Saturday, 16 December 2017

They're coming to take me away...

As I limp towards the weekend, I'm surprised to have reached this stage without a) killing myself b) killing someone else c) being escorted off the premises by the men in white coats or, my own particular favourite, d) running away to join the circus.

Son number two is back from university and he brings his own work load to add to my already over subscribed pre-Christmas list of 'Stuff To Do'.  I can cope with every aspect of the pre-Christmas planning, but lump them all together and I tip....

Let me tell you tipped me over yesterday.  The straw, as it were....

Son number two loves his pants.  He loves them so much, that it is not unheard of for him to wear four pairs in a day.  Now, these are not small pants.  These are pants which can block out the sun when hung on the line.  The type of pants which could double up as a spinnaker sail in an emergency and which could house a small family of rodents (I hope that the Christmas tree mouse doesn't start squatting in a pair - hiding nuts might take on a whole new meaning).   

As it's winter, my washing is now all hung up on an overhead airer which, through means of ropes and pulleys, hoists the washing up to dry (unless son number one gets anywhere near it, in which case, it stays at head bumping height as he can't be bothered to take it all the way up).  

Anyway, unloading the washing machine again yesterday morning, I pulled out pair after pair of pants.  The airer was full of them, and there was no room for my one sweater, which is draped over a kitchen chair as I write).

Taking them off the airer last night, I said to son number two, who was hovering around the fridge looking for anything, and I mean anything, to eat.

'You are not allowed to wear any more pants this week', I said.  'I'm fed up with looking at them'.   

I'm not going to tell you what his response was, as you're probably eating your breakfast, but needless to say, I am going to be washing those pants for at least another three weeks, until I can ease him out of the front door and back to Leeds (Vaseline and a large bar of chocolate on the drive should swing it).

I also did double bubble at Binland yesterday, finally crawling out of the door after 5.00.  Why everyone wants to talk rubbish with me the week before Christmas is anyone's guess, but there was one giggle moment, around 4.17....

Me 'Can I take your surname please?'
Customer 'It's Shearer'.
Me 'Oh, like Alan Shearer?'
Customer 'Exactly like Alan Shearer.  Just with a bit more hair'.
Me 'Let's face it, a snooker ball has more hair than Alan Shearer'

How we laughed.

A tad too hysterically if I'm honest...

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Baby, come back...

Now that Christmas is looming, the children are heading back to the homestead in various shape and form.  

Daughter number one, who has been living away from home for some years now, really only comes home to visit.  This visit will always involve food and if Prosecco is involved, will also include a sleepover.  If daughter number two's bedroom can't be high jacked for this purpose, then yours truly will spend half an hour removing all the crap off daughter number one's bed so that she can get in it.  

This is the problem when you have a ground floor bedroom situated between the kitchen and the front door.  It rapidly becomes a dumping ground, and as I write it's housing all of the husband's biking paraphernalia, winter clothing accessories (my scarf box was decimated by Reg one afternoon, so my scarves now languish across the bed) and shoes....lots of shoes.  I have daughters, what do you expect.

Daughter number two moved out fourteen months ago, and still clings onto her home and bedroom (even though the dogs now live in there).  When she arrives, it's usually for a few days, and it's like she's never been away.  By this, I mean that there will be at least three empty shampoo/conditioner/moisturizer/shower gel bottles scattered across the bathroom.  The carpet will look like a depressed Afghan hound has been in residence (she has hair extensions) and there's usually some stray underwear knocking about.  She's in and out like a whirlwind, generally leaving a couple of pairs of drawers behind as a rule.

Son number one is flitting between houses at the moment, as befitting someone who has just left university.  Student-hood seems rather difficult to leave behind.  When he visits, it's usually just for food and washing.  He's planning on moving into his own place next year, so I would imagine that his visits will start to resemble daughter number one's, but without the hair extensions.

Son number two returned from university on Saturday.  He surprised me as I wasn't expecting him till next week.  Unfortunately I was out - this will teach him to call ahead.  Does he not realise that my life is no longer governed by him and the other three?  Anyway, he's back with almost every piece of clothing he has owned since 2012 and my washing machine is on 25gm of Valium per day.  

Here's the thing though.  He waits for me to come home after work, and then expects me to take him somewhere for the afternoon.  On Wednesday, I made the mistake of asking him if he wanted to come into town with me as I had something to take back to a shop.

I should have known that it was going to cost me, when he agreed.  He played the poverty stricken student all the way round, and fleeced me for razors and chocolate.  There was then a lunch in Greggs as he was 'starving'.  This turned into a three course meal and I'm sure that the Manager was just about to offer the meal for free if son number two had managed to force down the second chicken pie.  All in all, it cost me about £50 to have him riding shotgun.  Just as we were heading back to the car, he had the audacity to tell me that he'd got £67.50 as a trade in for his old mobile.

Ah yes, the mobile.  That would be the one I have been paying £35 a month for since 2015...

