Monday, 15 September 2014

Moving Diaries - Adventures in selling a home.

 JUNE 2014

Last summer we decided we would sell our house, the house we had lived in for the past nineteen years.
Our children left home a few years ago and now it's time for us to do our own thing.
 We have decided to move to a place called Strathaven about a forty minute drive from where we live.
  We first thought of moving here years ago but the children didn't want to leave their school and their friends so we gave in and stayed where we were.
Strathaven is quite small with only local shops and a large Sainsburys. I don't drive so I want to live somewhere where I can walk to everything, shops, swimming, library, park etc. On top of all that Strathaven is extremely pretty and seems to have  good community participation in fund raising events and local clubs.
I wrote about it here

In readiness for putting our house for sale I start to de-clutter then I de-clutter again,and again. I paint every door in the house. I paint every skirting board (except the bit behind the settee and tv unit) I clean the house from top to bottom even the parts that don't usually see a cloth and bleach. Yes the house smells of bleach which is far better than it smelling of dog. I tell hubby that I'm calling the decorators in when we move to a new place as I never want to paint another door of skirting board again in my life.

The garden gets a makeover too. I now have the new path to the back gate that I have been asking for for nineteen years and a new patio behind the garage. We have a special place for the numerous re cycling bins and I don't have to walk through mud to get to them. I fill lots of large plant pots with brightly coloured plants and put a new hanging basket for the front door. The front step is renewed, tiles have been missing from it for as long as I can remember.
Three estate agents have been contacted and by the time the have finished promising  to sell our house quickly and efficiently I realise I am never going to get back the six hours of my life I spent listening to them.
We pick one to give our business to for no other reason other than we liked him. I now have two akward telelphone calls to  other two estate agents to tell them they didn't get the gig.  We have a home report to complete and a surveyor to pay.
The surveyor goes through the house with a fine tooth comb picking up on very minor faults and scoring us from 1 to 4 for each part of the house.
It takes two more weeks for the house to finally go on the market and appear on all the usual websites.
The hard work actually starts now, keeping the house like a shiny new pin for the  viewers who are going to traipse all through my house probably criticising it.
I take a look around the house and garden, it is now just like I always wanted it and I have to remind myself why we are selling....to have less house to clean, smaller garden to cope with in our old age, and to try something different.
This is just the beginning.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Mother of the Bride Shopping.

As a child growing up in the late fifties most of my clothes were made for me either by a lady who lived upstairs or an older cousin. I remember well those days of standing on a footstool having a dress pinned on to me. I can still feel those pins pricking my arms and around my hemline.
One of my hand made dresses
I was invited to a neighbour's wedding when I was about eight years old and the lady upstairs made my dress from red velvet and also a matching hairband and little bag,my mum called it a Dorothy bag. I think that was the poshest dress I ever had.
My mum would find a paper pattern she liked for a summer dress and I would have about six dresses made in that style in all different colours and patterns.
As I hit about ten or eleven I started to rebel and wanted dresses bought from a shop. I wanted to be the same as everyone else but looking back on it from a mature point of view my dresses were always nice and a lot of work went into them.
As a teenager in the late sixties early seventies my favourite shop was Chelsea Girl which I have found out is now River Island and where my daughter shopped as as teenager.
My wedding dress was made by my older cousin. I didn't even go into a wedding dress shop and try one on, I looked at patterns from a book and picked one.

Now I'm older and not a size twelve anymore shopping for clothes is not such a wonderful experience and this is where we get to.....
Shopping for a mother of the bride outfit.

I like to shop on my own. I know what I like and what I don't so I thought I'd have a good look around the shops first before taking my daughter with me. A trip into Glasgow city centre where I looked in all the posh shops I usually pass by, tried on lots of outfits but didn't see what I was looking for.
 I even visited Frasers Department Store, which made some memories flood back to me. My aunt used to take me into town with her, and told me Frasers was the poshest shop in Glasgow. She lived a different life from my mum who looked after two children as well as nurse her invalid mother. My aunt had no children and always going to dances and going on holiday and loved buying clothes. After shopping and visiting Lewis's toy department we would go to Frasers for high tea which was tiny sandwiches and scones and cakes.
 I still didn't find anything in that whole store.

