Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scotland again: slack blogging

I think I need a holiday again.

My blogging time is getting very compressed. What with all sorts of changes at work, I'm very busy, so when I get home, I'm really loving chilling out with Peaches.

Her speech is coming on fast now. 60 words plus last week and rising to 80+ now. For the first time today she chased to the childminder's door shouting, 'Mummy, Mummy'. I think this means she's loving spending time with me too. Occasionally I graduate to 'Mymummy'. Recaro is invariably, 'Mydaddy'. Which he loves.

Although I can't have another holiday, I can at least enjoy the photos again.

Moments later, Peaches weed on this green. It might be easier to tell you which greens Peaches hasn't weed on...
While she was asleep, we had a tasty pub lunch and listened to some really annoying harp music. Even the dogs didn't like it.
There was a sequoia tree in the hotel garden with a very squishy trunk. I wanted to show the scale of the tree, but Peaches had other ideas.
And bedtimes were mostly very straightforward. Moomin books are lovely. Not too boring for an adult to read again and again and interesting, atmospheric pictures to look at.
Most days, we refreshed our memory of geography O' levels. Here's the finest picture of basket of eggs topography you'll see this year.

I'm going to have to rethink my blogging time if I'm to get back on track. Peaches bedtime is now going to bed at 8pm as a strategy to stop her waking before 6pm, so I can't blog before Recaro gets home. The new bedtime is a lot of fun... but the mornings are still too bright and early...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy birthday Brother

Between holidays and preparations for Peaches' birthday party, things have been busy here. To add to any lurking sense of anxiety, my boss is no longer my boss. She's gone. Resigned and left the building. I blame it on a personality clash with senior management and feel bereft by her departure.

Not many people can be creative, energetic, compassionate, inspiring, demanding and on the ball whilst retaining a genuine and easy sense of humour.

Despite home/work life commitments, I still have no excuse for failing to recognise by brother's 40th birthday. He lives in Melbourne having emigrated about three years ago with his wife and twin sons.

I WILL eventually put the card and present (sitting on the shelf in the office downstairs) in the post to him. He might even like the present and I hope he'll forgive me for being a slack-sister. I have a pretty poor track record of birthdays. Recaro keeps track of them and has to remind me to send cards to my parents...

Since he's a sometime reader of this blog (my mum and dad aren't. Somethings can just stay between me and everyone else in the world. Alright.) I'm going to tell a story that I think he'll enjoy and may not have heard before.

In the midst of a discussion about how beautiful Peaches is, my Dad (my brother's Dad too, we're a bit dull like that) he agreed that parents are biologically programmed to see their first born children as gorgeous.

Quite what this meant about me as second child, I didn't choose to dwell on. It's at moments like that, that I realise there are some answers I don't want to risk hearing, particularly since it would have involved what an odd nose I had at birth and for nine days after. Pesky birth canal didn't treat me too kindly apparently.

As I joked to my Dad about some crazy people not complementing me on how lovely Peaches is, he told me that when my brother was a babe-in-arms he and Mum entered his photo into a local newspaper's Beautiful Baby competition.

It came as some surprise to them both a few week's later, that Bro had not been named as the winner.

Needless to say, they were astonished by this fact.

Just as I was about to chip in with my usual sisterly-jibes about how that really wasn't so surprising, I had blinding flash of understanding.

Dad still couldn't understand why Bro hadn't won. He HAD been the most beautiful baby in my Dad's eyes and time had never dulled his belief.

Happy birthday, Brother. So glad to see you had an excellent surprise party thrown in your honour.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Colonsay and Torridon: part 1

I'm behind on blogging. There's not enough time to comment like I want to. Recaro is away at a conference for two nights though, so I stand a good chance of catching up, watching some romcom movies and eating really badly.

It's a good job Peaches sleeps well. I could enjoy this.

As promised, here are photos from our holiday to the Island of Colonsay and Torridon in Scotland. I'll skip the photos of the aircraft. If it was a seaplane I'd consider it interesting, but an Airbus 3something doesn't do it for me like it does for Recaro (who takes a photo of the plane EVERY time we go on holiday).

Instead I give you the important photos.

