41. Village survival, Sports Day – the mum’s race!

execellent

Lucy, assistant editor at Execellent (Devon’s Capital Magazine) contacted me last month to write a piece on Sports Day: how it has changed in the last 40 years! If you’ve read either of my other pieces for this magazine you’ll know that Lucy is about 23 and horribly…………well, young. I think I’m her go-to 40 something – I’m ideal if she needs to know how sh*t happened before 1996.

As it was, I shopping in Exeter last week so I arranged to pop in to discuss the article with her. I chose the hottest day so far this year. The offices (all sour lemon and greys) were air-conditioned and crisply cool – as was Lucy in her patterned jumpsuit which in no way at all made her arse look huge (an inhuman feat). I, on the other hand was so hot and sweaty that I was glowing more than a glow worm’s arse at a glow worm’s arse glowing championships.

Lucy sat me down on the slidey canary coloured couch with an ice cold San Pellegrino which I would have happily squirted into my own face.

“There’s wet wipes in the ladies loo……” Lucy offered helpfully with a barely disguised wrinkle of her nose as she watched a drip slide down the side of my chin. Nice. I found some tissues in the bowels of my bag and retrieved my olde world notebook with bits of loose paper, lists and post-it notes spilling out of it. Lucy looked perplexed at this. What is this strange thing you call paper? She reached for her iPad, swiped the screen a few times snappily – what she was doing looked professional but she was probably just sacking some one off on Tinder before we got down to business. She looked up after a few moment’s distraction. Her contouring was perfect I noted too. I tried not to hate her. Too much.

“So Hillie – I’m thinking Sports Day! I’m thinking let’s compare modern sports day to sports day in your day…like….you were a child of the 70’s right? Like how has the event changed? How have the races changed? Like, have we taken health and safety too far today?”

She didn’t require me to like interject.

“I mean, there must be some vintage stuff you can throw into this piece, some nostalgia. Was it all bunting, orange quarters and like sack races? What were those weird races you did with your legs tied together? Let’s compare it to today’s sports day – is it a more sterile affair…I mean, like, do they like even have the mum’s race anymore?”

Ahhh the mum’s race……………….

In my Mum’s day all the mothers seemed to kick off their espadrilles, tuck their kaftans into their massive knickers and bloody go for it but nowadays the mum’s race mums at sports day are more varied and so in the name of research for my article I’ve compiled a list:-

The ‘actually sporty’ Mum  this mum will be wearing trainers and sports leggings but may have thrown on an old t-shirt so she doesn’t look too keen – don’t be fooled. She’s been spotted out and about running like usual but just recently she has added sprint interval training……..

The ‘Converse or unbranded equivalent wearing’ Mum this mum’s choice of footwear is premeditated. She’s gone casual. She knows she’ll run way better in Converse or the unbranded equivalent and no one will bat an eyelid at her everyday summery daps……..

images.jpeg

http://www.stylecaster.com

The ‘very competitive’ Mum she was probably the lacrosse captain at university. She undoubtably swam at county level in school and was also inordinately good at badminton when she was in her 20s. What she lacks in running prowess she’ll make up for in gritted determination, competitive elbowing and intimidating Haka style stares.

The ‘got a right face ‘on Mum this mum has an academic slash musical child. She spends much of sports day glowering from under her sunglasses giving off ‘yeah but my son’s got grade 6 Clarinet’ or ‘Yeah but my daughter has the reading age of a 14 year old’ vibes. There will be no mothers race action from this mum. The only sprinting she’ll do is to run down the sporty kids mums at the next PTFA meeting.

The ‘hasn’t thought it through’ Mum, as the name suggests this mum is liable to loose a boob out of the side of her strapless maxi dress. This will occur half way through the race and two seconds before she realises!

The ‘wedgey’ Mum  this mum will spend the entire sports day sitting in either a too small school chair or camping seat (with drinks holder). She’d like to get up for the awards at the end but in fact she’s totally wedged into it. Her arse has got stuck in the heat and the plastic seating has welded to the backs of her thighs. On the bright side she might get a free leg wax when she finally gets peeled out of it.

The ‘barefooted and boisterous’ Mum she is wearing a floaty dress which will flap up in the wind to reveal more information than she’d like.  She’ll kick off her red Birkenstocks with a giggle and say coyly “The mum’s race?….oh go on then, you twisted my arm,” before she frog marches up first to the starting line.

feets.png

http://www.sportsdaychampionfeet.co.uk

The ‘hustler’ Mum  this mum might be new or have a child in reception. This is her first sports day, she’s got no form, the bookies (other parents) haven’t even given odds on her. She’s going to blast up the field from nowhere in her Sainsburys plimpsolls and whip those hackneyed old mares. Fo sho.

Of course as the mothers race finishes in a sweaty blur you’ll always get the faller, the one who drops a shoe/sandal, the one who loses a left bosom, the one who shrieks like a howler monkey when she hits the finishing line and not forgetting the champion Mum who’s photo will be all over social media gurning grotesquely as she hurls herself across the line like an overzealous olympian.

If you’re up for running the mother’s day or indeed the father’s race this year do let me know how you get on? Think of my comments as a safe place………….

As you were!

My actual piece on Sports Day: how it has changed in the last 40 years! will be in next months Execellent Magazine for all you subscribers out there, for those of you who don’t live in the Exeter catchment area don’t worry because you can see it online if  you can be at all arsed.

 

 

40. Village survival, a guaranteed muffin top!

Now I’m not a recipe type of a person. I do attempt recipes occasionally and think to myself that’s nice but I’ll just tweak it, or add this and leave out that because deep down I don’t think I like being told what to do! Anyway recently I had two limp left-over parsnips and an abundant crop of strawberries from the garden (about 8 actually which were fairly manky and half chewed by a band of bastard slugs). Anyway, I decided to make some Parsnip, Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes and like todally make it up as I went along.

So here’s the recipe (if you like being told what to do) which Lottie and I cobbled together in half term. We measured stuff and everything so I’m hopefuls that if you try this at home you’ll get the same mediocre and decidedly soggy arsed muffins too. You’re so welcome.

Now – many children like raisins and this is an ideal way to add a sweet taste to cakes and muffins but of course Lottie will have no truck whatsoever with dehydrated fruits. Undaunted (ok, slightly daunted) I wanted to make our muffins sweet but without too much sugar which I was (first world) worried would negate the use of fruit/veg. I thought rather over-zealously and some would say quite naively that perhaps the natural sweet taste of the parsnips and strawberries would add to the over all sweetness value. Did they hell as like. Parsnips everywhere -you let me down.

Parsnip, Strawberry and Chocolate Muffins.

Stuff that went in it.

2 average sized parsnips – limp and bendy is fine by me. Relax, no need to be too judgey about your root veg on this occasion.

150g of strawberries – or 8 slightly rank and gnarly ones from your veggie patch. This is  perfectly acceptable and includes guaranteed self satisfied strawberry growing smugness or your money back.

