! The last big snow in Peebles was a good few years ago, though we got quite severe winters when I lived in the Yorkshire dales. One year down there I had icicles on the guttering below the roof that I could see the tips of through my downstairs windows. My water supply froze for 6 weeks, and I found myself carrying buckets of water from the milking parlour of the farm next door until the weather thawed enough to allow my pipes to flow again. Frequently after the snow plough had come by, my car had disappeared under the thrown up snow, and had to be abandoned till the thaw came!

On Boxing Day, I drove through to Glasgow to see Sally and Andrew who are over here now for a couple of years. (You'll recall the second Aussie wedding I went to in May?)


Ian and Berny, Sally's parents, have come over for a month or so, so we all had lunch together in the youngies' beautiful apartment in a divided 18/19th century house in the West End of the city.

What luck they had in landing that one! A big living room with high ceiling, beautiful plaster cornicing and ceiling decoration, huge windows. It was stunning! The whole apartment was fitted out to the highest quality, with some exceedingly beautiful furniture included in the rental!


They'll all be off to Skye for a few days now so safe travelling to them. I'll be catching up with them in a few weeks before Ian and Berny go home to Oz.

Then on Saturday it was time to catch up with my sister Jean. We arranged to meet in Edinburgh for lunch, at the Elephant House, on George IV Bridge. This is reputed to be the place where Harry Potter was born, though I was under the impression that it was another coffee house - now a Chinese restaurant - on another street, not that far away! Anyway JKR must have done a lot of writing here at the Elephant House! As you can imagine there are elephants all over the place, from paintings and photographs to ornaments large and small. Indian, African, ivory, ebony, metal, wooden, pottery..... they're all there!

This is my favourite, on a window sill in the back room, more of an "eleraffe" I'd say, with that long neck! I think he is so cute! I love elephants, and have a few of my own here at home! The zoo off to the west of the city used to have a real elephant house which housed the lovely Sally, who in her young days (mine too) used to carry visitors on a howdah on her back for short walks. I never got to do that!


I remember years later taking some kids from my first teaching post way out of the city, to the zoo. The range of the children's backgrounds was quite immense, and I will always have a picture in my mind of Susan aged 5, from probably the poorest of homes, standing beside Sally's enclosure absolutely mesmerised at this huge creature she was seeing. She must have seen pictures of elephants, but nothing had prepared her for her first sight of the real thing! Her eyes were like saucers - the one and only time I have actually appreciated the enormity of that expression -and she was rooted to the spot! We let her stand for a few minutes more, but could hardly drag her away. Susan will be in her 30s now! I wonder if she still remembers that occasion herself!



From the back room of the cafe the windows look out onto the castle high on its volcanic rock dominating the rooftops of the old town below. Edinburgh is always full of visitors so mine wasn't the only photo taken that lunchtime.


From the Elephant House it is just a hundred yards to the old Greyfriars Kirk (Church) which is famous in the folk lore of Edinburgh. The most famous story of all is probably the one that tells of the loyalty of a wee Skye terrier puppy whose master died and was buried in the churchyard. Thereafter for years the little dog was to be found lying on Auld Jock Grey's grave, only leaving it to go in search of food. He became a well known and loved sight in this part of town, and was looked after by kindly inhabitants. In due course he was rewarded for his loyalty by being given a special collar by the town's provost, head of the town council (and the one time employer of my great great grandfather) that recognised his position as a resident of the city and no longer a vagrant!


After the death of Greyfriars Bobby a fountain was erected in his memory , which stands just outside the churchyard on the corner between George IV Bridge and Candlemakers Row. The entrance to the kirkyard is between the red-painted pub and the building to its left.

I could take up lots of space here writing about the kirkyard, its historical connections, and who is buried here, but if you are interested you can look that up for yourselves here, but I must show you one or two of the pictures I took.

I was particularly pleased with this one of the marble memorial to deaf artist Walter Geikie, getting the reflection of the kirk itself in it.


There is also a memorial stone to William McGonagall who wrote the most awful poetry, though he thought he was brilliant!


This is the view to the north of the kirkyard, the spire being the old Highland Kirk and now the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Hub. I tried lightening up the foreground to show the graves, but it spoiled the distant view. You can see pictures of the graves and read their stories using the link to the kirkyard above. One at least of my ancestors was buried in Greyfriars but I have never found a stone memorial. I guess a few have been removed, and some have been toppled, whether by vandals or a safety conscious town council frightened that someone might be injured or worse, by one of the old stones falling on them - heard that story yesterday but don't know how true it might be. Anyway young John Gall may never even have had a stone memorial. I only know he is here from reading his father's journal from the 1800s.


After our wander around here Jean went off to do some shopping, but I preferred to stay away from the shops and the Sales, instead, crossing the road and entering the very modern Museum of Scotland which I love. I didn't have much time to spend here before heading back to Peebles and tea with Morag and Mike, but I had a quick walk around the ground floor. Took one or two photos - from some wall art from the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, more here.







and of a cast of the tomb of Mary Queen of Scots, the original being in Westminster Abbey.


