Thursday, 31 August 2017

Darling Nikki...

Apologies for the lateness of today's ramblings.  Yesterday did not really go as planned whatsoever...

It started with good intentions.  I wanted to go and see the famous Hippie Market at Es Cana, and had forcibly dragged five reluctant family members along with me for the ride. I have never seen so many beards and tie dye t-shirts in my life, and coupled with the overwhelming smell of joss sticks and weed, it was altogether quite an interesting experience.  Naturally, nothing was bought by the other five, but I managed to buy a couple of bracelets which will probably last till I get on the plane, such is the level of workmanship.

The other reason to go to Es Cana was so that some of the more energetic of us could do some watersports.  This did not include me, I have to say.  I stopped going further than my knees into the sea circa 1975 when a certain shark made its appearance.  My dad was very fond of saying that he wouldn't go into the sea because of 'that naughty old shark', and I have continued with this line of thought.

And so it was that daughter number one, son number one and the husband headed out to the sea for a bit of paddle boarding.  The beach wasn't much to write home about, and just at the top of the beach I spotted the place which I had really come to see on the quiet.  Nikki Beach (www.nikkibeach.com).  My best friend Mrs S had been here earlier in the year, and after what she told me, it was definitely on my list of  'Things to do in Ibiza'. It was like an oasis of white leather beds, pool, DJ, expensive drinks. It was all going on, and I dragged the kids in there.

Now I'm not saying that I felt slightly out of place in my M&S shorts and flip flops, but I reckon that the bikinis on show in there would have fed my family for a week. Notwithstanding that, the other two kids and I settled down at the bar and ordered Mojitos. By the time the husband got back, we'd managed another couple, so weren't going anywhere fast.  In fact, we were there for six hours, by which time, the husband was having a dancing lesson from son number two, and daughter number one had passed out on a sunlounger.

It was an amazing day though, but with the kind of bill at the end which means that you'll only ever do it once.  We will be on short rations for September, that's for sure.

So today has been rather a quiet one.  Just as well because tonight we're off to Amnesia. The kids reckon that 2.30am should be a good time to get there, and I am aiming to stay till at least 6.30.  The kids are running a book as to who will cave first, but I have a feeling that it won't be either of us (pride will not allow this to happen).  The blog will be late again tomorrow for obvious reasons, but I know none of you will mind too much, because you will all know what state I'll be in, and will be quietly tutting over a cup of tea.

Knowing that I'm going to be burning the midnight oil, I've tried to take some power naps today to increase the chances of staying up all night, but on both occasions have been woken by two different Welsh ladies.  

The first one wanted a cushion which was at my feet on the double bed I was stretched out on.  Fine, I wasn't using it.  What's more, if she hadn't said anything, I wouldn't have noticed or cared that it had gone.

The second lady nudged me this afternoon asking me for a light.  Stirring, I murmured that I didn't smoke.

'Are you sure you don't have a light?  There's a pack of cigarettes by you'.

Confused and now completely awake, I looked round to find the offending cigarettes.

'That's a pack of cards', I said, 'not cigarettes'.

Peering at the box, she apologised and walked away.  Just as I was settling back down to sleep, she shouted across the pool, 'Sorry if I woke you up by the way'.

Not too worry dear, I'll get my own back at 7.00 tomorrow morning when I come in rather worse for wear...


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Dog eat dog...

As you all know by now, I am a very keen on Pilates, so when one of the hotel entertainment team came round yesterday telling us that there would be yoga (they pronounced it Joga, but I am assured that it is the same) I jumped at it, and told the girl that I would be there at 10.30 to do it.  Daughter number two offered to do it with me, so I was quite looking forward to a bit of mum/daughter bonding.

However...

On Monday night, the kids suggested that a night into Ibiza Town might be a good idea, so we had our dinner, danced like crazy things to a better than average funk band and headed off in a taxi to the fleshpots of Ibiza's capital.

