Monday, 30 June 2014

Road Rage or Road Angel?

I was driving along behind a slightly tatty looking older style 4x4 this morning on my way to work when someone threw something out the back window which landed right in front of my car. I stopped suddenly and thought about retrieving the item with which to confront the driver but realised they were getting away.

So, I made a split second decision to chase after the 4x4 empty handed. Before I could catch up a refuse lorry got in the way then turned off losing me more time. However, I had the littering vehicle still in my sights and like a woman possessed I purposefully gained on it, intent on speaking to the driver about the matter.

As I got nearer, I started flashing my lights, hooting my horn and putting the left indicator on until the driver stopped. It turned out to be a woman and as I pulled parallel she lowered her window and I lowered mine on the passenger side. Then I informed her she was minus a black and white spotted toy dog which one of the kids had lost out of the back window.

I couldn't bear the thought of a wee one going to bed minus their beloved doggie tonight or the poor sleepless parents wracking their brains trying to work out what had happened to it. I wished I'd been able to pick it up and catch up with her but if I'd got out to retrieve it I'd have had no way of catching up and returning the toy.

I'd love to bask in the glow of a deed well done but as they say no good deed goes unpunished. I'd thought I had a cold brewing over the last week which is unsurprising given how stressful things were with my sick cat and other family issues. Today, I got progressively more exhausted and congested had to get an emergency appointment at my GP who diagnosed me before I was even able to sit down. He's not psychic, the walk from the waiting room to his room meant I didn't have the breath to tell him why I'd come! He did do the proper assessment but his doorway hypothesis was correct as I have a chest infection and sinusitis.

Coincidentally, when I got home, I received an unsolicited second opinion over the phone with more strict instructions about resting till the antibiotics kick in from my Mother's GP. Poor chap had actually only called to update me about her test results but was distracted by my frog chorus voice and breathlessness. Still, instead of whingeing about being under-par, I should probably count my blessings that we both now have really decent and caring GP's. All I need now is the antibiotics to work over night......what do you reckon?

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Best Chat-up Line

I am still laughing at this one nearly two hours on.

I had to go to the Pharmacy to have a pile of prescriptions made up (honestly nothing ages you quite like taking in a fistful of prescriptions!). Outside a young 'gentleman' was standing dressed in the classic brand spanking new track suit which looked like the only athletics it would ever see would be attempting to out run someone in the employ of Police Scotland. He'd been having a heated phone conversation outside with someone which sounded domestic in nature but when he came in he spied a pretty looking young woman waiting for her prescription and decided to chance his arm by sidling up to chat to her.

She was pleasant to him and answered whatever he had said and went straight back to texting or whatever she was doing on her phone. However, her reply only encouraged him to lay on the charm and he came out with an amazing chat up line that nearly had me fall off my seat.

"Right now I'm tryin' tae get a handle on how wimmin really see what do you think...?" said with absolute hope that the young woman would come up with something suitably flattering. With commendable tact and diplomacy she very sweetly turned it back on him, and he was so lacking in insight that he didn't even notice.

Once he'd been called through to the screened dispensing area the young woman and I caught each other's eye and fell about laughing at the poor dazed Lothario thinking he'd stood any chance whatsoever. Sadly she shared her real thoughts on the would be suitor as she shook her head and said "I don't know why I always attract the nutter's!!!"

As chat up lines go its a brilliant example of the Rabbie Burns quote:

" “Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion.” "

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Basket Weave Stitch in Crochet

This is one of my crafting catch ups of the things I've been up to but not blogged about. I'd no idea you could do basket weave stitch with crochet but God bless youtube's wee cotton socks. It had a fabulous tutorial and I had some Wendy Serenity super chunky wool and a 10mm hook so it was not long before a very nice relaxed basket weave was created. This stitch had crocheted up very loosely and I am not sure whether it is due to the actual stitch or the manipulation of how I was working it so it could perhaps have taken a 9mm hook.
This was intended as a dining room chair seat but the inner is so pluffy* it was headed for the sofa. However, as all three sofas are groaning under the volume of cushions, and cushions-to-be, and are becoming all but unusable as they now only have room to accommodate the skinny pussy cat having a doss! I crocheted the back in treble but if I did it again I'd use a closer stich like double or a smaller hook. Luckily my Mother really liked this one and she is now the proud owner of it.
It has been great learning and trying out new crafts and techniques over this last ten months or so but if my knee doesn't start improving properly there is a chance there is not going to be any house room left for the inhabitants.
*Pluffy - one of our house words merging 'plump' and 'fluffy' and relates to something huggably soft. It is also used to try to alliteratively define the bizarre noise my Mother used to make when she fell asleep in her chair while watching tv and her breath burst out from her closed lips in a 'pluff' noise alerting us to the fact she'd dozed off. TMI maybe but you kind of get what you get with me!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Meander to Gourock

