Monday, 28 March 2011


I was idly texting my husband today while I sat in the car and waited for First Born to appear from school (Second Born is away at school camp, charging around in the vicinity of Culloden pretending to be a Jacobite. The house is eerily peaceful.) Anyway, I was texting with Husband and I wanted to type/text/enter/whatever the word "scones".

(Yes, Husband and I have scintillatingly important text conversations about cheese scones. We are just that groovy.)

Anyway, the predictive text thingy was doing its .......thing, and instead of "scones" it insisted that I wanted to say "scoods". It was really quite emphatic about it, to the extent that it was claiming never to have heard of the word "scones" at all. I eventually had to spell it out for the dratted thing.

I have no idea what "scoods" are and am too sensible/scared to Google it*, but I am left shaking my head and wondering: who on earth programmed a phone which knows what "scoods" are but which has never heard of scones? Civilisation is crumbling before our eyes, I tell you.

*Also now slightly worried that "scoods" will turn out to be a very dodgy word indeed andthat I am going to get some very strange hits on the blog for a couple of weeks.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Momentous movements and a cry for help

It's Husband's birthday today, but since birthdays on Mondays are no fun, we celebrated it over the weekend at the Corbies instead. His present from us was a "Make yourself at home at The Corbies kit" - gift bags containing an espresso maker, tin of good coffee, bottle of malt whisky, whisky glasses, box of ice cube bags and a Lindt gold chocolate bunny. He was quite happy. He also got to have game pie from our local (to The Corbies) butcher for his dinner which went down very nicely. Tonight he has had a beef curry for dinner (made by me in the slow cooker) and he has bitten the head off his Lindt bunny, so not bad as Monday birthdays go.

On Sunday when we got back to Edinburgh, I helped Second Born finish his move into the former spare bedroom. The boys have shared a bedroom since Second Born was about 4 or 5 months old but it has become increasingly clear over the past few months that the time for separate rooms was upon us. We could no longer put up with the constant arguments over which episode of "Just a Minute" should be playing on the iPod dock.

I offered to paint the spare room prior to the move, and Second Born chose a paint colour which goes by the name "Orange Squash". Those of you who live in Edinburgh and who have been wondering what that strange glow in the sky to the south is need ponder no more: it's just the glow from my son's new bedroom walls. They are a little bit bright.

First Born has served notice that he intends to have the original bedroom painted Lime Green when his time comes. (This may be a good while yet: he has about 700 stickers to peel off the walls before I can paint them and I doubt he has the patience.)

So the boys are now in separate rooms. First Born has his beloved drum kit in his room with him and Second Born, for the time being, has the TV and XBox in with him. Until I can figure out a way for the boys to have access to their electronic entertainments without giving up on my declared "No TVs in bedrooms" stance. Any suggestions gratefully received.

And on the subject of suggestions, I could do with some help from the North American contingent out there: we subscribe to a magazine called Saltscapes which is based in and all about Atlantic Canada (did I ever mention we are fond of Atlantic Canada? No?) Anyway, a recent edition had lots of reader recipes in it, one of which was for a cake called a "ski cake". Second Born has seen this and decided that he wants his birthday cake this year to be a ski cake. Which is fine, I am happy to do that - anything has to be better than producing flaming skull or suicidal bunny cakes. But I do need some help with some recipe conversion details, namely:
  1. What exactly is semi-sweet chocolate in English? Milk chocolate? Plain? 75% cocoa? Or some other form I have not heard of?
  2. And what measure is "3 squares" of said chocolate? I presume there must be a standard measurement that is a "square" - any idea how much that is in weight terms?
  3. And if a recipe says 125ml of butter, how much is that in grammes? Or 500ml flour? (I know I could look that one up pretty easily, but I'm feeling lazy)
Any help very gratefully received. If you're lucky, I'll post a photo of the result, good or bad.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Culture and all that

I meant to post about this earlier but, you know, stuff happened and I got distracted when I went online. Mostly spent my laptop time getting free advice from Croila about gardening, to be honest. That and playing stupid Ravenwood Fair on Facebook.