I rather liked this view across to Bobby's Bar from one of the windows of the museum. Candlemakers Row goes downhill behind the railing - on the right of the picture - and George IV Bridge runs along in front of it. Continuing along there will take you to the National Library of Scotland (same side of the road as the museum), across the Old Town's High Street and down the Mound to Princes Street at the National Art Galleries. Unfortunately the little statue of Bobby on the fountain is partially obscured by a post, but hopefully clicking the picture will enlarge it enough for you to make it out - between the car disappearing off down Candlemakers Row and the white edged window.

So I have had quite a "gaan aboot" time over Christmas (In other words I have travelled about a bit), and we are almost into a new year again. I do hope 2009 is filled with good stuff for us all.



Thanks to my friend Mary (mh51) for designing the beautiful frame I have used here though it was myself who coloured it rather differently.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Greetings!


Sending greetings from my house to yours! Have a great festive season.

Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Another installment!

Monday
No, it wasn't the end of the saga! I waited in all morning till about 12.00 then phoned to check that the engineer was coming - as I said to the girl, in light of all that's happened up to now, I wasn't taking any more chances! She looked up the appointments and told me, Oh no, it's tomorrow, not today! Me: No, it's today. It is definitely today. This is Monday. The guy on Saturday told me it would be Monday. Her: Well, it's definitely down as 23rd. I kept calm as I repeated that there must be a mistake. Give her her due, she said she would check up with the managers and see what could be done. A little later, I got another call back. This time it was John, the guy I spoke to on Saturday, apologising to me as, yes indeed, it should have been today - he had put it in for today - but somehow it had gone in for Tuesday instead! Somehow?! Me again - calmly and with gritted teeth: Well, John, I am getting to the end of my tether here. I have waited around all morning, not wanting to start doing something in case the engineer arrived (Christmas tree to put up, Christmas presents to wrap, cleaning, et cetera, etcetera). I am getting really sick of this and pretty angry, and I will not wait around all day tomorrow, I have things to do. John: Well, I tell you what! I'll put down for a call between 8.00 and 10.00 tomorrow morning. How would that do? Me: Well I have to accept that I suppose, but he had better turn up tomorrow. John: It will be one of his first jobs!

So we shall see! I am not holding my breath, but I know who I'll be phoning at 8.00 a.m. tomorrow - just to mak siccar (make sure!)!



This afternoon I went to the Art class and calmed down! It was great watching Joe paint from a sketch he made in the Dean Village, a little piece of the countryside deep in the heart of the city of Edinburgh! Just from a picture, not the real thing! It was very challenging, and to be honest, I only managed to get as far as just starting to paint by the time we had to finish up! Doing the sketch, then transferring the main lines to the art paper, took me ages! I'm getting to know a few of the class members now and we enjoy a bit of banter, making a few noises to each other of resignation that we will never be great artists, etc. but we all enjoy it! One or two are of the deadly serious brigade, one especially is very good but has no style of his own. All the paintings he has done are almost replicas of Joe's! Another is an architect and you can see it in his style! Most of the rest of us are just there for the fun and enjoyment of wielding a paintbrush and hopefully turning out something reasonably decent - and I don't think any of us are really awful!

*********************************

Tuesday
Meant to post this last night but forgot when I got home from work! Anyway, the good news is that I now have a fire that works! Heat! It's wonderful! The bad news was that it was Tam, the guy who had pronounced the fire At Risk a fortnight ago who came back to service it! I had instructions on the PC, so with a bit of bluster and blow, he set to, restored the gas supply, took some bits out of the fire, lit some matches, created some smoke, checked the gas meter and then put it all back together again and pronounced it Safe! Hooray!

Talk again soon!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The continuing saga

Was it really Tuesday I blogged last? It would seen so! I had awful problems with trying to blog for reasons that will presumably be obvious in a minute, though I suspect Blogger might have had something to do with it too!


It seems there has been a stream of tradesmen to my house in the last few days! After my complaint that the gas engineer had broken the folding ladder into the attic when checking out the boiler up there - he fell off the ladder -I had a joiner arrive to fix that. It was only the fitment that attached the ladder to the ceiling hatch, so that when the ladder is pushed up and out of the way the hatch closes too - but nonetheless it was something I couldn't do myself! The very pleasant young man fixed it without any bother, admired the view of the river from my window and said he rather fancied the idea of living in this area and hoped his wife would agree to moving! Then off he went! One problem dealt with!


Then someone came to set up a digital TV service through my computer and said no wonder it was slow, there was only a fraction of the RAM that they put in computers these days! Anything for a faster computer, so I called the local PC hospital and arranged to take the "pooter" along for a small operation. It came home yesterday and is bright and breezy again with its brand new and improved RAM - and so far I have had no problem with today's blog! Anyway, that leads me into the gas saga, as after I re-attached all the cables to the PC I finally received the email from the stove manufacturers with a statement about the design, with the added phone number for the gas engineer to phone if he still wasn't happy!


