Sunday, 30 November 2008

Feeling perky

I've had a really nice weekend. Really nice. I had a hectic Friday running about in court getting an urgent interdict against someone dealing with the estate of someone who'd died because there is dubiety about the will. Cases like that are at least interesting. And the fact that I had to hang around in court for ages meant that I bumped into lots of people I know and had an excuse to blether because I was just twiddling my thumbs waiting for a judge. If I had a pound for every hour of my life I have spent in various courts just waiting for the privilege of speaking to a judge, well let's just say we would be having one heck of a good Christmas!

So I got home on Friday feeling tired but like I had achieved something. The children had had swimming lessons that day, which neither of them really like but they had done reasonably well so we decided a treat was in order. We nipped over the road to the corner shop, Second Born got a Wispa, I got a SMALL bar of chocolate (seriously, given I can eat an A4 bar myself in one go, this was teensy) and First Born got......a Pepperami. What can I say. He's strange. We also bought Husband a macaroon bar even though he was out for the evening. We are thoughtful that way.

On Saturday we discovered that lots of attractions around Scotland were open free of charge to celebrate St Andrew's day - one of the obvious benefits of having a Nationalist government in power is that they are really into this sort of thing. So we piled into the car and went to Craigmillar Castle for a wee wander around. It's a fantastic little castle, full of winding staircases, cellars and battlements you can walk along. The kids decided to pretend we were hunting them and spent their time hiding from us and running away. Great for us as we got to meander round in peace apart from the occasional burst of chasing and hiding behind things to jump out on them. Terrific fun. If you ever come to Edinburgh, I recommend a visit.

This morning, I got up early and took the children to Edinburgh Zoo which was also open free of charge. Husband stayed behind to do some work and we set off early to try to beat the worst of the crowds, and crowds there were aplenty. Nothing gets Scots out of bed on a frosty morning when the temperature is -4.5 like the promise of not having to pay £20 to get in to the Zoo. Not doing much to upset the stereotype, were we?

The fact that it was -4.5 did not seem to have impressed itself upon my darling children, however. Second Born paid lip service to wrapping up by wearing a vest under his sweater. First Born did not even bother with that, just putting on a sweatshirt. Both of them were scornful of my suggestion that the temperature warranted thick, padded winter jackets. They would wear their hoodies and look cool, thanks all the same Mum. I toyed with the idea of laying down the law and insisting, but settled instead for the "Okay, but on your heads be it. You will not be allowed to complain of the cold when we are out, will you?" route. The boys airily agreed.
I then took an inordinate (and for a supposedly loving parent, probably inappropriate) amount of pleasure in stomping around the exposed hillside on which the Zoo is situated, cheerily shouting "This isn't cold, is it boys?" as my breath curled round my head, hopefully obscuring my smirk. That'll larn 'em.

Most of the animals, sensible beasts, decided this was in fact not a morning to be up and about early and stayed indoors. The warty pigs (yes, they really are called that) were cool, as were the penguins. Edinburgh's penguin enclosure is absolutely brilliant as you can watch the penguins underwater when they turn from slightly comical waddling waiters, slipping around on the wet stone to sleek, speeding torpedos whizzing past the windows just for the fun of it.

After a couple of hours, we left and I took my two little icicles home for lunch and toe-defrosting. The rest of the day has been spent lazing around reading, watching old Red Dwarf episodes and getting ready for the week ahead. I am due to be in court for most of it so it will probably zoom by. Hope everyone else had a good weekend too.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

A bright new (slightly scary) talent

I promise I have full permission to post this. First Born (aged 10) is doing the rain forest as his project at school this term. The school likes to apply the topic across various disciplines, so for example, for creative writing they were asked to produce a rainforest survival guide. FB decided to do a version at home. You have to imagine the original produced in lurid red felt pen like blood on green paper. With illustrations. And "Do not read this book!" on the back. Here, verbatim, is the text:


If you are reading this, god help you. ONLY read this if you are stranded in the rain forest cause this book may distress small children yadda yadda yadda, you know the rest! Okay, so you are in the forest, stranded, no help, and your friends are dead or being swolled by a jaguar. Find some wood for a fire and catch an animal and cook it, then make a bed out of leaves, things to watch out for, canibals, crocodiles, poison arrow frogs, jaguars, and that's about it. So good luck and don't tell anybody you bought this book!

Dear readers, the author of this book is now dead by an unfortunate canibal incounter."

