Sunday, 22 October 2017

Windy city...

Well, I've officially started talking to myself.  I fully accept that this is an occupational hazard when you're on your own, but having a two way conversation with your dogs, all the time answering for them (in a different voice so you don't get confused as to who's who) is probably cause for concern.  Not to worry, I'll start getting really worried when I start talking to inanimate objects such as the sofa or the dishwasher (this has shown no sign of life for three days now).

The husband has been kind enough to call me a couple of times since riding off into the sunset, and I was relieved to hear that Storm Brian is no longer causing havoc over there.  Walking the fuzzballs yesterday morning, I thought that the stiff wind wasn't really destructive enough to be called a storm.  

Why do I think this?  

Well, all my fence panels are intact, and I haven't found a rogue trampoline or plastic picnic table in my garden.  I decided that maybe Storm Brian and been oversold, and should be renamed Blowing Brian.  However, this brought to mind a male escort on the wrong side of 60, winking lasciviously at me, and saying in a broad Leeds accent, 'Eh oop lass, fancy a nibble on my wally?' (This is a gherkin in case you're wandering whether this was an unfortunate typo).  

So then I reconsidered.  What about Gusty Brian?  This also was discarded as it made Brian sound like he'd been suffering the odorous after effects of eating all the wallies himself. (I mean, who wants a nibble on one of them?)   

And then my mind went into free fall...

Breezy Brian - Camp performer in pale blue velvet flares and matching waistcoat
Fresh Brian - Sounded like an up till now undiscovered French cheese
Drafty Brian - See wallies
Tempestuous Brian - Reminded me of Wuthering Heights for some reason
Wild Brian - Brought to mind a herb I used in a Masterchef recipe seventeen years ago

Finally, I decided that Blustery Brian would be a much better description of the 'slightly stronger than a stiff breeze' which was working its way through the bottom end of the country. 

All bluff and not much puff...

Saturday, 21 October 2017

All by myself....

Well he finally left yesterday morning.  Mr Bird (that name is so going to stick) flew the coop in a spray of gravel, looking like Robocop without the stature, ready to scale the Pyrenees on two wheels with several other man-children.

He was meant to do the first leg of the journey on a ferry, but unfortunately Storm Brian had other plans and the trip was cancelled.  Obviously the man who made this decision to cancel the ferry crossings was from the South, as no self respecting Northern man would cancel anything based on a stiff wind.  Anyway, a change of plan, a tunnel and a train, and he emerged into la Belle France and the real trip could begin.

Yours truly had a quieter day.  I had been thinking that my first night alone would involve bath, pyjamas, Corrie and bed, but my lovely friend at Binland, Mrs S, had other plans.

'Want to come to the cinema with us?'  

Well of course I did. What wasn't there to like about a trip to the cinema on a Friday night.  Disaster film, Gerard Butler, mint choc chip ice cream, Andy Garcia, and that advert with the fit bloke dancing (a personal favourite at the moment).

We went to see Geostorm.  An end of the world movie, with Gerard Butler saving the day with a couple of nanoseconds to spare.  Throughout the film, with everything he had to do, I don't think he even broke into a sweat.  I can't even do a roast dinner without having to have a sit down between the potatoes and the Yorkshire puddings, let alone directing myself towards a satellite 250 miles above earth using a jet pack. I suppose we can't all be superheroes, but I bet his Yorkshire puddings are flat...

So the week is yawning out in front of me without Mr Bird.  I have lots of things planned, most of which seem to involve me cooking for various people, but it will be a good chance to catch up with lovely friends and family.  

It's a bit like a Mini Break for One....

Friday, 20 October 2017

Let the children play...

I'm feeling a bit left out.

The boys who I work with in the sales office at Binland are all away on a jolly.  Sorry, I mean they're away for a couple of days which will be spent listening to informative and educational lectures.  This might just be feasible if they weren't doing it in a holiday camp by the seaside.  I hadn't really thought too much about it until one of my male colleagues asked me why I hadn't gone with them.  After all,  so-and-so and so-and-so had gone, and they aren't as much involved in sales as I am.  

Well, this set me thinking.  Firstly, the whole Sales Conference Jolly has really passed me by - I only heard about it last Friday, and Master P and Master H played it down as being a bit of a chore which they could do without.  As this week has trolleyed on, they have asked each other things like, 'Are you taking your swimming shorts with you?' (Master J was loathe to reveal his semi naked torso to his work colleagues.  Knowing some of the others, I don't think he has much to worry about on that score) and 'Wonder if the drink will be free'. (Always a major concern when you are aged somewhere between 26 and 32).    There was also a question about where they were going to watch the football on the first night, but I let that one go.  

On Wednesday, I finally found out, after some delicate probing, that there are about 60 of them going from Binland.  All the sales staff from around the country for a weekend away by the sea.  

So why hadn't I been invited?  Well, my first conclusion was that it was boys only trip.  The very nature of Binland means that us girls are a bit thin on the ground, but then Master J let slip that a new female sales person was going meaning that there were at least three girls going, so it wasn't that.

