4th-6th of August, 2017: Dogs, Biking, Little Sparta, and More Dogs

Friday, 4th of August

It was a relatively quiet, drizzly day today. Everyone was in pretty good spirits including BL (boss lady) who did let us get away with some minor faffing about here and there. It’s nice to be able to squeak some shenanigans in from time to time, isn’t it? Breaks up the monotony of the day.

We had a guest visiting us outside. His name was Harvey, and he’s a border terrier. I think he in no small part contributed to the goofiness of the day. That’s because the owners of my garden centre also have a border terrier who’s name is Rowsey (I like to call him Lousy Rowsey), who also happens to spend some time chilling by the tills on a lead. When BL walked in and saw instead Not-Rowsey chilling by the till, she thought she was seeing things.

Anywho. Turns out Not-Rowsey was being pup-sat by the owners. It was quickly revealed that he was a whiny baby though, and spent his hours with all of us alternating between being adorable/whining incessantly/destroying things. Shoowee.

I managed to catch him and The Boys in the act of loafing. It is hard to resist a cute pup, even if he is a whiny pup.

DSC_1636.jpg

Saturday, 5th of August

A nice, full day–even better, the sun was peeping out occasionally from behind the clouds. To start, I set off at 10 AM with one of my lady bike groups. It was a short ride–perhaps 15 miles, tops, which suited me just fine as I planned to drag H out of the house with me in the afternoon. We did have two punctures which set us back a bit on our time, but the overall ride was just peachy, and as I made my way home I couldn’t help but marvel at just how much I liked all those girls. They’re just a solid bunch! One of them, a fellow American, was even 3 months pregnant and cycled like a boss. How adorable!

IMG_6159

Our first puncture happened just before the canal aqueduct, which, requiring dismounting to walk over the narrow path, allowed me ample time to snap a few photos. Before my battery went dead, anyway, as I very much failed to bring some spares. I noticed first off that there was loads of something in the mint family growing alongside the water’s edge. It was lovely and smelly and I sort of wanted to take some home–or at least figure out what the heck it was!

IMG_6165

Whatever it was seemed to be doing quite well in its chosen spot along the canal! It made for a nice photo as the sun peeped out.

IMG_6170

At one point we decided we’d had enough of waiting for the puncture repair and set off backtracking to see what the issue was, and only made it this far before catching up with them as they’d just finished. I snapped a quick photo, mainly due to the presence of the kayakers up the way.

After our ride (which I didn’t take any other photos of as I failed to bring spare batteries) H and I headed out of town for a cheeky trip to a place my coworker had told me about. She’d shown me some photos that intrigued me of a garden called Little Sparta in the midst of the rolling hills of the Borders. I was already in good spirits as we drove our way out there, because it’s truly lovely countryside to drive through.

Although… H likes to argue with me over some weird stuff sometimes. I marveled over the purple carpet of heather you could see blooming on the hills. He said, “Clarissa, those hills are brown.

Like… should I have some solid concerns about his eyeballs. Yes/no?

IMG_5678

What followed was us exploring a decidedly quirky, surprisingly lovely garden. As we headed in we saw a sign proclaiming “Reception” was nearby, but as we peered around just past the entrance gates we saw no sign of anything except some buildings and what looked like someone’s private home. With nothing really to guide us, and basically no knowledge of what we were even meant to be looking at and why, we set out.

IMG_5702

I managed to do a quick google search that revealed some answers upon our departure. Turns out Little Sparta is a private garden that was owned by an artist/poet till 2006, at which point he passed away. It now belongs to a Trust set up in the garden’s name, and is free for all to visit. The poetry and artistic nature of the owner was very apparent as we strolled through the grounds.

I totally dug it. I really liked the tiny grove of birches below, with a stone proclaiming that it was the “In Sweet Harmony and Agreement with Itself Grove”

IMG_5758

Honestly it was a real treat to visit. Would highly recommend to anyone faffing about in the Borders.

