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 ...  ;-)

Tuesday 3 September 2013

A Keen Cyclist

This weeks theme over at The Lounge is Money - now I'm far too lazy busy to write a post right now and beside, I don't HAVE any money so nothing much to talk about here (except the lack of it which will very quickly bore you and me) so I stuck money into the search engine thingy on my blog and it came up with this post:

A Keen Cyclist

SD is a big fan of cycling - recycling, upcycling, bicycling. In fact, pretty much anything with a sigh in it gets his vote so when the roof on the woodshed at the farm started looking a little dodgy and in danger of falling in and crushing any innocent person rummaging for logs he didn't take the obvious solution of just replacing it, he sat and thought a while ...
SD has also been in the market for a new trailer for a while now, I mean, he only has two (or maybe its three) which is clearly not enough so he's been surfing ebay for the past few months (and I'd thought buying socks was hard!!) but either they weren't right or they were far too expensive or too far away, nothing quite fitted the bill.
You might be forgiven for wondering what the hell the connection is between the two ....
Me too!!!
Unless you are SD in which case its perfectly obvious.
You look at the woodshed, realise that its not only a really shitty and difficult job to repair the roof but also that its probably going to be very expensive.
You look at the trailer situation and you realise that you'll never find the trailer you want at a price you can stomach and so ...
You buy a CARAVAN!
I know, ingenious or what?
Did you just say WTF??
SD bought the shittiest, filthiest, biggest fuck off caravan I've ever had the misfortune to step inside of and then he nailed my foot to the wall of it!
Yes, he really did.
If you are still scratching your heads here then I'll put you out of your misery.
What you do is, you con your long suffering girlfriend into helping you strip the shitty caravan discovering that while It's been left to rot for a few years its still pretty sound and full of high end stuff, working fridge, sink, battery charger thingy, all sorts of stuff that you can sell on to recoup the money you spent on it.
You then con your long suffering girlfriend and a couple of beefy friends into helping you remove the body of the caravan from the chassis (not easy, very heavy and bloody filthy!) and voila, you have a new log shed and the perfect chassis to build your own trailer and, by the time you've sold all the stuff you salvaged and conned your long suffering girlfriend into cleaning it hasn't cost you a penny!
By the way, just in case you start to think SD is mean or penny pinching, nothing could be further from the truth.  He's incredibly generous with his money, time and belongings but he'd much rather invest a little time and energy into something and spend his money on good times (which we did last week, more on that, my broken nose and dyeing my daughter blue soon ;).
Where was I ....
A caravan body without a chassis isn't very strong so, what you so is strengthen it with a wooden framework inside and out.
You have your long suffering girlfriend inside holding wood in place as you screw more lengths of wood right through the wall to kind of sandwich the two together.
Now I'm not getting down on my hands and knees in that shitty caravan for anyone so I braced my foot against the wood and pushed as hard as I could while SD screwed from outside.
'Has it taken' he shouted. 
'I think so' I shouted back'.
'Will the wood move?'
'I don't think so.'
'Can you try it??' (Slightly exasperated)
'Not really ...'
SD appeared at the caravan door looking a little flustered.
'You can move your foot now'.
'I can't.'
'Sarah, you can move your foot now, the screws in and I just need to check its solid'.
'Oh, It's solid alright'.
'Move your foot and let me check'.
'Can't ....'
Under normal circumstances I'd probably have found it quite funny but sometimes I suspect SD thinks I'm a little simple and I get so frustrated proving him right time after time.  A couple of hours earlier I'd been helping remove some screws and was getting really cross when they wouldn't come undone.  It was only when SD pointed out that I wasn't using the ratchet spanner that I realised all I'd been doing for the past 10 minutes was undoing it half a turn and then tightening it back up again ...
SD rather unkindly refers to me as a 'comedy date' sometimes because he says there's no knowing what incredibly stupid thing I'm likely to do next.
Most unfair in my opinion, as I've always maintained - Things happen in every day life, things just happen.  I'm sure they happen to you too!
I'm right aren't I ....???