Saturday, 29 April 2017

Step inside love...

Master B and Master P returned to work yesterday after their training course.  I'm not sure whether there has been a day in the last two years when I have been so glad to see them. Running the sales office this week just about finished me off.

So to celebrate the fact that I managed to survive the week in Binland without killing myself, any of my colleagues (who were magnificent in their help and support) or a single customer, I suggested to the husband that we have a quiet meal out.  To be honest, between Binland and London, we haven't really seen much of each other this week, so it was a chance to catch up (this is a cute phrase for 'having a moan').

I was just about to take the dogs out for a final walk yesterday afternoon, when daughter number one turned up unexpectedly.  Not unexpectedly, she was here to 'beg, borrow or steal'.  This is a common reason for any of our children to visit, and I mentally started counting down what I might need to hide.  Well it turned out she needed a duvet, some pillows and all the bed linen for a double bed.  Now like most people, I don't have a spare duvet, so I stripped off daughter number two's bed, and passed her that along with the bed linen.

'What are you up to tonight?' I asked her, expecting some feisty night out with her friends or fella.  'Nothing', she replied, and then she did it.....  'What about you and dad?'  Now I could have lied.  I could have said that we were raiding the fridge and having an early night (this usually manages to get rid of them), but instead I said, 'We're going out for dinner'.  Her eyes did that thing like Puss in Boots of Shrek fame, so I continued with a 'Want to join us?'  Well of course she did, so now we were three.

The husband arrived back home, and was rustled upstairs for a quick pressure wash, and while he was missing, son number two and ELL turned up.  'What're you doing tonight?' asked son number two. Sighing, I told him we were going out for dinner.  Not being as subtle as daughter number one, he said, 'Oh brilliant.  Where are we going?'

So all of a sudden, the quiet dinner for two had turned into a coach party trip.  

We ended up at The Maltsters (www.maltstersarms.com) for a fantastic meal.  The food was delicious, and the place had a great buzz to it.  I still have no idea what the husband has been up to this week, but is was lovely to have 60% of our children with us.  In case you're struggling with the maths here, ELL is here so much, I count her as one of mine now.  In fact, there have been several occasions when I have considered trading her on a permanent basis for one of our four.

Not saying which one, but between them, I expect they'll know...


Friday, 28 April 2017

Little too late...

It was a sad night on Wednesday as the husband and I didn't get to go dancing.  This wasn't because we were worried about the pain we could inflict on strangers' feet over the course of two hours, nor was it because we were struck with an attack of CBA (ask your kids about that one).  It was simply down to the fact that the husband returned home from working in London about half an hour after we would have normally left.  He rushed in, shedding layers of clothes as he walked, saying to me that he'd have a shower and then we'd go. Looking at his weary little face, I told him that we should give it a miss as it was late, and as it was the first lesson of the course (we've already done lessons 8 to 12 so have covered quite a lot) we wouldn't miss much.  Well, his face lit up like a Christmas tree, and he slumped gratefully on the sofa for the rest of the evening.

Thinking about this yesterday, I did wonder whether he'd been parked around the corner for an hour, waiting till it was late enough to come home, but surely not...

I was only slightly miffed as I have some new dance shoes to wear.  These are slightly more sober looking that the hallucinogenic silver glitter numbers which I have been sporting over the last two months, but they'll live to fight another day I suppose. What's worrying is that because we haven't been for a couple of weeks, we might have forgotten everything.  Perhaps starting at Week 1 again wouldn't have been such a bad thing after all.

Talking of starting at Week 1, my Pilates classes started again last night.  The parting words from out teacher several weeks ago involve advice on practicing some of the exercises daily, concentrating on one in particular involving my slightly deflated exercise ball which, and I quote, 'uses most of the muscle groups'.

Here's some questions you may have liked to ask me yesterday afternoon..

1.  Have you done the exercise your teacher mentioned?
No - I couldn't remember it, so thought it best not to try it in case I got it wrong.

2.  Have you done any of the exercises you have learned?
No - I couldn't remember a single one, and confused my Cobra and Arrow so gave up.

3. Do you know where the deflated exercise ball is?
Sort of,  Well I know where parts of it are.  The garden, under the sofa and on the drive. One word....Reg.

4.  Do you know where your yoga pants are?
Ironing basket? Wardrobe? Back of my car?

5.  How about your trainers?
I give in.  Is this a trick question?

But I did eventually find everything I needed, and managed to do the whole class without passing out, crying, farting or vomiting.

A resounding success I feel...


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Popcorn...

On Tuesday evening, Mrs S and I went to the cinema to see 'Their Finest', a film which has been on my list of things to watch since I first saw the trailer back in February.  It's set in the 1940's, my favourite era (although parts of 1978 and 1984 were pretty good also) and I was really looking forward to it.  Because Mrs S and I work for a living, we grabbed the early showing at 5.30.  I like going early as it means that I feel I've had a night out, but can still be in bed by 9.00 should I feel like it.  Admittedly after Tuesday at Binland, I'm surprised I made it past 7.00, but the film was brilliant and I managed to stay awake all the way through it.  

I collected Mrs S at 5.00, and had a couple of sandwiches stuffed in my handbag to eat when we got there.  Even as I write this, I am feeling like a cheapskate, but hey, money doesn't grow on trees (or in my savings account either it would seem).  Settling down in the cinema, having managed to successfully navigate my way around a barcode ticket on my phone we went in.  

