Monday, 26 December 2011

There are Moments....

a martyr
I love my husband, really. After 30 years of marriage he still makes my tummy muscles squeeze when I see him unexpectedly, but there are moments. Sometimes in the middle of the night. I have told of my dislike of spiders here so here's another little story. Same bed, same people, different night.

I was sound asleep, I know this because when Mr M grabbed my arm and shook me awake it was a bit scarey. He was whispering my name with an urgency in his voice that we rarely hear. He isn't the sort of person to panic or rush around shrieking. I don't do it often but I have had my moments over the years.


I am now awake, sorry I am now AWAKE!!! staring into the darkness as my husband whispers "Why has a spider got nine legs?"


"They don't have nine legs," I replied, "they have eight."

"Oh, that's what's wrong with it." he said, then turned over and went back to sleep.

Did I say that I am now AWAKE? Well I am. I had tucked the duvet in around me but now I have to shake it vigorously then turn on the bedside light and examine it carefully incase a nine-legged spider is clinging to the cover. I beat the pillows and check the floor around the bed too.
I didn't get much sleep at all while Mr M slept for the rest of the night like a baby!

Friday, 23 December 2011

paint it red

My beautiful daughter moved to Manchester to be with her then boyfriend and within a year had found them a lovely little house in Failsworth. The boyfriend (he never was a keeper even if he is good to know) decided that buying a house was too much like commitment for him so my daughter went ahead on her own and they moved into the house ans settled down. One of the first things she did was paint the window frames and the window sills. These were in need of a new coat of paint so she chose Liverpool red, as you do when you are young. She sanded and rubbed down the frames and sills and primed and undercoated, just as her friend who was a painter and decorator told her. She painted the front gate too. Then she went in and had a shower and settled down to the TV because it was Saturday night and the boyfriend was working at the pub.
The following day she popped down to the corner shop for the papers and on her way back a neighbour from across the road shouted to her "Hey! I want a word with you!"
My daughter was a little apprehensive as the voice didn't sound too friendly. She smiled and waited. The woman crossed the road and said
"You want to be careful painting stuff like that. I opened my curtains this morning - and I'm not saying I was drunk or anything you know? but when I opened them I thought my head had exploded! All that red! you could have caused a stroke!"
Then she grinned and began to laugh before remembering that she had been drinking the night before.
My daughter had made a new friend who was jolly good to her later on.

Sunday passed quietly and on Monday my daughter went to work and was really puzzled because everyone kept laughing and saying how they liked her earrings when she wasn't wearing any. When she got home the boyfriend was there and as she paused to admire her painting handiwork she said "Do you think I should get some nail polish that colour? or should I just use the paint?"
"Beats me," he said "I'm still wondering why you painted your ears."

She rushed to a mirror to discover that she had two perfect dots of paint, one on each ear and no idea how they got there.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Do you want Santa to visit?

Something was said yesterday that triggered a memory. I thought it should be documented so here it is.

When Mr M and I first became 'Us' I took him on a tour of the relatives. He discovered that I have a lot of cousins and we are still involved in each others lives, even if only in a small way.
I have an app
I took him to meet Mr and Mrs Bluefunnel (I have explained their name here). Mr Bluefunnel was recuperating from an operation and was spending a lot of time resting on the settee. All the Christmas decorations were up and the tree was next to the end of the settee.
Mrs B was doing her usual thing of looking after everyone, especially Mr B, and brought us a cuppa and a slice of cake together with a plate of mince pies and a plate of biscuits.
"Is there anything else I can do?" she asked
"There is one thing love" said Mr B "Could you turn the tree around please?"
"Well, yes, of course" she replied, getting up from her chair to do it straightaway "but why?"
It's just that all the chocolate ornaments are empty on this side, so if you turn it I can reach the others while you are in work."

There was a pause - one - two - and then she hit him with a cracker. A Christmas cracker not a nut cracker.

All the silver paper was still there looking as though it was full of chocolate but he had carefully removed and eaten the chocolate.

"Do you want Santa to come here on Christmas Eve?" she asked sternly. "Yes," he replied in a subdued voice.
"Well he won't come at all if you do things like that! I've a good mind to stop your pocket money AND tell Santa you're on the naughty list!"

That was thirty years ago and I am delighted to say that he hasn't changed at all.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Home for the Holidays

Yesterday Mr M was on afternoon shift. This means going into work for 2pm and leaving work at 10pm. It has always been the shift I most hate because I can never get anything started before he goes. I always feel there isn't time to start, even if the task will only take an hour I have great difficultly getting going because all too soon he will be picking up his bag and his coat and going out through the door.
Yesterday was no different. He went off to work and I had to make sure I stayed awake until it was time to collect Miss M from the school across the road. We ate Lincolnshire gingerbread cookies and drank milk and talked about Santa visitng the school and giving her a Winnie the Witch book and some chocolate, and also we watched Christmas 24 channel. We like this.
Pretty soon Mummy arrived home from work and then Daddy arrived, surprising us because we had forgotten that he finished early on a Friday. Daddy pointed out that there was a card to say that the post office had tried to deliver a parcel but no one was in - they lied, again. He offered to run down to the sorting office - about 300 metres away from our house - and collect it for me. As it was Mr M's present I said yes please.
Miss M and Mummy went home and then her Daddy brought the parcel so I thought it would be a good time to wrap it, while Mr M was safe in work until 10pm. The time was 6.15pm.

wearing his wedding tie
I got the wrapping paper, the cutter and the sticky tape and as I cut the paper the front door opened! Mr M was home!

I did the "shrieeeeek" "Stay there!, don't come in this room! go and sit on the sofa and watch the TV for five minutes" I threw the paper over the gift and rushed to welcome him home and to explain in my normal, non shrieking voice that I was wrapping something for him and I didn't want to spoil the surprise.
"That's OK," he said "I don't mind sitting here and waiting. I am Home For The Holidays. I don't go back to work until January second."

