Saturday, 24 February 2018

Return to sender...

Now ladies.  If you were impressed by my three days spent with son number two, hauling my pounding feet around Leeds as I tried to worm my way into his student life, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Later this morning, I am winding my weary way up to Milton Keynes where daughter number two resides, with the aim of a little light shopping around the retail hell known as CentreMK.  I speak from experience when I tell you that this shopping centre is neither for the fainthearted, or anyone who has not completed an advanced course in orienteering.  I went there once a couple of years ago with Miss R, the Mother and Mrs Jangles, and we managed to lose the older ladies after forty minutes.  When we finally met them in the predetermined restaurant for lunch, it turned out that they were too frightened to stray too far, and had basically been in the restaurant for at least an hour before Miss R and I turned up. You can imagine the state they were in, I'm sure.

When I was with son number two in Leeds this week, I bought several items from H&M, all picked by him believe it or not.  Each was accompanied with, 'This would look lovely on you, Mumma.  You don't need to try it on, that'll fit', and then, 'Are you finished here?'

So I am taking all of my purchases back to the Milton Keynes branch of H&M tomorrow; I also need to book son number two into Specsavers for a quick eye test.  What do they say about love being blind?  I must be the only person going clothes shopping who is returning more that she expects to buy.  Anyway, at least I'll be able to shop more slowly in Wallis and Monsoon, rather than being herded by son number two in a bid to get into Topman more quickly.  There was one moment in New Look when I felt like a sheep having its heels nipped by a Welsh Collie, such was the speed I went through there.

The interesting thing is that daughter number two, as befitting an employed adult,  has booked us a table for lunch later today.  The funny thing though, is that it is the same one which the Mother and Mrs Jangles used as a safe haven last time we were there.

Is my daughter trying to tell me something?

Friday, 23 February 2018

Life in a Northern town...

Yesterday lunchtime, I crawled back through my own front door, never more relieved to see my sofa and slippers.  I have decided that however exciting it may sound, at the ripe old age of 53 and a half, a student life is not for me.  The one thing I realised having spent three days with son number two, is that there is no official time when you are a student. Watches are redundant and there is no such thing as 'opening hours', as the pubs are open for all of them; it's just some are happier than others. 

What I mean by this is that it doesn't matter whether it's 9.00 in the morning or 11.00 at night, you can still have a glass of Malbec and no one bats an eyelid.  Breakfast is eaten around lunchtime, swiftly followed by lunch about half an hour later, and then the evening meal (as we adults refer to it) is eaten sometime between 6.00pm and 4.00am.  

Take Wednesday for example.  Son number two and I had been out for a lovely meal the night before, and he dropped me back to my hotel around 9.00.  By 9.30pm, I was snuggled up in my pyjamas with a good cup of tea and Two and a Half Men (the programme, not a travelling circus troupe I might have encountered in the hotel lift).  We had agreed that he'd collect me from my hotel at 10.30 the next morning, giving me a chance to have a lay in and a leisurely breakfast.

At 10.30 on the dot, he appeared in the foyer, looking like he'd been run over.  'Are you okay?' I asked him.  'Very hungover', was his sheepish reply.

Well it turned out that having dropped his aged parent back at the Home for the Elderly and Bewildered, he had then met up with his mates and gone clubbing, ending the evening with a Burger King meal (bear in mind at this point that four hours earlier he had already eaten an expensive three course dinner, the middle course being a 12oz steak and a full rack of ribs). 

Apparently, the same thing happened on Wednesday night too.  I staggered into bed that night, the four glasses of Malbec almost making me forget the pain of my shopper's feet, but for him, this was just an hors d'oeuvre for the evening's entertainment, and yet again, it was rather a white faced son number two who joined me for a last breakfast yesterday morning.

After lots of hugs and 'I love you's' in the hotel foyer, we went our separate ways.  He to his university to do a presentation and me down the M1.  Three hours later I pulled into the drive and called him as promised, just to let him know that I'd got home safely (this is a complete role reversal I now realise).  

He was in the pub, having a beer to celebrate getting a fantastic mark for his presentation.  All I could manage was a strong cup of tea and a forty minute snooze on the sofa.

Which by the way, had been calling out my name since Kettering...

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Walking on broken glass...

I am a broken woman.  Who would have thought that a day's shopping could be so arduous?   Leeds is a sprawling Metropolis of shops, and I reckon son number two and I completed seventeen laps of the shopping circuit yesterday.  What is more impressive is that my FatBat FitBit stated that by 3.39 yesterday afternoon, I had walked 9.58 miles.  When son number two asked if we could call it a day around 4.00 because he had some work to do, I actually think that like me, he was looking forward to going home, rolling his trouser legs up to his knees, and soaking his feet in a bowl of warm water all the while wondering how on earth he was going to ever wear shoes again, and whether slippers were an acceptable footwear alternative in February.