The next possibility is that I am too old.  Oh the shame.  But hang on a cotton-picking minute, there were men going, who if not older, at least look older than me, so perhaps age is not an issue.  Of course, in such a male orientated business, it can be difficult to cater for females when away.  But if they are young, at least they can join in with the drinking and the late nights.  If I'd gone, there would have been requirements as befitting a woman of middle years, such as:

Kettle in the room for tea, complimentary Hob Nobs also required
Ground floor room to allow for rickety knees.  This can be waived if there is a lift.
Air conditioning  for menopausal hot flushes
Bedroom away from obligatory disco to avoid being woken up (this is rubbish - I think that you all know me well enough now to know that I'd be last man standing in there)
Reserved seat at the front for lectures, as glasses only just strong enough to decipher my PC
Reserved seat at the front needs to be in close proximity to loo.  Just in case.

So perhaps taking me along was just a little bit too much like hard work.  

And after all, someone grown up has to hold the fort at Binland while the children are out playing.

Aaaah.....the proverbial penny has just dropped...

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Rip it up...

I hope you like today's picture.  This is what greeted me yesterday when I got home from Binland.  Despite asking all family members whether it's important, I am still no wiser as to a) who it belonged to and b) what it is (or was).  Not to worry, it's gone the way that all things go when Reg gets bored - straight into the recycling bin. 

I don't know why he feels he has to shred something when he runs out of the toys/chews/my slippers/yesterday's tights/balls/Kong activity toys and flower pots which are readily available in the dogs' toybox.  There have been many times when I have been bored.  These have usually involved watching some sport or another, but at no time have I thought to myself, 'Blimey this game is boring, I think I'll go and shred my trousers'.  It's a dog thing I suppose.

Preparations for the husband's road trip are gathering pace, and yesterday I was given the task of getting his medicines for the trip.  I'd like to remind you at this point that he is only going to Spain.  His list included Anadin and Nurofen, Imodium, insect repellent and bite cream.  

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but he is going to be wearing several layers of clothing all the time he is outside, so unless the Spanish mosquitoes are armed with a circular saw, I don't think that there's much chance of them permeating his armour (this is what men like to call the bit of hard plastic around the back and on the elbows - it sounds more hardcore that way).  I think that they'll take one look at him, and decide that it looks too much like like hard work, and divert their attentions to someone in swimwear - a far easier target.

And then there's the diarrhoea tablets.  The husband (or Mr Bird as one of my loveliest readers named him yesterday) has the constitution of an ox, and I don't think that the odd paella and San Miguel beer is going to cause him too many issues.  But as he is often heard to say, 'You can't be too prepared'.  This phrase is usually saved for when it's just us two going somewhere.  If it's the kids going away, he changes this slightly to, 'What you haven't got, you can buy out there.  It's not like you're going to Africa'.

I'm not too sure what the painkillers are for as he is in pretty good shape at the moment.  There's nothing I can think off that's hurting, wearing out, falling off or damaged, so I am assuming that these will be for the hangovers after one too many beers.

Going back to the medicines, the husband is very pernickety about which ones he uses.  As I am an Aldi fan now, I had intended on going there for it all, but he said rather quietly that he'd rather I bought 'real' medicines.  By this, he means ones which don't give away their purpose on the packets.  I did go to Aldi yesterday and took a quick look at the medicines which they offered as an equivalent to named products, and I sort of got what he was saying.  

I mean, who wants to carry round a box which says 'Diarrhoea Treatment'?

Not Mr Bird.....


The husband is preparing for a few days away without me.  Having dedicated himself to our children since what feels like 1872, I persuaded him that it was time to do some of the stuff he loves doing.  

His first jolly is ten days away on his new motorbike, cruising over the Pyrenees with three other men who have never really grown up either.  Over the last two months, once the bike appeared, there has followed a long stream of helmets, boots, trousers etc etc etc.  Desperate to get the right layering in case it's cold/wet/scorching hot he could look like anything from the Michelin Man (on a bad day) or someone who's borrowed clothes off a much larger friend.  I've been subjected to fashion shows where he looks like RoboCop, and had my opinion asked as to whether red suits him or not.

The next issue was what he was going to carry his clothes in.  Choices have ranged from rucksacks, a top box and panniers through to one of his mate's sons following them in a car with all of the luggage.  I did suggest that if it was cold, he could wear all of his pants, socks and t-shirts, and peel off a layer at the end of each day like a giant red onion.  A bit like a human Pass the Parcel (without the chocolate bar in the middle).  But between us, we came up with the best solution.  Buy cheap stuff and throw away as each day passes.  There is a very sneaky double whammy for this.  When he gets home, there will be no dirty washing for little old me - you never know, I might even be pleased to see him come back.

The problem with him going away is that I'm useless on my own.  My hearing seems to develop extra sensitivity, and I am able to hear things that even my dogs can't, which means that it's nothing of course, but you know what minds are like when they start working overtime. The kids all know this, so between the two girls, Miss R, Mrs S and anyone else who wants a sleepover, I shouldn't be on my own a single night.  I expect that by the time the husband gets back, I will be glad for some peace and quiet.

Speaking of which, the husband said to me over the weekend that he has talked to me more in the last month than in all the months that have gone before.  The reason behind this, is that because the children have left, I am now talking to him a lot more.  This might explain the glazed look he has perfected when I start chatting about how my day has gone.  As most of my days are made up of rubbish, dogs, cleaning and Aldi, I'm not surprised he takes himself off somewhere else involving two stroke and leather.  

No wonder he's going away...

