Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Sun Didn’t Shine Bright on Loch least the day we were there!

The Week in Recap:

Saturday, 17 October:

Last week I wrote so long and set up my new blog that I hardly got out of pajamas until dinner time. I told you about having some leftover gravy that I wanted to make beef stew with so I had Robbie get some stewing beef cubes and some potatoes and carrots when he took his auntie to the store for her weekly Sat. shopping. I have to say, I don’t know how I ever cooked without OXO cubes which are beef stock cubes (I think Knorr has a bullion cube which is similar if you can’t get OXO over there). I love the beef cubes and now use them to make soup, stew and spaghetti sauce or anything I make with hamburger to give it a beefier taste. I also like to use the chicken and pork cubes for other dishes. I’ve become crazy for stock cubes!

The beef stew did turn out very delicious except for the stew meat. I’m very unhappy about beef over here; it’s almost impossible to get tender and tasty beef like back in the US and it’s SO expensive! Even this stew meat, which turned out to be awfully stringy and tough, was almost the price of a good steak back home! I’m also shocked, now I’m on the subject, of how much fat they leave on the meat. A pork chop over here is almost 1/3 fat! Unacceptable! One of the first lessons I learned at my mother’s knee is that when picking meat in the grocery store to choose the cut with the less fat left on it. I can still hear her voice saying, “You don’t want to pay for fat,” so I wish the butchers here would listen to that admonition too.

We rounded out the night watching “Simply Come Dancing” (called “Dancing with the Stars” in the US) and “X-Factor” (called “American Idol” in the US) which are two programs we HAVE to watch! When I first watched “Simply” I couldn’t tell the stars from the professional dancers because they have different professionals here (except for one American) but Len and Bruno were still there. I loved watching “Dancing with the Stars” back in the US from the time it first came on so it was fun to see how it differed here because, apparently the American show is copied from the one over here.

Other than the stars I didn’t know it’s pretty much the same except for a few differences. Here they have a panel of 4 judges rather than the 3 and here Len Goodman is the nice one! Bruno is still Bruno whatever continent he’s on. At the end, after the phone-in votes are counted, the bottom two couples then have a “dance-off” and the judges vote on who they thought did the best and can stay. I think this differs from “Dancing with the Stars” unless they’ve changed it this year. I haven’t seen any of it this year. We used to get it two weeks behind the US but we haven’t gotten it this year. I’m disappointed because I really wanted to see Donny Osmond dance! I tried to get a couple of feeds on YouTube but it’s not the same!

Sunday, 18 October:

I woke up feeling tired and achy so I decided not to push myself and go to church. I had forced myself to go last week even though I felt bad as I was getting ready and even though it’s always a blessing to go to church I don’t think pushing myself too much does me good sometimes. I was just so tired I didn’t even want to get out of bed and get on the computer so you know I wasn’t myself! I did rest and read and I felt more energized by evening so I think it was best. Maybe it was the fact that our two sunny days are over and the weather is back to grey and drizzly.

They have the results show for “X-Factor” on Sunday night so we watched that and were disappointed that the Scottish boy was sent home. He was good but just got a bad song to sing so it’s a shame. Usually when there’s a Scottish performer on everyone here calls in and votes for him so I’m surprised that he ended up in the bottom two. In fact, that’s the only time Robbie will spend the money on a phone-in vote! This is the link to see his final wrap-up:

Monday, 19 October:

Today starts National Baking Week here in the UK so to celebrate it (or just because I was in the mood) I decided to bake a cake. The last two Duncan Hines cake mixes I have left that I brought over with me are angel food so that’s what I made while I was waiting for the nurse to come. As usual, every time I get my tiny hand mixer out I desperately long for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer that I had to leave behind but maybe some day I’ll be able to replace it. Following a tip I learned years ago I also add an additional two egg whites to the mix. Since I also didn’t bring over my tube pan I had to put it in one of my Bundt pans and unfortunately, it overflowed a bit in the oven. It was also a lot harder to get it out of the Bundt pan and since I didn’t grease it (you’re not supposed to with angel food) it stuck a bit so not as pretty as it might have been. Still, all in all, it turned out lovely, high and with a beautiful texture.

The nurse came to change my dressing while it was baking and commented on how nice it smelled. No one seems to know about angel food cake over here. Of course I could go into a whole dissertation about the differences between what we call cake and what they call cake over here! I was shouting back at the chef on the morning program (as I said, National Baking Week so they had a famous chef showing us how to make cakes—ha!) when he actually said, “Now don’t beat it too much—a cake shouldn’t be beaten, just moisten the flour.” Gaaa! No! No! No! He was making a lemon poppy seed “cake” and I kept shouting, “You’re making a sweet bread not a cake!” A proper cake HAS to be beaten to give it a light texture. Sheesh!

