Posts Tagged ‘kilmarnock’

That is the question.

With winter well and truly set in around these parts the skoosher conundrum is presenting itself daily.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about – because you do.  Even if you don’t know you do, you do!

Imagine this:

The overnight temperature was -7*c.  It’s half-past 7 in the morning and you’re in the car on the way to work.  You have scraped the ice off your windscreen. You may have even scraped some of your windscreen off your windscreen in your haste.  You have scraped your wing mirrors. All is clear. You have, of course, been running your car while scraping so it has begun to warm up and all is well with the world.  So you back out of the driveway and are headed merrily on your way.  Which is when all the problems begin.

Not only does the windscreen fog up completely the second you pull onto a street that has traffic on it, but your previously spotless windscreen is now impossible to see through.  Why?  You know why! There is a mysterious browny-grey slime that appears on your windscreen as if from nowhere the second you move an inch in the winter.  And it STICKS.  To make it worse you can’t see the extent to which the brown/grey slime has set-in yet because your windscreen has fogged up.

So you’re driving along peering through the teeny tiny space near the dashboard which is the only un-fogged part of the windscreen, attempting to find a crack in the brown/grey slime and at the same time trying desperately not to run into anyone or any thing and, hopefully, keeping your car on the road.  It would be best if you could also be trying to drive uphill on an icy road which has not been salted (most roads, really).  Or, even better if you live close to the motorway and are trying to merge into rush-hour traffic.

You’re now on the way to work and have approximately 2 square inches of visibility – suddenly the Fog Gods (great name for a band?) take pity on you and miraculously the windscreen clears to reveal the extent to which your car has been coated with brown/grey slime.

This is EVERYWHERE and impossible to see through.  Coming from the roadway, this slush is momentarily liquid and therefore it should be easy to clear off.  One swish of the wipers, however, smears this slime over your windscreen in, admittedly, quite an attractive pattern. Your two square inches of visibility are now reduced to one millimetre of clear space between each streak of slushy muck.

Now what?  Well, the solution is obvious, one skoosh and all will be revealed!  The roadway! You’ll be able to see the roadway! You may even be able to see the entirety of the car you are crawling up the tailpipe of. Imagine that?!  So what do you do?  You pull the lever which activates the skoosher.  Only to be reminded, horribly, that the solution has frozen overnight and your skooshers are dry. However no one told your windscreen wipers this and there they go happily swooshing along thinking for all the world that they are doing you a favor.

They. Are. Not.  They are just making it worse.  Much, much worse.  Your millimetre of clear space has disappeared only to be replaced by one square inch located somewhere above the passenger seat.  Now relying on your car-pool to navigate (and the tail lights of the car in front which are quite foggy and may, in fact, be warning lights on a runway – you have no idea because you can’t see them!) you are cursing yourself, cursing the weather, the brown muck and, most of all your skooshers which have let you down again.

However fifteen minutes later you will tire of craning your neck and surely, surely the heat of your car engine will have thawed your skooshers.  High on anticipation and the promise the skoosher fluid manufacturers made that their product works at temperatures of -700*c and BELOW you pull your lever with your fingers crossed and totally believing that this will work and you will be able to see again (SEE AGAIN!!!).  It doesn’t work.  It doesn’t work the next time either.  Or the time after that.  Or after that.  You think by now you would have learned, but you’ll try anything to stop having to drive with your head in the passengers’ seat.

You reach the point where you are praying for a much bigger car to pass you going faster so they spray your car (and windscreen) with slush fresh from the road.  With that kind of liquid you could really get the glass clean again.  Or maybe it could start snowing again?  Snow is clean, right?  Please snow.  Please rain.  Please do anything that will wet my windscreen.  You even start fishing about in the back seat for that half-empty bottle of water you know is back there (you can here is sloshing!!) so you can awkwardly reach out the side window at the next stop light (forget that, do it now!!) and use that water to clear the glass. You are willing to do anything for the ability to see.

Having finally made it to work, an hour or so late because you had to drive at 35mph the whole way in because you had zero visibility, and out of some perverse desire to make yourself feel worse, you try your skooshers.  And here, safely in the parking lot, with the parking brake on and your hand on the door to leave the car, HERE when you don’t need to see at all, HERE your skooshers work.  Instantly .  You can see the car parked in front of you.  You can see beyond that to the building you work in.  You can even see Sally on the second floor waving at you from the window.  Here in the parking lot when you don’t have to drive any more you can see.

