123. Is the Grass Greener? Six months in Scotland

Friday 19 May 2023

I fixed something. I actually looked on YouTube and found a way to fix something. And it worked. And I’m almost embarrassed by how pleased with myself I am. It’s nothing that required great effort, but it’s something that has been annoying me for – well, I’ve just realised it was six months yesterday that we moved in, so it’s been bothering me for six whole months. The downstairs toilet seat has always been a slider-offer. You sit on it and it’s a lucky loo-visit if it doesn’t decide to attempt to sling you off it by lurching one way with alarming vigour. It is now stable.

It’s one of those toilets that is just the ceramic with two holes for the seat and ones which you can’t access from the underside. The loo seat just needs shoving into them with a Y-shaped rubber bit that, once inside the hole, then forms a wedge to stop it coming out unless you then pull it out with great force. I’ll take a photo. Maybe. I cleaned it all thoroughly yesterday before my repair job. Anyway, I’d already taken it out, put it in, sworn at it, hit it; to no avail. YouTube. I’ve never used YouTube as my default for trying to fix or do things, I seem to think of it as a last resort, if ever. I suppose six months of being annoyed by something could count as a last resort. I didn’t have a speaker or headphones plugged into my PC but I learned all I needed to know by watching, even down to the “bet you didn’t know” look the presenter gave when he removed the protective/decorative cap on the round bit (he may have come up with a better word than “round bit” had I listened) and revealed a screw. Unsurprisingly, each of the two screws needed tightening. A lot. So I tightened them and felt a surge of satisfaction when I put down the lid and gave it a wriggle. I wouldn’t say it’s solid, but it’s certainly tight enough that it won’t slide off again. Until of course the screws loosen, which I can imagine they will over time.

I have never felt the need to learn how to do things myself to the extent I am learning here. I see it only as a good thing, if only to get that kind of surge of satisfaction and, frankly, brilliance. I know though, it is slightly embarrassing to feel this pleased with myself over the fixing of a loo seat, but I’m hoping it’s the beginning of a more practical and knowledgeable me.

Prior to my moment of brilliance yesterday, I parked my car about three miles away and got a lift with Chris, on his way out for shopping errands, a few miles further down the road. I walked back to my car through the marshes and woods on my own for the first time. I sat down by the waterfall and had a coffee and read a letter from my friend Luke. I didn’t see a single other person, had an amazingly restorative walk and absolutely loved sitting down with a coffee, a letter and the sound of a small waterfall.

Today, we’re heading to Cumbria for two nights. It’s my birthday tomorrow and Chris booked us a couple of nights away, which also incorporates meeting up with two good friends and their two children at Levens Hall, on the edge of the Lake District, on Sunday. While I would have loved to be here in Scotland for my birthday, I’m increasingly looking forward to two days of not pottering around doing chores or bits of work, no cooking (although I generally love cooking), eating fried breakfasts and somewhere new to visit and wander around.