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Hot, hot, hot...

So the celebrations have continued.  The husband and I were invited down to Mr and Mrs H's house for dinner on Saturday.  Now Mrs H is a wonderful Italian lady, well versed in the serving up of delicious Italian fare.  Surprisingly, we had homemade curry this time.  There were two choices.  One was 'mild and coconutty' (not too sure if that is a proper word), and another which was 'a little spicy'. 

Now I should have known that the description of 'little' is relative.  To me, anything hotter than a Korma is dangerous, whereas the husband will munch through a vindaloo and complain that it's bland.  So when the husband said to me that it wasn't too spicy, I thought, 'What's the worst that could happen?'  I should say that by this time I had knocked back several glasses of Prosecco, so any decision was marred by the addition of alcohol.  I spooned some onto my plate, liberally covering it with raita and the coconutty one (I'm sure that…

A saucerful of secrets...

Today's blog is a mini play, entitled....

The Secret Birthday Lunch Act 1

We are in a night time bedroom with the birthday girl (BG) and daughter number one (DN1).  It's Friday night, and the two of them are discussing the forthcoming birthday celebrations.

DN1
What has dad planned for you for your birthday?
BG
Well, I'm hoping for a big family lunch.
DN1
Like we did last week at The Queens Head?
BG
Exactly like that...

Act 2

Fast forward to Saturday, and we are now in Barouche, a trendy bar in Marlow.  We see the BG sitting with her best friend Mrs S (MS), discussing how long they have known each other, and how quickly the time has gone.

Enter left Miss R (MR) the mother (TM), Mrs Jangles (MJ) and son number two who join BG and MS.

Waitress
Can I take your orders?
MS
I'll have a large latte please.
Waitress
Sorry, our frother is broken. 
MS
Oh.  Well I'll just have a coffee - can I go next door to Starbucks and get it frothed?
Waitress
No you can't.  Anyone else for a dr…

We are family...

Son number two returned home from university on Thursday as you know, because he missed home so much.  Well let me tell you how much he missed home...he was here for about forty seven minutes before heading out to see his good friend, the Doctor.

I had gone to bed by the time he returned, but getting up yesterday morning I knew straight away that he was home, as there was a dirty frying pan, a plate and some cutlery abandoned on my worktop.  The neatly piled stack was strategically placed near enough to the dishwasher, without being close enough to be inside the bloody thing.  It's amazing how quickly the student lifestyle can be imprinted onto an impressionable mind.  A small talk might be necessary, swiftly followed by a removal of privileges, such as food, heat and a roof if this behaviour continues.

As you know, I had baked a special Halloween cake this week to take into work yesterday to celebrate my birthday.  Well, this went down incredibly well, and by the time I left at …

Fly like an eagle...

I always try to be as honest as I can when I write my blog.  Sometimes this can be funny, and other times it can be heartbreakingly sad.  Other times, like this one, it's just life...

Son number two came home yesterday from his seaside hovel.  You'll remember that he is the last one to head off to uni, and he came home yesterday.  Not just for a hot meal, not with dirty washing, not even with an outstretched hand for more money.  No.  He just came home for good.

It would appear that over the last nineteen years I have been treating him far too well, and he missed his home and family.  It was a tough decision as he seemed to think I would be disappointed with him for not completing what he started.  Disappointed?  Don't tell him, but I'm secretly thrilled he's back home, but this has raised lots of questions.  'I know', I hear you all say, 'What's he going to do?'  To be honest, I'm not worried about what he's going to do, as I know he…

Bittersweet...

It was back to the dentist yesterday for my final appointment.  The one where I get my smile back. When I'd given a gummy approval to my lovely dentist (he with the sense of humour) he ushered me out with the words, 'Nothing to eat or drink on that side for twenty four hours. After that try and avoid eating on that side if possible'.  This is the equivalent of someone giving me a fabulous birthday cake (fat chance - I've made my own already) and then telling me that I can't ever have a slice.

Well needless to say, I came out of the dentist's and went straight into the café opposite and had a cappuccino and a Bakewell Tart.  I did try not to eat on the new tooth, tilting my head at a 45 degree angle, using gravity to encourage a left hand chew, but drinking the cappuccino proved impossible, so I spooned it in.

