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Who is crazy enough to put on an outdoor production of Hamlet in a country which has stopped having summers?
And who is even crazier, to buy tickets for an outdoor production of Hamlet in a country which has stopped having summers?
So what do you wear, on a cold Saturday night in Glasgow, sitting outdoors watching Hamlet? Assuming it is not rained off again tonight.
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That's the thing about ebay. It is like having the world's biggest jumble sale at your fingertips, and you get charmed by something unexpected.
And you watch it quietly for months, and then the exasperated Hungarian seller suddenly halves the price, and you click automatically.

And now it's here, I have my doubts about whether it really does show a Bleriot flying over the fields of Europe. I think the farmers were actually watching a pigeon, and someone has photoshopped the Bleriot in. Or the 1910 equivalent, which may have involved drawing it in with a black pencil.
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Like Elijahwildchild I too am embarrassed at presenting something so poor for so great an artist. (and I don't even have photoshop). But the thought is there, and the good wishes.
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You see it in the old comedy films but it is weird when it happens!
OK, I knew on Saturday when the dogs were tumbling out the car at the top of the driveway that there was something not right with the handbrake, and then I forgot.

And yesterday morning I was at the top of the driveway, with the engine running and was leaning over the bonnet scraping the ice off the windscreen when I felt the car start to move away from me, backwards, down what is a steep hill although it does not look so bad in the photo.

I held on to it, perhaps for a full 20 seconds which is a long time in those circumstances, and was working out how I could get round and in the open door, or behind it, when I realised that is how people get killed, and that I was just going to have to let my little car go.

And then it really picked up speed, bucketing backwards faster and faster. And I could imagine it striking the walls at the foot of the driveway and blasting into the road to hit something else there.

But, instead, unbelievably, it hit the little kerb on one side, turned sideways, and shot up and backwards over the little kerb on the other side, and came to rest, very gently, in the tree.

And I feel really, really, lucky!

Deja vu!

Jan. 30th, 2011 08:26 am
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In exactly the same scenario as a year ago...
Scottish Presbyterian, January communion 9.30am V Andy Murray in the Australian open 8.30am.
Last year I went to communion and he was still playing (badly) when I got back.
GO ANDY!
And I'll run all the way back from the church.
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Yesterday was a bad day - I was loaded with the cold and utterly disgusting, too horrible to attend the dinner I should have been at, and last night I was on my own and very tipsy with the whisky I was taking (purely for medicinal purposes, of course.)

And I was wittering too much on LJ when a strange message flashed on the computer screen. Would I accept a call? And I agreed and the next thing, my sister-in-law from Manitoba was peering through the screen at me, elbowing her husband out the way!!!!!

And the little webcam she had Amazoned us for Christmas had obviously kicked in too because there was a little thumbnail of me. (Fortunately I had got up and showered at one point yesterday, put on a clean goonie, and cleaned my teeth twice, but it was still not a pretty sight, and I was drunkenly waving the remains of a half-pint mug of whisky at her.)

But we blethered. Oh, look, here comes my niece. Fourteen years since I last saw her, and she's now at university, coming home from her Saturday job in a warm coat and with perfect teeth, shouting at her elderly auntie.
And is this your new dog? as my sister-in-law scoops a wriggling terrier up onto her lap, and I whistle to get his attention and two of my dogs try to join in at this side.
And, here is the farm she has bought for her retirement - look at the photos.
And, oh yes, she wins the snow wars as the background shows the 18 inches that she has had this week piled up on the patio. And I try to pull the little camera from the computer to the window here, to let her see my four inches of snow from yesterday, but it is 11pm here and it is dark.
And the background here shows all my ironing hanging up on the OUTSIDE of the wardrobe behind me, in the spare bedroom we use as a study.

Oh, it was unbelievable. They had just been setting up the Skype ready for their first call to us tonight, and they had not expected to get an answer, least of all a very squiffy one.

And it was glorious. The pictures are sharp. It is in what my sister-in-law calls real time. And it is free. And we blethered and giggled for ages and it was wonderful.
I still can't believe it. And when Other Half came home from the dinner the words were falling out of me as I tried to tell him how marvellous it is.

We are ordinary people, and this is science fiction technology.
I am still high about it this morning.