I accompanied my feet bathing on the side of the bath with a rather small bottle of wine from my mini bar (all included in my room price, so almost illegal not to drink it) and a copy of House and Garden.  Rather impressively, neither the wine or the magazine went into the bath, and my poor battered trotters felt lovely in the warm water.  Half an hour later when I reluctantly took them out, walking across the bedroom carpet was accompanied with muttered comments as I compared it to walking across broken glass.  I doubt they'll ever be the same again.

But the shopping trip was a success.  A new coat, a pair of boots, a lovely top and a sweater - none of this was mine naturally, but son number two was thrilled with the additions to his already burgeoning wardrobe.  (Son number two is a popinjay and most fond of clothes).

Interestingly, the hotel was rather busy yesterday.  I say it was interesting because up till then it was just me and a coach load of pensioners staying there, and the smell of lilac and talcum powder was becoming slightly overpowering.  According to the board by Reception, Asda were having a conference there all day, and various middle aged gentlemen with their shirts stretched across their ample bellies, were swanning around the foyer.  I'd love to tell you what they were talking about, but having a northern husband and best friend does not give you automatic capability of 'talking Leeds'.  The poor concierge who took my car off to park had to ask me three times what my name was before I got the gist of what he wanted.  

You know the best thing about the interaction with the concierge?  

Once I'd put my glasses on, I knew exactly what he needed to know...

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Talking to myself...

Yesterday, I took the long trek up to Leeds to visit son number two for a couple of nights.  This was a long anticipated trip for both us, but for different reasons. I was looking forward to a 6'4" hug, and son number two was looking forward to three meals a day and a shopping trip to rival Imelda Marcos (he loves his shoes).

The trip up the M1 was relatively pain free, although I seemed to adopt the husband's habit of muttering, 'To**er', under my breath at sporadic intervals.  This was usually directed at those drivers who seemed to think that the middle lane is for coasting at 65mph completely oblivious of anything either side. 

But I made it to the hotel in one piece, and marvellous news, I got upgraded to a lovely room.  I haven't spent the night in a hotel on my own for many years, and I've started talking to myself again.  It is usually my mother's voice which speaks to me though...

'Which side of the bed shall I put your pyjamas?'
'Wash your cup up for the morning'.
'Where's the wine?' (Common question from the mother).
'Are there enough hangers?'

After an hour of this, I gave myself a good talking to ('Stop bloody talking to yourself, you mad bint') and went to meet son number two in the hotel bar.  Having had the obligatory hug and glass of wine, he hauled me round Leeds showing me all the important landmarks.

'That's where I get my hair cut'.
'That's the club I can't ever go back to again'.
'That's the Burger King which gives me free food'.
'That shop does the best sandwiches'.

Having had the un-official tour of Leeds, we ended up in a restaurant for dinner.  Son number two managed to eat more food in one sitting, than the husband and I have eaten in a month, and he then walked me home.

It's more of the same tomorrow.

My bank card is having a lie down and a double vodka in preparation...

Monday, 19 February 2018

Hot stuff...

I was under pressure to cook a Sunday roast yesterday.  As you all know, I've given up eating meat for Lent, so a roast would probably not be up there as the most appropriate meal for me.  But when faced with two daughters and the husband doing passable impersonations of Puss from Shrek, what's a girl to do?  I had a chicken and some pork in the freezer, so that sorted the three of them out, but I wasn't really too sure what to do for myself.  

Finally deciding that a smorgasbord of vegetables, some cracking roasties and some seriously cheesy cauliflower would do me, I still felt that there was something missing.  I needed something to make the meal feel like a roast even without the meat.  Adding Yorkshire puds helped, and then I started thinking about having a good old slab of Paxo on the side.  That would swing it.

The only trouble was, that there was no Paxo in my cupboard, so a trip to the local supermarket was on the cards. The husband and I ended up there, after I'd dragged him around the garden centre for to hours (his joy knew no bounds).  Changing the subject slightly, I realised a childhood dream yesterday.  Do you remember when the husband removed the hedge from the front of our house, leaving a flat patch of grass?  Well I've always wanted a scatter of crocus plants across my lawn, and yesterday was the day I achieved this. This is why we were at the garden centre yesterday,  and we left there with thirty pots of various bulbs to replant into the grass.  I'm not expecting big things this winter, but maybe next year I'll be greeted by these delicate blooms braving the elements.

I had to borrow the husband's dobber which looks like it should never be seen in polite company, to make the holes in the lawn (under his watchful eye I have to say) and an hour later, they were all tucked into my lawn.

