Sunday, 30 October 2016

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's not a proper word and it is the very last time I'll use it. I promise).

The effect of the first spoonful, was that the spicier of the two curries joined forces with a menopausal hottie, which had been hovering all evening.  Galloping together they left a trail of ruddy destruction across my cleavage, coming to a clammy emergency stop on my face.  As I discreetly fanned my face with a table mat (who am I kidding...I was wafting it so furiously that several poppadums were dislodged from my plate.  'Is it hot in here?' asked Mrs H. 

I carried on flapping while beads of sweat trickled down my forehead, which I dabbed at with my napkin (reminiscent of late 1970's Meatloaf) and when the hottie finally abated, my carefully applied makeup was sliding down my face quicker than a greased up penguin going down a helter-skelter. 

The evening ended in the usual way with me and Mrs H playing the Yawning Competition (see who falls asleep first) and the two husbands talking nonsense involving bikes and cider. 

I was foolish to have had such a heavy night before The Surprise Birthday Lunch.  Finally getting out of bed quite late in the morning (or so I thought), I asked the husband what the time was.
When he replied that it was a quarter past twelve, I asked him whether it was really that time or quarter past eleven.

'Does it matter?' he asked.  'Either way, you've had one hell of a lie in'.

I suppose he had a point...

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.

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

Can I take your orders?
I'll have a large latte please.
Sorry, our frother is broken. 
Oh.  Well I'll just have a coffee - can I go next door to Starbucks and get it frothed?
No you can't.  Anyone else for a drink?
I'll have a black coffee with hot milk please.
As I just said, if you'd been listening, the frother is broken.  It will have to be cold milk.
Tea all round then please. 
So what are you doing for your birthday tomorrow?
Going for lunch, at The Queens Head I think.  I suppose you lot are coming too?
Aren't we going to the Seven Stars?
Where is that exactly?  You'll have to give me the postcode.
But I'm not meant to know about this.  Look at the husband's email - it says very clearly 'Not to tell me'
Well you know now.  Hang on, there's another email from him asking us to choose our menus.
What are you having then?
I can't choose because I AM NOT MEANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE LUNCH!!!

Enter left the father (SR) with Ms C.  The father plonks himself down next to the BG

What time is lunch tomorrow dear?

The End

I had to confess to the husband that I knew, and his little face crumpled.  'But I told them not to tell you', he said. 

'Next time', I said, 'put that bit at the start of the text rather than the end.  You might stand a chance of them reading it then...'

Just to confuse everyone later, I might just act really surprised...

Mouth open, eyes wide, pointing at them and saying 'Oh you guys'.  You know, the whole shebang.

Well it is my birthday......

Saturday, 29 October 2016

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 lunchtime, there was only about a third left.  I did toy with the idea of inventing some hard up neighbours who would appreciate a few slices of cake, but reminded myself that if I was to fit in any of the dresses in my wardrobe this coming Christmas, then one slice was definitely enough for me. 

I am hoping that someone in my family has thought about getting me a cake which I haven't made myself.  I remember one year that the husband, whose mind can work in very strange ways sometimes, had a birthday cake made for me in the shape of a ginger guinea pig.  It was almost lifelike, and had a terrible glint in its one eye.  I almost couldn't bear to take the knife to it. 

The husband, on seeing my face when confronted with the cake version of my favourite pet at the time, said, 'Don't you like it?  I thought you liked guinea pigs...'  Well he's right, I do like guinea pigs.  I also like clean sheets and my electric toothbrush, but it doesn't mean I would want a birthday cake shaped like an Oral B Vitality Plus thank you very much.

It makes me very cautious about what I say around this time of the year, as the husband is always looking for clues as to what to buy me as a present.  We all know that just because we like something at 10.00 in the morning, we may not be so keen after lunch, so much thought now goes into what I say and what I don't. 

However, there is one thing that I have wanted for the last three years and to date, he hasn't picked up on the subtle hints I have dropped into conversation.  I have come to the conclusion that as this would involve him coming with me, and he wouldn't want to do that, then he's not going to buy the present.  I could take someone else, but it wouldn't be half as much fun as him shaking his head and tutting under his breath for a couple of hours. Anyway, there's two more days before the big reveal, so I shall be patient and let you know what he got me on Monday.

Miss R called yesterday afternoon for a chat, and the question came up as to what I wanted for my birthday.  Now she and I are as close as close could be, and our taste in sparkly stuff is quite similar.  As her birthday is just a few months before mine, I tend to find myself buying her something which I would also like myself. So the answer was easy, and she's off to the shop to buy this today. We're silly really, as we should just buy different pieces and borrow as required...

So for my birthday weekend, I am looking forward to sharing the days with the friends and family I love.

And those days are the very best ones...

Friday, 28 October 2016

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'll do something, but what is worrying me is the possibility that he will never leave home, preferring to spend his days in the bosom of his family.

I mean, it's ok to live at home when you're nineteen, acceptable even when you are in your twenties, but any older than that and you're going into dangerous territory.  I picture the husband and me in our eighties, sitting in front of Antiques Roadshow (probably fronted by Fern Cotton by then) while son number two wanders in asking, 'What's for tea mum?' 

I am wondering whether he is suffering from separation anxiety like Reg does.  Perhaps I need to start feeding him Reg's tablets and consider moving his bed nearer to the plug-in pheromone spray.  Anything's worth a try I suppose, but I may need to seek medical advice if he starts chewing the carpet.

There are other options:

1. We could move while he's at work and not leave a forwarding address.
2. I could wrap his sandwiches in estate agent details of one bedroom flats.
3. I could stop cooking so that hunger forces him to look further afield for a home.

But for now, he stays, and it's my job to listen, support, love and cherish him, which is exactly what I am going to do.  And maybe, just maybe, when his confidence is bolstered up again and he's feeling ready, he'll fly...

Further than the end of the drive this time I hope, and longer than two months...

Thursday, 27 October 2016


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 the idea of adding some feet (I'll post a picture of this up on facebook on Friday), so started squishing some white and pink icing together.  This was in-between feeding the dogs, walking the dogs, stopping the dogs from killing each other and treading on Reg every time my hands went anywhere near the work surface.  He's always on the look out for manna from above...preferably cold chicken or bread, although to be honest, I think he would eat absolutely anything that found itself on the floor, be that cling film, cucumber or a Tupperware lid.

Daughter number one is still in residence (it's half term) and had offered to cook dinner last night. While she was wandering up and down the worktop with various vegetables, I was trying to mould the feet and talk to son number two who was having rather a rotten day.  As I put the phone down, I realised that I had eaten one of the feet while I'd been listening to him.  Not to worry, one would be enough.  Then daughter number one, who had also been having a tough time trying to work around my mess, suddenly said, 'Did you want that foot?'  Well just as well that I had decided against it as she'd chopped it in half and eaten it.  So my cake has no feet.