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that last week I took my Mum to her first ever ballet. When I learned she had never been I promised her I would find something suitable and we'd make a night of it. I saw that Romeo and Juliet was on, with the wonderful Prokofiev score, so I got tickets for my Mum and myself and for L, a friend of mine I used to work with and with whom I used to go to the ballet quite a lot. Mum was delighted and immediately started fretting over the classic first-time ballet-goer question: What should I wear?

She was reassured to find that jeans and a jumper was fine and no ball gowns would be required.

The ballet itself was.......interesting. A sort of modern-ish take on Romeo and Juliet. Lots of big alien-style headdresses on the Capulet ladies and then a slightly Bucks Fizz moment during the ball scene when they all shed their frocks to reveal virtually painted-on leotards beneath.

Oh, and an odd sub-plot which had Tybalt and Lady Capulet plainly engaged in quite a steamy affair. (There were a couple of holds during their dances that had you asking "Does he realise where his hand is?????") Tybalt ended up killing Mercutio because Mercutio and his mate dressed up as Tybalt and Lady C and did a (very funny) mickey-taking dance in the square. Now, that wasn't in the original play, was it? Or did I miss that in 3rd year English class?

We thoroughly enjoyed it anyway, including the half-time ice creams. The lady sitting next to us had brought her little girl along - she was about 4 years old and clearly a ballet fan, dressed in a sparkly ballerina dress and ballet shoes. My friend L engaged the wee one in conversation during intermission and learned that yes, the ballerina dress was pretty, but the undies that were part of the ensemble were a bit tight and tended to get stuck in one's .......erm......... undercarriage. So that was interesting.

I'm not sure that Romeo & Juliet was a great choice for a 4 year old, as in the final scene, as Juliet went mad with grief over Romeo's body and prepared to stab herself, a tremulous little voice was plainly heard over the silent auditorium: "Mummy, what's she going to do with that knife???" She can't have been too upset by it though, as we saw her performing her own interpretation of the show to the queue for the ladies loos as we left.

A good night was had by all (I frankly consider any night where I am out of the house after dark a success as long as it does not involve Sainsbury's) and we plan to repeat the experience soon. Looking out for tickets for a nice, classical, floaty ballet next. Swan Lake or Giselle maybe.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Before and after

We had another nice weekend down at the Corbies - much easier to decamp down there now that we have beds and furniture and such like. Sister-in-law donated some pots and pans she was getting rid of (due to having purchased a groovy new induction hob for her house that doesn't work with some of her old pans) and some plates she had found in a charity shop. Slowly but surely we are completing our kitchen.....

We went down on Friday night so on Saturday morning we were able to make a quick trip over the border to England for provisions. There is a wonderful butcher in the nearest village over the border so we had their fabulous bacon and home-made wild boar sausages for breakfast. With rolls from the local bakery. Yummmm! Our neighbours at the cottage tell us that the game pies from that butcher are so good that when they go to visit relatives in Edinburgh, they aren't allowed in unless they are also bearing one of said pies.

They also make amazing steak and kidney pies and that is what we bought for dinner on Saturday night. I actually cooked dinner (well, heated up the pies, cooked the peas and mashed the tatties) in the cottage kitchen. Woo hoo! Feeling like a home from home at last.

We also have headboards on the beds now, so you don't spend half the night fishing your pillows up off the floor. And Husband and kind neighbour spent an hour or so and much MUCH sweat disposing of a large pile of debris left behind in our garden by the damp proof contractors. We didn't realise they had done this for some time due to the snow - the garden and drive were covered in huge piles of snow, and the pile of bags of broken plaster was masquerading as a snowdrift. Only realised what it was after the thaw!

And although I forgot to take the camera with me (again), I did have my phone AND I have figured out how to get photos off my phone and onto the Interweb. So here you go - The Corbies: Before and After. First the before.....