Sister-in-law made jokes about some character from the Jetsons who used to hold up a mask or picture of herself when she spoke on this sort of thing. But I think I will spend the day with the curlers in before we speak again tonight!
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a) My washing is stuck in the washing machine, which is also full of water and soap bubbles, and no amount of pushing, pulling, kicking and swearing will make it rinse and spin, or open.
Running like a thread through today have been assorted attempts to get the washing out of there. Now I have given up, hope I have enough knickers left to see me through Christmas and into the middle of next week when the washing machine repair man MAY call. That's on the Minus side.

b) In between rounds with the machine, shoot up to Tesco to do father's shopping - almost 87 and not going out in these conditions. Leaving the overcrowded iced-up car park, notice a hat remarkably similar to mine placed helpfully on top of a bollard. Still thinking about that as I drive out, then casually start patting the passenger seat looking vaguely for mine.... Oh sh.t. Minus side.

c) Lunch with schoolfriend; Plus side.
Receive wrapped present not to be opened in presence of Other Half - may have something to do with a blond? Definitely Plus side.

d) Driving back, go for petrol. Now come on, how much snow has there been? No petrol. Big Minus.

e) Cherry. Yes, Cherry. Beautiful DVD, from ebay, less than three dollars, top quality and just glorious. Blond wearing well. Very happy 92 minutes. Big Plus.

f) Finish film, check emails. Marks and Spencer delivering present for sister-in-law. Warning email on December 16 that it might be as late as December 24 because of snow; nice email yesterday, aiming for December 23; email half an hour ago, will be January 5. Oh cr*ap. Going there for Christmas. HUGE Minus.

Time for pub.
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Hope he can make it through the snow and ice!
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They've gone. Unexpectedly. Miraculously. The wall is finished and the builders have vanished. Even their scaffolding is gone!
The satellite TV channels are back: Fx and NCIS, Dr Who, Hustle, the endless Christmas songs, Channel Five and NCIS, even the English BBC Two - they are all back. I've been zooming up and down the remote control, relishing it all.
The frigging snows are back too. Temperatures well below zero for the whole of the day, the car parks icebound, the pavements treacherous, the roads a nightmare.
But tonight I don't care. I'm going to lie on the floor and watch wall-to-wall NCIS.
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Two days of above zero temperatures and the snows have vanished! The world is green, and just about working again. Roads are open, shops, banks and the post office are opening (after a fashion), the bin lorry has been round at dawn, we have newspapers, and the Royal Mail is slowly struggling awake.
Now, it just remains for the builders to finish and flee away too.
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London seems like a dream now. It was super, a big adventure, and - amazingly - I got out of here and back in, only for the snow to close in dreadfully again yesterday.
But I can still get out on foot, so here is this afternoon's photoshoot which ended very suddenly when the wee dog (centre), who is 14 past, ran for home! Even the dogs are getting tired of the snow.

Besieged

Dec. 2nd, 2010 10:02 am
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This was yesterday morning's photo of the scaffolding and there is no picture this morning because it is full of builders.
Seriously. Really.

I was still in the dog-walking gear just after 9am and there was a knock at the door and here are the builders trooping and falling up the drive carrying all their stuff because they cannot get their lorry in this street for all the snow....But they are here.

And next thing they are up on the top level of the scaffolding, brushing off the snow, and drilling holes in the house.

I am now trapped in this room at the back, away from them all, because I am not going out in that (see my car, below). Every time I go near a window there is a builder outside, doing something. And it is still snowing.

So, let's see....Sapphire and Steel, or MFU this morning?
(And my sister-in-law in Manitoba is laughing at me because she says this is not snow.)

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I'm now snowed in; I've no Sky channels because this damned scaffolding is between the dish and the satellite; and the workmen won't be back until spring. Probably.
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With the flash bouncing off the snowflakes before sunrise, I was missing the old SLR with variable shutter speeds. However, life moves on.


Filling up nicely with snow but, despite that, my belated builders arrived in a blizzard and put their scaffolding up.
And my Sky has gone. Totally. I am left with the four terrestrial channels. No FX. No NCIS. No Colditz.
I am trapped in a McCallum-free zone. H E L P....
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At 8am this morning; then after the sun came up.



And this afternoon I have had the pack out in snow and bright sunshine, and now I am settled in with the Odd Man Affair.
Getting in the mood for a trip....
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Driving round the coast for the papers on Tuesday morning I screech to a stop and reverse back to read the hand-painted sign: "Iron age souterrain".

Oh, happy archaeologist to encounter such a thing.
And such a thing: discovered this decade, excavated by the community, maintained by the community: leave a donation in the box by the road, follow the faint path, and there is even a torch for you to borrow.

Cheerful archaeologist has the gear in the boot, but is staying clean. On round for the papers, leisurely coffee, back round bursting with anticipation, park neatly, change footwear, add outerwear, and skip along the little path as merrily as the tackety boots allow.