I was prepping this post and accidentally pressed publish instead of save!

I was delighted you enjoyed accompanying me to Milngavie and hope you might enjoy another little trip this time to Gourock. I must admit I am enjoying considering how I might present familiar places that I take for granted to you and it is making me think. I went there the Saturday before last and am just getting round to uploading the pics. Not a very interesting one but I could safely take the pic. If you ignore the ambulance you are on the A82 at Great Western Road often called the Boulevard and are looking towards the Kilpatrick Hills.
This time we are going south of the River Clyde. Port Glasgow and Greenock are more urban, industrialised areas with long associations with the heavy industries predominantly shipbuilding. Gourock is more residential and very pretty but all have amazing views up, down and across the Clyde. I was at Cardwell Bay Garden Centre which has a fabulous craft shop which I'd visited the week before and came back for their jewellery making didn't think it was just for the scenery did you....?
The class was great fun and the group were most welcoming so I had a fun hour making my jewellery brooch. I'd really have liked it as a window dangle, but two cats and window dangles don't make a happy human or intact glazing. It needs a little tweaking but is 90% there.

I'd fancied toast before I set off from home but had no bread or desire to start cooking something. There was tons of fruit but I'd been gorging on new season strawberries and blueberries and didn't think it safe to push my luck and find the tipping point that was one piece of fruit more than could be contained! 'Breakfast' was lentil soup after the class in their lovely cafĂ© and obviously a popular option as they were selling it by the gallon. Soup and bread is nectar to me and would be my forever meal. I'm so fond of it that I often recall places by the soup they served and this one was perfect and even better it was hot but not molten lava like some.
The one view I can't share with you was from the Erskine Bridge as I was driving. It is a view that speaks to my soul as when you cross it you are high above the water and the vista is stunning in both directions. It is now free to cross but I used to occasionally pay my 60p just to drink in the amazing view instead of using the nearer Clyde Tunnel. It has been a place of sadness as some have chosen to end their lives from it but it is also the scene of life affirming drama too. Glasgow hospitals are the main centres for the Islands and every year many remote and rural patients arrive by all forms of transport including helicopters which go over and occasionally under if a new little scrap of life needs a flight to come in slow and low to given them the best chance of survival.

Cardwell Bay Garden Centre is massive and I didn't even manage to see everything. I thought it was lovely how the interior and exterior just seemed to blend.
The duck pond
They had a pet area with rescue animals and I was very taken with this lovely little budgie.
 There were guinea pigs
and chickens

 This sign made me laugh as it didn't make it clear who the cockerels had been rescued from and I wondered if it might have been the owner's neighbours who were after their noisy necks!
I've been lusting after a buddleia and when I realised I could get a white peony I just had to have one too. I also picked up a camellia but I'm not sure I'll manage to keep it alive until it is time for it to flower.
I'm still a novice gardener and hadn't quite thought through how I might actually get them home.
 I'm hoping the fact a leaf fell off as soon as I touched it is not a sign of the rest following.
 First time I've had plants as passengers! And yes, I did talk to them as I asked them not to curl up and die on me!
I'm not obsessed by houses but when I go somewhere I always wonder what it might be like to live there. So if a house by Tannoch Loch in Milngavie didn't 'float your boat' how would you fancy one on the Esplanade at Greenock? The house.....
 The view from the house...
This place is a haven for strolling, dog walking and is the site of a ferry terminal where cruise ships come in as it is a deep water site and visiting ships 'born' on the Clyde will often return to visit.
 love the seagull to the left
The weather was very changeable but then what's new here....!