It was a minor milestone for Reg yesterday in that he didn't shred any carpet, or sharpen his teeth on my oak furniture.  Of course, the bloody big piece of wood across the bottom of the stairs is a great help, as is the calming plug-in.  I have also sprayed every bit of the house with anti-chew spray.

When I did this yesterday morning, I grabbed a pear to eat on the way to work.

Note to self - Wash hands after using anti-chew spray.

I looked like a cat with a furball till lunchtime...

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

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 back, being marinated by Neville.  Poor Reg's fur was sticking out in all directions, and by the time we left he resembled a rather old toilet brush who had seen better days.  I should mention that Lady O's puppy was a delicate spaniel called Hebe, who obviously got the measure of the two boys straightaway, preferring to sit on laps in a ladylike fashion, whilst probably tutting softly under her breath.

By the time I got Reg back into the car, he had developed a nervous tic under one eye, and was  looking anxiously out of the window in case Neville had decided to follow him out to the car.  Needless to say, when we got home, Percy, who has also met Neville, took one sniff of Reg, and fell about laughing and finally stopped punching the air around 6.30pm.

As it's my birthday next week, I have to take cakes into work. I've never understood why it's that way round.  It's my birthday so someone else should be making it shouldn't they?  Anyway, I'm not one to rock the boat, so out came the mixer.  It's been a long time since I made a cake like this one (gravestone/bloodied hands etc), and I had forgotten how much mess I am able to make. It had to have a Halloween theme naturally, so I spent a most enjoyable couple of hours fashioning things out of green and black icing.  I then spent another not so enjoyable two hours clearing up after myself.  But it's all done, and just needs a couple of additions before it's ready for the big reveal on Friday.

Going back to the annual celebration reminding me that I am yet another year nearer to a bus pass, I still don't know what the husband has planned.  I know that some of the children will be knocking about, so as long as my presents don't include bags of dirty washing, I'll be happy.

If I'm honest though, just having those I love around me will be enough....

(But any presents are also welcome...hint...hint...)

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

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, much as I love him, I was ecstatic to see the back of son number two and his hacking cough last week.  It was like listening to a stuck record for three days...

'Cough...groan...cough...moan...cough...Mum, can I have a cup of tea?'

Fifteen minutes later...

'Cough...groan...cough...moan...cough...Mum, can I have some water...'

So as you can imagine, it was with some trepidation that I answered his call yesterday afternoon.  Surely by now he must be on the mend.  Well it would appear that he has 'taken a turn for the worst'.  This was validated by copious amounts of coughing, coupled with the most piteous voice I have ever heard.  I'm not too sure what he was hoping to achieve by calling me.  Perhaps some small part of him expected me to leap in my car and race down the M23, with my window open, shouting 'Nee Naw, Nee Naw', at the tip of my voice to warn other drivers that I was coming through. 

Well he was disappointed I'm afraid.  I gave him some excellent advice, and made some suggestions. What I was really saying behind my kind words was 'Man up and get yourself to the doctors for goodness' sake'.  He's over a hundred miles away, most of which is M25 and M23.  Even if I had left as soon as he called, chances are I wouldn't arrive at his seaside hovel till Thursday, by which time he should definitely have turned a corner (another of my favourite 'pull yourself together' phrases).

The husband was very busy yesterday, demolishing daughter number one's flat.  He had implied that he was merely removing all the internal walls so that he has a clean canvas with which to work with.  Early photographic evidence shows that the clean canvas looks more like there has been an earthquake in there.  He walked in through the front door last night looking like he'd had a fight with a bag of self raising flour, and as I steered him towards the shower, small clouds of dust puffed into the air every time he moved.

He has a week to do this, and I have the feeling it may be my longest one yet...

Monday, 24 October 2016

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', but to be honest, it was more 'they', as I was driving and limited to the lime and soda.  The pub was packed with families and elderly couples, and I thought it very odd that the more bottles of wine we ordered, the quicker they seemed to finish their lunch and hurry off, ushering their children away from the rowdy bunch in the corner.

It was a varied menu - having said that, all I was after was a Sunday roast, but there was a lot of game on offer.  I tend to steer clear of this, mainly because you run the risk of breaking a tooth or two on the lead shot and you all know how much I love the dentist.  However, after yesterday, there is now another reason why I will never touch pigeon again.

Cousin S had ordered the pigeon breast - Mrs Jangles was eyeing it up, and cousin S proffered a bit on the end of her fork.  Duly eating it, Mrs Jangles sighed, and then came out with the quip of the afternoon...

'You can always tell when a pigeon is well-hung'......

Now I'm not too sure which bit of the pigeon she was looking at, but I was sure that it said 'breast' on the menu.  This comment triggered an almost unheard of level of hysteria around the table, and a table of six left soon after.  Anyway, after that the lunch went steadily downhill, with the wine-drinkers getting louder and louder.  At this point, Miss R, who had planned to drive home, changed her mind, reaffirming her decision by necking back a large glass of red or four.  Now this always heralds the arrival of 'the rash' which sits nicely around her décolletage and neck, but at that point, I don't think she would have noticed if she had lost a leg or contracted leprosy, such was the effect the wine was having on her. 

The meal was lovely, and when they plonked the pudding menu on the table, I had decided that I would have the Bakewell Tart.  Unfortunately, it was at that point that a Colin the Caterpillar cake appeared, covered in many, many candles.  In fact, I was only presuming there was a Colin underneath the flaming inferno, it could have been anything.  There was a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' to cousin S and me, and just as we finished, another one came out.  Well the singing wasn't as loud as it was for the first one, but we didn't mind.  We blew the candles out, but such was their number that  fire extinguisher might have done a better job.  Cousin S's beau cut the cake (he was a chef, so is qualified to wield a sharp knife in a confined space).

Turning to me, he asked me which bit I wanted - did I want the head.

'I quite like the head as long as it's attached to something else', said I (meaning some cake, of course)

Now for some reason, the ten drunks around the table found this hilarious (two more left the restaurant at this point) and as the only sober one, I laughed politely, but it was tinged with a touch of fear.  It was now 5.00pm, and there was no sign of anyone wanting to either stop drinking, or, heaven forbid, go home.  Then someone came up with the brilliant idea of going to see a couple of friends who own a pub nearby.  The husband, who had been privy to 'The Glare' at around 4.30pm, turned down the offer of more alcohol, saying that we had to get back for the dogs (who by now may have worked their way through the lounge carpet and a sofa). 

