Sunday, 31 December 2017

Salad days...

So the ghost of Christmas past is still lying prostrate on the sofa, feebly demanding cups of tea, small slices of sausage plait and decongestant tablets.  Such is the lot of a woman with a sickly other half.  Like I don't have enough to do over Christmas...

Luckily, the husband managed to rally sufficiently to join me, several children and other family members at the pantomime on Friday night. Two hours of laughter courtesy of Bradley Walsh, and two hours of drooling thanks to Martin Kemp seemed to work for us ladies, but the men had Tinkerbell.  A rather annoying girl in pink spandex shorts, clip on wings and a lot of zhuzhed up net curtains.  The way the husband looked at her, it might be a look to adopt on his next birthday....or not.  I'm not sure that there is enough net left in the world to drape around my post Christmas bulk, and I might have to resort to a pair of flesh coloured Spanx instead of the sparkly shorts, but hopefully, he'll get the idea of what I am trying to achieve.

Anyway, my house has all of a sudden gone very quiet (except for the husband's spluttering and wheezing) as none of the children are here, and Mr and Mrs W have vacated the premises and headed back Oop North.  This wasn't before Mr W had test driven my new vacuum cleaner with a view to getting an idea as to whether it might be a good buy.  I came home to find that the whole of downstairs had been done which was a lovely surprise.  Shame I don't live in a bungalow as the whole house might have got the full Mr W treatment.

So what about the ghost of Christmas present then?  This would be me.  Staring into my fridge looking for inspiration as to what to eat which doesn't involve any of the following:

Turkey - in any guise - no good trying to trick me with a curry.  I'll know...
Mince pies - disallowed due to the lack of accompanying brandy butter which I polished off already
Quality Street - only the toffees left which are not suitable for someone with only two teeth of their own
Sausage Plait - having stoically ploughed my way through two and a half plaits, I do not want to see a sheet of ready rolled puff pastry this side of August

What I really need is lettuce, but oddly enough, this wasn't on my Christmas shopping list, having been unceremoniously pushed aside by a Chocolate Orange Mousse Cake.

So this ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is resembling a space-hopper, inflated to its utter maximum, with a grimace stretched across three quarters of its circumference.  No amount of Gaviscon is going to help, I'm sorry to say.

There are hard times ahead, mostly involving more of the ubiquitous lettuce...

Saturday, 30 December 2017

I believe I can fly...

I made rather a large faux pas this week.

You'll remember how amazing I was at keeping the secret from the husband for almost a year - the one where he was going to New York and not Prague?  Well, another secret had been foisted upon me on the 16th October this year, but this one involved the four children.

You see, I love the pantomime and since the children have been old enough to say 'no thank you' or 'not bloody likely', we haven't been at all.  Trawling the internet on the night of the 16th October, the husband suddenly looked up and said, 'Tell the kids that they have to keep the 29th December free.  I've booked the panto, but don't tell them where we're going'.  Now this wasn't your local, am-dram panto, with fading X Factor star and bad effects, but Peter Pan with Bradley Walsh and Martin Kemp (swoon...) in it.  Between us, we decided that it would be a bit of a hoot not to tell the children where they were going, simply for the reason that if they did know, then they would refuse to come with us.

Since then, we have been bombarded with questions as to where we were taking them.  Because we'd suggested that each of them could bring a partner, for some reason, they presumed we were taking them dancing.  This eventually got whittled down to darts on Christmas Eve when every other suggestion had been discarded.  In fact, I'm slightly ashamed to confess that I swore on my life that it wasn't the pantomime.

So on Boxing Day, with Christmas firmly put to bed, I thought that it might be an idea to work out the route to the venue, and find a restaurant which would seat twelve. Two and a half hours this took me, but showing the itinerary to the husband, he was suitably impressed.  I'd converted some Tesco Clubcard vouchers to help with the Ask Italian lunch bill, and had even included a short walk through the Christmas Market by London Bridge for us all.

And then on Wednesday night at around 9.00, the penny dropped.  We weren't going to the O2 arena at all, but Wembley Arena.  This would be the venue on the opposite side to London...  I must have aged around ten years in that minute as I started panicking about re arranging everything and everybody.

