• Alison Cowell

Strengths and weaknesses

At the beginning of this month I received a Facebook memory from a year ago. In August 2018 I was excited as we had just had the offer accepted on the cottage (little did I know what was to come!) We had newly arrived from New Zealand and life was still very topsy-turvy. August 2019 by comparison has been so vastly different. My lovely boys (with wife, girlfriend and children) came to visit us. They stayed in St. Andrews but popped up to Guthrie to see us at the cottage. It was wonderful being with them all, especially baby Jessica who, at 16 weeks old is finding her voice and her personality!

Grandad Steve in his element

Steve and I didn't do too much work on the cottage because (a) the family were here and (b) Steve started a job to top up our funds. It's a driving job which wouldn’t have been his first choice but he’s very good at it and the Scottish countryside is a pleasant place to be driving through (see, there's always a positive 😉 ) . One of the consequences of Steve not being home is that Asia has to be left on her own sometimes when I have to go out for meetings. She hasn't been left on her own for 14 months and has spent every single second of the day with one or other of us since we came back to the UK. She has totally lost the sight in one eye and the other eye is very blurry so she really does worry if she can’t sense us near. Preferably I'd have a friend that I could take her to while I nipped out but unfortunately all the people I know here are working during the day. I found a doggy day care centre. I held her little face in my hands and explained what would be happening. She was very happy on arrival, tail wagging furiously and head in the air sniffing in all the new scents. Then she realised I was leaving. It's like one of those moments when you drop your child off at school for the first time. My heart was aching as I walked away, and I could hear the lovely ladies in the centre trying to coax her with treats. I made the mistake of looking back and I saw her little face peering through the bars at me. I beat myself up about it all day long and I couldn't get her off my mind. When I went to pick her up however she was nowhere to be seen………… she was outside playing with her new best friend, a Chihuahua! Happy as Larry.

The vinyl went down in the kitchen but that means the kick boards now need to be shaved so they fit back in properly. We ordered a lounge suite and some carpet and, after paying our money (similar to the bath story!) we were then told there would be a 16 week wait time for the lounge suite (16 weeks!!) and the carpet would be 2 to 3 weeks. 5 weeks on we're still waiting. Steve called the shop and asked to speak to the manager to establish the cause for the delay. He was offered a refund if he wanted! What is going on?? That isn't customer service is it?

I told Steve I would finish painting the skirting boards in the lounge while we waited, but the look on his face betrayed his thoughts. ‘Problem’? I asked. He tried as nicely as possible to tell me that he would prefer to do it himself to avoid a mess. A mess?! Excuse me! He validated his point when we compared the paint stains on our overalls.

Leaving the skirting board painting meant I had time on my hands, so I decided to buy some black dye and use it on a couple of pairs of cropped trousers that I bought over from New Zealand. They're really nice, they fit well but they're very faded. I followed the instructions on the packet, however on mixing for 5 minutes as instructed I later discovered that the rubber glove I had been wearing had a hole in it, so my hand was dyed black - VERY black. I had all sorts of advice from my lovely friends telling me how to get rid of it, but nothing worked; baking soda, lemon juice, bleach etc. I even put my hand in a glass of Coca Cola because it strips a 2 pence piece clean so it should be able to take dye off a hand, right ? Wrong. In the end I found that Lidl's home brand hand wash was the most effective product! Goodness knows what's in it, but at least my hand went back to a more respectable colour. I was dreading showing my hand to Steve after our ‘messy painter’ conversation. I was hoping I might be able to scrub it clean before I had to confess. Whilst I pondered, I cunningly passed him a cup of tea with my undyed hand. He burst out laughing and asked what I’d been up to. Seems I had splashes of dye on my face too.

Maybe I need to concede that painting and dyeing are not my forte.


Copyright © 2019 Alison Cowell

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