So the ten drunks trolleyed out of the pub looking like something off a Benny Hill sketch (but without the suspenders) and headed off to the friends' pub.  We dropped Miss R off at the pub on our way home.  This will be something she will regret in the morning, as she'll have to collect her car before work.  At the point of farewell, she had almost lost use of her legs, and her eyes were working independently of each other, so I was sure that it wouldn't be long before she was crawling out of the pub on all fours looking for a taxi.

Going back to the pub ( the food was delicious, and I would recommend a visit.

Just don't go if you hear that we have a table booked for the same day...

Sunday, 23 October 2016

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 needing any shampoo, just wanted it rinsed through.  She persisted.  Just one shampoo then.  He retaliated with a firm no, as he had only just washed it.  And then came her killer question...

'What did you wash it with sir?'

'Radox body wash.

'That's for your body sir, not your hair'.

'Oh it's all the same stuff...'

'No it isn't sir, otherwise it would be called Hair and Body Wash. Now lie back and let me do my job'.

Well that told him.

Anyway, back to the house.  When I got home, there wasn't the usual chaotic greeting at the front door which was strange.  It had crossed my mind that perhaps the husband had the dogs with him, but as I opened the door, the barking started.  It was coming from the lounge, the doors of which were firmly closed.  Taking a deep breath, I opened the doors and released the dogs, who were glad to see me (understatement of the year).  Walking into the lounge, there was evidence that they had been there for some time...

The rug had been given a good going over, with great big bald patches where once a pattern had been.  My log basket was now three cornered, the fourth being reduced to a soggy pulp, and my cuddly schnauzer toy (don't ask) had been stripped of his scarf, and half of his beard.

I called the husband to find out what had happened after I left.  Well apparently, he had closed the lounge doors, but hadn't noticed the two schnauzers who were planning world domination from behind the sofa. 

'I did wonder where they were', was his bemused comment.

He's lucky I love him, that's all I'm going to say...

Saturday, 22 October 2016

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 and display area - if she does this, the room will be re-christened 'The Shuseum'.  Of course the dogs sleep in there, so I wouldn't give her shoes much of a life expectancy.  Reg is the current world record holder for flip-flop shredding, so any shoes would need to be at least six feet off the floor if they were to survive a week, let alone a fashion season.

Talking of survival, the house has held its own this week with minimal damage done by the canine piranha known as Reg.  I put this down to all the stuff I bought from the pet shop last week.  There has only been one incident which involved a loose thread on the front door curtain, but some thoughtful pleating has hidden this from him, so I am hoping that he'll leave it alone now. 

Talking of the two fuzzballs, I took them for a walk in the woods yesterday afternoon.  Everything was going swimmingly, when all of a sudden the two dogs bolted.  They were AWOL for about twenty minutes, after which a very knackered Percy appeared on the horizon, just like Old Bodger in The Incredible Journey, panting up to me like an old steam engine.  Putting him on the lead, I waited for Reg to turn up.  He's never far from Percy normally, but this time he was a no-show.  So I called his name, shouted that I had treats, and generally offered all manner of bribes and threats if he came back. 

After about fifteen minutes, I have to confess that I was on the verge of thinking, 'Run free Reg,  Run all the way to some other poor sod's house which you can terrorise'.  Just as I was thinking this, I heard his strangled bark, and I knew that if I went home without him, there would be hell to pay.  Actually I say this, but as every member of this family has witnessed the oral destruction of something close to their heart, I reckon we would have got over his departure quite quickly. 

All joking apart, I was desperate to find him, and started running (in wellies) through the wood towards the barking.  As I turned the corner, there he was,  barking at three very large dogs and their owners, who looked slightly hacked off.  Apparently, they had been trying to chase him away for half an hour so that they could continue their walk, but he was intent on going with them. I grabbed hold of him, and shouted after them 'Thank you!' 

Pondering on this again, I think that 'Sorry' might have been more appropriate...

Friday, 21 October 2016

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' and first cold of the year.  As he embarked upon this for the umpteenth time yesterday morning, Master P's eyes met mine across my new desk (I haven't told you about my new desk have I?  It's enough to say that it has been life changing, and I can now fit the keyboard on the desk so that it's straight on to me, rather than having to tilt it at an angle to squeeze it between my phone and monitor).

Anyway, I digress.  So Master P and I fell about laughing, as we couldn't believe that Master B was telling everyone about his cold.  Unfortunately, it didn't seem to draw the required sympathy from any of his customers which will teach him to man up a bit.  As I left for home, my pity did get the better of me, and I left him with one of my Lemsips.  These little green sachets are slowly becoming vey coveted throughout Binland, and if I'm not careful, I can see a Black Market springing up, with Lemsips changing hands at ever increasing costs.  I reckon that Master B would have given his lunch for one, if I hadn't been feeling so generous yesterday.

But at least Master B turned up to work.

Mr G, who works in the Transport Office didn't come into work at all.  Now I am not one to point the finger, but as the probable starting point of the Binland Cold, you'd think he'd have the decency to tip up, if only to nod sagely as others listed their complaints, murmuring quietly, 'Yes, I had that.  And that.  Oh, that was the worst'.  But no, he chose to stay at home and have a duvet day. 


The hacking cough, accompanied by son number two did an Elvis again yesterday, this time taking the train back to his university.  He's left his rather fancy little car here, which I just happen to be insured for.  As he reminded me before he left, 'Remember, you're only on the insurance to bring the price down, not so that you can actually drive it'. 

To be honest, his seat is so low and far back because of his gargantuan height, that I would have two issues if I did decided to take it for a spin.  I can pull the seat forward, which allows me to reach the pedals.  However, doing this means that my visibility is restricted to the gap between the spokes of the steering wheel, the fuel gauge and half of the clock.  Lifting the seat gives much better vision, but my legs dangle into thin air with no chance whatsoever if reaching the clutch.  So it looks like the car will stay put for the time being.

My only problem is that I am going to have to turn the car round so that it faces out (damn you, OCD).  It's all going to be a bit hit and miss as I won't have a clue where I am as I won't be able to see over the steering wheel.

As long as I avoid impaling it on the massacred hedge, I'll be happy....

Thursday, 20 October 2016

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 embarrass him decided that frequent and thorough hand washing would protect me.

Son number two, who has come home poorly (it would appear that Fresher's Flu can last longer than Freshers does) is coughing like someone who has had a lifelong romance with Players No.6.  As a doting mum (except at 3.17am when he's doing a passable impression of an irate grizzly bear with a furball) I have bought him many lotions and potions to help him sleep at night.  None of them have worked so far, and I am thinking of having him put down.  He's talking about heading back to university today, and although I'll miss him, I shan't be sorry to see the back of the hacking cough.