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Hocus pocus...

Well, I am almost recovered from the epic Schnauzerfest walk around West Wittering which I did on Sunday.  You know how I often talk about Reg and how he should be slapped with the canine version of an ASBO?  After Sunday, I reckon that transportation to the colonies would be too good for him.  

It started well.  The husband and I met up with Miss R, who had been cycling up and down the coast, desperately searching for the fish and chip shop where we were waiting for her.  I'll be honest with you, I was almost at the point where a scabby donkey would have looked attractive with chips, but she finally turned up.  As she'd been cycling, she was a tad concerned about what she looked like in her garb.  'Don't worry', I said, 'With your white jacket on, you look like you've just come off the golf course'.

Fish and chips were eaten on a rather shabby bench, situated between the Pound Shop and a rowdy looking Sports Bar, and it was then down to West Wittering beach, to meet up with all the other schnauzers and accompanying humans who were walking the walk for Schnauzerfest.  When we arrived in the car, there were about twenty of them milling around, and Miss R and I decided a trip to the loo might be a grand idea before we set off.

We took the dogs with us (the husband was having a nightmare with a piece of filming equipment, and was best left in peace) so one of us would have to wait outside with them while the other went in, and then we'd swap.  Walking into the toilet block, I noticed a lady with a non-schnauzer at the sink.  'I'm trying to get him to have a drink', she said.  Like that was the most normal thing you'd do.

Settling down for my comfort break, she suddenly shouted, 'Oh for goodness sake, Bernard.  Will you just bloody focus'.  I hoped that it was the dog she was talking to, and that there wasn't another couple further down in another cubicle up to no good, but leaving my cubicle, she was still trying to tempt Bernard to have a small drink to no avail.

When I came out, Miss R was in conversation with a rather attractive chap.  'So', he said.  'Have you just come off the golf course?'  Raising my eyes in a 'told you so' kind of way, we headed back to the car, where the husband had thrown the filming equipment onto the back seat in a fit of desperation.  The plan had been to attach it to Reg's harness so that we could film the walk.  Unfortunately, because it kept catching Reg's eye, he developed a nasty tic, and kept trying to eat it.  I actually think that if he'd been allowed to wear it, he would have sold it to the highest bidder.

The walk was great - an estimate of two hundred schnauzers was bandied around, and I think that Reg had a scrap with at least half of them.  I've never said the word 'sorry' so often and sincerely, but we finally made it to the end, with both dogs on their leads.  Percy, the fickle devil, had forgotten all about Ruby from the day before, and had attached himself to another poor old girl who was minding her own business.

But we raised a fortune for those poor dogs who are scooped up and made whole again.  

And that makes all my apologies worthwhile...

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Walkin' back to happiness...

Yesterday was the first of my Schnauzerfest walks.  This one was up The Clumps (there's no easier way to say this, I'm afraid...)  Now I have done this walk four times.  And every time, the same thing has happened.  Percy does the whole hour and a half walk with his nose pressed firmly to the derriere of a particularly beautiful older lady called Ruby (before you think he has a penchant for pensioners, Ruby is a 12 year old miniature schnauzer).  She is always very patient with Percy's attempts at ardour and he only received a couple of warning nips from her for his over exuberance.  This is very handy for me, because I know where he is at all times.  But Reg?  Now he's something else altogether.

He started well, socialising with all the other schnauzers and coming back every now and again to check I hadn't run away.  And then, half way round, it started to heat up a little.  There were a small gang of schnauzers with names which brought to mind a 1960's East London gang (I know I have a Reg, but gangster he's not).  There were some serious contretemps, and in the end, for the sake of all concerned I decided to stick Reg back on his lead.  

After another twenty minutes, it was Percy's turn to be clipped on.  A lady will only take so much wet nose treatment, and I thought it best to give her a bit of space.  Now this worked really well for all concerned, as long as Ruby stayed in front.  Her bottom was the equivalent of a carrot with a donkey, and Percy trotted behind quite nicely.  He did pull quite a bit, and for a few seconds, I wondered whether Darth Vader was a fan of Schnauzerfest.  

The problem was this.  Ruby, being substantially older than Percy, started lagging behind, and Percy, not wanting to lose sight of his beloved, sat down and refused to move another inch.  Not even biscuits would persuade him to move, so I had to wait until Ruby overtook on the left hand side, at which point, Percy fell in behind her for the rest of the walk.

So we made it to the end.  Money was raised, friends were made and I even managed to take the right two dogs back home.  This may not seem surprising to you, but there was a five month old puppy there who looked good enough to steal.

I was thinking about replacing her with Reg.

I doubt they would have noticed...

Saturday, 14 October 2017


Fifty per cent of my children were at home yesterday.  Son number two has schlepped down from the north for a thirty six hour whistle stop visit.  He has calculated that this is enough time to get his washing done, buy enough food to last a week (more on this later) and sleep.  Between these requirements, he's managed to bore the socks off me with Contract Law and details of legal cases circa 1758.  Such is the life of a Law student.  

Still, it's a vast improvement on pensions and ISAs, which is daughter number two's topics of choice.  Between them, they have the ability to make my eyes glaze over within fourteen seconds.  She is back to catch up with son number two and when their conversation turned to the financial and legal implications of Brexit, I beat a hasty retreat to the lounge where I could lose myself in the uncomplicated banality of Tipping Point.

