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Showing posts from 2016

Danger zone...

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Yesterday was daughter number two's birthday.  She has never forgiven me for this, but as I often remind her, if she hadn't decided to defer her entrance into this beautiful world for almost three weeks, then she wouldn't now be suffering the annual insult of,  'I've bought you a bigger Christmas present to cover your birthday'.

Because I do hold myself partly responsible for her eventual birthday, I always try and arrange something a little special for her, so that we can separate her birthday from all the Christmas pizazz going on around us.  A few months ago, Tom Kerridge (Superchef, and adopted Marlow boy) announced that he was opening a pop up cinema for just two months in Marlow.  Well, this sounded good, so after a quick ring around, I bought twelve tickets and sat back and watched as the whole event sold out within a space of days.

So last night was the big night.  The cinema goers last night were me, the husband, daughter number one, son number one, da…

Walking in a winter wonderland...

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Firstly, please accept my apologies for the later than usual post today.  This is what happens when you are trawling the Home Counties with a car full of drunks in a fog so thick you could knit an Aran sweater out of it.

Some months ago, the shout came up from my nephew, Wormy (he'll hate me for this pseudonym, but Mr G sounds too boring for this loopy boy) to arrange something special between Christmas and New Year.  Several suggestions were made, a couple of which I'm not sure were legal, but in the end we decided on a trip to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.  The final count yesterday was vastly reduced due to sickness and general apathy, but the hard core party ended up as me, the husband (who was moaning quietly about a sore throat), daughter number one, son number one, Miss R (naturally), Wormy and his beautiful girlfriend Miss B. 

As alcohol was involved, the shout went up to drive as far as possible, then get the train in.  I was never going to drink, as it's daugh…

My life...

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I had been looking forward to yesterday (Holiday Wednesday I think our American friends call it) as it was the one day this week when nothing was planned.  I'd like to say that I was looking forward to a day of relaxing, but I'd be lying, as I was more interested in getting rid of the three remaining children, three dogs and one husband, and claiming back my house from the ghost of Christmas past. 

But it was not to be.  I had forgotten that I had volunteered my services to daughter number one.  There was an ulterior motive to offering to do the cutting in on the decoration front (sooner it's finished, sooner she's moving out) so I was quite happy to get the brushes out.  However, what I hadn't planned for was daughter number two offering my services as taxi driver to the Long Suffering Boyfriend (LSB) who had to be at a railway station an hour away at 8.00am.  This meant getting up at 6.00am, which I may forgive them both for by sometime in March....

So it was a …

Games without frontiers...

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Life is getting back to a slightly more level keel now.  I have stopped eating anything which stops moving long enough, the kids are hitting the sales, and the husband has a digger on hire.  We all know that no man is happier than when in possession of a digger, and mine is no different.

We decided some time ago that as most of the stones on our drive have disappeared, we would replace them.  While I am thinking about it, where do all those stones disappear to?  I have visions of someone down the road creeping up our drive under cover of night and nicking a bucket full of my Oxford stone.  Over ten years, I'm sure the thief's drive would resemble shag-pile gravel...


So, the husband was outside nearly all of yesterday, with son number one on the dumper truck, delicately removing the top six inches of our drive.  My new laptop had arrived, so I was very happily ensconced in working out how to transfer Microsoft Office from one PC to another (not possible when you can't even …

Wide open spaces...

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So I survived...You'll remember from my last blog on Christmas Eve that all service had come to a grinding halt as I had spectacularly launched a full bottle of nail varnish remover over my laptop.  I did try and wipe it off, but when the 'E' disappeared from the keyboard (rather too vigorous in the rubbing department perhaps), I realised that my laptop was, in the words of Monty Python, a 'wooden overcoat job'.

So thank you for granting me a couple of days off.  It gave me more time to eat and drink, something I really didn't need to be honest.

So what have I been up to?  Well apart from eating and drinking so much that The Boundaries Commission are considering inserting a new county somewhere between Oxfordshire and Berkshire, I managed to cover a lot of ground.

Christmas Eve was spent splitting my time between wrapping up those last few stragglers, putting my head in the oven (there was nothing cooking, I just came close to throwing in the towel on a couple …

Stop right now...

