Monday, 20 November 2017

Back here...

Just when you think you have your weekend sorted, something happens to turn it all t*ts up in a most glorious fashion.

The husband and I were out on Friday night at the cinema.  We went to see Justice League (don't bother) which had Superman, Batman and a host of other cross dressing superheroes in tights fighting some bloke with bad skin and childhood issues which should really have been dealt with way before puberty.  The only saving grace was a rather lovely specimen who wasn't too keen on wearing a shirt (thumbs up to whoever made that decision).  He was the only reason I stayed in the cinema, but he wasn't enough to stop the husband from sleeping all through it.  This wasn't a bad thing though as he couldn't see me drooling at Aquaman as he was apparently called.

Anyway, we had Friday at the cinema, and meals planned for Saturday and Sunday.  I know...three nights out on the bounce, what were we thinking of?  But, as we both agreed, there would be time for lots of power naps over the weekend to prepare us for all the frivolity planned.  Or so we thought...

So while we were in the cinema, the discussions began while we were drooling/asleep.  It started with son number one hinting that he might be home with his gorgeous girlfriend, Little Miss Tiny (she is minuscule, and has been confused with my kitchen doorstop on occasion).  As soon as this was out on the Family Group Chat, daughters one and two agreed that it would be great to come over too.  So by the time we left the cinema, the three of them had agreed to spring a visit on us.

So there we were on Sunday morning.  Surrounded by the detritus which accompanies four twenty somethings.  This included food, cables, laptops and carrier bags and the obligatory hair shedding from daughter number two's extensions.  I'll be unblocking the Hoover again this week...

They were aghast at the amount of food in the fridge, and managed to decimate this over the space of three meals within a fourteen hour period.  When they finally left (en mass around midday on Sunday like the closing minutes of a Benny Hill sketch) it took me two hours to get my house back into a state where I would be happy to let a stranger into my kitchen.  

Items left behind include an earring, four empty water glasses, a rather nice pen (mum's perks - that's gone into my handbag) and empty packs of biscuits and crisps.  There was also no bacon left in the house, and the new loaf I'd bought on Friday is just a distant memory.

And it was bloody wonderful...

Saturday, 18 November 2017

It's a party...

Who loves a spreadsheet?

Not the kind which you see at the accountants (let's not go down that route - I've just about recovered after Thursday afternoon), or on the screensaver of an statistician.  No, the spreadsheet I am talking about is the one you do when you have to pre-order the food for the Office Christmas Party...

Yes, it's that time of year again.  Mrs S gets the job of securing the venue for the annual Binland Christmas bash.  Once booked, she sends everyone the menu with instructions to send choices to me so that I can do the spreadsheet.  The idea of pre-ordering is a great one because the food comes out quickly, leaving the participants more time to drink bad wine and dance to equally out of date music.  You also have the answers should someone peak too soon and deny all knowledge of ordering the Roast Turkey.

I had saved the spreadsheet from last year.  There were a couple of tweaks to be made (some people leave, some people start), and all I had to do was put the information in and voila!

But there were issues...

1. I wanted to put a festive picture in this year - this took twenty minutes (don't tell my boss) to find the 'right' picture.  What is very sad is that Mrs S and I are probably the only ones who will care as we are surrounded by Scrooges, forever putting the brakes on our festive cheer..

2. Putting my dinner choices in, Strawberry Shortbread Panna Cotta did not fit in the Pudding column, and spread itself over two lines.  This would not do, so I narrowed the Starter and Main columns to accommodate this rather wordy pudding.

3. Now the Main column was narrower, Beef with Redcurrants and Brandy no longer fitted on one line.  I attempted swapping the 'and' for an '&' but this wasn't enough, so I renamed the Strawberry Shortbread Panna Cotta as merely Panna Cotta, and stretched the Main column so that the Beef meal(with an '&') now fitted.

4. I then went back to the abbreviated Panna Cotta pudding, and played with font sizes to see whether I could fit the whole description on.  This would have worked if the restaurant were using a telescope, but as it's quite unlikely that the landlord of the pub in question would have one, I increased the font size again.

5.  I then decided to change the orientation from portrait to landscape, giving me tons of column room for full descriptions and a larger font - brilliant!  Unfortunately, the Depot Manager and I dropped off the end of the page onto a new sheet which almost ruined my day, so it was back to the original format.

6.  I finally reached a stage where I was happy with it, and then Mr G from the Transport Office started messing with my brain.

'Are we having two or three courses?'
'We're having all three'.
Can I have Roast Turkey followed by Chocolate Roulade please'.
'That's just two courses though'.
'I know.  Can I have a bowl of pigs in blankets instead?'
'But they're not on the set menu'.
'I know, but it's an extra, so I could have it instead of a starter'.
'So you want the bowl of pigs as a starter?'
'No.  I want them to come with my Turkey'.

At this moment, I went into free fall.  Not only did I have an empty space in my spreadsheet where a starter should be, but he wanted me to double up his main so that it read Roast Turkey plus an additional bowl of Pigs and Blankets.

I'm going to need a bigger piece of paper...

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Share with me...