So back to the shopping.  Son number two is highly skilled in pulling on my heart strings, and when he told me that he was finding it hard to feed himself on the few pence left over after his alcohol had been taken care of, I suggested that I take him to Aldi.  He had the audacity to turn his nose up, and implied that I was paying, surely we would be going to Tesco.  Oh no, my friend, it's because I am paying that we are going to Aldi.

Once he got over the initial shock of the leaf blowers next to the cereal, he was off.  It was like a thirty second trolley dash around the store, with my 6'4" kid chucking things in like there was no tomorrow.  He balked at the Aldi equivalent of Lurpak, but was very happy with the amount of bacon he could get for £5.  I've calculated that my £93 bill was made up of around £26 for me (a lean week for us) and the rest for him.  I had to distribute his purchases throughout the two fridge freezers I happen to have, and I have money riding on him going home later today and forgetting the bloody lot.  

To top off their short visit home, the husband took us all out for curry last night.   For the second time in five hours, son number two managed a trolley dash through the menu, only admitting that he was full when every bowl was empty.  This was a relief to the husband as he was wondering whether a second mortgage would be necessary.

The two children leave again today.

I miss them already...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Sit down...

Yesterday I was privy to something which up till now has been a mystery.  You'll remember that the husband had taken his hair into his own hands, with devastating effects around the summit.  Finally taking my advice, he decided that while I was in the dentist (yet again) having a crown repaired (yet again) he would pop over the road to the Turkish barber and have the full works.  This entailed a hair cut (thank goodness), a shave and the removal of tufts of hair from various orifices (before you start thinking that the Turkish barber did 'extras', all these tufts were above the shoulders).  There aren't many times I'm glad I'm not a bloke, but watching the husband having his ears set alight with lighter fluid, I thanked my parents for making me a she and not a he.

Anyway, my dentist works very quickly, so I toddled across the road to the barber and plonked myself down in the waiting area.  The husband was half way through, and was being wet shaved.  As he glanced across to me, I came very close to shrieking at him to sit still, but once I noticed that the barber's blade-free hand had the husband's head in the Turkish equivalent of a Bid Daddy Half-Nelson, I was less worried.

Having been scalped, and set fire to around the ears, the husband's head and face was wrapped in a hot towel and he was left to gently steam.  I can't even begin to tell you how hard it was not to laugh at what happened next.  Ali Barber whipped the towel off with a flourish, and the husband went to get up.  

'Oh no sir, I'm not finished'.  

Sitting back down in the chair, the barber then slapped a fistful of soap onto the husband's head and started massaging it into the husband's face and scalp.  I say massage, but pummell might be a better word.  Do you remember Rowan Atkinson in Love Actually, taking great pride in the wrapping of Alan Rickman's illicit gift?  Well this was the same.  The husband then had his head stuck under the tap, and he was completely scrubbed from the neck upwards.  Then another towel was wrapped around him and he sat in blinded splendour for another two minutes.

'You want a shave, lady?'  I assumed that this was barber humour and laughed along with him, hoping that he hadn't spotted the latest crop of chin hairs awaiting the epilator.  Unveiling the husband, he then rubbed some kind of moisturiser all over the shiny skin, finally inviting the husband to leave the chair.  

So he's looking far more presentable than he did at the beginning of the week, and the man bun is just a distant memory.

By the way, son number two came home yesterday for a couple of days, and greeting me at the door, he said those three words which I haven't heard for almost four weeks..

'What's for dinner?'

Welcome home, my love...

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Old friends...

In my humble opinion, there is nothing better than spending a few hours with old friends.  By 'old' I don't mean as in years, as they are all roughly the same age as me, and I definitely am not old.  No, these are friends who have been in my life for around twelve years, and who are the proud owners of sons the same age as son number two.  We have been through so much together with our boys, and although the problems have moved on from getting son number two into the school shower without keeping his pants on, through to the question, 'How much alcohol is too much?' it would appear that there is a common vibe still running through with regard to our sons' lives now.

I was in the cafe for over three hours, during which I managed to polish off a lasagne and chips (my favourite food combo, inherited from the Mother) and a large slab of cake (another favourite, but all my own doing).  I also managed to almost bore eight ladies to death with stories from Binland.  I do sometimes wonder whether it's just me who finds rubbish so interesting.  I could talk rubbish all day long (something the husband can confirm even when I'm not talking about work) and I really hope that my friends didn't go home and moan to their families about how I had bored the socks off them.

The other news for yesterday was that the dogs went to stay with Miss R for the day.  If you remember, last time she had them (when I was stuck in a 1945 timewarp somewhere in a field in Sussex) they were walked to within an inch of their lives, and Percy didn't move from his bed for two days when he got back, such was the effect on his little legs.  When they came home last night, I was tempted to measure Percy against the door again, as he looked a couple of inches shorter, his little legs worn down to four fuzzy stumps.