IMG_5785

Sunday, 6th of August

Yet another quiet, showery day. Highlights: planting crocosmia; seeing my colleague’s dog; and hearing that my colleague Ben got swooped by a buzzard on his run. Yes I found it hilarious, but also recognize that getting swooped on with anything with talons also is quite scary! (Clarification: this is a UK buzzard!)

Dog. Check out that gorgeous beast. However, because of my coworker’s broad accent, I don’t know if dug’s name is Soya, Sawyer, or Soldier. Hmmm!

DSC_1642.jpg

1st-3rd August, 2017: Houses, Babies, and Bikes

Tuesday, 1st of August

Second viewing–could it be The One? Could this be the place my ratty old work shoes take up residence… forever? (Or, as Haitham says, 4-5 years before we continue climbing the so-called “Property Ladder”?)

DSC_1605.jpg

Wednesday, 2nd of August

My PIC–partner in crime–Krista and I agreed to meet for a cheeky breakfast together before she went to work for the day and I went off to run my errands nearby. After fueling up and unleashing some major chat, we split ways, and I headed up the street with the Royal Mile in my crosshairs. As I passed by the iconic Greyfriar’s Bobby statue (a wee dog with a shiny nose from all the tourists, myself including, giving it a passing boop) and saw a sizable gathering of tourists waiting to get their photo snapped, that I realized: it’s here.

It’s Festival time, folks!!!

This realization brings both excitement and major grumps all at the same time. For one, some wild stuff starts happening in Edinburgh, and there are so many shows one could potentially go see. It is, after all, the world’s biggest performing arts festival.

But for those of us who live here, it means: massive crowds; the inability to walk anywhere without someone stopping dead in their tracks in front of you; tourists unable to understand when it is okay to cross the street (and running in front of buses and bicycles alike); increased prices in our local haunts; and … the worst… leafletters.

Oh my god, the LEAFLETTERS. They’re the WORST.

Anyway. In order to run my errands I had to pass through the gauntlet of the Royal Mile, which, I’ll admit, I enjoyed/loathed at the same time. While I do hate crowds, I love taking photos of people doing weird shit. And there was lots of weird shit to be seen–that’s for sure.

First up, some man babies promo-ing their show. The crocs make an excellent touch.

IMG_5620

Next up, a really good juggler. He was also ripped. Does juggling count as an extreme sport or something?

IMG_5659

Lastly, a shot I took looking up the Royal Mile towards the castle (and also where it seems like 100% of the tourists were heading). You get the idea.

IMG_5674

Thursday, 3rd of August

I raced home from work today in order to join a cycle group on a 20 mile evening ride. I made it just in time (surprising really knowing what I’m like!) and we set off.

It was a lovely ride all things considered. I saw some folks I knew, and we set off in the rare sunny evening light. However… however, y’all. I hadn’t had a chance for dinner in my race to arrive on time. And 20 miles within a few hours over some medium-level hills on an empty belly… well. It wouldn’t have been so bad, if our leader hadn’t said at the end, “Okay you guys, just one more stop to take in the view!”

And then proceeded to send us up, up, up. To Corstorphine Hill. Which I normally love. However, as the sun is setting, and my tummy is rumbling, and it’s dark and muddy, and the place he wanted us to see was locked, but nevermind that because there was somehow just one more thing to see and that involved hoofing it up a steep-ass hill that everyone had to dismount to huff and puff their way up…….

Oy vey. I was having a serious sense of humor failure by that point. You can’t blame me though right? Visions of pizza were dancing in my head. I was feeling hangry as heck.

I eventually did manage to peel myself away from the rest of the group who were shuttling off to find a pint somewhere together–then it was home to STUFF FACE.

Here’s some photos.

IMG_6103

Can you believe this was my first time seeing the infamous head hedges?

IMG_6120

No trip about the Dalmeny Estate would be complete without a view of the Forth and its bridges!

