Friday, 21 April 2017

Birthday Boy

It's SD's Birthday today.

SD is rubbish at Birthdays.  Well, at his own anyway, he's pretty good at other peoples.

The thing is he never wants anything.  He doesn't want a fuss.  He doesn't want a cake and he doesn't want presents.

I do not understand his complete disinterest in his own Birthday!

It's so at odd with the way I feel.  I like a fuss, I'd be so disappointed not to get a cake and I love presents.

But it's SD's Birthday so I do it his way.

There won't be a huge fuss although I think we will go out for dinner.

There won't be a cake which is a shame because cakes are my THING, they're what I do to show people I love them.

There will be a few presents.  Things I know SD will like because at some time over the last year he has pointed them out.

But it will be a quiet affair.

Not much of a Birthday at all in my opinion but that's not what counts.  It will be the Birthday SD wants and it will be a happy occasion without all the fluff and glitter that I like.

The thing is, we have LOTS of special occasions.  We don't limit ourselves to Birthdays and other more traditional celebrations.  We have had so many special days over the last year, over the past few years actually.  SD is very good at special occasions when they don't involve his Birthday.

I've picked out a few photos from the past year or so.  There are many, many more I could use and each and every one of them was a very special occasion for us.

Budleigh Beach - this just makes me smile :-)

SD found the perfect car to match his redneck look in Shaftsbury!

Budleigh again - SD doing his poster boy pose - those trousers!  You either love 'em or hate 'em   (I LOVE them!)    

Sitting outside the Logan Rock Inn in Cornwall on a beautiful day last Summer

Shaftsbury again - SD standing at the top of Golden Hill where the iconic Hovis advert was filmed

Us in the Beach Buggy at Swanage last year just before the start of the parade of 30 or more beach buggys through the town

Minehead a couple of weeks ago - not the prettiest of places but the view still looks good to me!

 I'm just happy to be spending his Birthday with him - he's very special you know.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Down The Park

It was Tuesday yesterday so I was half expecting the text from Mumbling Bob.

'You out to play???'

'Yes' I typed and hit reply before noticing that, horror of horrors, my phone had inserted xoxo after the word yes!


I don't put xoxo on texts EVER - why did my phone think I wanted to for Bob???

Did it perhaps KNOW about the heart shaped stone Bob pressed into my hand the other week?  The stone that SD insists looks more like a loaf of bread?


Off I trundled to the park passing our Noble Secretary on the way who was putting out his rubbish seemingly unaware that the bin men had passed our way over an hour earlier.

I met Bob by the pavilion. 'Got to go to Audrey's' he told me, 'you better come too - that woman in the top flat 'talks' if I goes there on my own'.

'Bugger the woman in the top flat' I said, Bob sniggered and winked at me.

'You've caught me in my all together' said Audrey answering the door in her dressing gown, 'what must you think of me??'

Me nothing, I'm often in my dressing gown at 10am but that woman in the top flat ...

Back at the pavilion our noble secretary had arrived and outside was a wheelbarrow with a large black bin in it.

'Got to water the seeds' he said as he filled up a bucket with water ready to pour into the bin.

'Hold hard' shouted Bob, there's a bleddy gurt hole in this bin.

'No, no,no, no, YES, your right, there is!' said our noble secretary sadly peering into the bin, 'I didn't see it in the shed, too dark'.

'Ever thought of turning the light on?' mumbled Bob.

Luckily we found another bin without a hole and set about filling it with water to transport to the far side of the park.

Laden with forks, spades, wheel barrow and a dirty great bin full of water we arrived in the wildlife garden.

Our noble secretary stood and scratched his head.

'I'm not ENTIRELY sure where I planted the seeds' he said looking around in bewilderment.

Bob and I got to work digging up weeds while our noble secretary happily pottered about with his tiny watering can filled from the bin of water sprinkling a few drops here and a few drops there.


'Bollocks' mumbled Bob as Sue appeared around the hedge.