Saying to him that surely that money was mine as I had paid for it (and the new one he's just got) he looked at me quite thoughtfully.

Handing me £7.50 in loose change, he said, 'Knock yourself out Mumpty and buy yourself an ice cream'.

Does he not realise that this Mumpty Numpty is in sole charge of his Christmas presents? I have a feeling that I may be returning even more parcels back to the shops over the next few days.

And this time, I'll be leaving him at home... 

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The lumberjack song...

On Sunday, we put the Christmas tree up.  This is an event which the husband looks forward to every year and he usually starts harping on about it around the beginning of October.  This year, for the first time, he took my advice  and went and pre-ordered the tree.  This meant tramping through the pine forest until he saw one vaguely suitable for our hall.  

You see, we have a very high ceilinged hall, and it will accommodate a rather large tree quite comfortably.  Over the years, there have been a few disasters.  There was the year it was too small, around 12', and the husband compared it to something you see strapped to a lorry's radiator grill around this time each year.  Then there was the disaster which was 2014.  I should have known it  was going to be big, when I saw the forklift putting it on the back of the trailer. Once up, it was impossible to get to my kitchen via the hall as you can see from the photo below...

I was not amused, and neither was son number one who spent at least an hour pinned underneath it as the husband tried to get it upright (still talking about the tree here).

So this year, the husband went and pre-ordered a 16' tree, which is the optimum size we have come to learn over the years.  Getting it back to the house was no mean feat as this was the day that the snow came down, so we laid the hair-netted tree outside the front door while various rugs and tables were moved to make space.  

And then there was a loud shriek from son number one.  'Look! Its a mouse!'  Squashed up against the netting was a tiny field mouse, probably wondering what the hell was going on.  The trouble was, we couldn't take the net off until we had the tree upright because we wouldn't have got it through the front door, so I came up with the bright idea of shutting all the doors while the husband released the net, we would them all be primed and ready to catch the little critter as it was released into the hall.  

As it was, we found an empty nest but no mouse, so I am expecting rustling in the night any time soon.

As to the tree, it wasn't 16', but actually 18', so the husband had to take on the role of lumberjack and cut 2' from the bottom.  He swore blind that it was 16' when he'd ordered it, and seeing the look I gave him (the one which shouldn't be trifled with) he suggested that perhaps it had grown another two feet after he'd selected it back in November.  As I said to him, still glaring, 'It's a Nordic Spruce, not a bloody bamboo'.

But it's up and looks beautiful, and has more lights on it than Winter Wonderland has.

I just love Christmas, and now the tree is up, it's time to start celebrating...

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Saturday night's alright for fightin'...

If I'd been on a fair ground ride for the last three days, it would have to be the dodgems.  Pottering along quite nicely when all of a sudden, I'm rammed up the derriere by some lunatic...

So, Saturday was the night of Binland's Christmas Do.  Mrs S and I had done a lot of work to find a good venue for the dinner, the only criteria being that there had to be music, and that it was cheap.  We managed both, and after some girly cocktails in a bar, we headed off to the venue, expectations high, and temperatures low (it was bloody cold and not conducive to a lacy party frock).  

Walking in, the pub was busy which we decided was a good sign, and having sat down, the food started to arrive.

Now there is a lot you can get for £15 (especially if you shop at Aldi like I do) but the pub's attempt at a festive three course meal was pitiful.  I had four prawns spread over two courses, and two and a half of these were in the Prawn Cocktail starter, resplendent with radio active Marie Rose sauce.  The main course, a Seafood Parcel, was a huge disappointment.  It looked lovely when it arrived, the crispy pastry surrounded by seasonal vegetables, and I grabbed a sneaky carrot off my plate as I waited for my colleagues' meals to tip up.  It was stone cold.  Not just lukewarm, but the sort of temperature you'd get from taking the veg out of the freezer and leaving them on the side for ten minutes.

But not to worry.  The Seafood Parcel was of a temperature which would melt asbestos and was labelled as 'dangerously hot' almost immediately.  Mashing the contents of the parcel (one and a prawns and a rather unexpected pepper sauce which would have been better suited to a sirloin steak) with the vegetables, they soon heated up and were now able to be eaten without setting my sensitive teeth off.

The evening went from bad to worse as fights broke out around us and the DJ played tracks which no one had ever heard of.  This was obvious as no one was dancing, choosing instead to sit at the table and shout at each other.  The 'ladies' (I am making an assumption here, as they were wearing dresses, but had the vocabulary of a docker) on the table next to us eventually attracted the attention of the bouncers, and it was a very brave man who quietened them down.

We eventually decided to vote with our feet, and walked to another bar down the road.  This had a better clientele (no fighting, swearing or spitting) but the live band that was performing looked like it should have defibrillators on its Christmas list. Finding a quiet booth, the four of us who were still standing carried on drinking and chatting, and I finally rolled in at around 1.00am

Sunday was Christmas Tree Erection Day.