The town was beautiful, and fill of people wearing outfits which came with health warnings such as:

This will chafe
This will not cover any of your vital organs
This will make you sweat
This will catch fire if left in the sun too long

Needless to say, I assumed that I would feel very old amongst the young and beautiful, but a couple of tramps on a bench put pay to that, and we went into the first bar we came too (opposite Michael Kors' yacht which is worth £280m in case you're interested)

The bar menu had no prices.  Now as we all know, this is not a good sign, but notwithstanding that, the six of us proceeded to order the most glamourous drinks we could see (I had a frozen banana Daiquiri which rendered me useless for the rest of the night) and we sat there for a couple of hours watching the world and his trophy girlfriend wander by.

When the time came to leave, we asked for the bill.  It came to 92 euros.  The husband may stop talking about this by about Thursday, but as I see it, paying that to sit for two hours outside Michael Kors' yacht (£280m - did I say?) on the off chance that he might spot daughter number two lounging on a white leatherette sofa in her New Look dress was money well spent.

Only four of us came home.  Daughter number two and son number two headed to Pacha for the weekly FlowerPower Club night.  This was music from the 60's. 70's and 80's and 24 hours on, I am kicking myself for not going.

So back to the yoga/joga.  I was ready at 10.30 to start.  Unfortunately, neither of the girls was up to joining me. Daughter number one was more interested in tanning her already creosote skin a couple of shades darker, and daughter number two was still in bed, having only got home three hours earlier.

So it was just me...

A 53 year old, sweating, overweight woman wearing a bikini (because she never thought for one moment to pack her pilates pants) on a stage with the teacher, all alone (literally all alone as no one else turned up) except for a couple reading their newspaper who looked up every now and again for a smirk.

When I bent down to do a rather reluctant Downward Dog, I'm sure the husband choked on his cappuccino...



Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Spanish nights...

So yesterday's weather wasn't a patch on what you lot had at home over the Bank Holiday.

Am I bitter?  
Am I hacked off? 
Am I thinking of whether Cala Llonga has a tanning salon?

Well yes, all of the above, but it didn't stop us all having another great day together.  As I said to one of my lovely readers yesterday, your weather might be better but at least the drinks are free and I don't have to make the beds here.  

So yesterday, there was a general knowledge quiz around the pool.  Because the sun had forgotten what it said on its job description, daughter number one and son number two joined me in demonstrating our extensive knowledge. The Spanish chap running the quiz was as camp as Christmas with a rather noticeable lisp, but it didn't stop him flirting mercilessly with daughter number one.  I said to her that she should keep encouraging him, and the prize of an exotic cocktail each would be in the bag.

We started well, but there were a couple of curve ball questions which he threw at us which meant leaving a blank on our answer page.

One of the questions which stumped us was 'Who painted "The Lost Shopper"?  

Well, painting and artists are not one of my strengths, so we decided that Picasso would be a great answer as he was probably the most modern artist we know.  Shopping was quite a new thing wasn't it?

Another question was "Who wrote Don Quixote?"  Yet again, this drew a blank.  In rather quick succession, the quiz master then asked "Who is Carlos Sanchez?"  Well,the three of us looked blankly at each other, and eventually settled on a footballer from Barcelona.

It wasn't till we got to the end of the quiz, and the answers were being called out, that we realised that the Carlos Sanchez question wasn't a real question.  The quiz master had simply been asking who Carlos Sanchez was as he wandered around the room, having spotted that a team had put this name down as the answer to the author of Don Quixote.

Turned out that Leonarda da Vinci painted The Lost Shopper.  Although you may know it by its more common name, The Last Supper...

After four gin and tonics, three Sangrias, and a couple of Pina Coladas, it was never going to end well...


Monday, 28 August 2017

The race...

Last night I posted a facebook status of 'Pina Colada heaven'...

I'd like to update that status to 'Pina Colada Hell' this morning. This is the problem with going away with your adult children.  There is an element of keeping up with the Joneses, and last night, I think that not only did I keep up, but I overtook the husband around 11.45pm, and it was a photo finish between me and daughter number one as we crossed the hotel threshold around midnight.  (This is a complete guess time wise, it could have been Thursday the state I was in).