Yesterday, if you remember, I went to the sublime Mrs E for lunch yesterday.  Also there were five other lovely friends.  Now us ladies have a lot of history, as our sons all went to school together up to the age of 13.  As we were talking, I happened to mention that I had seen another mum in the supermarket the day before.  And here was when it became apparent how the length of time we have been friends has impacted on our brain cells.  None of us could remember the unfortunate woman's name, nor her son's for that matter. Eighteen hours later, and her name still alludes me.  Ladies, if you are reading this and you've remembered, kindly put me out of my misery.

So, as I was leaving Mrs E's house yesterday afternoon, I felt that first tickle of the throat.  I reckon it will have turned into a full blown cold around Friday at 7.00pm, just in time for the weekend.  Unfortunately, this also means that my lunching friends will also get it a couple of days later, for which I humbly apologise.

I read somewhere that woman-flu is the same as man-flu, the only difference being that no one gives a toss, and I have a feeling that Lemsip and I are going to be on very friendly terms over the next few days. 

But you know, it's not all bad.  What is it they say about starving a fever and feeding a cold?  I'm never sure that I get this the right way round actually. 

Best play safe and follow the Lemsips with cake and cookie chasers....

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

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 straightforward ones. 

At around 9.15, an email pinged up into my inbox from my dental surgery, informing me that they had cancelled my appointment as my dentist was ill, and would I phone them to rearrange it.

Well, that really hacked me off as not only was I going to have to walk around another week with part of my teeth looking like a row of bombed houses, I was also going to be working a lot longer than intended.  I must confess though, I did down tools a few minutes early which made me feel marginally better.

It was then off to get some cash from the hole in the wall for Andrew, the Ratman, who was coming to check the traps and poison to see whether he'd had any success. And it was here that my day reached whole new levels of Grrrrrrrr.....  I went to five, yes five, cashpoints before I found one which was able to give me more than an account balance on the screen.  I eventually decided that I would have to park up and go into Wallingford for the cash.  This meant buying a parking ticket (nothing smaller than a £2 in my purse) which made me seethe yet again.  Believe it or not, it took me longer to queue for the bloody ticket machine than it did to get the money out of the cashpoint, but cash duly got, I headed back home.

Second bombshell of the day then happened.  Andrew was held up, and wouldn't make it.  'Not to worry', I said to the husband, 'if he can get here around 4.00 on Wednesday I should be back from my ladies lunch'.  (This is with the sublime Mrs E and several other long term friends from son number two's school before last).

So I then cracked on making a pudding for the aforementioned lunch.  Just as I had the food mixer on Warp Factor 9, there was a knock at the door.  It was Andrew, the Ratman.

'Aren't you coming tomorrow now?'

'Didn't you get the message?'

Turns out he'd called the husband and told him that he would be with us after all, but just a little later.  Nice of him to share this news with me...

There was a modicum of success with the noisy critters in the loft.  Several corpses were retrieved and removed, traps reset and loft hatch firmly closed again.  The husband insists on this being closed at all times, and I am sure that his fear of mice is why, ten years after moving in, we still don't have a loft ladder.

Andrew was lucky I was in, as I could have been doing one of many important jobs.

Most of which involve roots or wrinkles...

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

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 alternative meaning to this...

'Also available in white'...
This can be amended to red/blue/green, depending on your van colour.  Again, this does nothing except draw to your attention to the fact that the van driver has no pride in his vehicle.  I would probably question the standard of his work if he can't even stick the van through the car wash once a week.

'MUTD are To**ers'
Again, probably not completely accurate, but depending on who your football team is, you might want to argue the point.  Funnily enough, I have never seen a woman driving a car stating that a rival Zumba class had the same problem.

But my own personal favourite is...

A crudely drawn image of the male crown jewels....
Now I've seen these drawn in many different shapes and sizes over the years, and I have often wondered if the van driver draws his own on his back door.  Perhaps it's a silent insult from an employee or an ex-wife.  If this is the case, I would imagine that the artist would err on the side of small where dimensions were concerned.

Us ladies do things rather differently.  We tend to treat our cars as an extension of our home, with flowers placed in the cup holders and a packet of wipes in the glove compartment to wipe up any spills or paw prints (or is that just me?)

With regard to artistic modifications, we like to emphasise the family side of things, with 'Princess on Board' stickers in the rear window, or stick drawings of the entire family.  It's just as well that I don't have one of those stickers in my rear window, as with my lot, I wouldn't be able to see a thing.  We also like to put an informative or supportive message in our rear windows when it's called for. 'Keep Britain Farming' was popular but the  'I slow down for horses' sticker was always a firm favourite.  The latter implies that you may have a horse of your own, and are therefore rather well off. 

So you see, women can use stickers to hint at a perfectly wonderful life, with a husband, several children, a Labrador and possibly a horse.

Men just like us to know which football team they don't support.

Oh and how big their d**k is...

Monday, 17 October 2016

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 schnauzers onto the sand.  The rain had gone, the sun was out, and schnauzers were walking.  Walking for those less fortunate than themselves, whose lives are put on hold until they are scooped up by DBARC ( and prepared for a new life of love and cuddles.

Percy and Reg were released into the melee of dogs, and the husband muttered something about me watching one and him watching the other.  Well, it's very tricky keeping an eye on your own dog, when there's around 98 others who look very similar.  I got confused as the walk carried on (this is what I told the husband, I was in fact chatting to all and sundry), and three quarters round, we realised that we had both been watching Reg.  Percy, it would appear, having completely forgotten about Polly and Ruby (Saturday's conquests were now a distant memory) had headed off into the sand dunes with Hugo.  Unfortunately, Hugo is one of four brothers, and I'm not sure that his owner registered that there was one more in the pack. 

Those of you who remember reading about the last West Wittering walk (Me and you and a dog named who?) will recall the love that sprung up between Percy and Hugo in January.  I remember the shock at realising that Percy was setting out his stall for a chap, but as time has gone on, I've learned to accept that he's none too picky where love is concerned.  Oddly, he's stayed with the same dogs each walk, so you could never call him fickle.  Confused maybe..

So we made some lovely new friends over the weekend, and not just the four legged variety either.  This is the great thing about dog owners.  We all accept that we will wear a practical coat with poo bags and spare change in one pocket, while the other is filled with treats.  We will have one walking boot which has been viciously sucked by a bored puppy, and our once clean jeans will have a pattern of paw prints which just about stretch to thigh level. 

I've just loved this weekend.  Loved being part of something so special and rewarding.

And as we pulled back into the drive last night, with two knackered dogs, even the massacred hedge looked alright.

They must have been bloody good chips, that's all I'm going to say...