I ventured over to Partick where a wedding shop called Catherines has been for seventy years. Yet again this was somewhere I would come with my aunt probably fifty years ago and if my mum had something special to go to she would come too. We would ride a bus into Glasgow and then get a subway train over to Partick. This was the only time I would ride the subway and I found it exciting.
I'm such a big softie and feeling emotional these days so I was hoping I would keep any tears at bay as I entered the shop as I thought about the last time I walked through the doors with my mum and my aunt.
I have to say I also didn't like the thought of having a personal shopper showing me each outfit and waiting until I tried it on but when in Rome and all that.

The lady who served me was lovely she made me feel at ease. I knew what colour and style I wanted and tried on three dresses with jackets and found one I really liked. She persuaded me to try a hat on and I couldn't stop laughing at myself as I last wore a hat when I was about twelve years old. She said to keep it on as we spoke because I was out my comfort zone and would soon get used to seeing it on my head. She was right as I ended up thinking, "Yes it's nice I do suit it"  That woman was good at her job!
I have never been known to buy the first dress I try on (who would?) I said would be back with my daughter to allow her to see it.

As usual the best laid plans go aft astray and my daughter was on holiday for two weeks then she was working at weekends so when I saw a sale in another shop I persuaded hubby to accompany me.
Again the sale's assistant was very nice and showed me each dress in the sale in my size. I despaired as I shook my head time and time again. Then we looked at the outfits which were not part of the sale.
 I said I would try them on but they were either low cut or had straps instead of a small sleeve or made me look fat.
She couldn't understand why I didn't want to show off my boobs or why I needed a small sleeve. I felt like the most awkward customer the world has ever seen. If I had been left to my own devices I could have told her just by looking at the dresses that they weren't for me. I said again I would come back with my daughter.

Leaving the shop I said to hubby that it had been a good idea to go there and he looked at me wondering why I had had a different experience from him.The reason it had been a good idea to shop there was I knew I had compared everything I tried on to the one I liked at Catherines and there was none that topped it. Hubby suggested we just go and buy that first dress.

This is one of the many reasons I love my hubby he is good at making decisions. When we arrived at the shop the same assistant served me and she remembered me by my necklace and my watch. I obviously do not have a face that's well remembered, just my jewellery.
I loved the dress every bit as much as I did before and if I had just bought it in the first place I could have saved a lot of time. Hat,shoes and bag and I am set to go.
I love my outfit and I can't wait to wear it while I watch my beautiful daughter in her beautiful dress marry her true love. Next on the list is waterproof make up because I just know I will cry.
Like the bride my dress is under wraps until the big day and then I'll share some photos.....well every girl has to have a secret.




Thursday, 24 July 2014

There's a Party in Glasgow !

In my last blog post I wrote about how I was born and brought up in the east end of Glasgow and this is where Glasgow is hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Last night was the opening ceremony from Celtic Park. My gran lived in a tenement building overlooking the park. If you looked out her kitchen window you could watch football matches and my dad loved to do just that even although it wasn't the team he supported.
Last week I was in a car going past the athlete's village. There was police everywhere and some streets around it had gates and security on them. It must be hard for the people living nearby but I think they are taking it in their stride and with a dose of good Glasgow humour.

The opening ceremony is said to have been watched by a billion people, now that's a lot. I have to say I had a few cringing moments during the first part of the action when Glasgow comic Karen Dunbar was singing, a singer she is not. John Barrowman was his usual cheesy self and there were too many cliches for my liking, and much better talent, but that's just my opinion.
The rest of the show was wonderful and it was lovely to see the pride and the pleasure on the faces of the athletes representing their country. I loved the Red Arrows fly past and ran to the window to see if they were flying my way but we live just too far from stadium to see them.

I had not been in to Glasgow city centre for a few years mainly because we have a huge shopping centre nearby and there was no need to. However in the last few weeks I have been a lady who lunches and have been in the city twice so yesterday I thought, why not make it three times and see what's happening.