3 large eggs (we get ours from our neighbour down the road and love playing rancid egg roulette – enjoying the frisson of tension at never knowing if we’re going to crack a manky one). Spoiler Alert – always use a separate container to avoid – a rotten egg straight into your cake mix sitch.

150g butter (you can try a healthier alternative here but you do so at your own risk, I’ll have no part in it).

250g self raising flour.

50g castor sugar (or if you’ve run out – the last of the granulated from the sugar bowl complete with brown stained clumpy bits from making tea and coffee).

50ml of honey (we used the last of the spreading honey which was full of toast crumbs which we may not have scraped off).

3 heaped desert spoons of cocoa (I would advise here – not a crap brand otherwise the quality of the finished product will be chocolatively compromised).

strawberries.png

When you use stock photography because your own strawberries look like sh*t.

How we cobbled it together.

  • Put oven onto 180 degrees to pre-heat. I couldn’t be arsed to look up what regulo that is if you’ve got a gas oven. Not even sorry.
  • Start by peeling and chopping parsnips then steam or boil until really soft. I always find the smell of boiling parsnips quite gag worthy – enjoy!
  • While they are cooking: cream together the butter, sugar and honey, add the eggs individually with a small amount of flour each time. Combine the rest of the flour and the cocoa. If it looks like cat-sick you’re doing it right – keep going.
  • Chop up the strawberries into small chunks. Drain and cool parsnips with running cold water then mash them up, if they are rankly fibrous you may want to whiz them up with your hand held blender or in a food mixer. Yes, some more sodding washing up. Again, not even sorry.
  • Fold in strawberries and pulped parsnips. Love fold in – it sounds so proffesh and like I have half a bollocking clue what I’m going on about.
  • Hunt for the muffin tin which is right in the bottom of the cupboard, have a little eff and jeff as you pull out the contents of the bastard baking shelf to locate the darn thing. Spoon the cake batter into muffin cases – the mixture will make 24 stingy ones or 18 fat-knacker ones – s’up to you.

Baking time.

I’m still not friends with my newish oven which likes to over complicate my life. It’s a touch screen jobby that beeps at me in an accusatorially way like it’s swearing at me in Ovenese. Hopefully your oven is far more amiable and your relationship with it is at least companionable.

15 mins on 180 degrees in the middle of the oven. Avoid a nasty bout of food poisoning by popping a knife in one just to make sure it comes out clean and gunk free and sh*t.

cakes copy.png

Before decorating.

Decoration, if you can be arsed.

For a guaranteed muffin top – A drizzle – in our case it was more of a dismal of icing. We used homemade pink icing with shop bought chocolate sprinkles (from Sainsburys). You could use butter icing and chocolate shavings for a more indulgent and indeed lavish finish.

Store in a cutesy twee tin (may I recommend – Emma Bridgwater or Kath Kidston) but not for very long because they go proper rank after a day or so.

cakes.png

Pop a cake fork in it for a trying-too-hard recipe book style photo!

Testimonials:

Ted from Devon (my husband): “Remind me again why there’s parsnip in it?”

Lottie from Devon: “Yum, I really like this Mummy…….err actually I don’t.”

Toby from Devon: “Yuck, that’s really gross.”

Me from Devon:  “Hmmm yummy and nice texture too!”

Julie from Devon (neighbour who happened to be watering her hanging baskets and then attempted to hide in the shed when I approached with a muffin): “You’re breaching the terms of the restraining order.”

As you were!

If you try this at home I’ll be amazed frankly but do let me know your results in comments! Or perhaps you have a vegetable based cake that you would like to share from your blog – just pop the link in comments. Thanking you.

 

 

39.Village survival, shock absorbers!

When you’ve finished a spot of shopping, you go back to the car and………

  • The car-key isn’t working – (insert some effing and jeffing). It was fine earlier! Keep ineffectually pressing button on the key and experience mild panic that the battery must have gone.
  • Suddenly notice a large scratch and dent in the driver’s door which wasn’t there earlier. Wonder in bafflement how the king hell that could have happened?
  • Lick fingers unceremoniously and rub at the gash and dent to see if it comes off with the application of fresh spittle. It doesn’t.
  • Consider having to ‘fess up to husband for scratch crimes you haven’t committed.
  • Take a step back and notice other worrying scratches and defacements on the car.
  • Anxiously feel up these marks too and allow rising panic to ensue while considering all the cosmetic panel beating/respraying unexpectedly required on your new not-new car.
  • Notice half of a hubcap hanging off … get angry and start stalking round the car looking for other acts of random vandalism!
  • Be asked by a parking attendant if you are ‘ok’. Say “I can’t believe what someone has done to my car, I was only gone an hour!”
  • Feel victimised and consider calling local Police Station.
  • Look up to search for a CCTV Camera or any possible innocent bystanders as eye witnesses but notice something else instead……….
  • Walk quietly away from your car and take small stealthy sideways steps towards your actual car.
  • Concede that the parking attendant’s audible laughing is acceptable fall out.cars.png

                                                             Not my car.                                               My car.

If you have been affected by anything raised in this blog post, please feel free to pop it in comments………..

As you were!

38.Village survival, static (caravan) shocks!

Tis that time again here in Devon, yes it’s started – Static Caravan Relocation (SCR) as the name suggests, it is the removal, siting or relocation of static caravans ahead of the holiday season which kicks off properly at Easter. Now, I’m no anti-holidaying hermit so I understand how important tourism is to Devon…..

However!

Whereas, by the beginning of the Easter hols all these Static Caravans will be in place in holiday parks across the county and the tourists will be happy – unless of course the decor is a bit dated or it’s not as big as you thought it would be or you’re miles away from the shonky cafe/onsite swimming pool and there’s no promised ‘sea view’. In the meantime the Devonshire locals are getting static shocks literally as they have to contend with the heavy duty moving of these oversized caravans while going about their countrified business in the narrow countrified roads and lanes – you get me.

I would like to share with you my most recent (not really very shocking at all) experience of Static Caravan Relocation: this occurred on a recent trip to Exeter on a rare day off. I had between the hours of 9 and 3:30pm to go wild, fill my boots and experience the bright lights of the city – which actually constituted of meeting a friend for coffee then spending an hour or so clothes worshipping in that holiest of fashion churches Zara. Amen.

Unknown.jpeg

A static caravan

(photo source: leisuredays.co.uk)

The actual story – annoyingly written in the presence tense for no apparent reason!

The first thing I notice about a Static Caravan Relocation (SCR) occurring up my way is that the lane in the opposite direction goes very quiet, no cars are coming. This feels  slightly apocalyptic and eery plus a sure fired tell tale sign. Next, the unusual stillness is broken by a small white van with it’s hazards a flashing and a whirly light a twirling on the roof (like a pretend police car) driving towards me at speed up the middle of the road. The driver then flags me down (actually I’ve stopped as I’m not overly keen on the prospect of a head on collision) then he gesticulates to wind down my window, using a slow rolling motion with his best nose picking finger- so helpful!

Cue officious support vehicle man who wants to tell me what to do – he’s in control. I am not!

“There’s a static caravan coming through love.”

