Wednesday, 31 October 2012

October's shooting the breeze

Prologue:  I couldn't think of any photos I may have taken this month to cheer up this chunnering so I went to Picasa and typed October 2012 in the search box.  An amazing (but obvious! ) thing happened it threw up any and everything vaguely reminiscent of that search and I saw ten plus years of things all of which were only linked by the word October....  my new granddaughter, a holiday in Cape Cod, six (!) houses I no longer live in, my mom and my dad (old scanned photos), my sister and her husband visiting us in France and so much more.... such a life.... and we all think it is so ordinary and boring.  I recommend a random trip through your photos, it will surprise you.  
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October is all about getting ready to decamp to the sun.  This 'getting ready' is one of the aspects of my not enjoying our peripatetic life any more.  For four individual months of each year we are either moving in or moving out of a home.  I have no idea why men and women are engineered differently but, if Ken and I are a sample, we certainly are.  Ken sees it all as as couple of days each side - just doing a few jobs - bing, bang , bosh - done.  For me it is like an extended unravelling of my two lives.  

All month before leaving the UK I am mentally wittering about must do this or that, catch up on this or that, not forget this or that.  Then there is the actual practical stuff.  Every day consists of working out how best to use up every scrap of food in the house because I so hate wasting stuff.  There are doctors and dentists and opticians to check in with before decamping as none of that can be done in Naples.  I need a very last minute hair cut to get it how I want it before I get hacked somewhere else.  All this and more, plus the worst part of decamping - the last seeing of various friends and my daughter for another six months.  

Then we arrive in our other life and spend a couple of weeks setting that routine back in action.

So....... I've pretty much covered what we did in October then?

As I said amongst other things we did the obligatory visit to the optician for our eye tests just to have her confirm we are getting older.  Thanks!  A cursory  look around the shop and we decided to buy glasses in Naples.... or not at all in Ken's case. The woman serving us in Boots rudely said - it is a good job we don't depend on you for our living.  Even more offensive as, on the optician's recommendation, I had just bought some eye spray/drops for an extortionate fifteen squid  because I was too wimpy to say no thanks I will get them from the doctors for free!  Humph! not a successful trip.

As for the doctors.... I  promise I'm not going to put you through that total confusion and useless set of outcomes.  Suffice it to say what should have been a single trip to the doctor followed by a single trip to the chemist, which (fortunately) I had arranged for the 3rd in case of a hitch, took four trips to the surgery and half a dozen to the chemist and lasted over three weeks!

The month did begin well though with a lovely trip to Kinross in Scotland.  We had rented a cottage called White Wisp (named after a bit of the local geography) which was really lovely.  (Not the greatest photo I'm afraid but the best ones have folk in them and I don't broadcast those).

The cottage itself was a brand new refurb and was gorgeous and the views even more so.  Nice owners on site, couldn't wish for more.

It was hellish to find as it was truly tucked away in the back of beyond and Esmeralda (our GPS - named for ''the bells, the bells" movie) insisted that we needed to cross a farm and a river (no bridge) to get there.  The funny thing was I had ordered a Tesco delivery - am I efficient or what - and we had been there about half an hour when it arrived.  Ken said, rather sheepishly, did you have a hard time finding us - ''No, not a problem".  Hardy bodies these Scots!

This was our only visit to Scotland this summer to see my daughter and her chap.  They have been great at visiting us each month, so it was the least we could do.  They came to stay for the weekend and we all had a really lovely time mooching around and eating out.  

In the eating out category we did have a bit of a glitch in that we thought we understood the meaning of Sunday carvery.  Off we went to the local lakeside restaurant - The Boathouse Bistro.  The whole experience was  very strange.  We arrived at the Green Hotel in Kinross who  boasted five restaurants including this one, to be told that its bistro and carvery was a couple of miles down the road!  I am sure I had read in its blurb that the romantic bistro by the lake was a gentle stroll from the hotel.  I thought it meant through its grounds, not a full blown two mile cross country hike.  We found Loch Leven  - too big too miss - then drove almost the whole of its perimeter before locating what to us looked like a very tired  park cafe (read caff not café).  The décor was distinctly seventies orange and brown fabrics and cane furniture.  The carvery itself was pretty poor and the system to actually get it was even worse.  No one greeted us or explained what to do.  Eventually we discovered we were supposed to report to someone (?) and then sit down and wait for the chef to call you.  The chef didn't call us, so after a very British long wait I sorted that out.  We then had to ask for cutlery - you don't have it on the table nor are you able to get it yourself!  Why?  The person I asked never appeared.  By the time our meal had congealed a little more I managed to get one of the bar staff to get us some eating irons.  An all round dreadful eating experience and for this you pay £8.99.  Our £3.99 local one in Bury looks pretty good in comparison.  It was obviously an exciting novelty in Kinross and its environs as the place was packed to the gunwales.   I am cross with myself for moaning about anything on this trip as it was all lovely.  To be honest even the stupid carvery was just plain funny at the time   We got a lot of laughs out of it.  I wrote the best Victoria Wood sketch ever in my head.