A few weeks ago, Miss R brought round some treats for Percy and Reg (my two four-legged fuzzballs).  Rummaging around in her hand bag, she proudly pulled out a pair of pigs ears.  I should reassure you that these were not still connected to a pig, nor did they originally belong to one owner judging by the difference in size.  

I can't begin to tell you what excitement this caused in my kitchen.  Percy, being the elder of the two, got his ear first, and positively goose-stepped across to the back door, his prize firmly clamped between his gnashers, just in case Reg didn't get one, and 'sharing' was required.  He went out into the garden with it, and remained there in isolated splendour (in the dark, I should add) for a whole hour and a half, till it was all gone.

Reg got his and skulked off to the lounge.

I like to think that maybe they discussed this new addition to their menu while chatting before bedtime...

Reg: 'Bleedin' 'ell, Perce. Wot woz that the auntie gave us?' (Reg has adopted a pseudo-Essex accent since joining us.  I put this down to a particularly common Westie at puppy classes)

Percy: 'Reginald, my dear boy, I really don't have a clue as to its origin, but I think that you and I can both agree that it was quite sublime'.  (Percy likes to talk like a 1950's BBC news reporter, all clipped vowels and stiff upper lip.  There is also a whiff of Larry Grayson about him, if you get my drift).

Reg:  'Yeah , it woz luvverley.  Shame you 'ad to go and nick mine though, you miserable old sod.  I 'ate it when you pulls rank'.

Percy:  'Reg, old chap, it's just the way of the world.  You should just get used to it.  While the small humans are not living in the house, you have to accept that you are quite possibly the last in the pecking order'.

Reg: 'Will it get better when them little bleeders come 'ome then?  I can't say I miss 'em, especially that one we 'ave to share our bed wiv.  She's a bloomin' nuisance with her loud telly and snorin'.

Percy: 'I adore it when the small humans come home.  There's always tit-bits on the floor, and almost too much stroking..if that is actually possible'.  Percy has made a joke here, which is very unusual as he went to the Jack Dee School of Mirth.  In olden times, Percy would have been described as 'curmudgeonly'.

Reg: 'I like 'angin' out wiv the big son, the one wiv the pritty gelfriend.  If only I woz ten years older and 'ad two less legs, I'd be in there, mate'.

Percy: Raises eyebrows and purses lips.  'I like the smaller girl.  She always seems to be control of things, and even manages to keep you in check, young Reg'.

Reg: 'But she never brings us treats 'cos she likes to eat 'elfy food.  I don't know 'ow elfs look so bleedin'  'appy if that's all they get.  I'd be bloody miserable'.

Percy: 'And then there's that tall boy who doesn't seem to be here much now. I don't mind going in his room now that Dog Mum has cleaned it.  I never knew what I might catch venturing into there'. 

Reg: 'Oh Perce, 'is room never frightened me.  I've eaten most of the stuff 'e's dropped on the floor over the years, and there ain't not much wrong wiv me'.

Percy: (Struggling with the previous double negative)  'Quite.  Now young Reg, it's time to sleep.  I'm going to dream all night about that rather marvellous pig's ear.  Will you do the same, do you think, old boy?'

Reg:  'Nah.  I'm gonna stick wiv the pritty gelfriend.  At least she'd be somefink you wouldn't nick off me like that bleedin' pig's ear...'

Like I said....Larry Grayson...

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Bleeding love...

Well it worked...

All it took was for my best friend, Mrs S, to call the husband asking how to bleed her radiator.  Overhearing the conversation, I stepped in...

'If you think that you are bleeding hers before mine, then you are treading on very thin ice, my friend'.  This was accompanied with one of my 'looks'.  These are renowned in my house, and are not to be trifled with, especially when the eyes peer over the top of the varifocals a la Mrs Slocombe. 

Handing over the phone to me, I chatted to Mrs S about various matters, including warm drawers, and twenty minutes later, by which time we'd exhausted every plumbing joke we could think of, two out of the three jobs were done.  The house was cosy this morning when I came downstairs, and last night, I managed to have something which I haven't had for eons....Warm pyjamas.

The shower is still doing a passable impression of Crazy Daisy (see below) but I mustn't push him.

I had a fantastic day yesterday (how could it have been anything otherwise since I started it with toasty warm drawers).  Working for Binland, I get to visit the most weird and wonderful places, and yesterday was the turn of an Energy from Waste plant.  What this basically does, is take all your black bin waste and turn it into electricity.  Enough to power over 38,000 homes.  Of course, this is an average figure, as they don't allow for my house, on those days when all four children are here, with every light, television and PC on.  

I was the only female there, naturally, but rigged out in hard hat, hi-viz, sturdy boots and ear defenders, you would have been hard pushed to tell that.  I could have been anything from a 23 year old lad to Mother Theresa under all that lot.

Hard hats always play havoc with my hair, and getting back into the car three hours later, with the four chaps I'd gone there with, I apologised for taking up so much of the car cabin space with my Crystal Tips hair do.  One of them joked that perhaps it might have been wiser to leave the hard hat on, and that he wasn't convinced that the hair wasn't  attached.  This is a brave thing to say to a 54 year old woman with rampant curls, and I can only assume that he is either wife-free and therefore not trained in what not to say, or that he was feeling brave as he was sitting in the front.  

