Thursday, 30 June 2016

Mr Sandman...

Coming back from our last walk with the dogs on Tuesday evening, the husband spied a rather long stick, which had washed up on the beach after the monsoon which had whipped through on Tuesday afternoon.

Picking it up, he said, 'That's perfect for a clothes line prop.  That's coming back with us'.

Now this opens up many questions...

Firstly, the washing line at our holiday home already has rather a lovely clothes prop, so it would be surplus to requirements here.  Secondly, I have no washing line at home, and therefore have no need for a 6' long smooth stick.  I therefore came to the conclusion, that knowing all this, the husband may have had an ulterior motive as he strode down the beach, planting his clothes prop firmly into the sand, looking like a much younger, shorter, beardless and bald version of Gandalf. 

As I write, it's leaning against the wood store - he'll have plans for it, I'm sure, and I am slightly worried that it will be coming home with us - he'll probably make me buy a washing line, just to do his stick justice.

So back to yesterday and the second Biblical flood....  The husband, never one to worry me, had subtly been checking the canoes for leaks throughout the morning, in case an emergency evacuation was necessary.  At one point, I saw him walk past the window at a 45 degree angle (did I tell you that the wind had picked up?) with piles of wood, lifejackets and some sandbags.  He'd also greased himself up with some lard he found in the fridge and was encouraging me to do the same, just in case a swim was on the cards. Ever the boy scout, that one...

So the husband's sister and her beau Mr G tipped up after lunch.  Luckily, their arrival heralded the end of the rain which had been falling steadily for over 24 hours.Taking the opportunity to escape, we removed the flood barrier which the husband had erected outside the front door and headed to Barmouth for a walk along the beach.  Although the rain had stopped, the wind was still a force 9, and as we stepped onto the sand, Mrs W and I received a full facial exfoliation, followed by immediate sand blindness. 

It was at this point I suddenly realised what that bloody stick was for.  I reckon he's been building a raft on the quiet, and he's planning on using it as a mast.  He'll probably want to use my voluminous pyjama bottoms as a sail and a pair of my control knickers as a flag. 

The size of those pyjama bottoms, it might just be quicker than using the M54...

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Golden years...

As I was watching paint dry on Monday evening (some of you might recognise this as 'English Football') the husband casually mentioned in half time that he really wanted to go and visit Abersoch on Tuesday.

Now in all the years I have known the husband, he has talked about this place in hushed, reverent tones, often mentioning it with a happy, glazed look in his eye as he recalls the many childhood summers spent there with his sister, Mrs W.

As the rain had called a truce for a couple of hours, and the wind was down to just a dull roar, we set off with the dogs for the hour's drive to this paradise of his.  As we got nearer and nearer, he started pointing places out which had special meaning to him...

'You see that grey building?  That's the toilet block where I got caught smoking'.
'Look, look!  The fair's still there - my sister could never get me out of there'.
'I got sunburnt on one of those canoes'. (Surely not the same one?)
'I always wanted a wetsuit from that shop, but I was never allowed one'. (Probably punishment for the smoking).
'That's the fish and chip shop I always used to go in'....and then...'Oh no, they've moved the counter!'
It was at this point that I reminded him that it's almost forty years since he was here last, and things tend to move on (even if his memory doesn't).

Another beach walk was neatly nipped in the bud by Mother Nature and her warped sense of humour, but it did give the husband a chance to play with his recently purchased boomerang (for the dogs apparently, but I'm not convinced).

'Do you know how to throw one of those?'  I asked, stepping back behind him slightly.

'Of course I do.  Watch this'.

Having come close to decapitating himself with that first throw, he decided it might be better to throw it the same direction as the wind was blowing, rather than against it.  Miraculously, we managed not to lose it between the shop and car, although the husband did have to do some extra -curricular walking to retrieve it on occasions, much to the dogs' amusement.  I could almost hear them saying, 'Well, you threw the bloody thing'.

It was then off to Caernarfon to see the castle - we were banned from going in because of the dogs, so had to be content with skulking around the castle walls (much the same as other Englishmen a few centuries ago I should think). 

Heading home after a rather large cod and chips (Free Willy sprung to mind as its tail and head hung over the sides of the plate) we had to stop at three separate bakers in the hunt for Welsh cakes to have later on with our very English cup of tea.  Every one had run out, so we settled for half a dozen Chelsea Buns and four cream cakes.

Wales, my waistband salutes you...

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Three wheels on my wagon..

They say that riding a bike, is like, well, riding a bike - you never forget how to do it.  After four years of bike famine, yesterday saw the husband and I embark on a sixteen mile round trip to the beach and back on our bikes, with the husband towing Percy and Reg in the Dog Wagon.

It didn't start well.  We had to drive to the car park where the trail starts, going over a toll bridge, costing us 70p.  All the bikes were ready to go, when the husband realised that he'd left his coat at home, along with the cushion which goes in the back of the wagon.  Back over the toll bridge he went (£1.40) leaving me with the bikes, returning about ten minutes later (£2.10).  Just as we were about to set off, he suddenly remembered that he had left the leads on the kitchen table.  Another trip over the toll bridge (£2.80) accompanied with loud cursing, shortly followed by a sheepish return another ten minutes later (£3.50).

And so we were finally off - a fantastic bike ride along the estuary, with lovely weather all the way.  Reg insisted on standing on two legs with his head through the wagon's sunroof for most of the time, and the two dogs received a lot of attention on the way.  Actually, at the first 'beer stop' Reg managed to procure treats for him and Percy just by looking cute.  If only I had taught them to tap-dance, I might have been able to afford a taxi home...

The ride back was another matter.  My derriere had been fine on the way there, but an hour's break from the saddle (beach, beer, cornets for the boys) was probably not the best thing to do.   The husband thoughtfully tied various bits of clothing around my saddle, so it wouldn't have the feel of a large razorblade, all to no avail.  The extra seat padding also had the unfortunate effect of meaning that I couldn't quite reach the pedals if I was sitting down.  Most of the journey back was done standing up like a Moto-X stunt rider, but without the mud and loud trousers. 

Limping back into the pub car park, now pushing my bike and doing a passable impression of John Wayne after a week in the saddle, I was relieved to set off back home.  Heading over the toll bridge for the sixth time in a day (£4.20) the husband suggested that we might take the bikes with us when we head off to Abersoch later in the week.

I think a stiff talk is needed...oh, and some liniment...

Monday, 27 June 2016

Blowing in the wind...

Saturday night ended the best possible way...with the husband wielding a box of matches, a bag of charcoal and some chicken quarters.  He said it was chicken, but either they feed their poultry on something far more substantial in Wales, or it was a Dodo (don't think that they are quite extinct down here).   Either way, it was all very tasty, and the four of us chatted late into the night.

I headed up to bed first, leaving the drinkers downstairs.  Miss R had laid out my new pyjamas onto the bed, and I was quite shocked when I saw how far the material spread over the duvet.  I assumed that they would be better when I got them on.  What is that saying about 'assume making an ass out of you and me?'  Well, once on, it became very apparent that a size 16 in Wales bears no resemblance to that on the other side of the Severn Bridge.  There was enough material in the trousers to curtain the whole cottage, and I am surprised that Heathrow haven't been in touch about using the legs as windsocks. 

Holding them up around my waist, I frantically pulled the drawstrings at the front to try and tighten them to preserve any semblance of dignity.  Unfortunately, these were for decoration only, and one came away in my hand.  Luckily I had a safety pin in my wash bag, so that was put to good use, although it did mean running the risk of piercing my navel sometime while I slept.

So having survived the night, it was off to Barmouth for breakfast.  A very extensive menu revealed waffles, and Miss R and I put in orders for some with sausages and maple syrup. (When in Rome, eat like an American and all that).  The lady taking the order did everything she could to deter us from this choice....

'Can we have waffles with sausages and maple syrup please?'

'Waffles and sausages with maple syrup?'

'Yes please'.

'That's an odd combination.  I've never been asked to do that before.  Are you quite sure?'

'Yes.  Quite sure'.

'Potato waffles?'

'No, Belgian ones'.  (Miss R jabs at menu fiercely).

'Let me get this right.  Belgian waffles with maple syrup, but with sausages as well?'

'Yes please..'

'That'll be ever so sweet.  Are you sure that's what you want?'

