Tuesday, July 23

Cornwall is made of sea and ice cream

I found the perfect beach with a perfect ice cream shoppe. I walked away with my 'strawberries-and-clotted-cream' artisan delight, vaguely hearing words coming from the ice cream seller's mouth

watch out ....

... my attempts to listen to him were interrupted by a seagull's foot landing on my ice cream.

Finding myself in a Hitchcock movie I hurried, hunched over, simultaneously trying to to shelter the cone with my hand and get as much ice cream as possible into my mouth. The bird made another pass under my hand slicing himself a small beakful in such an astonishing way that I dropped the guard hand allowing a third pass and now the gull got the entire double scoop and dropped to the beach, trying in his turn to scoff as much as possible while being mobbed by all the other thieving gulls.

I left them to it feeling foolish - not a single other person was buying ice cream

Friday, June 28

I started this blog as a sort of therapy

it didn't occur to me that anyone would ever find it. I didn't know about the comments box, 'following' sounded definitely creepy. I didn't know how supportive the bloggy community can be, and I certainly didn't expect to make actual, real life friends through this blog.

Today I read this post from someone who started commenting here 10 years ago,  ... this wonderful man always makes great comments on his community of blog chums posts,  often adding funny and interesting links.

A great traveller and incurably curious, I had the pleasure of meeting LX in Real Life in Bristol when he was on one of his Grand European Tours

He'll be missed by many

Wednesday, June 19

an angry man

was wheeling a huge suitcase through a crowded shopping street. A little dog jumped at the suitcase and barked at it, the dog's human was half-prone drunk in a doorway. The angry man kicked out at the dog making the dog even more barky. The man kicked more at the dog and shouted a lot of sweary words and it was getting ugly. My momentum and trajectory had walked me right in front of all this so I was the one who became the school mistress and told the angry man to stop. This made the dog go and sit on his human. The angry man glared at me all red and goggle-eyed

it was going to bite me
no it wasn't

The angry man took a wide-legged stance and pushed his face at me and jabbed his sausagey fingers at my face while searching to find the worst insult ...

you ... you ...  .... F***ING ... .... BLEEDING HEART ....  LIBERAL ... F***ING . ...  

Tuesday, June 18

reasons to be cheerful

One ... the colours of my thread garlands

Two ... it didn't rain until noon

Three ... at 11am I was swimming in the lake by the ocean

At 9am I went to change bed linen in the boys rooms, the young one uses the same unwashed plate for every meal, this doesn't bother me, but on my weekly visit to his room I can't help but pick up his old ketchuppy plate and take it down to the dishwasher thus forcing him to use a clean plate - just once a week.

In the older boys room there are sticky squash glasses. Toenail cuttings are lined up by the giant tv screen. I'm still not screaming. Then I discover something so screamy that I can't ever tell another living soul, I have to find someone with a melon-baller who can open up my skull and scrape out the place with that memory, meanwhile I've squashed it into the tiniest place possible and left the room.

... at 10am I got in the car and drove to the lake

Monday, June 17

bucket loads of rain

have soaked us beyond saturation

we are so wet we are virtually transparent 

It seems important for my mental health that I list reasons to be cheerful:

1. This weekend I made two divine apricot/almond/cherry, tarts, also an onion, fennel and olive tart and an asparagus and cheese tart - these were shared with several lovely friends and relatives

2. A big bag of old wooden cotton reels in a charity shop, all colours of proper old silk, plus several special tiny reels of buttonhole-twist and fat reels of linen thread - the whole lot became mine for a fiver. I have strung them into garlands and hung them in the window. They are beautiful

3. I spent this morning helping my octogenarian neighbour make a cascading silver cape, she will wear it to perform in the street with her friends

two boy guests remain in my home

the young one wears an all-black outfit and burns a pair of faux fillet de poulet au pain in a pan each evening. If I prepare vegetables while he's in the kitchen I watch him shrink with fear - tonight I will try him with a bible or some jesus-related jewellery to test my vampire theory.