Suddenly, things started to make sense, like why the O2 has no Block D1, and why there were no spaces left in the surrounding restaurants. 

This time it took over four hours to sort out, mainly trying to find a restaurant close by which would take all twelve of us at one sitting.  One restaurant was very helpful, offering two tables with a twenty minute overlap, but eventually I found one.  Naturally, there is no Ask Italian near Wembley Arena, so my vouchers will live to fight another day.

But what about the kids' reactions?  To say that they were thrilled when they found out where we going would be over-egging the pudding slightly.  Resigned might be a better word.  Not prepared to sit through one more 'Oh yes he did' comments, son number one fled to Berlin with Little Miss Tiny when he found out where we were going, so we are dragging Mr and Mrs W along with us instead.

I did look up who would have been on at the O2 had we tipped up there with our (wrong) tickets.  It was The Foo Fighters.

The husband looked a little wistful when I told him.

Not for long though, after I gave him one of my withering looks...

Friday, 29 December 2017

Let's stick together...

I've had many embarrassing things happen to me over the years.  Some involving careless comments, others concerning fire escapes and pints of milk (this can wait for another day when I have nothing to write about) or waiting outside a doctor's surgery while his door was open (most educational - who'd have known...)

The evening with daughters one and two at the dead posh health spa will go down in my red-faced historical memoirs, but first, I need to go back a couple of weeks.

I'm sitting in the doctor's surgery having a good old moan.

'I'm fed up with eating, crying and sweating', I said to the very sympathetic (middle-aged lady) doctor.  

You see, after two years or so of desperately trying to keep the menopause at bay, I'd given in.  Having spent over 50% of my disposable income at the local health shop (you know the kind, the ones which have an all pervading whiff of stale marigold and menthol) I had finally realised that the effects of the Red Clover (my treatment of choice) were no longer cutting the mustard.  The doctor recommended HRT and after a long discussion (far more than my allotted seven minutes, I'm sure) I wandered out of the surgery clutching a small packet of patches.

I've been on them for about ten days so far, and there hasn't been any noticeable difference but I have high hopes.

Anyway, back to the embarrassing incident...

I have been putting the patches on my leg, but as I was going to be wearing my swimming costume at the health spa, had decided that slapping one on my left buttock might be preferable as it wouldn't be on full display.  What I hadn't allowed for was that my swimsuit was now not wide enough to cover my post Christmas derriere, and the patch was peeking out from beneath the stretched-to-the-limit material.  

Yanking the material over my buttock, revealing slightly more of the other one as a result, I made my excuses and headed to the loo to remove the patch.  Here's where the trouble started...

The girls had plied me with a couple of glasses of Prosecco, and in my rush to peel off the patch, it somehow got stuck somewhere about my person.  Brushing down my dressing gown, I couldn't find it, nor was it on the floor or stuck to my costume.  After a good ten minutes of searching, I gave up and trotted back out to the pool where the girls were waiting for me.  As I was chatting with them and quaffing yet more fizz, I suddenly noticed the patch, lying on the floor in full sticky splendour.  Several people passed by it narrowly missing it in their stride, but it was the elderly gentleman who managed to pick it up and he carried on, completely oblivious of his unwanted sticky hitch hiker.

I just hope that he was thrilled with the pair of 36DD's he woke up with the following morning...

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Rubber ball...

Bloody hell, my trousers are tight...

Yet again, my waistline has disappeared for it's annual sojourn somewhere far, far away, leaving in its place a rather shabby looking 205/55R16.  (For those of you not blessed with an understanding husband, this is a Ford Focus tyre).

So the tyre sits there, unable to be reduced without regular dosage of Gaviscon (other deflaters are available).  It gets stuck in my jeans zip, and forces my belt to make that awful decision...

Over the stomach, or under it.  Which way is better?

Go over and I look six months gone, go under, and I have a muffin top resembling something not seen since the Michelin Man overdid it on the carbs last Christmas.  Unfortunately, I can blame no one but myself.  I made and bought a lot of food this year, naturally assuming that the children would be with us for the time between Christmas and New Year.  