Ok, I’m no Miss Marple but I’d guessed he wasn’t stopping me to indulge in discourse regarding the abundant variety of wild spring flowers adorning the verges this year!

“If you could just pull right over into the hedge he should have no trouble getting past you.”

If you could just pull right over into the hedge (and scratch up your slightly new car to bastard hell and back) he should have no trouble getting past you. 

“Once you’ve done that just sit tight and wait for him to pass.”

Once you’ve done that just sit tight (get really effed off by the time that this is wasting and that you could be drinking coffee or throwing your credit card at the sacrificial altar of Zara) and wait for him to pass.

The officious support vehicle van driver then roars off self importantly (he fancies himself  as the 6th emergency service – I blame the flashing nee narr light). He’s off to flag down and waggle his bogie-ified digit at the unsuspecting drivers behind me.

Time passes? Minutes? Hours? Days? Imagine a crappy film montage – the scene with leaves falling off trees and then snow. I’m not even sure anymore of how much time has passed when suddenly in the distance I can see more flashing lights and a massive lorry with a humungous static on it’s trailer, lumbering towards me like a ginormous giant (Fleshlumpeater – not a nice one like the BFG). It looms and grows ever closer, I actually breath in and make myself smaller as the side of the bastard beast comes within about 10 cm of my car. I close my eyes, and let go of a litany of expletives. Then as I finally pull away, I drive past a lengthy tailback, in the opposite lane, of poor deranged drivers who all look like they may have considered euthanasia in the last hour or so.

images.jpeg

(Photo: caravantransport.org.uk)

When waiting for ‘Static Caravan Relocation’ works really well and is particularly timely and enjoyable! 

-When you’ve been messing about in Homebase weighing up the pros and cons of satin versus gloss and are already properly late for school pick up.

-When you’re trying to get to Bristol Airport and you’ve been subjected to Static Caravan Relocation in both Devon and Wiltshire. That’s not one but two officious support vehicle van drivers coming at you for a head on road traffic collision and gesticulating at you with their nose picking fingers. That’s twice when your car has been more scratched up than after a cat-fight in a nightclub! And two times when you manically think you’ll miss that flight. Sweet.

-When you are trying to go ‘a simple three miles’ up the road to a swimming party. You get stuck waiting for a particular Static Caravan Relocation to pass with a hysterical seven year old on board keeping up a diarrhoea like running commentary. “Are we going to be late now Mummy? Are they getting changed into their swimming costumes now Mummy? Are they actually swimming now Mummy? Are they playing on the giant floats now Mummy? Are they they having chicken nuggets and chips now Mummy? Waaaaah waaaaaah waaaaah.”

-When a Static Caravan Relocation situation gets a bit lodged in over hanging branches and has to be cut free by the real life emergency services – liberally sprinkle another 57 minutes to your journey time. The only consolation here might be catching a glimpse of some burly firefighters going about their work…..

-When a Static Caravan Relocation occurs as you’re trying to get to your favourite and popular country pub for lunch and you know the landlord will give your reserved table away after twenty minutes to some tourists (who are probably staying at a local holiday park in a newly relocated static caravan).

Have you been adversely affected by Static Caravan Relocation or something similar up yours? 

As you were!

Ps, if you liked this post then here’s my previous offering! If not, don’t bother clicking on the link I shan’t be at all offended!

Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Prose for Thought

37. Village survival, how to embrace trees!

This is not a proper life style piece – I’m not usually that helpful!

tree.png

It appears that I have something in common with Prince Charles, no I don’t fancy Camilla Parker Bowles and no my ears are relatively normal sized, but like His Royal Highness – every so often I like to hug a tree. This is quite a new thing for me – like only months old. Since moving to Devon, I have in fact been surrounded by trees for years but it’s only now that I want to….get involved – shall we say! 

In the media we can’t move for articles written about that trendy zeitgeisty gig Mindfulness! Have you got the app, been to a class, bought the self help book? It’s all good I say, but hugging a tree is an under appreciated kind of moment in the present all of its very own. Unfortunately there’s no app and I feel that this leaves a big gap in the market. Perhaps something similar to Tinder would be good here – Timber – an app listing local trees that are available for cuddling. Just make sure you swipe thoughtfully.

The actual machinations of embracing a tree.

There are some instances when hugging a tree seems tricky, even off-putting, let’s talk about that:-

  1. When there’s too many bastard stingers at the bottom of the tree.
  2. When there’s lots of cobwebs and you don’t want that creepy fuzzy stuff on your face –  yeeeesh.
  3. When there’s too many low lying branches and you’ve left your trusty  machete/swiss pen knife/chainsaw in your other handbag. It’s the wrong tree, pick another one.
  4. When there’s a particularly arsy squirrel pelting you with his nuts!
  5. When there’s a high probability of cheek and chin chafing – always a consideration but exacerbated particularly by chunky bark – perhaps opt for a smoother trunk such as a Silver Birch.
  6. When the circumference of the tree is just too chunky to wrap your arms around. So frustrating, pick a slimmer tree.
  7. When there’s dog/fox/squirrel poo at the base of the tree, no one wants to scrape that out of their tread with an old toothbrush. No one.
  8. When there are (trip hazard) exposed roots which may result in face planting directly into the tree before a hug can be performed.

Many of you reading will say: well I haven’t got the time, when can I possibly fit in tree hugging ffs?

Good question! Let’s talk about that:-

How about on that run you do on a Saturday morning or on the walk into work? Why not think about wrapping your arms around a tree with your toddler at the park? Have you considered a cheeky fumble with a sturdy trunk when you’re out with the dog(s)? I personally favour a nice tall fir tree which I pass on my run that I affectionately call Douglas!  Actually if a physical embrace is too much for you, scientists say that just being amongst trees and touching their bark can have beneficial health effects (unless you’re allergic in which case it’ll bring on a particularly unpleasant rash). Appaz it’s to do with the vibrations trees give off, after all the they are mighty living, oxygen giving heros. I like to think that The Beach Boys –  Good Vibrations is really all about trees and not about a surfer in her frayed Daisy Dukes! Sigh.

Some of you (who are still reading) may think what is the puh-oint slash other health benefits of tree hugging?

Good question! Let’s talk about that:-

  1. Experts (that’s not me then) say that hugging (after approx 20 seconds) can release endorphins in our brains thus flooding our systems with homemade opiates. Homemade is always best right!
  2. Trees, since the dawn of time have stood for reliability and strength and are therefore sending a positive subliminal message. The strong and mighty oak! The towering pine! Even saplings speak of new hope and youthfulness!
  3. Embracing a tree allows you a moment or two to concentrate on your breathing (Tic Tacs are optional).
  4. You are with nature, by nature, in nature, on nature. Totally naturey right?
  5. When you hug a tree, if you haven’t chafed your ear and cheek you will hear things, both inside and outside of the tree. Listen…….
  6. Trees are great listeners themselves and and are never judgy.
  7. The trees might actually like it too (no scientific research yet to back this up. At all).
  8. A form of Mindfulness that is as cheap as wood chips!