Speaking of walking, it's that time of year again when we walk for Schnauzerfest.  This is a fabulous charity which raises money for rescued puppy farm dogs, using it to mend their broken bodies and minds, and then rehoming them somewhere where they can get the love and the life they deserve.  If you fancy contributing to this great charity, take a look at what they do here:

So picture the scene if you can....  Percy and Reg lost in the middle of at least a hundred dogs of similar ilk on the beach at West Wittering.  Percy has spotted his favourite dog in the world, Hugo (Percy gets confused on occasions) and is in hot pursuit across the sand dunes.  Reg on the other hand is following anyone who happens to have their hands in their pockets in case the aforementioned hands emerge with some liver cake.  We usually lose the two dogs several times through the walk, but last year the husband came up with a cracking idea.

'You watch Percy and I'll keep an eye on Reg', said the husband.

Well, this was a great idea, until half an hour in, when we realised that we'd both been watching Reg. Percy was nowhere to be seen, having taken full advantage of us watching Reg, and was having a merry old time with the very tolerant Hugo behind the beach huts.

Miss R is coming with us this year.  Perhaps three sets of eyes might be an improvement.  

You never know, we might even bring the right ones home...

Live and let die...

Now that I am more Home Alone than Mrs Christmas on December the 24th, I am trying to make sure that my afternoons are busy.  My week of watching Tipping Point and wallowing in my own self pity is over, and three weeks down the line, I can at last see the positives of not having any of our children living at home anymore.  

Last week, a good friend asked me if I'd 'put my garden to bed yet'.  I shook my head, considering this the safer option bearing in mind I didn't have a clue what she was talking about.  Well apparently, around this time of the year, you are meant to do a lot of jobs involving secateurs and a bag of manure.  I have neither, but decided that armed with a pair of kitchen scissors and a bag of compost I found in the garage I might have a go at what she was suggesting.

Now gardener, I am not.  I have this theory that if something is still alive after six months, then it's a keeper.  To be honest it took some time to learn that some things die in the autumn and then COME BACK TO LIFE in the summer.  Astonishing.  So my little garden has borders all the way round the lawn, filled to the gunnells with all manner of stuff.  Absolutely no planning has gone into my planting (despite various bits of advice from my plant guru, Mrs S) so my garden looks absolutely beautiful for one week in June.  After that, it's green and brown all the way.

So yesterday afternoon, I took myself off to the garden and started cutting stuff back and removing obvious weeds (nettles and grass are all I recognise, everything else is safe).  With that done, my attention turned to my pots of bulbs.  These were planted around six years ago after I got sucked in at a country show ('Five hundred assorted bulbs for the price of two hundred').  Have you ever tried to plant five hundred bulbs in thirty yards of border?  On the advice from Mrs S, I planted lots of them in plastic flower pots, neatly writing January/February/March on the outside, depending on which month I should put them around the garden.

Now as you know, bulbs are rather small, so I happily planted at least ten in each pot (I was desperate by this point, and never wanted to see another bulb again - even chopping onions was now becoming difficult). When they finally emerged, it was survival of the fittest, and my displays were mainly foliage as there wasn't enough food to go round for flowers as well.  

So yesterday I emptied out every pot, divided the bulbs and repotted them limiting myself to just three to a pot.  These are now lined up on the wall and I will dot them round the garden when they start to do something.

That was yesterday.  Today I am meeting some lovely friends for lunch and a catch up.  I much prefer this kind of afternoon.  

Chatting doesn't break your nails or give you a Dowager's Hump for the rest of the day...

Tuesday, 10 October 2017


The husband is starting to eye me up very warily.  And why is this?  Well, in the absence of a working beard trimmer to rectify the appalling DIY haircut he performed on Friday, I only did what every woman would do, and offered him the use of my Philips Ladyshave.  Now I'm not saying this is past it's sell by date, but on the occasions when kickstarting it fails, I have to wind the rubber band around for about ten minutes to get enough oomph in it to tear through the forest on my legs.
Needless to say, he wasn't impressed.  I then suggested I manually trim his man bun with a pair of nail scissors which also went down like a lead balloon. I think this is partly my fault as my eyesight isn't all it was, and even with the reading glasses, it may be that he loses an eyebrow instead. 

I have one more suggestion, and that is that he goes back to the barber, cap in hand, and asks him to mend that which is broken.  I may go with him on that occasion to reinforce what the barber says, which will be something like, 'What were you thinking of?' or 'We call this a 'Blitz Cut' sir, as it's an 'Air Raid'....

Apologies for the poor taste barber joke, but it just seemed right to use it today.  So he's going back to the barber on Friday, where a quick sweep with a number two will remove the tuft.  This equates to thirty seconds of toil for the generous sum of £10.

Talking of hairdressers and the like, I decided that now most of my money is supporting an alcoholic in Leeds (son number two, you better make this count) changes had to be made with how I spent my money.  I've already made an excellent start by swapping from Sainsburys to Aldi for my weekly shop, but next on the list was the hairdresser.  

Like most ladies of my age, serious work needs to bt undertaken every few months to ensure that I don't resemble one of the extras on The Walking Dead, so having found a small local salon, I went in last Friday to have my roots done, followed by a cut and blow dry.  The lady who did it made a beautiful job of my hair, and the bill?  £57 less that I would have paid.  So what was missing?  Well, I'll tell you what...

Firstly there was no massage chair when they washed my hair.  I have no problem with this as I often fall asleep if I'm sitting in one, which means vigorous shaking from the shampooist when she's finished.

There was no frothy cappuccino with chocolate sprinkles on top.  Well I'm a tea drinker anyway, so the mug of PG which I was given was great.  No biscuit, or individually wrapped macaroon, but as I'm on a bit of a diet, that's ok too.

