Friday, 31 March 2017

Hate and love...

The husband and I didn't make Swing Club on Wednesday night.  This is down to the fact that after six hours of pressure washing the patio, I was barely able to walk in a straight line, let alone be able to deal with a Shortie George or a Tacky Annie.  In case you're new to me, it's a dance club I go to, and Shortie George and Tacky Annie are a couple of dance moves, rather than a pair of unsavoury characters you might meet in a bus shelter on a Friday night in Preston.

So now that's cleared up, I was disappointed in myself and my legs for letting the side down.  Instead of tripping (up) the light fantastic, I headed off to bed at 8.00 and slept for what felt like days. This always triggers the most stupid question from the husband. 'Did you sleep well?'  Well, my love, I have no idea as I was asleep at the time.  I don't normally respond with such a flippant retort out loud as the husband can be sensitive at times, and I hate the sight of that trembling lower lip he is so fond of.

So wasn't yesterday lovely?  I took the bull by the proverbials and left my vest off for the first time this year in anticipation of a warmer than average March day.  I even sat outside on my garden bench with my cup of tea.  Unfortunately, I also nodded off, spilling the now lukewarm tea down my jeans.  Mind you, the slightly rosy cheeks were worth it...

You'll remember my ramblings about supermarkets last week?  Well, I have been very organised this week, and yesterday afternoon, the Tesco lorry reversed into the drive (over the mud where the hedge used to be which won't please the husband).  Greeting the driver (who has been here before) at the door, he glowered at me.  'I hate coming here', he said. 'Oh', I said, 'I didn't think that getting here would be that bad'.   'Oh no', he replied, 'It's just that you have the same name as my ex wife, and I hate her.  It brings it all back every time I come to you'.

Looking at this miserable little soul as he wheezed and moaned to and from the van, I did have more than a little sympathy for my namesake, who is probably extremely content in her new life away from Laughing Boy.  I'd like to think that perhaps in time he might be able to move on and be happy.

But only if I stop ordering my shopping for delivery on a Thursday afternoon I think...


Thursday, 30 March 2017

Come clean...

I have a man coming to clean my carpets and sofas next week.  When Reg destroyed the lounge rug several weeks ago, it became apparent that a cleaning session was needed, if at least to make the colour of the carpet the same throughout the room, rather than resembling a map of the Victorian Empire.  

Of course, once you start looking, you start to see other places which could benefit from a bit of a clean, hence the phone call to the carpet cleaner.  He wasn't the first I called to be honest.  I think I worked through six different companies before finding someone who a)called back, b)could fit me in before Christmas 2019 and c)who had the appropriate tool.  Now 'c' is a tricky one, because the tool for cleaning sofas with is not the same as the one for carpets, and is therefore 'specialist equipment'.  One gentleman who started off by saying that he didn't do upholstery because too much could go wrong, finally came clean and admitted that he had run over his attachment in his van and couldn't be arsed to replace it.  

So I got this chap eventually, and he duly turned up to quote this week.  He was a strange bod, and the husband and I decided fairly early on that this man had never benefited from the love of a good woman (or a bad one for that matter).  He was rather unkempt, and his clothes had more wrinkles than my face after a heavy night out.  He also couldn't look me in the eye, preferring to talk to my table runner and vase of wilting daffodils while we were discussing prices.

He seemed to have a thing about grease, and got quite excited when I told him that the carpets hadn't been cleaned for eleven years. Once he had done his measuring (pacing and counting out loud) he told me the price and we agreed on a day.  'What time will you be here?' I asked.  Well, he will be here at 8.30am, and will not leave before 5.00pm as there is 'so much to do'.  Between you and me, I don't call two carpets, three sofas and a rug a lot, but then they are right up there as the dirtiest he's ever seen apparently.  

I've worked the day well though.  I shall drop the dogs off at the hairdressers for a Cut'n'Blow on the day of the big clean, and then take them somewhere far, far away for a very long walk.   With any luck, Mr Single Pringle will be gone, and if the dogs get up on the sofa, well at least they will be clean.

Do you know, I never thought my carpets and rug were that dirty, but when he was telling me that he would be here for eight hours, he added,

'I've never been at a house for that long in the forty five years I've been doing this'.

Well that made me feel a whole lot better, I can tell you...



Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Talk to me...

I finished off the patio yesterday much to the relief of my entire body.  I tell you, last night's Pilates session hurt less than those six hours of pressure washing.  Also, why we can't have a patio on a slope so that all the excess water drains away, I shall never know. I spent most of yesterday slopping a wet yard broom up and down, as I tried to push the water in any direction other than over the top of my wellies.  But it's done.  I've left the pressure washer out, as I know for a fact that the husband will be doing spot checks over the weekend.  I'm hoping that between now and then, it will rain, which might help rinse the dust puddles away thus letting me off the hook.

On Monday, Mrs S, my goddaughter Miss N and I went to see Beauty and the Beast at the local flea pit.  The one with real-ish people in it.  I got there early (as usual), and called Mrs S to get her coffee order.  Now unfortunately, you can only buy coffee at the ice cream counter, so I snuck in an order for two scoops of mint choc chip and banana caramel as a chaser and waited for my order.

I'm not saying she was slow, but the first coffee was lukewarm by the time the third had been made, and because my ice cream had been done first, it was swilling around in the cardboard pot like a rather thick milkshake.  While she was doing the coffees, Mrs S and Miss N tipped up and waited with me.

'Do you want sugar?' droned Speedy.

Looking at the other two, I said that no we didn't.   Five minutes later, she asked...

'Want chocolate powder on the coffees?'  I didn't even bother asking the other two, as the trailers were about to start.  'No chocolate thank you.  I'm on a diet', I quipped, taking a sneaky sip of my ice cream.  Mrs S and Miss N found this highly amusing, but Speedy didn't register at all.  I expect that she had a quiet smile to herself just as she was clocking off.

The film was wonderful, and it reminded me of sitting through the cartoon version time after time after bloody time with daughter number two.  No wonder I was crying through most of this version - fear can do that to a person.  Seriously though, it was very clever and romantic, and it made me think what my furniture would say to me if it had the chance...

