Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The post that wasn't.

Well, well, well.
Yesterday I was going to write a really wonderful post about (drum rolls, please)
the county of Hampshire
Hampshire in 1829 (the good old days).
Austen and Keats were dead by then and it would be almost 60 years until Conan Doyle introduced the world to Sherlock Holmes. but you get the idea.
Also, the Isle of Wight (the bit at the bottom) is no longer in Hampshire.
Just saying.
My home county and new-old home, Jane Austen's home county, the county in which Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the first Sherlock Holmes story (A Study in Scarlet), where Keats wrote The Eve of St Agnes ("Ah, bitter chill it was!") and was inspired to write the ode To Autumn (you know, "seasons of mist" etc., etc...)and the place where the Burberry mac was first invented.
Impressive, huh? 
I hope you like the way that I put myself at the front of that list. 
Nothing quite like having ideas above one's station or anything.
Where was I?
Oh yes, "the post that never happened" (I've had quite a few of those).
my application got rejected
It's becoming quite my thing NOT getting a job.
Er, then I pulled myself together and decided to count my blessings and go and ride my horse
(yes, you're well within your rights to withhold sympathy).
Imagine my horror when I discovered that her leg was covered from the stifle joint to the hoof in dried blood  and wet, oozing blood.
And quite a bit of gore.
Just in case you wanted to brush up your knowledge of equine anatomy.
Not for the fainthearted.
So by that time I felt I had licence to feel exceedingly sad.
Which I did.

I cheered up after a quick (actually, very long) visit from the vet
at after-hours call-out rates, naturally
and the sight of Poll tucking into her hay, trussed up in another neon pink bandage.
Please note that in the picture below she only has 1 bandage, whereas in the picture above she has 2.
That's how bloody and mucky her legs were (even after hosing) - we thought that there had to be 2 injuries because so much blood couldn't have come from just one cut.
(Cue major embarrassment when the vet investigated further and told us that we'd mistaken dislodged blood clots for open wounds. My bad).
A starving horse, very grumpy to've had her supper delayed by the inconvenient visit from the vet.
When I checked on her first thing this morning the bandage was wrinkled 'round her pastern (sort of like the ankle but not) like Nora Batty's stockings, which rather spoiled the effect, but her leg was a lot better and had stopped bleeding.
Nora Batty (RIP), complete with wrinkled stockings.
P had a similar look on her face this morning when she discovered she was not allowed out in the field for today.

So basically, this post is an extremely long-winded way of saying...
I haven't really got anything to say. 
Until tomorrow.
Or maybe Friday.
We'll see.

Friday, 9 November 2012

High Five for Friday!

If you don't like cats or horses, this one's probably not for you.
I will judge you, though.

1. There are many plus sides to moving back south and one of the best of these is spending more time with my godson. 
We have a weekly date and he comes to ride 'little' Polly, which makes my heart melt. 
(Actually, the running I have to do so that he can trot makes my heart explode... all in the wrong way. Must work on aerobic fitness).
It's a handy plus-side that G brings along his mum - one of my closest friends - on our dates 
(being 3 he finds it difficult to travel alone, you know, driving and all that) 
and we get to make up for hardly seeing each other for the last 10 years.
G sometimes calls me Auntie Leg (that's not a misspelling) 
but most of the time he just calls me 'that big girl'. 
Nothing quite like kids to put you in your place.
G, his mum and little Polly.
He now owns a pair of jodphurs and teeny, tiny boots so that he's a proper rider.
The cat's a Giants fan.
My brother & sister-in-law are very impressed.

F&P have settled in beautifully at their new home.
Big sigh of relief.

Scoop is obsessed with sinks and water.
Great for cute photo opportunities, not so great for hygiene.

Drumroll please...
This is the FIFTH weekend in a row that I will spend with DPB.
And we still have stuff to talk about.
That'll be us this time next year at yet another wedding.
Except it's a wedding in California (hurrah!), which you can't really complain about, can you?
Hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend, too!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Moving swiftly on...

