Friday, October 31, 2008


For decades, at this time of year I’ve battled away with carving turnips into basic lanterns.

And while the turnip flesh gets recycled into soup, stews or mashed neeps, uncooked it’s a tough, unwieldy vegetable where you’re as likely to remove a finger as you are create a hollow to contain a candle.

So I have to admit to a sense of relief at the gradual importing of the culture of Halloween pumpkins from the US. They are infinitely easier to carve and, as I’m beginning to find out, offer greater versatility.

For the past couple of Halloweens I’ve just done the 3 triangles for eyes & nose and some kind of squiggle for a mouth, but this year I discovered you can create a secondary layer of pumpkin carving by removing the outer skin, but not all the way through the flesh.

Of course the Americans and Canadians have known this for centuries, but here in the Ayres household it has come as something of a revelation.

Although my first attempt at this style of carving is not going to win any prizes, at least the kids were thrilled with it, which is all that matters. I’ll leave the super fancy ones until next year.

Personally I felt quite smug about carving a self-referential pumpkin on the pumkin...


Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Ultimate Answer to...

It has been said 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, The Universe and Everything. However, as my son Rogan pointed out this morning it is also the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of “How old is Kim today?”

If I was hoping (and part of me secretly was) for a revelation of wisdomic proportions, then I’ve been disappointed. Although the creation of the word, “wisdomic” might count for something.

Still, the day is going well. I’ve had croissants for breakfast, a fancy chocolate with my espresso, and in amongst the birthday cards was a fantastic drawing of me and my granddaughter by my 4 year old granddaughter.

I’m feeling loved.

Tonight we’re having a few friends round for food, music if anyone brings an instrument and, if Eryl’s reading this, hopefully a bit of storytelling.

We were planning on having a wee bonfire out in the garden, but the very wild, very wet and very windy weather currently sitting over this part of Scotland has scuppered that idea. I did suggest we could try it under the cheap plastic gazebo but it was pointed out to me:

a) it’s not big enough to fit everyone under, as well as a bonfire
b) the rain is largely horizontal so wouldn’t really offer any shelter anyway, and
c) it’s flammable

So now I’m wondering if we could do one in the middle of the living room floor instead.

Friday, October 24, 2008


This past week has been spent on the Isle of Mull, off the West Coast of Scotland.

People we know have taken over a hotel in Tobermory and needed some up to date photos of it, as well as the spectacular views. In return for a few days of clicking my camera, we were given the best room in the house.

During our stay we drove round various parts of the island and came across some old boats, just rotting away on the shoreline. Well, there's only one thing you can do at that point, and that's screech to a halt, leap out of the car and start taking photos, in the full knowledge they'll look fabulous in full or partial black and white.

It's well worth clicking on these images for larger versions


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Product reviews

Sometimes my opinion as a blogger is sought after.

Sometimes I’ve been asked to blog about a particular event or cause.

Sometimes I’ve even been asked to review a product.

I must admit I’m always incredibly surprised to be asked. I mean, on average I get about 50 visits a day, most of which are accidental where people were clearly looking for something else. “Gifts for a 9 year old” and “Naked Bearded Men”, seem to be common search threads leading people here, although not in the same sentence I should add. And I can only begin to imagine the disappointment for the recent searcher of “Man thong, hooters

Last year, for example, I was sent 2 Skype Phones to play with as part of drive to create a blogger buzz about them. Packed full of 3G technology and access to the Internet, it was a sort of forerunner of the iPhone. Unfortunately we live in one of the few places in the UK where there isn’t a signal strong enough for 3G technologies to work, so they’ve sat accumulating dust for about 11 months now and no blog review was ever written.

Recently though, I was sought out to review an item and was offered either a sample product to keep or a payment. How much wasn’t mentioned at this point, but it is currently being sold online for only $39.95.

The sales page is nearly 5,000 words long, full of pseudo-scientific explanations and diagrams of active molecules and happy cells. In full detail it spells out all the problems it solves, benefits it gives you, and major enhancements you can expect in your life should you purchase one.

Who would have thought a small adjustable, plastic loop with a magnet glued to it could make so much difference to a man?

I decided not to get involved; partly because gullibility isn’t my middle name (although did you know it’s no longer found in a dictionary?), but mostly because you could make your own with an elastic band and a fridge magnet.

However, if anyone knows the boss of Aston Martin, I’m more than happy to do a 3 year trial of their DBS and write a blog post about that.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Rogan is 13 years old and really needs his own room. It’s been a toss-up between my study or Maggie’s art studio, and as she’s made money selling art while I’ve made no money surfing the web, laughing at Garfield Minus Garfield, and leaving the occasional witty comment on someone’s blog, I’ve lost.

So after nearly 3½ years, this wee room little larger than a single bed, with no heating and a carpet that hasn’t seen light for, well, about 3½ years actually, will no longer be mine by the end of this week.

In an ideal world we could do with a house that had at least 4 more rooms than this one, to contain my own study as well as the kids having a room each, a music room, a photography studio and a spare room for guests and/or junk. An outbuilding to convert to a large studio for Maggie wouldn’t go amiss either.

While we’re at it, sea views would be rather nice too, perhaps with a path down the cliff to our own private beach.


Anyone got a spare million or two? You’d make this family very happy. Meg does a wonderful impression of Puss in Boots doing the big eyes thing in Shrek 2, which will melt your heart and make you feel really good about yourself.

Meanwhile, as even Rogan’s cake business is unlikely to bring in the kind of income we need to find a place with even 1 extra room, I’m likely to find myself wandering from room to room, looking for a quiet corner to sit on my coat and put out my begging bowl to attract the attention of passing Internet surfers.

“Excuse me guv, spare some change for wireless broadband?”

Friday, October 10, 2008

Filtering Friends, 5MFSN and DS Awareness Month

October is in fact Down's Syndrome Awareness Month. I thought I'd better mention it to make sure you're aware. So, there you go.

I don't write a huge amount about DS on this blog because, well, after 10 and a half years of Meg, I don't think about it that much. Most of what I write about Meg is just writing about family stuff.

However, more recently I've been making monthly contributions to 5 Minutes for Special Needs - a community blog/website dedicated to ideas, opinions, experiences and words of wisdom and insight for parents, carers and people associated with those who have special needs of one kind or another.

This has given me the opportunity to reflect a bit more on the way Meg has affected our lives when it comes to the DS.

And with my 42nd birthday looming in a couple of weeks this time I've been thinking about how Meg, and people's reactions to her, affect who becomes a closer friend rather than just an acquaintance.

So if you're interested, pop over and read Filtering Friends, and leave a comment if one occurs to you.

In the meantime, as it is Down's Syndrome Awareness Month, let me make you aware of the grouping on my sidebar called, "With a Dash of Something Extra..." Here you will find links to sites of people who are parents to children with DS. Some have exquisite photos, some are quite political and a couple are not written in English.

Randomly choose one or two and go and read a few posts.

Oh, and feel free to ask any questions.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ultrasound Scan

“Is it a boy or a girl?”


“I guess everyone says that, eh?”

“Everyone, yes.”

“Can I get a photo of the ultrasound scan to take away with me?”

“Of your liver?”

“Er… yes…”

“Put in one of those cards which has a teddy bear on the front?”

“Well, actually I thought an onion might be more appropriate. You know, liver and onions; classic combination?”

Fortunately it appears the haemochromatosis hasn't done any damage to my liver.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a photo.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Consenting ingredients

If I had made black pudding out of my own spare blood, would vegetarians be able to object to trying it?

Strictly speaking, no animals would have been harmed...