I’ll tell you one thing for free – you say – I’ll never make that mistake again.  You buy new skoosher fluid (guaranteed below -900*c!!!!) and refill your reservoir – ignoring the “In Concentrate” label on the bottle and not putting in any water at all (freeze on me this time, sucker!).

And there you go at the end of the day, having scraped a bit more glass off your windscreen in your eagerness to get on the road and try out your new skoosher fluid. On the way home driving merrily along you try the skoosh again. And it skooshes just fine.  Except it got colder during the day and the skoosher fluid freezes on impact and your wipers drag ice crystals across your field of vision.

But I really don’t even want to talk about that.

Good luck out there in this, the coldest winter in 30 years (apparently) here in Scotland.

Be safe on the roads and, for God’s sake, don’t use your skoosher!!!



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god reads my blog

It’s snowing, it’s snowing, God I hate this weather.

Now I walk through blizzards just to get us back together.

-They Might Be Giants, “New York City”

While this is categorically untrue, I definitely think their version is better than mine which would probably go something like this:

It’s snowing, it’s snowing, God I love this weather.

Now I walk through blizzards because I like snow.

Also I’m pretty sure that God reads my blog.  I write about how I prefer autumn in America and the weather here is brilliant for days on end.  I write about how I LOVE SNOW and, by golly, it’s snowing this very instant.

Fantastic.  Thanks, God!



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snow is in the air

I know the big  hoopla these days is Global Warming, but I say, “No, thank you.” because what I really want is Global Colding.

Films like “The Day After Tomorrow” and “I Can’t Believe There’s Yet Another Disaster Movie Where The Earth And All Its Inhabitants Freeze To Death” get my little heart pumping, and not through fear of death.  I think a colder world where it snows just about everywhere seems like a pretty good idea to me. 

The thing is, I love snow.  Love, love, love, love, love. And in case you aren’t quite sure of my position yet, I LOVE SNOW. 

Sadly it does not snow here in Kilmarnock. And for all of you who live here and are about to protest – don’t bother.  A miniscule snowfall which immediately turns into grey sludge and only comes once a year does not count as SNOW.  I’m not sure what it does count as, but I can assure you that it is definitely not actually snow.

I’m talking about big, fat flakes that consume the surface of the Earth and turn even the most redneck front yards (rusting cars and planters made out of old tires) into a blissful, peaceful expanse of whiteness.  I’m talking about ice storms which bring down trees and power lines. I am talking about having to shovel through two feet of snow on the last Friday before Christmas (2004?) when there is no power in the neighborhood and one of your neighbors is boiling hot water on his outdoor gas-fired grill to make coffee.  Digging cars out of the front yard where they’ve over-shot the turn and ended up on top of the mailbox.

Or driving along the highway behind the tandem plows getting pelted with rock salt.  Or the coincidence of driving under a bridge when a plow is clearing the road above and getting buried in wet salty snow mush.  Or the mountains of snow in shopping mall car parks that thaw in the springtime to reveal piles of garbage, shopping carts and someone’s banged-up ’82 Honda they thought had been stolen but was, in fact, eaten by the snow plows.  It’s a whole WINTER thing, and I suppose if you’ve never experienced it then you simply couldn’t understand…

I miss having to wake up for work an hour earlier just in case you need to shovel/beat your way out of the driveway.  I miss the sound of the snow plows waking you up at 3am with such a noise it shakes your bones (and only being reassured it’s not the end of the world because you can see the plow’s flashing yellow light bouncing off the walls of the  bedroom).  I miss my yellow truck which can’t slow down at all (forget stopping!) in the winter without turning in at least one complete circle. 

I miss the sound of snow, and the way the air smells after it has snowed all night. When it has been a particularly quiet snow and all the branches of all the trees sag underneath a burden of pure white.  Sitting inside with the world’s largest and hottest mug of hot chocolate after attempting to clear the front walk but giving up because with the rate the snow is falling you’ll only have to do it again in a half hour anyway.

I miss snow. Especially this time of year.  Christmas just isn’t Christmas without feet and feet of snow.

And as for those certain internet shopping sites, fair enough you have free shipping with guaranteed Christmas delivery if you order before midnight on Christmas Eve (seriously?), but must you mock me with your festive Christmassy banners? Even Amazon.co.uk gets more snow then I do!  (So does WordPress, for that matter!)