How wrong I was...

As soon as the presents were unwrapped and stored in their cars, they basically disappeared in a puff of wrapping paper and gift vouchers, kindly leaving me with several items which needed to be returned because they were too tarty/too small/just horrible.  I was responsible for all three of these items, so can't complain too much I suppose.  

So they departed. This left the husband and me, along with Mr W and Mrs W, to plough our way through enough food to keep a small country going till March.  I'm doing my bit to empty the fridge, and am expecting a visit from Royal Mail, demanding that I have my own post code as I've outgrown the one I currently have, and am encroaching on the next county.  

The husband, who sometime between emptying the dishwasher on Christmas Eve and waking up on Christmas morning developed man-flu, is not expected to make the New Year.  This has nothing to do with the man-flu, but is more to do with the fact that I might kill him if he doesn't stop coughing.  He is currently mainlining Day and Night Nurse, and I am sorely tempted to swap the tablets around so that I get a day without him making various requests for drinks and drugs from the comfort of his sofa. 

Mrs W and I escaped the germ ridden house yesterday morning, heading into town so that I could have a rapid emergency toe paint.  This was because daughters one and two were taking me to a spa later on, and looking at my feet yesterday morning, I'm not too sure that they would have let me in.

The only place open was the Chinese nail bar - a place which I have always sworn to never visit after a particularly painful visit to a similar establishment around fifteen years ago.  But needs must and all that, so I went in.  Surprisingly, it was empty, and the lady in charge shooed me over to a massage chair (which wasn't working, so basically, just a chair), flapping at my buttocks with a hand towel.

I'd like to say that I understood everything she did to my feet.

I'd like to say that I understood everything she was talking about (Oddly, the only words I understood were 'Hampstead Norreys' a town just down the road from here).

So fast forward an hour, and I am mincing out of the nail bar to look for Mrs W.  Finding her in the book shop, we did what every one does at this time of the year.  We went for coffee and mince pies in the cafe.

Naturally, forgetting the twelve mince pies residing in my cupboard....

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Driving home for Christmas...

And breathe....

Yesterday was spent running around the Home Counties like a Duracell Bunny who's been eating Skittles all morning.  There's always the most bizarre things left on the shopping list as you get nearer to Christmas Day, and mine was no different yesterday.  

I'd collected the Mother from her home and drove her down to Marlow for our usual Saturday breakfast,  We were a bit thin on the ground yesterday as Miss R is still in Asia (working her way round various tourist spots with a beer in hand) and Mrs Jangles has headed off to the fleshpots of Woolacombe where my cousin lives. But there were four of us in the end, as the Father and his partner Miss G turned up.  

Having drunk the obligatory lukewarm coffee, and burnt my fingers on the plate my pastry was served on (I think the chef uses a flame thrower to warm up the plates - pity he cant use it on the coffee, but hey, you can't have it all) the Mother then schlepped around Marlow with me as I ticked off the weird and wonderful items on my hastily scribbled list:

Painkillers - obviously, these are alcohol's favourite bedfellow, so you can never have enough
Lemons - I had already bought these but had used them in the Lemon Drizzle Bake Off the day before, so desperate was I to win
Book - Last minute present. Not the one I wanted, but a good substitute
Cards -it's daughter number two's  birthday just after Christmas, so I have to be prepared
Reading glasses - down to three pairs, so action was required to avoid roasting one of the dogs instead of the turkey
Sherbet Fountains - don't ask

So with all that done, I'm nearly there.  The kids have started coming back to the homestead, and my sister in law, Mrs W and her beau, the wonderful Mr W are due here later today.

I can't promise that there will be any ramblings over the next three days, but rest assured, like you, I will be folding my loved ones close to my heart, and doing a re-run of the same old traditions which we all do, year in and year out.

Thank you for coming along with me on the crazy ride which is 'Words from a Bird'. It's been great getting to know some of you better, and I'm sure that 2018 will be as daft as this year has been. 

I hope that you all have the most fabulous Christmas with your families and loved ones.  I'll see you all on the other side, when we're all fatter and poorer.