This is the problem with these blooming bar codes.  Yes, it's easier and yes, it saves paper, but unless you repeat the screen and seat numbers all the way down the corridor under your breath, by the time you get to the right screen, you've forgotten where you're sitting.  We were just thinking about shining the torch on Mrs S's phone on to the confirmation email on mine, when Mrs S remembered the seat numbers.  We were in the corner.  I'm not sure why I always book the corner seats, but there you go.

Peeling back the packaging on our sandwiches, we started to work our way through them quietly. The two ladies in front were doing much the same, but with crisps and popcorn, and one of them had very loud teeth.  The trouble is, this set Mrs S and me off.  It would appear that it doesn't matter how old you are, loud crisps in a quiet cinema is always going to be funny.

The film was great, and I don't want to spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, but one of the characters dies, when a lighting platform collapses.

Mrs S and I were aghast and agog, as we hadn't seen that coming at all, and there was even the threat of a tear or two.  Now I have known Mrs S for the best part of thirty years, and I know how to cheer her up.

'It brings new meaning to being 'lamped' I suppose', I muttered under my breath.

How she laughed...



Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Busy doin' nothin'...

I have been abandoned.  Not at home of course, as the husband would never be brave enough to leave me.  The kids couldn't wait to leave the building, but I must have some strange hold over my dearly beloved as he seems to want to hang around. Mind you, if he thinks of any more manual jobs for me this weekend, I may be the one moving out.  

No, I have been abandoned at work.  Master B and Master P, the two young boys I have the daily joy of working with, are on a training course, and Mr W (our boss, who is only marginally older than daughter number one) is on holiday. Which leaves me in charge of the sales office at Binland.  

Now I like a challenge as much as the next person, but yesterday peaked at around 11.03am when I realised that I had been needing a comfort break since I got in at 8.30. Reaching a speed Roger Bannister would have been impressed with, I hurtled down the corridor towards the loo.  There were a couple of colleagues in the corridor at the time who looked like they might like a chat, but I was stopping for no one, and the two of them pressed up against the wall to avoid being trampled.

All in all, it was a very busy day for me yesterday.  I have two more the same before they all head back, so if there is no blog tomorrow, it is because I am buried beneath a pile of skip orders and credit notes. It would be nice if someone sends out a search party if nothing is posted by the Bird by 10.00.

So it was colder yesterday - my leggings came out of the bloody Winter Clothes Suitcase again - and I'm concerned about the bedding plants which I planted out last week, having not heeded the warning from the man in the garden centre who kept telling me that I should wait till May.  Mmm, I've known summers which have ended in May, so if he thinks I am going to sit and look at an empty border for the next month, he's got another thing coming.

I was voicing my concern to the husband last night, who is not famous for his gardening prowess. He is to gardening what Henry VIII is to a happy marriage.  Plants either die, get thrown out having been mistaken for weeds or have their heads removed by over zealous lawn mowing. On this occasion though, he came up trumps, and it's at times like this that I remember why I married him.  I was saying that we should buy some fleece to cover the delicate plants I'd thrown into the mud in the borders, to protect them from the frost which was forecasted.

'Oh don't bother', says the husband.  'Fleece costs more than the bedding plants did, so if they die, we'll still be quids in even if we have to replace the lot'.

Funny he can be so laissez-faire over things he doesn't particularly care about.  Not like the wall.  Oh no, that can't be left as it is.  That has to be perfect. I haven't told him about the concealing accessories, so maybe he won't notice the nasty black shadow. Perhaps I'll just tell him that I've already done the second coat when he was at work.

The other option is to hide his glasses. Never mind not noticing the black shadow, he won't even know whether he's in the kitchen or the garden...



Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Earned it...

Overnight, someone swapped my legs for a couple of lengths of 4"x 2" wood, such was the flexibility of my knees and hips yesterday at work. Several of my colleagues asked me what I'd been up to, as I was walking with that strained John Wayne swagger, swinging my legs along from the hip.  Not what you are all thinking, that's for sure.  

I think that I must have gone up and down that step ladder more than I originally thought on Sunday, whilst painting the Oxfordshire equivalent of the Sistine Chapel.  All I needed was a pair of leg warmers and some disco music, and I would have been right back in the step class I used to frequent on a Wednesday morning in the early 90's. The woman who took the class was like a Rottweiler in a leotard, and I was never sure what I was more afraid of.  Turning up to the class, or not turning up, as she had a reputation for 'hunting down' anyone who missed one of her lessons.  When I first started going, the class was ferocious, and I remember spending the days after my first class walking round like an 80 year old woman, permanently looking over her left shoulder.  Happy days....

So back to the paining.  You'll remember yesterday that the husband, in one of his braver moments, had suggested that I might need to give the whole back of the house a second coat of paint.  Well I did a bit of work on the area which the husband wanted me to repaint yesterday afternoon, and it would appear that it is no longer needed.  It's amazing what a couple of hanging baskets, a sun parasol and a welly holder can conceal when strategically placed. The trouble is that if we need to use the sun umbrella for any reason (unlikely, though possible) a great big black shadow will be visible for all to see. Perhaps I'll have to simply lean nonchalantly against it until everyone has gone back in doors.  You see, there's always a solution somewhere...

I just wish I'd taken a couple of before and after photos, because no matter how bad it looks right now, it looked a whole lot worse before I painted it.  I probably played down slightly exactly what I did yesterday with regards to the painting, but it was quite a major job I did.  While I was beavering away with the 4" brush I found (it's no wonder it took me so long), the husband was pottering about mending the bird table and the raised bed, taking the odd break for a beer with the chap next door.