This a sculpture that I only found out about a few weeks ago when I was reading Shortbread and Ginger who is a Greenock based blogger with a cracking line in finding fab charity shop treasures. Her pictures are much better than mine as the Girl with the Suitcase is hidden under a canopy of trees. I took these photos the week before and hoped to get you some brighter ones on my next trip but the light was actually worse.

 Just a pic to show that sometimes the sun shines.
I hope you've enjoyed this meander and I will think of somewhere nice to take you next time.

A Year in Books: How Did this All Happen by John Bishop

I rarely, if ever read biographies or autobiographies. I am not sure why but I think it has something to do with the lack of transparency or truth. If it is an autobiography the author has a vested interest in presenting a particular image,and may under or over emphasise events or aspects of themselves. A work of fiction has no such pretentions of representing the truth yet some autobiographies may be ghost written or have a poor relationship to reality. Biographies are the same in many ways as they are the writer's interpretation of the reality of another complex human being masquerading as factual.

So, after having eloquently explained that I don't like the genre why did I decide to purchase John Bishop's autobiography on audiobook? Truthfully, I've no idea! However, I am so glad I did.

John, I've just followed his life to date so I think we are on first name terms at least, reads his own autobiography. He has quite a distinctive voice and, although it sounds slightly flat in the way it does when you read something you've written, it does bring something special and personal when the reader is the author instead of having an actor added to the mix. I felt the same when Stuart MacBride read his own fiction novel as he brought an emphasis to certain aspects.

I thoroughly enjoyed John's self deprecating and open style and the fact that we are a similar age meant I could identify with many of his childhood references. He has also done a great deal for charity involving working as a teenager in a hospice and doing significant fundraising but he explains these in a very matter of fact way or rationalises them away as something he did for the personal experience and the fundraising was just an aside. He is clearly a pretty smart and gifted chap with a strong moral sense so I got the impression he was rather modest over the significant good he had achieved. He came across as an honest, reflective guy that you'd have no trouble sitting trading stories with as a friend.

That's what made him such a compelling listening experience for me as it made me recall breaks spent in the company of more senior colleagues where I used to work who had a very strong oral history tradition. I worked there for 15yrs and it was a very intense workplace which engendered a strong 'familial' sense of belonging. It was there I picked up two of the nicknames I knew about; 'Ducky' and 'Ms DeKey's' the latter which was bestowed after a deeply unfortunate series of key related events. Our failings, faults and peculiarities were all recounted, often embellished to the exquisite embarrassment of the individual and embedded as part of the history of the place. Though I left 12yrs ago there are new staff there who know of me by my reputation and exploits in the same way I'd known about colleagues who had left long before I took up post. Listening to John Bishop unexpectedly transported me back to those times sitting listening, laughing, recounting and absorbing all the old stories or emergent happenings that would themselves become history gold. I was totally torn between devouring the audiobook and rationing it to eke out my warm memory of times past.

This book has changed my opinion of autobiographies and I think the audio nature of it and the quality of the author as the reader enhanced the experience. Autobiographies are now a genre I will consider instead of dismissing.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Not so Happy Valley

Has anyone been watching Happy Valley on BBC1 and not found themselves quite traumatised by it?

I found the opening ten minutes of the third episode genuinely shocking with the demise of the young female police officer. Not in a narrow mouthed viewer just waiting for a reason to complain way but in an involuntary hand to mouth in horror way. Episodes four and five were of a similar calibre, shocking and compelling. I cannot recall watching a programme which came with a 'sensitive viewer' warning that I took any notice of, but these episodes have depicted the purest badness that exists in some people.

Crime drama's are generally either a tame 60-90mins where you know the baddie will get found out or over the top blood and gorefests trying to score yuk points. Sally Wainwright's writing is often uncompromising small town, character centred drama but the acts of violence in this seem conversely more shocking by their understated nature. Even though you know the situations are going badly I've found quite viscerally horrible and the emotions around the characters painful to watch. It's hard to believe she also wrote Last Tango in Halifax and I feel for any poor soul who has tuned in looking for a gentle drama as they are probably needing counselling now.

It will be a hard series to end powerfully so I am torn between being on tenterhooks waiting for tonight's final episode and wondering if I'm too old to watch it from behind the sofa!

Happy viewing!