It was then back home to put the finishing touches to my birthday cake.  A few bones, and some rickety fencing and it was done.  Or was it?  I toyed with …

King of the dogs...

Yesterday was a bit of a funny one.  My lovely friend Mrs P had invited me and another friend Lady O round to her house for a cup of tea.  All three of us have puppies of various sizes, and some serious socialising was on the cards.

Now Mrs P has a Rottweiler puppy called Neville who wrestled with Reg non stop for three hours last time we got together.  I was looking for a repeat performance so that Reg would be too knackered to chew anything on our return home, but it soon became apparent that Neville has a good memory.  I think he remembered the amount of nips and thumps he got from Reg last time, and was looking forward to a little bit of payback.  He was waiting at the front door when he arrived, and I heard Reg give a little gulp next to me.  As the little b*****d had chewed more carpet today, I'm afraid that I wasn't too sympathetic, but merely pushed him through the front door.

The two of them disappeared into the garden, and Reg spent most of the next two hours on his …

Sick, sick, sick...

I got lulled into a false sense of security yesterday morning, leaving the dogs with barely a backwards glance, as I knew that I had done all I could to ensure that Reg wasn't bored.  Daughter number one was still at home when I left, so he even had human company for longer than usual.

Four hours later I was back home.

Oh dear God...

I have calculated that the damage he causes when I am at work costs more than I actually get paid. I called the husband after I had tidied up the bits of carpet and underlay littering the hall floor, and suggested that he bring home a bloody big piece of wood to stop Reg getting anywhere near the stair carpet.  I also asked him to bring home some Duct Tape.  The husband thinks that this is mend the damage, and I've let him believe this.  To be honest, there are many suggestions I could make which would include the tape and Reg, and none of them would involve the stair carpet...

As you know, I am surrounded by illness at the moment.  To be honest, …

Stool pigeon...

To celebrate the forthcoming birthdays of myself and cousin S, a very impromptu lunch was arranged at a pub in Marlow yesterday.  There were eleven of us altogether.  Miss R, the mother and Mr G, Mrs Jangles, cousin S and her beau, cousin S's best friend Ms W and her husband Mr B, the husband, daughter number one, and me.

By the time we turned up at the pub, cousin S, her beau and Mrs Jangles had been there for some time.  They were sitting outside drinking, and for one horrible moment I was worried that they might have been thrown out for bad behaviour.  But no, they were simply enjoying the early autumn sunshine. Being typically British, they were wearing padded jackets and scarves, but hey, the sun was shining.

One by one, the rest of the reprobates (sorry, I meant to say 'family') turned up.  We were soon sitting at our very strangely shaped table (who has an L-shaped table for goodness sake?) and were making headway into yet another bottle of wine.  I say 'we'…

Prisoner 1 and 2...

Disaster struck the house yesterday morning.  You'll remember that I have been trying to train Reg not to eat my home furnishings one room at a time.  When I leave the house each morning (after giving the dogs a 45 minute walk I might add) I close the doors to all the rooms which I want to keep whole.  This includes the lounge.  Now Reg has already made some inroad into my expensive rug in there, but not so bad that the rug needs to be replaced.

Yesterday, what with it being Saturday, I left home early to head over to Marlow to meet Miss R for breakfast.  I had a hair appointment booked and I have to quickly tell you about the man who was sitting next to me at the basin.  You know how much I hate seeing men in the salon, and every time one of them opens their mouths in earshot, it just reinforces my opinion that they should be banned.  So, back to the bloke at the basin.  The Saturday girl had asked him whether he had washed his hair recently.  Well yes he had, so wouldn't be …

Sorry seems to be the hardest word...

I am thinking of swapping my black glossed front door for a football stadium turnstile.  As you know, son number two left here on Thursday to head back to his seaside hovel, and the house had barely registered that he'd gone, when daughter number one returned home after a week away.  Is this how my life is always going to be?  I thought that the husband and I were due some serious one to one time, but it would appear that fate and the ankle biters have other plans for us. 

The husband's next big project, which starts very soon, is sorting out daughter number one's first home of her own.  With the aid of a Kango hammer and some plasterboard, he's going to turn her multi-cupboarded one bedroom flat, into a far more sensible two bedroom residence with no storage space at all.  I find this slightly concerning knowing how many pairs of shoes she has, and have a real fear that the bedroom she is occupying here at the moment will be transformed into some kind of shoe storage…

She sells sanctuary...

