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?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Your Once, Twice, Three Tmes A ...

Pain in the arse!!!

I know, I know, you thought I'd gone all Lionel Richie on you for a moment there didn't you?

Fear not, I'm still far more Punk than Funk!

My niece is down for a few days but better than that she had brought her brand new baby with her.

Oh my God she is SO adorable that I've COMPLETELY forgiven her for making me a Great Aunt.

She is so adorable that I've also so far completely forgotten to take any photos, too busy rubbing my cheek against her head and squishing her little body against mine and SNIFFING her.

My niece is pretty adorable too so when the subject of Easter came up and we got to talking about Hot Cross Buns and she asked if I would make some I foolishly said YES.

It's YEARS since I've made Hot Cross Buns and I forgotten that there was a very good reason for that.

I'd actually forgotten how to make the things too so I googled it.

And I broke my golden rule when cooking ...

NEVER pick the first recipe you google!

There are dozens of different recipes for the buns.  What I should have done is read a few and pick the easiest - after years of creaming butter and sugar together I discovered the all in one Victoria Sponge recipe and not only does it make the best sponge it's so much easier.  I should have remembered that!

But no, I picked the one that said:

1. Make the dough (I won't give you all the details of what goes in them).

2. Kneed the dough.

3. Prove the dough.

4. Knock the dough back.

5. Prove the dough for a second time.

6. Cut and shape the dough into buns.

7. Rest the dough.

8. Prove the dough for a THIRD time.

9. Make a paste for the crosses on top.

10. Pipe crosses on the thrice proved dough.

11, Bake the buns.

12. Glaze the buns with warmed golden syrup (a new one on me, I've always used apricot jam before)

Two and a half fricken hours later I finally had Hot Cross buns that I could have bought for a quid at any supermarket, a kitchen knee deep in flour and bits of dough setting like concrete on my kitchen counter!

I'd like to say that on the plus side they taste far superior to the shop bought ones but the truth is I'm not sure (after all that bloody work) that they do ...

Thursday, 16 March 2017

If ...

I expect half of you saw the title and expected me to start waxing lyrical about Rudyard Kipling.

The other half will have just assumed I got half way through typing it and got distracted by shiny stuff.

Well, no to both of those.

This is the Birthday post!

Yes, yesterday was my Birthday.  Another year older, another year wiser ...

A lot of people asked me if I'd had a good Birthday and it got me thinking.

If I measured my Birthday by how many cards I got then yes, it was a good Birthday.  The mantle above the fireplace is full of cards mostly from the usual suspects and a few unexpected ones which was really lovely.

If I calculated how good the day had been by the number of people on Facebook who wished me happy Birthday then also yes, over 50% of my Facebook friends took the time to leave me a message and I'd say that's a pretty good average.

If I look at the presents I received then again, yes.  I had so many lovely and thoughtful presents, I feel very spoilt.

If I count the number of Birthday cakes I was given.  Well, I had 4 -  I know, FOUR!!!  That's 3 more than anyone could hope for and actually far more than I can eat so I think I will be offering cake to my friends for the next few days.

If I judge how good the day was by the weather then I really was blessed with a beautiful day of Spring sunshine and I sat in the sun for a while drinking tea and soaking up the warmth as all around me the garden showed signs of bursting into life.

If it's all about the food then It was definitely a winner.  Miss Mac took me out to a local Italian family run restaurant and we had the most fabulous meal.

If I consider the alternative to turning another year older then I know that I am very lucky to still have my health with no real worries.  I am fit, I am healthy and there is nothing I cannot do.

But it's not any one of those things in isolation is it?

It's all of those things wrapped up in a big ball that makes me so lucky and means that yes, I really DID have a good Birthday because of those people who care about and love me enough to make those things happen.

I am truly blessed :-)

Friday, 10 March 2017

The Importance Of NOT Being Earnest

My phone rang yesterday lunchtime.  Not my mobile phone but the house phone.  The number that very few people have because it's easier to hand out my mobile and people are far more likely to get me on it.

When the home phone rings its usually a wrong number and someone wanting a local letting agency who have a very similar number to me.  If it's not that then it's most probably SD's Mum who only phones me rarely but might perhaps want me to pick her up something from town.

It wasn't SD's  Mum or a wrong number, it was my next door neighbour ...

I haven't seen my next door neighbour for several weeks.  Back in January she had a knee replacement and had been spending her recovery time with her daughter who lives 60 odd miles away.

It's been a bit of a relief to be honest.

Now of course there is a back story.

I don't like my next door neighbour.

If that sounds a bit harsh then I should explain that there are very few people I would say I dislike and, I do have good reason not to like her.

We have history.  In fact she and her (now deceased) husband have history with almost everybody locally.  They were not a pleasant couple always finding fault with others, always complaining about anything and everything and often behaving aggressively towards other people.

Mostly I kept out of their way and ignored them but we have had the occasional run in.

The husband died 10 or 12 years ago and things settled down.  Without her partner in crime my neighbour seemed to loose her fire and relish for argument and we lived side by side in relative peace.

She often seemed to go away either to visit her daughter or be on holiday.

