Monday, 29 February 2016

Telephone man...

Words from a Bird.  Day 61

I don't do 'cross'.  I've always found it to be draining and a complete waste of time.  That was until 5.47pm this evening...

The husband came home at lunchtime, and as he left, he hurled a sentence over his shoulder at me.  A sentence awful enough to make my blood run cold....'The internet's down again'. 

For some reason completely unbeknown to me, the responsibility of anything PC, IT, DAB, BBC, FREEVIEW, BT, TALKTALK and SKY all falls to me...a woman whose technology prowess ground to a halt just after they introduced VHS videos.  Kids, if you're reading his, ask your dad...
So there I am, 94 minutes spent talking to a very helpful chap in Bombay (we chatted inbetween reboots) at the end of which, he said, 'There's a problem I think', (no s#"t Sherlock)..'we'll need an engineer to call you.  When is a suitable time?'  We agreed on 10.15.  As I said to the lovely man, we should still be up by then.  'Oh no, ma'am.  Not tonight, in the morning..'.  OK, morning it is, we will expect a call in the morning.  'Oh no ma'am.  Not tomorrow, on Thursday'.

Thursday!  Are they mad?  Do they not know that I have to look at pictures of mini schnauzers and laugh at videos of cats falling off tables?  I shan't be able to find out what I am going to look like when I'm 90, not will I know which Disney character I resemble most.

Most importantly of all though, don't they know that I have a blog to write? People will be expecting to read something funny over their morning tea....what should I do?

All this explains why I am hunched over my mobile typing with one finger on a teeny tiny keyboard, desperately hoping that once typed, I'll know how to save and publish it.  You should know that I am only using one finger as the other hand is furiously sticking drawing pins into a hurriedly fashioned model of a BT engineer...

Thursday?  Bring it on.....

Just another manic Monday...

Words from a Bird.  Day 60

The husband finally surfaced after another night in quarantine, just as the morning tilted over into double figures.  His mission today?  To transfer all of last year's paperwork to the shed, leaving room in the garage for this year's newly finished paperwork, thus making room in his office for the empty folders ready for the coming year.

This all sounded very straightforward.  However, to get to the folders in his office an element of brutal clearing out was needed.  There are filing trays in his office which he hasn't looked in since around 2006.  This was around the time we moved in - I had bought them to help him get organised.  If only I'd known, ten years down the line that the most interesting thing in them would be one cycling glove and a pair of secateurs (which I had replaced in 2012 thinking them lost forever) I probably wouldn't have bothered.  He admitted that he had never even looked at them, thinking that they were the personal responsibility of either his bookkeeper, the wonderful Mrs B-T, or me (as I had bought them in the first place).

He also discovered enough pens to keep him going through to 2036.  Looking even further ahead, we may still have enough to open our own 'Rollerball and Biro' stall on the local market once retirement beckons.

So his office now looks quite professional (Mrs B-T will be thrilled and will probably think she has walked into the wrong house, as have I three times today).  I can even see the carpet again...

I also did my office, which involved polishing the desk and emptying the bin.  Thank goodness for my inherited OCD.  'Little and often' as I say to the husband on many occasions...

However, two tidy offices in one day is quite an achievement, so I have treated him to a new office chair which was delivered last night in time for the start of another busy working week.

I also have a posh new chair....well, I did empty the bin.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Feeling hot, hot, hot...

Words from a Bird.  Day 59

The husband has a cold.  Now he is not like other husbands (something I am sure you are aware of by now) in that he never complains about it, he just gets on with it.  This can be applied to any illness or injury he has ever had in the fourteen years we have been together. 

Several years ago, he broke two ribs pushing his motorbike up a hill. He took painkillers for a few days, and then just stopped talking about it (unlike me, who will continue milking it for all it's worth).  This may have had something to do with the kidney stone he developed on day three.  That was enough to take his mind off anything.  I managed to break the land speed record that particular Sunday minutes from home to the hospital.  Pretty impressive for a lady driver who doesn't bother using 4th/5th or 6th gears on a normal day (didn't even know I had a 6th gear till son number 2 told me).

So he's soldiering on.  The one complaint this morning, as he surfaced from son number 1's bedroom (you'll recall, the only tidy one) was that he'd been really hot in the night, and must have a temperature.  'Feel my head', he whimpered this morning, beads of sweat rolling down his little red face.  My cooling hand dutifully pressed against his forehead, I dosed him up with some aspirin, and said that his thermostat was probably all over the place as he had a cold.

Daughter number 1 took him to the rugby this afternoon, and I had to drive him into town to drop him off at the railway station.  Call me cruel, but I made him have his window down all the way there to avoid cross contamination (this is also the reason behind his temporary eviction from the marital bed in case you were wondering).

Coming back home this afternoon, I walked back into a very warm house.  It was then I remembered....

When my sister came over on Friday, I had turned the heating to manual, knowing that she feels the cold, and I had forgotten to turn it off when she left.  This would explain the husband's temperature, as son number 1's bed is right next to the radiator, which was on full.  He was lucky he didn't suffer third degree burns, or even worse, leave the room this morning looking like he's been somewhere hot for a fortnight.

Don't tell him, will you.....

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Lady Marmalade...

Words from a Bird.  Day 58

I thought that I was being very sensible when I ordered an internet shop from Sainsbury's this week.  I mean, with my injury, it's not ideal to carry heavy shopping, so let someone else do the hard work, and all I have to do is pack it away.

Now I am not sure what kind of person they had picking my shopping today.  I am not even sure whether they were human, as there was about as much thought put into my substitutions as a lion would do if gazelle was off the menu....

I had ordered ten satsumas, enough for the three of us for the week.  'Like oranges, do you?' asked John, my orange-clad, semi-retired delivery driver. 'Making marmalade this weekend?' Suspicions raised, I looked closer into the crate he was heaving over my front door step. The substitute for my unavailable satsumas were ten net bags, each containing ten small 'easy peelers'.....ninety more that I actually needed.  These had to do the walk of shame back to the delivery lorry - unwanted and unloved.

John headed off, leaving me to unpack the rest of the bags.  At the bottom of the first carrier was a bag containing one solitary Kiwi fruit.  I had ordered four.  The 'sharp as a spoon' picker had made the remarkable decision to give me three bags of eight Kiwi fruits as a substitute.  We shall be eating these till April (if they're ripe by then, they were as hard as bloody bullets and about the size of a gobstopper).

My 'large baking potatoes' (think jackets) were masquerading as larger than life Jersey Royals, and all ten that I had ordered would be eaten in one sitting by son number 2, not a chance they'd see the week out. 

So stupidity rules today.  This was reinforced by my sister snitching on my mum and aunt this afternoon when she visited.

Apparently, my mum, in the absence of a torch, had decided that it would be a great idea to light a match to read the gas meter this morning.  No big boom, thank goodness, but much ridicule heaped on her as the day went on.

And my aunt? Well, she has her grandson staying with her.  He always brings a timer for the oven so that he knows when his food is ready.  My aunt is fully aware that she doesn't have a doorbell, but every time the timer goes off, she gets up and answers the front door....

These are worrying times.....

Friday, 26 February 2016

Who let the dogs out?

Words from a Bird.  Day 57.

It was with a rather mincing walk that I set off with the dog this morning.  My first attempt at walking further than the end of my drive was never going to be easy, but as the husband had left home for the bright lights of Swanage for the day, there was really no way out of it.

I say I took him for a walk, but to be honest, it was more of a 'stand'.  I stood in the middle of the field while the fuzzball ran everywhere, coming back to check every now and again that I still hadn't moved.

Once back home, it took me some time to rally.  To be honest, I could have gone back to bed for an hour, but Binland was expecting me, so that wasn't an option.