I was very stoic with my emerging, life threatening common cold yesterday, soldiering on like every brave female does with little, if any, complaint.

But let's look at the men folk I work with, shall we....

Master B crawled through the office door yesterday morning looking like he probably wouldn't make the weekend.  He spent the morning sniffing like a frustrated coke addict, and trailing a toilet roll behind him. Master P, the other pre-pubescent child I work with, seemed to have avoided the lurgy, and was his usual giddy self.  He sometimes reminds me of one of those monkey toys which crash cymbals together.  I can safely say this as he doesn't do any of this social media stuff.  I just need to rely on my colleagues to keep him in the dark about this...

As the day went on, the three of us spoke to many customers, and whereas Master P and me were professional with our sales patter, Master B seemed intent on going for the full sympathy sale, talking about his 'sniffle…

Hello cold world...

I said to myself on Monday evening that it was only a question of time....and I was right.

Since Monday, I have been surrounded by those of the male persuasion as they have sniffed, coughed, sneezed and spluttered.  All accompanied by deep sighs and general moaning.  I had done everything I could to avoid catching anything from them, even suggesting to Master B (I'm old enough to be his mother) that perhaps opening the window might be a good idea.  Typically, when given advice by someone older than you, he ignored me, so I resorted to leaving the office door open, taking huge gulps of fresh air every time someone opened the front door. 

Mr G, who works in the Depot, looked closed to extinction on Monday, but he has soldiered on, and most generously has passed his germs on to anyone who gest close enough.  There have been occasions when we have had to handle the same piece of paper, and I did think about taking a pair of gloves in to avoid cross contamination, but not wanting to e…

Rat trap...

I was stood up yesterday. I don't know about you, but when something is booked during the week, it's BOOKED.  Between work, the husband and my ramblings, a lot has to be moved about to make way for extra curriculum stuff, and it makes me cross when people cancel something which has been in the diary for at least a fortnight. 

Take yesterday for example.  I have been waiting for four weeks now to have the final appointment with my dentist.  This would have been the one after which I would be happy to grin like a Cheshire cat, rather than the taut smiles reminiscent of the joke about the Wide Mouthed Frog (if you don't know this one, it's a classic).  So yesterday was all planned so that it wrapped around my appointment at 11.50.  As this appointment meant leaving work early, I came in an hour earlier than usual (I am, and always will be, extremely conscientious).  Firing up my PC, I started trawling through my emails, stopping every now and again to deal with the more …

Back of the van...

Driving to work yesterday morning it occurred to me that although I had spent half of the weekend tramping up and down hills and beaches with my bearded friends, I had unfortunately spent the other half eating.  This might explain why my work trousers were just that little bit reluctant to do up.  But I persevered, and isn't that what loose jumpers are for after all?

I had the misfortune to be following a white van as I went to Binland yesterday, and sitting behind it at the roundabout, I came to the conclusion that there is an unwritten rule as to what must be on the back of most commercial vehicles, hastily scrawled with a finger into the layer of dirt.  Here's what he had on his one:

'I wish my wife was as dirty as this van'...
Now this is open to debate - I don't think that there is a man alive desperate enough to want a woman covered from head to toe in road detritus, that being road sweepings, fag ash and the odd bit of road kill, or maybe there's an alte…

I'm walkin'...

So much to tell you after this weekend...

It was part two of our Schauzerfest walks, and yesterday we headed down to one of my favourite places in the whole wide world.  West Wittering.

The journey there was enough to put the fear into any dog walker as the heavens opened and the wind picked up. We probably aquaplaned down most of the M27, and I was slightly concerned that the dogs might need a set of armbands each for the seaside walk.  The husband had promised me fish and chips on the beach before the walk (he knows how to keep me happy, and he is also trying to make amends for the slasher job on the hedge), and we eventually found a chippy which was daft enough to open on a Sunday.  We were going to eat it on the beach, but as the weather had taken a turn for the worst (hard to believe I know - but even the seagulls were sitting in the bus shelter) we decided to 'eat in'..