We'll talk about this tomorrow as it deserves a page all to itself...

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Pinch me...

Yesterday was a very trying day.

It started well with mild hypothermia on my early morning walk but got steadily worse.  I was on my own in the sales department at Binland yesterday morning, because 25% of my team was laid up in bed, while the other 50% were on another jolly.  This seemed to be the day that everyone wanted to have a dig at me, and by the time I crawled out of there, I'd had what is commonly known as 'enough'.

But not to worry.  I was off to do a slightly festive shop, and was then heading to Mrs H at my local salon for some facial work, so I had some good things to keep me busy.  There were also a couple of parcels to drop off at the post office, which just happened to double up as a petrol station, so I had it all planned.

Let's start at the supermarket shall we.  All I was doing was bending down, looking at a shelf of cooker bulbs trying to decide which one looked familiar.  Suddenly, with no warning, I was goosed by a trolley.  Straightening up rather abruptly, I said I was sorry (why I felt the need to apologise is anyone's guess.  Being British has something to do with it I would imagine).  The man, for a man it was completely disregarded my apology and leered at me.  Now it's a long time since I've been leered at, and the assistant who was helping me with my light bulb choice said to me as the man walked by, 'He did that on purpose.  He had plenty of room to get past you.  Bloody pervert'.  

This made me feel a bit odd to be honest.  I'd been alright till she said that, so it was best foot forward, and catching him up at the foil and cling film, I said very loudly and slowly that if he ever tried doing something like that again, I would be shouting 'Pervert' to anyone who cared.  Luckily, his wife was just behind me, so hopefully, he might be able to walk again by Christmas.

So it was then off to the petrol station.  I filled the car up and paid for the fuel, and then got into the queue for the post office.  Having stood there for seven minutes, I realised that there was now a queue behind my car, and the 'gentleman' in the Shogun behind my car was pomping on his hooter rather insistently.  Almost throwing the parcels across the counter, I ran out to the car, with an apology ready.

'What is it with you f***ing women that you have to do the f***ing shopping in the f***ing garage?' he said, rather loudly.

I could have responded with many things, especially having just been goosed, but I decided I was better than that.

'And a Merry Christmas to you too', I said with a big smile, finishing the sentence with, ' bloody idiot' once I was in the safety of my car.

Bloody men....

Friday, 8 December 2017

Super trooper...

As you know, we have a house guest in the shape of a rather handsome Westie called Sidney.  With Percy and Reg already here, my house is starting to resemble an old people's home.  All I need is an Ethel and a Wanda and I'll have a full house.

So the thing with Sidney is that he's not too keen on our staircase.  I don't know whether he has the same issues at home, but for some reason, he gazes at the staircase like it was Everest, probably thinking to himself, 'Why couldn't they have left me with someone who has a bungalow?'

When the husband's alarm goes off at 5.30 in the morning, I tend to get up.  I make myself a cup of tea, publish this drivel, and then go back to bed for half an hour.  Since Sidney has been with us, I've been getting up when the husband gets up.  And I've been staying up.  There seems to be no point in going back to bed with a cup of tea when I have a Westie downstairs looking pretty hacked off that he can't join me in the boudoir.

But this has its benefits.  First of all, I did the ironing before 6.00 this morning, then bought a  couple of last minute Christmas presents , and, wait for it....I made soup.

I had panicked on Wednesday night, as I had no lunch for yesterday, and then I remembered a tin of Carrot and Coriander soup in the cupboard.  This has been sitting in the cupboard in isolated splendour for some time, being ignored for finer fare like pasta and baked beans, but beggars can't be choosers, so I opened the can, and poured it into my soup flask.  It had a smell like no other, and I felt the top layers of my eyeballs peel off.  Screwing the lid on, I left it on the side to take to Binland later that morning.

And then I had a thought. Why not make my own?  Ferreting around the fridge, I found a bag of carrots, a rather limp onion and a potato with more eyes than The Fly.  Having boiled it for the allotted time, I got my blender out and whizzed it down to something which resembled soup.

It was much better than the canned stuff, mainly for the reason that it was carrot coloured, rather than looking like something out of a blocked drain.  

Mind you, it might have helped if I'd added the coriander.

Sidney is such a lovely, cuddly distraction.  It's no wonder I forgot...

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Christmas shoes...

'Make sure you put your drinking shoes on'...

These were the parting words from my 'young enough to be my son' boss, Mr W, as I left Binland yesterday lunchtime.  It's the Binland Christmas Party on Saturday night, and Mr W and me are the only two members of the sales team who will now be going.  The two youngsters, Master J and Master P have cried off for various reasons, most of them perfectly viable, and I had joked with Master J yesterday morning that it would be my responsibility to keep Mr W on the straight and narrow (by the sounds of it, this is a road seldom trod).  