And then intrepid archaeologist turns chicken. Touch of the John Buchans, looking down into the darkness under the earth, uneasy on the Scarts o' the Muneraw.




Well, would you? Away on your own, would you put on a hard hat, lift the torch and crawl 17 metres along that underground passage?

And it was not a sensible fear. In this place my car would be seen and someone would look for me soon. No, it was a terror of being grabbed by Something in there, in some "dark abyss of savagery" yawning there.

And optimistic archaeologist became a silly tourist, trudged back to the car, and drove off.
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And that was from the bedroom window just after 8am on Wednesday. At 10am when I
headed out for the papers I was sandblasted by rain and the mountains were invisible through the mist; and when I found a quiet spot to read the papers:


the snow had arrived.

(And I was still short of one paper: the Radio Times. In a hotel notoriously famous for not doing television? But hotel famous for not doing television surprisingly had wi-fi and I'd been on LJ and was desperately hunting a Radio Times. Found it many, many miles later.)
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Dragged back to reality sooner than expected, but here's some highlights:
a)The Traffic Jam





From the driver's side; and the other side. When the main highway has only two lanes, roadworks are not easy.

b) Ye Famous Castle


Not quite as the postcards show it; got lashed with rain and hail taking this.
But after a pitstop for some compulsory cranberry juice on the jetty across the water, it looked a bit more like itself:



c) Narrowing Horizons
Go further north and the road is single track with passing places, and lunatic tourists stopped there to take photos



d) View from the bedroom window



e) Paper chase
Not that I needed to nip out for the papers - the hotel had plenty but I went anyway. A 22-mile round trip completely on single track road.



Hotel was empty, which was quite creepy. First night only two rooms in what is a Victorian country house were occupied, and the staff don't sleep in!
But I, finally, read The Time Traveler's Wife, mostly curled up on a couch at a roaring fire in an empty lounge looking over the water. Heaven.
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There is a hotel that sits almost on the edge of the world, a black mountain ridge at its back and the grey waves breaking below the terrace in front, and I am heading there early tomorrow. On my own. Without even one of the dogs.

When I was young I ran away twice. This time I am going with official sanction.

I need time and space.

And I have no plans at all. I have a list of books to go (including an MFU fanzine newly bought from ebay) and my ipod full of goodies, including The Form of Things Unknown, and I intend to spend a lot of time in the hotel bathroom playing with all the little bottles. Apart from that, nothing. And right now that is good.

One odd thought. This not-running-away says a lot about the depth of the recession.
This hotel is beyond my price range and I had picked me out one I could afford; but just on the offchance I emailed it, and - amazingly? shockingly? - they immediately offered me a rate that was £30 a night LESS than their website. And they could take me any time I wanted.
And I phoned the garage on Thursday, vaguely wanting my car looked at before setting out on a seven-hour journey through lonely glens and they could take it on Friday morning. (Not quite so happy about the aftermath there, but I had to admit I DID know what had happened to the car's suspension - something to do with a dig that is five miles off the road - and accept that it needed fixed.)

But that hotel was always booked up months in advance. Now it was advertising last year's prices, undercutting them straight away on request, and able to take me at a couple of days' notice.
And for a service, the garage always had to be booked a week or two in advance.

But for the next few days I am not fretting about the recession. I am on retreat.
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If you have to have a UTI, the worst place on earth to have one has to be on an archaeological dig.

When it came on, at the start of the week I was one of only three women on the site; the copse of trees I regard as being for my personal use was five miles away; and that leaves the ditches which, to be frank, are only useful if you are under three feet tall.

But, when you have to go, you have to go. So I went; frequently.
As did my concentration. I was still on my knees at one point when the site director shot over all enthusiastic about the burned bone I'd uncovered in the remains of Neolithic hearth - don't know if he realised I was about to chuck it in the spoil bucket. I had not even looked at it, and was too preoccupied to care anyway.

And for reasons too complicated to explain (and anyway, we have forgiven him) we'd had to leave the cars two miles from the site and hike in and out, and by the time I had inspected another ditch or two on the walk out I was mortified.

And the week got worse. Wednesday I "vanished" home; Thursday I got sent home.
Saturday I stayed in bed most of the afternoon, and today I was heading for the Kirk when another bout of incontinence changed my plans again.

And now I am bored. Last night I watched X-factor and this morning I have been on here fighting with the Concert Hall website to get the last two tickets for John Lill playing Tchaikovsky next Saturday rather than face an evening like that again. Assuming I am continent enough to go.

But I am giving me a couple of weeks off the digging until I'm 100% again.
An incontinent archaeologist is no use to anyone.
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