Sunday, 29 June 2008

Double Delight

This week good news came in twos.
I'll tell more later.
Later - when my daughter isn't trying to wrestle me off the computer - I'll also pass on these two beautiful awards I received this week.
Thanks Lehners in France!
Thanks Maggie May!

Update: I would like to pass these awards on to these top bloggers:

The first (trophy one) goes to:

The Mother of This Lot
Who has so many awards she has built a shelf to put them on.

The Lehners in France
Who has some brilliant stories to tell.

Whose honesty and optimism inspire me

The second (Special Scribe one) goes to:

Daryl E
Who I feel drawn to, like she's a long lost friend or something.

Pig in the Kitchen
Who is a master in the art of story-telling (and cooking)

Frog in the Field
What can I say? Funny, touching, awesome.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Excuses, Excuses

I want to write something tonight.

But I'm too tired. And that glass of divine red wine was too large. And the bubble bath is almost full. And my white bed looks too inviting. And it's been a long week. And there's been brilliant news that melted me with relief. And the final stage of selling my business passed this week. And I had to pay the tax man. And I never go to bed early enough. And I'm always cream-crackered on Friday nights. And I'm a bit t&e (tired & emotional). And I need to go count my blessings and stop moaning. And anyway I can't think of anything to write.

So I won't write something tonight. Oh. Hang on ... I just did.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Never Mind the Tupperware

I was invited to my first ever Tupperware party. I nearly said "do I look like the kind of woman who buys bloody tupperware?" Or, "thanks, but I'd rather poke my own eyes out". But what I actually said was: "Brilliant, I'd love to come". Times is hard, ya know?

The charming hostess had been concocting nibbles all week. And I'm not talking sausage rolls and celery sticks here; this was one mouth-wateringly awesome hand-crafted canape explosion. The booze was flowing like ... well, wine ... and a hit-squad of expert mothers, who know their Tequila from their Kahlua, were whipping up and dishing out cocktails like tomorrow's children and hangovers were off the radar.

The Tupperware presentation started. We ooohed at the storage box that expands. We aaahed at the microwave jug that doesn't get a hot handle. We basked in the warm ripple of approval that washed over the crowd, as we saw just how magnificantly that happy-chopper can chop. Some mothers concentrated and referred to their catalogues; others exchanged subversive glances and sniggered into their Harvey Wallbangers.

It was drizzling, but the crowd stayed outside with the candles and ice-buckets of pink fizz. Alpha mums swaggered and laughed the loudest; Cuddly mums swapped stories of their childrens' antics; The atmosphere was warm and funny, and I found friendly people to talk to. It got dark, then chilly, and then I drove home.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


"How old is the hamster?"
"Quite old, I think he's nearly 3."
"How old is that in hamster years?"
"Oh about 70 I suppose"
"When he gets to 100 in hamster years, will the hamster queen send him a telegram?"

Children ask questions like puppies chew shoes. They hurl them at Mum when she's heaving great sighs, her bloodshot eyes blinking through smudged mascara and freshly dug wrinkles as she sorts out the laundry mountain. Then they hurl more at Dad when he's longing for ... something ... worn out from blood-sucking work, jobs to do and things not working properly.

Children gleefully soak up whatever answers they can get. They hear the facts, the delivery, the emotions draped around the words and the inconsistencies with what they heard yesterday. And then they digest, ponder, and conjure up a whole new set of questions ready to launch at anyone they suspect might give them a quality answer. And on it goes, until the quick-tongued, big-eared, relentlessly inquisitive little angels are finally silenced by sleep.

"If the queen lives to be 100, will she send herself a telegram?"

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Happy Hoof

One final word on panda food: I saw in the Guiness Book of Records, in the "World's Sleepiest Mammal" section, that pandas snooze for 18 hours a day. They only eat bamboo, which doesn't provide much nourishment, so they sleep to conserve energy. Right. So why not nibble on a bit of fruit then? And stay awake longer? Or some nuts? Our two-tone friends' stubborn refusal to mix up their diet seems a bit daft to me. Clearly they don't have much to do. And while I think about it, how do large beasts like horses and cows live on only grass and a few buttercups? And they don't even sleep that much.