When the two of us finally sat down on Sunday evening, he gave a big sigh, and said, 'I'm bloody knackered.  I think I deserve a cup of tea and a Tunnock'.  These are chocolate caramel wafers which he is rather too fond of, so I hoisted myself up from my sofa (I'm still asking myself why I did this) and I did the good wife thing, and brought him in a cup of the finest PG and a Tunnock.

Taking it from me, he said, 'Yes, I'm right.  I've really earned a Tunnock after today'.

I agreed with him, assuming of course that 'tunnock' is an old English word for 'a physical punishment meted out to husbands when they are at their most annoying'.  

Indeed...


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Sweet painted lady...

It is a well known fact in this family that the husband loathes painting.  I'm not talking about the Constable/Monet kind of stuff, but the kind of painting which involves a roller and a lot of patience. 

Several years ago, on a particularly miserable summer day (quelle surprise) the husband thought it would be a grand idea to move the barbecue closer to the house, where he could continue to cook in the dry.  Well this was a great idea, until several beers later, we realised that whatever he was cooking had turned into kindling, and flames were licking up the white rendered walls.  The barbecue was henceforth removed from this place of comfort, as was the husband, and both were banished to the far end of the patio to think about their actions.

Fast forward to a breezy, sunny Sunday and yours truly is on paintbrush duty.  Now as much as the husband hates painting, he hates me painting even more.  He got what the kids would call, a big eggy with me before I started, and handed me a stiff brush on the end of a long handle, and started preaching about 'preparation being the key for a successful paint job'.  

Ah yes, preparation.  There was no roller, no dustsheets, and until I started searching (a pink look is always superior to a blue one) no paintbrushes. Eventually I was tooled up, and set to brushing down the paintwork to rid of all the spiders and general filth.  After the stiff brush fell off the handle for the fourth time, landing on my head each time, I launched it up the garden, and decided to just paint over everything that didn't move out of the way. 

And that's just what I did.  It's a knack you know, managing to get paint on your hands when you're wearing gloves, and I even managed to get some on my left buttock.  This will teach me to wear jeans which are too big without a belt.  There was a lot of hoisting up of drawers going on - not easy when you're on the top rung of the step ladder, leaning towards a high bit at a 45 degree angle.  Needless to say, my hair also looked like it might need to be the next 'face' of Head and Shoulders, and my pink wellies are paint splattered too.

But the back of the house looked lovely, and the husband was very forthcoming in his praise for my efforts.  As a reward, he took me to the pub, plied me with cloudy cider and roast pork, dragged me round the woods with the dogs, drove me home and then laid me out in a deckchair to sleep off the cider.

The husband keeps muttering about having to do another coat.

The husband needs to keep his mouth shut if he wants to carry on enjoying life....


Nice legs, shame about the face...

The husband officially has his shorts on now.  I have tried to warn him of the coming temperature plummet which is forecast for next week, but he poo-poos my attempts at weather forecasting, choosing instead to throw caution to the wind and get his knees out.

As the weather was so lovely yesterday afternoon, we sat on the deckchairs in the sunshine, nursing a couple of beers.  I had been on a long walk with Mrs S and her canine candy floss, Ralph, so felt like I'd earned a sit down.  The husband had been working all day, and felt the same.  As we stretched out on the deckchairs I caught the husband staring wistfully at the parts of his legs which were on show between his work boots and the bottom of his shorts.

'You all right there?' I asked him, as a little smile played across his face.

'I've got really silly little legs', he said.

Well I wasn't having any of that.  'They're not silly', I said.  'They do what they're meant to, don't they?  They keep you upright and stop you dragging yourself across the floor on your arse which has got to be a good thing'.

Well it turned out that it wasn't the length of the legs which was the problem, but the amount and positioning of the hair on them.  The husband said that it was the first time he'd really looked at his legs since last year, and he was surprised that parts of his legs were fuzz free whereas other parts were uber hairy.  'Should I trim them?' he asked me. Well I was assuming that he meant the hair, because if he's talking about trimming his legs further, then this would put him into Hobbit territory.  This could make our swing dancing awkward, as no one likes to have a partner whose nose is wedged in between their cleavage....

So back to his legs.  I finally managed to persuade him that they didn't need shaving or trimming, as men's legs are best left alone.  I also had to woo him a bit to restore his confidence in his legs, and tell him how much I admired his manly calves...

Ladies' legs on the other hand...now that's a different matter altogether.  My legs are not seen in public between September and May unless sheathed in black opaque tights or trousers.  I do get them out when I swim with Mrs S, but I rely on her not having her glasses on so that she can't see the five o'clock shadow creeping up from my ankles.  

But I can hide them no more.  In two weeks, the population of Northern Italy will be subjected to my pins (they are more like a couple of flaky wooden spoons at the moment) so some buffing (I knew that electric sander would come in useful), moisturizer cream and a blade of some sort will be brought out of hibernation over the next few days and put to work. The trouble is, that once you start on the legs, the feet are jumping up and down screaming 'Me! Me! Me!'  

Now there is only so much I can do on my own, and it may be time to call on Mrs H who I rely on to keep everything from wrinkles to a mono-brow at bay.

She'll need a week's warning to steel herself for the first pedicure of the year... 


Saturday, 22 April 2017

That's what friends are for...

A quiet weekend beckons...