Either way, his card is marked....

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Cold water...

I had a call from one of my Binland colleagues yesterday morning, complimenting me on my blog.  Well, this was a lovely start to the day, and in conversation we pondered as to his pseudonym, should he reach the giddy heights of a mention.  After much thought, I have decided that henceforth, he shall be known as Brains.  This is purely because he works in the Technical Department and is not based on any facial similarities with the character on Thunderbirds.  

Unlike my side of the business, he works with people who are highly intelligent (no offence to my lovely Binland colleagues), and who have a good understanding of what the Periodic Table is all about.  Apparently, it's not just something printed on a tea towel which kids buy for their mums after a school trip to the Science Museum.  It's so much more...

Anyway, he was very kind, and said that he found it hard to believe that I fell into, and I quote, 'that age bracket'.  I was just on the verge of getting the bunting out, when I felt the need to confirm that he wasn't implying that I looked like I should be in the next age bracket (55-64 is not somewhere I want to be yet).  Violence is never attractive in a woman of my age, but luckily, his highly intellectual brain flashed a warning light, and instructed his mouth to say, 'that this was a good thing', and that he was 'surprised I was that old'.  Sensible man...

Talking of sensible men (warning ladies, sarcasm alert) we need to discuss the husband.  I have jobs which need doing around the house, with the three top ones being as follows:

Adjust the thermostat so that the heating comes on automatically in the morning.
Now I always get up first in this house.  My very first job is to whang up (love this phrase) the thermostat so that the husband can get out of bed without running the risk of catching hypothermia between the bed and the bathroom.   Naturally, being a woman of a certain age, heat is an emotive subject, and I think that somewhere in the depths of his male brain, he thinks he's doing me a favour by keeping it cold in the house. 

Bleed the bathroom radiator so than more than the bottom rail warms up
Even if I whang the heating up as far as possible, this room remains almost polar.  Towels remain damp, and I never have warm drawers in the morning.  (Go on, admit it, you love warm drawers too).

Repair the shower so that the hand held part stays put on the vertical rail
This has started hurtling towards the taps like a missile, almost giving me heart failure as it reaches ground level with a noise akin to a finale cymbal crash.  Consequently, I have been holding it up there for the last week.  On Sunday night, while trying to wash my hair one-handed, I gave up, and de-camped to the boys' bathroom where a) they have a shower which works, and b) their radiator is warm.

Having shivered my damp way around various bathrooms on Sunday, I asked the husband (very politely, no nagging intended) whether he'd got round to looking at the heating and the shower.

'Not really', he said, semi comatose on the sofa with a bowl of Christmas pudding and custard settled on his lap. (I tell you, there'll be none left by Christmas).

'Not really?'  I asked.  'Which bits have you done then?'

'Well, none of it really'.

Aah.  I did explain to him that his response of 'Not really' implied that some element of work had been done, but if he hadn't actually done any of it, then the word 'really' was most definitely surplus to requirements.  A simple 'no' would have been more than adequate.

So here's the crux of the matter.  

Have I mentioned  before that he's a plumber?  

A plumber with qualifications...
A plumber with the right equipment (steady ladies, you know what I mean)...
A plumber who has experience (again ladies, see equipment)...

And yet...


He's on borrowed time, that one...

Monday, 13 November 2017

Wishin' and hopin'...

Well between the slow cooker and my roll of grease-proof paper, the puddings are now cooked, wrapped and ready to go.  While finishing off the last ones yesterday morning, I had put on the Heart Christmas station on my radio which went live this week.  Trilling along to A Spaceman Came Travelling, the husband chanced upon me, and said sternly, 'You can pack that in.  It's only bloody November'.  This is just what you need when you're up to your armpits in snowflake covered cellophane, red ribbon and dark rum, and reluctantly I turned it off.  He can be a bit 'Bah Humbug' on occasions, but like every single man who ever walked this planet, he has completely no idea of what is involved in preparing a family for Christmas.

My Christmas started in January.  By the end of that month, I had bought my Christmas cards in the sale, and squirreled them away in my office.  And there they will remain, until I finally succumb to getting my posh pen and address book out.  The only good side is that in theory, this year I can just sign them from me and the husband, rather than having to list copious amounts of children.  I wonder whether they realise that riding shotgun on family Christmas cards all stops when you move out?  Probably not. 

I also bought the kids' Christmas jumpers in January.  They get a new one every year, with the emphasis being on inappropriate/cheap/gaudy.  I have only got this wrong on one occasion, when the jumper I bought for son number one was worn on many days without Christmas in front of it.  Epic failure...

So the preparation starts early for us girls, doesn't it?  It's around this time every year that I start asking the kids for lists of things which they would like.  These requirements are passed around various relations, and the idea is that they then get what they want, rather than the first thing my 5'2" Mother can manage to reach on the rails.  

As you get older though, the list of what you need gets shorter.  However, the list of things which you really do want just seems to get longer.   Here's mine...

