Anatomy of a winter holibag….

The winter holibag of 2008  has been one of the most relaxing winter holibags I have had in years. For once I wasn’t on the sofa with the duvet and a stinking cold and was able to enjoy the time off, even making a nice dinner and having my champagne on xmas day with little or no fuss!

The one shocking part of the time off though, was my complete laziness, in fact I must admit that (if I believed and cared) I firm adopted 2 of the seven deadly sins during the holidays; sloth and gluttony, to the extent that I have put on about 3/4  of a stone since the start of December.

I was also very much a recluse over the holiday, I ventured out on day to see the family and give the gifts, had some friends over for Hogmanay (which I still think is a bigger social and community event than xmas in Scotland), for drinks, laughs, Mario Cart and Wii Sports, and out of the house on New Year’s Day to a friends house for dinner.

This all may not sound very much like a social holiday that people expect it to be, but then I always think people expect too much from the winter holiday and are often disappointed and slightly aggrieved when it is over and they have spent a lot of time (and sometimes money) doing stuff and being places that they have not ultimately wanted to be……

I am not advocating selfishness, just a little care and consideration for yourself. How often do you get almost 2 weeks off without dashing off to the sunshine in some forgien climate? I do advocate fitting in some ‘down time’ in the winter holiday…. it works.

The Cake

So it is Imbolc today, the Feast of St Brigid. This afternoon I am helping a friend with a new flat she has bought, so I thought why not bake a cake.

It has been about 10 years since I have baked anything in the way of cakes and the such, so it was with a little trepidation that I set about weighing out stuff. The aim was a victoria sponge, so essentially 2oz of everything per egg and a bit of elbow grease in the beating, folding and greasing etc.

Overall the end result, and the whole experience was enjoyable, so cake making might be back on the menu as a wee fun pastime. Maybe some scones next.

One lesson learned though, my cake tins are 8 inches and when you make a recipe that says it is for 6 inch tins, then your cakes are going to be thin! Enjoyably nice, I have sampled and achieved independent verification from Scott, but thin.

Next time, double everything up! 

QE2

A friend of mine is very much “in to” the QE2, in fact he uses the word awesomealot when describing the ship (it is not a boat; as I have been told many time ;o).

When he heard that the last of the Clyde built ocean liners was being retired to life as a floating hotel off one of the palms in Dubai he was a little distraught and immediantly jumped on to Cunard’s website to book a cruise (or 2!). It was at that time he asked me if I wanted to go on one and, interested, I said yup.

To put it (and him) in context a bit, my friends dad used to be one of the people who would have to fly out around the world when a QE2 engine/turbine started to play up. So he was brought up with liners, and you could say it is in his blood.

I understood the majesty of the QE2, rather than being an ocean going hotel she was the last of the liners and she was Clyde built at John Brown’s, so there is a degree of history with her.

This was all fine and dandy until she started her 40th birthday lap of Britain. I had never seen the her with my own eyes so I booked up, with my friend, to take the Balmoral down the Clyde to escort her out of port and down the Firth of Clyde. A couple of days before we went to see her on the Forth and I was impressed. She was larger than I though and with the black hull and bright white decks looked good, but this trip down the Clyde made me understand a bit more about his “thing” with this liner.

Our first views were from up the Clyde as she was still docked at Gourock, just seeing the height of her against the cranes gave me a some kind of yard stick as to how bit this ship was. I am sure I could easily ask how long and how high, but suffice to say that in my eyes she was big, impressively big, but at the same time very stylish and proper. It is difficult to explain; maybe to say she was not big in the ostentatious or OTT way, there was a dignity and grace that I started to understand.

When she pulled away from the quayside and the floatila of boats were heading down the firth we got exteremly close and she was awe inspiring (have I just fallen head first into the awesome trap?). To hear the horn blow, it was one of those sounds that reverbarates in your chest; a sound you can feel, and that is always something.

I now can’t wait until December and my first (and most probably last) trip on the QE2, now I just wish it was transatlantic and not a weekend of the North Sea!

More pictures of the day are on my flickr

It has been a while……

The last post was back in June, in some ways it does not seem that long ago, but in others it seems to have been ages.

I must admit I spent a lot of July worrying and mildly panicing about the up and coming first anniversary of Tony’s death. I thought I was unprepared for what I was going to feel and how I was going to react. It was a very strange time and essentially has made me realise how much I cannot remember from July and August last year.

Towards the last minute I made plans to try and be away from home as much as possible; away to the Cairngorms in a friends croft. I find the hills and open spaces far more relaxing that the city and my friend and his mum were very understanding (as they were last year). Then after that I was away for Spain and France to spend a week with Scott as he had finished work and was ‘holidaying’ for a month before coming home. That trip was truly relaxing, I hired a car and we drove around the north of Spain, through Andorra and into France. Stayed a monestry, climbed a peak in the Pyrennes and explored a castle in the dark. It was a such a difference from last year that I still have vivid memories of the holiday even now.

I have now also got Fes back :oD The work was pricey but he is a new car now and has returned my joy of driving around in a small odd wee car. It is not an understatement to say that the Mini thing and the trips and runs with the Mini Clan are reasonable part of my life. I have met some great friends through it and have been on some spectaular holidays and trips. At the end of August I was up in the Black Isle supporting Minis in Inverness’ charity run. Another really good weekend taking me to places in Scotland that I have never been to and I want to go back and explore more. Some more flickr photos.

Work has been good, in fact it has been damn good. I have a couple of really interesting items on my desk at the moment and I am really enjoying the challenge. It once again reminds me that I am very luck about working life, I enjoy (to a high degree) the work and I do and the place that I work. Granted there are always small things that I would change (and the odd big one as well), but I get the opportunity to say my bit and I know that, in some if not all, it is taken on board and valued as a contribution. There has been a bit of sadness as one of my good collegues and mates has left to go on to better things, but it has left me with the opportunity to get some staff now and learn what it is like to be a people manager as well a the manager of a subject. Time will tell how that will go, but I think it will go well. (Maybe you can tell I am in an optimistic mood about life at the moment!).

There are more detailed things some of which are mentioned above and some are not, but I am going to fill in more blanks over the coming nights.