So what on earth are 'drinking shoes'?  I pondered this yesterday while walking the three dogs around the field.  (This was interesting because my two have only one speed, which is Top, while our lovely house guest Sidney, likes to take a more ponderous walk, taking time to sniff every blade of grass.  Between shouting 'Whoa boys!' and 'Come on, Sid', we managed a lovely walk and the three of them are now firm friends. How do I know this?  Well Sid has stopped doing his Elvis impersonation every time Reg comes near and Percy has removed his nose from Sidney's derriere).

Anyway, I digress.  Drinking shoes...  

Would these be shoes with a wide area touching the floor (flats then) to aid balance after one too many?  

Perhaps they are trainers so that we can go from pub to pub quickly?

Either way, I shall be wearing my kitten heels, so I am hoping that I can show some Prosecco restraint and stay upright for most of the evening.  Also, as the two establishments which have the dubious honour of hosting our party this year, are quite close together, there shouldn't be anything more necessary than ladylike staggering between the bars.

I'm the oldest one going on Saturday.  

I do hope that they won't be looking to me to be the sensible one...

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Jet lag...

I'd like to tell you that I'm feeling completely back to normal after ten hours'sleep on Monday night.  I'd also like to say that I look as fresh as a daisy and that nothing is impossible because I'm full of vim and vigor.

I'd love to tell you this, but I'd be lying...

The husband and I managed to stay awake until 7.45pm on Monday night, the warnings still ringing in our ears as to what would happen if we went up any earlier.  Miss R is seasoned in the time/travel department, so I felt it wise to take her warning on board.

Waking up yesterday morning, I felt great, but by 9.45am I was in a complete free fall.  Having eaten my lunch at 11.00 'just because it felt like breakfast time', by midday my eyes were taking on the appearance of two slits in a pig's bum, and I felt like crawling back to bed for a power nap.  But I soldiered on, finally leaving Binland having not fallen asleep once thanks to industrial strength Nescafe (is that at all possible without just pouring the boiling water straight into the jar)and treats from the drivers' canteen.

The big news this week, is that we have a house guest staying with us for the next few days.  Sidney is a handsome 42 year old with a shock of white hair and a fetish for chicken.  He also seems to be quite keen on sidling up to me when I'm sitting down and rubbing his face up and down my thighs in quite a giddy fashion.  Before you think that I have moved on from the husband, I should point out that Sidney is a rather spectacular Westie.  He's staying here for the week while his mum and dad take a holiday and his snowy looks have caused quite a stir in Schnauzer Town.  

Percy has met Sidney before, so he was fine, completely ignoring him as he did the last time they were together.  Reg however, is another kettle of fish altogether.  He spent the first couple of hours trying to work out where this imposter stood in the doggy pecking order, finally realising that he was scraping the bottom of the barrel, what with Sidney being older than him, and also a Guest.  So far, Sidney has pinched his bone, a pillow and his bed (even though he's brought his own with him). Watching the three of them wandering around the house, it looks a bit like speed dating.

That would be speed dating for three male dogs..

One who feels he is superior to everyone else and has no need to interact with other dogs
One who craves love at all times but rarely gets it from anyone other than humans
And one who really doesn't give a toss, but who is rather partial to chicken and strangers' beds...

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

New York, New York...

So having spent the last four days in New York, forever looking at my watch and saying, 'Is it really that early?' yesterday was spent looking at my now five hours fast forwarded watch and asking the husband, 'Is it too early to go to bed yet?'  I now fully understand why they call that night flight back from the USA the 'red eye'.  It would appear that 11.45am was too early to go to bed, but from the husband's point of view 2.27pm was just fine.  I just kept going.  Cleaning up the house after having the children in charge (fat Percy, no milk, and Reg had eaten half a pot of Vaseline) it took every ounce of self control not to simply collapse on the sofa when I was doing a little cushion plumping.

The trip was fantastic though.  When I last checked in with you all, we'd pedaled around New York and lived to tell the tale.  We followed that up with an open top bus tour (more of a stand still as the Friday traffic was obscene) and we then headed to the Rockefeller Centre to see their Christmas displays, and to take the Willy Wonka-esque elevator to the 67th floor so that we could see a lit up New York laid out before us.

Saturday taught Miss R and me that the husband was not to left alone unsupervised for more than twenty seconds.  All we'd done was go into the supermarket for some stamps.  In the few seconds we were there, the husband had been approached by two ex-cons, eager to find out how he stood on the whole God/Love thing.  It turned out that Ex-Con-Don (how great to have a name which also described what your background was so succinctly) was heading into the city that very morning to introduce the President to his new company, which insisted on every American wearing beige (a throwback to the uniform he wore when in the 'pen').  He then started talking about how we could help him with his plans which would involve money.  Quelle surprise....

On Sunday we had a fantastic walk around Central Park, where I spent a most enjoyable couple of hours stalking various dogs and giving them 'pats'.  This is a New York phrase, and I will be adopting it with immediate effect.  