Tree hugging does not require a mobile phone/device/Fitbit but it does require a little of your time and a tree. Ok it’s not without its hazards but executed correctly it can leave you feeling all the inner naturey peace and shiz. Think of it as a little treet in your day.

As you were!

If you like to hug or commune with trees then I want to know about it x

Island Living 365

36. Be a lover not a *Haytor!

*Not a travel post! Well actually this post is all over the place (so a bit travelly and liable to cause motion sickness) and for that I make no apologies…because it’s the blog’s first birthday so humour me! Well actually it was 24th February and yes sorrynotsorry I already had all the cake. 

Anyway let’s talk about February, it’s a month for love right? A couple of weeks ago Valentine’s Day loomed large much like Donald Trump’s #wrongquiff – seriously, you couldn’t make that hairstyle up. Valentine’s Day seems to divide the nation into lovers and haters of…. Valentine’s Day! Put simply it is either a fabulous/ball ache occasion (delete as you find appropriate). Last Sunday to finish off our February of enforced amour we made one of our many yearly pilgrimages to a place we love called Haytor on Dartmoor. Dartmoor makes me feel small, not in a put me down, call me names or send me threatening texts kind of a way. It just makes me feel like I’m a mere dot on an ancient map. It’s expansive, you can see for miles and I always get the notion that thousands of years worth of people have shuffled about there before me. Quite possibly freezing off their neanderthal nockers too.

dartmoor pony.png

As a family we always have two rules before we go to Dartmoor.

  • We must have inadequate fuel in the car.
  • We must have at least one tween who desperately needs the toilet in the least inhabited part of the Moors. We’re talking where there’s nada public conveniences, not even a pub with a loo, just your pick of hedges slash mossy walls to widdle behind.

This results in a stressful hunt for a petrol station in the unpopulated wilds and finding a suitable hedge for a child to pee behind. Not too prickly, not too many stinging nettles, not to high, not too low, not too many bulls in the field…you get the picture.

On this occasion, after going ten miles out of our way to find a petrol station we managed to pre-empt the panicky picnic pee predicament by hurrying to the first cafe we came across. We wanted to have a sandwich or something similar anyway and I hadn’t packed a picnic because I couldn’t face lunching a la car with an erroneous Dartmoor Pony head butting the window for our apple cores (I’m not making this shiz up).

It was a quaint looking tea shop, or so we thought (cue Tim Burtonesque freaky music and theatrically squeaky door). On entering we were warmly greeted by a wave of Elderly Peoples Rest Home aroma (I don’t think Air Wick has this in their range yet) and this sticky carpet……

carpet.png

…..time to reverse right back out yes? No, firstly we were welded to the carpet and as we tried to swivel on the spot we were clobbered by the overly helpful proprieter who herded us like a stealthy sheepdog over to a table flapping two menus to propel us there!

Oh arse!

horse.png

The place was wall to wall old folk all chowing down on some variant of flaccid carvery meat and a new aroma of boiled cabbage was now fighting for airspace too. The decor of this particular cafe was pre 1982 unromantic dado railism. There were wallpaper borders which had their own wallpaper borders while non matching floral pelmets were in abundance atop the rather tired flowery curtains. I feel like I’ve had my fill of pelmets lately. Much like asbestos these curtain toppers really should carry a health warning and be removed from buildings by specialist contractors in protective clothing, before being blown up in a safe and controlled environment. This dowdy old dear of a cafe was so dour that even the daffodil table decoration – officially the most cheerful flower on earth (registered Trademark) seemed to be choking on the cabbagey Rest Home dining room ambiance!

daffodil.png

I needed a coffee!

coffee.png

Just not one that looked like a geological study – no one wants jurassic style #coffeesediment.

But hang on just a moment I’m a lover not a hater! The children were happy and enjoying their sausage and chips. All notions of a sandwich had gone west once they’d clapped eyes on the Kids Menu. My husband Ted didn’t mind his pallid carvery meal. The daffodils were breathing through it and I could use my knife to stir my drink and reach to agitate the #coffeesediment – so time to quit complaining right! Yes Devon has outdated and dreary cafes but doesn’t every county………even like Surrey?

Once refuelled with crap cafe sustenance we made our way to Haytor. This is a most magnificent Tor which rises from the moorland majestically. Let’s just say we walked the hill towards it without being trampled by stampeding wild ponies and then we climbed it, yeah Haytor you got owned and stuff!!

Haytor.png

Photo: supplied by crap photos at it doesn’t do it justice dot com

And as we look back on February, the traditional month of love and did I mention the Birthday of this darling blog, I hope you too can say, hand on heart that you have been more of a lover than a Haytor!

As you were!

If you liked this post here’s my last post. If you didn’t, fair enough!

Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Prose for Thought

35. Village survival. For Sale or To(i)Let!

house.pngWe are outgrowing our home, so Ted and I have tentatively started to look for a new house slash cottage. We don’t want to leave Vertonbridge (our village) but last week we made the treacherous decision to go and see a house in…… another village! Ok it’s only up the road a bit and turn left but nevertheless it felt rather perfidious. It was still a local village, just different horse sh*t in the lane and I (rather refreshingly) didn’t know everybody’s name, inside leg measurement or their current electric meter reading.  On the plus side as well as horse sh*t in the lane this village has an award winning pub and a small cafe, imaginatively titled The little Tea Shop (the cream teas are crazy good, set aside a days calorie intake for this pleasure, 5 stars yadayada). In a bid to make the house viewing go smoothly with our children Toby and Lottie ( 9 and 7 years old) I primed them in the car by suggesting that:-

-they didn’t touch anything in the house.

-they wiped their feet before we went in.

-they didn’t say anything impolite about the house until we get back in the car.

– bribery was implemented in the form of a reward of chocolate brownies and hot chocolate in The Little Tea Shop if the above was adhered to.

There was a two hour open house viewing of the property so we knew there would be other people milling about. It was a strategic and insidious ploy by the estate agents to whip up interest and rivalry amongst any unsuspecting viewers. We were welcomed into the house by Paul (the painfully thin) estate agent. He had the kind of puny and skeletal physique which can only be maintained with a 20 a day habit and infrequent Pot Noodles. I wanted to invite him round for a hearty Sunday Roast (plenty of crackling and goose fat covered roast potatoes) apart from I didn’t because (my new oven is such a ball ache) and Paul wasn’t that friendly and kept flicking over his phone to ease his obvious boredom. He was however happy to inform us in inverted commas that we’d just missed the rush and had the house to ourselves. A vague scent of bullsh*t wafted up my nose which to be fair made a nice change from the more traditional local horse sh*t aromas. Toby and Lottie both wiped their feet as I had requested and then dissolved into the house before rushing back to us with really helpful questions and observations:-

“I don’t like that bedroom, it’s got a purple carpet and flowery wallpaper.”

Try and imagine this room decorated how you’d like it with your bedroom furniture in it darling!

“Can we keep the parrot in the cage?’

No, it belongs to the people selling the house and they won’t leave their pet parrot behind…..

