Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Blood brothers...

I am very proud to say that I give blood on a regular basis.  This was something which I started doing a couple of years ago, and several litres later, I'm still going strong.  Booking an appointment yesterday for my next withdrawal of the red stuff, the lady at the end of the phone asked me if I'd like to know where my blood had gone after it had left the building.  Well this was very exciting I can tell you.  Where would my blood end up?  I had visions of my B Rhesus- heading off in its thermal container, transforming the lives of poorly people all over the UK.  Giving her my mobile number so that they could send me a text, I asked her how specific it was.  Well not very, it turns out, as all I can expect is a text telling me which hospital it has ended up in.  But not to worry, as long as it's going somewhere which counts, then that's fine.

I remember the first time I went, and the disappointment at not being allowed a cup of tea and a biscuit after my first donation.  Apparently, that is a privilege reserved for those who come back a second time.  An incentive as it were.  I have made up for it since, playing the 'light-headed' card to obtain a second packet of custard creams on many an occasion.  Twelve donations down the line, and I am probably known to all the nurses as the lady with the custard cream fetish.  Could be worse, I suppose.  I could be into Bourbons, and how weird would that be?

Yesterday was one of those days I was quite glad to see the back off.  It reached its heady climax around 5.00pm as I walked into the lounge for the first time.  I had been walking the fuzzballs earlier in the afternoon and had been ambushed by a hailstorm, the likes of which Reg had never seen before.  If I had known what awaited me in the lounge, I may not have been so quick to use my scarf to dry him off, nor to cuddle his shaking body as he was so terrified.  No, I might have just left him on the path shivering with fear, whilst gloating quietly that I was dressed appropriately.

Getting home, I had to bath both dogs, as they looked like they had both had a fight with a large cowpat.  With that done, I gathered up a well deserved cup of tea, and headed into the lounge.  What awaited me resembled a stock take in a wool shop.  My beautiful purple rug had been shredded, and there were two feet long woolly snakes from the door to the sofa.  What was left of the rug had a central hole, and it became glaringly obvious that the calming tablets Reg is taking just ain't working.

Gathering up all the bits of rug, I laid them reverently into what was left and rolled it up for the husband to dispose of later.  It did cross my mind to roll Reg up with it and send him off to the tip too, but luckily for him, I have a forgiving soul (eventually).

But do you know the worst bit?  Once I had dragged the rug out and left it by the front door, I came back in with a fresh cup of tea to have another go at a 'sit down'.  Where my rug had been was the lovely grey carpet we had purchased three years ago.  But surrounding the rectangle island in the middle of the floor was a murky sea whose colour can only be described as filth.

I am booking the carpet cleaner in next week.  He can do the sofas while he's here too.  Basically, anything where the dogs have ever been.  It's either that, or I suppose there is one other option...

I'm going to need a bigger rug...

Monday, 27 February 2017

Mouldy old dough...

It was a very long day yesterday for yours truly and the husband.  I had managed to get a couple of tickets for the England-Italy Six Nations Rugby game.  Now I'm not saying these were expensive, but the husband is fully aware that this is his present for Valentine's Day, his birthday, our wedding anniversary and Christmas.  For this year, and next year too actually. 

We left early yesterday morning, as we had booked to go up to Twickenham on the train. Everything went really smoothly, with us managing to snatch a couple of seats from the eager bottoms of a couple of teenagers.  This will teach them to look where they are going rather than at their bloody phone screens.  Snooze you lose, my friends...

The atmosphere was brilliant and first stop was a pub naturally, where the husband, ever the forward thinker on these occasions, had double ordered his pints of Guinness. Standing in the doorway with our plastic beakers of booze, we watched the world go by.  Mostly men in tweed or wearing off-duty camping coats, with the occasional female thrown in (probably invited so that she could drive the aforementioned men home - bit like me I suppose). 

Drinks downed, it was then time for food.  I passed on the hotdogs, hog roasts, pizzas and burgers, finally settling on a pasty stall which had been set up in some poor soul's front garden.  They had a choice of ordinary Cornish Pasties, or.....'The Big One'. Well, the husband and I took one look at the eight square inches of flaky pastry encompassing meat and potatoes and the deal was done.  I am going to have to do double the work at Pilates this week to even make a dent in the effect that pasty would have had on my waistline, but boy, it was worth it.

The match was brilliant, although we did think that we might have had to come home with our tails between our legs, but the English team finally started playing the game properly in the second half, and went home with the win.  I expect the players all got into their flashy cars and were home within half an hour, just in time for Antiques Roadshow.

Unfortunately, because we had to get the train, along with 79,998 other people, it took us slightly longer.  Three hours to be precise. Now some of this time was spent queuing for hot doughnuts.  I had spent the whole day feeling cold, and clutching a hot paper bag full of doughnuts was nothing short of perfect. I was tempted not to eat them but simply tuck them down inside my vest, but common sense prevailed and I ate the lot...

But today is Monday again. 

Dust and water is back on the menu today to balance out yesterday.....

Sunday, 26 February 2017

No sleep...

We had a lovely surprise yesterday when daughter number two turned up at the house very unexpectedly.  Leading up to her arrival, I had been stretched out on the sofa, desperately trying to grab back a few hours' sleep.  This was because we had been out with my best friend Mrs S, who wanted to thank the husband for all he had done to turn her house into a home (with hot and cold running water and heat).  The evening had started well, with Mrs S coming to collect us, with the idea that we could all have a drink, then the husband and I would get a taxi home, while Mrs S simply crossed the road outside the pub and walked through her front door.

Mrs S was on a mission, and ordered a bottle of Prosecco prior to even walking into the pub.  In between chatting, laughing and eating (thank you Red Lion, Cholsey) the two of us managed to down another bottle, while the husband chose to drink something marginally more manly...rhubarb gin with ginger ale.  Actually, this isn't that manly a drink as it has a straw and some fronds of rosemary and rhubarb delicately draped over the glass.  The 'manly' part of it was that he managed to drink around eight of these and remain coherent. 

So fast forward to yesterday morning at 5.27am when the two fuzzballs started scratching at our bedroom door.  In my alcohol-fuelled daze (four hours' sleep just isn't enough) I schlepped downstairs to let them out into the garden, where they spent a most enjoyable fifteen minutes pooping in my newly dug over flowerbeds.  This is because, in my infinite wisdom, I gave them a bone each on Friday afternoon. Why I never remember what happens every time I give them a bone, I shall never know.  Ten minutes with one, and the two of them can do a passable impression of a Play-Doh Fun Factory.

So when daughter number two let herself in yesterday afternoon, I had been stretched out for an hour attempting a bit of shut eye.  This had been hampered by Reg, always so needy, who decided that lying on my head would be a good way to get my attention.  The husband then came in, put the rugby on, and passed a pleasant forty five minutes shouting at the television.  I think I managed about four minutes of sleep in the end.  Quite pathetic really.

So after dinner with son number two and ELL (they hear that bloody oven go on) there was just enough juice left in my tank for an hour with Tom Hardy and then an early night..

Could be worse I suppose.....

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Slip sliding away...

It would appear that I may have bought the wrong shoes for my Swing Dance Club.  After my blog yesterday, there was a bit of banter going on as to 'what the hell has she bought?'  I'm really worried now.  Am I going to be the laughing stock of the church hall next week?  Will the teachers throw me out, whilst shouting at me about how I've 'shown everyone up with my flashy ne'er-do-well footwear'?

But one lovely lady put my mind at rest (thank you Ashleigh) so when they arrive later today, I shan't have to lie to the delivery man and deny all knowledge of them, pushing them forcefully back into the van while saying very loudly that they are 'NOTHING TO DO WITH ME'.  I am planning on wearing them every day between now and the next class just to break them in a bit.  Bets are currently being placed in the house as to how many times my suede soles will cause me to fall down the stairs/slip over in the hall/get my feet wet (having forgotten that they cannot be worn outside EVER).

Anyway, they're just shoes, and if they improve my Jig Kicks and Charleston Walks even by 0.00001% it will be twenty pounds well spent.

Mrs S and I went swimming again on Thursday night.  I have been very concerned that I may not be swimming properly, which might explain why Mrs S manages to lap me at least twice every week much to my shame.  Sometimes, I manage to read the whole advert on the side about swimming the channel for charity without actually moving anywhere - it's an art.  So I asked Miss R, a competent and rapid swimmer, as to how I could improve my swimming.  'Get your face in the water', was her reply.  'You'll find it much easier and you'll go faster'.