Although Kilmarnock does have the COLD part down.  It just seems that cold and precipitation do not go together here.  It was cold enough on Sunday that the mist in the air froze to any sedentary object.  Liz and I were at Hayes Garden Land (Christmas shopping at garden centres = fun!) and their entire outdoor section was coated in ice crystals:

Isn’t she pretty?

Moral of the story? I wish it snowed in Kilmarnock.  Seriously, a lot

As a side note – I do understand that if it started snowing on a regular basis in this part of the country that everything would shut down completely.  I remember it snowed about a foot once and nothing worked.  The trains couldn’t run, the bus service was stopped, there were notices on the radio telling people to stay indoors if at all possible.  I was outside making a snow-angel (yes, at the age of 27) and thinking, “are they serious?”, and yes, they were.  The thing about it is, if it started snowing on a regular basis then the council would learn how to prepare for it.  They would get some proper snow plows (have you seen what they call snow plows here? hahahaha!) and people would learn how to walk drive in the snow. 

As another side note – I am not saying that I do not love Kilmarnock or Scotland and that they aren’t lovely places in all other ways, because I do love them and they are lovely, but that doesn’t change the fact that I miss the SNOW.



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bye bye puppies

Well, the pest fostering experience did not go very well.  We loved them while they were with us but sadly they could not stay.


1) The kittens didn’t eat at all for the three days we had the dogs.

2) The kittens didn’t move from their hiding places for the three days we had the dogs.

3) The kittens didn’t show any sign of even attempting to get used to having dogs in the house.

4) Man oh, boy, am I allergic. I’m only just now getting back to being able to breathe.

So, sadly the dogs had to go back to their owner until they find a new foster family and then onwards to a new home.

The only good news to come from this is that my talking about the dogs at work convinced Heather to go adopt a dog from the Scottish SPCA in Ayr and she picked up Millie the puppy today.  And while talking about Millie at the Christmas Dinner today she talked two others into going to the Scottish SPCA and picking up the brand new Rotweiler puppies that arrived today (and are only 3 weeks old!).

So, although Stuart and I couldn’t keep the doggies, three other dogs got adopted because of our venture.

And, Natalie at the Pet Fostering Service Scotland has promised me that I can still contribute to the cause by going and talking about the service or handing out flyers, etc, so hopefully there will be a lot of that in the near future.



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Pet Fostering

A few months ago S and I decided to sign up to become Pet Fosterers with Pet Fostering Services Scotland and the Blue Cross. It has been a lengthy process getting registered. We had to fill out paperwork and have a home visit from the Scottish SPCA to ensure our suitability, then two people had to fill in references for us.  Next we have to take a three-part Home Study course about the Blue Cross, Scottish SPCA, Pet Fostering Services Scotland and pet care in general.

We’ve been waiting since August and I was unsure whether we’d ever be given a chance to foster pets, however just this afternoon we got a call from Harry, our Regional Coordinator. And earlier this evening?

Well, I’d like you to meet:




Rusty is an eight-year-old male Labrador mix and Kizzy is a two-year-old mix. Due to changing circumstances their owner cannot keep them any more and S and I are fostering them until they find a lovely new home.

So far it has been great, although our cats Do. Not. Like. Them.  I think it is going to be a growth process, but I hope they can get along otherwise we’ll have to give the doggies back.

If you know anyone in the Kilmarnock area looking to adopt two dogs leave me a comment and I’ll get contact details for the adoption people.

I’ll keep you updated.




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cafe koko

There’s a new café just opened in Kilmarnock named Café Koko and it’s fantastic.  It’s located at 4 Nelson Street, just off John Finnie Street.

So far I’ve been for just a coffee, for breakfast and for lunch and each and every time I am pleasantly surprised.  Not only is their food delicious and reasonably priced, but their coffee is wonderful and the staff is friendly and helpful.

If you’re planning to for lunch during the week you may be in for a bit of a wait as they are extremely busy during this time, although I’ve never had to wait long.

There’s rumour of a Costa Coffee opening in Kilmarnock and I hope this isn’t true for a few reasons: 1) I honestly don’t like Costa Coffee at all! 2) it may draw customers away from Café Koko.  Although, with products of such a superior quality and always an exclamation of “have a super day!” at the till, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t return to Café Koko again and again.

Café Koko, 4 Nelson Street, Kilmarnock.

Go, check it out. Try the coffe, it’s fantastic!



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