For a long time she had a friend, Earnest who spent a lot of time helping her with things.  I'd see him working in her garden or doing repairs around the house or bringing in shopping.

I liked Earnest.  We always stopped to chat.  His health wasn't good but he seemed happy to have someone to look after.  I always felt that although it appeared that Earnest didn't really get a fair share of the benefits of friendship it didn't matter to him because it gave him purpose and some kind of companionship.

Whatever it was it seemed to work for them both and that's all that matters.

About a year ago Earnest health deteriorated and he had to go into a nursing home.

After that my neighbour took to calling around to ask me to help her with little things like taking the rubbish out, changing the battery in her smoke alarm, reading her electric meter, picking up a prescription from the doctor etc.

Well, I still didn't like the woman but I'm not an unkind person so I did the things she asked me to do.

Just before Christmas I was helping her with something and she told me that she was due to have a knee replacement in January.  She had clearly been struggling for some time although she was still able to walk and drive the stairs were a struggle and she had been in pain.

She said that she was unhappy and lonely, that she just wanted to die.

Of course I felt sorry for her.  She was clearly very unhappy.  I pointed out the benefits of the knee replacement, that she should be far more mobile once it was done.  I asked her about the possibility of moving nearer her daughter and suggested that she should think seriously about such a move.

Nothing seemed to make her feel better and I was somewhat at a loss to know what to suggest.

I asked her if she had seem Earnest lately.  No, she told me, it's too difficult to go and see him.

I felt a little less sympathetic when she said this.  She seemed perfectly able to go visiting other friends who she stayed with regularly and to also go on holiday to Majorca a few weeks previously.  I couldn't help thinking that poor Earnest had clearly outlived his usefulness...

Anyway, until yesterday there had been 6 peaceful weeks without a phone call.

The voice at the end of the phone yesterday sounded desperate.  Can you come and help me she said.  I don't know what to do ...

Of course I went straight round.  She was tearful and shaky and I felt sorry for her again.

My friend asked me to leave she told me.  I don't know why.  I don't know what to do.  I don't have any food in the house.  I want to die.

I told her not to think like that.  I asked her what she needed.

I went home and made her a cup of tea and a teacake, sat down with her and made a shopping list.  Brought in all her bags from her car and talked to her for a while.

Can yo go and stay with your daughter I asked.

She told me to leave last week she told me.

Can I come and spend some time with you this evening?

Now I REALLY don't want to go down THAT road.  I do feel sorry for her but I can't pretend that it makes me like her any better and I don't want to start something that I don't want to do and won't be able to stop.

I told her (truthfully) that SD and I were busy.  We had to go shopping and then would be going to see his parents.  She was very upset and almost begged me to cancel.

I felt under a huge amount of pressure to do that but I stuck to my guns, I had things I needed to do!

The bottom line is that SD's parent although fantastic ARE in their 80's.  They both still drive and they manage very well but they DO need a little help and support.  In time they may need more and I am happy to give them anything they need because they are good, kind, loving people who I have a huge amount of respect and love for.

I also have my own parents.  Although they don't live with me they also need my help from time to time.  My step dad is 86 and amazing.  Still active and out and about every day bu Mum is less so.  She needs a certain level of care and while I'm not expected to provide this there are time (especially when she needs to go out and I'm the only one able to push the wheelchair) that they need me.  My sister has ongoing health issues and I need to be on hand if she every needs any help.  Again, she is fantastic and carries on through really difficult times but she is my family and comes first.

I don't need or want the responsibility of someone else but I feel it's being thrust upon me.

I popped round later and took her some of my milk and teabags to tide her over along with a sandwich to make sure she had eaten something and I'm going to see her later this morning.  I have her shopping for her and I will see if there is anything else she needs.  I won't abandon her despite my personal feelings but I will not become her second Earnest.

I asked for her daughters phone number last night as she said she had been phoning her but she hadn't picked up.  I left a message saying I was very concerned about her mother and could she call me.  That was at about 6pm last night, she hasn't called me back.

Perhaps she too has had enough.  I know my neighbour stayed with her after the operation.  She told me last night that she had asked her to leave a week ago which is when she went to stay with her friend.  I don't know what the circumstances were when she asked her to leave.  My neighbour claims she has no idea why her friend asked her to leave yesterday, that it was sudden and abrupt and for no reason.  I'm not sure she told me the full story ...

Anyway, that is where we are now and I really don't know what to do.

When I've seen her this morning I will try her daughter again.

If she is still saying she wants to die I think I will see if I can speak to her doctor and see if there is any help she can be provided with.

Like I said, I won't abandon her but I will not be Earnest!