The cheaper salon had good old Radio 2 on.  This meant I knew all the songs and understood everything which was said.  My old salon liked to put music on which no one had ever heard before, and my stylist took great delight in saying, 'Surely you know who this is?' when asked politely who the singer was.  

I also used to feel quite inadequate and old when I went in, because all of the stylists (or technicians, as they like to be called) looked like they were about fifteen and just stepped out of Vogue magazine.  My new hairdresser was uber normal - jeans and boots, just like me.

I'm not sure what's next on my money saving exercise.  Perhaps the dentist?  The husband is particularly good with wood, so could fashion me some new teeth as and when needed.

And who doesn't love a man who can whittle...

Monday, 9 October 2017

Let's dance...

So the latest update on the tufted husband is not a good one.  I kindly pointed out to him the spot which the beard trimmer had missed (this involved me sticking my finger on the spot on the back of his head and walking into the bathroom with him three times, before he finally twigged where it was.  Then horror of horrors, the beard trimmer broke before he had a chance to whip off the offending tuft.  So he has spent the weekend cultivating the early stages of a man bun, which at least is quite trendy I suppose.

We continued the theme of our lazy weekend with a lovely hour of Strictly on Saturday night, where over takeaway pizza, we had a most pleasant discussion concerning Jonnie Peacock.

'He's amazing considering he's lost his leg', I said.

'He hasn't lost a leg, you daft woman', responded the husband.  'Just look at him go.  He's incredible'.

Not willing to take his disbelief quietly, I insisted with my argument.  'I don't think you're right (see how I avoid the word 'wrong'?  Red rag and bull and all that).  I'm sure that he was in the Paralympics last year'.

'Well, I know that', said the husband,  'but not actually doing anything.  He was just a commentator'.  This was said very slowly with a rolling of the eyes and a deep sigh.

There was then a flashback to Jonnie's dance from the previous week, with his blade in full evidence.  'Well excuse me if I'm speaking out of turn', I calmly said, 'but unless his leg has grown back over the last seven days, I would think it's safe to say that he only has one leg'.

The husband, never one to admit when he's in the wrong then took a different tack, using his questionable humour to wriggle out of an apology.  'Well I reckon you're right about that false leg, but perhaps his foot is real?'  

He did say one sensible thing though as Jonnie did his fabulous Paso Doble.  'I think he's better at dancing on one leg than I am on my two', and then he spoilt it by following up with, 'Oh, and he also has a man bun like the one I will probably have by November if I don't get that tuft sorted'.

Like that makes it all right...

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Almost cut my hair...

Friday night was spent vegging in front of the television catching up on various soaps with the husband (it doesn't seem to matter how many I miss, as nothing much ever happens).  

'Fancy something to eat?' he asked during the adverts.  

'I have steaks in the fridge - we could have them with some chips.  Will that do?'

Now these weren't any old steaks, I'll have you know.  These were Aldi steaks, bought last Friday and on their final hours of 'Best By...'.  The husband was sceptical as these two pieces of 28 day matured beef had cost me the princely sum of £6.58, and the oven chips I was delicately thrusting into a tray had cost 69p, so all in all, we were looking at a budget meal of some proportion.  Now in our house, I am not allowed to cook the steaks.  

This comes under the Blue Job category, and is therefore only allowed to be undertaken by males of the house.  Well as my two dogs aren't too good with a spatula and the induction oven equivalent of a naked flame, it was left to the husband to do them.  'You get the chips started,and I'll have a really quick shower.  When I come down, I'll cook the steaks'.  Looking at the kitchen clock, I said to him that the chips would be ready by 7.45, ie 25 minutes time.  His parting words?  'No problem at all...'

He wasn't back downstairs by 7.35, when the steaks should have gone on.  Now was he down by 7.45, when the chips were cooked.  At 7.50, I turned the oven off to stop the chips resembling charred Swan Vestas, and I turned the hob on and started to warm the frying pan up for the steaks.

'Step away from the steaks', he thundered as he saw me starting to pick up one of the steaks.  I looked up, and OH.  MY.  GOD....

'What on earth have you done?' I asked him, my eyebrows shooting up so high that they almost shot off my forehead.

Concentrating on getting the steaks into the hot pan, he went on to explain that he'd cut his own hair with his beard trimmer.  Now let's get a couple of things straight here.  Firstly, he has no beard, so why he has a beard trimmer is anyone's guess (perhaps it came free with the nasal hair trimmer which lurks at the back of the cupboard gathering dust) and secondly, he doesn't have much hair on his head, and what he does have tends to be down the back, rather than on the top and sides.

'I think I've done quite a good job actually', he said, flipping the steaks.

Well from the front, maybe.  But when I looked at the back, it looked a bit like a leg which you've shaved in the dark under the influence of drink.  You know the kind of thing, when you're stretched out by the pool, and just happen to glance down at your legs and notice the small five o'clock shadow just above your ankle, looking like an early crop of snowdrops.  His small crop circle was at the top, and having mentioned it to him, I suggested that perhaps he should cultivate that and turn it into a ponytail.

Smiling knowingly, the husband simply said, 'You know what a ponytail always hides, don't you?'

'No, I don't', I said.