It took all of Miss R's self control not to haul the lady across the counter by her frilly apron and demand who she thought she was, The Sugar Police, but giving the lady a smile (her lips covering gritted teeth) she nodded... 'Yes.  It's really what we want'.

The breakfast eventually turned up, but with two BLT Paninis and only one waffle.  This was the cue for extra loud shouting from Mrs Frilly Pinny as to what she was supposed to do with an extra BLT Panini.

Miss R had a couple of suggestion...

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sugar, sugar...

After Friday's 'trial by zip', everyone seemed up for a quieter day yesterday.  Miss R's very good friend, Mrs O, turned up to spend some time with us - she drove all the way from somewhere else in Wales (you know Geography is not my strongest point), so yesterday morning, we all piled into two cars and headed to some unpronounceable/untypeable place just down the road for a middle-aged stroll around the shops.

Stop number one was for a pair of pyjamas for yours truly, having left mine at home.  I don't know if I am slightly odd in saying this, but I always feel slightly vulnerable if I haven't got them on in bed.  The thought of some poor firefighter throwing me over his shoulder in the event of fire is a huge worry to me, as is the eyesight of the firefighter behind us on the ladder.  I often think that they'd take one look at my derriere....then a prolonged game of rock, paper, scissors would ensue to see who would win the dubious pleasure of hoisting my vast behind and everything else onto their shoulder.  They'd probably just leave me there to burn now I come to think of it..

Anyway.  Back to the pyjamas.  In the middle of the unpronounceable town's square was a clothes shop which had stopped modernising around 1954.  Walking in, it looked like the original Grace Brothers, and standing behind the counter were the husband and wife who had probably been running the shop for at least six decades.  Covered in cobwebs and dust, they obviously didn't see many customers and he was slightly shocked when I asked if I could see his pyjamas.  As I tried to retract what I'd said (old men in pyjamas is not my favourite image) and explain that I was looking for a pair for me, he started muttering about how he did have his own pyjamas, but they were at home.

Now he was almost sane, she on the other hand stood there motionless, wearing a black coat, buttoned up to the nostrils and a pair of glasses which were fashioned out of a coat hanger and a couple of milk bottle bottoms.  She didn't say a word, just stared at the three of us like we were shoplifters, the only movement coming from the wafting chin hair as she breathed out.

Miss R and Mrs O took great delight in holding up various nighties (flannelette, flammable, brushed nylon) and asking whether this was 'the one'.  Unfortunately, there was only one pair of pyjamas on the rail which was barely acceptable.  Turquoise seersucker - now that's something you don't see very often (thank goodness).  They only had a size 16, but it was them or a nightie which would set fire to the duvet if I moved too quickly in the night, so I handed them over to young Mr Grace.

As I was paying, I remembered that Miss R wanted to buy some socks.  On the counter was a very handy rotating stand full of socks.  One pair caught my attention...

'Diabetic Socks? What are they for?'

'Oh they're very popular', said young Mr Grace.  'They have a lot of stretch in them'.

Throwing a non-diabetic pair (probably with no stretch in them at all) into the bag, we headed back out to the husband and the 21st century. The discussion continued as to what the hell a Diabetic Sock was.  Mrs O felt that it was probably sugar free, while Miss R wondered if you could possible catch diabetes from it.

I almost wished I'd bought a pair just to find out, but at 14 shillings, they were a little pricy.....

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Rubber bullets...

There are times in your life when you seriously question a decision made.  One of those times happened yesterday as I was hurtling 450 metres above a Welsh quarry at around 120mph.  When Miss R had booked these tickets with the underhand approval of the husband, it didn't even register on my feeble brain as to what I might actually be asked to do.  Let me take you through the first half of yesterday morning....

Having got over the initial shock of opting out of the EU on Thursday night, and having asked many pertinent questions (mainly will I be able to cash in my £3.78 Euromillions winning ticket from last week) we headed off to ZipWorld in the pouring rain and high winds. 

Why is it that these places, where death is a minor possibility, employ children as instructors.  One of them, who was given the job of telling us how to work the safety harness was so young that his voice hadn't broken.  Another one, with her plaits and braces looked as though she'd stepped off the set of Little House on the Prairie, never mind a manly Welsh slate quarry.  All tackled up, I looked at the zip wire with some trepidation, watching people speed down like bright red bullets. 

'It doesn't look that bad', I said.  'I think I can do that'.

It was at this point that the husband and Miss R shared a worried look.

'That's the practice zip - we're going up there......'

Looking to where the husband was pointing I tried very hard to see where he meant.  Of course the low cloud, circling vultures and torrential rain meant that I couldn't quite see the start of the zip wire, but I could see where it was coming from and where it was ending up.  A vertical drop over the edge of the quarry, above a turquoise lagoon and over the trees and home. All taking about a minute.


So fast forward one hour, and you find me suspended over the edge of the precipice in my harness, hands tucked into straps, muttering under my breath that if I survive this, someone will pay.  The child instructors merely slipped the safety strap off and basically pushed me over the edge.  In more ways than one.  Apparently I screamed all the way down.  I dispute this, as I know I used some rather fruity language too, and even I am not that clever to scream and swear at the same time.

As one of the other children grabbed me at the bottom of the ravine, he asked me how the ride was.

'Horrible.  Really horrible'.

'But what about the view?  Did you enjoy that?' he persisted.

'Don't know', I spluttered through my tears.  'I had my eyes shut all the way'.

I shall never look at a zip again without breaking into a cold sweat.  It's a lesson though...

Pay more attention when the husband is in charge of planning as he really can't be trusted...

Friday, 24 June 2016

On the road again...

So children suitably threatened, and lists typed and handed out, it was time for the husband and I to head off to Wales for the week with my sister, Miss R, in tow.  It always surprises me how much he can fit into his car when we go on these self catering jaunts.  Mind you, spending four hours on the M54 with your face squashed up against the passenger window as there are various holdalls, dogs, bikes and cooler bags in the way is not much fun.  By the time we reached Welshpool (loo stop, dog walk, drink, meet up with sister) I resembled the Elephant Man, and had developed a nasty tic.

Pulling up in the services for the obligatory middle aged lady stop (I blamed it on the dogs) the husband, ever thoughtful, suggested that I might like to do the remainder of the journey with my sister, rather than riding shotgun with him.  This was a brave suggestion on his part -we both know that he hates my incessant chattering on long journeys, preferring instead to drive in silence, with maybe a little easy listening on in the background. The trouble is that I think I am keeping him entertained, and therefore awake.  He sees it slightly differently, often referring to my chattering as the reason he might resort to roadkill....

So I was evicted.  Taking my place next to my sister in her big, posh car, I only had to share the front seat with two bananas and an apple.  Quite an improvement on the husband's car, and by the time we reached Barmouth, my facial features had a more balanced look to them, and I no longer resembled a haddock.

Now the Welsh drivers are a thing to behold.  Pottering along behind the husband, who on several occasions forgot he wasn't driving on the continent (either that or the dogs had taken over driving duties), we watched car after car hurtle past us with no regard for life, limb, blind bend or bridge.  Miss R used some words not heard since the Italian hire car in Lake Como last year, while I thanked the good Lord that my pelvic floor was still hanging in there as there were some corners when I may well have stuck my head between my legs and kissed my a**e goodbye.

Our home for the next few days is beautiful (Thank you Mrs H) and we have lots planned to make the most of our stunning surroundings.  One of the things arranged, booked and paid for by Miss R is a two mile zip wire ride through a quarry at 80mph...  Now I hate heights, speed and falling on hard stones, so I can't imagine that this will be my favourite part of the week.  The husband and Miss R have both brought their Go-Pro's with them to film the whole thing.  We are due on there at 10.30 this morning.  I would imagine that by 11.45am my shame will be on facebook for all to see...

It's OK though.  I'll get my own back. Let me just say that the pen is mightier than the sword.....

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Burning down the house...

So you'll all be pleased to hear that the husband is still alive and kicking after his comments on Monday.  I am especially glad, as he is driving me to Wales at the weekend for a week in a friend's cottage, and I don't know the he does have his uses on occasions.