Sunday, 16 October 2016


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 ( - 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 spotted the two temptresses, Polly and Ruby, walking ahead.  It was at this point that the memories of last year came flooding back.  Percy refused to leave the two girls alone, but whereas last year, he was content with a little ear nibbling, this year he had moved on to full scale humping.  After several attempts to divert his attention from Ruby's rear end, I eventually decided that he needed to go on the lead so as not to ruin the girls' day out.  This was fine when the girls were in front of us as Percy trotted along quite nicely.  However, when they fell behind, Percy simply sat down and refused to budge an inch.  There was serious dragging involved, but in the end I resigned myself to being Tail End Charlie.  

Reg meanwhile was fantastic (no one was more surprised than me, I can tell you) and was playing with everyone, paying special attention to a gorgeous schnauzer called Herman. Two hours of this, and Reg was almost asleep on his feet, and the two of us were very relieved to get in the car and head home.  Percy was still intent on spending a last few moments with/on Ruby, and has probably got a raw behind from that last drag across the gravelled car park.

When we got home, the husband was in the drive, just about to start on the hedge.  I meanwhile, having dragged a sexually frustrated schnauzer for over four miles, was ready for a cup of tea and a snooze.  I was just dropping off when the husband burst in through the front door, demanding that I come and see what he'd done. 

Dear God.......

The hedge was gone completely, with just a few branches left to start the new hedge from.  There were massive gaps, and I told him that it looked like a row of bombed houses. 

'Have any of the neighbours seen this?'  I asked him, silently mourning the loss of my hedge.

'Yes, they've all been down', he said.

'What did they think of what you've done then?'

'Funnily enough, they all said exactly the same thing', he said.

'What was that then?' I asked, presuming that there would have ben some comments about going too far too soon.

Apparently my neighbours had asked something along the lines of 'Does Tracy know?'

Well I suppose I did know what he was doing, but I hadn't anticipated the end result being so drastic.  Never mind, it will grow back I suppose, but in the meantime, I'll have to look at this from my window everyday and remind myself of the Blue Job Rulebook.

Never let them work unsupervised...

Saturday, 15 October 2016

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...

Rug chewed leaving soggy corner which will never lie flat again
Decorative apples made of leaves chewed which now resemble road kill
Four steps chewed to date.  Carpet has now has fringing, with underlay revealed in places.
Bedroom 1
Antique chest at end of bed has one chewed corner.  Husband will need to sand as splinters an issue
Expensive hairdryer is now without directional nozzle
Slippers gone - hoover needed to get all of what was left of them off the carpet
Three pairs of flip flops - See slippers
Bedroom 2
Carpet gone between bedroom and bathroom.  Underlay also exposed and chewed
Office/Ironing Room
Second rug chewed and disposed of as not fit to be seen ever again
Hangers have been stolen and chewed, turning up in strange places such as under pillows
Miscellaneous Fatalities
Madagascan Dragon Tree is clinging onto life after vigorous and repetitive digging
Antique velvet clutch bag looks like the moths have been at it
Wellies - one missing presumed dead
Receipts and bills - eaten
Close Calls
My dinner - after jumping on to the kitchen table via my knee
A necklace hanging off my full length mirror - managed to save both with seconds to spare
Toes - chewed and can no longer be in the same company as Reg un-socked

So with all this destruction going on, it was time I took the bull by the horns.  This explains why the trip to the pet shop yesterday afternoon cost me over £100.  I have sprays, plug-ins, challenging toys and even some tablets which are meant to calm dogs down, and I have my fingers crossed that The Demolition Derby currently taking place in my house will soon end.

Reg does have one redeeming feature though, which is possibly all that's keeping him here.  He really loves us, and wants nothing more than to sit on one of us and be stroked, whilst gazing lovingly into whoever's eyes belong to the lap he's currently occupying. 

I have mentioned to the husband that it might be a good idea for Reg to be 'seen to' .  He usually gets very twitchy looking when this subject comes up as the husband thinks I might have plans for him too.  I don't know why, as the vet very rarely has a 'Buy one, get one free' offer on.  But he keeps telling me that Reg is just a pup, and 'he'll grow out of it'.  Any more helpful comments like that and I'll be lacing his coffee with some of those tablets. 

You know, they just might stop him flitting around the bedroom at night slapping the walls, and if that doesn't work, well there's always Plan B...

Friday, 14 October 2016


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 and more illegible, and I resorted to just putting our joint initials down.

'What are we going to win then?' asked the ever eager Mr E.  Well the prizes turned out to be extensive, with weekends away and beauty treatments.  One of the prizes was a cream tea for four, so we have decided that this will be a team day out for all of us if we win.  Mr E and I were slightly worried about winning the weekend away for two.  How would that work? 

The driver, listening to the daft banter insinuated that there might be something going on between us.

'Leave it out', I said.  'I've got tights older than him'.

'There's a name for women like you' replied the driver.  'Are you one of those cougars?'

Well bless him for that, but as a menopausal, middle aged woman with arthritis, a dodgy hip, grey roots and a tendency to sweat like a fat man on the Tube, I think that my cougar days are long gone (if they ever even existed). 

I'm more like a battered old alley cat with four teeth missing, a ripped ear and a touch of mange...

Now I have that image in my head, I'll be singing Memories all day.....

Thursday, 13 October 2016

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 the newly released mice would be greeted by the old timers with 'Chocolate spread?'  As the newbies nodded, the old timers would nod sagely muttering about the strange habits of the human race.  As it was, many of my friends thought the same about me, so I eventually relented and called Andrew in.

So Andrew turned up with all his equipment, and headed into the loft.  I have to say, he was marginally quieter than what we've been putting up with for the last week, and for a second I wondered whether whatever was up there had got him.  But no, he eventually tipped up in the kitchen where a cup of tea was waiting for him.  He'd covered all bases up there, with mouse and rat traps being set all over the loft with a smattering of poison just in case the traps were avoided by the more wily of the invaders.  He said that there would probably be a lot of noisy activity first, then a few loud bangs after which it should quieten down. 

Now there are many things I could write following this sentence, but I fear that it might be a bit close to the knuckle for the more gentle souls amongst you.  Needless to say, he was talking about the scuttlings, so I am hopeful that by the weekend, the only noises I hear at night are the owls, foxes and the husband's gentle snoring.

Every time I see Andrew, it reminds me of a home many years ago, when as a single lady, I had to call Pest Control to deal with some rats.  I picked a random number from the Yellow Pages the end result being two brothers turning up with bags of poison and several Little Nippers (I thought the rat may have warranted something larger than a Little Nipper, but who was I to say).

Making polite conversation over a cup of tea, I asked them how long they'd been doing this.  Turned out it was only three years.  Now these two were in their late twenties, and I was interested as to how they became pest controllers.  So I asked....

'What did you do before this then?' thinking that there must be a natural progression to the giddy heights of pests.

'We were both Bingo callers', said the younger brother. 'Two fat ladies and all that'.

Well, you didn't need to make it personal.......