Well I couldn't face goggles.  I'm 53 and not too keen on them.  I imagine that will all my wrinkly face skin, a pair of goggles would just disappear into the folds, and make me look like a Cabbage Patch Doll.  So I went commando, as it were.  Well the first two strokes went ok, but it all went to pot when I surfaced for the first time for some much needed oxygen.  Now normally, I don't have a fringe.  However, after four seconds beneath the water, I developed one around a foot long, which hovered around my upper lip as I broke the water's surface.  This resulted in temporary blindness, and a frantic hair pushing back, while continuing a one armed breast stroke.  I veered a beautiful 45 degrees, and found myself on the ropes...literally. 

So it was back to what son number two affectionately calls 'Old Lady Swimming'.  Head high and proud, eyebrows hoisted up in an attempt to stop my eyes coming into any sort of contact with the wet stuff, and a wide toothed grimace every time Mrs S passed me. There may also have been some frowning and tutting going on at the splashing kids on the other side of my rope...who knows?

Swimming in a public pool is not the same as swimming when you're on holiday.  There is no sun lounger waiting for you to dry out on in the sunshine, with a cold beer next to it as a reward.  Oh no, at this time of the year, it's a quick dash back to the changing room, costume off, clothes back on (always having forgotten either clean bra or knickers), walk over wet floor as 'outdoor shoes completely forbidden', socks and boots on, cup of tea with Mrs S (unexpectedly lovely as it happens), then out into the cold dark night.

On Thursday night, thanks to Miss R's advice, I had wet hair when I left.  I can't even begin to describe to you what this looked like by the time I got home to the husband, which will teach me to take a comb and a large hat with me next week.

Fortunately, I made the decision to go back to my curls on Thursday, so at least it can only get better.

Unlike my bloody swimming...

Friday, 24 February 2017

Let's swing...

Yesterday, my bird table finally died a sad death on the lawn.  I am blaming that harridan Storm Doris for this, but to be honest, as the bird table has been without three legs for the last year after the last 'huffin' and puffin' episode, I think that it has been living on what is commonly known as 'borrowed time' since then.  It's very sad though, as this was a present from the husband many years ago, and he had a hand of some sort in its construction.  Needless to say, I will continue blaming Doris rather than his handiwork...

It was week three of Swing Club on Wednesday evening.  I was dreading it, as I really hadn't got to grips with the steps the week before, and I was worried that the teachers may 'build' on what was learned last week.  But oh happy day, we had new steps, and this time, my feet did as they were told.  It has to be the best workout ever, and by the time we were fifty minutes in, I was on my last legs...literally.

And then the teachers showed us what was to be our last move in this particular routine.  The Big Finish.  The Final Triumph.  It was what they called 'aerial work' and was enough to strike fear in every man in that room.  But we had some run throughs on our own (don't ask me how it's helpful to do this on your own - surely the whole idea is that the leader heaves you up?)  It was then onto the real thing, with the next partner in the large circle. 

Now most of us tend to end up with a life partner who sort of fits in with our build/height.  Look at me and the husband.  He's is around 4" taller than me, which allows me to wear a heel if required, or to tuck myself in under his arm if I'm feeling a bit 'fluffy'.  There is no tiptoe stretching needed, nor do I need to develop a stoop on a night out for fear I may come over as an overpowering old bag.

However....my first male lead for the aerial work was 5' tall.  I'm not sure who looked more worried.  Me that he might drop me, or him thinking about how much his osteopath bills would be for the next six months.  But after several dummy runs, we did it, and I flew.... Well, jumped off the ground about 8" would be more accurate, but at least I landed on both feet, and even better was that they were mine and not his.

So yesterday, I made a commitment to my dance classes and invested in a pair of swing shoes.  I will never be seen dead in these outside of the church hall as they are shoes which put functionality before beauty (a bit like wellies).  They have a suede sole which means that they can't be worn outside and a most attractive elastic T-bar strap.  I am just hoping that the proper footwear will make the steps easier.   But you know, it'll be the clothes next. 

And that opens a whole new can of worms...

Thursday, 23 February 2017

I didn't know my own strength...

I can usually tell what kind of day I am going to have within about half an hour of getting up.  Take yesterday for example.  Opening the bathroom cabinet to reach for my deodorant, imagine my surprise when I pulled out a bottle of surgical spirit.  Same size, same colour, just not my deodorant.  This is the husband's and to date, I haven't been brave enough to ask him what he needs it for.  It was an omen (cue scary music and evil crows) and for a second I wondered what else would be flung my way. 

Well not a lot actually.  Work went well.  I have almost caught up with the email deluge from my two days off.  Of course, I have yet to catch up on Tuesday's and Wednesday's work, but I'm not Superwoman.  As I said to Master P yesterday morning, having a holiday is bad news unless you have a fairy to do your work for you.  In Binland, there are no fairies...

But the highlight of my day was a fantastic walk in the woods with my wonderful friend Mrs P and her Rottweiler puppy Neville.  Now the word 'puppy' conjures up a ball of fluff small enough to sit on your lap.  A tiny scrap of cuteness which makes us ladies of a certain age go all gooey (and slightly relieved that our bearing days are over).  Neville does not fall into this category.  To be honest with you, if Neville sat on my lap, there is a good chance that I'd never walk again, or at least never in a straight line. 

While we walked around the woods, Mrs P was talking about Neville's anxiety, and I was telling her about Serenum which I give to the rug-shredding, carpet-tearing Reg.  'But you better get Serenum Plus', I said, 'They do two types, one for normal dogs, and a slightly stronger one for dogs who are the same size as a Shetland pony'.  So I can tell that you are building a picture of Neville.  Couple this with the most beautifully gentle nature, and you have a wonderful dog.  He also happens to be Reg's best friend. 

Long gone are the days when Reg could swipe Neville across the face in 'play'.  These days you are more likely to see Reg walking underneath Neville, his back gently rubbing over Neville's undercarriage.  They also quite like the game where Neville pretends that he is going to eat Reg.  This results in me taking home quite a crusty looking dog, his hair very Sid Vicious circa 1976.  I said to Mrs P that Reg's only saving grace is that he can run like the wind when he's had enough of being Neville's plaything (or 'bitch' as I like to call him).

After an hour and a half of woody woofer walk, both of mine were keen to get into the car, and they hopped onto the back seat and curled up for a snooze.  Neville, who hasn't yet mastered the skill of jumping into the back of the car had to be manhandled in by Mrs P.  Front legs in first, and then a deep breath in, legs braced, and Neville's back end was unceremoniously hoisted over the threshold by Mrs P.

I think that Mrs P is hiding a multitude of sins under that anorak of hers...

Super human strength for one...

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Train in vain...

It was all back to normal yesterday.  I headed back to Binland where after six minutes at my desk I had forgotten all about my lovely time in Liverpool, and the husband donned his hi-viz and work trousers and drove down to my best friend Mrs S's house. The husband has been spending many of his daylight hours in her house over the last few months, and as her new kitchen is now nearing completion, his minutes there are numbered.

Now several weeks ago, Mrs S bought a gorgeous four legged fluff ball called Ralph.  The husband has had to work around Ralph over the last couple of weeks, and as he's just a puppy, toilet training has been sporadic.  The husband tells me that he will never be able to re-use the dust sheets he has used at Mrs S's house, and I think that Ralph may have something to do with it.  Ralph has also learned to climb a ladder.  Mrs S may not thank the husband for this when the window cleaner is there next.

Mrs S dropped me a frantic text yesterday afternoon, asking if she could pop round.  Well of course she could, and within ten minutes of my reply to her plea, she was in my drive with Ralph.  Now Ralph evokes very different responses from my two canine terrors. 

Reg treats him like a new plaything, bowling him over and chasing him around the table.  He should enjoy this while he can.  One of Reg's best friends is a Rottweiler called Neville - we are walking later today, and it will only be Reg's warp factor 8 speed which will stop him from being given a gummy mauling from Neville.  Percy, being slightly older and a little more sensible, simply barks at Ralph.  I imagine that he's complaining about the introduction of yet another pesky kid.  As if having Reg wasn't enough already...

