Sunday, 31 July 2016

Shiny, happy people...

Gathering together my outfit for last night's 1920's night out, I realised that I didn't have any appropriate footwear to match my flapper ensemble.  I pulled out every pair of shoes from my wardrobe, but as far as I remember, the Bright Young Things of the '20's didn't choose to wear wedges, flip-flops, Chelsea boots or Converse pumps (daughter number two's if you remember...now paint splattered) with their beaded and fringed dresses.

And then I had a light bulb moment.

Miss R's contribution to my hen weekend many years ago, was a pair of shoes for all fourteen of us to wear on the journey out.  The idea actually was that we wore them for the whole weekend, but we all went off that idea when Miss R (always ever so organised) ran out of plasters to cover the numerous blisters which were popping up all over the place.  So the shoes were consigned to the top shelf in my wardrobe.  This is where all those things go that I can't bear to throw away, and it currently houses two posh hats, I bowler hat, my kids' first shoes, a self portrait of son number two (involving pasta and a very large pair of ears) and these shoes.

The Hen Weekend shoes were bought for the princely sum of £1.50 per pair (no expense spared) and are beige leather peep toe shoes, with silver glittery panels.  They sound (and look) revolting, but were pretty damn perfect for a 1920's night.

It was only when I slipped them on while I was getting ready that I remembered why they have sat unworn for so many years.  Within eight seconds of putting them on, the glitter had started to detach itself from the shoes, and attach itself to the carpet.  Reg found this highly interesting, and was soon resembling something out of a Disney cartoon, twinkling softly on the bedroom carpet like a fairy dog.

I could barely walk in them, and I tried to remember whether I had found this a problem on their one and only previous outing.  Well, most of the journey was spent sitting (in cars, buses and on a plane) so I suppose that I never really walked anywhere in them.  I do vaguely remember walking from the plane to the transfer taxi when we landed, but any pain would have been masked by the nine gin and tonics I'd had on the plane (those were the days when gin didn't always equal a headache).

Back to today.  I persevered with the shoes for another five minutes, by which time, I had left a trail from the bedroom to the hall, and a small blister was starting to form where my big toes and the peep hole part were having a ruck about who was in charge.  Obviously my derriere is not the only thing that has increased in size over the years. 

So the shoes were removed, much to the relief of my feet, and I eventually settled for a pair of 1950's kitten heels which I found squirreled away in my fancy dress box.

So my shoes are thirty years too modern.

But as I am ninety six years older than the event requires, I'm sure no one will be worried about my shoes...

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Flapper girl...

Believe it or not, tonight is yet another 'Big Night Out'.  The husband has the dubious honour of taking Miss R, Mrs S and me up to the bright lights of London to a 1920's themed nightclub.  Of course, dressing up is obligatory, and this week has seen us three girls getting our costumes ready for tonight. 

Miss R was very organised, and ordered her dress last week.  Thinking that she had loads of time, she didn't spend money on the next day delivery option, and consequently the outfit only turned up on Thursday.  It is lilac.  Not the most flattering of colours for ladies under 76 and apparently, the straps are elastic.  Now Miss R is particularly well endowed in the bosom area, and I am slightly worried that the elastic might not hold.   Miss R is renowned for her dance moves whilst under the influence, and I think I may pack a couple of industrial sized safety pins just in case all hell breaks loose (I am referring to the dress) around 11.00pm.  Her dress has less fringing on it now since she got it out of the packaging, and apparently she spent five minutes stamping on one yesterday morning, thinking it was a spider.  Note to sister....put your glasses on before getting out of bed...

Mrs S, the most organised woman I know, already had an appropriate outfit.  Now she's had other things on her mind this week, and I am hoping that she's been paying attention when I have been chatting about the dress code.  I have my fingers crossed that she didn't mishear 'flapper' as something else, and turn up in something she wore in 1996 to a Vicars and Tarts event.  That could be a little awkward (especially as she probably went as a vicar).

And as for me, well the original dress I ordered, which resembled a bell tent, has been consigned to that pile of 'things to take back'.  It's completely naked of any fringing, as while I was trying it on, Reg (the puppy who hasn't quite got all four feet under the table as yet) decided to swing on the fringing, resembling a rather hairy Chair-o-Plane.  Having peeled him off the dress, he continued to have a fine old time with the fringing, resembling Fu-Man-Chu for the rest of the afternoon. 

I had also bought a wig.  It looked great in the picture....It looked terrible on me.  Not so much 1920's bob, more like Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons.  That also went in the infamous 'things to take back' pile.  (We all know it's really the bin).  A second panic buy dress turned up yesterday afternoon.  This was much better, and will get worn tonight with a feather head dress, pearls, and a foot long cigarette holder. 

The husband, who is not the biggest fan of the dressing up cupboard is wearing his dinner suit, his one concession to the 1920's theme, a pair of braces.  I am just hoping that they're more robust than Miss R's dress straps.

I can only carry so many safety pins, you know...

Friday, 29 July 2016

Gangsta's paradise...

Master B returned to work today.  You may remember that I mentioned he was heading off to Europe for a long weekend of sightseeing and culture with some friends.  How anyone could spend five days in Portugal and come back paler than they went, is slightly beyond me, but as he filled Master P and me in on the holiday, it all began to make sense. 

After wild nights out (and most of the mornings as they weren't getting in till 7.00am) all of them would sleep till the afternoon, going out just as the sun was melting back into the sea each evening.  Basically, he had not seen daylight for five days.  I am going to suggest he takes some Vitamin D tablets to ward off the possibility of rickets. Who knows when he might need to stop a pig in a passage in the future?

Notwithstanding the milky pallor, there were things to be thankful for.  For a start, he didn't get third degree sunburn this time.  He told us that he'd been slapping the factor 50 on all day just in case.  By 'all day' I suppose he means that seven minutes between getting out of the hotel and into the first bar in the evening.  Well, you can't be too careful I suppose, and to be fair, his skin looked beautifully soft after all that moisturizing.  There was also no evidence of another drunken tattoo.  (We've been here before you see).

Master B and Master P are very good friends outside of work, and as Master B walked into the office at lunchtime, Master P slapped him on the back, and said, 'Welcome back gangster'.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but 'gangster' to me means shoulder pads, tommy guns, Al Pacino and a violin case.  It does not bring to mind a twenty six year old who's fond of a city break, brings a packed lunch to work and loves fantasy football.

I glanced across to Mr W, the slightly older Voice of Reason in the office. 'Has anyone ever called you 'gangster' before?' I asked.

'No', he replied.  'You?'

'No, me neither'.

Something to aspire to, I suppose...

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Baby, it's cold outside...

So normal service resumed yesterday morning after my day in bed nursing my head.  By normal, I mean getting up at silly o'clock, even before the birds.  Here's how the first five minutes go :

Put dressing gown on
Go downstairs
Remove dressing gown
Flap around wildly on patio trying to cool down from major hottie (I'd like to point out that this is not a new nickname for the husband)
Cool down
Cool down further
Put dressing gown back on
Cool down even more
Rush inside to find socks as feet now freezing
Sit down at computer
Remove dressing gown etc etc

It's a wonder I manage to do anything in the morning, I'll be honest with you, but it's the time I tweak the blog before publishing, chat to any lovely American ladies who are reading it online, and generally catch up on what's been happening overnight.

You're probably waiting for me to tell you all about the lovely television lady who came to check me out this week.  It was all going rather well, until daughter number two and son number two tipped up.  Daughter number one refused to be filmed without a full Hollywood makeover, and by the time she returned, all blushed and pouty, the lady was beginning to lose the will to live.  Daughter number two was very sweet about my current situation, saying how forgetful I was, and that I never seemed to sleep anymore (Even Dracula slept didn't he?)  Son number two was more interested in pimping himself for Love Island next year and flirting with the lovely lady.  I put this down to the fact that she brought Maltesers with her.  Chocolate works every time with him.

But if this was bad, it was nothing to what happened when the husband pitched up.  He was in full building site work-wear, and plonked himself down next to me for the filming.  I had already spoken in length about my menopause symptoms, and how I thought it had started around eight months ago.  Did the husband agree with this?  Like hell he did...

'I know she says it's only been eight months or so, but I disagree.  Me and the kids have had to put up with extreme OCD with regard to this house, and sometimes it's like she's not in the room with us, like she's taken herself off somewhere.  And there's been mood swings, and sometimes she can be a bit short with us. I reckon this has been going on for at least two years'.

Silence.

The lovely television lady even had to press the pause button as the silence stretched.  It was all rather awkward.

I only had to wait an hour before she left, before softly saying to him..

'TWO YEARS?  TWO YEARS?' 

Last time I saw him, he was removing anything with a sharp blade from the kitchen drawers and locking it away in the glove compartment of his truck.

Fear is a good thing in a marriage, don't you think?

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Stop right there...

I thought that I had kicked migraines into touch.  Just under two years ago, my doctor basically told me that most of my health problems could be addressed with a few changes.  The list of things she gave me to cut out read like this:

Alcohol (Never been a big drinker, so this was easy)
Chinese food (Not so difficult, as Indian food was still on the menu)
Cheese (Never touch the stuff, so that one was a no-brainer)
Chocolate (Ah.....this could be a problem - three bars a day at least.  I'm surprised that Cadbury hadn't approached me at some time about becoming a shareholder)

At the risk of hacking too many of you off at one time, I basically did as she told me.  Two years later, I am thirty pounds lighter and not needing the knee replacement which was being threatened.  I felt much better, and the previously weekly migraines dwindled down to one every two months or so.

