Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Elastic love...

I am pleased to report that after two and a bit weeks of moving a bit more and eating a bit less (sounds so easy when you say it like that) my trousers are starting to feel a little looser.  Saying that they are a 'little looser' implies that there was an element of looseness before I started, so let me rephrase that.....my trousers are no longer cutting off the circulation around my waist.  For the last few months, I have had a great hourglass figure (one where all the sand has dropped to the bottom) but at last I can see tiny harbingers of a reappearing waist.  You know, one of those which goes in and out rather than just round and round whichever way you look at it.

I have a favourite pair of work trousers which spent most of yesterday afternoon being hoisted up to avoid making me look like the Penguin in Batman (the Danny de Vito one).  I like these because they have a half elasticated waistband.  I'm not old enough to reach out for full waistband elastication just yet, but half way is acceptable. So the elasticated bit is now working against me, as up till now it has had something to wrap its stretchy arms around.  Now that is diminishing, it's not trying so hard, hence the falling trousers.  I'm thinking of adding tighter elastic to pull them up a bit.  Or maybe braces? 

Now they are a no-no for us ladies.  You always have the decision of inside the boobs or outside the boobs, or if you're like me, and limited in the bosom area, straight over the top, risking being mistaken for Bobby Ball or Coco the Clown.  There's also the chance of injury if someone close decided to do some overzealous pinging of them. I never really understood why they were invented - after all, didn't the belt already do the job? 

So back to the diet.  This is always the easy bit for me, once my head, mouth and stomach are singing from the same hymn sheet (this happens once every three years, and there's absolutely no point in starting if the three are not working together). 

I'm not too sure what triggered this perfect alignment this month.  Perhaps the threat of a summer holiday with the husband or the dwindling number of things in my wardrobe which fit.  Who knows?  I'm just glad it has, and it's good to see that something good is coming of it.  However, I have to balance the good with the disadvantages of losing a bit of weight.  Are there any? There sure are...

The clothes which are suddenly wearable again are now no longer fashionable.
You try to sell them on ebay, but no one's interested as they are soooo last year
There is that irritating middle bit where clothes are either too tight or too loose
A belt or vacuum knickers are required at this point (not at the same time though please)
You start looking healthier , so more is expected of you (rather than family being happy to leave you languishing on the sofa, they now expect you to participate in sports and do more dog walks)

But the worst thing?  Well you mustn't go too far.  When you get to my age, you have to make a decision with how much weight loss is enough.  Face or derriere.  Lose too little, and you still have the vast behind,  but lose too much, and a lined, haggard old bag will appear from beneath the exuberant padding of yesteryear.

Ladies....I choose my face...

Stone cold...

The husband is in trouble.

Several weeks ago, I asked him whether he could check the levels of the oil tank as I was concerned it was getting low.  This is the sole source of any heating or hot water in this house, so as you can imagine, it's quite vital that it's fuelled up at all times.  To give you some idea, this was about the same time that I asked him to pump up my tyres, and refill my washer bottle in my car.  Both of these jobs were done by me two weeks ago, so perhaps I should have checked the oil tank at the same time?  Mind you two leaking bathrooms and a boiler service were also on the list of 'things to do' so there is no way I was expected to be the one ticking them all off the bloody list.

On Sunday, I reminded him again - now I know that there are some of you reading this who would call this nagging.  I would say it is more of a gentle reminder, as I fully appreciate the stresses of his normal workaday life... Yes, alright, I was nagging, but this time he actually did go and check the oil tank, returning five minutes later with a look on his face which I can only describe as terrified.

'We need oil', he said, 'pretty quickly actually'.

Fortuitously, I had just received an email from a company about to place a group booking order, so I grabbed the husband's credit card, ordered up our oil and printed off the receipt for him.

'The 11th of February!' he shouted.  'We can't wait that long....'

So his way of dealing with this is to switch off the heating just as he leaves for work at 7.00 in the morning.  This is fine for him, but for those of us who are here till 8.30, and who can do with a warm house to come into after a forty minute run around a wet field with the two fuzzballs, it's not so good.  It also means that I can no longer drape various items of clothing over the radiators to dry, in the absence of a temperature outside exceeding freezing.  I don't have a warm towel after my shower in the morning, nor can I have toasty clothes to put on afterwards (hot drawers- the ultimate luxury).

Daughter number one has left the building for a few days as she really does feel the cold. Even having two living hot water bottles spooning her overnight isn't enough to keep her here.  Son number two and ELL are concerned that there might not be enough hot water for their showers in the morning.  I think I'll have to go and buy an old tin bath and let us all share it, one after the other like in the old days.  They don't know they're born these kids...

So I have reintroduced the electric radiator into the kitchen, and yesterday afternoon around 5.00, I switched the heating off until the husband and various kids all got home a couple of hours later.  You should have heard the moaning when they all walked in last night.  The temperature was lower in the hall than it was in the drive allegedly, and you would have thought that I had killed Father Christmas and the cutest of his elves the way they went on at me. 

But sacrifices have to be made if we are to have enough hot water over the next ten days (fat chance).  I put on extra layers of clothing in the house yesterday, and cooked dinner at a higher than required temperature, but with the oven door ever so slightly open, the lovely heat gently grilling my shins as I stirred the peas.

While I am on the subject of kids not knowing that they're born, I might pull a fast one over them tomorrow and be sitting in the dark with some candles, and pretend the electricity has gone down when they walk through the door.

Oh what a wheeze that would be...

Monday, 30 January 2017

Tomorrow will be kinder...

I took the husband to see the sequel to Trainspotting on Friday evening.  This was a long awaited film, but I'll be very honest with you, apart from the obvious scenes (carpet, toilet) I couldn't remember much of the first one.  Now's let's face it, in 1996 I had one two year old and another almost on the way, so a film about Scottish drug addicts wouldn't have been high up on my list of preferred viewing.  I would imagine that Teletubbies would have been wall to wall in our house around then.  I am sure that they would have been much funnier if they had been nurturing a habit of some sort (rather than just carrying a red handbag) but as I say, Trainspotting was never right up there for me at that time.

As years have raced by, I have caught up with the film, but as I sat in the cinema with a very giddy husband (who had managed to eat his way through half his bodyweight in ice cream before the trailers finished) I realised that none of what I was about to watch was going to make any sense whatsoever.  The director had taken all this into consideration though, and there were flashbacks to help us oldies.

So on Saturday afternoon, we watched the first Trainspotting, and then the sequel from the previous evening suddenly all made a lot more sense.  I now have an idea of how it is for the husband with the Star Wars franchise (4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, standalone) which always blows his mind.  More in common with Trainspotting that I initially thought then...

Yesterday afternoon, the husband drove me and the two fuzzballs down to West Wittering where we met up with a load of other fuzzballs and their humans to walk together.  Yet again, we were raising money, specifically this time for Merlin and Lacey, two ex-breeding miniature schnauzers with a long shopping list of treatments needed to heal them physically.  If you fancy helping then along, here's the link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=Schnauzerfest2017&isTeam=true)

Percy loves these walks, as it gives him a chance to rekindle his woofer bromance with Hugo.  However, the falling rain and sandblasting wind cooled his ardour slightly, and Percy had to be content with a quick fumble in the sand dunes.  Reg on the other hand, as befitting his East End namesake, scrapped his way around the beach.  Never starting anything, but always in the thick of it.  The husband had to hoist him high a couple of times (I knew there was a reason we put their harnesses on) with Reg doing his Wizard of Oz Cowardly Lion 'Put 'em up, put 'em up' paw gestures whilst being carted off like a toddler having a tantrum.

But it was a successful afternoon, as we didn't lose either of them, and hopefully lots of money will have been raised by generous, caring people.

Speaking of this, in our pre-walk cafe stop for crab sandwiches, a couple came up to our table and asked us about the dogs, and what we were all doing here.  When I told them, they both fished around in their coat pockets, and handed me £5 to put in the donation bucket.

After a week of racist posturing and unbelievable discrimination on the other side of the pond,  it restored my faith a little...

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Where I am...

I am a broken woman.