Mrs S and I usually spend our time together with Ralph and Reg on our prospective laps taking swipes at each other, while Percy sits in the lounge, sulking with his 'special blanket'.  Turns out that Mrs S and Ralph were both getting under the husband's feet, which is why she evicted herself.  Two hours later, we had put the world to rights, and the dogs were all on pleasant terms with Percy now choosing to 'talk' to Mrs S's coat pocket which was full of puppy treats. 

Returning home, Mrs S took Ralph outside for a wee.  This was her third attempt to get him to go with no joy.  For some strange reason, he will never 'go' at my house, however long Mrs S and I stand on the lawn in the freezing cold, blue hands wrapped around hot mugs of tea. 

I have a theory about this.  I think he saves it all up...

For the husband's dustsheet...

Monday, 20 February 2017

Picture this...

So we got home safely.

It was a close run thing though, as yet again the 'tea-effect' was making itself known half an hour into the long journey back.  Every time a services was advertised, I said to the husband that I thought I could make the one after.  The traffic was running freely, the sun was shining, and things were looking good.  However, after telling the husband that we would have to stop at the next one, we very neatly ground to a halt about four inches after the turn off for the services we had just passed.  There was some serious self control needed for the next twenty minutes while we pottered towards the oasis which was Stafford North.  But I made it, and then celebrated with a coffee.  I never learn...

The house was still standing, which is always a bonus when we have been away for a few days.  The dogs looked more than just a little relieved to see us, but this soon wore off once they realised that no edible treats had been brought back for them.  Son number two and daughter number one will probably have the same reaction when there are no bars of Milka languishing in the fridge when they get home.  I did bring some bits and pieces back from Liverpool though:

A large mug with Liverpool emblazoned across it.  This was bought on Friday for my early morning cup of tea.  The doll-sized cups in the room meant that the Yorkshire tea bags provided gave me a cup of tea which I could have eaten with a knife and fork.

A hardback book on Liverpool.  Full of wonderful pictures of modern day Liverpool.  This was a bit of a cock up on my part, as I wanted a book full of old photos, so that I could compare now with then.  If I wanted to look at the buildings as they are now, I could have got on the bloody bus tour again, or simply just looked out of our hotel window..

A hardback book on St George's Hall.  The husband and I visited this beautiful court building on Sunday.  We sat in the dock, walked into the holding cells, admired the ventilation system and read all about the court cases while we were there.  The book had pictures of the docks, and page upon page of court cases, all of which we'd seen in the flesh.  St George's Hall is also mentioned in some detail in my hardback book on Liverpool....page 49...

A small paperback book on The Cavern.  I haven't had much chance to look at this as yet, but it proved very useful as a drinks mat for my massive tea mug. 

Finally, the last thing I brought back with my was a very poor husband.  Liverpool and I had bled the poor man dry.  It will take some time for his wallet to recover I'm sure.

Having unpacked the cases, I popped down to my local supermarket to get some food for the fridge.  Coming out I headed over to Mrs H's beauty emporium (miracles happen in this place) to book an appointment for my forehead and jowl lifting CACI treatment.   Turns out she was free, so I headed off to her room at the back for a quick eyebrow and eyelash tint which was also on my list of 'Things Which Need Doing to Prevent Me Being Mistaken for an OAP'.  Also on this list are hair roots and facial waxing, but one thing at a time ladies....

Now the old brows had been looking a little weedy and pale so the impact of a bit of brown dye was quite extreme.

Not quite Scouse Brows, but I'm quietly proud of them...

P.S...This is not my dog - my two would never sit still long enough...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The other side of Liverpool...

Our three days in Liverpool so far have been defined very clearly.  Friday was the fleshpots of the rough end of Liverpool, Saturday was popular culture with The Cavern and The Philharmonic (great men's loos if you're interested) and yesterday was all about the serious stuff.  First port of call was the old courts where various 'scallies' met a fairly gruesome end.  Unfortunately much of it was closed due a wedding happening later in the day - quite fitting when you come to think of it...

It was then down to the newly refurbished and reopened library. This is what I have discovered that I love best about Liverpool.  They are so honest and faithful to the past, and in this library, amidst the wood and metal was a Victorian Reading Room, which looked like something out of Harry Potter.  Small spiral staircases took you up to the upper shelves of books, and it was a truly magical place.  Once I had circumnavigated the room, I found the husband with his head in a book about Russian politics.  He'll be donning that fur hat of his and storming the Kremlin next.

The Catholic and Anglican cathedrals were next on the culture list, and the Catholic one was a real disappointment I'm afraid.  It would appear that shortly after completion, the place started leaking and generally falling to pieces, creating a repair bill of £6m. All I could think of is the architect standing there on Day one with his plans, when a van of Irish paddies tipped up, asking if he wanted the gutters emptied or some tarmacking done.  You get what you pay for it would seem. 

The Anglican Cathedral, on the other hand, was beautiful and I took great pleasure in the fact that there was a gravestone outside for a brave man with the same surname as mine, who had been awarded the Victoria Cross.  I like to think that somewhere down the line we might have been related.  It's unlikely though.  Rumour has it that one of my ancestors spent most of the war hiding in a tree at the end of a relation's garden.  Yes, that sounds more like it...

We finished off our day of culture with a French Onion Soup and a bowl of Moules Mariniere at a tiny French Bistro we stumbled across, managing to offend another couple of people by telling them how lovely the food was.  When we got no response whatsoever, we looked at each other in a 'Not again' sort of way.  But it turned out they were German this time...

Getting up from our chairs after an hour's lunch, the husband and I realised that Liverpool had finished us off.  Between the two of us, we had one hip and two feet which were functional, so it was back to the hotel for time out and a last drink at the bar.

Today, I hand my husband back to our children, the dogs and his work colleagues.  It's been lovely having him to myself for a few days, but as we know, all good things come to an end.  We have both fallen in love with Liverpool, and will take home many happy memories.  However, as you know, the husband will have more memories that I do.

Friday night is still a complete bloody mystery...

Brain damage...

Yesterday was marginally saner than our first day in Liverpool.  I have to put this down to the three sausages, two rashers of bacon and baked beans consumed at breakneck speed with a Pain au Raisin chaser. We didn't get down to breakfast till 11.00, which meant that I had eaten nothing for 24 hours, and it was only my delicate constitution which stopped me launching myself face first into the basket of croissants like a mad woman. 

So suitably fed, the husband and I headed back into the city.  I needed to get my hair done, as Mrs W and Mr G were on their way to us for a Big Night Out in The Cavern Club (spawning ground of the Beatles and various other ne'er-do-wells).

Believe it or not, it took almost an hour of walking around the city to find a hairdressers.  Bearing in mind how much time they spend on their eyebrows up here, you'd think that anything connected with hair would be prevalent.  Speaking of the eyebrows, since I mentioned them in passing to the husband on Thursday evening, he has become obsessed with them, going on about the 'fuzzy slugs' all weekend - anything like this always completely passes him by, and the Scouse Brow is something he can add to the things he's learned about this weekend. (One of which is not to allow me more than two mini bottles of Prosecco ever again).

So back to the hairdressers.  We finally find one, and the girl was able to offer me a blow dry immediately (this is never a good sign).  Drying my hair, she said something along the lines that my hair was getting damaged.  I agreed, saying that maybe it was time to go back to my natural curls and give the hairdryer some time off for good behaviour.  'It's probably your pillow that's doing it', she said.  'My pillow?' I questioned.  'Yes.  The sequins can play havoc with your hair and break it off''.  'Oh I haven't got any sequins on my pillow', I said, not realising what reaction this comment would get. 'No sequins! What, none at all?  Not even down the side?' She'd switched the dryer off at this point, such was her disbelief.  'No.  None at all'.  And then the killer question...


Well, I could have been honest with her and said that I didn't fancy waking up each morning looking like I'd shared the bed with Edward Scissorhands all night, or that having them digging into your cheek as you nodded off is not the most relaxing of sensations, but instead I opted for 'Well, I know they would damage my hair'.  To which she nodded sagely. (Hard to tell if she was actually nodding as my eyes were fixated on her eyebrows which had been applied with a roller brush into the shape of a couple of lambs' kidneys.

But it was an ok job, and it lasted through afternoon tea with the in-laws, and our visit to The Cavern.  I wasn't really too sure what to expect from this place, but one thing is for sure.  No one under the age of 50 should be allowed in there.  At least at that age you stand a chance of being around when this music was being played for the first time.  What attraction three men with a combined age of 217 have to a sixteen stone 22 year old 'hen' in a pink net tutu I have no idea.  We didn't stay too long - its been decades since I've been in a place where I have to prise my soles away from the floor with every step.  But at least I can now say that I've been.