Just an uber quick message to all my lovely readers...
I'm going to give myself a couple of days off from the blog.  This is for several reasons as listed below...
1.  I would imagine that I will be eating so much over the next two days, that I won't be able to get close enough to the desk to type.
2.  I may not be sober for more than ten minutes, so may write something incriminating which I may come to regret.
3.  I will be spending beautiful time with my wonderful family, something to be treasured.
4....and this is the main one...
PC World doesn't open till the 27th December.
A word to the not so wise.  Never do your nails at the same desk which houses your laptop, as a bottle of Cutex Nail Polish Remover poured over your keyboard is not helpful.
Let's regroup on the 27th December, when I can regale you with tales of shame and stories of inappropriate gifts.....
Merry Christmas to you and yours, from me and mine.
The Bird is signing off for Christmas...
xxxx

Listen to the music...

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As Alice Cooper used to say... 'School's out'. 

It was my last day at Binland yesterday, and as you can probably guess, not much work was done by anyone.  What with two pots of flapjack (it was Fat Friday, so these are my normal contribution) biscuits, doughnuts and sweets, I think that most of the workforce simply turned up yesterday, ate, got fatter, and then went home again having achieved absolutely naff all. 

Master B and Master P reached new levels of daftness yesterday, and I did ask them whether they had been eating Skittles on the way into work, such were their levels of hysteria.  Master B was hopping from foot to foot, desperate to know whether I knew what presents I was going to get, while Master P spent the first hour at work cursing. I'm too discreet to divulge further, but enough to say the air was blue.

Once Mr W had left the building, Master B decided that it was time to re-educate yours truly about the current music scene.  He put various snippets o…

Wonder woman...

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I genuinely believe, that if I stepped into a telephone box and opened my coat, you just might get a glimpse of a red and gold bustier, and some rather tight starry drawers.  The husband has taken to calling me WonderWoman (oh to have her cleavage - if I wore that bustier, there would be a four inch gap between the whalebone and me, and all you'd see when you peered in would be my size 7 feet) and I put this down to the fact that I have singlehandedly organised Christmas this year. 

If you remember, the husband's contribution to Christmas stretches as far as buying and erecting the Christmas tree.  No mean feat, but once this job is done, he dusts himself off and starts dreaming about my Christmas pudding (please note that I said this in singular, and it is not a reference to the WonderWoman analogy).

Mr W, aka the Voice of Reason, asked me yesterday at work how I managed to fit everything in.  I ask myself this quite regularly, and have come to the conclusion that whereas mo…

Numb...

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It all seems to have got a bit giddy in Binland this week.  I am blaming Christmas naturally for this, but there is other stuff which is contributing to the general merriment and emotional see-saw of the place.  (I don't like roller coasters, preferring the see-saw which is much closer to the ground).

Master B and Master P, still being young enough to remember believing in Father Christmas, are getting more and more feral as the week progresses.  The one thing which is hindering Master B with full on party mode is toothache.  He has a wisdom tooth coming through, and rather than go to the dentist this week and have it whipped out, he has chosen to go after Christmas. And why is this?  Well, it's because he's worried that the dentist might put him on antibiotics after the extraction, which will mean he can't drink over the festive period, something he has been looking forward to since August.

Now as you know, many a dentist has had intimate knowledge of my gums and teet…

Radio radio...

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Yesterday saw Miss R and me back on the airwaves of Marlow FM.  In case this means nothing to you (possible), this is the local radio station of Marlow FM, and if you're not local to the area, there is a chance that you may not have heard of it (probable).

Miss R and I help Chris Zaremba, the DJ, present the Christmas show, and I know for a fact that he really looks forward to this every year. Who am I kidding...he even claimed to be ill yesterday in an attempt to keep us away, but we are made of stronger stuff than that, and turned up at the allotted time, with Miss R also bringing along a well developed cold just to add to the mix of the germs in the studio.

For Miss R and me, it's just a chance to talk nonsense for three hours, play our favourite music and eat Christmas goodies.  This time it was stollen, which gave us the perfectly reasonable excuse to roll out our dreadful German accents.  This peaked with the competition which we always have at Christmas, with 'Ve vi…

Ready or not...

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The husband and I crawled through the front door on Sunday night around 10.00pm, to be greeted by the two fuzzballs as they launched themselves at us from the sofa.  Looking around at the state of the house, it would appear that they weren't the only ones who had missed us.

Son number one had messaged us from the sanctuary of the sofa to tell us that there was no food in the house. I'm not too sure what he was expecting me to do from Krakow, but the husband very politely suggested that he get in touch with one of the other two siblings who were in the vicinity and get them to buy bloody food.  (Son number one has his hand in plaster and is unable to drive.  He can however work a laptop, a remote control and a mobile phone, thank goodness). 