You're scared now, aren't you? Maybe it's like that videotape in "Ring" and you too will shortly fall victim to a canibal incounter. (Cue "Twilight Zone" music)...........

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I give in

I am sitting here this evening eating dinner, although in fact I am not sure that what I am eating merits the lofty description "dinner". Husband and I both had pretty full on days today - scary meeting for him, yet another day in court conducting a proof for me. It's amazing how tiring it is spending a day effectively sitting, standing and talking. Not exactly heavy industry you would think. Nonetheless, the combination of extended periods of intense concentration and the ridiculously useless air conditioning in the sheriff court meant I was exhausted and really not nice to be near by the end of the day. I had to have shower the minute I got home just to feel vaguely human again.

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, we were both pretty zonked, no way did I feel like chopping and simmering, so dinner consisted of fish fingers for husband and home made poutine for me. Chips, cheese and gravy: the ultimate comfort food. Thank you Canada. It was absolutely delicious, particularly since I had some gravy left over from the garlic and rosemary infused lamb I made at the weekend. Posh poutine. Haute cuisine poutine!

I now plan to take a cup of tea to bed, read for a while and sleep for about 9 hours. Night all!

PS Husband ate the Bounty yesterday. He did share the Breakaway with me though.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Bow down before me

I am watching the post carefully at the moment. I am assuming it will come in the post as I doubt Her Majesty or whoever deputises for her in such matters, would actually come to the house with it, although you never know. I am hoping it will be a nifty little thing that I can accessorise with my work clothes (ha! Me accessorising! That'll be the day!)

Whatever it looks like, I will be proud for I will have earned it. My medal. My badge of honour.

For my Husband left the house last week to go away on business and on Monday (that would be a WHOLE WEEK AGO) he left half a Bounty sitting on the hall table. In full view. Open. AND IT IS STILL THERE. I didn't even lick it.

What's more, it was joined on Friday night by a Breakaway (no, I don't know why either. Maybe Husband has a magic pocket that spontaneously generates confectionery at a rate faster than he can consume. Like the goose that laid golden eggs but much, MUCH better.) And the Breakaway is still there too after a weekend spent, for the most part, on a couch not 10 feet away from said hall table. Untouched by human tongue hands.

If that does not deserve a medal or a mention in the next Honours list, I don't know what does.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Phew, it's the weekend. Wait.......

Well that week fairly ran away with me didn't it? From a quiet week with nothing much due to happen, by Tuesday afternoon it was "you're back in that case, it is calling tomorrow and then going to a full hearing on Thursday. Oh and you need to get some witnesses organised. And some documentation would be good. And then you're in court on Friday. In Perth."

O-o-kay. Wednesday morning saw me in the sheriff court where I hardly ever go these days, being too old for that lark. I normally feel like the babysitter there as the daily courts are full of trainee and newly-qualified solicitors cutting their teeth and I am old enough to be their mother these days. I was therefore slightly surprised to see a number of my contemporaries in court. This was explained when the sheriff came on the bench. She's a very good sheriff but the description "nippy sweetie" could have been created for her. On a good day. Clearly the old hands were taking no risks and were dealing with matters themselves rather than risking a rookie in front of her! It's times like this that I realise I am indeed an old hand myself as I find her verbal slicing and dicing of the assembled lawyers mildly amusing rather than terrifying.

Wednesday evening was duly spent preparing for the proof on Thursday morning. Thursday was spent conducting a hearing about plumbing supplies, fixed price contracts and the apportionment of works between first fix and second f......oh, even I'm bored by that. It was dull, let's leave it at that.

I got home reasonably early, played with the kids (husband was away on business in London) and consoled myself with sausage, egg and chips for tea. With ketchup. It was wonderful.

Friday morning saw me scooting off to Perth sheriff court where I hung about waiting for my case to call until after lunchtime. This was dangerous. It left me loose in Perth town centre for an hour so with nothing to do. And there is a Lakeland shop in Perth. I don't know what it is about that place but I find it physically impossible to (a) walk past it and (b) buy less than three things when I do go in. Kitchen gadgets. They are my crack.