Today, we're going to have another go at actually getting into the two cathedrals here.  Miss R implied that I was going to give penance for my alcohol-fuelled Friday afternoon.

I think I spent more than enough time on my knees in our bathroom on Friday night.

A lesson was learnt...

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Ferry cross the Mersey...

I am alternating my blog writing with frequent visits to the 5* luxury bathroom, a room which overnight I have become well acquainted with.  This is what happens when you mix the following up..

Fruit for breakfast
Six hours schlepping around Liverpool
One Bakewell tart
Eight mini bottles of Prosecco

The husband decided that having been dragged around the sights, a beer was on the cards.  You'll note the use of the word 'a'.  At no point in that sentence was the word 'ten' mentioned.  Our first stop was Smokey Moe's.  This was jumpin'....at 3.00 in the afternoon... A rather rotund DJ in a beige cardigan was alternating his record collection with a bit of karaoke.  Two hours/three bottles in, we were having a ball.  And then something happened which you just could not make up. 

The husband and I were quite jolly by this time, and two gentlemen came and joined our table.

'That could be the worst decision you ever made', quipped I, implying that if they had come for a quiet drink, then our table wasn't the place to be.

Nothing.  No response.  No acknowledgement of my 'welcome'.

With a fixed smile, I turned to the husband and said quietly about 'that being a little bit awkward'.  It wasn't till they started signing and lip reading over their pints that it all made sense.  So that was the first couple of people we hacked off.

It was then into Ruby Blues next door where bottles six and seven were polished off.  More live music in this one, with a group of ladies sitting next to us who were almost as noisy as me and the husband.  An elderly gentleman had headed over, and was chatting to the girls.  'There's always one, isn't there', I said to the girl next to me.  Well it turned out that it was her dad who had popped in to say hello.  We went soon after that, as the frosty glares were souring my enjoyment of bottle seven.

We then sauntered/staggered round to Lanigan's Irish Bar on the recommendation of a couple of men in hi-viz.  Another bottle, and the husband decided that we should practise our swing dance moves.  Well, we gave it all we had (which might explain the large bruise on my collarbone this morning).  Unfortunately, the fiddler who was playing the Irish Rover at the time wasn't too impressed - perhaps we should have been doing a touch of Riverdance rather than the Lindy Hop. 

I think we got home around 11.00 - I'll be honest with you, I have had to rely on the husband to tell me what happened after bottle six as my recollection is a little sketchy.  Apparently, I was very good entertainment last night, and I am sure the husband will not let me forget my Mrs Malaprop comment about the Wispa bar in his central reservation.  I meant the centre console....

Before we went steadily downhill in the fleshpots of Liverpool, we had ferried, walked and bussed around this beautiful city, falling in love with its people.  Everyone we spoke to seemed to be a frustrated comic, and I particularly loved the camped up coffee seller on the ferry.  He kept eyeing the husband up and down in a hilarious Lily Savage manner, and then asked me if I'd ever tried 'a bit o' Scouse?'  Turns out it's stew.....

More of the same is planned today.  But without the mini bottles I feel....

Friday, 17 February 2017

Wee willie winkie...

The husband had a close call at Swing Club on Wednesday night.  A lovely gay couple joined us for the warm up, and I watched with trepidation as the 6'4" 'follower' (as opposed to leader) swapped partners around the circle, getting nearer and nearer to the husband.  Luckily, just as the 'camp as Christmas' gentleman was about to fall into the husband's arms for a kick flick and basic Charleston, they were sent off for the Intermediate Class downstairs.  The husband's relief was palpable, and I feel that there is now a second reason why we won't ever see the Intermediate Class.  As if being rubbish dancers wasn't a good enough reason...

The husband and I are now officially 'on vacation' for a few days.  The journey up was far from smooth sailing, with accidents, barrier repairs and speed limits all the way.  This started to become a problem for me somewhere around Warwick, when I realised that a trip to the loo was needed.  Unfortunately, the barrier repair men of Great Britain are not to be hurried, and we were almost in Stoke before a service station loomed on the horizon.  Ten minutes before this, we had watched a car pull up on the hard shoulder, and seen an elderly couple having words.  I imagine that the conversation was something like this...

'I'll go down by that tree Margaret, and you can go behind the hedge'
'If you think I am dropping my drawers on the M42 Bernard, then you don't know me very well'.
'Please yourself Margaret'...

Bernard then stood in full primal glory on the verge having a spectacular time (with obligatory shaking and knee bend) while Margaret remained in the car muttering about how she wished she'd bought that SheWee from the Mail on Sunday a couple of weeks ago.

Needless to say, seeing Bernard on the side of the road didn't help me at all, and some serious concentration was needed for the last ten minutes.

The husband had surpassed himself on the hotel front.  We are staying in the Titanic, a fully overhauled Tobacco warehouse, which has retained a lot of the original features.  I am looking forward to getting to know Liverpool, and am fully prepared with my fake tan, derriere-skimming dress and no vest (they don't feel the cold up here apparently). 

The husband is refusing to wear the curly perm wig and shellsuit which I brought up for him.

He's going to stick out like a pork pie at a Jewish wedding...

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Messed up kids...

Now he is working in Oxford, son number two is spending more time at his best-friend-now-girlfriend ELL's house,  This is all very well, but it goes hand in hand with not spending so much time at home.  Anyway, it's very quiet here, and what with daughter number one being away too, the dishwasher is only going on once every two days.  But it's the new washing machine I feel really sorry for.  Every time I wander past it, it looks up at me as if to say, 'I didn't sign up for this part time job - rumour had it that I would be washing clothes all day, not just a paltry once every three days'.

Well I suppose I feel much the same.  I am used to coming home from Binland and having a list as long as your arm of things to do.  Things like packed lunches for the following day (I know he's 19, but he'll be gone before I know it), ironing, washing, shopping for food (a daily job when son number two is here) and just general clearing up after him.  I am still shocked when I walk back through the door as the house is exactly as I left it (unless Reg has had a Tasmanian Devil attack, in which case, there will be a shredded doormat/newspaper/slipper/trainer to greet me at the door). 

He's back this weekend, because he's on dog duty as the husband is whisking me off to Liverpool for the weekend.  Four whole days and nights away with no one to worry about except ourselves.  I am anticipating ferrying up the Mersey, a Magical Mystery Tour, the Cavern Club, bad perms and shell suits.  We're also meeting up with the husband's sister Mrs W and her glorious beau Mr G while we're there which will be lovely. 

So I won't see son number two while he's dog-sitting, but I know for a fact that when we return on Monday, there will be evidence everywhere that he has been back.

1.  The pizzas and fajitas I bought for him will remain uneaten
2.  The bin will be full of Chinese takeaway cartons
3.  The washing machine will be empty (..which is good.  However.........)
4.  The dirty linen basket will be overflowing, spilling its contents across the landing
5.  The dishwasher will be full of dirty plates...
6.  But will not have been put on
7.  The fridge will be devoid of food (all of it would be removed to the garage fridge and replaced with beers)
8.  There will be shoes....everywhere
9 . His bedroom will once again resemble TK Maxx on a Saturday morning
10.There will not be a glass to be found, unless you are brave enough to go into his room, where they will all be lined up on the window sill as if it were last orders in a pub in Newcastle.

And then the husband and I will return on Monday, after the kids have gone to work, relaxed and renewed after our time away together.  I give it two minutes after walking through the front door, before I forget that we have even been away.  It's just as well I have the rest of Monday afternoon off to reclaim the house back from the teenagers in the family. 

It's all about the planning you see...

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Absolute beginners...

So last night I threaded the needle, pretended to be a rubber ball and made like an old tom cat.  As you can probably tell, the Pilates lessons are still going full pelt, and I am actually starting to feel like I know what I need to do.  When I went last night, I have to confess to being in a foul mood.  This has nothing to do with Valentine's Day being ignored in my house, as the husband pushed the boat out with a new tyre for my car and a beautiful handwritten poem.  He did ask me not to tell anyone, but hey, when a harnessed Northerner reveals his squishy side, it's definitely something which needs broadcasting...