'An ar**hole, that's what'.

Said 'Tufty' as he slapped the steaks onto the plate, which, by the way, were delicious...

Friday, 6 October 2017

Beats workin'....

Yesterday, I had various calls from the male offspring during what I fondly like to call 'The Working Day'.  

First on the phone was son number two who is up in Leeds studying Law.  If you remember, this is his second attempt at the higher echelons of education, and everytime he calls me, someone walks over my grave.  Having said that, each time he calls, he seems a bit more embedded in university life which is encouraging.  I said to Mrs H yesterday that if I could keep him there till Christmas, we might just have it sussed.  

So he was telling me how he'd been 'working all day' reading up on Human Rights and the American Constitution.  I did extremely well, and feigned interest and stayed awake while he was droning on about this, and then he let slip that the night before had been spent swilling cheap beer and pretzels in a Bierkeller (think lederhosen and blonde plaits).  Mind you, this was in Leeds, so I would imagine it would be more flat cap and whippet than leather and heaving Germanic bosom.  

Anyway, it turned out that the beer was cheap, and the girls entertaining (I think it was this way round) and he didn't get out of bed till 11.00 yesterday morning.  I know for a fact that he was in Tesco foraging for food around 2.00, and he called me at 4.00 for a chat.  So his 'working all day' turned out to be a couple of hours slipped in between shopping and chatting.  Hardly a whole day I feel.

And then it was son number one.  Now this one has really fallen on his feet.  He's working in London for a company who blatantly encourage drinking, eating and entertaining throughout the working day.  He messaged us yesterday just to drop into conversation that he'd been to  £££££ sushi restaurant.  I have no idea what all those pound signs mean, but am guessing it loosely translates as 'Two Months' Mortgage').  To be honest with you, I wasn't really taking much notice of the £ signs, as the word 'sushi' had turned my tum inside out and upside down after my run in with some a couple of weeks ago.  

Unlike the boys, daughter number one and daughter number two seem to have proper jobs, where you go into work, get paid to do something useful, and then come home at the end of the day feeling you've achieved something.

These two tend to play hard at their weekends because they have earned it.

Son number one treats the weekend as two days of drying out and is seldom seen, and son number two, being a student, has long stopped differentiating between Monday and Saturday as there is no real difference in what he does either day.

I fall into the girls' camp (probably without the 'playing hard' unless you count two scoops of Mint Choc Chip at the cinema which could be considered flying in the face of danger I suppose).

Weekend? You are most welcome...

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

On my own....

I've started getting used to the lack of children in the house.  Dare I say it, I'm getting used to it quite a lot.  I'm almost afraid to get too complacent with the lack of jobs IN CASE THEY COME BACK..

History has taught me that this is a possibility, and I have said 'Goodbye', swiftly followed by 'Oh, you're back', on at least two occasions now.  But I have high hopes that they are all staying away for good now, apart from son number two, who as a student will limp home on several occasions each year loaded down with dirty washing, alcohol poisoning and malnutrition.

Of course, this means that the dear husband and I are having to rebalance our life accordingly.  I'm not sure that he's twigged that I am pretty redundant in the afternoon, and have taken to watching Tipping Point in the afternoon with a cup of tea, but as far as he's concerned, life goes on much the same as before.  The only real difference for him is that he no longer gets an evening meal when he comes home from work.  

Before you castigate me for being a dreadful wife, I'd like to say that this was his choice, as he felt that his waistline might benefit from some abstinence on the dinner front.  Mind you, he forgets all this around 9.00 when he gets a little peckish, and polishes off some cheese and biscuits, a packet of Aldi's copycat Monster Munch (he's addicted to these), and a Topic or two.  

We also seem to go to bed a lot earlier without the kids here.  I think that subconsciously, we felt that we had to stay up till they went to bed, but now they're gone, any time after the solar lights in the garden come on is acceptable it would seem.  This currently happens around 7.00pm, but as winter gets closer, we may find ourselves in bed before Tipping Point is finished, snacking on cheese, crackers and Monster Claws (not Munch).

What is quite lovely about having this new spare time, is seeing my friends more often.  Yesterday afternoon I was out for coffee and chat with my lovely sister-in-law, Mrs H, and then it was home for an hour before collecting my best friend Mrs S for a trip to the cinema.

So it's not all bad.

In fact, there's quite a lot of good about being Home Alone...

Sunny afternoon...

I don't know about where you live, but yesterday afternoon was absolutely gorgeous round here.  I had decided that as the dogs had been to the groomers on Monday, the last thing I wanted was to traipse through a muddy wood, so I took them over the road where my allotment is and had a walk around the paths and woodland which surround it.  

Finding myself in a quiet patch, I decided that I would do something I've never done before, and I spread my jacket on the grass and sat down, with a view to pointing my mush up to the sun for some much needed vitamin D.  It's not like I had jobs waiting for me at home or anything now the offspring have done an Elvis and left the building taking Mother Guilt with them.  I had anticipated that the dogs would wander off and explore as they rarely stray from the path, so shutting my eyes, I said to them, 'Off you go then'.  Here's what happened...

'What on erf is she doin'?'  (If you remember, Reg, although of German descent, has adopted a pseudo Brentwood accent)

'I have absolutely no idea, my dear fellow'. (Imagine a 1949 news reader)

'Is she dead?  Oo's gonna feed us now?  'Ow will we find our way 'ome? Can you reach the treat cupboard Percy?'