This was Glasgow about ten days ago.
Poor guys, no one is listening.

Poshest place to shop. My aunt used to tell me you had to pay to speak to the doorman. He always spoke to me and I never answered him. No doorman now.

I have never noticed the top of this building before. Only had my phone with no zoom.
And this was Glasgow yesterday
In Buchanan St watching the group below

This group was super. You can see the amount of people watching now reflected in window.

Obligatory balloon seller



I walked on to George Square. The sun was shinning and along the way I passed restaurants with outdoor seating, marquees being put up and lots of excitement.

There was a queue to have your photo taken inside this.

People queued here for 3 hrs in the sun for tickets and souvenirs

Ah isn't he cute but prickly?


Not an empty seat. I sat on that wee kerb on the right,had a hard time getting back up.

You have to be fit to attend these games.

City Chambers and cenotaph

People enjoying the sun in George Sq.

Glasgow was buzzing, everyone seemed happy, everyone enjoying themselves. I found a backstreet market leading to Sloan's Bar. I don't know if it existed before or has just been set up for the games. I laughed when I saw these tea towels,and just look at the price.

I have never seen so many people taking photographs and so many I took had big heads in them. The good weather we are having is certainly adding to everyone's enjoyment. The city is filled with people with Identity badges stating that they are here for the games. News reporters from many countries are interviewing their representatives on every street corner. I so hope this weather keeps nice for them all.
Hubby and I are going back into the city on Saturday as I'm sure it will even be busier then and we want to experience the holiday vibe.We will use public transport as there is just no point trying to get your car anywhere near the buzz.
I hope you enjoyed my glimpse of a busy, sunny Glasgow.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Then or Now?

Playing with my nearly three year old granddaughter always takes me back to my own childhood and has me thinking how different things are now for children.
I was born and bred in the east end of Glasgow. We lived with my gran " up a close"  in a tenement flat on the ground floor. It wasn't the nice red sandstone tenement which you will see in photos of Glasgow. Ours was the council type, three stories high. The back gardens were communal and before the war they were separated from the next block with iron railings but they were taken away during the war along the railings on the front garden and never replaced. They were taken to be used for metal for guns, at least that's what I was told.

We played in the streets as a mob,so many children all playing hide and go seek, kick the can, chases and our favourite,chap door run fast. That needs no explanation.
During the summer we were out from morning and came home when the street lights came on, imagine children doing that today.
The highlight of our day was lunchtime and having pieces (sandwiches) thrown from the window down to us wrapped in bread paper. As I said I lived on the ground floor and that was no fun but friends from upstairs would ask their mother to make one for me and throw it out their window.
A song was written about this and how it was impossible to do it from the more modern multistory flats.
We filled milk bottles full of water and went for a picnic. No cans of pop then.
Television was something we watched for maybe fifteen minutes a day. Watch with Mother,Andy Pandy and The Wooden Tops. We preferred to be outside,exploring.

As I played with my granddaughter's small table top play kitchen, I thought of the large but child size Ikea kitchen she has at home and once again I envied her. I have little toy packets of shopping items and plastic food shapes for playing at shops and I remembered how we used to play shops.


In the back court we set up shop. We raided the bins for empty cans of peas or beans, we used stones for potatoes, weeds we found growing for vegetables and old newspaper to wrap things up. For money we used broken glass (now I sound like a street urchin) and no one was every cut. It was mainly glass from beer bottles I think as it was usually green or brown. We played for hours at shops and nothing came from our homes, we found it all outside.
Today Mumsnet would be screaming child abuse and I am laughing as I type this as I can't believe it was okay with all the adults around us.

I have large trees in my garden and my granddaughter loves me to place her on a branch so she can pretend she is climbing.




We had no trees in the back court but we did have three bin shelters. These were concrete structures to house the tin rubbish bins full of ash from the coal fires and other household rubbish. In my mind they were quite high but probably only about four of five feet. We would climb on top and jump from one to the other. We called them dykes. Jumping the dykes was about who was the bravest and it was never me.


