Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Have you missed me?

I have been off sick. In my opinion there are 3 bad things about being off work.

1) being sick
2) feeling guilty about being off work cos you're sick
3) having 3 days worth of work to catch up in one day when you get back from being sick.

Is it not bad enough to feel like there are fireworks in your head and lead tied to your limbs without knowing the pile on your desk is gradually growing and growing and you will have 200 e-mails to plough through on your groggy return?

Now go away and leave to me to snivel in my corner.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


We went to watch Scotland v the All Blacks this afternoon at Murrayfield. As a rule I'm not really into sport but Rugby is much better than football and the atmosphere at games is far more friendly.

The enjoyment factor was only slightly diminished by the constant rain, and the fact that our seats were directly under the steadily dripping edge of the stadium roof. 80 minutes of sporting water torture. Better seats next time please Nick.

Friday, November 25, 2005


The light bulb in our office kitchen just exploded spectacularly with a big bang and a crash as the glass shattered all over the floor.

Luckily no-one was in the kitchen at the time or there would have been a rather gruesome entry in the accident book.

Funny walk

As I was trudging up the Royal Mile this morning on the way to meeting, I found myself doing that funny walk we all do when it's snowing. You know the one, you pick your feet up higher and take tiny little steps so you don't slip.

I looked around and saw everyone else doing it too. Then I wondered: does the special walk actually help you not slip?

So, I tried to walk normally and discovered that yes, the funny walk does help. You may look a bit silly, but not as silly as you do on your arse in the middle of the most famous street in Edinburgh.

Got a few spare minutes?

This fun game has kept us occupied for hours. (Skip the intro animation screen.) There are 72 band names hidden in the picture. You can use the magnifying glass to look closer. It's a bit like catch phrase - say what you see!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

DIY dynamite

Even if I do say so myself, Nick and I make a great decorating team. We call ourselves QBS - Quick but Shoddy. Boy are we quick. Sometimes we're shoddy but only when it's midnight and we are on the 4th room of the evening.

In the past Chris has accused us of using nefarious methods to increase our speed but I would officially like to state: we do not use any performance enhancing drugs to boost our decorating prowess. We decorate only in our natural state. We believe in decorating on a level playing field and would welcome random drugs test at any point to prove our innocence. We would also like to state to any young aspiring decorators: Drugs are not a healthy or cool option. In the competitive world of decorating we realise the temptations are great.

Say NO to drugs and YES to Dulux. Say NO to steroids and Yes to dust sheets. Say NO to testosterone and YES to those little rollers on poles that mean you can paint behind radiators without getting paint on your elbows. Hip hip Hurray!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The computer says no...

You know that character from 'Little Britain' who sits behind her desk, looks blankly at you and drones: 'the computer says no...'?

Well I just met her and she works for Scottish water.

Harry Potter

We went to see Harry Potter last night. I would recommend it purely for the school disco scene. I was transported straight back to that harrowing time of life, only I managed to get through it without the aid of magic spells. Pity really, they would have been jolly useful.

Thank god I will never have to be 14 again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I have been going to a printmaking evening class at The Edinburgh College of Art since September. It's been excellent and great fun. My first effort (poppy seed heads done in various hues of orange and browns) came out quite well. Some of you lucky people may well receive a print for Christmas.

For my second effort I decided to attempt a print of Table Mountain in Cape Town. Nick and I had a wonderful holiday there last year and the mountain is a truly amazing natural feature of the landscape. So, imagine me - lovingly sketching out the image, transferring it to the wood block, carefully and painstakingly cutting out the wood to form the inking block, setting up the presses, creating the background papers with 4 layers of ink, gradually building up layers of translucent inks, then finally arriving at the crucial point of printing the image of the mountain on my papers.

Bugger. I forgot to reverse the image on the block. First basic rule of printmaking - everything is in negative. I even learnt this at school aged 12 when we did lino printing.

My prints are now entitled: 'Table Mountain as seen through a mirror.'

Monday, November 21, 2005

Writing minutes

The only possible benefit to writing minutes of meetings that I can discern is to make yourself sound more intelligent/lucid than you did during the actual meeting.

Me during meeting: er, I'm not too sure, I'll find out and let you know.
Minutes: RS confirmed that the decision had not yet been taken but the information would be passed on before the next meeting.

Me during meeting: I'm afraid we didn't have time to draw up the plans before the meeting because you didn't fill out that form I sent you last week.
Minutes: Due to a lack of any formal appointment RS was unable to complete the proposals. It is an ARB requirement that a formal appointment is in place before any design work is undertaken.

