Sunday, October 28, 2007


My writers' group is putting on a Halloween event next week along with friends from a similar group in Dalkeith.

I'm the opening act with my audition piece for being accepted as a fully fledged grumpy old woman.

I've posted it here . Hopefully it will give some of you a laugh.

Something else struck me today. Why are Tescos charging 47p for washed and bagged ordinary carrots, 67p for washed and bagged organic carrots and 97p for unwashed carrots in a brown paper bag?????????????

Sometimes economics defeats me ;)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Weekend trip

A few shots of my weekend. One shows Barbara in the long border we cut back and then planted with tulips. The flowers went up to the castle for the floral displays.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Feels like forever

So much has happened.

I had a good time at the weekend. B and I had a good laugh and we worked hard. Prepared plants for sale on Friday and then created Spring interest in a big, long border by planting hundreds of tulips in a timeline of their discovery/development - wee species ones first, then lily type ones, etc etc.

The weather was gorgeous and I'll post a picture or two when I get time.

But I got a speeding ticket on the way home. My first ever, so that's not too bad given I've been driving for 25 years or more.

My MIL was here when I got back. I find the situation with her very sad. She's very afraid of where the dementia is going. I tried to tell her that I've found worrying about what might happen only buggers up hpw we are today, and as today is about the best that any of us can hope to feel that's a bit of a waste, but this type of understanding can only be arrived at under your own steam. She sits and smiles enigmatically for hours - says she sees men and dogs in the the flames of the fire.

"Feel up" went OK, I have scar tissue building up under my arm, which accounts for the discomfort I get there according to the doc. Mammo was scary as they repeated the films, but reassured me, after I challenged them, that the woman before me had implants and they'd forgotten to reset the machine so my film was all blown.

I'll catch up with everyone soon. Thanks for your good wishes.

I wrote this today when I got home, it explains things a little better I hope.


I’m early - I’d be early for my own execution.
Killing time I choose three secondhand
poetry books to rehome from Shelter’s shelves,
then wander off to wait my turn.
In the corridor I’m forced to step back
to allow a trolley to pass and my eyes smart
as a bald, foetal ball of a woman gets eaten by the lift.
Surrendering my appointment card I take a seat
in a familiar room full of silent women.
Eyes look past eyes until I remember the books.
I’m laughing at Wendy Cope when my name’s called.

The rest was just routine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I'm away up north for a few days now to help out the castle garden's bare rooted plant sale. I'm deserting hearth and home - well husband and dog really.

When I come back my MIL will be here for a few days, then it's the dreaded check up at the hospital, or the "feel -up" as I call it, so I doubt I'll get much time to blog for a week or so.

So see you in a bit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Smooth or Hairy

I heard an interesting discussion about body hair removal based on research done by a Dutch academic.

She reckons we are removing more and more body hair because we are developing a deep-seated desire to remain as child-like as possible, or maybe even a yen to be smooth and machine like.

She also said that older women remove less hair, some only bothering to do it in the summer months, when legs etc are on display.

So I thought I do a wee straw poll on the subject.

Monday, October 15, 2007


This is a photograph I took last year of a beautiful Japanese Acer.

I worked in the garden yesterday and I'm feeling it today. So much to tidy up, globe thistles that have gone over, twisted hazel sprouting all kinds of straight "reverted" stems, astrantia that needed cutting before it self-seeds everywhere,and pots of tender things to go back into the greenhouse. Plus I did a little digging, I've taken out masses of day lilies that were over-running part of the long south=facing border. Only trouble with this was I had sciatica all night, as I forgot to use my left foot on the fork, instead of my dodgy right one.

I also had to put off going up north until this weekend as the cottage we use was taken by paying guests. In a way I'm glad as I really didn't feel I had enough energy to get organised for the trip.

I'm not sure if it's the diminishing light, or a hospital check-up and "pink month" hanging over me, but I do feel distinctly knackered at the moment. So here's hoping for more a little energy.

Anyway I'd better get a shift on, as I have a meeting at 4pm re the "big garden" on some autumn work we need to commission and lots to do before then. Thai coconut soup for dinner I think, I love the taste of lemon grass and ginger, and this gray day needs a lift.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Home Grown

Draft poem

Home Grown

Those Tuscan types were lean and mean.
Trained at altitude their broody clusters
hung below the vines with attitude.

So slick and sleek - the Jets and Sharks
of viticulture - but destined for a gory end.
For when next they feel warmth they’ll hint

of summer berries, spices, smokey
tannins - possess a gorgeous finish.
But you, my blousy dears - raised under

glazed northern light - you will not age.
No, the sweet, sanguine juice that you
ooze will be pressed and quaffed today.

(picture worked up Photoshop from one of my Tuscany photos)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Seachd: The inaccessible pinnacle

This is the film I went to see last night. It is a wonderful, spellbinding piece of work.
It is actually based on Skye,not the Outer Hebrides as I had heard, and the photography gives a really truthful depiction of that island, the mist and low clouds, it's not all chocolate box Local Hero type shots here. And the various stories that the grandfather tells his three orphaned grandchildren are mysterious and at times very funny.

The offical site is here - where you can read better crits than mine. But I enjoyed it a lot - it felt more like European cinema than any British film I've seen of late.

I think Sam would love it, her stories are as rich as these.

