Sunday, 31 October 2010

You didn't really want to know about this, did you?

So I promised you tales of my scabby finger. Are you sure there isn't something better you could be doing than reading this stuff? Re-arranging your wardrobe in date order? Colour coding your clothes pegs? Staring into space and drooling slightly? No? Huh. Okay then.

I have had slightly dry, scaly and frankly not that attractive skin on my hands for a while. It has got worse recently, to such an extent that my right hand had been christened by my charming sons: "The Scabby Finger of Doom". I sort of ignored it and thought it would sort itself out until whatever-it-was started to affect the nail bed on my right pinky, giving me a nail worthy of the wicked queen in the Snow White cartoon. (The ugly old version, not the glam version at the start. She had fabulous nails.)

So eventually I dragged myself off to see the doctor. Our old family doctor has now retired so I saw one of the new ones. He was approximately 7 feet tall and about, ooh, 12 or 13 years old I reckon. Slightly older than the local policemen but not by much. He took one look at my hand claw and declared "Pompholyx!"

Which, as well as being an excellent word to remember for Scrabble, is what I have. It's the official term for dry, horrid, sometimes weepy and scaly scabbiness. It is also, my children and dear Husband have decided, the new name for my right hand. They reckon it sounds like a previously unknown character from Asterix. I imagine him in the background in a big black cloak, shedding fingernails and skin cells all over the place.

On the plus side, I now have ointments and moisturisers and advice on taming the pompholyx. I also have confirmation that, as I suspected, I also have vitiligo on my hands. (This causes patchy white areas where my skin won't tan and is referred to by my sympathetic family as "giraffeyness"). Combine all that with my tendency to scald, burn and otherwise scar myself when I am cooking, and I reckon I have very little chance of a career as a hand model.

Which is why I don't mind wielding very sharp knives of a Sunday afternoon in order to preare props for my children before they go out guising (which is where they are now).

And to finish, a snap taken from outside our cottage first thing this morning. This is why we keep going back (and why we can't wait for the hacking off of plaster and re-damp proofing to be finished so we can move in properly.)

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Home again

Hmmm, yes, that last post - perfect example of what happens when you are interrupted mid-ponder and decide to save the post and finish it later and then hit "Publish" by mistake and think to yourself "I'd better come back and sort that out later" and then you go on holiday instead. Honestly, I had a stunningly witty ending to give you involving ruminations on why companion sets are so called but I have forgotten most of it and since we have been to the cottage (twice) and Geneva (once) since I last posted, I can't be bothered to try to remember what I was going to say. Let's all agree it would have been hilarious and move on, shall we?

So anyway, yes we went back to the cottage for a quick visit before we left to go on holiday. This wasn't as obsessive as it sounds since we had to let a man in to look at the damp work that needs doing, but it did also give us a nice little break before our....slightly bigger break. It also let us formally christen the cottage "The Corbies" by installing some permanent residents to keep an eye on the place.

These are primarily Husband's fault. They are hunting lures he found on the internet and since that little shelf above the stairs was crying out for a big stuffed fish or similar, he bought them. The addition of the googly eyes was a joint effort. We think they add a certain je ne sais quoi. My mother thinks they're creepy.

Geneva was lovely if cold and a bit blowy. Husband went off to his judgely conference on Monday and the boys and I pottered about Geneva. We discovered a lovely little zoo in a suburban park (free! There wasn't even a box where you could make a donation to the upkeep and I was actively looking for one!). We also found a little artificial beach festooned with swings made out of old tyres. I had to use a crowbar to get the boys away from this place

and the next day they dragged Husband and me back for another go. We also decided to spend ridiculous amounts of money (when they say Switzerland is expensive, they are really not kidding) on train tickets for a day trip to Montreux. It was worth it though - the scenery is fantastic, even if you have a constant soundtrack of "Smoke on the Water" running through your head the entire time you are there.

We visited the 11th century Chateau de Chillon and it was just lovely. Being October, it wasn't too busy so at times we had parts of it all to ourselves.
The boys were particularly fond of the dungeons, where legend has it a monk called Bonivard was chained to a pillar for 6 years. Lord Byron later visited the castle and heard the legend and it prompted him to write "The Prisoner of Chillon" and also to carve his name in the pillar to which Bonivard was supposed to have been chained. Fortunate for Byron that he was famous so his scratched name in the stone is now a tourist attraction in itself, rather than just a bit of rather arrogant vandalism!

We decided to walk back to Montreux rather than take the bus and took a lovely lakeside path all the way back - it follows the edge of the lake in the picture below which was taken from the top of the Chateau keep.