World peace (always a favourite of the husband's, and well worth space on my list)
Willpower (Unfortunately, 'I'm just a gal who can't say no'...)
A waistline (damn you Mother Nature and your menopausal curse)
Eyebrows (a lesson to the young - NEVER OVER PLUCK)
Eyes which do what they say on the tin (pass me my glasses for the small print)
Boobs (of any kind, please)
Jeans which fit all the time, and not just after you've had them on for a week
A housekeeper (if she can decorate and mow the lawn, then even better)
Rain to fall only between midnight and 4.00am

I think that covers it...

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The weight of love...

I must be ill.  Yesterday, I didn't make Saturday Breakfast with my family.  This is probably only the third time in around thirty two years, so I hope that Miss R and the rest of the ne'er-do-wells forgive me.  I chose instead to make my Christmas cakes and puddings (note the plural in both cases).  

I may have mentioned this before, but in my life before Binland, I made cakes for a living.  Each year, this reached a crescendo with two hundred puddings and fifty cakes to flog at Christmas Fairs and the like.  Since I have stopped catering for the masses, I have found it almost impossible to make just one of each, so usually end up with six puddings and three cakes.  I start trying to find homes for them before I start, so that at least I know that some of them will have homes to go to before Christmas.

I'd done quite well this year, I had three cakes accounted for, so no surplus there, but the puddings?  Well, this was a different story.  The thing is, I use my Nanny Joyce's recipe for the puds.  She inherited it from her grandma, and I'm now the proud owner of the original recipe, typed upon a piece of yellowed, torn paper, which I have framed to protect from further abuse.

Various female ancestors over the course of time have changed the weights, and it's all a bit hit and miss as to what the right quantities are.  Mind you, with the amount of alcohol splashes over it, I'm surprised that any puddings were made at all, but this might also explain the amendments.

So this year, I decided to stick to the weights in the red biro (this may be quill and ink, who knows).  The recipe very clearly states that this will make two 2 pint puddings.  I wanted three, so I simply added 50% to each ingredient and waited for the magic to unfold.

It was as I mixing the flour and suet with the fruit in my washing up bowl that I sensed there might be a basin, not enough of them.  I had bought six, so I filled them, then spent the rest of the morning hunting around for similar containers which could be used.

I am now the proud owner of eleven Christmas puddings.  

Not to worry though.  I have homes for three, so the rest can go in a cupboard till next year...and the year after...and the year after that.

Unless the husband finds them, in which case, the recipe will be brought out again next year...

Saturday, 11 November 2017

All birds look like chickens to me...

So my nose has continued to improve both in size and wattage.  The husband has suggested that it might not be a good idea to go into the garden until I'm better.  This is because we have a military base close by, and I think he's frightened of waking up to a Chinook on the patio one morning.

I'm actually feeling the tiniest bit Christmassy at the moment (this has nothing to do with the Rudolf accessory I am currently sporting).  This is because yesterday, I went and collected my turkey.  Little bit early, I hear you say, and you would be right if it wasn't going straight into the freezer.  Since I have been shopping at Aldi, my eyes have been opened to a myriad of ways where I can save a few pennies here and there, and this turkey is just the start of it.

The turkey is Mrs S's fault (this is the Binland Mrs S rather than the bijoux residence one).  'Get on to facebook!' she'd shouted at me on Tuesday morning while I was peering at my screen through my one good eye.  'I can't go on facebook at work', I said.  'It's important', she insisted. And boy, am I glad I did.

A local butcher had put a post onto his page, advertising ready stuffed and rolled turkey breasts at special (cheap) prices.  Well I was in there like a long dog, and am now the proud owner of a beautiful looking piece of turkey for the princely sum of £20.  It says that it will feed fourteen.  The person that made this claim has obviously never met sons one and two, but if all it feeds is eight, then I'll be happy.

Having collected the bird (only a Christmas turkey is ever given this moniker), I then drove to Aldi, repeating, 'Milk, eggs, cheap bread', like some kind of meditation mantra.  It's Christmas pudding weekend for me, so I needed the eggs and bread.  But Christmas comes early in Aldi Land it would appear, and I returned to the car with several bottles of fizz. 

I do make myself laugh sometimes though.  Putting the Prosecco into the trolley, I said to myself that I would buy a few bottles of wine every week so that there wouldn't be a massive amount of booze to buy at Christmas.  I've obviously forgotten that daughters one and two are here on occasion, along with Miss R and various female friends and neighbours.  Between them all, I would imagine that by Christmas Eve, there'll be one half bottle sitting in the fridge, with a teaspoon sticking out of the top 'to keep the bubbles' in.    Actually, does that even work?  The bottles are never in my fridge long enough to carry out that particular experiment.

Next on my Christmas Advance Purchases list was after dinner mints.  Two boxes of them went into the trolley and then, I saw the Advent calendars.  As you all know, I have four children.  Why did I buy eight calendars then?  History tells me that all the chocolate would have been artfully removed by son number two by the time the 1st December gets here, so I need back-ups.  He's back home in a couple of weeks, so a suitable hiding place needs to be found.

