Thursday, 17 August 2017

Over the rainbow...

It's been a very tough few days.  A much loved uncle died very unexpectedly on Friday, and as the arrangements for the funeral swirl around us all, it's sometimes hard to find time to think, let alone time to write something to make you smile.  But life has to go on, and I had a much needed afternoon with three very good friends yesterday, who shall henceforth be known as George, Zippy and Bungle. Ladies, you can work out between you which one you are, but needless to say, I am Jeffery!

After a lot of date haggling, I had finally managed to pin these three down for afternoon tea at a local cafe.  It promised 'Afternoon Tea with Tea or Prosecco', and seemed the perfect venue for four old birds looking to put the world to rights.  I had booked over the phone, and we all turned up at the allotted time, the yearning for cake too strong for us to be late.

'Did you book?' asked the small boy who seemed to be in charge.

'Why yes', I said.  'Four afternoon teas'.

'Afternoon teas?' he asked, running his finger over the empty diary page.

I looked around the premises, just to make sure that we were in the right place.  After all, with four lots of failing eyesight (all too vain to wear glasses) there was a damn good chance that we might have wandered into an estate agent or chemist. Having assured myself and the other three reprobates that we were in the right place, we were ushered to the back of the cafe (away from decent folk) and placed our orders.

'So what do you want?'  asked the girl child who was also working there.  'Sandwiches, scones, cakes?'  

'Yes', I said rather firmly.  'As in an Afternoon Tea, which was what we booked, and what we are expecting'.

'No problem', she said, scurrying back to the kitchen, obviously now panicking over the lack of sandwiches, scones and cakes.  Eventually, she was back with everything you would expect for an afternoon tea.  Beautiful sandwiches, made with stunning bread, a selection of cakes, and the crowning glory...the scones.

Looking at the scones, I called the waitress over.  'Please could we have a another pot of jam and cream?  I don't think that this will be enough'.  (A reasonable enough request I thought).

'It's not cream.  It's butter'....


I think I may have said this out loud, but even if I didn't, I think she got the idea that if clotted cream wasn't on the table within the next two minutes, that there was going to be blood shed (probably hers).  She got that special look which I reserve for the husband and the children when they do something daft - it seemed to work.

'I'll see if there's any left over from the last afternoon tea we did'.

Another look, and she continued with, 'If there isn't any, I'll go over the road to buy some'.

So we got our full cream tea, and enough tea was drunk to keep PG in business for another year.  My friends were fabulous company and we laughed and chatted for three hours.  

Flaps and Twangers formed part of the discussion.  The latter topic refers to this Rainbow sketch..

As to the flaps?

I can't possibly divulge...

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Itchycoo Park...

The dogs went off to the hairdresser again yesterday for their regular cut and blow.  Reg had obviously been up to his usual Austin Powers 'Yeah Baby' tricks when the trimming of the naughty bits were done, as his rear end resembled something which an eggy Apache might have done in a fit of pique.  I've renamed him Chief Sitting Gingerly and I would imagine that the next few days are going to be rather chilly around his nether regions, followed by itchiness as the hair starts growing back.  Poor little devil.

Driving back from the groomer, I decided to drop into the dogs' favourite field for a run (them, not me - there are many things which run in my house, such as noses and tights, but never my feet). Percy minced around the field, avoiding anything which might detract from his gorgeous baby powder smell, while Reg dropped and rolled every ten paces or so to rid himself of what he considers to be an affront to his manhood.  

I'd love to know what goes on when they are there.  I've been told by someone in the know, that there are seven stations which a dog goes though to reach the giddy heights of 'clean'.  I've tried as hard as I can, but can only come up with the following:

Wash fur
Dry fur
Cut fur
Clip claws

As to the other three, perhaps they have the same as I am offered at my hairdresser.  A head massage, a back massage and a cup of tea.  All I do know is that they are always very pleased to see me, although marginally more pleased to see the door which leads to the car park and freedom.

I reckon that they are like any teenage boy, with a complete aversion to cleanliness.  I used to say that my two were only ever really clean when they were swimming, ie, being dipped into a mild bleach solution, and when I come to think about it, one of them showered in his pants for his whole first year at a new school, telling me when he got home that he'd showered at school and therefore would not be requiring a pre-bedtime bath. Of course, I believed him, and it wasn't until one of his teachers approached me asking if my son had a 'body image issue' that I realised what was going on.  What a conversation that was...  

So my dogs look very smart.  Percy looked distinguished right through to bedtime whereas Reg looked like one of those school photographs where your mum has spat on your hair to smooth it down at the last minute.  As the afternoon wore on, unruly tufts sprung out, and it wasn't long before he was back to his normal toilet brush appearance.

Much the same as when I go the hairdresser's actually...

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Cracklin' Rosie...

