Friday, April 04, 2008

Spring blossom and silly things

This has been the second (and last) week of my Easter holidays and I've spent a distressing amount of it marking my Advanced Higher students’ dissertations and creative writing.

However, on Monday I walked to collect the car from being mended and saw - above - the Pentland hills with some cherry blossom,

a forsythia bush in full bloom

and this flower shop. All very springlike.
On Wednesday I had coffee with my friend Maggie and she told me about something silly she did with her spectacles.

And today I had lunch in Haddington with some other friends and we did something embarrassing.

Maggie’s silly thing? She likes having candles in her house, and has discovered that a good way to get wax splashes off the glass candle-holders is to put these in the microwave to melt the wax. Works a treat, she tells me.

The other day she’d been tutoring a student and her brain was rather frazzled. She then rushed to pack to go away for a few days with friends, blew out a candle – and wax spattered on to her spectacles. So, still thinking about her tutorial session and her little holiday, she popped them in the microwave.

The lenses, she reports, were fine. The titanium frames melted completely.

The embarrassing thing? Today, five friends and I were lunching in Haddington, which is a small town in East Lothian, east of Edinburgh. Above you see the river that we walk along. My friend Janet lives near the town and some months ago, on a similar occasion, she took us to look at a show house (ie a new house, fully furnished to show prospective buyers what houses in a development can look like). Various of us have occasional thoughts about retiring to Haddington or somewhere round about. And it's always fun to have a snoop round a show house.

Today, she announced that she had another show house for us to look at on our after-lunch walk. There it was, in a row of new houses – the one with a For Sale notice in the window and another saying Open Viewing.

So we went up the path and opened the door – six of us, talking loudly as only six teachers who’ve known each other since 1973 can talk. We stood in the hall and looked round. I thought to myself that it was odd that on the wall was a school photo.

Someone called from upstairs – the sales lady, clearly. Then she came down, looking a bit surprised. Janet asked if we could see the house; the lady agreed but said, “It’s just that… people don’t usually walk straight in.”

Because it turned out that…no – it wasn’t a show house. It was this lady’s home. Yes, she was selling it but she was also living in it and had been for a year. The houses were newish, but not actually brand new as Janet had thought.
Were we looking for a house? asked the lady (who was clearly hoping to sell it, though equally clearly didn’t think we looked like six women who were necessarily going to buy a house together). No, no, we said, backing out rapidly. We were just… so sorry… goodbye.

And we continued our walk. Giggling. But a bit horrified.


  1. Oh, that is very funny. I can just imagine the look on that lady's face as she found six chatting, giggling women in her hallway!

    (And PS...the first watch I ever owned...a little Timex with a royal blue strap...I bought in a shop in Haddington! I was about 8 years old at the time.)

  2. I bet that lady double padlocks her door now!!

  3. Ohmygosh Isabelle -- that's hysterical! Did you all become even more noisy, laughing so much as you walked away? And sorry about your friend's glases. That's not so funny -- a little distressing actually -- titanium is expensive!

  4. I can just see it. Priceless! And our holidays are just starting!

  5. Good one there Isabelle. I have a cousin who used to live in Haddington now moved to West Linton. I have never been there although have passed and stayed in Edinburgh.

  6. First, I want to thank you for visiting my blog and tell you what a treat it is to follow you back to your home page. I will be adding you to my blogroll, so I can find my way back here quickly and perhaps direct others to your charming English phrases and words. I have always been a bit of an Anglophile. My oldest daughter is a teacher and has visited England, Scotland and Ireland. Her oldest son did a semester at Paisley College as part of his college scholarship. Alas, I have never been abroad and it is doubtful that I will now.
    Your mention of embarrassing moments reminds me to ask if you had read my posts about Mammoth Cave, Ky. and the one about Howard Johnsons? They were posted in late February and early March. Those were two very red faced moments in our life together. It is so nice to meet you --- come back and tell me more about yourself.

  7. That is hilarious!
    Aren't you lucky to have such friends, that you have known for so long!The funny thing is, you werent even inspecting the house, just nosing!

    I have a bunch of marking as of Friday...errr.

    The Spring flowers look wonderful.

    Best best wishes...!

  8. I am sitting here giggling- also a bit horrified. Putting myself in the owner's place.

  9. Well, she did say 'open viewing'...

    I'm amazed about the melted titanium, did the microwave survive? Must have been quite a firework display!

  10. I can hear the giggling, I think I would have done exactly the same! Glasses in the microwave makes me feel better about putting my sewing basket in the fridge last week, thankfully my youngest noticed and put it back where it belonged!

  11. So funny, imagine how it would feel to be in that woman's shoes and be greeted with a bunch of giggling women!!

    I enjoyed seeing the photos.

  12. Wonderful mental image of the six of you standing, horrified, in that poor woman's hall! You do realise you now have to buy the house just to make her feel better, don't you?

    And by the way, how do you get titanium off a microwave??

  13. How disappointing for the lady--and she thinking she'd hooked some live ones!
    Tell your friend she has a soul sister in Florida! Laughed out loud about the glasses, though she probably wasn't that amused at the time. Some day I'll have to write about the day I melted the kettle. When I do, be sure to tell the story to Maggie!

  14. Isabelle, thanks for visiting! Re 'havering/haivering': I first picked it up from a friend out here who grew up in South Africa, but may have had Scottish forebears, she said, I think, her mother used to say it. Than I think I've seen it on blogs, notably Lesley's, a Scots lass living in Bordeaux, who has it as her blog sub-title: 'Peregrinations, (or just haivering)' - I think she uses the 'i' - in which case she may be using it in either of the senses you describe. The 'i' may simply be a mis-spelling, as it's probably more a word you hear spoken than see written.

    Meant to say before how much I liked the bridge picture!

  15. That is so funny. I am still giggling. I wonder what her first thought was when she saw you all standing there. The picture of the flower shop makes me want to rush to my local garden centre.

  16. First, a terrible confession: I read all of your posts the instant they pop up in my RSS reader, like a greedy child gobbling candy. After reading them, I tell myself that I'll comment a bit later. Perhaps by the time later comes, my child won't be squalling at me and I'll have something coherent to say. Unfortunately, time often just drifts by ...

    One thing which struck me about the show house experience, mortifying as it was to you, was how polite and civilized everyone was. It's refreshing.