Imagine my joy when I returned home after work at lunchtime to see two friends with 5 dogs in the meadow.  Great.  I could now do a 'sit' instead of a 'stand' while he ran around with his buddies.  Tea made for me and the girls, dogs released, I sat down on the bench, looking forward to an hour of chat, while fuzzball took himself off for some fun with the others.  I should have known better...

Percy instantly took a liking to the red haired charmer called Albert.  You'll remember the trouble I had getting him away from another temptress called Hugo some time ago (see Day 18), so I shouldn't have been surprised that he ignored the two four legged females who were vying for a bit of Percy love.

Poor Albert was quite ok about him kissing his whiskered chops, but became quite unsettled when Percy trotted down to the 'other end'....the interesting end.  As you may know, Percy is rather short, barely reaching a foot in height.  Albert on the other hand was magnificent, you could almost have saddled him up and ridden him home.  It all came to a rather unsavoury end, with Percy clinging onto Albert's silky red hind quarters, quite happily making love to Albert's left knee. 

Albert was having none of it, and his owner and I had to separate them before it got too ugly.  Albert may have been playing hard to get, but I don't think Percy will risk another attempt on his honour.

Thinking ahead about the appearance of Reg in a few weeks, I am considering a chastity belt for Percy.  It's either that or he has the snip.  The husband always blanches when I suggest this.

He thinks he'll be next...

Thursday, 25 February 2016

I am what I am...

Words from a Bird.  Day 56

It's funny how one thing can lead to another.  I have been writing my daily ramblings for almost two months now, and there's not been a day when I haven't known what I am going to write about.  I suppose that this is because my words are simply what I would say to you if you were standing in front of me - they are just an extension of who I am. 

Two days ago, I was approached to have a go at ghost writing a book for someone I don't know.  This was always going to be a challenge, as I feel to be successful, you have to be sincere, and write about what you know.  You have to be true to both yourself and your readers.   However, I am having a go, because if I can do it, then it will be one hell of an achievement. 

Here's the crux of the matter though...I have to write as a man.  Not just any man though.  Oh no....this is a man who has put his life at risk for his country through a couple of wars. The kind of man you see running through a war zone carrying a small child.  A hero.  The nearest I have ever been to being called a hero, was when I rescued an abandoned baby hedgehog from the grass verge in front of our house.  The lovely vet at St Tiggywinkles didn't exactly call me a hero, but I could see in her eyes that she was fairly impressed.  I'd picked him up without gloves for heaven's sake, that takes some nerve... 

So you can see, there is an element of make believe necessary for me to do this man justice.  Metaphorical balls just won't cut it, I have to genuinely believe that I have a pair (interesting thought...).  I also have to convince myself that I can handle a gun, rescue people from burning buildings, grow a beard (that's quite possible actually), enjoy wearing khaki (never a good colour on me) and take orders from someone with a prettier uniform than mine (like that's ever going to happen).

It has been suggested that it might be a good idea for me to meet this man.  I'm not too sure about that.  I can just imagine his 6'4" khaki-clad disappointment as he shakes the trembling hand of a middle aged bird who has a penchant for small dogs and Battenberg cake.  

I can't imagine he'll be impressed...

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Hey fatty boom boom...

Words from a Bird.  Day 55

This time last year, I was at the vet's with Percy for his annual jabs and health check.  All was going well, until she got Percy onto the scales, at which point she turned to me and said, 'Miss R, your dog is fat'.  Now, I could not have been more upset if she had said that my kids were ugly, and I took this really personally.  It was like facing a member of the Spanish Inquisition, albeit in latex gloves, as she fired questions at me about how much, how often, and what I was feeding my poor dog. Dutifully chastised, the poor dog was put on starvation rations until some semblance of waist and hips reappeared (a bit like me after Christmas).

So you can understand my trepidation as the texts started pinging through, reminding me that Percy was due his annual check.  The appointment was today.  I took the husband with me, as I am unable to lift Percy onto the vet's table because of the broken rib (not because of Percy's weight).  On the way there, the husband starts talking about how I am going to have to do the same walk of shame as the lady who puts on 4lbs in a week and has to face the scales at a Weightwatchers meeting. I think he's talking about me again.

I had this covered though.  'I can't lift him on the scales, and I haven't got my varifocals with me.  You'll have to weigh him, and tell the vet'.  He wasn't impressed, I can tell you.  I did suggest that we lie about what the weight was, but the husband is convinced that the vet's receptionist can see from behind the counter, and we would be denounced as LIARS of the worst kind.

So lovely Alex was our vet today.  Percy got a full MOT, and then came the question we were dreading.  'Did you weigh him when you came in?'  Well, you could almost see the tumble weeds scuttling across the wipe-clean floor, the silence went on that long.  'It's not been a good few weeks for us, and he's been staying with Grandma'.  'Ah, enough said', says Alex.  I went on to explain that my mum had asked me last week how many dog chews Percy was allowed in one day.  'Half a one' was my reply.  'Oh..' was her's. 

This might explain why there were only 12 left out of a box of 48.  It would appear that my mum had been doling these out like sweeties, not realising that Percy was never, ever going to say 'Oh, I really shouldn't, I've already had three today.  Do you not understand what they do to my figure?'

So the lovely vet gave us a free pass on the scales this time.  Percy is on a diet, and those chews have been relegated to the back of the cupboard, away from temptation. 

It's similar to the red wine in January I suppose...

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Come back, and finish what you started...

Words from a Bird.  Day 54

In days gone by, most of us ladies only had one method of getting anything clean, whether that be clothes, bodies or saucepans.  It basically involved hot water and a pair of hands, together with an appropriate cleaning agent.  It's all very different now, with clever bods in white coats (the clue is there already) inventing the washing machine, the shower and the dishwasher (the bane of my life).

So today, as I was reloading the dishwasher with items from last night's dinner, which hadn't quite made the grade on the squeaky clean front the first time round, it set me thinking.  What were they thinking of?  How could they have got it so wrong? 

First of all, I don't know how many compartments you have in your cutlery basket?  At the last check, I only use four different items of cutlery, these being knife, fork, dessert spoon and tea spoon.  Why do I need eight compartments then?  There will some of you out there who unlike me are quite happy to mix up your various items across the length and breadth of the basket.  Not on my watch lady...  There's one for knives, one for forks, one for dessert spoons and one for tea spoons.  Of course, this leaves four empty compartments, and if I don't balance the basket accordingly, when I lift it out onto the worktop to empty it, the basket will fall over, spewing its shiny contents straight onto my floor. 

Ah, I hear you say, you should put the spatulas, fish slices and wooden spoons into the remaining compartments of the basket.  Can't do this either as the ridiculously low water sprinkler will either decapitate my taller utensils or just grind to a halt, relentlessly battering against them for an hour and a half and only washing half the load. 

So I put these across the top shelf, making sure that they are all facing upside down.  There's nothing lovelier than emptying the dishwasher and discovering that your soup ladle has developed its own amoebic life infrastructure at 60 degrees - two bleached baked beans and a piece of sweetcorn swaying gently in its murky depths.

Saucepans have to go on the top shelf, allowing the top and bottom sprinklers to work together as befitting that stuck on, burnt stuff ( blame the chef...).  Of course, no matter how many times I have told the husband, a small saucepan with a large saucepan on top of it, will result in a large pan with a dirty inside, and a small pan with a dirty bottom....round they go again for a second time, but this time separated by two slotted spoons and a fish slice (upside down of course).

It amazes me that on occasions items have been removed from the dishwasher and PUT AWAY dirtier than when they went in.  Far easier to stick it into the cupboard than make a rational decision about doing the Finish Quantum Merry-go-Round again...

