Monday 25 November 2013

Revisiting Rock Chick

Long time readers of Fudge may recall the story of Rock Chick. It's a character loosely (and, at times, not so loosely) based on me. Most of the stories are real to a greater or lesser degree and all are 100% true if not 100% of the truth.

The story began life as part of the Write on Wednesday series about two and a half years ago and I linked up on a weekly basis with Gill at Ink, Paper, Pen.

Sadly Gill and her blog disappeared about nine months later and the Rock Chick story didn't really have anywhere to go. Maybe it had just run it's course at that point, perhaps there was nothing more to say.

Now seems like a good time to revisit Rock Chick.

Several things have happened lately, small and insignificant in isolation but, for me, as a whole, they add up to questions.

Questions about me, where I am, where I'm going,  where I want to be and, perhaps even more importantly, the place I want others have in my life ...

 Maybe in part it's the realisation that the place I have in some peoples lives isn't necessarily a place I'm comfortable with and so it seems that now there is more to say.

I've decided that Monday will be the day that I republish/write new Rock Chick stories. I can't promise consistency, you know me, full of good intentions … but for now, that's the plan.

The very first prompt for Rock Chick was to log into Facebook and take the first status update you saw as your prompt. I am republishing the first part of the story as it was written back in July 2011.

Writing Rock Chick was often almost a compulsion for me, a cathartic experience when things seemed very bleak and confusing and life made very little sense. I never really did make any sense out of it all. The things that confused me still do but the bleakness has a way of dispersing over time.

Life goes on, a level of acceptance is reached and happiness returns in a different form.

I'm hoping that revisiting the story will rejuvenate Fudge a little as well as helping me make sense of where I am now and perhaps it will also give me back some of that enthusiasm to write that's been missing for far too long ….

“Dress code Rock Chick!!  Time for a wardrobe rethink …….”

She contemplated the outfit laid out on the bed.  Normally a fairly confident person she was unused to self doubt (well, in her personal appearance anyway).

There was a fine line between sexy and sad as you got older and, although she didn’t feel, it the truth was that there would probably be lots of twenty something’s out there.  She didn’t feel the need to compete with them. She was happy in her own skin. But getting this right suddenly seemed so important.

Studying herself in the mirror she touched the tousled hair untamed for just one night.  Smoky eyes dominated her face, her lips a soft red.  Dressed all in black, skin tight jeans and high heeled boots accentuated the length of her legs.  The silky top caressing her curves rather than exposing them and the wide leather belt with silver studs slung around her hips added that rock chick effect. 

All that was needed was her favourite jewellery, a mist of perfume and she was good to go. Worn hoops of silver swag from her lobes and the Aquamarine pendent nestled in the hollow of her throat.

Picking up the delicate silver bangle with the turquoise stone she hesitated for just a moment before slipping it over her wrist.

With a deep breath and a bright smile she gently closed the door on the doubts in her mind.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Not Guilty!!

Sometimes I think that I sound just like Bridget Jones which, considering Renee Zellweger is a Texan putting on an English accent, is a bit of a concern. It's true though, if you've ever wondered what I sound like (which you probably haven't but one day I might even get around to that vlog so you do) then just imagine Bridget Jones saying 'fuck' and that's me.

I should probably worry more about the fact that I act like Bridget Jones much of the time. Anyone who's watched the films could probably imagine me parachuting into a pig pen or trying to climb the wrong way up a fireman’s pole (that is NOT a euphemism by the way!) in the same way that it would be perfectly possible to imagine Bridget riding a sheep in the back of a van or taking out 3 checkouts at the Supermarket with a single bottle of coke or even standing in a wheelie bin holding a bag of cat shit and I'm probably never going to go Thailand because I just don't know all the words to 'Like A Virgin'.

Come to think of it SD is just like Mark Darcy (other than not being a top human right lawyer or hugely rich and or, to be honest, even owning a suit to my knowledge).

I've had my own Daniel Cleavers in the past too. Men that like the idea of me but don't take me seriously. One's that have played with my heart, made promises they don't keep and have left me wanting to stuff my face with ice cream or eat pickle straight out of the jar with a spoon while I sing 'All By Myself' very badly in my PJ's.

Men who, for whatever reason, decided I wasn't enough 'just the way I am'.

Last night we were watching a little of the Sarah Connor Chronicles. I'm eking it out as for some bizarre reason they only made three seasons and I really don't want it to end. Seriously, if you haven't watched it then do!

Anyway, part way through my phone rang and so I hit pause to take the call. As I was trying to chat politely without shouting 'bugger off, I'm watching the telly!' Eddie, my little black cat jumped up on to the sofa next to me and silently farted!

God that cat stank! Christ knows what she had been eating but, like a thick mist, the stench wafted over me. I started waving my hands around, my eyes were watering and I grunted to the the other person on the phone as I tried desperately to hold my breath. I gestured wildly to SD to remove the bloody cat before I was asphyxiated and he walked over and scooped her up with one hand under her belly.

Now Eddie is a rather nervous cat and she hadn't seen SD approach. As she was suddenly lifted into the air it unnerved her so much that she broke wind incredibly loudly. I have honestly never heard a cat make a noise like that before. I burst out laughing at SD’s horrified expression before gagging as the smell hit the back of my throat, god knows what the person on the other end of the phone thought was going on.

I finished the call as quickly as I could whilst waving a magazine around to try and disperse the smell and then ran out to the kitchen to grab some fresh air spray.

'Bloody hell that stinks' I said to SD 'and have you ever heard a noise like that either?' 'I thought I was going to die laughing or just die or something'.

SD looked at me with a pained expression – 'To be honest Sarah, it does and I haven't but I'm a bit surprised that you find it so funny, I thought you might be slightly embarrassed'.

'Why should I be embarrassed?' I said, 'After all, it's not like….' then it dawned on me …

Bloody SD had thought it was ME who farted!!!

Monday 11 November 2013


Gus and I walked to Goodlands Gardens this morning It makes a change from our usual destination of the park. Sometimes the park is a very lonely place, a great expanse of green dotted with trees with only a lone dog walker or two in the distance bundled up against the weather at this time of year. Sometimes I crave that solitude whilst at other times I feel the need to have people around me as unconnected as they might be there is something comforting about having them around.

The gardens bisect our town and it's always bustling with people on their way to and from another destination. In the summer people will stop and watch the river running past or feed the ducks or sit on the grass areas to eat their lunch but this morning most were viewing it as a short cut and didn't pause to see the trees shed their multi coloured leaves or the weir froth the water into a pulsating white foam. I felt slightly detached as Gus ran happily about sniffing each bush and hunted for a stick for me to throw for him almost as though I were in a bubble watching the rest of the world wizz past.

As we walked home we dodged the green and black recycling boxes that lined the pavements and I reflected on the contents. I don't think I've ever really given much thought to what people put in those boxes before, my main objective being to stop Gus peeing on them because I can't think of anything worse than people unknowingly picking up a box that Gus has liberally sprayed with urine but today for some reason my eyes were drawn to the content.

Some were filled with take away pizza boxes and empty cans of beer. In one there was wrapping paper from a childs Birthday, judging from the brightly coloured boxes it was a young child, a girl of perhaps 3 or 4. Others had empty bottles of wine, cereal packets and convenience food containers. Almost all had milk cartons, empty toilet roll tubes and newspaper.

I guess you can tell a lot about people by what they throw away. The things they no longer have a use for or the things they see as defunct, disposable, of no use.

Out of interest I looked in my own boxes. I put them on the low garden wall to avoid dogs like Gus peeing on them and I try to collect them back in as soon as they are emptied if I'm at home as the bin men always put them back on the pavement. My black box goes out every week usually more than half full with the usual milk cartons and cereal boxes, the green one less frequently with a couple of empty wine bottles, foil containers from the fruit I've defrosted, the odd empty marmalade jar.

My neighbour on one side never puts out any rubbish. She doesn’t have a large black wheelie bin standing in the small area behind her wall that separates her house from the pavement. She doesn't own a green or black recycling box and I've no idea what she does with her rubbish. I only know that she never puts any out to be collected. Maybe she doesn’t acknowledge that she has rubbish? Her house is meticulously maintained, she isn't a hoarder with rooms piled high with accumulated crap. Maybe she sneaks out after dark and deposits her rubbish in other peoples bins? I honestly have no idea.

On the other side of me is a shared house. Their recycling bins overflows with a conglomeration of rubbish all mixed and never sorted into the correct container. They put out their boxes along with the black wheelie bin every Monday even though the wheelie bin is only empties once a fortnight. I guess they can never remember which Monday it is (although if they looked down the street they would see no one else has theirs out). Their boxes stay on the pavement until at least Thursday and generally by Tuesday evening I've tired of stopping Gus from peeing on them as we negotiate the obstruction that often seems to shuffle along the pavement to partially block my gate.

