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!


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!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Culross

I said I'd show you the photos of our visit to Culross - and here they are, at last! It's a fascinating little village dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. I'm not going to give you the whole history of the place but you can click HERE to find out more. Suffice to say it is due to the National Trust for Scotland that the village has been saved and pretty much restored to its 17th century glory! It's a living village, not just a showpiece, but it must feel like a goldfish bowl to the residents in summer, with all the visitors! These are just a few photos of the village and the most interesting of the buildings.

This is the interior of the Red Lion inn where we had lunch. You'll see the picture on the wall of the exterior of the inn... and look at the painted beams and rafters. This was a common way to decorate your grand house in centuries gone by.






An ingenious artist has painted those in the inn with modern designs. Between the beams there are beer and spirit labels and on the beams themselves are stalks of barley, hops and pint pots!

This tower belongs to the town house, the central building for the administration of the town. and in the background the ochre coloured building is what is known as the Palace, really just a grand house belonging to a wealthy family.
The Town House, Culross


Uphill from there, on the way towards the abbey is the village square with its Mercat (market) cross. External stairs were a common architectural feature in the 15/16th centuries. Most Scottish towns were built in this fashion. Generally the living quarters were upstairs, above store rooms or maybe even shops at some stage.

Another grand house is known as the Study, with its prominent tower, half glazed windows and stepped gable. We call those steps corbie stanes or crow steps (can you imagine the crows hopping up from one to another?) You see a lot of corbie stanes in old Scottish buildings - and also in some modern architecture!
The house here with the external stair is known as the Nunnery, though I don't think it was ever known to house a religious order! Although I've never found it, despite really looking closely, somewhere on the building there is supposed to be a stone head of a woman, who could have been a nun! This is my favourite building in the small town - and someone's private house! I imagine the interior to have low beamed ceilings, and tiny rooms. I'd love to see inside!





Another typical old Scottish feature is the pan tile roof, made up of terracotta S-shaped tiles that overlap each other to deflect rain water into the gullies they form between them, that in heavy downfalls they constantly run like small rivers dropping flowing waterfalls from the edges onto the pathways and lanes beneath.
I fancy there is a connection between the architecture of the Low Countries when you see these tiles, corbie stanes and bridge-like covered chimneys! I've seen similar in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
This is the view over towards Edinburgh from the top of the terraced garden of the Palace.
As we returned to the lower part of the town again we were aware of a great squawking going on somewhere. We traced it to the garden at the back of the palace. It sounded like some hen was having a great problem with laying an egg! However when we finally tracked the sound to its source we found it was one of a number of chickens roosting in a tree. Was this the chicken version of the songbirds' dawn chorus -at dusk instead. Here's Madame Lachook taking a break from her raucous song, casting a beady eye upon us!

Before we left for home again we called into the gift shop cafe for a cup of tea and a piece of delicious tealoaf. It was dark by the time we got on our way and the view across the Forth to the petrochemical works at Grangemouth looked positively pretty - a far cry from the daylight view! It's not the clearest of photos but I include it anyway.
More from me before long then.
Talk again soon.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Wey hey!

Saturday
Wey hey! I can get into Broadband again AND I can upload photos!!! What an exciting photo this is, but this is our old Co-op counter, cramped and impractical as it was! It has gone, disappeared! Instead we have a brand new roomy practical counter, albeit more boring in colour than our old yellow and blue. It's light grey now!! The gantry with cigs and spirits was to have been replaced at the same time but has been delayed for some reason. It's to happen later this week! A load of changes throughout the shop this week, it seems!

