Saturday, September 30, 2006

Jumble Sale

Well the Farmers' Market was actually quite good today. I got huge, big yellow and red tomatoes, which I'm going to use in a ratatouille tomorrow along with my remaining peppers and my total crop of two aubergines.

And I discovered that there was a Lib Dem jumble sale on in the Corn Exchange. I love jumble sales, except when they are really packed as I don't have the elbows, nor the padding to fight my way in. This one was quiet as it was almost over. I bought a never, ever used clay casserole, without any instructions, and three books, one a poetry book, which is a mixture of three blokes, including Kingsley Amis (I put Hardy before, the Queen's frock designer, my memory is shot!), and at first glance it appears beyond me, the second was the Heart of Darkness, which is for my son as it's a set text this year, and finally best of all the "The Book of Bunny Suicides", this is cartoons and is brilliant, I've been cacklingly away all afternoon.

Do not however look at the clothes at a Lib Dem jumble, unless you actually want to dress like Shirley Williams. Leave clothes shopping for the Tory party jumble, they have a better class of cast-offs, provided you want a Barbour jacket and wellies.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Jackie Kay has posted the poem by this name here. It makes me cry.

This blog is a rag-bag

Sorry,it's only me and John Prescott that can say this and mean it, I've been looking around and I see lots of themed, slick blogs out there. If you drop in on this one must think, "What a tip!". I suppose it's because I just post things that I'm currently thinking about, and the contents of my head are also fairly disorganised.

Today I took the proof of the book to the printers. They are lovely guys, I've used them for loads of photographic jobs and their work is always excellent and they never, ever make a fuss.

I've also been listening to some great programmes on Radio 4. One was a segment of Woman's Hour on The Diary of an Edwardian Lady - remember all that twee stationery in the 1980s? That was her last revival. Anyway an academic has now repeated her walks and compared the species found then and now, needless to say there is very little left, especially in the flora department. The other programme was on Enid Blyton, this was fun for me as I read the Famous Five under my covers with a torch when I was wee. No it wasn't banned literature in our house, indeed my mother read some right raunchy old tat which gave me a lurid early education, no it was just that I was supposed to go to sleep after lights out. Nowadays I don't know how I stood old Enid, but at least she got me reading, and for that I shall always be grateful.

I really love the radio, you can so many other things while listening, my two favourites are cooking and gardening. I have a Roberts' padded trannie in the kitchen and hell mend you if you retune it to Five Live from BBC Radio 4. I'd really like a DABS trannie for Christmas. I also have an old working Bakerlite Bush radio, which has valves and everything and takes three minutes to heat up. The tone on it is superb, but it only gets long wave and AM. I like to listen to Rumptee tumtee tumteetum on it. It's like the one pictured here, although mine's in a brown finish. I bought it years ago for a few quid.

Tomato Puree

You might imagine that the EU is a fairly benign place to work compared to other parts of the world.

I caught this report on the World Service the other night and it was like reading Grapes of Wrath. Migrant workers exploited, beaten,raped and starved. Some African men lived on the tomatoes from the field for three weeks, and were charged 4E a day for water - deducted from their wages! When they begged to be able to buy some protein/meat they were beaten. These people are being worked 15 hours a day in 40 degrees of heat. Listen to the audio report it's horrific.

I know the UK also has its share of dodgy situations so I'm not casting stones, just wondering where our humanity is going.

You have to wonder how much of the food on our plate comes to us through similar circumstances.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

By popular demand, Non Working Monkey's Lady Garden

Read all about it!

She is very funny.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Photo on Wikepedia

I have some photographs on a site called It's a site that provides free stock pictures for people to use in educational or community type projects. Most of mine are from when I was just getting used to shooting digitally so I'm happy if they are of use to others. I get lovely e-mails from people telling me what they've done with my shots and how useful they have been. I really like this as it feels like I'm doing something helpful and in keeping with the spirit of the Net. I got a nice one recently to say that a shot I took in the Scottish Museum of Flight, of a Rolls Royce jet engine, is now on Wikepedia. Don't know why but that gave me a bit of kick. My grandad would have approved as he was Clyde built engineer.