This is my plan, but I am sure that one of our many offspring will tip up at some time over the next two days demanding food, money or ironing (or all three which is more likely). But at this moment in time, it's looking promising for the husband and I to have a little time to ourselves.  Of course, the time together will be after he has worked most of Saturday, and then cycled with his buddies on Sunday morning.  I predict our time together will be restricted to between 11.00am and 4.00pm on Sunday.  

Most of this will be spent asleep on the sofa, as I struggle to recover from walking the equivalent of Hadrian's Wall with the dogs this week.  I sometimes wonder where they get their energy from, but then I realise that in dog years, they are only 28 and 10, so energy is not really an issue (unlike the 53 year old asthmatic woman with dodgy feet and tight hip flexors who would love nothing more than a Rhubarb Gin and Tonic in a dark room).  I have been dragged up hill and down dale this week by those two, and I am considering harnessing them up to a skateboard for the steeper parts. All of a sudden, having a larger dog which I could saddle up and ride home is looking rather attractive..

Yesterday, I booked some cinema tickets for Mrs S and I to go and see 'Their Finest' next week.  Mrs S thinks that I want to go and see this because of the story line.  Mrs S is being naive. It's set in the 1940's, and I am really going to get some tips on how to dress at the next Lindy Hop social which is in a couple of weeks' time.  I have a terrible feeling that while everyone is ensconced in the film, I shall be practicing my Shim Sham or my Tranky Doo in the aisles as soon as any music starts up.  

But we go back a long way, me and Mrs S, and this is small fry compared to some of the exploits we got up to. Having lived in the same house for three years when in our 20's, it dawned on us several years ago that neither of us had ever cooked a meal in that time. I'm not too sure what we were living on, but Asti Spumante, Twilight chocolates and crisps were the general consensus.  

But it's brilliant having a best friend who you've grown up with.  We had so many secrets when we were younger, and the only saving grace is that now we are older, neither of us can remember a damn thing.

Asti can do that you know....


Friday, 21 April 2017

Don't speak...

I chanced upon next week's weather forecast last night.  I am now in the process of looking for anything which resembles 'fleece' to lay over my bedding plants to protect them from the plummeting temperatures which are predicted from Monday onwards.  I would like to think that the Harbingers of Doom may have it wrong, but just in case, I am shredding any cotton wool ball I can find.  Even my nail varnish remover pads are getting a little roughing up just in case.  I can almost see the man in the garden centre who warned me about this, shaking his head and muttering, 'I told you so'.

I hold myself responsible for the sudden turn about in the weather.  Not because of the bedding plants, but more for the opening of the holiday suitcase.  If only I had held off for another week or so, and been content with sweating it out in a pair of leggings and long suede boots.  Never mind, it's part of the whole excitement of April, waking up in the morning and wondering whether it's going to be a short sleeve top day or one requiring thermal socks and a polo neck.

So this week, the husband started a big contract in London.  This is his worst nightmare, and as you can imagine, it gives him lots to grumble about.  The traffic/parking/expensive bottles of water/numpties are a frequent topic of conversation when he finally walks through the door each evening, and I have to be a very good 1950's housewife, and not talk too much before he has offloaded all his woes.  I have this for another four months or so, and I'm not sure that I can continue keeping my mouth shut for that long.  Two days in, and it's already becoming an issue, and I have taken to chewing on a bit of toffee when he comes through the door so that I can give the illusion of listening intently, even though my mouth is champing at the bit to talk non-stop.  

My main topics are always Binland, the dogs, food, kids and the weekend, just not necessarily in that order.  Perhaps if I spoke about something a little more highbrow, it would make his day look better.  Unfortunately, when the worst thing which had happened to you all day is that the Co-op had run out of avocados, then perhaps it's advisable to keep quiet for a while.

The wonderful Lady H (she with the magic duster) was here yesterday, and she very kindly updated me on the leaking shower.  Now, as the husband is fully schooled (although reluctant to practice) in all things plumbing, I need him to take a look and do the appropriate repairs which involve a sealant gun according to Lady H.  Looking at the husband as he came home last night, I think it's unlikely that I'll pluck up the courage to ask him to take a look till at least July, so I am thinking of doing it myself, 

In the words of daughter number two before a particularly awful cake baking session...

How hard can it be....




Thursday, 20 April 2017

Any colour you like...

It dawned on me yesterday while I was eating my lunch, that it's only a few weeks before I head off to Italy with Miss R and the Mother.  I did have a four second panic about having to wear a bikini in public, but quickly gave myself a stiff talking to as my 'bikini body' although not quite ready, is well on its way to being of a size where a Demis Roussos kaftan is not obligatory to get from the sun-lounger to the pool.

So suitably reminded of the few days away, I thought it would be a good idea to get out my holiday suitcase and go through it to see what bits and pieces could be resurrected for Italy.  It's always a tiny bit exciting doing this, as you never really know what you're going to find.  I suppose that the summer months are so short, that you don't really get a chance to get used to them.  A couple of wearings of each item, then back in the suitcase they go.  

I eventually found my suitcase in the airing cupboard which has the misfortune to be attached to daughter number two's bedroom.  She has always felt that because of this, she is allowed to use it as a personal storage space.  This explains why my poor suitcase was hidden beneath a load of ski wear, all of her O'level books (they will be here forever) and a four foot cuddly fish which leaked polystyrene balls whenever I moved it.  But I eventually managed to haul the suitcase out, which by now looked like it had been in a blizzard (don't you just love static?)  I laid it on the bed, and reverently unzipped it.