This morning I called the Gas Board again, and explained the whole story yet again with the added bit about the new email. The guy I spoke to this time was quite bemused - couldn't understand why the engineer had taken a look at the fire if he thought it shouldn't be serviced by them. He promised to look into the case and phone me back - which he has done - and guess what? The gas board would be perfectly happy to service the fire on the annual contract I was offered originally! Me: Then why did the engineer say you didn't look after these fires? Him: No idea, but there is no reason why it shouldn't be checked out yearly - by us - to make sure it is safe. Me: So someone will be here on Monday morning to service the fire and restore the gas supply? Him: Yes, I have put in a call for Monday morning - between 8.00a.m and 1.00p.m.


That is cutting a long conversation short, so sometime on Monday morning I expect a different gas engineer to be here to get things back to the way they were! Hallelujah! I do hope that will be the end of the saga though - it has been a fortnight since the gas supply was switched off. Thank goodness they got the central heating fixed before that!!! Anyway, this guy has said what I want to hear so here's hoping he's right! Christmas is almost upon us and I want to have the fire on in the living room on Christmas day! I'll deal with the compensation factor later!!



Happy Hanukkah to Peggy in Arkansas, by the way! I'm actually a bit early. It starts at sunset on 22nd this year - and that's Monday! Peggy and I have written to each other for years - since her two eldest kids were small, and now they are married and have youngsters of their own! Where have the years gone?
Here's Peg with Elke the most recent addition to the family!


Today Linda and I went lunching over at North Berwick, a lovely little coastal town on the Firth of Forth, east of Edinburgh, before browsing the shops for Christmas gifts. I still haven't finished the presents thing! Mandy and Richard, it was lovely to see you both - and we really enjoyed lunch, Sorry we didn't get the chance to see you, Jean (Mandy's mum). Hope to see you soon though.


I'm sure I've shown you some photos from NB before, but today I couldn't take pics as my camera battery died on me before we got there! On my way to meet Linda I had gone to Pets at Home for some bits and pieces for Priscilla, aka Moosie the hamster, and couldn't resist taking photos of some of the wee animals for sale! Maybe more about them soon!


Well, I think that's going to be all for today. Tomorrow is my early shift again so I must retire to bed now!!!


Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Gas

Well, the story of my gas stove, the one that looks like it is burning pretty realistic looking coal... the guy from the Fireside shop in West Linton phoned me back yesterday to tell me that the gas engineer who pronounced it "At Risk" and stuck a "Do not use" label on it, hadn't a clue what he was talking about, and that there is nothing wrong with the design - which was what was bothering the engineer. The Fireside guy had contacted the Technical Support guys whose number I now also have so that when I call the gas engineer back he can check for himself! I have to say I'm a bit miffed, as when the engineer saw the stove he said Oh no, we don't service these kind of fires, but went on to ...take a look at it anyway, while he was here! Then he goes and makes his pronouncement and turns the supply to it off! Now I have to get him back to turn it back on as there was nothing wrong in the first place! Aaaaggghhh!


Next installment: I phoned the Gas Board, explained the story, asked them to send someone to restore the gas supply to the fire...... Can't do that! They need the instructions for the fire and to see the reasons for the design in black and white! But there was nothing wrong with the fire! We still need to have the instructions before we can do anything! I've tried to find info on the internet, and have just emailed their technical support team! Why can't anything be straight forward.

Episode 3 to come!

Talk again soon.

Monday, 15 December 2008

A few recent events

A week or two ago, I went along to our local theatre with friends to hear the Borders Boogie Band. Although we arrived in good time - we thought - to get a table with a good view, others had anticipated the rush too and were there before us, so we could only find a free table at the very back! Still, there you can stand up or even sit on the table without blocking anyone else's view, so that was how I got this photo of the band playing and the dancers boogying to their music.

This one didn't turn out too badly, but when I zoomed in for another, because the flash was off, and I hadn't a tripod to keep it still, it was blurred. However, I put it onto the computer and began to play with filters - it's amazing what you can do with a duff photo!





I rather like this effect! Click it to see it enlarged. I think it looks better larger!!! Anyway, it was a great night. Boy, was the band good!!! Excellent music! It's a while since I have been at a gig! I think I should try and get to a few more!



Then the other day Linda and I drove through to West Linton, an interesting old village not very far from Peebles, firstly so I could visit the fireside shop to find out if someone could come to fix my gas stove that I bought there a few years ago - and which the gasman who fixed my central heating pronounced unsafe -and then to have lunch in the Old Bakehouse. As its name suggests it was once the old village bakery and baker's shop, though for as long as I can remember (back to childhood) it has been a tearoom or restaurant.