Daughter number one came to his rescue with an impromptu roast dinner, which was thoughtful of her, as it meant that the sons one and two wouldn't go foraging in the freezer, and eat all my Christmas food already bought (this amounts t…

Time to say goodbye...

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So yesterday was our last day in this beautiful city.  We were all a little jaded after Saturday night at Moskio Oko (http://www.morskieoko.krakow.pl/home-en/) where we had drunk dubious vodka and eaten stunning food.  I had to hold Miss R back, as they had a live folk band there, giving it all they had with a violin, double bass and some very loud singing.  We all know what Miss R is like when alcohol and music are on offer simultaneously, and it's not often pretty.

The food was excellent, although Miss R and I had eaten goulash soup as a starter, and then considered it perfectly acceptable to eat steak (Miss R) and veal fillet (me).  The husband, always the more adventurous of us, had eaten black pudding as a starter (you know what they say about being able to take the man out of the North, don't you?) and had then gone onto wild boar (or roast pork as he insisted on calling it).  No puddings (at last, a sensible decision), but the husband insisted on treating all of us to a…

Something special...

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Yesterday we were due to head off to the Salt Mine in Krakow.  As Miss R had been up since 2.00am (this is what happens when you go to bed at 8.00) she was up and at 'em very early, and we trailed down to breakfast about twenty minutes later. 

I was very keen to go to the Cloth Hall, and buy some Polish nick-nacks to take home, so this was our first port of call after breakfast.  Even with the blue sky and brilliant sunshine, it was bloody freezing, and Miss R and I were very pleased to be wearing our reindeer hats, although it was difficult to tell which red nose belonged to the hat or to ourselves on some occasions.   

We stumbled across a stall selling kits, not unlike Airfix, but made of wood, and the husband was desperate to find a motor bike, a completed one of which stood in full mocking glory on top of the display.  Unfortunately, even helping the lady trawl through around fourteen piles, he was unable to find one.  The lower lip was stuck out, and he sulked for at least…

Crying...

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Yesterday I visited Auschwitz for the second time.  As someone who once upon a time had a Jewish grandmother, there is nothing witty, funny, or banal that I can tell you.  So I am going to fast forward my day to about 4.00pm.

We had spent about three hours in the car traveling, and around four shivering.  By the time the husband, Miss R and I returned to the hotel, all we could think about was being warm again.  Our poor taxi driver had to keep increasing the heat in the car on our return journey, and each time he increased the temperature, I watched several more beads of sweat roll down the back of his neck.  Even keeping all our outdoor clothes on, including hats and gloves, we just couldn't get warm.  In fact, Miss R, who had been wearing a very sensible (here comes the sarcasm) pair of expensive black suede wedges boots only managed to get feeling back into her right foot about an hour after we got back to the hotel.

We had decided that we would take a mooch around the town sq…

Cold as ice...

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So the Three Musketeers are taking on Eastern Europe this Christmas, and have launched themselves onto the poor unsuspecting people of Krakow for a few days. 

We flew from Terminal 5 yesterday ('Flying for Grown-Ups', as I call it), and Miss R regaled me with stories of how good the shopping would be.  I needed to buy a warmer coat and a new bag, so was looking forward to the whole experience.  Walking up and down the terminal, searching for goods which had a price tag of less than five numbers, I asked someone where Next was.  Terminal 3 apparently, so the coat remained unbought, but I did manage to buy the bag - thank goodness for Accessorize....

The husband, never best left alone with the general public, managed to get himself thrown out of WH Smiths after arguing with a member of staff as to why he wasn't allowed to hand over his cash to a real person, rather than a self-serve machine.  Luckily, there are three WH Smiths in Terminal 5, so we managed to get what he wan…

House of cards...

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Is it just me, or does anyone else out there have an irrational anger towards Christmas cards?

I used to send them out religiously with lists of recipients and a pre-printed label template already set up with a festive sprig of holly in each corner.  In each card, I would address it to the recipient, write a short greeting (never the same one twice) and finish it with a flourish of a signature.  It never worried me if I didn't get one back, I simply enjoyed the sending bit.

And then I had kids...

This is where it all started to get rather challenging. Before the kids appeared, I was quite content to write 'To Steve, Janet, George and Becky'... (this is a made up family before you start asking who they are) because it was just my name at the bottom of the card.  Then as the husband and the kids came along, card writing started to become rather arduous.  It soon became obvious that referring to the six of us as 'The Tribe' wasn't sufficient, as I was reminded eac…

Give peace a chance...