So, faces fed, we headed off to the beach.  One by one, the cars turned up, spilling their contents of…

Draggin'...

Many of you will know that the husband is at his happiest when he has some kind of power tool in his hand.  Yesterday, it was the turn of the hedge trimmer.  Before you ask, he wasn't embarking on some new venture in hairdressing.  Instead, he had decided to cut our hedge, the one which separates the house from the road.  We had been talking about cutting it back a little to let more light in, but I had no idea what he was actually planning, what with hedge trimming falling into the Blue Job category and all that.

I left him to it this morning, as I was involved in one of two walks for Schnauzerfest (www.facebook.com/SchnauzerfestUK/about/ - take a look at what they do).  I was meeting lovely Mrs S from work with her family and dog Alfie, along with several other miniature schnauzer owners to walk up the Clumps (I know this sounds vaguely rude, but it is a real place, I promise you). 

Setting out with fifteen schnauzers and Alfie, everything was going really well, until Percy spo…

Dog eat dog...

Now that Reg, the psychopath Miniature Schnauzer, has been with us for six months, I thought I'd update you on how he is doing.  When the husband and I decided to get another dog, we assumed that the new puppy would be the same as Percy. Big mistake...

Now Percy is the perfect dog.  He is polite, friendly and gentle.  He doesn't jump up, scrounge for food or bark unless necessary.  He has his bad points, one of which is that he can be rather aloof.  He quite likes a fuss and a scratch, but when he's had enough, he lets you know by just wandering off.  So you can see, we were hoping to replicate this with our new addition.

Six months down the line, life is very different in the house...or what's left of it.  Let me tell you what the little bastard (as he is affectionately known) has done so far to my lovely home...

Lounge
Rug chewed leaving soggy corner which will never lie flat again
Decorative apples made of leaves chewed which now resemble road kill
Stairs
Four steps …

Memories...

While I was having my incredibly healthy breakfast yesterday morning, I pondered the decision made by someone high up in Sainsbury's to make their low fat yoghurt pots square...You try getting it all out with a spoon - having swiped my spoon round the pot a couple of times to get those last bits of black cherry clinging to the corners out, I eventually came up with the bright idea of flipping the spoon round, and using the handle - worked a treat.

So suitably fed, I headed off to Binland.  One of our lovely drivers was selling raffle tickets, fund raising for a poorly friend who was in need of some serious cheering up.  I bought five strips, and then Mr E, the young boy I work with, decided he'd have five also.  With me in charge of the raffle ticket pad and the pen, it was down to me to fill in all the ticket stubs. 

As I started getting writer's cramp around stub number thirty six, Mr W, my slightly older boss, chipped in for two strips.  My writing was now getting more…

Fat bottomed girls...

There are many words that the husband can say to me to make my heart melt, but the nicest ones this week were the ones he said to me as he was going to work on Tuesday morning...

'Before I forget, the Ratman will be here at 3.00 today.  Will you be here?'

Would I be in?  Silly question really.  If the Ratman, or Andrew as I would rather call him (because that is his name) was planning on coming to the house, then I most certainly would be in.  Anything to stop those critters in my loft stomping up and down all through the night. 

I must confess, I don't like the idea of killing mice.  After all, I live in the country and its really an occupational hazard to have them visit over the winter months.  A few years ago, I used to set humane traps laced with chocolate spread, catching as many as four at a time.  I'd put the trap in my car, and drive a good ten miles before releasing them at the site of a derelict farmhouse.   This happened several times, and I imagined that …

Watch your step...

It was back to Binland yesterday.  Sitting down at my desk (I use the term loosely, for it is actually a table with no drawers or space for anything more than my keyboard and a phone) I noticed a small cardboard box, neatly balanced on the middle of my keyboard.  I picked it up gingerly, in case some wag had thought about putting a spider in there, but after giving it a shake, I suddenly remembered.  All of my colleagues had been given a pedometer, to encourage us to get moving a bit more. 

Taking it out of the box, I duly clipped it to my trouser waistband and then went on to try and forget all about it.  Completely ignoring it wasn't really an option, as it rattled every time I walked anywhere.  My colleagues were having the same problem, and I was getting a ten second warning of any impending entry into my office thanks to the mediocre craftmanship.  As I said to Mrs P, she certainly wasn't going to be creeping up on anyone wearing it, foolishly hoping that she wouldn'…

Excellent adventure...

