I didn't realise until this week that the Brig O'Doon is a real place, believing for years that it was a mystical place conjured up by Robert Burns. Not only that, my sister in law lives a few miles away from it. As they say, you live and learn. And I thought I knew everything. Just goes to show doesn't it?
It's a beautiful spot in a village called Alloway, a few miles from Ayr in Scotland. The village also has a Burns monument and a Burns Visitor Centre so I guess he must have had connections with the area. Mind you, this IS only a guess!
The trip to Scotland was great. Davy's sister Mary and niece Margaret Ann live near me and we thought it would be good to take the trip to visit his other sister Margaret and her family. We had a great time just mooching around, relaxing and swapping memories. It was just what I needed.
One way and another I've had a very traumatic time this year but last week was the final straw prompting my decision to "be good to myself", hence the trip to Scotland.
One funny thing happened to me this week though, at least I hope that it's funny. I was booked in for my booster vaccinations and because I forgot my first appointment I was paranoid about doing the same again. I shortened my trip to Scotland, set up several reminders to myself and even asked my colleagues to remind me. So there I was on Thursday morning, having got out my appointment card to remind myself, sitting in the office chatting away. I had completely forgotten again! Kimberley suddenly remembered and I just about made the appointment.
As I was laughing about this with the Practice Nurse I suddenly wondered what I had done with my car keys. I looked around and said "Oh well, I've probably left them in the car". As I got up to go she reminded me that I had forgotten to pick up my jacket. "Ah! that's where my keys are, in the pocket". She looked at me strangely and said "By the way, how IS your memory?" "Not great, but let's face it I'm getting on a bit now". "No seriously Ann, are you alright Do you think that I should refer you to the "Memory Clinic"? My fear is that "Memory Clinic" may be a euphanism for the dreaded "One Flew Over The Cockoo's Nest" type set up. I declined. I may be old but I'm not in my dotage yet (I hope).
One last thing, then I'm done - but don't hold me to that because I may come back to visit this subject again. A couple a years ago when the "Credit Crunch" first hit we took a close look at our business. In the good years we had become bloated and now we needed to tighten our belts.
We went through our figures, worked out our current breakeven, spoke to the staff and reached an agreement to tackle this head on. We cut salaries and costs, reduced hours, implemented a recruitment freeze, worked smarter and survived. It wasn't easy for any of us. We had to make sacrifices and every other business that we spoke to was in the same situation.
What happened in the public sector? They carried on regardless. In fact spending and recruitment went up and everyone complained that they weren't getting big enough pay rises. Have you ever noticed that public sector workers have become more beligerant over the years? What happened to the "civil service"? Somewhere along the way it lost it's civility and stopped serving us.
Believe me, this ain't rocket science. Now is the time to pay the piper. The 500,000 public sector job losses predicted over the next 4 years will come from the 700,000 mickey mouse jobs created over the last 10 years.
I wish that I could stop myself from banging on about things that I know f... all about, but I guess that I'm entitled to my own opinion so here goes.
Today's Spending Review.
What I would like to see is:-
The end of Department Budgets with their "use it or lose" mentality. Departments inflate their budgets in case it's needed and then proceed to spend like a drunk at happy hour to stop it being reduced next year due to over budgeting this year, creating a huge spiral of waste.
Stop the public sector early retirement age of 50 along with the one off massive lump sum payment and a pension that is inflation proofed. Which, I might add, is being paid for by the good citizens of this Country who will eventually see their pensionable age raised to 68.
Tighter regulations in public sector sick pay which is way higher than in the private sector.
The sacking of public sector procurement numpties that lock us into ridiculously over priced and ineffective contracts. In fact I think they should be charged with treason and locked up in the Tower of London.
Last week we sold Davy's pride and joy his Audi S6 Quattro with Lamborghini Gallardo 5.2 V10 engine. I had tried to sell it a couple of times before but something always went wrong which, at the time, was a relief because I couldn't seem to bring myself to sell it.
But, being pragmatic we told ourselves that it was only gathering dust and deteriorating in the garage, a car like that needed to be driven, and more to the point we had found a good use for the money. The time seemed right to sell it. Amazingly enough we found a buyer straight away and within a couple of days it was gone, leaving us all stunned and over emotional.
It was bought by a couple of "likely lad" dealers who "appreciated" the uniqueness of this beautiful car. One of them had even lost his father last Christmas after being taken ill with cancer in the October. De ja vu!
On Friday I opened the mail to find that I had been issued with a speeding ticket. This sent me into total meltdown because I am already maxed out, so goodbye licence until next March! I was a blubbering wreck until my granddaughter pointed out that at the time it was issued I was at the solicitors and the ticket was actually for Davy's car. It was clocked at 110 mph on our local by-pass. Phew.
So the car has gone from one rascal to another. Fitting.
When Davy built our office one of the planning conditions was that the surrounding acre of land should be landscaped. Our plan was submitted, agreed and we were delighted with the (expensive!) end result. The office was now enclosed in beautiful gardens and peaceful grassy areas.
Apart, that is, from a sizeable portion of land directly in front of the office. Davy said we were not to touch because it was to be his project and who were we to disagree with him when he was being this assertive? It was an eyesore and the planners and neighbours frequently complained about it.
So when Davy died last Christmas he left us with a huge dilema. What should we do with this area of waste ground? Dare we touch it? Dare we go against his wishes? We all loved him dearly and wanted to do the right thing, but we couldn't just leave this unsightly mess, especially as we sometimes have prestigious visitors.
So we mulled this over for several weeks and finally someone suggested we turn it into a Garden of Memorial. This felt right and work commenced.
I apologise, once again, for my appauling photography. These photographs don't actually portray how awful it was and how beautiful it is now.
We kept it simple with three trees, an Oak, a Copper Beech (Davy's favourite) and another tree which I can't remember the name of right now, but it has bright yellow foilage. We also planted shrubs along the back fence which will look beautiful in a couple of years time.
The tree in the far righthand corner is the Oak and it is under this that we quietly interred Davy's ashes early one sunny morning. It's visible from the office and the house so it seemed appropriate that this was to be his last resting place,close to the people that he loved and the business that he loved.
And here's the strange thing. Can you can just make out the the area surrounding the Oak tree is slightly raised? This was not planned.