Culture shock not withstanding I had to use up my extra egg yolks from the cake so I decided to make my Spam & eggs omelet for out dinner. It’s really more of a farmer’s omelet with potatoes, onions, Spam, eggs and cheese. Spam is just one of those things that tastes like it’s supposed to over here.

Tuesday, 20 October:

I woke up today in a really bad mood and the bad coffee didn’t help. One day last week Robbie had to run out to the Co-op and get coffee because we had run out. Since he’s in charge of the coffee making now I didn’t know to remind him or see to getting some more before it was too late. He was stuck with getting some awful cheap stuff and now we have to drink it till it’s gone. I’d say it was a little worse than Folgers’s or Maxwell House. Icky! Ordering our nice gourmet coffee online is one thing we’ve had to stop doing to economize. After this morning’s cup of mud, though, I’m thinking of protesting that some luxuries are necessities!

One of the things that has been weighing on my mind and making me nervous is getting this visa application in the post and getting it going. Two things have made us delay a bit: the cost and we’re still waiting for a copy of one of Robbie’s monthly bank statements. When the mail today brought a statement but the wrong month than the one he’d requested (one we already have) I just told him we’re going to have to get it sent off with what we already have. It takes 5 working days and £5 to get a copy of the statement and we don’t have the time to wait. So in the afternoon I sat down, went through everything and made sure we had it all filled out correctly and Robbie wrote in the payment information. This time it’s £35 cheaper than last time...£465 rather than £500...but still a LOT of money.

But, now it’s off in the post and out of our hands. I said a quick prayer over it before I sealed the envelope. There have been threats of the postal workers going on strike Thursday so it’s even more important we at least get it in the mail before that happens. Then we can use that as an excuse if we have to if it gets there late!

Wednesday, 21 October:

Nurse came in to do my dressing. I still don’t like the way the “hole” looks but the rest of it is healing up nicely. The nurse said everything looks good and is impressed at how it’s healing. Even the “hole”, she said, has clean edges and doesn’t have any sign of infection so I guess the silver dressing is doing the trick. Other than laundry, I didn’t do much else.

Thursday, 22 October:

What a good day this was! Robbie and I had appointments at 1:55 to get our flu shots so off we went to the Health Centre. We were surprised to see that the nurse that was giving us our shots was one of the nurses that comes here frequently to do my dressings on Mondays and Wednesdays. She was surprised to see us as well but we had a nice chat while she was “jabbing” us. I never felt a thing when it went in, in fact, I was so busy talking to her I thought she hadn’t done me until she moved over to Robbie. Later, though, my arm started stinging and burning like crazy. That had never happened before to me. I’ve never had any kind of an adverse reaction to a flu shot before and Robbie claims he always does. I sort of moved my arm up and down like doing the chicken dance to see if that would make it stop stinging. It was a little tender to the touch so I didn’t want to rub it. The discomfort went away about an hour later but that’s the first time I’ve had any kind of reaction to a flu shot.

Robbie wanted to go to a seminar in Broxburn that demonstrated computer access to the disabled since this could help him in his volunteer work and maybe in our future business. I knew I didn’t want to go so he dropped me off home and I just got on with some more laundry and made myself lunch. The phone rang and the woman asked for Robbie so I had to take a message. She said she was from the Job Centre and wanted to offer him a position. She gave me her phone number and I called him immediately on his mobile. I didn’t think much of it at the time (mainly I was struggling to see the number I’d written hastily on the newspaper with a really bad pencil!). His auntie also called and wanted him to help her with something she didn’t understand. I didn’t understand what it was she didn’t understand (!) so I told her that she could always get him on his mobile number. When Robbie got home we talked more about that and whether she had gotten hold of him than the first call. I finally had to ask him and he casually said, “oh yes, I can start at the Job Centre if I want the job,” Between wanting to strangle him and being happy I didn’t know what to say or feel!

So good news is, Robbie starts a new job November 16th. He’ll be advising other people on job hunting, helping them fill out forms and whatever else they need. This is something he’s been doing since April so he pretty much knows the ins and outs of it all. Plus he knows how it feels to want a job and not be able to get one so he can be more empathetic than someone else who’s not been through it. My Robbie’s not the most effusive or emotional of people but I can tell the difference in his attitude lately. In subtle ways he seems surer of himself and a bit more confident.

One other good thing that happened was that I found a £20 note I had hidden in my wallet. I had put it in such a secret place to save it that even I forgot all about it! So, shh, don’t tell Robbie!