But it would seem that even doing the right thing has a shelf life.  Since Mother Nature evicted me from The Useful Woman club, the migraines seem to have started tipping up again, and I have mornings when I sit there desperately trying to work out what I did to deserve this pain.

Yesterday morning was one of those.  Waking up at 4.00am with the equivalent of a herd of bison doing a foxtrot on a polished wood floor in stack heels across my head, I crawled out of bed and went downstairs to pop some pills (the legal kind, before you start wondering).  As I lay on the sofa, waiting for the pills to kick in, I started to question what had brought this on.  This is what I came up with:

Two hours of the BBC Big Band (we were sitting very close to the guy with the flugelhorn)
One single gin and tonic (had two on Saturday with no effect, so took a chance)
Two jelly babies (I would've eaten more, but I managed to kick them over on the floor at the concert; having taken my shoes off, I spent the second half peeling body parts from various toes...nice..)

Menopause?.....mmm...why is it that I always reach for this as a last resort? 

Obviously, Mother Nature on seeing how well I was battling the hotties with my Red Clover, has decided to throw something else at me.  I think that going forward I need to put this up as first suggestion when anything is going wrong, rather than blaming myself (good old Mum Guilt, don't you just love it?)

But looking on the good side (assuming there is one), if the migraines are down to the menopause, then I suppose that means that I can start drinking wine and eating chocolate again, as whatever I have been doing will now make no difference as to whether I get a migraine or not.

I feel a Chow Mein coming on, washed down with several beers, and followed by a family bar of Dairy Milk.  I may even finish with the cheese board.

Just because I can...

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Girls on film...

On Sunday, the husband and I headed off to what is becoming our favourite drinking hole on Sunday mornings. R&R in Abingdon.

This is our neighbours' café, and has a lot to answer for when looking at how tight my trousers are becoming.  On our first few visits, I limited myself (and the husband) to a lovely coffee and perhaps a waffle. Fast forward a few weeks, and we are now having a two course snack in there.  This Sunday, I have to confess to having one of Mr R's homemade sausage rolls, followed by carrot cake.  This was quite possibly the worst decision I have ever made, as I don't think that any other food I taste will ever touch the perfection of that cake.  The husband on the other hand, had a sausage roll, then a bacon bap, and finished off with another sausage roll.  No pudding for him, just three mains...

We sat outside in the market square with the husband, two fairly well behaved dogs (we'd walked miles, so they were knackered) a great coffee and the rain (well, you can't have everything) and it was perfect. Waddling back to the car afterwards, I realised that there is a weight limit on Abingdon Bridge which we may need to start considering.

So it's a busy week for me this week.  I am dragging the husband off to London to see a big band performing hits of the 1930's.  This is something that my Nanny Joyce would have loved, so I am going for her.  The husband, whose musical adventures started in 1976 (Marc Bolan) and stopped around 1982 (Bucks Fizz) has a limited knowledge of this kind of music.  I have told him to take earplugs or a set of headphones so that he doesn't have to listen to it.  I on the other hand will be having a wild old time watching them (the apple rarely falls far from the tree). 

I've also got the lovely lady from the television heading here on Tuesday.  I had a real go at the husband yesterday as my front lawn has taken on the appearance of a Monet meadow.  All I need is a lace parasol to complete the picture.  But of course, she won't be looking at my unmown front lawn, will she?

Probably about as much as she'll be looking at the pile of ironing I need to tackle or the aftermath of the weekend.  I'll just take her somewhere clean and tidy with space to sit down.  She'll have a couple of options....

The downstairs loo (still a firm favourite) or my car (front seats only as the dogs have laid claim to the back ones).

I'll let her decide...

Monday, 25 July 2016

Missing you...

'Will you come and watch me play cricket tomorrow?' asked son number two on Saturday afternoon as I was recovering after three hours of artistic creation on Mrs S's fireplaces.

'Of course', I said.  Notwithstanding that I try to be a supportive mum to all my offspring, I actually quite like watching cricket.  The weather looked good, so a few lazy hours in the sunshine on a Sunday afternoon seemed like a grand idea.

When we eventually found the cricket pitch, 'our' team had been bowling for almost an hour.  Sitting down in the newly purchased fold up chairs (according to the slightly camp gentleman I bought these from, they have a handy drinks holder...well I never) the husband, who had been dragged along under duress, went off to chat to someone he knew, leaving me and son number two's BFF as the only team supporters. 

The team they were playing were a strange breed, I had some trouble understanding what they were saying as they seemed to be using too many vowels (I say 'years', they say 'yaaaaaaaaaaaars') and the men who weren't playing all wore a similar outfit of baggy cargo shorts, polo shirts with the collar up (like they were all Elvis) and deck shoes. The wives were in stripy shirts (also with the collar up, and pearls).  Unfortunately for them, they were also rather loud. 

Son number two had been asked to bowl at rather short notice, and he wasn't having a good day.  As his bowling went from dreadful to terrible (almost decapitating the umpire a couple of times and wiping out the wicket keepr) the other supporters started to talk rather loudly about how terrible he was, and how he should have stayed at home.  Now I was thinking the same, but as his mum I am allowed to.  God help anyone else who disrespects my children in my company. 

Getting slightly fed up with all the nasty comments, the BFF was starting to bristle, and I thought it better if I said something rather than sending her in (she looks like a Labrador but where son number two is concerned, she can be a Rottweiler protecting her friend).

'He hasn't bowled for quite a long time, and could probably have done with some practice before today'.

Glancing across at me over their score sheets, one of them said, 'Not sure there's enough time till the end of the world to give him enough practice.'

Well, he had a point...

Sunday, 24 July 2016

All by myself...

The husband, looking for any means of cure for the hangover from hell (I am blaming son number two for this for keeping him plied with Peroni on Friday night) headed off for a full English fry up yesterday morning.  When I say 'full' I am talking about the plate, as you couldn't have squeezed a Rizla paper between the bacon, sausages, fried eggs etc which the husband forced down.   

I was prepared for no dinner last night as he was still feeling full, and for the sewing machine being brought out of retirement to let his trousers out.  He never learns, that man...

While he was eating this, I headed off to Marlow for my normal Saturday breakfast, preceded by a wash and blow in my favourite salon.  My normal stylist was on her holidays, so I had a man do it this time.  He was of advanced years, with all of his hair being on his chin rather than his head. He had a spectacular beard, which skimmed his clavicles (look this up, it's not as rude as it sounds) and he was 'King of The Blow Dry'. What he could do with a Boars' Bristle Brush was nobody's business, and I left there looking groomed and glamorous.

This lasted for approximately two hours as I was back at Mrs S's cottage yesterday afternoon doing a little more painting, in preparation for the big move in August.   Unfortunately, she had put me in charge of painting fireplaces this time, which meant a skinny brush and some rather gloopy black paint.  Having come home yesterday covered in white paint from head to toe, I had decided that rather than ruin my clothes any more, I would wear less, as skin is much easier to wash than clothes.  Mrs S, looked me up and down when I arrived.

 'You look nice.  Go and get changed and we'll get started'. 

'I am changed', I said.  'All ready to go'. 

'But your shoes..' she said, 'they're very new'. 

'No matter' I said.  (Why would I care about the brand new Converse pumps I was wearing?  They belonged to daughter number two. You see, what goes around, comes around...

So let's fast forward another three hours.  Mrs S had made the fatal error of leaving me alone while she went to collect my god-daughter (the gorgeous Ms Nat) and of course, without any adult supervision, this is how I left her house...

My hair, previously looking like something out of a glossy magazine, still looked like something out of a magazine, but more one that illustrated bad hair days of the rich and famous.  I looked like an explosion in a mattress factory, and I questioned whether it might have been a better idea to cancel the expensive hair do from earlier.

The decision to wear shorts, although made with good intentions, meant that my legs looked like I had horrendous varicose veins thanks to the black paint, and there was a pervading whiff of latex about me courtesy of the gloves which Mrs S supplied me with.

And as for the Converse pumps....

Well, let's just say that they won't be making their way back into daughter number two's wardrobe.

I may stop laughing about this by Tuesday...

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Rip it up...


My best friend, Mrs S, is moving into her cottage in a few weeks, and has spent the last few days turning what was an interesting colour scheme (think Joseph and that coat of his) into a very cool, classy pad.  Of course, not all roads to beauty are easy (those of you who wax will know this) and this week has been spent ridding the house of a rather peculiar smell (marigolds would be a polite way of describing it) and replacing that with the clean smell of emulsion. 

As each room has been stripped of its gaudy coat, she has been able to see what it will become.  I said to her that now the bright colours had gone, so had the house's personality.  It was now time to create a new one - possibly one which doesn't give you a migraine as you walk from room to room.

The husband, ever helpful, has been there all day with power tools.  He has been very effective, and I am secretly relieved that the house is still standing.  I know what he's like when he's got one of those power tools in his hands - it's sometimes hard to make him put it down. 