Well HELLO there!
Gosh, it's been a while.
I'm so sorry. 
Things have been moving on a bit here in more ways than one
and I just seem to have let the time whizz past without writing about it.
Hey ho, I'm sure you've all just about managed to survive without updates on the excitement that comes from living a life like mine.

Sooooooo, what, you may ask, have I been doing with my life since the 21st September? 

Here is a list that may or may not include the things I have mostly been doing:
1/ Moving myself, my quadrupeds and all of our earthly belongings from Scotland to Hampshire
(pause while I sob uncontrollably and attempt to regain composure)
It was kind of like this when I left Scotland.
Except for Bond, M and the Aston Martin.
Oh, and I didn't live in the Highlands.
But you get the idea.
2/ Going to some weddings 
(yawn... only joking)

3/ Getting involved in protracted negotiations with the British and US governments to prevent the wonderful Ms Gesci M (and Sloan, Max, Mia and Paul (see Paul, I didn't forget you)) from leaving the UK.
The talks failed.

4/ Wallowing in self-pity at my inability to find a job and wondering at my exceptional talent for always being the second choice

5/ Drinking a lot of tea.
Approximate number of cups of tea drunk by me every day.
6. Searching and Guardian Jobs at least twenty times a day in the hope that someone, somewhere might actually have a job that I am qualified to do.

7. Feeling sorry for myself.
Oh, I already said that.

8. De-cluttering. 
As in: I've moved home to live with my parents and I'm suddenly finding that I really don't need to hold on to every single lecture note I've ever taken. Simply because there isn't enough space in the world for all of the clutter I've accumulated since I left home 10 years ago.
And I finally ditched my GCSE Latin books because, strangely enough, they've never come in handy like I thought they might.

So, yeah, as I said, things have been moving on.

The good thing, though, is that I'm back.
I've missed you.

Friday, 21 September 2012

High Five for Friday

I'm definitely with Eeyore when it comes to glass-half-empty outlooks on life 
(I know, how boring to be that person), 
so every time I think of things for H54F I feel like it's a step towards being more Tigger-like. 
(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, who are you? How can you not have read Winnie the Pooh??)
What a strange way to start a post.
Moving swiftly on...


We had a great time at the wedding last weekend - 
what's not to love about seeing a blissfully happy couple tie the knot 
and getting the opportunity to sup on champagne all day long?
Plus, the wedding cake was actually just lots of teeny, tiny pavlovas set on a huge cake stand.

As I am now officially a cat lady, this made me laugh.
For the record, I really don't loathe males but my (male) students were always convinced that my questions about feminist theory automatically made me a man-hater.


Miss F. was sunbathing earlier today and refusing to get up despite my cajoling.
Eventually I resorted to trying to persuade her by gently pulling her up...
this little man stepped in to help me:
F was SUPER impressed with our efforts.

The nights may be drawing in but the sunrise is always spectacular.


I played my 94 (nearly 95) year-old grandfather at Scrabble and he absolutely beat me hollow.
I think that's pretty cool. 

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Daily Scoop

I've just returned (somewhat nervously) from dropping young Scoop and his sister, Dusty, off at the vets for their, er, 'procedures'.
Today is the day my cat becomes, hmm, how to put it? A little bit less of a man.
How sad for him. 
Something else I learned today was that there is special food for cats who are neutered.
Every day's a school day. 
I haven't posted any pictures of the kittens recently 
(which leaves me wondering: what do I post about? Oh yes, waterproof trousers. How embarrassing)
so I thought I'd put up a few photos to chart their rise into adulthood.
Fingers crossed, everything will go swimmingly and I can collect the little man this afternoon.
Sniff, sniff.
It is very easy to be brave when you're protected by a glass door. 

Scoop in a hoop.
Couldn't resist.
Pretending to be brave on his first ever excursion outside.

They really like sleeping in baskets.
Preferably baskets of clean, ironed clothes.
Bully for them, bit of a bummer for me.

Getting super-excited about the Olympic Show-Jumping.
(That's my boy...)


I've been travelling a lot recently and I think that Scoop might be trying to tell me something...

Dusty the beautiful.

