Thanks also to Mary of Mary's Mixes for doing all the work on the blog's heading. You are great, Mary!
Monday, 31 March 2008
Friday, 28 March 2008
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Ian in France phoned me the other day. He's settling into his new home, but still has lots of work to do to it, and the annexe next door. He has a bicycle and is apparently riding around the countryside getting to know his way about, and waving to all the locals - and they to him! He's not too confident with the language yet, but I think he will do alright. I think he should invite all his neighbours for lunch... or supper! Could be fun!
Sunday, 23 March 2008
I have to say sorry to the other members of our clan (well family really. We aren't a clan as such in Scotland, though we do have a tartan. - I digress!) as I won't get to see everyone this time. I will be heading for New Zealand a day or two after Clare's wedding, and only getting back in time to fly down to Adelaide - for Sally's wedding - where once again Ian will meet me and take me to the guest house. Again, a day or two after the wedding I'll be heading back home to Scotland. However it won't be long till I see Sally and Andrew again as they are soon to be coming over here to work - albeit in Glasgow - for a couple of years.
The parents of the brides on their last visit over here
I'm looking forward to getting to know the Kiwi rellies a bit better this trip, as well as meeting my nearly cousin in Invercargill and seeing the sights as I head back north again. Did I say it before, that my plan is to hire a car and drive my way up? There's so much I want to see that I didn't see last time, and places I want to visit again.
The forecast was for snow today, and apparently the newspapers are full of it. It seems it's officially a white Easter because they have snow in London - but what am I looking at outside my window just now at 6.30 a.m? A very green Green! Admittedly there is a light covering on the hills beyond the town, but otherwise not a drop of the white stuff! No need to wear the wellies to work, then!
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It's much later in the day now, and I have been to work, and then out for the rest of the day. Because it is Easter Sunday there were lots of visitors in town.... from Northern Ireland - or as they'd say in their accent, Norn Arn - England and other parts of Scotland, including quite a number from the Glasgow area! The accents are the give away! I have to say I enjoyed the shop being so busy with folk looking for last minute Easter eggs and hot cross buns, coughs and cold remedies, bottles of wine, newspapers that aren't published on a Sunday (!), cakes and scones for Easter tea, batteries for TV remote controls, etcetera, etcetera! What wasn't so much fun was that the emergency door was forced open three times by people who thought it was just a hard-to-open regular entrance/exit - despite large notices on both sides that say THIS IS AN EMERGENCY DOOR ONLY, or words to that effect! Michelle told one woman that her friend had just forced the door open (with a baby's pram, no less) and set off the silent alarm to the police. The two of them scarpered off along the road, with pram, before we were inundated with men/women in blue who might want to apprehend them! No we didn't get an invasion of coppers, because Michelle had just spun them a line! No alarm, no police, just a very cross supervisor who was ready to scream at having to secure the door seals for a third time!!
After work I drove up to visit Vina's family, the first time I have seen them since the funeral. I hadn't been able to psyche myself up to visiting, and had to force myself to face it today. To put you in the picture, Barbara and Alistair, and their two kids, Rachael and Ross, live in the main house these days, since Vina and Willie had an extension built to the back of the house to be their "granny flat". Willie was out but daughter Barbara was at home so she made me a mug of tea and we had a long chat about how we each felt about not having Vina around, and about Vina's and Willie's different reactions when the cancer was diagnosed. Vina wanted really not to have treatment, but we both felt she only accepted it for Willie's sake and that of the hospital staff, as they were all so keen for her to have it. Barbara said she felt as if her mother was all the time fighting against the treatment: not wanting to take pills, not drinking the medicine that could have helped her through some of the pain. Barbara regretted in some ways that her mum had agreed to the treatment, but also said that perhaps if she hadn't had it, then we'd all have been wondering now if it might have worked. She expressed anger at her mum for leaving them. They say anger is an emotion you go through when you lose someone. I have only felt great sadness and regret when something has happened that I'd normally have shared with Vina, and things are constantly cropping up, when I say to myself, I must tell Vina.