Me during the meeting: Did you not get these in the post? Oh right, I'll just get these copied... (aside) Nikki, Nikki, quick, help me photocopy these drawings! (scramble for the copier, return looking flustered) we are... (hand out drawings, find some are missing, run back, copy missing drawings, rush back to meeting room, spill cup of coffee on drawings)
Minutes: Structural drawings were issued.

Do you see? Invaluable for career progression.

Great job titles

We are getting some new carpets so I rang up Carpet Right. I saw on their website that they'll send round a man to measure up and bring you loads of samples to choose from, 'all the comfort of your own home.'

I thought they were just a cheapo, pikey carpet shop for skint people, usually situated next to Burger King on retail parks - but apparently not! No! When I rang the call centre I didn't speak to an operator, I spoke to an 'Associate'. And we don't have a salesman coming round, we have a 'Carpet Consultant'.

bzzzzz .... owch

I got electrocuted yesterday - properly electrocuted via a mains lighting circuit. I did that wired juddering thing that you see on Holby city when someone is getting a shock. I always assumed that was bad acting but no, you do actually judder.

Anyway, I let out a huge blood curdling shriek, wept on the sofa for 2 minutes, then I was fine. (Except for a little cooked patch in my hand where the wire touched.) Wouldn't recommend it though.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Busy friday afternoon at the office

e-mail to Mars/masterfoods uk:

Dear Sir,

Please can you help us solve an office dispute. We are wondering what is the standard size of a malteser.

This debate begun last Christmas when a 'fact' in a window of our Malterser advent calender stated how many Maltersers it took to go around the world. In measuring the maltesers we found behind each window we realised there is quite a large deviation in the size of each ball. Because we only got one ball per window per day, we found it hard to acrue a large enough sample to acurately determine the average diameter.

There must be a size that your Malteser machine aims to produce - what would this be?

We are considering using the malteser as a standard unit of measurement but can't do this until we have a definitive answer to this important question.

Your Faithfully,

Rachel Simons

You're nicked mate.

The foreman on my site has been arrested! Know one seems to know what he's done.

The police rang the Contractor's office today to tell them that he is 'helping them with their enquiries' and would not be at work today. My curiosity is absolutely killing me!


As the dulcet tones of the radio alarm filtered through my sleep this morning, gradually rousing me into consciousness, I heard a traffic announcement.

I was half asleep so I'm not sure if I was dreaming or not, but I heard there was a traffic jam near Hull due to large dinosaurs on the road.

I can only assume these were fibre glass models overhanging the edges of the lorry so consequently going slowly, rather than actual real live dinosaurs. I really hope so. By the time I was awake enough to question what I had heard, the announcement was over and now I am left in a state of confusion.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Money can't buy you taste

Today I have been sharply reminded of the fact that, even if you have all the money in the world to spend renovating your house, it doesn't mean the things you buy are any more stylish than someone who has to be more frugal.

The comparison came when I realised that my rich client has spent almost exactly 1000 times more on her house renovations as I have on mine. Yes - 3 noughts on the end more than me.

Is her house 1000 times nicer? No. Granted, it's about 10 times bigger, and the outside is better looking, but inside my house is winning hands down. She has the most horrendous choice in paint colours, awful art on the walls, tacky sanitary ware and dreadful furniture. I had to bite my tongue when she proudly showed me a mongolian wine tasting table costing £3000 that looked like it was rescued from a house fire.

When I walked in today I thought there was a leak in the roof and the walls had gone all patchy and damp, but no, it's the design on the wallpaper! Absolutely hideous.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Roz: What exactly is a 'Mews'?
Me: Isn't it a greek woman in a white flowing dress, flowers on her head and a harp?
John: (he knows everything) Yes, from ancient Greek mythology. It's any of the 9 daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Also a muse can be a protector of an art or science.
Roz: No, I mean 'm.e.w.s'
Me: oh. stables.

More STUPID builder stories...

I would sincerely like to thank all our kind friends who bought us our lovely, huge, white, fluffy, Egyptian cotton towels as a wedding gift earlier this year. We love them.

So, it seems, do our builders, who yesterday used them as dust sheets while stripping Artex off the ceilings. Along with our tea towels.

When will this ordeal be over?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Miracle update

According to my colleague Zoe we sweat, on average, an eggcup full of sweat out of our feet every night when in bed.

Is this where the con lies? Wearing the pads make your feet hot. The pads have some chemical which reacts with the sweat and turns black, making you think the day's pollutants have been cleansed from you body. Bingo!

That will be £17.50 please.

It's a Miracle!

Last night I was thumbing through a copy of Gardener's World magazine my Mum left at my house this weekend. Towards the back I came across a full page advert asking:

Do you feel old, tired and fat?