This is what four hours of retail therapy in Milton Keynes does for you.  Not only were my feet killing me yesterday, my poor ears had also narrowly escaped being chewed off by daughter number two.  This ability to talk non stop is one she inherits from my side of the family, as the husband often tells me (when he can get a word in edgeways), so I shouldn't be surprised really.  I had gone there with a short list of two items, one of which I managed to buy, but I managed to supplement my meagre planned purchase with various other bits and pieces, none of which were necessary, but hey, since when did 'necessity' become a requirement when buying something pretty?

As I predicted in yesterday's blog, sure enough we both had bags coming back to the car, and yes, I paid, as all good mums do when they visit their offspring.  But it was so lovely to see her, and catch up on everything (even the stuff I don't really understand as befitting a woman of 53). 

As I have got older, my internal compass has gone the way of everything else on my body, and stopped working as efficiently, so I had used the satnav on the way up to MK.  These are instruments of torture as far as I am concerned, as the talking lady can only be heard if I switch my music off, or, and this is perfect, if someone phones me.  Music is really important to me, as you'll guess from all the song titles which head up my blogs, so to drive in silence is painful.  I usually start off talking to myself, which then turns into talking at other drivers who have the misfortune to cross my path.  Eventually, I start telling myself to shut up, and so it goes on.

Equally frustrating is having a conversation with son number two while the silly cow is shouting at me to take the next left.  I gave up in the end, and decided to just glance down every now again to check I was going the right way, whilst singing along to Nirvana at the top of my voice.  This explains why I took a left instead of a right, thus adding another seven minutes to my journey.

Coming back home, I stuck the damned woman on again, and this time she brought me back an entirely different way.  I'm not saying that I was in the back of beyond, but between MK and home (an hour and a half) I didn't pass a single petrol station.  Luckily I didn't need fuel, but I had promised myself a coffee on the way back.  By the time I did see a petrol station, I was six minutes from home, and the coffee moment had passed.

The husband had been busy while I had been either in the shops or on the roads.  I had left him with instructions to take Percy back to the vet to check his paw.  He had made the decision to take Reg, who was still milking the whole 'My paw is hurting just as much as his' drama, to make sure that he didn't really have something wrong.  Apparently, the vet had humoured the husband when he had suggested that Reg had come out in sympathy with his paw, and had nodded wisely, agreeing that although it wasn't something he'd heard of before, it was possible.

And as you know, the customer is always right.

Misinformed... perhaps. 
A little daft... maybe...
Taking the mickey... conceivably...

But always right...

Saturday, 28 January 2017

April fool...

So it was scales day yesterday.......another 2lbs gone this week (I am seeing a pattern here) so if this carries on, I should be at my target weight in another six weeks or so.  To give myself the chance to tumble off the biscuit-wagon a couple of times, I am setting myself the aptly named April Fool's Day to reach my happy weight.  When this day arrives, nothing much will change on the clothes front, other than they will be a little longer as they are no longer stretched to their limit horizontally.  My jeans will have turn-ups, my jumpers will become sweater dresses and my swimsuit will be illegal and immoral...

With all this dieting and exercise going on, I was thrilled when the husband told me this week that he was going out mountain biking with the other 'man boys' who live nearby. This was planned for Thursday night, and I had assumed that by the time I got back from the pool, he would be gone.  Imagine my surprise then, when I crawled across the threshold, a broken woman, to be faced with a non-Lycra clad husband (this isn't a bad thing actually) who had shaved (rare for a weekday).

'Oh, have you been blown out?' I asked.  Well apparently, the male lightweights around here (husband included) decided it was too cold and too dark.  Isn't it funny how easily we forget that this is what happens in the winter around 7.00pm.... 

So they got a lift down to a local hostelry courtesy of a very patient Mrs B from next door, and eventually crawled back in after midnight having almost despaired of getting a taxi.  Where I live, everything closes when Waitrose turns the car park lights off, so I don't know why they were surprised at this.  I think that I was so knackered after swimming the equivalent of the English Channel, that I didn't wake up when he came into the bedroom on his tippy toes.  Either that or a visit to the hearing aid specialists is on the cards...

To make up for thinking he woke me up (I wasn't going to tell him) the husband walked the fuzzballs for me yesterday morning for which I was very grateful.  It has been so cold this week, and layers upon layers have been necessary for the early morning walk, to avoid being found later in the day stiff as a board with a Joker-style grimace frozen onto my face.  Thursday was particularly bad, but for some reason I had left my hat at home.  Once I had stopped cursing at my stupidity, I got on with it, but the only way I knew my ears hadn't dropped off was the fact that I could hear my teeth chattering like a pneumatic drill.

And so ends another week.  Today I am off to do some retail therapy with daughter number two in Milton Keynes.  I don't really need to buy anything, but I am sure that I will end up carrying a few bags by the end of the afternoon.

Most of these will be hers and would have been paid for by me.

Good old mum....

Friday, 27 January 2017

Walking on a dream...

Poor old Percy, the older of the two fuzzballs is feeling rather sorry for himself.  He had to have a claw removed yesterday, and I'm not saying that the vet over-bandaged his paw, but his leg looks like a tent mallet and is causing him to list slightly to the left as he walks.  Even funnier, is that Reg, the younger fuzzball who can count the Tasmanian Devil amongst his relatives, has taken to limping too, and runs away if we try to touch his paw.  This is sibling rivalry at its worst, and is providing daughter number one and son number two with much entertainment. 

Unfortunately, Percy's injury means that I have had to cancel my walk with Schnauzerfest on Sunday.  This charity need lots of extra donations at the moment to pay for some difficult treatment for two new arrivals who have had a hell of a life up to now.  All the money raised on Sunday will go to help these two in their first steps toward a life without fear, pain or suffering.  If you have anything to spare, here is the link...


I shall really miss the walk this year.  Who doesn't enjoy scanning the beach of almost a hundred mini schnauzers looking for the one which belongs to you, finally realising that he has run off with another fella (Hugo, I hope your owner is reading this) and having quality time in the sand dunes.  I'm sure Percy will miss rekindling that romance just as much as I will miss seeing my lovely friends Mrs K, Mrs I and Mrs H....

Back to vague normality though, with the first swim of the year (of the decade if I'm honest, but who's counting) under my elasticated belt.  I am doing this with the lovely Mrs S from Binland who can be very forceful I've realised.  The aim was to do as many lengths as possible, interspersed with some chatting.  Unfortunately, we didn't allow for the wave machine which goes off every half an hour or so.  I thought it would be a gentle swell, but the resulting tsunami left me hanging on the lane dividing rope for all I was worth. 

This got me told off by the small child with the big whistle round his neck.  I also got told off for loitering in the swimming lane.  I wanted to shout out to him that at my age, after ten lengths of breast stroke, there are minor adjustments which need making.  I held my tongue though.  There's nothing worse than a 53 year old woman with a wedgie shouting the odds at a fourteen year old whose voice hasn't broken.

I might turn rebel next week and go down the water slide at full pelt  (assuming my ample hips don't get wedged half way down).  The resulting 'bomb' could save them a bit of electricity on the wave machine I reckon, and it might also mean that we could get rid of a couple of the noisier children who were in there.  Why are they still up at 7.00 for heaven's sake?  Put them to bed and let the grownups swim in peace...

So Mrs S swam like a seal, carving a beautiful line up and down the lanes.  I, on the other hand, puffed and panted up and down like an asthmatic hippo, my flailing arms and legs critically wounding at least two other swimmers in the lane next door, but in the end we managed fourteen lengths.  This was about thirteen more than I had reckoned possible, so I was quite proud of myself for a first session.  I'm not too confident about how my hair is going to look though.  This would be the hair which was scraped up into a high bun to avoid getting wet, which hadn't allowed for the six foot swell on the half hour...

And why does swimming make you so bloody hungry?  But I was strong, the thought of the scales tomorrow spurring me on to greater things...

And smaller jeans sometime in the distant future perhaps....

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Splish splash...

The husband has been back at school this week, reminding himself how to be a gas engineer.  It's been lovely seeing him skip out to his car in his grey shorts, gaily swinging his satchel and holding a polished apple for the teacher.  OK, back to reality.  He's headed off each morning this week muttering about the 'bloody London traffic' under his breath, and something about teaching your grandmother how to suck eggs. Coming home each evening, he's not been much better, still moaning about the traffic and the pedantic teacher.  By the sounds of it, the apple should be replaced with half a pale ale, bag of pork scratchings and a magazine subscription to Pomposity Weekly.