Just in case you noticed a difference in the picture quality (whatdoyoumean you haven't?), I have miraculously managed to get my computer, my big girl camera and my external hard drive to co-operate simultaneously.
Wonders never cease.

Friday, 14 September 2012

You know you'll never be a style blogger when...

... you get emails about waterproof clothing, find them quite interesting...

... and then write about them.


p.s. I love my waterproof trousers (I have two pairs). 
Just so's you know.
And yes - because I know this is what you're dying to ask - it is hard being this glamorous.

DPB and I are off to a wedding this weekend, this time in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. 
The substantial fascinator will be getting another outing and I have spent the entire day looking for a pair of shoes that: 
a/ I can afford
b/ I can dance in.
It's a suprisingly difficult challenge, because I can pull out some mean dance moves after a white wine spritzer or two.
(Don't worry, despite my love for them, the waterproof trousers will not be featured as part of the wedding get-up). 

Hope you have a good one!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Life's a beach

Yesterday I borrowed Mr C's ex-racehorse (Polly was - surprise, surprise - out of action)
and headed to the beach for a gallop.
It was spectacular. 
Despite the sun and blue skies, it was a chilly, autumnal morning and the beach was almost deserted. 
Perfect for a quick to blast to blow away the cobwebs, then.
Sadly I don't have any pictures or a video of the actual gallop because, well, it's a good idea to keep both hands on the reins when you're going at full speed (a life lesson if ever there was one).
Rest assured, the Chariots of Fire theme tune was running in my head with every single hoofbeat. 
Looking towards the golf course and the preparations for the Dunhill Cup.

Heaven is...

Clever Carly, who gave the 'let's go to the beach' rally cry.

As always when I take a horse to the beach, I come away thinking 'why don't I do this more often?'
It's a very good question.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Back to School.

A slightly misleading title, because Scottish schools go back in August and I haven't been to school since the early years of this millennium, but you get the idea.
The town has filled up with new and returning university students and the shelves of the local Tesco Metro will be permanently empty until May next year.
Summer's over.
In some ways, this is ok - I've spoken before about my love of Downton Abbey, a new series of which starts soon, and I am equally obsessed with re-runs of Agatha Christie classics, any sort of period drama (this one looks intriguing), and the prospect of digging my hot water bottle and cashmere socks out of their temporary summer retirement. 
Good old Brora cashmere.
Actually, despite the balmy(ish) days, it's so cold at night here that the hot water bottle has been back in use for at least a week, but that is totally by the bye...
The official end to the summer here is always signalled by two events:
First: Pony Club Cup Day
Second: Our yard hosts an invitational show for local children 
Cup Day was held yesterday and, unlike most previous years, it was beautifully sunny and didn't rain one drop
Little L and the other girls returned from this year's event with armfuls of cups and rosettes.
Whoever said that taking part is what counts has not met the younger (and, come to think about it, the older) contingent on the yard.
Competitive doesn't even begin to cover it.

For the first time since its inauguration, I won't be at this year's yard show because I'm off to another wedding. 

The weekend also brought us the most delightful house guest and unfortunately I was forced to spend a lot of time in the garden with him yesterday. 
Luckily I had my camera with me:

Love, thy form is an Hungarian Vizsla puppy.

Back to those applications...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

An ability to procrastinate is a wonderful thing. Discuss.

It's a beautiful sunny day here, yet thanks to my exceptional ability to procrastinate, I am forced to sit inside and work on job applications and funding proposals with only the cat for company.
And the cat has got so bored that he's fallen asleep on me.
At least it means I can't move from my desk.
I'm not sure if you know anything about the academic job market, but it's pretty much like the normal job market but worse.
So true...
Candidates for one of the fellowships that I am applying for have a less than 5% chance of success and for the other fellowship, candidates have a 1% chance.
To say that it sucks would probably be the biggest understatement of the year.
If another person tells me 'oh well, someone's got to get it' or 'you won't have any chance if you don't apply!' I will not be responsible for my actions.