'I am here to spread joy and seeds!  No, not YOUR seed you naughty man' she chortled playfully slapping Bob with a rolled up newspaper.


'Ere' said Bob, 'don't you go talking about my seed like that!  I'm not sprinkling ...'  He tailed off clearly uncertain how to continue with that sentence.

'NOW' Sue shouted at our noble secretary - HAVE YOU SORTED THE DAHLIAS???'

'No, no, no, no, no, YES, all sorted' he exclaimed.

'Good' said Sue, I didn't want to have to tell you again! Now, I need you to come round and stand on the bottom of a ladder - DO YOU THINK YOU COULD MANAGED THAT????'

'Well, no, no, no, no, no, NO - not today, I'm busy after this'.

'TOSH' shouted Sue, you've PLENTY of time, what could POSSIBLY be more important???'

'Well, I've got a meeting you see ....'

'EXCUSES!!!  I'll expect you at one sharp, I have Jaffa Cakes you know ...'

'NO' she shouted rounding on me - 'it just WON'T DO!!!'  She walked over to the wheelbarrow I'd been throwing weeds in and plucked out a stray leaf.

'This' she announced, 'THIS is NIGEL!' and she carefully planted Nigel in my freshly dug soil.

'Do NOT dig him up again!'

I assured her that Nigel would henceforth be safe.

'Here' she said handing me a small bottle of Vimto - 'give Nigel a bit, he needs perking up'.

I looked at the bottle, looked at Sue and then unscrewed the top and gave Nigel some Vimto.
'I would offer him a cigarette after his traumatic experience' she said but the Vimto will probably do him more good'.

'Where's my eggs then?' asked Bob.

The chickens at the farm have gone into laying overload recently so as well as the dozen that SD's Mum give me every week there are plenty to spare and I'd promised Bob half a dozen.  This week there were even more and I picked up an extra half dozen for our noble secretary too.

' I forgot to bring them, I'll pop home now and pick them up'.

On the way back I decided to leave our noble secretaries eggs at his house with his wife rather than give them to him as he would probably lose them on the way home.

Mary and I had a little chat when I dropped them off.

'Sue's helping down at the park' I told her.

'Oh god' she said, 'she called round the other day, I was upstairs so I pretended to be out and she shoved a load of newspaper through my door.  Ten minutes later the phone rang and I was in the front room talking to my daughter when I saw her peering through my front window!  She saw me so I had to answer the door.  I said I was on the phone but she thrust a pint glass into my hand and it had a tube of glue in it and then she pushed a stick through my letter box. 

Why did she DO that?  What do I want a STICK for??  The door was open anyway, why didn't she just GIVE the stick to me???

Then she said I had to take the glue back by four o'clock.

I didn't want the bloody glue in the first place!!!'

Back at the park Bob was talking to Sid.  I don't know what his real name is but he's a regular at the park and often stops to speak.

Sid's age is difficult to determine. He could be anything from 30 to 45.  I suspect he's never worked and he is often seen drinking cider with his cronies in the park (which has an alcohol ban) well before lunchtime.

However, Sid is harmless and amiable and doesn't leave his bottles lying on the grass so we let him be.

'Must be two years since you planted them trees' he said nodding towards the fruit trees lining the edge of the wildlife garden.

'I remember 'cause it was around that time my Mum died.  I want to plant a rhododendron for her, she liked rhodedendrons'.


'Which one' said Sid.


'I live on the ground floor' said Sid looking confused 'and I have two dogs and both of them are fine'.

'Break a bit of the tree and plant it for your Mum' said Sue.

'I don't think that's a good idea' said Sid, 'you can't just break bits off trees.  Anyway, I wanted a Rhododendron not a tree'.

'A rose bush then' Sue went on, 'plant a rosebush for her'.

'But I wanted a Rhododendron ...'


Sue went over to the wheelbarrow and picked up the half empty bin of water and proceeded to pour it all over the grass next to the flower bed.

''NO, no, no, no, NO' shouted our noble secretary, 'that's for the SEEDS!!!'