IMG_6143

And this… the final view of the evening when I said “Peace”! To be fair, it is a nice one. (so hungry though = failed appreciation of normally lovely things)

29th-31st of August, 2017: Mr. Brain, Steamy Roofs, and Naturally, Slugs

Saturday, 29th of July

Haitham and I are looking at houses! Can you believe it? We were looking for a brief period earlier in the year before pumping the brakes due to my visa needing renewed. Luckily, that done and dusted, it means we are officially back on the hunt. As it happens, the house we looked at today, though the first one we’ve seen since our smattering of viewings before, was a cracking joint. We left feeling quite buzzed about the whole thing–we’ll see what happens!

After, it was home for chores, some gardening, and a trip to the shops. The most important bit for me came from the latter: finding this unassuming product on sale in our local Lidl.

DSC_1584.jpg

How? Why?? I’m not ashamed to admit I may have busted a gut in the middle of the store while Haitham looked on in bemusement.

Sunday, 30th of July

It was a funny wee day. Though I was working, H & I had booked another viewing at a house. Because the trains run less frequently on Sundays, H gave me a lift in the morning but left me to sort myself out in the evening. He then took the car to see it and report back his findings. While I was sitting on the surprisingly busy train home, I couldn’t help but overhear an American lad’s loud phone conversation with his mom asking her to schedule him not only an appointment to get his warts removed, but also to get his braces off.

Lesson #1 on UK living: keep your damn voice down on the train, no one wants to hear about your doctor appointments… unless they want to take the piss out of you afterwards!!

It was raining off and on all day. At one point, I glanced over at what we call the BBQ hut at work and saw that steam was rising off of it. I did take a photo, though I’m not sure just how well you can see!

DSC_1593.jpg

Monday, 31st of July

Anyone who works in retail knows just how strange customers can be. (People, in general, are strange creatures. Pop them in a retail situation and their strangeness multiplies.)

I had a man approach me while my back was to him. He muttered something a few times before I finally picked up on the fact that it was, in fact, me he was muttering to. I was in the process of deadheading roses, a never-ending job. He says again, “All this’ll be away in a few weeks, what’s the point? It’ll all be dead won’t it?”

“Pardon?”

“Winter comes, nothing to do, all these plants are dead, you won’t have anything here.”

“Well we’ll still have some things…”

“Doesn’t matter, this summer was rubbish anyway, too much rain.”

“Well, actually it hasn’t been that bad…”

“No it was. Terrible summer.”

At this point I shook my head and said, “Nope, you’re right, it was awful. Just awful!”

Deary me.

The worst bit happened while I was busy chatting away with my coworker as we cleaned up some herbaceous perennials. I nipped off to the loo and that’s when I saw it in the mirror: a slug. On my shirt. One that had been there for a while as evidenced from his slime trail! And nobody even said a peep to me! Worse than having food in your teeth anyone??

DSC_1600.JPG

 

26th-28th of July, 2017: Glenfiddich, Peas, Strawbs

Wednesday, 26th of July

Today’s first order of business was to run out and grab some parcels. It often happens here that parcels either require a signature/are too big for the mail slot/neighbors aren’t in, so they get sent to the nearest post collection area, usually a big warehouse or some such business. (I miss having a mailbox!) It’s been raining quite a lot, so when I meandered my way in the strange, vaguely prison-like (think a maze of barbed-wire fences) collection area, my eye was caught by two seagulls hanging out on top of a grassy knoll nearby. I’m not gonna lie, I kinda like seagulls. I know they can be wily creatures, tearing into the unattended bins around town and snatching ice cream right out of your hand. (Recently, I saw a man getting dive bombed by one as I drove past. I may have laughed out loud as I saw him break into a run. I think some seagull related drama is probably in my karma-future.)

I think one reason I really like seagulls is for this reason here. No one is really sure why they do it, but I think the best guess is that they’re mimicking the pitter-patter of raindrops to trick wormies into coming to the surface.

Either way. It’s just the best thing. Here you go: post office stomps.