Apparently the solution to all your health problems lies in the purchase of 'Foot detox pads' You buy these pads and stick them on the bottom of your feet while you sleep. They look like big plasters. During the night the pads suck out toxins leaving you feeling younger, more energy, and more incredibly, THINNER.

It's a miracle. Imagine a plaster on your foot thats sucks out your fat! I could wear one permanently and never worry about munching those afternoon buns that constantly appear in the office kitchen. The fat would go in at the top and be sucked straight through, and out the bottom, then safely disposed of in the bin.

At first I thought it must be a scam but it's all over t'internet so it must be true - look!

I can't belive such a revolutionary slimming aid has been marketed soley at the readers of Gardener's World. Surely this should be headline news?

My dieting days are over...

Monday, November 14, 2005


My warmest congratulations to Roz who, after 9 years of hard slog is now a fully qualified, bona fide, top drawer, superduper Architect!

I am especially proud because I helped her on her Case Study and she got a grade A for it.

The final exam to become an Architect is the worst exam in the world. It comprises of many different parts, including an 3 day long exam, (hell on A4 paper) a case study (7000 words on a project in the office) a number of assignments, monthly log sheets detailing your working experience, a CV and an hour long interview with 2 examiners.

This exam comes after 3 years for a BA Hons degree, 1 year working, 2 years post-grad design course, and at least one more year working. You can do the whole thing in 7 years if you push it. I took 8 years to qualify but 9 or 10 is typical.

Any person enduring this torture should be worthy of your respect. Well Done Roz!

My quiet life

Nothing of note happened today.

Sorry, I try to be interesting but today just fell flat on it's face. I could tell you about my trip to Ikea to buy a dish drainer but really, is it worth it? All this amazing technology for me to discuss the positive merits of a square dish drainer over a round one? I don't think so.

You'll just have to wait for something to happen, and when it does, boy will I be typing like a maniac.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Full recovery

Some of you may remember that I recently burned my left buttock on the towel rail while climbing out the bath. (See 26th October)

So, for some sense of closure, I would like to announce the full recovery of said buttock, with the last scabby bit falling off today, leaving my buttock restored to it's glorious peachy self.

Beyond the call of duty

I'm a very helpful person. One of my clients must think so anyway.

I have spent 18 months of my life working to build her a new house and have found myself increasingly drawn into every aspect of her life. In the past she has asked me to find loo roll holders for the bathrooms, collect her post, and she regularly cries on the phone or in my car about her marital problems.

Things have gone a step too far today when she asked me to sort out her council tax. Last I looked I was an Architect, not personal skivvy, but I could be wrong. I pretended to misunderstand her request and am eagerly awaiting a phonecall asking why I won't do it. Quite simply - it is not my job - sort your own life out! We all have to!

I suspect the reason she gets me do stuff like this is because my hourly rate is less than her Shrink/interior designer/personal assistant, and up until now I usually agree with a wry smile to her increasing cheeky requests.

I bet if she was paying Insolvency Accountant Jane's hourly rate she wouldn't be so keen for me to sort out her bills.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

City shorts? Fashion icon or disaster?

Now here's a post for the girls. Boys, you can skip this bit if you like.

I was driving back to the office this lunchtime after spending a FREEZING morning on a building site, fingers blue and toes like ice cubes. As I waited in my car at a pelican crossing, I saw a girl in the most bizarre outfit. She had lovely hair, a chocolate brown jacket, nicely cut, great boots, and - wait for it - tweed city shorts.

Just what is going on here? a) it's November, it's Scotland, it's blowing a gale and it's 4 degrees. b) They just looked silly. There was about 6 inches of white knobbly knee showing above the boots and below the shorts. The tweed had a crisply pressed crease down the front, like a good pair of smart trousers would have, but these were SHORTS!!!

I am not, and never will be, the most fashionable or fashion conscious girl in the world. Not getting on this particular fashion band wagon does not bother me at all. I find it incredible that anyone can be so desperate to feel 'in fashion' as to put all aesthetic and practical notions to one side and actually spend their hard earned cash on something so atrocious.

Do any of you girls have a pair? If so what do you wear them with? Boys, I bet you any money you've read this post with fascination, just because I told you not too. You're so predictable.

1000 visitors

I was planning on offering a big prize to the 1000th visitor to this blog, you know, a speed boat, or an all expenses paid trip to Lapland or something. When I logged on 10 mins ago to check my comments I realised that I was the 1000th visitor!

Hurrah! I'll take the cuddly toy please!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My new project

This is my new project at work. Not bad eh?