The old bakery is the restaurant with wooden ceiling and the original old ovens still intact. The walls have been painted terracotta and with low lighting around the room and pieces of antique furntiture it looks very inviting and comfortable. I couldn't photograph the old oven doors as there were diners sitting in front of them, but here is the far corner that you can't quite see in the last pic! I just love that old Dickensian desk - reminds me of my dad's office when I was a child!





Here's a link to the Bakehouse website where you can see a photo in the opposite direction with the ovens etc. http://www.west-linton.org.uk/the_old_bakehouse.html





In what must once have been the baker's shop there is a comfy reception and seating area with open fire and comfy armchairs, and a small bar counter with reception area. They already had their Christmas tree up on the bar!







This is a bit of West Linton's winding main street. The bakehouse is on the right with the lights on the menu boards outside. Further up the road at a corner - lights on here too - is another interesting place, the Bookshop! What a place to browse!



Shame about the car parked on the left blocking the view of the Fireside shop! You can see how the street meanders, with buildings quite higgledy piggledy along it! There are often small squares to left or right, and little lanes going off to further houses. I love some of the names! One in particular gets me! It is Moubray's Slap. Imagine telling somebody you live on Moubray's Slap!!! I think the word Slap may be an old word for a path. It certainly isn't much more than a path.


Isn't this a sweet wee dog, waiting expectantly for its owner to come out of a shop. I just had to include this pic! Doesn't he remind you of His Master's Voice? (HMV)



http://www.flickr.com/photos/26022506@N08/3083193270/in/pool-westlinton I'm hoping this link will take you straight to a wintry photo of the village, which must surely have been taken a few years ago! I don't think we have had snow like that for a while now! The West Linton website (west-linton.org) has a virtual tour that shows almost the same view taken in summer.

You can see it was rather a grey day - dreich, we'd say in Scotland. It covers damp, dull and grey weather all in that one word - but here is the village clock, built over the old well, and displaying a small statue, on the right side as you look at the clock from here, of Lady Gifford, a very early benefactress of the village.







I love this very solid looking grey stone house with its triangular garden enclosed by stone walls and ... railings! You don't see too many like this any more, as so many iron railings were cut down during WWII to go towards "the war effort"and just weren't replaced. Sadly, so many were just dumped as they were surplus to requirements. These look like the originals!

At the bottom of the village is St Andrew's Church and at the edge of The Green, the old tollhouse tearoom. The road off to the left between the two buildings takes you alongside the Green to the wooden bridge over the Lyne Water from where you can look down on the ford, the original crossing point most likely. That's Linda on the left. She didn't know she was in the picture - but she will now! Hope the toothache is better now, Linda! Wee story there! While we were eating lunch - potato wedges with our meal - Linda suddenly thought she had broken a back tooth! It hadn't quite broken but was wobbling about somewhat precariously! After a weekend of toothache, today she saw the dentist who said the tooth had just about sheared off its root, so he removed it, leaving the root which he then sealed! The same thing happened to me last year - twice! Our teeth are getting old! Just a thought - we are even older than they are (not by that much!)!

OK, time to finish off, though before I do I must thank Bondman and Dido for dropping by, and recommending another Edinburgh photo website. It's great too - http://edinburghlook.wordpress.com/ Take a look! I rather like this idea of doing a photo a day of the one place! I think I might start doing a photo a day of Peebles )and area)! It would certainly make me look harder at things! Watch this space, as they say! Night night!
Talk again soon!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Two great photo blogs for starters

Well, still no photos from the Co, or anywhere else just for the moment! I was all set to start blogging earlier today, when something led me to find the Photo a Day blogs where you can look up pretty much anywhere in the world and find bloggers who post photos of their little part of it. Of course being an Edinburgher originally, I looked up the Edinburgh blogs and found Dido and Bondbloke! I sat all afternoon and read and admired their postings, so much so that suddenly I realised it was dark again (about 4.30p.m.)! Well, it wasn't as if I was doing anything else, so I just kept on reading - and admiring! So if you are interested in my home city, take a look! I just have to add these two to my favourite blogs, see the left hand column!

OK, now for some pictures of the changes at work! The Co-op, Peebles! Aren't you just sooooooo excited? (Touch of the lowest form of wit there, yes?)

OK, here are the befores and afters, first the counter behind which I stand for a lot of my shift, checking out peoples's groceries through the till and these are two of my colleagues Moira and Joyce.








This was my view from the counter when I had a chance to look at it! Look at it now!








Looking from the counter, slightly to the right. The partition wall where the drinks chillers are, behind that red thing that actually held greetings cards in the LH photo was removed to reveal more of the steps that go down to the main shop. In this LH pic only a small section of the stairs was in use, beyond the wall unit full of crisps - chips to some of you - but now......... well, not quite now - this is on the way to being finished!









Here's the main shop as we were. Without that big partition we now look like this!








I didn't remember to take a photo of the before view back into the shop from near the back door, but this is what you see now, and the next pic is of Michelle as we tackled the weekly task of adding the supplement magazines etc., to the Sunday newspapers last week!
We'll have that joy to look forward to in the morning so as I have to be up at 6.00 and it's now just after midnight, I am off to get some kip!
Talk again soon!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Ladies who lunch!