It's funny how things change as you get older.  When the children were younger, I used to worry the minute they set foot outside the front door, convinced that something terrible would happen to them the minute I wasn't looking.  Of course it didn't, but I suppose it's part of my job description as 'mum' (this also includes counsellor, taxi driver, laundry maid, chef, supplier of thick skin and broad shoulders and banker, so I suppose neurotic paranoia is just an added bonus).

It's different now though.  When we are away, I would rather they weren't here either - I like daughter number two's approach of going to Asia (still no idea where) for a month.  At least I know her room won't look any worse by the time I get back (this would take some doing actually - although Semtex might just swing it).

The other three are very keen to know when we are going, and when we'll be back, which automatically gets my suspicion radar on full alert.  I did think about lying to keep them on their toes, but the husband, ever the trusting soul, had blabbed, and has probably even written it down somewhere for them. 

But what's the worse that could happen, I hear you ask.  Well, for a start, if they are here, they will be eating and drinking.  This will mean that on our return, there won't be a single glass in the cupboard, and the dishwasher will remain untouched, its contents gently festering waiting for my return.  There will also be food which has been bought, started and abandoned.  This could be located anywhere - bedrooms, fridge, oven, barbecue, sofa, and again will have reached epic proportions of green furry growth within the week (probably accelerated by the fact that the heating will be blasting out on full for the whole week also...)

Lady H (she of the multiple cleaning products and fancy vacuum) is heading back here while we're away, to do my upstairs.  I am slightly worried what she'll find as she puts the key in the front door.  I have visions of her turning the key, and the door falling flat as the rest of the house crumbles around her (think Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin etc).  The only evidence that life once thrived there the remains of a takeaway curry, empty beer bottles and some party poppers....

Maybe I'll change the locks.  I'm all for peace of mind...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Back for good....

You will remember from last week, my concern about the impending demise of my usefulness as a woman on this, the start of the menopause.  The husband, who is getting slightly fed up of sleeping next to a puddle most nights was overjoyed when I said that I was going to book an appointment with the doctor to look at available options.

Well yesterday was my appointment.  The husband, doing his usual 'I need to get out of the door or I'll be late for work' flapping about, had obviously remembered this, and as he was rushing towards the front door, he shouted out,

'Don't forget to ask them about the CBT....'

Now if you are not a motorbike fan, this will mean nothing to you.  CBT is the Compulsory Basic Training necessary to get through your first test for a bike.  It doesn't involve sweating, oestrogen, mood swings or weight gain, but for some reason, it struck a chord with the husband, in his attempt at trying to impress me with the fact that he had sort of remembered where I was going.

'It's not CBT', I said wearily.  'That's the motorbike test'.

'Well, what it is then?' asks he.  'HS2?' 

'No, that's the new train line'..


'No.  That's a cashpoint'.  (This confused him even more as the letters didn't match.  I'll probably have to go over this again with him tomorrow...


Silence from yours truly, a slight pursing of the mouth accompanying the narrowing of my eyes...

And then he got silly...'HRH?  MFI?  DFS? H&M? B&Q?'

Getting slightly miffed at his lack of understanding about all this, I eventually managed to forcibly close the front door behind him while he was still spouting nonsense. 

So my appointment later that morning went well.  The doctor was lovely, and very patient, and didn't take the mickey once.  Apparently, Red Clover is the way forward if you don't fancy growing a beard at the age of 53.  I've stocked up, and will give it my best shot, as a job in the circus is not for me just yet.

By the way, so that the husband and I are on a level footing with regard to the difficult times ahead, I have booked him in for a BS&C.

That'll wipe the smile of his face....for some time I would imagine...

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Another one bites the dust...

When I tell you what went on in my house yesterday, there are those of you who will be slightly appalled.  I've fought this dilemma for some time, only last week coming to the conclusion that I have to confess, so here goes..

'My name is Tracy, and I am no longer able to clean my own home...'. 

You see, that wasn't all that bad.  Once the decision was made, the hardest part was finding someone.  I haven't had the best of luck with my cleaning ladies over the years, their reasons for leaving me involving distance (she moved county to get away from me), cataracts (couldn't make out the dust), height (couldn't see above eye level which was around 4'6" so the cobwebs flourished) and age (perfectly acceptable).  So you imagine my delight when one lady's name kept reverberating around my friends.  Her name was spoken in hushed voices, with the intention of not sharing her too freely.  But I eventually tracked her down, and she started with me yesterday, and going forward shall be known as Lady H...

I've always thought that I kept a relatively tidy home.  It would appear not.  Lady H needed over three hours to just do my downstairs (not a euphemism before you start wondering if she has other strings to her bow) as the dust on some of my surfaces (the ones covered in photo frames which you can never be bothered to move) had reached epic proportions - I think a trowel formed part of her extensive cleaning materials.  In fact, she had three holdalls of potions and lotions as well as a fancy vacuum.  Obviously, her standards are slightly higher than mine (two cloths and a bottle of multi-surface cleaner).

After she left, I wafted from room to room, marvelling at the fresh smells and shining surfaces - it all looked fabulous.

She on the other hand was a broken woman, having taken on my hovel.  I promised her that I would lift a duster before her next visit when she would be tackling my upstairs.  I may even move things rather than dusting around/over them.  I don't want to frighten her off after one visit do I?

So Lady H, thank you for bringing order into my life once again.  In recognition of all the work you did yesterday afternoon, I made the husband and son number 2 sleep in the garage.

Snuggled into the packing cases and dust sheets and surrounded by spiders and general filth, they barely noticed the difference...

Monday, 20 June 2016

Dance with my father...

It was Father's Day yesterday.  A day when children spoil their dad, reminding him with gifts, words and cards as to how much they love and appreciate him.  At least, that's how it's meant to go...

Saturday night had been a particularly heavy one for the husband.  We were celebrating the divine Mrs H's 50th birthday at a dinner prepared for her by another gorgeous friend.  The husband, who has a fondness for inappropriate dancing at times, spent the evening gyrating on the patio with various glamour pusses, with numerous shots of grappa and limoncello lubricating his knees.  You should have seen him go..and go..and go.  There were moves undertaken which have yet to be named, and some which are probably barely legal.  After some persuasion, I eventually managed to lever him out well after Cinderella o'clock, and we staggered back home, managing to walk the whole ten metres without stopping.

This was all well and good, until yesterday morning.  I hadn't been drinking (the usual martyr approach suits me just fine) so I was up early enough to get the first call from daughter number 2 (from a beach in Thailand) to wish the husband a wonderful day.  He slept all through that, so I had a lovely chat instead, successfully maintaining a smile above bared teeth as I compared her surroundings with mine at that moment (she was a in a bikini, I was in my dressing gown.  She had a cocktail, I had a cup of tea....)

Messages started coming through from the other kids, all wanting to speak to their dad - he slept through all of those too.  Briefly surfacing around 10.00, the husband resorted to a couple of painkillers and another hour in bed, working on the assumption that things wouldn't hurt so much if he was unconscious.   

Around 11.00, the other three kids all turned up together, their noise and laughter enough to make the husband clutch at his forehead in a vain attempt to stop the fluffy ducks pecking at the inside of his eyelids.  But sitting at the kitchen table, surrounded by cards, gifts, three of his children, one wife and two dogs, he couldn't have been happier. I like to think his smile was down to that, and not because of the jar of sweets which he was holding in a vice like grip (this is what you have to resort to if you have children in the house - one lapse of attention, and they're gone). 

He then had to cook a barbecue for eleven, as various grandparents tipped up to celebrate the day with him (see how kind I am to him?) 

The last guest left the house around 6.45pm.  The husband was laid out on the sofa at 6.47pm, muttering under his breath that he will never drink again, ever...

I give him till Thursday...

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Down Mexico way....

Over the last week or so, there has been a pervading whiff coming from the direction of my fridge.  Up till now, I have been too busy to investigate (aka shutting the fridge door really quickly so no one else notices) but yesterday afternoon it all came to a head, with various people (male mainly) refusing to come into the kitchen just in case they got a whiff of eau de fridge.

Armed with kitchen roll, cloths and several bin liners, I started with the doors and worked my way through the shelves and drawers, taking cautious sniffs of each jar and bottle as it made its way out onto the worktop where it was lined up for inspection.

