Coffee Grounds and Bin Bags

My husband works in a local supermarket here in Inverness, and the other day had a really weird conversation with a customer. The customer approached my husband and asked if he knew anything about air fresheners, and could he help as the customer wasn’t familiar with them and was unsure what to buy. So the obvious first question to ask was – what it is you want to use the air freshener for? And this is where the conversation got weird…

Apparently the customer was from the South of England, and he and his partner were coming to the end of a cycling tour around the North of Scotland. While cycling out in the back of beyond they had come across a decomposing dead deer carcass not yet picked clean to the bone, and had the crazy idea of removing and taking home the antlers as a souvenir of their trip. With great difficulty they had finally wrested the antlers from the deer skull, and now had them in their possession but were preparing to travel home to the South of England on the overnight sleeper train from Inverness to London.

An important point to note here is that at this time of year deer antlers are often covered in a hairy membrane known as velvet, which effectively helps provide the necessary blood supply to the fast-growing antler and is eventually shed. The customer indicated they had done their best to remove as much of the attached skin and dead meat as possible, however the process was not yet fully complete and they now needed to take the antlers home with them on the overnight train, so wanted to buy some air freshener to make the impending journey more pleasant!

I have no idea if they planned to leave the antlers in the guards van along with their bikes, or keep them in the sleeping compartment with them, but either way I doubt if air freshener alone would help much in disguising the sweet, stomach-heaving smell of decaying flesh in such an enclosed environment. My husband pointed out that coffee grounds were always a good natural deodoriser, and advised that perhaps a couple of heavy-duty bin-bags sealed thoroughly with tape may well be the best option for transport, along with whatever chemical air freshener fragrance the customer desired for external use…

So Who Won the Week for me this week is without doubt the English cyclist couple who took a pair of stinking antlers all the way home from the North of Scotland on a ten-hour journey on the sleeper train, drenched in air freshener… One way or another that seems to be the kind of wacky DIY souvenir of a trip you wouldn’t forget about in a hurry – and imagine the tall tales to be told around where they came from and how they got there! 🙂

The Healing Power of Nature

Honestly, this week I’d have felt lost without having my precious garden to escape to. It’s helped give me a proper focal sense of purpose during my first full week of unemployment due to redundancy, an actual, practical physical space to spend time in welcome activity as well as providing me with an abstract emotional passive space to process how I feel about not having a job any more.

This week I’ve had ample sunshine and fresh air and feel-good exercise and a quiet, subtle reminder that whatever else this pandemic has put a stop to, nature has endured throughout. Over this past year of repressive Covid restrictions and devastations the seasons have turned as ever, from spring to summer to autumn to winter and now back to spring again. The world still turns on its axis, familiar and free, and life goes on regardless…

So for me, I’d have to say that the healing power of nature has won the week, helping to keep me smiling through an otherwise difficult few days 🙂

Flower of the Day

Who Won the Week

Weekly Smile

Frozen Shoreline

Who Won the Week for me this week has to be the amazing cold weather. This weekend the UK has been blasted by Storm Darcy coming over from continental Europe, and although here in Inverness we don’t actually have any snow lying at the moment, this was the frozen shoreline this afternoon, walking along the rocks and seaweed at low tide. Although the salt in the seawater usually means it doesn’t ever freeze this close to the shore, today to my surprise everything below the high water mark was covered with a thin crumbly layer of ice, which looked really weird!

PS The last image shows part of the rotting wooden timbers of an old shipwreck only ever visible at low tide 🙂

Faded Roses

I think these really will be the last pics of the beautiful cut roses bought for me by my husband on 27th December last year – I’m absolutely amazed they’re still in such reasonable condition considering they’re now all of three weeks old. I’ve topped them up with fresh water every couple of days but other than that it’s all down to nature.

The colours are definitely fading and they’re getting more than a little tatty and brown around the edges, so it’s probably time to call it a day but I’m more than impressed to have had three weeks of lovely blooms from this bunch, so I think my vase of roses have definitely Won the Week for me 🙂

Flower of the Day

Photo A Week: Something Pretty

Pastel Roses

Who Won the Week for me this week is my lovely husband, who trudged home from work in the snow late last night (he finished his shift at 10.15pm) with a beautiful bunch of roses for me, just because he was thinking of me and he loves me.

Sometimes he chooses strong vibrant colours, but yesterday he decided on a delicate pastel pink with palest green-tinged outer petals, which really suited both the hushed snowy weather and the soft, subtle wintery feel of the world.

I love that he does little things like this every now and then,. Occasionally he’ll bring me something chocolatey, and sometimes something flowery, just because. What’s not to love in being brought such touching little tokens of love? ❤

Home Sweet Home

Who won the week for me this week is our lovely house – it’s a year almost to the day since we moved in, and I honestly think I love it more every day, knowing we intend to live here for the rest of our lives.

We finally had our new windows and doors fitted last week (several months behind our initial planned schedule, for obvious reasons – thank you, coronavirus lockdown) and the difference in how the whole internal space feels now is amazing, creating a much warmer and far more welcoming environment for us to live in than their ageing weathered predecessors were ever able to provide.