The wardrobe would shout at me to 'Put that back as you don't stand a hope in hell of squeezing your derriere into it', while the fridge would be growling, 'Step away from the fridge Lardy'.  I'd like to think that the sofas would be kinder and would plump up my cushions before I laid my weary head down, although there could be a bit of flack from them with regard to the inappropriate abuse which Reg inflicts on them when I'm at work.

The way I felt last night, after the Pilates and pressure washing, all I wanted was for my duvet to open up on my bed and be tucked in while it murmured. 'There, there, there' into my ear.

Having said that, I think that the husband just may have actually done that...


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Spring affair...

Well Spring has sprung.  How do I know this?  Well the husband has started muttering about mowing the lawn, that's how I know.  He asked me yesterday morning whether we had anything planned for next weekend.  Having some idea about what was coming next, I was tempted to say that I had enrolled myself on a day's juggling course, in case 'running way to join the circus' ever becomes a life choice, but I was kind, and told him that we were completely free.

His little face lit up, because this empty weekend has given him the go ahead to hire a digger for the day.  This is needed for two big jobs.  Firstly to dig over the allotment beds to prepare them for planting something which may or may not grow into something which we may or may not eat, and secondly to flatten the small hillock which is now forming part of my lawn, having once been a hedge.  You'll remember that the husband removed this as part of his pruning exercise one Saturday afternoon, when I wasn't supervising.

He is also under instruction to get me a new wheelbarrow.  I have asked for a pink one, in the vain hope that it might just stay in this postcode.  So many things of mine (hammer, screwdrivers, lunch boxes) do the long walk, with no chance of ever coming home again. As it's pink, I can't imagine him turning up on site with all those burly builders taking the Mickey out of him.  He'd never live it down.

So that's next weekend planned.  I'd like to say that I am looking forward to all this green-fingered work, but I would be lying...

So the lovely weather yesterday galvanised me into action with the pressure washer.  Our patio (once black, currently green) is rather big (patio is preferable to grass says the man who mows) and after three hours, I was only two thirds of the way through.  Standing up to my ankles in water, I eventually gave up when the tide of dirty water started coming back at me. As I was heading off to the cinema with Mrs S to see Beauty and the Beast, there was some element of changing needed (everything actually.  Even my socks were wet).  

Getting in the car, I realised that I had a nasty tremor thanks to three hours of vibrating machinery.

Mrs S will think I've been at the bottle again...



Monday, 27 March 2017

In the summer time....

Yesterday was Mother's Day.  As you all know, it was also the first morning of what is laughingly known as British Summer Time in this country.  This meant that I was up at 7.00am (really 6.00am), with everyone else in the house waking up at 10.00am (really 9.00).  Taking a peek out of the window, the weather was looking gorgeous, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving where our weather is concerned and a stout vest was necessary.

So, going back to Mother's Day.  My 9.00/10.00, I had done all the ironing, unloaded the dishwasher (I hate that job more than Marmite) and was standing in a long queue in the Co-op waiting to pay for a chicken and some dog treats. (Memo to self - do not get these mixed up in the packed lunches this morning).  There was a little old lady (came up to my shoulder and older than me, so an accurate description) and she had one of those baskets on wheels which the smaller supermarkets tend to like.  It was full to the brim of biscuits. She caught my eye as I was staring at the packet upon packet of Hob-Nobs.  'I like biscuits, and they were two for the price of one today', she said, stating the obvious. 

Well, I thought to myself.  It's just as well you are buying them because you like them, because they have no other purpose in life other than dunking.  God knows how long it will take her to work her way through them all.  I anticipate a shortage of teabags in this Co-op over the next few months.  I had to leave the queue at this point, and re-join it with an extra box of tea bags...well, you can't be too careful.

So Mother's Day was celebrated with the usual family felons with the added joy of Mrs B who had traveled all the way from the seaside to celebrate.  The husband was driving, and very early on in the brunch (before we even got there to be honest) I had decided that I was going to have a few drinks, as there was nothing which I would be expected to do for the rest of the day, what with it being MY DAY.

This might explain why I spent the rest of the afternoon stretched out on the sofa with a miniature schnauzer as a foot muff, snoring my head off like a water buffalo with sinus trouble.  It also explains the headache and the very early night (hour notwithstanding).

Prosecco, you are not nice to me sometimes...

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Life on Mars...

I tried to buy a new car yesterday.  This has been something that I have been mulling over for the last few weeks, so when I stumbled across a little silver convertible number on the Mini website, I waved it under the husband's nose, and said to him, 'Look at this one.  It has my name written all over it'.

And it literally did, as the number plate almost spelled my name out, which was a minor thrill. This wasn't the only reason for wanting to schlep down to Surrey yesterday, but it helped, so dragging the husband with me for some kind of support, we tipped up there full of expectation.  A small confession at this point.  I had even taken my car's log book with me, just in case we could do the deal and I could drive the new one home.  How naive of me...

The thing is, I used to sell cars for a living, probably foisting around 2,000 vehicles on to the unsuspecting buying public over eight years.  So I know the game.  I know the tricks, of running to the manager to ask for deals, the good guy/bad guy act.  For heaven's sake, I even understand how to work out APR.  I had done my homework on the part exchange price of my car, and was expecting to be offered somewhere between 11,000-12,500 for it.  As everyone knows, it's the gap in the middle which counts, and £12,000 was the gap I was after and could afford.

A snip of a gal called Jo was the sales person who looked after me, and I thought it only fair to warn her that I'd done her job before, so I could probably teach her a few things. (New mats in the foot well, winding the clock back - or don't they do that now?)  Anyway, she checked my lovely little car over, and then took me out in the new one.  We put the roof down naturally, and Jo came out with a priceless little saying.

'Who doesn't love the breeze between their knees?'

I nearly mounted the kerb after that, but thankfully managed to bring the car back to the dealership unscathed, which is when the negotiations started.