Compared to many I have very little I recycle in this way. I don't own a food waste bin as we waste very little food. All vegetable peelings, left over bread, cake etc. (kidding – there's NEVER left over cake!) goes to the farm for the chickens, most other left over food makes it way into the animals bowls but to be honest, there isn't much of that mostly because I shop carefully and only for the things that we need and partly because I believe that animals should eat only really animal food.

I'm not sure what you could learn about me from my recycling box. That I prefer red wine to white perhaps – That I eat Fruit and Fibre most mornings – That we seem to get through a rather large quantity of loo roll in this house – That I label and date the foil boxes of fruit in the freezer – That I like Jaffa cakes and drink Earl Grey – I like lemon and lime flavoured fizzy water but Miss Mac prefers strawberry and vanilla – That we get through rather a lot of toothpaste and I like my shower gel zingy …. I'm not sure anyone other than me would be interested in the content of my recycling boxes really – to be honest, I'm not that interested in it either …

It was a lovely day yesterday, cold but bright and SD and I got on our bikes for possibly the last long bike ride for a while. SD has been a little under the weather lately and our few days away last weekend didn’t really give him the boost I'd hoped it would. He's generally a little run down, nothing serious just a feeling of not being on top form. We decided to cycle as far as Charlton Orchards, about 5 miles along the canal and then see how we felt about carrying on to Maunsel Lock and our favourite café for coffee.

It really is pretty down on the canal at all times of the year and yesterday was no exception. As it turned out neither of us wanted to turn back or take the alternative shorter route once we reached the orchards so we pressed on. As well as the usual ducks and swans we saw Shetland ponies, a herd of Llama and two gorgeously plump pot bellies pigs in the fields lining the canal. Unfortunately the pigs disappeared into their shed before I could get a photo and, once the Llamas realised I had no food for them, they lost interest and wandered off too.

There's still no sign of Bear (and thank you for your kind comments) – I don't really hold out much hope of him coming home. It's been over a week now and I've had no response from my posters – I guess I was hoping that I'd get a call at least from someone who could confirm what I believe to be true that he has been run over because then I could at least stop hoping he will come home. I miss that daft cat more than I'd ever thought possible.

Maybe that's why I'm rather preoccupied with recycling this morning – there are some things you can easily replace in life and some things that, once they are gone, always leave a gap ...

Friday 8 November 2013

Missing ...

I miss his face …

He's frequently driven me to distraction. He's crapped in my bath and behind my telly on more than one occasion. He ate a hole straight through the centre of a chocolate cake I'd just made. He climbed right into the bin when he was small and I emptied the remains of a pasta dish all over his head dying him orange for several days, He would sit on the window sill repeatedly scraping at the glass with his paw as though he were waving to passers by. He left hair EVERYWHERE and Miss Mac was constantly covered in a fluffy white pelt. He brought in frogs and let them loose in my kitchen and, on one occasion, half a frog leaving frog juice all over the floor. He got stuck head down behind the merchants chest in the dining room with only his little white bottom and furiously wagging black tail on show.

He would snuggle up against you on the sofa leaning all his weight against you and stretch his head out to rest on your knee. He mothered all the kittens that have come through this house over the last couple of years, washing them while he purred loudly and jumping into the litter tray after them to properly cover up their tiny offerings. He saw Miss Mac through some really tough times and mopped up her tears with his furry head. He made me smile with his silly face with the big black smudge on his nose.

He was endlessly affectionate and placid no matter how hard Miss Mac hugged him and, although he would grumble loudly, he never struggled, he never unsheathed his claws and he was never aggressive.

Bear of little brain has been missing for a week now. We haven't seen his since before we went to Cornwall. I've contacted the local vets and the council but no one has seen him. Miss Mac drew up some posters with a photo of him. Rather than just the usual 'missing cat – please call' with a photo she also wrote about how much she loved and missed him and, at the bottom, written in pencil, it simply says, 'please call', the letters fainter than the print above as though reflecting the faintness of her hope because we've been here before and it's never ended well …

He's not just a cat, he's her friend and a link to her Dad who she misses too but no matter how many posters I put up, however many times I trawl the streets and search the alleyways that run behind our house peering into peoples gardens and calling his name I can't make everything right, I can't bring them back.

Sometimes I feel so damned useless!

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Note To Self:

Just because the sun is shining, the sky is blue and there's not a cloud to be seen it doesn't mean it's not bloody freezing outside!

As ever I was inappropriately dressed when I went into town yesterday morning on my bike, on the plus side, after half an hour or so I matched my jeans and my jumper so I felt very coordinated (although, up close, I suspect I was slightly on the purple side of blue).

I unearthed the 13.5 tog duvet last night, I've finally conceded that Summer probably IS over for now and it's not going to be Spring until at least the 1st January so I'd better get used to it. Out came my cosy ice cream sundae striped flannel pillow cases and away went the light Summer quilt.

It was a beautiful day though and I had a fabulous weekend away in Cornwall last weekend. I'm suffering slightly from an excess of just about everything and feeling a little sluggish hence getting on my bike (which groaned loudly in protest).

We spent the weekend high on the Pantire above Newquay in a guest house run by a woman who is ever so slightly mad and sings very loudly and very tunelessly as she cooks breakfast. I suggested to SD that they might sing a duet being that everything he sings either sounds like the James Bond theme tune or the death march to me.

Nick is very bubbly and very Cornish especially in the mornings unlike it has to be said either SD or Miss Mac who both look like they've been dug up at breakfast time and only communicate with hand gestures and grunts before 11am.

Luckily I'm at my best first thing so Nick and I chatted away whilst SD slept face down in his crunchy nuts and Miss Mac ate her cooked breakfast with both hands.

'I'll be out this evening my lovelies'' Nick informed us – the coven* are meeting up in Kernow woods at 11pm for a witch walk - a piece of sausage fell out Miss Macs open mouth as she looked on in horror - 'and later we'll be gathering round the bonfire at Porth cove for the ritual** – feel free to wander down and join us my darlings – we are always looking for fresh meat.***'

I like the Cornish. They say things like 'Dreckly' which means 'soon', 'later', ''when I feel like it, 'maybe never,' 'fuck off and leave me alone' and 'Piddledown Didda 'which mean 'is it raining?' (usually asked when you're soaking wet and dripping water all over the floor). and wear tee shirts that say 'keep Cornwall tidy … throw your rubbish in Devon'.

In the summer SD and I cycled to a stone circle and on the way back he stopped to talk to a farmer about a tractor or some tractor tyres or something (SD is every so slightly obsessed with tyres - most perplexing …) anyway, SD mentioned we'd just been to see the Merry Maidens (as the stones are called)' Likeun diddy' he asked (did you like them) before informing us that he had some standing stones on his land too – 'Seenunavee?' (seen them have you??) – 'Oh really' said SD – 'What are they called?' - 'The farmer picked at his teeth for a bit before replying – 'Well, you'm can call um what you like m'dears - but mostly I just call'um rocks'.****

We spent a happy afternoon in Truro on Friday before heading on to Newquay which was buzzing with the final of some national surfers competition. Plenty of rubber clad surfer types carrying boards to keep Miss Mac entertained.

Bearing in mind it was November this time around we were very lucky with the weather and although it was a little breezy (for breezy read 'howling fucking gale!!') it was dry and the sun shone. We got blown across Fistral beach and into town on Saturday morning and spent a very happy day wandering around the shops and drinking coffee at the Beached Lamb Café (which for some reason SD and I always think is called the Slaughtered Lamb …) where they decorate your latte like this:

On Sunday morning we had one last walk along the seafront and a wander around the harbour before calling in at Trago Mills for yet more shopping and more coffee (considering how much shopping we did I appear to have nothing whilst Miss Mac has bags full of loot!) and picking up Gus from the farm.

Yesterday I accidentally clicked on an email from Badoo (remember them?) - generally I just ignore them. I cant seem to get myself off the site despite numerous attempts and logging in to be nosey just pushes you right to the front and results in a load of messages. Anyway, as I was already there I had a look at my messages. Most were the generic 'so and so wants to talk' type of thing but there, right at the top was one from Paul, 44 from Exeter – 'UR fabulous bby' and, a little further down – Alex, 39 from Torquay – 'Hey sxy – you up for some nsa discreet fun?' - Lovely and almost impossible to resist don't you think?

Other than that there isn't much going on in my world at the moment. The search is still on for the perfect pair of boots and I think I've decided on the New Rock Gringos which is actually a mans boot but has that terminator look I'm going for (think Summer Glau in the Sarah Connor Chronicles).