That was me today! Part of a group of ladies who lunch! I belong to an organisation called U3A - University of the third Age - which sounds very grand indeed but isn't really. It is open to anyone who is over 50, retired or semi-retired, and meetings are held once a month with a speaker on one of any number of interesting subjects - most of them are interesting! Within the membership there may also be people who are willing to host small learning groups, generally meeting weekly, thus the idea of a University - it being a chance to learn something new, and also have fun. I went to a Spanish class last year, and also belonged to a gardening group that visited gardens and talked plants and things. Other subjects include Art Appreciation, Philosophy, Poetry, Pottery, Scottish Country Dancing and a Book Club, but then there are also Ramblers and Hillwalkers, Artists and.... and a lunch club - the ladies who lunch! I put my name down for the lunch club this session and went on my first outing with the group today!

It was a Christmas outing, so there were crackers to pull and paper hats to wear! The menu was Christmassy too with the option of traditional turkey, followed by Christmas pudding and brandy sauce, but I chose less Christmassy dishes, my main course being seabass and a smoked haddock risotto with prawns. It was delicious! The tiramisu gateau for dessert was not quite as I imagined it would be but was also very tasty! I found myself sitting with several people I knew, and conversation didn't flag, with stories, jokes and discussions, amongst other topics. We even talked about Christmas traditions in Poland, Holland and the Czech Republic, as some of our table had experienced Christmas in those countries. It was a lovely way to spend a lunchtime. I'll be looking forward to the next one in January. Don't know where that one will be held. Today we were at the Town House, Melrose - go back to 2 November to see some piccies of this lovely town centre - and I don't think it will be my last visit there!

After lunch I wandered round the corner to the lovely art shop and gallery run by Hazel Middlemas, a lovely young woman with an enormous talent for animal portraiture. I have admired her pet pictures on previous visits but today she was actually working on a pastels portrait - the heads of two black spaniels. It was shaping up very nicely! She had another picture on show of a golden retriever, one of a black labrador and some smaller pictures of border terriers! They are sooooooooooooooo gorgeous! Do take a look at her webpage!


Anyway, we chatted together for a while, and I bought another tube of paint - cerulean blue, good for skies, Hazel says, and one that Joe uses occasionally - and a colour mixing tray. I bought my other paints from her before Joe's lessons began, and she gave me some tips on mixing colours, wetting the paper before starting to paint, playing with colours and textures..... I really must make the time to practise!


Soon it was getting dark and time to head back to Peebles and work! It was such a busy night - lots of customers (my job) and a chill delivery to put away in the chillers throughout the shop (mostly Michelle's job but with a little bit for me to do!). Tomorrow is the BIG DAY, the re-launch of the new-look Co-op store, Peebles! The bigwigs will be there and I understand the local press will also be in attendance in the morning! Thank goodness I won't be there till late in the afternoon! I should hope the palaver will have calmed down by then and we can have a normal late shift!


I'd show you some more photos tonight but it's getting late and I might fall asleep before I get them organised! Next time then! OK?

OK!
Talk again soon!

Monday, 8 December 2008

heat and a local lad

The third gas engineer is here today to put a new circuit board into my hot water and central heating boiler! The second one did come on Saturday and pronounced the boiler unsafe to use - I couldn't use it anyway - and decided the circuit board was the problem! A new one could be fitted on Monday. So here we are on Monday at 2.30p.m. and the man is here fitting the new board right now!


I went out earlier today to do some shopping, having completely forgotten that everywhere would be closed at that time because of the funeral of a local lad in the forces, who was killed recently in Afghanistan. When I came out onto the High Street, there were traffic cones most of the way along the street and police had closed the road to through traffic. I gather that earlier on there had been a procession along the street to the parish church that looks down the main street, and I arrived just minutes before the funeral cortège came out of the church after the funeral service, the coffin draped with the union flag preceded by the church minister, and followed by the parents, fiancée, relations and friends of the dead soldier. There were crowds of townspeople gathered outside, many in tears, men, women and youngsters who must have known him - I personally, didn't know him, but I too felt the prickle of tears behind my eyes at the thought that his life ended like that in a war that was nothing to do with the defence of our own country. I feel so strongly that these men and women should not be out fighting in the far east. Once the coffin had been slid into the hearse and the chief mourners were in the cars to take them to the cemetery, the procession set off slowly, led by the funeral director on foot in front. It wasn't far to go and a great crowd followed on, including a number of the lad's army colleagues who marched in rank over the bridge and up the hill to bid their friend their own farewell. I walked with the crowd round the corner to the Co-op which was also closed, but seeing me, the manager opened the door to let me in. The staff were watching the procession pass by, and all of a sudden I was aware of our young manager standing there in tears. I, being the old lady on the staff, turned to give him a hug. "It shouldn't have ended for him like that." he sobbed, and I found the tears streaming down my cheeks too. It shouldn't! It just shouldn't have!