Well.  It was like Christmas, albeit in Australia.  It was great to see all the bright colours having spent the winter months dressed in either widow's weeds or something resembling a compost heap, and I laid all of it out on the bed. There were a few things which I knew would fit, and these went straight down to the laundry for a quick wash. Another pile was more questionable, and I knew that some 'trying on' would be needed.  But it was the third pile which caused the most distress.

This was made of of about seven items of clothing which have never been worn.  They have lived in that suitcase for over five years, waiting for that moment when I'm thin enough/brave enough to wear them.  To date, this has never happened, but for some reason, I cling on to them in the hope that someday their moment will come.  I made the decision that they had to vacate the suitcase with immediate effect, so I bundled them up in a carrier bag, which I stuffed behind two large speakers which were also in my airing cupboard. (These are son number two's who will be getting a stiff talking to tomorrow).

Weirdly, there was another carrier bag stuffed down the back of the speakers, and I teased it out, wondering what was in it.  Inside were a woolen leopard print mini skirt, a pair of red skinny jeans, a maroon poncho and one black suede ankle boot.  And yes, none of these had been worn either.  I think that the boot had been worn, but who knows where the other one is.

Just one of life's mysteries...



Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Digging in the dirt...

I'm sure that there are some of you out there who are assuming that my temporary disappearance over the weekend was down to being whisked away by the husband for a romantic weekend a deux. 

How wrong you would be.

I had in fact spent at least 75% of my Easter holiday waking hours digging . I have blisters upon blisters, claw like fingers which refuse to straighten out, and have developed a dowager's hump from bending over piles of topsoil, compost and stones for most of the weekend.  I could cope with the beautification of my garden in readiness for the family coming over on Sunday, but it was Monday's disaster which pushed me over the edge.  

We have (used to have) a raised bed which housed our strawberries.  On Saturday, the husband piled in several bags of compost and I lovingly planted my new strawberry plants in neat rows of three (the OCD is not confined to the inside of the house, and plants are equidistant to each other throughout).

So, the family came over on Easter Sunday, drank too much, ate too much, and then went home.  All of the children were in residence (I was necking Kalms like they were going out of fashion)and they did all the clearing up, which meant that the husband and I could flop on the sofas like a couple of ancient jelly fish.  We had made plans for Easter Monday which involved a mahoosive lay-in, followed by digging over our allotment in readiness for the big planting out session next week.

This all went out the window when we came downstairs on Bank Holiday Monday.  Disaster had struck in the night, and the bottom had fallen out of my raised bed...literally.  Two tonnes of earth had cascaded across the lawn and had embedded into the log pile which was underneath.  My strawberry plants were clinging onto the side of a 45 degree incline like a load of reluctant lemmings, and the husband looked ready to kill.

His idea was to dig all the soil out onto a tarpaulin, and then leave it on the lawn until he'd mended the raised bed. Now history tells me that this is unlikely to happen this year, and the thought of a small temporary island in the middle of my lawn didn't really appeal, so I suggested that we spread the lovely compost around all the pots and borders.  Then, when the raised border is repaired, we can buy some more compost and top it up.

Well the husband liked this idea, so between us, we shovelled the compost around.  You have to remember that I had already top soiled the borders, so these were in danger of becoming almost waist height with the added compost, but with some careful placement, and frequent stamping, we managed to get rid of the landslide.

The strawberry plants have been re-homed in a wheelbarrow.  They look quite trendy actually, which is just as well.

I expect that they will be there some time...


Monday, 17 April 2017

Colour my world...

You are probably wondering why  I decided to take a day off from the blog yesterday? Well I'll tell you why.  It was all the husband's fault, as on Saturday, he MADE ME DO GARDENING.  We had planned a big family barbecue, and the plan was to eat outside, weather permitting.   The thing was that the front and back gardens resembled Beirut on a quiet day, so armed with various instruments of torture, we set to it.

The husband had a load of top soil on the back of his trailer, and the idea was to scatter it across my borders, around the plants, and over the weeds, thus rendering them invisble. The husband calls this 'colouring in' and it works for me and my OCD very well.  So once I had done all that the borders looked presentable.  Empty, but yes, presentable.  

The husband was in charge of the front. You'll remember that he removed our hedge some months ago, leaving an area of muddy scrub-land outside my front door.  We had mulled over lots of different ideas as to what to do with this new space, but in the end decided to grass seed it and just have a  bigger lawn.  Armed with a rake, a roller and a box of grass seed, by 4.00 yesterday, he was all done.  To be honest, it looked no different that it had looked in the morning, but I'm no Alan Titchmarsh so I kept my mouth shut.

It was then suggested that a couple of large pots might be in order to stop people driving over the corner of the lawn when they visit.  This is the husband's pet hate, and his anger has reached such levels that he is now checking the tyre treads of all the neighbours' cars, and comparing them with the tracks on the lawn.  So it was off to the garden centre for plants and pots.  The man in the garden centre was the Voice of Doom. and warned me about planting out my bedding plants before the end of May.  MAY?  But my guests will be here in 24 hours.  I joked with him, saying that if it looked like there was going to be a frost, I'd dig them up and bring them into the kitchen for a warm up. Amused, he was not, and as I wandered off with my purchases, he muttered something about it 'being on my own head'.  You know me though, I live on the edge, and frost holds no terror for me...

So pots were done and strategically placed to deter the drive-by lawn terrorists, and we headed back indoors, very pleased with Saturday's work.

On Sunday, the husband disappeared in the morning, and was gone for a couple of hours. I heard him return and about an hour later, he came into the house and asked me to come outside.  This was the verbal preamble to the hedge massacre, so you imagine my trepidation.  Following him outside, he gestured to the patch of dirt between the road and the house.  It was now green.