So for the last few nights he has been squirrelled away in his office studying, desperate to show the aforementioned teacher how good he is.  This has been accompanied with a few bottles of beer each night, which is most out of character for the husband who rarely drinks Monday to Friday.  As long as he's not 'drinking to forget' he should be alright. It's the big exam today, so fingers crossed...

You will be pleased to know that I am persevering with the Pilates on a Tuesday night.  I have learned lots of new moves over the last three weeks.  These include:

'Going up the steps sideways as your legs don't bend in the middle'

'Lying on my back to pull my trousers on as I can't reach down to my feet without crying'

'Shallow breathing to avoid any stress on the stomach muscles'

Seriously though, I am really enjoying it, and will be buying my own punctured ball this weekend, so that I can do some of the easier exercises at home. But the next stage of my fitness challenge is to start swimming on a Thursday evening with Mrs S from work.

Tonight is our first session, and I have everything laid out ready for later on.  I have my favourite one piece (the one which takes no prisoners and needs a shoe horn and a tub of Vaseline to get on), a very large towel and some change for the lockers.  It's always one of life's big dilemmas for me, public changing rooms.  If there is no where I can disrobe in privacy, I'll just have to hope that the lockers are big enough for me to get into and change.  I can't be doing with all that flesh on show. Fine if you look like Elle McPherson or the like, but if you are more like Nellie the Elephant as I am, then who wants to see that? Certainly not poor Mrs S who would probably never be able to look me in the eye again at work.

Hopefully, we're going to thrash out enough lengths over the next few months to improve our overall sleekness. 

And then Fat Friday can come back....can't it?

Wednesday, 25 January 2017


I was a bit rushed getting into work yesterday.  This always happens when I get up earlier than usual as I feel as though I have loads of time so can do all those little jobs which pile up.  In reality, what actually happens is that I do one or two small jobs (put the washing on, change the bed) and then spend more time having my breakfast and chatting to the dogs.  It was spending more time with my meagre breakfast which proved my downfall yesterday morning, as I had an extra mug of tea...

Having walked the dogs around a chilly, pink skied field for forty minutes, I was already needing the loo before I got back home.  Unfortunately, there wasn't time for the required comfort break, so I headed off to work, telling myself as I held myself aloft going over the sleeping policemen that I could take advantage of Binland's facilities before starting my morning's work.

Getting to work, I flashed my pass at the entry pad.  Nothing.  Flashed it again, just more slowly this time, but still nothing.  Knocking on the door, Mrs S came to my rescue, opening the door, which in fact wasn't locked at all so I could have just pushed it and let myself in.  'The electricity is down' she said, but it was the next statement which ripped my world apart. 

'We haven't got any water either, so there's no tea or coffee'.  This was bad enough, but she wasn't finished yet....

'We can't use the loos either'.


So there I was, four hours of Binland looming with no tea and no chance of any comfort break.  I did say to Mrs S that it was probably just as well that there was no tea, as one more mug of the old Tetley could push me over the edge. She came up with various suggestions as to where I could go, one of them was the hedge outside, and then one of the gentlemen (debateable, Mr G) suggested the urinals.  As I said to him, at my age my aim is not that precise so probably not the best idea.

Thinking about this, I have implied to the whole of the Transport Office that when younger my aim was good.  I suppose word will get out, and I'll not hear the end of that for weeks. In the end, I said that if it got to the point of no return (or just before, in an ideal world I suppose) I would head home for the much needed comfort break.  I also offered a lift in my car to anyone who fancied coming back with me for a quick one.  Again, a bad choice of words which will come back to haunt me.

But as it was, I hung on, and an hour later Mrs S announced that the loos were no longer out of action, and that normal service could resume.  Well, what a relief that was. 

Leaving for home, the door still didn't work, but hey, you can't have everything can you...

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Blurred lines...

Looking in my mirror (the magnifying one which blows my face up to the size of the Isle of Wight so that I can put my mascara on without ending up looking like the Bearded Lady) I pondered on how long it takes me to get my face ready to greet the day.  Almost ten minutes of scraping, smoothing, cleansing, drying, moisturizing etc etc, finished off with some colouring in.  It wasn't always like that you know, and I have worked out that as every decade as passed, so has it become necessary, if not vital, to introduce another layer of skin care to stop me looking like one of those Shar-Pei dogs (see picture below for clarification). 

If I go back to my teens, it was just Clearasil.  Not the modern one you get now.  Oh no, this was just like paint stripper, so moisturizer had to be applied almost immediately afterwards, before the face got an almost papyrus feel to it.  I always used to nick the Mother's face cream.  Oil of Ulay as it was known before the marketing department got hold of it.  This was runny and pink, and you had to slap it on and rub it in before it evaporated or ran down the insides of your sleeves.

Moving on to my twenties, I could now afford a better cleanser, and I took the massive step from Clearasil to Ponds - a thick creamy cleanser in a little china pot.  There was also a richer (more expensive) moisturizer, but I had fallen victim to the marketing chaps once again, and installed a 'toner' between the two.  This was basically watered down paint stripper, but was guaranteed to keep the blackheads at bay, so completely necessary.  I think that around this time, I started to apply pressed translucent face powder, to take the 120 watt glare from my forehead thanks to the greasy moisturizer..

In my thirties, instead of the three applications of cleanser, toner and moisturiser, a fourth tube made its appearance.  Eye cream - to avoid the under eye bags.  Patted on with your ring finger, to avoid dragging the skin and making the bags even bigger (well that worked...) this wasn't a job which could be done quickly.  Time was necessary so as to avoid putting on too much (this was as bad as not enough) and to make sure you didn't poke yourself in the eye.  Foundation cream joined the dressing table line up during this decade. 

Fast forward another ten years, and then the serum tipped up.  After thirty years of buying into almost anything which was going to keep me looking younger for longer, I swallowed the sales pitch of 'feeding your face' (not that kind of 'feeding', that's a whole different issue).  The problem was where to put it in the regime.  Slotting it between the toner and moisturizer seemed the best idea, but I now found that I had to reintroduce the pressed powder after the foundation cream as the glare would blind you.

And what about now?  Well, here's how it goes every morning

Cleanse with exfoliating face wipe (double sided to sooth the sandpapered skin after)
Serum (toner has been ditched as a fire hazard around my hair straighteners)
Filler (or smoother as they like to call it - this fills in all the nooks and crannies rather like Polyfiller)
Foundation (Factor 20, light reflecting, matt, lasts for three weeks, chisel needed for removal)
Pressed powder to 'set' my face into something which can barely move till around 9.00am

But I am worried about what the future holds for my daily routine.  Artex and wood chip perhaps?  You laugh, but at least I'll only need to apply it once every ten years.

Think of the time saved...

Monday, 23 January 2017

Move over darling....

Well. it's been an interesting week.

Son number two dropped a small bombshell into the conversation on Monday which would have stopped me in my tracks, had I not been driving down the A4155 at the time.  Having been successfully employed in a great paying job for a couple of months, he has decided to go back to university.  My initial reaction of 'WHAAAAAAAAAAT?????' was tempered down somewhat to 'Oh.  What's made you decide on that then?'  Turns out he wants a degree and to just try again, and, in his words, 'experience the whole university thing'.

Now I have just recovered from the premature exit from Brighton University, five weeks after dropping him there amidst the detritus and squalor as befitting university accommodation, so I have to confess, I was slightly concerned to think of him going back after such a bad experience the first time round.  I was very relieved that he wasn't thinking of returning to Brighton, choosing instead, a university a mere half an hour away.  The journey down to Brighton was not one I would care to be reliving every six weeks or so, but it seems that he has finally realised that 'Home is Where the Heart Is'.  It's also the place where free accommodation, food, washing and ironing happens, so I think that the mercenary little devil has put some thought into this.

So in the space of a month, I have gone from being paid a decent rent from son number two to cover general stuff, so having him back here, eating me out of house and home and begging for money on a regular basis.  I sometimes feel like I am on a treadmill, with someone else in charge of the controls.  One day, perhaps everything in my house will be quiet and still....just not yet.