Now I'm sure that you are very similar to me.  I reckon that fridges should be a lot wider, and a lot shallower, ie one jar deep, thus ensuring that nothing gets hidden on the back, or crawls into a dark corner and dies.  This probably explains why I found three jars of horseradish, neatly lined up, one in front of the other, with the newest being up front - only one of these was still in date, the other two having a sell by date circa the London Olympics (at least it was the 2012 ones).  They weren't the culprit, but when I am on a roll, nothing is safe....

Next to go were the three half full squeezy bottles of sour cream.  We like fajitas in this house, and for some reason I always feel the need to buy a new bottle every time I serve them up.  Of course, this is also applicable to guacamole and salsa of which there were two and four bottles respectively.  (Obviously, we all like guacamole, can tolerate sour cream, and simply hate the salsa.  I've made a note of this for future Mexican Fiesta Nights...)

All the slightly sprouting potatoes (baking, baby and sweet) headed into the bag, as did half a cucumber which had miraculously turned into a green smoothie in its sealed bag - still not the culprit though.

Eventually I found it.  One of those large plastic bottles of Heinz Baked Beans....twisting the lid off in quite a haphazard way (these are eaten regularly and often) I took a peek inside...

Good god...if this had been left in the fridge another day, I think it would have punched legs through the plastic and walked to the bin itself.  As it was, it was down to me to carry it at arms length out to the bin, with the lid firmly shut.  Sorry bin-men, down to you now...

So now I have a beautifully clean fridge....Daughter number one tipped up late yesterday afternoon.  First stop was my very fragrant fridge.  Seeing the empty shelves, all she could say was, 'Oh'.

Oh, indeed....

Saturday, 18 June 2016

I remember you....

Isn't it lovely when someone remembers you.....

Settling into my hospital bed at silly o'clock yesterday morning, a face appeared around the curtain.  'I know you, don't I?'  asked the nurse, her eyes scrutinising my face.  As all blood drained from my face, and then promptly returned at the speed of light, giving off enough heat to power a small country, she followed that comment with...

'You were sick all over me last time you were here..'

Of course, this was my chance to apologise, which I did very sincerely, and we had a bit of a giggle about it.  She even remembered the heavily wrinkled, deflated balloon, which apparently took some removing from the end of my bed after I left.  That'll be the husband with his boy scout knowledge....

So back to yesterday.  As a 'writer' of sorts, being with strangers can give me so much material, so I have tried to restrict this to the funnier parts.  The lady next to me (Jo with the Two Bunions) was delightful, and keen to chat about her four dogs and her hip replacement. I thought she was quite normal until she started saying that she preferred her dogs to her children.  How awful for her children I thought.  And then I realised that I probably felt the same on occasions, those being when bedrooms looks like we've been burgled, and the washing machine is working through the night. Perhaps we had more in common that I thought...

The young girl opposite (Tegan with the Longest Toe in the World) was very chatty too.  The general consensus of  all the ladies on the ward was that she was too young to be in there.  Surely her toe could have delayed its phenomenal growth till at least she was grey? 

But the best one was on the end (Mavis with the Knee Replacement).  She had been put in the bed near the nurses' station where all the naughty ones are put, and she lived up to that expectation for the seven hours I was there. The emergency button was on permanent repeat and she obviously hadn't managed to work out the operating gown, so she treated the rest of the ward to the sight of her rather low-slung pink bottom on several occasions.  She did finally fall asleep, when her presence was more sound than sight, with a type of snoring you would expect from Bernard Manning after fourteen pints of Guinness and a vindaloo.  Never in the history of time would playing Nessun Dorma be more appropriate...

As I was getting ready to come home, the husband turned up to collect me.  Sitting down while I gathered my belongings, he was looking down the length of the ward, laughing at Naughty Mavis as she was behind the nurses' station, trying to use their phone, and wittering on about how she needed to tell her husband (poor chap) to collect the cream for her piles on the way back.

'That's too much information Mavis, said the nurse, pointing her back to the direction of her bed.

This sentiment was seconded by the husband as she turned her back on the husband and bent over to remove her slippers.

He'll be scarred for life...

Friday, 17 June 2016

99 red balloons...

It's a very early start for me this morning. Having starved myself for 12 hours, bathed in some weird soap guaranteed to kill anything with a pulse and donned a pair of loose trousers (which will be even looser by the end of the day due to starvation rules) I will be ready for the small 'procedure' on my stupid 'old lady ankle'. 

It's only a cortisone injection, but I am such a pansy where pain is concerned that I requested full unconsciousness for the three minutes it will take.  This is all my consultant's fault.  When I asked him whether it would hurt, he shrugged his shoulders, and simply said, 'Yes, of course'.  Well that was it for me - at the age of 52, I see no reason to subject myself to any pain if there is the choice not to...

I am going back to the same ward which was the scene of an extremely embarrassing incident a couple of years ago - on my 50th birthday to be precise.  My consultant wanted to have a bit of a poke around in my knee, and when the date for the op came through, the husband thought it was hilarious that my milestone birthday would be spent in bed.  It wasn't a big deal for yours truly, as we had partied hard the week before, and to be honest, a day in bed was quite an attractive proposition.

When I had first got onto the ward, the nurse asked me if I'd like something to reduce any nausea.  Well, that seemed like a fine idea, so I had popped the pills quite happily. I had some trashy magazines, and a book, so kicked the husband off the ward, and settled down to wait.

Well I waited, and I waited....Everyone went down for their ops, one by one, and all I could do was watch the air slowly seep from the birthday balloon which the husband had thoughtfully tied (in a double knot) at the end of my bed.  At one point late in the morning, I had wondered whether I had disappeared from view behind the balloon, but a press on the emergency button confirmed that they still knew I was there.  The nurse was quite short with me actually, so I lied, and said that I must have rolled on the button by mistake...not sure she was convinced...

Eventually, I was last man standing (last woman laying down really).  Emergency Button Nurse appeared from behind the deflating balloon, and informed me that it was my turn to go down.  As she wheeled me into the anaesthetist's room, I suddenly felt quite odd.  Putting her ice cold hand on my forehead, Emergency Button Nurse asked me, in a very condescending fashion actually, whether I was frightened.

'No, not frightened, I replied, 'I just feel a little light headed'.  I must have said this very quietly, because she leaned closer and asked me to repeat what I had just said. 

It was at that very point that the anti-nausea drugs reached their sell by date, and I threw up all over her.  I'm not too sure who was more surprised if I'm honest.  Me for throwing up when I hadn't eaten for thirteen hours, or her, who was looking forward to heading home after a particularly difficult shift (especially with that woman in bed number 3 who kept pressing the emergency button).

Fingers crossed that she's not on duty today.....

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Sweets for my sweet...

I did something very grown up last week.  For the last ten years or so I have been collecting my medicines from my doctors' surgery, happily chatting to the lovely girls who run the dispensary every couple of weeks or so.  On parking up last Friday (this is never straightforward as the number of spaces is far outweighed by the doctors, nurses and office staff; any patients might as well get the bus there or die quietly at home), I noticed that large signs had appeared at various locations, warning of parking restrictions and future costs for the up till now free car park. 

Now this car park and I go back a long way.  There have been many times when I have eventually found a parking space, having driven round the car park four times, only realising too late that all the driving has caused me to miss my appointment altogether.  You then have to do the walk of shame past the receptionists, who tell you to sit quietly in the corner while they see if you can be fitted in sometime in the future.  This is usually at least an hour and three quarters but it has been known to be as long as ten days (the car park was exceptionally busy that morning in my defence...)

So having read the signs,  I told the dispensary that from now on I would collect my medicines from a chemist in town, thus freeing up one car park space for 10 minutes every fortnight.  Wasn't that thoughtful of me?

Yesterday was medicine collection day. I headed off to my chosen chemist late afternoon, planning to nip into the Tesco Express opposite for some food, as yet again every cupboard and the fridge were full of tumbleweeds and cobwebs. (Even my Mrs Beeton's Recipe Book doesn't have a one which includes these ingredients).

The supermarket looked quiet, so collecting a basket from the door, I sauntered in to get a few items which would pad out my fridge a little, staving the hunger of son number 2 and the ever foraging husband.  As I was standing looking at the fourteen types of ham, desperately trying to work out what the bloody difference was, a tsunami of children suddenly turned the corner at the top of my aisle, and hurried towards me.  I was all that stood between them and the chocolate section, and there was a nano-second when our eyes met, when  I thought I might have stood a chance.  However, the lure of purple (thank you Dairy Milk) proved too powerful, and they bulldozed past me, narrowly avoiding tipping me into the fridge with the ham and the crab sticks.