I'n not quite at 'decking the halls' stage yet, but mildly festive might sum it up...

Friday, 10 November 2017

Shiny, happy people...

The husband is not in my good books. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it's just as well I love him as much as I do, because right now, I'm showing great restraint by not cutting the brake cables in his car.

You see, yesterday morning, as he got out of bed, saying how he felt so much better (you'll recall that he's been at death's door with man-flu this past week), I was feeling like I'd been run over.  Yes, dear reader, he has passed it on. The unwanted gift of a cold, wrapped up in empty Lemsip sachets, Strepsils and Handy Andies.

Naturally, my cold won't be anywhere as near as debilitating as his.  Apparently, it has been proven, according to Master J (the new boy at Binland) that men suffer more with a cold than women, and that for them, it is on par with childbirth.  These words are spoken by a young man who is not yet married.  No doubt when he is, all this claptrap will stop as he will be under the thumb of a sensible wife.  But till that day (and while she's not in earshot) he will, like most men, keep coming out with nonsense such as this.  It's amazing what the fear of a good woman can achieve, and I'd like to have this conversation again with him in a few months' time, when the ring is firmly entrenched on that left hand of his.

Anyway, yesterday was spent blowing, spluttering and clutching my poor throat, which seems to have a couple of Gillette Proglides in residence.  I was wondering around Binland with an ever pervading whiff of lemon, menthol or blackcurrant about my person, depending on which part of my I was trying to soothe at that particular moment.  I must have said 'Excuse me' at least thirty times over the four hours I was there, and what with Master J's frequent 'Bless you's', we were fast becoming a stuck record.  

I crawled out to my car at 1.00, wishing that I could fast forward another twenty four hours so that I could head for my bed and not surface till Monday.  But dogs had to be walked, so I compromised, and drove them somewhere where I could slump on a bench, a crumpled tissue pressed to my poor, red hooter while they did the running about. The nose could be a bit of an issue at Binland today.  I'm not saying that it's glowing, but as the pirate jokes have waned, the Rudolf ones might come to the fore.

The only saving grace is that Christmas is just around the corner, so at least my nose will be topical.  I may decorate it with a couple of baubles and a bit of glitter and make a bit of a feature of it.

That'll cheer everyone up.  Even me...

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Born too late...

Here's a question for you.  How do you like your beans on toast?

Master P (one of the pre-pubescent boys I happen to share my work space with) often prepares a hot lunch for himself, and yesterday, it was beans on toast.  Believe it or not, he insisted on having grated cheese on it.  Now to me, this is sacrilege.  As everyone knows, the only acceptable addition to beans on toast is a splash of HP sauce.

'Brown sauce?' he said.  'Brown sauce?  Oh I don't put that on anything.  More of a BBQ sauce person myself'.

'What, on beans on toast?' I asked, an incredulous look on my face.  Well apparently, this condiment is suitable for almost everything, and at this point, I had a bit of a revelation.  It would appear that I am currently at a time in my life where if it wasn't invented before I hit thirty, then I'm just not interested.  These relatively new inventions fill my middle aged head with fear.  

Basically, I'm happy with what I know.  The list below is just a small section of what I find slightly bewildering...

BBQ sauce
Acceptable on a prepacked barbecue meats or if you are Australian, but certainly not from a plastic bottle and never on my beans.

Houmus/Hummus (they can't even decide how to bloody spell it)
If I want to eat dried peas, I will.  There is no need to mash them up with a load of olive oil, and pretend that they're good for me.

Basically, this is muesli which has been baked.  This also passed me by - in the 1970's, I was more of a Frosties girl.

Food's food.  Enough said.

This is a little confrontational I know.  It's not so much the water, as the bottle it comes in.  What is wrong with the tap and a reusable plastic bottle, or even better, a glass?  Since when did it become de rigeur to carry a bottle of extremely expensive water with you on any occasion when you might break out in a slight sweat.  Talk about being sucked in with marketing.

Speaking of which...

Ok, I know that at least 90% of you will have one of these phones in one of their many incarnations, but I'm just not getting on board that particular bus.  Give me a phone which stays charged all day and doesn't decide to do sporadic updates when you're least expecting them.

Almond milk
So here's another question.  Does anyone have the foggiest idea where an almond's nipple is?  The same can be applied to the poor old soya bean which is equally challenged in the nipple department.  I can just about manage to buy Cravendale, which has been mucked about with so it lasts longer, but almond milk?  No thank you.

Anything do do with coconuts
This includes milk (again - see above) oil, butter and water.  When I was growing up, coconuts were things which you tried to hit off a pole with a ball.  They were not for consumption if I remember rightly.  As I hit my twenties, they were acceptable when halved, emptied and then refilled with some disgusting cheap cocktail (think Greek package holiday, lascivious waiter, paper umbrella and glace cherry)

Sounds too much like an unwanted STD to go anywhere near my fruit salad.

I have to rely on any one of my four children to understand this.  Even now, I'm about the only person I know (other than the husband) who doesn't have Sky.

It seems to work the other way though.  