Well, the plumber has just called which is why I am up so early this morning! He was to have been here an hour ago but as he is a retained fireman too, he was out on a call earlier this morning and only just got back. Anyway, he climbed the ladder into the attic to inspect the boiler and would you believe it, turned a dial and whoosh, the pilot light lit and the thing fired into action! He didn't even need to open his tool box! I couldn't believe it! Weeks with no heating or hot water, he's in the house for two minutes - problem solved! I felt like a right idiot! However he said that these things happen for no reason sometimes so I felt a fraction better! Now I'll await the bill! The call out charge will be whopping!
OK! Back to the photos I couldn't up load before - maybe they will take my mind off the shame! This is our Christmas tree outside the parish church. It was a windy night and I didn't have a tripod so the tree lights are blurred - but what the heck! You get the idea, don't you? The spotlight on the church makes it look like there's a second tree, but it's only the shadow! I'll get a better picture another time! The one I took of the street lights was rubbish so I binned it!
I actually can't remember what other photos I wanted to include last time, so I'll leave it at that for now! I'm off up to Edinburgh in a while and possibly taking a drive over to Fife - a small 16th century village called Culross, pronounced, strangely Kooross - which is extremely photographable! So!
Talk again soon!
Sunday
Well, I don't feel such a fool after all! I got home last night to find a cold house and cold water again! The boiler has switched off again! I've been up to look at it and it's just the same as before! Back to the phone!
Linda and I went over the Forth to Culross for lunch yesterday. It was a clear crisp day - no snow as so many other areas have been getting. The Red Lion was our destination where we had a nice pub lunch, followed by a wander round the village. We keep saying we will have to come back when the National Trust for Scotland properties are open - the old town house, the "Palace", a towered house called the Study, etc. but as it was we could look only from the outside. I'll put the photos in tomorrow! It's pretty late just now. Jo, if you are reading this I'll be in the Co-op most evenings! You'll recognise the pink hair!!! Come and say hello!
OK! All for now.
Talk again soon.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

A favour please?

Wonder if I could ask a favour? Nothing too difficult! I just want to find out how accurate Feedjit Traffic Feed is, you know the thing at the bottom of the left hand column that is supposed to tell where people are visiting the site from. I find when I log into websites with Feedjit, that my location seems to change every now and then, and I seem to have been heading further and further west! Then, again I know that friends are logging in from various parts of the world but their locations are all wrong too! I mean, Linda logs in from Edinburgh and finds she appears to be from London! Eunice is in Invercargill and is coming up as being in Christchurch. So what I want to ask you, is when you arrive on my blog, would you look at the Feedjit thing and see what the first location on the list is. That's yours! Then would you leave a message in my Cbox - the green message box also in the left hand column - to tell me a) where it says, and b) where you really are. There aren't so many visitors that you're not going to be able to tell which is yours! Even if it is accurate, I'd like to know! Then I'll decide if it is worth keeping, and will also write to Feedjit with the info you have provided! Please do this for me!

The shop refit has begun though so far there's not been a lot of evidence of things changing! All it seems to mean is that the staff room seems always to be full of workmen on breaks, drinking tea and eating cakes, fish and chips and chinese take aways! They use up all the mugs and take up all the chairs! I had to ask them yesterday how long they were going to be as I needed to take my break too! At least they all scarpered then! I stayed late last night to help move stock around after we closed for the night. Luckily we have a cellar that isn't getting anything done to it so we can put a lot of stuff we know won't be needed for a while in there! There is a mass of Christmas stuff that won't be displayed till after the refit now, so that all went down into the cellar, along with boxes of wine and spirits, more boxes of carrier bags and plastic rubbish sacks, etc.! It's unbelievable what stuff there is in the store room that hasn't seen the light of day in yonks! A lot of that is going out in the skip!

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I'm now back from work and I can say that tonight has made a big difference in how the shop looks! After we closed - an hour early, at 10.00pm tonight - the guys got started on the removal of our old, horrible, designed-by-a-man counter! I mean what woman would design a counter with nooks and crannies for dust and dirt to get caught in! It was dreadful and apart from anything else it was totally impractical! Anyway tonight it is going - gone! A historic moment! I have hated that counter since I started working there several years ago!


Manager Keith came in tonight just to visit. He's on paternity leave just now, his partner having given birth to Jack just a couple of nights ago! Mother and baby doing well! Father is a bit gobsmacked, but feeling GRRRRREAT!

Then tonight was also the switching on of the Christmas lights, and late night shopping! Most of the High Street shops stayed open till 9.00pm and some had stalls on the street. I took half an hour of my break to go up and have a look around. The pipe band played and the silver band (not brass, but silver!) also entertained, while a group of fiddlers fiddled some great tunes in between times. There were several stalls with red and white striped awnings, some selling mulled wine and mincemeat pies or farmhouse cheeses; jams, jellies and chutneys; Christmas cards and wrapping paper; jewellery; light up starwars swords, flashing hairbands, bracelets and rings, etc...... but the biggest crowds were around the food stalls with their taste and test produce! The street was full of folk wandering and darting in and out of the shops. Back at work later one of the shop owners who had been handing out glasses of wine to customers came in twice to buy more wine! His shop was heaving with folk! We got quite busy too with people on their way home with young kiddies, after Santa Claus had put in an appearance, and later when the shops had closed and everyone was on their way home!