Sue stomped off in a huff and, as she passed me she muttered out of the side of her mouth, 'I'll be keeping YOU close - you know too much about me!'

Then she wandered off across the car park and peace resumed for a while.

On her return she said to Bob, 'I have something for your to share with your good lady wife but on no account are you to give any to the dog!'

'Ere' said Bob, 'I don't HAVE a wife, I keeps telling you that!'

'Well' said Sue, 'that woman who lives with you like she's your wife then'.

'But I don't HAVE ...'


She shoved an open packet of Jaffa Cakes into Bob's bag as our noble secretary looked sadly on seeing his bribe for standing on the bottom of the ladder disappear.

Soon after we packed up and headed for home in the sure and certain knowledge that next week there will be more madness down the park.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

You Inspire Me

You all do.

In different ways each blog I read inspire me in some way.  Very often the posts I read will either prompt me to re-post something from the past (Joe's post today reminded me of a post I wrote called 'Tall Poppies' many years ago and I may well re-post that one in the next few days) or will remind me of something that I want to post about.

Val talks about many things that aren't in my world and then she tells about things that are so relevant to me, mostly the similarities between Hick and SD that make me smile.

Sarn and Di who reached out when I had a perplexing situation with blogger and who have since become firm bloggy friends with crafting skills well beyond my own.

K, who I don't visit half as often as I mean to since she disappeared from my blog roll somehow so now I have to go looking (I may not be there as often as I should be but I'm still here lovely).

Polly, who just makes me feel good every time I pop over to visit.

Mike who writes beautifully illustrated posts about his trips around Britain sometimes stopping by at my favourite places (Mike, I forgive you for not loving Swanage as much as I do!).

And others, too many to mention and, even if I haven't mentioned you by name you still inspire me so thank you!

Today's post is inspired by Emma Kate.  A lady who doesn't know the meaning of 'can't'.  Emma takes the ordinary and turns it into something very special.  Her skills and bravery far outstrip mine but because she is so down to earth in the way she blogs she makes me feel I can do it to.

Without Emma Kate I may not have been brave enough to take a can of gloss paint and turn my very ordinary bamboo clothes basket from this:

Into this:

And I'm fairly sure that when SD and I stopped by at an antiques/junk shop on the way to the beach a couple of weeks ago and spotted a marble topped washstand in fairly bad repair that I wouldn't have thought, 'I can fix that!'

We had been looking for something to sit in an alcove in the dining room for some time. It housed a rather scruffy computer desk which was only really used as a dumping ground for paperwork etc and the idea was to find something nicer, a cupboard perhaps so the paperwork could be put away and then SD planned on putting in some shelves above it.

I wanted something to compliment the pine cupboard that I finally finished that sits in the alcove on the other side of the fireplace (a post on that at some point too!).

This really WASN'T what I was looking for but as soon as I saw it I knew it was exactly what I wanted!

I don't have a photo of it in it's entirety unfortunately as we had to split it into two parts before we could move it.

Marble is HEAVY!!

So, here it is in pieces:

This is the top part that stands on top of the cupboard - I've had to flip the photo as for some reason I took it upside down, probably trying to avoid getting my shadow into it! 

The marble top that sits on the cupboard was very dirty and has some scratches, some of which I have polished out and some that are too deep so they will stay but overall I don't think they detract too much from it.

The worst bits were where the piece on top had been sitting and dirt had got underneath it and it had been painted in situ leaving a rim of paint on the marble.  Very carefully I used a razor blade to scrape off the paint and dirt before polishing it.

Then we put the marble back on top of the cupboard (I forgot to take a photo before I painted the cupboard but it was a dull yellowy cream, very chipped and dirty) and SD replaced the door latch which he had taken off  and polished.

I did wonder if I was doing the right thing trying to make it look perfect but in my experience you really need to know what you are doing if you want to distress or shabby chic a piece and frankly, I don't so I will let time do the job for me.