It's not that stunningly interesting, but you can view it here

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Adventures in Poetry

This is a BBC series just now, unfortunately it doesn't have a listen again facility, but I caught the programe on Edna St Vincent Millay, and really enjoyed it. She was quite woman in the early part of the last century. Here's a link to two of her most famous pieces:

I love the First Fig. The title comes from a book of poems she did based on a scripture text about getting figs from thistles.

She's well worth reading, and there lots of good sites on her out there.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Wigtown Book Festival

A friend gave me a lift down to this. We just had the afternoon. I caught two events, first was a session with Stephanie Calman. I've never heard of her before, but apparently she has a book out called Confessions of a Bad Mother, and was launching another about when we can define ourselves as being truly adult. She also edits a website based on the bad mother idea. I think I'm just passed all this sort of stuff, in fact I don't think I ever felt bonded to other women by virtue of being a mother/parent. I found the whole session a bit middle class and Islington.The audience was the usual reserved, Scottish type one, so I didn't learn very much about what they thought either.

The thing I went for was to see Jackie Kay the poet launch the 2nd Wigtown Poetry competition. She's going to judge the entries written in English. She did a brilliant reading, including a poem about Julia Darling, another poet I love. They were friends and the poem speaks about holding Julia's hand at her bedside in the last days of her life, and singing her the Mingalay Boat song, which include the words "hail ya ho boys, let her go boys...." It was a brilliant afternoon in the local distillery hall. She can move you from laughter to tears in seconds. I took this picture, the grey head is Jackie's Mum

Friday, September 22, 2006

shots from the woods

shots from the woods
Originally uploaded by gapyearwoman.

Some fungi, inkcap is one I know, plus some leaves and bits and pieces.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Do you ever wish you'd never started something?

I'm working on the launch of Peeling Onions, the wee pamphlet book that I've listed under cancerchronicles in the sidebar.

Friends from the Writers' Group are helping me do a series of readings on health including an excerpt from the poem. Karen Little the med student blogger listed on the nhsdoc's blog, see also sidebar, has allowed me to use a funny piece of hers, and we have poetry, proses, sketches and a few jokes.

We did a read through on Friday last and have another rehearsal on Monday coming. I've been busy rewriting some of the links, and reordering some of the pieces.
I've posted a piece I've written about being in hossie after the mastectomy here. If you get the chance to read it I'd welcome your comments, especially if it helps me polish it a bit.

We've almost sold out the tickets, got about 4 spare I think. We hope to raise a bit for cancer research. I'll just be glad when it's all over.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Binning Wood

Binning Wood
Originally uploaded by gapyearwoman.

Monday, September 18, 2006


The walk in the woods yesterday was just amazing. I've never seen so many different kinds of mushroom and toadstool, and I've walked there for years. It must be a combination of the hot dry summer and then the downpours of the last week.

There was everything from the classic red and white fairy story ones to tiny lurid purple sticky ones. One patch looked like a miniature metropolis. I'm sure I saw at least one cep/bolete, as they have very thick club like stems, but I wasn't confident enough to risk it. I think it's sad that we've lost our knowledge of hunter-gatherer foods. I wonder if it was the Industrial Revolution and the Clearance that caused it. Other countries, especially France and Italy still seem to be able to identify and pick wild herbs and fungi. Although I understand the pharmacy identification of fungi in France is not all it's cracked up to be.

Wish I'd taken the camera, but it's useless trying to lug a tripod while walking two dizzy dogs.

I looked up the odd ones that I saw at the beach and they're called earth starsand there's a picture listed here.

I bought myself some Spring bulbs yesterday, decided if the boys could go to the footie I deserved a treat too. They are deep purple almost black parrot tulips. I have this thing about black plants just now. I like they way the suck in the light, and they provide great contrast. I'll plant them today.

GPS is home today, Sept holiday here, but he'll probably golf once Maths homework is out of the way. Hibs won yesterday against Rangers so he's in good humour.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rescue Service

Found a big toad swimming in the old water butt up by the greenhouse. Last time I fished him out, as the sides are sheer and he must have been stuck. But this time I just wedged a piece of wood in under the lip of the butt and gave him a gangway to walk up. I think he must be eating all the larvae in the water, which is helpful.

Yesterday on the path to the beach I spotted a tiny, tiny toad scurrying for the verge. This seems to have been a good summer for them. I also saw some really strange star shape fungi, must look them up. I tried again without success to get on the Valvona and Crolla mushroom hunt. They are a famous Edinburgh deli, and I always remember about the hunt too late in the year.