The other favourite pastime in my house is not putting the damn thing on when it's full.  This is down to the fact that as it is programmed to a short cycle, there's a good chance that the same person might still be around in time to empty it.  I have named this irrational fear of emptying 'Stacknophobia'.

So I will continue trying to train the other inhabitants of this house as to the do's and don'ts of dishwasher stacking/emptying.  If things don't improve, I shall try one of two things.  I shall send them round to my mother's house for a course of lessons.  She is the Queen of Quantum, the Duchess of Dishwashing. If this doesn't have the desired effect, there is only one option left to me.

Remove the fuse...

Monday, 22 February 2016


Words from a Bird.  Day 53.

So they're back.....the tranquillity bestowed upon me by my mum has disappeared, swept away with six suitcases of dirty washing (four of which were turned away at the front door - there was no way I was going to be able to be able to get it all washed, dried and ironed before tomorrow morning.  I know I am perfect, but miracles can take a some time).

The children are full of tales, some of which I don't probably need to hear (in particular the five complaints made about them over the course of the week by the other hotel guests - that's another place we'll never be able to go back to).  I also wasn't that overjoyed about the husband being 'picked up' by two females.  Apparently, he just stood there, mouthing 'Help me' to the children while they stood there watching him dig a bigger and bigger hole for himself.  Most amusing.

Being Supermum, I had a full Sunday roast waiting for them when they finally returned.  Apparently, the food on holiday was mostly beige, and I've never seen the husband and children get so excited about broccoli and swede before.   Their cries of 'Green!' and 'Orange!' were quite overwhelming at times.

I have very politely sat through their home videos, making the right noises at the right times.  I stopped skiing about 8 years ago (too cold, too dangerous, too energetic and it hurts) and seeing them ski still manages to put all the hairs up on the back of my neck.  I have never quite understood the business of needing a holiday after a holiday.  Surely the whole point of one is to relax, and recharge the batteries?  The husband has come back looking like he needs jump starting, and son number 2 was talking about going to bed at 5.45pm.  All of them look like they need drying out (for alcohol abuse) and the husband will definitely be on starvation rations as from tomorrow, a decision reached when his stomach started coming into the kitchen about 45 seconds before the rest of him....

They have had the most wonderful time though.  At a time in their lives when each of them are heading off in different directions, it's wonderful to see the simple pleasure that they take in just all being away.

However, if that pile of washing ( the one that is blocking out the light from the window) does not diminish in the next couple of hours, I may also be taking a different direction.

Straight back to my mother's.....

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Homeward bound...

Words from a Bird.  Day 52

There has been a lot of banter going around this week between friends and family members as to the levels of service at my mum's house.  As you all know, I have been staying here for the week recuperating after Tea Towel Night, and as time has progressed, it's become apparent that many people have stayed in the guest room, and that they are all quite territorial over it. 

Mum's house has been renamed 'The B'n'B', and here is my review for anybody considering a visit:

Situated in the leafy Chilterns, the establishment is ideally located for those guests looking to explore the beautiful countryside, or the fleshpots of Stokenchurch if their needs are more squalid.

A lovely couple run this guesthouse, and nothing is too much trouble for them.  (Please bear in mind that they are both quite hard of hearing, so you might need to speak up on occasions).

The lady of the house is an early riser, standing guard by the kettle until she hears the slightest noise from the guestroom.  At this point, she will bustle though the door without knocking, with a large mug of tea.  (As a solo guest on my stay, this wasn't a problem, but couples should resort to the chair under the door handle trick if any semblance of privacy is to be maintained).  She also has a vacuum fetish, so some level of co-ordination is necessary for relaxation times. Probably best to be out of the house between the hours of 10.00-4.59pm as this seems to be her preferred time for vacuuming.

Food and Beverages
Food is fresh, healthy and well cooked, as the lady of the house does not believe in microwave food.  On the rare occasion that there is nothing hot available, a toasted tea cake and a walnut whip will be offered.  I suggest you take it as breakfast can be sporadic at times.  I noted that this was normally after the lady of the house had been out the night before. There does seem to be an underlying problem with alcohol - the drinks trolley is paraded up and down the corridor at 5.00pm each afternoon/evening (call it what you will) and much pressure is put on the guests to join in with Happy Hour(s).

This is limited to a television in the lounge, which seems incapable of showing anything other than 'action movies'.  If you are a fan of this genre, you will be fine, but if your tastes lie elsewhere, can I recommend a book and a set of ear plugs.  Bear in mind that the television will be on full volume to allow for the hard of hearing, so can I also suggest cotton wool balls and a balaclava on top of the ear plugs to make sure that your ears don't bleed from the noise pollution.

Dogs are welcome, but please don't expect your canine companion to want to leave at the end of your stay.  Actually, it's probably more accurate that he won't be able to leave, as he would have put so much weight on during his time here.  The lady of the house in particular is quite prone to dropping (throwing) food on the floor whilst preparing the evening meal, and treats are handed out for no reason whatsoever.

So there you are.  Percy and I are leaving reluctantly, but I have already booked us in for the same time next year. 

I have even left a cash deposit to ensure that there is no double booking...

Saturday, 20 February 2016

It's five o'clock somewhere...

Words from a Bird.  Day 51

I popped home today for the first time in almost a week.  Imagine my joy (sarcasm alert) at seeing the state that it had been left in.  My initial thought was that we'd been burgled, but a downstairs room-by-room inspection confirmed that nothing had been taken, but that some level of abandonment had occurred...

Now this wouldn't normally be too much of a problem, but my best friend is on invalid-sitting duty tonight, so needed a bed for the night.  Question was, which one would take me the least time to sort before she turned up with her overnight bag?

I opted for son number 1's bedroom.  There were several reasons for choosing this one:

1. I could see the carpet, so was optimistic that the clearing up wouldn't take too long.
2. I could see the bed, so sleep would be a possibility
3. It's near the bathroom (no towels, toilet roll or shampoo, but that's easily sorted)
4. I couldn't get the doors to open more than three inches on the other three bedrooms
5. I couldn't find a screwdriver (See 4)

So to son number 1, I say, 'Well done.  You have a beautifully cleaned room to come home to with clean sheets.  I have even polished.  This is your reward for providing my friend with a bed for the night'. 

As for you other three, it may be worth extending your holiday while I calm down, or at the very least you might consider clubbing together for a bottle of something for me.  Armani Code might just swing it for you all...

Having been wrapped in cotton wool for the week by my wonderful mum, I am feeling ready to take on the world again, and I have decided to implement some of their routines into our daily life here at home.  The ones I like most are:

1. Having toast for breakfast with lemon marmalade. 
2. Sitting down every afternoon for one hour with some words in front of me.
3. Happy Hour (this seems to go on for much, much longer than one hour in their house)

My aim is to try and slow life down a bit.  Mind you, one too many of those Happy Hours could see it grind to a complete halt with husband and children crashing behind me as they fail to see my brake lights.

I am wondering whether it is socially acceptable to drink tea in a Happy Hour?  Just a thought...

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Spice up your life...

Words from a Bird.  Day 50.

Yesterday afternoon, my mum and her younger half headed off to the pub for 'early doors'.  I have no idea what this means, but as they left the house around 5.15pm (mum only managed one hurried glass of red before leaving) I am assuming that it is polite talk for 'that couple sitting in their bloody car waiting for the pub to open'. 

Leaving me with a meal-for-one microwaveable lasagne (mum felt very guilty about this, as we all know that microwave food is not REAL food), they left.  A meal was planned after the pub, and they promised me that they would be really quiet when they got back, as I was planning an early night.