I rationalised my visit by telling myself that the boys needed new cool packs for their school lunchboxes and only Lakeland sell those cool little flat flexible ones, which is true. There is however no excuse for the fact that I also emerged with a blippy rotary cheese grater ("I grate parmesan a lot!") and one of those little gizmos that froth up your milk for hot chocolate and lattes ("I.....I..............I just wanted one. So shoot me.") Frankly I am proud that I did not buy either expensive knives or heavy duty bakeware, both of which are particular weaknesses. I spent less than £25 AND I avoided the continental market going on in the street outside with its stall selling olives (another weakness). That is a victory, that is. And the frothy hot chocolate went down well with the kids.

And now suddenly it is Sunday evening and I don't know where the weekend went but it has been nice and slobby and uneventful which is what weekends need to be now and again. Second Born is playing Nintendo, Husband is watching old Starsky and Hutch DVDs on his laptop and First Born has been up for a shower and has reappeared freshly scrubbed and wearing Cyberman pyjamas. The boys will be off to bed soon and then it will be time to wind down ready to start the week again. It'll be Christmas before we know it at this rate.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Oh yeah, that. Ermm....

Yes, well I was going to go out for a run at lunchtime and then this court case that I thought I was out of started up again and I had to speak to people and stuff and then I had to go on and cover reception again and there isn't really time to go to the gym and get back in time to open up the switchboard again on the dot of 2 and so.........ermmm.........I didn't go.

You're all sharpening your pencils, aren't you.

Weird book meme

This one seems to be doing the rounds at the moment and I really wish I was at home so I could use a more interesting book, but I have been tagged by CatsPuke (what a fab name for a blog!) so here goes. The instructions are:

"Pass it on to five other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 56 Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL "

Okay, what can I lay my hands on.......

"It was his duty to take reasonable care for the safety of other road users. It was his duty to take reasonable care to drive carefully, keep a proper lookout and keep his vehicle under proper control. It was his duty to take reasonable care to avoid pulling out from the roadside into the path of the defender's vehicle."

Oh lordy, I am stopping after three sentences, that's enough surely. Yup, Siggi Bennett's marvelous book of Style Writs for the Sheriff Court. Wake up! I've finished! Aren't you glad you're not a lawyer?!

For some reason we also have, lying about in what is ostensibly a solicitors' office, a copy of Andrew Gimson's biography of Boris Johnson. Not entirely sure why. And I don't want to open that one because if I do, chances are I will carry on reading it and get no work done for the rest of today.

I am not going to follow the instructions to the letter (I'm an internetty rebel, I am) by tagging 5 victims fellow bloggers, but if you're reading and have a book nearby, have at it and let me know in the comments. I'm interested.

PS I am going for a run at lunchtime. You may come round and poke me with sharpened pencils if I don't.

Monday, 17 November 2008


I do apologise. After my wee whinge last Tuesday in the face an impending parters' meeting, I seem to have neglected to blog. How rude of me.

The partners' meeting was surprisingly okay. I haven't been to one for a while, given my inability to deal with such matters over the summer, but everyone was very nice. It did help that we managed to get out of the office by 8pm so no-one had got to the stage of repeatedly bouncing their foreheads off the table. This could have had something to do with the fact that we normally get sandwiches and stuff in to keep us going but had not done so this time. Hunger apparently focuses the mind.

The rest of the week was pretty much okay too. I had a real "blast from the past" experience on Wednesday: our normal telephonist/receptionist was on holiday last week. Our relief receptionist had just undergone some pretty major surgery and was convalescing. My assistant is normally the final port of call as emergency cover and she was, fortunately, in the office. Unfortunately she had succumbed to the cold/throat infection that is sweeping the capital and she had no voice. None. So that left.......well, me. I used to temp in the old days when I was a hard-up student paying off my overdraft and I have reception-ed in the past, so I took over as telephonist for the day. It was quite fun, really. Took me back (*counts quickly on her fingers*) 20 years or so. My goodness, I am getting old.

The rest of the week slid gently into the weekend. I was in court on Thursday but nothing much happened and I managed to avoid having to trail up to Perth Sheriff court on Friday. So that was good.

Saturday was lovely. Second Born was a bit under the weather with the ubiquitous cold/hacking cough, so he stayed in his pyjamas all day. (I just read that back and hope you understand that I don't mean it was lovely because SB was ill!) I did the shopping and the usual stuff but other than that, I spent most of the day on the couch communing with SB, making him hot chocolate and reading. A lovely, lazy day.

