190. Is the Grass Greener? The quietness of small towns after-hours

Wednesday 16 August 2023

It’s the middle of August but has already been looking a bit autumnal. I sometimes look out the window and think I’ve been looking out of it for the duration of the nine months we’ve lived out here. There has been some unusual weather recently in Scotland. We had an incredibly humid, grey day on Friday. On Sunday, it ranged from chilly and wet to hot and sunny with a whole raft of variations in between, seemingly every five or ten minutes. Yesterday at around 15:00, I drove about forty minutes to Selkirk, then a further ten minutes to Galashiels. For the first fifteen minutes, it was beautiful and sunny and I lamented having brought my washing in. Then it rained. Then it was merely grey. I had not noticed any particularly ominous clouds. However, shortly after Selkirk it rained. Proper biblical, flash floods, the kind of rain that you can’t imagine will ever stop. The roads were deep with rain water, windscreen wipers on full pelt and massive waves of water from all vehicles passing, despite everyone driving considerably slower than the speed limit of forty going into sixty in that area. And then, the road was dry with no rain. Crazy.

I arrived in Galashiels shortly before 16:00. The bakery I’d wanted to buy bread from was still open. By the time I’d bought paint from B&Q and socks from TK Maxx, I walked to the bakery, still before 16:30. Closed. I walked around the shopping streets, all before 17:00, and most shops were closed already. I kind of like Galashiels but it felt a bit sad and abandoned being so shut-up that early. I don’t think I can quite comprehend how much smaller the towns are up here than in the southeast of England. Galashiels is the largest Scottish Borders town.

The reason I went to B&Q was because I’m painting the small annex room, referred to slightly pretentiously as The Indian Room. I had already painted two walls but decided to paint all the walls, including the ceiling. I will also then paint the little niches after the dark teal of the other walls is dry. They will be done in a very pale pink. I do not enjoy painting, except that I do enjoy listening to music while painting and seeing the changes to the room and the light. So far, the room is looking as I’d hoped it would. I’ve done three coats on every area except the ceiling, which I’ve only done two coats on so far. Fortunately, it’s a small ceiling and a chunk of it is missing due to the skylight. I had never painted a ceiling before. As expected, it’s horrible painting ceilings. I will avoid doing that again.

The paint is much more teal, a lot less blue in reality. The niche is yet to be painted pink

Today is forecast to be largely sunny – no, actually, the point is that rain is not forecast. I have already hung out a wash, wildly optimistic it will dry. I will need to go out for my steps today but I feel kind of bad that my Fitbit is already reading over 5,000 steps. I have not walked that much, but it would have registered my painting. I don’t know to what extent I can allow that to count towards my goal of 10,000 steps. Either way, I will ensure I walk somewhere today and that my Fitbit registers 10,000 steps. I am thinking of doing the third coat on the ceiling later this afternoon and I would feel really bad if that got me to 10,000 steps without having gone out for a proper walk. Fitbit psychology at play there.