A brief update: I have spoken to my neighbours daughter who sounds like a lovely lady.  She told me that her mother has been making threats to kill herself since she was about 21 (she is now 60) and she feels it is a tool to get others to do things for her and, as such, to try not to take too much notice of it.  She explained that her mother had been with her for almost 2 months whilst recovering from her knee op and was now far more mobile than she lets on.  The reason her friend asked her to leave was because she expected him to do everything for her despite them being the same age and he just couldn't cope any longer.  The bottom line is that I have said I will continue to give a certain level of support but I would be firm about how far that support would go.  The daughter is going to arrange for the supermarket to deliver food etc and will try to come to see her this weekend.  I've said that if she has any concerns she should ring me and I will do the same but I think we both agree that (although the words were never actually said) my neighbour can be very manipulative and draining on those around her and it needs to be made very clear to her that it won't be tolerated. So THAT'S where we are right now. I've got to admit, I'm not looking forward to the next call I get from her and I anticipate our next conversation not being comfortable but the line needs to be drawn very clearly before things get out of hand.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Crap And Councillors

Having a bit of a poke around the blog and I found this post from a few years back.

It made me giggle so I thought I'd share it and see if it made you giggle too.

This evening I attended a council meeting.

For those of you who don't know, I belong to an action group for our local park.

We do a little fund raising.  A little bulb planting. A little bench painting ect.

Little things that make our park a nicer place and ensure that the local council have a vested interest in keeping it looking good ie WE KNOW WHERE THEY LIVE!!!

God councilors are (for the most part) boring old farts!

I went along with Den. I shall call him Den, not necessarily because that's his name but because that's what I choose to call him.

In fact, I shall call him Dirty Den or DD or ...  no ...  I shall call him Double D!!!

Ok, Double D (which is NOT his real name) and I rocked up at about 6:20 for a 6:30 start.

He is a truly crap driver btw with a truly crap car.

I got in the bastard thing, went to shut the door and the whole door panel damn near came off in my hand (my bloody finger nail DID come off!!).

He also drove half the way so busy slagging off the Christmas lights in town (they aren't THAT bad) that he totally forgot to turn HIS lights on.

Anyway, crap driver with a shitty car he may be but I'm really rather fond of him and I love that fact that he's so far out of place in a council meeting it's like being there with an alien from another planet and that cheers me up no end.

Like I said, they are a bunch of boring farts.

Double D kept asking what I was scribbling on my note pad before the meeting had even started.

Blog fodder I hissed (he has NO idea what a blog is bless him).

Have you seen his braces?

Pull those babies any higher and he'll be wearing his testicles as earings!

Better still, twang them and see if his nipples fly off said Double D.

 I snorted VERY loudly at that point not realising that as I was leaning forward I was depressing the talk button on my microphone.

 I sooo wanted to take pictures of them all for you.

That's another thing!!

The damn room was set up like the House of Commons. All state of the art whatnots, no WONDER the bloody roads are full of pot holes, I SEE where my council tax goes!!

Anyway, I digress ...

I'd love to just photocopy and scan my scribbles for you  complete with doodles but they are so bad even I struggle to decipher them.

It started off with a friendly debate about when they would be getting their year book (the councilors bible that tells them all the meeting dates, who's who, who THEY are ect).

It transpired that a couple had already got them.  Much 'poor show' and 'ye gads' followed as those who had one flourished them and those who didn't looked on in envy.

That was until it transpire that this year THERE WAS NO RIBBON!!

What effing ribbon?

The one to place in between the pages so you don't lose your place of course.

They seemed to lose some of their kudos after that and much grumbling and threats of 'having words' were uttered.

Apparently it was a money saving initiative.

OF COURSE, they have to pay for f*cking state of the art conference rooms SOMEHOW don't they?

Then there was the discussion about the clocks in the room.

One told the correct time, the other appeared to be stuck at 5 to 5.

'Wasn't that the time Blue Peter used to start?' Said the mayor (I shit you not, it was the mayor!)

No, said Cllr ESP (and yes, those ARE his real initials;) That was Cracker Jack.

The magistrate at the back (who had been peacefully dozing) suddenly piped up, 'we have to pay for our own effing year books you know, you should think yourselves lucky!.

She then went promptly back to sleep for the rest of the meeting.

The Chair, cllr f*ckwit  (yeees, that's HIS real name too :) apologised for sounding like he came from Wolverhampton but he had a slight cold (difficult one that if you dont know what a Wolverhampton accent sounds like)

They then discussed the merits of having a calender printed next year.

Ooh, we were going to do that piped up the deputy mayor but the cost was astronomical so we are having a series of tea towels printed instead (I shit you not!!;).

Briefly the possibility of having the cllrs do it WI style, ie naked was considered but it was generally agreed that no one really wanted to see them at all ...  ever ...  even fully clothed let alone in the buff .

This was all by the way BEFORE the meeting proper started.

We were there to discuss the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and to ensure that events didn't encroach or overlap.

Woe betide anyone trying to steal a  rise over the Eggbuckland egg throwing competition or the Welland wheelbarrow race with (chortle) REAL wheelbarrows!!

Personally I thought the Wellington wife wanging competition and the Thurloxton toast tossing events sounded like MUCH more fun. (I may or may not be lying about any or ALL of this btw;)

They then started banging on about lighting the beacons which was all a little boring tbh.

Should they just be official ones or could we all build bloody great bonfires in our back gardens?

Historically they would have been lit at the top of churches but sadly health and safety and insurance ect pretty much rules that out these days.