The husband had done his own version of colouring in, and had 'found' some turfs.  

And after all that, you know what?  It was bloody cold all day, and no one even looked at the garden.  Hopefully, at some time in the not so distant future, I will appreciate all that we've done over the weekend, but right now, I don't know why we bothered.

By the way, today we have to dig the allotment over.   I am writing this from the boot of my car, in a car park far,far away.

Hopefully, the husband won't find me...


Saturday, 15 April 2017

In da club...

Well.  Booking a holiday is not all it's cracked up to be.  I spent a good two hours perusing the internet yesterday morning and finally settled on rather a glam spot in Ibiza (this was after walking the dogs, weeding the garden, doing two loads of washing and emptying all the bins - don't you just love a Bank Holiday..)  I was just about to press the 'Confirm my Booking' button, when son number one chanced upon me in my office.

Feeling very excited about the holiday, I said to him that I was ready to book it.  'Ibiza?' he asked.  'Are you sure?'  

Oh dear god...

The reason I had chosen Ibiza was because of the club scene.  I thought that the kids would love that, but it turned out that they are a load of boring old farts who would rather not spend fortunes on having a bop.  I don't know what they consider expensive, but the husband and I spend £6 each for our dancing each week - surely it can't be more than that?  Mmmm, turns out that strutting your stuff in Ibiza is a pricey business - £200 for a night out?  There's a lot more that I can do on a night out for £200, and it would probably include a Full English and a turned down bed.

So going back to Mr Sensible, I asked him if he would help, and facing each other in the lounge with laptops on standby, we started tapping out Tenerife, Crete, Corfu, Lanzarote, Cuba (too far), Croatia and anywhere else in Europe we could think of.  

Another four hours passed with no decision as to where we could go.  Son number one was heading out for dinner, so he reluctantly 'left me to it'.  

The husband wasn't being very helpful, insisting that he and I were still going to Wales for the week. Now much as I love Wales, I don't like having to wear all of my waterproof clothing for seven days on the trot.  If he thinks I've gone on this fitness/diet regime so that I can sport wellies and a balaclava for the week, then he is more disillusioned that I thought.

I did finally manage to book the holiday.  Son number one cost me nearly a whole day of my life, as the minute I heard his car go, I booked the hotel which I was going to book this morning.

So yes, we are going to Ibiza...and I can't wait...



Friday, 14 April 2017

Jitterbug stroll...

So another working week came to a premature end yesterday.  I think all of us at Binland managed to cram about a fortnight's worth of work into the last four days, so it's fantastic to have four long days of sod all stretching in front of me today.

On Wednesday night, our Swing Club had its last social event before breaking up for Easter.  This involved all of the different levels of dancers getting together for a bit of a shin dig with cake thrown in.  Talking of cake, I'm not too sure why it is always present at Lindy Hop events.  I don't really think that it's a true reflection of what people ate in the 1940's. do you?  Mind you, I'd rather have a slab of fruit cake than a dried egg sandwich or a spam fritter, so best to keep quiet about this I feel.

Anyway, back to the dancing.  The lessons are split into two, with the beginners being upstairs.  The teacher from downstairs, where the fancy movers go, was trying to teach us all the Jitterbug Stroll, a dance which can be done without a partner and in a big circle. When he demonstrated it with the three other teachers, it looked very cool. However, when the husband and I launched ourselves into it, we looked like we had St Vitus' Dance, or at best, fleas. I'd like to think that after an hour of this, I had mastered almost some of it, but it was hard to tell as the sweat was running down over my eyes, my shirt was un-tucked and a good proportion of my hair had come loose. 

I think that adding the word 'stroll' to the name of this dance is probably a bit deceiving, as it was more like running a 100m dash in treacle. At one point, I did admonish the teacher for bringing his 'fancy downstairs moves upstairs', but he wasn't having any of it. The husband managed to work his way through the dance by consistently standing behind the teacher so he couldn't see what the husband was up to.  I'll be honest with you, I was standing next to the husband, and I wasn't sure what he was up to either.  He just does his own thing, with a massive smile on his face, and this makes me very, very happy.

If you want to take a look at what we were attempting under the influence of a cup of tea and a slice of cake, here it is: www.youtu.be/PVlJwoEIXEY

Waking up the morning after, the bedroom was rife with moans and groans (pain, not pleasure before you go down that particular road) and I spent a busy day in Binland trying to learn how to walk again.  To top it all, I then went for a long hike in the woods with Miss R, followed by thirty lengths of the pool with Mrs S.

I'll be honest with you, after all of that, I was quite surprised that I woke up at 5.00 this morning.  I had anticipated sleeping through the whole of Easter, with the husband nudging me on Tuesday, telling me that it was time to get up for work, and that all the chocolate had been eaten.

Now that would have been a nightmare...




Thursday, 13 April 2017

Holiday...

Our family has a WhatsApp group chat, so that we can all keep in touch.  With kids living between the far south and the Midlands, we don't manage to get all of us into one room very often, so the app gives us a chance to chat each day about stuff and nonsense.  

Yesterday was very exciting on the group chat...

I had decided that I wanted to take us all away for a week in the sun.  With so much happening in the kids' lives, this could be the last chance to all go together before (and I say this with fear in my voice) we become in-laws to some poor unsuspecting girl or boy, or worse still, we become...wait for it....grandparents. So I put up a message on the chat with the week I had in mind.  This had already been decided by son number one who was the only one at home when I was looking at the calendar, so he got first dibs on the week.

