Wednesday, 19 September 2012


The university has reopened for students after the summer break. The autumn/winter semester has begun and next week sees the start of seminars and, thus, work for me. This year, as well as the textual analysis course I've been doing on and off for a few years now, I'll be tutoring another two. The first is called Issues in Contemporary Society which is, pretty much, applied ethics. And the other is an academic writing course for students who need a little extra help when it comes to using formal, academic language and structure.

As with everything there are good and bad aspects to all this working. The main good will be having a bit of money. There are several things I could do with that require more than I currently have: new spectacles, for example. I can feel that my eyesight has deteriorated quite far since I last had my eyes tested: reading hurts, and I don't recognise people in the street until they are upon me which can get me into, not trouble, but difficulty. I seem constantly to be saying, "Do apologise, I'm blind as a bat!"

I could also really do with a couple of jumpers (sweaters for those of you across the Atlantic). I meant to get some last winter, but everything I earnt went into a joint bank account and I never saw it again. The last time I bought any warm clothes was 2009, and, quite frankly, they're looking a little shabby now. It would be nice to have at least one fresh looking woolly.

I'm running out of face cream, too. And I can't remember the last time I had decent shampoo. So all that will be jolly good.

Another biggie for the goods is that I really love teaching. There's something incredibly vivifying about seeing the pennies dropping one by one, often quite slowly, sometimes all of a sudden, in the students' eyes. The change in their understanding, and ability to debate points reasonably by the end of the course is usually huge, and it's always a joy to think: "I helped them get here."

On the less good side: no more Thursday night music sessions for me until the Christmas break. No more lazy mornings in bed with coffee and Dave tales, during the week, at least. And I'm likely to be tired, and sometimes a bit grumpy, because the workload is large and can be stressful. Especially when it comes to marking essays. Dave is going to see a different side to me. Relaxed, playful Eryl will be replaced with fraught, efficient Eryl. I hope it doesn't put him off.

Here follows some random photographs that show what I've been up to in my last couple of weeks of creative freedom:

Globe courgettes, courtesy of my boss, Katherine, at the book shop who has an allotment and found herself overrun with them. 

Chanterelles, courtesy of a local beech wood. I cooked them in just a little water and a drop of red wine vinegar, as advised by a friend of Dave's who lives in France, and they were scrumptious.

Ian, of Moffat Music Live, and the Bull sessions, in the Annandale Hotel on Sunday. I've been trying to get a decent picture of him for ages, but for some reason he's never around when I have my camera. So, knowing he'd be there on Sunday I took it with me especially. Moffat Music Live uses my photographs for publicity, and they didn't have one of him, which was a bit of an omission, really. Now rectified.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Day Tripper, Yeah...

Some years ago my sister in law told me she'd heard there was a village in Scotland whose architecture was Dutch in style. She couldn't remember what it was called, or where in Scotland it was, but thought I should search it out. I asked a few people, got blank looks, and then pretty much forgot about it.

A day or so before his first (bi-monthly) visit to his mother after I'd moved in, Dave suggested he could drop me off somewhere along the way. After considering this for a while I thanked him but declined. The only place I could think of was Edinburgh and because I hadn't yet acclimatised to my new impoverishment I couldn't imagine spending a whole day there. My usual Edinburgh day trips consisted of either going to an exhibition or mooching round the sites and shops. Both these options included at least one stop for coffee, and another for lunch. And I couldn't imagine not doing those things.

Fast forward five months, to the end of July, I had become quite used to existing on bugger all, and my horizons had expanded. I could now quite happily spend hours in the countryside and eat nothing at all. So I asked Dave if he could recommend anywhere of interest that wouldn't take him too much out of his way when his next visit was coming up. He gave me a few examples, I googled them, and found a link to Culross. When I clicked on this link I realised it must be the place my sister in law had mentioned all those years before.

It's a National Trust restored medieval village that was built on trading links with the Low Countries. What made it perfect for me was that as well as being picture book pretty it's on the coast, and is surrounded by modern industry. Across the river (Forth) is the huge and spewing Grangemouth power-station.  Driving through the landscape to Culross you could be in a Terry Gilliam movie, and then, pah dah! you're in the illustrated Hans Cristian Anderson. Culross is all painted houses and hanging gardens.

There's a pumpkin coloured palace (I didn't go in as it cost nine quid but was told by a couple of lovely chatty women who live nearby and visit regularly that it was lovely inside);

which you can look down on from the back and out to the power station;

a ruined abbey;

Parley Gardens
a lovely garden with some interesting art work. I chatted at length to a very old man who told me it used to be the place where the donkeys lived before they were moved to a sanctuary. It's is now owned and run by his son who keeps it open to the public so everyone can enjoy it. It was free to enter and had a tin in which you could donate to the British Heart Foundation, which I did.

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There's also a wonderful pottery/gallery. I had to force myself past almost everything it sold.

Luckily it has a garden tea room

where I did stop for coffee and cake.

I had a lovely day ambling up wonky streets, past multicoloured houses in the sunshine. But I think the broken down old pier was my favourite bit.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Present

Apparently there's no time like it so here goes.

I keep beginning to write posts; then I get tangled up, too much to report, probably; then I get distracted: Dave comes home, the phone rings, someone knocks on the door, I feel hungry...

So, here's a quick list of what's been happening in the hope it might help disentangle my thoughts and allow me to move on.

I continue to explore the world of vegetarian cooking and expand my active repertoire. In order to help me remember what I can do I've propped a small blackboard on the kitchen radiator.

Thus I don't have to wrack my brains too much when thoughts of supper take hold. Though I find, on the whole, vegetarian food takes much longer to prepare so I to resort humus wraps more often than I'd like. At least I make the hummus myself, mostly.

The first ever Moffat Sheep Race took place on August 12.

Organised by by ex next door neighbour it was a roaring success. I was in the bookshop, but I could feel the jolliness and in between races people came in and told me all about it. Dave was playing in the Ewe 2 session in the Annandale Arms Hotel so once I shut up shop for the day I joined him and the boys in there.

On August 9, Dave had a gig at the Edinburgh Festival, in the marvellous St Brides Centre, so, obviously, I went up with him. In the afternoon he had a sound check so I went to the Picasso exhibition in the Modern, which was marvellous. I didn't see half of it, though, so must, must go back before it ends in November. Meanwhile I'm trying to decide if I can afford to send off for the catalogue which I browsed in the shop and am desperate to read.

August 25 was a day of particular goodness: it marked our half year together. A whole half year! I feel a bit like a three year old saying that, but I can't believe he's put up with me that long. That we've had six whole months and, apart from my lack of funds, everything's been great. I don't think I've ever met a more tolerant man. And romantic, too: every morning he brings me (and himself) a cup of coffee, and we sit in bed and chat about this and that. On this morning he also brought me

I'm thrilled not just because they're gorgeous, but because he wanted to mark this six month anniversary.

Other news: it's Bob (my son)'s birthday on Friday. He'll be 27. I won't get to see him, but I saw him a few weeks ago and hope to see him again before long.

I've only got about a month to go before I start back at the university for the winter semester. This will give me a little money for a little while. Hopefully the house will sell and sort me out for a bit longer.

And that's it. Dave's key is in the door and now I want to talk to him.