I did have a little chuckle when concerns were expressed that this bureaucracy, gone mad might,  'weaken the beacon' :)

There was then a long diatribe from a bloke I could have sworn wasn't English but according to Double D it was just that he had so many plums in his mouth he could barely speak at all.

No idea what he was banging on about.

Midway through it all I had a sudden craving for Coronation Chicken.

WTF was that all about??

I haven't had Coronation Chicken since the 1987 Boxing Day turkey curry buffet at Aunty Alices (and even then it was turkey, not chicken) .

Anyway, I think I got down most of the salient points.

Perhaps I should just email this post to our secretary?

That'll teach her to go herself next time!

Monday, 6 March 2017

All Good Things

On a regular basis I tell Miss Mac to put the toilet seat down before she flushes - she never does.

Seriously, I say to her, don't you know that each time you flush you are leaning over the open bowl and droplets of water (and whatever you have just deposited) are in the air and you are BREATHING them in???

I was asked if I ironed my bed linen the other day.

Who DOES that?  Do YOU do that?  I don't iron anything and, if I did, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be bed linen ...

I've spent another morning sifting through paperwork.  How did I managed to accumulate SO much?  It's EVERYWHERE!

I've emptied the filing cabinet and I'm pretty sure that there was nothing new put in there in the last decade.  I've cleared out the large built in cupboard in my bedroom.  I've sorted through the bags on top of one of the wardrobes and I've carefully gone through every single one of the 15 drawers in the merchants chest in the dining room.

The only thing left to do is the very large cupboard under the stairs which has all manner of things in it from craft supplies to carrier bags full of god knows what (but mainly paperwork I think).

How did I let things get in such a mess?

It's been a gradual slide over many years and, on the plus side, I don't appear to have ever thrown anything out.  On the minus side - well, I don't appear to have ever thrown anything out ...

I'm throwing stuff out now!!!

Bags and bags of complete crap are being taken to the farm where SD kindly burns the on the bonfire for me and, with each bag of crap that leaves this house I feel like I'm gaining a little sanity.

So why?  Or maybe to be more precise, why now?

I'm divorcing Ex Lax that's why.

NB. Ex Lax acquired that moniker when I friend of mine mistyped his name as 'Lack' and it seemed so appropriate - it was but a short step to 'Ex Lax' the laxative as he is my Ex and he gives me the sh**s.

About time too I expect you are thinking and indeed it is!

Please don't think I haven't been down this road before, I have, TWICE!!!

Both times he refused to play ball and sign the papers and unfortunately due to the way divorce works I was unable to proceed without his cooperation.

Anyway, enough years have passed now that I can get on with it whether he likes it or not and, given that the universe hasn't reabsorbed him and he hasn't spontaneously combusted (both things it seemed reasonable to hope for) I am going for it so I can get on with my life with SD without the past hanging over us.

It's not going to be all plain sailing.  He is still digging his heels in (does he not WANT to be free of me too ...) and I have no doubt that there will be battles ahead as I try to untangle my life from his is a full and final way.

I couldn't do it without SD's support.  Ex Lax still has a way of pushing my buttons although to a much less extent than he previously could but SD is the calming voice of reason.  He can make me laugh at the ridiculous things Ex Lax says and does.  He can make me see that even if the final verdict doesn't give me everything I feel I deserve then I'm still a winner.

I'll always be the winner (and yes, sometimes it IS the winning that counts) because I am happy, I have a good life, I carry no guilt or shame for the past and I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I have behaved with dignity and integrity.

I doubt I'll post much on this journey to free myself because what's the point?  I haven't ever and wont ever use my blog as a platform to discredit anyone else (it's all subjective anyway isn't it).  I may occasionally talk about it a little, I may not.

I'll almost certainly write a post when it is all over.

I'm hoping that day will be soon ...

Thursday, 2 March 2017

It's Just A Question Of Borganisation

 I'm being very influenced by Joe at the moment.

That's quite an alarming thought as I'm sure you will agree if you read his blog ...

Anyway, Joe's latest post is about quirks.

Joe has quirks but he prefers not to discuss them.  I have quirks I expect and I've no idea if you are aware of them because I see (almost) everything I do as perfectly normal - you may beg to differ ...

Joe and I have something in common - we KNOW people with quirks!

So Joe's post today reminded me of something I wrote a while ago and I thought I'd share it with you again today so here it is:


Have I ever told you how borganized SD is?

Possibly not - I mean, I might have made the odd comment now and then.

I might have ALLUDED to it.

I may even have grumbled or even JOKED about it on occasions but now I'm calling it.

SD, you are REALLY bloody BORGANIZED and it's driving me INSANE - seriously - completely nuts, round the bend, off to lala land, BATFECKINGSHITCRAZY!!!

God, you have NO idea how much better I feel having got that out in the open ...

It's like a huge weight has been lifted and I feel free at last!

Now, some of you will know EXACTLY what I'm talking about whilst others (probably others who indulge in a little borganization) will have NO idea so I shall explain.

IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE (or your sanity)!

Borganized is my new adjective.

I don't see why I shouldn't invent a word, I mean, EVERYONE'S at it these days aren't they?  Even Farmers are getting in on the act, have you seen this?

Behold the Felfie!