It was then to the insanity which is Times Square where we stumbled into a Cuban bar called Havana (not very imaginative).  A couple of Pina Coladas later, and we all needed feeding, so we ordered the Cuban Platter.  Even as I write now, I am still completely in the dark as to what the three flat fritters were on the plate.  All three of us tried them, and all three of us left them...I think.  After the Pina Coladas, God knows...

So we're all back, safe and sound.  

New York was fantastically daft.

We fitted in beautifully....

Sunday, 3 December 2017

I will survive...

What a couple of days it's been.  Let's see if I can condense the last forty eight hours into half a page of A4...

When Miss R and I had started planning this trip to New York behind the husband's unsuspecting back, I suggested that a cycle ride through New York might be a good thing to do.  I suggested this because I know that the two of them love being on two wheels.  Not for one second, did I take time to consider the fact that I am a couch potato of the King Edward kind and am better equipped for minor gardening than the Tour de France..

We picked our bikes up from the hire shop, along with a Barry Manilow (without the face lift) lookalike called Kevin who had the 'luck' to escort us through New York.  There were nine of us altogether, and I was by far one of the oldest (only the husband and Kevin were older) and I was definitely the unfittest.  This became apparent on the first hill, when I did a passable Darth Vader impersonation for the first ten minutes.  After this, it was all flat and the two hours passed really quickly,

The husband stayed behind me all the way round as he was rather nervous about unleashing me on the unsuspecting New Yorkers, but everything went beautifully until the last corner, when weaving in and out of traffic, following the lunatic Kevin, I almost face planted the wing mirror of a school bus.  It was only the rapid action of leaning over the handlebars so that my nose skimmed rubber which saved the day.  So I am very proud to say that I cycled through New York and didn't die.  Quite an achievement...

We've done all the touristy bits, such as the open top bus trip, Grand Central Station, the Rockefeller Centre and we've also played New York Bingo.  Between is, we've managed to tick off burgers, pancakes, waffles, beer and maple syrup, and the husband managed a coup with a chilli dog today.  Just pretzels to go, and we'll have a full house.

But the funniest thing we've come up against is that no taxi driver has known our hotel.  They drivers over here obviously don't do anything like The Knowledge, like our taxi drivers have to do.  Here are some of the highlights:

Taxi Number One :  No idea where our hotel was, so used his phone as a sat nav.  Cost?  $19
Taxi Number Two : No idea where our hotel was.  Continued conversation with wife for the whole journey, having put the address into his phone while driving.  Directions interspersed with love talk with wife and heavy reggae music.  Cost?  $18
Taxi Number Three: No idea where our hotel was.  Couldn't find it on sat nav.  Husband tried to be helpful, telling him that the hotel was in Brooklyn.  The driver then muttered something unintelligible in Chinese before saying that 'Brooklyn was too big; and throwing us out of the car.
Taxi Number Four:  Husband directed him home. Cost $14.

On Sunday, we are planning more cycling, this time around Central Park.

My derriere is thrilled...

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Surprise, surprise...

And breathe.....

As I hinted to you in my ramblings this morning, there was a small secret involved in my mini break with the husband and Miss R.  This pre Christmas jolly usually involves somewhere within a three hour flight, and the shout came up last year that we should go to Prague.

What we didn't tell the husband was that we were in fact going to go to New York instead.  Not just that, but courtesy of Miss R and her millions of air miles, we would be flying out first class.  How we've managed to keep this from him for a whole year is beyond me, especially as everyone else knew (including the lady in my local Co-op).

So today was the big reveal.  There had been a couple of close shaves with the husband asking me about return flights and time differences, and I have to confess that my stress levels were through the ceiling, as I desperately tried to avoid mentioning anything which might spoil the surprise.  Standing him in front of the Departure Board, I asked him to find the check in desk details.  Naturally, Prague wasn't there, and the dollar finally dropped.  This was aided by the I💚NY t-shirts which Miss R and I were wearing over our jumpers.

I am writing this from my first class seat, 36000 feet above you.  The husband is still in a state of shock, and shaking his head from side to side like Churchill the dog.  He and Miss R have taken full advantage of the free alcohol on the plane and I forsee trouble when we land at JFK in four hours and twenty eight minutes.  I may need a very large luggage trolley.

But flying first class is amazing, and I never want to fly any other way ever again.

Even if it means selling some of my vital organs...

The final countdown...

Exciting times are on the cards today.  

Miss R and I are taking the husband away for a mini break later on, and there is an element of surprise attached, so I can't divulge too much information.

All I can say is that for the third year running, the three of us will be dumped somewhere cold and snowy, and will remain in a mild state of intoxication for all the time we're there.  I like to blame the thin air, but when the day is dark for all but two hours each day (Norway 2015) there's not much left to do once you've exhausted the funny hat shop, taken selfies and marvelled at the way they can keep everything open even though there's a whole 2" of snow on the ground.