I was quite excited about being left with the remote controls for the television, (three of them, one of which whose purpose is still a mystery to me) so once my lasagne had pinged, I settled down to trawl through the Sky guide to see what I could find.

Legend - perfect, two Tom Hardys for the price of one.  That would do me, even if one of them had suspect dentures and NHS glasses on.  I would gloss over that and concentrate on the prettier twin with the smart suit and firm buttocks.

But then disaster struck....'Please enter your PIN code'.....PIN code?  What bloody PIN code?  Obviously, they had not thought it necessary to impart this information, so with a drooping shoulder (to match the other one) I flicked back to the safety of BBC1.  And that is where I stayed, in the company of The One Show until they staggered back in around 8.00. 

'You're back early'.
'You're up late'.

It transpired that after several wines, they had decided to not eat out, but order a curry to be delivered.  I do think that the guilt of leaving me alone with a meal-for-one was the overriding factor in their early return, but I wasn't going to be the one to point the finger.

Two hours later, the curry had still not arrived...lost en route somewhere between the restaurant and its final destination.  Now I know it's dark out here in the sticks, and I also appreciate that they were probably busy, but two hours?  A phone call from the younger half left the restaurant owner in no doubt as to where he could stick his cauliflower bhaji, so it now became necessary for some freezer ferreting to look for something to eat (or absorb the Rioja, whichever way you want to look at it).

Ten minutes later, the younger half presented my mum with her meal.  One toasted hot cross bun followed by a Tunnock's teacake, following by a walnut whip. 

Watching them, I pondered on the tastiness of my meal-for-one lasagne, the pasta enveloped in a sumptuous, meaty sauce with a crispy cheese topping.

Probably not the time to say how lovely it had been, especially as the younger half reached for the Rennies...

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Red, red wine...

Words from a Bird.  Day 49.

Having been with my mum and her younger half for some days now, you get to see the whole of a relationship, rather than just the odd bit here and there.  I said to my mum this morning that it was lovely to see them together and that it was really obvious to see how much they loved each other.  I also said to her, that the two of them to have a really wonderful life.  'Oh yes', says mother, 'We get along quite nicely, and we are always laughing'.

Now.  I have been in this house for a total of 97 hours.  This can be broken down into the following:

32 hours sleeping
7 hours eating
4 hours walking Percy (would have been 3, but they got lost on today's walk)
8 hours reading papers/books
3 hours housework
8 hours Quiz Shows
10 hours explosive TV/Film action
25 hours wine drinking

You will note the two large numbers in this breakdown.  Basically, my mum and her younger half have been either asleep or trolleyed for over half my stay with them, which might start to explain why a) their life is so wonderful and b) why they are always laughing.  This is one aspect of their life together that I may take home with me when I return to the fold.

Of course, those that know me will be screaming 'But you don't drink!'  Changes may be afoot on this though.  Every evening, as the chimes ring on the clock in the West Wing at 5.00pm, I can guarantee that my mum will shout, 'Glass of wine anyone?'  The first evening (let's face it, it's really still the afternoon) this happened, I looked at my watch, wondering whether I'd heard right, I mean, it was still daylight for goodness sake.  But you know what they say about 'when in Rome' and all that.

So she has me in training for greater things, as I have steadily progressed from a small glass with so little wine in it that the contents had almost evaporated by the time she brought it to the table, to a half glass on Monday, then two glasses last night. 

By the time I leave here, I would imagine that a detour to the Betty Ford Clinic could be on the cards. 

I may also have developed a florid complexion and a slight tremor..

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Papa's got a brand new bag...

Words from a Bird.  Day 48

So the Semtex continued to blow, as we sat down to watch The Expendables last night.  (My mum was pulling rank with her choice, and having mentioned it on Saturday night, this film was obviously playing on her mind).  'Oh look, it's Chuck!'  she said all of a sudden.  There I was , searching the screen frantically for a wiry rock and roll singer clutching his Ding-a-ling, when she, on sensing my confusion, said, 'Norris, not Berry'.  All made sense after that...

Actually, this film was slightly better than the uber violent offering from the night before, as it was meant to be funny.  Humour is very personal though, and I did find that I was laughing 'at' rather than 'with' them.  Arnie, Bruce, Dolph, Sly and Vin are so old now, that they are not so much the A Team, as the O'A'P Team.  More expended than expendable even... 

It's my choice of film tonight which is a huge responsibility.  I am swaying between Sleepless in Seattle or 10 Things I Hate about You.  Neither of these films has the noise element of my mum's choices, so I would imagine that there will be nothing to stop her and the younger half from dropping off about 10 minutes in.

I have realised that I could get used to living with my mum.  Tea in bed every morning, and regular admonitions of 'Put that down', 'Don't lift that', 'I can do that', or simply, 'Richard, tell her....' are meaning that my life here is very chilled, which is the main objective where rib repair is concerned.

The hardest jobs undertaken by me so far have included:
1. Squeezing my own tea bag
2. Wiping one half of the work top (mum snatched the dishcloth off me before I could complete this)
3. Removing the meat from a chicken leg (since then, I have noticed that my food is being served in bite-size pieces, my knife now fully redundant.
4. Washing my mug up.  I have been banned from the dishwasher, although this could be because I mix up all the cutlery in the basket, which doesn't sit well with my mum's OCD.

Recovery is going well though, and the chance that I might be able to get behind the wheel on Friday is quite exciting.  Once home again though, I might eke out the recovery a little longer, demanding that I have my teabags squeezed by the husband.

Mind you, that's open to all kind of misinterpretation.....

Monday, 15 February 2016

Everybody wants to rule the world...

Words from a Bird.  Day 47

When the question of 'Home Care' cropped up last week, I was wondering whether this was something that the children were considering as the husband and I clocked up the years, but thankfully not.  There have been occasions when nursing homes have been mentioned in the past (we are relying on daughter number 2 to fund this).  There have also been times when I have asked if it is too soon to move into one yet....usually when all four offspring are stampeding through the house leaving a trail of food debris and dirty washing.  The idea of having someone look after me can be quite appealing at those times.

But this was something much better.  My lovely mum offered to look after me in the husband's absence, her aim to make sure that I sit quietly in a peaceful environment, giving my rib a chance to heal.  She told me that she would not let me lift a finger, and promised that my stay with her would be the equivalent of floating on a pink fluffy cloud, with PG on tap (for me that is, a bottle of red would be her choice of libation) and the dog walked at regular intervals throughout the day.  Poor Percy, if it was down to me at the moment, we'd probably only make it to the end of her drive before turning back.

The husband dropped me off at my mum's (or The Retreat, as it is now known) a couple of days ago, and you won't be surprised when I tell you that it has been quite a revelation.

My mum is a gentle soul, with leanings towards needlework, gardening and historical novels, or at least, that's what I thought.  On our first night together, she suggested we watch a film, the discussions went something like this:

Mum: Die Hard? (She didn't specify which one, but it appears that Bruce Willis is her Tom Hardy)
Me:  Mmmm....Beauty and the Beast? (My favourite Disney film ever.  That kiss.......)
Mum: What about The Terminator? (I'm sensing a theme here)
Me: Bridget Jones?
Mum: Ooh look, The Expendables! (Suspicions confirmed)
Me: Nothing said, just raised eyebrows.

In the end, we watched Night at the Museum, the only reason being that we both find Ben Stiller quite dishy.

Night number 2.....dear God.  I had only popped out to the kitchen to feed Percy, and when I came back, all hell was being let loose from the telly box in the corner.  Expressionless face, black clothes, bad could only mean one thing. Keanu Reeves.  She was watching a film called John Wick, where Keanu kills half of the Russian population because one of them killed his dog.  Now, I know I would be just as upset if something ever happened to my dog, but I can't promise that I would weapon up and go on a shooting spree across the Chilterns.