After all the celebrating of Miss R's birthday over the weekend, I must confess to being quite relieved for Monday to rear its ugly head.  You see, because Miss R had been away for her birthday (pedalling around the Isle of Wight in a tutu) she had decided to have a Sunday evening barbecue so that she could celebrate with her many lovely friends and her loopy family (I include myself in the latter group).  'Bring a sausage', she said, 'I'll supply the rest.

Well we did a bit better than that and brought sausages, burgers and some homemade crackling.  The crackling is the husband's speciality and it is rolled out on all special occasions. Every now and again, he books himself in for an afternoon of butchery.  Now I full appreciate how odd this sounds, but who am I to complain when he walks through the door with bags of roasting joints, sausages and foot square slabs of crackling.  

So a whole twenty minutes was spent massaging oil into it (I am still talking about the crackling here).  He won't be rushed at this part of the preparation, and when the poor crackling has been massaged within an inch of its sorry life, sea salt is sprinkled liberally over it, and into the oven it goes.

So we were late.

The crackling had to have its fat drained twice, and then it was patted with kitchen roll before being chopped up into bite size pieces.  How do I know they were bite size?  Well, the husband managed to eat four or five pieces before it made it into the bowl, so I made him put it into the boot when we left to ensure that there was some left for Miss R's guests.  

The party was in full swing when we got there, and the bowl of crackling was snatched from my hands and promptly did the rounds.  I saw it sitting on the dining table, and headed over for a small piece.  Just as I was about to dip my hand in, I was intercepted by the Mother and Mrs Jangles, and I watched with dismay as the bowl disappeared again.

The next time I saw the bowl was when it had been washed up and was drying on the draining board.

'Wasn't my crackling good?' said the husband.  Well I wouldn't know seeing as I never got a bit, but secretly I was quite pleased as it probably meant that another visit to the dentist wasn't on the cards this week.

Going back to the party, it was absolutely wonderful, and when you get a group of people together who have something in common (loving Miss R in this instance), something magical happens.

The crackling disappears...

Monday, 14 August 2017

Bag lady...

By yesterday morning, despite slathering my face with Aloe Vera every ten minutes, I still resembled a Swan Vesta much to the husband's amusement.  There's only one saving grace, and that was that I hadn't worn my sunglasses when asleep.  Unlike the husband who looked like he'd just returned from a week's skiing.  Not to worry though.  In a few weeks, we'll both be pink/red/mahogany/peeling, depending on which day you see us.

Those of you who have been with me for a while will know that this year's allotment adventures have all been about doom, gloom and thrice planted runner beans, so it was with trepidation that I headed over there yesterday morning to see what had happened after all that rain and two days' of sunshine.  I had put my shorts and a t-shirt on, as I was under the impression that the husband was walking the dogs yesterday morning.  

Now why would I think that?  Well possibly because when I was finishing the week's ironing at around 9.30 yesterday, he was trundled downstairs after an epic lie in, and said, and I quote, 'I'll walk the dogs this morning'.  So you see why I was a bit bewildered when he disappeared into his office.  Fast forward to 11.00, and he's still in there and the two fuzzballs are sitting by the front door with their legs crossed and eyes watering. Snatching up the lead, and donning my wellies (not a good look), I headed over to the allotment with the dogs.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised.  Nothing had died, fallen over, been eaten or withered. In fact, the corn on the cobs were flourishing and the runner beans were running (eventually), but it was the tomatoes which brought the biggest smile to my face.  

There were loads of them.  I had planted cherry, plum and beef tomatoes and all were offering up some sort of fruit. I only had dog poop bags on me, so filled one up with tomatoes and then headed out to the field where the dogs could run.  I then filled another bag with blackberries and one more with a few plums.  

The dogs had a lovely scoot round, and after they did the honours, I had two more bags to carry.

Crossing the road back into my estate, one of my neighbours stopped me for a chat.  I could see him looking at the full bags I was holding, and he looked at my two small dogs and then back at the bags. Seeing his confusion, I explained that I'd been picking some of my homegrown produce and I proudly thrust the tomatoes under his nose for a peek. 'I need to be careful though', I said, gesturing to the other two bags attached to the lead.  'I don't want to mix up my produce with their through-put..'

He laughed (rather too politely) and I carried on walking home.  Another neighbour was in her garden and seeing me approach, she wandered over for a chat.

'Been away have you?'  

Why yes, I have.   

For around 4 hours....

Sunday, 13 August 2017


It's been a tough old week this week, so what better way to cheer this old Bird up than a secret squirrel mission which I knew would put a smile on the face of someone I loved.

It was Miss R's birthday yesterday you see, and she had decided that with her close friend Signora C (she's of Italian persuasion and ever so glamorous), they would cycle around the Isle of Wight to celebrate.  Before you start wondering whether my sister had lost her middle aged marbles, I should point out that she is super fit and capable of cycling up, climbing over, skiing down and walking round any obstacle you could put in her path.

Now I have never not seen Miss R on her birthday, so a quick phone call was made to Signora C asking if the husband and I could gatecrash their trip, tying in with them for lunch somewhere.  She very kindly said yes, so we started planning.