The Norway holiday was a particular favourite, as we booked various excursions, which included a night time husky and sled ride, whale watching, and searching for the Northern Lights.  

The sled ride was a night which I will never forget.  The husband offered to do the hard work, pushing the sled along from behind, while I tucked myself in the sled with blankets.  I think he expected to swap places with me half way round.  Silly man...  Mind you, I don't know what they feed those huskies, but on the steeper parts of the track I found that they liked to provide their passenger with their own particular type of central heating. The husband, who was standing up and therefore avoiding the emissions which were being shot out around 10" from my face found this highly amusing.  

Miss R was paired with a chap of German persuasion, and being the kind soul that she is, she offered to drive first.  All was going well until she managed to guide the sledge up a tree.  Sitting in the sled, gazing into the night sky, the German passenger offered to take over once they'd been rescued.  Full marks to Miss R for planning this and achieving rapid passenger status.

At the end of the husky ride, we all piled into a large tent and ate a delicious bowl of Fish Stew.  It was accompanied with something which to this day I still can't place.  Needless to say, it was pushed to one side and eyed up suspiciously, like all British people do when faced with something which isn't a roast potato.

The whale watching was a success. This is based on a two second piece of film footage which I managed to get after three hours on deck.  It almost made the frostbite worthwhile, but not to worry, there was Fish Stew to warm us all up.  Again...

Unfortunately, the search for the illusive Northern Lights wasn't such a success.  Four hours at sea on a strange little boat sitting in what looked like someone's lounge, we saw nothing but other boats full of disappointed people and towards the end, another bowl of Fish Stew.   

I'm not saying that we were getting a little fed up of Fish Stew by then, but we were all dreaming  of Quarter Pounders with a six-nugget chaser.

More news will follow tomorrow.  

Be prepared for photos of Miss R in strange woolen hats and the husband chewing on a Bratwurst...

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The sweater song...

Wandering around my local shopping centre yesterday afternoon, a jumper caught my eye in a fairly new shop's window.  It was a beautiful burnt orange colour and was covered in silver stars.  I had a few jobs to do first (these mainly involved eating a Bakewell Tart with a coffee and posting one letter) but on the way back to the car, I thought I'd pop in the shop and get the lowdown on the sweater.

'Afternoon', I said ever so politely, 'The orange sweater in the window?  Is it baggy or is it fitted?'

'I wouldn't say it was exactly fitted', she said, taking the jumper out of the window.  Shaking it out in front of me, it measured around 1.5 metres squared, and from behind the voluminous orange folds, her muffled voice said, 'See what I mean?  Most of our jumpers are like this and come in one size'.

Now ladies.  There is one size, and there is one size.

The first kind, the one we like the best, is the kind which glides over any undulating rolls of blubber which we may have about our person. It is usually made of a non-static material with some weight in it to encourage further streamlining.  These one size items allow for layering (usually with some kind of vacuum underwear underneath) and can be accessorized with over sized jewelry and bright scarves.  We like this kind of one size.

What she was holding up in front of me did not fall into this category.  This jumper could have doubled up as a horse blanket or warmer attire for Demis Roussos should he need it.  This jumper, if laid out on the floor, would have had its own postcode, and possibly a church and pub on the left arm with a bus stop on the right.  This was not a jumper.  This was an undiscovered county.

'So your 'one size'?'  I said, marvelling at the fact that she was still able to hold the jumper up.  'What size is that exactly?'   

'Well in theory', she replied, laying the jumper on the table as she was risking losing all circulation in her arms, 'it should fit anyone between a size 8 and a size 20'.

Looking at it, now crumpled on the table, obliterating the till, phone, a copy of Heat magazine and a sandwich she'd been eating, I said that I thought they'd got the sizing wrong, and that by the looks of it you could have got somewhere between 8 and 20 people inside the jumper at the same time.  Perhaps that's what they'd meant.

'Well have a look around, you might find something else you like', she suggested.

And I did find something.  A grey V-neck with silver ducks on it (sounds vile, but it looked lovely on).  Bringing it out of the changing room, she asked me whether it was for Christmas Jumper Day (Friday 15th December, in case you're curious).  'That wouldn't work', I said, 'they're ducks.  Mind you, I could tell everyone they are short turkeys, and then I might get away with it'.

As she wrapped it up and took my money, I asked her what size the jumper was.

'One size', she said, handing me the bag.

I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or change my mind...

Monday, 27 November 2017

Too much...

Sunday was mainly about trifle.

We had a family get together on Saturday night, and I had made the decision to get a take away curry for the eight of us, rather than hopping up and down from the table watching some saucepan or another. and missing out on all the gossip. 

The husband was in charge of ordering the takeaway...