Anyway, this will teach me from straying from the relatively watered down straight and narrow of the hotel's all inclusive drinks menu. Going forward, I shall be staying within the comparative safety of the hotel bar, rather than walking down to dubious pirate-themed bars to drink cocktails with enough feathers in them to stuff a pillow.

Hangover aside, we are having a fabulous time.  The four kids all went out on our first night here, having only had around two hours sleep the night before, and painted the town red.  In the case of daughter number two, there was an element of bathroom redecoration too I understand. The problem is, that the husband has a rule when we go on holiday.  That rule is..

'Whatever time you got in the night before, and whatever state you are in this morning, YOU WILL BE DOWN FOR BREAKFAST'.

Three of the four managed it, and sat very quietly while they stuffed their faces with crispy bacon and fresh coffee. Daughter number one, who has the alcohol capacity of around half a glass of white wine was nowhere to be seen, and by the time she surfaced, the other three were in complete recline decline in the deckchairs.  

The husband is enjoying being with the kids.  You may have gathered that he is quite competitive (this is the biggest understatement ever) and yesterday, thinking that there might be a small advantage over them as they were all hungover, he challenged the kids to every sport which the hotel had to offer...

Table Tennis?
He lost to son number two 3-0
Tennis?
He lost to son number one 4-2
Snorkelling in the sea?

This was actually a draw between him and daughter number one, but not content with that, he insisted on swimming back to the hotel rather than take the easier, more sensible, safer footpath.  By the time he surfaced (literally) we'd all managed lunch and another round of drinks, but we didn't let on, not wanting to see that lower lip of his sticking out in a sulk.

Today I shall be mainly sticking to the water I think.  This will go really well until daughter number one pipes up with, 'Anyone fancy a Sangria?'

Aah well....



Sunday, 27 August 2017

Early morning...

Having packed, removed various items and repacked my suitcase, I was finally ready to crawl into bed on Friday evening at 9.00, knowing full well that the alarm would be going off four hours later. The husband is notorious in his 'getting to the airport on time' procedure, and the estimated time of departure was 1.30am, allowing us one and a half hours to get to the airport (assuming at least one accident to hamper our journey).  This would mean arriving three and a half hours before our flight left.  See what I mean?

Hauling my sorry carcass up the stairs, I went into the bedroom, sleepy eyed, and ready for a full four hours of snooze time.

'Oh no you don't', said the husband with a waggy finger.  'I haven't packed yet'.

This was apparent as there were piles of clothes and shoes scattered across the bed (and not just on his side either) and coupled with a nosy schnauzer there wasn't much room for me. Reluctantly, I headed back downstairs, and made myself comfortable on the sofa with a cup of tea.  Ten minutes later, the husband was shouting down the stairs that it was 'safe to come to bed now'.  The trouble was that I was now pretty awake.  Nevertheless, I managed to drop off for about seven minutes before he came back into the bedroom, turning the light on and muttering something about European plugs (you'll remember that I'd hidden them all).  Switching the light back off, he got into bed, and immediately fell into a deep, loud sleep.  I also fell asleep...

Waking up some time later, I reckoned that it must be nearly time for the alarm to go off, so I tiptoed out of the bedroom (see how thoughtful I am) and went downstairs to the kitchen.  Glancing at the clock, I was horrified.

It was five past 11.00.  There was no way I was going to get back to sleep, so I installed myself on the sofa yet again, this time with a large mug of tea, and waited for the hours to drag by. 

The journey here all went completely to plan, except for the two small children who insisted on kicking my chair for two and a half hours, but not to worry. Four Sangrias, a blue sky and a soft sea breeze ensured that sleep was had, even if it was interrupted by frequent trips to the loo, courtesy of the aforementioned Sangria.

But the hotel is beautiful, I have my family around me, and the sun is shining.

What more could this old bird want...


Friday, 25 August 2017

Farewell...

Funerals are a funny old business.  One minute you're blubbing like a fool in the church, wondering how you'll ever manage to cope without seeing a loved one again.  Several hours later, you're being bundled into the back of a car with little ceremony, while the husband, positioned somewhere between your right shoulder and left knee, tries to belt you in whilst muttering, 'You're going to regret this in the morning'...