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

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't be heard.  Anyway, we are all in teams and the one with the highest amount of steps will win a prize.

Now I walk a lot each day.  The two fur-balls get at least two hours' walk every day, and I wear my FitBit most of the time to get some idea of the distances I am covering.  Of course there are days when I forget to put it on, and these are known as FatBat days, as I tend not to be so disciplined when it's left off.  So yesterday, I was wearing two pedometers.  The more expensive one seems slightly more accurate (the work one had counted up 56 steps while I was talking animatedly on the phone yesterday morning) so I thought it would be interesting to see what they both said towards the end of the day.

Putting my pyjamas on before bed, I peeled both pedometers off my person.  One from the waistband of my trousers, the other, more expensive one from my bra strap.  Putting them side by side, I checked the steps.  Waistband pedometer said that I had done 1298 steps, whereas bra one said that I had walked 12,443 steps.  How could this be so different?  Even when I took into consideration the early morning walk, this still didn't make sense.  I have therefore, come to the conclusion that my boobs move a lot more than my legs do.  Or maybe my heavy asthmatic breathing registers as steps as well.  And what about all that talking I do?  Maybe that counts too.  I'd like to think that I had covered 6.6 miles as per my bra pedometer, but now I am questioning its accuracy.

I thought it might be easier to simply lump the two figures together for the team challenge.  It's that or I get one of the dogs to wear it for the week. 

That worked remarkably well the last time I did it.

And my sister still hasn't forgiven me...

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

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 I was there to collect my son.  Very funny, but at least I passed first time unlike the much younger boys I was presumed to be collecting...

So back to the Excel. Now I thought that this would be very tedious, but the chap running the course made it very interesting, and as the day wore on, I realised that me and maths were getting on rather well.  It wasn't me that asked the daft questions, or who needed help in the trickier bits, and when I thanked him at the end of the day for all the information I had stored up in my little brain, he was pleasantly surprised. 

I got the feeling that a few of my Excel comrades were there under duress, rather than through choice.  But by the time I left, I could add things up using formulae, draw charts, make things change colours and do all manner of stuff that I'll probably never have to use again, but it was interesting, and proved that there's still life yet in this old dog.

Do you know what the best bit was though?  I got a fancy certificate to put on the wall.  Of course this is never going to happen, but it will sit nicely in between my Motorbike Test Certificate and my First Aid Qualification in my folder of 'Useful Stuff'.  Actually, the First Aid one ran out over two years ago, but I can't bring myself to throw it away.  It reminds me that at some point in my life I might have been of some use in an incident requiring plasters or mouth to mouth.  I can't remember any of it now, so don't rely on me if you start feeling unwell all of a sudden.  The one thing I can remember from my three day course is the story the course leader told us about a knitting needle piercing someone's leg. 

Fat lot of use that was...I can't even knit...

Monday, 10 October 2016


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 the mouse has friends, and they are doing a Zumba class?  Having said that, the noise would be more in keeping with a Michael Ratly (sorry, that pun is unforgiveable) Riverdance...with clogs on naturally.

So rather than this waking the husband again, I have started breathing very heavily in his ear, hoping to mask the ceiling noise until he's in a very deep sleep.  Then I lie there listening to it, hoping that the mouse won't gnaw through my ceiling and land on top of me.  But the bigger problem is that if the husband's Rawhide impersonation works too well, daughter number one could find herself being drawn into the nocturnal shenanigans, and that won't be good.  She is afraid of anything smaller than a kitten and with more than four legs, and it wouldn't be long before my sleep would be interrupted with wails of 'Dad!  Quick!'

Back to yesterday then.  The husband left me, choosing to spend the day with Mr H.  He is married to Mrs H - the Italian lady with a penchant for Patrick Dempsey (See 'Touch of Grey').  The two men loaded up their bikes on the back of the car very early yesterday morning, and drove to Wales to go for a bike ride.  Now forgive me for stating the blinking obvious, but surely it might have been easier to not drive anywhere, but simply go for a longer bike ride locally?  Perhaps he is longing for those bloody Welsh Cakes again, and can't see any other way of getting them.  I'll have to tell him that Waitrose sell them.  That will cheer him up I expect..

I forgot to mention yesterday that Saturday was daughter number one's birthday.  She has now nudged over into the X Factor category of the Over 25's, as it was so kindly pointed out by one of her brothers last week.  The trouble is, when you get to my age, anything under thirty five sounds young, so she has got a way to go until she is in that dreadful thing called 'Middle Aged'.  I haven't reached that stage yet, as I plan to live to be at least 120.  When the bus pass is approved in a few years' time, I will then consider myself middle aged, and not before.

 Going back to daughter number one, she had a bit of a result on her birthday, as the barman refused to serve her until he'd seen her ID.  It made her day.  I was never asked for my ID when I was younger.  I'm more looking forward to it at the other end actually.  When I am trundling around the towns and villages courtesy of my bus pass, I am hoping that the bus drivers will ask to see my ID, as they won't believe that I am 65.

Now that is something to look forward to, isn't it?

However, coming along for the bus ride will be varicose veins, arthritis, ugly shoes and a pastel coloured mac.

So just when you think it's all going well, good Old Mother Nature hits you with a swerve ball.  Actually, when I think about it, I reckon Mother Nature is in fact a bloke.

No woman would be that vindictive...

Sunday, 9 October 2016

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.  Miss R grilled him as to why he was so tired.  Well it turns out that a two-centre holiday is not for him.  All that unpacking and  driving had finished him off.  Now I could understand that if the two centres in question were Miami and New York for example,  But Horsham and Ottershaw?  Hardly a long journey....both between destinations, nor from home.  I'm surprised that this even warranted a suitcase.....

After breakfast, Miss R, Mrs Jangles and I headed off to the bookies at the top of the High Street.  Have you ever been in a bookies?  I think that someone, somewhere is making a fortune out of supplying these places with a very specific air freshener as it always smells the same in there.  I imagine a Frenchman, with one of those silly Poirrot moustaches, waving a perfume bottle under nose, extolling the virtues of the stale fags, last night's curry and cheap beer.  Frowning, I expect he says quietly, 'What is this missing?  Ah oui.....a whiff of desperation I think'.  With this duly added, he will close his eyes, and sigh, 'Mon Dieu, c'est parfait...'  For those of you with no French, he's basically saying, 'Bloody hell, that's good'....

We had gone to the bookies to put a little wager on a dead cert.  Now we've been here before, and most of the horses we've bet on have been 50% dead.  But this one was going to be different.  When Miss R came back from placing the bet, she whispered, 'Odds have gone up from 50-1 to 33-1....someone in the know is on to this'.  So the three of us parted with £2.00 each  (yes, I know, but previous experience tells me that I shall never see that again). 