I think you are all nodding sagely at this point, perhaps mentioning the words 'over ordering'?  How right you'd be.  If you base your calculations on a takeaway curry costing around £15 a head, then he had ordered enough for 12.4 people.  Even taking into consideration that son number two was eating with us, this was a massive over calculation of what we could eat. When the curry was delivered, the poor man had to make three trips to the van there were that many bags.  Just to give you some idea, there were eighteen poppadoms for the eight of us.  See what I mean?

Miss R had turned up early with a pair of pigs' ears and a bottle of gin, both of which were nearly polished off by the time the rest of the family turned up.  This meant that the husband was in charge of telling everyone what was in each foil dish, as after six gin and tonics, I neither knew nor cared whether it was a Korma or a samosa.

We had a lovely evening - the curry was great (and will continue to be so till at least the middle of December) and once the gin was finished, we started on the port and cheese.  My lovely cousin had suggested bringing this when we first talked about having this get together.  At the time, I had plans to cook, so cheese wasn't a bad idea as a contribution.  However, having eaten a year's worth of curry in three hours, the cheese didn't look so appealing..But never fear....son number two and I had hit the pudding shelf in Sainsbury on Saturday, so there was cheesecake, roulade and two trifles to tuck in to.  

None of these were touched either.

Yesterday morning, the husband and I decided that exercise and starvation were on the cards to balance out the curry from Saturday night.  This lasted till 12.00, when the husband's thoughts turned to trifle.

There is now no trifle left in this house.

The same could be said for waistlines...

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Time after time...

As you know, son number two is back in the building for 72 hours.  He says that he's here to see the family, and to catch up on what's been happening while he's been away, but I am more inclined to think that her's here to simply stock up on food like a 6'4" hamster before heading back to Leeds.

So far, he has managed to squeeze in a full English breakfast yesterday morning, a curry last night and there's a bacon sandwich, full roast dinner and toasted marshmallows booked for today.  As well as all this feasting, he also has two carrier bags full of 'scran', as he now calls it, to stave hunger away till Christmas.  I've also paid for a tank of petrol and some wine.

All in all, I have been bled dry, and although I will be sorry to see him leave on Monday morning, my Bank Manager may get the bunting out in celebration.

His beard is continuing to cause issues.  It keeps catching my eye, and I want to do what my nanna used to do when faced with a child's dirty mush.  Handkerchief, spit, wipe.  There is a problem with this though.  Firstly, no one does hankies anymore, and I'm not too sure that Handy Andies have the same resilience as a neatly pressed cotton square.  Also, I can't reach him, so the element of surprise (always vital in impromptu face wiping) is gone.  

I don't know how long he is planning to grow this for.  I have an awful feeling that by Christmas it might have grown into something housing a couple of birds and some spaghetti from a night out the week before.  As Terry Wogan used to say, 'You never go hungry with a beard'.  

Anyway, it's all part of growing up, and finding out what living on your own is like.  Between you and me, I believe that the beard falls into CBA Territory.  Shaving each day is just one more thing he can do away with, releasing more time for cheap beer and kebabs.

It's a skill, you know.  

Time Management...

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Bearded lady...

Son number two returned home yesterday for a few days of free food and central heating.  His Southern Softy body has yet to acclimatize to the North, and I'm sure that his new university friends believe that he is clinically obese, so numerous are the layers of clothing he wears.  I would imagine he resembles a Russian doll when he gets ready for bed each night...

But the cold might explain the new addition to his face....the beginning of a beard.  

I am calling it a beard, but to be very honest with you, there have been occasions (and I'm not proud to admit this) when I have achieved far greater things in the facial hair department, usually in the winter months, when there is less chance of bright sunlight drawing attention it.

What is it with Mother Nature?  Not content with gifting us with spreading waistlines and wrinkles as us girls get older, she made the decision that at around the age of 45, a beard might be useful.   And not just any beard, mind you.  No, this is one which grows at Roger Bannister-like speeds, spreading over your chin like mile-a-minute Russian Vine.

When it became apparent that something needed to be done with the facial fur (sounds much better than hair, in my opinion) Miss R suggested that I spoke to my local salon about facial waxing.  I only did this once.  Coming out of the salon having reached pain levels akin to childbirth without gas and air, my face was bright red from the nose downwards.  I'd had to stop in the garage to fill my car up, and walking in to pay with a scarf wrapped around my face's lower half, I'm sure the cashier reached for the panic button, thinking I was about to rob them blind.

I then moved onto hair removal cream.  This worked really well, but timing was imperative.  Leave it on for 11 minutes and the beard remained in situ.  Leave it on for 12, and hair was gone.  But go to 13?  Hair gone, along with three layers of skin and a mole I was particularly fond of.  This also meant that I ran the risk of the husband coming home unexpectedly and discovering me looking like a member of the Ant Hill Mob.

So a few months ago, I decided that now I was akin to something called a 'grown up', something needed to change, and I purchased a tool of torture called an epilator.  This is how Wikipedia describes one:

'An epilator is an electrical device used to remove hair by mechanically grasping multiple hairs simultaneously and pulling them out'. 

