Tuesday, 22 April 2014

On the Loose - North of the Border

It’s not often I have a day - yes, a whole day - at my disposal. Pulling this off involves not being at home for a start because there is always stuff to do and no matter how hard I try my conscience always gets the better of me. There’s washing up, gardening, laundry and so on and one thing always leads to another and then it isn’t a day of indulgence after all. And working from home doesn’t help. There are always emails that tempt you to check them and because I do social media on behalf of all sorts of folks, it’s no longer possible just to check in to my own facebook.

So I have to be elsewhere to indulge myself and elsewhere today happens to be one of our favourite cities with all sorts of significance to our family - Edinburgh. Lacrosse and rugby trips, one child at university here and a really excellent 50th bash for Skip to name but a few. And today the city of Edinburgh is on a major charm offensive. Princes Street Gardens are bathed in sunshine with blossom and pale leaf bloom in equal measure and people sitting on grass - in t-shirts! And there's the stunning dark silhouette of the Castle as a backdrop. 

We arrived here yesterday - me and my smallest child - for her final university interview. We are staying in the centre of the city in a rather chi-chi boutique hotel booked by my beloved and though the university is 15 minutes by bus from here, it’s perfect. Yesterday’s itinerary included checking out the university (which turned out to be closed for the day, striking panic into the heart of the more-easily panicked member of the team ie me.) Anyway all was well, the university would be open on the appointed interview day and we were now fully conversant with the buses to get there on time in the morning. 

So just time for a little light shopping with some rather fruitless but nonetheless exhausting trying on. Then tea in the Harvey Nicks Chocolate Lounge - think sushi bar but with chocolate confections and cupcakes going round instead of raw fish. Dinner was at Amarone, a lovely pizza and pasta place which was the scene of a very substantial hangover-busting breakfast fry-up a few trips back. And then out into the evening where St Andrew’s Square was lit up with a thousand lights in the gathering dusk.

So this morning I’ve been out to Napier University with the small one and left her there, feeling massive mothering nerves, and bussed back into the city for what I then imagined was a whole day on the loose. Actually it ended abruptly at lunchtime because despite being told that 4.00pm was the likely finish time, number 4 was released from her grilling earlier than stated. But no matter, I had by then browsed the shops, drank coffee in the sunshine and done the most physically exhausting and least enjoyable form of clothes shopping, the sort that can only be done alone - the torture of purchasing swimwear. 

Oh not to have a sluggish white body and over-50s wobbly bits! But swimwear shopping has to be done in hope rather than expectation and there is always the absolute certainty that the important elastic in at least one of last year’s confections will have perished over the winter. So half a dozen bikinis later and feeling rather hot and bothered, I did, of course, pick the most expensive and could surely have saved myself a whole lot of trouble by just trying on the one that was going to make the biggest hole in my bank balance. It is one of life’s cruel lessons that after the sacrifice of bearing multiple children the sort of swimwear that hangs together with bits of fabric and string just will not do. 

So number 4 arrived in time for lunch and and more Harvey Nicks mooching and now we’re on our way back on the train with sore feet and weary limbs and I’ve checked my emails - I told you I never could resist a beeping in-tray - so the indulgence is definitely over. At least I’ve got my cozzie! 

And here are some pics of our latest foray North of the Border! 
 Cup cake! In the nano-second before it was consumed by the small one!

 If you've read any of Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street novels you will know that this is surely Angus Lordie's dog, Cyril!
 Harvey Nick's exciting range of relishes...
And just because she's gorgeous.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Twerking? Not me!

My working life seems to be full of things beginning 'tw...'. No, I don't mean twerking because, well, it would be wholly inappropriate at my time of life and actually I think the jury is out as to whether it can ever be truly described as appropriate. Will a certain Ms Cyrus look back at her life when she is fifty-something and wonder whether being famous for wiggling in a pair of white pants was really a good call? I wonder... but then I always wonder about the price of celebrity because it seems to me that there is some sort of relationship between the complete lack of discernible talent and the need for notoriety.

Anyway I have been tweeting (on behalf of myself and three other august bodies) and, as a result, tweetdecking and tweetreaching. Indeed, I have gone through much of the last eighteen or so years thinking that the only requirement for 'tw...' is for twins. But life is, in my experience, always a series of learning curves and once you get to the top of one, much like cycling, blow me down! there's another.

And talking of cycling which is much on my mind given that I should be training for the Acorn 100k Bike Ride on May 10th but I am not because one of my knees does not wish to co-operate with the pedalling process so I am attempting to lull it into a false sense of security that it might never happen... Aside from the Acorn Bike Ride there is, of course, a slightly larger (but with not such good cakes) cycling event coming to Yorkshire and I am ridiculously thrilled that Yorkshire, in the form of Gary Verity and his team, has pulled off the coup of bringing the biggest annual sporting event in the world to ... just up the road!

The other night, my beloved and I were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of Le Tour Yorkshire exactly 100 days before the race in the form of a dinner at Ripon Cathedral. Wow, that's some venue for a dinner and it was an amazing and spectacular night. I loved best the acrobats who swayed, swung and generally contorted from lengths of material hanging from the beautiful ornate, lofted ceiling and the feeling of pride in the county was just phenomenal. Yes, this is a great thing for Yorkshire and I can't believe there are still a few miserable sods who think that it is just a nuisance. Actually I sat next to one the other night who said the whole thing was an inconvenience and he objected to them closing the roads on the route. Ah well, there's always one...

Back to the twerking though and on Saturday we went to a 50th birthday party and, as in parties we used to go to in our energetic youth, there was a disco in the cellar, complete with disco ball. Great, I thought as I dragged my beloved into the sparkly depths. Except that it turned out he was the only man in the room surrounded by 50-something ladies (age, not number though there were probably more than a baker's dozen) doing the kind of dancing that looked good in 1975. This included a small group that knew all the words and moves (who knew there were moves?!) to Tragedy by the BeeGees so they played it twice to demonstrate their prowess. And that was enough to send my beloved scuttling upstairs to the safety of the beer on tap. But no, there was not a twerk in sight. Nope, twerking is not age-appropriate. I'll stick to other 'tw...s'.

Postscript: Quick update on the offspring, in case you wondered... 1 is just back from LA and we're really hoping to see her at Easter (the Egg Hunt is never the same without her). 2 is just back from London where she was seeing Gary Barlow. Consequently Milton, the chocolate brown cocker spaniel was in residence and has now decided that 5.30am is a good time to start barking...hmmm. 3 is in Leeds all week doing his tennis coaching qualification and if he tells me one more time that a backhand volley should only have one hand on the racquet, he may not survive to use his new qualifications. And 4 is hitting the books big style before we head up to Edinburgh next week for her final university interview. Fingers crossed...

Ripon Cathedral - going yellow for Le Tour