The husband and I left home yesterday morning, planning a gentle drive down to the Ferry at Southampton with maybe a breakfast stop en route.  What actually happened was that I left my phone at home, so we had to turn round and come back, and start our journey again.  There was now no time for breakfast, no time for a coffee, and also, I am ashamed to say, no time for speed limits.  Driving my Mini like he'd stolen it, the husband finally made the ferry terminal with exactly seven minutes to spare.

It is common knowledge in my family that me and the sea are not good friends.  I don't like being in it because there's things in there with teeth, and I don't like being on it because I get seasick.  But not to worry.  Yesterday the sea was as smooth as a snooker table so armed with a coffee and a sticky bun, it all went rather well.

In fact, everything went exactly to plan.  We managed to get to the pub where the intrepid cyclists had stopped, and the husband and I hid behind a fence while the two of them (wearing tutus and floral bikinis for some reason) settled down. Sneaking up behind Miss R, the husband and I performed a rousing version of Happy Birthday much to the well disguised joy of all the other people in the pub.  There were a few tears, but she was thrilled skinny which was great.

But eventually, the two of them had to get back on their bikes and leave us to our local cider and crab sandwiches. The husband and I then did what we always do anywhere near the sea.  Two sunbeds and a snooze in the beautiful sunshine.

Which is why I am now sporting a face colour which can only really be described as claret. Thankfully,  I managed to locate the Aloe Vera so smothered myself with that in the hope in hope that it might calm my face down to a dull roar.

It didn't...

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Power to the people...

So back to the lawn...

The electricity chaps turned up bright and early on Thursday morning, their vans, diggers and cherry-pickers parked opposite my house.  As I got into my car, a very short man in a hard hat appeared from behind the pole which sits in the middle of my lawn.  It was almost like he'd been lying in wait ready to spring as soon as he saw life.

'Can ve start?' he asked in a very pronounced Eastern European voice.  'Of course', I said, 'the house is empty, so please feel free.  I expect you'll be gone by the time I get back at lunchtime...'

If only I'd known...

Coming home at 1.15 after my morning at Binland, even more vans were there, and I had to park some way from my house.  Muttering something along the lines of, 'It's alright, I only bloody live here', I walked into the drive.  Once again, Herr Grimm (as I had renamed him)  leapt out from behind the nearest van, and started wittering on about how he'd tried to keep the holes in the lawn as neat as possible. Peering into the larger of the two, I wondered how the husband was going to take the attack on his lawn. Each hole was around two metres square and so deep that I'm sure I spotted Jason Donovan and a couple of koalas.  It resembled the Somme.

'By ze vay, ve also managed to cut your telephone vire ven ve vere pullink ze ivy off ze pole'.  Oh great.  So no electricity AND no phone, which also meant no bloody internet (my life was over)...

I had also been told that the electricity would be off intermittently, which implies that at some point it might have been on.  Having poured myself a bowl of ice cream it would appear that this was not the case and I mourned the loss of my sausages (not just any old sausages I'll have you know - these were homemade, and unless the weather perks up to BBQ temperatures this weekend, they are heading for the bin along with the ice cream).

Eight hours later, having sat inside sulking all afternoon, as Herr Grimm had requested that I 'stay in ze 'ouse so zat I can test ze telephone', the lights came back on, along with the radio, two televisions, an electric fan, the tumble drier and the oven (which very kindly likes to beep to let me know that there's been a power I needed bloody telling).

There was a knock at the door - it was him with the screwdriver again.  'Is your phone vorking?'  

'No, sorry'.  Why the hell I felt the need to apologise is anybody's guess.

So here's where we were.  Me with the house phone, son number two with his mobile, Carlos (the hunky phone engineer with marvellous teeth and striking beard) up the new pole in the cherry picker attaching various telephone wires and Herr Grimm repeating, 'Is it vorking now?'  'Now?'  'Now?'  'Now?'

Son number two came up with the bright idea of calling our house number to see what was going on.  What happened was that he got to speak to the next door neighbour who now was also outside looking confused.

But eventually Carlos saved the day and connected the right wire to the right house and service was resumed (to be honest, I would have forgiven him anything.....that smile from aloft was winning me round and I think he is probably the electricity company's secret weapon).

Now back to the lawn.  The husband came home and looked at our previously flat lawn which now resembled the outline of a humpbacked whale.

I'm not sure that Herr Grimm fully understood what the husband was saying, but I think he got the general idea...

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Too much, too young...

Well what a day yesterday was.  Half of it spent talking about the bins of Oxfordshire, the other half spent visiting various loved ones in hospitals across Berkshire.  I clocked up the best part of a hundred miles and spent a few hours speaking in hushed tones while desperately trying to avoid looking at the woman in the bed opposite who had made the schoolgirl error of wearing a shortie nightdress and matching dressing gown which barely covered her dignity. Actually, I had the misfortune to spot her dignity a couple of times - the two plastered ankles gave her limited mobility, but when she went, boy she went. I think it should be law that all patients' night attire reaches at least to the knee.  As I said to the Mother who was with me yesterday afternoon, 'Dignity should be maintained at all times dear'.