Daughter number one is still here, waiting for her flat to be finished so that she can move out and in.  I'm frightened that I have made it too comfortable for her here.  Perhaps loosening the latch on the windows so that they don't close, and running the radiator dry might work.  One whiff of the cold, and she'd be out of here like a long dog.  Talking of dogs, the two fuzzballs share her bed when she's here.  Perhaps some light training might be done during the day with regard to bed hogging and nocturnal 'cleaning' sessions.  Oh hang on, they do that already, and even that hasn't worked.

And then there is son number one.  He's in the middle of exams, so we all know exactly where he is.  In four months' time, when the exams are finished, we'll know exactly where he'll be then too....Back here that's where.  The only one who seems to have moved out and stayed out is daughter number two, who seems to have carved out a lovely life for herself in Milton Keynes.  I do miss her living here, but I don't miss the Afghan Hound hair extensions which used to block my hoover every week, nor do I miss the gaps in my wardrobe where clothes have been borrowed.

Going back to son number two, he tells me that going to the local university and living at home won't be much of a change from his life now.  Just that instead of going to work each day, he'll be going to university.

Oh yes, exactly the same...

Except that you'll be skint and sleeping in till midday....

Sunday, 22 January 2017


Did you watch Mr Trump make all his promises on Friday?  One things bugs me about him.  Well, obviously, there are many things which bug me about him, but there is one matter which is a clear winner in the bugbear stakes.  It's his hands.  Not that they're small (we all know how this can be a good thing some times), it's more the colour of them. 

I appreciate that like many of us Mr T likes a tan as it makes him look younger and healthier (I'm not convinced).  However, why stop at the shirt's top button?  Surely it would make sense to tan anything which might stick out of clothing some time in the day, such as feet and hands.  When he applies the tan to his face, he must wear gloves to apply it.  If I were to give Mr T one piece of advice, it would be to leave the gloves off. After all, if his hands and face were all orange, we might at least wonder whether he's been away somewhere, rather than just shouting 'Fake Bake!' at the television every time we see him.  Let's hope the stylist he is given can talk some sense into him...Once that's done, perhaps a visit to the hairdresser might be advisable.  That comb over of his could insulate a loft - Mr T, it's time to reveal the dome in all its shining glory...

So back to the real world inhabiting real people.  You will remember that the husband had massacred the hedge outside of our house, leaving a row of bare sticks resembling Boudica's defence against the English.  These and the remains of the hedge were removed over Christmas, and the husband and I decided that we would leave it open plan as the view was wonderful.  However, pulling out the hedge had left a landscape reminiscent of the Somme, and it has taken till yesterday for the bags of topsoil sitting on the drive to be applied to the potholes in the lawn.

I left him yesterday morning, rake in hand, and headed over to Marlow to meet up with Miss R for the obligatory Saturday breakfast.  Our cousin Mrs B was there, and we spent a most pleasant hour using her partner's credit card to buy various inappropriate things, which I am sure will cause some raised eyebrows when his bill comes in at the end of the month. 

Coming back home later on, I called the husband and asked whether he'd like me to pop into the garden centre and buy grass seed for the bare patch on the lawn.  Well of course he did, so I parked up and headed in for advice.  There was a chap standing behind the counter.  Here's how the conversation went.

'Do you sell grass seed?'

'Yes, we do'.

Can I plant it now?'


'Why's that?'

'Too cold for the seed we sell'.

'OK .  Can you tell me the name of the seed which you can plant now?'


''Oh.  Why not?'

'Because no seed can be planted till the ground is 10 degrees'. (No idea if this is centigrade or fahrenheit)

'Never mind.  At least I've saved myself a job this afternoon'. (small laugh).

'You could turf it though'.

'Oh right.  Have you got any turf?'


'Well that's another job I can't do.  Thank you for all your help'.

So it will have to stay bald for a few more months.  Never mind.  I am very patient as you know...

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Who's laughing now...

I think that my stomach, mouth and derriere have joined forces to make dieting as difficult as possible for me.  I have this theory that two of them believe that the more the mouth does in the way of eating, then the less the stomach and derriere will be forced to do exercise, for fear of the elastic giving up the ghost in my yoga pants.

But I am fighting my corner stoically, and have said 'No' to so many things this week.  Mainly joy and happiness, but I mustn't get bitter, just fitter and less wide.  Now I always weigh in on a Friday as it means that if I have a foody weekend, then I have at least four days to claw my waistline back.  So I was genuinely quite excited about getting on the bathroom scales yesterday morning.  Stripping down to the altogether (don't hold that image too long as it will put you off your breakfast) I gingerly stepped onto the scales, one foot at a time, slowly and carefully, exhaling as I did so (every little helps).  I did this three more times, until I finally accepted that the scales were showing a pathetic 2lb reduction. 

2lbs?  That couldn't be right.  I'd been living on salad, water and fresh air all week.  I've walked the equivalent of Hadrian's Wall and done Pilates.  I have deprived myself of anything vaguely gorgeous and weighed and measured every last morsel which has passes my poor dissatisfied lips.  Surely there must be a mistake?  I then took the scales downstairs and put new batteries in, just in case they were on the way out. Back upstairs with the scales, same palaver getting on the damn things, and then the moment of truth.  2lbs...

OK, so it's not a disaster.  I know that there will be loads of you saying that 2lbs a week is a good loss, and that I am less likely to put it back on again, and of course you're right.  But there's a little bit of me which wishes it was like the old days, when a good week on Weight Watchers equated to a half stone of ugly fat gone.  I blame the menopause, well I have to blame something, and this seems as good a scapegoat as any.  Mother Nature sure has a warped sense of humour, but you don't see me laughing...

Not unless it burns off as many calories as an hour in my Pilates class...

Friday, 20 January 2017

Fire and water...

Since I have tamed my curls into some level of obedience, I seem to have spent a disproportionate amount of time in the hairdresser's, parting with sizeable amounts of money to keep me on the straight  and (not so) narrow.  I came to the conclusion last week that I frequent the salon far too often, and I think it's because of two reasons.

1. I'm afraid that I will damage my hair with the lava-heated straighteners which the sales lady in Boots told me were the best ones. 

Yes, I can imagine they would be the best ones for that price, but you have to bear in mind that they have other uses, such as tattooing a third degree burn on your forehead just below the hairline and melting the bedroom carpet, making a furniture move necessary.  These straighteners also defy all common sense as they have a water tank attached.  Now forgive me if I remember this incorrectly, but mixing water and electricity is not meant to be very clever, is it?  I know that science and technology have moved on since rickets and a flat planet, but even so, I was very wary.  The other concern is that if you have curly hair which is to be ironed flat, then water is not your friend.  Ever.  I threw the tank away on day one, and over the next week managed to damage a small section of my hair so badly with over use of the volcanic straighteners that in the right light, it looks like that orange loft insulation.

So yes, I'm frightened of inflicting more damage...

2. I can't do it as well as the hair stylist can. 

Again, this is true.  It takes me the same amount of time, using the same brush and hair products and a similar technique (I watch very carefully when she does it).  When I do it, there is no banal chatting about nights out or future holidays, so no distractions.  I am totally focussed on the job in hand.  So why does the stylist's blow dry last a week, whereas my effort struggles to behave for more than three hours (or till I go to bed, whichever is sooner).

So yesterday, I was in town, predominately to get my car washed as it had reached new levels of filth over the last month.  Leaving my beloved car and keys with four total strangers with a bucket, I wandered up through the shops, finally coming to a halt outside The Cutting Bar.  'No Appointments Necessary' read the sign in the window, which was surrounded by well known hair products.  So I wandered in. 

'Can you do me a wash and blow dry please?' I asked the girl on the till. 

'Of course, follow me down'.

Twenty five minutes later I was out with a perfectly good blow dry with some serious change from a £20 note.  I have come to the conclusion that over the last eight months, I have been paying around £18 extra for a massage chair at the wash basin, a cup of tea and a lot of waffle.

You live and learn ladies...

Thursday, 19 January 2017

La la means I love you...

There are some days when everything goes right.  Yesterday was one of those days.  It started well, with the husband offering to do the early morning woofer walk.  Now I never mind doing this, and it sets my day up really well.  But this is as long as it's not raining, when an array of headgear has to be worn to stop me looking like a psychopathic stick of candy floss.  Because he did this for me yesterday morning, it meant that I could scoot into town before work to buy fresh bread for my tea party later in the day.  I also had time to grab a coffee before heading up to Binland for another morning in the world of waste. 