Well, this boiler repair seems to be coming on, but the engineer has now found a leak, and has just telephoned his depot to say he'll be here for the rest of the afternoon - and I have to be at work in twenty minutes! I'll just have to leave him to carry on. Normally I wouldn't be going to work on a Monday till 6.00, but because of the store re-launch on Thursday, and - now don't laugh - the prospect of there being hundreds of balloons throughout the shop, I asked if I could go in later on Thursday.


I have a phobia about balloons, in case you didn't know! I always say I put it down to having had my tonsils removed at the age of 5! I remember lots about that hospital visit, from walking along the road with my mother, carrying my wee case, to get the bus to the hospital, then being put to bed in the boys' ward, where the boy in the bed next to mine gave me his comic to look at. I didn't know many boys - they were completely different to us girls - and I didn't like them, but finally, much to my great happiness I was eventually transferred to a room with two other little girls in it! The day of our operations, we were all kitted out in wee white gowns and little hats like shower caps, pink for the girls and blue for the boys, and trundled along the corridor in a line, each holding on to the back of the one in front. We sat in a small anteroom on a bench seat along the wall and as each child was called on to go into the operating room we all budged up a place to wait our turn. I remember being told, Now lie on this table.... blow into this balloon and your tonsils will fall out into it!!! In those days, the early '50s, the anaesthetic was admnistered by breathing into a rubbery rugby-ball-like thing. I am presumably associating the balloon-like thing with the pain in my throat after the op, but for whatever reason, balloons now have the ability to send my heart pounding, and that's why I don't want to be in the shop early on Thursday! Michelle has promised to burst all the remaining ones beforeI get there at 5.00!!!!!

I remember after the tonsils op too, eating ice cream to ease the throat and playing "ball" with a blue fluffy powder puff given to me by mum to replace my furry "wuzzy" toy she was frightened might get lost in the hospital. We three girls in the one room would throw the powder puff between the beds and I seemed to be the only one who could throw with accuracy as I was the one constantly having to scramble out of bed to retrieve the thing from under my bed, and I was always the one who got caught when a nurse came in! I also remember that the other two girls got to go home the day before I did, though I couldn't tell you why! I'm sure they didn't keep me in just because I was naughty, though I thought so at the time!

Funny things, tonsils! I understood they were there to fend off infections, but the people I know that still have them are the ones who still get sick, and the ones who have had them out seem to be much better! I gather they don't remove tonsils to order these days, not like they did in my day! It seemed to be the thing to do to remove tonsils at the age of about five. There were certainly a bunch of us kids there all in for the same thing!

**************************************

Well, I am now home from work and though it is cold and frosty outside, it is warm and cosy inside at long last! Apparently the engineer has to come back first thing in the morning to fit some other part in the boiler but at least it's working now! It's so lovely to be warm again! I'm off now to luxuriate in it!

Talk again soon.

Friday, 5 December 2008

New header

Hi! It has been too cold to sit at the computer for too long, so I haven't written for a few days! The gas engineer was due to call this morning but after getting up at the crack of dawn, turning the fire off again, and freezing for a few hours, I got a call to say he had lots of emergencies to deal with and couldn't guarantee that he'd be able to call before the afternoon. Aaaagh! I'm an emergency too! Well, I'm not really, as at least I have a fire and can cook! So as I had to go to work this afternoon the visit has been rescheduled for tomorrow morning! Now this amazed me! The guy told me they were less busy at weekends! So why should weekends be less busy than during the week? An emergency can occur any time - can't it? So I'll get up again tomorrow at the crack of dawn and turn the fire off - and wait!!!!! What do you reckon? Do you think he'll turn up?

Well tonight after work I have sat here playing with my blog header! Hope you like it! It's quite simple, but I like the "less is more" approach to scrapbooking, and this is definitely less! I finished work early tonight as the workmen were back in the shop continuing with the refit! The place is really beginning to look pretty good, especially now that the signs have gone up on the walls and we have nice posters about the Free Trade items we sell. I forgot to take pictures tonight, but I should be able to show you a few comparisons soon! It has been pretty stressful and difficult over the last couple of weeks while the work has been in progress with the shop remaining open. However the guys are a great bunch and we have had a few laughs with them. One of our staff has taken a fancy to one of the young painters, a tall, slim, nice-looking, long-haired lad with a lovely personality, so we have been teasing him a lot about that! He laughs with us, as the particular member of staff is old enough to be his mother! It's Karl this, and Karl that, hello Karl, goodbye Karl, see you tomorrow Karl! I mentioned to him that he had a big fan there, after she'd left, and he roared with laughter agreeing that, yes, he got a lot of attention from her!