A Felfie is a rural twist on the selfie where a farmer takes a photo of himself with his livestock - it's probably best you don't google this yourself or, if you must, avoid searching on 'Welsh Felfie' (trust me, I KNOW what I'm talking about!).

Anyway, so, back to Borganised  (you may have noticed that sometimes I will spell borganized with a z and sometimes with an s - this is a classic definition of a person who is totally UNborganized).

You can recognise a Borganised person by the following (please note - not all Borganised people will display all borgan tendencies):

A Borganised person will write lists - sometimes they will write multiple lists and cross reference them.

A Borganised person owns several pens of different colours all of which work and have colour corresponding lids which are not chewed.

A Borganised person will run 12 books at Bingo (SD does not fall into this category and refuses to play Bingo) whilst simultaneously playing a hand of whist and knitting a pair of booties.

A Borganised person will ask you suspiciously what you have been looking for should you accidentally move something on their beside table by 3mm when you were trying to steal the chocolate that they got for their Birthday 2 frigging MONTHS ago and which is still wrapped and uneaten when everyone KNOWS that chocolate starts to deteriorate the moment you see it and from a health point of view should be eaten immediately so you were just trying to save them from certain DEATH!! innocently dusting or doing other important house cleaning stuff...

A Borganised person is appropriately dressed for every occasion and will make suggestions as to how you too could be appropriately dressed - To this end a Borganised person will at all times carry spare gloves, a variety of hats, steel toe capped boots AND orange overalls - a Borganised person may (at times) insist rather forcefully that you don said items!  If you refuse, a Borganised person will raise one eyebrow and smirk unbecomingly when you sink into 12" of cow shit whilst wearing flip flops (Also known as thongs in certain parts of the world whereas in England a thong is a whole other thing (or not  exactly a whole ANYTHING as SD often points out with some confusion when I refer to some items in my drawer as underwear ...).

A Borganised person is often (and infuriatingly) RIGHT!

So there you have it, the definition of a Bossy Organised Borganized person.

Funnily enough SD wasn't QUITE as impressed with my new word as I was, mostly I think because he thought people might think it meant Boring and Organised - let me tell you - Life is NEVER fricken BORING with a Borgan!!

There are however some downsides to spending extended periods of time with a Borganised person and in my experience these are just some of them:

A borganised person will write lists FOR you - sometimes multiple lists that they will expect you to cross reference.  They will not recognise the complete futility of doing this and no matter how many times you lose, eat, doodle on or turn them into hats, they WILL persist!

They will show some confusion when confronted with used tissues, old till receipts, sweet wrappers and loose change (loose change belongs in the loose change jar ... snort!!!) that litter the counter at the post office when you upend your bag in search of a pen.

They will look at you sideways as you struggle with your paltry 6 books at bingo, shout SNAP every time a card is laid no matter what game is being played and knit your never ending scarf because you can neither knit around corners or cast off.

They do not understand hormones or the need to feed them chocolate at regular intervals.  Equally, they have never needed to dust their iron before use and they probably own a variety of scrubbing brushes each with a different purpose (possibly they may offer to buy you your OWN scrubbing brush at some point).

They will never understand your preference for wading barefoot through cow shit rather than wearing rigger boots and a bloody orange onesie!

A borganised person can also pose long term risks to your mental health.

Seriously - I'm not kidding!

For instance - I can't remember ANYTHING any more - the reason being those bloody lists!!

If I remember I'll write SD a memo pointing that out.

List completely negate the need to remember ANYTHING - if it's not on the list then it doesn't exist - if I lose the list then I don't have to do anything ...  I ALWAYS lose the list and then I'm buggered.

SD will be completely responsible for my descent into madness and it will serve him right!

I'm already more than half way there (and, to be fair, possibly was BEFORE SD was on the scene) so, to avoid any further confusion (mine and yours) I have decided that in future all communication shall be though the medium of interpretive dance.

Oh, and yes, the irony of my writing this in list form does not escape me - he's bloody Borganised me hasn't he!!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Say Sandwich!!!

Yes Joe, I STOLE your post title!!!

For those who have no idea what that title means take a look at this post and all will be explained.

So Yesterday I was doing a little sorting out.  There's been a lot of that going on around here in the last few months.

For reasons I won't go into detail about now I have been getting my house (literally and figuratively) into order.  Putting things in place, sorting finances, getting paperwork straight.

Now it strikes me that I'm making it all sound a little sinister!  Fear not Fudgers, it's all good here I'm just looking to clear the decks and have a fresh start.

Anyway, yesterday was the turn of the top of one of the wardrobes!

I knew there was stuff up there but I'll confess it had been some considerable time since I'd known exactly what that stuff may be.

As it turned out there were all the baby records including discharge papers from the hospital and new born photos taken by the hospital photographer.

There were also many cards hand made by the children, a couple of defunct desk fans and a bag of Christmas presents from years ago that I'd completely forgotten about.

There were also a few old school reports and several text books belonging to Miss Mac from when she first started school.

And rather a lot of dust ...

Of course I ignored the dust and sat down on the bedroom floor amid the mess that I had made to read those books from cover to cover and I laughed, and I cried and I laughed until I cried.