...of Peaches sleeping in a big bed for the first time. We visited friends living near Inverness on our first night and Peaches had to sleep in their 16 year old daughter's bed. She was so tired that she only got out of bed three times before giving in and going to sleep. After a bounce about on the trampoline she put herself back to bed for a morning nap at 10.30am.

Of course, it wasn't all good news. She did wet the bed. Oops. Accidents will happen.

Then Peaches had a massive bump on the head in a shop at Aviemore. She wailed and the bump came up like an egg. Even after the first half an hour her astonishing baby powers of recovery were kicking in. By the time we were on the ferry, it was mostly hidden under her fringe. So long as I didn't take her magic packet of English mustard off her (see, that's not a condom she's holding, k) everything was rosy.

We got to play a bit of golf on a mad golf course. No sheep were harmed during our game. If you are wondering why Peaches doesn't have any trousers on, that's because she wet herself a moment ago. If you'd seen the amount of sheep poo on this course, you'd understand why I was not perturbed by this mishap. Despite a couple of accidents during the week, I still thought she did really well.
Recaro got plenty of time to look up at the birds. Which meant that I decided to take up a new hobby. Identifying mushrooms. Sad isn't it? I had to keep an eye on Peaches so much, I didn't get to look up at the sky too much. So I really did go and buy a book about mushrooms.

Oh yes. One day I will treat you to the delights of my mushroom photo collection. You'll thank me, won't you?
And here's ME. With my eyes shut, because that's usually how Recaro photographs me these days. This is at a picnic site on the road to Diabaig. Sunny Scotland. Don't let anyone tell you it rains all the time.

That's enough for the moment. I get photo-fatigue when uploading to Blogger. More soon, but I've got a romcom to watch and a sneaky beer to drink. Look on it as my bad-girl break from my wifey lifey.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Loony Tuesday - a strangely lush DIY tip

Recaro is concerned that I use him as punchline (or is it punchbag) on this blog. I'm not sure that's true. Hopefully you have identified his strengths as a considerate husband, a fun dad and a very great guy to spend time with.

He's mostly concerned these days that when I blog I don't talk to him. And then when I do talk to him, it's to explain that I've blogged about something daft that he's said or done.

To reinforce your view of him (and here's the clever bit, this is going to work whether you think he's a bit loony or brilliantly helpful) here's a handy tip that he did want to pass on to anyone who struggles with DIY. It's a little ditty to help you recall which way screwdrivers work and he assures me that this is very helpful when upside down and dealing with awkward screws and taps.

'Lefty Lucy, righty tighty'.

This could be handy with small children who haven't worked out when to stop unscrewing taps... though they would have to know their left from right. What do you think, is this a rhyme that would work for you?

It only remains to give you an update on the lost camera situation. My bonkers email to the good people of Daibaig for my (not lost after all) camera was very well received. Before I could send an email telling them the hunt was off, they'd been on the phone to tell me they'd had a good look around and couldn't spot it anywhere.

What mighty fine and friendly folk they are. In case anyone wants to check out their house and maybe even go stay, here's the link to Tigh Brachen at Diabaig.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Panic over!

Recaro found the camera. Do you see how I'm blaming him? Well it was in one of his bags which he had emptied so enthusiastically across the office that I thought he really had searched it thoroughly.

Isn't that always the way. Just as the cavalry arrives, the battles over.

Alex from Gairloch is a fabulous person for offering the telephone box number. I'll have to tuck that number away for future reference. You never know when it might come in handy.

To celebrate, here's a couple of photos I hadn't wanted to lose.

Such a pretty gal, in a pretty dress, wearing a bolero knitted for her by the talented Lindiloo.
All dressed up for high tea (sausages, beans and mash) at The Loch Torridon Hotel. Just an informal kiddie tea...

More glorious Scottish photos will follow soon.

I don't want to learn something new EVERY day

If I could just roll on through life knowing enough, I think that would be fine. For a start, it would mean not having to learn not to let Recaro use my camera. Then he wouldn't have lost somewhere in Diabaig, Wester Ross, Scotland, a very long way from home down south in Whitstable, Kent.