The snow has all gone for now! After a few lovely days with occasional flurries of snow, the rain set in today! More snow is forecast but we'll wait and see! Ever since some years ago - when a TV weatherman responded to a viewer's question about a possible hurricane, saying no, there was definitely NO hurricane on the way, only to have to eat his words the next day as the damage was incredible after a night of storms - the weathermen have been pretty cautious about their predictions! We were all waiting for the heavy snow and terrible road conditions forecast the other day, but the storms must have passed us by! We got a few flakes of snow and the temperature went up! Only by half a degree, but it was enough to be too warm to snow!!!

I was going to say, no photos tonight, but I have this one of our manager with his partner and their two week old son! It was the first time baby JP had been brought for a visit, so we all took a turn of holding him - as he slept soundly through being passed from person to person!
Keith is a very proud dad!
So that's the news for now! Time for bed now! I wasn't going to sit here for ages knowing I have to get up early again tomorrow, but I have!
Oh well!
Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Snow!

Meant to say yesterday that it snowed for the first time this winter! Not that there was a lot but it was a covering of nice crunchy snow - crunchy because it is like walking over dried autumn leaves, it crunches softly as you walk on it! And that leads me on very nicely to the subject for Joe's art class yesterday afternoon! How fast these Monday classes come round! Today Joe painted a beautiful snow scene, showing us how to paint winter trees with their bare branches. And you know what? I am so proud of my own picture I am actually going to show it to you today! It's not quite finished and maybe it never will be, but I am so pleased with myself! Joe was most complimentary too. I know there are one or two things that aren't quite right and I might try to correct them - the ones I can - but here's Joe's painting first!












And here is mine! Taaraah!



I had a quick look round the class as everyone was finishing up to see how other peoples' had turned out! They were all so different, despite the view being the same, and - dare I say it - I think I was far from being bottom of the class today!!!!!

It snowed again during the night last night, and it is cold! I am waiting or the gas board man who is coming to look at the boiler today! He'll also be servicing the gas fire in the living room so I have had to turn that off too or it will be too hot for the man to work on! It's one of those cast iron stoves so retains the heat. Boy, it's cold in here now!

***************************************************

Well, the mannie came and had a look at the boiler and realised he'd have to spend some time on it, so he said he'd go and do another call that had to be done by 2.00 and then he'd be back! I haven't heard from him since, and it's way after 6.00 now! I turned the fire back on about an hour ago, realising that if he did still arrive, he wouldn't manage to do both the boiler repair and service the fire. So at least I have some heat again! More snow is forecast tomorrow and the temperature is pretty low tonight!

Just another scrapbook picture before I finish off for today! This is the house where the Inglis brothers, sons of Rev. James and his wife Grace, were born and brought up. This is the old Manse, Midlem, near Selkirk. The church has gone now and the Manse sold off, but in the narrative by Charles Inglis there is quite a section all about the family's life in the village, including a description of the congregation gathering on the village Green before service.

The family left Midlem for Edinburgh in 1828 where Robert went into the printing and bookselling business. He eventually went into partnership with James Gall, printer, married Gall's granddaughter, Eliza. One of their four children, James, married Charlotte Kinmont, whose only child was my father.
So there we are! My family history in a nutshell!
Talk again soon. (It's snowing again, by the way!)

Monday, 1 December 2008

Family history!

It was St. Andrew's Day yesterday! He is the patron saint of Scotland - and of Russia, Romania and Greece!!!! Sadly we do not seem to celebrate our national day very much, preferring to celebrate the birth of our national bard instead. That would be Robert Burns, the 'ploughman poet', born on 25 January, 1759, in Ayrshire, in the southwest of the country. In 2009 there are to be big celebrations for his 250th birthday! I am planning to join Ian and Berny from Australia - as they are over to visit Sally and Andrew in Glasgow - on a visit to Dumfries for a special torchlight procession round the town, where Burns spent much of his short life. He was only 37 when he died, having lived and loved a lot! I can't remember if I mentioned it before, but Ian and I have a family connection with Burns! Our ancestor, my great great great grandfather, (Ian's great great great great gf) was minister of the Secession church in Dumfries (the Seceders had broken away from the Established Church), and Burns came to listen to him preaching - at first, according to Charles, the family historian of the 1870s, because he was sent by the town magistrates to "spy" on William, they wanting to find an excuse to overturn the Secession doctrine. Burns wouldn't "bear false witness" and refused to say anything against Wiliam's preaching. The magistrates were not happy and tried to get Burns to say something that would give them cause to react against the Seceders, but still Burns would only tell them what William had preached and let them make up their own minds if it was against Christian beliefs. So the matter was dropped, as they could find no fault with William's words! Burns returned to William's church because.......he preached what he believed and practised what he preached.
and eventually made friends with him. When Burns lay on his death bed, William visited him and according to family tradition, Burns "expressed his deep contrition for his sinful life and his immoral writings, and his resolution if he was spared to amend his ways." An interesting thought!



Anyway, for Ian and Berny, this is the family tree, that I made of my line of descent from Rev. William Inglis! Our lines came from two of William's six grandsons. My plan is to make a similar tree for Ian, and his family. All the little pictures are scrapbook pages I have made.