Everything went to plan at work, and I finally stuck my head over the parapet which is known as my email inbox for the first time this week.  Master P has started calling me 'mate'.  In some ways I quite like this, as it makes me feel 'down with the kids', but on the other hand, as a woman of 53, it does seem a little odd.  Perhaps Ma'am might be better, or Your Ladyship.  Yes, that might work for me...

So yesterday afternoon was spent with beautiful friends surrounded by cakes, scones, clotted cream and more cakes.  These are the best of times, and almost two hours later they departed, leaving me with enough cake to stop son number two and ELL from sulking, and enough scones to ensure the husband will love me forever. 

And then it was time for the best bit.  Mrs S (she of the new cottage and imminent puppy) picked me up and we drove to Henley cinema to see La La Land. I have been champing at the bit to see this.  Having been brought up on West Side Story, Cabaret and Paint Your Wagon, I love anything that has a bit of singin' and hoofin' in it, and this didn't disappoint.  Not the ending I might have liked, but joyous all the same.

Walking back into the house last night, I got the usual furry cannonball welcome from the dogs, and then walked into the kitchen to find the husband, son number 2 and ELL working their way through various cakes and scones.   Once they had finished, I started putting the cakes away.

'I'll take all that tomorrow' said the husband, salivating at the thought of all day cake.

Leaving a couple of meagre slices for the youngsters in the house for their breakfast this morning, the husband packed up all the leftovers in a goodie box for the guys on site.  I am hoping that there are more than the two of them there today.  If the husband and Mr R eat all of the cake between them, they won't let them back over the Chiswick Flyover this evening, for fear that the whole thing might give way. 

Stops me eating it I suppose, which is a good thing.

Keep saying it, I might bloody believe it...

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Short people...

So Day Two of the 'Got to Get Back into My Jeans' challenge went rather better than Day One. There was a mid afternoon close shave, but I managed to stay on the straight and narrow.  When I tell you what was on the tricky road I travelled, you will understand why I needed a bloody medal.

Later on today, I have some lovely friends coming for afternoon tea.  These ladies and I have history stretching back over fifteen years, with our sons, who are all now 19, being the common denominator.  Now these ladies knew me when I was making two hundred cakes a week, so their expectations are high with regard to the baked goods on offer.  Let me tell you what I prepared for them yesterday afternoon...

Lemon Drizzle Cake - I am famous for my Drizzle, at least I think that's what people are talking about

Chocolate Fudge Butterfly Cakes with White Chocolate Stars - enough said...

Iced Sponge with Buttercream and Raspberry Jam - this combination is the best ever...in the world

Homemade Fruit Scones with Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam - all hidden from the snaffler I'm married to.

All this was made yesterday afternoon, between dog walking, housework and my second Pilates class.  And I actually managed to stay away from the spatula, the food mixer blade, and the special knife I use for icing, all of which had cake mix clinging to them like nectar from the gods.  But I resisted.  Unfortunately, and this really hacks me off, just saying 'no' to something isn't enough to get rid of the extra pounds.  But I'm on my way, so I'm hoping that this summer I will be in my bikini, with no fear of frightening small children off, or turning the stomachs of young men who are yet to see what a 'real woman' looks like.

Going back to last night's Pilates session, there were only two of us on the mats this week.  Of course this gave the teacher the chance to really look at what we were doing, so there was no place to hide.  Because of this,  I have to confess that this morning, I am really feeling the impact of last night's exertions as I had been doing it properly.  I think that someone removed my legs in the night and popped them back on the wrong way round, and my shoulders have spent a most unpleasant hour hurling abuse at each other this morning.  I think that I will be toddling around Binland like an 80 year old woman today, so I hope that Master P and Master B will be on hand with copious amounts of tea and coffee throughout the morning.

My last piece of news from yesterday is that I collected son number two's car from the garage and drove it home.  After a very embarrassing five minutes of trying to start it (who has a key and a Start button for goodness' sake?) I eventually got in the car and drove away.  Now I am around 5'6", whereas son number two is 6'4".  As I looked over the steering wheel to pull away, I realised that I couldn't....His seat is so low to accommodate his lanky legs that my derriere was dragging on the tarmac and I was driving blind.  Naturally, I couldn't ask the garage bloke to help me again, so I pulled the car around the corner and frantically looked for something which would pump me up as it were.  Well having found the demister, cruise control and bonnet release (this was annoying as I had to get out of the car to shut it again) I finally found a lever which raised the seat, thus allowing me to see out of the front window.

I haven't told son number two that I have changed his seat.  I quite like the idea of him getting in there later this morning and getting his head wedged against the sunroof.

Simple pleasures.....

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Before going out for my nephew Wormy's birthday lunch on Sunday, I spent a most unpleasant hour facing up to the truth.

I have put weight on....

Now we all expect to put on a bit over the Christmas holidays, don't we ladies, but this far exceeded anything acceptable to the clothes in my wardrobe, which very kindly laughed in my face as I took them from their hangers.  In fact in reminded me of Michael McIntyre's sketch about the herbs and spices...'Ever been out of the cupboard?'  'No.  You?'  'No.  Never...'

I have clothes in there which are labelled my 'One Day' clothes, referring to some time in the distant future when they might fit, and then there are the old faithfuls, which never let me down whatever I weigh.  These are the clothes which tend to have 5% Elastane or 100% Spandex on the label - always a winner.   

Looking at the rails, I mulled over the amount of things which actually fit me right now, and it was pitiful.  Having given myself a big old talking to on Sunday, yesterday I signed up for Weight Watchers again.  This works for me all the time I am doing it, but as soon as I come away from it, I blow up like Violet Beauregarde but without the purple face.  It was time to go back with my ample tail between my chafing legs....

So I sat at my laptop yesterday morning and worked out exactly what I could eat for the day based on the generous allowance of 30 SmartPoints.  Having planned it all out, I had about 14 left which I thought was good as it allowed for emergency rations sometime around 4.00pm when I usually press the Panic Button.

Unfortunately, the Panic Button went off in Waitrose yesterday afternoon, just as I was pushing a trolley full of salad past their café.  Taking a detour to the counter, I asked for a coffee (skimmed milk naturally) and then I saw the Red Velvet Cake.  Now for some reason, I asked for a slice which was strange, as I have never tried this before, so it wasn't like it was calling out to me or anything.  The lovely man with a beard hair net cut a small slice for me.  What are they about?  I couldn't take my eyes off it and the poor chap probably though I was deaf and lip-reading.   But back to the cake.  Admittedly, it was a very small slice, probably about five mouthfuls, and it did taste delicious, and the skimmed milk coffee probably cancelled it out, but I made the foolish decision to look up how many points it was as I sat there polishing off the last crumbs.

17..17...17!   Oh..dear..God..

How could something the size of a small apple have that many points?  Well you know what this meant, don't you?  No dinner for me last night to compensate for the over spending on the bloody Red Velvet Cake.

But today's another day.  A day void of Red Velvet Cake and anything which isn't salad...

Monday, 16 January 2017

Divine wind...

It looks like my cold has decided to restrict itself to my throat and chest area.  This is a great relief to me, because past experience has shown me exactly how red my nose can go, when subjected to vigorous wiping from a box of tissues.  Aloe Vera or not, it could still double as a landing light for Heathrow given half a chance, and my nose blowing is so loud, that people have been known to ask whether the QE2 is in town...

But I'm soldiering on, as we women do, finding the strength to go to yet another local hostelry for more celebratory munchies.  This time is was for my nephew Wormy's birthday.  He was 27 this week, and although now a strapping young man with a gorgeous girlfriend and a place of his own, I still remember those lovely days when I was very involved in his very early years.  I used to babysit for Miss R on occasions when Wormy was very small, and I have fond memories of teaching him to point out a rather large gorilla in a book after I'd asked him which one was mummy.  All this in the space of an hour, so you can see he was a very quick learner.

I had suggested a birthday lunch just after Christmas tailed off.  It's always good to have something to look forward to, which is why I am glad that his birthday is in January, as it gives us an excuse to all get together and eat more food.  There were sixteen of us at the pub yesterday.  I'm not saying that the table was long, but the husband and Mrs Jangles, who were at the opposite end of the table to me, were in a different time zone which made conversation a bit tricky. 