She scuttled in to see the sales manager (overweight spotty, bad suit, scuffed shoes - wouldn't have happened in my day I'll tell you) and then out she came and thrust her iPad under my nose.

£17,693.....

I was slightly confused as to where she got a part exchange on my car of £9,000.  Mind you the husband had been loitering by my car for much of the morning, munching on a Mars Bar, so perhaps she was mistaken as to what I wanted to part exchange. Just to reassure you, there's no sum of money big enough to persuade me to part with him as long as he's still got the Mars Bar.

I didn't get the car.  Having said that, I didn't get any of the Mars Bar either...



Saturday, 25 March 2017

Dead in the water...

So Day Two of my mini break was yesterday,  I'd been looking forward to this for weeks, Finally, I was going to get Miss R to a spa for a morning of heavy duty pampering.  Coming along for the ride were daughter number two and her friend, Little Miss O (she's tiny, hence the pseudonym).   I was carrying a small holdall which contained my swimming costume, a clean pair of drawers, my purse and my mobile, which I had vowed not to touch for the duration of our visit.  

Miss R on the other hand, was manhandling several large holdalls out of her car containing a smorgasbord of various items. I reminded her that part of the deal was lunch, but apparently, her timetable is such that breakfast is not a movable feast hence the apples, oranges, pears and several bananas.

Fast forward half and hour, and the four of us are sitting around the pool.  Daughter number two and Little Miss O were in the jacuzzi, while Miss R and I were chatting, reclined on padded deckchairs.  Miss R rifled in her bag, and pilled out a cling filmed bowl of something resembling vomit and tucked in.  We had ordered some coffees, and a very fit Spaniard tipped up with our drinks just as Miss R was laying out the fruit on her side table (this is young talk  'fit', rather than 'he does a few press-ups every day 'fit).  

He took one look at the fruit and veg stall which Miss R had laid out, and very calmly told her to put it away immediately, as you are not allowed to eat or drink any of your own food while in the spa.  It became apparently clear as to why they have this rule when I realised that they charged £11 for one glass of Prosecco.  Oh, how it all made sense.

There was an aqua-aerobics class going on the pool, and grabbing a polystyrene sausage I joined in, with the famous last words of 'How hard can it be?'  Well, I'll tell you how hard it was.  Not wanting to be outdone by the six octogenarians in the pool with me, I really went for it, and gave it all I had.  That bloody sausage was used to do things which I am sure aren't legal in a public place, and at one point, I had it by the throat (or thereabouts) ready to strangle it.  

But I stuck to it, and forty minutes later, I got out of the pool red faced and wanting to throw up.  I managed to keep it together, and headed off to the Sanctuary Room, with its heated beds and thick fluffy blankets.  I was just starting to recover (I'd stopped panting and checking out the location of potted plants just in case) when I was called in for my facial.  

And it was lovely...


Friday, 24 March 2017

You wear it well...

I am on holiday from Binland for a couple of days, and yesterday, being my first day off (well, half a day, as I finished at 11.00), I hurried off for a couple of appointments which I'd booked in.

The first one was for a session of microdermabrasion on my poor raddled face. This is the equivalent of pressure washing the patio after a hard winter, but using grit instead of water, and although not that painful, it does smart a little.  But ladies, as we all know, no pain, no gain, and I was more than happy to put myself in the capable hands of Mrs H for half an hour while she removed several layers of dead face.  I said to Mrs H as she fired up the sandblaster, that she'd probably take enough off to resurface the M4 from Swindon to Reading, but she laughed that off and thirty minutes later I was all pink and rosy cheeked. 

My second appointment of the day was for something I have been putting off for some time.  I had received a letter from my Doctor inviting me in for a 'Health Check'.  Now we all know that this is medical speak for 'Let's see how much you are potentially going to cost the NHS as you hurtle toward senility'.  

Well, I went along with it, and yesterday, found myself answering questions about my lifestyle.  The exercise bit was easy, and believe it or not, she put me down as 'active'. I'm not sure that crying into a yoga mat once a week, and eating custard creams between dances counts as active, but I wasn't going to tell her that.  The subject then came up about my five a day.  'Did I understand what constituted a healthy diet?'  Well. at the ripe age of 53, I think I probably do.  Cake?  Bad.  Apple?  Good.

But then she asked about the drink.  Now I know that I have often spoken about my love affair with rhubarb gin, but to be perfectly honest, I can go for weeks without an alcoholic beverage passing my lips.  Nor have I ever smoked.  I didn't like the way this was going.  I realised that I was coming across as really boring (and middle aged).  But the best was yet to come...

'Can you take your shoes off and get on the scales please'.

Oh dear.  Well.  In for a penny, in for a kilo, so onto the scales I stepped.

'That can't be right',  she said.  'You can't weigh that much.  Hop off, and get back on'.

Same weight...

'Just a minute', she said as she shot out of the door, coming back a few seconds later with another set of scales.

'Get on those', she said.

Same weight...

'Mmm', she said, 'you carry it well'.  Of course, what she meant by this is that I am slightly fat all over, instead of just carrying it around on my stomach.  Measuring my waist, she was more than happy to give me the go ahead for a long and healthy life, and I was dismissed with a 'Just keep on doing what you're doing'.

Now about that waist measurement...

High waisted Spanx, I salute you...


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Vital signs...

Since I started working at Binland, I can count on one hand how many times I have done a physical weekly shop.  Of course, this doesn't include Christmas when it is the law to go to the supermarket with the husband and a second trolley in tow.  Most weeks, I do my shopping online, and wait for that shiny orange truck to appear at my front door.

However, last week was very busy in Binland, and what with the bending, dancing and drowning, I simply ran out of time to do the whole internet thing.   So on Friday afternoon last week, I found myself in Waitrose, with a list, a trolley and a full purse (always necessary for shopping in Waitrose). Wandering up and down the aisles, narrowly avoiding small pockets of elderly ladies who obviously meet up in there at the same time every week, I found myself at the meat shelves looking for a couple of steaks for the husband and me.  The husband is rather fond of a rib-eye, but there were none left, so I decided that sirloin would be a great second choice.  And this is where my mouth hit the floor...