Daughter number one came back with the predicted reply of 'Where are we going?'  When I replied that it would be somewhere hot and glamorous, I could sense the relief.  I suspect she was thinking of previous holidays spent in tents, caravans and cheap hotels, and was not willing to pack a suitcase full of Shetland knits and thermals. Daughter number two was thrilled also.  Son number two, who crawled in through the front door on his knees after a hard day in the NHS, almost cried with joy at talk of an all inclusive week in the sun.

So this just left the husband.  Four hours later, and there was still no reply from him. Perhaps he's concerned about the bashing his wallet might take, or that the kids might force him onto a giant inflatable banana again (it took him weeks to recover from the chaffing).  There's also the worry about easy availability of absinthe, but I am hoping he's learned his lesson on that score.....say no more.  Anyway, as I said to the kids, we do need someone to look after the dogs, so may just go without him.

So now I am on full pelt holiday search.  Having not booked a holiday for us abroad for over a decade, things seem to have changed a little.  I shan't be going into the local travel agent to spend a whole Saturday mulling over brochures, with a tired looking forty year old trying to persuade me that Magaluf is lovely at that time of the year.  No, it's going to be recommendations all the way, so if you know of any fab places which can accommodate a couple of relics and four big children, please let me know.  I do have a couple of ideas of my own which I plan to explore, but I shan't be telling the kids where we're going until we get to the airport.

I might have a little joke, and turn up at the airport in a ski suit.  

In August, that should get them going...


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Chocolate...

When I came home from work yesterday afternoon, for one crazy moment, I wondered whether I'd gone to the wrong house.  It was so quiet, and the house looked like it did when I had left yesterday morning (hoovered, floors washed, what's left of the stair carpet brushed).  This was because son number two was back at work, and son number one had gone to see his girlfriend.  We only have his word that she's not an imaginary girlfriend, as none of us have actually seen her as yet,    We have promised to be on best behaviour and everything, and I am now wondering whether he's afraid to introduce her to his middle-aged swinging parents...can't imagine why.

My cartwheel sized chocolate cake went down quite well at work, although I was astonished at the amount of people claiming to be on diets.  A decision was made fairly early on though that if you had a small slice before 10.00am, then it would be fine as you'd have a chance to work it off through the day. Let's think about that shall we?  Nearly all of us flop down at our desks in the morning, and only get up again for food or home. My colleagues will be carrying around their chocolate cake babies for some days I would imagine.  You note I don't include myself in this - I don't like chocolate cake, so no problem for me...

In fact, I try not to eat chocolate at all, and as Easter approaches, part of me always mourns not having an Easter Egg.  When the kids were younger, and my self control was non existent, unlike my stomach and derriere which were almost indistinguishable from each other, they used to 'save' their eggs, loving the pile stacked up on the kitchen worktop.  What they didn't know, was that when they were at school, I would be pinching small bits of chocolate off each egg (usually that thicker bit which was always at the bottom) and gradually, the boxes would get lighter as the contents disappeared.  One year, after a particularly bad afternoon, I told the kids that the chocolate had gone off and that I'd had to put the chocolate down the waste disposal (no evidence that way).  I almost felt guilty when I looked at their little faces, but it was only 'almost'.

Since then, the kids have squirreled their eggs away in hiding places around the house. Even the husband does this. Now they all know that I no longer eat chocolate, so it would be safe to leave their eggs in the kitchen.  But there's a couple of new kids in town now. Two kids who have no qualms where the brown stuff is concerned.

Son number two and ELL are demons where chocolate is concerned, and have been known to sniff out an after dinner chocolate in my handbag, pinched from the local curry house. They have no shame, and will relieve the others of their chocolate stashes with no chagrin.

I wouldn't mind, but the two of them are so thin that they have to run around in the shower to get wet, and cattle grids can be an issue for them.

Life can be so unfair...



Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Egg man...

I broke my own Personal Best yesterday, buying from three separate supermarkets within a twenty four hour period.  This is because there are MEN in my house, who as we mums know, will eat anything with a pulse which stops moving long enough.  The girls tend to pick at what ever is on offer at mealtimes, whereas the males in the house just pick all day, hovering around the fridge like a pack of salivating hyenas.

The reason I had to do more shopping yesterday, having had a massive Tesco delivery on Sunday, was because the husband incinerated (sorry, barbecued) the chickens which were to be for the week's lunches, so more were needed.  The barbecue had also been all encompassing, with sons one and two and daughter number one bringing everything to the table which just might go with the barbecue.  Subsequently, there were gaps in my food availability for the menus planned for the coming week.

First stop after work yesterday was the Co-op.  In there for chickens, red peppers, yet more eggs and some wraps to go with the fajitas planned for last night.  While there, I decided that it would be a lovely idea to bake an Easter cake for all those at Binland, so icing sugar and a packet of Mini Eggs were added to my purchases.

I came home, only to find that the boys had polished off the dozen eggs which had been residing quietly by the hob.  The pasta had all gone, as had the new pack of spring onions (last week's bunch, although a little shabby looking, was still edible but that had been set aside in favour of the newer ones).  Dropping the bags on the counter, I headed out again to town, going into Waitrose this time. 

More eggs, two more packs of Mini Eggs, as son number one had polished off the bag I'd already bought in the six minutes between coming in and going out again, and then back home again.