I also wondered if I should have taken the doors off and removed the hinges before painting but, like Emma Kate, I don't like hinges!  I decided in the end to not worry about getting paint on them and as the doors are opened and closed it has rubbed off some of the paint and I quite like the look.

Finally we had to put it in place.  To do that we put the base in first and then lifted the marble and the top piece which SD had fitted back together and sat it on top.

I don't know yet what I will put on it, I'm just grateful that all my  crap important paperwork is out of sight but I've dressed it a little with things I already have for the final photo:

And here it is!

Yes, I know it still has crap important paperwork stacked underneath it but that's not staying there!

The things on it are things we have picked up in our endless quest to visit every charity and antiques shop in every town that we visit.

The small carpet/rug beater with a green bakelite handle came from a second hand shop in Budleigh Salterton and the little metal butterflies from a gift shop in Topsham when I visited with my sister late last summer.

The grey shoes were picked up in a Charity Shop - far too small for me even if they were wearable but I fell in love with them because they are SO unwearable.

The metal tin was a find when I was helping a neighbour clear out his garage.  He was going to throw it away!!!

And the topiary trees in the first picture I bought at a Christmas fair in town many, many years ago.

Overall I'm really pleased with the way this turned out.  We probably paid about half of what it was worth and, after a bit of TLC, (SD had to mend one of the legs that was split too) - some elbow grease and a few coats of paint it's really transformed that corner of the room and blends in perfectly with the grey walls and the (soon to be blogged about) cupboard in the opposite alcove.

Friday, 31 March 2017


If I've flooded your feed with posts today.

After yesterday's post I decided to go back and release some of the posts I had put into draft, nearly 500 would you believe!

I'm not even sure WHY they were in draft after having been published but there you are.

I'm not sure if releasing them has made them appear in your news feed so I stopped after only a couple of hundred ...

Let me know.  If they have appeared in your feed then I'll just release them in much smaller batches in future otherwise I'll do the whole lot in one go.

Thank you.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Why Do I Do It?

Ok, so I'll admit, that title was designed to draw you in thinking that I was going to regale you would more of my madness.

But it isn't about that at all.

Yesterday I went to a funeral.  I didn't know Arthur all that well and I was really there as SD's representative as he was unable to get the time off work.

It struck me during the service that there were many gaps in the knowledge of Arthur's life which was a shame as he had clearly led a very full and interesting one.

Very little was know about his early childhood in Canada where he was adopted at birth.  It was believed that his natural father was a native American.

Not a great deal was known about his life when he first moved to the UK with his family.

Most of the memories were from his adult life and then there were still parts that were shrouded in mystery.

Things that are not written down or told get lost.

I often talk to SD's Mum and she tells me stories that SD has never heard.

Stories about how unimpressed he was aged 2 1/2 to be presented with a baby who couldn't 'DO ANYTHING' and how he decided they shouldn't keep his little brother because there was no point.

So many other stories that I must start to write down before they too are lost in time.

So this is about WHY I blog.

The reasons have changed over the years (and it's been more than 6 now).

It started out as a way of just getting things out of my head.  There was quite a lot of fiction at the beginning along with stories about 'those things' that happen to me.

These days there is more to it than that.  It's still mostly about 'those things' mixed in with all kinds of other random stuff but I'm also conscious that its a part of me, of my life that I'm leaving behind so the stories don't get lost.

I'm planning on sticking around for many years but I find some comfort in the fact that when I am no longer here my stories will remain and I hope that they will bring a smile to those who didn't know me and comfort to those who did.

It's part of  my legacy I guess ...

Hmmm, death has a way of making you think doesn't it?  I'm just rambling really.  I could have put this so much better.  Maybe one day I will ...

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

More Madness From Those Park People

My phone pinged yesterday morning, it was a text from Mumbling Bob.

'You out to play' it said.


I'd forgotten I'd promised to go and do some gardening in the park and I really didn't feel like it.  But if I didn't go Bob would have to deal with the mad people on his own which didn't seem fair so I hauled my sorry ass down there.