Want to see why?


(go on, read that post - you know you want to!).

Well, the first book I read was clearly an English book.  It was full of spelling tests, comprehension and, the best bit, stories about Miss Mac's weekends.

This was the first entry in March 2006:

Would any Muthers Day be complete without flours, some cack and a braslut?

I think not ...

Then I turned the page and it got even better!

I want to go to a party where they play my oozicol statuous (2 times!) and have singing cone tests!

I want to go to a party where they have kack and gine pigs.

And then ...


Funnily enough it happens to be Shrove Tuesday today and so I will be making pancakes for Miss Mac and I.

SD, very oddly in my opinion, isn't a fan of pancakes - this I cannot comprehend.

Perhaps he is scarred by the childhood belief that what he is being offered is in fact 'Pancocks'!!!

Finally, I could really empathise with Miss Mac's teacher with this one:

Because I too was worried that I might not ever stop laughing.

Happy Pancake Day everyone!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Broken Dreams

Broken Dreams

There is grey in your hair.
Young men no longer suddenly catch their breath
When you are passing;

William B Yeats

It's Big D's Birthday tomorrow and I'm making him a chocolate cake.  I'm going to cover it in chocolate ganache and decorate it with galaxy mini eggs covered in gold if I can find them.  Of course, I COULD have decorated them with the ones I bought last night if I hadn't eaten them ...

Big D is going to be 33 ...

THIRTY THREE!!! How did that happen???

Gosh that makes me feel old ...

Age is a funny thing isn't it.  In my head I'm still probably in my early 30's but I really can't escape the fact that next month I will be 51 and in April my youngest child will be 18.

Does it bother me?

Well, I'd like to think it doesn't really but I'm not sure that's true.

The truth is that getting older is so much better than the alternative but it's still something I'm learning to live with (ironic as that may sound).

In the last year I've started to need reading glasses to read a book or to see the texts on my phone.  That seemed to happen really suddenly.  I even asked my doctor if it was connected to the high blood pressure I'd also developed but no, he seemed to think it was just age related.

I've noticed a stiffness in my joints that was never there before.  If I've been sitting for a while then I have to stretch out the stiffness when I get up.  I think twice about sitting on the ground these days because I can't just bounce back up like I used to and, when I look in the mirror, there are the signs I can't ignore.  The lines around my eyes, the grey that threads through my hair and the loss of that youthful glow that I took so much for granted.

I wish I'd appreciated my youth more.  I guess I though it would last forever.

I don't wish for my life to be any different from that which it is right now.  I'm happy, my life is good.  I have good people around me so maybe I'm being greedy.

It's easy to blame society for those feelings.  A world that focuses on youth, that defines people by their age and of course that plays a part but it's more than that.

I miss the energy I used to have.  I forget that I'm not quite as young as I used to be and I take on tasks in the same way I always have.  I will walk the coastal path all day and spend a couple of hours digging in the garden or cycle along the canal for hours and I am so grateful that I'm able to do all of those things but the next day or the day after I am reminded by the aches and pains that my body, although it allows me to do those things, struggles a little more and I hate that.

I've also become aware that I no longer turn heads in the same way that I used to.  How shallow does it sound to say that 'out loud' but it's true.  It's just another thing that I took for granted that has gradually declined.

I tell myself that that's ok, it's not a big deal, I don't need the constant validation that I used to crave and it's true, I really don't because I'm so much happier in my skin than I was when I was younger.

I wish I'd had the confidence I have now when I was young.  It seems to me it would have been the perfect combination.

If I had to choose I would be me now (which is just as well really) but I'm a little sad that younger me didn't see the possibilities.  Didn't have that self belief.  Needed that validation and possibly didn't fulfil her potential because of those insecurities.

So maybe what I'm really sad about is that younger me didn't have the advantages that older me now has NOT the other way around ...

Sure it was nice to be admired, it was great to have all that boundless energy - it's amazing that feeling of being invincible but what I have now is more real.  To use a few catch phrases, I'm more grounded, more centred, I have found myself rather than blindly running around trying to be SOMETHING.

Sacrificing the odd glance, the pretty compliments from strangers is a small price to pay for that I think.

So, although it may sound like the superficial things are so important to me they really aren't. 

I'm just being honest. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Scourge Of The Self Checkoutt (a re-run and and update)

THINGS happen to me!

Now, I'm not convinced (however many people tell me otherwise) that THINGS don't happen to other people too.

You know what?

I'm RIGHT!!!

I saw this today on Facebook:

And it reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago:

This new craze for self checkout in supermarkets.

Never yet has it given me the 'seamless shopping experience' it promises. Why does it talk to me if it doesn't want me to answer back? 'Unexpected item in bagging area' is the favourite! Why wasn't it expecting it? I just bloody scanned it didn't I? 'Please remove item from bagging area', which one? I have 12!!! ' Please wait for assistance', flashing lights, loud beeping, everyone's looking at me like I'm trying to make off with 3 bananas, a twin pack of loo roll and a packet of custard creams!