Here's the one of Rev. William Inglis, who married his cousin Elizabeth Simson. They came to Dumfries from Fife where the Inglises had lived for several generations previously.





One of his sons was James, who became the minister of a church in a small Borders village near Selkirk. James married Grace McClelland from Wigtown, and had six sons and two daughters. Ian is descended from Thomas and I from Robert.

This picture was taken after the death of James, and shows Grace with some of her family. Charles, the rather arrogant looking fellow seated on the left, is the family historian. He did not marry. My Robert is standing directly behind his mother (with the white hood). John on the left, standing, is the brother who went to New Zealand and whose descendents I visited earlier in the year. William seated on the right was the eldest brother who would marry a few years later only to become a widower very soon after. At this stage, Thomas must have left home and was probably in Wales where he met and married his Irish wife. They left for Australia in 1848. James, the remaining son has also left home at this stage and will become the father of the family from which my dear late cousin Moira was descended. Her nephew, his wife and their baby daughter continue that line, though the Inglis surname has gone.


Enough of my family for now! I say that I could bore for Scotland on the subject of my family history, so I do hope you haven't been bored and that for you, Ian, it has sorted out just who's who!

Talk again soon.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Paintbrushes and hammers

Haven't been able to do any blogging for a couple of days as my optical mouse, that has been behaving very erratically for the last few days, finally gave up - and I haven't a clue which keys to press instead! However, this afternoon before work I went and bought a cheap mouse with a ball, and tonight when I got home I plugged it in! Great! It works!

So, it dawns on me that I haven't shown you the picture Joe did at this week's art class! It's of a loch on Rannoch Moor with some of the western mountains in the background. My dad would have been able to name them, but I can't!

My own picture was too bold in colour again, but at last I think I have discovered how to get the paints to lighten up! I explained to Joe that I didn't know how to use watercolour paints, as I'd not even used them at school all those years ago - though I suppose I must have, when I think back to the paint boxes we used to have! So he showed me how to water them down! I'll have to play around with the paints and water till I get the idea! Anyway, I'm still not showing you my attempts! One day, maybe!

I suppose I could show you a drawing though! I was reasonably pleased with it - though Joe has pointed out a couple of weak spots that I haven't yet corrected - like the sheep in the foreground being too small for the perspective! He's right! I must draw them again - larger! The pic is of a hill near Peebles with the name of Brown Dod! A dod, in Scots, is a lump of something - anything - so this could be the origin of the name of this hill! It is a bit of a lump!

Then there is the ongoing saga of the Co-op refit! It has been a total nightmare as we try to work round workmen working around us! Stock has had to be cleared from shelves and put away till new shelves were put up, and gradually things have been moved around, sometimes to temporary shelf units and sometimes into boxes and moved into the store room or piled high in boxes on the shop floor where there was no chance of being able to find them. Old shelf units have been ripped out and new ones put in place....

Though a lot of the major work has gone on during the night, customers are generally saying to us that they think the shop should have been shut during the work and we agree, but it wasn't up to us! However they are also enjoying coming in each day to see what changes have been made since their last visit! I have to say that the stress levels of the staff are pretty much off the scale right now, and that includes me - who everyone reckons is totally unflappable! I have been the one to take the flak from customers who can't accept that we are being turned upside down and haven't got access to certain stock at certain times.
The street outside the shop when I left at 11p.m. one night! There's a redundant chiller unit sitting outside on the pavement, and one of the shop doors is lying on its side, to be replaced later - and still folk were coming in asking if we were open!!!
One woman, late one evening, looking for a bottle of vodka - Scotland's new national drink - was furious when I explained to her that the shelves on which we generally display the spirits were to be replaced that night, so we had had to move the bottles to boxes that were piled up at the side of the counter. I explained that I could not possibly physically lift the boxes to look for the vodka (which of course was bound to be at the bottom of the pile), and was treated to a tirade that she was the customer and therefore I had to sell it to her. In the end she left in a huff without her vodka, having forbidden her friend even to buy a bottle of beer that actually was on a shelf in one of the new chillers! They would go elsewhere! They left with the second girl raising her eyes to heaven to me in an apology for her friend! She wasn't the only awkward so-and-so! They came thick and fast! Saying that though, most people were very understanding of the problems we were facing and accepted that for once they might not get exactly what they were looking for. They were prepared to laugh, joke and sympathise with us over what we are going through! Now most of the shop floor work has been finished and it is only cosmetic stuff to be done before they start work on the office and toilets next week! Now that is going to be another big overnight job! Thank goodness I don't have to do an out of hours shift! I forgot to take photos tonight but I'll take some on Sunday morning - my one early shift of the week! I have the day off tomorrow but may drop in to the shop sometime just to see what was done overnight tonight! Nothing more will be done till Monday night now though! The lads don't work weekends!
Well, I've been burning the midnight oil again and need my sleep! Night night!
Talk again soon!