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


Friday, 29 January 2010

Just an ordinary day

It's getting colder again over here so I fear we may get some snow!  They say it will only be in the north of Scotland, and that it will only be cold here, so here’s hoping they are right! 

I got my hair recoloured today.  It has toned down the white blonde to a nice pale ash colour.  Much nicer actually!  I decided not to continue with the peroxide blonde as my hair had started breaking.  Kim, though surprised, suggested possible reasons  for it doing that, but nothing sounded plausible.   I know one hairdresser who always says your health is often indicated by the condition of your hair, and in fact she was really the first person to recognise when my friend Vina was ill - just by her hair.  It could just be the amount of peroxide used before, but I am hoping my hair will be OK, and that its dry and brittle condition isn't a sign that something's wrong with me!  Kim has suggested a different shampoo, and recommended I try an oil treatment to put some moisture back into my hair, as well as liberally dosing it with conditioner (which I generally do anyway).

After that I took some stuff to the BHF shop and ended up staying for an hour and a half just helping out on the till, and keeping an eye on the clothes racks to make sure the sizes were in the right order and the hangers all hanging the right way – everything looking neat and tidy!!  I had a chat with some customers I knew and some I didn't!  How we Brits like talking about the weather, but it's a great conversation starter nonetheless!!!

And now I am home, and about to try to move some stuff!  I figure I could still move some of the bedroom stuff into the "new" bedroom and empty the old one as much as possible so the old carpet can be lifted.  I'm thinking of getting the same carpet I have in the current living room, for the new one.  I got it from the carpet section of the department store I used to work in.  They would come and measure, order the carpet and eventually lay it, and as I still have a decent underlay it won't be as expensive as it would have been when I started from scratch.   I had better pop up there with the carpet samples I brought home yesterday, and maybe organise a date for them to come and measure.  I hardly think it will be delivered before next weekend when Colin comes up from Yorkshire to visit, but the sooner I order it the sooner it will arrive!  Anyway, I have a list a mile long of jobs for Colin to do!  It’s alright!  He knows and is raring to go!!!!! Well, I think he is!

So, off to visit the carpet department!

Talk again soon.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Work underway

Well, today was the day!  At 8.15 this morning, the fireplace guys arrived and work began on building the new hearth in what is to be my new living room.  Did I say I am swapping over the living room and bedroom?  Now that I have my beautiful new French doors onto the balcony the room behind the balcony is to become the living room.  The old living room will then become my bedroom. It has to have a few things done to it too, but they’ll get done “as and when”! 

I’m really excited about the work getting done just now, as it’s been in my mind since I was in New Zealand almost two years ago.  I was staying for a couple of nights in a fabulous hostel on the west coast of South Island, that had once been a family home.  The lounge room had a corner fireplace next to a wide doorway through to another room. It gave a small room the impression of being much bigger.  My inspiration!

Plans  for the windows and the fire ( a flue has to go up through the ceiling, through the attic and out of the roof) were accepted by the local planning department way back in June last year, and though the windows were done earlier, I had hoped to get the fire done before Christmas.  Quotes for the work actually horrified me, but in the end I decided on Stuart, who had initially been recommended to me.  The big problem last year was getting the hearth, a Scottish slate one, which we found out we could not get till this month!  No idea why!

fireplace before So, I have been moving stuff around – still finding it hard to get rid of my clutter – clearing space for the guys to work in, and this morning they have been working hard, building a raised plinth to put the hearth on, fitting the hearth and cutting off the gas pipe, etc.  - all the things needed to be done in that room and in the attic.  The fire, a coal effect gas stove, was moved through from its original spot and set on top of the new hearth.

Then I went out for lunch (I’m a lady who lunches!) and when I came back, lo and behold, the pipe through the ceiling was done and connected to the stove!  All done for today! my fire Tomorrow there are the outside bits to do, and the stove will finally be connected to the gas supply!  Stuart gave the top of the stove a coat of black paint, just to smarten it up – and wow!   I’m chuffed!

Of course there are the finishing off bits that I’ll have to do when they are finished, like facing the front of the hearth, painting the walls, and getting the carpet laid, but I’ll get there!     