Mrs S and I were happily wielding our paintbrushes and talking nonsense as usual.  Mrs S was doing the doors in a very methodical way, neatly and professionally.  I, on the other hand, was going at it like a Duracell bunny, managing to paint my arm, the bottom of my shoe, a cheek and my trousers.  My vision was also slightly impaired as there was quite a lot of paint on my glasses.  This might also explain why my standard of painting deteriorated as the afternoon wore on. 

I had told Mrs S that I was good at 'cutting in' (I can talk the talk) which is why she allocated skirting boards to me.  Within half an hour of arriving, she was questioning that decision, but assured me that she could touch up the bits I'd missed.  I have a horrible feeling that this will take longer than anything I have helped with today.  They call it a 'holiday' when you miss a bit don't they?  Mine is more of an 'emigration'...

So returning home, looking like I'd had a fight with the Dulux dog (and lost) it was time to get ready for a very special night out.  Son number two's BFF was celebrating officially becoming an adult.  The party had been kept secret, and I was most impressed that son number two had managed to keep his mouth shut for so long.  The party was fantastic, and the husband and I felt very honoured to be part of it.  The BFF's parents had never met us before, and after last night, will probably never see us again.  There was music, and the husband was drinking... Need I say more?

Later in the evening, the BFF's cousin, Dr D, proved how trawling the internet for hours at a time can be a positive thing.  Having gone looking for newspaper and failed, eventually returning with a piece of 18th birthday wrapping paper (I had visions of him feverishly unwrapping the BFF's presents to achieve this) he performed a 'magic' trick, ripping the paper up, then miraculously making it reappear intact.  Apparently, you can look these things up on Google, which is good to know, as I thought it was only naked ladies that boys his age were interested in looking at.

But what was most impressive about this trick, was that it was successfully executed after many, many beers.  The husband, who wasn't far behind Dr D with the empty bottles, was by this time almost incapable of carrying a bowl of crisps to the table.

I told you we wouldn't be invited back...

Friday, 22 July 2016

Hunk of burning love...

Some of you will know that Wednesday night was spent in the company of Elvis.  Not the real one of course, but a chap who does an act which incorporates some rather rude jokes and some cracking Elvis songs.  If you want to book him (I wouldn't recommend him for children's parties before you reach for the laptop) you can find this Hunk of Burning Love at http://www.alvin.co.uk/

The show was held in a local pub, and as I had two spare tickets, I coerced daughter number two and her best friend Lucy Loo to come along for a giggle.  I knew that they weren't really interested in the show as such, but when I mentioned the words 'Fish and Chips' their ears pricked up.  It wasn't till I mentioned the word 'Free' that they fully committed.  Once a student, and all that...

I wasn't sure what they were expecting really.  Alvin, who I have seen three times before, and who is on good acquaintance with Mrs Jangles and Miss R, is on the wrong side of middle-aged.  He is follicly challenged, so a black shiny wig is needed to start to build the impression of Elvis.  Add to the wig a black shirt and trousers, and Elvis is back with us once again.  And boy, can he sing, belting out all the old favourites. 

But as I said before, Alvin's USP  is that he tells rather bawdy jokes in between the songs.  I understood some of them, but daughter number one and Lucy Loo seemed to get every punch line, every suggestive glance and all the pelvis-thrusting moves.  They thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and the pinnacle of their night was when Alvin changed into his unforgiving white jumpsuit, encrusted with worthless rhinestones and fringing.  To be honest, it left very little to the imagination, and I was rather grateful that we were sitting behind him, as we only had to contend with a couple of gyrating buttocks.  Those sitting in front of him were subjected to the full frontal, which to be honest with you might have put the two girls off roast dinners for the foreseeable future.

But what made me sit up and take notice was the conversation between Alvin's two sets.  The pub were playing some great music, which took Miss R and I straight back to the discos of the 1980's. 

'I really miss dancing', I said, 'It's a shame they don't have discos purely for older ladies like us.  No men allowed, just us girls dancing around our handbags and having a fine old time'.

Do you remember the discos?  They always had a hatch where you could buy stale crisps and a flat coke.   I would imagine that Old Lady Discos would have a similar hatch selling Prosecco, but there would be extra items you could also buy...

Tena Lady pads and Rennies I would imagine... 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Nellie the elephant...

Son number one left for 'somewhere in Asia' yesterday afternoon.  Unlike the very organised daughter number two, he hasn't provided us with a day by day itinerary as to his whereabouts, so we can but guess where he is going to be on a daily basis.  He has taken the smallest rucksack with him for the three weeks he's away.  It actually looks more like a bum bag than a rucksack, and I am worried that he hasn't thought to take the entire Boots Prescription counter with him as daughter number two did.  Of course, the good side of the small rucksack is that as it doesn't hold much, I would imagine that the washing he brings home will be minimal. 

I'm still sorting daughter number two's washing from her trip.  As well as the clothes she took with her, other items came back in the rucksack.  Most of these items are made of cheap cotton printed with elephants, with elasticated waists and ankles.  If I didn't think that I would look like a feminist CND supporter, I might grab a pair to wear in this heat.  Mind you, desperate times and all that.

The husband who has the misfortune (or good luck, depending on which way you look at it) to be working outside, has developed an intricate pattern of tan lines over the last few days.  He naturally has his t-shirt off, but insists on wearing gloves.  He also wears shorts, and long socks.  I have decided to start calling him Marty (the zebra off 'Madagascar' for those of you who don't have a clue what I am talking about).  Bless him though, he thinks I am implying he looks like Michael J Fox out of Back to the Future. So while he's strutting about thinking he looks like a fit young buck, I'm picturing a stripy creature with suspect teeth, who loves the curvier woman...(more similarities than I originally thought then).

It's son number two I envy most in this weather.  If you remember, he has a job which entails not having to wear underwear (he's a lifeguard).  The executive decision was made yesterday (by him) that being in the pool, rather than up a ladder looking at the pool would be a good move, as he would be nearer any problems should they happen.  This is all well and good, but he is also now sporting a strange sun tan.  He looks like he's spent a week in the Maldives from the waist up, but get him out of the water, and his legs are screaming Skegness all the way.

I mustn't grumble about the weather though.  All to soon it will be over, and we'll all be complaining about the rain/wind/cold again.  The British summer is measured in days rather than months unfortunately, and we've had five days already.

My shorts are living on borrowed time...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

It's oh so quiet...

So the heat continues.  

Mrs B-T, the mathematical genius with a penchant for a boxer (the four legged variety, not Frank Bruno), who keeps the husband's accounts in check, has been telling me about a cooling mat which her dog has for times such as these.  I am sad to say that I have already been on Amazon, to see whether there is one large enough for me.  The biggest one that is available would be for a Labrador-sized dog.  Even curled up with my nose touching my knees, I can't think that it will be big enough, so it's back to the drawing board I'm afraid.  I am also considering filling hot water bottles with ice cubes and sticking my pyjamas in the fridge.  Well, you have to try these things don't you?

The husband, ever keen to wake up dry in the morning, allowed me to have the electric fan on all night.  This was a revelation.  I woke up yesterday morning feeling refreshed after an uninterrupted night's sleep.  It was a different story for the husband though.  He likes to sleep in silence (very tricky at this time of the year when the birds are doing their rendition of the Eine Kleine Nachtmusik at 4.00am) so any noise is banned from the bedroom. 

Apparently he woke up several times thinking that we were being invaded (I'm thinking Apocalypse Now) as the fan swept across his sleeping face.  Consequently, he looked like I do most mornings...slightly shabby around the edges with a desperate need to repeat the whole night's sleep.   Not too sure if I will be allowed the fan again.  I sense a bedroom relocation might be on the cards...

But I have exciting news. There have been some developments after the 'My name's Tracy, and I've started the menopause' blog confessions.  Some lovely people want to interview me for a television programme they are doing.  I just hope that the day they switch the camera on is not one where I am resembling an over-ripe tomato and screaming like a fishwife (assuming I remember that they're coming of course).  I would imagine that there is only so much that they can do with make up and a strait jacket, and I'm not too sure whether this would make comfortable viewing for all those husbands watching. Mind you, it will give them a small taste of what lies ahead I suppose.  Forewarned is forearmed apparently (yes, armed with a small overnight bag and a passport if the husband's fears are anything to go by).

So the husband, who will also be interviewed about the pressures of living with a woman going through the menopause is under strict instructions to play nicely, and to be generous in his description of how life is panning out.

He'll be fine...it's amazing what a small vegetable knife held to the small of the back can achieve...

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Fever...

I have taken to living in the downstairs loo.  It's the coolest room in the house (north-facing, dark, no heating) and with the temperature being as high as it is just now, it is my only refuge.  The only other place I am considering is the fridge, but that's full of food as the shopping was done yesterday.  Having said that, by Wednesday there'll be plenty of room on the top shelf as the plague of locusts I share my house with would have done their worst.

It's not such a great idea though, as I would also have to depend on someone letting me out again.  As you know, my lot can't even put their washing in the linen basket, so remembering to let me out of the fridge looks unlikely.  I have suggested sleeping in the garden, but the husband wasn't too keen, suggesting an electric fan instead.  Yes, great idea.  With that targeted on me on top speed, he'll think it's raining...nice.