I think that a combination of no kids, a hard day at work and diet-dependent blues had pushed me into a pretty bad mood - I actually said to Miss R on the phone that I would rather like to lock myself into a broom cupboard with a box of Milk Tray (and Tom Hardy at a push), so as you can see, I needed cheering up.  Heading off to Pilates, my feet dragging on the drive like a sulking teenager, I got into my car and headed down to the village hall cursing every car or pedestrian who happened to cross my path. 

An hour later, having spent time with my friends, and done some fairly tricky stuff, I burst out of there full of energy and smiles, keen to get home and see the husband.  My level of happiness when I leave is always reliant on me not doing any of the following:

1. Falling over
2. Fuffing (you'll have your own word for this, I'm sure)
3. Needing a wee
4. Bursting my ball
5. Swearing at Alex, our very patient teacher

So a successful session all round I think.  No blushing, injuries or cursing..

Tonight, Mr Twinkletoes and I are off to Swing Dance Club again.  Neither of us can remember a damn thing we learned last week, so I am just hoping that an element of recapping is on the cards.  The Beginners' Class is a twelve week course, and at the end of this, it is assumed you will be good enough to head to the ground floor hall, where the proper dancers go.

I have a feeling that the husband and I will never see that room, however many weeks we go...

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Under pressure...

Reversing out of my parking space at Binland yesterday afternoon, I realised that I could see nothing out of any of my side windows and the rear window might as well have had a roller blind, the amount of vision it afforded.  Now because I have a convertible, the car wash is a no go area, so I decided to head up to my local garage which had a pressure washer, and I'd clean it myself. 

Now I haven't used a pressure washer for at least twenty years - this is probably down to the fact that my last few cars have been most happy in the carwash, unlike the convertible diva I now drive.  I was glad to see that nothing had changed (except the price).  The pressure hose still leaked sideways, giving you an unwanted shower, and the broom attachment was still covered in grit, and swivelled on the pole, what with it not being screwed on tightly enough.  But at least the obligatory dirty bucket of water and stiff brush were nowhere to be seen.  These were used for cleaning the alloys/wheel trims, and used to add more muck than what they removed. 

Being my normal optimistic self, I reckoned that perhaps the pressure washer was now powerful enough to get rid of a little brake dust but unfortunately, technology on this front seemed to come to a grinding halt around 1992.  The only good thing was that the water was hot, so at least my hands, legs and face weren't assaulted by cold water.

I sprayed the car, rinsed the car, brushed the car, rinsed the car (a buzzer tells you when to swap attachments, and to be honest it was worse than learning to dance) and I then sprayed hot wax over it (everything about that screamed out to me 'What a waste of money', but it didn't stop me from splashing out on the Platinum wash when buying my token).  I reversed out of the bay (could see everything again) and headed home, driving really fast down the main road to dry off the car before it went streaky. 

After half a mile, it became apparent that my brush handling had not been as thorough as it could have been - great swathes of dirt splayed across the front window, but this was just a hint at the full horror which awaited my getting out of the car.

Oh dear.....my mum would call the bits missed 'holidays', whereas I would call them a year out travelling around the southern hemisphere with a rucksack and a pair of dodgy looking trousers.  Something had to be done.

Luckily, son number two had cleaned ELL's car last week (I think he needs to remember who does his ironing), so there were various potions and sprays in the garage. Fast forward an hour, and my car looked too lovely to drive.

If it rains over the next twelve hours, you can blame me...

Monday, 13 February 2017

Alone together...

A text came at 7.00 yesterday morning, informing me that Stephen would be knocking on my door sometime before 9.00 with the new washing machine.  Unfortunately, because my phone was on silent, I didn't wake up till 8.15 when Reg decided to remodel himself as a new hat on my comatose head.  Looking at my phone through schnauzer fur, I realised that I was cutting it a bit fine.  'Just throw your dressing gown on and let him in through the garage', suggested the husband helpfully.  Does he know me at all?  I had to get dressed, do my hair, stick mascara on (can't let anyone see me without mascara, except Mrs S when we swim) and sort the utility room out to make space for the new washer. 

I must have made the husband feel guilty, as he headed down to help me.  He'd even found time to get some clothes on which was a plus.  He pulled the old machine out, leaving me with the pink job of cleaning the dirtiest square of floor I have ever seen. The husband thought it very funny to mutter 'Dirty cow' at me as I scrubbed the floor - this is something he may come to regret...

Stephen, who obviously didn't get the same text that I did, tipped up around 9.30. By 9.49, I had my first wash on, and sanity was restored. 

You'll remember from yesterday's ramblings, that the husband and I were alone this weekend for the first time in many months.  So we found time to do lots of exciting things together.  We did a Tesco shop, got a punctured tyre repaired, ate a jacket potato lunch and tried and failed to get a phone upgrade.  So all in all, a successful day.  It didn't really matter what we were doing, it was just lovely being together for the day.

I have to take you back to yesterday morning though, well before the washing machine turned up.  I, like many other ladies, have a second freezer in the garage.  This is full of stuff which has been demoted from the kitchen freezer, as it's unlikely any of it will ever get eaten.  Mine is filled with half baked bread (leftover from Christmas, and redcurrants which I picked two years ago with a plan to make redcurrant jelly).  I had been looking in the freezer for sliced bread yesterday morning, when a carcass caught my eye.  It looked like half a sheep, was in a large freezer bag and had a whole shelf to itself. 

Bringing it into the kitchen, I asked the husband if he knew what it was.  Well it turned out to be a shoulder of lamb with a leg attached courtesy of a butchery afternoon he did a few months ago, so we decided to put it into the oven and slow cook it all day.  It was necessary to tilt the leg into a high kick to get the damn thing into the oven, but having got it in (some brute force was necessary to get the oven door shut) we left it to its own devices all day.

Unfortunately, only son number two came back for dinner last night, and as the husband hauled the two square feet of sheep out of the oven, I anticipated the many ways I could use the meat this coming week, as there was enough there to feed about twenty people.  Tagine, koftas, Shepherd's Pie (with peas) all flashed through my mind as the husband dished up. 

Lucky I like lamb really...

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Disco love...

The husband and I found ourselves alone this weekend.  Daughter number one and son number two had headed off to the south west corner of our lovely country.  Daughter number one with some girlfriends, and son number two with ELL.  The husband didn't really register that the house was relatively empty until about 8.00 last night.  This was after I had cooked him a lovely grown up dinner (something without ketchup or chips) and we had flopped on the sofa to watch Sounds of the 80's.  'It's ever so quiet', he said. 

I suppose the trouble is that we are so used to the noise and hub-bub, that it comes as a bit of a shock to us when the kids are away.  So we enjoyed the peace and lack of sentences preceded by 'Mum', and watched what we wanted without interruption.  .

The new washing machine is due here later on.  I wonder if it would be so keen to go to its new home if it knew what awaited it in the corner of the utility room.  It looks like we've had a Bring 'n' Buy Sale with no buying.  I'm planning on having the first wash on before the two men from AO have left the building, and I have the Bold tabs on standby.  I'll probably take up residence on the floor in front of it till it's finished, oohing and aahing like a crazy woman.  Is it sad to be so excited about a new washing machine?  I can sense some communal nodding going on amongst you all right now, and just imagine what I'd be like with a new fridge...

Going back to Sounds of the 80's, this brought back loads of memories for us.  The husband and I first stumbled across each other in a very innocent disco in 1980.  The wall outside the disco was the site of our first kiss, and there have been many times when we've driven past the village hall, and he's smiled at me, and asked me if I remembered.  Well of course I remember.  How could I ever forget my dad dragging me off the wall and throwing me in the back of the car, while telling me I had no shame.....he still doesn't know that the boy I was having the Friday night snogfest with was the husband.  There are some things which should never be revealed I feel.

The then 17 year old husband went on to stand me up on our first date, leaving yours truly standing on Marlow bridge gazing forlornly upriver, mourning the loss of the boy who looked like David Cassidy.  Fortunately, he showed up again some years later, so as I always say to our kids, 'If it's meant to be, it will be'. 

And luckily for me, (and him, as I often tell him) it was meant to be...

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Wash that man...

At approximately 11.27am yesterday, a washing machine repair man draped a black cloth over his bald pate and sentenced my faithful washing machine to death by scrap yard.  I had been expecting this verdict, and had put off calling Washing Machine Paul out to take a look, preferring to risk life and limb by carrying on using it.  Mind you, the noise the bloody thing was making was so loud, that I had resorted to only putting it on when I went out.  You know, out of sight and all that.