Anyway, I'm just waffling now, thinking aloud and you probably don't want or need to hear the rest of the crap floating around my head so happy Tuesday Fudgers.

I'll be back … (see what I did there??? ;).

  • * she might have said girls
  • ** she may have said fireworks
  • *** she didn't say that at all – I made it up …
  • **** he really did say that ;-)

Friday 25 October 2013

What The Neighbour Said

Today The Lounge is is coming from Musings Of The Misguided and the theme is neighbours - well I don't have too many stories about my neighbours although they, I'm sure, have MANY about me!  I had a little root around the blog though and I found this one - I'm very pleased to say that this neighbour seems to have moved on since this ...

"Get your arse over here, I'm in the mood for sex!"

I paused, said arse in the air, head buried in the weeds (that's NOT a euphemism btw, I was weeding my front area - also not a euphemism ;).

Slowly I raised my head and peered over the wall.

Almost directly opposite me is a row of houses that runs parallel to my street and I overlook their back gardens.

The second house in the street is split into two flats, the one at the top has a balcony with steps leading down to the garden.

There he was, on the balcony, wearing just a pair of faded, cut off jeans and a big smile.

Bear in mind that I've never met this neighbour, it's one of those places with a high turn over of tenants and a somewhat dubious reputation.

For a moment I considered the possibility that the sensible course of action might be to just say, oh, ok then - after all, he knows where I live!!!

Then he stuck his hand down the front of his shorts and scratched!!!

You think that was bad enough?  Yep, so did I ...

He then examined his fingernails (just what did he find down there???) and said "come on baby, come over, I know you're gagging for it".

You know what?  Enough!!!

I stood up, I swear I expanded at least 3 dress sizes.  I was just about to vault effortlessly clamber over the wall trying not to fall flat on my face (what with all my increased girth and everything) when he turned his back to me laughing saying, "yeah, I knew you couldn't resist".

Can you believe this?  I swear I couldn't make this stuff up!

I'd like at this point to say that I've never been so insulted in my life but I think it's probably true to say I almost certainly have. But sometimes, well, sometimes you just have to make a stand don't you?

I squared my shoulders, assumed my best 'dont mess with me mofo expression' and prepared to give him a piece of my mind.

Then I noticed something ....

Not only had he carried on talking with his back to me but, there was something in his ear .....

Oh right, hands free set ....

Yep, I KNEW that ...

Wednesday 23 October 2013

OCD - Occasional Cleaning Disorder

'Can people suddenly develop OCD out of the blue?' Miss Mac asked me the other day.

'I don't know' I replied, 'I guess so – why'?

'Well you're vacuuming the walls and you've just emptied your drawers to polish inside them ...' 

Hmmm …

The truth is that I do get a little compulsive when I'm stressed and it often manifests itself in a cleaning frenzy. I need an outlet for all the pent up frustration and, although I suspect that breaking crockery would be far more satisfactory I do try and channel it into something positive.

It doesn't always work though. I'm just as likely to attack a random piece of loose wallpaper and rip a huge strip from the wall or scrub a kitchen cupboard door so hard I take off a layer of paint or blast the render off the garden wall with the pressure washer (all things I have lived to regret in the past).

Vacuuming the walls actually seems pretty tame compared to some of the stuff I could do but I've no idea if it's normal – is it normal? I mean, is it one of those things that other people do all the time? Maybe you're like 'yeah, so what? - doesn't everyone do that in between removing the fluff from the grooves in the washing machine with a cotton bud and polishing the grout around the bath tiles with toothpaste'.

I really don't know, I always imagine that other people dust their light bulbs on a weekly basis and never forget to change the filter on the hob extractor fan (which I'm planning to do some day when I can work out how to remove the damned thing!). But that's not me!

I live with a certain level of domestic sluttery which means that my kitchen floor could probably do with a sweep and it's been a while since I last cleaned the wooden blinds in my bay window because frankly, I've usually got far better things to do.

One thing though that's guaranteed to see me reaching for the bleach is any contact with Ex Lax because (and please do excuse my turn of phrase) he's such a complete asshole and so fucking frustrating that it's a wonder I don't just drink the bloody bleach and have done with it!

Ex Lax rarely gets a mention on my blog because he's not worthy and I don't like to talk about him, or even think about him and, because of the old adage, 'if you can't say anything nice ….'

Well I can't so, rather than sound off and tell you why he is such an asshole, (which I could and I'm sure you would agree with me if I did) I am going to be the better man and say nothing.

Please excuse me – I have ceilings that require dusting and pointing to polish.

Friday 18 October 2013

Feeling Funny over at The Lounge

'Link up your funniest post' she said - 'Make me laugh' ...

God Robo - The pressure!!!  Don't you know I'm a self depreciating English girl and I'm not allowed to admit that I might find myself funny sometimes??

So, well, yeah, anyway I was going to link up 'F*ck, I've killed the cat' but I thought you might find a story a bout a dead hamster more amusing .....

Linking up with Robomum for The Lounge this week.

There's nothing worse than thinking the hamster's dead and then discovering that the hamster is indeed dead ...

Now I've been here once or twice before so when Miss Mac made the sad pronouncement I was ever so slightly sceptical.

I went upstairs and together we contemplated that fat little hamster for a while.

"Poke him Mum, see if he moves"

"No, YOU poke him, he's your hamster".

"You poke him"

"I'm not poking him!"

"Well, I'M not poking him"

"I'm a kid, you can't make a kid poke a dead hamster ..."

Bugger it, she had a point.

I poked him ...  He didn't move ...

I still wasn't convinced.  If I'd buried that bloody hamster EVERY time he was dead ...

"Let's just leave him for a bit and see what happens".

"Mum, Figgy is dead, all that's going to happen is he is going to carry on lying there being deader!"

In exasperation she picked him up and turned him over.


Poor Figgy remained curled up in a stiff little ball of fluff, his little hamster teeth grinning at me as though to say, "I told you I was dead". This time it seemed he wasn't messin' with me.

It was time for another hamster funeral ...

Unfortunately I'd broken my spade whilst ...  well, you don't really need to know how I broke it. Anyway, I had a quiet word with SD who promised to bring one round later and even offered dig the hole for me (although that may have been nore in the interests of keeping his spade intact).

We chose a spot in the garden under a bush and SD being careful not to dig up road kill (dead bird - another story ...) set to work whilst Miss Mac and I pondered on the best material for a hamster coffin.

I like to be a little inventive with such things so Rascal, (Miss Macs first dead hamster who was a ginger colour) is buried in an orange mobile phone box (geddit?? ).  Sir Frederick Fluff Balls was buried in an (empty) coco pops box (coco pops look a lot like hamster shit).

We rifled the recycling to see what we could use.  SD having finished digging the hole came to 'help'.  What about this he asked pulling out the cardboard inner from an empty kitchen roll.

"SD, I am not burying the fucking hamster in that, it'll look like a bloody Christmas cracker!!!"  Added to which Figgy was slightly larger than the cardboard tube and Im buggered if Im going to try to shove a stiff hamster up a hole that's too small (say NOTHING ok, this is a VERY serious matter!!).

Eventually we fashioned a box from part of a cardboard box with lots of sellotape, filled it with sawdust, laid poor Figgy in it and taped it up.  We sat for a moment, each thinking out different thoughts when that fucker Bear (our cat of little brain) jumped onto the table, skidded and sent poor Figgys coffin flying!  Lots of shouting scared the crap out of that bloody cat and he shot outside whilst I reverently picked Figgy up and put him gently back on the table.

"Mum. have you got him the right way up???"

Ummm, well actually I didn't have a clue, we may well have buried Figgy upside down but I assured Miss Mac that I did indeed have him the right way up and off we went to the garden to finally lay Figgy to rest.

You know what I said about the shouting scaring the crap out of Bear ...?

Well it seems hadn't. Well, not quite ALL of it anyway.

That bastard cat was busy excavating his bowels very loudly and very pungently in poor Figgys newly dug grave!

I will never forgive SD for not appreciating the solemnity of the occasion and laughing until he cried.

Miss Mac will never forgive either of us for not appreciating the solemnity of the occasion and laughing until we cried.

Figgy hopefully doest give a stuff that the three of us did not appreciate the solemnity of the occasion and laughed until we cried.

And Bear, well, I have decided that I shall have him creamated when his time comes and (in an act previously only reserved for ex lax) scatter his ashes in a cat litter tray so that he may be crapped on by a multitude of cats!

Monday 14 October 2013

Foul Play

I met Matt the Op for coffee one day last week – you remember Matt?

Yes you do!

I badoozled him way back – remember?