Friday, 23 October:

We had to get up early this week because my clinic appointment was at 11:30 so we had to leave the house at 11:00. Our appointments have usually been around 2:00 so this was different for sure. It was kind of like the night before the first day of school in that you know you have to get up so you can’t sleep the night before. Robbie was really restless too so it was hard to get up when it was time. I was even nodding off over my first cup of coffee.

As usual, when I got in there everyone said hello and smiled and they call me by name. I guess since I’ve been coming there every week I’ve become well known. My usual nurse was on holiday this week so I had a sweet little girl, Gillian filling in. She mentioned about having seen me in the clinic and being known and I joked about everyone being sick of seeing me by now! She thought everything looked good and so that’s it till next week.

The weather was a mix of clouds and sun and when I came out of the hospital and waited at the door for Robbie to pick me up I noticed it was one of those fall days you get where the colors of the trees just stand out vividly because the sky behind them is dark grey. Yet, on the other side the sun breaks through the clouds and, like a spotlight, beams on the golden trees. I was just enthralled with the scene and the cool, fresh air.

Robbie surprised me when I got into the car and asked me if I wanted to go for a drive. He keeps saying he wants to take me to the Trossachs and so he asked if I wanted to go up there. How can I say no? We pulled over to a little parking lot across from the hospital next to an Indian restaurant so that he could check his road atlas and clean the windshield (windscreen to him).

Once we pulled in, we saw that there was a small mobile snack bar set up. Now let me explain, a snack bar here usually means a trailer of some sort off the side of the road or in a parking lot (car park) like this one was. Picture the sorts of vehicles you see selling food at country fairs. What they usually serve as snacks is hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, meat pies and drinks. Even though it was noon I wasn’t really hungry but my hubby can eat any time and wanted to get a sandwich so I had him get me a burger (which he had to finish for me) and he got a bacon bap (bacon on a roll) In previous entries I’ve told you the difference between bacon here and over there in the US. It’s much more like Canadian bacon.

I didn’t realize that Loch Lomond was in the Trossachs and that it was all so close. It’s at the most 2 hours drive from here and really close to Glasgow. As usual, we didn’t have our camera with us—I AM going to put it in the car and keep it there! So since we weren’t able to take any pictures you’ll have to check out these links to see some of what we saw:

Dryman (pronounced Drimmon) was a very pretty little village and I’d love to visit it again. We just drove through this time and didn’t stop.

Unfortunately the weather got worse the further west we went and by the time we got to the loch it was raining pretty hard and was misty so the mountains were hidden. Even if we had had the camera we couldn’t have gotten very good shots. There was no snow on the mountains yet and we did try to get a picture of one of the hills with some of the lovely golden foliage on Robbie’s phone. I’ll have to see if he can upload it later.

We stopped at the Loch Lomond Coffee Shop and had a light tea. I would describe it as modern tartan. The plates and dishes were in a tartan pattern but in bold colors, there was a log stove but it was modern. Still, the music was traditional Celtic and very soothing. I even heard some of the soundtrack from the movie “Rob Roy” which was appropriate since it’s Rob Roy country! It was almost surreal to me. I remember loving that movie so much and there I was sipping tea from a tartan pot listening to the same music I listened to over and over. Amazing!

The food was quite good. I got soup and a club sandwich and Robbie got a chicken wrap. He also had to finish my soup for me. They had a very tempting array of home baked desserts we had to pass up but I hope we’ll be back soon and can try them. There was a little gift shop in the restaurant too and they even had Yankee Candle items (the mark of a good gift shop in my opinion!) so now I know where I can go when I run out of my tarts!

Robbie had a Gideon meeting Friday evening so we had to get heading for home before too long. With the weather and our time constraints we didn’t really get out of the car or explore too far afield. We drove back through Glasgow and I was pretty amazed at the high hills even that close to the city. It was a lovely drive in the rain I can imagine it would be extra nice in the sunshine. We did get a fantastic treat, though. The sun came out as we got past Alexandria on the way to Glasgow and we saw a huge and bright double rainbow! Just the perfect cap to the evening!

I even got to see parts of Glasgow. I’ve only been in the city twice, well, once doesn’t count because it was the airport and we just kept to the motorway on the way home. This time Robbie took the wrong turn and rather than get on the motorway we ended up going through Glasgow. We thought it might be bad at that time on a Friday evening but it wasn’t bad and we didn’t really get into any traffic jams until we did get outside the city on the motorway. We went through the University section of Glasgow so the buildings were lovely and old—mostly Georgian. All very Jane Austen-ish.

I’d better let that be it for now. Quite enough to tell you all this time! As you can see, we’re doing pretty well this week and, as I said, Robbie is feeling very good now that he’s got employment! We put our clocks back tonight so we’ll only be 4 hours apart from those of you who live in the Eastern Time zone.

Till next week, love and joy and God’s blessings to you!

No comments:

Post a Comment