Needless to say the entirety of my day was not spent (despite what you may think) watching seagulls stomping. The evening was spent instead gettin’ our drink on. There’s a fantastic whisky joint in town called Usquabae which both my parental units should recall, as I took them there. Usquabae is the Scots-dialect bastardization of the Gaelic word meaning “Water of Life.” It’s been featured in famed Scot bard Robbie Burns poems and other sources since the 1700s.

Anyway. Usquabae is awesome, and when we saw they were doing a whisky tasting naturally we jumped at the chance to go. And boy, did it not disappoint at all! The whisky of choice was from Glenfiddich, which is a whisky coming from an area called Speyside to the north, an area that has heaps of good whisky. You can get an idea from the map below–honestly, I had doubts that Glenfiddich was even listed. It’s a bit like finding “Where’s Waldo” down there!

whisky_speyside_map

Needless to say we had a thoroughly enjoyable time that may or may not have been followed by us traipsing quite merrily home after. The highlight to me was our whisky ambassador (honestly, what an amazing job title) busting out a 30-year-old bottle of whisky. Although any good whisky afficionado will tell you that aged whiskys don’t necessarily taste better, maybe it was the price tag alone of that bad boy that had me tasting colours. Shoo-wee, it was good! (Apparently it retails over 1k!) Not only that, but when we arrived we had four glasses on the table. By the end though, we had seven–and a small sample of an IPA that had rested in a Glenfiddich cask for a time!

DARN TOOTIN!

DSC_1574.jpg

Thursday, 27th of July

It was a nice, breezy work day. The summer weather as we reach the end of July is well and truly away; instead rain showers and cool weather have replaced them. Surprised? As if.

H has been away for work again this week, which means when I came home it was time for some straight chillin’ and watching embarrassing shows. As you do when no one is around to judge you.

tumblr_nrwh2kxvuk1qhiz0wo1_500

Best not to ask eh?

Anyway when I arrived home I spied my sweet peas doing their thing on wrought iron fencing at the edge of the garden. Because the garden is elevated, you can see the sweet peas trailing down when you walk past on the pavement below. I adore stopping to sniff them when I walk past on my way in every day! (And I’ve just planted more, mwahahahaaa.)

DSC_1583.jpg

Friday, 28th of July

My detailed notes come through on the activities of this day once again: “???”

How’s about a photo then from Haitham’s collection? This one’s from Craigie farm that we took a cheeky outing to a few weeks prior, at the height of strawberry and raspberry pickin’ time.

Yum!

 

23rd-25th of July, 2017: Surprise Gardens, Magpies, and Nails on Point

Sunday, 23rd of July

My coworker M and I sometimes lament the lack of time we get to work together during our shifts, oftentimes at opposite ends of the garden centre or with alternating tea/lunch breaks/what have you. When I said, “We should have a cup of tea together sometime so we can chat!” she responded with enthusiasm, which is always a nice feeling (the knowledge that someone has yet to realize just how truly depraved you really are). She took the next step by suggesting that I pop by for a visit on the way home from work, and I happily accepted. However what I imagined would be a nice heart-to-heart about life and things, steaming cups of tea in hand, was just a bit off the mark.

Being as she had a commitment later in the evening, M steered me around her house/gardens for the grand tour to start. (Of course I would never say no to inspecting someone else’s garden!) She surprised me then by saying, “Okay, want the rest of the tour?” and promtply ushered me into her car–to have a whirlwind tour of all the gardens she volunteers at around Linlithgow! Add this on top of having two children, renovating her house from top down, and working part-time, and I’m surprised she had time to humour me at all!

I’ll admit I was impressed by her community gardening efforts. One of which was particularly interesting, a garden designed to promote awareness of peatlands, which are obviously a big deal here (God knows I love the smell of a peat-fire, and peaty whiskys!). You can see what I’m talking about here.

Totally awesome effort. I often think I should take part in something like that–just need to get my thumb out my butt first, I suppose!