A heavy box was delivered for the older boy, while we were all away. By the time he found and unpacked it, it had been by the back gate for a few days. Undaunted he filled all available fridge space with large plastic boxes of colourful rice-and-chicken-in-sauce meals, he said
I'm sure it's fine, it's still cold 

We looked at the labels which said  'use before June 2020' and I raised all my eyebrows

he read the instructions  - 'reheat from frozen'

the next hour was spent emptying all the smelly yellow-and-red meals into the food waste bin and filling  recycling boxes with plastic containers.

He has returned to KFC.

more reasons to be cheerful:

1. Last night I met up with friends that I love and don't see enough of

2. there's a slice of apricot tart on the kitchen table and I have cream in the fridge

3. the boys will leave next week

Sunday, June 9

Did parenting stop being a thing?

I am hosting two young men (one is nearly 30) neither has been taught basic life skills:

the younger one used the washing machine yesterday, I showed him the first time but forgot to demonstrate the exact amount of laundry liquid to be used for one machine load - he used one whole litre

the older one is tiring of KFC, he did use the kitchen once, placing a raw chicken in the oven - but then unsure what else was supposed to happen, he has now subscribed to a scheme that sends him meals by post

Friday, June 7

I was looking after a pet

in Cornwall. The owner tried to pass it off as a cat but it's clearly the lovechild of a fox and a ferret, her fur is beige with burnt edges and her face is actually more pointy than my drawing. Also she might appear delicate but this killer is adept at rabbit-hunting.

Wednesday, May 29

It's hammock-crazy around here

Community hammock at the bottom of our road. 

Hammock-for-human-beans at the bottom of our garden.  

My household currently contains two adolescent boys*, one is in his teens and the other is nearly 30, each of them consumes enough cans of pop to fill a bathtub daily.  Neither of these boys owns a coat and I am reminded of the Finnish boy who stayed a few years ago

In other news

I have embarked on 'The Great Floor Polishing' this involves much shifting of furniture and then sweeping, scrubbing and scraping before the oily polish can be laid down in thin thin coats. After the oiling, people must skate around on tea towels so it polishes up nice and shiny. Last time I did this I had spilt tea on my computer and lost the use of the letter 'i'

*the boy-in-a-hammock is not one of the resident pop-drinking boys, he is a visiting-boy

Tuesday, May 21

lunch with eleven women

in a sun-drenched-wisteria-ridden garden,  a laburnum tree burgeoning with yellow flowers took up most of the air above us, tiny bits of cobalt sky peeped through the blooms. We ate salmon in dill sauce with Jersey Royal potatoes then summer pudding with cream and raspberry cream roulade with extra cream. We were celebrating a scratch-card win.

Our host is an undertaker, four of the guests were either undertakers or 'in the business'. The host didn't want the lunch to become 'too-death-ey' and kept trying to introduce other topics of conversation but death and it's complications are too much fun; one guest had been asked to bury a large man in a wardrobe - there was a problem getting the body into the chapel, another guest was in the process of converting an ex-Carphone Warehouse into a mortuary ...

in other news

French Boy lodger has found his culinary groove - breakfast is fizzy pop and chocolate biscuits. For supper he has found a never-ending supply of reconstituted chicken-in-breadcrumbs, he fries as many nuggets as will fit on a big plate every single evening, I'm hoping he gets home to his mother before scurvy sets in.

Friday, May 17

We headed out to a Greek Island

it was out-of-season-closed-down so no-one else was there, the spring flowers ran riot in abundance and the weather was out-of-season mad, wild winds, then calm, mostly sun but some blustery black skies and a bit stormy sometimes.

We stayed in a white white cottage on the edge of a tiny bay where a grumpy old shepherd brought his flock of maggotty old sheep to nibble at the grass edges, the sheep liked to go in the water which made the shepherd furious, if I went down to the sea when the sheep were trying to swim to freedom they would come out of the water to see if they could come home with me - which made the shepherd doubly furious.

The local tavern had no inside, a bit of clear polythene was wrapped around one of the sides of the open air terrace - giving pale shelter from raging winds, we double-wrapped up for our daily fried-cheese-and-chips-with-Greek-beer visits.

The sea cottage was owned by someone in Athens who sent daily messages to remind me what is forbidden:






Around the house, drawings of massive mice with big crosses over them are pinned to the doors

A few scraggy cats came by but most had read the notices and didn't stay except for the gray-and-white one who took up residence on the outside mat.