None of my kids will touch lardy cake, suet pudding, real butter, my record collection, brown sauce or BBC2...

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Cold as you...

I had a day off work yesterday.  After the trials and tribulations of the last few days (face paint, eye patch, impersonation of coke addict)  I was looking forward to some time out.

But naturally, this wasn't any old day off.  There would be no slumming it in my pyjamas till lunchtime while watching Philip and Holly.  Nor would I be listening to the radio all afternoon while topping up my tea and cake levels.  No, this day off was for the sole purpose of son number one's graduation..  

I should at this point tell you that I have done the whole graduation thing twice already for daughters one and two, so I was fully aware of what to expect.  What I hadn't allowed for was the husband going down with a life threatening cold.  As we had to leave home by 7.00 yesterday morning (the husband likes to be early....very early) it meant that the woofers had to be walked before we went.  Stomping across the wet field in the dark at 6.00am yesterday morning, I cursed the comedian who felt it a bright idea to inflict the husband with a cold...especially on the day when I would have to spend four hours in close proximity in the car with him. 

Holding my breath between Didcot and Bournemouth was not an option, nor was opening a window, so I ferociously sucked Extra Strong mints all the way there and back, in the hope that the fiery fumes would combat any stray cold germs.  Did it work?  I should know by the weekend, I suppose.  I did say to him on the way down that I would kill him if he passed it on to me.  This is assuming of course that the minor sniffle doesn't finish him off first.

The graduation was as expected.  Three hours of applauding total strangers (all bar three), followed by a reward of as much Prosecco and cake you could cram in while son number two trotted round with friends being photographed against various back drops.  I calculated that I clapped at least 4000 times.  About a quarter of the way through,I started getting a teensy bit bored, so decided that I would clap each student eight times.  However, if they had gone the extra mile and got a Distinction. then I upped that to ten.  The things you do to pass the time, eh?

It was then off to Rick Stein's to celebrate over a plate of cod and chips.  All in all, a most successful graduation with very proud parents, and a son who couldn't wait to get away so that he could continue the partying which had been interrupted by something called a 'job' three months ago.

Driving back, the husband wasn't sure he'd make it home alive, and on my suggestion, we stopped at the chemist to stock up on more medicines.  Once home, I had to schlep the dogs around the field again for another walk (by now, the rain was torrential, oh happy day).  By the time I got back, the husband was stretched out on the sofa in his dressing gown, surrounded by packets of cold remedies, and moaning softly.

It would seem that he is so ill, he is having another day off today.  To be honest with you, I'll be glad to go back to work.  

I could do with a rest, and the role of nurse is not one my favourites...

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Blinded by the light...

We all know that there is a price to pay for having a good time.  Not sufficient with inflicting a headache like no other and giving me the means to try and break the world land speed record, my body threw me yet another curve ball on Sunday morning.

As you all know, I had got up ever so early on Sunday and written my blog, and then, on the advice of Mrs W, had gone back to bed. All well and good so far.  I then slept till around 11.00 (outrageous, I know) when the husband placed a lovely cup of tea next to the bed.  As I drank it, I slipped the old specs on to see whether any photos had materialised from the Halloween party the night before. 

Oddly, I couldn't see a thing out of my left eye, so I slipped the glasses off, gave them a professional clean with the corner of the duvet cover, and one of those 'Huh!' breaths and popped them back on.  Still nothing.

As the day went on, the eye eventually closed up, and I sat on the sofa feeling very sorry for myself with a folded piece of kitchen paper pressed up against the eye to soak up the incessant weeping.  The husband (ever the caring, sympathetic one) said around 4.00, 'I'm fed up of this, come on, I'll take you to A&E'.

It was at the parking ticket meter in the hospital car park when my visual limitations became apparent.  He needed change, and having rummaged in my bag, I passed over some coins and put them in his upturned palm.  Or not, as it would appear, as the money just fell straight onto the floor.  It would appear that one eye doesn't do the job of two.  When the huffing and puffing were done (there was a long queue behind us unfortunately) we walked into the hospital reception, and the husband planted me firmly in front of the desk.

'What seems to be the problem?' asked the receptionist with a smile.  Pointing at the square of tissue firmly clamped to my eye.  'It's my eye', I said unnecessarily. So she took all my details, and told me to take a seat (this had to be to the left of the husband as I couldn't see him otherwise.

A few minutes passed (I joke you not), and I was called into triage.  The nurse looked like he was up for a joke, so when he said to me, 'I was going to ask you what the problem was, but I don't think that's really necessary', I was tempted to say that it was my leg which had problems.  But wasting time with the NHS is just not OK, so I told him all about the face paint and the fact that I couldn't see out of my left eye.  

'Shall we see how bad it is?' he asked, steering me towards one of those boards of letters of diminishing sizes which the optician is particularly fond of.  I was impressively good on the right eye, but when it came to the left, I asked him whether he'd moved the board as I couldn't see it at all.  'Perhaps you might be better with your glasses on?' he suggested.  Now I did as I was told, remembering as I slipped them on, that my glasses are just over the counter reading ones.  