You see, the funeral was wonderful.  Almost three hundred people filled the church, and we prayed and sang, we laughed and applauded and naturally, we were all a little sad.  But what a send off for a truly noble man, who has gone through life doing the best he can for those he loves.

It had been a slightly different funeral, in that we'd had a very private burial the day before. Thursday's ceremony was all about celebrating a life well led, and boy did we celebrate.  Faces from the past, just a little shabbier around the edges (as was mine, I'm sure), mingled with new friends, colleagues and family. I had said to the husband that I would probably want to have a drink, as I knew the day would be difficult.  What I hadn't anticipated was a story and laughter filled afternoon, followed by a rather long session in the pub next to the church, where we managed to look like the least mournful mourners ever known to man.  

The husband finally managed to scoop me up around 7.00.  I would have been in bed by 7.30, but unfortunately, every time I closed my eyes, I got room spin, so I had to sit and watch television for an hour, until I could turn my head without my eyes having a two second time delay.  Waking up yesterday morning, I had NO HANGOVER!!!  I figured this was a gift from my newly departed uncle, and said a quiet thank you over my cornflakes.

So yesterday morning I finished all of my Binland work, and headed home to pack.  I have the smallest suitcase ever, but somehow manage to fit enough clothes in there to clothe a small army (on their day off naturally, I don't thing serge would be any good for the heat). 

As I say to Miss R when we go away on our jollies..

There's always got to be one outfit which will fit at any time of the week, whether that be for a pre-holiday slim body, or the Sangria-soaked, chip-bloated, ice-cream frenzied holiday body (this is me from Day Three onwards).

Not to worry though - I'll dance it all off on Thursday...


Thursday, 24 August 2017

We are family...

Yesterday I was able to say that the day after tomorrow would be the day before my holiday started.  As you may gather, I am counting down the seconds now, and have started hoarding the travel plugs before the kids realise that they need them.

Now that they are all adults, you would think that it is a reasonable assumption that they would buy their own suncream and aftersun, wouldn't you?  Well apparently not.  Being super organised, I bought a couple of aerosol sun creams last Friday, factor 30 to be on the safe side.  These have to be aerosol, as the husband won't come anywhere near me with normal suncream, and I can't risk rocking the lobster look.  

By the weekend, the two boys had implied that they were expecting me to supply the suncream, as it was an all inclusive package we were going on.  Words failed me at this statement, so I ordered another two aerosols from Tesco when I did my internet shop.  

On Sunday, when the shopping arrived, I was knee deep in half dug potatoes, so didn't have a chance to question the substitution which they had given me for the two factor 30 aerosols.  

Now I won't say that a little thought didn't go into this, nor will I stoop to calling the picker/packer every name under the sun, but this is what he did...

Factor 30 + Factor 30 = Factor 60

No Factor 30 on the shelf

Supply customer with...

1 x Factor 50 and 1 x Factor 10 = Factor 60

Job done....

So the boys have a choice.  Either they use the Factor 10 and limit themselves to four minutes in direct sunlight each day, or they play safe with the Factor 50, and go home paler than when we arrived...

Decisions, decisions...

So I've hidden my suncream.  I give it till halfway through the second day before it disappears, at which point, I'll be down the local Spanish supermarket buying the cheapest stuff I can find (usually one involving either oranges or carrots) and use that. I'm not too sure why they use orange coloured fruit to promote a sun cream - too much, and I could resemble Mr Trump (without the  comb over).  I think I would be more inclined to buy a cream which used walnuts or creosote.  At least I'd be heading in the right direction colour wise.

Now ladies, I may go off radar tomorrow as it is my lovely uncle's big send off at church later this morning.  It will be a sad day for sure, but on a more positive side, I will be surrounded by family, friends, work colleagues and a few total strangers, all keen to show this wonderful man how much he was loved and admired.

We will miss him...


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Get the party started...