We got home at the end of last week and now a very young French Boy is living with us, FB wears glasses, from the front he is brainy-looking, when he turns around we see the design carved into his almost-shaved hair, this might be the 21st century equivalent of a mullet.*

*business out front, party round the back!

Monday, April 8

I'm trying to get as much of lovely europe as possible

while we're still in it.

At the weekend I booked flights to go to a Greek island. This evening I booked the house we'll stay in. It's located in a 'village' with two other houses and two tavernas, all clustered at the end of a long peninsula.

the house owner has contacted me with directions and other relevant things to note:
Other informations....every day in the piazza of the village,at 10.30 comes a white van,and sells bread,beverages,biscotts....and every monday and Thursday at 9-10 another white van sells vegetables ,frutts...
Remember have bottle water with you,the water in the house you cannot drink it

Sunday, April 7

I'm packing for a few days in London

while I'm collecting up the bits I need for the trip the Man is on the phone to his father, they are both deaf so the conversation is being held at top volume, I can hear both sides clearly. The Man is talking about a programme he's working on called 'Amazing Earth' but the father can't quite grasp the title. The Man breaks it down, bellowing the words slowly

It's called AMAZING EARTH ... 'amazing' ... like really fantastic and ...'Earth' ... like where we all live

the dad reckons he's got it and bellows back appreciatively

'Fantastic House', Oh yes that's a great title, I hope it all goes well... bye

Thursday, April 4

My wounded hand is still sore

I'm doing finger-waggling exercises the way I think the physio instructed so I'm hoping it's pain-in-a-good-way rather than pain-because-I've-done-it-wrong-and-making-things-worse. 

The enforced loafing is becoming a bore.

Knowing that my hand operation would limit possibilities for exercise for a couple of months, I spent the weeks beforehand building up heft credits; tree-felling, taking rubbish to the dump ... God-forbid I even did a bit of housework. I also went to the gym because someone told me that ladies can end up marooned in a chair and never being able to get out again just because we spent too long drinking coffee one day and our muscles just evaporated and then someone has to break down the door and find us covered in flies, coffee cup still in hand... and that would be sad.

This inward focus is obviously necessary to distract from the disgraceful performances being played out in parliament

Sunday, March 31

at the beginning of March

my hand underwent surgery. The surgeon gave me a sketch of what he did and I've been showing it to all and sundry in the manner of a proud parent-to-be showing a baby scan.

It's still the recovery period (and for another month or so at least), doing lots of flexing and massage to build strength in my thumb joint, to bring the nerve endings back to life and reduce scar tissue - it's sore and I can't drive or put my bra on!

It's been a sad month - a dear friend and beloved member of our neighbourhood died at the end of February.

I am setting up an art project in Surrey, I'm still in the preparatory phase. As I'm not able to drive and I'm unfamiliar with the area I took up the offer to go and look after a long-haired cat near the estate where I'll be working. The hairy tomcat spent his days and nights out and about, getting up to mischief no doubt. He'd slink back to the house with evidence of these adventures on his prodigious coat - bits of hedge and moss stuck all over him, surprising odours hitching a ride too - one morning he came in smelling as though he'd been in the sewers.

Back home on Friday I decided to try swimming in the lake by the ocean with my injured hand, the temperature is still quite icy, as the cold seeped in my thumb joint complained and I had to return to dry land swimming single handedly, the poorly one held above my head as though I was calling for help.

Friday, March 1

What's my motivation?

Drove to the seaside for an icy swim this morning along with several other people. My fellow dippers seem to fall into two camps.

i) Mostly women; jumping-in, giggling and chatting about last night's telly
ii) Mostly men; doing 'distance,' wearing devices that chart the metrics of their swimming, much discussion about past and upcoming water-based challenges.  

I was dried and ready to head home at the same time as another Bristol-based swimmer, he accepted my offer of a lift back.  Maintaining a constant monologue about swim-races, marathons and cross-channel swimming events coming up over the next decade, he kept asking if I was planning to enter this or training for that (no - a thousand times no). I realised that he was trying to work out what my goal was - what was the point of my swimming - I could offer him no satisfactory explanation.

