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.

I knew I’d be in Exeter shopping last week so I arranged to pop in to discuss the article with her. I chose the hottest day thus 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 glaringly canary yellow 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 gnarly looking old tissues in the bowels of my handbag 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 and swiped the screen a few times snappily. What she was doing looked highly professional to me and very media luvvie but she was probably just sacking someone 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 was that totally weird race-thing you did with your legs tied together? Again no interjection required. 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 a more varied bunch 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……..

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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.

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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 screechy sweaty blur you’ll always get the faller, the one who jettisons 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 winning and therefore 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 fundamentally 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 haphazardly cobbled together. 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 have 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).

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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 rank and 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.

Before decorating.

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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 not really vintage tin (may I recommend – Emma Bridgwater or Kath Kidston here) but not for very long because they go proper rank after a day or so.

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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.

A big yay! I’m a featured blogger on #fridayfrolics with this post. Big thanks to Claire, Emma and Lucy xx

Island Living 365

Friday-Frolics-Badge-2016.jpg

39.Village survival, shock absorbers!

This may be based on a real life true story……..

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 said car and take small stealthy sideways steps towards actual car.
  • Concede that the parking attendant’s audible laughing is acceptable fall out on this occasion.cars.png

                                                                    Not my car.                                               My car.

If you have also 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.

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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.

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(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!

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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.

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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……

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…..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!

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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!

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I needed a coffee!

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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!!

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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.

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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