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Volunteering

Today I did my second stint this week at the British Heart Foundation charity shop.  It’s fun being out front, behind the counter a lot of the time, checking out customers’ purchases, having a chat, tidying the rails, doing a bit of dusting here and there – I don’t do that much at home – and doing odd jobs like rotation of goods, like I did this morning.  Everything we sell has on its label the date it was put out on the shelves, racks, hangers, etc on the shop floor, and after a couple of weeks  if not sold, it gets taken off, counted, packed into plastic bags, labelled – ladies jackets, men’s trousers,, etc. – and piled up ready for the delivery man to take on to another BHF shop.  We in turn get goods from other shops, and so the rotation goes on.

bhf shop Customers always tell us how nice the shop looks and we think it does too!  It’s really a pleasure working in the light, bright shop with everything  as it would be in a High Street fashion outlet, nicely arranged and furnished with size cubes on the  clothes hangers  - and all of those hung in the same direction of course.   It doesn’t really look like a “Second-hand shop” as the clothes are selected for quality.  Old and damaged stuff gets recycled.bhf shop2

As well as clothes there are books, CDs, children’s toys, shoes, handbags, household goods like curtains, duvet sets, sheets, etc., all donated by people who have no further need of them, and also new stuff like ornaments, jewellery, hair accessories and key fobs .  bhf browsers I think the books are the most popular thing to be sold!  Lots of men particularly call in for a browse through the books, and maybe they’ll take a look at the menswear while they’re about it.  Sam is the volunteer in charge of books – sorting them out, discarding the ones that are shabby- looking, pricing and labelling them and checking the shelves to see what needs to be replaced.  bhf back shop sam 

Here’s Sam at work in the back shop!  Pity I didn’t notice the clothes hanger in the foreground!   There’s always plenty to do in the back of the shop, sorting, steaming – instead of ironing  - crumpled clothes, labelling and pricing, and of course making cups of tea or coffee to keep us all going!

bhf back shop charley

 

Charley is one of the newer volunteers, working here at labelling clothes and pricing.  We have set rules to follow for pricing  -  all BHF shops are the same, so we don’t just conjure prices from thin air!

Back again in the front shop we have various promotions to try and raise extra funds for heart research, etc..  national heart month February is National Heart Month so we are asking for donations in return for the chance to write a  heart shaped love note to put in the window!  Customers write their own messages, and declare love for family, grandkids, pets, even food!  “I love Sushi!”  is on one heart!  Today I found there’s yet another fundraising event going on in the form of a small sweepstake.  The  large heart at the bottom of this photo has about 50 labels with well known TV characters’ names printed on.  The idea is for the customer to make a donation of £1 to choose a name..  Hidden from view at the foot of the poster is the winning name  which will be revealed when all the names are taken.  Whoever has chosen the winning name will gain a tenner - £10!

So, all you Brits who are reading this, get yourselves off to your local BHF shop and do some spending.  Research into heart disease, funding dedicated heart nurses and  equipment is a very worthy cause, especially as heart disease is still one of the top killers in the country. Or why not consider volunteering at your local shop if you have an hour or two to spare each week. 

This isn’t meant as an advertising feature, just me telling you about my morning in our shop, but it may inspire you!

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

The big thaw

Well, I’m getting my wish! thaw begun The big thaw has begun and at last I can see green grass outside my window – big patches of it – but there’s still a lot of snow left.   I can also see a BIG river so that will be the next problem, more flooding!  Tweed is already over its banks in places, but will no doubt rise a lot more as the thaw continues. bridge high water

I really wonder how the daffodil bulbs alongside the river’s edge survive these high waters, but each year they pop up again.  I am so looking forward to seeing them again  this year, around March.  However, it’s still only January and I doubt we’ve seen the last of winter weather  just yet, more’s the pity. but at least we are on the right side of the year now, with the days already lengthening ever so slightly.  That’s something to keep us going throughout the next couple of months when it looks dreich (dull and dismal) for days on end, as it no doubt will..

Talk again soon.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

It’s a long story, but……

When I first moved to this flat, about 7 years ago I think, I was always bemused at the fact that my mail seemed to land on the floor behind the large letterbox flap in the front door in a crumpled heap.  Careless postman, I thought and vowed to keep an eye out for the fella to tear a strip or two off him.