“What about the Iguana in the tank in the dining room then?

*Shudder!*

“The TV isn’t big enough.”

Yes, if we move here, we’ll have to leave behind our big TV and have this smaller one instead……(insert horrified tweenage faces and enjoy small snigger behind house particulars!)

“Euuugh they like pineapples, will they leave the pineapple when they move out?”

By now I wanted to bang my head on the nearest feature wall…….. 

“I don’t like the painting of the lady with her boobies out, I don’t think we should buy this house if that’s on the wall.”

All remnants of parental patience were gone and I just about resisted punching a hole through the closest non load bearing(and quite possibly also feature) wall……

By this time all I could think about was consuming a large coffee in The Little Tea Shop and putting Paul out of his misery too. He looked to me like he needed to get back to the office for his Pot Noodle lunch (original curry or even possibly Bombay Bad Boy flavour?) and a cigarette (Lambert and Butler I’d wager). Not necessarily in that order.

Unknown.jpeg

A Pot Noodle. Original Curry.

Paul sensing our waning enthusiasm for the house began prevaricating about the garden and the attractive summer house, (actually so gnarled and misshapen with green mould and moss) it looked like Bilbo Baggins lived there. So we went outside, which was more of a hit with the children and particularly good fun when they started running about and we had to prise them off the damp garden swing, slimy trampoline and other multifarious kiddy apparatus. We found that the swing-ball worked marvellously which was demonstrated all too well when Paul was nearly tw*tted in the face by the ball at 30mph.  The lawn was also very wet and muddy. Ted and I stuck to the path wondering if sunlight ever reached the garden at any time of the day/year. Not even on summer solstice apparently. No one was going to throw up a stone (or twelve) into a henge and call it a world heritage site any time soon. There was also a large bloody pond. There’s a simple parental equation that goes with ponds! Yes, I’ve done the math.  Pond + young children = ball ache (squared) to the power of 100.

Back in the house, Ted and I decided to have one last nose around and the children could be heard ferreting about upstairs. Now, I don’t seem to have a problem seeing past nasty furniture, badly fitted laminate flooring circa 2009 and pelmets but this house was littered with trite quotes everywhere. Every wall, and surface seemed to be heaving with cliched cliche placards. I couldn’t move for banality! Here are a few of them. A word to the bromidic sayings makers distributing to gift shops and department stores nationwide, make up/find some new b*stard sayings would you ever!

I like to cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to my food.

Tired!

Marriage is a relationship where one person is always right and the other is the husband!

Just inexplicably naff and sexist!

Sometimes I wake up grumpy and sometimes I let him sleep!

Purr…lease!

Every love story is beautiful but ours is my favourite.

Excuse me while I vom my spleen!

I’d just about had my fill of matching wallpaper, duvet covers and pelmets plus the aforementioned hackneyed sayings. This house wasn’t the one, we weren’t sold, it was time to shuffle off. So we located Paul (possibly even slightly thinner) to say we were going, thanks very much and all that. We found him in the master bedroom trying to clean a brown patch on an area of the cream shagpile carpet with some toilet paper which was disintegrating in his hands.

“I think one of your children may have brought in mud from the garden,” he said faux politely through teeth so gritted he’d be spitting enamel for days….”and your daughter wanted the toilet…”

Ted and I exchanged worried glances. I felt a rush of cold prickly fear. Lottie had been to the toilet just before we left home, could she be? Yes I feared the worst, she wasn’t just doing a wee! Mortification swept over me like Storm Doris bashing the Devon coastline. Sound effects wafted through the door. Paul looked horribly pained. I began rustling in my handbag noisily for the car keys and humming, yes humming! Just as Paul was diverted by  the doorbell announcing that more house viewers had arrived, I heard Lottie unlock the bathroom door and I hurriedly barged in. I was all over the damage limitation, you know kids….they like to leave their mark!

Have you viewed a new home with children in tow, how was it for you……???

As you were!

Well, if you liked this post here’s my last post. If you didn’t, fair enough.

Featured blogger on #fridayfrolics with Claire www.lifeloveanddirtydishes.com Emma www.islandliving365.com and Lucy risforhoppit .uk  A big yay!!!!

Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Prose for Thought

34. Village survival, the joy* of a new oven!

Last week the oven blew. It made a terrifyingly sinister zz..zhsh..zzz sound, sparked and flashed momentarily and then gave up its shiz like a dying Darlek. To be fair it was a bit knackered, the oven door seal was falling off and the knobs were getting tired!! Anyway, the thing was kaput so as we like to eat cooked food we decided to get a new one……oven1.png

So here is my handy cut out and keep guide: How to get a new oven delivered and fitted (in a rural Devonshire village) in 10 easy steps. Ok so it’s a bit niche.

Step 1. Talk to Dan ‘no eye contact as standard’ at a large electrical superstore near you like Barely Adequate Electricals R US!

Or indeed order your new oven online for ease and convenience. I personally need to feel up/fiddle with knobs/try out any possible home appliances before purchasing (can’t bring myself to buy online – even from dependable stalwarts John Lewis) so I trekked to the thriving metropolis of Exeter to probe a few possible oven candidates. Dan who served me did in fact manage a whole ten minutes of sales patter and the completion of said appliance sale without making any eye contact. At all. Impressive. I could have undressed seductively and been totally starkers when he passed me the receipt and he’d have been none the wiser. Equally if I’d ‘lifted’ a Vegetable Spiraliser on the way out he wouldn’t have been able to identify me in a line up. Something to think about in staff training don’t you think Barely Adequate Electricals R US!……

Step 2. Arrange a day time delivery slot so it doesn’t interfere with school drop off/pick up time because the village lane is too effing small to accommodate an articulated lorry from Barely Adequate Electricals R US plus the school bus and parents who will be really arsed off by such a vehicle in their way.

Step 3. Receive a text at 8:10am on Monday morning, we’re on our way- we’ll be there at 8:40 – mostly because the village lane is too effing small to accommodate an articulated lorry from Barely Adequate Electricals R US plus the school bus and the parents who will be really arsed off by such a vehicle in their way.

Step 4. Allow your monday morning angst and first world oven delivery problem stress you the big one! The massive lorry (we live on the narrowest lane in the village – you may want to put that on the delivery notice said I to Dan ‘no eye contact as standard’ and to be fair to him he did pop it on the delivery details) pulled up outside our cottage dwarfing it like a big thunder cloud and spraying horse poo as it travelled! A smattering of ill-disguised tutting could be heard from the early mums who had to squeeze past the lorry to get their offspring to school.

Step 5. Start oven replacement hoohar. Have bants with delivery drivers about how they are supposed to take the old appliance away (payment had been made for this pleasure). Not on the delivery sheet appaz! Cajole delivery drivers to take old appliance. Plead and then bribe delivery drivers with tea and McVitie’s Belgian chocolate chunks Boasters to remove the old oven. Huffily phone Barely Adequate Electricals R Us and ascertain that arrangements had indeed been made for the old appliance to be disposed of! Hastily remove McVitie’s Belgian chocolate chunks Boasters from play ….