Ok, I'll refresh your memory – social experiment - went to the wrong place – chipped tooth – split lip – coffee everywhere – remember NOW??

Hmmm, well, if it's still not ringing any bells or perhaps you missed that post for whatever reason you can read it here if you like.

Anyway, Matt and I stayed in touch and, despite the less than auspicious start, we have remained friends and every now and then I get a message from him saying he's in town and do I want to meet up.

We arranged to meet a 11 o'clock and so I spent the morning doing a few things around the house and garden. I was busy picking the last of the green tomatoes (which are never going to ripen on the plant now) when I realised it was already 10.20 and I looked like crap.

I jumped in the shower, slapped on some make up, threw on some clean clothes and headed out of the door.

Matt and I always meet at the same place, (he says it saves him having to second guess where I might end up if he suggested somewhere different - honestly, you make one little mistake … ) but when I got there I found Matt looking forlornly at a sign in the window that said 'closed for refurbishment'.

We decided to try our luck around the corner at Mr Miles Tearooms. Mr Miles is rather posh and a favourite with ladies of a certain age who wear hats, they serve leaf tea with tiny silver strainers and it's decorated in the Art Deco style.

I can do posh!!

Yes I can – stop laughing …

As we waited to be seated (you can't just walk in and sit down in posh places y'know) Matt sniffed – I looked at him horrified – 'stoppit' I hissed – 'you don't sniff in Mr Miles!'

'What's that smell?' he muttered sniffing again – 'can't smell anything' I said, 'now can you please behave properly and stop distracting me – ay'm tryin' to mayntayne my aura' – See, I even have special posh voice and everything!

Matt continued to look perplexed as we were seated and kept glancing around suspiciously and then I caught a whiff of it – 'Christ, that smells like shit!' I said rather more loudly than I'd intended.

Several little old ladies fixed me with their beady eyes and I subsided.

Fortunately I was then distracted by cake and Matt and I chatted happily away for a while.

It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and there was a Autumnal nip in the air but, with the sun pouring in the window of the tea shop, it was warm and cosy inside. The smell Matt had noticed started to get stronger and we both began to look at the little old ladies suspiciously. Seriously, it was starting to put me off my lemon drizzle cake (eaten delicately with a fork) – even the waitress was looking a little wild eyed and seemed reluctant to approach the tables near us.

One of the ladies produced a lace edged hanky from her bag and held it to her nose and the gentle hum of conversation became a buzz.

What the bloody hell WAS that smell!!!

I couldn't stand it any longer and jumped up and opened the window nearest to us letting in a blast of cold air.

Making my way back to the table I noticed Matt looking at me with a horrified expression – 'What?' I said – 'It's either that or asphyxiation and if opening the window means sacrificing a couple of old ladies to the cold well, it's a sacrifice that I'm personally prepared to make!'

'It's not the cold' he said,'what the bloody hell is THAT' he muttered gesturing at my feet with his eyes.
I looked down …

Fuck, fuck, FUCK!!!

As I left the house I'd pulled on a pair of black boots – now I have TWO pairs of almost identical black boots, one old pair that I wear for walking the dog etc and one decent pair that I wear when I'm going out. In my haste I'd picked up the wrong pair ...

I'd last worn these boots the previous weekend when I went to feed my neighbours chickens as they were away. Attached to the sole of my left boot was a clump of straw welded on with chicken shit!

I still vigorously maintain that I can do posh ... just not very well … and maybe not on that particular day …

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Today Is A Gift (which is why they call it the present ;)

Linking up with Maxabella for The Rewind.

Just when Id reluctantly decided that Summer might have come to an end we had the most glorious weekend!

Although I'm not a winter person, there are elements of it that I enjoy. I love cold, crisp days and bundling up in warm clothes. I love cooking up huge stews and casseroles and leaving them to simmer all day in the slow cooker filling the house with mouthwatering smells. I love walking along deserted beaches with Gus and I love snuggling up under my duvet with my hot water bottle.

But I miss Summer, I miss the sun on my bare skin and the longer days and catching the last rays of sunshine in the garden or sitting in the stillness of the early morning watching the mist lift while I drink my cup of tea.

Technically it's not Winter just yet, it's Autumn and the leaves are only begging to turn but the nights are drawing in and there's a chill in the evening air. Soon we will be getting up to darkness and turning the lights on by 4pm.

But that's not yet ...

Last week we had some torrential downpours. The heavens opened and the rain fell so fast that the guttering along the top of my house couldn't cope and water spilled over hitting the lids of my recycling boxes with a noise like kettle drums flattening my tomato plants and causing the remaining green fruit I still hoped would ripen to swell and split.

But then, in it's last dying breath, the summer returned and it's still with us today. The sky is a soft powder blue with ribbons of fluffy white cloud and the sun, although weakened, warmed my shoulders as I sat in the garden this morning.

On Sunday SD and I went to Beer, a small town by the seaside where fishermen winch their boats high up on the beach above the tide line and stripy deckchairs are dotted along the pebbled shore.

We drank coffee and ate rich, dark fruit cake as we watched the fishermen unload their catch. We read our books in companionable silence. I reacquainted myself with a Gerald Durrell book of short stories 'Marrying Off Mother and other stories'.

I don't read enough these days. There was a time when each evening would find me curled up with a book, it's something I've always done having been brought up in a house overflowing with reading matter but somehow I've gradually forgotten how much pleasure there is in escaping between the pages.

It's no secret that Gerald Durrell is my favourite author. His magical way with words transports me to far off places filled with colour and heady scents. One day I must get around to replacing my lost copy of My Family and other Animals.

He returns briefly in this book to his Corfu childhood to find his brothers Leslie and Larry (as delightfully pompous as ever), his eternally romantic but muddled sister Margot, his long suffering mother, serene and dignified in the face of the trials devised by her offspring (in this case where they decide she should marry again and set about finding her a 'suitable' mate). He shares his picnic with a fragrant sow and prize truffler called Esmerelda in the Perigord, charms Magnolia Dwite-Henderson, an ageing belle in Memphis, stays with a hangman in Paraguay and dines with a gambling nun in Mote Carlo.

If I were half the writer Durrell was then I'd be so happy, if I'd led half the life he led I'd be happier still.

SD and I walked along the waters edge, our feet slipping and and sinking into the large pebbles that make up the beach at Beer as the sun slowly made its way around the horseshoe shaped bay. We watched as two elderly ladies braved the surf, warmer now than at any other time of the year but still cold enough to take your breath away. We walked to the far end of the bay where, as the tide retreats, there are rock pools teeming with life. I'm fascinated by rock pools in much the same way Durrell was as a child, I can sit and watch the tiny creatures trapped in them go about their business for hours but SD is less patient than me and so we headed away from the beach to explore the town.

A Sunday afternoon in October isn't the ideal time to visit a seaside town. Many of the shops have closed for winter and the few remaining ones have run down their stock in preparation for restocking next year but Beer is a pretty place to wander around, there is a stream that runs very fast right through its main street directed by a man made leat along and under the road until it finally rushes down the side of the hill to join the sea. The tiny front gardens were still full of flowers and people sat enjoying the unexpected return of summer on benches and deckchairs.

Days like this are a gift and I store them up to see me through the darkness and cold of winter.

Monday 30 September 2013

I Am (A Self Confessed) Expert

It's been a while since I brought you my last 'experts' guide.

As you know I am a self confessed expert in many areas ranging from kissing to sheep wrangling, dating to sock buying with a particular genius for relationship counselling.

But, there's an area I've overlooked ... 


I spent a couple of hours last Friday night down at my local YMCA where they were holding an open evening with taster sessions and displays and cake (I was, to be honest,  there mostly for the cake).

The following evening Surfer Dude and I met with friends at a local pub to see a band and, in a moment of genius it hit me - a huge untapped area in the market just waiting to be exploited.

I spent Friday evening rocking to Rumba, shaking to Salsa and salivating to Street Dance (seriously, Lewis who leads the Street Dancers should come with a government health warning, if Miss Mac hadn't held me back whilst SD implored me to, 'for the love of god' remember my dodgy knee and weak back I'd have signed up there and then  for a little one on one!)

Hmmm ...  Moving on ...

So, there I was on Saturday night grooving away to the band along with an eclectic assortment of likeminded rockers when the idea began to form in my mind.


I've got YEARS of experience and observation to share and, to my knowledge there's no-one else out there doing it.

All I need is a dressing up collection and a few cardboard boxes, I don't even need music - everyone knows the art of proper pub dancing requires you to be totally tone deaf and out of time - although, thinking about it, I guess the advanced class might need to include singing along very loudly and out of tune to the chorus of Come On Eileen (complete with foot stamping and hand clapping for the more experienced).

I've been practicing a few moves with the cats this morning.