I had several pictures I was going to put in here tonight, but guess what! Can't open the page to upload pics! Now I don't know if it's my computer or the internet, but I am spitting tacks now - as they would say in Yorkshire - getting really cross! I will try again tomorrow, but after an hour of trying then closing the blogger page and reopening it to have another try, I am giving up for now. So, sorry!

Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Tigger

How do you like my virtual pet, Tigger! I found another virtual pet on someone's website so went hunting for my own! There are lots to "adopt"! Tigger is very playful and will chase your cursor! What is it they say about simple things? Don't answer that!

Anyway I know someone who will like Tigger a lot, eh Rachel? Have fun playing with him!

Talk again soon!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Bits and pieces - this and that!

Well, before I go any further, this is the hair photo - the one after I washed my hair for the first time since the colour was put in!! It's the same on the other side, and deep purple at the back, under the blonde, but you see it when my hair is twisted up into the butterfly clip! I'm getting used to it now - and to the stares and exclamations from folks who haven't seen it before!! I had to log into Internet Explorer rather than Broadband to upload the photo! Can't even get onto Broadband just now!!


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So! there's a big sign at each end of the High Street saying the street will be closed for three hours on Thursday evening - for the switching on of the Christmas lights, and for the Christmas market, with stalls selling goodies and things for Christmas presents. So, the festive season has hit Peebles! I hate Christmas starting so early, and let's face it, our shops have been full of tinsel and sparkle for weeks already! By Christmas I've had enough of it! Had enough of the ho ho ho, here comes Santa Claus. I'm not a religious person, but what happened to the story of the baby in the manger? Isn't that what it was all about? It's just too big and too commercialised in the western world today and I hate it! Don't get me wrong... I like giving presents (and receiving them too) but there's no need to spend lots of money on them. So, friends and rellies, don't!!!!! Well, not on me, at any rate!

Today was Joe's art class again! How the weeks are flying by! We painted boats this week - rowing boats - bobbing on an early morning sea! I was quite pleased with the sketch I made but once again, painting ruined it! Joe spent a bit of time with me demonstrating the washes that made the sky in the distance and mid distance, and the sea. This is quite a different type of painting to what I did all those years ago at school! I mean, colours have funny names - like raw sienna, burnt sienna and burnt umber, which mean very little to me as it is such a long time since I was at school painting still life arrangements or flowers. We must have done some landscape stuff as I remember learning about things in the distance appearing smaller than in the foreground - which reminds me of a family story from the 1800s, written down by my great grand-uncle James about his brother Charles, another great grand-uncle. It appears that one day while visiting relations in Wigtown, a very young Charles was playing on the beach when he saw what he thought were fairy folk, also on the beach. To the amusement of his parents and older brothers the "fairy folk" turned out to be a group of fishermen away in the very far distance!

Anyway, here is Joe's painting of boats opposite the island of Lindisfarne. He mounted it in a frame for us to see this time, after he had demonstrated the various stages.


Do you remember last week's picture? Today I went around looking at other peoples' efforts and realised that the lady I was sitting next to is a wonderful artist! Here's her picture on the right beside Joe's! Two quite distinctive styles.










I really do find controlling the brush a big problem, which is why I think I would get on better with thick paint - acrylics or oils - where I can be a bit less finicky about the detail! Still, it's a good exercise - as an old friend in Yorkshire used to say!

Thinking about old friends made me think just now of Janet and Ray - old friends in the sense that I have known them for a lot of years! They just got back from a trip to Egypt, where they developed gyppy tummies, eventually feeling so rotten that they cut short their visit and flew home early. At least they had the best part, cruising down the Nile from Luxor, and sightseeing - all those tombs and temples! Wow! Welcome back, the two of you!

I must tell you about the present Janet gave me when I visited them a few weeks ago now. Janet printed out all my Antipodean blogs, complete with photos, and put them into a ring-binder file for me! I was so thrilled to bits to have it, so now I can just pick it up and leaf through it every now and again to remind me of the great time I had! It's odd how little details have already faded, but the book brings everything right back! What a gift! Thanks again, Janet! I'm still loving it!