It was a quiet one last night.  Well for me at least, as the husband has stopped doing his St Vitus' dance around the bedroom in the early hours.  He said he heard something, which I find hard to believe.  If it was distinguishable over my snoring, then we have a bigger problem than we originally thought.  Perhaps the Ratman will need to go up with a wooden chair and a whip rather than the poison...

I needed a good night's sleep on Sunday, as it was back to school for me on Monday.  As a woman of indeterminate years, you sometimes forget what it's like to learn something totally new.  Thus is was for me with Microsoft Excel yesterday.  As usual, I was the oldest one there (by some way) and I was concerned that my raddled old brain wouldn't be able to keep up with the youngsters (all in their thirties) in the room.

It reminded me of when I took my first motorbike test at the ripe old age of thirty eight.  When I turned up, the examiner did a double take and asked me if …

Breathe...

MouseGate continues to cause havoc in the bedroom, with new heights of scratching, slapping and knocking being achieved.  Not by whatever rodent is up there, but by the husband, in an attempt to 'drive the bloody thing further down the attic so that he is above one of the other bedrooms'. 

This comes with its own problems though.  Firstly, he is now waking me up with this crazy banging of the walls and ceiling.  I had managed to block out the noise coming from the attic, but when the husband springs out of bed, muttering some rich expletive, all of a sudden, I am wide awake.  Once his banging and knocking is done, it's back into bed he gets, falling asleep within eight seconds.  I, on the other hand, don't, and it's usually about thirty seconds, before the mouse, having stopped laughing and flicking the bird at the husband through the ceiling, returns, the short break giving him a chance to muster up some hard core strength for the next scratching session.  Maybe …

Crazy horses...

After Friday night's brush with extremely minor celebrities, life came back down to earth with a rather large crash.  This was a shame as Miss R was suffering with rather a painful headache when I collected her for the Saturday Breakfast yesterday morning, whereas I actually felt rather chipper. I put this down to the husband's version of 'Splat the Rat' at 3.00am on Saturday morning.  It gave me the opportunity to knock back a pint of water (thoughtfully left by the side of the bed by my drunken alter ego) thus reducing the risk of the hangover from hell.

Breakfast was superbly average again this week, with the sausages in particular scoring a mediocre 7 out of 10, while the lukewarm cappuccino barely scraped a 5.   Mrs Jangles was there along with Miss R's friend with the fabulous hair (she's far too gorgeous for a lady of 60 and fills me with hope).  The Patriarch was also at breakfast, although he was very quiet and kept nodding off in his comfy chair.  Mis…

A hard day's night.....

I have come to realise that the following are not the best of combinations...

Hard week at work
Afternoon and evening in London
Husband driving
Sister with us
Happy Hour
Two bottles of Prosecco

We went to see Romesh Ranganathan last night, and felt it was only polite to go into a local hostelry, and warm up with a drink or six.  Miss R has a new Special Friend, and last night the husband and I were meeting him for the first time.  This was another good reason for the alcohol consumption as her nervous anticipation was catching.  So by the time he turned up, I was well on the way to not being able to string a sentence together without including the words 'Is there any left in the bottle?'

What you have to understand here, is that I hadn't had a drink for over two weeks.  This is very normal behaviour for me, but results in me getting very drunk, very quickly, on very little.  This is what happened last night after my one and a half glasses of Prosecco.  Of course, once I…

Black is black...

Now that a few more pounds are starting to whittle away from the old waistline, coupled with the change in the weather, I felt that it was about the right time to tackle my wardrobe.  It was time to pack away the summer clothes, making room for the re-instated winter ones.

Pulling the suitcase from under the bed, I opened it up with mild excitement.  I always forget what's in there, so there is always an element of surprise at the big unveiling during October.  Picture my bed at this moment in time if you will.  On the left was a neatly folded pile of bright summer colours, sheer blouses and maxi dresses, smart white trousers, pastel shades, spotty shirts, sandals and flip flops.  In the open suitcase on the bed, it was a different story altogether.  It was black, everything was black.  Surely there must be something in there to liven up my 'fit for a funeral' garb.  Digging deeper in the suitcase, pushing past several black cardigans (one V-neck, one round neck, and one w…

Touch of grey...