It was then time to head back to our respective homes. It was daughter number one's birthday yesterday, and I knew she had cake - always a good reason to be around when that's on offer.  Having said that, it's still intact as I write, and no one was offered a slice whatsoever.  As a PE Teacher, she needs to consider her waistline, and should offload that as quickly as possible to those around her who don't give a toss as to whether their jeans will do up the first time without the use of a tub of Vaseline and a wooden coat hanger...Kids eh?

Watching Channel 4 yesterday afternoon, the race came on.  Believe it or not, there were thirty six runners.  Our chosen nag was on the last race card....the page with all the ones who you know are the illegitimate result of a stallion's night out with a ropey old donkey.  But I cheered it on, shouting at it from the safety of my sofa to get a bloody wriggle on.  To be very honest with you, I couldn't even see it in the pack, so for all I know, it might still have been in its stable puffing on a fag and having a pint of Light Ale.

So another two quid went towards paying for more of the bookies' air freshener.

Money well spent I say...

Saturday, 8 October 2016

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'd got to that point, there was no stopping me, and when the Special Friend turned up (five minutes before Happy Hour ended) he went and bought another bottle of Prosecco, so putting to an end any sensible conversation I might have had for the rest of the evening.

Turned out that the Special Friend was rather lovely.  He was also quite polite in pretending not to notice that his girlfriend's older sister had eyes which were working independently of each other, and who kept coming out with inane conversation that the brain hadn't passed as fit for human consumption.

The good thing is, I sober up as quickly as I get drunk, so by the time we got to the theatre, I was relatively sober.  This was just as well, as we were only seven rows from the front, and I really didn't want to be picked on by Mr Ranganathan.  The show was being filmed, and I whispered along the line there that there might be a couple of celebs in the audience.  Well I was right.  The Special Friend had noticed that the husband was sitting next to one of the waiters from First Dates.  As I turned to the husband to tell him, I saw that he was in deep conversation with the waiter and his girlfriend.

When he'd finished chatting, I tapped him on the shoulder, and stage whispered, 'Do you know who that is?'

'No', he replied.  'But I do know she's not the lady I had a row with in the builder's merchant this morning.  She looks just like her.'

Bless him, banal television has just passed him by, but the kids were suitably impressed.

Those of you who have the dubious honour of being my friends on facebook, will know that some kind of rodent returned to my loft a couple of night ago.  We were woken up on Thursday night by scratching at the ceiling above our bed.  Now there is scratching and there is scratching.  This defied any noise that a mouse could have made, and friends are suggesting that we may have a Glis Glis up there.  I'd never heard of these before, but a quick look on google confirmed my worst fears.  They are really cute and they are also a protected animal in the UK.  The husband wants to call the Rat Man in to deal with it, whereas I am thinking of taming it and wearing it as a scarf for the winter months.

Coming home last night, the husband said that if the bloody thing started to scratch again, he was heading for son number one's bedroom.  I'm not sure why he thinks that it will be any different there - it's not like our loft is split up into different rooms.  It's open plan as are most lofts and Glenda (as the predicted Glis Glis has been named) is free to Brexit borders up there I can tell you.

So I woke up at around 3.00 this morning to the loudest scratching and banging I had ever heard.  Was it the Glis Glis? No it wasn't.  It was the husband, standing on the bed in his underwear scratching and banging the ceiling in an attempt to persuade the aforementioned rodent to bugger off further down the loft.  There was some muttering also.  I think I managed to catch the words 'You're going to die you little bastard', before drifting off again in my Prosecco sleep.

It would appear that Glenda's days are numbered...

Friday, 7 October 2016

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 waterfall) and two pairs of leggings, I chanced upon a puddle of grey which turned out to be a favourite sweater.  OK, so underneath this were some navy blue bits and pieces and then, oh joy, maroon (pass me my sunglasses - the colours are blinding me). 

As I hung the clothes up on the hangers, it was really depressing.  It was like someone had switched the lights off in my wardrobe.  I glanced back at the discarded summer clothes.  Perhaps there were a couple of things which could be reintroduced into the bosom of the wardrobe?  White jeans...they went back in.  We all know about 'Winter Whites' don't we girls?  Next to return to the wardrobe was an orange cardigan.  Autumn colour, definitely.  So by the end of the afternoon, I had a half filled suitcase which was pushed under the bed, to be hauled out again sometime in March next year, and crammed rails.

My wardrobe, although predominately on the right of navy blue, had a few splashes of colour.  I can see that artfully draped scarves and bright lipsticks will be needed so that I don't spend the next six months looking like a negative.

Talking about wardrobes, the husband doesn't have the same approach as I do.  Like most men, he has one set of clothes which he wears all year round.  Is he worried about wearing a pale blue short-sleeved linen shirt all year round?  Of course he isn't.  He just puts his favourite sweater over the top (grey of course) and just wears thicker socks. 

As long as he doesn't carry on wearing those dreadful sandals of his (with or without socks) I won't be too worried about what he's wearing.  A little 'steering' might be required on occasions, and there might be times when clothes will need to be 'laid out' for him, but other than that, I'll give him free rein.

Which explains a lot really.....

Thursday, 6 October 2016

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 got a larger than necessary tip.

Going back to Binland, everyone had surpassed themselves in the bid to make some serious money for Macmillan.  There were sausage rolls (these were all gone within four minutes of the cling film being removed). quiche, chocolate cakes, flapjack and a million other goodies, all created with the sole purpose of widening of the waistlines. 

I have been doing really well on my 'reining it in' lifestyle, and no amount of delicious cake was going to make me stray from the path of righteous Ryvita.  Of course this had nothing to do with the fact that I had forgotten my key card, so all access to the canteen was out of the question unless I borrowed a card from a colleague.  You know what it's like, I might as well have carried a large sandwich board with 'Can I borrow your key card?  This fat old bird wants sausage rolls and chocolate cake.  Don't get in my have died for less'.  No, I went without and rewarded my tenacity with a trip to the cinema preceded by a very small glass of Malbec.

I had arranged to go and see Bridget Jones (again) with two lovely friends, Mrs B and Mrs H.  A most pleasant hour and a half was spent lusting after Patrick Dempsey/Jack, with all three of us incredibly disappointed when Ms Jones tied the know with Mr Darcy (apologies if this has ruined the film for you, but if you haven't seen it by now, then you deserve the big spoiler).  Mrs H is Italian, and she was most vocal (throughout the film) as to who she would have chosen given half the chance.  I was relieved that a lot of her outbursts were in Italian, as the gentle folk of Henley are easily offended.

Mrs B googled him on the short drive home, and apparently, this Mr Dempsey has been in several other films and television programmes, all of which have passed me by.  So I am thinking of introducing the husband to another box set.  He and daughter number one are working their way through 648,239 episodes of Prison Break, and I have calculated that sometime in April 2019 they will have watched the last episode.