The children and I are quite excited about horses at the moment. Our neighbour has taken us, two Sundays in a row, in her rusty volvo to the stables to the countryside where she volunteers. Apparently there are umpteen therapeutic reasons to care for and ride horses, physical and mental, and this place is for disabled riders only. We go in the tack room to read the diary and admire the saddles, the children try on the hats. It smells of leather and damp.

Out in the fields, the eight well-behaved horses live in pairs in fenced-off areas. The white boss one (with different coloured eyes) has a bad back and needs a soft saddle. One needs medicine for a sore shin, and one will only let my neighbour feed him. There's a cute little black one, and one that swaps horsey-lip kisses for carrots. The new black one gets pushed around by the feisty one, and there's one with honey-coloured hair. Each day the horses get a few pieces of carrot, a handful of "Happy Hoof" feed, and garlic. And they sure do eat an awful lot of grass.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A Panda Food Moment

We're getting settled here in the south now, and I don't expect we'll migrate back. But every now and again some little thing triggers a memory and whisks me back to my old long-gone life up north. Today it was bamboo.

A couple of summers ago we upgraded our square of Cheshire soil. It went from being a nasty patch of water-logged mud with a pile of bricks in the corner, to a pretty peachy little garden with flowers, drainage and a path: "well stocked", as estate agents say. We had help from 7-foot tall Matthew - who had won rosettes at the Tatton Flower Show - and his troop of wheel-barrow pushing, earth-shovelling Manchester lads who trampled mud and testosterone all around the place.

We took Matthew's planting plan and phoned the trade-price garden centre. Upon hearing the man's quote, we spluttered a few heavy-duty swear words, picked ourselves up off the floor, cut the volume required in half, and ordered the plants. I don't remember what most of them were called - they were selected on the basis of being oriental-looking, clay-loving and reasonably hard to kill.

When the plants arrived on a truck, late one hot and humid Saturday afternoon, we off-loaded them and stood them on the deck. I put the kids to bed and poured a glass of icy cold wine. I went outside and sat amongst our new army of friends with roots and leaves: bushes, ferns, young trees, handsome, mysterious plants with Latin name tags in all shades of greens, yellows and reds. Some had stripes, some had prickles, some were just lush. It was quiet out, and almost dark. The bamboo swished in the breeze; I was elated.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Back From the Brink

A big boxy thanks for all those "pack or unpack" comments! I heard today that the landlord is happy to sign a new lease for a minimum of 3 months, with 2 months notice if they sell it after that. So I'm unpackin'. Oh yes. But not today.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Away With the Fairies

Okay, just ignore that last post. Today I took a phone call from the estate agent handling the sale of the house we've been renting for 6 months; the sale has fallen through so we don't have to move out now after all. Over the last 6 weeks it's been on, then doubtful, then back on again ... and now off. I've been grumblingly dragging my weary bones around town looking at other (unsuitable) houses to rent. Apparently the bloke buying the house belonging to the people buying this one has had his mortgage offer withdrawn by the bank. Gut-wrenching news for all concerned, except us! So now I'm looking at the pile of boxes I've already packed, and trying to decide whether to unpack them or not.

I wonder what will occur on Monday. Someone who is said to be 'away with the fairies' has lost their grip on reality and expects the unlikely. If I unpack, does that make me away with the fairies too?

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Pressing the Pause Button

I wanted to write something deep, funny or meaningful for my 50th post. Instead, I must write about injustice. Nobody in the UK is able to sell their house at the moment (we didn't, and our house in Cheshire is now full of tenants). Nobody, except for the people who own the house we're renting. They've sold it. So we have to move out in a couple of weeks. Bah humbug. So again, I'm feeling ever so slightly overwhelmed by life's crappy jobs, and will have to neglect my blog again for a while.

I'll come round and say hi when we're all settled in to the new place! Blogbye for now ...