My granddaughter has lots of dressing up clothes, little tutus, Cinderella dresses, tiaras and wands. I dressed up with curtains and any spare material lying around.

When I eventually was given a Sindy and Barbie doll by my favourite aunt all the clothes and furniture for the dolls were hand made. We made wardrobes from shoe boxes,dressing tables from matchboxes with tinfoil for the mirrors. I learnt to sew and knit clothes from my mum and aunt.

My  granddaughter and Thomas (toddler I look after) have a wealth of technology at their fingertips. They have cars that go by themselves at the touch of a button and even talk to you. They have every toy you could conjure up and will never have to pretend that glass is money (thank goodness) but they still like it when I make do and mend.
I make ramps for cars from anything I can find. I make doll's beds from shoe boxes. When we had no paddling pool and a hot day I fill a large plastic storage box with water and Thomas played in it for hours.


My childhood of climbing dykes and looking through bins for things to play with did me no harm except to blacken me from the ashes. I have never been to casualty or needed stitches for any incident in my childhood.
We didn't have much but we had a good community. I knew everyone from maybe three streets around me and knew help was there if I needed it. Today I don't know the person three doors away.
The young child I was would have loved all the toys on sale today, the tv programmes and the computers.  I wouldn't have enjoyed the restrictions put on our children, as I said we were out all day by ourselves. I wonder what is getting us more afraid as a society. Are there more people around  that are a threat to our children than in the fifties and sixties. Maybe the fact most of us have cars and drive to and from our houses means we don't get to know people around us and therefore don't trust them.
The roads are much busier now and more dangerous and yet back in the sixties my dad would never allow me to have a bike because we lived near a busy road, what would he say now?

Safety first...
...and foremost

If you took a walk around the estate where I live you would see very few children. We have children here but they never seem to be outside playing.
In the eighties and early nineties when my children were young they played outside and we knew most of our neighbours, I always felt they were safe. I have since discovered that they wandered a bit further away than were allowed to presumably when I thought they were at a friends house. Kids !
Life is probably better now even with retrictions because no matter how many of them you place upon children, like mine they will always find a way around them to do what they want,and like me you won't find out until many years later,but they survived it and you will laugh.





This is the Jeely Piece Song and the man singing it was the son of a neighbour in the tenement I lived in.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Our Awfully Big Adventure.

Ten months ago I wrote about a country walk a few hundred yards from my house,we call it the dinosaur jungle I blogged about it here
It is a great place for an adventure with young children. On Friday I went with toddler boy who will now be known as Thomas because in his own words he is nearly number four and not a toddler.
 We didn't take a picnic as Thomas wanted pizza for lunch so we had lunch before our walk.
I decided to go further than we have before and as the dinosaurs who live their are Thomas's friends we had no fear in exploring.
The way we didn't go.

We don't usually see coloured butterflies here.


Our first mishap was when Thomas was being a little over adventurous and fell into stinging nettles. In my youth I was a Brownie and also a Tawny Owl so I knew we had to look for dock leaves to ease the itch of the sting. Dock leaves always grow beside nettles, a brownie knows this, except that  they do not.
 I hunted all around and couldn't find any dock leaves so being resourceful I used the diluted juice from the Spiderman flask Thomas had brought to pour over his arm and cool it down. I eventually found dock leaves and used them too. Thomas was a brave soldier and didn't cry. I think he was so amazed at me pouring his juice down his arm and rubbing the spots with leaves that there was no room for tears. Behind the nettles I did see what resembled a swamp and as we just read a story about a boy falling into one and being rescued by a pterodactyl Thomas was really interested  in seeing one for real.