The steaks were labelled up as 'essential'.  Now forgive me for being a bit picky, but surely essential implies that you can't run your house or live your life without it?  I don't believe that sirloin steak falls into that category.  Mind you, looking at the customers (pearls, sensible shoes, yummy mummies etc) perhaps sirloin is an essential part of their daily life. Breathing and getting dressed are higher on my priorities I'm afraid.

I have tried other supermarkets. The one which sticks in my mind most, and not for the right reasons, was a trip to Lidl with son number two a couple of years ago. I'm always suspicious when you have to pay for a trolley.  All I had in my purse was a pound coin - ninety pence too much - and a most frustrating five minutes was spent haggling with a man who'd just brought his trolley back..

'Can I have your trolley?  I haven't got a 10p'
'I didn't either.  I used a euro'
'Oh, ok, well if I could have your trolley, I could give you a pound coin.  Would that be ok?'
'But that means you'll be giving me too much.  And I don't have change'.
'It's ok.  I don't mind.  I just want your trolley'.
'Are you sure?  I really can't give you any change'.
'I JUST WANT YOUR TROLLEY,  HERE'S MY POUND, I DON'T NEED CHANGE!'

Well that worked, and suitably trolleyed, son number two and I were off.  I don't know if you've ever been to Lidl, but for someone with mild OCD, it drove me crazy.  Who in their right mind sites peanuts between some flimsy looking washing lines and several pairs of Wellington boots?  Plastic washing baskets nestled up to streaky bacon, and the bread was cosied up with a couple of lawn mowers.  This was my first and last visit to Lidl. 

I can't run the risk of coming home with a mower when all I wanted was a white loaf...


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The race...

As son number two is away at the moment (if you'll remember, he is somewhere hot with daughter number two, but I'm not bitter), I thought it might be an idea to tackle his bedroom while he wasn't around to shout absurdities like 'Put that down', or 'That's definitely not going in the bin', or, my personal favourite, 'I love that so much'.  The last statement is usually reserved for a certain game which we played when he was much smaller.  It involved four snails, a dice and a load of my 2p coins if I remember rightly.  His habitual winning might be why he can now afford to holiday in Tenerife, while I can just about manage a few days in a shed by the sea.  Anyway, needless to say, the snail game is safe and will remain on his shelf until a future generation can fleece him.  What goes around, comes around, and all that.

So back to the bedroom.  I have mentioned the dust bunnies which seem to live in corners and on window sills before.  These are tiny powder puffs of dust which scuttle across any flat surface when a door opens.  I opened the door and braced myself for the dust bunnies to jump out from the corners.  At first glance, I thought it didn't look too bad, but then I remembered that he had taken most of his clothes with him, which explained why they weren't hanging in their normal place...the floor.  So I spent most  of yesterday afternoon dusting and just generally sorting out the stuff into three piles:

Very important stuff (parking ticket, P45, tax code)
Stuff which needs a home (Old A'Level text books, pens, a torch, Valentine's cards)
Crap (receipts, sweet wrappers, carrier bags, bits of forgotten food, pen lids etc)

Having done this and reduced the piles to two, sweeping pile three into a bin bag, I then headed over to his bookcase which houses everything which keeps his handsome looks at their best (I'm his mum, I am biased for heaven's sake).  Lining up all the hair paraphernalia, there were three cans of hairspray (two empty), tins of hair gum and hair wax (all empty bar one, which had dried out into a solid lump), brushes and combs (remember these are surplus, as he already has his brushes and combs with him), a hairdryer (see brushes) and a set of hair straighteners (again, see brushes).  

He had thirty six bottles of different aftershaves, some of which I'd heard of, but there were a couple there which I didn't know.  Squirting a little out, I decided that they would be better off as loo cleaner, as the fumes nearly wiped my eye brows out.  I didn't dare throw any of the aftershaves out, but neatly lined them up in ascending size (damn you OCD).  

But the best bit?  His bed is broken.  I have managed to mend it using a strategically placed piece of wood which I found behind his bedside table.  As long as he does wriggle about too much, this should hold until the husband gets round to mending it properly. You'll remember that the husband has a 'back burner' where jobs such as this go.  I envisage that the bed will remain broken until long after son number two leaves for university.  

In fact, it's not looking likely that it will be done when he returns three years later...



Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Pain...

I had to go to the hospital yesterday.  Nothing life threatening you'll be relieved to hear, although by the time I left there, there was a chance that someone else's life might be threatened....

For the last six years I have been going to various consultants for a painful foot.  This can sometimes get so bad that I have to mince around the house with a stiff foot looking like a camp storm trooper.  Anyway, having had a miracle jab last year which gave me some respite for a whole 37 days, it was back again yesterday for some more suggestions.
  
It was a new consultant I saw this time.  This one had the personality of a house brick and a waft of ice cold air greeted me as I went into his room.  He had a double widow's peak like Dracula, and I nervously touched the crucifix I always wear, and gave a silent thanks that I'd had garlic mayonnaise on my salad at lunchtime. So having looked at yet another set of X-rays, he said that it was definitely arthritis.  Now I had already had two other consultants tell me that it definitely wasn't arthritis, and I neatly dropped that into conversation.  Well apparently, the two other consultants  (who were a lot older than him and therefore probably more experienced) were wrong, and he was right.  He then asked the fifty million dollar question.

'Have you tried pain killers?'

Looking at him though slitted eyes, this is what I said...

'Yes, I have tried painkillers.  I have tried paracetamol, ibuprofen, codeine and something unpronounceable which my GP prescribed which sent me loopy. I have also bought over forty five pairs of shoes over the last five years in the hope that one pair might help.  I have tried orthotics, which meant buying more shoes because the original forty five pairs were now too small. I have experimented with a TENS machine, which did more for my hair than my foot and which also managed to electrocute one of my dogs.  I have spent money on herbal treatments, pain relief gels and plasters. I have even lost thirty pounds in weight to try and help myself. I have come to the proverbial 'end of the road' and would like some suggestions...

He nodded.  'Yes, yes, but did you use the pain killers regularly?'