My children now prefer not to shop with me, it always ends in (my) tears but, unsuspecting friends still insist I use the self checkout despite my protestations, telling me its so quick, so easy, what can I say MORE FOOL THEM, they learn the hard way.

Sainsburys last week, 'friend' use the self checkout, 'me' no, 'friend' use the self checkout, 'me' noooo, 'friend' use the damn self check out will you, 'me' ok. Five items required three visits from the assistant with their magic swipe card and then, just when you would think nothing else could go wrong, I emptied the contents of my purse into the little change compartment (don't you love it when you do that and the total cost of your shopping is four pounds ninety eight, your change that you've poured in comes to four pounds eleven and you only have a ten pound note to pay the balance, you end up with more change than you were trying to get rid of!).

Anyway, I digress, this time, the machine happily swallowed my money but the screen still flashed, 'please insert coins or notes to the value of your shopping' It had EATEN my money! No flashing light, no beeping, no bloody call for assistance. I stood there jumping up and down waving my arms (my 'friend' long gone) until eventually I attracted the notice of an assistant. Followed lots of head scratching and 'are you sure you put the money in', Yeees. 'I'll just call someone else' and 'I think we need a supervisor' by which time I was hanging my head in shame.

Have you ever seen the inside workings of one of those machines? Fascinating! Ten minutes unlocking various bits, tracing the path my money should have taken, 'are you sure you put the money in', YEEES before finally, they located it. A further five minutes to put the machine back together and then, THEY EXPECTED ME TO DO IT ALL AGAIN!

Since writing this post they have introduced a 5p charge for bags which in theory is a GREAT - unless ...

Well, UNLESS you are at a self checkout.

If you are at a self checkout THIS is what happens:

1. It asks you before you start if you want to purchase any bags and you say no because you've brought your own

 2. but then it wont let you pack directly into them because 'unexpected item' and it thinks you are trying to STEAL a bag

3. So you have to scan everything first and put it on the postage stamp sized bagging area

 4. But stuff falls off because you've piled it so high

 5. So it announces that you have 'removed' an item from the bagging area.

 6. THEN you have to try and pack everything (and all the soft stuff is now on the top)

 7. while you are trying to pack everything without crushing your eggs and bread it repeatedly shouts at you 'Thank you for shopping in (wherever) - please take your items while the huge queue that has formed behind you tuts at how long you're taking!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Where Are You From? (A Rewind From Waaay Back)

Something go me thinking about the place where I grew up earlier.  I'm not sure what it was, maybe another blog post I was reading, I'm not sure.

I remembered this post that I wrote many years ago, probably in the first year I started blogging and I thought I'd share it here again ... 

Where Are You From?

When I’m asked this question I pause, where am I from? I've lived in many places but only really felt I belonged in one.

 My formative years were spent in a variety of places from Scotland to Australia but if home really is where the heart is, then I’m from South Devon.

I spent much of my childhood on and off in a small seaside village in South Devon. This is the village where my Grandparents lived, the village in which my Mother grew up.

It was our base, our security. When everything else fell apart around us (as it frequently did) this is where we would run.  Sometimes it was in between moves (My Father was in the Navy), sometimes for holidays and when I was 9 and my parents marriage broke up we moved back there to live.

The village  is split into 3 parts.  The start of the village is called St Anns Chapel, I'm not sure why.  Maybe there was a chapel there at some point but if so, it's long gone. There is a Pub, the Pickwick Inn although I believe the name has been changed in recent years, a  shop where you could buy just about everything and a small group of houses.  There used to be a small gift shop selling little ornaments with 'A Gift from Devon' stamped on them and sticks of Rock with Devon right through the center.

 A little further down the road, before you get to the village proper was the small group of mismatched houses where we lived.

My Grandparents had  built a long low bungalow on a large plot of land  they bought when they first married.

The bungalow was split into two  parts. The main house from which my Grandmother ran their Bed and Breakfast business during the Summer months and a small annex with one bedroom.  This annex they used to rent out to a gentleman, Mr Price, I never did know his story.  He was always smartly dressed and very proper. He used to buy us liquorice stick sometimess, not the black sticky commercial kind but real twigs that when you chewed them had a strong liquorice taste.

There were 4 houses on our side of the road.  Next door lived an elderly lady, Mrs Warren who used to be the village midwife. Her son reputedly lived with her but in all the years I lived there I never saw him.  She was very much a loaner but sometimes she used to stop and talk to me  and once she gave me a painted wooden train that had belonged to her son.  In return I picked her a bunch of Sweet William from my Grandmothers garden and left them on her doorstep.

Across the road  in the old police house lived Uncle Max and Auntie Mary. The police house was a large imposing building with a beautiful garden.  They weren’t really our Aunt and Uncle but as in the familiar way of country life we had many ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncles’ in the village.

Not actually Auntie Mary but very reminiscent of her
They were an extremely dashing pair. The epitome of 1940’s chic, an era they had obviously decided so suited them that they chose not to leave it.  Auntie Mary wore beautifully tailored linen slacks and crisp blouses and a scarf tied around her head and wrapped around her slender throat Grace Kelly style.  Uncle Max smoothed his abundant jet black hair back with Bay Rum Pomade and belted around the country lanes in his little red sports car with his golf clubs in the back.  they always seemed so happy, so in love, so full of fun and life.

