The Mountains and Molehills of May

English: A Clear Skye Day Taken from Raasay wh...
English: A Clear Skye Day Taken from Raasay whilst waiting for the return ferry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May has been a month of contrasts in many aspects.

Not least with the weather. The beginning of the month was so cold that we still had the central heating on – and I had to fetch my winter coat back out of the spare room where I’d thought it would be safe to pack it away for a few months. But then last week it was warmer on our island than it was in Minorca and, although a bit cooler now, it is still very pleasant and no jacket is required when out and about.

And here at Write Enough Manor, life in general has been veering from low to high.

Health wise, the low white cell count that’s been making me feel a bit washed out, fell again this month. This was disappointing after it had begun to rally in April. But I must be a patient patient while the count is monitored over six months. My GP is fairly certain that nothing sinister is going on and I have to trust her on that. But I’m afraid since having cancer I’m a pathetic hypochondriac. I do know I’m not imagining the horrible little cystie thing that I have growing on the cornea of my left eye. It’s been developing for a while now and when it became uncomfortable I decided I’d better go bothering the doctor again. And now I await an ophthalmology appointment.

However, the good news is that I’m off the medication I was on for anxiety and I’m flying solo. So far I’m coping well – even at work which is very stressful at times. So the health score this month is – mentally strong, physically – a bit feeble. But I’m fighting back and getting more exercise and eating (even more) healthily. My exercise of choice is walking – daily. I’ve just treated myself to a pair of Shape-Ups, these special fitness trainers that feel a bit like having rockers on the soles of your shoes. I’ll report back on how effective they are. Prepare for a super-fit, lithe and toned grandma…

And in my grandma role – I’m most excited. Our daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter and Oli, the cat, are moving to Skye. I’m just ever so slightly excited! How wonderful it will be to have them so close instead of hundreds of miles away. They’ll be lodging with us to begin with so I’ve been busy having a clear out and making space for them and their stuff. As for the granddaughter – she’s five-and-a-half months now and just gets cuter and cuter.

Our son and his lovely lass will also be here in June for a week’s holiday – so it’s going to be just fab to have the whole clan together.

In other nice sociable news – I’ve been to a housewarming party and to a lovely dinner at a friend’s house this month. And last night was the Bill Bailey show at the village hall. It was superb. What a talented chap. He’s a skilled musician as well as a very funny guy. One song with the phrase ‘when they took the porn away in Stornoway’ nearly brought the house down – you would have to understand the Skye/ Lewis rivalry and the religious/moral ambience of the Western Isles to really get why that was so funny. And it was just great that he had taken the trouble to have some very local references in amongst his gags and stories.

The lovely weather has helped us to focus on our ideas for the garden at our new house. It’s a blank canvas – just as it was when handed over by the builders – and we now have a firm plan for developing it. It will be great to have some trees and bird-friendly planting as well as a proper patio area on which to sit and enjoy it all. I miss having the birds visit so much. At our last place our garden was a real sanctuary for all sorts of wildlife. We even had a hen harrier visit one afternoon. Last weekend I succumbed to buying a couple of interim birdfeeders and already we’ve been adopted by an extended family of sparrows. The fat little fledglings are hilarious, sitting on the fence, beaks agape, while their hardworking parents flit from feeder to their offsprings’ ever open mouths.

And I was just hearing today that the sea eagles are back nesting near our old house and that a whale was spotted in ‘our’ loch at the weekend. There has also been a group of dolphins in the Sound of Raasay this week, close to where we live now.

Moving indoors, I’ve been enjoying two very different drama series on television. I felt bereft when ‘The Bridge’ on BBC4 finished a week ago. It was an incredibly good Swedish/Danish crime series – in the mould of Wallender and ‘Borgen’. Even the subtitles didn’t detract from the sheer quality of the storyline and the acting. And I’m quite taken by ‘Starlings’ on Sky1. This is a warm and gentle, family drama and is also beautifully written and well acted.

My most recent reading has included ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’ by Fiona Robyn, a touching, coming-of-age novel that I’ve reviewed on Amazon and will be critting on her in a couple of weeks. Currently I’m reading ‘Sightlines’ by the mistress of the essay, Kathleen Jamie – wonderful writing as always.

Any ounce of spare energy that I have goes on my writing, of course. The second novel is progressing – slow but steady. And I’ve also completed my regular ‘column’ for the bi-monthly writers’ magazine, ‘Words with Jam’.

A wee P.S. to last week’s post on my motorcycle pillion riding, I have now ordered my own pair of biker gloves and biker boots. This is a start to having my own complete kit. Once I’ve saved a bit more cash, I’ll be getting my own ‘bespoke’ helmet. It’s an expensive hobby, but what the heck.

Right, I think I’ve probably banged on for long enough. So I’ll leave you with best wishes to all for June and happy Jubilee weekend to UK readers of the blog. Have a good one!