Oh dear god, was I even in the room?

Through gritted teeth, I answered his simple question with a very clipped 'Yes', and he peered closely at the X-rays again.  He then made the decision that short of chopping my foot off and replacing it with castors, another injection was the best way forward.  

I am almost giddy with excitement and am looking forward to another 37 pain free days.

Give or take.... 


Monday, 20 March 2017

The right thing...

It was a quiet one at home yesterday as all the children were elsewhere..Hooray! (oh, did I say that out loud?)  Daughter number one is laid up with a plastered ankle, son number one is still ensconced in university squalor somewhere on the south cost, and daughter number two and son number two flew out to Tenerife yesterday for some sunshine and sangria.  So it was just me, the husband and the dogs.  So we did what we often do when it's just us.  We headed off to be with other like minded schnauzer owners with the venue of choice being the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre (www.dbarc.org.uk/).  

Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time will know that the husband and I have tramped many miles with our two fuzzballs raising money for this animal haven.  Yesterday was a bit different because it was a way for the charity to say thank you to all the Schnauzerfest walkers who over the years have raised many thousands of pounds.  This money has helped lots of dogs get through some horrific times, introducing them to a very different world where love has no price.  

The time there went in the usual way when we attend these get-togethers.  Percy, never the most virile of dogs was overjoyed to see one of his old flames, Hugo.  There were some over zealous greetings of the inappropriate kind, and before Percy really showed us up, we headed off to the large paddock which DBARC provide as a safe running place for all the dogs.  Well, we lost our two within three minutes,  The husband and I did four laps of the field without any dogs (I'm not too sure what the other walkers were thinking, but the husband was very vocal in his failed whistling up of our two so that they didn't think we were imposters).  Having walked round and round, looking like the only non-dog owners in the village, we eventually decided to sit down at the gate and just wait for the dogs to find us.  

Reg was the first, having clocked the free bags of beautifully wrapped dog biscuits which volunteers were handing out.  As the husband struggled to open the packet at the top, Reg, whose patience is non existent where a Bonio is concerned, ripped the bottom resulting in a cascade of dog biscuits on the floor.  So we now had seven schnauzers instead of the two we were after, and it looked like shark kill on the path with the ensuing biscuit frenzy.   The husband wasn't sure what to do, eventually handing Reg to me while he scooped up what was left of the biscuits, thrusting them into my coat pocket, followed by six wet noses..

Having finally got two dogs on their leads, and managing to get the right ones, which is always a bonus, we headed off to look around the centre.  The staff supplied the most amazing lunch for everyone with  sandwiches and cakes of every kind. I'd like to apologize to anyone who was saving a small tummy space for a piece of fruit cake....Unfortunately, the husband got there first and polished off three slices without drawing breath.  This is what happens when I leave him unattended for more than five minutes.  Of course, the lack of cake could be down to the taller schnauzers who could reach the plates, but who am I to tell tales...or should that be tails?  

We got back home around 3.00 yesterday, and Percy and Reg headed to their beds and only surfaced for more food before bedtime.

Funnily enough, the husband did exactly the same with a bowl of trifle...

Now, to be serious for just a nano-second, if you want to donate any small offering to Schnauzerfest, here is the link

www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=Schnauzerfest2017

Thank you...



Sunday, 19 March 2017

Listen to me...

Daughter number two and son number two are going on holiday today.  Not only that, but where they are going demands a passport which generally means that the weather will be warmer than here.  I'm not bitter, but maybe I should have told them a bit sooner where I had hidden the beach towels and the suitcases.  I never did reveal the hiding place of the European plugs or the Imodium, but hey ho, I'm sure that they'll manage. 

I have to wait another two months before I get a chance to feel some European sunshine on my pallid English skin, so as long as they don't come home with any strap marks I'll be happy.  Mind you, daughter number two has the skin of an Eskimo, and tends to go from pearly white to magnolia after a spell in the sunshine.  Son number two on the other hand, has the propensity to go red (sun cream is for cissies apparently) so the two of them together will resemble one of those red and white stripy poles you see outside the barbers when they return. 

I don't know about you ladies, but three days in the sunshine would be a suitable reward for sitting through all the rugby over the last few weeks.  I'm not saying that I don't enjoy watching fit young men in very short shorts rolling around in the mud, but I do wish they were a little prettier.  Obviously, looking like a member of the human race is not a pre-requisite when being called up for your national team. Nor are teeth, working ears, straight noses or sensible facial hair.  

The worst thing with the rugby though, is that it seems to make the husband deaf.  There have been many one sided conversations over the last few weeks, most of which have ended with him giving me a bewildered look and asking, 'Did you say something?'  Well yes I did, but don't worry, the moment has now passed, and I answered the question myself in a most satisfactory manner. Last night was the final match for England, and when I got home from several hours in the hairdresser's,  the husband was laid out on the sofa, beer in hand, ready to shout and holler at the television for the next hour or so.  He didn't notice that I'd had my hair straightened or coloured. 

I heard somewhere this week that this is normal behaviour if your man is one of some long standing.  Hair Blindness it's called. Mind you,  I haven't seen any hair on his head for some years, so maybe I suffer from this too?

Perhaps I should go and roll in the borders for an hour and grow a beard (easier than you might think at 53), don some silly shorts and stretch one of my pop socks around my forehead.

Do you think he'd notice me then?



Saturday, 18 March 2017

Perfect skin...

I had a very good day yesterday.  After work, I met up with a comparatively new friend from Binland for some lunchtime shenanigans. I'm not sure that a Brussels pate and a half pint of lime and soda really counts as shenanigans, but it was lovely to spend some time with her outside of the wheelie bins. 

Because the fabulous Tash was walking the fuzzballs yesterday, I then went into town to do some shopping as yet again, the cupboards are bare. Hovering next to the potato section, I was mulling over which potatoes to invest in this week.  I was just about to launch a bag of King Edward's into the trolley, when I happened to notice several bags of 'A Little Less Than Perfect' potatoes.  Well they caught my interest, and as I laid my King Ted's next to the has-beens, I wondered what the differences were.  They all looked the same.  The King Ted's were a uniform 'roast me or bake me' size, whereas the poor relations were a bit more abstract as to their sizing, with a couple of really tiny ones which looked at me as if to say, 'Go on then.  What are you going to do with me?  I'm too small to roast, too big to pass as a Jersey Royal'.