I may have hinted that I am going clubbing while I am away.  This is no normal clubbing. This is turning up at midnight and dancing till the sun comes up kind of clubbing.  The kind of clubbing which makes your ears ring and your bunions sob.  Son number one has arranged for us all to go to Amnesia to see Fat Boy Slim while we're away, and I can't wait.

Mr W (the older of the male children I share an office with) is a well seasoned visitor of events such as these, and grilled me with various questions yesterday...

'What are you wearing when you go?'
'Well, I was thinking of wearing shorts and flip flops and a spangly top'.

I lost him at spangly top, but he frowned at the mention of flip flops.  'Not flip flops', he advised. 'You need pumps because there will be a lot of stuff on the floor which you won't want to tread in'.

So outwardly, I suggested Converse pumps, but inwardly, I was now thinking wellies.

'Have you got a money belt?'
'No.  I do not have a money belt.  I have holidayed in far wilder places than Ibiza (I've been to the Isle of Wight for heaven's sake), so I think I'll be fine'.  What I really wanted to say was that I would tuck a twenty euro note in my bra for emergencies, but I didn't want to put him off his McFlurry (long story).

'Have you got earplugs?  It's ever so loud you know'.
Earplugs won't be necessary, as I grew up in the 70's and 80's when real music was played at the disco.  When I say 'real', I'm talking about The Tweets and Rene and Renato, so if a dancing bird and a pseudo Italian didn't stop me, I'm blowed if a bit of noise will.  

'Do you know what the dancing is like there?  It won't be any good you doing some of that swinging stuff you do on a Wednesday you know'.
Well I've taken the opportunity of looking at clips of what goes on in these kind of places, and it would appear that rhythmic pointing at the ceiling is the order of the day. Easy... even the husband should be able to do that.

Changing the subject slightly, we had a new boy start in the sales office yesterday, who shall henceforth be known as Master H.  As Mr W left yesterday morning, I mentioned to him that I needed to order up a mug for Master H.

'You could pick one up in Ibiza', he suggested.

From what he's been saying, that might not be all I pick up...


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Bedshaped...

Since digging up the potatoes on Sunday, I have been doing a passable impression of Mrs Overall, and kissing my knees is no longer entirely off the agenda.  Not to worry, I'm at Pilates this evening and lovely Alex, with the aid of two spoons, a crowbar and some goose grease, will have me as straight as Larry Grayson in no time.

So yesterday was a very busy one.  I'm having to prepare for my house sitters who are staying here while we are away.  This means sorting out two bedrooms for them.  Why two?  Well, I had decided to give them daughter number two's bedroom as she has her own bathroom which makes lots of sense.  Unfortunately, Percy and Reg also reside here, so if bed space becomes a little thin on the ground, I need to give the house sitters an alternative.  So I'm preparing daughter number one's old bedroom also.

The girls have their own homes now, so this works quite well.  I shudder to think what would have happened if I'd had to offer the boys' bedrooms.  I think I would have had to have them fumigated, decorated and recarpeted before letting a relative stranger see them.

So all this bedroom preparation means washing duvet covers, towels and throws.  My poor washing machine has been on a permanent 40 degree cycle since Monday morning and I have wet clothes and bedding hanging everywhere.  I've taken to answering the phone with 'Chinee Launree' much to my doctor's amusement yesterday. (This was in response to a phone appointment request I made last Thursday.  Since then, I have recovered and had my question answered by Google...)  

Back to the washing though.  This will teach me for saying to the two boys that I wanted all of their holiday clothes for washing before Monday night.  Strange thing is, this time next week, I'll be washing the whole lot again.  Heaven forbid that they might separate the dirty from the clean before we come home...

While the washing machine was between jobs, I decided to get my holiday suitcase out and sort of decide what I was going to take.  It's amazing how the sizes of my clothes differ.  I have shorts ranging from a size 10 to a 16, and dresses which could either be a shift or bodycon, depending on which size I was that year.  Finally whittling it down to several pieces, I hung it all back up in the wardrobe ready to pack.  

Heading back downstairs, feeling rather despondent that a couple of dresses had laughed in my face when I tried them on, I glanced at the duvet covers drying on the stair bannisters.