After watching 90 minutes of this, my pink fluffy cloud had been blown to oblivion in a puff of mini explosives (Keanu had those too.  He must have very deep pockets in that coat).  The film thankfully drew to a noisy climactic finale (I can't tell you exactly how it ended, as I was trying to regulate my breathing in the kitchen at that point).

I can honestly say that having watched this film, I was like a coiled spring, and felt like I wanted to go and punch someone (anyone, actually).

It took a hot chocolate, some Bach Rescue Remedy and forty minutes of whale song to bring me back to my 'quiet place'.

I am hoping that tonight's choice of film might be a little more sedate....otherwise tomorrow may find me with a couple of Kalashnikovs and a flick knife in my pop sock looking for world domination...

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Love is in the air...

Words from a Bird.  Day 46

As the husband has been given a week's grace from nursing duties (I quite liked him in that white dress and orthopaedic shoes) and headed off skiing, last night he handed me over to my mum for my continued convalescence.

Saying goodbye was tough, as it is rare for us to be apart for more than our work day dictates.  But it's ok, I still have Percy, replacing one short, grey haired companion for another short, grey haired companion, albeit one with four legs and a wet nose.

Now spending Valentine's Day apart from your significant other is not for the fainthearted.  I watched my mum and her younger half exchange beautifully crafted words of love and gifts this morning.  A lot of effort had gone into making the other feel special, especially from the younger half who was battling the hangover from hell this morning. 

As I have been housebound since Tea Towel Night, there's been no opportunity for me to buy the husband either card or gift.  This wasn't going to be a problem though, as I have a large box of random cards which I can dig into on occasions such as these.  Rifling through them, it was difficult to decide which was more suited for a declaration of love.  Here are the choices I had:

1. Happy 70th Birthday! 
Bit premature, although by the end of the week's skiing he'll probably feel that age.
2. Well Done Smartie Pants!
It goes without saying that when he met me, he won the lottery, but no one likes a bighead.
3. I Hear You're under the Weather?
Probably will be relevant tomorrow morning after a night's debauchery with the ankle biters.
4. You Passed!
Again, relevant around midnight tonight, especially if one of the kids could add the word 'Out' to it.
5. On our Wedding Day
This one has obviously been hanging around for at least 9 years as it's not the card you buy for someone other than your husband to be. It resembled me in some ways, slightly curled and faded.

So the Wedding Day card it was.  At least it had love hearts on it which gave it a pictorial nod towards Valentine's Day. And it had romantic if completely occasion-inappropriate words in it.

My ever-thoughtful sister brought me some chocolate hearts to put with the card, and the whole lot was given to son number 2 to remember to give to daughter number 1 who in turn would remember to give them to the husband today.  The middle pass between son number 2 and daughter number was necessary, as chocolate does not stay in the packet long where he is concerned. 

So as they settled down on their flight this Valentine's morning, I am picturing the husband opening his card and chocolates at 30,000 feet, wallowing in the obvious, if not slightly peculiar, love which I have for him.

Unfortunately, because of his extra curricular nursing duties this week, the husband had not been so well prepared or assisted.  He texted my card over this morning, in three separate photo messages.  I can see that it is red and there is a teddy on it, but apart from that I can't make out much else as it's so small.  Maybe he had found an old Christmas card in the box, who knows?

But it's the thought that accounts, as the old saying goes. 

And I know I am in his, wherever he might be....

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Always something there to remind me...

Words from a Bird.  Day 45

I can tell that I am improving slightly, as I am starting to feel a bit useless.  Every part of me is screaming out to be let loose with the hoover, the washing machine or the iron, or any other appliance whose location seems to be a secret to the rest of my family members.

I feel the need to sort out how the fridge is looking - the ketchup is in the wrong place and I still can't find the milk (assuming that anyone else has thought to buy any that is).  Lids have been almost returned to Tupperware boxes, their contents relieved of any scrap of moisture that they were clinging on to.

There are clothes everywhere, and I want to sort them into 'washing', 'ironing', 'hanging up' or 'God knows' piles.  Looking at the amount of clothing lying around, I won't be surprised if the other house occupants resort to nudity soon as the only obvious alternative to their lack of clothing.

However, I am still at the stage where getting my drawers on is a military manoeuvre and socks have become the unattainable dream.  Bras have taken a back seat, as the strap sits quite perfectly on the broken rib, so I am having to dress carefully to avoid shocking the husband, the children, or anyone who has the misfortune of having me open the door to them.  This means layering of heavily patterned clothes to avoid ONS (Obvious Nipple Syndrome).  I have taken to looking like one of the ladies on Loose Women, or a Turkish rug...not sure which is preferable to be honest.  Of course, being unable to wear socks also denies me the tried and tested way of dealing with middle aged unfettered boobs...

So I am sitting very still, with my mouth zipped firmly tight, hoping that by some sort of ESP, I can relate to the family my need for them to do the household chores, even the ones which they wouldn't normally think of.

Oh, and not look at my boobs....

Friday, 12 February 2016

It's a mystery...

Words from a Bird.  Day 44

Since Monday night's tea towel debacle, sleep has been restricted to the odd 5 or 10 minutes here and there.  This is because as my rib snapped, a one tonne medicine ball took residence under my left armpit.  Now this is quite happy all the time I am sitting quietly, regulating my breathing and playing the adult version of Sleeping Tigers.  But the minute I start moving around, it's like shaking a giant pinball machine, with the ball rolling around battering various internal organs.  The ball particularly likes it when I lie down on my side in a feeble attempt to sleep.  Do you remember that Christmas cracker game, where you had to balance a tiny ball bearing into a very shallow hole?  Well, that's what it feels like.  My poor dented ribs allow the ball to sit quite beautifully, squishing everything on the left to anywhere on the right.  This means no sleep. 

A return trip to A&E was on the cards today, with more x-rays confirming the broken rib.  Stronger pain killers to guarantee a night's sleep were dished out.  I might take two and go straight through till Tuesday, there's so much sleep to catch up on and anyway, the weather looks rubbish for the weekend...

One of the better things about being sofa-bound is that I get visitors.  Some bring two course meals for the men in my house, others walk the dog or do my washing, others simply come for a chat.  All of them however, have one thing in common.  For some reason, they all want to make me a cup of tea as soon as they arrive, and then one every 20 minutes of their visit, even making sure that I have one 'before they go'.   Now I love tea, but by the time my visitors leave, my medicine ball is sporting a rubber ring and a snorkel, sloshing around happily in a sea of PG, and I am calculating whether I will be able to make it to the loo in time before the next visitor arrives.  But they mean well, I'm sure, and it's lovely to feel looked after.

So I have high hopes for sleep tonight - quite weird to be excited about something that I will have no recollection of whatsoever in the morning. 

It reminds me of a few nights out with my sister...

Thursday, 11 February 2016


Words from a Bird.  Day 43.

Today, the phrase, 'Woman, know your limits' could not be more perfect.  Having taken 45 minutes to crawl out of bed this morning, I am beginning to realise that Wonder Woman I am not.  The husband had to help me and at one point was threatening me with a forklift. The only thing that made me think he might be joking was the fact that he would have had to get it upstairs.  Mind you, seeing what he has done over the years, I would put nothing past him, so I did my best slug impersonation, dragging myself across the mattress, my nails clawing into the fitted sheet until gravity kicked in, rendering me upright of sorts.

The pain of a broken rib is quite peculiar, in that it is the very simplest of things that you do which cause the greatest pain, like breathing.  I have given up on talking as much as usual (it must be quite noticeable, as the husband has stopped using earplugs while I am around) and shouting is a complete no-no.  To this end, the husband has brought me a bell to ring if I need anything.  Now this is a temptation, as I haven't lost my sense of humour.  I can see many opportunities over the next few days where I could get him at it, but I am going to try and resist as if it wasn't for him, I'd still be lying face down on the bed at 7.00pm sobbing into the memory foam...