So, a bit like a giant set of tweezers I thought.  Eyebrow plucking had never worried me too much, so surely it would be the same?


Now there's one thing pulling out a rogue eyebrow hair.  It's a bit like walking down the drive and spotting a leggy weed growing through the shag pile gravel.  But using the epilator was like have a JCB run rampant across my chin.  And don't get me started on the worst bit - The Upper Lip.

Stretching the space beneath my nose (what is that called anyway?) I look like Kenneth Williams faced with a Hattie Jacques matron, and steeling myself, I run the epilator over my upper lip at a rate of knots.  It's a great look, especially when coupled with streaming eyes and a fit of sneezing. But at least it does what it says on the tin.  

Worryingly, the epilator came with a free tool for 'more sensitive areas'.  Now I can't imagine anything being more sensitive than my poor old chinny chin chin, but I do have some idea of where this is supposed to be used (I read Cosmopolitan magazine sometimes, so I know stuff).

I think we all know where that went, ladies...

Friday, 24 November 2017

Forever Autumn...

I have no trees in my garden.  And yet, piles of unwanted leaves are scattered around the outside of my house like winos in shop doorways.

When we had the windy night on Wednesday, the husband raised the question as to which would be the best way for it to blow?  Would it be better to go from back to front, steering the crispy invaders across the drive and over the road, or would a side to side gust be better.  Trouble is, both my neighbours have lovely trees in their gardens, so this could have brought even more trouble.

Coming back from walking the dogs on Thursday morning, the husband, dripping wet from the horizontal rain was muttering.   (I had done a deal the night before involving a chicken sandwich so that he'd walk the dogs - being a sensible old soul, I always check the weather).

'Well, at least we know where all the bloody leaves are'. he growled (he wasn't happy).

'Where did they end up then?'I asked, fearing the worst.  Well, apparently it wasn't any old wind which blew through here on Wednesday night, but a turbo boosted leaf blower of epic proportion.  The husband had left the house via the front door, and walking across the field in front of our house, had marvelled at the lack of leaves.  Where had they all gone?

By the time he returned, via the side gate, it all became very clear where they'd all gone.  

The path down the side of the house had disappeared, having been replaced by a three feet deep leafy carpet.  He'd pushed his way through the leaves, only managing to lose the dogs twice in the process, before finally reaching the gate.  Apparently, it took brute force to pull the gate towards himself, creating a gap just big enough to squeeze sideways through.

I have suggested that he should join The Leaf Police.  I say this, because as soon as the leaves start falling on our lawn some time around the end of September, he's out there with the mower 'hoovering' the grass.  As he scoots up and down the lawn, desperately trying to keep his lines straight, I watch with glee as the leaves in next door's trees start chortling, trying to plan the best time to launch themselves onto our lawn.  This is usually just as he retreats to the garage with the mower, having glanced back smugly at the leaf free lawn.

By the time he gets back into the kitchen, the lawn is covered with an autumnal quilt, and he skulks off to the lounge with yet more muttering.

Such is the life of the husband...

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Ready or not....

A certain question seems to be rearing its ugly head around Binland...

As you know, the Christmas Party is on the horizon, and I was asked the following question yesterday morning while I was trying to squeeze some sort of colour out of my tea bag in the kitchen.  (When the 96,492 remaining tea bags are used up, I may suggest that we swap the brand we use).

Anyway, back to the question.  Here's how it went.

'What are you wearing to the Christmas Party?'

Now, as we all know, this is quite a dilemma. My colleagues for the most part are half my age and the majority of them are of the male variety. They are used to seeing me in my normal Binland garb of boots, leggings and tunic top, and I probably bear a striking resemblance to some of their mothers in my appearance.  But when you have a big night out, you want to make an impact, don't you?  You want your colleagues to see you as you really are, and not just as someone who likes to kick the copier once a week.

So what am I wearing?  Well I held back until the lovely lady who was asking me revealed that she was going full out in sparkles and glitter.  It would appear that the other three girlies going are all doing the same, and all of a sudden, my black trousers and floaty top seemed a tiny bit boring.  

'I'm wearing an off the shoulder number', I said, the words tumbling out my mouth before I even stopped to consider what this would mean on the night.  

Strapless bra (digging into my armpits, leaving red welts making me look like an extra out of an Adam And video)

Vacuum knickers (everything below the waist squeezed out over the top of the waistband like a tube of toothpaste without a lid, hence need for larger than normal strapless bra)

Vacuum tights in case vacuum knickers give up the ghost just after the starter

Polyfiller for face.  This is marketed under the guise of Blurring Cream, but I think we all know what it is really.

Fake tan - memo to self not to self apply, as streaking not attractive

Heels - always a sticking point for me as if my heels are too high, I can resemble a duck in wedges.  So the kittens will be brought out for their annual month of use before being put back into the wardrobe for another eleven months.

And if all else fails?

Well, there's always alcohol...