So there was just one thing I needed when I limped back to Oxfordshire, and that was a cup of tea with Mrs S (she of the bijoux cottage which I had a serious hand in painting). She had been at a wedding the previous weekend and I was after a blow by blow description of all that went down.  After handing me a well needed mug of tea, she took a deep breath and described it all in detail.  The bride was beautiful (I know her, and knew she would look fabulous), the food fantastic and the venue perfect apparently, but it was her table which caused the most giggles.

Mrs S is a single lady, and in their wisdom, the bride's parents had put her on the 'young table'.  This meant that Mrs S was sandwiched between two young men who were on the wrong side of 30.  By this, I mean that they were less than 30, and therefore off limits.  I have always suggested to my single friends that any man they choose should be older than any tights they might own.  One has to have standards, and having a quick romp with a chap young enough to have never seen 1990 is just not on.  

I can't even start to imagine having a relationship with someone that young.  I'd have to spend the first two hours of our first date apologising for what he might come across as time went on.  Stretchy bits, saggy bits, baggy bits, no bits, bits which are definitely south of where they were originally put and bits which have worn out. I'm not saying that my body is falling fast, but I'd probably have to supply him with a hard hat too, just in case.

So back to Mrs S.  Apparently the two boys (just because you have a beard, it doesn't make you a man) were very flirty, and Mrs S was having a most pleasant time winding them up, knowing full well that at the end of the night she'd be going back to her room alone with a couple of custard creams, an Ovaltine and a new copy of Hello magazine.  

And then it got a tiny bit interesting.  

'They wanted to do the Eiffel Tower with me', she said.

Now I pride myself on being pretty up to date with kid-speak, but this was a new one on me.  'Mmmm', I said.  'Do you need your passport for that?'

Well apparently not...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Praise you...

The webbing I have between toes two and three (it's a family trait) is proving rather useful in the current climate. They say (one day, 'they' will reveal who they actually are) that we are due a month's rainfall over the next 24 hours. Now I'd have no problem if it was Algeria's rainfall they were talking about, but as it's good old Blighty's, then I would imagine that wellies will be de rigeur over the next couple of days.  

But we shouldn't grumble really.  Apparently we're in for a mini heatwave come the weekend.  There will be people laid out in the parks on Friday lunchtime with their toes wriggling in the sunshine, as their sodden shoes steam gently beside them, all moaning that it's too hot.

You'll never hear me complaining that it's too hot.  I love the sun, and at the merest chance of it being warm enough to lose my vest, I'm in my deckchair, face upturned to the sky like a little sunflower. The husband compares me to a lizard.  I should say that this has no bearing on the state of my skin after years of sunbathing, nor do I have a longer than normal tongue.  I just love that feeling of heat on my skin and can sit for hours just dozing and listening to the birds/waves/pool filtration system (my least favourite as there is a good chance of small child disturbance through bombing etc). 

We're heading off on a family holiday in a few weeks (me, the husband AND ALL FOUR KIDS) and the weather is guaranteed to be hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement. Before any ne'er-do-wells reading this harbour thoughts about ransacking through my knicker drawer looking for valuables, please don't bother, as I have a lovely couple house and dog sitting for the week.  Going back to the egg frying, has anyone actually ever done this?  I don't know why I'm asking really, as I can't stand eggs, but it would be useful to know.

It's been eleven years since we managed to pin all four kids down to coming away with us. It's a bit of a last hurrah before they start settling down, and before we start getting so old that a weekend in the campsite down the road looks rather adventurous.  The best part of the week is that we're going to a rather famous club to watch someone even more famous doing a DJ set.  

The husband, whose music taste stopped circa 1976, isn't too keen on going, and is worried that he'll look out of place there.  I wonder if he's stopped to think about the middle aged bird on his arm?  The one with bingo wings, arthritis, dodgy knees, grey roots, a stubbly chin and who can't see further than the end of her nose.  

Yes, we will be the oldest ones there (by quite a lot I would imagine)  
Yes, the songs will all be new to us (humming might swing it)  
Yes, we won't know the moves (apparently just standing still and pointing at the sky frantically is sufficient)

But we'll be with our kids, and the embarrassment we cause them that night will more than compensate for the slight uneasiness at being there at all.

What fun...

Monday, 7 August 2017

I can hear the grass grow...

There was a stand off at our house yesterday, involving a frustrated electricity engineer and the husband.

Some of you may remember the incident with the hedge outside my house.  All I had said to the husband was that I wanted it lowered slightly so I could see over the top.  I hadn't allowed for him making the decision (all on his own - I must remember not to leave him unsupervised again) to remove the hedge altogether.  Once the initial shock had worn off, I really liked our hedgeless lawn, and before too long, the husband was feeding, weeding and mowing the newly revealed green stuff, meticulously mowing in his stripes, and generally just standing around looking at it.