There were no balloons this time which was a bit of a relief.  If you'll remember, I got the job of carrying the large numerical balloons last year, and got mistaken for a 62 year old.  At the age of 53, I can sort of cope with that, but as he is now twenty seven, any misinterpretation of my age would be a cause for concern.  Never mind '10 Years Younger', I would be more like '10 Years Older and Looking every Minute Of It'.  But it was a lovely lunch surrounded by those I love, and ended in the obligatory manner.

With a couple of Colins...

Now, if you have no idea what I am talking about, Colin the Caterpillar is an institution in our family.  A chocolate caterpillar with a white chocolate face and feet, he's the 'go-to' cake for any celebration.  Miss R had to buy two yesterday, as one would have never have been enough, and the two of them sat side by side, with enough candles burning to ensure that the pub could turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees if they close to.

For some reason, I always get the job of cutting the cake up.  This is probably down to the fact that I used to make cakes for a living, and there's the crux of the matter.. I MADE them, I never cut them up.   Anyway, this explains why there were big bits and small bits, some with feet, some without.  I must have done something right though, as all that was left at the end of the meal was one of Colin's bottoms. 

The Father polished this off when the rest of us were ensconced in an interesting conversation about trapped wind.  We are a classy lot, but as Terry Wogan used to say 'It's not the trapped wind you want to worry about, it's the other stuff'. 

Coming back home, I wondered whose birthday was next. It is the husband's, but as that's not till March, I may have to invent another celebration to get us all together again.

Better get thinking...

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Cold wind blows...

You will be incredibly concerned to hear that I have succumbed to the common cold.  This is courtesy of the husband, who will insist on giving me a hug and a kiss every morning before leaving for work.  He had promised me that he was germ free after his 'I may not make it to the weekend' cold over Christmas, but it would seem that, as they used in say in the old Saturday Westerns, 'white man speak with forked tongue'.

So I am feeling very sorry for myself, and spent yesterday afternoon stretched out on the sofa with a Schnauzer blanket (this is a real Schnauzer, and not one of those odd looking fleecy things you can buy on the internet) watching a very odd American boxset with daughter number one, whilst multi tasking with a spot of internet shopping.  This is always guaranteed to make me feel a little better, and took my mind off the razor blades currently residing in my throat.

Of course I am blaming the husband, but there are a few others who I could point the finger at...

Master B, the young boy I work with at Binland, has been suffering for some time now.  As our office is the size of a small broom cupboard, it would be understandable if one of his rogue germs had headed over to my corner of the cupboard.

Mr W, the Voice of Reason in the Sales Office, has also been ill.  Ever thoughtful, he chose to open the broom cupboard window wide so that the fresh air would dilute his germs.  Now this is an epic failure on two accounts.  Firstly, wind always blows into the office rather than out, so any germs he may have had would have been blown directly over to me.  Secondly, the morning of the open window was so cold, that the sub zero temperatures could have brought on a chill, leading onto my current cold.

The chill may also have been brought on when I was traipsing around a large school site on Friday morning, looking into skips while it was snowing.  If I'd known that I was going to be outside so long, I may have worn something more appropriate, like a hat.  To be honest, it wasn't the cold which was worrying me, more the effect the wet snow would have on my hair.  That whole 'poker straight' to 'candy floss' look is never a good one, and I am sure that the customer glanced at my hair a couple of times wondering what the hell was going to happen next in the follicle area,

But whoever is responsible, they better give me a wide berth over the coming days. as I will be looking to pass it on to someone.

And we all know how generous I can be...

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Off and on...

I had an interesting walk with the furballs yesterday morning after Thursday night's 'blizzard'.  Suitably attired in enough clothing to make bending at the knee almost impossible, I headed out just as it was becoming light.  Now I need you use your imagination here a bit.  To get to the field where I walk the boys in the morning, I need to walk across the lawn, over the wasteland where once my hedge grew, over the road and into the field.  The first two bits were fine, a little bit brittle underfoot, but nothing too worrying.

However...it was the road which caused me the most trouble.  I tend to keep the dogs on their lead until I get to the field, as even with their collar torches (terribly middle class aren't we) I worry about the early birds leaving for work in their cars.  As we got to the road, the two dogs, so excited to be out in the snow, dragged me across the road.  My wellies, not the grippiest of footwear gave up at the first bit of ice, and I traversed across the road in the style of Jayne Torvill, humming the Bolero under my breath as I headed towards the grass at some speed.  But we made it there and back without too much agro, with me sticking to the grass where I could.

So yesterday at Binland, I was allowed to go and see a client who I have been chatting to for some time.  Master P had to take me in his car, and after a very successful hour with my head in various wheelie bins, we headed back to the office.  I made Master P stop in Henley on the way home to get milk for the office, as we'd run out (I don't function well without a mug of tea every hour or so). 

With milk bought, as I left Sainsburys, the automatic door remained closed as I stepped towards it.  'Oh, the door's not working', I said to the child on the till, at which point, an older man  walked towards me fiddling with a set of keys.

'Step off the mat please madam', he droned.

'Now step on the mat please madam'. 


'Step off the mat again please madam'.

Nothing.  He then started fiddling around with the keys.

There was now a queue forming on the other side of the glass of people wanting to come in, and I asked the key-wielder whether we were having a lock-in.  He looked at me rather oddly, and said that he had no idea what I was talking about, and would I please 'step away from the mat'.  He was obviously younger than I thought, and I had edged forward a little too far it would seem as his tone was far from polite and he said the words very slowly.

This went on for another ten minutes of me doing a shortened solo version of the Hokey Cokey, when a younger man pushed his way to the front of the queue on the other side of the door.  Taking the door in both hands, he prised it open with brute force releasing me back into the wild again.

Getting back to the car with the milk and three coffees bought from the café opposite, Master P didn't raise the question as to where the hell I'd been for fifteen minutes.

He's polite like that...

Friday, 13 January 2017


Well I was wrong about the snow.  It was fleeting and pathetic, but if I had to argue a point, as I did with Mr W at Binland yesterday afternoon, then yes, it snowed.  One of my neighbours, ever the optimist, was outside building a snowman with his children.  Looking at the amount of snow out there, I would imagine that the end result resembled a snow gnome rather than a beautifully round-tummied snowman with a strategically placed carrot. I would imagine that a couple of raisins and a used match would have been all there was room for...

I had cause for son number two to follow me in the car today.  Nothing too serious, but I was forced to travel at 30mph with my hazard lights on while he followed me with his on.  When we reached our destination, he thanked me for being so thoughtful and going so slowly.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was travelling at my normal speed, and had forgotten he was behind me.  I like 30mph, about as much as I like 27mph...well you can't be too careful can you...I have to confess, I only know my car has six gears because it says so in the handbook.  To this day, it remains unused...

So the husband is reaping the results of a throwaway comment he made over Christmas.  Mourning the loss of his waistline, he insisted, quite emphatically, that he didn't want me to cook for him each evening as he wanted to make his own 'light bites'.  To date, these 'light bites' have consisted of three Chinese takeaways, two curries, a pizza and a family tub of Twiglets.  Between you and me, I think that he might have been better off sticking with the food I sometimes cook for son number two and ELL.  Having said that, the gaps between when I do cook are becoming longer and longer, and on Wednesday, when I cooked a meal for six from scratch, I had to remind myself where I kept the saucepans...

Daughter number one is also cooking for herself - mostly green stuff interspersed with greener stuff.  However, she also is very easy to lead astray (usually by the husband) and has managed to eat some very unhealthy dinners.  The shout came up last night (from the husband) for fish finger sandwiches.  I waited for daughter number one to say that she would have one of her green meals, but she said yes quicker than you could breadcrumb a bream - I give them both a week before it's back to my home cooked meals. 

If I can find the saucepans...

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Wooly bully...

Apparently, at some time today, all hell is going to break loose on the weather front with gale force winds, thunder snow and wall to wall disruption across the county.  Drivers are being advised to pack shovels and a Thermos in their car, just in case they get trapped in the expected blizzards, and people are being told not to drive unless absolutely necessary.

What is more likely to happen is that there will be a feather like dusting of the white stuff, and the little old lady who lives down the road will skid on an ice puddle outside her house as she turns out of her drive, steering her car into a nearby hedge at around 5mph.  She will then slowly reverse out of the hedge, and continue her onward journey.

