Friday, June 30, 2006


It takes ages to become an Architect. That's all well and good but once you start working in a proper job, you realise that all those years at university don't really prepare you for reality.

After completing 2 degrees in making models and pretty drawings, you feel like you don't know much about getting real buildings built. In fact you won't know ANYTHING about getting buildings built. You have to start from the very beginning, despite being 7 years down the line already.

Personally I found all this a bit scary. I have worked in various architectural practices now for 5 years and practically every day of those 5 years I have felt a complete fraud. I have bluffed my way through all sorts of situations. I have smiled confidently, gritted my teeth, wiped away the perspiration of fear and pretended I knew what I was doing.

Miraculously it has worked. I have only been threatened with litigation once, and none of my buildings have collapsed yet.

Now, here's the amazing thing. It suddenly dawned on me yesterday (while I was presenting a new scheme to a Client,) that I wasn't bluffing anymore. I wasn't pretending to do a job I was inadequately prepared to do - I was actually being quite competent. I was answering his questions without crossing my fingers behind my back, and he seemed convinced by my answers. Indeed he was actively seeking my opinions and telling me my ideas were good.

It may not seem much to you but I feel great. This must be what a Tesco checkout girl feels when she masters the art of using the till without have to put on her flashing light to call a supervisor.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I might be about to make myself unpopular but I don't care:

How much more can there possibly be left to discuss about football? Surely by now every tiny detail, every possible outcome has been proposed, dissected and reassembled. If there was a limit on how many football-based-words-per-human-per-lifetime were allowed, then that limit must have been reached by now.

I'm bored. It's 22 men kicking a ball about a field. Get over it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Weekend in cork

We spent this weekend in Cork, visiting Nick's Dad who is seriously ill in hospital over there. It is a tough time for all the family, and everyone is rallying round to help their Dad and each other in the best way they can.

Being in the hospital for all those hours made me realise again how amazing nurses and porters are. They have such a difficult and demanding job, physically and emotionally - a job far beyond the demands I have sitting in my nice comfortable office all day drawing lines and making phone calls.

They work long shifts and never outwardly show irritation or tiredness, although I'm sure they must feel both. I could NEVER do what they do and not feel irritated by demanding patients, or freaked out by some of the pretty gross tasks they have to undertake several times a day.

We felt immense gratitude to the wonderful nurses caring for Nick's Dad, and our gift of a box of chocolates seemed somehow totally inadequate.

Our stay in Cork was largely helped along by the breakfast laid on by the Garnish House B&B. I would highly recommend it should you ever go to Cork. They boast of having the best breakfast in Ireland, and while I was dubious of this claim at first, I would now go as far as to say it was the best breakfast in the WORLD.

They are up at 5 to bake their own bread, scones and pastries. You have these with homemade jam and cream. Next is the buffet bit. They make their own yoghurt and musli, and you can have this with a large selection of fruit. There are loads of Irish cheeses, cured meats and smoked salmon on the buffet as well. Oh and chocolate cakes too!

Next they try and force you to eat a bowl of porridge with whipped cream and baileys or whiskey. We managed to avoid this in order to save room.

Now you order your cooked part. Along with the usual bacon and eggs they have about 15 other options, like French toast, poached eggs en cocotte, waffles, fish dishes, avocado concoctions, and loads more I can't remember. You can mix and match anything you liked as well, they are totally flexible.

In the end it doesn't really matter what you actually order because 2 minutes into your plate arriving the landlady is round with platters of fried potatoes or herby patties or something, muttering 'oh you haven't got any potaoes - here have some potatoes - they're gorgeous - there you are' and your protestations are totally ignored.

After squeezing down your cooked breakfast (cooked to absolute perfection by the way) The landlady appears with plates of perfect pancakes and strawberries, delivering them to you in a way they is impossible to refuse. On our last day she put down our plates and then handed us a foil packet, saying 'here you go, here's some pancakes for your journey'. If you want more courses you just keep going, in fact they will just keep going until you summon up the courage to say 'No more - STOP!'

It was quite an incredible spread and each day we had to have a little lie down afterwards to recover.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bowel news

I was listening to a programme all about bowels the other day, (only on Radio 4) and thought I'd pass on a few nuggets of information I learned during this very informative show.

There are more bacteria in your bowel at this moment than there are humans that have ever lived.

There are more bacteria cells in your body than there are human cells, which makes you a minority in your own body. How cool is that!

You will now wonder how you ever lived without this knowledge. Radio 4 rules.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I feel compelled to tell you...

Today was a good hair day.

Makes a change these days, I'll tell you that much.

Evening classes

I am feeling at a slight loss because my printmaking/etching evening classes at the Edinburgh college of Art finished last night for the summer.

I love having arty projects on the go and my classes really make me continue to think, and draw in my sketch book. I must try to carry on over the next few months.

I would recommend an art or design based evening class to anyone, even if you feel you are not particularly talented in that area. Many people who go are not great artists, but it's brilliant to be doing something so different from your ordinary life for a couple of hours. I get so absorbed that my tiredness is lifted and my problems are put to the back of my mind. Quite often I don't feel like going after a long day at work, but 10 mins after arriving I'm having a great time and glad I made the effort.

The ECA offer a massive selection of evening courses from normal painting and drawing, to silversmithing (I did that last year), metal sculpture, book binding, photography, animation, fabric design and sculpture, ceramics, oooh and loads more weird and wonderful stuff. This year I took Japanese woodblock printing and etching.