So on Sunday night, I had to contend with the double whammy of a hot flush and tropical overnight temperatures.  Lying in a large puddle in the middle of the bed, waiting for the tide to go out, I cursed Mother Nature and her warped sense of humour.  Could she not have just waited till October?  At least the hotties would have served a purpose (heating bills reduced, no money spent on more jumpers) and there would have been some gratitude from the husband. 

As it is right now, not only is he contending with the scorching nights, he also has to put up with sleeping next to a sweating hippo, wallowing around in a swamp of her own making and giving off enough heat to power 3,000 kettles.

I was explaining all this to daughter number two this afternoon, and telling her that this was just the tip of the volcano (I'd like to say iceberg, but I think we all know that's not the right choice of word). 
She was appalled that this could go on for twelve years, and looked almost relieved that she was moving out in a couple of weeks.  Son number two has already bagsied the sofa just in case I get impossible to live with as time goes on, and son number one and daughter number one are off to 'somewhere in Asia' this week.  I would be surprised if they came home, their fear of 'Crazy Menopausal Woman is so great.

As time goes on, the poor husband will be the only one left as my menopause reaches its peak.

God help him...

Monday, 18 July 2016

Cleanin' out my closet...

Yesterday, the husband and I schlepped up to Milton Keynes to take a look at daughter number two's new home from August.  I'm not too sure what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised with the two bedroomed flat she's sharing with a friend.  It was a sensible home for a couple of young people in gainful employment.  Clean, tidy, in full working order and with a pile of instruction manuals neatly piled up on the kitchen worktop for all the appliances they have (even a dishwasher). 

I suppose that having visited her university digs several times and seen the state of that (and also her on occasion) I was quite used to the fact that the majority of her time was either spent sleeping, or with her head down the only loo in the house.  The last time I was there, about three weeks before she moved out, the kitchen had been cordoned off as a health hazard and the bathroom hadn't been used for weeks for fear of being attacked by the festering bacteria which had taken up residence in the shower curtain.  It always took me every ounce of self control not to take the rubber gloves and bleach with me when I went up there, preferring to stand in the middle of the lounge floor, equidistant from the walls and sofa while she got ready.

So now the big move starts.  Not surprisingly, she's not really interested in taking any of the skip-load of 'treasure' (crap) which was brought back.  Instead, she would rather go around my home, sticking post-it notes onto various pieces of my furniture which she wants.  What I haven't got, I will have to buy for her.  I will also have to buy replacement furniture for my home to stop it looking like a furniture shop in the throes of shutting down. 

Having left the flat, we then went on to drop the LSB (Long Suffering Boyfriend) back home.  This meant meeting his parents for the very first time. Daughter number two was very worried that the husband and I wouldn't behave, and might embarrass her.  Can't imagine where she's got that idea from, but anyway, we did our best.  Of course, we dropped into conversation that the LSB was very good at clearing the table after dinner and that they should be very proud of raising a son who's happy to muck in with the chores.

The look on his parents' faces indicated that a talk might be happening after we left...

LSB, I'm sorry.  I may just have ruined your home life for good...

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Heatwave...

Summer tipped up again yesterday, catching me completely unawares as I got dressed.  I had assumed that the sweat running down my face, accompanied by a generous helping of recently applied mascara, was down to another 'hottie' (these are happening more frequently, and the children and husband have taken to locking themselves in the bathroom every time, just in case I go the whole hog and lay into them with a rolling pin and spatula) but I soon realised that my thermal vest and Arran sweater were to blame rather than my hormones, who, like Elvis, have left the building.

This meant a full clothing change into something more in keeping with the heat.  White jeans, (my staple summer wear), and a cream top.  Sorted.  I always have a problem with summer clothes, never quite having the right top to go with the right trousers.  I put this down to the fact that the British summer lasts a cumulative 47 minutes, which doesn't justify buying lots of different things.  So stuff comes out from under the bed from last year, is washed, ironed and hung up, in the vain hope that one or two items might make it out of the wardrobe, before being stuffed back under the bed again around mid September when the monsoons, hurricanes and blizzards return.

So suitably cooled down (must buy myself one of those battery operated fans to stick in my handbag)  I headed off for my usual Saturday breakfast with Miss R and Mrs W.  The older pair of siblings were missing this week.  Mrs Jangles was living it up in the fleshpots of Woolacombe for the weekend.  She'll probably be finishing off a cheeky glass of red with her breakfast as she reads this.  That woman has no shame.

The mother has gone to Wales.  Now, I did try to warn her off this idea, reminding her that my trench foot had only just started improving after the amount of rain we had when there a couple of weeks ago.  But she's made of stronger stuff than me (that's what living through the war does for you) and is well prepared for whatever Wales has to chuck at her.  However, they did stop at rather a lovely hotel in Chester en route to 'break the journey'.  The husband usually gives me ten minutes to get a coffee and go to the loo when we stop at the motorway services on a long trip.  I have made a mental note to speak to him about this...

My father, I'm going to call him Sandy (because that's his name) came into breakfast yesterday having lost at golf again.  This is a regular occurrence, and to be honest, myself and Miss R are only being polite when we ask who won.  Everyone around the table knows exactly what the answer will be...even he isn't surprised any more.  I think I would have given up years ago, but he also is made of sterner stuff than me it would appear.

So heading back home after breakfast, I was almost giddy with anticipation of putting my shorts on, for some serious deckchair time.  Having got myself sorted with sun cream (it took me ten minutes to decide whether to risk factor 10, or just play safe with factor 25), a cup of tea, and some soft music, I tilted my little face up to the sun like an expectant sunflower looking forward to the warm glow on my cheeks.

And then the sun went in...and stayed in...

Bloody typical...

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Jump around...

On vacating the premises of Carphone Warehouse after a year's work experience, the staff presented son number one with a larger than life cardboard cut-out of himself.  Walking in with it tucked under his arm on Thursday evening, I had taken a myopic look through my varifocals, and muttered under my breath something about him bringing some drunk friend back home again.  Closer inspection revealed it was only two dimensional, so I mentally stopped stripping the spare bed and sticking a bucket by the side of it, and worrying whether we had enough bacon for the morning.

But oh the fun we've had with this over the last twenty four hours. 

The first wheeze was when the husband lifted it very slowly above our neighbours' fence as they were having a quiet glass of something after a hard day in the best café in town (R&R in Abingdon).  It looked like son number one had turned into some Peeping Tom now he was unemployed, and I was concerned that they might thrown something at the interloper.  But it survived, and the husband took rather too much pleasure 'walking' it up and down their fence giggling.

Son number one then left himself outside the patio doors.  Every time I came into the kitchen, I started to say, 'What are you doing standing outside?' eventually getting so hacked off with it, that I employed the husband to move it indoors.  It then spent the rest of the evening in the hall looking out of the front door window frightening off anyone who happened to walk past. 

But it was yesterday morning that the fun really kicked off.  I am always first one up in our house, and heading into the downstairs loo, I was faced with Mr Cardboard as I opened the door.  My language, as you can imagine, was rich and varied, and blaming the husband for all this, irrationally it would appear, I stuck it inside his office, neatly positioning it as close to the door as I possibly could before closing it.

Half an hour later, his reaction was similar to mine, but louder.  I was beside myself with laughter, and wondered why I didn't react this way when it happened to me in the downstairs loo.  Of course, being a woman of advanced years, laughing uncontrollably first thing in the morning is not the best idea which might explain my alternative reaction of turning the air blue.  So now the husband, bent on revenge of the worst kind, took Mr Cardboard upstairs, and placed it against son number one's bedroom door, tilting him slightly in the hope that when the door was opened, it would fall on son number one.  Sneaky man.

Neither of us were there to see the outcome of the husband's cunning plan, but needless to say, I am slightly worried as to where Mr Cardboard is going to appear next.  As I write, he is at the top of the stairs, lurking in the shadows, making me jump every time I head up to my bedroom.

I've actually taken to talking to it now.  I'm thinking of making it some paper outfits which I can slip on it to change his look every now and again.  (Do you remember those paper dolls in comics when we were small?)  I am thinking dinner suit, Superman, football kit and skiwear .  Although I may save the badly matching transvestite outfit for when I've really had enough of him.

Mind you, if he isn't put somewhere soon where he's not going to make me jump, I am going to put him in the cardboard cut-out equivalent of the naughty step.

The shredder...

Friday, 15 July 2016

Questions...

Daughter number two brought the husband back a t-shirt from 'somewhere in Asia', which he decided to wear to work yesterday.  Blazoned across his manly chest, it reads...

'I don't need Google.  My wife knows everything'.

Naturally this isn't true.  Perhaps it should read, 'My wife knows some things, and what she doesn't know she blags'.  Yes, that would be more accurate.  He seems to think that I am a walking encyclopaedia, and often refers to me as 'The Oracle'.  I am assuming that he is talking about her off The Matrix, and not the fat bloke off Benidorm who is brilliant at crosswords.  Anyway, as I was saying, he thinks I know everything.  Time to fess up I think...

1.  I can't speak French.  Some years ago, we were driving in France and got lost.  Having got directions (in French) I have simply made up where we should be going, and hoped for the best.  There have been a couple of times when I have had to blame the French direction giver, who hating us Brits (doesn't everyone?) had directed us to the local cemetery rather than our hotel.  Mon dieu...