The hospital have given me a couple of different meds for the pain.  The first is Co-Codamol, which for some poor folk can mean constipation.  The second is Diazepam which makes me feel as high as a kite.

So the situation I find myself in is that if I take the Diazepam first, then I don't give a s**t about not being able to have a s**t...

However, if I take the Co-Codamol first, the Diazepam will ensure that I won't remember even if I have had one.

Happy days...

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Money for nothing...

Words from a Bird.  Day 42

Today I have ventured downstairs, hauling my sorry carcass gingerly down the stairs, making a new camp in the lounge.  This has opened up to me the joy of day time TV.  I have decided that if you are of a certain age (probably somewhere over 75) then watching this drivel all day is just speeding up the process of shuffling off this mortal coil.

First up was Loose Women.  Looking at the four ladies on there today, there was nothing loose about them that I could see, unless you wanted to talk about their clothing.  Three of the four were into layering as I believe it's called.  I call this kind of dressing camouflage, as you are obviously trying to hide something, unsuccessfully it would appear.  The subjects they discussed today were kids being on their mobiles too much, which then morphed very neatly into mental illness.  All in the same sentence, as smooth as the Irish Sea in October.  How neatly it flowed...

Jeremy Kyle was next.  You all know how I feel about him and his co-stars (see 'Wasteland') so I only watched this for a couple of minutes, as my rib dictates that I am unable to throw anything at the TV or shout obscenities at the dreadful people on there.  This takes all the joy out of it, so I switched over to watch an orange man in a bad suit selling Chinese coins to an unsuspecting auction house on behalf of a fat bald man who had 'plenty more where they came from, Dave'.  China?  I don't think so my friend.  Turned out they were forgeries with less silver in them than in the orange man's hairdo.

The pinnacle of my wrist slashing afternoon was Come Dine with Me, where five strangers meet up over five consecutive nights and feed each other, with the best received meal winning £1000.  Watching this made me realise that they haven't quite got them all locked up yet.  A man who dressed as a woman, two women who obviously loathed each other, one man who fell asleep at the table after every meal and a woman who wouldn't eat the roasted duck set down in front of her, as it was the equivalent of a 'pet on a plate' do not make for a pleasant evening.

And now time for a small confession.  Tipping Point was the last thing I watched before the sensible stuff came back on.  I quite like Tipping Point as it reminds me of my misspent youth spent hanging around in various penny arcades in the south of England.  Admittedly, the coins are bigger and you're not allowed to kick the machine, but it's still OK. 

What really makes me laugh though, is the adverts between all these age and employment-specific programmes.  Funeral planning, accident claims, reclining furniture, Tena Lady, payday loans etc, etc, all these adverts come to an end at 6.00pm.  Obviously, their targeted audience do one of two things at that time.

1. Go to bed because all the good programmes are finished
2. Go to the pub because they're out of 'tins' and 'smokes'.

So after today, I am more determined than ever to get this battered old body moving.  One more afternoon of this kind of TV could send me over the edge...

Enough is enough...

Words from a Bird.  Day 41
In my opiate crazed brain, I am not sure whether this is in fact Day 41, so if you feel either shortchanged or in the money where days are concerned, you can blame me!
The broken rib is making writing humour tricky.  You're not meant to laugh at your own jokes, but my blog invariably makes me giggle sometimes, so it's with a 'dog chewing a wasp' face that I write.  The pain I can cope with.  I am a mother, for goodness sake, I've had worse.  But here's what I can't cope with...

1. No laughing, of any kind, whether a gentle titter or large guffaw.  Forget it, it's not going to happen.
2. No coughing - great...I'm asthmatic.  Better increase my meds to counter any problems.
3. Can't take meds as I can't breathe in.  This just gets better..
4. No sniffing...mmmmmm, I am a lady so don't tend to sniff. (Doesn't mean I wouldn't like to though, given half a chance)
5. NO SNEEZING....this situation has not arisen as yet, so I am not sure what would happen if I did.  I have visions of a nuclear test site every time I think about it...
6. The worst bit is the lovely grating bone on bone noise I get when I make an ill thought out move.  Nice..
So, having spent all of yesterday in bed, catching up on the night before, at 4.00am, I am upright, though listing quite severely, and ready to write. 
The remaining men in my house have become my carers, which under different circumstances would be quite lovely.  However, as the most I can face at the moment is water, their job list is quite short.  I am anticipating extending their responsibilities to cooking, cleaning and ironing before the end of tomorrow.  Let's milk it....
I am also going to claim for a 'Have you been injured in the workplace?' payment.
Well, I was in the kitchen...

Monday, 8 February 2016

Everyday, I'm shuffling...

Words from a Bird.  Day 39

So, Dad's Army on a west and windy Sunday afternoon - let me set the scene for you dear reader...

As I knew we would be, we were the youngest people in the cinema, apart from the pre-pubescent cinema staff (probably management).  The vast majority were 75+ with most of the men wearing flat caps, and the women lightweight raincoats in a pastel hue which matched their hair. The whiff of formaldehyde from the better preserved ladies almost disguised the underlying smell of wet wool and Rennies, and looking round the cinema, I noticed that I was the only one eating popcorn.  Perhaps it's not the best thing to munch on when you have dentures?  Soft fudge was probably that afternoon's best seller, along with hot chocolate and vanilla ice cream (none of that exotic stuff for this discerning audience).

As the lights dimmed, the caps were whipped off, bald pates gently reflecting the green of the Exit signs, and macs were folded neatly and put into inappropriately logo'd hessian shoppers.

A couple of adverts before the trailers are worth mentioning.  One for funeral planning courtesy of the Co-operative and another for joint mobility.  Those marketing bods really knew their audience.  However, it was the trailers that finished me off.  Several films were pushed onto the unsuspecting audience, and the same line came up in two separate trailers, which was, 'I think I let a little bit of wee go then'.  Of course, the husband and I thought this really funny, but there was a lot of sympathetic tutting from the audience, along with a stunningly muttered 'Are they taking the piss, or what?'

The film itself was diabolical.  However, I think I was the only one to think this as the rest of the cinema was laughing its knee-high support socks off.  I don't include the husband when I say this as he fell asleep 17 minutes into the film, and woke up as Mainwaring saved the day 9 minutes from the end.

The elderly gentleman next to me was laughing so much, I wondered whether I should be ascertaining the whereabouts of the nearest defibrillator, or a pack of Tena Lady at the very least.   A lady three rows in front kept insisting, IN A VERY LOUD VOICE, that the film was better than the TV programme.  Obviously she had not put her hearing aid in, which would explain the shouting.  However, it didn't explain the sheer idiocy of thinking that this film was better than anything at all, except perhaps leprosy at a push.

As the film drew to its predictive and thankful end, the audience started to get their things together. Caps on, macs on, ready to brave the rain.  It was the slowest cinema exit I have ever seen.  What made it even funnier was that there were out-takes as the credits were rolling.  Of course, this was very confusing, as a lot of the departees simply stopped shuffling down the stairs and watched, while those sensible ones who were still sitting comfortably, were saying in rather too loud voices how stupid people were to 'rush' off at the end of the film.

You may remember that this was not my choice of film.  It was the husband's.  Yes, that husband who slept through the whole bloody thing.

I may forgive him by April...just not sure which year...

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Smooth operator...