I have masses of thin skinned peppers and there are still loads of tiny plum tomatoes, so I think I'll roast them off in the oven today with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Loads of windfall plums, the air around them now has an alcoholic scent and late butterflies are feeding on them. They must get stoned!! A friend is making wine from her plums. I'll just freeze some more of mine mine, and maybe make some jam, I have a good, almost mincemeat type, recipe from PA in USA which is great at Christmas.

I'm working hard on keeping busy. I'm missing N, when this mood strikes either of us we go for long walks along the coast and talk it out. Bet she's on the beach grilling sardines. Being Basque eating fish is her favourite thing. In Bilbao she got me to eat some squid cooked in their own ink. Once up in the Highlands she cooked sardines outside in the garden while fighting off clouds of midges and drizzle.

Well at least I've got Basha here. We're off to the woods for walk. Then Tescos beckons, blech!! My men are off to watch Hibs v Rangers.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Wet Weekend

Pretty damp and horrible here. I tidied up a bit in the garden, ditched the courgettes as they're all but over, and cut my one pumpkin of the stalk and put it up high to ripen a bit more. Still got tons of plums, must stone and freeze some more.

Taking the dogs off to Seacliffe, my favourite beach, it has Tantallon castle on the cliffs, the Bass Rock off shore, and the most amazing wee harbour cut out of a huge chunk of red sandstone. I like it at the back end of the year when no-one is around.

I heard all the fuss on the news about the Armed Forces unoffical website, so I took a look at it here.
What struck me was how well organised it is, and the sponsorship that they've got.

It's almost a hundred years since WW1, I wonder what the War Poets like Sassoon and Owen would have made of this. I'm not sure which is worse, not knowing what a loved one is going through, or having minute by minute updates on how awful it is and how badly equipped they are.

I like their acronymn, it's "arrse", no accident I'm sure. Funny how these things are out there and yet you never think of looking for them until they're drawn to your attention.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dogger Bank

I was reading another blog and it occurred to me that I'd like a pod cast of the Shipping Forecast. It's about the only thing that gets me off to sleep at night. It's so comforting and mantra like. And I love that a guy wrote a book about all the places, and that he actually went out and photographed bits of sea to do it, and of course there's Rockall, which is my favourite place name. I've put a map here, cos it is brilliant to see where all these wonderful places sit on the map. I hear George Michael's favourite one is Dogger Bank!
I wrote a mad poem once about trying to sleep while simultaneously listening to it and my i-pod.

Poets' School was fun, no-one laughed at my poem, which was written about the journey a friend makes every working day, driving an ambulance from Skye to the main hospital in Inverness with the walking wounded. It's about weather, and the road and the people. I got some good suggestions on possible revisions. One woman was doing a "concrete poem" based on a raised beach on Jura, she'd shaped the words of the poem on the computer to match the stones on beach. There was a real mix of ages too, which was good. I think I'll go back.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Grrr Technology

My printer is out of coloured ink, so it won't let me print anything, even text in B&W. How do they get away with pulling stunts like this? It's like saying you can't have a haircut unless you get coloured highlights. And if you buy a non-standard cartridge it huffs and puffs everytime you use it, reminding you that it's not one of theirs and la, la ,la ,la I'm not paying attention to you any more.

Things like this bring out the Basil Fawltey in me, I just want to thrash it within an inch of its life.

Printing off all the stuff for the night of chapbook launch. Writers' Group women are coming round on Friday and we're having a read through of it all to see how it sounds and gauge the overall flavour etc. Posters went up on Saturday, I just hope we sell all the tickets. I'll be so glad when it's over as I really hate face to face public things.

Tonight I'm going to the Poets School at the Poetry Library in the city. Not sure what it will be like, but I'd really like some structure in my attempts to write.
I think I have a good ear for what I like in poetry, but find it hard to stand back from my own things. This class only meets once a month, but I hope it will be helpful.

Husband bought Paulo Nutini's album, These Streets. He's a 19 year old from Paisley, Scotland who has already appeared at the Carnagie Hall NY. His voice is wonderful and the album is very good, I love Autumn, it is written about his grandfather, it's simply beautiful. He still has a myspace page, check it out at:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

garden goodies

garden goodies
Originally uploaded by gapyearwoman.