Well apparently, my drum is cracked.  According to WMP, this is down to either a screw or coin getting lodged somewhere inappropriate.  Ladies, I am sure that you can imagine exactly in whose direction I was glaring virtually when this information was imparted to me.  Why would I have screws in my trousers?  Actually, why would I have coins either now I come to think about it?  I have children, therefore my pockets are usually empty (along with my purse, bag and bank account).

Apparently, the drum could have 'gone' (technical term I believe) at any moment, and if it had, then my ground floor would have resembled a paddling pool, such would be the flooding capacity of something attached to the mains water supply.  So the washing machine was grounded yesterday, with three loads already on standby.

I called the husband, and through gritted teeth gave him the joyful news about the machine.  When I mentioned the screw theory, he was (far too) quick to say that, 'No way could a screw do that'.  So all of a sudden, the husband is a washing machine engineer.  I wish he'd told me that before, as I could have saved myself £55 for a two minute visit by WMP. 

So a most pleasant hour was spent trawling the internet looking for a new washing machine.  Boy have they changed in ten years.  All I want mine to do is wash stuff and spin it long enough so that I can actually lift it out of the machine without giving myself a hernia, but for some reason, the washing machine inventors of this world have decided that we need more features, like a timer, and the rather confusing Baby Programme.  I can't imagine that the Baby Programme will be relevant to me, mainly for two reasons.  Firstly, I have no babies, and secondly, by the time any of my children produce grandbabies, this new machine will probably have died a noisy death.  But I eventually picked one, which is being delivered tomorrow.

While I was choosing which one I wanted, I called the husband to ask whether he wanted me to pay for installation and removal.  'Well of course not', he said indignantly, 'I can do all that.  I can't believe you even have to ask'.

He then went on to say something so daft, I may never recover from the shock.

'There's no mad rush to buy it is there?'

Well, as someone who is currently looking at three loads of dirty washing, with four more heading my way by Sunday, I feel that 'mad rush' would be the slowest speed I would want to be going at to get it ordered.  'Break neck' might just cover it I think. 

Of course, I could take the company up on their offer of installation and removal.  At £49 for both services, it's a decent price.

I'm assuming that there's no small print as to what (or who) they remove...

Friday, 10 February 2017

I will follow...

So the husband was true to his word on Wednesday night and came with me to Swing Dance Club.  We got there good and early (my fault again) and had to wait in the church hall carpark for half an hour while the twenty two dogs partaking in some classes of their own vacated the building.  Once we saw the mops and disinfectant come out, we knew it was nearing the time of our lessons.  The husband was as nervous as I have ever seen him (even more so than when we had the mouse in our bedroom).  On my advice, he had his best slippery bottomed shoes on, and taking a deep breath, we tip-tapped into the hall, and signed our life (or the next twelve weeks of it) away. 

The couple running the class were very excitable, especially the man, who reminded me of a fully charged Duracell bunny - he just couldn't keep still.  The lady was far more sensible, and it soon became apparent who the grown up was in that relationship.  He got told off several times over the course of the evening...for the over-fast music, the difficult steps, and for ad-libbing with his feet.  She then tipped the husband off at the end of the evening that the two of them hate dancing together which was a bit of a worry.  She also told the husband that he was in charge of the dance, and I should always follow - this was even more of a concern as I don't want the power ratio in this house to change at all.  He's taken this to heart however, and keeps muttering, 'I'm in charge do de doody do...' just loud and often enough to get my gander up.

As it was, the evening turned out to be brilliant.  To start off with, there were about fifty or so of us in a large circle, and we danced with one man, then the ladies headed off one place anticlockwise to dance, in my case, with the next unsuspecting victim of my size sevens.  Now when you have been with one man for a while, you kind of get used to the space they take up.  As I was partnered with various taller, wider, younger, shorter (that was interesting) chaps, my arm, which had to be casually draped over the man's shoulder, had an extreme work out.  By the time I had returned to the husband, there were several gentlemen nursing pierced shoulders where my nails had gripped so tightly, and one poor unfortunate chap with a hearing aid who had been subjected to a Vulcan Death Grip, such was the ferocity he threw me into a Charleston Walk. 

The husband was having a lovely time guiding various ladies around the floor.  Every time I glanced up at him, he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat - we may have to have a little chat about his over enthusiasm with the ladies.  But it's a small price to pay to get him there I suppose..

After an hour of lessons, and some free dancing at the end of the evening, the husband and I were broken.  Who knew a little bit of swing dance could be so demanding.  My feet felt like they were on fire, whereas the husband's, in his slippery bottomed best shoes were pinching a little.  We both agreed that some practising was required before we showed our faces again, so will be rock-stepping and kick-flicking over the next few days.

I would imagine that the dogs will stay out of our way while we're doing this.  Well no one wants a full kick flick in the kisser do they?

Especially the husband, if he doesn't rein in his boyish charm...

Thursday, 9 February 2017


The tanker arrived yesterday morning with the heating oil.  Never have I been more relieved, and at last I can put away the eight-ply woollen knitted knickers which I was working on.  The atmosphere in the house is much lighter, and I think that the increase in temperature will see the return of daughter number one once again. 

Son number two, who is currently at home (between jobs, I think they call it) has had a week off before starting his new job on Monday.  He has taken to cooking brownies while I am at work, and as I walk through the door, I am assaulted by the smell of them wafting through into the hall.  But unfortunately, all I can do is sniff  them (that's not fattening is it?) as if I had but one crumb, it would send me on a downhill spiral which would see my way adorned with Crème Eggs, cake, biscuits, booze and crisps, and all this before the first bend.  So I try to ignore the lovely whiff of it, preferring to lock myself in the lounge with the two dogs and an apple (it's just not the same though). 

Son number two is trying to impress ELL, his long standing best-friend-now-girlfriend, who has a chocolate addiction so bad that only Willy Wonka could rival it.  There was a rather noisy discussion between ELL and daughter number one last week, as there have been many occasions when chocolate has gone missing from daughter number one's bedroom.  I think we all now know who is responsible for these thefts....

Some of you will know that it is the husband's birthday very soon, and every year I spend days trying to think of something which tells him how much I love and appreciate him. This year was easy.  I have managed to get a couple of tickets to one of the Six Nations Rugby matches.  There was a slender chance that I could have gone on my own and watched it, but this might have involved wearing hi-vis and a safety helmet, whilst advising drunken supporters as to where to put their empty beer cans.  Such are the perks of working at Binland...

Anyway, the husband will be very excited, and will probably start crossing the days off from today, spending the next two weeks in a giddy state of euphoria whilst hopping from foot to foot and needing the loo more often.  Mind you, I'm rather excited too.

I mean, have you seen those thighs.......


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Build me up, buttercup...

Mrs S paid a visit yesterday afternoon, accompanied by her son Master C who was nursing a junior version of man flu.  This is not to be confused with the life threatening adult man flu, but is more likely to come on when a Geography exam is imminent.  Needless to say, there was copious amounts of coughing and spluttering, and I expect to be doing the same in around ten days' time. 

Now Mrs S was only here on Sunday, so there wasn't really much for her to catch up on life wise.  The real reason she tipped up yesterday was because she has a load of builders in her house.  Now we all know what this means.  Dirty cups in the sink with squeezed teabags lovingly placed on the side, bacon rolls around 11.00, dust, Radio 1, more tea, and then biscuits for the afternoon.  The builders were having some issues with her ceiling, and the language was fairly ripe, and what with that and the fact that her new puppy kept going AWOL having learned how to climb a ladder, she decided to scoop the puppy and Master C up and head for the hills.  My hill, to be more precise.

The new puppy is adorable and is the same colour as my dining table, which makes me want to keep him, but my two fuzzballs have a slightly different reaction to this bundle of cuteness.  Percy completely ignores him, except for the odd bark here and there, whereas Reg is plotting something involving a one way ticket to Berlin (he's German you know) and a small suitcase.  I think it all fell apart for Reg when I bent down and acknowledged the puppy for the first time last week.  I could almost here his wails of despair, 'How can you even look at another dog? You have me, what more do you need you fickle cow?' 