However, something made me lift the flap on the inside to inspect  – and it was then that the light came on!  The cut-out opening in the door was half the width of the flaps both inside and outside!  Ah well, no point in tearing strips off the postman then, so I just unscrewed the whole letterbox cover with the intention of getting out the tool kit, widening the opening in the door and replacing the cover.    I DID make a start, but didn’t have a large enough drill bit to make the holes in the corners that would enable me to saw round the newly drawn aperture shape., so the letterbox stayed like that for another few years – no flap cover attached – just a narrow hole in the door, but at least my mail now arrived in a decent state.

my front door and icicles2Having been laughed at by friends in those intervening years – I’d get pneumonia from the draughts coming through or what about all the heat that’s escaping, etc, and me retaliating by saying it was my air conditioning system, and well, I don’t feel the cold anyway -  just last year I got a new front door along with the new windows I have mentioned before.

So you’d think everyone would be happy! 

Not me! 

My mail started arriving folded, squashed and crumpled again!  Trouble is, everyone’s so energy conscious that today’s doors and windows are expected not to let a single puff of air through, so a letterbox is fitted with strong springs to stop the wind rattling the flap, and behind that there’s a double row of brushes, like an overlapping set of false teeth, to stop the draught getting through the opening when the postman delivers the mail.  Added to that there’s another strongly sprung flap on the inside!  Crumbs!  A draught wouldn’t dare!  And the postman finds it hard to post mail through.

Anyway that is just a preamble to my story!  Today I heard the postman plodding up the front steps, followed by the prolonged sound of something large or long being pushed – nay, forced  - through the letter box.  It seemed to take a bit of doing, but at last there was the plop of the object as it fell to the floor in the hall.  soft toys 003 Intrigued, I went to retrieve it, quite a thick package,  inscribed with Fragile, Handle with care, Do not bend, Open with care……  Huh, and the postman had force fed this through the letter box?

Well you know what it’s like!  You’re not expecting a parcel, so you look to see who it might be from.  No clues there, so you feel it carefully to determine the shape in a bid to guess what it might be!  This was soft and squashy!  In fact two lumps of soft and squashy!  Still no idea!  The fragile bit must be well wrapped in whatever was soft and squashy.

So the only thing to do now was open it – gingerly.  I peeled open the edge of the sticky backed plastic, and peered inside.  Balls of knitting wool?   The thought briefly crossed my mind that maybe I had ordered some wool for crocheting, as I had recently bought a book on the subject, so I peeled back more of the fastening.

Well!  See for yourself!  Fragile? Hardly!  soft toys 002

The size of tennis balls, what are they?  What do they do?  They’re just soft toys.  They do nothing!  They can be cuddled!   They are my REWARD from the power company I changed to recently for allowing them to supply my gas and electricity from now on!  Amn’t I lucky!!!!!

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A bit of a thaw

my icicles again

my icicles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The icicles hanging from the guttering above my front door were beginning to look pretty impressive, and were even longer last night.  Opportunity for another photo this morning?  Not to be!  A thaw set in overnight, and my icicles were decimated.

When I went up to the street to do some food shopping, the thaw had turned fairly solid snow to slush with great puddles of icy water filling the gutters.  Makes life difficult!  Oh well, just as long as it doesn’t freeze again overnight, as the roads and pavements will be lethal!

How much longer? I wonder.  It would be so good to see green grass again!

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Well enough to take a walk!

Well those antibiotics are kicking in and boy do I feel better – not 100% just yet, but getting there.  In fact today I decided to take a walk up to the cafe for a bacon roll, and ended up taking quite a long walk – in the cold, through the snow.  I didn’t  intend going along the riverside, but after a walk onto the bridge, for a view down the river river panorama

church and bridge downriver I crossed the road and walked down to the far side of the river to take one photo, 

 

 

 

river pathand saw another photo opportunity ahead

 

 

 

 

the beech tree

 

  and then another… that’s my favourite tree across the river, the one that dips its lower branches in the water

 

ice on tweed5

and another….

until I had walked all the way up to the Fotheringham Bridge at Hay Lodge Park.  

 

 

sledging

There were kids sledging  in the park so I crossed the bridge and walked along to watch and take photos!   They were having great fun!

Then from here the obvious way home is to continue down this side of the river, so that’s the way I went! 