Things i picked today

GPS's in the dog house

Son played golf yesterday am, then soccer pm. After the soccer he went to the pub with the older lads. They must have bought him a pint or two as he had the massive sum of £3 about his person. He arrived home at 8pm and wolfed a dinner of spag bog. Then disappeared to his room. He must have felt worse for wear and gone out into the garden, as when my husband put the dog out last thing there was a rather unpleasant visting card. I was furious and got GPS up out of his pit to clear up the mess.
I know we all have to learn about drink, and my husband and I have known each other since we were 18 and 19 so we both know what eegits we were at this age, but I firmly believe parents aren't here to be your mates, and being outside in the gloaming with a hose is a lesson he won't forget in while.

We got an apology this morning. The little sod looks no worse for wear, at that age it doesn't seem to take long to shake it off. So we're into another phase of parenting, not sure which worst the terrible twos or the stroppy teens.

I worked in the garden, my astrantia elimination project is almost finished. During the Bank Holiday weekend I discover Peter Beales, the rose growers were giving 25% off bare rooted roses, so I ordered some Bourbon ones for the garden, as I now have the space. They'll come bare rooted in the winter. I chose Mme Isaac Pereire,and Variegata di Bologna and another that I can't remember. Roses are doing really well here now with our drier summers. We used to get really wet Junes that ruined the buds, but the last two summers have been fantastic for roses. I can't wait for next year to see them flower. When I finished digging I ate plums saright of the tree that were warm from the sunshine, I probably risk avian flu, but it was worth it. Figs are also amazing, I've had loads of friends round begiing a few. The blackbird has had his share too, if I approach the tree he flutters out sounding really huffy about sharing them.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Got my new specs

I really like them, they're a bit like these ones on Jenny Eclair , and that's probably where the similarity ends!

I promise not to leave them lying around face down, or to chew the ends in moments of frustration. I should have got a cord thingy to go round my neck as I don't need them for reading, so I'll still have the on/off Morcambe and Wise routine going on.

Beautiful day here. Said cheerio to N, I'll miss her while she's away. My men were golfing, and are now at the footie. I'm going to shoot some pix in the garden. My grapes are ripening, and stock pix of them always sell well. I walked the dog in Holyrood Park, after I'd picked up my specs. Fantastic early autumn views down to St Mary's Loch and the Scottish Parliament.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Blair Bitch Project

I'm so, so, so sick of it. I don't care who leads the Labour Party I will never vote for them again. But it's a good sign that I feel connected enough with the world again to be annoyed about it. The whole thing is about the ambitions of two men, and nothing else.

N goes off the some fab wee island in the Med on Sunday. Her family does a house swap around the Edinburgh Festival time with a Spanish politician and their part of the deal is getting the use of a house on some secluded wee island off Ibiza. Quite a good deal I think as you can get really cheap flights to Ibiza and then cross by ferry. Hard to believe that in March she was in agony with the tumour. Some late summer sunshine should set her up for a Scottish winter.

My hospital appointment is looming. I call it "my feel up", which is all it amounts to, plus a mammo on the good side. Unless I raise any aches or pains, which I'm not likely to as I like getting it over and done with as quickly as possible. Although last time they muttered something about bone density tests as the cancer drug I'm on thins your bones prematurely - oh joy!

So my garden watering duties are over, M. is back, but I'll be dog sitting for three weeks for N. I like having Basha as it's nice to have another girl in the house. Although 3 stone of dog at the back of your knees takes some getting used to. My dog sleeps in his own basket, but I can't re-educate B in three weeks. Also better get some piano practice done as I've been neglecting it with M was gone, and she always knows...

I've got an order for a big format version of my leek triptych for someone's new kitchen. Just need to get it to the printers on CD.

Better go, meeting Debs, my fantasy writer friend today.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tomorrow never comes

Writing this tonight as tomorrow I want to crack on with a few projects, and I don't want to have the excuse of writing a blog entry to keep me from getting started.

I vegged out in front of the TV tonight. BTW Andy Murray I won't mention you again until you win something as I seem to be the kiss of death to your fortunes.

Yay Scotland winning 2-1 in Lithuania, and it was all the better as the boys did it in front of that eegit who owns Hearts, yes I'm a closet Hibee.