Apart from the lakeside, Montreux is pretty much vertical and we clambered up to the top of the old town for dinner, finding a fantastic little restaurant serving game of all descriptions. "Madame" in charge was lovely, very French and chatty (I am glad Husband's french remains in better nick than mine!) and she really took to the boys. It helped that both FB and SB were being very co-operative during the trip and were happily ordering their dinners and drinks in French. FB opted to try horse, much to Madame's approval. Husband and I had venison in different forms and it was heavenly. If only that restaurant wasn't a two hour flight, a one hour train journey and a stiff 20 minute climb away, I swear I would eat there every day.

And now we are home again. The washing is done, the boys' bags are packed to go back to school tomorrow and I just have to prepare the makings of Husband's lunches for the coming week. Back to earth with a slight bump. But if you are very lucky, next time I will tell the tale of my horrendously scabby finger.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Well, you learn something new every day

So, whaddaya know, there are autumn flowering crocuses which aren't really crocuses but look like them and are called bare naked wimmin, or something. I must say I am very grateful to my knowledgeable readers for putting me right and also relieved that Mother Nature has not decided to amuse herself by messing with my head for no good reason.

Bellus is now not only on the road to full recovery, but allowed outside again. He is insured now (we weren't going to let him out of our sight again until that was sorted) and he is verging on the delirious at being allowed out to chase stuff and climb our straggly buddleia and hide in the grass (black and white being such a good colour scheme for camouflage in the grass).

We had another good trip down to the cottage last weekend, a trip which included all 6 of us (the Loth Clan plus Sister-in-Law and her other half) scrubbing the summerhouse and then slapping a coat of wood preservative on it. It looks pretty good. We then loaded up the car(s) with bags and bags and bags of garden rubbish for dropping off at the dump and then went for a wander round the local builders' merchant-come-garden centre- come - woodstove merchant

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


There are crocuses flowering in the centre of Edinburgh. Right outside my office. Purple ones. I find their presence unsettling. Are they late for this spring or early for next? Or have I been mistaken all my life in believing that crocus flowers are a sign of spring? I am also slightly worried that they will invoke Murphy's Law and we will have a sudden three foot deep snowfall.

Monday, 4 October 2010

And... breathe.

Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts after our loss of Zyra. We are all okay, even Second Born who takes these things so much to heart. It is very odd when we come home not to be greeted by the Tortoiseshell Terror, tail aloft, miaowing her disapproval of our absence but in due course we will get used to being, once again, a one-cat family.

Bellus goes from strength to strength. SB and I took him to the vet today for a check-up. He is something of a celebrity at our vet's surgery - all the staff come out to see him when we arrive, fussing over him and marvelling at how perky he is when, only a week ago or so, they were all holding various bits of him in place as the vet reconstituted him more or less from scratch. They have all seen parts of my cat that I, hopefully, will never see, and they are delighted to see him now looking so well.

The vet's verdict is that Bellus is fine, his breathing sounds absolutely fine and his stitches will dissolve on their own. He does not need to go back until his jabs are due in December (unless we see anything to worry us) and he can be allowed out again by the weekend. For our part, we are absolutely positive that we will not be letting him over the door until he is insured up to his furry little eyebrows.

SB was a great help at the vet, keeping Bellus entertained in his cat carrier (Bellus dislikes his cat carrier. He dislikes the cat carrier in the car even more. In fact he dislikes it so much, he took his revenge at the weekend when he was halfway to the Borders by pooing most odoriferously in his cat carrier. That was a fun car journey. He did it again on the way back.) On the way home from the vet, SB piped up out of the blue "Do you think I would be a good vet?"

"I am sure you would make an excellent vet" I replied.

"Because I am good with animals," he said, "but you also have to be good with people to be a vet, and I can be good with people."

"That you can"

Perceptive, my son.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Not a good week, all things considered

Bellus continues to recover well from his surgery and is very obviously looking forward to getting out of solitary confinement. Sadly, however, we have lost Zyra.

Husband and I were out at Ikea last night doing a bit of shopping while my mother looked after the boys. While we were gone, Zyra was hit by a couple of cars. A neighbour round the corner saw what happened and called us to let us know. He also kindly moved her off the road (the drivers of the cars involved hadn't stopped). She must have died instantly and there was nothing we could do for her.

Second Born is pretty upset - he and Zyra were very close and the Empress of Death and Destruction was often to be found asleep on SB's bed, buried among the stuffed rats and guinea pigs. Coming after the trauma with Bellus last weekend, this has been a bit of a shock to the system for all of us but particularly for SB. I am planning to feed him junk food and let him watch wall-to-wall DVDs all weekend if that is what he feels like doing.

In the meantime we will be trying to figure out how many mirrors we must have inadvertently broken to give us two such accidents in under a week.