If only a kingsize with button fastening were acceptable evening wear.

I'd be sorted....




Monday, 21 August 2017

A whiter shade of pale...

Being a conscientious kind of gal, I decided yesterday that it was to be a case of jobs first, playtime second.  The weather forecast yesterday was sun till 5.00pm, so I was looking forward to a little sunbathing in the afternoon to avoid looking like a cotton bud on holiday next week.  The jobs on my Pink List were ironing (acceptable) and digging up two beds of potatoes (dubious job ownership as physical effort is required with a tool). 

The ironing I had managed to complete before anyone else in the house woke up (actually, this was just the husband who is partial to  lay-in on a Sunday morning).  When he finally surfaced, there was a small discussion as to who was doing what on the job front.  The husband would mow the lawns (sniffling a little as he pushed the mower over the destroyed front lawn, I'm sure), while I would dig up the potatoes.

Dressed in the obligatory shorts, wellies and t-shirt, and armed with a colander and a wheelbarrow,I headed over to the allotment with the dogs in tow.

Two hours later, I'd dug over one bed and had half a wheelbarrow of potatoes to show for it.  I was having a great time, and Reg, ever the helpful one, had got the idea of what I was doing, and was digging for the buried treasure also.  Mind you, he was also then eating them, so not much help really. He was also careless where he was digging, which meant as I was bent over with my back to him, my shorts and drawers were being sprayed with dirt and the odd worm.

Having done the first bed, I looked at the second, and decided it was too much for me. I'm just a woman for heavens's sake, so as you can imagine, when I saw the husband come round the corner with a flask of tea, I was more than relieved.  Ecstatic would be a fairer description I think.  So after our short break, the husband removed the fork from me, and dug over the second bed, revealing spud after spud after spud after spud.

I stopped in at a neighbour's on the way home, and handed over a bowl of potatoes, corn on the cob and tomatoes. 'What's this for?'  asked her husband.  'Well you bring us food on Eid, so I thought I'd bring you some allotment offerings round', I said.

Frowning, my friend's husband looked at my offerings.  'The stuff I bring you is cooked', he said...

I eventually made it home after ten minutes of what I think the kids call 'banter'.  I slipped the bikini on, hauled out the deckchair, slapped on some factor 20 and laid back on my deckchair, fully aware that I had earned the nap I was about to have.

And then the sun went in.  

And stayed in...


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Dancing Queen...

So the pre-holiday countdown has started.  I have stopped saying that I 'wish it was this time next week' because this would mean fastforwarding some of my precious holiday, and who wants that?  Surprisingly, this is the first holiday where it has been the six of us for almost eleven years.  There have been skiing holidays where I have been missing, and larger family holidays where we've been altogether, but just us six?  Turkey 2006, that's when.

The holiday in Turkey was a last minute panic buy. The husband, who likes to think of himself as a cross between Grizzly Adams and Bear Grylls, loves camping and back in the spring of 2006, we booked a two week camping trip to the Lake District.  We'd been before, and it was a success, so why should that be any different now that the children were slightly older?  As we got nearer to the day of departure, the kids got more and more miserable, and daughter number one started to get very antsy about going.

Sitting at the computer on the Thursday before we left, I was looking at the weather forecast for the next two weeks.  Three words could sum up what we had to look forward to while under canvas (or the 21st century equivalent).  Wet, windy and cold.  I looked at the husband, and said in a very quiet, apologetic voice...

'I don't think I want to go camping - it looks awful'.

He looked at me and said nothing, and I could sense that perhaps he was a little disappointed that he wouldn't be able to justify carrying his Swiss Army knife everywhere for the next two weeks.

Putting his pen down (he'd been mapping the route up there), he said,

'Thank *"^* for that.  Get on that bloody internet and find us somewhere warm to go'.

And so it came to pass that I managed to find a 3* hotel, all inclusive in Turkey.  The husband called daughter number one and had a glorious ten minute wind-up along the lines of 'are you sure you don't want to come away with us?'  