Bears (my cat of little brain) is a big fan of the 'knee trembler', an almost imperceptible move specifically designed for the first half of the evening where, substituting a pint of lager for a mug of tea, I stood, apparently rooted to the spot, my patella vibrating gently.  At first I don't think he was fully convinced and seemed unimpressed but once I'd rolled my PJ's up to thigh level he could properly appreciate the subtlety of the move.   Buoyed up by his enthusiasm I tried some slight head nodding and lip pursing.

Pouting is probably going to need several sessions all on its own - I must make a mental note to book one of the dance rooms with mirrors for this one ...  Once I've emptied the content of the vacuum bag over them and dimmed the lights I'm sure it will be really authentic.

I also need to come up with some really cool names for the dance moves, I'm thinking of going with:

The Staged Stagger - you combine it with the pulsating patella and lunge slightly to your left. Bouncing off the person next to you, you raise your glass silently in their direction before lunging back and shouting 'Tooo Ra, Too Ra Loo Ra Laaaaay' as you resume the patella position.

On the off chance that there IS no one to your left you can follow through on the staged stagger with the complete:

'Jukebox Jive' - with nothing to hinder you, you carry on across the floor River Dance fashion leading with your head until you hit the nearest solid object - this is where the cardboard boxes come into their own simulating a juke box (once the classes are up and running I may have to consider investing in a few breeze blocks for the totally authentic  thud or maybe a real juke box or maybe I'll just paint the boxes ...  or something ...  I'm still working on the details ...) - the resulting spillage of lager will bring us on to the next move which, in true English pub tradition I shall, from now on be spelling - LARGER.

And so, we move seamlessly on to:

'The Larger Lambada' this only really works in proper English pubs I'm afraid where years of spilt larger have built up a rich and very sticky patina on the floor (it works even better on carpet) - having spent the first part of the evening perfecting the pulsating patella with a few staggered lunges and the odd jukebox jive, the pub dancer will stand a while lip pursing, pouting and, at odd times, giving a loud, 'TOOO RAAHAHA - LOOOOO RAAHAHA' completely unaware that their feet are becoming slowly welded to the floor. 

This only becomes apparent (and then only to those around them) when they fling the remains of their pint down the back of the person standing in front of them and, having 'finished' their drink, they attempt to make their way to the bar in order to refill their glass in preparation for the second set, this is when the inadvertent Larger Lambada come into its own.

They twist and they turn, give a few hip shimmies and knee jerks but remain firmly rooted in position glued to the floor with a combination of barley, oats and toad droppings (an essential ingredient of any self respecting English larger)

The pub dancer may at this point believe that the person to their left has extracted revenge for the Staged Stagger by nailing their feet to the floor. Much teeth baring (an advanced form of lip pursing and pouting) may follow  combined with muttering (mostly words that It's fair to say do NOT appear to my knowledge in any of Dexys Midnight Runners songs) and veiled threats of violence (something else I may consider adding to the agenda along with air guitar lessons).

They may think that they are in fact sitting down which they will find most confusing when they realise that, despite this they are still the same height as everyone else - this can lead them to believe that they have developed super human strength and hulk like abilities to expand (and is obviously something I will strongly be discouraging in my classes!!)

I'll be combining all of the above with head tossing (hair optional or, for a small fee, I can provide hair extensions, toupee's or hats with built in ponytails) - beer belching, magic tricks (that one's especially for SD) and fire eating for the smokers puffing away outside (as you know, I'm a stickler of inclusiveness!).

I told you it was ingenious didn't I? 

I'm off to Primark to invest in some faux leather leggings and lurex legwarmers to wear with my leopard print stilettos and frilled spandex bra top.

* Full kit list available on request - advanced booking strongly recommend ...

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Being Myself

I'm a girly girl.

With a mile wide tomboy streak running right through my core.

I love to look pretty, wear soft summer dresses with my hair curling over my shoulders. I paint my nails silver or a muted shell pink, I wax, I pluck, I exfoliate and I slather myself in sweet smelling lotions. I'm told I'm elegant, that I carry myself with a degree of serenity.

I gather my hair into a high ponytail and pull on my sawn off denim shorts and a vest top.  I thrust my feet into thick socks and hiking boots and I leave my face naked other than a swift lick of lip balm. I run headlong into things without thinking of the consequences.

I love to cook and bake.  I freeze fruit, make jam and have a back order of blackberry and apple crumbles to make for friends and family.

I haul logs, I paint barns, I lie under cars and change wheels.  I climb fences and trees, wrangle sheep and saw wood.

I love home making and crafts and making special occasions so special.  I love birthdays and Christmas and spend as long looking for just the right wrapping paper as I do the gift or making the cake.  I get ridiculously excited and enthusiastic by other peoples birthdays as well as my own and stretch them out for as long as possible.

Hey, I INVENTED the birthday eve remember?  ;-)

I'm ridiculously happy and content sitting on a cliff path with miles of coastline stretching either side of me and a sea breeze blowing through my hair eating homemade sandwiches and cake.

I love to party, to play silly games, to dance and sing, drink champagne and eat sushi.

I love solitude and silence and stillness and peace.

I think and I feel and I love intensely.

I'm scatty, impulsive, accident prone and often stupid but I'm living my life in the best way I know how.

There are things I would change, do differently, undo ... if only I could ...  but I wouldn't change who I am because, confusing as it often is, I only know how to be me.

Friday 20 September 2013

WTF Are You Doing Sarah??

I know, you saw the title and thought - 'I've read this post before!'

But you haven't.

The thing is, the post I wrote before was more about people asking me what the fuck I was doing but I realised that, while that IS a common occurrence what I hadn't included were the numerous times I've asked myself that exact same question.

Take yesterday for example.  I'd stopped by Mambos for a lime and soda and was happily catching up on emails and minding my own business.

Anyway, there I was tapping away when I was joined by a group of youngsters who sat at the next table talking about their drunken exploits -  like they were the ones who invented getting pissed and making an exhibition of yourself for gods sake!

I couldn't help overhearing and to be honest thinking it all sounded a little lame really.  I was tempted to add a few my own anecdotes - ever laid on a bar and alternately had hazelnut syrup and champagne poured into your mouth?

Thought not ...

Ever tried to balance your foot on someone's shoulder and fallen over and smashed your knee to buggery?

Nup, I doubt it ...

Ever dragged your sleeping friend feet first out of an underground carpark - hooked your leg behind your head whilst balancing on a barstool in Amsterdam - spent a drunken night partying with the Spin Doctors -  stood in a kebab shop and ....  Actually, you know what? You get the picture ...

It was fairly clear that most of them had yet to experience those life events that litter my dim and distant past.

I was about to open my mouth and interject when I saw it!

A fuck off big bug CLIMBING UP MY LEG!!!

Seriously, this thing had at least 12 legs, foot long antenna, 4 sets of wings and mander fucking  BALLS!!

I SHIT YOU NOT - it was a monster!!!!  And it was almost at my knee ...

I reacted silently.

I swiped that MoFo so hard it sailed clean over their table.

I was just congratulating myself on dealing with the situation without causing a scene and went to take a swig of my drink when I realised it was gone!

I'd had it on my hand when I swiped the bug and had thrown the whole thing, glass and all straight into the lap of one of the guys at the next table and he now had lime and soda dripping down his jeans and onto the ground ...

Five faces were looking from him to the mad woman at the next table who had, in an apparently unprovoked attack, just thrown her drink at him.


I TRIED to apologize - I TRIED to explain ....

I wish to god I HAD screamed at that bastard bug so they knew I wasn't just mental.

I did reconsider sharing my drunken antics though, somehow I wasn't sure it was going to further my case.

I thought it was better just to leave ...

The other thing I find I often ask myself is - ' where the fuck did I leave my bike ...' (As you know, I AM a keen cyclist ;-) it takes about 10 minutes to walk from my house into town but only 3 to cycle, its a no brainer isn't it?

So I pop into town and I lock my bike to one of the many bike racks dotted about town and go for a wander.

Then can't remember where I left the bloody thing!

I'm endlessly trying not to look suspicious as I hover around the racks trying to work out if one of them is mine. 

You know, I think I might suffer from bike blindness!

I'm going to ask my doctor if its a recognised condition and if not, well, it SHOULD be!

Honestly, I  genuinely can't pick mine out when its parked up with half a dozen others.  Mines a fairly distinctive shade of turquoise (but of course) but chuck any blue or green bike into the mix and I'm confused.

 I'm terrified I'm going to be caught trying to unlock someone else's thousand pound bike or something and they are never going to belive that I mistook it for my slightly tatty second hand one and so I hover or move on to the next row of racks trying to pretend I know what I'm doing ...