 

 

Bill Bailey, Blouses and Blunders

It’s that time of the month – rant and rave week here on the blog – as well as time for my BLOG OF THE MONTH nomination.

I’m going to get the rants off my chest first and then we can end on a happy note.

First off –it’s buying clothes – specifically blouses. Now, me and clothes buying don’t normally get along. I’m very little – only four foot ten and a half in my socks – so trousers, skirts, dresses and coats can be a bit on the long side. But you’d think blouses wouldn’t be problematic and usually they aren’t.

I need some new blouses for work. Nothing fancy – just plain or stripey – cotton – in white or blue – or maybe even pink or green. A three quarter length sleeve is better for my wee short arms, but full length is fine as they can be turned back. Can I find anything remotely fitting the above description? No, I can’t. It’s not size that’s the problem. They just don’t seem to exist. There are plenty sleeveless, or little puff sleeved creations in flimsy, floaty material but no sensible work blouses. Apparently it’s not the season for such garments. Okay – so how come men’s work shirts are available all year round? I rest this case here.

Next up it’s blunders. Firstly, John Lewis – oh dear – they’re normally so reliable. Living relatively remotely, I do a lot of shopping online. And I often buy from John Lewis. Until recently they’d never let me down. So it was disappointing and frustrating when, having ordered a garden table and chairs, the chairs arrived promptly – but no table. I did get a text saying the table was coming and to expect it the next day. And the courier did arrive with a delivery. However, I could tell as the delivery men unloaded an enormous box from the van that it probably wasn’t my small, folding, round table. It was in fact a big, plastic, outdoor Wendy house. It was reloaded and taken back to the warehouse. It took many phone calls, two re-orders and three promised, but non-arriving, deliveries before I finally got my table. I did get a 20% goodwill repayment afterwards, but it’s left me truly hacked off with the company. I had to do all the phoning (at 40p a minute on my mobile – as I can’t make personal landline calls at work) and all the chasing up and spent a lot of time on hold. To rub salt in the wound, whilst on hold, I had to listen to an impossibly cheery wifie burbling on about how to get free next day delivery. Argh!!!

Second blunder – I had to go to hospital recently to have an investigative procedure carried out. The consultant, though competent at carrying out the procedure, was a bit of a numpty. He didn’t introduce himself when he came into the theatre. I wasn’t having anaesthetic, just sedation, so at that point I was wide awake. He dumped my notes on top of me, stood behind me where I couldn’t see him and talked to the nurse. He referred to me as the possible (sinister) diagnosis that the procedure might uncover, rather than by name. And then, after it was all over he didn’t, as I’d been promised he would, discuss what he’d found.  I endured a week of worry waiting to be contacted by letter at the very least. In the end I had to contact my GP and ask her to find out the outcome. She said that she’d received notification the day after the procedure that the tests were clear and that the notification said I’d received this information. So I’m relieved but also annoyed. My GP has since received an apology from the great man to relay to me.

Third blunder – that recent budget – granny tax, pasty pickle, the rich reprieved – no don’t get me started…

So let’s move on to more pleasant rave-worthy stuff. First off it’s the weather. Our island seems to have had the best April weather of the whole UK. Lots of warm sunshine and, most unusually, for here, very little rain. Nature is bursting out all over. There’s a local cuckoo cuckooing – as they do – and I spotted my first two swifts of the season whilst out walking yesterday. Skye is at its stunning best at the moment and it’s still pre-midgie time.

Secondly, I’m delighted to have secured tickets for Bill Bailey’s show at the end of the month. He’s coming to our small and humble community centre – as he did last year. It was so brilliant to have such a famous and talented entertainer come to us. Normally we have to travel to Glasgow or Edinburgh to see such a big name, but he has said how much he likes playing small venues and how he appreciated the welcome he was given last year. So he’s returning. Can’t wait!

AND NOW – BLOG OF THE MONTH AWARD goes to Mr London Street – I’m guessing this is not his real name. I ‘met’ Mr L. S. on Twitter and have followed his blog for a while. He recently took a month’s sabbatical from Twitter in order to concentrate on writing. And he didn’t waste his time. The month’s posts are WONDERFUL. It’s terrific, honest, moving, thought-provoking stuff. Well worth a look. You’ll find his blog here http://mrlondonstreet.blogspot.co.uk/

 

And a wee PS – a shoutout for another Twitter friend, Alison Wells, whose new book, ‘Housewife with a Half-Life’ is available on Kindle from today and as a paperback from June. See blurb below –

A Housewife’s answer to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! In this lively space comedy, Susan Strong and her spaceman guide Fairly Dave dodge entropy hoovers, Geezers with Freezers, the Super Gnome and the Spinner’s cataclysmic converter on a mission to retrieve the lost pieces of the housewife’s disintegrating self across parallel universes. Can they save us all from Universal Devastation?

I got to read a preview of chapter one – it’s brilliant, funny and clever.

Thanks for reading this rather long epistle.

Tioraidh till next time!