Well I threw caution to the wind, and bought the sullied spuds.  Although they look alright from the outside, I am now wondering whether I shall cut one open, and find that it's blue, or that it tastes of sprouts.  I'll update you after their first outing, but at half the price, they weren't to be sniffed at.

While I was in the queue, having unloaded everything onto the conveyor belt, and listening to the lady in front telling the lady on the till all about her Richard's verrucas (where I live, everyone knows everyone else) a friend who I haven't seen for some years tapped me on the shoulder.  Having said the usual stuff, she then went on to call me a celebrity.  Worried that my dancing might have made some local rag (Elderly Woman Knocks Partner's Teeth Out Whilst Shim-Shamming) it eventually dawned on me that she was referring to the blog.

Now.  I have always looked at my blog as a way of talking to myself by means of the written word. Unless you really know me, I am a stranger to you.  You could pass me in the street, and be none the wiser.  But a celebrity?  Now that's a whole new ball game.  I quite like the idea, and am thinking about introducing several new things to my day to work with this new status..

A selfie every three hours, usually in a swimsuit or drinking something alcoholic - some photo-shopping may be required for the swimsuit shots

No autographs (never been asked, except for the time I was mistaken for Camilla by three Japanese tourists - I signed in the end, as they weren't going to leave me alone until I did)

I shall employ a full time make up and hair expert to keep me looking perfect at all times.  With the amount of work they'll have to do, I shall have to pay them an extortionate salary.

But this isn't for me.

No.  I shall stay as I am, hidden away behind my pseudonym, and be a bit like my potatoes.

 Just 'A Little Less Than Perfect'...



Friday, 17 March 2017

Shim Sham Shimmy...

Yesterday morning, I woke up hurting from the waist down.  Turning to the husband, I said to him that I felt like I'd been in the gym all night, possibly doing one of those fake 'Row the English Channel' challenges which gyms do with an Ergo and a stopwatch.  Turns out he felt the same. As we minced around getting ready for work, thoughts went back to the previous night's Swing Club.  To be honest, six weeks in, I think we are both throwing ourselves into it with a tad more gusto now, so it's bound to hurt more than it did.  Mind you, whenever a new person turns up and asks me how long we've being coming, I always say 'Oh, just a couple of weeks', so that their expectations of what we can do aren't too high. 

On Wednesday night, the husband and I stayed for the second section of Swing Club which involves learning a series of complicated steps and putting them altogether into a routine.  I can already see you shaking your heads and wondering what on earth we are thinking of, but because you dance in rows, any mistakes can be hidden if you position yourself correctly.  There is one rather rotund gentleman who I am rather fond of standing behind when we do this...

We are learning the 'Shim-Sham', a 1920's tap routine which was popular in the Cotton Club. As you can imagine, my beloved suede bottomed dance shoes tend to do more of a sshhhh noise than a resounding tap, but the noise my knee joints make when I do the steps more than compensates.  There have even been a couple of occasions when my knees have been heard over the music.  So between the Suzi Q's, the Shortie Georges and the Fishtails, we are learning lots of new things each week.  Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks...

Talking of learning something new, daughter number one, a qualified PE teacher, gave me a swimming lesson last week from the safety of the sofa.  I had raised the question as to whether I was doing it right in the pool, after being lapped by a couple of pensioners last week.  

Well, it would appear not, so suitably instructed, I headed to the pool with Mrs S last night full of positivity as to the improvements which were going to be apparent once I set off.  I practiced in the shallow end, just in case the new arm technique was a complete failure, and then set off down the deep end.  There are times, and this was one of them, when I wonder whether I have some male DNA in me, as I can struggle to do two things at once sometimes.  

While I was concentrating on the arms (straight, bend at the elbow, bring hands up as though you were drinking, then shoot out again) my legs, realising that my concentration was elsewhere, just did their own thing, resulting in some serious sputtering and bad lane discipline.  I persevered though, and after another ten laps or so, I managed to bring the whole thing together.  I can't say that I was massively quicker, or that I was less knackered, but it was encouraging knowing that I was doing it properly.

But what it did bring was a 10% increase in the number of lengths.

Result....



Thursday, 16 March 2017

Dog eat dog...

There have been occasions, mainly when I have returned from a long dog walk, and the two fuzzballs are gently snoring at my feet, that I mention the possibility of having a third dog to the husband.  He is far less emotional about puppies than me, and tends to give me a stern look accompanied by a firm 'No'.

This will never happen again...

Yesterday, I looked after Mrs S's Labradoodle puppy Ralph for the afternoon.  He is an adorable ball of fluff, as are Percy and Reg, but put the three of them together, and the fur flies. I thought it would be a great idea to take the three of them for a long walk when I got back home having collected Ralph, in the hope that a combination of heat and exercise would encourage a nap.  It works for me, so I just assumed that they would be the same.

I managed to get the leads on the three of them, and then spent a frustrating five minutes at our gate trying to untangle them.  Macrame was never my strongest achievement at primary school, and in the end, I had to un-clip each of them and start again.

We made it over to the rabbit field in one piece, and I let them all off.  Have you ever heard the saying about 'what goes around, comes around'?  Well Reg, who has quite possibly been the bane of Percy's life over the last year, found himself at the abuse end of the walk this time.  The trouble is, although Ralph is much younger, he is also much bigger than Reg, and took great delight in jumping over him. Reg didn't get a minute's peace, and Percy sauntered round slowly with me, giggling softly
behind his paw in a 'serves you right' sort of way.

After an hour's walking, we fell back through the gate and After some more detangling they were ready for drinks and snacks, and what I hoped would be a mammoth sleep.  How wrong I was,  Here's the thing.  When you have several dogs, they never all fall asleep at once.  There's always one picking a fight on another, and to be honest, I think they managed around four minutes of sleep between them.