So the cakes were finally made and decorated (there was one bag of Mini Eggs left over, but that went the way of all flesh once son number two espied them on the worktop).  I left son number one in charge of last night's dinner (lamb fajitas) and when I came back after a last walk with the fuzzballs, I noticed my electric hand mixer was out.  'Why's that out?' I asked, desperately trying to fathom what he would've used it for.

Well apparently, he fancied guacamole, and rather than using the fresh tub I had purchased, he chose to mash up the one avocado I'd bought for my lunches this week.

I'm going to buy a padlock for that bloody fridge...




Monday, 10 April 2017

Ain't nobody here but us chickens...

I really enjoyed the last 24 hours of the summer.  Have you seen the forecast? Never mind the shorts and flip flops of this weekend.  Next week we'll be back in thermals and waterproofs as the temperature plummets.  Never mind, if there's one thing I've learned about British summer time, you have to take it while you can.  This might be two days in April and a midweek heatwave in October, but just enjoy it.  Who knows when it will be back again.

But joy of joys, we had 75% of our children here yesterday (always a blessing - this is Mum speak for 'Oh you're back to eat me out of house and home, and you have enough dirty clothes to keep a charity shop in business for a month'). I had taken the easy way out and ordered a load of meat to stick on the barbecue, and I reminded the husband on Sunday morning that it would need cleaning before we cooked anything on it.  Cleaning the barbecue basically means setting fire to it and hoping that it won't blow up, so once it had been done, a small domestic started which shall henceforth be known as 'Chickengate'.

Because I do packed lunches for the husband and son number two each day, I always roast off a couple of chickens on a Sunday, as it's everyone's favourite lunchtime pack-up.  

'I'll do them in the barbecue', says the husband.

'Oh, I don't think so', I reply.  'You'll set fire to them'.

'No I won't.  I'll keep an extra special eye on them, and there will be less washing up for you', he adds, playing his trump card.

'Oh go on then', I say.

So in went the chickens, little knowing the fate that awaited them.  Thirty minutes in, I called the husband to tell him that the chickens were on fire.

'No they're not, he said from the kitchen.  Who knew he had X-ray vision, or maybe just eyes in the back of his head. He came out with a bottle of water, and extinguished the chickens, and then decided to head off to the garden centre, telling me to watch the aforementioned burnt offerings.

Now, I was ensconced on my deckchair with a damn good book and a glass of something, so I simply said to him that if they were in the oven, then they would be my responsibility, but as they were in the barbecue, then it was down to him to watch them.  Looking round at the various offspring sprawled on the lawn, he focused on son number one and gave him instructions.  'Watch the chickens.  If they catch light again, put them out'.

When the husband returned and removed the poor chickens from the barbecue, he held them aloft, professing them to be a 'thing of beauty'.  Looking more closely, I agreed that 'yes, the breasts looked lovely, but both of them had severely charred undercarriages'. 

After two days in the sun, I know exactly how they feel...



Sunday, 9 April 2017

At the hop...

Well, we did it.  After eight weeks of Lindy Hop classes, the husband and I finally plucked up the courage to go to a 'Social'.  This is the equivalent of learning basic French for a couple of months, and then living in Paris for the rest of your life.  You know enough to feed yourself and basically survive, but anything else?  Well, you're knackered. 

Having told all and sundry we were going, we realised on Friday morning that there was no going back.  The trouble was, what was I to wear?

After a bit of failed internet shopping on Thursday, Mrs S from Binland reminded me about the vintage shop in town. Oh yes, this would be one of my customers who just happens to sell retro clothes from the 1930/40's.  How on earth could I have forgotten that?  I ask this, but at the ripe age of 53, there's a lot which passes me by.  Heading down there after work on Friday, I walked into WWII heaven.  It was crammed with dresses, skirts, petticoats and everything you could ever desire for a Lindy Hop Social.  Having tried on nearly everything in there, I finally settled on a green floral cotton dress and a white waspy belt. If you want to take a look, they can be found in Wallingford, and their website is http://sewveryvintage.co.uk/

Now let's fast forward a few hours.  Son number one, who if you remember tipped up unannounced on Friday, offered to take us there and collect us later on.  The husband had anticipated (rightly it turned out) that alcohol might be necessary to get us through the door, so the two of us swigged canned gin and tonics on the way like a couple of students. Talk about role reversal.  This still wasn't sufficient, and fortunately, there was a pub next door to the hall where the Social was, so we headed into there for another couple. Oxford is a funny place.  I walked in their looking like an extra from The Land Girls, complete with victory roll hair and blood red lipstick, and no one batted an eyelid. 

So suitably lubricated, we finally plucked up the courage to go in.  Lindy Hop events such as this have rules of etiquette, as it is normal for everyone to dance with each other, rather than just with your partner.  So if someone asks you to dance, the correct responses are either, 'Thank you, that would be lovely', or 'I'm sitting this one out, but thank you for asking'.  What you're not meant to do when a handsome 30 year old asks you to dance four minutes after you arrive, is put your head in your hands and shriek, ' Oh my god no!  Are you mad?  I've only been doing this a few weeks'.  Anyway, he was very understanding, and went on to the next lady who was a lot braver.  

It took us about an hour to actually get on the floor together.  This was after a lovely gentleman called Eddie asked me for the pleasure, and took me for my first dance.  He was very patient, and it gave me the courage (or it may have been the gin) to grab the husband and get on the floor.  After that, there was no stopping us, and we danced for the next two hours till son number one collected us.

It's now Sunday morning, and my legs still haven't forgiven me.

But boy, it was worth it...