When the electricity company called at the house last week when the kids were at home, to tell us that our power would be disconnected for a couple of days for some maintenance work, I wasn't too worried as I would have been at work anyway.  Never mind the kids with the laptops, phone chargers, and televisions, I would be fine, so no problem.


They then passed son number one a pencilled diagram.  It was like a treasure map.  There was the outline of our house, the drive with a couple of cars pencilled on for authenticity, and there in the middle of what was meant to be the lawn was a very large 'X'.   'This is where we need to dig your lawn up', said the engineer.

Well, you can imagine how well that went down with the husband.  When he came home that night and saw the diagram, he was straight onto the electricity company, telling them in no uncertain terms that if they touched a blade of grass on his lawn, then they would have to replace the whole bloody lot, and not just the two feet square patch they needed to remove.  There was no way he was going to sign the form authorising this, until he had it in writing that they would replace the whole thing.

So leaving work yesterday morning for my first day at Binland this week, various workmen were turning up, armed with small diggers and long ladders.

Daughter number one called the husband at work, and told him that they had arrived to dig the lawn up.  Throwing down whatever Stanley tool he had in his hand at that particular moment, he raced home and had a rather loud contretemps with the electricity engineers.  I like to think that at some point he shouted 'Get off my land', and when that had no effect, he laid down across his precious lawn, screaming 'You'll never take me alive!' 

Well it was a small victory for the common man, and the workmen left without touching a single blade.  They're coming back on Thursday though which should give the husband plenty of time to bury the land mines and train the fuzzballs to 'kill'.

I may be out...

I can see clearly now...

It's been a bit quiet on the husband front recently, but I thought that you would like to know what happened yesterday...

A few weeks ago, the husband came to me with that lower lip of his sticking out far enough to hold a vase of chrysanthemums and a scented candle and said,

'I've got nothing to wear...'

Once I got up from the floor (the shock almost killed me), we had what is called in our house 'a conversation'. Basically, he has many, many clothes, but they are crammed into his wardrobe so tightly, that it had become almost impossible to differentiate between shirts and shorts. When bringing his ironed clothes up, I was having to leave it hanging on the door. This was mainly because I knew that squishing them on the rails would render any ironing pointless, but there was another reason. You know when you go into a car park, and the signs reads FULL, and you have to wait there until one car leaves, before one car is let in? Well, that's what his wardrobe was like.  I couldn't put anything in until the worn equivalent had departed.

I explained this very slowly to him, and over the last couple of weeks I have reminded him (not nagging, definitely not nagging) what we'd spoken about.  Each time, he waved me away with a 'I don't possibly have time to do a job which possibly falls into Pink Job territory'.  But Sunday morning, I'd had enough.  Speakly very slowly, but in a tone which implied he was on borrowed time, I suggested that it might be an idea for me to go through his wardrobe, and after an initial weeding, he could then give a 'yes' or 'no' to the items which were sitting on the fence.  Well, you will not be surprised to hear that he was quite happy with that idea, so armed with a couple of large bin liners, I headed up to the wardrobe.

It soon became very apparent that it was his work clothes which were causing the problem.  As you may know, the husband works on a building site, so his daily attire consists of shorts and trousers padded in strange places and T-shirts which you can spot from over five miles away.

Stacking all his work gear up, I summoned him upstairs.  

'Explain yourself, sonny', I said, pointing to the pile of twelve pairs of shorts and trousers.

He had the decency to look sheepish, but it was a battle of wills to get him to agree to throw away eight pairs which looked like they'd seen better days.  Actually, I think it was only the plaster and mortar holding hands which was keeping them together, and as I snatched them from him, I'm sure I heard a small sob escape from his quivering lower lip.

We then started on the shoes.  In the pile of maybes, was one laceless pump.  'That can go', I said, picking it up.

'You can't throw that away', he pleaded.  'What if the other one turns up?'

He got 'The Look' at that point, and no more words were necessary.  After my tough love approach to his wardrobe, it looked beautifully tidy and I stepped back from it with an immense sense of satisfaction.

Now he really doesn't have anything to wear...

Sunday, 6 August 2017


I've had a lovely week.  When my flipping gorgeous sister-in-law Mrs W and her handsome beau, Mr W come to stay for a few days, it's always a really special time.  We sit and chat, eat lovely meals out, and just generally 'hang out'. Because they are from The North, these times together are rare, but boy, are they special.

Friday was our last full day together, and as Mr W had plans, Mrs W suggested that Friday afternoon should be spent pottering around the shops of a nearby uber posh town. Having trawled through the sales, and nabbed a couple of bargains, we then hit the charity shops.  Now Mrs W is an expert in the hunting down of a bargain, but me?  Well, I know she'll be reading this, so here goes my confession....