'Is that any better?' he asked, flicking the paddle between the two eyes.  Well now I couldn't see anything out of either eye, and I thought it best to explain to him that because they were reading gasses, that result would probably be expected.  How he laughed....I told you he had a sense of humour.

It was then off to see the eye surgeon.  After much probing, he gave me the diagnosis.  The face paint (this would be the one which clearly states that it's not to be used around the eyes) had stripped the cells from the front of my eye ball, hence the weeping and fogginess.  He dripped various potions into my eye, and then bandaged a soft pad over it to protect it.

This completely made the husband's day, and any anger at having his Sunday afternoon ruined was swept away by the vision of his lovely wife looking like she'd stuck her hand up too quickly at a First Aid Course when volunteers were needed.

I think I'm on the mend now, except for the dilated pupil which makes me look like a drug addict, and causes me to reach for my sunglasses and cry 'The light!  The light!'  every time I go outside.

 Like I said, there is always a price to pay....

Sunday, 5 November 2017

The nurse...

Oh dear God...

I don't know who will be more surprised this morning.  Me, purely for the fact that I am able to string a sentence together, or your good self after reading about what we all got up to last night.

I don't think I mentioned it in any of this week's ramblings, but Miss R had her annual Halloween and Fireworks party last night.  At this point, all you probably need to know is the following piece of information...


Now everything else will make perfect sense.  

I love a fancy dress, and much preparation and thought goes into my costume each year.  Last year, I managed to coerce my lot into going as The Addams Family, and much to everyone's surprise, I went as Uncle Fester, complete with bald head and cassock.  It was very funny, but glamorous and sexy, I most certainly wasn't.  This year, I decided to go as a dead bride, which involved ethereal grey clothing, chains and a veil.   At the last minute, I remembered the dried roses which had been languishing in the lounge for the last six months (this wasn't intentional, they were merely behind the curtain and had been forgotten), and grabbing these (every bride needs a bouquet) we drove over to Miss R's.

Her house looked fantastic, and the food was wonderful, and I spent a most pleasant six hours quaffing the bubbly stuff, and saying, in a rather reedy 1950's voice, 'Have you seen my husband?'  The trouble started when one of Miss R's friends, who was dressed as a rather bloody nurse (put it this way, she wouldn't be allowed to come any where near me with a bed pan) started going around the witches, werewolves, skeletons and vampires, encouraging them to 'take their medicine'.  

The first bottle which went round was one of Jagermeister.  My kids talk about this a lot, always with a whiff of fear, but was I scared?  Of course not, and I glugged back my 5 ml as instructed.  It was bloody disgusting, and I had a strange desire to shout 'Covonia!' at the top of my voice once it was swallowed.  Having exhausted that on her patients, she then started with a bottle of Limoncello, found tucked away at the back of a cupboard.  By this time, I had lost all sense of propriety, and I necked another shot of that.  I vaguely remember saying to someone (possibly the 62 year old man called Colin, dressed as Frank N Furter) that there was a chance that I might regret that in the morning.  

We got home around 1.00, our fun brought to an sudden end by one of our party (not me, I hasten to add) who thought that redecorating Miss R's patio might be a marvellous idea.  Having dropped daughter number one off (who did not stop talking all the way home), I decided to have a shower when I got in to remove all the face paint.  If the husband had woken up in the morning and seen me in full ghost bride garb, I may well have been asking 'Have you seen my husband?' for the next few weeks (if he survived the shock).

But, dear readers, the morning is now upon us.  It's 5.31 am, and I have been up for an hour or so.  In that time, I have had to leave my desk seven times to make unscheduled visits to the smallest room in the house.

Oh it's going to be a long day....

Saturday, 4 November 2017


Let's go back to Thursday, shall we?

I woke up at the normal time (how I can call 5.30 am 'normal' is beyond me, but there you are) and looking in the mirror, I decided that I looked like I'd been carousing all night.  My eyes looked like slits in a pigs derriere, and the tiny bits I could see were the colour of ketchup.  Prising my eyelids open, I grabbed the Max Factor mascara.  This has been known to improve my appearance on many an occasion, but unfortunately this time all it achieved was to make my eyes look like bulls eyes on a dartboard.

I did my best though.  A brisk walk, a sensible breakfast and a bit of car pool karaoke with Eminem helped  a little.  I do have my cool moments with my music,  although the older I get, the more the cool bits are interspersed with the Barrys (Manilow, White and Gibb).  But none of this worked, and going into my office, various co-workers took great pleasure in telling me how knackered I looked, and implied that perhaps I'd been up to no good all night.  Fat chance, my most rebellious deed overnight is leaving my bed socks off.  

Anyway, I managed to make it through to the allotted clocking off time, and went home, only to be faced with two eager faces keen for a walk.  Taking the easy way out, I opened the back door, and promptly fell asleep on the sofa for twenty minutes.  If some poor soul hadn't knocked the door delivering a new lead bag, I'd probably have slept all the way through to Friday.  Guilt got the better of me, and I took the dogs out for a walk, wishing (and not for the first time) that one of them was big enough to saddle up and ride home. 