To be fair, the puppy is gorgeous, and this means that scooping him up onto my lap for overpowering cuddles is obligatory.  Mrs S is not happy me doing this (she's trying to be strict, but she'll learn that the dogs make the rules, rather than the other way round) and she kept giving me that look which said. 'PUT. THE. PUPPY. DOWN'.  We had to keep taking him outside for a pee, not that he did a single one mind you, preferring to run around my garden like a wild thing and flicking the bird at Mrs S every time she mentioned the word 'wee'.  I expect he went in the car on the way home.  Mind you, no one likes a cold loo for a comfort break, and I suppose he is just the same, preferring the warm car to my damp lawn.

It was back to Pilates last night for week 4. I'm getting the hang of the exercises - just as I do however, the lovely Alex changes them and makes them harder, which means I am scrabbling about on my mat like an octopus on roller skates.  It's the whole left and right thing which does me in, and even Alex laughs at my attempts, although I do get there in the end.  I've met some lovely ladies there, and I am the youngest, which at 53 is quite odd.  The trouble is though, that if there are chairs which need stacking or something similar, I will be expected to do them being the youngest. 

But back to the annoying builders at Mrs S's house.  Did I mention that they are led by the husband?

No.  I didn't think so...

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Lock all the doors...

We are still limping towards the oil delivery on the 11th February.  Heating has been rationed to two lots of two hours a day - just about enough to stop anyone refusing to get out of bed in the morning.  It's just as well the Heating Police (the husband) has allowed this, as I fear we may have had mutiny in the house.  I can just imagine daughter number one and son number two locking the husband in his office while they twist the thermostat hard right, causing the more hardy of us to sweat like Lee Evans after a Vindaloo. 

Talking of sweating (or is it 'glowing' we women do?) it dawned on me a few weeks ago that I haven't had a hottie for some time.  For those of you who weren't on board for the 'Summer of Loose Clothing and Battery Operated Fan', you missed some very informative advice as to how to deal with the dreaded menopause.  Red Clover and I are still on good terms, and rather than coming off it, and running the risk of the return of the aforementioned hottie and its accompanying joys, I have decided to stay on it.  Mind you, if the oil does run out, perhaps it might be a good idea to come off it for a week or so.  I will be so warm, and the rest of the family can huddle around me in the evening bathing in the heat I am generating like an oversized patio heater.  Just a thought....

So I had a very interesting five minutes in the Post Office queue yesterday.  Two elderly ladies in front of me were discussing a meal they were putting on for another group of elderly ladies.  Shepherd's pie and lasagne were on the menu, and here's how their conversation went, with silent responses from yours truly...

OL1 'Well, I'm doing the shepherd's pie and June is doing the lasagne'.
OL2 'Is shepherd's pie pork or beef mince?'
Me 'It's lamb...the clue is in the name'.

OL1 'Shepherd's pie?  Oh, definitely beef'.
Me 'No, it's not.  It's lamb'.

OL2 'Are you doing salad?'
OL1 'Yes.  But only for the lasagne.  You never have salad with shepherd's pie'.
Me 'Correct - it's law to have peas with shepherd's pie'

OL1 'I'll do cabbage with it'.
Me 'Bang goes a perfectly good shepherd's pie'.

OL2 'Have you got everything you need for the salad?'
OL1 'I've got tomatoes and a cucumber, and one lettuce'.
Me 'This is not a salad.  This is a coming together of raw vegetables (and fruit if you're being picky)'.

OL1 'I need another lettuce, but you can only buy one at a time now what with that famine'.
Me 'Forget the other lettuce.  It won't make that salad any better, just a bit greener'.

OL2 'I'll get that tomorrow when I'm at Tesco.  And all that salad is going with the lasagne?'
OL1 'Yeah.  I wouldn't mind, but I don't even like shepherd's pie or lasagne'.
OL2 What are you going to eat then?'
OL1 'Salad'.
Me 'Oh god....'

When they got to the counter, it became apparent that there was a problem.  They were trying to post a letter to Australia with a scratch card in it, but OL2 had forgotten to buy the scratch card.  In the end, they got the very patient Post Office assistant to weigh the card and a piece of folded paper (mimicking the scratch card) and pay for the total postage.  They were then to go and buy the scratch card, close the envelope up and simply post the envelope in the nearest post box.  This all sounded perfectly reasonable to me, but as OL1 walked past me, I watched her lick the envelope and close it quite firmly (OL2 had gone on ahead to buy the scratch card). 

It's times like this that I realise that they are not all quite locked up yet...

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Dance, dance, dance...

The husband and I have decided that at the combined age of 107, we are going to go to dancing lessons.

I'll just give you a chance to compose yourself as I am expecting morning tea to have been spat across who ever is sitting opposite to you currently, or for you to have mascara running down your cheeks...

So.  Dancing lessons.  It's my fault really, and because the husband loves me so much, he is just happy to muddle along with anything I suggest if it keeps me smiling.  Some time ago, we went to a night out 1920's style, and the I fell in love with the dancing.  The husband, who is to dancing what Sweeney Todd is to a short back and sides, seemed to get the hang of this frenetic dancing pretty quickly, and we both had a brilliant time. 

I had tried suggesting learning to do this dancing a couple of times with no joy, but I have been very firm with the husband this time, and told him that I won't go back for another 1920's night, until we can do the moves.  As he is desperate for a repeat performance, the race is on to learn a reasonably gentle Lindy hop before we go again.

Yesterday morning, the husband suggested seeing whether there was anything we could watch on the internet which would show us what to do.  Before you start worrying, I am still talking about the dancing here...  After looking at various inappropriate websites (it's amazing what putting 'Swing in Oxford' in Google's search engine brings up) we eventually found the site of an American ex Swing/Lindyhop champion who, in 36 short videos, would show us what to do.

We brought my laptop into the kitchen, and set about lesson one.

Now.  The husband has legs and arms which are able to work independently of each other, even working at completely different beats, and I needed to clamp his hands by his side while we concentrated on the feet.  It looked so easy, but after thirty minutes of rewinding, replaying, rewinding and replaying, we accepted that unless there is a dance hall which is happy to have two old farts shouting out to each other "Step, kick, step, kick, lift, steeeeeeeeeeep (two beats)" then we weren't going to be cutting a rug any place soon. 

But we persevered, and after another ten minutes of hoofing round the kitchen, we were still no nearer to anything even vaguely resembling what Mr Lindyhop what demonstrating. The husband looked like he was suffering from St Vitus' Dance while my legs were so stiff that you could have hung a week's washing on them.

So we have decided to go to lessons. The first one is on Wednesday evening, and is in the Church Hall.  I am expecting lukewarm tea and soft biscuits, whereas I think that our dancing will be vastly improved with a swift intake of alcohol in the carpark before we go in.

Cinderella, I'm not sure you're going to be going to any ball soon...

Read 'em and weep...

I headed over to Marlow for breakfast with Mrs Jangles yesterday.  The Mother and Miss R were still away yesterday (throwing themselves down a snow covered mountain with only skinny poles to stop them attempting something Eddie the Eagle would be proud of) so it was a quiet one.

I got there early (yes, I know) but it was intentional.  I had bought my first newspaper in goodness knows how many years, and fancied catching up with what was happening in our crazy world.  Mind you, choosing a paper isn't as easy as it used to be.  I no longer read the Daily Mail as it used to rile me to unfathomable heights of fury.  I would often screw the paper up and use it on the fire before even getting to the middle pages.  I'm neither important enough, old enough or bothered enough to read The Times, so I picked out a paper which from its title, implied that it was a sort of round up of the week's events.  Perfect, just what I was after.

I had opened up the paper and had started reading all about Master Trump's latest foray into big boy stuff when Mrs Jangles texted me to tell me she'd be late.  A tree had very thoughtlessly launched itself over her drive, and she was waiting for a man to come and cut a path through for her so she could get out.

Well this gave me lots of time to peruse the paper, but the thing which caught my eye first was the piece about the lettuce shortage.  I would like to apologise for this, as the amount of lettuce I have eaten this week must surely have contributed to this leafy famine.  But as I read the paper, feeling quite grown up, the nearer I got to the back pages, the sillier the adverts got.  We started off well with diamonds and posh cars, and moved on to iron tablets and horse welfare in the Health Section (I'm not too sure how the horsey advert snuck in there - perhaps the editor does a bit of point-to-point at the weekend).  By the time I got to the Entertainment section (cruises) and the television pages (begonias-no idea what the connection is there) we had peaked, falling into advert mayhem in the Sports pages with a mattress topper and a bird feeding station which claimed to be 100% squirrel proof (confession at this point - this looked quite interesting...) 