Well, once again I am burning the midnight oil, so I think I should be heading for bed! A day off tomorrow! Still trying to decide what to do with it! There's lots to do at home here, but I can't be bothered tackling it! I'll see what the weather does first then I'll see if it's going to be a stay at home day or a go out one!

All for now then.
Talk again soon!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Lots of money

Saturday.
Well, I collected lots of money for Cancer Research over the last two and a half days - all because of my pink hair! At 6.00 last night the can was full, so further donated money went into a bag - and by 11p.m. there was £62 in the bag alone!! That's £12+ an hour - nearly 3 times what I earn in that time - or 20p a minute! 20p a minute doesn't sound so impressive so let's stick with £12 an hour!! I reckon there will be about twice that in the collecting can itself, but as it has to be opened by a Cancer Research staff member I can't say exactly what that sum might be! Karen is the one who will do the opening and counting! Hopefully she will pick up the collecting tin today and will let us know very soon what we raised!

There have been all sorts of reactions to the fluorescent pink hair! Some said it was cool, great, very nice, nice, different, strange, weird, not nice, and some just took one look and laughed, grinned, snorted, guffawed, smiled, smirked..... but all in all they were very generous, and I want to thank every single one of them! Personally I hope the colour fades quite quickly! I'm not as brave as they all seem to think I am!

Sunday

The colour has mellowed a little since I washed my hair yesterday! It's not so vivid now, thank goodness! However that's not what I was going to write about today. Yesterday I got my car back from the garage repair shop, so gears are all back in working order - and it didn't cost nearly as much as I feared! I parted with £37. I had thought it would be into three figures - garage bills usually are - so was quite happy, well, as happy as you can be when you've had a repair bill!

However I am still waiting for the plumber to come and fix my central heating boiler. It hasn't been working for about three weeks and I called on a local guy to come and fix it, but he didn't appear. Meanwhile Sally downstairs informed me of a leak coming down the wall in her bathroom below my kitchen, so I got another plumber to come along and investigate that as well as look at my boiler. He came along, looked at my boiler and told me he was really here to look at this leak! Sally was out so he couldn't see it, so he left, after saying he'd phone her the next day. Needless to say he hasn't! We've each tried to phone him with no luck! Honestly, do workmen never have these problems themselves, or do they all have friends in the various trades who come round immediately and sort the problems right away? Wouldn't they be hacked off if they were kept waiting with no idea if someone was going to do the job or not?

Well today I saw the first plumber, and reminded him that he still hadn't been to look at the boiler. I told him it was beginning to get a bit cold and I needed it fixed. The reply was a mumble I didn't quite pick up - nothing rude, I don't think! Anyway now I am sitting here typing with my fleecy jacket on, zipped up to my chin, one hand in my pocket and the other one typing - yes, I do type with only one hand, ever since that brain op in 1977, that resulted in me having to change from being left handed to right handed, due to nerve damage. I actually type pretty quickly now too, far quicker than handwriting, which I also had to learn and perfect back in the late 70s. Back to the boiler affair! I am cold! I do have the gas stove on, but it's not keeping me that warm as I sit at the computer! I think a cup of hot oxo might be on the cards!

So, I think that's about all I can tell you today!! Not terribly exciting - and I can't even show you a picture of the pink hair as I have the old problem back, in that I open a webpage (namely the page I am typing on) then I try to open the page where I can include the photo details. That page opens but doesn't load! So I try to close that page and everything freezes! I have to go to Control Alt Delete to close the page which means the other page closes too, and I have to start again! I can't think that there's not enough memory as I have 5Gb free, unlike last time when all I had were a few Mb.

OMG, am I not boring you to death now! I'm boring myself, and I think I will be chucking this PC in the river before long! I'm glad I have quite a placid nature, and haven't chucked it - yet!!!

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

La petite chatte mauvaise

I got an email from Eunice in New Zealand the other day telling me her granddaughter Rachel had done really well in her ballet competitions and had come top of the 6-year-olds, to win a Silver Cup! When I was staying with Eunice in April, Rachel and her brothers came to visit and she performed a Scottish Highland Fling for me! It was so sweet! She's really into her dancing! Then she succeeded in securing a part for herself in the musical CATS, as a kitten, and had her photo taken in costume. When I heard that she was to be taking part in the ballet competition I was sure she would do well. Eunice picked my brains for the French for The Naughty Kitten, so I gave her my best shot - la petite chatte mauvaise - and Rachel's dance was duly given its name!