Mrs W, this was a first for me...

Charity shops have always frightened me a little.  I'm not very good when everything is crammed onto the same rail. Trousers, shirts, dresses and coats all vying for attention, with a 'Pick me!  Pick me!' attitude, while mismatched shoes trip you up next to crumpled handbags .  Actually, T K Maxx has the same effect on me if I'm honest...

But I have to confess, they have really upped their game, and the first one we went into was quite a pleasant surprise.  For a start, it didn't smell of grandmas (in a bad way, not the acceptable smell of lavender and sweet sherry) and I was very impressed with the fragrant candle burning on the counter.  We didn't buy anything in this shop, nor were we parted from our money in the second, but by the third, I was really getting into the swing of things and almost pushed Mrs W to one side in my eagerness to get to the rails.  

It was then I spotted it...

Hanging on the far end of a rail was a beautiful silk Boden dress.  The kind of dress you could wear with leggings and boots.  Empire line, fabulous muted colours, it had my name written all over it.  I grabbed it, and shuffled over to Mrs W.

'What do you think?'  I asked her.

'Where did you find that?'  asked Mrs W, implying that I had insider information as to where all the best stuff was.

'On the rail', I stated completely pointlessly.  'Do you like it then?'

Well it turned out that she liked it as much as I did, and looking at her disappointment, I offered a consolation prize.

'If it doesn't fit me when we get home, you can have it.  OK?'

That cheered her up, so we finished the day with a cream tea in the rain and headed back home where we pulled out item after item out of various bags, showing them to the husband while he slowly shook his head in despair. Unfortunately for Mrs W, the Boden dress fitted me perfectly, so it didn't have to do the long trek back to Cheshire.

When they left yesterday morning, I did consider checking her bags, just in case the dress had somehow found its way into her suitcase, but I'm sure she would never have found it in the carrier bag which I'd put into an old cereal box, which went inside a beach bag, which I then put into my holiday suitcase and locked.

I know she's family, but you can't be too careful...

Friday, 4 August 2017

Pretty woman...

You'll be pleased to know that the whole insomnia thing is still going rather well.  It's currently 4.17am and I've just frightened the pants off Mrs W (my lovely sister-in-law) who is staying here for a few days.  This will teach her to come into the kitchen for a glass of water when there's a crazy lady tapping away in the dark.

I blame Miss R for this current nocturnal episode.  Last night we were all at a surprise 40th party. (How it is that I even know someone this young.  The secret to feeling good about yourself is surely hanging around with people a whole lot older?)  Anyway, the party was great, and knowing that in several weeks, my bikini has to steel itself for it's annual week of shame, I had pre-ordered a very healthy fish stew.  Put this together with tap water all night, and I reckoned I had a fairly healthy meal planned.


What I hadn't allowed for was the birthday cake.  Two people were required to bring this culinary creation to the table such was the size of it, and my jaw hit the floor.  Chocolate cake, Curly-Wurly, Maltesers, more chocolate and a few candles (these were there to remind us all to sing Happy Birthday, rather than just salivating).  Miss R helped cut the cake, and small portions were passed up and down the table.  I savoured every mouthful of mine.  I then savoured the husband's who has far more willpower than I do.  Well you know what happens when there is a large table and a birthday cake?  Well, those slices kept a coming, and I think I finally stopped at around four.  Chocolate and I are not the best of friends in the headache department which is why I am blaming Miss R.  If only it had been carrot...

Ah well, today is another day, and dust and water will be on the menu I suppose to cancel out my chocolate cake orgy.

Changing the subject, you might remember that I have been trying out some new face products courtesy of The Rose Tree (  When I was asked to do this, I'll be honest with you, I had no expectations, having resigned myself to a face which was heading south faster than a whore's drawers on a Saturday night.  

However, after two weeks, I can honestly say that I am thrilled skinny with what I see. I've had a couple of people tell me how great my skin is looking, and this is always encouraging, because most people I know can't see further than their own hand thanks to Mother Nature and middle age.  I could see the improvement in my skin, but when someone else does, you realise that you've struck lucky.

The lovely girls at The Rose Tree had given me a complete smorgasbord of stunning oils and creams to try, but there was one which really stood out for me.  A real gamechanger of a cream.

This was the Intensive Balm with Marshmallow and Frangipani. I absolutely love this, and have already bought a pot (quoting Words from a Bird to get my discount naturally!) It's a solid balm, and when you put it onto your face, it looks quite shiny for a couple of seconds.  Don't let this put you off though, as you can almost watch your skin absorbing it and soaking it all in. It's smells good enough to eat, and as you only need the tiniest bit, it's going to last for ages. I have even started using it in the morning before work, so you can see that it's not just for the 'it's night time and no one can see me' routine.

I'm sensible enough to know that there is nothing out there which can bring back that pert and perky skin of my 20's.  But to be able to have the best skin I possibly can right now is pretty good.