I was so excited, I didn't know whether to kiss him first and then do the happy dance or do the dance and then kiss him so I kind of kissed him then danced then went back for more kisses - daft eh?

I wrapped his present. I made a cuppa and then we had fish finger sandwiches for our tea YUM!
Having him going out to work has always been something I hate. I would love to have him around all the time and I love it when there are holidays and we can just be. When he is not here I have this affliction, we call it emptyarmitis. So now I have him home with me until january 2nd

~happy dance~

Thursday, 15 December 2011

What she doesn't want for Christmas

Taking Olivia back to Rainbows
Miss M was worried the other day. I hadn't seen her for a few days because her daddy had time off from work  - something to do with taking the days before he lost them at the end of the year. She was with me in the breakfast room and while she was putting her shoes on she confided
"I'm very worried Grandma."
"Oh dear," I said "What's worrying you sweetheart?"
"It's Santa, I think he might bring me a real live Unicorn." She looked at me to see if I was paying attention. "I don't want a real live Unicorn, Grandma, Where would I put it?"
My brain immediately threw its hands in the air and ran around screaming in my head while my body remained perfectly still. How to cope? How to cope!!! Then the part of me that is most like my mother said
"Stop worrying, he won't bring you a real live Unicorn sweetie, because Santa doesn't give real live animals as gifts. He only brings toys and games and sweeties. Never live animals of any kind."
Wasn't that brilliant? It is exactly what my mother would have said and it came out of nowhere. Thank you Mum.
"What I really want is a toy one that is the same size as a real one, Grandma. He could bring that, couldn't he?"
"Well, where would you put it? you do realise that a real, full size Unicorn is taller than Daddy don't you?"
Oh yes, as big as a shire horse, you remember the shire horses at the farm?"
"Yes, ask Grandpa"
Well, she did ask Grandpa if real Unicorns were as big as shire horses and he said he didn't know because he had never seen one but she should ask Grandma because she used to be a Girl Guide Leader and knew all about these things. If grandpa said Grandma was right then that was enough.
I am telling you these things to forewarn you and give you some extra ammunition and a little more wriggle room because these grandkids can be sudden can't they?

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Chinese whispers

When my children were small we lived in an old water mill just outside the village of Raglan. When you live in or near a village you either take part in village life or you exist on the periphery. My children went to the village school and I was involved in every aspect of village life. Junior Football club? my boys were there and I was on the touchline. Cubs Scouts, Brownies, playgroup I was there. The Scouts and Guides in Raglan are, or used to be, Church units and had a Church parade once a month. I was in the church choir, a member of the WI and the young wives group and I was a committee member of the Village Hall Committee. All this evolved over time but when I first went to the church the children were quite small and this is where my story begins.

Eldest Son was five when we moved to the mill and it wasn't long after this that I started going regularly to church. I took the children with me and they were always well behaved, unless one of them dropped their collection money and started to giggle. That didn't happen too often. They enjoyed the hymns most of all because they liked to sing. With everything else that was going on in their lives they needed to be able to make noise.
One day I heard Eldest son talking to his teddy bears. He had two that he loved deeply one was called Baba, the other had no name. Until now. "Look Baba, this is Gladly. He's a church bear."

Gladly? where did that come from? I chose my moment carefully. I didn't want him to know I had been eavesdropping so I waited until he mentioned the bear by name and then asked why he had chosen that name.
As is usual in such moments Eldest Son gave me a scornful look as though wondering how his mother could be quite as stupid as that and said "Like the bear in the song, Mummy"
"Oh," said I "which song is that?" He sighed, his mother was obviously denser than even he had thought. "The one we sing in church, Mummy, you know." and then he sang to me
"Gladly, my cross I'd bear"

This story has been brought to you through Sian at fromhighinthesky. please visit her blog and enjoy all the other stories in the series.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Mr Movember

I just have to share this.

My eldest grandson is the young man with the Movember Moustache right at the beginning. He won £100 and he has raised money for the male cancer charities.


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Family... My Family

Eldest son and family
We have just had a weekend that was like Christmas but without the hassle and the music and the alcohol. What we had was just the fun!
While two of my children live close enough to pop in whenever they feel like it, my eldest son live on the other side of England. This means that we don't get to see him and his lovely wife and two delightful sons as often as I would like (by this I mean, of course, EVERY DAY).
This weekend they came over to us so we had the pleasure of seeing how much the boys have grown since April (photographs are fabulous but seeing them and hugging them beats all) and we managed time to sit and talk.
Daughter and S-i-L and family (not the balloon lady)
At one stage there were ten adults and six children under ten years old in the house and it was great. I cooked dinner for eight adults and two of the children and we all managed to get around the table even if my daughter and I were standing up to eat. it was ok because we were passing things like glasses of wine and beakers of water and the salt and more gravy.
granddaughter and family
My great granddaughter sat on her chair with her chin just level with the table and ate her chicken and vegetables with a big fork "like M". Miss M sat beside her and showed her how to do it properly.
Continental Lentil Toad-in-the-Hole
I cussed and swore at the oven because it is the most nasty piece of torture equipment ever devised! If you put things in the top of the oven they burn if you put them in the bottom of the oven they take at least double the recipe time to cook. I have some fabulous heavyweight baking trays that fitted my old oven but are too darned big for this new pile of scrap. The biggest mistake I ever made was to listen when I was told that this oven was far better than my old one. I am saving my pennies and looking at things to sell on eBay because I want a new oven. I cooked a four bird roast and a Continental Lentil Toad-in-the Hole for the family dinner and the packaging stated that the roast would take three hours from frozen at gas mark 7 well I was prepared and put it in two hours early in the bottom of the oven and after 3 hours it was about defrosted so then I zapped it for half an hour in the top of the oven before putting it back at the bottom so I could put the Toad-in-the-Hole at the top.