Am I a cynic?  I don't think so.  It's just that 53 years have taught me that this time of year is called 'winter' and appropriate weather should be expected.  What we all seem to suffer from is 'contagious weather syndrome'.  Just because Scotland and Wales are getting it, it doesn't mean that it's going to head our way too.   Of course, this blog could come back to bite me on the backside...time will tell...

So expecting yesterday to be the last day I would be able to get out of the house for some time, I took the two furballs for a long walk up the Clumps (I promise you that this is a real place, and not a seedy reference to something unsavoury).  I have to drive to this place for our walk, and the two dogs, who have done this many times, start to work out where we're going about ten minutes before our ETA.  They start with whimpers, gradually building up to a full scale stereo barking concerto.  I have a Mini, so tend to get one in each ear, shouting for all they are worth. 

As you can imagine, by the time I reach the carpark, they are chewing on my hat and still barking, and rather than looking forward to a lovely walk with them, I would rather be reaching for a cold gin and tonic.  Yesterday, we took the bottom path, as it is fenced off from the rather large cows which frequent the Clumps.  I'm always wary of these, so it means I can let the boys off their leads, and enjoy our walk in peace. 

So you can imagine my horror when we rounded the corner to be faced with six of the beasts on my side of the gate.  Some wag had propped a stick against the gate allowing them to wander in to no-cow's-land.  I put the dogs back on their leads, and there was a bovine stare off as I looked at them willing to get out of the way, so that I could get through the gate.  Then one of them started shouting.  I am presuming he was the ringleader, as he was sporting a curly perm, and had had his horns cropped, making him look like a member of the Hells Angels DairyLea Chapter.  Reg, who up till now had been quite curious, wagging his tail and straining on the lead to get closer, suddenly stuck his legs into reverse and shot back behind me, dragging Percy with him (never, ever, ever use a lead splitter with two dogs - they gang up on you and pull you all over the place).

He also started barking very hysterically, which made the bull (I checked his undercarriage) flare his nostrils and start walking towards us, followed by his harem.  Now I had a vague memory of the Mother saying that you shouldn't panic when faced with this situation, and I am pleased to report that I completely ignored her advice and turned and ran like hell back down the path.  Luckily, the small herd weren't built for speed (neither am I, but it's surprising what you can do when you put your mind to it) so we lost them at the next gate which I firmly shut behind me.

And so ended another day....

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Move that body...

Well I did it....

I almost didn't, driving around the village looking for another village hall, having gone to the only one I knew, I nearly despaired of ever finding it, but eventually the penny dropped, and village hall number two was found.  It's called the Youth Hall, mainly because it doesn't have a licence for alcohol.  I must say, there were times last night when a swift gin and tonic would have gone down well, but, let's not get too far ahead.

So Pilates....how was it?

Well I looked the part and blended in quite nicely with the other ladies who were there.  Only one of them had done Pilates before, so I felt confident that I wouldn't be the worst in the room.  I bagsied a mat at the front - all the other ladies were on the back row, and I did wonder if this was similar to the back row on the school bus.  Would they be flicking the bird at casual walkers by, or singing lewd songs all the way.  Sadly not, but the lovely Alex who was our teacher, had to walk probably twice as far as what she could have done if everyone had been on the front row.  A double workout for her...not that she needed it I have to say...I'm not bitter, just middle aged (actually, that's probably being optimistic as I'm probably now on the wrong side of middle anything).

Well it turned out that I was ok at this.  I've always been very flexible (not quite to India Rubber Man standards) so all the bending, reaching, stretching and stuff wasn't too difficult.  Of course, the lovely Alex had to spoil it all by telling us that she was starting with the really easy stuff, but I didn't let it put me off, and I did things with my body which I'd forgotten possible, and for which my body will punish me dearly for over the next two days I'm sure.

Of course, the whole hour would have been a lot easier if I hadn't eaten fish and chips three hours earlier.  I had met two lovely friends from primary school for what I thought was drinks and a chat.  Having saintly drunk my pathetic, watery diet soup at work, I raced over to Marlow to meet them.  After five minutes of catching up, having not seen each other for over forty years, the two of them asked what I wanted for lunch. 

Well, what was a girl to do...  There was salad on the menu.  Let's face it, there's always salad on the menu.  But it was cold outside, and the fish and chips seemed like an excellent idea.  When it was brought to the table, my fish was hanging over the sides of the plate looking like the leading part in Free Willy (but without the teeth) and there was lashings of tartare sauce and posh mushy peas.

Now I am never one to let the team down, so I ate the blooming lot.  No wonder exercise involving laying down was so attractive last night.

Me and monochromed Willy had a lot in common last night...

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Some sunny day...

Having carted me around the UK over the last three years to various holiday hotspots, most of which have been spend in waterproofs and wellies, the husband shocked me by saying that he felt I deserved a week in the sun, and that I should start looking for somewhere to go. 

Well this was a turn up for the books.  The husband, who fancies himself as something of an Action Man, loving the challenges that a week in torrential rain can bring when accompanied by a mountain bike, a wife and two dogs, hates anything which revolves around a deckchair.  I, on the other hand, relish a week lying horizontally, rolling over every now and again like a hog on a spit to ensure an even tan.  Couple this with a good book, a pool and a friendly waiter and I'm in heaven.

Over the last three years, the husband has encouraged me (this is me being kind, as there is rarely any question asked as to whether I want to climb a 1:3 hill in a gale force 8) to do the following:

Walk the cliff path between Branscombe and Beer - I'm not the biggest fan of heights, and did most of the walk with my eyes shut and screaming. This is not the best of ideas when you are clinging to the side of a cliff, with two dogs wanting to look over the edge.

Cycle between two unpronounceable towns in Wales - the 'path' was full of pot holes, and the return journey was one of the worst things I have ever had to do.  I stood up on the pedals the whole way home, looking like a geriatric BMX stunt rider, and couldn't sit down without wincing for two days.

He has been responsible for blisters on my feet, friction burns on my derriere, an asthma attack eight minutes outside of Beer, bad hair for six days running, trainers, a badly fitting rucksack, unflattering anoraks and what should be an illegal waterproof hat.

So now it's my turn.

I've started thinking about where I want to go.  As it's only a week, I don't want to waste precious hours on a plane, so it will probably be somewhere in Europe, possibly Italy or Southern France.  I just fancy a little glamour after the thick socks and walking boots of the last three years, and I am picturing myself wafting around the pool in a large floppy hat and heels.  Naturally, I will have lost the excess baggage I have been hoisting around this year, so I will also be wearing an expensive bikini (and not denim cut offs and the obligatory walking boots).

Discussing this with the husband yesterday, he slipped a word into the conversation which has raised some concerns.  He used the word 'we'....

Oh....so he thinks he's coming too. Best start looking for a pair of speedos for the old boy....

Luckily, I have a energetic and colourful imagination...

Monday, 9 January 2017

Bounce it...

When spoken about, the first weekend after the Christmas and New Year hedonism is always preceded with the assumption of, 'Quiet one, this weekend?'  To which the answer is usually, 'Oh yes, nothing organised at all which is lovely'.

The husband and I had arranged a quiet one this weekend, with a quick visit to the cinema on Friday evening being all that was planned.  The rest of the weekend had been allocated to 'jobs'.  The husband's main job for the weekend was to fill in the large craters left by the remains of the massacred hedge which he yanked out last week.  I was getting more and more concerned that we might lose one of the dogs down the deeper one, or worse still, one of the neighbour's smaller children, so I had been pushing for this to be done. 

Several large bags of topsoil had been sitting on the drive for three days, looking like a badly sited cheap rockery, so all that was needed was to unload the soil, and push it across the part of lawn which resembled the Somme. My job was to reclaim my house back with copious amounts of washing, ironing and general moving of stuff which seems to have been allocated new resting places over Christmas....not on my watch matey...

Unfortunately, the weather and the Mother had other plans though...

As you know, it rained all day Sunday, so the husband's job was put on the back burner.  Speaking of his back burner, this is a virtual place where some jobs sit for a long time.  A new bathroom has been waiting there patiently for seven years, and the windscreen washer bottle in my car, although a relative newcomer at only four days, is starting to look like it may have the same longevity as the new bathroom.  So the topsoil job has to wait until the weather improves apparently - April, perhaps, just no commitment from the husband as to which April.

