Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Overheard conversation

Heard from the back seat of our car today:

".....and he said it was the worst thing he had ever smelled and he had to keep smelling it because it was on his face for AGES..........."

I didn't ask.

Monday, 29 August 2011


My children went to bed last night with hot water bottles. In AUGUST.

Edinburgh: Not a tropical holiday destination.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Random stuff

Do you know what it means to live in Edinburgh during the Festival? It means that even in the rather anonymous suburb in which I live and even when you are just waiting in your car at the lights to go home after getting the weekly shop at Sainsbury's, this sort of thing happens.

He was just crossing the road and stopped to juggle a bit. As you do. Sadly the lights changed before he was able to pass the hat around (if that's what he was planning to do).

To avoid getting caught up in the genuine mayhem that is the centre of Edinburgh at this time (the city is just FULL) the boys and I have tended to meander around near home instead. A few days ago, during a brief lull in the ongoing torrential downpour, we walked the mile or so to our local garden centre. On the way we stopped to chat to the Highland cattle that hang out in a field nearby. A lovely old lady also stopped to chat and told us that the two young bulls in the field were called Dave and Eric. Not sure which one this is trying to hypnotise Second Born into giving him more ear scratches.
Also not sure that Dave and Eric are the right kinds of names for Highland cattle. Shouldn't they be Wallace and Bruce, or Rob and Roy or something?

Saturday, 6 August 2011

If I was a grown-up.....

..........I presume I would have some clue what "eyebrow threading" is. I was offered this the other day (on my way to buy Kilner jars and sugar - chutney doesn't make itself) by a woman lurking in my local shopping centre. I wasn't sure what it was - a new hobby? Some sort of craft? - so I smiled politely, dodged round her and fled into Sainsbury's.

This is my standard method of dealing with those awkward situations, the ones which make me acutely aware that I barely qualify as a grown-up woman. I use it, for example, to get through those intimidating perfume/make-up halls one finds at the entrance to Jenners and Harvey Nicks and John Lewis. Actually, I am guessing about Harvey Nicks. I think I am the only woman left in Edinburgh who has never been in there. Anyway, those places scare the life out of me. They are a sort of over-fragranced minefield one must traverse to reach the good bits of the store (in my case, usually the cookshop). Following that analogy to its logical conclusion, that would make those daunting, immaculately made-up young women in scary white uniforms the ravenous alsatians. They fill me with that level of fear and trepidation. I know if I have to speak to them for any length of time, they will figure out that I Am Not A Real Grown Up and I will be sentenced to wear a bag on my head for all eternity.

I am almost ashamed to say, aged 44, that I don't wear make-up. Ever. Oh, I have been known to put on a bit of mascara and lipstick if forced to get dressed up for some business dinner or other but we hardly ever do that sort of thing these days. And since Jen told me that it is not in fact a good idea to keep using that one ancient tube of mascara I have had since before First Born arrived (it is not electric blue, but given its vintage, it could have been) I am even less likely to do so now. Jen reckons that mascara only keeps for about 6 months, tops, and since we only go out to something that might require a bit of slap about once every 2 years, that means buying a new mascara every time I need to wear it. That's just not going to happen.

I wonder if perhaps I am missing some sort of critical female gene - for example, I hate clothes shopping and shoe shopping in particular. More likely I am just too darn lazy, but for whatever reason, I never got into the make-up habit and doubt I will now.

And since I am in confessional mode here, I must also confess to not using skin care products either. I once went for a spa day with my mother to Stobo Castle - it was a gift for her and I reluctantly agreed to tag along. We both had a French facial (I have no idea what made it French rather than, say, Hungarian, but that's what it said on the itinerary) and as part of the process, the efficient young woman in the lab coat asked me what my skin care routine was.

"I wash it" I mumbled. "In the shower. With shower gel."

I could tell by the angle of her eyebrow that was the wrong answer. After the facial I was presented with a lengthy prescription for precisely the sort of cleansers, toners, moisurisers and little pots of magic I should be applying daily to my criminally under-maintained face. Needless to say, I binned it. Not only would buying that stuff mean interacting with the scary Perfume Droid Girls, but the price of it was astonishing. I couldn't help calculating how many books I could buy for the price of a teeny tiny little pot of Eye Bag Unguent and it frankly didn't seem worth it.

So I am afraid I am going to stick to my shower gel skin care regimen. I am going to wash my hair in whatever shampoo was on offer in the supermarket when I did my weekly shop and if I run out of shampoo, I will probably not be afraid to use washing-up liquid. Again. And I will enjoy my books and console myself with the thought that I am probably more the sort of Earth-mother-y, unglamourous sort of female who may never have plucked an eyebrow, but who can not only bake cookies, but make chutney. Hopefully.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Gardens are great!

Back at the Corbies over the weekend and we were stopped in our tracks by the garden. There is stuff growing! All over the place! The potatoes have gone completely mad - these are about waist high and flowering fit to burst. The flowers are surprisingly pretty - I'm not sure I expected tattie flowers to look nice but these are vivid purple with bright yellow centres and really quite flashy.

The plants in the photo were part of the second wave of planting. The first wave have already lost their flowers so we gave in to temptation and dug some up to have with dinner. Thankfully our neighbour had warned us that fresh spuds cook more quickly than the ones you buy in Sainsbury's and she was not wrong. They took no longer than the wee pan of frozen peas I was cooking. And they tasted absolutely wonderful, with a little bit of butter and some mint from the garden. I could have eaten an entire plate of those potatoes for dinner with nothing else. I now find myself fantasising about digging up more on our next visit....

What has also been fun with this garden is discovering the stuff hiding in there from before we bought the house. There was a tangled mass of vegetation in one corner of the little flower bed under the kitchen window which we found as we stripped out the mint which had run riot in there. We didn't know what it was but it looked like it had tendril-y things like a climber. So we stuck up some trellis, pulled the triffid off the ground and attached it. Then we forgot about it. When we arrived this weekend, it looked like this:
I still don't know what it is exactly (Isabelle?) but isn't it gorgeous? (Please ignore the dandelions either side. I pulled them out later. Honest.)

And finally, when we dug over one of the vegetable plots and planted our courgettes and rocket and so on, we found a seedling growing that we didn't recognise. It wasn't anything we planted but it didn't look exactly weed-y either. So we decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and let it grow, see what it turned into. It turned into this:

It's a sunflower! Knowledgeable Neighbour tells us that the birds often drop the seeds from feeders and they grow where they fall. It's not interfering with the courgettes and stuff so we are happy to let it do its thing. Amazing that something so tall and sturdy can grown from a seed so small we didn't even see it when we dug the bed over!