On more than one occasion I've been desperately walking up and down trying to identify my bike before remembering that I'd actually chosen to walk that day.

Seriously, WTF Sarah ...!!

Thursday 19 September 2013

The Price Of Parenthood

I has a KFC last night.

So what you might be thinking but for me it's almost unheard of.  Don't get me wrong, I love a bit of fried chicken every now and then but it must be about 18 months since I last had any kind of takeaway (fish and chips at the beach don't count).

Incidentally, can you believe SD has NEVER had either a KFC or a McD's??  A weird but true fact.

Anyway, last night it was just Miss Mac and myself and I decided to treat her, we also shared a bottle of coke, something else that rarely makes its way into my house.

It was bloody lovely although I feel like crap today.  I'm not the food police and, as you know, I'm partial to a bit of cake and a firm believer that people can eat what the hell they like.  Most of us are fully informed of the healthy options but life is all about stepping outside of that box from time to time as far as I'm concerned.

A KFC isn't going to instantly clog up my arteries or break the bank when we do it so rarely but I've got to admit, despite the huge amount of pleasure I got from eating it, I'm a little shocked by how bloated and sluggish I feel today so I don't see it becoming a regular thing.

The reason for the KFC was, in part, because SD wasn't around, he can be a little preachy regarding health because, as he says, he'd like to he around for a very long time and he'd like me to be there with him.

Fair point SD ...

The other reason for grabbing a takeaway was that Miss Mac and I had spent a couple of hours at the school, it was after 7.30 and we were hungry.

Last week Miss Mac came home with a letter about a school trip, I've talked about the inclusiveness of school trips in the past and the simple reality that many if them are, for me as a single parent, beyond my grasp.  I couldnt justify or afford for Miss Mac to go on the three day trip to Paris (two days of which were partly spent travelling) at a cost of over £300 before including spending money just before the summer break and, to be fair to her, she was disappointed but took it on the chin.

This trip is in a different league.

This trip is four weeks in Kenya!

This trip is to the Tsavo national park, it includes safaris, scuba diving, working on conservation projects etc ...

This trip is AMAZING.

Miss Mac has from a very early age wanted to be a vet.  She works extremely hard at school.  At the end of last year she gained a certificate of excellence in humanities and wears the bar badge she was given in recognition with pride.  She was accepted on the triple science GCSE course which limits its places to top students who have the ability and determination to complete the extra study and take the extra exams this entails.  She had been nominated for another award of excellence in another subject, as yet she doesn't know which as it will be announced in an assembly at some point but she has had her photo taken which will be displayed on the wall of excellence in the schools main foyer.

I'm so incredibly proud of her.  She's bright and beautiful, clever and hard working.  She's funny yet focused, generally easy going and without the secretive, stroppyness that so often accompanies adolescents.

She's not perfect of course, but who wants perfection?  She's incredibly untidy, prone to laziness with regard to most things other than school work, has the odd burst of temper and constantly photo bombs my phone!

She wants to go on this trip SO badly and I can see why.

Miss Mac used to be addicted to a TV show called Wild At Heart set on a South African wildlife reserve it centred around the vets who ran the reserve.  It was really too late for her to watch on a Sunday night with school the next day but I used to allow her it as a special treat.

In the years since her resolve to work with animals in some form has never faltered.  She wants to be a vet or a zoologist and she wants the opportunity to work with animals on a game reserve.

I admire her resolve.  I admire her determination and I admire her hard work.

I would LOVE to give her this opportunity because I think its truly wonderful.

The trip comes in at a little under four thousand pounds ...

The things that are not included in that cost are, passports and visas, vaccinations, travel insurance excess, travel to and from UK airports, spending money and tips, equipment and an (optional) CoPE level 3 qualification.

I'm ok with most of that although I was surprised that it didn't include the cost of travel to UK airports.  I was also unhappy that an equipment list wasn't available at the meeting and have to question why, when this company have been running these trips for 11 years they don't provide this information from the start.

Is is, as I suspect, that they feel the additional expense would be a sticking point for many and therefore its brushed aside until you've signed up and are committed?

Maybe ...

You see, THIS is my main concern.  This trip isn't organised in house by the school.  This trip is organised by an outside organisation.  A BUSINESS - for profit ...  And so I wonder how much I can take at face value, how much of a positive spin are they prepared to put on this in order to fill places?

Don't misunderstand me, I can see that they do valuable conservation work, I can see that they are working closely with communities to build schools, give them clean, running water, grow sustainable crops etc and I applaude them for that but, ultimately they are not a charity and they (good intentions aside) are looking to make money.

Clearly the fact that they are in their 11th year and have won many awards indicates that they do what they do very successfully.

But I'm concerned.

Last night's presentation was full of success stories.  Children who had, through fund raising raised the whole cost of the trip individually and by group efforts.  Many of them appeared (from their manner, clothing etc) to have come from rather more affluent backgrounds than most of the children at Miss Macs school.  Perhaps they had a safety net in the form of family who were able to make up any shortfall should they not be able to fundraise the full amount themselves.  I really don't know, I can only surmise.

I do know we don't have that luxury.  I do know that, although this trip doesn't take place until 2015 giving us a little under 2 years to raise the money that this (once the deposit has been paid) requires each child to raise approximately £160 per month each.  I do know that should Miss Mac find herself unable to do this that I would find it impossible to make up the difference and I know there is no-one I can call upon for help with such a huge sum.

I do know that my main concern that this trip is not organised by the school is one the one that I'm having the most difficulty with.

I wonder if my mistake was not giving my daughter an outright no when she brought the form home?  Was my determination to remain open-minded misguided or even cruel?  I've given her hope in attending the meeting.  I've let her be seduced by the presentation where I was very aware of the use of positive projection - 'you WILL be doing this - you WILL be staying here -.you WILL be meeting these people and you WILL be making a difference.

Every single one of those children left the lecture theatre confident that they WILL be going on the trip.

Miss Mac started a list of fundraising activities and companies to contact for sponsorship as soon as she got home and this IS something I have some experience in.  I've spent years on PTA's, I've been on the committee of our local park for the past 4 years, I KNOW its not as easy as they made it appear.  I know the recession has hit hard, that many large businesses make direct donations to chosen charities and won't consider other requests for help.  I know that small local businesses are endlessly generous but not necessarily in a position to help and I KNOW that friends and family are also stretched and endless requests for sponsership place an unfair burden on them.

I would still love to be able to say yes ...

Like every parent I'm familiar with having to refuse my children the things that they want.  Like most parents, I don't enjoy doing this.

Miss Mac isn't hard done by.  She's had a great summer in many ways.  We've been out and about, it may not have been everyone's idea of luxury but its never been boring.

She has a happy home where she is safe.

She has a mother who loves her fiercely and, in SD, a male figure who has standards and morals and who will always do his best for her.

She doesn't have many of the material possessions that some of her peers have, no iPod, no iPhone, no iPad - but, what she lacks in 'I's' she more than makes up for in 'us's' - ok, that's just a little bit flowery for me ...  ;-)

The point is, she has the important stuff and she's ok with that.  She wants stuff and I get that but she's ok with not having it most of the time.

So I'm kind of stuck.  Do I try to make this happen despite my reservations?  Do I push the school to make some kind of firm commitment to the students do I look for assurances that they will support and be actively involved in the fundraising? The company running the trip provided ideas, packs and support but they do not have a personal interest in the individual child.

One of my concerns is the timing.  Miss Mac will be taking this on in the run up to and including the year that she takes her GCSE's.  One of the questions I wanted to ask the school was, what impact has this had on students studying and results in previous years but I discovered last night that this is the first year they have undertaken this type of trip.

Ultimately I need to look at the long term benefits alongside the short time gains but I don't know the answers and no one can give them to me.

I know I've waffled on a lot.  I'm trying to organise my thoughts.

I don't think I can sign up to this and I hate the fact that it all boils down to money.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Spitting Image

You know how some children look just like their parents and you can tell at a glance that they are related?

None of mine are anything like that.

I guess we must share some features but in a crowded room I don't think you'd put us together.  The only characteristic I know I've passed on to my children is my height.

But, in some respects Miss Mac and I aren't so different.

From the tender age of three when, 30 seconds after arriving at a party, she ran headlong into the stage requiring her head to be glued back together, those damned 'things' have been happening to her too!

Last night we popped out to the farm to pick the rest of the plums.  The ones on the top most branches of the ancient, fragile tree, the branches that trail over the roof of the barn making them almost inaccessible.

Personally I'd have been tempted to leave them to the birds and the wasps but SD likes to do a job properly.