Photo source: britishshopabroad.com

Unknown-1.jpeg

I tried to draw a Boaster but it didn’t look like a Boaster or certainly didn’t evoke enough reverie for this venerable beauty of a chocolate chip cookie.  McVities you can thank me later when my one reader in Mid Glamorgan buys a packet!

Step 6. Swing (like an effing skilled trapeze artist) between tweenagers who can’t find their shoes/PE kit/water bottles/bookbags and delivery drivers needing attention. Holler “put that iPad down and find your school shoes. NOW!” Locate school bookbag remove green Furby Furbling before realising it is actually last friday’s uneaten mouldy break time snack. Point driver in the right direction for the fuse box. Replace mouldy Furby Furbling snack with a fresh one and homework book. Holler “You haven’t found your school shoes have you but….(seriously)….you’ve managed to pick your nose until it’s bleeding.” Sign officious looking documentation that declares electrics are in accordance with UK electrical standards and therefore the delivery drivers can proceed with installation (ffs). Stuff a tissue up older tweenager’s nose.

Step 7. Leave delivery drivers installing the oven to run up the road and drop kids off at school. Smile placactingly at arsy parents who aren’t happy at having to go the long way around the articulated lorry. Be accosted by Mr Bygraves the headmaster about the preposterously large Barely Adequate Electricals R US! lorry. Point out politely that ‘delivery at the time of school morning drop off’ had not been requested. Listen to his passive aggressive suggestion that the highway should be kept clear at all times during school pick and drop off. Passive aggressively suggest that Vertonbridge is a living breathing village for village dwellers and not just a school destination. Then make excuse to get home and therefore facilitate the speeding up of the offensively large Barely Adequate Electricals R US! lorry blocking the highway.  

Step 8. Arrive home to find polystyrene, cardboard, plastic packaging and shiz everywhere, plus several McVitie’s Boasters missing but…new oven installed. Receive instructions to turn on the oven to burn off noxious factorynesses!

Step 9. Show delivery drivers out, pick up all polystyrene debris wafting about on the pavement and thereabouts. Skilfully deflect arsy looks from late straggler parents whilst receiving a light spray of horse sh*t as the Barely Adequate Electricals R US lorry wheels spin off.

Step 10. Turn on oven and gas out whole kitchen with vile noxious and possibly poisonous fumes for forty minutes. This is akin to a hike around Sellafield Nuclear Plant or five minutes in a fart infested fug that is a tweenage boy’s bedroom. Spend next two weeks getting to know the oven! Not liking the touch screen bit and wondering why the bastard is always beeping? It beeps when the timer is put on and beeps in a distressed way if the timer hasn’t been put on, then beeps when it’s at the desired temperature. It then automatically starts the timer for the length of time that the oven is at the desired temperature because it has control issues and thinks everything should be timed (and beeped). Feel harassed and bullied by appliance. Google recipes which do not require a conventional oven. Find 100 Essential Recipes on the Hob and nearly buy it. Finally stand up to appliance by actually properly reading the instruction manual. But feel head screwed some more when finding all manner of sub-settings, as well as the bog standard fan assisted oven, things appear such as forced air, convective heating, maxi cooking and other multifarious settings shiz! Pass the manual to husband or **other responsible adult who also registers 9 on the new oven panic scale. Book Sunday lunch at the pub and order in a job lot of baked beans.

Have you been bullied or intimidated by a new household appliance? Does it feel like there’s a stranger in the house? If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog post – pop your woes in comments – and although I’m not qualified in counselling, remember I know first hand that new household appliance pain is real people.

As you were X

PS. Hard to believe I know, but this post was not sponsored by McVitie’s Belgian Chocolate Chunks Boasters. They just get a lucky mention which will no doubt boaster sorry bolster their sales immensely!

*joy, read, effing awfulness!

**responsible adult of your choice, perhaps a nurse or teacher….

Yay for frolics on a Friday (did that because it rhymes) I was featured blogger on Friday Frolics! Thank you to the crew Emma, Claire and Lucy xx

Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Prose for Thought

33.Village survival, beefing on about Wellingtons!

You may remember that back in September I was interviewed for Execellent magazine (lifestyle in the Exeter area and shiz). Well, Lucy, my interviewer – the effervescent winsome young media luvvie emailed me just before Christmas (just to recap, Lucy is a bubbly and enthusiastic 20-something with the kind of unacceptable joie de vie that can only be maintained with a constant stream of; double lie-ins at the weekend, items of Whistles clothing in her wardrobe, regular impromptu after-work drinks and frequent European City mini-breaks).  Lucy wanted me to write a piece on Wellie Boots for the magazine. A short witty article of fashion/social commentary (don’t drone on like you do in your blog posts she intimated) for their February edition.

execellent

After the Christmas break I had to make time to nail my Wellie Boot copy for Lucy so I  hauled arse to ‘the shed’. My writing shed is akin to a walk in freezer when I first enter in the morning. It’s like the Ice Hotel apart from the lack of snow, hotel rooms, 15 euro vodkas in ice glasses and northern lights! So just *jeffing cold then – as in minus 6 degrees inside. *My new years res is to stop jeffing swearing. On entering the shed – it’s imperative that I  take a hot water bottle, mug of coffee and wear a ski jacket to survive the first twenty minutes while my blow heater puffs out inadequately against the arctic ambience. My little window is covered in showy offy swirly whirly patterns curtesy of Jack Frost so I can’t see out. No bad thing when my vista is a ripped mildew covered trampoline, a diseased and arthritic looking apple tree and next doors cat’s turds which it never bothers to bury.

So – my Wellie Boots article! Fashion and footwear are things I like to take peripheral interest in. I know I don’t like bootleg jeans. I also don’t like those very long puffer coats which look like people have wrapped a duvet around themselves and then wandered absentmindedly out of their homes. I also intensely dislike those chunky leather shoes with extra large stitching/latticing that make the wearer look like they’ve shoved their feet into a couple of extra large traditional Cornish Pasties. Just stop it with the bootlegged, duvet wrapping, pasty wearing whoever you are? But it’s fair to say I can’t get myself terribly excited by waterproof boot trends and I know *Jeff all about wellies and the fashions thereof. However, in the interest of this paid piece I’m going to pretend like I give a shiz and instead of ‘fashion’ I’m going to concentrate on the psychoblaaaah connection between wellie wearers and their wellies. I’m in no way whatsoever qualified to do this but I’m prepared to lift the lid, an expose if you will, on people’s wellie wearing habits here in my small village in Devon. All names have been changed to preserve the identity of the wellie wearers. Obvs…..

The Wellies and the Wellie wearer of Vertonbridge Village!

1.’The Dullard’ – as the name suggests – a very dull wellie boot, supplied to the nation via a plethora of dimly lit and cavernous outdoorsy clothing warehouse emporiums, such as Go Outdoors (I hate a shop that tells me what to do! Build A Bear! Accessorise! Eat! Ahhh Jeff off!). 