Unfortunately I didn’t take any quality photos from my garden-palooza, but I did snap a quick photo of some celebratory remains alongside the Linlithgow loch. Still have no idea what they were for, but they sure did look festive (even if a bit damp!).

DSC_1551

Monday, 24th of July

Nice, quiet day at work.

I found  a magpie feather. I really like magpies–they’re clever birds, but despite my best efforts and becoming friends with them countless times (mainly by hurling bits of fruit and seeds in their general direction) they always beat a hasty retreat, but I know one day I’ll triumph.

DSC_1557

They’re such handsome chappies though–not only very clever as most relations of the Corvid family are, but also curiously cute in the way they prefer to hop/swagger along the ground. Aren’t they purdy?

Here’s another species of magpie getting up to some shenanigans. (Recommend turning the sound down, as they aren’t exactly songbirds!)

Tuesday, 25th of July

Although I grumbled my way through the day, taking my general grumpiness out on some roses who stubbornly refuse to stop looking crappy with black spot, rust, and various other rose delights, I did take a moment to stop and admire my new nail polish.

I may not understand the modern application of makeup and such (contouring, say wha?), but I do love me some polish. It helps hide the dirt!

DSC_1564.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

20th-22nd of July, 2017: Bossiness, Gifts, Rain

Thursday, 20th of July

Both my bosses were away today, leaving me and M to shamelessly bully all the young lads we work with. And bully them we did–we weren’t happy till every last one of them was reduced to tears during the course of the day!!

In actuality, we had a lovely day just getting on with business.

DSC_1540.JPG

I got to make some purdy planted containers! I actually stepped back and admired it for a moment–solid choice of plants on the nice ladies’ part. I do really enjoy being asked to make planted containers–it’s far more play than work for me!

Friday, 21st of July

Not a bad day. However I took no photos, so instead I will share a delight I came home to from the following day… a parcel! Even better, and international parcel. What-ho! The plot doth thicken!!!

Turns out it was a real treasure trove of delights from one of my most favorite people back home, Andrea. We have: a fantastically chinsy Nashville collector’s tea spoon (which is too small to even properly stir a cup of tea, no matter, it shall be used); the first and only framed picture we have in our flat now (which now has a spot of honour on the mantel); some cards; a passport from Hell (appropriate); and a funny book on Mindfulness, which is something that Andrea and I share a passing interest in.

DSC_1543

Saturday, 22nd of July

A slight write-off, but not a terrible day! H & I had some errands to run, and despite the ominously gray sky outside we decided it was time to do a thing. After rummaging around, we relocated some old coupons to an organic food store/cafe in town H had gotten ages ago. With them in tow we headed out and stumbled inside, at which point I remarked: “Oh, it looks nice in here!”

Turns out they were about to host a wedding reception and we’d just blazed past the sign on the door. Not only that, but upon inspection later it turned out the coupons expired within two months of their purchase–that being in 2015. Yeah.

We then decided to try and get some lunch at a vegetarian Indian buffet, but they were just about to finish up the lunch hour and gave us a not-quite-yes-and-not-quite-no answer as to whether we could actually come in. So we left, again.

Finally, we trekked to one of our favorite local haunts. It’s a Greek joint called Richmond Cafe, and it’s honestly the bees’ knees. Although it is just a weensy bit pricey for cafe grub, it makes up for it by A) being absolutely delicious B)  literally always being full of laughing and very friendly Greeks and C) the staff are always delightful.

Before we finished our day, we had one more stop at a jewelry store that I’d lusted for a piece from since landing. They were a cash-only store, one which frequently had a border collie hanging out in the window. Hence not only why I’d gone in before, but never bought anything considering I never carry cash around with me.

Lo and behold… Moss Green’s of Edi is now closed. BOOOOOOOOOO! This is why if you want something for long enough (especially if it is a cheap-ish bauble) you may as well just get the dern thing.

And by then, yeah, it was pishing down.