In the end, I had to resort to a very dirty trick.  Grabbing a small handful of Reg's puppy food, I launched it up the garden.  As it sank down into the almost too long grass ( when did that happen? Last time I looked, it had frost on it) it gave the three of them quite a challenge and kept them distracted from each other for all of one and a half minutes.

Resigning myself to wearing a two tone fur coat, as the three of them laid on, below and beside me, I used Reg as a mouse mat and Ralph as a foot-stool while I attempted to write this blog.  Percy, who tends to be ever so sensible, simply stared at me in a quizzical manner, hardly believing that I may have brought another puppy in to torment him.

So I'll be sticking to two dogs for the time being.  It's more than enough.

Mind you, there are days, usually when destruction has been on the menu, when even having two is just too much...


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Obsession...

It was with some dismay that I noticed that the husband's late work jumper did not make the bin as I thought.  It is hanging in threadbare splendour from my hanging rail, where I put all my neatly pressed clothes.  I asked the husband why he hadn't binned it as planned, and he told me that he 'just couldn't face it'.

If it is still there this evening, I am planning a Viking funeral on a large puddle just outside our house. A couple of drops of lighter fuel and a stiff breeze should do it, and tah dah, jumper is no more.  I think that once he has a replacement, separation will be easier, but till then, I will probably have to put up with him dragging it around like a security blanket.

Lady H (she with an eye for a cobweb) was here yesterday, and do you know the weirdest thing?  The house looked exactly how she'd left it for over eight hours.  Of course, once the husband came home (shivering slightly as he had no jumper) then it all came to a shuddering halt.  As I walked around the kitchen before bed (my pre-sleep sweep) I could tell that he'd had a cheese sandwich (grated) with marmalade (sticky ring on the worktop).  He'd had a cup of tea. (Bag in the sink, bypassing the very handy waste disposal unit three inches to the left).  The milk was also still out.

This is where we are very different. I can't eat anything I've made, until I have cleared up.  The husband on the other hand uses as many kitchen utensils as possible, and leaves everything he has used out on the worktop until after he has eaten, at which point, he wanders back into the kitchen with his empty plate and murmurs, 'I was going to do that'.  Of course, my wonderfully inherited OCD (thanks mum) dictates that I am unable to leave any mess for less than a nanosecond, catching breadcrumbs before they hit the floor with an outstretched hand, and rinsing saucepans out as soon as the peas have been removed.  

I sometimes wish that I could just leave the mess.  I see my friends living in happy semi-squalor, negotiating their way through piles of stuff without a care in the world, while I am measuring the tea towels, making sure that they are equidistant on the oven rail.  I have a spirit level to keep the sofas at a comfortable 90 degrees angle, and I also like to polish my remote controls.

I am a lost cause.  Luckily, the husband appreciates having a wife who has a home for everything.

Unless that home is for a tatty jumper and involves a naked flame...


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Lunatic fringe...

Forty eight hours after the party, everything is getting back to normal.  My extended stomach (too much fluid...mainly rhubarb gin and ginger ale) has receded, and my blood/alcohol ratio is pretty much back to where it should be.  I have a feeling that this weekend will be a quiet one to make up for the debauchery of the last one, but hey, it's only Tuesday and anything could crop up.

I played a blinder on the washing and ironing front this weekend.  Son number one had left all his washing hanging in the utility room,  There was a lot of ducking and diving needed if you wanted to get through there and into the garage without being wiped out by several rugby shirts and bed linen, and in a fit of pique, I screwed it all up and threw it back into his linen basket, with the promise of ironing it when I got back from work on Monday.  As he was staying till Tuesday, I didn't think that this was unreasonable.  But then he decided to go back to his seaside abode yesterday instead, and as I was out all afternoon with my sister-in-law, Mrs H, necking back cappuccinos, he had to go back with clothes which had a road-map look about them.  How I laughed (quietly...)

Over the years, I have passed one piece of advice to my children with regard to their clothes and ironing.  I tell them to buy their clothes one size too small, so that their bodies can push the creases out from the inside.  Unfortunately, now I am losing inches, I have had to start ironing again...

Talking of clothes, it was a sad day for the husband yesterday.  You may have guessed by now that the husband is not particularly worried about what he wears, or how he wears it.  Yesterday saw the demise of his 'work jumper'.  I know that you are probably imagining something cheap and cheerful, but this started out as a Christmas present five years ago.  A silk lined jumper to wear over a shirt, costing around £90.  It was what we ladies call, 'an investment piece'.  Let me take you through the life cycle of this since that Christmas Day...

First six months - jumper is only worn when we go out, and is hung up reverently at the end of each outing.  A red metal poppy adorns the left breast with pride.
Second six months - jumper is worn for light duties around the house such as paperwork and bringing logs in
Second year - jumper is now worn for doing small jobs in (these are confined to the garage so don't count as real work apparently)
Third year - jumper migrates to the husband's workshop, where it spends four weeks on top of a pile of tyres in the rain.  It is now officially allowed to be worn for car maintenance and manual labour
Fourth year - jumper's sleeves are starting to fray.  Husband no longer bothers to remove metal poppy badge prior to washing.  Basically, he has stopped caring about the jumper
Fifth year - jumper is now full time work wear, assaulted by plaster, glue and paint on a daily basis. It has a small tear at the seam and the fraying at the sleeves is extreme, and resembles Indian fringing

So he came into the lounge last night and holding it up, he said that he thought it was getting past it. Now this was the understatement of the last decade.  I said to him that the jumper had been on borrowed time since February 2016, and he was to throw it away.  His little face drooped, and very slowly, he turned on his heel, headed into the kitchen, and put it into the bin. I am sure that he said a few words over the bin lid as it closed.  Something along the lines of, 'What the hell am I going to wear tomorrow?' but let's just hope the weather continues to be kind as he won't be needing it.

I've hidden his other posh jumpers, and henceforth, these will only be handed over on special occasions which don't involve chainsaws, logs, paint, carburettors, nail guns or glue.  He will also not be able to wear them if he is with his friend Mr H, who is just as bad.

