Thursday, May 26, 2005

Daisy, daisy

give me your answer do
why are you carpeting my lawn today
and why so many of you?

OK so that was lame, but the daisies look amazing out on the back green in their thousands. Reminds me of making a daisy chain that went right around our house when we lived up in Lewis.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Have wheels, will travel

We're quite excited and delighted to be drivers once more - a lovely man from Yorkshire delivered this wee cutey a couple of weeks ago (thanks Intelligent Finance, yay company cars).

Since then we've clocked up 500 miles or so - work and back a few times (the poor scooter's feeling neglected), plus a couple of longer trips. Last weekend the sun was shining (just like in the car photo taken the weekend before - it's not all dreich and dreary in Edinburgh) so we headed out to St Abb's Head for a bracing clifftop walk (Scotland does bracing very well). Saw lots of seabirds making kamikaze aerial manoeuvres, and lots of old men with binoculars. A bit further south (almost in England, in fact), we stopped in at Eyemouth for a fish supper at Giacopazzi's, followed by home-made Italian ice-cream. Mmmmm.

On Friday, after work, we headed further afield. As we were driving to an outdoor concert (always a risky proposition in this part of the world), the torrential rain en route was somewhat concerning. But the sun was shining by the time we got to Culzean Castle, for the Burns an a' that Gala Concert. Culzean, by the way, is Cullane, and I also discovered on Friday that Menzies is correctly pronounced something more like "Menghis".

This is a blurry pic of Culzean lit up in pink at the end of the concert. It's about 11pm, and not dark of the best things about Scotland at this time of year.

The main reason we trekked across to the Ayrshire coast was to see this man:

Lou Reed. He only sang four songs, proclaimed Scotland to be "colder than Finland" and was perhaps a touch grumpy , but it was still very cool to see him, live, and in such a stunning setting.

Other acts included the orchestra of the Scottish Opera, Eddi Reader (singing Burns: my fave was John Anderson My Joe), Phil Cunningham & Duncan Chisholm (very nimble-fingered on the fiddle and accordion) and folk singer Dougie Maclean. His Caledonia made me feel very Scottish and somehow sad. Whether I'm in NZ or in Scotland now, I think I'll always miss the other place. The downside to dual citizenship...sometimes feeling torn.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

It's a lockout!

Got home from the pub quiz at the Antiquary last night at 11-ish. 10th out of 16 - a pretty poor performance. A & I suspect we may not be asked back!

So, 11pm, A takes out his keys, and discovers one has developed an unusual curve while in his pocket. Tries to straighten it and *snap*. Broken clean in half. Crap.

We borrow some pliers from a neighbour who's still up, but the haf-key is too short to open the lock. Nobody seems to have the key for the long ladder upstairs. Time to call the locksmith.

Enticed by big ads in the yellow pages promising no call out fees* (beware of the asterisk) we called a few. And discovered that £100 is the going rate for such a service. Per hour. Minimum. Plus of course VAT and materials. Not a buyers market, then.

We waited in our neighbour's flat and watched a rerun of Footballers Wives. There's something comforting about trash TV in moments of crisis. Eventually, anonymous locksmith arrived (later, when things weren't going so well and I asked his name, he refused to tell me).

His initial proclamation that we were in real trouble because the lock on our door was more at home in a jewellers shop and was impossible to open didn't fill me with confidence. Since it was now well past midnight, the volume of his delivery and propensity for swearing wasn't great either. Still, he had a box of tools. There must be something in there that could sort it, right?

Wrong. Said box contained a motley assortment of re-purposed and homemade junk. Not a purpose-built gadget in sight. The torch ran out of batteries about 2 mins into the job (yes, you guessed it, "materials" and therefore chargeable). A noisy half hour later, after much cursing and pulling scarves through the letter box (but magician he wasn't), I remembered that our spare key might be within reach. Off he went to get the fishing rod. Really. A fishing rod. Probably still had bait remnants smeared on it. Didn't work.

Next he had a hissy fit and noisily packed up his "tools". Didn't really want to stand on a ladder in the dark and rain to get in the window. He was a master locksmith. We could call anyone we liked. They wouldn't be able to get in either. Our flat was impenetrable. The only way was to drill out the lock, but that couldn't be done at night in a common stair. Stomp shout.

Suddenly, I was reminded of a TV programme I'd seen called something like "all locksmiths are dodgy", which showed that in 95% of lockouts they drilled out the lock rather than using less invasive procedures, so they could charge you for more materials (at a premium). Suddenly, I was glad of the late hour, and understood his bad humour. No drilling allowed.

Somehow, he changed his mind and decided he would get his ladder out and try the window. Must have been that vision of big fat wads of cash. More noise and harumphing. But once he was up the ladder, he was in within 30 secs. So why didn't he try that first?

So feeling a bit tired this morning, and determined to make some kind of a spare key plan to avoid ever having to experience a master locksmith again.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

More on bunny rabbits

Real live ones this time though, with bouncy legs and cottony tails. We saw lots of them this weekend, at the nature/sport themepark that is Center Parcs. Lots of ducks too (check out the photo), and squirrels and big fat woodpigeons. And tadpoles and squashed toads (I thought the "toads crossing" sign was a joke until I saw the squashed ones).

Someone at work today asked me why I had gone to Center Parcs - they had the (quite reasonable) opinion that you only went there if you had children. We did see a lot of children. Hooning around on bikes, poking aforementioned ducks, screaming in the swimming pool. Even more dangerous on the bikes, however, were the adults who had forgotten how to ride. Wobbly. Everyone's on bikes, you see, because you have to leave your car in the carpark - it's a car-free environment. I guess that means that the toads were squashed by bikes.

We were at CenterParcs among the trees for a reunion of one of the branches of my family. 44 kith and kin (of whom I had met only 4, including A, before the weekend) - some closely connected, some more tenuous, some I still haven't figured out.

The sun shone, we had a big barbecue, people told their favourite stories. It was nice to meet the extended family, but still feels strange to be so far from my immediate family.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Save Tob(e)y

It's amazing what people will spend their money on. I've always found the wealth (in both senses of the word) of animal charities in the UK a bit disturbing. Are we so dislocated from each other that it's easier to give to animals than to fellow humans?

Taking things a step further, animal lovers are now shelling out thousands to stop someone eating their pet rabbit. Clever chap has already raised US$28,000, and been on telly.

Our pal, Al, never one to miss a trick, suggests there's another Tobey out there that we could all save, if only our pockets were deep enough. Go on. Dig deep. Save Tobey Maguire.