And then the Mother called.  Did the husband and I want to join her and Mr G for Sunday lunch at The Red Lion? (We are rapidly becoming this pub's best customers, and I am considering setting up a new company called Pimp my Pub).  Well of course we did.  It was only when the Mother said that they would pick us up and drive us home that I started hearing warning bells, because as you are all aware, she has a beautiful relationship with Shiraz, and doesn't like to drink alone...

Which is why I was found prostate on the sofa, having had two aspirins, nursing a headache and a tummy which was so full, I could have offered my services to the children around here as a SpaceHopper.  I am blaming the rhubarb gin (several times)....and the roast beef....and the apple crumble (rude not to)...and the cream...

I am now really concerned that my Pilates leggings may give up at the first bit of over-exertion on Tuesday evening, giving way with a large twang, and possibly having someone's eye out.  So I have decided that a little bit of extra help might be needed and I'm bringing out the vacuum knickers.  The ones which go from my neck to my knees which I like to call my Harvest Festival Knickers.

If you're wondering why, it's because everything will be 'safely gathered in'.

Well, I live in hope...

Sunday, 8 January 2017


On Friday night, I finally succumbed to agreeing to go and see the latest offering from the Star Wars lot.  You may remember the difficulty I have faced over the years with the husband, as to the explanation of which set of films came first.  When they released number seven last year, there was a lot of muttering from the husband in the cinema as to who was who.  So you can imagine, that when I saw that they had released yet another film, I was a little anxious. 

'It'll be fine', reassured daughter number one.  'It's a stand alone film so it won't matter even if you haven't seen the other films'.  Well this sounded rather promising, so the husband, who is still trying to get into my good books having criticized my Christmas cake for having too much fruit in it (I ask you...) said we should go out for dinner first, then on to the cinema.

We headed down to the The Red Lion (www.redlioncholsey.co.uk) our new favourite hostelry, for dinner. The food was brilliant as ever, and it was about the time the bill was brought over, that the husband announced that he'd left his wallet at home.  The Brownie points he'd earned took a slight dip at this revelation, but we (I) paid up and headed off to the cinema.

Now the husband had drunk two pints of Guinness while we were eating ( I was driving before you start worrying about how little I value my life) and as we stood at the cinema counter getting ice creams, I could sense that he was slightly puddled.  I ordered my ice cream, and had almost finished it by the time he decided what he wanted, eventually settling on strawberry with hot fudge sauce.  Sober, this would be a strange combination, but who am I to question his choices (even the lady serving looked slightly perturbed, and I bet she's seen some things in her time).

So the film was dreadful.  When I say this, I am mainly talking about the second half, as I slept through the first hour.  Who knows, perhaps the first half was an incredible piece of filming with excellent acting and dialogue not over run with daft music.  But I doubt it.  There was a lot of fidgeting going on throughout the cinema (never a good sign) and the husband, ever sensitive to my mood, suggested that we walk out after an hour and a half.  I declined, not wanting to do the walk of shame from the back row through the hard-core Star Wars fans (bald men in cheap anoraks) who were crammed into the cinema. 

When the film finally ended, we walked out of the auditorium past a cinema member of staff who was holding the door open.

'Thank you', said the husband, and then after the smallest of pauses, 'I'm just not sure what for'.

For once, I was in full agreement with him, but I will be choosing the next film for sure...

Saturday, 7 January 2017

If I could turn back time...

So Fat Friday is no more at Binland.

I have to say, there was a sniff of revolt yesterday as the morning hit the hunger zenith also known as 10.45.  Mrs S (whose idea this was, if you remember) called me to see whether Master B or Master P  were going out for munchies as she was starving.  I did remind her that this was the whole point if you were on a diet (I've been hungry since Tuesday, so I do sympathise).  Unfortunately, the two boys had made New Year's Resolutions to bring lunches into work rather than spending their pocket money on food, so their desks were piled high with goodies.

'Do they want to sell me anything?' asked Mrs S.  Well I'll give Master B his due, he did scan his stash, before saying that he didn't, so poor Mrs S had to go without (or so I thought...)

As I left the office yesterday, I headed down to the Transport office to say goodbye to Mrs S and the rest of the crew.  There was a very disgruntled Mr M down there, looking very crestfallen at the lack of Fat Friday goodies.  'Whose idea was it to red light the flapjack?' he asked.  Pointing at Mrs S, I explained that it was a request as we all needed to lose a bit of post Christmas waistline.

'Oh that's nice', he said.  'Deprive us all why don't you...' and then he pointed at a Decleor bag on the side.  Do you remember me talking about things wrapped up in inappropriate boxes yesterday?  Well this Decleor (skincare/makeup etc) bag was full of chocolates (although possibly less full than it had been at the start of Forbidden Fat Friday I feel) and the Transport office had been quietly looking after themselves while the rest of us wept quietly into our Slim-a-Soups...

I have a feeling that Fat Friday may make a welcome comeback next week.  I'll let you know.

Now Christmas is over, Miss R and I have been deciding where we would like to go for our cold December break this year. We have done Norway and Poland the last two years with the husband in tow, so decisions had to be made as to where we would go this coming December.  Miss R and I were quite keen on Prague (cold, Christmassy, cheap, close to home) whereas the husband (who considers himself to be 'the outdoors type') wanted to sleep in an igloo for three days (blood freezing temperatures of -30 and expensive with a high risk of becoming a bear's breakfast), so we have decided where we are going on the quiet. 

I can't tell you where we're going because we have decided that we're not telling him till we get to the airport.  Needless to say it will be cold but we might not even tell him that, preferring to steer him towards shorts, flip-flops and factor 30.

What a wheeze.....

Friday, 6 January 2017

Way down...

Now I have mentioned Pilates to my friends, the floodgates of opinion and wisdom have opened from all and sundry.  Everyone has a story. Everyone is an expert. 

Yesterday, the lovely Mrs L who I work with at Binland, whipped out a box from under her desk.  'This might be useful at your Pilates class next week', she said, handing the flat cardboard box over to me.  I thanked her, and headed back to my office to see what was in there.  Taking it out, it was a round plastic ring with side grips.  I did wonder whether this was one of those instances when someone had used an old box to wrap a new present (I do this all at the time at Christmas and my gifts are a constant source of disappointment to the recipients) and perhaps it wasn't Pilates-related at all.  It looked like a steering wheel from a Mark III Ford Escort to be honest, soI don't think I'll take it to my first lesson.  I can just imagine the teacher taking one look and telling me that the 'car maintenance is down the hall, dear'.  Maybe week two, when I've fathomed out what the hell I am meant to do with it.

I've never been to an exercise class which uses 'props'.  From what I have been told, there are rubber rings and giant balls to play with, which makes it sound a bit like an adventure playground.  As long as there is also a ball pit and a very irresponsible death slide, I'll be happy.  Oh, and chicken nuggets and chips for tea after having my face and hands viciously cleaned with a wet wipe.  Remember those days, ladies?

So the diet has gone fairly well over the last two days, with me saying 'No thank you' a lot more frequently than, 'Oh go on, six more won't hurt'.  No biscuit, sweet or cake has passed my lips, although I have had to give myself a stiff talking to on a couple of occasions, so I have high hopes for my weigh in on Saturday morning.

I am hoping that the scales won't have to go around twice to give me an accurate weight like they did last week .  I used to have some of those talking scales, but I was so afraid that the silly woman would say 'One at a time please' that I binned them, preferring the 'if I stand on one leg and breathe out, then the arrow goes down a bit' scales.  We all need a little help in that department every now and again I feel.

You might remember from previous ramblings, that Fridays at Binland are known as Fat Fridays.  This is because I bring in goodies, to sort of say thank you to all the people who have to put up with me all week.  Yesterday, Mrs S broke the news to me gently that Fat Friday was no more and I wasn't to bring in any goodies for the time being because everyone was packing a bit of extra Christmas wrapping after too much Christmas stuffing.


Well I am going to suggest that we carry on with Fat Friday, as long as we all have a Thin Thursday, surviving on dust and condensation. 

Not sure I'll be able to convince them though...