The client who lives here is the doctor who invented laser eye surgery so he's not short of a bob or two. We are repairing the roof, reorganising the interior a bit and updating the bathrooms. It was used as a hotel for a few years and is a bit 70's inside.

It poured all day, and about 20 seconds after I took this picture, I slipped over and slid on my arse all the way down the hill to the car.

What a professional.

kit kat flood gates have opened...

My my, now I know how to get you lot going! The mere hint of an unusual item of confectionery and you're off like jack rabbits!

Thanks to Tony for this link which lists the staggeringly large menu of kit kat varieties available throughout the world.

Phil did a review of the Caramac Kit kat some time ago, which you can read here. I admit that even though I do sometimes eat Caramacs when feeling particularly sugar deprived, I never indulged in this particular nestle offering. Can you still buy them?

Chris claims that the Green tea coated peanuts he brought back from Shanghai were delicious, but I can't imagine it. How is green tea viscous enough to stay wrapped around a peanut? And what in gods name is Wasabi??

Green tea kit kat

I heard on Radio 4 this morning that in Japan they have brought out a Green Tea Kit Kat.

A Green Tea Kit Kat?

Surely these two are not natural bedfellows? I love both green tea and kitkats but somehow the thought of this combination makes me feel a bit sick. Here's a picture I found on t'internet.


Nick is tired. This may have something do with my insistence, in the middle of the night, that I didn't know who he was. According to Nick, ( I have no recollection of this whatsoever) the conversation went like this:

Me: (shaking Nick until he woke up) What IS your real name?
Nick: eh? It's Nick.
Me: Are you sure it's not Muriel?
Nick: (?????) Go back to sleep.
Me: zzzzzzz

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


My desk is next to a window that is about 15 metres from an old folks home.

There is a man who lives there and he regularly shouts 'let me oooooout' or 'heeeeelp' out of the window. It's a bit worrying. Janet, our office manager, once phoned the Home to find out if he was ok, and apparently he was fine, just a bit distressed. (not as distressed as his wife who lives in the room with him - poor woman)

Anyway, it struck me that we hadn't heard the pleas for help for some time. Has someone finally let him out? or has God answered his call?

(Interesting aside - in the summer my boss found an old man dressed in pajamas in the tool shed, sitting on a pile of leaves.)

Weird morning

After all the angry phone calls and recriminations from the builder, this morning's meeting with the guy I am accused of insulting was very strange indeed.

Door bell rings
Nick: Hi, how are you?
Builder: Fine thanks! So... (looks round the half finished kitchen) the plumber will be in here later, the joiner will build the new wall today, I'll get the oven going, the hob in, the plaster is arranged for Thursday etc etc etc
Me: (confused) look, I just wanted to apologise for any misunderstandings we've had. We are really happy with your work, we just wanted to talk about progress etc etc
Builder: Och no no no, everythings fine, I was just having a bad day. I just found out my Mum is dying of Cancer. Sorry for all the hassles.

Nick and I were lost for words. When he left we just looked at each other, mouths hanging open, palms upwards, and shoulders in a permanent shrug. I never saw that one coming - we were all prepared for a big showdown.

It seems bizarre that they can behave like that to me, be so rude and really upset me, and then act like it was nothing. I'm sorry about his Mum, and I'm grateful they seem to be pushing the job on, but I have to wonder what is really going on. Are they going to fly off the handle at any like request I have?

I am not looking forward to telling them I will be withholding 10% to make sure they fix any defects...

Monday, November 07, 2005

pep talk

Just had a pep talk about builder with my Mother who, in Tom cruise style, made me shout out 'SOD HIM' numerous times and very loudly.

I must admit, it's working.


right - I'm calm. and he's a knob.

Builder - update

Ok, so, apparently the problem with our builders is ME.

According to the builder, I 'lectured him like a school boy'. They have 'bent over backwards to accommodate me'. The foreman refuses to come back to my house. He has 'taken alot of shit over the years but has never been spoken to like that'.

This is ridiculous! I am practically blind with rage. All I wanted to know was when they would be finished, and why things had taken much longer than anticipated. The last time I came across such childish behaviour was when I was at school, certainly not from grown men who should be used to dealing with such questions.

I am also upset because I truly believe I was being very reasonable when talking to the guy. It makes me wonder: who else have I inadvertently upset?

In my calm moments I realise that this guy obviously has some 'issues', be those with women, or younger women, or younger women architects, or someone figuring out when he has made a mistake and challenging him. In my angry moments I just think AAAAAAAAAARGGGGGGGGGG

If this was not my own house then I wouldn't give 2 hoots. I'd just shrug and sort it out. Unfortunately it IS my own house and it seems so much more personal. I will be very very relieved when this is all over.