DSC_1548.JPG

Great photo, I know. The edge of a bus behind the shrubs; the tidal pool of water; the compost bin. A real masterpiece. Ah well–c’est la vie, Edinburgh life!

 

 

17th-20th of July, 2017: Rainbow Bubbles, Sunsets, Sexy Jazz

Monday, 17th of July

“Water, water everywhere, and it’s all going on these mufukkin’ plants!” I think that’s how the old saying goes.

It was a warm day today. Not only that, but it was boss-lady’s day off so it was a peaceful day spent gettin’ on with the watering. Sun’s out, hose wands out. Yep, that one will catch on soon I’ll bet (at least upon the horti geeks).

Nice, peaceful day at work was followed up by a nice, peaceful bike ride (okay, maybe I was booking it to be on time) into town to meet up with gal-pal extraordinaire Emma! Our reunion after some weeks of not seeing each other, naturally, took place at Tempo Tea Bar.

Where they just so happened to be serving these bad boys.

IMG_5971.jpg

RAINBOW BUBBLE TEA. Can you honestly blame us? Is this the perfect drink for a rare sunny day in Scotland? I think so!

Bubble teas in hand, we decided a stroll up nearby Calton Hill was in order. It’s one of my favorite views in Edinburgh besides the obvious Arthur’s Seat. Surprisingly Emma had never been up even though she’s been a resident of Edi for just about as long as I have if not longer, so we can tick that one of for her now! Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) Calton Hill is also a den for tourists, and rightly so. This sunny day was no different–however, the theme seemed to be Italian. There was a hoarde of youngsters all cavorting and shouting and making a big scene monkeying around on the National Monument of Scotland, more commonly known as “Edinburgh’s Disgrace” as it was never finished blah blah.

We ended up sitting on a nearby rock watching them in amused entertainment for quite a while actually. Eventually they all gathered up for some photos, doing some normal poses.

But then this happened.

IMG_5999

Have y’all heard of dabbing? I’ll admit that my 29-year-old self noticed the trend, but never exactly picked up on where it came from and why exactly it’s a thing. Apparently it’s a song’s dance move. Don’t ask me the song or why people do it outside of actual dancing. Or why a photo is a perfect place to… dab. (I do know my friend’s father inquired about dabbing recently, and was seen googling “Songs to Dab To” after. Adorable.)

I guess we can just chalk this one up to old age, folks.

888

Tuesday, 18th of July

WHAT’S THAT YOU SAY? TWO DAYS OF SUNNY, WARM EVENINGS IN EDINBURGH?

I wouldn’t believe you if I hadn’t been there myself. Tonight’s sunset shenanigans brought to you by my partner-in-crime, Krista. We had a meander through Holyrood Park, which considering Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags being smack dab in the middle of it, does manage to offer some absolute cracker of views. We weren’t the only ones to partake in the scenery: nearby cars were pulling off alongside the winding road that circles around the park, and a wedding photoshoot was happening right in front of us.

IMG_5506.jpg

Sometimes living in Edinburgh is just like living in any other city. Then other times it’s like a punch in the face of fairy-tail prettiness. It’s those times I can only shake my head and wonder just how it is I managed to end up here at all.

Wednesday, 19th of July

No work–admittedly I did fairly little during the day. Some days you do the chores; other days you take a whole lotta naps and do pretty much nothing.

However!!!

Just to end my three-day social streak on a high note, this evening was spent with our good mates Dave & Amy. This is now officially the start of a tradition for our little gang, being as this is the second year running seeing the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival! Technically it’s mine and H’s third year, having stumbled upon them by the sheer power of their fantastic name, and won over completely by just how darn good they are.

And boy, was it a fun night. This one was a sort of big mashup featuring various jazz performers in their own groups and also all together in a big magical set. My favorite parts where when they marched right off the stage, wandering through the audience while blasting Nawlins-style jazz. It was a fantastically good time.

IMG_6045.jpg

For those wanting a wee taste of the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, and a dash of pop culture relevance, here’s them performing the theme song to Game of Thrones.