Also not the actual kissing gates but similar
A little further down the road was the church.  You could get  to get to it, either by road, or take the shortcut through the kissing gates and across the cornfield.  The corn of my youth was so much taller than today.  I may have been a lot smaller then but the corn reached my shoulders, waving its golden ears gently in the breeze alive with butterflies and ladybirds.

St Lawrence's Church Bigbury
I spent a lot of time at and around the church as a child.  Granddad was a bell ringer and sometimes used to take me up to the bell tower, this was reached by a narrow staircase up the side of the building, he would let me pull on the ropes and laugh when I couldn't elicit a sound from them.

Every Sunday after Church he would go to the other pub in the village, The Royal Oak, for two halves of mild and a game of domino's. .  I don’t know why he never drank pints but it was always two halves

My Grandmother  the driving force in their marriage as so many women of her era were was a stickler for tradition.  Sunday lunch was served at one pm, never mind that Granddad was never home on a Sunday until 1:15.  One o’clock was lunchtime every other day of the week and so it was on a Sunday too. We would sit there waiting while our food cooled until Granddad, on the dot of the quarter hour made his appearance.

Granddad  also sometimes filled in for the local gravedigger (excuse the pun).  I would sit on a nearby grave and watch him first carefully remove the layer of grass exposing the rich soil underneath and then digging down, the earth in a neat pile beside him. I was fascinated by the way he seeming disappeared into the earth, almost as though he were being absorbed until only his flat cap was visible.

This could be the same window
My Grandmother was in the privileged position of having a church window of her own.  This was a much coveted honour.  Every Harvest Festival, Christmas and Easter the church was decorated.  There was an unspoken rivalry between the ladies of the village to have the most spectacular window display.  Great boughs of holly and Ivy would be gathered at Christmas, offerings of  giant pumpkins, russet apples and sheaves of corn at harvest time.  Delicate bunches of primroses and daffodils filled the deep stone sills at Easter filling the dusty air with their perfume.

Next to the church was a house that always stood empty.  It was a three stories high, made of dark grey brick and stood in its own grounds.  At one time it had been a very grand manor  house but now it was neglected, empty and rather run down.  It had its own little stone stairway up to the church.  At the top of the stairway tucked under the hedge grew Violets, purple and white, tiny delicate flowers with a delicate scent.  But the best thing of all was hidden from view.  There was secret garden!  At one time it must have been magnificent but now it was overgrown and had fallen into decay. But to us it was a wonderland of small stone walls and bushes to play hide and seek.

Behind the garden was an orchard where, despite not having been tended for many years the small gnarled trees still bore an abundance of sweet rosy apples in the Autumn and we used to fill our pockets with them as fuel when we went exploring.

The second part of the village boasted the another pub, this was where Granddad would sup his ale on a Sunday after church.  There was also the local village shop and Post Office where they weighed out sweets by the ounce and broke up toffee with a hammer.  There was a garage attached to the shop where self service had never been heard of and Mr Bardons clad in his oily overalls would fill up your tank for you while discussing the weather or the price of fish or just about anything else you wanted to chat about.

The prettiest houses were in this part of the village. Proper chocolate box houses with thatched roofs and roses around the door.

Here, down a small winding lane lived Miss Pierce and Miss Burrows, the founders of the BCC, Bigbury Cheery Christians.  This was in the days before computers, games consoles or even morning television. When children were encouraged to be out all day everyday. They were well travelled ladies and their house was crammed with memorabilia from all over the world.  At Christmas the postman was laden with cards with exotic stamps from every corner of the globe.
Theirs was like this but in a dark green

These ladies drove around in a Morris Minor Woodie. This set them apart from the bread baking, flower arranging WI women of the village as most ladies of their age didn't drive.

The BCC was designed to encourage children to think of others. They told us tales of their travels, about the hunger and difficulties faces by many children in other countries.  They showed us how to be grateful for the things we took for granted. We used to go Primrose picking in the Spring and then deliver the bunches of flowers around the village.  To the elderly, the ill, new mothers, whoever these lovely ladies felt could do with a bit of cheering up or joy in their lives.

They used to provide our little mixed band of half a dozen children with squash and biscuits and devise treasure hunts in their garden which was full of little streams and waterfalls with winding pebble paths.

Our parents trusted us with these ladies and were no doubt, in part, grateful for the free babysitting service.  The ladies had an air of peace and contentment, a happiness that comes of a life well lived and no regrets.  They didn’t participate in the mainstream of village life, they were ‘different’ maybe slightly exotic although they were English to the core.  They had been to places and seen things which set them aside from the average villager but they were well liked and very much respected.

The third part of the village was about two miles further on down a long road with a very steep hill.

This part of the village has a story of its very own which I will share in its own post another time.

But here's a sneak preview ...

And, if you have a few minutes to spare and you would like to hear about Edward and Mrs Simpson - Agatha Christie - Lord Mountbatten - Noel Coward and many more who visited this place - check out the video below.