The courses are quite expensive at the ECA. They work out at about £15 for a 2.5 hour class, but the facilities and teaching are great, and being surrounded by the full-time student's work is very inspiring.

Having done a fairly arduous degree myself, the thought of fiddling about arranging light bulbs in cardboard boxes for 3 years is very appealing. Maybe I'll give up work and go and do an art degree. Now wouldn't that be nice....

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Vegetable HAZARDS

Today, the main hazard associated with growing your own veg made it's self apparent in the most graphic of terms.

I found a slug in my sandwich.

It was just a small one, about a centimeter long, and I spotted it on the lettuce before I ate it, but even so - bleughhh.

I must admit, the remainder of my sandwich was consumed with much more caution and far less gusto than usual. I wonder how many other little slugs I have happily and unknowingly munched thorough in the past few weeks?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Vegetable progress 5

Yesterday we harvested our first new potatoes, which were absolutely delicious. The taste and texture of them was definitely a big step up from supermarket spuds. We pulled them a bit early and they were a quite small, so were leaving the rest of the plants to bulk up a bit more.

The onions are doing nicely, as are the carrots and parsnips. There are also a fair few strawberries beginning to form too.

I'm a bit worried about the beans as they seem to be the favourite of the snails. I have lost all but 2 of my plants. My tomatoes are not looking very good either. A bit sad and leggy. The blueberry bush got seriously dried out while we were away and may never recover. Still, I wasn't expecting 100% success in my first year!

As were lying in bed last night, just dropping off to sleep, Nick said to me 'Isn't it amazing. You put one potato in the ground, wait a bit, and you end up with 10 potatoes.'

He's right. It is amazing.

I'm nice really

I've just read over that last post and realised it makes me sound really mean.

I promise I'm not. I'm quite nice generally.

Trouser saga

Due to a minor shoe disaster this morning, I was forced to go work wearing a pair of trousers that are slightly too short for the high heeled boots I had to wear. (these particular trousers are strictly flat-shoes-only-trousers.)

As a result my trousers were, as we used to say at school 'half mast'. We also used to say to anyone who had out grown their trousers, rather unkindly in retrospect, 'has your cat died?' (you know, flying the flag at half mast, etc etc.)

This reminded me of a particular cringe-worthy conversation I had once with a colleague when I worked in Sheffield.

Me: (skipping into the office in a mischievous mood and spying colleague with half-mast trousers) Oh look! Has you cat died!!!! ha ha ha !!!
Colleague: (looking at me with pained eyes)Yes, last night. She was run over. How did you know?
Me: gulp

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

not fooled for a moment

Wow - there is really bad transvestite standing at the bus stop outside my office window.

He is wearing white sandals, black tights, a white lacy halter neck dress with a black bra showing badly at the back. He had terrible black straggly hair, enormous hands and very obvious 5 o'clock shadow. Poor man/woman.

I heard an awful story from my Mum a year or so ago. One of her friends was shocked to the very core when her 19 year old son came home as a girl. I don't mean dressed as a girl, I mean actually a girl.

He had been to see a doctor in London. In this country they make you wait a year before the sex change operation. During that year you must live as a woman and have counselling to ensure that you are positive that it is the right decision, and to acclimatise to the new role.

This 19 year old lad decided not to wait, went to Thailand and had his bits chopped off that very month. Far be it for me to criticise his decision to become a woman, if that’s what he feels, but I do have to question his judgment in the rather speedy acquisition of the female form.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

So much to tell you...

well well well, where do I start? It seems as though I have been away for ever!

Today is Marches Day in Linlithgow. It's some ancient tradition that dates from the time of Mary queen of Scots who lived here. From what I can gather, the great and the good of Linlithgow dress up, sit in floats, march all around the town, drink booze and have a good old jolly. Most people in the town have the day off to stand in the street and cheer.

There is carnival atmosphere and I can't get any work done. There are pipe bands and brass bands marching 5 meters from my desk. Phone calls are pointless - I can't hear a thing! Oh! King Kong has just gone by my window.

Now, on to the holiday news.

We had a lovely time in Norway, staying at the cottage which belongs to my Mother-in-law. Unfortunately Nick's Dad was taken seriously ill, and he had to fly off to see him, leaving me all alone in the cottage in the middle of a forest. I had to stay because I needed to take back the car on the ferry and there is only 1 boat a week.

After a couple of days of isolation, (but before cabin fever could set in) my Mother-in-law arrived. I know what you must be thinking - what could be worse than being abandoned in a foreign country by your husband, only to have to spend the end of your holiday in the sole company of your mother in law - but actually I was so glad to see her and we had a very nice time.

Other things I learned during our holiday:
1) Hotdog sausages do not make good fishing bait. Neither do pickled herring.
2) I am incapable of making it through a holiday without breaking at least one pair of sunglasses. (I broke 3 pairs on our honeymoon. It was a good honeymoon ;-) I broke 2 pairs by crushing them to death with a scuba tank)
3) 3 mice can move a large amount of stuffing from the inside of a sofa to the outside of the sofa before eating rat poison and dying on top of the duvets in the top bunk bed. Yuck.
4) The Eiger Sanction is the worst book I have ever read, with the most hilarious sex scenes.
5) It is not a good idea to hold onto the side of a jetty while leaving your feet in the boat. Your weight will push the boat away from the jetty leaving you suspended and helpless between the two like a human bridge.
6) Nick claims he is directly descendend from the famous Viking chief, Harold Hadrada. I checked with some of his Norwegian relations and they verified this fact. Might explain a few things...
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