2. I know nothing about football, although the husband has me down as a Saturday pundit.  This stems from the fact that once, I named the entire England squad, and the positions they were playing in a friendly.  The husband was terribly impressed, but what he didn't know was that I had memorised all this off the back page of the Daily Mail while waiting for a very late dentist appointment.  Well it was either the Mail or National Geographic.  I suppose it's just as well that he didn't ask any questions about hippos or the Arctic Circle that night, as I would have been scuppered.

3. I know very little about IT.  For some reason, any problems with his PC, and it's me who he calls for help.  I look after the modem, the computers, the Wi-Fi and the broadband.  Most of the time I have no idea what I am doing, so if I need information, I tend to look it up (on Google, funnily enough) and then follow their instructions.  Of course, everything is relative, and compared to the husband's knowledge of IT, I am bloody Bill Gates...

So you see, I don't know everything, just a little bit about a lot of stuff, most of which is completely useless.  I know things like...

1.The dot on the lower case 'i' is called a tittle.
2. Nothing rhymes with purple
3. Elephants can't jump
4. Coke Cola is green
5. Hot water weighs more than cold water
6. And.....armadillos can be housetrained.

Now who doesn't want to know that?

Thursday, 14 July 2016

School's out...

It was daughter number two's graduation yesterday. The culmination of three years of hard study. This meant an early start for all of us who were schlepping north of Watford for the last time.  We had to be there for around 9.00, so the husband, who hates to be caught in traffic of any kind, insisted that we leave at 6.30am.  Driving up the M1, we got a call from my dad, who was joining us there. Now he hates traffic even more than the husband, so when he said 'I'm here love', we weren't surprised.  It was 7.10am, so only two hours early.  Almost a record.

Gradually, all the other family members arrived.  We made our way into the hall, found our seats, and settled down for two hours of name calling (in a good way).  I was sitting next to my dad, who has quite a low boredom threshold, but I was sort of prepared (more of this later).

There were various speakers at the ceremony, a couple of which who would have benefitted from a course in 'Working A Crowd' because they were so boring.  After the first speaker, my dad started counting the students' names in the programme, running his finger down the lists and muttering the harder to pronounce names slowly and slightly louder than he should.  He also lost his bottle of water which he had managed to kick underneath the man in front's chair, and I had to give him mine. 

We clapped the first two hundred or so students as they came up on the stage to collect their degrees, and then the second speaker came on.  He was marginally more interesting, but my dad, never that interested in what the banking academia have to say, was now counting the ceiling lights.  One hundred and seventy apparently.  He also wanted to know if there was any food afterwards, as it said nothing in the programme, and he hadn't eaten since having breakfast (as this was probably at 4.00am, I wasn't surprised he was bloody hungry).

Back to the last three hundred or so students, and he was now timing how long it took for a group of ten students to get through the process of name calling/hand shake/certificate/handshake/walk down steps.  He then announced that daughter number two should be up in approximately forty seven minutes.  He was also checking under his seat that his umbrella hadn't been stolen.  By whom, when and how I would have like to known, but I had to lean over and ask the lady behind my dad whether it was still there, which of course it was.

Thirty two minutes later (maths was never his strong point) we were all clapping and whooping as our new BSc Hons stepped across the stage, neatly taking her certificate, smiling and walking off.

This left speaker number three and this was when my dad dropped off.  I'm not sure how long he'd been listing towards my right shoulder before I noticed, but a swift poke in the ribs was enough to make him wake with a start, and he looked at me as though he didn't have a clue where he was (which he probably didn't).

It was at this point that I remembered the packet of Polo's in my pocket.  I gave them to him, and told him to pass it down the line.  Of course, now he had a job to do, he was alright and there was no need for further violence from yours truly. 

I just wish I'd given them to him sooner...

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Let's talk about sex...

The husband is mourning the loss of his trailer, which was stolen over the weekend.  Having hit social media (my facebook page) with posts asking for information, he has now offered a reward for the return of said trailer.  I do hope that he's not the victim of any hoax with regard to this reward.  I can just picture some undesirable taking advantage of his broken heart, passing off some other trailer as the one which was stolen.  Only for the husband to hand over the reward and then later find out that his trailer is an interloper, and that he has been polishing and servicing a stranger for the past three weeks.  Time will tell.

Talking of servicing strangers, I have really been enjoying the new series 'Brief Encounter'.   This is one of those programmes which really shouldn't be watched with your older children or your husband.  For those of you who have yet to catch up, or who live across various wide stretches of water, it's all about the start of the Ann Summers phenomena in the 1980's.  The music's great in it, which is good as it's the only bit the husband can relate to as he sits there looking slightly nervous, too scared to look me fully in the eye in case I suggest something. 

Son number one, who worryingly hasn't missed an episode as yet, laughs more heartily and frequently, causing the husband to often ask, 'How do you know what that's for? You're only 21.  I never knew what that was for when I was 21'.   Let's be honest, 32 years later, he probably still doesn't...

I have fond memories of these parties in the late 80's.  It was really just a damn fine excuse to get together with all your girly friends, drink cheap white wine, and talk about the inadequacies of your boyfriend, whilst spending money on cheap nonsense and knickers made of cheap, scratchy lace.  These never had enough stretch in them for me I'm afraid.  Although Ann Summers liked to label them size 14 or size 16, the elastic seemed to stretch as far as a size 12 before cutting into your skin, stopping your circulation and leaving a deep groove around the hips - I certainly never looked like the girls in the catalogue, that's for sure.  I think the best seller at most of the parties was a knitted willy warmer, with Dumbo ears and a substantial trunk, which just goes to show how seriously us girls took all this.  Surprisingly, these were all one size....

Of course, there were the outfits and obligatory 'ice-breaking' games.  I can remember playing a game which involved some post-it notes and being called Wilma Whiplash (Miss R still calls me this on occasions). A party held at Miss R's house around 1984 was a night I'll never forget.  Miss R, ever happy to oblige, had gone upstairs to pop something on to give us girls an idea of what it looked like.  She was gone ages.  Eventually surfacing twenty minutes later, red faced and sweating like she'd run a marathon, she was concerned at how small the neck opening was for the top, and more to the point, how she was going to get it off again.

The Ann Summers demonstrator, almost choked on her glass of Blue Nun, and explained that this wasn't a bra top, but something else altogether.  This was the cue for questioning looks between us girls, most of whom had led a fairly sheltered life up till then.  What on earth was it then?

A pair of knickers with the undercarriage missing apparently.... Just as well Miss R hadn't backcombed her hair that night, she might have had to have been cut out of them.  As it was, it took three of us and a bottle of strawberry massage oil to prise her out of it.  She was really embarrassed, but she did smell lovely for the rest of the evening.

I am sure that things have moved on at Ann Summers, but it does seem to have gone all a bit 50 Shades if the shop windows are anything to go by. 

So if it's all right with you, I'd rather stick to my pyjamas - at least I know there won't be any suspicious drafts...

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Dream on...

After Sunday evening's merriment, it was with a sigh of regret that I heaved my sorry carcass out of my bed at 6.20am yesterday morning.  Luckily, I had been sensible enough to write my blog when we'd got in around midnight, so leaving the husband snuggled in, I headed downstairs to see sons number one and two off to work.  (Hallelujah, they're out of the house for the day). 

I managed to come down just as they went out the door which was perfect timing.  If I get down with too much time to spare before they leave, I run the chance of being roped in to make packed lunches for them.  I'll be honest with you, chopping up red onions at 6.00 in the morning is not my favourite pastime, so I tend to hide on the landing until I hear them get their car keys.

As I was negotiating the schnauzer ambush on the third step down, narrowly avoiding major lacerations of the ankle courtesy of Reg, daughter number two, who returned from somewhere in Asia last night, shouted at me, 'I'm still awake you know'. 

I didn't like her tone of voice, as she implied that somehow this had something to do with me.  Mmm...jetlag.  Never had it.  Mind you, never flown further than Turkey which might explain that.  So I said the normal mum sort of things like, 'You'll soon catch up with your sleep', and 'You're young, it'll soon pass'.  What I really wanted to say was, 'Oh for goodness' sake, stop your moaning.  You've just had a month's holiday with the LSB (Long Suffering Boyfriend).  You've swum with turtles, ridden horses on the beach and stroked baby monkeys.  You've sunbathed on deserted beaches, slept in grand hotels and eaten fantastic food.  ALL I HAD WAS A WEEK IN THE WELSH RAIN.....'  But I didn't.  I kept my mouth shut, like a good mum should.

As the morning progressed, my sister, Miss R still hadn't surfaced.  The last time I'd seen her and Lord A, they were weaving a wavy walk across the car park to the taxi rank.  Some time mid morning, I had a whispered phone call from her, reassuring me that she was alive, if not so well.  Apparently it took nine hours and several litres of water before she felt human enough to hold a conversation.  Her lovely boss had allowed her a late start, hence the silence.  Oh how I could have done with a late start this morning.

If only to gloat a little longer on the state of the husband's head after Sunday night...

Monday, 11 July 2016

Evergreen...

I should have known when the husband walked towards out table at the Henley Festival, cautiously juggling a bottle of Rose, four bottles of beer, six glasses and a sealed bowl of olives, that the night was going to be an interesting one.  We were there to have a posh dinner with Miss R and her new beau, Lord A, and also to see Will Young.