There didn't seem to be much sense in the adverts, so here's what I would push and where...

News pages (Home) - Lie detectors, cheap beer, books on 'Beating the System'
News pages (Abroad) - Fake tan, AK47s, small gloves, meth
Health - Botox, fake nails and a three line ad for Resolve
Entertainment - Ant and Dec (whichever show they're currently doing)
Fashion - Primark, credit cards, vacuum knickers
Sports - Thermal wear, shooting sticks and the most recent PlayStation FIFA game

I  changed my mind about the bird feeder though.  There are no squirrels in my garden, thanks to the two ferocious dogs I share my house with. 

Mind you, I may revisit the begonias....

Friday, 3 February 2017

Step by step...

As you all know, yesterday was weighing in day for me.  Up till yesterday morning, this has been a happy event for me, as I have been confident that enough has been done each day to ensure a small overall reduction every week.  I haven't been going mad, as we all know that 'slow and steady wins the race' however much we'd all like to lose half a stone with the wave of a bingo wing.

However, somewhere quiet, probably surrounded by half eaten doughnuts, the Goddess of Love Handles is having a really good laugh at my expense.  I almost leapt onto the scales yesterday morning.  Having had a preview of my weight the night before, I was convinced that Friday would bring another 2lb weight loss which was brilliant.  You can only begin to imagine my dismay when the Friday morning scales revealed that I had put on 2lbs this week. This equated to a 6lbs increase overnight, which I'm not sure is even physically possible even if you were stuffing your face all night. 

So it made me question how this could possibly have happened.  Had the husband been force feeding me cake while I slept, whispering gently in my ear 'Come on, one more slice of coffee and walnut before we move onto the drizzle....'  Did I have two pairs of pyjamas on?  Had I left my shoes on?  

All these things went through my head as I gazed down at the scales and I felt a right failure.  I can honestly say that apart from one sneaky custard cream on Tuesday, I have not strayed from the straight and narrow.  I have walked and walked, done Pilates and swum with Mrs S.  While everyone around me at home has eaten calorie heavy food, I have been dining in Blandville, with salad and cold chicken my best friends.  I even cut down on the bananas for goodness sake...

So what could it be?  I'm waiting for someone to take me to one side and reassure me with the old chestnut of 'muscle being heavier than fat', but as I have only been doing my extra exercises for three weeks, I think that the nearest I have got to any muscles is that lovely bowl of Moules Mariniere I had several weeks ago.  Mrs S told me on Thursday that she does things slightly differently to me, and measures her success by inches and not pounds.  Perhaps this is an option?  I shall disappear upstairs with my dressmaking tape measure after I've finished writing, and see if next week brings some more positive results for me. 

Mind you, there was one thing which happened yesterday which was optimistic.  When heading out to walk the dogs, I put my coat on - a quilted number which normally stretches across my stomach, the zip straining, and the poppers unable to meet.  Without really thinking about it, I pulled the zip up and pressed the popper studs together.  And they stayed together for the whole walk.   So maybe, just maybe, Mrs S is right, and inches are the way forward.

This thought has bolstered my confidence slightly, so onward and upward I go.

Not outward though.  That wouldn't be right at all....

Pool party...

It was back to the swimming pool last night for Mrs S and me.  After last week's triumph of fourteen lengths, we were hoping to beat this into submission with at least two more.  I got there early.  I always get everywhere early.  I blame my father, for consistently telling me and Miss R that that if you're late, you are basically telling that person that your time is more important than theirs.  I have memories of a boyfriend (not the husband you'll be pleased to hear) who was always picking me up late from home.  After coercion from my dad, I left a note on the front door saying that that I'd had a better offer.  I hadn't, naturally. (I had bad hair and a dubious dress sense so they were never queuing up).  I was just sitting in my room with a Jackie Collins book and a cup of tea, but my pride was intact even though my heart wasn't, as of course he dumped me soon after.

So back to the swimming.  Like I said, I got their early, and my heart sank at the sight of about thirty ankle biters in the queue for tickets. Doing my normal earwigging, I learned that they were here for a Swimming Party. Judging by the noise and excitement, I would guess that some level of confectionary had already been consumed (probably Skittles which my children have never been allowed since 1998).  They were bouncing off the ceiling, and the thought of sharing my lane with this lot was worrying me somewhat.

Mrs S finally turned up (on time, sensible girl) and looked as terrified as me when she saw all the kids, but we de-robed and headed for the wet stuff.  I always take my towel with me even though the life guard said it would probably be stolen, but on this occasion it was a wise move, petty theft or not.

We managed a solid ten lengths before the wave machine kicked in.  All the kids knew where to get the biggest impact from this, and were all gathered up in one corner, looking like a load of seagulls riding the tide.  I said to Mrs S that maybe the wave would be so big that it would wash the whole noisy lot out of the front door, but no such luck,  After ten minutes of wave action, the screaming reached new levels, and then all the kids vacated the pool and headed for the slide.  Why is it that kids in a group always have to do everything together?  Consequently, we watched as the kids all queued up the steps, shivering for ten minutes till their turn came for seven seconds of downhill joy. 

One week, Mrs S and I will brave the slide.  Just not this week.

So we carried on swimming, with Mrs S finishing with a spectacular twenty two lengths under her belt.  I managed eighteen which I was more than happy with.  Chatting at the end of our swim, my heart sank.  Grabbing Mrs S by the arm, I said, 'Oh no.  It's one of the drivers from work'.  Sitting poolside with his phone in hand, we tried to get out without him noticing us.  Unfortunately we failed, mainly because Mrs S in her wisdom decided to shout at him. 

Climbing the ladder to get out of the pool, I said to Mrs S that this would be all round the drivers' canteen by lunchtime tomorrow, and that he probably had photographic evidence.

There has never been a time when I have been more pleased to see my towel.....ever...

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Liquid lunch...

I had a sleepover on Tuesday night.  I went up to visit daughter number two again in her flat in Milton Keynes, because she fancied a bit of company after a difficult day.  I had planned to come straight from Pilates (that Alex is making it harder every week - don't think I'm not noticing...) so throwing a coat over my daft Pilates pants I began the hour and a half drive up there.  You'll be pleased to hear that I've now got the PratNav sussed, and I managed to listen to some quiet music and get directions at the same time, so no unintentional detours or U-turns were needed this time. 

When I got to her flat, the place was in darkness.  Luckily, she'd given me a key, so I could let myself in.  Slapping the wall inside looking for a light switch which might help negotiate the stairs, I had a complete flashback of living in a shoebox (my first flat) and I came over all wistful.  There are definite benefits of living in a flat this size, such as being able to vacuum the whole place plus the stairs without needing an extension lead.  I expect it heats up quite nicely in about ten minutes (can you sense my bitterness as I type this from my Arctic abode sporting a pair of fingerless gloves and a Balaclava?) 

Her flat, which she shares with a lovely girl is smothered in scatter cushions, fragrant candles of every hue, and more bottles of shampoo and conditioner that I have ever seen in one place (excluding the haircare aisle in Tesco).  As you can tell, I had a good old poke about.  But it was the kitchen which I liked best, especially the fridge.  Opening this in the hope that it would yield up some milk for a cup of tea, it was apparent that the two girls tend to prefer liquid meals rather than the solid stuff.  There was wine.  There was a lot of wine.  There was also a pint of milk, so I got my cup of tea which was what I was really after.  Waiting for the kettle to boil, my eyes fell on a row of plants on the window sill.  I say 'window sill' but I have re-christened it Death Row such was the state they were in.

Taking my cup of tea into the lounge, I got myself comfortable on the sofa surrounded by all the remote controls I could find in the vicinity of the television.  Well I couldn't get it to work - there's never a seven year around when you need one is there.  So I sipped at my tea, and read a few pages of my book, enjoying the peace and quiet.

Ten minutes later, she was home, running up the stairs like a Whirling Dervish, ready for a big hug with her mum. 

'I'm bloody starving', she said looking in the fridge, then shutting it after realising that half a bottle of white wine doesn't constitute a sensible dinner.  'Just as well I brought some food with me', I said presenting her with a plastic tub of homemade ragu with the same reverence as the Wise Men proffered their gifts. Well that went down very well, and then there was more tea (no wine offered) and an hour of chat and nonsense before I headed off to her flatmate's room for the night.

You'll notice that I didn't go around turning all the lights on, switching the thermostat up and using all the hot water.

I'm not that childish...