Brushing myself down, I limped towards the tills to pay.  In the time it took me to do this, seven children had done an equivalent of a trolley dash, and were waiting patiently to pay.  As my turn approached, the girl on the till stared at me, wide-eyed and a little hysterical.

Leaning over the counter, in a low whisper, she said,

'Never come in here between 3.30-4.00.  They unleash hell when those kids get out of school'.

Now there's a girl who loves her job...

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Hot stuff...

Interesting times are on the horizon... I'd like to say that I am excited about this, but history tells me to rein my neck in, take a deep breath and prepare myself for the worst.

I'm not referring to the EU referendum, although it is unusual to have to prepare yourself for the worst case scenario which ever side wins.  Nor am I talking about England probably getting knocked out of the next round of Euro2016. (Assuming they don't get put on the football equivalent of the 'naughty step', ie the ferry home, if the fans cause any more trouble this week).

No, it's all far more serious than that.  It would appear that I have taken the first steps down the path called Menopause Street.  At the ripe old age of fifty two and three quarters, my usefulness on this planet as a woman is coming to an end.  I am redundant (if only that were true).

I thought that the raging heat emanating from my body was down to the kids leaving the heating on overnight.  It would appear not.  The husband (ever sensitive as you know) is thrilled, as it means that our heating bill will be reduced as I won't be turning it up a couple of degrees each night, preferring instead to fling open every window and door, throwing myself out onto the patio like a person who hasn't seen daylight for ten years. 

And then there's the palpitations.  The husband was blaming my rapid heartbeat on his animal magnetism, claiming that it was understandable that I would get a little flustered  when he's in his towelling dressing gown, but as it also happens when I am making my lunch or doing the ironing, I think it's safe to say that it has nothing to do with his calves or the sheepskin slippers.

The best is yet to come though.  I shall probably turn into some knife-wielding harridan, all rational behaviour gone, screaming and shouting at anyone who gets within five feet of my sweating body.  There are those who might say that this is normal behaviour for me (minus the sweating).  It's OK saying that now, but God help everybody when this really takes hold, as I'll probably resemble the Tasmanian Devil crossed with Lee Evans.  Looking it up on the internet (never a good idea, I know) this could go on for TWELVE YEARS... I could upset a lot of people in that time.  Murder might also be on the cards, or just serious maiming on a good day.

So an appointment has been made with the doctor to discuss medication....I shall be popping pills like a 1970's hippie, and will go through the next twelve years in a happy fog of confusion, denial and Joni Mitchell. 

You see, it's not so bad after all - maybe I should have started taking these tablets a lot sooner...

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Never mind the b*ll*cks...

I don't know about you, but I may just about have had enough football this weekend to last me till the next millennium...

Euro 2016 is upon us, bringing armchair pundits (the husband), gamblers (son number 2) and POW's.  (I'll leave you to fill in whichever word you'd like at this point ladies....Please feel free to join me as one of the P****d Off Wives).  What annoys me most of all is that there is no respite.  Couldn't the major TV channels have got together, and agreed that three of them would show all the matches, while the other two were geared towards the non-football watchers.  I would welcome a channel purely for musicals and soppy chick flicks, while the other could be dedicated to soaps.  There's something for everyone then. 

At work yesterday, one of the boys I work with admitted that he had watched all the televised matches over the weekend, and that he planned to watch all the remaining ones up to the end of the competition.  This is a total of fifty one matches (if this is wrong, I apologise, I could only commandeer so many dog paws) which equates to over a hundred hours of adult men kicking a ball from one end of a field to the other.   I can think of far better things to watch on the television (assuming there is no drying paint to watch).  How about Grease, followed by You've Got Mail, then West Side Story, finished off with a proper tear jerker....Titanic.  Now that's a good night's viewing, especially if accompanied with a bottle of Prosecco, a few nibbles and a face pack (us POW's are extremely good at multitasking...)

I get rather confused with all the foreign names too.  The Russian team seemed to be made up of players called Chestikov, Nastikov, Tiklikov and Sendimov....but maybe I wasn't paying enough attention.  I enjoyed watching the German match (only the last ten minutes, as I was busy boiling my head for the rest of the match), and the fact that the pundits kept mentioning people called Ballack and Koch cheered me up no end.

So back to Sunday night.  Having watched wall to wall football since Friday, the husband (ever sensitive to my moods) had noticed that my demeanour was edging towards psychotic serial killer.

'I think that's enough football for this weekend', he said, grabbing hold of the remote control.

Oh yes', I agreed, 'What else is on?'

'Top Gear.  We haven't missed much.'

He's living on borrowed time, that one...

Monday, 13 June 2016


Every now and again, usually when the weather warms up, and always on a Sunday around 10.30am, the husband raises the question of whether he can have a motorbike again.  I should say at this point that it isn't me saying he can't have one.  As a semi-retired biker myself, I always have a soft spot for the husband when he's leathered up, and would welcome the appearance of two wheels and an engine in my garage again. 

However, there is a  stumbling block...ask our children how they feel about us getting motorbikes again, and this is what they say.

Son number two : 'No problem, as long as I can have one too'. 
This will never happen - he couldn't cope with Helmet Hair being the fashion icon that he is...

Daughter number two : 'Mmmm...Is this something you feel strongly about?'
The analytical one - making us think about the pros and cons...

Son number one : 'Do what you like...'
Far to busy with his own life to worry about us - probably didn't even hear the question properly.

Daughter number one : 'If you get another bike, I will never speak to either of you again'.
Definitely the weakest argument against us buying them.  She needs to work on her threats.

But yesterday I caught the husband out.  Walking into his office, there on his computer screen was a full frontal photo of a KTM bike.  I didn't say anything to him, as we're all allowed to do a little window shopping (even men) but getting into his truck yesterday morning, there were brochures scattered across the back seat, full of pictures of the same bike.

He looked suitably embarrassed when he realised I'd spotted it, and started muttering about how it was the perfect bike to go touring on, as it had panniers on the back. Panniers?  This screams of 'old man's bike' to me.  I prefer the slightly dangerous, raw kind of bikes which sound like a tractor with whooping cough.  Not very ladylike, I'll give you that, but you'd definitely know I was behind you.

So it looks like I might have to buy my own bike if he goes ahead with the purchase of the Steve Davis equivalent of motorbikes (it's reliable, safe and slightly boring).

My bike will be the one in the corner of the garage swearing and snarling at the dogs as they walk past.  The one with a bad attitude and a reputation for trouble.

A bit like my good self, I suppose...

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Should I stay or should I go now...

We had a big family night out on Friday.  As the offspring have got older, it gets harder and harder to get them all in the same room at once.  We failed yet again on Friday, as son number one had received a better offer (hard to believe really), but we had a couple of extras with us, in the shape of daughter number two's LSB (Long Suffering Boyfriend)  and son number two's best friend who spends so much time here, that I have christened her daughter number three.

The night out was to celebrate the fact the daughter number two and the LSB were heading off to somewhere far, far away (still can't remember where) for a month.  Driving to the pub, the husband, who had left the house in somewhat of a hurry, not wanting to miss getting his favourite table, suddenly realised that he had left his wallet behind.  Now here was a dilemma.  Did he turn round and get the wallet, ensuring no embarrassment at payment time, but risk losing the table, or did we keep going?  We kept going.  He told the children that they would have to pay, and he'd reimburse them later.  To be honest, I'm not sure that this was what they were expecting when they replied to the invitation of a meal out, but never mind.

The food was fabulous as usual (thank you Rising Sun) and as the drinks flowed, conversation turned to more serious topics.  We had already covered Clock Solitaire, ladies who drink from pint glasses (daughter number three...), some place in Asia and bacon nachos (a firm favourite), so it was only a matter of time before politics reared its confused head.  You know, the minute I say 'confused', that I am talking about the EU referendum, which seems to haunt every waking moment of my life at the moment. 

I'm not too sure whose bright idea it was to hand over the responsibility of how we run our country to people like the husband and me....I got thrown out of Politics at A' Level and the husband has a GCSE in Woodwork for goodness sake.  We have had to do some serious investigative work to get any idea of what the hell is going on, and how that could change.  If I'm honest with you, my staying power with regard to politics is short-lived, and when the husband thinks I'm reading something on my laptop courtesy of Boris or David, I'm usually watching those funny cat videos (with the volume muted of course).