Words from a Bird.  Day 38

As I got ready to leave work on Friday, I made the foolish mistake of asking my (almost young enough to be my grandson) colleague what he had planned for the coming weekend.  He then spent the next five minutes reeling off an extremely well planned two days and three nights of frivolity.   Yes, you read right my friend,  three nights.  Apparently Sunday night is now classed as a weekend night, and not the night you shave your legs, have a bath and watch Antiques Roadshow.  My, how things have changed. 

So going back to his plans, there was something for everyone.  A meal out with his friends, family time with his siblings, a concert (The, I had never heard of them either.  Apparently, he/she/they is/are a rapper/rappers) and an evening with his girlfriend.  Quite impressive for a twenty six year old.

At the weekly family breakfast yesterday, once again, the question of Saturday night plans was raised.  My mother and her younger half were heading off to the local pub for a meal and a few drinks with friends. There was also a trendy lunch in Ascot on Sunday. My sister had a hot date with a new man - she'd had her toenails done which worried me somewhat.  I mean, it's not the weather for open-toe sandals is it?  I think I might be missing something there.  A quiet night in, (or recovery, as we like to call it) was on the cards for my aunt, and my wonderful friend had plans with her man.  She offered no further information on this, so your guess is as good as mine.

No one asked me...when you have as many children as I do, weekends tend to be the time for all the stuff you don't have time for in the week, like breathing, so I have low expectations with regard to going 'out out'.

But this weekend, we are child free, except for son number 2 who uses his home at weekends like a Soup Kitchen, standing in the kitchen at meal times,  looking like an extra out of Oliver Twist, his ragged trousers not quite meeting his ankles, arms outstretched with a little chipped bowl as he seeks food.

But I digress.   The husband wants to go 'out out'.  How exciting!  'Where are we going?  Should I wear a dress?  Is it posh?'  Deep breath from husband, before he sticks a pin into my balloon...

'I want to go and see Dad's Army.   I've booked tickets for Sunday afternoon'.

Well, he got one thing right.  He booked the afternoon. 

So legs will be shaved, and heirlooms hiked around the stately homes of Britain, while the husband shouts at the television, 'How much?'

My goodness, we live dangerously...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Tea for two...

Words from a Bird.   Day 37.

After the 'My name's Tracy and I cheat at Fitbit' confession yesterday, I was baffled by the response from other members of this week's challenge.  Jealousy seemed to be the prevailing reaction rapidly followed by regret that they hadn't thought of it first.  Throughout the day, there were ideas of upping the cheating with various suggestions being made as to where you could clip the Fitbit to achieve maximum steps.  One of the cleaner ideas was clipping it to the saddle of the horse running in the 3.15 at Sandown.  Lets hope that race was a long one, and not a 5 furlong dash - that won't make an impact on anyone's step counter.  Even Percy can walk further than that.

After my awful behaviour on Thursday, I thought it would be a great idea to counter this by doing something half decent.  I decided to host a tea party in the afternoon, and invited some of my closest (literally and geographically) friends to pop in for tea and cake.  Now these lovely ladies all remember the halcyon days when I used to bake 200 sponge cakes a week.   The mere mention of my lemon drizzle was enough to make their eyes glaze over, and they often reminisce about the smell of freshly baked chocolate cake wafting over the fence and through their open patio doors (it's the baking equivalent of freshly mown grass apparently). As I welcomed them in, I could sense the anticipation of one of my cakes being on offer.  Would it be the famous lemon drizzle, or (fingers crossed) a deep sticky chocolate offering, smothered in Baileys butter icing?

No, it wouldn't.

For the second time this week, I have been a let down.  I could almost sense their disappointment as they looked at the Bakewell Tarts and Mini Rolls, wantonly chucked onto a dinner plate.  There was a glimmer of hopeful anticipation when I offered fruit scones, but this diminished almost immediately when I got another packet out of the cupboard.  But there was cream, and there was jam.  There was also a heated discussion as to what went on the scone first, cream or jam....well, it's obvious isn't it? It goes like this: split your scone then it's jam first then cream on one half and cream first then jam on the second...everybody's happy that way.

Once the initial shock of SHOP BOUGHT CAKES AT NUMBER 35 had worn off, we had a wonderful afternoon.  There were a few comings and goings as my teapot vied for attention with school picks ups, but we managed to chat about everything and nothing, taking nothing but pleasure from each other.

Friendships are a very strange thing.  As a race, we simply pick another human, and think, 'I like this one', and then we do things together.  Sometimes, it's just for a short time, but sometimes the things we do together continue for eating cake (shop-bought or otherwise).

Friday, 5 February 2016

One step beyond...

Words from a Bird.  Day 36

Just before Christmas, a rather energetic friend suggested to me that I should get a Fitbit. Now, there are occasions in my dim and murky past when I have been called a Fit Bit of something or other, (more of a  Fat Bat now though) so once she explained to me that is was a posh pedometer, I was more than relieved.  I was convinced that she was suggesting I get myself a young toy boy (at my age, I really don't have the inclination or the stamina).

So I bought one (a Fitbit, not a toyboy).  Now this is a nifty little thing which clips onto your clothing and monitors every step you take.  It tells you how far you've walked and how many calories you've used up (very useful when involved in a staring competition with a chocolate ├ęclair).

So as January plodded along, so did I.  Monitoring my recommended daily10,000 steps or so, I tried to increase the steps each day, regularly outdoing myself.

This was all going really well, until several members of my family got them.  This is when it started getting messy.  Once there are a few of you 'friended' on the Fitbits, any one of you can suggest a weekend or weekly challenge, competing against the other 'friends' to get the most steps over the chosen time.

Now I am not a competitive woman, and I found this really difficult.  As January drew to a close, I was used to always being in bottom place or second bottom at a push.  To put things in perspective, I was only second from bottom on one occasion.  This was when my sister had only managed 9 steps on a Sunday morning after a heavy night before.  My nephew and I had calculated that these steps had been chalked up via a short walk to her bathroom and then back to bed. 

I was getting seriously fed up of the derisive comments such as 'Are you even wearing it?' or 'Get off the sofa lardy'.  Which is why I decided to take this a little more seriously.  Admittedly, it was the middle of the week, and even crawling up one step on the table was going to be very difficult at this point in the competition.  But walking boots on, I hauled the dog on a massive two hour walk yesterday afternoon.  We tramped over fields and through woods, not stopping once.

Imagine my delight when I synced my Fitbit when I got home.....21,839 steps and 10 miles!  This was a bloody miracle, almost twice as much as my personal best, and had launched me to the heady heights of 5th from bottom.  All of a sudden, I was a CONTENDER...

It is at this point, that I have a couple of words of gratitude.

To the lovely friend who suggested it in the first place - thank you for making my idle walks a matter of life or death.

And to my dog......thank you for wearing my Fitbit all day yesterday.  I owe you one.

And now an apology....

Percy, I am sorry I let you run ahead for some distance, and then call you back with a biscuit so that you could re-run the same bit of path.  I did this several times, so he probably had chronic indigestion all evening.

But hey, a challenge is a challenge...

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Welcome home...

Words from a Bird.  Day 35

Yesterday saw the last of the visiting offspring depart.  Once they all have left, I then go into each of their rooms to see:

a) What they've left behind
b) What is missing
c) What they have broken
d) What is causing that smell
e) How much loose change is lying around
f) Glassware and crockery

The girls are usually the ones who leave things behind.  Daughter number 1 has left me three jumpers, a mini bottle of champagne (foolish child), a pair of dubious looking slippers and a lovely silver bracelet (I am relying on her not reading this, as I have been wearing this bracelet for two days now).  No obvious breakages, just one leg missing off her electric heater.  Admittedly, this has been missing for some time, but as the heater rarely leaves her room, I must hold her historically responsible.  Oh, and one of the knobs off her wardrobe door seems to have gone AWOL.  No loose change unfortunately, but two glasses and a mug returned to the kitchen.