In comparison the previous day we had a great lunch at The Grouse and Claret. I had the best soufflé ever and that was just the starter.  Then a night at the movies in Perth - 'Looper'.

Too soon the 'children' had to go home - one to work and one to crow about having a day off.  Those who know us will guess which was which!

On Monday we nipped over to my daughter's for Ken to do his step-dad handy man bit and fix a light.  Her chap stopped by at lunchtime so we said our goodbyes to them both and took the slow road home through the borders. We stopped off in Langholm at a sweet little café/bistro/restaurant (not sure of its qualifications)  called Truly Scrumptious and had an excellent meal.

Our 'growed-up' outing for the month was a meal and play at the wonderful Octagon theatre in Bolton.  If we were home all year I would definitely have season tickets.  Pretty much always something worth seeing.  We always eat there too before the performance and the food is good and great value.  This offering was 'Light-hearted Intercourse' - not as shocking as it sounds.  It is part of a funny line in the play - maybe not easy to share without the whole production under your belt - but, basically, a staunch catholic (with all the attendant the guilt) is trying to avoid sex with his wife and offers the explanation that light-hearted intercourse should not be what it is about.  My little Octagon friend accompanied us and we had a lovely evening with D and I supplying more laughs than the play perhaps.  I did say Octagon friend, not octagonal, she is not eight-sided.

On the very same day I decided  I had to have a winter coat - (a) I was freezing and (b) I was going out at night.  There are women reading this who when I say I hadn't got a coat, think I mean I hadn't got one I liked.  No - I actually did not have any warm coat other than one of those three part ski coats jobbies, which is miles too big any way.  Off Ken and I went to Tesco - I shop in all the best places.  No joy!  I then remembered two doors down was a Next - in we go out we come seventy-five quid lighter and it looks like a donkey jacket!  That's what you get for not being a proper woman.  I really couldn't face the prospect of trawling the land for a coat I liked so I settled on one that was serviceable and fits me and wasn't one of the puffa jackets (make me look like Michelin man), double breasted army coats (make me look as though I run a POW camp with an extra wide chest) or duffles (make me look like I still think I am fifteen and listening to Bob Dylan)  which seemed to be on offer.

I may have been jaded by the couple of weeks of casual searching for warm trousers (again - I literally don't have any warm ones).  I could apparently have leggings, jeggings, schmeggings (think I made up the last one!) but nicely cut, warm fabric trousers?... I think not!  

All this came about because we stayed home an extra month and a combination of September, that I generally just put up with, and an even cooler October pressed me to look for warm clothes.  Now there's a novelty and an expensive one.

October 14th was a trip to a Dolls House Fair, even better for being local (Handforth, South Manchester). I seem to be able to do one each month in the UK but I won't be doing any for the next five months in the States.  There just aren't any to do.  I have been to the couple which happen in Florida during the time I am here and neither are really worth travelling for.  I may check out the Sarasota again though as our friends are interested in a short stay up that way (maybe) when they visit us.  I must see what I said about it last year but I pretty much think the game wasn't worth the candle.

Looking through my diary I've just reminded myself about a funny thing at the doctors on one of the many trips back and forth. I saw a little Irish boy of about ten - he purported to be the doctor!  What a sweetie.  At one stage of the proceedings he was sitting on the floor groping my feet.  Now either he had a serious foot fetish which, lets face it, he wasn't old enough to have or he 'knew his place' relative to me.  Any way the funny part was - he couldn't find a pulse thereby confirming what I have long suspected, i.e.  I am dead.  This, of course, led to an extra visit to the surgery for a Dopplers test to disprove this.  Described as a test which entails no discomfort I am able to tell you they lie.  Wrapping a BP cuff around your calf and squeezing you to death is surprisingly and incredibly painful.

By mid-month I was struck down - almost literally - with the stinkiest of colds.  The full monty - fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, the works.  It is still slightly with me in that I have the occasional coughing fit and I am typing this on 3rd November;  so I am a bit cheesed off with it.  Having been so blighted there is a bit of a gap in the month as I missed a couple of planned outings due to been horizontal.