But still everybody wants to know, 'Are you In or Out?'  Whatever your answer is, the response is always, 'Why?'    No one seems to have a blooming clue, and maybe that's what the politicians are banking on.  Perhaps we'll all vote in a similar way to 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey', blindfolded and a little bit disorientated.  

But let's face it.

Whether one donkey is in charge of our country or five, we'll still be following them with a shovel...

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Young at heart...

Yesterday, on two separate occasions, I was reminded just how old I am.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not in denial or anything like that.  I only have to look at my face in my 10x magnification mirror to see where everything is heading.  These mirrors are a great invention by the way.  Without mine, my made-up face would resemble a Jackson Pollock masterpiece each morning, with mascara splattered across my cheeks, and lip gloss running down my chin. The trouble with them though, is that they always have a normal mirror on the reverse.   There have been times when I've been caught out, looking at the wrong side, thinking 'Good Lord, I need to get back to the opticians again'. 

So in the morning, 10x gets the privilege of make up application.  Afterwards, I always flip it over to see myself how others will.  This is pure speculation on my part, as I can't see anything apart from a red/pink flash where my lipstick is.  Things have got so bad now, that I have to take the mirror with me whenever I go away.  Something always has to stay behind to keep me within the weight limit, usually shoes unfortunately.  I imagine as I get older, and more old-lady-stuff has to be packed (I'm thinking hearing trumpet, Zimmer frame, several pairs of glasses of varying strengths and incontinence knickers), there will be further sacrifices necessary to comply with the airlines...possibly the husband if he doesn't water my strawberries tonight...

So anyway, back to feeling old.  The three boys I work with, who have an average age of 29, were talking about a female client, who, at the age of 50, had had enough of the stress her job entails, and was calling it a day.  As I wafted off in a dolly daydream of doing the same, one of the boys said, 'Well, when you get to that age, I suppose that's to be expected...'

There was silence from the other two as they glanced across at the haggard old bag in the corner (yes, me).  How was I going to react.  Suddenly the penny dropped.  'Oh I wasn't implying that you're the same as that.  You're full of energy and not like a normal 50 year old at all....'  The words spewed out of his mouth at top speed, there was some nervous laughter, and red faces all round.  It was at this point that I came out with the phrase which confirmed my senior place in that office.  'Do you talk to your mothers like this?' I asked.  They at least had the decency to look sheepish, and a little afraid if I'm honest.

It was treat time for yours truly after work.  A cut and blow at my favourite salon, but with a new stylist.

Going through the normal chit-chat, she asked me how long I'd lived in Wallingford.  'Around twenty five years, I suppose', said I.

' moved here just as I was born then...'

Great.  Just great...

Friday, 10 June 2016

Let's stick together...

Daughter number two arrived back home yesterday afternoon.  I knew it would only be a matter of time before she headed down the M40, in hot pursuit of the precious university stuff (aka crap) which we collected on Saturday.  How she has managed five days without a silk flower arrangement, a piece of carpet, a slow cooker, a carrier bag full of hair extensions and two vases full of Christmas decorations, I shall never know.

She brought with her the LSB (long suffering boyfriend) as they are getting ready for an end of university jaunt across Asia (it's easier pinning their trip to a continent, as I can't say, spell or remember any of the places they plan to visit).  At this point, I would like to remind all of you that the husband and I are managing a week in a friend's cottage in Wales and another week in a shed on a Dorset beach.  And we have jobs....there's something not quite right there...

Anyway, standing in the middle of daughter number two's wardrobe, sorry, I mean bedroom, surrounded by clothing mountains, stood two large rucksacks.  One for each of them.  About a quarter of the space was taken up with clothes in each of them, whilst the other three quarters was filled with medicines and first aid paraphernalia.  It would appear that the last pharmacy they will ever see is somewhere in Cologne, and as daughter number two said, 'You can't be too careful...'  Apparently, there are no pharmacies in Asia, at least not ones selling Imodium or Anadin...

So she's covered for insect bites, diarrhoea, flesh wounds, and vomiting.  She'll also be prepared if they need water purified or suffer from an allergic reaction to some hideous street food.  I have named their trip the Superdrug Tour.  All she needs is some cheap makeup and bleach (never quite understood why a chemist would sell bleach) and she could set up her own pop-up store over there, healing the sick and wounded backpackers of Europe. 

When I questioned their lack of clothing, the LSB said that they were going to live in harem pants for the month.   Great, so not only are they going to be travelling chemists, they are both going to resemble Ali Baba (that might explain why she was so fond of that bit of carpet we brought back).

But they both seem really prepared for their once in a lifetime trip.

It's me that's not...

Thursday, 9 June 2016

What I go to school for...

Many of you are in the same boat as I am, having a 'legally an adult' living in your house who is in the throes of exams. 

Son number two is the last one to go through A levels, the final gate on the path to his university of choice.  Returning home yesterday afternoon after a particularly arduous Psychology exam, he was moaning at full pelt about how daft the exam was, only testing him on 7% of everything he'd learned over the last year.  I said to him that the equivalent in a driving test would be scrutinising the Highway Code for six months, then passing just for knowing which side the petrol cap was.  It's not a true reflection on the quantity of information rattling around in that brain of his.

But still, he's doing all he can to get the 'scores on the doors' of the university, and they'll be lucky to have him.  After three months, the guy who runs the Student Union will be able to retire to the Bahamas after the huge increase in his takings, and the woman who runs the canteen will be needing a larger lorry to deliver the weekly food order.  I would imagine that the coin-fed washing machine in his block would be covered with cobwebs and dust through disuse, and he would have resorted to selling non vital organs to supplement his student loan (having spent the lot in the first four days on cheap Polish beer and Frosty Jacks).

But I am concerned...  What if he doesn't get the grades he needs?  What if, instead of being in the library revising, he's been in the pub drinking?  What happens then?

He stays at home, that's what.  This could be awkward, as I have already written out the 'For Rent' advert for his room. 

I am sure that he will get what he needs to get that university place.  But if he doesn't?

Well I hope he doesn't mind sharing...

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Strawberry fields forever...

The husband and I are engaged in strawberry warfare. 

I have a wonderful raised bed in my garden (built by aforementioned harnessed Northerner) and this year looks like it might just yield a bumper crop.  It is filled with white flowers and tiny green strawberries, all hinting at the promise of things to come.

The husband also has a raised bed, but this one is on our allotment.  Over the last few years, it has been doubling as a 'shelf', with various hand tools, rotting gloves and discarded flower pots littering it.  Much of this detritus has been hidden by nettles and other weedy nasties, but not now.  The husband has spent hours with a trowel and fork, digging up the weeds, and sieving the soil to a grade which McDougall's might consider for their self-raising flour.

He then scavenged around the unloved and unwanted allotments surrounding ours, and dug up some strawberry plants, lovingly planting them into his newly renovated bed.

Every night, he heads over there with the dogs on the pretext of a 'last walk before bedtime' (the dogs' bedtime, not his, although all three tend to snore in unison by about 9.15pm).  Last night, I found out what the truth was behind his early evening visits.  He has been over there watering them every night, to ensure that they survive their relocation.

But here's a thing...does he water mine?  No he doesn't.  Does he chat to my plants softly about how his day has gone? (One of the neighbours snitched on him).  No he doesn't.  Does he feed my plants with his expensive plant food, and take out any leggy weeds before they encroach on my plants?  No he doesn't.

He is happy to watch mine as they gasp at the occasional watering they get (I like to call it 'rain') and he glosses over the fact the there are things growing in my raised bed that have yet to be identified by the botanical world.  He's also unfazed by the starlings who are lined up on the fence like a scene out of The Birds, waiting to swoop as soon as the strawberries turn red. (The husband probably has a remote control bird scarer for his raised bed...oh, and netting...)

I am convinced that at some time over the summer, he will want our children to do a Blind Strawberry Challenge, to see whose taste better. What he forgets is that I am home most afternoons, so I may take a wander over there as they get riper just to see how they're doing.  And do you know what I'm going to do?

I'm going to eat every last one and blame the birds...

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Ebony and ivory...