But with any luck, we'll all manage to feel just a little bit of that Christmas magic.

Much love....

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The wonder of you...

Taking my Lemon Drizzle into Binland yesterday morning, I have to confess to feeling just a little nervous.  I had made what I soon discovered, a massive error.  Deviating away from my tried and tested recipe, I had looked up online for the 'Best Ever Lemon Drizzle Recipe'.  Finding which professed to be so, I set about making it.  However, it wasn't till I read through to the syrup ingredients (demerara sugar?) that I realised that the Bake Off might not be in the bag.  Right at that moment in time, it was clinging onto the handles, waiting to be told which way to jump.

Placing it reverently on Master J's desk (empty because he took a sneaky day off yesterday) I waited for Brains to bring over his offering.  We'd agreed that the judging should be done at 10.30 which in Binland, is lunchtime.  I could then distribute my drizzle (and the other two I'd made) around my colleagues.

The minutes ticked away, and as 10.30 got closer, I felt sicker and sicker, terrified that I'd lose the Bake Off to a young whippersnapper, and a male one at that.  It didn't matter that he regaled me of how he'd perfected his drizzle after making them for his grandmother, nor did he draw any sympathy from me when he mentioned that his cake had sunk in the middle.  (Have to confess to a small mental fist pump at this point).

So at the allotted hour, Mr K, our adjudicator, sat down at a desk with two slices of lemon drizzle on separate plates, marked A and B.  And the tasting commenced.

And boy, did he milk it...

Ten minutes of sniffing, staring, poking and prodding, before various sections of both cakes were finally tasted.  With my jumper pulled over my head, we waited for the verdict...

Mr K was extremely generous in his comments, but just when it looked like it was going to be a tie, Mrs H handed him this situation.

'You're in the shop and can only buy one slice.  Which one would it be?'

Yet more dithering, and then finally, the winner was announced...

It was mine.

Brains was not happy, and said that I'd got the upper hand because, wait for it, my drizzle was still warm, having only come out of the oven a couple of hours earlier.  As I said to him as he skulked back to Technical with his tail between his legs, 'Well,if you want to play with the big girls...'

He emailed me later on that morning to congratulate me, saying that it 'was a close run contest'.  Indeed it was, but as I replied to him, 'Inch or mile, I still won'.

He did ask that I didn't gloat about winning the Bake Off, preferring to bury his shame rather than have it broadcast to 8,224 Words from a Bird readers this morning.

As if I would...

Friday, 22 December 2017

The lemon song...

Brains, he of the science-based qualification who works in the Technical Department at Binland, threw down the culinary gauntlet yesterday.

Sticking his head round the door, just after I'd finished having a rather taxing external audit, he said, 'Are you making a cake tomorrow?  I've never managed to try your cake, and word on the street is that they're pretty good.  And it is Christmas...'  Well after some argy bargy as to whether chocolate chip cookies would be an acceptable alternative (they weren't), I said to Brains that I would make a cake.  'What's your favourite then?'

Mr W, who had up till that moment been mulling over whether enough had been done in the audit, suddenly piped up with, 'Let me give you a clue.  He's known as Drizzee Rascal down in Technical because he makes a mean Lemon Drizzle'.

And then the question was raised as to whose drizzle would be better...

So later today, there is to be a Drizzle Bake Off, with a chap from the workshop judging which one is better.  There's a lot to lose here.  After all, I used to make cakes for a living (around 50 drizzles a week) so you'd expect mine to be pretty good.  My reputation is at stake, and if I lose this contest, I will never pick up a spatula again.

This is not something my colleagues would ever want to happen, as I ply them with baked goods on a regular basis, so if they have any sense, they will prime the chap from the workshop as to which one to choose.  I'll let you know the verdict tomorrow - if I'm still able to show my face should I lose...

But this wasn't the most exciting thing which happened yesterday though.  Our tree, the 16' one with a squatting mouse in it came third in the first round of judging for the best Christmas tree in the UK on the Chris Evans radio show yesterday morning.  Having got over the initial shock, I called the husband to tell him the good news.

'My tree came third', he said.  'Third, I just can't believe it'.

His tree?  His tree?