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Much to my surprise, the Christmas tree is still intact and upright (unlike some of my work colleagues on Saturday night I might say).  Reg seems to have taken a laissez-faire approach to it, not even glancing at the lovely shiny things as he wanders past it.  He hasn't even attempted to pee up the trunk.  Mind you, the bucket which houses the tree is rather large, so he may have to get help to pee to avoid splash-back from the green plastic . Of course, he could be lulling me into a false sense of insecurity, all the while planning some full-scale offensive when I am least expecting it, probably around 10.30am Christmas Day, just as we are getting ready to leave for Miss R's house for Christmas lunch. 

The presents have started arriving for the children courtesy of the poor postman and several courier companies, who by now must be fed up of writing those 'You weren't here when we called' cards.  A couple of them now allow you to request that they leave the parcel…

I feel pretty...

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In between sleeping and eating McDonalds yesterday, I somehow managed to decorate our Christmas tree.  This was no mean feat, as there was a step ladder involved (something I can't be trusted with even when I am sober) and 3,500 lights.

The husband, whose responsibility towards the tree tends to come to a grinding halt somewhere between getting the thing upright and putting the decorations on, gave me some assistance from the sofa (mainly pointing out the places I'd missed which I didn't think was particularly constructive).  Daughter number one was there fleetingly, and helped me a bit, and then I was on my own with the tree, three suitcases of baubles and other Christmas paraphernalia. 

Three hours later, it was all done.  Because of Reg (the dog with a penchant for carpet and anything else he can destroy) I had to push the decorations as far as possible up the branches, and subconsciously, I had left the bottom two feet or devoid of any swaying, shiny stuff which he mi…

Dance, dance...

Well yesterday was a washout. 

This was all down to my office Christmas party on Saturday night.  You might remember that I had voiced my concern earlier in the week as to what to wear, not wanting to be either too mumsy or mutton dressed as mutton, but happy to walk the middle line.  I eventually settled on some black trousers and a very trendy top from Religion, so left home feeling happy.

I was meeting Mrs S and Mrs H in a pub opposite the railway station (its location alone is enough to tell you what it was like).  When I walked into the pub, I scanned the bar looking for my fiends.  The pub was full of groups of men dressed up in Christmas jumpers, with one particularly odd lot dressed as Mexicans. Poor Mrs H was being chatted up (literally - he was about 4'8") by an elderly gentleman with a broken nose.  (I'm assuming it was broken and that he wasn't an athlete in training. Looking at the way he was chucking the pints back, I am convinced that the nearest he ha…

Oh Christmas tree....

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Well the tree is in...

The husband takes great joy in winding me up as to how big it's going to be this year (I always assume that he is talking about the Norwegian Spruce, but you can never be too sure, so some smiling and patient nodding is always advised).  We must be the only family I know who have to take a trailer to the Tree Barn to pick ours up.  There's none of that pushing it between the seats, or strapping it to a roof rack (if we did this, I would imagine that the husband's wheels would look like Bambi's legs on ice). 

As befitting our family tradition, we all bundled up to the Tree Barn yesterday afternoon.  Son number one and daughter number two were missing presumed happy, but we kind of made up numbers with son number two's girlfriend ELL.  Every year, I make the kids choose one decoration each for the tree, and over the years many memories have been stored up.  When they were younger, the decorations they picked tended to verging on horrific - I h…

Bubbles...

What better way to end a frantic week in Binland than sitting with good friends eating chocolate cake and necking five bottles of Prosecco....

I had invited my girl-neighbours round for a pre Christmas jolly, and also to make amends.  A few months ago, I had invited almost the same group of pals round for a tea party, and they have never forgiven me for supplying shop bought cakes that afternoon, still talking about their disgust in hushed tones even now.  I do get where they're coming from as I used to make cakes for a living, and I suppose they felt a bit hard done by with the jam tarts from the Co-op... 

Revisit my shame by reading Tea for two(http://tracyrich31.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/tea-for-two.html)

So I had spent quite some time this week creating several things of beauty.  These included an enormous chocolate cake with white chocolate icing, a heroic looking lemon drizzle and warm homemade scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.  I had got my teapot out with its mat…

Broken stones...

You'll remember earlier in the week that I mentioned that I had been in a quarry for the morning.  This is one of the bonuses of being employed at Binland, as I get to see all these wonderful things which under normal circumstances would remain a complete mystery. 