Daughter number 2's bedroom resembled Chernobyl.  Even the dog refuses to go back in there once she's gone.  Now she is a serial offender with sports socks, and seventeen were found in various nooks and crannies.  I also find hair, lots of hair, enough to stuff a cushion.  With her hair extensions moulting like a depressed Afghan Hound, the hoover normally expires after about 47 seconds, spluttering its last breath through a furball of Strawberry Blonde (posh for ginger I think you'll find).  Not much money, 37p, but I was more than happy with the rescue of four glasses, three mugs, a spoon and three pairs of nail scissors (located with the aid of a metal detector as I scanned the hairy carpet).  She is also the one who raids all the cupboards for absolutely anything to take back to university.  Usual items lifted are food, shampoo, face-wipes and on odd occasions shoes of mine which having worn once she now considers her own.

Son number 1's room is the one where I find the most loose change, almost £1!  Only one glass, but there was the puzzling sight of a beautifully packaged, brand new boot in a box, while the matching one was thrown on the floor . What do I do?  Put them both in the box, carefully re-wrapping, or remove one from the box and put them in the wardrobe (NB one door knob missing) along with all the other discarded shoes?  Decisions, decisions... Returning to the subject of the missing wardrobe door knobs, they are a bit like a set of 1985 Vauxhall Astra hubcaps in that I never actually have a full set.  He returned home with some new cutlery after attempting to pinch some from the drawer.  'Do you have spare cutlery?' he'd asked me.  As if....

Son number 2's bedroom remains a mystery to me.  It has a smell all of its own.  I think something died in there circa 2009, which to this date remains undiscovered.  He always has loads of loose change, but as he returns home each night I feel that I can't slip it into my pocket, even though there are times when I feel he should be paying me for cleaning services.  He also likes the look of a completely empty wardrobe - that is the only conclusion I can reach, as he likes to hang his clothes on the curtain rail, the wardrobe knobs (he currently has two) and his favourite place, the floor.

So now the rooms are tidy, ready for them to come home again in a couple of weeks.  Luckily they will only be in the house for about six hours, and they'll be asleep for about five of those.

 It will no difference whatsoever....

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Gypsies, tramps and thieves....

Words from a Bird.  Day 34

As is often the case at the end of a funeral party (as we liked to call it) hard-core friends and family sat round the table reminiscing and chatting.  The wine had been flowing rather too freely, and the conversation had turned to petty theft, instigated by the repositioning of some rather posh water bottles from the table to the larger handbags. 

'Well, I've never stolen anything...' said I.

The rapid intake of breath from thirty two people left our waiter gasping for air.  The oxygen levels dropped so quickly, he turned blue. 

'Well I haven't', I insisted.

The clamour of thirty two friends and family members shouting me down was incredible, and yet, I still couldn't remember ever pinching anything.

Then the penny dropped - my favourite trick is to see something I quite like on a night out (usually salt and pepper pots, but there's also been a pretty dish and a tapestry cushion with Do not Disturb on it, courtesy of Cliveden Manor ) and then say to my sister, 'My bag's too small.  Can you get those in before we go?'  So it would appear that I steal by proxy.  Slightly better than the alternative I think.

My sister has to be the second worst offender in my family for illegal rehoming.  In a fish restaurant the other day, her son had been served a large lobster (it was a special occasion, they do not pursue the life of the hedonist).  When he came to the claws my nephew, in all innocence, turned to my sister and complained that there were no crackers to break the claws open.  My sister dived into her bag. 'Here you are,' a second root around and 'Do you want the pick too?'  This falls into the premature evacuation category for badly timed thefts.

But the title of King of Petty Theft must be bestowed upon my father (or 'Nifty Fingers Richardson' as he is known in close circles).  As a child, various items suddenly appeared in our house after drunken nights out.  These included a decorated boar's head, complete with an apple in his mouth but with one eye missing, an extremely expensive antique chair (this was a raffle prize, and when no one was looking, my dad had swapped it with his dining chair), a wrought iron planter which stood 4 feet tall and a stuffed Capercaillie on a presentation plaque.

It would appear that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but if it does, it will probably end up in my sister's handbag...

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Goodnight sweetheart...

Words from a Bird.  Day 33
Yesterday was a day of as many emotions as you could think of.  As a family, we knew that this final goodbye would be the hardest, the one which we would have to drawer every ounce of strength for. 

Arriving at the church, we were told that the church was almost full.  Over a hundred friends and family had braved the cold to show their love for this incredible lady.  We were overwhelmed.
Four grandsons carried Nanny into the church, which she would have loved.  Her eulogy, a poem about laughter and a reading about love were all read by family members.  None of us wanted a stranger saying our words for us. It was far too important.
A windy graveside farewell, with tears and red roses, and another poem before we slowly walked away, leaving her in the care of our Grandad.

And then, as the friends gathered around us, photographs were pulled out of jacket pockets and stories told.  She was back in the room with us, brought alive again by love and shared memories.
I can't give you the whole eulogy, but here are the final words...

'Looking back on Joyce’s life, her loves were the simple ones, which cost very little, if in fact anything. To be surrounded by her family was enough for her, and in her last weeks we ensured that we kept her smiling right to the end, wrapping her up in the love she so deserved.

So when you think of Joyce, remember the much loved wife of Charlie,  the beautiful mum to Sandra and Jan, the doting Nanna to Tony, Sue, Kelly and me, and the gentle Nanny Joyce to her great grandchildren, James, Georgia, Gaby, Ollie, Elliot and Charlie.

She takes with her a little bit of each of our hearts, and we give that gladly.

She was perfect. And we are all a little closer to perfection having had her in our lives'
We will miss you...

Monday, 1 February 2016

Food, glorious food...

Words from a Bird.  Day 32

I must confess that it is with some surprise that I discover I am still going with my resolution to write each day.  Previous resolutions have been nowhere near as successful, and I am now realising that when you pick the right thing to do, it's easy!

The adult-sized children are still rampaging through the house, eating anything that stands still long enough, a trail of crumbs leading to the devastation that my normally tidy kitchen has to endure when they are in residence.  Every single glass in the house has headed upstairs.  Rather than retrieve these and bring them down, the children are getting more and more inventive in what they drink their water from.  Mugs (just about do-able), my Irish Coffee glasses (unforgivable), egg cups (?) and, at the last check, a plastic measuring jug and the cup off their dad's flask.  All in all, they are being very inventive, it's the student life I think.

So the husband and I headed up to Sainsbury this morning to replenish the fridge, the freezer and the food cupboards.  I headed off with the trolley, and as he parked up, I felt a cold chill go up my back.  What was I doing?  I never take him food shopping - on the rare occasion he has talked me into allowing him to come along, he has been the master of distraction, and it hasn't been till we've got to the checkout that I have noticed the items which have been sneaked in.  This usually involves salami (not from the deli counter, just a pack of about six slices), mango (the most labour-intensive of fruit to prepare), a family bag of Haribo (well half a bag, he chomps most of them going round), a cheese selection box, ginger cake and beer.  So you can see why I was worried. 

However, today was different.  Today was good.  Today was almost bloody magnificent....'I'll pay for the shopping this week.  Here's my card', he said, as he wandered off to the coffee shop, leaving me with the list and trolley.

Which explains why I had to bring two of the seven carrier bags into the house without him seeing their contents.  I mean, how could I possibly justify an expensive moisturizer, a pair of boots, three heart shaped candle holders, an artificial flower display and a family size pack of Wagon Wheels (I was lured by the new jammy version).

What goes around comes around, as the old saying goes......