It’s not too difficult walking in the snow. It has been pretty dry powdery snow, that hasn’t had a chance to melt and refreeze, so you don’t slip and slide too much!   It’s so cold it isn’t going to melt in a hurry either.  We have more snow forecast, and not a sign of it thawing for a week at least apparently!  ice on tweed3 There was even ice at the edge of the water and flowing along in drifts like autumn leaves. Another day or two of temperatures like this and the water above the cauld will be solid.

 

 

 

ice on tweed4 By now the sun was beginning to get lower behind the trees and it was beginning to feel much colder…..

 

 

ice and moorhen on tweed

… but this little moorhen didn’t seem to mind, every now and again diving under the water and then popping back up again a moment or two later.  I can tell you I was glad to be back in the warmth of my living room not much later, but I think the walk did me a power of good!

Talk again soon.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Still snowing!

It’s still snowing, and tonight the wind has got up a bit so that the falling snow is being blown around in great swirls, mixed with the snow blown off the roofs.  The swirling waves of snow somehow remind me of the Aurora Borealis.

Thank goodness I don’t have to be going anywhere in this weather though!  I haven’t been out for days now, thanks to this cold!  Actually I  had a visit from the doctor today and he says I have some “crepitation” going on in my right lung – I believe that means crackling – so I am now on a course of antibiotics!  It’s not just a cough and a cold any more, but I should start to feel better in two or three days!  Thank goodness for that!

dilkusha and winter trees

So just a couple of wintry photos for you today, both taken from my window earlier.  The house with the turret on the hill used to be a hotel but for a good few years now it has been a private house.  Once upon a time it belonged to the family who also owned my flat, maybe even had it built.  I’m not sure.

tweed bridge in snow

And this is Tweed Bridge!

Oh I wish I could stop coughing!  I can actually hear that “crepitation” myself!  It makes me want to cough more!

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

New Year!

So much for New Year!  A happy one to you all, by the way! I didn’t get to celebrate other than with a medicinal hot toddy raised in a toast with the folk from the party at Edinburgh Castle on the telly!  After my walk along the riverside last week  I caught a cold – one of these horrible chesty coughing  and snuffling ones that tires you out and won’t let you sleep when you lie down.  I have coughed till I am sore, and my nose must surely resemble that of Santa Claus’s good friend Rudolph.  I’m still suffering, and continue to languish on my sick bed(well, sofa/settee/couch), supping chicken soup on the advice of my Jewish pen-friend, and wolfing down the Benylin!  I’d like to say I was getting better, but I’ve felt better on the last couple of days only to wake up next morning with equally sore sinuses, and coughing – well you really don’t need to know about the coughing!

Then there’s the snow!  There’s just too much of it now!  It’s gone on too long!  I’m fed up with it, despite how I said it was so pretty the other day!  I guess it IS still pretty – looking out on it -  but I’m getting tired of seeing all that white.  I want it to go away – which it won’t be doing for a while, judging by the weather forecasts!  We’ve had snow falls every day for the last few days, and I haven’t been able to get out to clear down my steps to the garden, let alone up the steps to the street – somewhere I haven’t seen for a while!  Oh well, if I wait long enough maybe it will thaw and disappear by itself!  And, yes, before anyone says anything I know we had snow like this every year when I was a child and I know some of you will have it worse than this every winter, but ….. well, just, but….!

watery sun Here’s how it looked outside my window late this morning!  The sun didn’t really manage to get through the mist at all, so it’s quite dreary.  Not a soul about!   All is quiet! – only the occasional crow cawing from one of the trees or from my chimney pot! I can hear the sound in the chimney!

Talking of birds, I don’t think I told you about the bird that collided with my living room window!  I don’t know when it happened, but it was the morning after I came back from France that I noticed the dirty pane.  Looking closer there was the complete imprint of a bird on the glass: wings outstretched, short tail, roundish body and  face….  I think it has to have been an owl.  I took a photo later.livingroom window3  Looks like an owl, eh?  Poor thing!  Bet it got a sore head!

They say owls often do crash into windows, but I’ve no idea what happened to it!  Was it killed or merely stunned?  I haven’t seen Sally downstairs to ask her what she knows! 

Anyway, I’ve written enough for today!  My head’s hurting with all this concentration!!!!  Time for a snooze, I think.

Talk again soon…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!