I returned to the sofa, where I didn't move until 8.15 pm.  The husband, who has the ability to power nap at the drop of a hat, had been asleep for about half an hour at that point.  I'm guessing half an hour - he'd stopped responding to any of my interesting tidbits which I tend to proffer up through every television programme, but this is nothing new.  For all I know, he could have been asleep for hours.

At 8.15, I gave in and went up to bed.  I always read before I sleep, and I think I got as far as making sure my kindle was the right way up before I nodded off.  Believe it or not, this old bird, who rarely manages more than six hours' sleep each night, slept through to 5.15 am.  

Nine hours of uninterrupted sleep -  nothing woke me up.  Whether that be the husband's snoring, my snoring, owls, dogs scratching at the bedroom door or menopausal tsunamis, nothing could spoil my record breaking super snooze.

I was bloody annoying on Friday though.  

Full of beans and satisfied slumber smugness...

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Never get old...

Apparently, the service wasn't very good in the pub on Tuesday night (the 'surprise' birthday dinner).  It didn't become completely apparent until I was two glasses of Prosecco down, at which point, I wouldn't have noticed whether there was a three hour delay between my potted shrimps and seafood linguine.  There wasn't I hasten to say, but let's just say that a little whiff of fizz can temper down one's expectations a little.

For some reason, every one else at the table was also cold.  So as well as saving money on waiting staff, they also seemed to be scrimping on the heating bill.  But guess who was the only one who was toasty warm?  That's right.  The middle aged, menopausal old bag who was necking Prosecco like it was about to be made illegal.  It would appear that being 54 has its benefits.

One of these came to light at Binland yesterday.  Mr W (my 'young enough to be my son' boss) was telling Master J and me about the time he ran the London Marathon.  While there was a bit a masculine back slapping going on, I piped up with, 'This is the great thing about being 54.  Nothing is expected of me any more'.  I followed this with some quip about only being able to run a bath, and then realised that at 54, anything I do which is more adventurous than sleeping or drinking tea is just a bonus.  

The trouble is, I'm not very good at being 54.  I think I stopped aging mentally when I was about 38, so when I go clubbing in Ibiza or brave Welsh zip wires, I think nothing of it.  What's even funnier, is that I just don't get it when people are shocked at what I get up to.  To me, it's perfectly normal.

I suppose that there will come a day when the sofa and a cup of tea are more attractive an option than going deaf for 24 hours or wearing clothes from New Look, but for now, I shall keep on mincing around in my uncomfortable, cheap shoes (pink suede - mmmm) and keep saying, 'What did you say?'

Going back to the birthday party on Tuesday night, it was really lovely, notwithstanding the bad service and the glacial temperature.  There was cake, presents, flowers and family.


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

No surprises...

As you all know, yesterday was my birthday.  Celebrations had started the night before, just as the husband got into bed.  (Steady ladies, I had already reminded him whose birthday it actually was).  No this was even better.  As he sat on the edge of the bed, he was peering at the radio knobs.  'It's already set for 5.30am', I said.  'But I need to change it', he said.  'Tomorrow you will be having a lay-in, breakfast in bed, and I'll walk the dogs'.

Well.  If he'd got me nothing else for the next five years, this would have been the best present ever.  And on a work day too!  Heaven beckoned...

Naturally, I woke up at 5.50, and got up and made my own cup of tea while I published yesterday's blog, and I had a very grumpy husband come down the stairs alternating between singing me happy birthday as only he can, and telling me to get back to bed.  

Ten minutes of frantic parcel wrapping later (I have razor sharp hearing, and could hear the accompanying cursing that goes with trying to find the end of the sellotape) he was back upstairs with aforementioned parcel and another cup of tea.  There were also other cards and presents which had found their way to the house over the last few days. The dogs were involved with the ensuing paper frenzy on the bed, but I eventually got to The Big One from the husband.  

Now there have been times when he's got it spectacularly wrong (a chocolate brown dressing gown springs to mind, along with an extremely busily embroidered handbag) but this time, he was spot on.  He'd got me a beautiful Barbour jacket to wear when it gets really cold.  It's far too lovely to wear while dog walking, and has its own hanger in my wardrobe, rather than being slung with all the other dog walking coats in the laundry.

Binland was great - I'd taken chocolate cake in, so everyone was happy, even the diabetic Mr W who had starved himself in anticipation of the sugar rush.  I then took myself off for some retail therapy with my birthday money from my parents, and came back laden with bags.  

My birthday ended with a 'surprise' birthday dinner.  As you all know, I always write my blog the night before, and at the time of writing, I know exactly where I'm going, and I also know who's going to be there.  No manner of family members calling me to tell me that they'll 'see me on Saturday' has fooled this wise old bird, but I'll make sure I have the right kind of 'Oh my goodness! What are you lot doing here?' face on as I walk through the door.

These are my favourite nights - surrounded by those I love, and who love me right back.  The fact that there might be even more presents is just an added bonus.

Talking of those I love, thank you to all of you who wished me well yesterday.  I am always slightly shocked that you all look for a little time to read these ramblings each day, so I feel very humble to receive all these lovely words from you.

Here's to the next 364 days till the next one...