On the way I passed our noble secretary who was also on his way to join Bob and who was dressed in a very fetching florescent vest with Community Service written in big letters on the back.

I stopped and got off my bike so I could walk with him.  Hopefully anyone who saw us would assume that I was his supervisor!

We arrived to find the pavilion still locked.  No, no, no, no, YES, I have my keys said our noble secretary patting all his pockets in turn and then taking his vest off, then his jacket and finally tipping the contents of his bag on the ground.

Ah, HERE they are he shouted picking them up with a flourish.  Unfortunately in his enthusiasm his arm kept going and he let go of the keys which flew through the air and landed in the hedge next to the path.

FORTUNATELY I could see them so (only incurring a couple of scratches) I pulled them out and silently handed them to him.

We selected all the tools we needed and, as Bob had borrowed the barrow, lugged them in our arms to the far side of the park where the wildlife garden is trying not to trip ourselves up with the spades and forks.

We began work and were shortly joined by Chinks, a lovely lady who pops over and give us a hand from time to time.

I don't know why she is called Chinks but it confuses the hell out of Bob.

Is she ... Chinese? He asks (Bob is NOT very PC).  I think it's just a nickname I tell him but he can't quite bring himself to call her that and refers to her as Mrs Chinks.

Today Chinks is resplendent in a multi coloured scarf wrapped around her head with tiny tassel's hanging from it.

Soon after we spot Bob heading our way pushing the wheel barrow.

Is she here he mumbles, is she HERE, he looks around furtively.  We all know he's referring to Sue.

It's ok I reassure him, haven't seen her.

Just then - COOOEEEE, I'm here she shouts shuffling up the path with a fag hanging loosely from her mouth.

How would you feel she asks fixing me with a piercing stare - how would you FEEL if you woke up in Budapest, looked out of the window and realised your trailer was GONE - stolen in the night without so much as a by your leave - HOW WOULD YOU FEEL.

Well, I said, I don't actually HAVE a trailer but SD does and I can only assume that he ....

It COULD happen you know she announces with some satisfaction and, tapping the side of her nose she whispers, take it from me, it could happen!

She then wanders off and sits on the bench as we all start digging.

You can tell I used to work for the council can't you she chortles.  I'm just sitting here in the sun watching you all work.  Her laughter turns into a nicotine fulled cough and she sits there for a while hacking and laughing to herself as we all carry on digging.

Just as I am on my hands and knees intent on pulling out a very persistent weed Bob pushes me very forcefully face down into the mud.

I spit out some earth and turn my head to see him white as a sheet and shaking.

Sue has his newly sharpened scythe in her hands and is swinging it samurai like above her head and within INCHES of mine.

Thanks I mumbled through a mouthful of dirt as Bob wrestled it from her grasp - I owe you one.

I'm thinking of getting my chain saw licence says Sue, Bob Looks horrified.  I'm reassured by the fact that I'm pretty sure you need to be of sound mind before they will issue you with one until I remember the Ex Lax is a tree surgeon so now I'm not quite so sure that's true ...

Sue then wanders off with a pair of shears and starts attacking the newly flowering cherry at the side of the park and peace resumes.

Just then our esteemed leader appears from the direction of the car park.  We don't see so much of him since he moved to a nearby town and to be honest, fond of him as I am, we DO get so much more work done without him faffing around.

What's Sue doing he asks.  I look over to where I last saw her and realised she is no longer there.

I just passed her walking through the car park with a pair of shears in her hands, hope shes not planning on slashing any tyres his chuckles.

Bob and I look at each other and shrug.  He's already gone above and beyond by saving my life today and to be honest, I'm happy to leave her to it.

Then she reappears with a flask.

TEA she shouts at Bob waving it in his face - no thanks he mumbles - why, whats WRONG with my tea she shouts shaking it at him again and then turns on her heel and stomps across to the bench.

You can help me, says our esteemed leader to me jerking his head towards the car park - got some shrubs in the car.