Once again I am defeated by the formatting on Blogger. All I want to do is put the pictures down the side with the text alongside but it just leaves huge gaps!!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A Wedding

We were at a wedding yesterday. We were there in the role of "Parents of Choice". One of the grooms is a close and treasured friend of ours with no family so he asked us because "If I could choose who I wanted to be my parents if would be you two."

We are honoured to be thought of that way.

We said yes.

I got to walk him down the aisle and we got to sit in the front row and I was able to cry quite freely throughout the partnership ceremony.

They had two cakes, one was made of cheese! Isn't that incredible

The evening event was a masked ball - it was amazing! There were so many people there from the live roleplaying and freeforming community so we caught up with old friends, reminisced about past freeforms  and caught up with the latest news.

I was hugged. Lots of hugs from lots of lovely friends and acquaintances. I like hugs.

We arrived home at 11.45pm having taken exactly two hours to drive back from Tamworth. I took loads of pictures and I have been asked to put together the guestbook, because "you're into scrapbooking aren't you?"
"Yes, a bit" I replied and Mr M snorted with laughter.

So, a good day a stress free journey there and back and the chance to meet up with people I haven't seen for more than ten years.

I have given up trying to put the text and pictures where I want them Blogger is being bolshie and messing up everything I try - sorry

Saturday, 5 November 2011

A Bedroom Story

this is his 'not another photograph' face

I have a thing about spiders. Lots of people do. They don't like them because of all sorts of reasons. I don't like them because they cause an allergic reaction. So I avoid contact. When I worked in the Garden Centre this could be a problem because spiders come as part of the fixtures in greenhouses and sheds. As I am also allergic to wasp stings my boss used to worry. I didn't. I carried the auto injector everywhere and just got on with it. This allergic stuff makes you careful where you grab hold of things and pretty darned quick to react

this is my 'oh goodness he's got my camera' face
Now I want you to picture if you dare the bedroom that Mr M and I share. It's really quite ordinary with a standard size double bed, a couple of chests of drawers, a chair and a couple of bedside cabinets. The curtains are thick enough to exclude most of the light from the streetlights outside so it is pretty dark in there.
We are in bed. Now neither of us can ever be described as svelt or slim so there is no chance that we could be lying there and not be noticed but spiders don't care do they?
We were asleep. Something woke me, I don't want to think about what it was thank you.
I opened my eyes and in that split second of recognition I was aware that Mr M was still asleep and snoring softly behind me. We are both lying on our left side. I am facing the edge of the bed and he is facing the middle.
I opened my eyes and looked into the face of a spider whose body must have been the size of my thumbnail. It was big and it had attitude. It took a step towards me and as I registered the tap tap of it's feet on the pillow I went backwards. At. Speed.
I went under Mr M, out of the bed and up against the wall next to the light switch. Mr M was still revolving in the bed. He is frantically trying to unwrap his legs from the duvet and saying "What? What the h*ll happened?"
I am pressed back against the wall with my right hand pressed against my chest and my left hand pointing at my pillow while making the strange gasping noise that all husbands should know signifies extreme terror. Am I the only person who finds it impossible to breath out when scared? I have never yet screamed when frightened. yelped yes, sworn of course, but screamed? Not really. That's because I am too busy gasping and only breathing in.
Mr M eventually extricated himself from the covers and I managed to reverse the flow of air and hissed "Spider!", again flapping my hand in the direction of my pillow. (Mr M says I was flapping wildly in the general direction of Cardiff, but he exaggerates).
Mr M began the process of searching for the spider. he picked up and shook each pillow and handed them to me. He then gathered up the duvet took it out onto the landing and shook it over the bannisters. He lifted the mattress and finally moved the bed and the bedside tables.
He then told me that the sonic boom caused by the speed I moved at had probably caused the spider to explode and if I needed to exit the bed in future could I at least go over the top of him because revolving was not something he was built for.
I didn't get much more sleep that night.

This story has been brought to you through Storytelling Sunday, created by Sian from High in the Sky.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Food Festival!

Today and tomorrow our tow.... sorry city, is holding a food festival. We thought we'd take a look. By we I mean my daughter and son-in-law, my granddaughter and me. Mr M doesn't do walking. At least not walking for a long distance. Not without painkillers and a walking stick. So he stayed home while we walked into the city centre (about ten minutes away) to look for this here food festival.
son in law in the background behind a rainspot on the lens
You would think that after they have promoted the event in the local paper and printed little booklets about it, that the council might have put up a sign or two, just to show us where things are. NO. We knew that there would be something upstairs in the market simply because there always is something upstairs in the market. When we arrived downstairs in the market there were no clues. We arrived upstairs at the end of a cookery demonstration. My daughter claimed the prize for spotting a chef when he wasn't in his cheffing clothes - she saw the man from the Hardwick restaurant.
the nice lady spent two years at ballooniversity in airshire learning to make Ariel the mermaid.
There were good things to try and lots of stalls in the main street. Chilli jam, chocolate brownies, lots of different jams and jellies and marmalades, breads and seeds and spices and Caribbean food as well as pies and cupcakes and a giant lobster on a cart.

"It's an Air lobster, Grandma, it's not real"
"It's not just an Air Lobster, it's an M&S Air Lobster" at least that's what my daughter said because it is outside our soon to be gone branch of M&S

We did enjoy it even if the walking has made my sciatica really hurt now. It was worth it.