I mostly channel hopped,which is rare for me as I usually have to wrestle to do-da (our family name for the zapper/remote)away from one of my men before I get to chose, but they were both out tonight. I like that new Rick Stein series where he's on a narrow boat in France. Food looks fab, I'd like to cook a cassoulet (splg?), but sadly I don't think Tescos does Toulouse sausages or confit of duck.

Other than that I wish they'd roll all these reality TV things up into one programme, where lardy, badly dressed people live in a filthy home and contemplate building a new even bigger designer filthy hole, but first they need to lose ten stone, swap the wife, discipline the kids, dress better, clean up the old gaff and get rid of all their existing crap. They could call it "Steamed Genes"

Here's an American blog that monitors all the reality shows over there.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What about this post interests you ?

It's pouring again, any effects of the summer drought must have been made up in the last 48 hours. I missed the rain, but now it's back I've had enough - contrary as ever that's me. But it's saving me watering M's garden, my piano teacher who is off touring Germany. It's been a labour of love as she has loads of things that need watering, pumpkins,beans,courgettes,tomatoes, and I usually end up filling up about 12 watering cans - I wish she'd get a hose! But I'll only have her wee greenhouse today, yipee!

Husband is interviewing people for a post in his outfit today. He doesn't have to do this very often, so I've been helping him frame his questions to comply with all the experiential interviewing technique tosh. I used to have to interview or "board" as we called in the Civil Service until my eyes bled. You scored them as soon as they left, but you still had to write notes about what they were wearing so you could remember them at the end of the day.

Funniest interview was years ago when a colleague, unable to get anything from a candidate, noticed she ran a Brownie pack out in one of the villages, in desperation he asked her to tell him something about the difference between running such a group in a village as opposed to a large city, like Edinburgh. Her answer was, "Well I suppose it's would be hard to have a Sausages Sizzle up a close!"

I almost lost it at that point. I remember another guy who wouldn't make eye contact or speak, but proceeded to take out his tobacco tin and skins and roll himself a fag, which he then light. That might have worked if he'd been auditioning for Blue Peter!

I better go and do something useful

Monday, September 04, 2006

Go Andy Murray

For once I'm glad we have Sky as I can follow Murray's progress in NY. Last night he was absolutely fantastic in a five set thriller against the No 10 seed. What a difference from Wimbledon. He's stepped up on to a whole new level. Brad Gilbert really seems to be helping him to bring out his best. Even when Gonzalez lost it he didn't get sucked in.

This is Andy's website

Photography exhibition went well. I didn't stay at the show all weekend, but the organisers said there was a steady stream of people looking at my stuff, as well as all the floral exhibits. I left contact details and I've received a few nice e-mails about my work, including a request for prints and an invite to join a camera club.

Now I'm working on the arrangements to launch my chapbook. I just hope this evening is going to work out.

I've added a link the blog of poet Colin Will. He has some good stories to tell about the Edinburgh Festival. I mentioned Colin's latest book recently. He also works really hard to promote writing in this area.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Well eyes are fine!

Well the short sightedness is worse, especially left eye, but both peepers are healthy, just crap at seeing lol!

I've ordered new frames, they are quite funky and black, which looks good with my steely white hair. They're like thingy Eclair the comic's specs. I had to get kids' frames as I have such a wee face. I'm getting my hair cut tomorrow so I'll be a new woman by next week.

Stomach is still not good, but there's a bug going around so maybe I've got it.
Prints arrived from the printer yesterday and I'm going down to hang them tonight.
Nothing fancy, using the hall's photographic display boards. I'm pleased with about 95% of them. Print inks never quite match screen colours, but I put them all through a colour gamut check before I had them printed, so magentas etc look pretty good, no spotting etc.

I'm working on my poetry chapbook launch. My writers' group is helping me put on a wee event called "First Aid Kit for the Soul", we're going to be reading published and unpublished material, having a supper and hopefully raising a few quid for Cancer Research.

I've got the job of selecting the readings and writing all the links.
I'm enjoying the research though, the Scottish Poetry Library have been very helpful, and I hope to include some poems by Julia Darling, I bought one of her First Aid Kits for the Mind, our title borrows from that amazing box of tricks, and I have lots of other books,including Tony Harrison, Jackie Kay, Raymond Carver and some other daft things, including a funny piece from medical student blogger Karen Little, whose given me permission to use an article of hers.

I hope it works out.