We’ve still got such a long way to go both inside and out to get the house completely the way we want it, but I know we’ll get there eventually one upgrade, one improvement at a time. And in the meantime this remains the practical, comfortable home we chose together, our secure safe space to be truly ourselves, living our own lives in our own unique way, growing older and hopefully wiser over the years.

Home to me is not supposed to be a sparkly surface-styled showhome, a classy double-spread feature in a glossy celebrity magazine. Instead it’s a private space, a sentimental personal place where we can feel we belong completely along with our private personal belongings, our brightest visions and darkest vulnerabilities, our highest hopes and deepest fears.

Home sweet home for us forever – happy first anniversary house! 🙂

Who Won the Week: My Dad

Today my dad turns 84, and my husband and I called him this morning to sing ‘Happy birthday’ to him over the phone.

This birthday is particularly meaningful to me because my dad has just spent the last five weeks in hospital, finally getting home just before the weekend. Over the last few years he’s survived four strokes and has vascular dementia, meaning both his mobility and memory are restricted so when he developed a really high temperature just before Easter, in the middle of this deadly pandemic, we all feared the worst.

Dad was duly taken into hospital and we worried he might have Covid-19, which in his poor state of health would no doubt have finished him off. However, although dad had developed both a urine infection and a chest infection, thankfully they were the only sources of his high temperature and after over a month of wonderful care and treatment by everyone in hospital now he is safely home again.

So for me, my dad has definitely Won the Week this week, for getting well enough to come home for his birthday when only last month we’d all feared the worst. I’m really sad I still can’t go out to see him due to our continued lockdown, but I’m just so relieved he’s still with us – love you very much, Dad, and hopefully we’ll all see you soon ❤

Who Won the Week – We Did!

I think everyone who continues to play their part in following whatever guidelines are set in place for their particular country, whether staying at home, working from home, or working tirelessly ‘on the frontline’ in whatever key worker role keeping the rest of us going, wins the week for me.

All of us who don’t see the rest of our families for now, don’t travel further than we need, don’t go out any more than necessary to buy provisions, and follow the required social distancing rules when we do – we are all doing our bit to get through this coronavirus crisis, and that counts for a lot.

Who Won the Week?

Hidden Figures – Facts and Fiction

We watched the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ on TV the other night, and we really enjoyed it, in an uncomfortable sort of way.

The movie tells the story of three black women who worked for NASA in the early 1960s, whose work effectively helped US astronaut John Glenn orbit the earth and return safely. It may or may not have represented an exact representation of reality, and of course the script was sanitised and smoothed over and given the usual glitzy movie-glamour treatment, but for me overall it represented an awkward, embarrassing time in history in a positively entertaining way. The storyline was based on a true story, but it was also a movie, not a docu-drama, and to my mind it did the job reasonably well.

Because the point is, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson were real people – that is an undisputable fact. And they were clearly top class mathematicians and scientists who did indeed work for NASA – another indisputable fact. That they would have met with the inherent societal prejudice of Jim Crow at that time is also a matter of historical record. But had it not been for the movie, I might never have heard of them, and that would have been my loss. So whatever people’s opinions on the narrative accuracy of the movie, I’ve learned something factually important from it and surely that has to be a good thing?

So who won the week for me this week (albeit retrospectively by about half a century) is without doubt, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Pioneers of their time. Thank you ladies, and I raise a toast to you 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Century

A Random Act of Kindness

Who won the week for me this week is a 60 year old relative stranger called Rod.

We actually only met him for the first time this morning, when he came round to help a friend of his pick up a heavy old terracotta planter from our front garden. We had inherited the home-made garden planter when we moved in to our new house but it’s really not to our taste, so we offered it to the youngest daughter of the family we bought the house from, incase she wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons as a memory of her dad. She decided she did indeed want it, and we arranged for her partner to come round this morning with his friend Rod to take it away.

We had a couple of large broken tree branches (taken down by a recent storm) stacked up in the back garden, topped up with a few more smaller cut down branches and other similar prunings, and as they were leaving with the planter Rod asked if we needed the branches taken to the local recycling centre. I told him we had intended to take them ourselves but hadn’t got round to organising transport yet, and amazingly he offered to come back later and take them for us.

We thanked him very much, and sure enough only an hour or so later he was back with his empty trailer and a large-toothed saw and giant loppers to cut the broken branches to a more manageable length for his trailer. We chatted easily together while we all helped load up the trailer, about the local area and the garden and the house, and before Rod left for the recycling centre we thanked him very much again. He drove off with a friendly ‘beep-beep’ and a wave, and we closed the gate behind him, amazed at experiencing such friendly helpfulness from someone we didn’t even know before today.

Such a random act of kindness from a relative stranger, and one for which we are so thankful. Right now we don’t even know his surname, but for us Rod definitely wins the week, with a huge smile of gratitude from both of us 🙂