It started well with SD at the top of the ladder alternately shouting to Miss Mac and I to catch his plums (fortunately I was the only one who appeared to see the humour in this and I managed to keep it to myself). I now have some incling what its like being in the stocks.  With the sun above us it was almost impossible to see those bloody purple missiles as they hurtled towards you and Miss Mac and I had our fair share of hits and missed catches which mean rummaging about in the undergrowth for errant fruit.

Inevitably Miss Mac was stung on the hand by stinging nettles  and inexplicably ran away clutching her bum when I grabbed a bunch of dock leaves to rub them with - no idea WHAT that was all about ...

Once SD had stripped the branches he could reach from the top of the ladder he carefully climbed on to the roof of the barn, and, using the long handled loppers cut some smaller branches and swang them over the roof so they fell towards us.

Several of the heaviest laden branches were on the far side of the barn overhanging the field behind.  SD climbed to the top of the roof and swang his leg over so he was perched on the ridge (which I'm fairly sure must have made him very well aware of his own plums!).  Miss Mac and I climbed the fence into the field where he continued to bombard us.

Miss Mac was a little perturbed by the quantity of cow shit we had to negotiate as we continued to dodge and catch plums in equal measure and point blank refused to pick any up that dropped to the ground incase they had landed in any.

She was reaaly good at directing SD to the plums he couldn't see though. 'Just lean out a bit further, brace yourself against that branch and slide down the root a bit' she suggested.

SD was by now doing a very good impression of someone doing the splits with one foot hooked over the ridge and the rest of him slowly sliding towards me.

I was just debating whether to try catching him if he fell or if I should clear a space and try and weave a tarpaulin from leaves and shit to break his fall when I noticed the wasps.

Little fuckers are supposed to be all tucked up in their nests by that time in the evening and yet half a dozen were buzzing around my ankles.

I dropped my plums and took off without a word across the field.

'WTF are you DOING Sarah' - its a question that, as you know, I'm fairly familiar with ...

'Wasps' I shouted - 'hundreds of the bastards attacking me' - I may be slightly prone to exaggeration ...

Miss Mac stood apparently rooted to the spot.  'Move' I told her, they'll be coming for you next!'

'Ummm, I'm not too worried about the wasps' she said 'but that bull behind you looks really pissed off'.

Can you belive that SD FORGOT there was a bloody bull in the field when he sent us in there?

Luckily the bull was more interested than pissed off and Miss Mac and I made our escape.

On the other side of the barn Miss Mac held the ladder as SD clambered down having first passed her the loppers to hold.

Once he was safely on the ground she began setting about chopping down everything in site because it was 'fun'.

SD spends much of his time at work channeling negative energy into positive actions - I actually suspect he gets much of his inspiration from spending time with me ;-) and suggested that she  cut down the large patch of nettles and brambles by the fence.

Leaving her to it SD and I sorted through the plums discarding any damaged ones.

'Some of these are really thick and hard to cut through' said Miss Mac 'look, these are really woody but I've cleared it'.

SD was rendered speechless (see, Miss Mac and I DO share some talents)  as he silently looked from the pile of nettles to the neat pile bamboo fencing posts  Miss Mac had hacked to the ground and then to the now sagging fence.

Fortunately one thing SD shares with me is a sense of humour and, as he pointed out, there is absolutely NO doubt whatsoever that she is indeed my daughter.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

No Excuses

As excuses go I'd say not handing in your homework because a kitten's shit on it probably rates slightly higher than the dog eating it.

Did I mention I had yet more kittens?

I'm just fostering them while I get them used to people, litter trained etc.  In fact, up until this evening I had four but one has gone to a good home with two small children who are thrilled with the gorgeous, long haired, grey tabby addition to their family.

I actually suspect that it was the culprit for the tiny turd that appeared on the information sheet for Miss Macs art homework.  I'm hoping its taught her the valuable lesson that if you leave your stuff lying around on the floor you shouldn't be suprised if it gets crapped upon.

Actually, I've never had that problem before with a kitten and I'm really hoping popcorn (as Miss Mac named him) behaves himself in his new home.

It got me thinking about excuses though. I've been pretty crap myself lately with regards to the blog.  I've written a few posts but I haven't involved myself properly in blogland and as a result less people are visiting and/or leaving comments.

Partly its due to my internet playing up, my connection is patchy again and my last few posts have been written on my phone using the blogger app which, although pretty good just doesn't have the features of the full application.

But even that's partly an excuse.

I'm not reading many blogs, I'm not commenting on many blogs.  Sometimes I'm unable to comment easily from my phone but again, that's more excuses really.  It's hard, not impossible.

I've even committed the cardinal sin for me in not answering all the comments left on my blog.

I know everyone's different.  Some people never answer comments but always pop over to the comment leavers blog and leave one themselves.  Some people answer directly to the person via email.  Some people openly admit that they don't answer comments and, some admit that they don't even read comments left on their blog.

The latter I find rather arrogant and I tend to avoid those blogs.  I acknowledge that some blogs attract so many comments that it would be a full time job to answer them all but I sometimes think it would do them no harm to remember that those commentors are the people who have made them big in the first place.

I think its fair to say that there's an element of luck or maybe its circumstance that determines how a blog evolves with regard to readership.  Before I offend anyone or you suspect that there's an element of jealousy in that statement I'd like to say, not so.  I guess in the early days I may have dreamt of greatness but I very soon realised that I didn't have the determination, commitment or probably even the talent to make Fudge into something huge.

And you do need all of those in order to expand and continue expanding your blog, more so maybe if you choose not to acknowledge your readership.

I guess this is kind of an apology to those of you who still stop by.  I could do better.  I will do better.  I don't especially want to expand my audience but I do want the one I have to know that I value it.

So I wanted to say a long overdue thank you to anyone who takes the trouble to read my posts and to those old friends who I've been neglecting, I'm sorry, its not good enough and ill be popping by very soon because you are the reason I'm still here and I sincerely appreciate each and every one of you.


Monday 9 September 2013

Not Until The Fat Lady Sings

I struggle with September, for me summer doesn't end until SD brings out the longer shorts and that won't be for another month or so but the shops are full of winter woolies and its damp and grey in my garden this morning.

My tomato plants are still laden with unripened fruit as the later varieties still need another week or so of sunshine before  the stripy egg shaped tomatoes turn from green to deep red.  The tiny, early red cherry tomatoes are almost over and in the past week I've been picking their small yellow cousins that burst in your mouth with an explosion of flavour.  I'm also cultivating a solitary chocolate tomato plant, the first time I've grown these and I'm fascinated as I watch them turn from a pale apple green to a rich chocolaty brown.

Other than picking them straight from the bush and eating them warm from the sun my favorite way to eat these juicy red globes is slow roasted with green, red and yellow peppers, chunks of red onion, slices of courgette, dotted with slivers of garlic intercepted with bay leaves picked from my tree and smothered in olive oil, black pepper and flakes of sea salt.

I'll happily eat them like this or as an accompaniment to a meal, mix it with pasta or cous cous or blend it into a thick soup.  It tastes like nothing you can buy in a shop and, if I feel the urge, I'll even bake my own bread to go with it.

I've had a great weekend, Saturday was an odd mix.  The forecast for here was sunshine and showers and yet, just a few miles down the coast it was set to be a beautiful day.  SD and I headed for the coast.  Blue anchor sounds far prettier than it is in real life.  In reality its a stony stretch of seafront looking out towards Wales and, in the distance, Hinckley Point nuclear power station.  On the surface its pretty unreposing.  But, if you look a little closer it does have some redeeming features.

There's a tiny train station where several times a day the steam train stops on its way between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard.  There are rock pools teaming with life and there is an abundance of fresh sea air and escape.

There's also the best little cafe, the Driftwood, set at the top of a pretty tiered garden where you can sit in the sun surrounded by lavender and roses or, if its less warm, take your coffee on the sheltered veranda as you watch the fishermen cast their lines along the promenade and ships sail past in the distance.

An hour or two is the most I spare Blue Anchor before heading further along the coast to Minehead. 

Again, at first glance Minehead is pretty unreposing too unless you have a soft spot for amusement arcades or fancy a holiday at butlins holiday camp.  Neither of these float my boat but, if you take the time to walk in the opposite direction then you come to the old part of town with a pretty eclectic mix of houses and a small harbour.  There's also good shopping to be found in Minehead with small independant shops and a bustling market.  Oh, and you can buy the most amazing icecreams from a converted tram next to the train station, my choice on Saturday was stem ginger and clotted cream but it was a tough call when they were also offering blackberry and double cream.  We pottered around for a couple of hours, ate our icecreams on the sea wall and generally had a great day busy doing nothing.

Which meant that yesterday was a day for jobs.