Proud grandma revealed the results the other day, as I said, and as I wanted to do a scrapbook layout for Rachel, using her CATS photo, I created this! Isn't she cute? I have given her a silver cat trophy instead of a silver cup!
Having got out of the way of doing scrapbook layouts since my Oz and NZ trip, I am trying to get back into it again! With not much happening in this run up to winter, I may get some more layouts - LOs - done..... if I get time to do them with all this painting practice I am going to put in! That was somewhat tongue in cheek, but I really must make an effort to practise. I went to the hairdresser today, a walk along the Green, and over the footbridge then a longer walk to Kim's house, along the back road out of Peebles and past the park. The sun was shining and there was blue sky with puffy clouds, and did I study those autumn trees along the way! Well, I could have kicked myself for leaving my camera at home! Maybe tomorrow I'll get out and take a few shots! I can see where Joe is coming from with his technique!
Oh yes, the hairdresser! Well, Kim has always been a wacky dresser and her hair can be any colour! For a while you could see all Kim's customers sporting purple streaks, and I was no exception! Well, why should the youngsters have all the fun?! Anyway, the colour had faded a lot and had begun to grow out a bit so today I decided that along with covering up my dark roots with the blonde, I would go for some more colour! I'm not too sure about both sides being bright pink, but I do love the back when I put my hair up as I usually do these days. It's purple! Not the same purple as before - that was more a plum purple. This is really dark purple!
Anyway, when I got to work tonight a couple of folk thought I had done the colour for sponsoring a charity, so I thought Why not?! Pink is normally associated with Cancer, and as we had a Cancer Research collecting box in the office, I got Keith our manager to put his signature to my request to "sponsor Evelyn's new hair colour by donating to Cancer Research" and put them on the counter in a prominent position! I got a very good response from our customers, along with various comments from "It's cool!" to "I knew you had to be doing it for charity and not as a fashion statement." Thanks a bunch, Malcolm! Some people gave very generously and the collecting box was quite heavy by the end of my shift! Wonder if I could do it again tomorrow! Why not, eh? Kim says the pink will fade to a baby pink quite quickly, but I may ask her to put in a couple of dark purple lowlights to break up the bright pink in the meantime! I know what my sister will say when she sees it! She thinks I am off my head, old enough to know better..... eh, Jean?
Well, even pink night owls have to sleep sometime, so I am off to bed now! Night night!
Talk again soon!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Went to the second of Joe's classes today! His painting was in a similar vein as last week's, but with a tree-lined country road instead of a river, distant hills with distant trees, and trees and hedges in the foreground. My original sketch turned out not too badly - Joe was actually quite complimentary about it - but everything went pear-shaped when I began to paint!
Well, I got the sky looking OK, then the road - maybe the colour wasn't quite right - and the green wash across the middle distance...... but the big trouble started with the trees!

Joe had demonstrated the technique very clearly, but it all went wrong for me. My brain tells me I know what to do but somehow, between my brain and the hand holding the paint brush the message gets garbled and the brush won't do what I intend it should do!!
These are Joe's trees, as you can tell!

I tried to rescue it and succeeded up to a point, but it looks like a big paint scribble to me. Joe told me though - very kindly, I thought - that I was a long way from being bottom of the class, and that with practice I would improve! Yes, Joe, lots of practice necessary! Hmmm!

Again I took photos of each stage of the development, so will have to study them well and see if I can come up with anything better than I have done up to now! I so want to be able to do this well! It's like learning a foreign language for me! I not only want to speak the language but I want my accent to be right too! Do you know what I mean?

I had to laugh to myself today though, as several other folk produced their cameras too ..... mainly just to photograph the finished piece! I must have started a trend!!!
Anyway I must make time for practice! Not tonight though! It's bedtime!
Talk again soon.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Sunday

How I hate these dark mornings! Getting up at 6.00 a.m. was never my idea of fun, but in the summer when daylight comes early, around 4.00, it isn't so difficult. Just now it doesn't get light till about 7.30, but it will be steadily later over the weeks till just before Christmas. Then the daylight will begin to go again in the middle of the afternoon. It's dark around 4.45 in the afternoon just now!