So thank you to The Rose Tree for revealing what was under that haggard old mush which has been staring back at me from the magnifying mirror for the last few years.  

All of a sudden, it's not so X-rated...

Thursday, 3 August 2017


It was back to the dentist yesterday afternoon.  I had a serious case of deja vu as I crossed their threshold for the second time in 24 hours and the receptionist, apart from a knowing look, never said a word about me tipping up early the day before.

I sat down next to a tired looking mum in the waiting room.  She was with her two small daughters, one of whom looked like she'd probably be spending some time in Holloway (the ladies' prison for my American readers!) as she got older.  She was sitting on the other side of her mum, and every now again would peer around her mum and stick her tongue out at me whilst threatening me with a rather flea bitten doll.  Each time, her mum/prison officer told her to 'leave the lady alone' but this had about as much effect as sticking wings on a pig and expecting it to fly.  

Having smiled politely at the little girl every time, I decided on a different tack, and delicately stuck my tongue back out at her.  Well this put a smile on her sullen little face, and a most enjoyable twenty seconds was spent making funny faces at each other across the mum's lap.

And then she spotted us.

Turning to her daughter, she gave her a good telling off, and removed the doll 'until she learned to do as she was told'.  And then the little madam said this...

'It's not fair!' she wailed.  'She started it'.

Well this put the twenty-something mum in a bit of a quandary.  Should she have a go at the middle aged lady with arthritis sitting next to her, or not...

Luckily for me (she looked a bit handy if you know what I mean) she decided to accuse her own daughter of being a liar, and I doubt she'll ever see that doll again.  She then turned to me and muttered a most insincere apology.

It was at that precise moment that my dentist walked into the waiting room and called my name.  As I walked past the other patients, there were many looks thrown in my direction as they all knew that it was my fault for egging the little girl on.

Funnily enough, no one said a word.  I would imagine that before I turned up, the little madam had been causing mayhem with everyone, and I'm sure that secretly they were revelling in the little girl's misfortune.

A rollocking by proxy is always acceptable...

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Much too soon...

There comes a time in every middle-aged lady's life, when realisation hits you square in the face with the force of a wet haddockin a Gale Force 10.  Here's what happened...

'I'm here for my 2.30 appointment with my dentist, Mr A', I said.  'I'm a bit early, but ever so happy to sit quietly for a few minutes'.

Receptionist looks at screen.  Receptionist looks at me.

'That's odd', she says.  'It's Mr A's day off today'.

I look at her.  Realise that she will brook no further argument.

'It's tomorrow, isn't it?  My appointment. It's tomorrow'.

Receptionist nods knowingly.

'Ah well', I say cheerily, 'better to turn up twice than not at all'

Shuffle backwards to door, and mourn fading memory over a coffee and a slice of cake...

So you see, my memory is on the blink.  I rely on my smartphone (talk about rubbing it in) and faithfully put every single thing into it, but for some reason, I have stopped looking at it each day to see what the hell is planned.  So what I need is an alarm to remind me to look at my calendar each day so that I can remember to turn up on THE RIGHT BLOODY DAY.

I suppose what hacked me off most was that I had been home and cleaned my teeth, depriving myself of any lunch until after the work was done.  Hence the cake.  So it was in a bit of a giddy pickle that I eventually walked back in the house yesterday afternoon. Sons number one and two are still here, lazing around the house like two giant slugs.To avoid looking at the carnage which seems to follow them around, I squirrelled myself away in my office and spent a most pleasant couple of hours clearing out four years of filing.  

And then son number two decided to do some shredding...

The shredder is the husband's pride and joy, and you and I, and all other sensible adults, know that you can only put one piece of A4 paper in at a time if you want to avoid jamming it.  Son number two did not know this, and quite happily pushed a wadge of thirty five bank statements into the metal teeth.  

An hour and a half it took me to unjam the bloody thing, using my best tweezers and a pair of pliers, and by the time shredding was resumed, I'd had enough for the day, and wanted to crawl inside a bottle of Malbec.

Son number one came to the rescue.  'Want me to cook dinner?'

It's quite possibly the nicest thing he's ever said...

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


It was an interesting day yesterday.

Having scaled the Mount Everest of bravery on Sunday with my cortisone injection, after the obligatory sofa time (on the husband's instructions - I do love him in that blue dress and red cape) we headed off to our local pub for a pub quiz.  Now those of you who have been with me for some time will know that I have a habit of going to these quizzes with The Mother, Mrs Jangles and Miss R.  We normally get what I call a 'podium', ie, top three, so it was with an optimistic mood that we headed off to the pub.

For some reason, I was really thirsty (all that dry mouth fear I expect) so I necked down two Diet Cokes rather quickly before gathering my team around me (the husband, Miss R, Mrs Jangles, son number one (there was food, of course he was there) and Mrs S (she who can and does roll out of this pub on many occasions).