Move over bald, sweating ex-cons, there's a new kid in town. and his name is Mr Dempsey.

Grey's Anatomy anyone?

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

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 something worth doing it for.

This week, it's for Macmillan Cancer Support, and its mahoosive coffee morning which they do each year.

Baking cakes is always a problem for me.  I am unable to bake just one, being so ingrained in the baking of six at a time.  This might explain why I found myself surrounded by cakes yesterday afternoon.  One of the guys from work had requested a coffee and walnut cake (my signature cake don't you know) so I hadn't just made a simple cake.  Oh no, I have made something not far off the size of a bicycle wheel.  It will probably be too heavy to carry into work on my own, so I am considering whether it might be feasible to take a wheel barrow or sack trolley in with me today to transport it from the car. 

And then there are the fairy cakes.  One dozen?  Don't be silly.  There are over fifty, some of which the husband tucked into last night, and then there were a few kept back for daughter number one.  Notwithstanding all of that, there is enough cake to feed the whole of Binland. Twice over.

I hope that we will raise a sizeable amount for Macmillan.  They do a damn fine job, and there's nothing better than stuffing your gob with cake, and spluttering through the walnuts and icing that you are 'Doing it for a Good Cause'.  If only the waistband on my trousers were that understanding.

I can almost sense it shaking its head in disbelief, preparing itself for the sudden assault on its elasticity with a shout of  'Brace! Brace! Brace!' and hoping that the cake hogging will be balanced up tomorrow with a celery only day. But that is the whole bloody trouble with cake.  Once you have had a slice, the game's not over till the plate is empty.  I am considering inventing an oral version of the chastity belt to avoid even the smallest slice.

Duct tape might just swing it...

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

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 ( 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 between the raging sweats and the bouts of bewilderment which seem to take up most of my waking hours.

Talking to daughter number one, who is well educated in food and exercise, it is no longer enough to do an hour on the treadmill and then calculate that you have worked off enough calories for a cream doughnut.  Oh no, it has to be the right kind of calories these days, and apparently these aren't found in cream doughnuts which is a bit depressing.  I sometimes like to look at some foods and break them down into something more satisfactory.  Lets start with that cream doughnut shall we?  When you get right down to it, it's just bread, fruit (raspberry jam) and milk isn't it?  Wine?  Well that's just fruit juice past its sell by date.  The same applies to milk which has been hanging around too long - we call it cheese...

Daughter number one is being very encouraging with my wanting to eat a little more healthily, even making my lunch yesterday.  I was really looking forward to this, and while I was in and out of the fridge yesterday morning, I got quite excited about what it would be.  I was worried that I might forget it as time ticked on before I had to head off to Binland, so I took it out of the fridge and put it on the worktop, balancing a banana on top.

As the lunching hour approached at work, I thought to myself, 'Time for lunch'.  Looking down at my bag, I had an incredible sinking feeling as there was no lunch there.  Where was it?  I'll tell you where it bloody well was.  Still sitting on my kitchen worktop with the banana precariously balanced on top.

I had to wait till I got home before I could eat it.  Because it had been left out all morning, gently sweating in the Autumn sunshine, it wasn't as crisp as it should have been, but it was delicious nevertheless, and a real treat.

Wonder what I've got today......

Monday, 3 October 2016

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 they were all up and dressed, they just 'hung out' with me and the husband, chatting about life in general.  It was so lovely to have them all back under one roof again, and I know that these times will happen less frequently.  However, life must go on, and the husband had a job to do.
You will remember how I spoke about the garage, and the fact that I was not confident in walking through the piled high crap to get to my freezer.  So yesterday, the husband and I started out clearing it out, risking life and limb to beat a path from the fridge to the back door.
Now the husband is a fan of The Flat Surface.  Give him one, and he will fill it, rather than putting tools, bike stuff etc back into the drawers they came from. Consequently, the eighteen feet of shelving which he thoughtfully put up when we moved in, is crammed full of half empty cans of paint, old receipts, screwdrivers, drills, empty water bottles and just about anything else you could imagine.  His clearing up was made up of simply moving everything a little closer to everything else, or piling things double height, which gave  him more flat surface to fill with all the crap on the floor.
We did manage to fill a couple of bin bags with rubbish, but this was mainly leaves and spider webs which I had swept up, once I could see the floor again.  Every now and again there was a happy little squeak from the husband, as he located something which he thought he'd lost.  But the biggest find was a distilling kit which he'd been bought several years ago. 
I have to go back some years now, and tell you about the husband's allotment, which was planted out with grape vines about eight years ago, with a view to making our own wine.  This year was the first one when a decent sized grape was produced, so last Sunday, the husband went over to the allotment and picked all grapes.  It took a couple of revoltingly sticky hours to juice them all, but we ended up with a gallon of grape juice. 
This is now fermenting in my utility room, sitting nicely between my ironing basket and the tin of dog food.  The husband is expecting something incredible in a few months' time, but I would be pleasantly surprised if it didn't rot the plastic distilling kit.
Blossom Hill......nothing to worry about here.....

Sunday, 2 October 2016

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 imagine that those nine socks have been everywhere, schlepping around the bright lights of Brighton, desperate for a trip to the washing machine.  Just as well he's by the sea - the salty sea breeze might have done something to mask the aroma of his socks.

Third to appear was daughter number two.  Still no washing (this was looking good for me) but many bags of stuff.  Even when you allow for birthday presents for her brothers, she was still carrying many bags of stuff.  Listening to the conversation between her and daughter number one, she had brought several outfits and pairs of shoes home, so that she had a choice for The Big Night Out.

And here was the problem.  The four of them (plus ELL who was also visiting son number two) started to discuss where to go.  The two boys, who have spent the last seven nights in Fresher mode, living on cheap booze, Pro-Plus and Berocca, fancied a good meal, a few drinks and an early night.  The two girls on the other hand (both in gainful employment, which means that they tend to be in bed at a decent time during the week) wanted dancing, cocktails, a kebab and a hangover.  ELL was also in this camp.  That girl's got stamina, because she also has been in Fresher Hell, but she didn't let it stand in the way of a Big Night Out.  It'll be interesting to see who gets up for breakfast (assuming they came home at all.  It's eerily quiet this morning).

While they were bickering over this, I reminded the husband that we were going down to our good friends, Mr and Mrs H (she's Italian, so there is always plenty of good wine and food on offer).

'Will there be dancing?' he asked.

'Will there be cocktails?'

'Can I have a kebab afterwards?'
'No.  Of course not'.

'Good'.....pause.....'Will I have a hangover?'
'More than likely'.

'Oh dear'...

Oh dear indeed...