When they eventually turned up, the husband had polished off three of the four beers, and was having trouble getting the lid off the tub of olives.  Introductions were made, and Miss R, surprisingly nervous, managed to finish the bottle of rose, while Lord A drank the last beer, all the time watching the husband as he resorted to using his molars in an attempt to remove the lid.  I had to do it for him in the end.  It was getting rather embarrassing watching him salivate over the pot.

Dinner was excellent - I should point out that there was a quick pit stop at a gin bar, where a Rhubarb Gin and Ginger Ale was necked by the husband.  This was not going to end well for me.  As the only one sensible enough to grab driving duties on a Sunday evening, I stuck to the soft drinks, and managed to get the husband's pudding off him, playing the Designated Driver' card.  Works every time... 

About ten minutes before Mr Young was due to come on stage, Miss R and I decided we needed the loo.  Why is it that these places have so few loos, for so many people.  Do they expect us to go at home before we come out, and then 'hold on' till we leave?  So we caught the beginning of the concert by the skin of our teeth.  The husband, probably not Will Young's biggest fan, kept asking me 'What is this song called?' and 'Should I know this one?'  A lot of popular culture has passed him by, and when Mr Young sang Evergreen, I turned to him, and told him that this was the song which he'd sung on Pop Idol.

'Pop Idol?  Pop Idol?'  He kept repeating.  'No, you mean Axe Fector' (he was by now reaching the stage in the evening where the circuits between brain and mouth are on standby).

'No, it was definitely X Factor.'

Well, he wouldn't believe me, so instead of trusting the woman he adores, he decided to ask all those women sitting next to and behind him.  As they all agreed with me (naturally) he soon shut up.  After the concert, it was time for more beers and a bit of dancing.  Miss R, Lord A and the husband spent a most pleasant hour hurling themselves around the dance floor, treading on glasses, handbags and toes.  The only good thing about this was that the other people on the dance floor gave us a wide berth which of course gave the husband the room to undertake his famous windmill dance move, something that is not seen too often (thank goodness).

I think that if they hadn't pulled the plug on the disco at 11.30, we'd probably still be there now, but instead, we were back home just after midnight.  The husband, thoroughly confused, watched a repeat of Sunday's Grand Prix and fell asleep before Hamilton won... for the second time that day.  He'll probably want to watch a repeat of the repeat on Monday.

But my favourite line of the night was spoken by a rather well dressed lady who was looking at a large sculpture.

'Well the trouble is, they take up a lot of room, and don't really do anything...'

Looking at the husband stretched out on the bed in his dinner jacket, I had to agree with her...

Sunday, 10 July 2016

The long and winding road...

So Friday night pretty well went the way I said it would.  Prosecco in the kitchen for us younger ones, while the older pair settled for a bottle of Malbec, cutting out the middle man completely by taking it in turns to swig out the bottle.  They turned up early at Miss R's house.  Half an hour early in fact, which meant that while they were knocking it back in the kitchen, Miss R and I were still putting the finishing touches to our makeup and hair.

The taxi arrived on time.  This was a huge relief to Miss R and me, as Mrs Jangles and the mother were eying up a second bottle of Malbec in a very suspect manner. If they'd managed to get their corkscrew into that one as well, we may well have had to leave them there, slumped over their glasses at the kitchen table, singing some dreadful songs from the 60's. I will have to have word to Miss R about leaving her wine on show - perhaps some discretion is needed when Hinge and Bracket are on a mission.

So off to Windsor, where we had posh fish and chips, Prosecco, Malbec, pork belly, Malbec, profiteroles, Prosecco and cheesecake.  When the waiter was taking our pudding orders, Miss R declined, and simply ordered another glass of Prosecco (she didn't want to feel left out I suspect).

After dinner, Miss R suggested an 'easy five minute stroll' to an intimate bar which she was fond off.  As the four of walked through Windsor, each dealing with our own level of foot pain thanks to the heels we'd all worn, we were all very keen to see this bar.  Another five minutes passed.  Mrs Jangles was developing a blister.  Another five minutes and by now I had lost all feeling in my right foot. 

The peasants were revolting by this time, and there was muttering going on in the lower ranks as Miss R strided through the town, shrilling 'Follow me!'  As we passed a wheelie bin (not one of mine I hasten to add) there was talk of bundling Miss R into it while we had a sit down, but she was saved by the sudden appearance of our destination.  All pink, sparkly and intimate. 

The bouncers let us in which was the biggest shock.  The second was the size of the place.  Intimate is probably not the right word for it.  Compact is better, claustrophobic nearer the truth, but 'Cupboard Under The Stairs' would probably nail it. It was around one chair/one table/one person wide.  Miss R and I had to share a pouffe (make of this what you will) but the mother and Mrs Jangles looked like royalty in their thrones, surrounded by faux leather wallpaper, faux diamond chandeliers and faux silver ceilings.  The added value of fake boobs, eyelashes, tans and hairlines was well in keeping with the décor, and we all felt rather inadequate.

One drink was enough.  Forcing any more liquid or food into our stomachs would have meant that some greasing of the hips might have been necessary to get out of the cupboard door, and no one wants to see four ladies of indeterminate age passing a tub of goose fat round.

But then again, who knows what people want these days...

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Get this party started...

Getting ready for a big night out is always different when you're doing it with your sister.  Miss R had booked a meal out with the other pair of reprobate siblings (the mother and Mrs Jangles) on Friday night.  An evening of cocktails, dinner, dancing on the tables, throwing up in the taxi, Alka Seltzers and crying....before falling into bed fully clothed for two hours' sleep...

In reality, it will probably be a swift glass of something in her kitchen, followed by some posh nosh, lots of talking and home before midnight.  Once in our pyjamas, there will be time for one episode of Graham Norton with a hot chocolate before heading off to bed.

Of course, getting ready at home involves allocating around seven minutes sandwiched between the husband's ablutions and his trying on of six different shirts before settling on the first one.  As the perfect wife (ahem ahem...) I will always be expected to put the husband's cufflinks on for him, and straighten his dicky (think what you will, I know what I mean).  All of this doesn't leave me much time to get myself sorted, so I try and do bits throughout the day so that all I need is to slip on my frock and shoes and I'm done.

But at my sister's?  Now that's a different matter altogether.  The only concession to our night out was the fact that I'd sat in the hairdresser's again while another poor unfortunate ironed the curl out of my curls.  I had brought along three different outfits, two pairs of shoes, pink lipstick, red lipstick, every other bit of make-up which I could find, scattered around daughter number one and two's bedrooms, two different jackets and three handbags (still not too sure what I was thinking about with this decision).

Every stage of my 'getting ready' will be accompanied by scooting into her room, checking we look 'alright' (best you can expect when you get to 50+) sharing perfumes, lipsticks and shoes, and slugging back glasses of Prosecco. It's magic, that stuff.  The more of that stuff you drink, the better you look.  Maybe I should start putting that into the husband's flask instead of Nescafe...

All of this reminds me of times gone by, when Miss R and I would get ready together before going clubbing, followed by a kebab (we were classy birds then) and creeping back into the house later than allowed while our poor mum sat bolt upright, ears primed like a Vampire Bat as she listened out for the door. Of course we would always be wearing something completely different to what we'd gone out in, so a quick change in a layby was necessary before coming home.

Going back to yesterday afternoon though, Miss R, seeing my suitcase when I showed up, asked me how long I was planning to stay.

Well that depends, doesn't it?   On how much tea she makes me, how cold the Prosecco is and how much washing and ironing she expects me to do.....

Could be here for quite a while...

Friday, 8 July 2016

Blaze of glory...

You'll be surprised, and I hope a little impressed, that I sat through a whole football match on Wednesday night.  Having depleted the whole country's supply of Welsh cakes last week, I only felt it fair to support their national team as they battled against Ronaldo and a few other Portuguese chaps in a bit of a kick about.

A lot of thought went into the evening.  As the weather was positively balmy (I'd left my vest off, so it must have been warm) the husband fired up the barbecue, and I laid the table outside, choosing red napkins to complement the Welsh kit.  I even printed off some Welsh flags and dotted them about the table for waving when appropriate, so you can see, I was doing everything I could to channel some positive energy out to France (mainly using paper but you get my drift).

The husband, ever handy with an extension lead, had turned the television round, so that we could sit outside and watch the match while we ate.  It was all very exotic for a Wednesday night, but armed with a burnt sausage, a homemade flag and three boiled potatoes, I was ready to cheer the boyos on, preparing to wave the aforementioned flag with gay abandon.

As we were tucking into the food, the two teams came out onto the pitch.  I was shocked.  Where was the red Welsh strip?  They were all wearing black, which confused me, as I thought that the referees always wore black.  The husband very quickly corrected me on this.  Apparently FIFA has used some of their ill-gotten gains to extend the wardrobe of the humble referee, and he is now free to choose from a cornucopia of hues. I wonder if they have to take the red and yellow cards into consideration when they decide what to wear?  And what about their boots?  I tell you, they'll soon be back to wearing black again...it just goes with everything...