The husband spent the whole of yesterday on the roof of a neighbour's house.  I should point out that this wasn't a rooftop protest he was involved in.  He wasn't screaming out how hard done by he was at regarding his living conditions.  Nor was he moaning about the state of his food (although I am sure there have been times when he's been tempted).  He was in fact tiling a roof as part of a large extension he is doing.

Consequently, he returned home yesterday afternoon with what I fondly call 'roofer's back'.  If you were approaching him from behind, you'd think he'd been sunning his body in the south of France for a month.  Get past him though, and the front is more Scunthorpe than St Tropez.

His tan marks are interesting to say the least.  The husband, being a tough Northern chap, gets into shorts as soon as possible for work.  Of course, from a safety point of view, heavy work boots and thick socks are de rigeur, which give his legs the look of a Newcastle FC scarf by the time the summer is over.  I almost want to follow him around with a brown felt tipped pen, and colour in the bits that the sun couldn't get...

The trouble is, that his feet, ever white with a blue tinge, draw attention to the dreaded sandals he chooses to wear when off duty (see yesterday's rant).  The contrast is extreme, and I think that I may resort to putting fake tan into his shower gel, to see whether I can get his feet and ankles to a colour which is in keeping with the rest of him. 

Tanning is a competitive pastime in our house.  Of the six of us, four tan very easily, merely needing the thermometer to tiptoe past 60 degrees (fahrenheit, before you start panicking) to get a rosy glow.  The other two struggle.  Daughter number 2, after a trip to the Canaries last year, left home looking like a stick of chalk, and returned looking like a tin of Magnolia paint.  She was very proud of a tan line she had achieved, although it had faded before she'd even unpacked.   Son number 2 is affectionately known as Caspar for his permanent translucent appearance, irrespective of the weather.

Going back to the husband, he spent an hour ferretting through my dressing table looking for some after-sun.  It's a brave man who goes anywhere near those drawers.  As a woman of a certain age, there are lotions and potions for everything in them.

Pick the wrong one, and he could have been looking at a far bigger problem than sunburn.

A smooth-as-silk back at best, or at worst, a hairy one, but with highlights......

Monday, 6 June 2016

Socks 'n' sandals...

Summer was predicted to make a fleeting reappearance yesterday.  I did my normal morning weather peek over the window sill, took one look at the grey clouds and decided that the weathermen were a bunch of liars.  However, as the day crept on, the clouds were replaced with the blue stuff, and the weather man's premonitions were fulfilled...

Of course, as soon as the sun comes out, for however short a time, this is the cue for clothes to be removed all over Britain.  For us ladies, it's all about sandals and shorts, spaghetti straps and tan lines.  For men, it usually means one thing only. Taking their socks off...

The husband's feet, although not the worst I have known by a long shot, should have a chap ringing a bell walking in front of them, just to give passers by a bit of a heads up not to look down. Cosied up in thick socks for eleven months of the year, the big reveal is an event I dread, because as the socks do come off, his open toed sandals are reverently lifted from the back of the wardrobe, dusted off, and slipped on.

Now I love this man, please remember this, but last year saw ten years of sandal resentment fester to an all time high around the August Bank Holiday.  Having put up with the husband's trotters over the summer, I had reached my limit, and in a fit of pique, declared the sandals unfit for purpose.  There were straps missing from them, and one of the air soles (yes, air soles) had developed a puncture, so every other step was punctuated with a strange noise not dissimilar to a hippo with wind. 

I had had enough.

Launching them into the bin, I told the husband that he would have to go and buy some grown up sandals to wear with his shorts.  His lower lip wobbled, and he told me very quietly that they had been his favourite shoes, but that he would do his best to replace them with something more age-appropriate.

The last few weeks of summer saw various items of footwear appear.  Usually accompanied with eagerly raised eyebrows and, 'Well? What do you think?'

What did I think?  Well my reactions ranged from 'no idea', to 'bad idea', interspersed with silence and a glare over the varifocals, but by October last year, we were no closer to resolution.  Once the weather started improving a couple of months ago, the ugly question arose again, and it became apparent that something had to be done regarding his summer foot apparel. 

It all came to a head two weeks ago.  He chanced upon a camping shop in his travels and went in, the lure of pictures of men climbing mountains proving too much to ignore. (It's a bloke thing, this mountain advertising.  Never once, have I looked at these posters, and thought, 'I bet they have some lovely sandals in there').  Anyway, I digress.  Sure enough, he came home with a shoe box, his eyes gleaming with joy.

Oh dear Lord, they were exactly the same as the ones I'd thrown out (but with the straps, and minus the hippo-wind puncture).  But at least they were black (and not Fungus the Bogeyman green) and they didn't smell like half a pound of Gouda.

I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies.  That camping shop could have sold him a lovely pair of thermal socks to wear with those sandals. 

I could have been looking at a whole different problem then...

Sunday, 5 June 2016

She's leaving home...

Saturday saw the beginning of the end of three years of university life for daughter number 2.   The husband and I were summoned with the 'big car' to bring home all of the extremely precious and important stuff which she has accumulated over that time.  I say this, because that is how it was described, but having taken a peek into carrier bags, boxes and bin liners, I would say that it is not a fair description.  'Crap' would have covered it better....

She had let slip that every bag of rubbish which the landlord had to remove would be charged at £7.50.  I can only imagine that having read 'What a waste' on Friday morning, she realised that her mum had hidden talents...waste removal being one of them.  So basically, the husband and I were bin men yesterday, carefully removing all of her rubbish and driving it back down the M1.  On getting home, it was unloaded and stored in the garage for future sorting.

Here's the stumbling block.  Previous experience with daughter number 1 has shown me that that this 'future sorting' doesn't happen as quickly as you would like.  She left university over three years ago, and our garage still holds remains of her student life (as does her bedroom, the airing cupboard and the black hole under the bed of son number 1). 

Son number 1, whose student accommodation over the last three years has had a threshold which I am not prepared to cross (vaccinations and a gas mask would be necessary I think) has a different approach to this clearing out.  I am sure that you can imagine what a house full of 21 year old boys looks like after a year of serious studying (beer, inflatable Jacuzzi, women, more beer).  His approach is to simply throw everything away at the end of each year.  Of course, what this means is that every October, once he's been gone a couple of weeks, I will start noticing the absence of various things....duvet covers and pillows are a huge favourite.

But now we're warming up for son number 2 heading off to university in October.  Common sense tells us, that having had three go through already, we should have everything he needs for his student squat.  However, looking at the state of the returned saucepans, I think he could probably add salmonella poisoning to what he would be taking, courtesy of the withered remains an antique stir fry still residing in a wok.  I sense yet another trip to the wonderful Wilko over the summer...

But let's go back to the garage.  There is now so much post-university paraphernalia in there, that space is becoming a rare thing.  In fact, I am thinking of moving the lawnmower into the hall, as I run the risk of the husband not being able to see it easily (he is the master of the 'Blue Look' - a technique used by most males when searching for something), which in turn will give him an excuse not to mow the lawn. 

We will have to clear the garage before son number 2 returns home in three years though.  He is the King of the Hoarders, and I can imagine that the 'big car' will be side-lined for a shipping container for all his stuff.


Saturday, 4 June 2016

I beg your pardon...

It was a very difficult day for me yesterday after my debut on the waste vehicles of Oxfordshire on Thursday.  Every now and again, another part of my body would shriek at me, 'For goodness sake woman!  Have you lost your mind?  You're 52....what were you thinking of?'

Well, I'll be honest with you, it wasn't the effect on my body the next day, that's for sure.  When I crawled (literally, as I couldn't walk) into bed on Thursday night, I was still grinning like Heath Ledger's Joker, replaying my brilliant day over and over again. 

But on waking up yesterday morning, it became apparent that I may have 'overdone it'.  This is one of the mother's favourite phrases, and on this occasion, I think it's safe to say that I really had.

Let me take you through some of the results of heaving industrial sized wheelie bins to waste trucks for the day....