Sunday I went to Makro to hunt toilet roll, kitchen roll, washing powder and dishwasher powder. That almost makes me sound domesticated! I also bought a brownie tin and an absolutely huge jar of chocolate chips. SB's little eyes fair lit up when he saw them. First Born's friend, aka the Cookie Monster came over to spend the afternoon with us and we all went up to the park for a session of running around and yelling (the boys) and gentle strolling in the sunshine (the grown ups).

In the evening Husband used me as a test audience for a talk he is presenting in London next week. I mean, this week. And it was really quite entertaining. Hopefully I made some useful comments and he wasn't put off by the faces I pulled at him. Husband is going to be away for most of this week on business so chances are I will be online more in the evenings. Prepare yourselves for a week of intensively inane witterings.

And now it is Monday again. And John Sergeant is still in SCD and Cherie has been knocked out! Cherie, who gave all us women over 40 hope! I am always up for a laugh and enjoyed John's Pasa Doble/taking out the recycling dance as much as the next person, but enough is enough!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Save me!

I have been at work all day, spending most of the day drafting a really convoluted writ for division and sale of a farm. What is left of my brain hurts. At 5pm I went to the dentist and had my teeth thoroughly scraped and scrubbed. I am now about to go into a partners' meeting for the next couple of hours, without even the benefit of chocolate to get me through. I might as well round off the day by smacking myself around the head repeatedly with a brick.

On the plus side, I did buy a pair of shoes at lunchtime.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Better in than out

We had a rather interesting weekend for a change. We met with my ex-brother-in-law and his wife, as we often do, so that ExBIL can keep in touch with the boys. His wife (we'll call her S) works in the Scottish Parliament and she took us in and gave us a tour of the building.

Now, I have not been a fan of the Scottish Parliament building. I thought the original building which everyone thought would house the Parliament, the old Royal High School, was a good choice. The new building.....well, it's concrete and concrete carries certain connotations in Edinburgh. It sits at the bottom of the Royal Mile opposite Holyrood Palace (the Queen must be well pit oot, having her view spoiled) and near a council estate called Dumbiedykes. Which is also built of concrete. I have always thought that basically the Parliament building looks a little like the new Dumbiedykes Community Centre. Without the cars on bricks.

But I have to say the inside is fabulous. There isn't a square room or a right angle in the entire building, I don't think and it is the most interesting, thought provoking place I have ever been in. Round every corner there is a different view, either of another part of the building or of the landscape outside which, given that it sits beside Holyrood Palace, Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags, is spectacular. There is a huge amount of wood used which makes it warm and easy on the eye and we'll just forget the bits made of concrete, shall we?

The debating chamber itself is actually bigger than I thought (unlike the House of Commons which is TINY in real life) and really rather cool. Being in with a pass-holder we got to go right down onto the floor of the chamber and sit in Alex Salmond's seat. Shhhh! We're not supposed to do that! And First Born got interviewed by ExBIL on those steps you always see the MSPs walking down on TV. ("First Minister, what do you think of Gordon Brown?" "He's rubbish! Ha! Ha!")

All in all I was really quite impressed. There are rooms in the building dedicated for use by local schools to come in and see the Parliament and meet with their MSP and the meeting rooms are used by groups of all sorts. S. had had 54 school kids having their packed lunch in one of the committee rooms last week and I love the idea of the public getting to use the building we paid for. And paid for handsomely.

I think the jury is still firmly out on the exterior of the building but I am less scathing about it than I was. I still don't know if it was worth the money (so much money!) and I don't know how long it will last in the inclement Scottish weather, but I am glad I went and had a look. The public are allowed to go in and wander about quite a lot of the ground floor on a daily basis. Go and have a look. It's really interesting, honest. (If you live in North America and are reading this - sorry - really boring post!)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

So now you know

I am about to provide a public service for those of my readers from outside the USA. We have all been hearing a great deal about the American election and we are of course all interested in it because as the saying goes, when America sneezes, the rest of the world gets covered in icky green slimy stuff.

Anyway, for those of you who are confused about the American political system and what exactly the difference is between Republicans and Democrats, I am here to help. Or rather, my elder son is.

We attended the boys' school last night for parents' night - our chance to get a first hand report from our children's teachers about just how wonderful our offspring are and out of precisely how many of their orifices the sun shines. First Born's teacher is American, from Boston. She let the class hold their own version of the election using copies of her own postal ballot paper (is that an offence? Copying your ballot paper? It sounds like something that might be) and Obama won a landslide. This was two days ago so clearly those 10 year olds had their fingers on the pulse.