But what about the colour that Ronaldo and his chums were wearing...well that was a sneaky plan wearing green so that you blended in with the grass.  No wonder they got those two goals so quickly - Wales just never saw them coming....at all.  Ronaldo also seemed to be ever so good at falling over.  At one point I wondered whether there was a Welsh sniper up in the stadium roof.  If there was, he was a terrible shot, as Ronaldo kept getting up time and time again.

As the match went on, the flag waving became sporadic, and the singing of 'Delilah', 'What's New, Pussycat?' and 'Diamonds are Forever' faded into silence, as we watched a nation's fairy-tale end too soon.

Son number 2 wasn't with us to watch the match, preferring to go to the only Welsh pub in Oxford to watch it.  This got me wondering what makes a pub Welsh.  Irish bars have Guinness on tap, and their names are usually prefixed with an O'.....

Perhaps Welsh pubs have Tom Jones' Greatest Hits CD on repeat, oh and red napkins...

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Leave right now...

Daughter number two returns from 'somewhere in Asia' on Sunday.  In my totally male household (I'm including Percy in this, although he does tend to have unusual leanings for a male dog) it will be good to have another female in the house to talk to.  Daughter number one is rarely to be seen these days - that's the joy of being a teacher, it's feast or famine.  Come mid-July, we won't be able to get rid of her for two months as she enjoys her very, very long holiday. 

This return of the females heralds a new problem in my household...the disappearance of all I cherish as it heads to their rooms, never to be seen again.  For daughter number one, this is usually jewellery, tweezers and make up.  For daughter number two, it's face wipes and every shirt I have ever owned along with several pairs of shoes.  So my eyebrows will resemble those of Percy (look up schnauzer-this will make a whole lot of sense) and my wardrobe will be a barren one until September.

As daughter number two heads back, then son number one and daughter number one prepare to leave.  Again, for somewhere in Asia.  Why can't they head to Albufeira like son number two?  At least I can spell it.

So you can see, there is much coming and going.  The husband and my sister, Miss R, have lined up some lovely treats over the next couple of months so that I don't get too hacked off.  You see, I love the sun, and the British summer being what it is, the last thing I need to see as I'm turning the heating on again, is photos of blue stuff...such as sea, sky, weird looking cocktails etc from my children who all have a self-awarded degree in 'Pi**ing Mum Off'.  

So this weekend we're off to see a certain singing competition winner, who will be belting out all his hits from a floating stage in the middle of the River Thames.  As I am prone to sea-sickness (I have bad memories of a gale force 8 in the English Channel coupled with vomiting in my sister's shoes) I am going to take a sick bag and a packet of Kwells to keep the nausea at bay, as I watch the chap bobbing up and down on the river.  Let's hope he doesn't get suffer in the same way - could be a very short concert.

It's all very English, this doing stuff on the river.  It will probably involve long dresses, champagne, strawberries and singing Land of Hope and Glory, arms linked through those of some twit in a dinner suit (I'm not alluding to the husband here).  There'll be other things of course...

Rain, mud and wellies if previous years are anything to go on...

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Tom's diner...

Son number one, nearing the end of his work experience in London before heading back to university, is being wined and dined by various agencies as a thank you for all his hard work this year.  As he walked through the door last night (slightly unsteadily), he regaled his dad and me with all the details as to where he'd been.  Apparently, he'd been taken out for breakfast (Freshly squeezed orange juice, Eggs Benedict, artisan bread, fresh coffee) then taken out for lunch (French salad, perfectly cooked rare steak with a secret sauce and the 'best chips ever'). 

I had already made dinner, and the husband and son number two had polished it off very quickly, apparently loving the Moroccan-style salmon which I had cobbled together.  I didn't have all of the ingredients which the recipe demanded, so I had used spring onions instead of red onions, and a lime instead of a lemon. The recipe also called for fennel which I didn't have.  I did think about adding a dash of Pernod instead, but I didn't have any of that either.  Looking in my drinks cupboard, it was a choice of Baileys Irish Cream, or some very dodgy looking Peach Schnapps, so I decided to press on without using anything aniseed-based (I don't like it anyway, so I wasn't worried, and the men are on a need-to-know basis anyway so they wouldn't have picked up the fact that something was missing - they're male, enough said).

So son number one, took one look at his cling-filmed meal for one, and asked, 'What's that?' 

The husband, never one to pay attention to the finer details of the meals I cook, simply said, 'It's lovely.  If you don't want it, I'll have it for lunch tomorrow'.

Son number one, not satisfied with this, pressed on.  'Yes, but what is it? And what's that stuff on top?'  The husband, now on a roll, replied that it was sort of spicy and quite unusual.  That word always triggers my warning bell, as it says, 'The jury's out on this one.  Don't ever cook it again'.

I had to intervene in the end, before it needed re-heating a second time.  'It's Moroccan Salmon with harissa paste and honey with crushed roasted new potatoes.  Now eat...'

While he was eating, he went on and on about the marvellous places he'd been to.  The expensive restaurants and the roof top bars.  And of course the sun shone all day.

Feeling slightly miffed, I said, 'Well I had a pot of tea in Bean and Brew (my second favourite café) so you're not the only one who has dined out today'.

We both looked at the husband, who had given a long sigh and who was looking rather crestfallen.

'I had a flask...I even had to make myself'.

He's so hard done by that man...

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

9 till 5...

Many, many years ago, I had another life.  Not one so far back as AD or BC...more like LBC (Life Before Children) when the first day back to work after a great holiday was just the worst thing you could do to yourself.  I can clearly remember having the post-holiday blues until Thursday, when it was nearly the weekend, and only then would I crawl out of the deep pit of despair which was called 'Not Being on Holiday Anymore'.

But my, how things change.  Now I have many children dipping in and out of the house, the thought of going back to work after a holiday or the weekend cheers me up no end.  At last I can get away from the piles of washing and ironing which seem to procreate on my laundry floor.  I don't have to look at the small pile of crumbs where toast met its maker on the kitchen worktops.  Nor do I have to fight my way across war zones (bedrooms) to find a glass.

Leaving the house yesterday morning for my first day back after the WWW (Wet Welsh Week) I was almost giddy with the excitement of getting back to Binland, catching up with my friends and seeing what the two boys I look after had been up to in my absence.  I've spoken about Master B and Master P before; of course, now one of them has started reading this nonsense, I might have to be careful what I write....but on the other hand, why bother?  So coming back into my office yesterday morning, there was the obligatory pile of paperwork waiting to be posted out.  I secretly call this their CBA pile (work it out for yourselves) and it was the first job of the day.

'Would you like a cup of tea?' asked Master P.  This is what I like about working with the two of them.  There is a smattering of respect as I am old enough to be their mother, and when you couple this with a bit of healthy fear, it makes for a smooth running office.

An hour later, Master B gets into the office (stuck in traffic apparently...) and what's the very first thing he does?  Oh yes, he makes me a cup of tea.

Why can't I get this level of service at home I wonder?  On occasions, there is a 100% increase in the number of 18-26 years olds in the house who know about my fondness for a cup of PG, and yet I always have to ask, nag, cajole or even resort to violence before I can get one. 

Going back to the boys, Master B is heading off somewhere hot with his friends to visit a city renowned for its culture and beauty.  He tried convincing Master P and me that it was going to be a more mature time away this time, but I know what will happen.

It will probably involve a badly spelt tattoo, sunburn and three days drying out when he gets back home.  How do I know this?

I'm a mother.  It's my job to know these things...

Monday, 4 July 2016

Simply the best...

It was another first for me yesterday.  You'll know from previous ramblings that I support a fabulous charity called Schnauzerfest (www.facebook.com/SchnauzerfestUK)  which helps ex puppy farm dogs find loving, safe homes. 

Yesterday I dragged the husband down to the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre (www.dbarc.org.uk/) who work closely with Schnauzerfest, as they were having their annual fundraising event.  I had already looked at what was on offer there, and was marginally excited by the fact that there was a dog show.  There were many categories, such as 'Best Rescue', 'Dog of Courage' and 'Puppy Farm Survivor', but setting myself and the two dogs a sensible target, I entered them in for 'Best Puppy', 'Cutest Schnauzer', 'Most Appealing Eyes' and 'Dog With Most Expressive Ears'. 

Assuming that all I would have to do was make the two of them sit still for about five minutes (pockets stuffed with treats as bribery) I was feeling quite optimistic, so the husband bought some coffees, and we wandered round, checking out the competition.  It was lovely to bump into three ladies who I have met through the Schnauzer network and for Percy and Reg to meet their buddies again.  Reg had the honour of reuniting with his sister, Dolly, and to be honest, seeing how well behaved she was, the husband and I shared that look which says, 'I told you we picked the wrong one....'

And so into the first class, the Best Puppy one.  The husband had his day made as I trotted, yes you read right, trotted around the ring, dragging a reluctant Reg on the lead, who was far more interested in the people watching who were settling down with their lunches. On the first lap, he managed a few crisps, half a ham roll and a sandal, which had to be wrestled off him.  On the second lap round the ring, he got into a fracas with a small poodle and then cocked his leg up a lady's folding chair.  By the third lap, I was sweating heavily and Reg was refusing to walk past anyone with food (mind you, by this time, people had got wise to this and had put the lids back on their Tupperware boxes).  I dragged him round the last corner, where the husband was standing, the grin on his face a mile wide as he took photo after photo.