Vina would love to have heard the news about my trip. Barbara would have wanted to share the great news that Rachael has been selected by the National Youth Theatre, one of only 260 youngsters chosen from the whole of Britain and Northern Ireland, to take part in one of several musical productions to be presented around the country this summer. We are all so proud of her and wish her lots of good fortune! Vina always said, when Rachael was tiny, that she ought to be on the stage, and so it proved to be. She's done well in local theatre, and now it seems likely she could be on her way to big things - on the Edinburgh Festival fringe, no less!!! Go, Rachael, go! So, tonight the family, Willie and I all went out for dinner at a local hotel, where the toast was "Rachael!" I've had another lovely night, when amongst so many other things we talked a lot about Vina, and though sad, were able to laugh a lot too.
Talk again soon.
Saturday, 22 March 2008
So what has been happening since then? Well, I was out for supper on Tuesday night! A couple of customers who come regularly to the shop invited me to join them for "food and drinks". It was at Julia's flat, an upstairs apartment in one of the older houses of Peebles. You get to her place through a narrow passage between buildings - what we call a close, or a pend - round to the back, and up a curly outside stair to the front door.
Once inside it was immediately obvious how arty Julia is! The whole place was delightfully "bohemian" with walls painted with brightly coloured naive flowers, mismatched furniture, Indian throws, old painted chairs... in the kitchen diner there were gorgeous old pine cupboards on the walls, shelves full of kitchen stuff and others crammed with ornaments, papier mache fish on the wall, a weirdly shaped overhead lampshade homemade from paper..... and amongst other treasures, a rubber duck - a plucked one! It was wonderful.
Three of Julia's friends were already there, Chris, Ian and Jo, and eventually Cath blew in! We'd already begun to tuck into the cheese and olives, and the bottles were open, the wine flowing! Julia was cooking something that smelled delicious in a large orange casserole, which when dished up WAS absolutely delicious - like paella but made with quinoa (keenwa), with chopped up veggies and prawns. That was followed by a very rich chocolate torte brought by Jo, and all accompanied by, and followed by, copious glasses of vino rosso and rose. They have wonderful names for wine these days, I suppose to encourage young folk to try it. It's not just Chateau this or that any more, but Laid Back Ruby, the Big Chill, etc. I can definitely recommend the Fish Eye rose!
Well, the conversation veered from the intellectually sublime to the completely bawdy ridiculous, and what a great time we had. I think I got home around 1.30 a.m. and feeling remarkably sober for the amount of wine I had consumed!
Sunday, 16 March 2008
Friday, 14 March 2008
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Now it's really Friday! I've been to bed and got up again! Credit card activated; flight from Auckland to Invercargill booked, and some emails sent. Now for the snailmail! I have to play with an itinerary from Invercargill back to Auckland. What fun! This is almost as enjoyable as the trip itself! The places I want to see! Wonder if I could do the equivalent of John o'Groats to Lands End, by doing Reinga to Bluff - well, the other way round. Bluff is just south of Invercargill, not the southernmost point of NZ, but then John o'Groats isn't the most northerly point of Britain! Last time Jan and I drove down the west coast of South Island in the pouring rain and mist, so saw nothing of the scenery - only waterfalls and gushing water from every rocky cleft you could imagine! That in itself was fantastic and actually driving through some of these falls was quite an experience, but this time I want to drive up the west coast so keep your fingers crossed for good weather. Queenstown, the view of Mount Cook from Lake Matheson, the glaciers, Pancake Rocks (!!!!!)....... Again in North Island I'll stick to the west side to see Taranaki or Mt. Egmont, the NZ Mt.Fuji, in particular. In 1999 Jan and I came down the east side.
Hope to be able to take a tour from Auckland to the north, Cape Reinga, as I didn't get that far last time. I'd also like to revisit Rotorua. That volcanic area was just amazing! I felt a couple of small earthquakes while we were there! What a strange sensation! The ground just rippled!
Anyway I fly back to Melbourne about the middle of May for Sally's wedding, and then home a few days after. Not sure how many of the rellies I'll get to see while I'm there, but hopefully a few at least! It's getting closer. Only a matter of weeks now!
Sweet dreams! Talk again soon.
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Saturday, 8 March 2008
Thursday, 6 March 2008
My friend Colin in Yorkshire, went to John's funeral on Tuesday morning. He said there was a huge turnout of John's friends at the church to say their goodbyes. Colin had felt quite emotional at the ceremony, and like me, said he was glad we had seen John, last autumn, and that our last memory of him had been of the jolly, happy-faced guy he always was, so surprised and pleased to see us both after quite a few years.