So I was rather proud of myself yesterday.  You'll remember that there was a serious amount of baking which went on in my kitchen on Tuesday, the results of which were destined for Binland and all who serve there.  I struggled to get the large Coffee and Walnut Cartwheel through the front door of Binland, but a colleague was on hand to open the door fully, so that I didn't have to tilt the cake at a precarious angle to get through.  All this and holding a crammed handbag, a flask of soup and thirty fairy cakes.  It was a miracle that everything arrived unscathed.  Having said that, it was a close call with the soup, which had fallen over in my handbag.  That would not have been pretty if it had leaked into the bag, and it  reminded me of a particularly raucous visit to Ascot, involving much alcohol, a feathered hat, a bumpy bus ride home and an open handbag.  I'll let you put the pieces of the puzzle together, but needless to say, the bag went in the bin and the bus driver…

Real girls eat cake...

Once upon a time, in a kitchen not far from here, I had a different life.  I used to bake cakes for a living, supplying around ten different shops and cafes and anyone who wanted a personal cake for a special occasion.  I once estimated that I baked over two hundred large cakes a week.  Over a year, that equates to about 10,500 cakes, and as I did this for over three years, you can see that a lot of eggs came through my front door, leaving as something quite different at the end of the day.

When I hung up my apron about five years ago, it took me over a year to be able to face my food mixer again.  It sadly sat behind closed doors, hankering after the days when it churned out perfect cake mix day after day.  Unfortunately, the only time my food mixer comes out these days is for a good cause.  I don't mean the children's birthdays or Sunday teas, as these occasions are what Marks and Spencer sell Colin the Caterpillar Cakes for, but I do like to get baking when there is somethi…

I'm walking...

Well sanity has returned to the house, as quickly as three of the kids disappeared yesterday.  Of course daughter number one is still here, so sanity is never fully restored. 

The husband and I took the two girls out for a late lunch yesterday (boys, if you're reading this and feeling a bit miffed, that will teach you for leaving as soon as politely possible yesterday).  We headed down to a well known café by the river (http://www.waterfrontcafe.co.uk/) and proceeded to work our way through their extensive menu.  Their food is always great, and it was the perfect end to quite a frantic weekend, sitting in the sunshine and letting my belt out another notch. 

Talking about the thickening waistline, I am ramping up the walking with the dogs, and reducing the amount of food I manage to force down my gullet each day.  Aren't you supposed to want to eat less as you get older?  Well someone up there is having a good laugh at my expense, as food seems to be all I can think about, in…

Slow hand...

It was a fairly quiet start to yesterday morning after the kids' Big Night Out.  Slowly, one by one, they materialised out of their bedrooms.  Bleary eyed, mussed up hair qand looqking like they would never drink again, daughters one and two and ELL were the question for wear.  The two boys had paced themselves on beer, not wanting to encourage another hangover (having already had six each this week already) but the girls had wanted to drink the pretty Mojitos which the bar had on their menu.  And herein lies the problem.  The waitress was one of three things: 1.  Stupid
2.  On her first day at work
3.  Related to a snail Seeing how long it was taking her to make a single Mojito, the girls thought it best to order six at a time, so that they would have three on standby.  The boys and ELL were back at a very sensible midnight, but the two daughters carried on ordering the Slojitos, as I have renamed them, crawling through the front door around an hour later. Yesterday morning when…

Dancin' on a Saturday night...

So the kids all returned home yesterday. First to turn up was son number one.  I wasn't at home when he arrived, but he sent a text asking me and the husband where the key was in the Key Safe.  How I laughed.  What's that saying about 'what goes around comes around'?  I was heading home anyway after the usual family breakfast in Marlow, but the husband drove home and opened the house - for the second time this week poor chap.

Son number two was next, and here was the big surprise.  No washing.  He obviously still has clean clothes to wear, rather than having to gingerly pick up t-shirts off the floor and cautiously sniff them to see whether they'll do for another outing.  He was also quite relieved to see the new socks I had bought him. 

When I unpacked his clothes last week at the seaside hovel, he had only brought four and a half pairs of socks with him.  With the best will in the world, that was never going to last a weekend, let alone a whole week.  I would im…