This is the soundtrack:

+ your site | + in Gaelic

Follow a WW1 soldier fate in real time

The grandson of an English WW1 soldier is posting his grandfather's letters home exactly 90 years after they were sent on a blog. So you can read them almost in real time as even the days that the dates fall on are exactly as they were 90 years ago.

See here

To find out his grandfather Harry's fate, follow the blog!

Monday, October 08, 2007


I'm feeling like the white rabbit in Alice, "I'm late, I'm late for a very important date."

Except I'm not, I'm just crowded with too many things, too many projects and too little time to do them in. And I'm bad because I'm gravitating to the ones that I fancy, the ones that engage my imagination and not the drudge of editing pix and burning CDs and posting away submissions.

Tonight I'm going to see a sub-titled Gaelic film, the name of which also escapes me, but it's about a boy is orphaned and goes to live with his grandfather in the Outer Hebrides.

Tomorrow I'm at Poetry School and trying to finish something for there.

Wednesday I'm doing something that I can't even remember right now.

And Thursday I go north to Craigievar, my favourite castle, to work in the garden for the weekend, with my lovely friend Barbara from Skye.(This is a snap of a beautiful acer taken there this time last year. The wind is blowing it around.)

But before all of that I have a huge bag of crab apples from the fantastic Save the Children fair at the weekend that I want to make into beautiful, translucent pink crab apple jelly, and a house and a dog that both need some attention.

And I need to get my son's glasses to him, he left them here last night and I don't want him wearing his contacts too much. Seems he leaves/looses something every week, there must be something in that I feel.

Sorry this is just a stream of consciousness.

I have too many ideas going on in my head, none of which I want to give up on. I thought I would have time to do things, but I now realise that I am actually the problem. Give me an empty anything and I'll fill it. Be it cupboard, pot,camera disk,garden,washing machine,notebook........

I need my head feng shuied, need some tiny minimalist designer to enter my brain cells and clear out all the kitsch, all the rubbish.

Yours in self-oppression


PS Well done Alex Salmond on coining the expression "The Feartie From Fife". Juvenile, but also very apt. Poor Gordon, he really is into self-harm in a big way.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A sunny song for a sunny day

Your song, by Kate Walsh

Not just words

I went to see this book launched at the Wigtown Book Festival. I've written about the book before here

It is a compilation of poems and words from the staff and patients at the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.

A man called Alex Berry read this poem yesterday. He is a volunteer at the hospital, and has volunteered for over 70 years in one capacity or another. He told me at the end of the event that his son is a doctor doing important cancer research in the States. He is a pure soul and no mistake.

The final parting

I'd love to make love again,
gently,tenderly,the way we used to do.
To see my reflection in your warm loving eyes,
your lashes like moist, soft petals. Your lips
like warm marshmallows,your deep
throaty giggles,your velvet
hair gleaming,rippling.

Let's pretend as you lean over my bed,
lie together for the last time.

It was a really good event that should have had wider coverage. Judi Benson read very well too and spoke movingly and powerfully about the ability of words to empower and restore people who find themselves dealing with extraordinary life events.

There was also a discussion on what future a project such as this has, like so many good ideas it relies on committed people to fight for it and to keep making it happen.

I think we should all look more closely at how to plug the arts right into mainline health care, far beyond the limited use of music therapy services in mental health care.

As someone said yesterday, "if your hands need physiotherapy why not prescribe pottery?"

It was a tiring day, a three hour drive each way, but well worth the effort and a day I won't forget in a hurry.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Here's a wee list of what I liked about Tuscany/Italy. Although I couldn't swap these big blue skies for there, something about hills and walled towns and narrow streets makes me feel hemmed in. I couldn't believe how open the sky felt here when I got back home. The pix in this grid are just quick JPEG snaps, it's too much hassle to try and do fancy stuff in crowded spots.

I liked:

where we stayed, it was very peaceful valley and I got up at sunrise most days and watched the light paint the vines and the olive groves.

(Also saw deer with fawns in tow and a solitary fox. I explored the woods and saw wild cyclamen growing under the trees and there were lots of scattered walnut trees,and pomegranates and even what I took yo be a wild pear, which had tiny little bullet sized fruit on it.)

Sienna, the cathedral is layered black and white marble and the floors are inlaid with the same materials, the origin of the word "graffiti" comes from black marble inlaid in white.

the road repair men's "portaloos" ( bit like thse ghastly wheelie bin covers you get here that make the bin look like it's covered in plastic ivy) which had great Italian artists' paintings covering them, one was covered in the Mona Lisa, my husband said that's for when you do an enigmatic shite!

the wee pizza place where they gave us kitchen scissors with great solemnity and we realised it was to cut our pizzas into slices.

the Amarretto liqueur, especially on great ice cream.

dining on a terrace up in the hills and watching the sunset behind Pienza.

the geology, the ground is full of fossil shells,as the seabed was forced up millions of years ago to form the Tuscan hills. The area is the origin of the formal study of geology. Ovid wrote about it pre Christ:

Ovid 43 BC – AD17

From “Metamorphoses”

“Vidi ego, quod fuerat quondam solidissima tellus,
esse fretum, vidi factas ex aequore terras, et procul a
pelago conchae iacuere marinae, et vetus inventa est in
montibus ancora summis.”

(“I have myself seen what was once most solid ground
disappear into the sea, and have heard of land risen out of
the sea; marine shells lay far from the sea, and an ancient
anchor rested on top of a mountain.”)