He picked it and potted it, and there ended any responsibility for said tree, but I decided to let him take the glory.  

After yesterday's poem, I did feel just the teensiest bit guilty...

Thursday, 21 December 2017

It's Christmas time...

And now for something completely different.  I should mention that no husbands were hurt in the creating of this 'masterpiece'...

Just one job, my husband has, at every Christmas time
No lists to get, 
Peruse and check.  
No unusual gifts to find.

No Wrapper's Stoop from days of wrapping
Or headaches and stress from hours of flapping.
No worrying about turkey being overcooked or tough
Or piggies in blankets - are there ever enough?

No need to buy paper, tape, tags or ties
Incredibly, this is already supplied
By yours truly who prepares ahead
Hating to panic about these things instead

Just one job, my husband has, at every Christmas time
Is it the drink?  The beer?  The wine?
Is it the shopping three days before
Two trolleys filled to the brim and more?

Well, it's not the beds, which all need to be made
For lovely family who are coming to stay.
The washing and drying of pillows and sheets
The cleaning of loos and guests' ensuites

None of these are on his list of things to do
Because they're all on mine, so I must look to.
Just four more days, and then I'm done.
No more work, and time for fun.

But just one job, my husband has, at every Christmas time
He simply has to be there and that's just fine.
I mean, men can't be trusted with all this stuff
But turning up?  Well, that's enough...

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Back in Vietnam...

Well, what a day yesterday was.  It started with talking rubbish all morning, buying it all afternoon, and then writing it in the evening...

It was my annual sojourn into the exciting world of broadcasting, you see.  Three hours of chatting on a local radio station with my friend Mr Z.  The chat was interspersed with mince pies and fancy coffee, and was a complete joy.  We covered lots of Christmassy topics, what with it being the Christmas show and all, and it was as I was telling the unsuspecting folk of Buckinghamshire about Triflegate and exploding snowmen that it suddenly hit me.  They must think that I am completely bonkers.  But then you knew that already, didn't you.  

The highlight was a telephone call from Miss R to the radio station, who had just packed her bike on the back of the van in Ho Chi Minh, and who was headed to the next stage of her three week trip through Asia.  Anyway, it gave me the opportunity to do something I have always longed to do.  Pushing my chair away from the microphone, I took a deep breath, and in full Robin Williams voice, I shouted. 'Good morning, Vietnam!'

Well apparently, not only did this have the effect of reducing Miss R and her cycling buddies to tears of laughter but daughter number two,who was listening to the show with her work colleagues, told me afterwards that my Robin Williams tribute had been a bit loud.  She went on to say that her colleagues said I had a great voice for radio.  Better than having a great face, I suppose...

After my 15 minutes of fame (a thousand people listen in each day apparently) we ended the show with Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey, and it was back to Binland for the afternoon.  As Christmas gets closer, I seem to be getting giddier by the second.  Unfortunately, no one else does (except for Mrs S who has been missing for the last five days, and who I depend on to be as festively annoying as me) and I'm having to temper my excitement.

It's Secret Santa day at work today, and I get to wear a Christmas jumper.

But which one?

There are so many...

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Dominic the donkey...

Christmas is going to be a tough one for me this year.

For the first time in 52 years, Miss R and I will not be spending Christmas Day together.  This is because she is cycling across Vietnam as I write, having another one of her adventures.  These usually involve pain and a bike which is why I leave her to it, but this year, she won't be back until after Christmas Day.

It's a daunting thought, because usually, the two of us always conjure up the Christmas lunch together.  If we're at her's, I sort the place settings and spuds, and I help with the washing up, whereas when she's at mine, there's always daft games and extra After Eights, and she and the Mother always do the washing up while I lie prostrate on the sofa like a stuck pig.

So this year, I'm on my own.  While she strokes elephants, I'll have my hand up a turkey's backside, and while she is wondering whether her sun cream is strong enough, I'll be debating as to whether my thick thermal drawers are suitable attire under my Christmas frock.  