Dullard Debra. Debra isn’t interested in wellie boots, her bog standard turbid green (little-toe grating) stalwarts are perfectly serviceable for mucking out the ferrets, driving the John Deere up the back paddock (sadly not a euphemism) or doing the school run. She doesn’t have any truck with those expensive fleecy welly boot socks either. Yes, a pair of inflexible Dullards are perfectly adequate and (not that Debra cares) they go well with her dog-haired covered fleece of the same joyless colour. Debra *may* have been hoping for a pair of pretty spotty wellies from Asda for Christmas (sad face emoji)………and some of those frivolously cheery fleecy welly boot socks (sadder face emoji).

dullard copy.png

2.’The Fakeass Jolly Spotty’  – ‘Joules’ type wellie boot effort (no rubber trees were harmed in the making), supplied to the nation in bulk by leading supermarkets. On a busy (multi-laned bastard) roundabout near you.

Spotty Suzanne. Suzanne loves a floral/stripey/spotty welly boot, it adds a little colour and pizazz to her welly boot days (it’s always pissing down when she has to get Poppy to playgroup) and there’s no way Suzanne is paying through the nose for a pair of muddy puddle jumpers (so do one Peppa Pig) especially when Mondelli Pinot Grigio Blush is on offer and the kids swimming lessons want paying for. And you can do one dry January as well!.

fake jolly.png3.’The Aspirational Jazzy’  – patterned wellie boot that aspirational people wear, supplied to the nation by aspirational shops LIKE Joules, Cath Kidston, Boden etc.

Jazzy Julia. Julia loves an aspirational patterned wellie boot with the extra buckle detail. They are a bit like Hunters only prettier and more patterny. Julia likes the way they go with her indigo skinny jeans and they even seem to coordinate with her jazzy patterned anorak too (if you squint – with the sun behind her). Yes, Helen loves a patterny branded wellie that was expensive enough but not silly money like Hunters. Helen says,”Why pay nearly £100 for a pair of welly boots? Seems ridiculous!”. Helen just wants a pair of Hunters……

4.’The Lurid’ – brightly coloured Hunter Wellie Boot, worn by ‘bonkers’ people all over this land – supplied to the nation by companies LIKE Hunter at multifarious garden centres across the British Isles.

Lurid Lizzie. Lizzie loves her Hunters, she considers them to be the superior wellie boot but she’s not going to have a safeass navy pair or gah! – the black ones! No siree Bob! When she’s taking Whippets – Andy and Murray out she wants to be noticed in her (canary cadaver) yellow Hunters – bonkers – what is she like! Yes she likes a sturdy, iconic, royalty endorsed wellie but she’ll be damed if she’ll conform to dreary ‘farmer’ green especially when she can get the stupid coloured ones at a knock down price in TKMaxx. “What am I like? Bonkers, you know what I’m like!” she says as she bends down to scoop up Murray’s third turd of the walk, even her warm crap-filled poo bags are a jolly jazzy colour! Lizzie is going for bright coral when her current Hunters wear out……what is she like?

yell.png

5.’The Leathery’ – looking boot which isn’t a wellie that pretentious people who may not actually own horses wear because they think they’re above the humble welly boot. Supplied to the nation by companies LIKE Dubarry in those 1950’s style posh independent shoe shops for old and posh people who always wear waxed jackets.

Leathery Lavinia. Lavinia did have a pony when she was growing up but her top rider days at Pony Club are alas a distant memory. Nowadays she doesn’t favour a wellie boot and as such will only wear her (like) Dubarrys and would never go back to conventional wellies. “I just don’t like the feel of rubber on my skin,” says Lavinia whose husband nods disappointedly in the background. Lavinia is secretly pleased that her daughter Isabella went off ponies, ballet is so much more…well how do I put it – economical! Especially as her husband’s post redundancy ‘consultancy’ work hasn’t panned out, the house needs re-thatching and the Land Rover keeps breaking down…..she may have to get a job or face a life of abject financial misery……a Ford Focus….rubber Dullard wellies……shudder!

6.’ The Champagne’ posh Welly – Le Chameur, worn by people with 400 quid to spend on wellies, supplied to the nation by proper posh companies such as Le Chameur and quite possibly sold at Harrods (I haven’t done the research if I’m honest).

Champagne Charlotte. (Lady) Charlotte (St John Smith) lives in the Great House (old money you know) and she is often seen strutting about the village in her (like) Le Chameurs. She isn’t even really aware of the leather lining or the full length zip, it’s just luxury that she has always known. Lady Charlotte walks her grounds shod in (like) Le Chameurs all year round with Bunty and Bracken, her Airedales yapping at her side.  But she isn’t smug or snobbish and often integrates with us commoners. In fact she’s always first in the wellie wanging arena at the May Day village Fete  – ready to hurl some low grade rubber…….be a dear and pass her a Dullard would you!

Wang trphy

I’ve just heard back from Lucy (the effervescent) at Execellent Magazine– she’d been away on a mini break to, you won’t believe it, only the jeffing Ice hotel – I dislike her smugass mini- breakness even more. Anyway, they’re not going to run my wellie boot piece because they’ve printing her article on the aforementioned jeffing Ice hotel. She says she might be able to shoe horn my wellies into the March edition if I’m lucky……..

What sort of wellie wearer are you? Do they brighten your rainy days or bring shame upon your shoe rack?

Happy jeffing January to you all from the village!

As you were! x

Prose for Thought
Life Love and Dirty Dishes

32.Village survival, a sad lamp.

It was (local best friend) Anna’s Birthday coming up and I have to say I quite envied her youthfulness. Her birthday still began with a 3! Ok she was going to be 39 but the all important first digit was still a 3!!  My birthday is just after Christmas and this year I’d been feeling even more dread than normal at the thought of it. My Birthdays now start with a 4 and have done so for a little while. But anyway I needed to put my birthday angst aside so we could get on and celebrate Anna’s. This year she wanted to go for a ‘lovely autumnal’ walk and have a pub dinner with me and her best friend from Uni – Tash. As much as I love Anna, I can just about manage a couple of hours of Tash if alcohol is included. I can’t even insert a joke here about her name corresponding to her upper lip because she’s not mistashey at all – dang. You may understand what I mean and not lurve your best friend’s best friend from Uni??

Tash is a GP and lives in Lincoln. Tash is – let’s say ebullient, full of unrelenting enthusiasm and gung ho-ness. She’s a chess champion, regularly goes handgliding and also plays lacrosse which she is super good at it – is it like Quidditch?? She’d be good at that too. And definitely in Gryffindor House!

My mother had also picked up on my downess of late and held me to inquisition during a routine skype call. Awks.

“You really do seem quite grumpy at the moment, is it the children?” she observed irritably much like you’d be annoyed by a wasp at a picnic. She always assumes that any problems arise from my kids or my modern parenting.

“I’m fine Mum,” I mumbled unconvincingly. That was the trouble with Skype – I couldn’t get away with feigning jolliness (or emptying the dishwasher) while looking at her chin on the screen – she of course got a full head shot of my ill disguised miserableness.