1.  Overnight, I think someone came to my bed, unscrewed my legs, and then screwed them back on, but the wrong way round.  This will explain why they don't bend in the middle anymore without brute force and a jar of Vaseline. 
2.  I have developed biceps and will need to buy a vest to show them off.
3.  The manly boots have given me two blisters, and a touch of Athlete's Foot (perhaps popsocks weren't the best idea after all)
4. Two chipped nails
5. Flaky, dry skin on my hands which were encased in rubber all day - I am shedding like a snake
6. I am now able to crack a fair sized walnut with my thighs
7. Minor deafness in my right ear - I thought I could talk for England, but it turns out that Graham holds the trump card on this.
8. Diabetes.  Actually, this isn't strictly true, but if I had eaten as much chocolate as Graham did, I would be well on the way by now.
9. Foul language - not picked up from my driver, that's for sure, but from the customers, who seemed totally unaware that I was a lady of some breeding with a delicate nature (stop laughing...)

All in all, I'm knackered, as befitting an asthmatic middle-aged lady with a broken rib, who hasn't worked out for years, and whose idea of exercise is going up the stairs twice to get what I forgot the first time.  But you know, as you get older, the chance to try something new doesn't happen that often, and I'm glad I did it.

Ask my legs whether they enjoyed it, I think the answer might be slightly different, and may be peppered with a few of those lovely new words I learned...

Friday, 3 June 2016

What a waste...

If anyone ever asks me what the best day of my life was, it would normally involve one of my children, or the husband.  Up till yesterday....

On Thursday, I spent the day on a waste lorry, collecting rubbish from the businesses of the Home Counties.  Now I know that there are those of you reading this now, thinking 'Crazy woman', but I promise you, it was just brilliant, and I would imagine that I will be grinning till Tuesday at least.

We left the Depot at around 4.30am.  Being the super-organised lady that I am, I had laid out my clothes the night before.  The bright blue trousers and sweatshirt coupled with a hi-vis waistcoat and steel toecap boots would not necessarily have been my outfit of choice for the day, but a skirt and a pair of kitten heels may not have been helpful when climbing in and out of the cab. 

Poor Graham was the driver whose 'mate' I was for the day.  I had already apologised to him the day before, as I reckoned I would bore the pants off him by mid morning, and possibly make his ears bleed by then end of the shift.  He was great though, teaching me which buttons to press, and when to press them.  (No one wants an 'UP' when they need a 'DOWN' do they?)

The highlight of my morning was at Henley Town Market.  The banter was flowing as the chaps are not used to seeing a female 'on board' (truck lingo, in case you're wondering).  Based on what they were saying, I think that they might have appreciated the skirt and kitten heels...  You see, at the tender age of 52, it's quite lovely being called a glamorous assistant, especially when you're anything but (see hi-vis jacket etc)  and they were suitably impressed, if not a little shocked, when I hoisted a few bags of rubbish into the back of the truck.  (I'm obviously stronger than I look).

The day ended around 2.00pm. 

So my legs, having carried me in and out of the truck around 72 times, were like a couple of packs of Chiver's Jelly, while my hands, having been in gloves all day were dry, with a couple of chipped nails.  My shoulders were hurling abuse at each other (should have listened more carefully to my training on 'How to Push a Wheelie Bin' the day before.  Instead, I was hopping from one foot to the other in a state of giddy anticipation) and most importantly, I was desperate for a pee. 

This was always going to be a problem, as, unlike Graham, I couldn't go against the rear wheel.  Well, perhaps I could, but I would have run the risk of arrest for indecent exposure, and could well have put Graham off his hot chocolate and Topic/Maltesers/Star Bar/Twix....Graham has a sweet tooth as you can probably tell.  To tell the truth, his packed lunch was mainly chocolate, with a random sausage roll and cereal bar thrown in as a 'healthy option'. 

I'm not saying that I could do this every day (too old and too female), but Graham, if ever you need a mate on board again....

It's a 'yes' from me.......

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Dude looks like a lady...

It was a big day for me yesterday.  For the last four years I have been waiting for someone with a medical degree to give the go-ahead for some treatment for my old-lady ankle (curse you, arthritis). Yesterday was my pre-op, the last appointment before the big day in a couple of weeks.

I got there early, thinking that I could go and see those lovely ladies in the League of Friends CafĂ© and have one of their legendary Chelsea buns with a cup of tea.  Well they didn't open till 10.00, so it was into the hospital canteen for something which was called coffee, but tasted more like dishwater, and a cinnamon swirl which needed some defibrillation, it had so little life in it.  Suitably disappointed, I headed down to the reception area to check in.

I was one of seven people in the waiting room.  Seeing a fairly respectable looking lady, I sat down next to her, and waited.  We had a vicious knitter opposite and a very miserable looking couple who obviously had far more important things they could be doing.  The last pair were indescribable, but I will try.  It was clear that soap was not their friend, as a very particular aroma clung to their clothes, intensifying every time they moved.  I say 'clothes', but the trousers looked like they were made of several dishcloths tied together, and the Oxford University sweatshirt that the woman's son/lover/friend was wearing was obviously stolen.

One by one, we headed off in different directions to see various nurses and doctors.  Blood tests, ECG, questions and explanations done, I was one consultant away from leaving the hospital.  Sitting back down next to my respectable lady, I settled down with the paper.  She was making the most revolting snorting noise, and I glanced across at her to make sure that I didn't need to do the Heimlich Manoeuvre on her.  She had a rather cheap wig on, and I wondered if she was in the middle of some awful treatment.  She carried on snorting, and I tried to zone out, preferring to concentrate on the rich but limited vocabulary of Mr and Mrs Stinky opposite who were keen to tell everyone around them how they'd managed to get out of ever working.  I thought the vicious knitter might have gone for them with her number 7's, but she showed restraint, the only indication of her anger was the steam rising off the needles as she picked up speed (that jumper will be finished by Friday).

Over the next four hours (yes....FOUR HOURS), the waiting room emptied, leaving just me and Mrs Respectable. 

The Registrar turned up - which one of us would be next?  Looking around the now almost empty waiting room, he looked at his notes and frowned. Looking at both of us, he raised his eyebrows, and in a questioning voice said...

'Colin Anderson?'

'Yes, that's me', says Mrs/Mr Respectable.

Well, at least it explained the wig...

Stupid boy...

There are times when I question the sanity of my children.  Son number two announced last night that he had made an appointment to discuss taking part in a clinical trial.  After the stunned silence over the Chinese takeaway (we hadn't moved on from the Bank Holiday), I managed to get more information from him.

He had been approached at a festival over the weekend by some doctors.  I asked him how he knew they were doctors.  Did they have stethoscopes casually hung around their bow-tie decorated necks?  Were they wearing brown Cornish Pasty shoes? Did they know which end of a thermometer went where?

'No', explains son number two, 'but they were wearing jumpers over their shoulders with that knot at the front'.

So it would appear that this is all that is necessary for a doctor to gain some kudos.  Why bother with the seven plus years of hard toil, when a Marks & Spencer V-neck slung across the shoulders will do just as well?  Son number 2 also suggested that perhaps that's why he couldn't see the stethoscope as it was neatly hidden behind the aforementioned knot.

Anyway, if he goes ahead with this, he will form part of a trial for Salmonella Typhi.  Having told me this, I completely got the wrong end of the stick, and started telling him how bad things could get in the trouser department if he had salmonella.  I described unsuccessfully completed journeys to the loo, never making it in time before all hell broke loose, and massive weight loss (actually, I considered signing up myself at this point).

'Mum, you're getting it all wrong', says he.  'It's not salmonella, its typhoid'.

Oh goody, let's add a light rash and possible death to the side effects of diarrhoea and vomiting.  I tried to talk him out of it, by threatening to lock him in the bathroom once the obvious side effects started to manifest themselves.  When he asked me how he was going to eat if he was locked in the bathroom, I told him I would slide what I could under the door - he wasn't too impressed by the thought of two weeks of cheap ham and thinly sliced cucumber.

He then waffled on for about five minutes about the positives:

1.  He would be immune against typhoid after the trial (if he survived)
2.  He would be contributing to future medical breakthroughs, and if the trial was a success, he'd be able to take some pride in being part of it (if he survived)

He then let slip that the reward for completing the trial (we assumed they meant 'living' by that) he would receive the grand sum of £3000......

'So it's all about the money then?' declared the husband, his attention drawn away from his ducky pancakes.

'No, of course not.  I just want to be part of something which will help people'.

'So would you do it for free?'  I asked.

'Of course not', says he.  'I'm not stupid'.

That, my friends, is questionable...