She was very complimentary about FB's enthusiasm for the project and described how seriously he took the issues, even down to canvassing his classmates at breaktime. She overheard him in the playground holding forth to a group of fellow P6s about the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Apparently "the Republicans live in the middle of America and the Democrats live round the outside." So now you know.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Adult Education

Things I learned this weekend:
  • I am incapable of being left alone with the remains of the Halloween fun size Mars bars. It was them or me and as I am here blogging, I think you can work that one out
  • Kneading bread dough by hand works muscles in my shoulders I never knew I had
  • You can sell anything to small boys as long as you make it collectable. Just as we are recovering from the Great Pokemon Card plague, along come Go-Gos. They are small, plastic, brightly coloured and, as far as I can see, of no earthly use. Boys love 'em.
  • There is still one last remaining Wimpy in Edinburgh on Portobello Prom. I thought McDonalds and Burger King had driven the old Wimpy to extinction, but it lingers on in Porty. I am old enough to remember the Wimpy on Castle Street in the days when in the quaint British version of a burger joint you still got waitress service. And proper plates. And cutlery. And they did a desert called a Brown Derby which if memory serves me correctly, was a doughnut with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce on top. Mmmmm.
  • I am really really rubbish at running. After managing a 10k in May, on Sunday morning I managed 4.5k. In 40 minutes. And I walked a lot of it. Still it was a lovely morning, all sunny and frosty and at least I went.
  • A visit to B&Q to buy a length of flexible ducting does not constitute a fun day out and no 8 year old worth his salt will believe it does
  • You cannot drive anywhere in Edinburgh in less than 40 minutes these days.
Having just read back over the above points, I appear to be becoming middle aged. I derive a disproportionate amount of joy from a nice cup of tea and I have recently noticed myself making that satisfied sighing/groaning noise as I lower myself into chairs. I am clearly on the slippery slope. I hope the boys pick me a good nursing home. One with doughnuts.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Tagged twice - I've arrived!

I got tagged for a meme - the same meme - by the virtual-celebrity of Scottish blogging, Misssy M AND the lovely Weight by the Seashore from my spiritual homeland of Nova Scotia. Wow. I'm such an international blog tart these days. Dooce will be inviting me over for coffee any day now, just you watch. The meme is one of those nice vague "Six things about you"ones. The first item in Misssy's version jogged my memory for my first one which is.....

1. We sometimes used to bump into Idi Amin in Safeway. My dad worked in Saudi Arabia when I was younger and we sometimes went out to stay with him for a while. He lived in Jeddah and the local supermarket was a Safeway. It was right opposite the Sands Hotel which is where Idi holed up after the good people of Uganda (and most of the rest of the world) decided he wasn't their cup of tea. I can authoritatively report that he didn't push his own trolley.

2. I have a small brown mark on the sole of my left foot. It marks the spot where I jumped barefoot into a sandpit as a child and landed on a rusty nail sticking out of a piece of wood which someone had hidden in the sand. Serves me right for trusting a sandpit in West Lothian, frankly. The nail went through my foot, a story which I delight in telling my children because it makes them nearly throw up.

3. That same Safeway from number 1 up there used to stock packs of stuffed lambs' testicles in the freezer section. They came in little miniature egg-box type cartons. We never bought them, but I kind of wish we had.

4. I used to love the taste of cold coffee as a child. Not frappucino or iced coffee. Cold coffee. Specifically the dregs of any coffee my parents left behind to go cold. The very thought of that now makes me queasy.

5. My brother once pushed me into a pile of wet cement. It was at primary school and workmen were mixing cement for the foundations of the ubiquitous huts being built as extra classrooms and all of us nosey kids were watching. He came up behind me and just shoved. I was very upset at the time but now with the benefit of 30 years or so, I can see that it must have been funny. I doubt I would have been able to resist had he been the one in front of me. I did have to chip dried cement off the face of my watch though.

6. I cannot stomach porridge made the proper Scottish way, ie with water and salt. If I have it (and I often do) I have to make it with milk and brown sugar. And a touch of cinnamon. That sound you can hear is my granny spinning in her grave.

I would tag more people but I am very predictable and always tag the same suspects and am scared of tagging anyone else because they will think I am impertinent and presumptious for daring to impose on them. At least, they do in my head. So I'll just say, if you fancy a meme, go for it.