“I think you’re just feeling sorry for yourself! Buck up darling, have you painted the spare room yet? That’ll give you a boost,” WTF? “And it would make it more pleasant for your father and I when we visit at Christmas, which reminds me, shall we bring the Amuse Bouche for the big day!”

My mother loves christmas and she always brings the effing Amuse Bouche/starters. Usually something really ‘grown up’ like mini reindeer steaks or worse- gazpacho. And when the kids baulk at eating Rudolph or cold soup my mother actually wonders why ….. She insists that we have a ‘selection of puddings’ (according to her preference) so she brings a homemade trifle which is so laden with sherry that it would blow up if it got too close to the lit Christmas Pudding.

“Well?”My mother insisted. A disembodied voice could be heard from her moving chin.

“Well what? ”

“Why are you feeling so mis then?” My mum thinks its acceptable to say mis instead of miserable – it isn’t, she sounded irritated, “Is it writer’s blockage?”

“No,”

“What then?”

“Errm, I’m not quite sure, maybe because…..” God I don’t know – was it the run up to Christmas? The pressure of making the costume for the fourth sheep on the left? The threat of doing 4 hours involuntary service at the PFA Christmas ‘Bizarre’? The early darkness and shorter days? The cold and driving rain? The compulsion to stockpile Lidls Stollen and eat all the Christmas Pringles well before the end of November and other British problems? I don’t know, I just felt low. Hashtag not allowed!

“Get yourself a sad lamp and some echinacea and for goodness sake snap out of it before Christmas Eve, must dash I’ve got Bridge now.”

So there we have it. Snap out of it! Buy a SAD daylight lamp and paint your spare room -wise words for anyone like me who was feeling a bit sh*tty.  I’m hoping my Mum wasn’t going to offer her voluntary services at a local Christmas Soup Kitchen over the festive period. Unfortunately I could imagine her bustling in as a helper and suggesting gazpacho as a ‘nice change’. She’d try to ween long term drug users off class A’s and onto Murray Mints and force them to learn how to play Bridge whilst telling homeless people to buck up! Of course she would be told to buck off herself and rightly so.

leaves.png

Bored of effing autumn leaf shots – well here’s another one!

So, anyway back to Anna and her birthday. Last Saturday we set out with Tash on our ‘lovely autumnal walk’ which emcompassed a pretty (National Trust owned) stretch of woods before arriving at an estuary side pub with a roaring fire and gastro menu. And as we walked I asked myself what autumn means to me? Did I b*ll*x! Course I didn’t but in the interest of writing this post, imagine that I did (I was probably mostly visualising the dinner I would consume with lashings of Prosecco). At least the walk was fairly uneventful – with no children in our party we were spared the following – a Pooh Sticks altercation where a twig was thrust in one tweenagers eye by another tweenager. A plethora of wet socks from predictably overzealous puddle jumps and a myriad of face planting incidents resulting from bastard slippery leaves.

There was still the unavoidable you know I’m damp but you’ll still sit on me – you tw*t bench.

bench.png

The forlorn and lost article of clothing left behind. Lost my arse!

hat.png

And shuffling through leaf covered dog sh*t while Tash droned on about handgliding off the Breacon Beacons, but at last we finished the (frankly unnecessary in my opinion) ‘lovely autumnal walk’.

sign.png

Thank eff for that!

At the pub I glugged on a large glass of Prosecco. Anna went to the loo, which filled me with dread! What was with all this dread? I didn’t want to be left alone with ebullient Tash. I jumped up and made like I was going to read the specials board and waited for Anna to return before I sat back down at the table with them.

“So what’s the matter with you then Hillie,” commented Tash unceremoniously, “You’ve got a face like a five day old Morrison’s halibut,”

“Yeah, you’ve defo been a miserable cow of late,” colluded Anna, as she plonked herself back down.

“I’m fine,” I said, looking at them as if they were the idiots. Attack is the best form of defence you know!!

“She doesn’t seem herself,” Tash said to Anna.

“No, she doesn’t does she,” Anna concurred.

“I’ll get us some more drinks,” suggested Anna, thinking of a bona fide solution and left the table.

Tash fixed me with a stare.

“Come on – what gives?” she ordered. I’m glad I’m not one of her patients.

“I’m fine, and this is Anna’s night out,” I reminded her.

“Yes, but she’s worried about you, so you may as well say what’s on your mind.”

I stalled a moment because I could see Anna bringing one of the drinks over.

“Ok,” I conceded, “I’ve been feeling weird recently, like I’ve been going a bit mad.”

“Go on,” said Tash.

“I feel pissed off, my head feels like its full of crap and…..” mumbling I added, ” I’m getting hot flushes and palpitations.”

“You’re far to young to get hot flushes! I keep telling you to shut the door on your woodburner,” chided Anna.

“Any other symptoms?” enquired Tash slipping into GP mode while slurping deeply on her glass of wine.

“Yes, I feel like a dozy tw*t most of the time.”

“Hmm, I think I have an idea what it could be,” said Tash knowingly.

“Dozy Tw*ts disease?” suggested Anna helpfully.

“Hmmm, yes. I think you’re peri, yes you might well be peri…….”

“Peri what?” I interrupted.

Perilously pitiful? Perry from Kevin and Perry i.e moody and monosyllabic?

7da8defa497d937cdf8406f09fc85ba0.jpg

“Peri-menopausal. Basically the bit or should I say long drawn out bit where your body moves towards menapause. Symptoms include, anxiety, hot flushes, depression, palpitations, night sweats, lack of libido and in Hillie’s case – brain fog.”

“Doesn’t sound very appealing and you’re only 42,” squeaked Anna!

“Don’t worry Anna, we’re in our thirties and so a way off being perimenopausal,” Tash replied.

Oh that’s ok then!

Tash went on to elaborate, “It’s your body’s way of adjusting from the more fertile years into the next phase of your life, but it causes your oestrogen levels to change and fluctuate, hence the low mood. It can take a while and be quite a drawn out process. Some women are more affected by it than others. ”

“Bloody marvellous,” I said but it all made a lot of sense.

“You may be affected by the darker days – known as Seasonal Affective Disorder too, although research does not actually confirm this is a disorder” advised Tash before telling me to visit my GP and get a sad lamp (no harm in a bit of extra light).

“Make an appointment with Dr Garry,” said Anna, “and you know I’m always here to talk to!” she added reaching for the menu and perusing it.  I looked at the menu too for something comforting.

“Hmm, here’s a main course you might like Hillie,” Anna pointed at the menu “How about the Peri Peri (menopausal) chicken,” she quipped.

As you were!

More next week.

PS, If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog post – talk to a friend, see a health care profesh and buy a sad lamp which you can get from somewhere like Dunelm Mills but if you’d like to try a SAD daylight simulating lamp I’d recommend a specialised retailer. Perhaps you’re the right age to be/feel peri peri-menopausal, feel free to anecdote on down in comments.

PS, this is a work of fiction, therefore all mistakes of any kind are my own. I thank you.

Mumzilla