Nasty spots appeared immediatly
Further on we came to two paths and I hadn't a clue which one to take so we chose the one that went along the riverbank. The enclosed trees opened out and there was the river down at the bottom of a small hill and a bench in a lovely position for admiring it. There were two swans swimming along a good bit away from us.
We sat quietly and I took some photos on my iphone. The swans swam  closer, and closer. They then left the water and started coming towards us. I told Thomas I thought it was time we were moving on. He wanted to stay and watch the swans. I think he may have noticed the difference in my voice when I said we had to move
now and we had to be fast. We walked away as fast as we could without running and then Thomas ran. The swans looked as if they were going to follow and did for a bit then one went back into the water while the other  one kept watch in case we returned.
I asked Thomas where all the friendly dinosaurs were when we needed them,he said they were sleeping. Typical, never a dinosaur around when you need one. We actually laughed and laughed about what had just happened once we knew we were safe.
Swans getting closer.
We next came across a family of ducks but they were friendly and quacked hello at us. Our next path brought us out at our favourite picnic table and although we hadn't brought anything with us Thomas ran to it to drink his juice. Too late, being only number three he couldn't read the sign that said WET PAINT. Luckily I managed to grab him and it was only his hands that were covered in black paint. We were saved again by the spiderman flask and the juice which I used to clean the paint off.
The rest of our walk was uneventful but I could still feel my heart beating a little bit faster as I thought of those swans.
Thomas enjoyed talking over and over about what had happened and loved telling his mum when she came home from work.
He earned his rest

We had a lovely afternoon and I think Thomas learnt lots, like never be without a flask of juice, you never know when you might need it. Oh and keep away from swans. I don't think he'll forget that in a hurry.

I have to finish with a photo of my granddaughter because she loves to see herself on my blog.
Her hair is so curly that even trampolining can be a hair raising experience.



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

I'm Emptying my Head.

I have been blogging for nearly three years. I sometimes have so much to say that I can write a few posts in one sitting. There are times I struggle with what to write but usually an idea comes quite easily. I have not blogged for two months now and as I sit down today I am trying to come up with witty or interesting subjects to write about but my brain won't let me.
My head is filled with one thing and until I empty it of this one thing I fear Iwill  never write anything you will want to read,so here goes.

On 6th May my younger brother passed away having being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just a few weeks before. He was 53 yrs old, far too young to leave us.
He was just like you and me, he had plans. He had planned to take early retirement next October, have a holiday of a lifetime and then set up a small business working from home. He had a lovely girlfriend and seemed to at last find the happiness he craved, he had hoped to marry her.

I wasn't close to my brother although there were only two of us and this somehow makes it worse. There are so many regrets but we were like chalk and cheese. He said tomatoe I said tomata. We never agreed on much. He loved cats, I love dogs. He never had any children while my life revolves around mine. We were different but we were still family.
The only complaint I heard him make in hospital was when he said,"This is rubbish isn't it?" That will go down in history as the one thing we ever agreed on, this death sentence he was handed was certainly rubbish.
When we received a phone call to say he didn't have long, a phone call we didn't expect to receive for weeks or months we drove to the hospice but he had slipped away holding his girlfriend's hand minutes before we arrived.

A few days ago I read a newspaper article about life after death with lots of reports from people seeing loved ones shortly after they passed away. It said this usually came within 24 hrs of the person passing and in the form of a dream. My brother passed late at night and the following afternoon I lay down for a sleep. I had a dream which was much more vivid than a normal dream. My brother was sitting at the bottom of my bed looking well and much younger than he was. He was smartly dressed in a pink checked shirt and smart trousers. He spoke to me and said,"My only worry is that I'm leaving you with things to deal with" I shouted at him not to scare me, I could feel the bed moving as he disappeared. I woke up fighting for my breath and sobbing, the phone rang and it was his girlfriend.
All very strange. I so wish I hadn't told him to go away but I was scared. I should have remembered my mum telling me not to be afraid of the dead it's the living we should be afraid of.
It has been two weeks since the funeral and we said our goodbyes. A fellow blogger Amanda who recently lost her father and has written in her blog about her loss here Amanda asks the question,"Where has he gone" and finds herself looking at photos to remind herself what he looked like.
I always seem to be wondering if there's an afterlife and I've written about it here and part 2 here 
so I won't go into any more detail as to what I think.

I want to finish with a warning. If your GP has been treating you for constipation for months and nothing is improving, if your stomach pains are so bad you can't attend work, if you are a ghastly yellow colour (jaundice) and your GP says it's just your colouring, please please demand to be referred for further tests. Please do not think your GP knows everything because in my brother's case his miss diagnoses meant that it was too late for chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the only weapons we have against cancer. If just one person gets themselves checked out then I will be happy.