Oh well! Off to work - my only early shift I am pleased to say!


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Later:

Yesterday I was up in Edinburgh for the afternoon, and when I came home it was pouring down with rain, so instead of parking my car where I normally park it - usually a bit away from home as there are restrictions in place during the week - I parked right outside where I live, intending to move it today sometime so I wouldn't run the risk of getting yet another parking ticket on Monday. Out I went at ten to seven this morning bound for the store, climbed into the car and went through the motions of getting started. The gear stick seemed loose and wobbly! I eventually got it into reverse gear and tried to reverse a little to allow me room in front to manoevre out of the space. The car wouldn't move! I tried to go into first gear, but this time the gear stick was stuck and I realised I wasn't going anywhere right then! Luckily work is only a few minutes walk away, so I left the car till the afternoon when my shift was finished, then called the Automobile Association! Someone would be with me within 45 minutes, I was told, but long before that a nice smily young AA man arrived, listened to my story and proceded to try out the gears. Then he was under the bonnet, reaching down into the depths behind the engine. Apparently a rod had come adrift from whatever it should be attached to, so he managed to put it back on and secured it with some strapping - and after checking that I could now change the gears he told me the rod(s) was/were worn and I should take the car to the garage "as soon as.." Some paperwork was completed and off he went! So then I drove the car off the High Street to my usual parking spot, so at least I won't get another parking ticket tomorrow! I still have one to pay from the last time I parked there - and forgot it! I don't use the car as much now I live in the centre of town! Next day off is Tuesday so I forsee a drive to the Peugeot garage at Galashiels that morning!

Anyway, it never rains but it pours, as they say, and it certainly has been doing a lot of pouring recently, which is probably why I got a call from my downstairs neighbour the other day to say she had water coming down the wall in a corner of her bathroom. It's possible that the rain has got in under some roof-slates or somewhere on the roof, and has trickled down the wall. The reason I haven't seen it is that there's a false wall in my kitchen - above her bathroom - so for all I know, the water is streaming down behind it! I have to get someone to take a look, but I do hope it won't mean part of my kitchen has to be pulled out and the false wall removed!

Well, I guess that's enough woe for one day!



Here's a nice photo to remind us of summer!


Talk again soon.



Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Art class

I got the result of the x-ray I had last week, by the way! I have mild osteo-arthritis in my hip joints - but I kind of knew that would be the case! They've been sore for a while and sometimes I can't put my weight on one or the other!

However, today I thought I would tell you about the painting course I have started going to! Joe, who painted that lovely picture of Peebles I got some months ago, is our tutor and his medium is watercolour! I got some paints and brushes in Melrose the other day, so was pretty well equipped for the first class on Monday. It was actually rather good and I quite enjoyed it! Joe talked a bit about paints and brushes, weights of paper, all the equipment we might need, etc. and demonstrated painting a landscape with a river running through it, from sketch to finished painting,
I photographed him painting as he talked us through colour washes, colour mixing and the depth of colour, the sky, the river with its reflections of the sky, the progression and order of work from the background to the foreground, then the detail.





















After that we all had a go at doing our own sketch and painting while Joe came round suggesting ideas and showing different techniques to those of us who hadn't done much painting before! I last painted at school and that wasn't yesterday! I MIGHT reveal my painting, eventually, but then again I might not! In fact I plan on doing it again actually, just to see if I can improve on it, now that I've a better idea of what I'm doing!! I think we learned quite a lot in our first lesson, and I'm looking forward to the next one!
Talk again soon.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Melrose

Linda and I went down to Melrose yesterday for lunch. It's not far from Peebles and is a very attractive small town lying in the shadow of the three peaks of the Eildon Hills. There are several folk tales about the Eildons, one being that a great wizard called Michael Scott cleaved the hill into three during a fight with the devil. Another relates to the burial place of King Arthur. The hill is in fact an extinct volcano.





The town grew up around the 12th century abbey, one of the Scottish Borders' four abbeys with a long and impressive history. It was reputed to be the burial place of the heart of Robert the Bruce, and in fact, a few years ago during work being carried out, a lead casket was unearthed which is believed to be the actual burial vessel. It was reburied once the work was completed, and the spot is now marked with a monument. The Abbey is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is open to the public on most days of the year.
The name Melrose comes from the ancient Brythonic language, a language that was similar to old Welsh, commonly used in this part of the country in prehistoric times. Gradually as English became more widespread this language was pushed further and further south till it evolved into the language of Wales - as similarly Gaelic was more widely used in central Scotland but was pushed back to the north till it became the language of the highlands and islands.