I was thinking about saving my 100th post for the Storytelling Sunday but that's a whole week away and I couldn't wait once the Air Lobster was in the camera

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Apple Chutney, mmmmmmm

Today I made Apple Chutney. Mr M was given a big bag of cooking apples by one of the drivers that regularly comes to his weighbridge - did I tell you that Mr M works on the weighbridge at the local Electrical Steel works? Well he does and there are several lorry drivers that come into the works regularly to collevt loads of steel. One of them lives in the Forest of Dean and Mr M has known him for several years.

Anyway, he gave us a big bag of cooking apples. More than 3 kilos so I made a rhubarb and apple crumble and decided to use the rest of the apples in a chutney as we were down to our last jar from the previous batch made in 2009. Can I just say here that I don't like chutney. I never put it on my food and the only time I taste it is when I cook it - and I can't even do that without a sense of taste these days.

As I started to peel the apples I suddenly thought that I should take pictures, so I did. I forgot to take pictures when it was cooked though and just bunged it straight into the jars. I will take pictures of the jars when I have finished here and try and get Mr M when he is tasting it.

I have just realised the first picture looks a bit weird because you can't clearly see what is in the tray of the mincer. It's the onion. The recipe suggests that mincing the onion allows the flavour to be released more quickly and easily. I am assured that this is the case by people who have tried previous batches.

I got the recipe from and I have adapted it to make Apple and Damson Chutney in the past. That didn't last very long even though I made 8 jars of it. I have used second hand jars that previously held pickled onions or relish or stuff like that. They all have plastic lined lids which is so important with pickles because the vinegar evaporates through paper tops and will eat its way through exposed metal lids. I also made some blueberry muffins, using the last of the frozen blueberries. The juice makes the muffins really blue, and as I use Splenda instead of sugar so that Mr M can eat more than one should he so wish, this makes the muffins a really strange colour because without sugar the cakes don't go such a brown colour. Mr M say he doesn't mind what colour they are as long as he can have one after his dinner as a treat.
I have also had two six year-olds popping in and out all day. Miss M has had a friend to play and she has been doing that showing off thing that we all did when we were six. "This is my Grandma, she has chickens, come and see" and then she marched through the house like she owns it because it is her Grandma's house. She was so thrilled when I pointed to the Blueberry Muffins and off they went quite happily to show Mummy.

Just to add a little icing to the day. I received a book this morning from a fellow bookcrosser. It is shaping up to be a good read too. I'll report more when I finish it.
A good day I feel.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Legoland, the final installment

I was going to save this for the next Story-telling Sunday but I couldn't wait and I thought of a good one for that so here is the final installment of our trip to Legoland in Billund.

I had left us after the Viking had assisted in retrieving the keys from the boot of the car. We quickly clambered into the car and left Legoland car-park. We needed to find a hotel and get a meal. Remember we speak no Danish and between us we can order beer and bratwurst and chips in German. We drove along the road and came to a place called Vandel, I kid you not! the car was full of Vandal jokes, all bad and all instantly forgettable when we spotted a sign for a hotel.
Mr M when he was much younger
The receptionist spoke really good english and assured us that they had two double rooms, available. We signed in and picked up our bags and were shown to the rooms. Smudge and Nettie had two single beds pushed together while Mr M and I had two single beds along one wall of a long narrow room. There was only one pillow on each bed but the sheets were clean and so was the room.
We met up with Nettie and Smudge and asked the receptionist if they had a restaurant. It was shut. Of course it was, for goodness sake this was the tourist season and it was pretty late, seven o'clock! I asked if there was anywhere we could get a meal. She said yes there was a grill bar just along the road. I noticed Smudge's face during this conversation and wondered what had caused him to go expressionless. He does this thing when he is under pressure or doesn't want to do something, where his face just shuts down and he kind of battens down the hatches. So difficult to describe it.
Anyway, the nice lady gave me directions and off we trotted. Mr M and I took the lead and in a few minutes we saw the sign.
"look," I said, "Grill Bar, just like she said."
Me when I was young and skinny (newly in love) good grief
look at that hair!
"Thank goodness for that" said Smudge "I thought she said Gay Bar, and I thought I'm not that hungry."
"I gave him a look that said his prejudice was showing and he explained that he just wanted to sit and eat quietly and the gay bars in Germany can be very rowdy and noisy so I forgave him.
We went in and through pointing and nodding we ordered burgers and chips and drinks. The minimum age for drinking in Denmark is 21 and you have to show ID so there were several teenagers in there wearing cowboy boots and tight jeans and drinking milk shakes. There was a juke box in the corner and one of the lads was feeding it coins.
I pulled out the money and raised my eyebrows at the lady in the universal method of asking how much, she rattled off something in rapid-fire Danish and as I stared at her blankly Smudge said twenty eight seventy five. I was so impressed that he had learnt to count in Danish and as we went to the table I said so. "Thank's Mum" he said, "but I read it on the till."
As we ate the music began to play. Now all fans of The Blues Brothers will recognise this quote "They have both kinds, Country and Western". We listened fascinated to You picked a Fine time to Leave me Lucille and other Kenny Rogers hits IN DANISH.
The rest of the holiday was a bit of an anticlimax really, except for two American gentlemen who appeared at breakfast the next morning and Talked about toothache, rootcanals and infections and everything else designed to put intrepid-I've-been-to-Legoland Mr M off his breakfast but they were too late, he was on his second plateful.

So there it is.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Viking and the Car keys

I promised I would tell you about the viking and the car keys as a follow on to last month's story about our trip to Legoland in Billund, Denmark. Are you sitting comforably? Then I'll begin.