I was looking forward to the quarry visit, as it meant that I could wear my jeans and walking boots all day as it was really muddy down there.  Oh joy - no tights, no hair styling, minimal make up and a free lunch.  It all sounded brilliant.  Naturally there was some hi-vis clothing necessary (orange so isn't my colour) and a hard hat.  I love wearing these as they iron out the curly rebellious bits of hair which refuse to lie flat.  This hat was rather tight, so I was expecting my hair to be poker straight on top by the end of the tour. 

Once everyone was there, the Quarry Manager donned an orange hi-vis onesie....

Can you hear the desire in my words?  I was speechless, and it dispelled any doubts as to what to b…

Blue boy...

Master B and Master P, the two twenty-something boys I share my working life with, provide me with a constant source of amusement and entertainment.  On Monday, Master P and I were in desperate need of a boost as befitting the first day back after a hefty weekend (see 'Breaking the Habit).  It only took me to ask how Master P's weekend went, and before we knew it, we were laughing like drains.

To my lovely American readers, I do not have a clue where this saying comes from.  It's right up there with 'laughing on the other side of your face'.  What it basically means, is that we were chortling so hard that all phones remain unanswered for two whole minutes, and my mascara took a real bashing...

It turned out that Master P and Master B had been out to watch live sport on Saturday afternoon.  Master B, confusing a daylight visit to a sports stadium with an evening pub crawl, turned up with no clothes other than a shirt, trousers and a pair of shoes.  Master P, equall…

Chillin' with you...

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I spent a most enjoyable day among the rubbish of the Home Counties yesterday, but I'm going to talk about that tomorrow.  What I'd like to tell you about today is the relaxing evening Mrs S and I spent at a posh spa after my day in the rubbish.

I was late.  Not through any fault of my own, as I am a stickler for punctuality, but mainly because of the following:

The silver Corsa, who decided that it was a grand idea to break down on a major roundabout
The horsebox, which shot out of a side road on two wheels, and then crawled along the main road
The Volvo driver, who thought it was a kind gesture to let everyone through, even though he had right of way and despite being honked by the three cars behind (I wasn't one of them, can I say...)
My friends, who kept calling me, interrupting my satnav and her instructions
It was dark, wet and foggy

So having eventually turned up, I then did two laps of the building looking for the front door. I was on the point of giving up and goi…

Old hat...

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After achieving a record eight hours' sleep on Sunday night, normal service resumed in our house on Monday morning.

The hangovers were gone, only to be replaced with that bewildered look on the husband's face which says 'What bloody weekend?'  It's always at this point that he likes to don his t-shirt which asks that we start the weekend again, as he wasn't ready, and that I remind him that as it's Monday, he can have a quiet day away from home, without me nagging him to do the Blue jobs on his list (he never quite makes it to the bottom and compares my list to keeping plates spinning on sticks).  The husband never seems impressed though, and my suggestion that he 'has a lovely day' is always met head on with a grunt and a look which could kill a lesser woman.. 

But we do have a lovely break to look forward to.  The husband, Miss R and I are off for a few days in Poland in a week or so.  Apart from the obviously emotional pilgrimage to the camps, I…

Breaking the habit...

Yesterday was a day of recovery.  Daughter number one, son number two and ELL had ever so thoughtfully decided not to come home for anything (including the obligatory Sunday roast), such was their understanding as to the state of the husband after Saturday night's frivolities at a lovely friend's.

What I was more surprised at was the state of my hangover yesterday morning, ie, non-existent.  Mr and Mrs H who hosted the dinner on Saturday night are renowned for two things.  Firstly, the food is always excellent as Mrs H is a superb cook.  She lived up to her reputation with three different curries and a chocolate pud to die for.  It's Mr H who I have to watch out for whenever we are in the same room.  Every time we are somewhere together, he manages to sit next to me, and he is very over-attentive with the bottle if you know what I mean.  I have left previous dinner parties on all fours, taking several days to surface, but as I no longer drink as much or as often (these two…

No milk today...

Sleep deprivation is not the best thing to have to put up with when your dear old face needs every bit of beauty sleep it can muster.  When I finally sat down at my dressing table yesterday morning, I looked like I had been drained of every bodily fluid, and I could just about make out the wardrobe behind me in the mirror through my almost translucent skin.

On Friday evening I had gone out with lots of friends who I used to work with at a school.  There were teachers there (who were excellent at getting us to be quiet when the food was being brought out) and there was a matron (always handy when alcohol is being bandied around) and support staff (ever ready to listen to those needing to talk things through once the booze kicks in).  Unfortunately, there was no maths teacher present which might explain the problems with splitting the bill, but hey, you can't have everything.  It was great to see everyone, and what was best of all was seeing how we have all carved out beautiful path…