There was a Roman camp near the town too in the first century AD. Called Trimontium after the three hills of Eildon it was, as one website has it, the Roman HQ of Southern Scotland. All roads led to Trimontium! Excavations brought to light some extremely interesting pieces of Roman remains - armour, jewellery, coins..... that gave an excellent insight into the Roman occupation of the camp. A museum opened in Melrose to tell the story, with some artifacts displayed there, though other pieces are to be found in the museum in Edinburgh.

Today the main part of the town lies around the square (above) - recently revamped to give a better flow of traffic and an attractive pedestrian area with benches, and tubs of colourful flowers.

There are many individual little shops including a butcher, baker, fishmonger and greengrocer.... as well as fabulous specialist shops selling clothes, books, crafts, gifts, household goods, etc. There are galleries such as the Art shop and gallery - where I bought some paints in anticipation of a class starting in Peebles tomorrow, taught by Joe Maxwell Stuart, whose paintings I like very much, you may remember - and several very pleasant cafes and restaurants, including the one where we had lunch. It also boasts a small theatre, the Wynd, and used also to have a Teddy Bear Museum until the proprietor retired a few years ago!

It was very enjoyable just wandering, browsing the shops, and nooks and crannies of the town. Just looking at the advertisement posters on notice boards throughout the town, you realise that a lot goes on there. It's a lively and busy community! I'd say it would be a nice place to live in. However, I'm now a Peeblean - if not actually a Gutterbluid (native), then a well established Stooriefit (incomer), - and in Peebles I plan to remain. I love Peebles, but Melrose comes a close second!

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Halloween!

Got to show you this - the Co-operative Witches! This is Michelle, one of our supervisors, and myself - me with the purple hair - modelling the witch's hats we were selling in the Co-op - WERE selling, as they sold out a few days ago! Shell was demonstrating how to use the auto timer on my camera, something I hadn't found before, so we took this pic of ourselves! Scary or what? I'd say Or what? was the correct answer this time! Don't you dare say Scary!

Well, Halloween was a bit of a washout here in Peebles due to the weather! It poured with rain all evening so the kids couldn't go out guising! Guising is a lot like trick or treating in America, and sadly it is becoming more like it every year and our old traditions are getting lost! Children still dress up as ghosts, witches, warlocks, etc. and visit the neighbouring houses, but instead of trick or treating they would sing a song, recite a poem, or tell a few jokes, and be rewarded with sweets, apples, nuts.... or money which was put towards Guy Fawkes night on 5 November**. Those who dressed up were the guisers, possibly from the word 'disguised', and they went out guising! Nowadays, they still do the rounds but often escorted by parents, and only to the doors of friends or relatives. Sad old world! Even our old familiar turnip (aka swedes) or tumshie lanterns have given way to pumpkin lanterns! Pumpkins don't grow in Britain, but now they are imported, especially or perhaps only at this time of year. It was the good old turnip lantern that was the inspiration for the American Jack O' Lantern, and now it is nearly impossible to find a decent turnip (swede) to dig out and carve!!!



**5 November is Guy Fawkes night, remembering Guy Fawkes and friends who plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, back on that date in 1605. They were discovered, captured, tried and executed, and now annually bonfires are lit with a model Guy burnt in the flames, and fireworks are set off, reminding of what might have happened if the Gunpowder Plot had succeeded - and Parliament went up in flames and explosions! Although the two countries of Scotland and England had been united under the Scottish king two years previously, the parliament at that time was still only an English one. The two parliaments only came together about 100 years later in 1707, so strictly speaking, it shouldn't be a Scottish celebration at all! Bonfires at this time of year have always throughout history marked the end of summer, and the pre-Christian feast of Samhain was celebrated. All Hallows, or All Saints Day probably sought to replace the pagan festival, but old habits died hard and are still remembered in this modern age. Maybe we should have kept the old Samhain festival!!

So, here we are in November! Where has the year gone? It seems no time since I was jetting off in the spring to Oz and NZ.

Anyway, all for now.

Talk again soon.