We had been up since silly o'clock in the morning, travelled across northern Germany and half way up Denmark. Paused for lunch and then tackled the amazements that are Legoland. We survived the disappointment of no Rocket and panned for gold in Legorado. The park was closing and we were being herded unobtrusively to the exit.
We wandered across the nearly empty car-park to where the Taunus stood in solitary state, its nearect companion a camper van about 20 yards away. Smudge opened the car and then went to the boot where he had a large can of fuel - I know, but this was twenty years ago and he was in the army and got a special price for fuel in Germany. He put the funnel into the petrol tank opening and transferred the fuel from the can to the tank safely. he had put the petrol tank top onto the boot-lid and after replacing the can into the boot he shut the boot to reach the top for the tank.
And that's when we realised that the keys were in the boot.
The car park was empty except for the camper van where there was no movement. Smudge decided to go to the garage just outside the carpark to get a piece of wir or something to break into the car.
He came back with a viking.
The young man was about seven feet tall with shoulders that fitted his height. He had the most incredibly blue eyes and shoulder length blond hair. He was wearing dark blue overalls and the most enormous boots. They were almost clown boots but we just knew that his feet went all the way to the end. He did not speak any english or German. Smudge spoke a little German, he was in the army afterall so he could count to twenty and order that many glasses of beer and could visit a schnelle-Imbis and order sausege and chips. I spoke a little German - all those night school classes came in handy but explaining that the car keys were locked in the boot. There we were with the doors open but no way of getting the car moving and no access to the keys in the boot.
He mimed to us what he would do. He pointed at Mr M and mimed what he would be required to do and then he pointed at Smudge and mimed what he would have to do to get the keys. They looked at each other and nodded.
We have a two door car, both doors open. Into this climbs Smudge who places himself in the middle of the car, facing the back with his legs tucked under him balaced and ready. The Viking entered the car from the offside, leaned right in and grasped the bottom of the back of the rear seat. Mr M did the same. Together they pulled and lifted. As soon as the gap was wide wnough for a small snake to go through Smudge seemed to make himself long and thin and in he went. He knew exactly where the keys were and was able to grab them. Nettie and I were ready and as soon as he began to wriggle backwards we each grabbed a leg and gently helped him slide out. HIs T-shirt had been pulled over his head and there were several angry red marks where the metal springs from the seat had squeezed him but we were able now to drive to the hotel!
We thanked the Viking and tried to give him some money. He refused to accept it and made it clear that it had been very funny and he would dine out on this for months.

This story has been brought to you by Sian at High in The Sky

Saturday, 3 September 2011

All the way to Legoland.....

Smudge in California
I have several stories about Legoland, the real, original Legoland in Billund, Denmark. We went there in 1988 to fulfil an ambition of Mr M's. My Eldest son was serving in the BAOR (British Army on the Rhine) and we went out to stay with him and his then wife for two weeks. I will tell the tale of the bus journey across six countries another time. This time we are going to Legoland with Nettie and Smudge.

It is several hundred miles from Verden to Billund Nettie and I were in the back of the ford Taunus with Mr M and Smudge in the front. We left at "stupid o' clock" (a technical army term) in the morning and arrived at Legoland around midday. We parked in the HUGE carpark and rushed to get into the park. As we walked towards the gate Mr M said "We'll do this logically, ok. We'll go around clockwise, that way we'll see everything and we won't miss a thing!" He was clutching the brochure that Nettie had obtained from the Toc H office on camp, and he and smudge had studied all the pictures and decided what they simply had to see at all costs.
I paid the nice Danish Lady at the gate and we all trooped through. First we bought a coffee each and a donut - we managed this in Danish and by pointing. The people who served us spoke perfect English. We were embarrassed. as soon as Mr M had finished his cup of tea he was itching to get started so we stood up and prepared to follow him. Now remember he had said clockwise so we don't miss anything, right?
He suddenly spotted a canal scene with moving trucks so he rushed of to the right to look and photograph and as he rushed he called over his shoulder "Ann, Ann! look, lorries moving!" as he arrived at the side of the exhibit he spotted the airport with moving planes so he rushed to the left, again calling over his shoulder Nettie, look, LOOK! the plane! the plane!" and was for a while known as Tattoo after the little character from Fantasy Island.
We zig-zagged our way around in his wake, much to the amusement of the other visitors. His obvious delight in all the exhibits and the number of rolls of film he used meant that he was totally unaware of the reaction he was getting.
Meanwhile Smudge was looking more and more downcast. Even a ride in Legotop (a tall column with a glass bottomed thing around it that people sit in and go up incredibly high to look at the view) where Nettie went green but didn't scream failed to make him smile. Eventually we asked him what was causing the bottom lip to stick out and he showed us the brochure. It had a big picture of the space shuttle on its launch rocket made of Lego. It was then that we realised that it had been removed because it was when the first shuttle disaster had happened. Smudge was not happy and as we headed for Legoredo he muttered "All the way to Legoland and no bl**dy rocket!"

Next month I will tell you about The carkeys getting locked in the boot and the rescue Viking. This story has been brought to you by Storytelling Sunday invented by Sian at High in the Sky take a look at all the other stories.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

I know my place

I just had to share this with you. I know I could wait until Sunday and share it as a Story-telling Sunday story but I just want you to laugh as much as I did when it happened.
Miss M and I were sitting at the table, crafting. We do quite a bit of that and when she is busy she talks. She can talk for Britain, gold medal standard but usually when we are crafting she asks the questions a girl can only ask her Grandma because she knows that I will never tell Mummy and will never lie to her.
So there we are, both of us busy and somehow the subject of age came up.
"You told me I'm a little old lady" said I.
"no Grandma, you're nearly old" she replied, sticking down a few petals on her flowers. There was quite a long pause as she thought about this and then she said
"When Mummy is as old as you, you'll be very old, Grandma" She continued to pick up the petals and stick them onto her scrapbook page. She pressed the last one firmly into place, looked up, threw her arms out and said
"And the dolls house will be MINE!"

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Yahtzee, again Grandma!