It's like having a five year old sometimes......


Monday, 13 March 2017

Little Willy...

I am a broken woman.  Forty eight hours of celebrations can do that.

We had the husband's birthday party on Saturday night, and the rhubarb gin was flowing ferociously. I made the mistake of recommending it to several of our guests, which may mean that supplies are limited for the next week or so, but you can't keep something as wonderful as that all to yourself can you?  You have to spread the love (and the juniper berries)...

In the end there were thirty four of us.  Son number two went down with something which prevented him from being too far away from home, if you know what I mean.  ELL, his best-friend-now-girlfriend was on standby with a bucket and a disinfectant spray, which was very kind of her.  I did suggest that she should still come to the party, and leave son number two to wallow in his own despair (and other less savoury stuff) and there was a suggestion of doubt in her eyes.  Unfortunately, one look from son number two, who by then was resembling Caspar the ghost, was enough to persuade her to be his carer for the night.  I shall have to talk to her about this.  We all know what men are like when they are ill, and us ladies shouldn't pander to their pathetic pain thresholds.  

So we all had a lovely time.  I don't want to say anything bad about the pub we were eating out, but one of the courses left a little to be desired.  But everything turned out fine as instead of a main course, I had two extra rhubarb gins, so I wasn't worried.  Starving, yes, but worried?  No...

We had planned to do some dancing (not the swing stuff we've been learning, just some of that side-to-side dad dancing that is so popular with those of us of a certain age).  However, I had left the husband in charge of the music, and when Baccara came on, belting out 'Yes sir, I can boogie', my heart sank. This was swiftly followed by 'It started with a kiss' (Hot Chocolate) and then, with a big fanfare, we launched into Blue Monday by New Order.  The husband had asked for a 1970's/80's mix of music, which to him meant T-Rex, The Cult and Nickelback (Yes, I know that they are a 90's band, but his music knowledge is sketchy to say the least).  Where was the Grease Megamix/Jive Bunny/Abba?  Now that really would have got the dodgy hips a-swinging.

So there was no dancing which was a shame, but bearing in mind that there were a couple of steps close to where the dancing might have been, perhaps it was just as well our friends remained seated. I'm not sure that any kiss of life I could have given would have helped, bearing in mind the amount of alcohol consumed...

Miss R flicked the alcohol switch from respectable WI lady to kerb-side lush around 10.00, which meant that she just had to give a speech.  The words were lovely, and her speech was short.  This was a welcome surprise, as anyone who knows her will have experience of her ability to 'go on a bit'.  The husband responded with some lovely words of his own, and declared his love for me in front of everyone.  I'm not too sure what I was surprised at more to be honest.  The fact that he managed to locate me in the room as I was in the process of having a mingle, or that he was actually standing up unaided at the time. Many pints of Guinness had been imbibed by then, and a modicum of support was becoming necessary.

After the speeches had been done, Miss R turned to me and asked me if I fancied doing a 2.8km open swim with her.  I turned my head slightly, as I was sure she must have been talking to someone else, but when I looked back, and she said 'Well?' I realised that she was in fact asking me.  This would be me, the lady who can just about do 400m in the local pool as long as she is in Mrs S's slipstream. 'No, I don't think so', I said.  'There's things with teeth in the river, and it'll be bloody freezing'.  Her response?  'You can wear a wet suit..'

Oh great, so not only am I floundering in a river looking like a one-flippered haddock, I am now also sporting a wet suit and running the risk of being mistaken for an extra from Free Willy.  I declined the offer of exhaustion and humiliation,  but the husband said that he would be willing to do it, as long as it was a downhill river he would be swimming...

He's very silly sometimes...


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Something special...

I had planned on getting rid of all my house guests around lunchtime today.  What I didn't allow for was my mouth opening of its own accord, and asking everyone whether they fancied a big family roast lunch today.  Now my roasts are legendary (modest, aren't I?) and Mrs W and Mr G jumped at the chance.  Son number one, who informed me that he would now be staying till Tuesday, saw an opportunity to feed himself up with so much food that he would no longer be able to bend in the middle, and the husband's eyes just glazed over.  He was probably picturing my cauliflower cheese which has this effect on him every time.

So I headed into town yesterday morning to get pork and beef as no one could agree on just one type of meat for lunch.  The general consensus by all except son number two, was that as long as it wasn't chicken, they didn't mind.  Bearing this in mind, I then suggested pork, at which point son number one said that he didn't like pork either.  Which is why I bought two joints, one of which had to be pork, because it is the husband's favourite, and it is his birthday after all.

I decided to buy the meat from the local butcher as it was a bit of a special occasion.  Perhaps if I'd known how 'special' the price was, I might have gone to the downmarket supermarket up the road, but £30 poorer, the meat was bought.  I then went into the Farmers' Market in the old cinema, and stocked up on vegetables.  As I was paying, I said to the stall holder that I assumed he had run out of parsnips.  Gesturing with one of the leeks I had picked up, he waved it in the direction of a box.  'No madam,  There are plenty in that box down there.  You can't miss it.  It's the one with PARSNIPS written in big capital letters on the front'.  Mmmm, just what you need on a Saturday morning, a sarcastic parsnip seller.  Laden down with a cauliflower, five leeks, a red cabbage and now four parsnips also, I struggled back to the car and returned home for a well earned cup of tea and a small power nap before the evening's festivities.

It was relatively quiet at home, as Mrs W and Mr G had gone off to see some fancy stately home just down the road.  They have National Trust membership which allows them to poke round people's lounges commenting on their terrible taste in wallpaper.  I don't know what their membership costs, but I would have given them a lovely tour of number 35, including the garage and allotment, for not much more than a couple of quid where they could have done much the same.  I could just imagine leading them into the kitchen, and telling them that 'nothing much ever happens in there as the lady of the house downed tools some time ago'.

So it will be a quiet lunch today after last night's party celebrations.  I shall have to muffle the crackling when I cut it up, as it could wreak havoc on the hangovers which will be a-plenty...