Finally stopping at the point where the judge inspected the puppies, Reg flatly refused to look at her, presenting his fuzzy bottom to her, as the person behind me was eating biscuits, and he chose to give her his most appealing stare rather than the judge. I am rather embarrassed to say that out of the eight puppies, six got a rosette - Reg was not one of them.

We entered two more classes, where our two dogs, who we obviously consider the most beautiful in the world didn't win any rosettes.  Percy was marginally better behaved than Reg, although the male dog next to him in the ring did get some serious Percy Loving much to the husband's embarrassment, who was on the other end of the lead.  I really wish he'd make up his mind which side of the sexual fence he'd like to sit on (Percy, not the husband...)

'Did you enjoy your 15 minutes of fame?' asked the husband, as the four of us walked towards the car with our tails between our legs, bags filled to the brim with leads, bandanas and liver cake.  'Fame?' I asked.  'Shame, more like it'.

But it was money well spent, as every penny will go to help those dogs who would give their last biscuit to live in a home like ours.

And that's a good thing...

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Que sera, sera...

Now that the house is back into some semblance of order after our wet week in Wales (taking six washes, two hours of ironing, four cups of tea and three Welsh cakes) it was time to check the garden for any dying or wounded (plants, not the children). 

First stop was the hanging baskets.  These looked like they gave up around last Wednesday, and three soakings later, I could just about make out a faint heartbeat.  I had planned on dead-heading the baskets, but decided not to in the end, as it would have meant just upending each one straight onto the compost heap.  The colour is coming back into their petals, so it looks like they have a reprieve for the time being.

Next on my list were the borders.  Now for some reason, the copious amounts of rainwater which has fallen on my borders this week has been extremely selective, falling only on the nettles, dandelions and other offensive looking weeds.  I say this as the weeds are almost as tall as the fence, whereas my beautiful plants are looking haggard.  Weeds are the squatters in my garden...I didn't buy them.  I didn't invite them in.  I didn't even leave the side gate open for them.  They just tip up, give no joy and make work for me.  Come to think of it, this sounds rather like my children.

Walking across the lawn (I say lawn, but hay field might be a more accurate description) I made a mental note to remind the husband to get his mower out.  I know you will be surprised that I don't do the lawn myself, but this is what a call a Blue Job.  Other tasks which come under this heading are: taking out the bins, cleaning the gutters, checking tyre pressures and anything which requires a hammer.  The Pink Job list is far shorter - it's just Everything Else Not Covered By The Blue Job List... a woman's work, and all that...

It was then over to my pride and joy, my strawberry patch.  This was showing incredible promise before we went away, and since getting back on Friday, I  had glimpsed satisfying flashes of red fruit here and there.  If you remember, I am in competition with the husband over his meagre crop on the allotment, and walking over to my patch with a bowl yesterday afternoon, I was looking forward to picking some and doing some serious gloating.

What I hadn't allowed for though was Reg.  This would be Reg the five month old Miniature Schnauzer pup, the one who lavishes me with love and affection, and sleeps for England.  It would also appear that Reg loves strawberries.  Quite a lot actually.

I had picked a lovely bowlful, and leaving them on the bench while I put some straw around the plants (do you see how I almost sound like I know what I am doing) I didn't give much thought to the four legged carnivores I share the house with.  Finishing the straw job, I bent down to pick the strawberries up, only to find Reg, neatly polishing the last of them off.

Looking back, I don't know why I was surprised at this.  Reg will eat anything that stops moving long enough, be it spider, biscuit or floor mat.  The worst part of all of this, was that I knew what the eventual outcome of the strawberry feast would be.  Unfortunately, picking up strawberry-fragranced number twos is definitely a Pink Job.

Life is grand, isn't it...

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Back on the chain gang...

All good things have to come to an end, and yesterday we said goodbye to our home for the past week.  (If you interested in taking a look at it, here's the website:  http://www.cefncam.co.uk/)  Trust me, you won't be disappointed...

Not only did we say farewell to the house, I also bid a sad adieu to my waistline.  I would like to say that the amount of walking, cycling and general schlepping we did should have been enough to keep the inches at bay, but to be honest, the amount of Welsh cakes I have eaten, a cycle to Mars and back would only have scratched the surface. 

Of course, it wasn't just the Welsh cakes...two lasagnes, a humpbacked whale and chips, half a dozen Chelsea buns and some glorious pheasant must also hang their heads in shame.  And then there were the waffles. I mastered the double meal waffle on one occasion, having them with sausages and syrup in the morning, and as an after-dinner pudding accompanied with hot cherries and cream.  Impressive eh?

So the husband and I decided that the return to sensible eating would start the minute we left the house.  This was all going rather well until we made a motorway stop.  This was an emergency as we had been on the road for over three hours at this point.  I gave the dogs as an excuse, but to be honest with you, my legs had been tightly crossed since Welshpool, and the continuing rain was playing havoc with my self control. 

So dogs walked etc, the husband suggested a drive-through coffee from Starbucks to keep us going.  That was the intention anyway.  Rejoining the motorway, there was not a single coffee on board.  There were however, two of their Smores Banana Caramel Frappuccinos, each with a calorific value of 1,714...As if this weren't bad enough, the husband balanced his out with an All Day Breakfast Roll, weighing in at a further 429 calories.  Blaming the stress of the journey home, we have put the diet back another day.  This is great news, as I still have ten Welsh cakes left...

So waddling back into the house, looking like a couple of Weebles wearing fat suits, we were confronted with what happens when you leave your house in the tender care of your beloved children.

I did think at one moment that they were having a Bring and Buy Sale, as there were piles of clothing and bedding everywhere.  No such luck.  Son number one had returned with a year's worth of washing the day before, having moved from his rented house for the summer, while son number two, (according to daughter number 1) was so confused as to what to do with his clothes when they came out of the washing machine, that he gave up after the first attempt, choosing instead to retreat to his cesspit of a bedroom and live in filth for the week.

I think that over the years, they have convinced themselves that washing and ironing their clothes is one of my favourite pastimes, beaten only into first place by cooking for them. An element of re-education is needed I think.

They all leave again in September.  With the help of my Red Clover and a case of Jack Daniels, I might just survive till then without causing grievous bodily harm to one or all of them. 

But then again, I might not...

Friday, 1 July 2016

The runaway train...

We all woke up to a beautiful morning yesterday, and the general consensus was that a trip to Snowdon was on the cards.  Now I have never been to Snowdon, but the other three have, so you would like to think that when I asked them on several occasions, 'Which peak is Snowdon?', that one of them might have known.  Instead, I got the same answer all day.   'You can't see it because it's too cloudy up there'.  So my lasting impression of Snowdon is a big grey cloud...most impressive.

We had headed up to where the railway started, which takes you to the summit (not that you'd see the mountain peak or any of the surrounding countryside or views through that bloody great cloud) and a caffeine pit stop was arranged while we decided what to do.  Queuing at the hatch for drinks and a Cornish Pasty (when in Rome, eat like a Cornishman), I watched as one by one, they were taken from the hot shelf.  Finally, it was my turn...there was one left.  A pallid looking thing, possibly the minced beef runt of the litter, but I didn't care, I wanted it.

'One Cornish Pasty please and two coffees'.

'Sorry, we've none left'.

A quick look at the heated shelf confirmed my worst fears, and I had to settle for chips.

Sitting back down at the table, Mr G headed our way carrying my Cornish Pasty.  It turned out that he had avoided the queue at the hatch, and had gone into the café, thus depriving me of the last Cornish Pasty.  He didn't even offer me a bit off the end, and apparently, it was lovely (I didn't want to hear that).

It had started to rain again by now, so I decided that a hat was needed if we were going to be trekking outside.  This was only because I had straightened my hair yesterday morning as the weather man had promised a dry day till at least 6.00pm....the lying bast**d.....

Suitably equipped with a perfectly acceptable waterproof hat, I came out of the store.  The husband, ever supportive as you all know, fell about laughing, and told me I bore a striking resemblance to Bear Grylls.  Mrs W and her beau were slightly kinder, and said I looked like a Canadian tour guide, and that all I needed was an umbrella.  That could have been put to very good use if the husband had carried on laughing. He never learns.

And now we come to the big con of the day....£32 for the four of us to go on a train 'around the lake'.  The trip would last an hour, we'd see lots of interesting sites, and it was well worth the money (or so the lady at the ticket counter said).

It turned out to be about fifteen minutes of train journey, two stops amounting to twenty minutes to 'stretch our legs', and ten minutes of moving the engine from the back to the front.  The train did not go 'around' the lake.  It merely limped approximately half a mile, and then came back again on the same stretch of track.  Interesting sites observed included some scrap metal, sleepers, the car park of a copper mine, two ice cream vans, a lot of lake and one mad person swimming.  Add to this the fact that Mr G nearly lost three fingers while trying to open the window, and you have forty five minutes of your life you'll never get back again.

Stopping at the town on the way back home, a trip to the bakers was necessary...

'Fourteen Welsh cakes please......'

I said to Mrs W that I would be taking these home to put in the freezer.  But between you and me, I doubt they'll get that far.

My name's Tracy, and I am addicted to Welsh cakes.

It just might be time to go home...