This is the alcove in our sitting room

And this is the other side of the sitting room, nicely set off by the icy chill of winter daylight.

And the kitchen. Note the feature "radiators left piled against the wall instead of actually installed and heating the house during the coldest winter since records began". Not every house has that, you know.And now the nice bit! The sitting room, decorated by our own fair hands! (Note the laptop. We don't even have broadband yet, but laptops follow us wherever we go.)

That there is the couch that we had to bend the laws of physics to get through the cottage door. I swear there was witchcraft of some sort involved in that process. And finally the kitchen, with the world's most tasteless dishwasher lovingly installed.

And the flagstone floor which I love, but which I will accept is rather cold on the toes when I stop every morning to look out of the kitchen window after visiting the bathroom. But it is worth it when the sort of thing you can see out of the window is this:

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Peace at last

It has been kind of busy around Casa Loth recently and this is the first time I have had a quiet moment to come on and post. Husband is out - he has a staff meeting this evening and his staff meetings tend to involve beer and pizza, so I may not see him for a while. Bet you wish you worked for my husband, don't you?

The boys are painting Warhammer figures (they are NOT toy soldiers, don't call them that!!!!) in the dining room and miraculously they are not arguing. I have made myself an enormous bowl of bulgur wheat salad which I am eating from a tray in my lap while I blog. The large pile of First Born's new trousers, purchased at the weekend, are eyeing me from the corner of the room as they wait to have their hems taken up but I am ignoring them for now and refusing to feel guilty. FB certainly doesn't care - that boy would wear a bin bag if you told him to. As long as it wasn't pink.

Speaking of FB, he has made the transition to teenager-dom with ease and is showing no Kevin-like tendencies so far. He basically remains the same boy he was when he was 7, just in a bigger body. With smellier feet. Which means that, while he is still perfectly happy to give you spontaneous hugs, you don't always appreciate them as much as you once did.

Tomorrow is Founder's Day at the boys' school which means that SB, who is in the junior school, has the whole day off. However FB, who is now in the Senior School, does not. Nor does he have a normal school day. He has to be in school for 10.20am in time for the remembrance service and then he will be dismissed at 12 noon. I would like to find the genius who decided to present working parents with that little logistical puzzle and shake him warmly by the throat. Fortunately my job is flexible enough these days that I can just work a couple of hours tomorrow and I can do those from home, but I feel sorry for those in more rigid jobs - I certainly would have been struggling back in the days when I was a full-time court solicitor.

In other news, we have finalised our plans for this year's Maritime Canada Extravaganza - all Nova Scotia this year. And I know the following information will mean NOTHING to most of you but I want to write it out anyway and savour the anticipation.......

We are going to spend a couple of days in lovely Liverpool, followed by a week in a cottage on Silver Crescent beach in Lockeport. And I mean on the beach - you step off the deck of the house onto the sand. I am picturing lazy days reading on the deck with a cold drink while the boys run around like maniacs. We may rouse ourselves for a day out in Keji if we feel up to it.

After that, we are going to Brier Island for a bit of whale watching (or if my whale repelling skills are still working, fruitless whale chasing) and staying the night in Westport. After that we are having one night in a B&B in Bear River before heading along the Annapolis Valley to Port Williams and Mary's B&B where we have stayed during every trip to NS since 1996. Hoping to fit a visit to the drive-in cinema in while we are in the neighbourhood of Kentville, Jess, if that is still a possibility?

And to add to all that, we have our little trip to Prague at Easter with the boys. Oh! Oh! And finally, finally - FB is pleased to report that he tasted Cadbury's Dairy Milk buttons for the first time at the weekend, and liked them! And he didn't turn funny colours, swell up or vomit! For the boy who has been allergic to milk in all its myriad forms since he was born, this is a major breakthrough. He really seems to be growing out of his allergy, which is just wonderful. So he now has his beady eyes fixed on ice cream..........

Remind me next time to tell you about the story of my neighbour and the hedgehog in the carrier bag.