'She's not dead, my dear chap, just snoozing.  Let's go and explore those rabbit burrows over there'.

'Bugger that.....let's see if we can find any treats in 'er pockets'.

This was their cue for some serious navigation around my coat pockets followed by some delightful wet nose activity around my face.  Shooing them away, I told them to go away and have some fun.

'Come on then Percy, you old fossil, let's go and 'ave a look at what's on the uvver side of the parf'.

So the two of them ventured a whole three feet away from me, had a cursory sniff of a rabbit burrow, and then toddled back and snuggled in with me on my coat.

After ten minutes of lying there in the blazing sunshine, with the equivalent of a hot water bottle and an electric blanket wrapped around me, I finally gave up.

It reminded me of having a pee in peace with the door closed when the kids were young.  

I don't think I went between 1994 and 1998...

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Too much...

I may allow myself some food later today.

After Sunday's lunch, I questioned whether I would ever need to eat again, and if I ever did, it would be just water and dust.  And the reason behind my gluttony?  My family is to blame.  Not the ones who tend to tip up here every now again claiming that their washing machine doesn't work and they haven't eaten for a week.  These are older family.  The type you grow up with and spend huge family holidays with.  The ones you spend Boxing Day with.  As you get older, the times between seeing each other get longer and longer, until one day, you all realise that the only times you really see each other is when someone shuffles off this mortal coil.  And that's not good.

When my lovely uncle died several weeks ago, my two cousins, Miss R and I made a promise to each other that we would try and rekindle that lovely childhood relationship we'd had, and try and meet up more frequently than in a church once a year.

Sunday was the first attempt at getting us all together, and we headed up the M25 to where my cousin lived with his wife and two boys.  We had collected Miss R on the way through, and however many times she told the husband that forty minutes was enough time to get there, the husband insisted on putting a small extension onto the journey time 'just in case'.  We were, therefore, half an hour early, so found ourselves in a small local hostelry having a swift one before going off to my cousin's house.

The landlord looked like he'd been to the Jack Dee School of Charm, such was his witty banter and repartee.  (This is sarcasm.  He wouldn't look any of us in the eye and merely said, '£8.52'.  Not even a 'please' or 'thank you').

Drinks drunk we drove up to my cousin's house and had the most amazing afternoon getting to know each other as friends, rather than just the cousins who bump into each other every now and again.

And here's where we get to the food.

Roast rib of beef, with every accompaniment know to man, including the best roasties ever, followed by apple and blackberry crumble, and then another portion of crumble. I'm not too sure why I felt that was a wise life choice, buy hey, there was alcohol also involved.  I should at this point say that in the car on the way up, Miss R asked that I remind her that she shouldn't drink too much at lunch.  Well that particular ship had sailed within fifteen minutes of our arrival so she was very quiet when we finally dragged ourselves away.

I had to undo my trousers on the way home.

Not sure they'll be making another appearance for some time yet..

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Take it away...

Well summer is officially over, sent on its sorry way by a particularly tasty takeaway curry last night.

That first curry is always the best one for me.  The lamba tikka is succulent, the rice fluffy, the poppadoms crispy and the peshwari naan quite possibly the best thing you've ever tasted.  By the time you get to April, the tikka meat is anything from guinea pig to goat, you can't eat the rice because it was cold when delivered (and we all know you can't eat reheated rice, as you will probably die) the poppadoms are crushed as they were put in the delivery bag underneath everything else, and the peshwari naan never even made it to the bag.

Son number one was at home last night, so curry was suggested after it  became apparent that yours truly wasn't getting off the sofa on a Saturday night for anyone.  Strictly was on, for heaven's sake.  I had got as far as instructing the husband what to get out of the fridge which he'd done in a most satisfactory fashion, but then the question arose as to what was going with the slabs of meat defrosting on the kitchen worktop.  

Well, I knew there were no oven chips.  I cleaned the freezer out on Friday and got rid of several half empty bags of stale bread rolls, four rogue fish fingers and something wrapped in newspaper which I was too nervous to unwrap, so I know what's in there now down to the last frozen pea.  I suggested, from my sofa, that one of them could cook the slabs of meat, while the other drove into town and bought some chips.

'Or we could get a curry....'  said son number one, keen to take full advantage of the fact that he was the only child in the house, and therefore, had a damn good chance of a free meal.

The husband's little eyes lit up, and before you could say Vindaloo, the order was placed, and the table laid.  Half an hour later, the paper carrier bags turned up at the house, and the culinary delights were put onto the table (still in their foil trays to limit washing up to an absolute minimum).  Son number one and I ate ours and pushed back our plates after a while, stating that we'd had enough and were FU&FTB (Full Up & Fit To Burst).  

The husband approaches his curry in a completely different way.  He likes to mine sweep everyone else's food and after watching him work his way through it for ten minutes, he looked up and told us to leave him there while he finished everything and he'd probably be a while.

Son number one and I had managed to finish Strictly and watch the first half of X Factor before he showed up in the lounge, moaning about how full he felt, and needing to loosen his belt.

I won't hear the end about how he wished he hadn't eaten as much - but not to worry, all this will be forgotten next time the brown carriers cross our threshold...