But back to the supermarket...

Standing in front of the shelf which normally houses the gravy and the Paxo, I was greeted with an empty shelf.  This was a disaster.  Grabbing the nearest sales assistant by her lapels, I asked her if she had any Paxo as there was nothing on the shelf.  Turned out she had to go and ask Brian, so I waited by the freezers (looking for Yorkshire puds).

Two minutes later, a man (I assumed correctly that this was Brian) walked towards me and said in rather a too loud voice,

'Are you the lady who wants stuffing?'

Well, what's a girl to say...

Sunday, 18 February 2018

What's he building...

It would seem that I am destined to be subjected to terrible things over the next few months.  My sanity will be stretched to its limits, and by May, I might be consulting the divorce lawyers.  It started off with a throwaway comment I made last week, which went something along the lines of, 'I'm a bit fed up of the red kitchen tiles'.  

The husband, always up for a challenge asked me what I wanted instead.  Well, I hadn't really thought that far ahead if I'm honest, but to show willing in the game known as 'The Husband Wants a Job', I said that cream tiles would be really lovely, and it would also mean that I wouldn't be limited to my kitchen looking like a Manchester United home kit (red, black and white as far as the eye could see).

As the days trickled by last week, the husband mentally moved on from simply tiling over the red tiles, to stripping them off and replacing them.  And then he said....

'I think we should have the kitchen units painted.  The oak looks really dated now'. (This from the man who would still be sporting a wide tie and Farah flares if I hadn't tipped up and rescued him from his own wardrobe).  So a really new look was now on the table.

Jaw to floor....

Having just about got used to the idea of Decorator Sam coming in with his spray gun for a week and transforming my red and wood kitchen to something more modern, the husband upped the odds with...

'Actually, for what it costs, we might as well just have a new kitchen'.

Saturday found us in the nearest tile shop, trying to decide what kind of tiles we liked, but as I said to the husband, surely the kitchen comes before the tiles.  I can't spend the next month trying to find a kitchen which matches the one tile I have decided on, so the rest of Saturday was spent trawling the web looking at other people's kitchens for ideas. 

I asked the husband whether he would be fitting the kitchen himself.  I got a look which said, 'Of course I will be doing it, but you have to bear in mind that I have a real job too, so it won't be an overnight job'.

OK, so I can cope with 'not an overnight job', but fitting a kitchen when you only have around six hours a week of spare time might take some time.  I'm thinking that by the time the last unit is installed, it will be time to start thinking about renewing the first one again.

A bit like painting the Forth Bridge I suppose...

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Bad decisions...

I made a serious school girl error yesterday.  As a woman of questionable age (too old to be a trophy wife, too young to wear purple) I am now far, far away from those years spent with young children.  I'll be honest with you, and I'm sorry if I offend any of you here, I had forgotten how bloody awful they can be (especially when they are not your own, if you know what I mean).

As daughter number one had very kindly offered to take the hairy hooligans out for a walk yesterday, I decided to take a drive to my local town to do the weekly shop and have a coffee in one of my favourite cafes.  

The car park looked like the M25 in rush hour, ie a still life, and having done several painful laps of the car park without finding any space big enough even for my itsy bitsy car, I eventually decided to leave my car with the car wash guys.  At least it was in the same time zone as the supermarket, and there was the added bonus of my car not resembling a skip for the weekend.

They didn't want me back for an hour and a half (this tells you had bad it was), so I went for the coffee first.  The pedestrianized shopping centre was busier than usual, and was full of small clumps of children, looking around 15, but probably only 11.  It was only then that the penny dropped.  It was half term.  What was I thinking....

My favourite cafe was rammed, with an isolated table for one (yes, one) being the only option.  Naturally it was still covered with the detritus of the previous occupant, drinks carton, half drunk coffee, crisp packet and a small, red Suzuki motorbike.  Pushing it all to the back of the tiny table, I sipped at my coffee and wished I'd brought my noise cancelling ear phones.  Kids were running everywhere, and mums looked like they'd rather be necking a bottle of wine rather than a cup of tea.  

I lasted as long as I could but eventually caved, gathering up my belongings and heading for the door.  Just as I reached it, a very loud voice (to be heard over the record breaking noise of the cafe) shouted out to me.

'Excuse me love.  You've forgotten your motorbike'.  

I could have turned round.  I could have explained it wasn't mine.  I did neither, choosing instead to get out of there as soon as possible without a backwards glance.  Not surprisingly, the supermarket was even worse, full of whinging kids telling their poor mums what they 'needed' her to buy.  

I know exactly what they 'needed' and it definitely wasn't Easter eggs.

It's February for goodness' sake.  Someone tell the shops please...