Now I thought we had a damn fine mix of ages and interests with this team - surely it was in the bag?  Well it turned out that the sport questions which were directed to the males in the team, were about the wrong kind of sport (croquet and the Tour de France are not real sports apparently).  When the horse racing questions cropped up (please excuse that terrible pun) Mrs Jangles, who goes racing every week, failed to get a single answer right, claiming that she knew nothing about Cheltenham or races with jumps.  

So we came last.  

But it didn't really matter - we had a great time and it finished in time for Poldark, so all was well in my world.

Falling into bed at 10.30, I shut my eyes in anticipation of a full seven hours snoozies.  My brain had other ideas though, and as I shut my eyes, my Coke-fuelled brain switched everything on and I was like a rabbit in the headlights. I gave it a good attempt at getting to sleep, eventually giving up at midnight, and then again at 3.00am, finally managing to drop off at around 4.20, thus achieving the grand total of seventy minutes sleep.

I hadn't really minded being awake overnight, as I got all the washing done.  Is that weird? I also made my packed lunch and cleared through the downstairs rooms. Unfortunately, my achievements in the domestic goddess department counted for diddly squat at around 11.00am, when my mouth started working independently of my brain. Tanked up on black coffee, I headed off to the hairdressers for my routine trim.  As the handsome Joe combed my hair, I told him about Sunday night, and how I had considered borrowing a cone of shame from the vets so that I could have a snooze while he cut my hair.

By 4.00pm, my nocturnal rabbit in the headlights had turned into something quite different.


Monday, 31 July 2017

My brave face...

Some of you are probably aware by now of the delightful arthritis which took up residence in my left foot several years ago.  This has been the reason why my bank manager no longer looks me in the eye if I happen to go into my local branch, as much money has been spent on various treatments, shoes, orthotics, gadgets, physio...the list is endless... over the last three years in particular.  Last year, I headed off to hospital for the day while they stuck a few injections of cortisone into my foot.  This was done under general anesthetic, because my consultant told me in no uncertain terms that 'it would bloody hurt'.

So I had 52 glorious days of pain free trotting about before it came back.  Finally getting back to see my consultant, he suggested that I have it done again, but this time under ultrasound guidance.  He said, and I quote, 'The pain is about the same as when you give blood'.  Well, that would be ok.  As a blood donor, I know that it can be a little uncomfortable, but it's never bad enough to stop me going back for more blood letting a few months later.

So it was with this very positive approach that the husband and I headed off to the hospital on Sunday.  (Yes, on a Sunday - very impressive).  We stopped for a big old fry up on the way and drove into a deserted carpark.  Any of you who know the John Radcliffe hospitals in Oxford will understand why this fact needs mentioning.  I have celebrated birthdays and watched seasons change looking for a parking space on occasions.

So walking into the waiting room, there were two other couples waiting. One couple had walked in ahead of us, and I had commented to the husband about how much pain the poor man must be in. But it was the wife of the other couple who started up the conversation.

'You 'ere for an injection love?'

'Yes', I replied, 'into my foot.  I'm a little nervous'.

'Yeah, you should be.  It's bloody 'orrible.  I've 'ad three and none of 'em 'ave worked.  Bloody waste of time if you ask me'.

Well I hadn't, but as I'm not one to antagonise, I said, 'My consultant said that the level of pain is similar to when you give blood'.

She cackled like a witch with a 50 a day smoking habit.  'You carry on thinking that love, if it 'elps'.

Oh great.  My confidence took a nose dive off the highest cliff in the world and my mouth dried up, making speech almost impossible.  The husband started talking to the other couple who had come in with us, and they had a much more sensible conversation about electric bikes and swimming, and just as they started talking about cycling shorts, my name was called.

I almost expected the Harbinger of Doom to start shouting 'Dead Man Walking', as I followed the nurse down the corridor, and as she ushered me into the side ward, I was blabbering like a fool about how I was terrified of what was about to happen.  Before I knew it, she'd whipped my sock off and had me laid out on the bed with a couple of comfy pillows chatting away about stuff and nonsense.

And then the man with the stethoscope came in.  I repeated to him about the story of how much it would hurt, and asked whether this was a true reflection of the pain.  'I couldn't possibly say', he said.  'Some feel no pain, while there are others I have to scrape off the ceiling'.  This was said with a rather false laugh, and I got the impression that this comment was repeated on a daily basis.  

So I waited for the pain, and do you know what, apart from a nano-second of 'ouch' it was exactly how my consultant had predicted.  

'It would appear that you have a lot more courage than you thought', the doctor said, patting me on the ankle.  'We're all done'.

As I walked back to the waiting room, Mrs Pessimistic was still going on about how dreadful it all was, and the cycling/swimming chap's face had paled significantly.  So I said to him, as the husband got his act together (he'd expected me to be longer so had decided to spring clean his wallet) that it hadn't hurt, and he really wasn't to worry at all about the injection he was about to have.

The look that woman gave me said it all.  

'Never let the truth ruin a good story'...