Some of those photos were so lovely - and were such great blogging fodder - that I think I'm going to worry over the loss for some time to come. Since I'm not shy (on email, at least), I've emailed a random holiday home owner in Diabaig to see if they can look in the phone box or on the harbour wall outside their house and spot the camera.

Do you think they will? I think I would if someone emailed me, but then again, my email might strike them as bonkers.

In the meantime, I have just six photos of the holiday taken with a different camera - a better one, but so big that it's inconvenient. It's just not 'snappy' enough. However, at least one of these is of Recaro wearing a silly hat, so you can look forward to seeing that on Photostory Friday one day VERY soon.

Ho hum. Better get on with that pesky thing called paid work, some of the mountainous post-holiday washing, shopping to fill our very bare cupboards and collecting the cat from the cattery.

Madame Queen asked a post or two ago if she could swop her life for mine - just for a week. Recaro's condition is that she can, so long as she is fit (since I am not fit, it 's a bit mean of him to insist on this qualification...). I'll be happy to swop too - but no, not for holiday week. I'm talking about the week AFTER holiday. That'd be good.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Last day of the holiday

We left Colonsay amidst all kinds of doubts about whether the ferry would make it in - and out - of the harbour. While we would have been happy to stay, a number of day trippers had been stranded by the bad weather and were wigging out at the unplanned stopover. Frankly, there are worse places to be stranded.

The ferry route had been rejigged to accommodate the various stranded travellers so our two hour trip back to Oban turned into a four hour epic journey.

Lucky for us the seas weren't too rocky and Peaches travels well. We got a two hour sleep out of her, but in the two hours she was awake... Basically, I lost count of the number of times she wanted to go to the toilet. First she's fascinated by the paper, then by the water, then by the flush, then by the soap, the water again and the dryer. Sit down for five minutes and she wants to go all over again.

I did slip into insanity several times during the journey. I couldn't have handled it if the ferry had been at all busy.

Now we are at The Torridon. It's grander than the Colonsay and quite a bit more formal. It's a common theme of our holidays - but, as ever, the food is great. Thought you'd like to be reassured on that point. My main food discovery of the holiday, by the way, is crowdie cheese. Mild soft cheese to have in place of feta or mozzarella in a salad and is also good in cheese cake.

I think if we come back, we might stay on the Applecross peninsula. The coastal road is lovely - better to be a passenger so that you can look at the scenery. The village is teeny tiny, very pretty, big beach, great pub and houses to fantasise about owning.

We go home tomorrow, so today is all about having as much fun as possible.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oh. We do like to be beside the seaside.

This post comes to you from the bar at the Colonsay Hotel. I've had a lovely meal of salad with crowdie cheese (mild soft cheese with salad leaves and roasted cherry tomatoes), chump of lamb and sticky toffee pudding (a proper homemade one, not a Brakes frozen pudding).

Peaches is asleep upstairs, exhausted by sandcastles and fresh air. Recaro is outside having a smoke - despite his insistence that he loves the sweet smelling clean air, he's determined to stink it up with one licorice flavoured Rizla roll-up. Stinky.

I could have written this post from the lounge or the library, but I chose the bar because I love sitting in pubs. The lights of the beer pumps. The banter of the people. The height of the bar stools. They are decadent, breezy places. All sorts of people, prepared to mix things up.

Over in the library, I know a few of the other residents are enjoying post-prandial coffees. They are busy adding an Agatha Christie air to the proceedings, by being slightly older and slightly bonkers. A couple alternate between giving Peaches very intense stares, and then chortling, 'Good morning, Peaches'. All credit to Peaches for giving some people a wide berth.

Children have an uncanny knack for spotting open hearts and genuine affection - who knows why we lose or mistrust this ability as adults. It would certainly come in handy when dealing with boyfriends...

Today, we played a little more golf, had a traditional British picnic (sat in the car, while it poured with rain outside) and then had a THREE hour siesta, all three of us.

Tomorrow, we are planning to play MORE golf, build MORE sandcastles, eat MORE gorgeous food, visit MORE standing stones and, in general, have MORE fun.