I know that time heals but at the moment, like Amanda my head is only filled with one thing, maybe now that I have emptied it I will start to heal. Thank you for listening.

A painting I now have. Painted by my brother


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Things That Make Me Go ARRRHHH!!!!

After my blog about what makes my heart sing here is one about what drives me mad. I've discovered that this is my third moaning post about annoying things
Most of you agreed with my last ones so let's see who agrees this time.


Vax steam floor cleaner
Many of you will not need this appliance if you have the luxury of carpets in your home although it can be used to freshen up carpets, not clean them, only freshen them. We have a large hairy dog so to help alleviate the mess from muddy paws and hair we have wooden floors downstairs.
After years of using a mop we treated ourselves to a steam cleaner and the fact that it had a compartment for detergent made it ideal.
Yes it does the job, it cleans the floor, it's the before and after that drive me mad.
Sliding out the containers for water and detergent is just impossible. It has grips on each end but still will not move. I have seen complaints about this on websites from other people so it's not just me. When eventually it comes off so does the stopper so if you have any water left it's all over your clean floor.
Instructions say "Do not use any other detergent in this it has to be made by Vax" The Vax make is expensive so as one does I've tried the usual kinds in it. Something strange happened, normal pleasent smelling floor cleaning products all smelled horrible and stained the inside of the container. The makers have done something mysterious that makes any other dertergent than theirs smell. If I had to buy it all over again I would buy the cheaper version,without the detergent container.
Rant over.

Models 
My  daughter is being married this year and I have been looking at websites of those shops who specialise in mother of the bride outfits before.
 Every outfit is modelled by a girl under the age of thirty five. They are all a size ten or less and they are all tall. I see a few I like but they are never going to look the same as me as they do on a six foot tall size ten thirty odd year old.
It really puts me off going into those shops and looking in the mirror dressed in satin or lace and not resembling the photo on their website. I wish they would use older women as that is the age they are aiming at. The shops do say that the photos come from the people who make the outfits and not from them but it's their website surely they could take some photos themselves, is that not common sense?
After I loose a few pounds  stones I will venture into to those shops with my heavily corseted undergarments and a pair of high heels that I'll only ever be able to pose in and try on some outfits hoping I will find "the one"

Rant over.












People who ask and answer their own questions.

I want to know if this annoys anyone else. In  TV interviews with celebrities it has become common for them to more or less interview themselves. I'll give you an example.
Celeb to interviewer, " If you ask me if I'm happy, I would say yes at the moment I am happy. If you had asked me if I was happy five years ago I would have said no, at that time in my life I wasn't happy.
She didn't ask you, you didn't give her a chance.  Interviewers will have to be careful as they will soon be no need for them.
I have also came across this in many magazine columns the writer asking herself questions and providing the answers. Politicians are great for doing it as it gives them the opportunity to be asked the right questions and avoid the ones they don't know the answers to.
I don't think it has happened with any of my friends or family, I would have remembered falling on the floor laughing at the ridiculousness of it.

Rant over. 


Computers

 I like to browse the Internet. I visit online shops and fill my basket with things I love and then visit another shop. I very rarely buy anything but it satisfies my shopping gene. The next time I use the computer lots of adverts will show exactly what I've been looking at and I find this so annoying. It's like being stalked by the shopping police shouting,"We know what you've been looking at" I can tell what my husband has been looking at too,usually boring stuff like tools or cars.

Yesterday I had to made a banner for my book review blog. I googled how to do it and lots of people said to download a programme called Gimp. I downloaded it but it wasn't much good so I uninstalled it from my computer. What I didn't know was that it had also downloaded two toolbars and another three sliding window things advertising all sorts of nonsense. It took me ages to uninstall them as I first had to find out the strange names the had been called. The moral of this story is, free downloads on your computer are never really free, beware all the added but unasked for extras.

Rant over.

On a slightly happier note.....
My dad always said that I had to have the last word in an argument. I found this while browsing and I thought it funny.