I'm going to take a leaf out of her book this year, and start drinking sometime between the stockings and putting the turkey in the oven.  That way, any sadness at not having her by my side will evaporate in a small pink cloud of Prosecco with any luck.  The trouble is, I won't have her to giggle with, or play Pie Face with, or sing Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey with.  

Luckily, my sister in law, Mrs W will be staying here over the Christmas period, so I am shifting all the responsibility over to her to help me make Christmas Day go with a bang.  She will be a brilliant Miss R substitute, and I reckon that once I have got her up and running with the lyrics of Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey, she'll be just perfect...

Come on....join in...

Monday, 18 December 2017

Twinkle, twinkle little star...

Coming into our estate last night, I said to the husband, 'I hate flashing Christmas lights.  Why waste valuable twinkle time with all that fading and flashing malarkey?'

It's a pet hate of mine and in recent years, lights have come with so many settings, that by the time you get the one you like (on all the time, no fading, no flashing) either the batteries have run out or it's Boxing Day.  The husband used to like winding me up by setting the lights on our Christmas tree to various different settings while I slept.  His personal favourite was the one where they fade very subtly.  This was judged a success, as I didn't notice for two days.  After Triflegate on Saturday, it's more than his life's worth to tinker with my fairy lights, so I think it's safe to stay that they will stay on my favourite setting this Christmas.

We had a rather lovely Sunday, as daughter number one invited us over to her flat for lunch.  A roast, no less.

This is the first time that one of our children has invited us over to their home and cooked for us, so it was a quite a milestone.  Clutching a bottle of Prosecco, we waltzed into the flat, and I plonked myself down on the sofa, and waited for my lunch.  The husband, being a man who is handy with a power tool, had a list of jobs to do, and he set to with a screwdriver and a thermostat.  The lunch was really lovely, and I drank far too much and slept all the way home.  Luckily the husband was driving (he's still trying to get into my good books after the trifle comments) and apparently my snoring made radio volume adjustment necessary.

So with just one week to go, I'm almost sorted with the Christmas preparation.  The presents are wrapped and the food is ordered. To be honest, I'd be quite happy to fast forward a week at this point, before I invent some problem which needs sorting.  The husband has already invented one, insisting that we order a single bed so that daughters one and two don't have to share a bed with two giddy schnauzers.

Weirdly, I thought we might have been able to start getting rid of beds now that 75% of the kids have left home.

It would appear not...

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Christmas lights...

After yesterday's present wrapping marathon, I have developed a wrapper's stoop.  Gently bent over at a 45 degree angle with a biro tucked behind one ear, bits of sellotape stuck all over me and a precious and rare pair of scissors dangling from my clawed hand (this also with scraps of sellotape stuck to it).

The problem with present wrapping is that recipients tend to bowl in and out of the kitchen while I am in full flow, putting their hand over their eyes, declaring, 'I'm not looking', all the time peeking between their fingers, desperate to get a clue as to what they are getting.

There is some doubt as to whether the husband will be getting any kind of present from me this year after his throwaway comment yesterday morning.  We were discussing trifle, my pudding of choice for Christmas Day, and I was muttering about whether to pop the usual cherries on top, or go with chocolate sprinkles for a change.   

'Why don't you get a couple of trifles from Aldi', suggested the husband.

I bristled.

'I can't serve Aldi trifles at my Christmas table', I said, my eyebrows shooting up my forehead like a couple of slugs on a trampoline.  'What would my mother think?'

'Well I think they're better than the one you make...'

If looks could have killed, I'd be singing 'Abide with me' right now, and he shuffled out of my office muttering a feeble apology.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, and we're looking for lights to put along our fence.  After a small contretemps in Argos over coloured lights or some awful strawberry shaped monstrosities which the husband was keen on, we finally settled on some sensible string lights and the husband set to putting them up on the fence.  I was banished to the house, until the husband felt ready to pull me out for The Big Reveal.

Ushering me out with my eyes shut,he switched the lights on.  'You can open your eyes now'.

Oh, it looked lovely...

'Am I forgiven for the trifle comment?' he asked.

Well, dear reader, I wasn't going to let him off that easily.

'Make me a cup of tea, and I'll think about it'.

With a bit of luck, I could keep this up till New Year...

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....