Today I introduced Miss M to the delights of playing Yahtzee. If I say she loved it will you pardon me for seeming underenthusiastic. She was enthralled. OK so at six years old she doesn't do multiplication - or does she? When we started she didn't know what three fours made but when her mother came for her she said "Mummy what does three fours make?" "Twelve" said Mummy
"and Mummy, what do four threes make?" "twelve" said Mummy.
"Yes, and do you know what Mummy?" "No darling, you tell me"
"They always will, Mummy, three fours will always be twelve AND four threes will be too."

I am here to say that Mummy was suitably impressed even if she did remember that discovery from her own childhood. I love that she was adding up and counting and working out what she needed to get to fill which boxes on the score sheet. So much learning without noticing and so much fun. It doesn't matter that Grandma was totally yahtzeed out by 3pm and we needed to pack the set of dice and spare score sheets into Harry's bag so that she could take them home and play with Daddy before he went to work.
Harry's startled expression is because she pulled the strings a bit tight before slinging him over her shoulder. Usually he manages to get one paw out but not this time.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Noisy, a chicken without equal

My chicken died today. Noisy was named by Miss M when we collected her from the rescue point two years ago. Noisy is a rescue hen. Hens get one good season when they lay really well then they moult and when they start to lay again there will be fewer eggs. This is the point when they become non commercial and the big egg producers get rid of the old hens to make way fro the new young birds.
The British Hen Welfare Trust has agreements with lots of commercial egg producers that when the time comes for the hens to go they will take as many as they can for the price that the farmer would get from the pet food factory. They come out of the cages into the rescue vehicles and are taken to a collection point where people like me go at the appointed time and collect two or three or twenty. Chickens can live to about five years if they have a quiet life. We reckon that Noisy was about three and a half but she outlived her sisters.
 She was bare chested and white faced with stress but still had enough spirit to march out of the hen house just 12 hours after we got her and start scratching at the weeds in our tiny garden.
She protested about everything. If there was a loud noise she yelled to tell me. When she laid an egg she would rush out of the hen house shrieking "An egg! I laid an egg!" Son-in-law arrived home on his motorbike and Noisy would announce him.
If Blue the cat took a shortcut across the garden she snitched on him. She became the senior chicken very quickly and the others learnt to stay out of the left-hand nestbox I always had one egg in the lefthand one and all the others in the righthand one. She was always close to my feet when I went out to check them and if I looked out of the window she was always looking up at me. Right up to yesterday she was full of life and eating well. This morning she was dead so I suspect her heart just stopped. She died fully feathered with a full crop and her comb and wattles were red and healthy.
Goodbye my girly girl I shall miss you.

Monday, 8 August 2011

A Trip to Snowshill Manor

Waiting, I hate waiting
If you think you are a collector I suggest that you take a trip to Snowshill Manor and see the results of a lifetime of collecting. This is serious stuff, I mean the man bought the house for his collections not to live in. He lived in what is called the priest's house which is a small stone building behind the manor house - and even that is full of..............stuff.
Quick, quick they're going in!
checking out the fruit in the orchard
Bicycles in the attic
Mr M and I first went there twenty years ago (it could be more than that but twenty years is a long enough time) and we were blown away by the stacks of things - I mean Bicycles in the attic?
The beesuit I wanted him to buy to scare the neighbours
The Bluefunnels had never been so we saw this as a great opportunity to go back after the refurbishment and see what, if anything had changed. We were a little early so we had to wait and as this was exhausting we needed refreshment before touring the house. The National Trust do a good cup of coffee.
The house was as fantastic as we remembered and the Bluefunnels were very taken with it, pausing to look at all the tiny little things in the cabinets.
It is interesting to eavesdrop on conversations when you are strolling around. Some of the things I think everyone knows because I know, I have discovered they don't. I wonder how people can go through life without needing to know things. Things that I think are commonplace and everyone knows them I have learnt are not commonplace at all and are, in fact, specialist knowledge. So how did that happen? how did a simple thing like the two different styles of architecture sdhown on the front of the Manor house. I looked at it and assumed that at sometime in the history of the house it had been extended from a small Tudor farmhouse to a larger manor house, the stle of windows and the size of the panes of glass telling me this - as well as the different age of the cotswold stone on the wall.
I was surprised because the house guide had to point it out for other people to notice. I suppose other people's heads must be full of other sorts of stuff.
After we had finished the house we dropped down to Gloucester because Onassis Bluefunnel needed to buy a Bee suit. Not a costume to dress up as a bee but a suit to protect him when he helped Mrs Bluefunnel to tend the bee hives they have in their garden. We went to a fantastic shop in Maisemore where they have everything you can think of to do with bee keeping and then about a thousand things you hadn't even dreamt of. I wanted Onassis to have the bright yellow suit that made him look like something from a Sci Fi movie but he wouldn't.
After this there was just one thing left to do. That's right a late lunch/early tea at Morrisons. Oh and here's the spooky thing, bearing in mind that they are Colin and Ann and we are Ann and Colin.
Mrs Bluefunnel needed the loo so Mr Bluefunnel waited for her, out of earshot, while Mr M and I ordered our food. They ordered their food and came and sat at the table with us. We were number 40 they were number 41. The nice lady brought out number 40 and it was fish and chips for me and chunky steak pie andchips and mushy peas for Mr M.
Guess what the Bluefunnels had ordered... that's right exactly the same! We came back home down the A48 to Chepstow which is a fabulous run through delightful villages and past the Severn Bore hotel where we always go to watch the Bore.