So all the suitcases were unpacked (this will teach me for packing too soon).  Wellies, jumpers, thermals and hand warmers (daughter number two loves these) were replaced with bikinis, shorts and flip flops.  We also managed to lose two holdalls in the process as there were less layers to pack.

When we arrived at the hotel after a long and stressful journey (four teenagers - try it) the hotel looked like it had seen better days (these would have been circa 1873 I think) and as we walked into the hotel foyer, the husband muttered under his breath, 'Where have you brought us?'

Well it turned out to be one of the best holidays we've ever had, notwithstanding the fact that daughter number two got stuck in the lift, I slept on a fold up bed, daughter number one nearly got traded for a camel, and the husband and the two boys ended up with exactly the same haircut (a number 2 all over) because that was the only style the hotel barber (who doubled up as the barman in the evening) could do.

This year, we're going a little up market.  There are going to be lazy days by the pool and a night clubbing with Fat Boy Slim. The kids are mildly embarrassed that we will be joining them at this club, but guess who's paying?

There'll be no complaints, I'm sure...


Friday, 18 August 2017

Hello Friday...

Sometimes, on days like yesterday, I meet myself coming back from wherever I've been.  I do wonder how I manage to fit so much in but I suppose getting up at 5.30 am every weekday does give me a head start.

So yesterday I managed to do a full morning at Binland, clinching three deals and finishing off with a glorious conversation with a Chinese lady.  I will never again say the words 'loo roll' without remembering her fondly.  It was then back home for a swift change (taking time to admire the work of my wonderful Lady H who has a knack for restoring sanity in my house), then I piled the dogs in the car, drove to the woods and had a lovely walk with them, and then we all drove off to the Mother's with the plan of a cup of tea with her and Miss R.

And there I was, minding my own business, singing away to a Barry Manilow song (alright, admit it, you like him too) when all of a sudden I was faced with several people in the road trying to round up a black labrador who seemed to have slipped his lead.  Shutting the sunroof and windows so that my two couldn't get out and join in the fun, I put the hazard lights on, and got out to help.  

There was a young chap in hi-vis who seemed to be in charge, and I asked him what the dog was called.

'He's called Betty', he said.

Thinking to myself that either that was one very confused dog, or the lad's parents hadn't done a proper job on the whole sex education front, I found myself shouting, 'Come on Betty, there's a good boy'.

Something in my voice must have caught his/her attention because it turned and hurtled towards me. Thinking I was doing a very good job at blocking its access behind my car, I adopted the position of a starfish (with the accompanying 'Hah!' (I should say at this point that I just may have watched City Slickers too many times) and the bloody dog ran through my open legs only to be wrestled to the ground by an old man who shot out of the hedge next to me, making me jump.  Slipping the lead over Betty's head, I heard him telling him off for being a naughty boy. Listening to this, it all made sense why Betty had done a runner.  Perhaps he was on the lookout for a surgeon to make him a real woman...

So thankfully it was a happy ending. Getting back to my car, Percy and Reg were sitting in the driver and passenger seats like a couple of hairy pensioners, and there was some coercion needed to 'persuade' them to get into the back. This took the form of several biscuits launched across the parcel shelf, and had to be done rather hurriedly, as a long queue had started to form behind me.

Tea was welcome at the Mother's, and it was straight home again after that and out to Pilates for the second time this week.

And my day ended with son number two, who is off to Leeds in a few weeks' time to get some more education (other than the 'How Many Bottles Of Frosty Jack Can I Drink Before I Fall Over?' lesson) saying to me, 'Can you find me a space for my car in Leeds?'

After the day I've had?  Oh, I'd love to...


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Over the rainbow...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'It's not cream.  It's butter'....

'WHAAAAAAAAAATTTTTT!!'

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

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

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

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

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


As to the flaps?

I can't possibly divulge...


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Itchycoo Park...

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

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

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

Wash fur
Dry fur
Cut fur
Clip claws

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Cracklin' Rosie...

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

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

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

So we were late.

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

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

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

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

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

The crackling disappears...



Monday, 14 August 2017

Bag lady...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'Been away have you?'  

Why yes, I have.   

For around 4 hours....


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sunny...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It didn't...