Some jobs I really don't mind. Strangely, I love changing beds, I love the smell of fresh linen and the undented freshness of freshly plumped pillows.  I like cleaning the bathroom and setting out piles of clean fluffy towels and I like polishing mirrors.  Mostly I think housework is crap, boring and repetitive, a necessary evil that stands in the way of good times ;-).

Yesterday was also designated plum picking day!

We've been watching the plums at the farm waiting for the perfect day to pick them.  The plum tree is very old and the branches hang over the roof of the barn dripping with ripe purple fruit.

Plums may be my very favorite fruit of all time although I probably say the same about strawberries and raspberries oh, and rhubarb when they are in season and I'd struggle to choose between blackberries and plums.  I guess they can ALL be my favorites can't they?

The plums come right at the end of the growing season along with the blackberries and bramleys (how bloody clever is mother nature  coordinating those two?) and the runner beans, also a favorite in this house.  When the strawberries and raspberries are just a distant memory along come these perfect, juicy, sweet fruits bursting with flavor in a luscious deep purple.

Picking them's a real bugger though!

Not only do you have wasps to contend with but the best of the plums are high above your head 20ft up an ancient half dead tree.

Obviously I send SD up the ladder on the grounds that he probably bounces better than me (as yet fortunately unproven) with a bucket while I stand on the ladder and issue instructions from below.

I'm not actually sure its any safer at the bottom of the ladder as I'm bombarded with fruit as it falls from the tree.  I'm also constantly terrified that SD will lean too far from the ladder in his quest to pick the lushest fruit and go hurling to the ground taking me out as he passes leaving us both in a bloodied, tangled mess of mangled pulp and flesh on the ground below but apparently pointing that out to him at 30 second intervals isn't very helpful ...

It's worth it though.  After an hour's picking we ended up with these and my house is, as I type, filled with the amazingly rich smell of stewing plums ready to be turned into crumbles, pies and jam.  All I need to do now is make sure I pick out all the bloody stones!

Thursday 5 September 2013

High Days, Hoildays, Broken Noses And The Blues

Today The Lounge is being hosted by Musings of the Misguided and the theme is Mothers Day - what do you want for Mothers Day - what would make your Mother Day perfect?

Well, here in the UK Mothers Day was back in march and you know, I actually have NO recollection of it at all!

I'm sure it was good and I'm sure I was spoilt but it's a total blank ....

So, (and I hope no one minds) I thought I'd share a perfect day with you from last year - the kind of day that's filled with all the things and people that I love as well as a few of those 'damned things' that always seem to happen to me!


'Who's got the longest tongue?' - Miss Mac and I sat side by side tongues hanging down our chins looking at SD expectantly.
Honestly, from the look on his face you'd have thought there was something really odd about the question and that Miss Mac and I were slightly deficient in the intelligence area!
To be fair it was closely followed by a comparison of length of toe hair - I have none - Miss Mac a worrying amount but, once we'd pinned him down and removed his shoes and socks, SD was clearly the winner!
It's a bit like when I shouted to him that I thought she'd broken my nose and his immediate assumption was that she'd smacked me one.
What kind of people does he think we are ....??
So yes, last week Miss Mac did INDEED break my nose by headbutting me so hard that I saw stars and nearly passed out but it was (she assures me) a complete accident - or, as she maintains, entirely my own fault for trying to enter the awning at the same moment she was coming out without opening the zip properly so we both had to stoop and didn't see each other.
OMG - have you ever broken your nose?  Christ it hurts like buggery!!  Apparently I'm fortunate in that mine is only fractured in two places rather than completely broken but its still bloody painful and every time someone comes close to me I start flapping my hands around shouting 'stay away from ma face bitch!!'
The following day we cycled to Lands End - did I mention that we were on holiday?
Yep, after cancelling the previous week due to the broken van, the incident with the trailer and the forklift and the exploding wheelbarrow wheel we packed up Maudie the Monza and headed for deepest, darkest Cornwall our aim being to have the lowest tech holiday possible.  No club house, no pool, no amusements, no car ....
No fecking CAR  people ....!!
Just a relaxing time away from all the fripperies of modern day life with plenty of fresh air and exercise.
We parked up, unhitched Maudie and that was it, no more car until the trip home.  Everywhere was to be either by bike or on foot, and we did it, and it was amazing.
We cycled through the stunning countryside, the sun on our backs, bloody heavy backpacks on our backs too carrying food, water, towels, beach mats, books ....  Everything in fact that you could possibly need, except for suncream, which I'd forgotten and which Miss Mac, with her fair skin required.
We stopped at tiny picturesque village with a tiny shop to eat our lunch and I went in to buy some suncream and pick up a large bar of chocolate.  SD questioned this decision, I mean REALLY SD? You honestly think debating the need for chocolate with two females is a wise move?  Miss Macs hormones REQUIRE chocolate I informed him.  But we HAVE chocolate he insisted.  Seriously, only a man could possibly think that Penguins constitute chocolate, am I right or am I right?
Fed, watered and stocked up with suncream we continued on our way happily speeding along the country lanes stopping every now and then to pick juicy blackberries or admire the views and shouting to each other to pull over if we heard a car coming until, as I rounded a corner, I screeched to a halt and shouted, 'POTATO!!!'
SD, who was following me quite closely piled into the back of me  and said (rather crossly I thought!) - we are not playing eye spy now Sarah, can you please stop fucking around. 
I should explain that on the way down Miss Mac and I had endlessly amused ourselves and seriously started to piss SD off by playing eye spy to which my clue every time was 'something begining with P' (which is the first letter of SD's name in real life) - Miss Mac was AMAZING and got the answer first time EVERY time except when I (cunningly) changed the word to potato on a couple of occasions, just to spice things up you understand ....  Umm, and no, we didn't have any potatoes with us but thats what made it so cunning right!!
Anyways, SD wasn't wasn't as impressed as he ought to have been either by my cunning or Miss Macs amazing ability to accurately guess the answer and he wasn't really up for a re-run.
But, as I was able to sanctamoniouly point out, I wasn't messing, the truck that had thundered past us earlier laden with potatoes had obviously taken the corner too fast and the road was littered with potatoes.  I was all for hopping off my bike and picking up a few (kind of like vegetarian roadkill) and cooking them over an open campfire with a hedgehog or two which I thought showed great commitment to our back to basics holiday but SD pointed out that potatoes are heavy and point blank refused to let me fill up his backpack with them - SOOO bloody selfish don't you think?
After wending our way through the potato minefield we eventually rocked up at Lands End.  I rode my bike with a flourish over that finishing line to deafening silence.  I turned around, went back up the road and came back down AGAIN!
Ok, so maybe I had only come from Porth Curnow and not John O'Groates but I still cycled across that bloody finishing line which deserved SOME kind of recognition don't you think?
Incidentally, you can't get a decent cup of coffee at Lands End for love nor money, its all shitty machine stuff where you take a cup,  pay your money and push the button yourself.  SD and I decided that if it wasnt, then it should be free refills and forced down two cups each (I'm still not convinced it was free refills though ...).
Anyway, swiftly walking through the touristy, commercialized part you get to the breathtakingly beautiful stretch of cliffs that are Lands End.
WOW ....
That's pretty much all I can say.  It was worth every drop of sweat, every aching muscle, every bump that was agony for my poor nose and every dodged potatoe along the way, it was BEAUTIFUL!  At this point I would include some photos but I managed to accidently delete them from my phone and I haven't yet got around to downloading the camera.
We stripped off to do a little sunbathing in the brilliant sunshine and I got out the suncream for Miss Mac.
Plaster it on I told her, I don't want you getting burnt.
The suncream had gone a little liquid in the heat and she ended up with a huge handful.  Just slap it on I said, the more the better.
Why is it blue she enquired?
I checked the bottle.
It's kids stuff I informed her, its ok, its so you can see where you've put it, it disappears as you put it on.
That girl SMOTHERED herself in it, legs, arms, body, face ....
I lay down, closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the sea and the gulls overhead.
Perfect peace ...
Mum, its not disappearing, I heard her say.
I opened my eyes, looked at her and sat up in shock before starting to laugh slightly hysterically.
Miss Mac was bright blue from head to foot.
I was sitting next to a bloody SMURF!!!
I shall gloss over the next few minutes which contained rather a lot of bad language on Miss Macs part as she realised that no amount of rubbing or even scrubbing with a towel was going to remove the luminous blue glow from her skin (it actually took two days and several showers before it was completely gone).
SD appeared rather bemused as he so often does as he look from my blue daughter to my swollen nose and black eye but secretly I think he might have been rather proud to be seen with the pair of us ....
More on the Cornwall adventure (yes, there's more!) on the blog soon.
Laters Fudgers ...  ;-)