Who has MORE fun than us, in our Colonsay tree house?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Adventures and misadventures

I'm blogging from a beautiful Scottish garden at the Colonsay Hotel.

You'd love it here. The food is fabulous, the people friendly, the bed.... sooooo comfy.

We've played golf at the maddest, most sheep infested course - Peaches joining in, of course. It really is great. Even if Peaches does have a bump the size of half an egg on her head. We stopped to shop at Ellis Brigham in Avimore and she tripped and hit her head on the base of a sunglasses display unit.

Woompf. Up came a great big bump. We were terrified and took her straight off to a doctor. Fortunately in this out of season ski resort, they know a thing or two about bumps on the head. She's fine. And I'm very glad she has a fringe ( in the circumstances, a far better term than 'bangs').

At some point there'll be photos. In the meantime, check out Pigs Paradise at the Colonsay Hotel - and that's where we are right now.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And yet...

There are so many things wrong with this photo. It's not straight, it's blurry, it's over-exposed, it's poorly composed, it was supposed to be a self portrait (at least some of my hair gets into the edge of the shot) and I only just held on to the camera.

And yet you know it's a happy moment, don't you?

Doesn't that make it a great photo?
PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Scotland the Brave

I'm packing again. We'll be flying to Inverness, seeing friends, catching a ferry to the island of Colonsay for a few days and then going to Torridon to stay in a fab old hotel. I have a week of windswept beaches, big scenery, mountains and rivers, wildlife and good food ahead of me.

Last year we went to the Isle of Mull and visited Iona. It was a bit windy but we had clear blue skies and beautiful beaches.

Peaches was a lot smaller then and at eight months old was still bottom shuffling. Very cute, quite slow and pretty predictable. We had lots of sitting around time on this holiday.

This time things will be different. Running, chatting, tantruming (if she thinks we are hiding chocolate from her) and spilling. The tantruming is a recent development. Recaro and I are discussing strategies for dealing with this, including;
  • ignoring (pretty good for wearing her out at the end of the day, but noisy if with company)
  • offering a cuddle (she's relieved to get the sympathy even if we are still refusing the chocolate)
  • distracting (this involves lots of chatting and is my favourite for when we are out and about)
The other thing that I anticipate involves another milestone in Peaches' potty training. She's learnt how to pull her jeans and knickers down and to take herself to her potty. This is pretty thrilling stuff and I'm very proud of her.

I might have communicated that to her a little too well though. For most of the day she's been trying to walk around with her kit around her ankles.

Very cute, but a little too much information I think.

Hopefully it'll be sunny or else she'll freeze her butt.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Not the best way to impress the boss

Last year, Recaro and I spent some time planning out our holidays for 2008. We thought it would be a really smart move to take one week's holiday in February (Ghent), July (Greece), August (Whitstable) and September (Scotland). We'd make best use of the bank holidays and hope that our respective offices would close for at least three days between Christmas Day and New Year. Which they have - thanks guys.

So far, so much holiday.

But my best laid plans are now biting me on the bum. And I hate that.

I only do four days work in the office each week and the consequence of taking a week's holiday for each of the summer months is that I've been constantly catching up and then preparing to go on holiday for three months. The stress on me... and the team I work in... is beginning to tell. I feel like a really slack worker.

Yes, yes. I've brought it all on myself. And it's all made worse by my own anxiety over retaining my flexible working arrangements with a good firm.

So good that tomorrow - last day before holiday time, just when I'm most under pressure to get stuff done, I've been invited to go to the Lanesborough Hotel for a champagne cream tea. It's the operations partner's baby shower party and it starts at 3pm - you'd never guess we were in recession would you? I'm keeping my fingers crossed that her boss will be putting funds down for the champagne element.

My head is spinning from how on the one hand I'm under masses of real and self-inflicted pressure and on the other, I'm getting holidays, flexible-working, champagne and cream teas.

It's something of a relief to be told that this weekend there'd be some electrical work going on in the office which will mean that no emails will be forwarded to any work Blackberries. This means that for the start of our Scottish holiday I can actually relax. I might even start looking forward to it.

I'm closing comments on this post, because I can hear it now, 'get over yourself, get on with the job and enjoy your time off'.