The birds on the resevoir, that can't be good, all that guano in the water
We dropped the Bluefunnels at their house on top of a hill and as we dropped back down again we noticed all these seagulls on the reservoir. It did look very much like the Hitchcock film so we quietly closed our windows, slipped the car into gear and stole silently away. Next time we are going to Tyntesfield. We have been before when it was first opened so it is time to go back to see upstairs and to check on the progress of the conservation. We can talk like that because we are members - and we bought a brick last time and we need to see if it is ok.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Story telling Sunday - August. Ilfracombe and The new Tent

In 2003 Mr M and I decided that we were getting a little too rotund for crawling in and out of a three man tent and we should look at a new one that we could stand up inside. I also quite like the idea od being able to stand up to put my knickers on in the morning instead of lying on a saggy airbed and having to extract handfuls of sleeping bag from the back of my knickers before struggling with the jeans or shorts and crawling out of the tent exhausted before breakfast.
I have searched my computer but now realise that I haven't scanned the pages of my early scrap books so I don't have a picture of our little brown and orange tent to show you. I do have a picture of the tent we bought to replace it
We wanted something that was easy to put up, big enough to stand up in with a bedroom we could zip up during the day to keep the insects away from the sleeping bags. This tent seemed to answer all these requirements so we bought it. We were then desperate to try it out so we took it to my in-laws and put it up on their lawn.
This has the dual purpose of giving us a run through of the procedure and getting all the swearing at each other done before we go public on a campsite. There were only a couple of occasions when Mr M snapped at me and I stood with my hands on my hips and gave him "the look". Then he would apologise for snapping and I would apologise for snapping back, he would tuck his hands into his armpits and huff like a sulky kid and make me laugh and the tent would be up and it was time for a cuppa. We now knew the tricks of getting it up and down as though we had done it a hundred times so we wanted to go some where and play with it. After all there's no point having it if you don't use it, is there?
We looked at a map, looked at the date and realised that the august bank holiday was coming the very next weekend but Mr M's shifts meant he was off for the weekend after that.
Different place but still a man and his Jeep
On the Friday morning we packed everything into the Jeep - did I say we had a Jeep then, a proper Jeep. A Cherokee Sport, not one of those japanese imitations a proper Jeep. I digress (but we did love her) Even with the back seat folded down there is not a lot of space in a Jeep but we got the tent and the chairs and the red box (this contains all the camping essentials like the gas bottle and the pots and pans and kettle and the tin plates and mugs and cutlery. OH did I tell you that I used to be a guide leader with my Campers Licence and QM's Licence and Mr M was a Sea Scout Leader so camping was a given for us really wasn't it? Where was I?
Oh yes, we packed the Jeep and set off for North Devon We had decided that Ilfracombe (pronounced in our family as Ill frack ommm beee, although I don't know how that started.) was our destination of choice. We found a campsite on a hill that had level terraces for tents and caravans, a swimming pool a shop and the promise of bacon rolls at breakfast time. We found our marker and set up the tent in record time. We arranged it so that we could rollup the flap at the end of the tent and sit inside looking out across the Bristol Channel. Fabulous. And then it started to rain. This is where we discovered that tents that have sloping sides and roll up doors are useless in the rain because you have to roll the door down or the rain comes right into the tent. We rolled down the door and realised that our tent had one window. This was part mesh, part clear plastic and was behind where we had put the stove. We had to roll the flap down on that because the mesh let the rain in. So it is 4pm on a September afternoon and we are sitting on our chairs in the green gloom of our tent not able to read because it is too dark and too early to put a light on so we went and sat in the jeepfor an hour and then went into the town for a meal. We came back and got ready for bed, read for a while, all the time listening to the rain beating on the tent. We watched the pool form on the roof even though the tent is curved. Then I needed the loo. This is when a campsite on a hill stops being fun. We put on boots and waterproof coats grabbed the torch and Mr M escorted me to the loo. We struggled back up the north face of the Eiger to the tent and realised that during our brief stroll the wind had picked up a little too. We went to bed. We woke about three am because I needed to go to the loo. same procedure as before but the wind had died down and the rain had stopped so we could see the lights of Wales across the water - calling us home. We went back to bed and when we next woke up it was light and we could here the people around us washing dishes. We got up, got dressed. I could stand up to put my knickers on which was lovely we unzipped our door and stepped, blinking in the white light, out to a scene of complete chaos.
The people around us weren't washing dishes they were bailing out their tents. The wind had picked up again and two tents had blown apart during the night. the people behind us had an inch of water in their sewn in groundsheet and were wrestling with sodden sleepingbags and soggy clothes. We helped where we could before going down to the cafe for breakfast. It rained again while we were there so when we climbed back up to the tent we sat in the Jeep for a while, Mr M reading his book while I wrote the holiday journal. It stopped raining for a while and suddenly Mr M looked up from his book and said "I could be doing this in the comfort of my own home, in my own chair, shall we go home?"
"The tent is dry let's get it down before it starts raining again" said I. So we did. 45 minutes later - see how that trial run helped us - we had everything packed into the Jeep and we were on our way home. We got home Six hours later! because what should have been a two hour run was hampered by Barnstaple and the M5. We had forgotten about holiday traffic on the motorway on a Saturday.

This story has been brought to you through Storytelling Sunday, invented by Sian at High-in-the-sky why not take a look

Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Bluefunnels and how they got their name

photographer Onassis Bluefunnel preparing for a shoot
I am an only child from a big family. Now that sounds like a contradiction in terms but let me explain. I am the only child of my parents. My mother had two brothers, my father had eleven brothers and sisters. Of all those "siblings" there were only two that did not have children. My father's family was very close. So close that very often his big sister Mu ( short for Muriel and pronounced Mew) would arrive on the doorstep and say "I told everyone to be here for Sunday tea, today" and she would carry in her shopping bags and load down the table with fruitcake and other wonderful comestibles.
This meant that all us cousins knew each other quite well when we were small. We all developed the same sense of humour and the same protectiveness about our family. That was the way things went until Mu died. She was the glue that held our family together so the cousins drifted away from each other. We married, had children and got together for weddings and occasional visits from uncles and aunts that lived abroad.
Mr M, Onassis Bluefunnel, Mrs Bluefunnel
OK so that's the background. Now fast forward thirty years, My Dad died in 2003. Everyone came to his funeral and we realised that there weren't many of that generation left - Just four in fact. Then two of those died and we all went to the funerals and someone said "We only seem to meet at funerals these days, wouldn't it be nice to have a meet up when no one had died" So we did. It was good so we organised a second one
Cousin Russell came over from Mexico at the right time so he was able to be there and that's where it happened. I had been researching Cousin Colin's ancestry - we have the same grandfather but he was married twice so we have different grandmothers - and he told us that Ma (his grandmother) always said that her father was a shipping tycoon and she had been put in the workhouse when he died to cheat her out of her inheritance. Cousin Colin insisted that when his ship came in he would be the sole inheritor of the fabulous wealth so he became first 'the Shipping Magnate' on the hill. They live on top of a hill.
Cousin Russell preparing the ground
During the course of one conversation Cousin Russell managed to use lots of shipping line names when referring to Cousin Colin, always using Onassis as the forename. For example he was Onassis Cunard, Onassis Whitestar... you get the picture?
Then they went on to discuss ways of increasing this mythical fortune and it was decided that Viagra was the answer. If they could grow organic Viagra somewhere and ship it in using Onassis Bluefunnels shipping line they could really be quids in. All Cousin Russell had to do when he got back home to Mexico was buy some land in Chile, grow organic viagra and ship it over here. Onassis Bluefunnel would -to quote his exact words - "get it into Waitrose and make our fortune". Then the credit crunch happened and they decided they can't afford the seeds yet...
So that's why my cousin Colin and his wife Ann (yes that's the same as me and Mr M but we never get confused because they are Colin and Ann and we are Ann and Colin) are now "the Bluefunnels"
The name Bluefunnel is the one that has stuck

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

ooh that was exciting!

I just had to register a book on and when the number came up - each book is allocated a unique ID number - it was 10000702. That's ten million seven hundred and two books registered on bookcrossing.
I registered one yesterday and it was 9997456 and I idly thought that the ten millionth book should be soonI think it's wonderful!

Off to the proof readers my pretty!

I have just posted out the proof copy of the quarterly Journal of Gwent Family History Society. I am the Editor - again. I was Editor from issue 42 to issue 80, so three journals in the first two years and then four journals a year after that is ten years - good heavens! I didn't think it was that long.
Anyway, I stopped enjoying the experience and I had somehow become the sales officer as well so I let someone else have a go. I guess they thought it was easy because the first person managed one edition. The next person managed three editions and then resigned saying that he couldn't work if I was part of the "Journal Committee" because I was looking over his shoulder and correcting him and telling him what to do.
The correcting bit was because I became a proof reader, and that's what a proof reader is for. The telling him what to do was because I reminded him of the decisions made by the Executive Committee of the Society about the font and the margins and the cover-art. The result was a booklet that listed the details decided by the Exec in 1994.
The Editor's post was then taken as a temporary measure by one of the pillars of the Society. He gently took it back to the quiet, staid publication it had been when I took over. This was fine because it seemed to be what people wanted, well they never wrote in and complained about it so we have to assume that they liked it.
My daughter then took over and brought back a personal touch that had been lost and people wrote in to say how much they enjoyed the journal again! She did the job happily for a year and then she changed her job and suddenly she was going to Northampton for meetings and going to the Welsh Assembly for meetings about the Mental Health act and I stepped in to cover for her. I found that I enjoyed the task again. Writing has always been part of my existence and writing about pesky ancestors to people who are interested is just such a great thing to do.
AJ decided that she couldn't carry on doing the journal, even though she liked it very much, because her job was just too interesting and she would rather give more time to that for the moment.
So here I am three quartes of the way through my second year of my second stint as Editor.  The proof readers will receive the pages from the September edition and by the middle of next week the corrections should be completed and the copy will go to the printers.
I have done the happy dance in the hall, a kind of ritual at this stage, and when the final draft goes to the printer I will do the REALLY happy dance. In the meantime I intend to do something meaningless for half an hour to empty my brain.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

10 on the 10th part deux - food

 It seem that whenever we go out anywhere with the Bluefunnels ( I will tell the story of how Ann and Colin got this name, honestly I will) the day revolves around food. We went to Dryham Park and deliberately arrived early so that we could have a cuppa before going around the house
This is MY plate after a day out with the Bluefunnels to bristol and the surrounding area. When we got back to their house we had dinner. Onassis Bluefunnel is a good cook!

This was a day out for just the two of us. We were heading for the OK Diner at Leominster but needed to stop for refreshment so we had a light lunch - it was Mr M's birthday treat.

This is the OK diner with the birthday boy ready to tuck in. He had the Chilliburger and I had the steak and eggs we shared the stack of onion rings. No room for dessert!

Miss Em's birthday cake. We could only look on and drool as there is FAR too much sugar in that frosting ~sigh~

Another meal at the Bluefunnels. a fabulous lentil pie, yum. My sense of taste was destroyed last year by a virus and it is being slow to come back. However, I could taste the herbs in this pie and it was delicious

At a posh coffee shop/restaurant on world book night day, if that makes sense. We went to Cribbs Causeway to buy a camera for Cunard Bluefunnel and after the hard work of ccarrying it to the car we were forced to seek refreshment. I gave away three books there.

More food at the Bluefunnels

all day breakfast at Usk Garden Centre. They doo fabulous food there and we were buying chickens so we needed the energy.

Miss Em and Harry Bear enjoying the dinosaur biscuits sent to me by a blogging friend. Harry said they were delishhhhhh.

This is part of the 10 on the 10th project from Shimelle why not take a look