Culinary delights

Since the disappearance of our kitchen into a skip 2 weeks ago, Nick and I have been subsisting on take-aways, breakfast cereal and microwaved meals.

I never really appreciated the horror that are microwaved meals. Not necessarily because they taste bad, (although, to be frank, most do - I have a curry last week that definitely smelt of vomit) but more the strange meal experience.

1) Decide who is going first - microwaved meals force food to be eaten consecutively rather than collectively.
2) pierce the film and put in microwave.
3) 5 minutes later, tip slop onto plate and gobble up the meager portion in front of the television.

Meanwhile Nick is heating up his food. By the time his is ready, mine has been consumed, and I am left with a really strange sensation of 'Did that meal actually happen?' The whole experience lasts about 8 minutes, from deciding what to eat to washing up the plate.

Eating like this has made me realise just what an important ritual mealtimes are. We do not always cook elaborate meals by any means, neither do we always sit at the dining table to eat, but the simple act of preparing a meal and sharing it with another person is central to our culture. I can't imagine being a family who live totally on ready meals - and I know lots of families do.

Health issues aside, I think it's sad that some people's meals are eaten in solitude and are over in 8 minutes. I guess it leaves more time for soap operas.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Has ANYONE out there ever had an easy and pleasurable experience with a builder?

Yesterday, on realising that the 2 week completion promise made to me by the builder was not materialising, I asked them when they were likely to finish the job. I think I was quite within my rights to ask as things are not easy when you only have 2 habitable rooms in the house (bedrm and bathrm) and no way of cooking or washing clothes.

Somewhere along the line there was a major misunderstanding and I received a VERY shirty voicemail on my mobile from the boss. He was sounding really angry and wanting to know why I had a problem blah blah blah.

His message was completely unnecessary when all he needed to say to me was 'We've had a few problems with x, but we will be finished by x.' I would have been happy as Larry. As it stands I am confused as to what I said that was so inflammatory, and confused as to why he was so defensive and cross.

Why can't we all just get along?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Ground, please swallow me up....

Phone call to damp proof specialist man:

Me: (on hearing yelping noises in background) Where are you? is that a dog?
Damp proof man: (dead pan) no, it's my daughter.
Me: (gulp) oh, erm, well, about your quote....

God Bless America

Nick is back from America. Here's a snap of him outside the White House.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tummy ache

I have a sneaking suspicion that my current unhygenic living conditions at home are having an adverse effect on my health.

I am going to Roz's for tea (thank the lord - a proper cooked meal at last) and am very worried - she has a small loo next to the kitchen with a glass door. I think by the end of the evening everyone will be aware of my small problem.

Poor me.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cautionary tale

I heard a funny story today about a farmer in Aberdeen.

He decided to knock down some of his outbuildings and build instead 2 new houses in the green belt. He didn't have planning permission so he made a massive stack of old potato boxes and hid his development behind it.

Needless to say someone noticed what he was up to and the council have ordered him to pull down the new houses.

(Al and Sue, perhaps this is NOT a potential course of action if your planning permission is denied.)

Nick, all is forgiven

I try not to be a nagging wife. I think I succeed most of the time, but I have been known to go on to Nick about his terrible aim when in the loo.

I will have to revise this opinion of Nick. His aim is perfection compared to our builder. My god, I feel squeamish going in the loo at the moment, and have been mopping the floor and rinsing down the pan every evening.

Sorry to be so graphic but some things in life are just too fundamental to ignore and should be brought out in to the public domain:

Men, it's easy. Look where you are weeing, and if you miss, wipe it up.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Marriage must be good

Chris recommended the use of this site:

to determine whether you 'fill in forms' or 'fill out forms'. I had a good old chuckle at this. I mean, it's not terribly intellectual, I realise that, but it passes 5 minutes very pleasantly.

I tried fighting my married name against my maiden name. Rachel Simons won hands down. Somehow that's vaguely reassuring.

No more Mr Nice Guy

I have decided: I am too nice.

Generally I always try to be pleasant, friendly and calm to people I work with, no matter what disasters are unfolding. I always thought that getting angry was counter productive and that if people liked me then they would try extra hard to do what I asked of them.

I have revised that opinion. For the first time in ages I actually got cross. I raised my voice on the phone and suddenly things started to happen.

I suspect that part of the reason was the shock factor. Nice little smiley Rach turns into hard uncompromising bitch might have been a surprise for the unsuspecting Contractor, but it worked.

I will be storing this particular weapon up my sleeve for future use, so watch out...


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