I have also joined a gym, I have been given a card where I must note down the heaviness of the weights that I can push or pull and how many times I can do it. I'm a few weeks in and have completed a row of figures on my first card, I note that I am pushing and pulling pretty much the same amount of weight that I was when I started and it dawned on me that my aim is simple - 'Don't Get Worse' - this can become my motto, my motivational mantra, I shall embroider it on a coat of arms and make myself a marching banner.

Later that day 

walking up the road, passed a grizzled-looking man who suddenly exclaimed MOTHERFUCKER
I startled and looked at him with raised eyebrows, he looked abashed and said - Not you - you look lovely

Thursday, February 7

Ten years ago

I was in living in a dilapidated French farmhouse - rented on a two-year lease to use as a location for a series of short films about insects. As Location Manager, I stayed in this house during the non-filming periods to take care of it's sporadically bursting pipes and prepare things for the next shooting period. The house was so cold that it was usually warmer outside, I probably got rather too involved with village life. 

The month of February 2009 was eventful, I hosted a lunch event which was hijacked by several unexpected guests, an elderly alcoholic was trying to woo me, the village bar embroiled me in a web of secrets and lies worthy of several Eastenders episodes, I was press-ganged into joining a sports team,  I spent a week cooking for autistic people and somehow found time to pop home to the UK where my friend Ms Whiplash explained how her friends made household cleaning more entertaining.

Ten years ago I had only been writing this blog for a few months, I was amazed and delighted by wonderfully supportive commentary from bloggy friends like  Scarlet and LX -  it was their recent trips down memory lane that prompted me to make this one.

Monday, January 28

I swam in the ocean lake this morning

the sky was bright and sunny the water temperature measured LESS THAN THREE BRITISH DEGREES!!!!*

it was a bit like being electrocuted

or maybe galvanised

I came home and chiselled up all the awful old ceramic tiles covering the Boot Room floor,  filling several boxes with heavy-concretey hardcore then hefting them all outside by the back gate, then I mended all the broken things in the Boot Room and swept it all tidy and shiny. 

The Man came home and said

I see you took the floor up - that must've been nice and easy 

Friday, January 11

Yesterday an engineer came to sort out some wires in our house

He adjusted some components then there was a moment when he had to stand around and wait for information from the computer -  we made chit chat

he said, things are pretty quiet workwise this week so I'm taking tomorrow off, it's my kids birthday
Lovely I said how old?

Four-year old twins, twin boys

Crikey I said, were they a surprise or are twins in the family? 

They were a surprise when we saw them on the scan but the funny thing was that my daughter gave birth on the same day

Gosh, did you all go to hospital together?

No my wife was booked to have a cesarean in the afternoon so she was just getting ready for that, my sixteen-year-old daughter was in the next room, she'd been going on about having stomach pains and then they got worse so she came in to our room, I didn't even know she was pregnant. 


She was a big ... I thought she'd been comfort eating, her mother had died a few months before.  So my wife was getting her bag packed and my daughter was really shouting about her pain and I was Googling to try and see what she had and the only thing I could find with her symptoms was labour, and I kept saying that and she kept insisting she wasn't pregnant.  And then her waters broke and all I could think was that was a new carpet. When the ambulance arrived my daughter was on the floor on all fours and my wife, who was enormous, she was on the floor behind her, they were both yelling their heads off and the paramedics didn't know which one to help, luckily they had a midwife with them and she got my daughter sitting on the side of the bed and I went out the room for a minute, then I  came back in just in time to see my granddaughter's head coming out of my daughter and they  delivered her right there.

Did you have to get another new carpet?


We're just back from quite a long trip to Portugal, where we had an extremely carnivorous time, chomping our way through a meat parade of chicken, chops and steaks accompanied by mountains of very delicious chips.  

On our return we barely fitted through the front door. I headed straight over to the greengrocer's to stock up on cabbages, beans, peppers and artichokes, serving them up with dahl, hummous and baked beans. The affect on our systems has been dramatic and we are currently unfit for human company, even now we daren't stay too long in the same room as I'm pretty sure we constitute a fire hazard.

In the morning I head to the coast for a swim - curious to see if my internal combustion engine can propel me across the channel
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