We go to the car and he opens the boot where there are two small shrubs in plastic pots and on huge one in a terracotta pot which has fallen over and cracked all down one side.

He grabs the two smaller ones - you can carry that one he says nodding at the huge one.

I carefully pick it up and clutch it to me where upon it disintegrates and a large part of the pot falls on my foot leaving me covered in soil and desperately trying to hold on to the rest of it.

You've made a bit of a mess there he says.

Have I?  HAVE I??? I say through gritted teeth.

When we get back I realise that as I have promised to go and help Audrey sort herself out with an account on a selling site on FB and I need to leave straight away so I can get cleaned up first.

I borrow our noble secretaries keys so I can get my bike from the pavilion and I'll pick up my jacket on the way back.

What's that I asked pointing to a couple of sticks stuck in the earth with a larger stick lying between them.

NO, no, no, no, no, I don't know he said sadly but Sue put them there and I'm  too afraid to move them ...

Any thoughts??

When I get back I find Sue baptising our esteemed leader with some tea from her flask.

I'm off now I announced.

Wait mumbles Bob - I have something for you and he pressed a stone into my hand.

I look at it but it's just a stone.

Ummmm, thanks I said but what do I do with it.

You won't find another like it he mumbled and I wonder if it's shot through with some kind of precious metal or if I split it open will there be a fossilised dinosaur egg in it or some thing.

It's almost heart shaped said Bob blushing slightly.

You might need to squint a bit

Naaaaw ... I think Bob might have a bit of a crush ...

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Oven Door

Yes, I really am going to blog about my OVEN DOOR!!!

How long is it since you cleaned your oven door? (nb, if it's recently then that is a rhetorical question).

Well, had you asked me that question yesterday morning then I would have had to confess that it's about ...  Ummm, maybe 5 years or so?

Anyway, for some unfathomable reason I decided I WOULD clean mine yesterday.

I didn't think to take any 'before' photos but if I had I would have had to confess that embarrassingly it looked very similar to this:

That's pretty disgusting isn't it?

At least 5 years of grease and baked on gunk ...

So I googled the best way to clean it (bearing in mind I had no oven cleaner and didn't want to go out and buy some).

Loads of posts and videos extolling the virtues of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar which you apparently mixed to a paste, painted on and 10 minutes later VOILA you wipe it off and all the gunk comes with it!!!

If you don't have bicarb you can use baking soda (powder), its got bicarb in it.

If you don't have either well then you'll have to go shopping!

I followed the instructions, left it for 20 minutes (it was VERY dirty).

Wiped and ...

And, well, NOTHING really!!!  A rather greasy and grubby paper towel and the door was still just as dirty!

I got a knife and started scraping leaving a lovely pattern all over the door.

I went to the shed and got a paint scraper and got to work.

More lovely patterns but still no actual glass on show.

Then I remembered I had a razor blade given to me by a friend of SD's who sprays cars.  They use them to tidy up any paint accidentally sprayed on to windows and he let me have a couple when I was painting the pine cabinet (which I WILL blog about some day!).

By this time the bicarb mix had been sitting for quite some time and had dried so I sprinkled more vinegar on top and wiped it around and left it for a few minutes.

Then I got to scraping with the razor blade.

It took off a layer of gunk and grease but you STILL couldn't see through the glass!

God my oven door was MINGING!!!

To cut a long story short - I repeated this procedure about 4 times over the space of two hours taking another layer off each time and then softening the next layer with the bicarb/vinegar mix.

By the end of it I had serious cramp in my hand - my shoulder was killing me from all the scraping - my back had completely seized up from bending over and I had a blister on my thumb!


I also had THIS:

A sparkling glass door!

Impressed?? ?

Miss Mac was!

Actually, what Miss Mac said was that she didn't realised you were SUPPOSED to be able to see through the door OR that the oven actually had a light in it ...

But dilemma!!!

Do I now clean my oven door on a regular basis so it never gets like that again OR (because despite the aches and pains AND the blister it was quite therapeutic), do I leave it for another 5 years so I can do it all over again?