But enough of focusing on the downsides because, quite frankly, the reality of it is that I've found a job that I love and a project I want to work on for which I will sacrifice pretty much everything.
And how many people have the dubious honour of saying something like that?
In some ways I think it's quite cool.
In other news, my horse has a problem.
Actually, Polly is a problem, as well as having multiple problems (and, occasionally, multiple personality disorders).
But this particular problem is an addiction to accidents and hurting herself.
Some might call it self-harming, but I think it's more likely a somewhat admirable but exceptionally foolish disregard for personal safety.
This is not only frustrating but rather costly, as you can imagine.
Why is it that when you put 'horse' in front of any product name - for example 'horse shampoo' as opposed to 'shampoo' - the price increases by approximately 12338679084448003928%? 
Something to think about.
Butter wouldn't melt.
It is very good that my horse is hyper-aware of dragons that lurk in ditches, lions that are concealed behind innocuous-seeming logs, and horse-eating sheep (bred only in Fife, as far as I'm aware).
I'm grateful that she is concerned for my safety when I ride her and is keen to ensure that we stay well away from these potentially life-threatening hazards.
It is not very good, however, that when she is in the field, these alarming predators (also known as the wind, leaves, and, sometimes, a lurking cat) cause her to spin, gallop flat out, rear, buck, pace up and down, crack out some extended trot that would have scored well in an Olympic Dressage test, snort loudly and, most of the time, lose a shoe (normally when she's just had a set put on), or cut herself in a way that perplexes the vet, causes me near-fatal heart attacks and necessitates a lengthy period of box-rest and pampering.
Who knew that dragons still exist in Scotland?
(Answer: Polly)
Perhaps the clue is in that final word.
My horse is an attention seeker and feels that the only way that she can divert my attention from St Fanta the Elderly, or baby Scoop, is to hurt herself.
I am a bad mother.

I think the content of this post proves that I probably should not spend extended periods alone with no-one else to talk to apart from a sleeping cat.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

In which we return from Paris and I prove that I'm still alive.

You might be forgiven for thinking that DPB and I decided to stay in Paris forever and that I might never blog again, but luckily you'd be wrong (about the blogging bit. The Paris bit would be awesome).
I probably don't need to tell you that we had a good time.
We Had A GREAT Time.
Boy did we wear out some shoe leather and our greediness and need to pack in as much as is humanly possible knew no bounds.
Jardin du Luxembourg,  Jardin des Tuileries, Versailles, Notre Dame, Champs Elysees, the Eiffel Tour, the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay...
the list goes on. 
And yes, we pretty much walked everywhere.
To counteract all of this exercise it was absolutely vital that we consumed at least 14000 calories a day, which is lucky, because that is pretty much what we did. 
I tried very hard not to take a picture of every single item I ate, but some did sneak under the radar.
Without further ado:

Champagne breakfast at St Pancras?
Don't mind if I do.
Beware of men with guidebooks...
I was forced to share these.
Bad idea.
Tea as it should be.
The Louvre.
Lauren has some great tips for visiting France and we followed her advice for our trip to the Louvre.
Hot chocolate and pastries at Angelina's.
I nearly died after drinking said hot chocolate.
Not for the diabetics amongst us.

The clock at the Musee d'Orsay
Notre Dame.
If you want to go up the tower, make sure you get there SUPER early.
The queues defeated us.
That would be the Mona Lisa.
Not exciting
(forgive me).
Shakespeare and Co.
The best restaurant we ate in, bar none.
Chez Paul.
We stayed at La Maison Favart, a beautiful boutique hotel with the most helpful and pleasant staff ever.

The hotel was in walking distance of so many must-see places and I can't recommend it more highly.
La Maison Favart
5, rue de Marivaux

The best place we ate was restaurant Chez Paul in the 11th arrondissement.
Fancy and swanky it is not, but the food is divine (lots of red meat, not really one for the vegetarians) and the wine was great.

The only bad thing about the holiday was that it had to end.
(Cheesy but true).
Things have been rather trying since our Parisian escapade, but I think I'm getting back on track, so bear with me.

A bientôt.
(I really must figure out how to use accents on this computer...)