On the 22nd my first dolls house project left home.  A very nice couple picked up the Wentworth.  They seemed very enthusiastic and happy so I felt heaps better about letting it go.  I really hope they have a great time with it as I did.  Life moves on even in mini world.

On the 25th (just about vertical again) I went to the most amazing exhibition at the Art gallery in Manchester - they do have good stuff there and the building itself is a joy - if you ever get the chance ....... etc

It was called The First Cut.  Obviously it would appeal to me for all sorts of reasons but it was so much more than just cute paper cuttings outs.  Some very dramatic pieces and some fun things and many very beautiful and super dooper clever things.  How about that for an erudite critique of an exhibition - missed my calling?

Here's a link to a huge piece of work which I thought was incredible Andreas Kocks.  Take a second and have a look.  If it grabs you here's a link to a TED talk by another artist who's work was in the exhibition, Beatrice Coron.

Incidentally if I haven't mentioned TED before I should have done.  My son directed me to it when he gave me my iPad - yes, it has an App.  I can always find something there to while away a moment or two.

The last six days was a mad whirl of sorting and cleaning and eating with friends.  Indeed at one point on our last Saturday, my friend was visiting to say cheerio, my daughter and chap arrived from Edinburgh and our good friends P & S arrived.  Bit like buses - none at all or they all arrive at the same time.  It was very nice to have a room filled with people you care about.   After the extra bods departed, daughter, chap, Ken and I toddled off for a great lunch at The Shoulder of Mutton and the next day we all had breakfast together at our house and a trip to Currys for them to buy a GPS for Henry (their car!)  followed by a bit of playing with the gizmo and a bit of a natter.  When they left at 1.30pm we left with them.  They to go back home to Edinburgh  and us off to a birthday lunch with P & S at The Sykeside.  An all round great weekend.  Wish we could do it every week.

Monday I was up to my armpits in last minute laundry and making a left-over roast chicken pie and rhubarb crumble - yes, all about finishing off the flour, butter, sugar etc etc etc.  Luckily our two mates stopped by in time to help us out otherwise that would have been another half of everything in the bin.  

Last day of the month and we were off on our trip across the pond.

The day began at 5 am (UK time) and finished at 3 am (UK time) the next morning - so, yes, the trip is always pretty whacking, for some of us!  Ken, the robot, just keeps going until its done.

We always elect for low fat or low salt meals (they are usually the same incidentally) on the flight.  Mainly because I hate the wodgy 'snacks' (hot rolls with meat and American slime cheese for example) and breakfast egg/bun thingies.  We get a really nice fruit selection instead.  This time it didn't pay off that well as the dinner part of the meal was a large blob of very wet slimy spinach accompanied by baked beans, half a tomato and boiled mushrooms.  mmmmmm,  yummy!  I did see the funny side. As a woman who has eaten, goat, lard and donkey I cannot be described as picky; there is very little I don't like - lets think... oh yes, over-boiled spinach, cheap baked beans, boiled mushrooms and dead tomatoes.  Actually it isn't really a problem as I always take a Boots meal deal on board so I have a snack and a drink when I want them and the sandwich or salad (sometimes sushi!) comes in handy to replace the airline 'dinner'.

Our flight was on time and we had a smooth ride.  I was a bit concerned about the latter as we were pretty close behind Hurricane Sandy which had devastated a lot of the east coast - New York and New Jersey took a big hit.  We had a four hour gap between flights.  This gets reduced by the one hour it takes to get through customs, security and recheck the baggage.  As it was a long time we treated ourselves to the Sky Lounge which is a much nicer place to spend the time than in the general area.  Oh to be rich!  First Class travel and the lounges between flights.

Onwards and, in this case literally, upwards. An hour and thirty-five minutes on the flight out of Atlanta into Fort Myers, pick up hire car, forty minutes drive to Naples and we were in home number two.  For me that pretty much meant bed.  Ken did a few bits and bobs as always.

My body clock - as of 3 November is considerably out of whack.  The weekend before we left the UK the clocks went back an hour.  We then get here to a four hour difference backwards.  This will be followed by another turning the clocks one hour back over here this weekend for their 'Fall backwards' (Spring Forward - neat eh?) adjustment.  Confused, moi?  Oh, I almost forgot to mention as of Tuesday we will be in California which is three hours back on Naples.  I may as well kill myself now.

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