Thursday, 30 December 2004


I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions. I never keep to them so I never saw the point. But this year I have decided that I will make a few resolutions and I am going to stick to them. Honest I am.

Mind you, I have a feeling this might be more to do with the impending "significant" birthday. Any excuse for a crisis....mid-life will do just fine! Yay!

Monday, 27 December 2004

All over

A nice time was had by all....nearly.

I had a fab Christmas morning out riding with my boss. Big horse was a tad frightening to start with but we soon settled down and had a fantastic ride in the morning sunshine. My seat bones were a little tender for the rest of the day but I didn't ache as badly as I thought I would. The rest of the day passed in a haze of food, presents, more food and lots of silly card games....Newmarket, Chase the Ace, Pig and such things.

Boxing day morning didn't get off to a brilliant start when we heard about the earthquake and Tsunami that had hit Thailand. My sister-in-law and her husband were Christmassing in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, both of which had been badly hit. Mother-in-law was in tears as I tried to contact the hotel but it was impossible to get through and the emerency contact number was constantly engaged. I finally got through to the travel company they went with who were able to tell us they had spoken to their local office and all was well. Sister-in-law was finally able to call later in the day to tell us that they hadn't known a thing about what had been going on and were enjoying their holiday blissfully unaware of the chaos unfolding about them - they were up in the mountains rather than on the coast. Unfortunately we found out that they have to cut short the holiday by two weeks as they are unable to go on to the Maldives. But they're safe.

I also discovered that I ached. A lot.

Got home today to hear from my dog-walking pal that her husband had been taken into hospital on Christmas Eve because of a problem with a fistula in his arm. He's had a lot of problems over the years with kidney transplants and cancer so she is understandably worried. Then her oven decided not to work as she attempted to cook dinner.

So as far as Christmas catastrophes go, we got away with it, although there are a few people in my thoughts now.

Hope you all had a good one!

Friday, 24 December 2004

So this is Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and festive feelings have yet to arrive but I'm sure they will by morning. We don't have to do much by way of preparation as we're heading over to Mother-in-law's for a couple of days tomorrow morning. However, I have done my chores which are to make the stuffing (which is a bit of a contradiction as it won't actually be "stuffing" given that I'm cooking it here at home), I've made the cranberry jelly and the bread-maker is doing it's stuff as I type. So that just leaves The Lurcher's presents to be wrapped.

Tomorrow morning we shall open a couple of small presents and have smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast before I head off to work where my boss and I are nicking the two horses and going out for a Christmas morning ride and OH shall walk The Lurchers alongside us. I have a feeling that this may be something I shall regret as I haven't ridden for three years and these are proper horses....17.2hh, ex-cavalry chargers. Ho hum. I think I may be a little saddle sore for the rest of the day!

So that just leaves me to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and to hope that it is as magical as you could wish for. Have a good one!

Thursday, 23 December 2004

What's that!!?

I came home from work for lunch today and OH announced that there was a surprise in the fridge. How exciting! Has some nice person dropped us off a piece of beef or half a salmon or some other such nicety?

So I rushed to the kitchen, opened the fridge door and nearly passed out on the spot. Staring me in the face was a pig's snout. Closer inspection of the carrier bag revealed that the pig's snout was still attached to the pig's head. Not quite what I had expected.

OH had met one of our neighbours who had asked him if he knew anyone that wanted a fresh pig's head (Don't ask. We have some odd neighbours). OH agreed to take it off his hands because we feed The Lurchers on a raw food diet and he likes collecting animal skulls. Two birds. One stone. Except I don't feed The Lurchers on raw pork because of past scares about bacteria in the meat. So OH will have to deal with it so he can have the skull.

If there is a pan boiling on the cooker when I come home tonight, rest assured I will not be lifting the lid to see what's in it.

Monday, 20 December 2004


I have never played computer games on my computer at work, it's just something I don't do. But I was on the phone this morning and was having to hang on and hang on so I started pottering around my computer and found all these computer games, you know the ones - solitaire, minesweeper etc, so I pulled one of them up and started playing whilst I was waiting on the phone. Eventually someone answered and I carried on with the conversation and when finished, went back to the paperwork I had been working on prior to the call. Completely forgot I had solitaire open.

About 1/2 hour later, one of our Board of Directors came in and he and my boss stood behind me and asked me to find something on the computer. As my screensaver disappeared, there in all it's glory, was solitaire. I was somewhat embrarrased but just for once I managed to not dig the hole any deeper and I just calmly closed it down and carried on without saying a word. That'll teach me!

Sunday, 19 December 2004

Early to blog

When I returned home yesterday afternoon with the foster puppy who was spending the night with us, OH informed me that "friends who are coming to dinner" were unable to get a babysitter and so would be bringing their 2 year old toddler with them. Oh, OK. I'm sure we'll have lots of fun with The Lurchers, a 6 month old, not entirely house-trained Lurcher puppy and a 2 year old, not entirely house-trained child. No problem. I am woman, I can cope. Ummm...said OH. They're also going to stay the night. Oh. I am woman, I am allowed to collapse into a gibbering wreck in my one-bedroomed flat.

But cope we did and a fine time was had by all. 2 year old toddler was hugely entertained by Christmas crackers, a torch and a portable crib which we turned into a tent for her. 'Twas most amusing when 1/2 hour after arriving she announced "Daddy, I need to go home now". Much food was consumed and to my delight, the Beef Wellington turned out absolutely perfectly - nicely pink in the middle and cooked at the thin end just for me. Beef should be well-cooked in my opinion, not just shown the oven and served mooing on the plate. "Friends who were coming to dinner" provided the cheese, purchased from a local cheese shop. When opened, the bag of cheese smelled like the inside of a rank, 5 day old, black rubbish sack....mmmmmmm just how cheese should be!

After an evening of playing very stupid charades, we took to our beds at 2.30am. Lurcher No 1 decided she wanted to go out at 4.30am and foster puppy wanted to go out at 6.30am. Had to get up at 8am to get foster puppy sorted for the next leg of her journey. So after not much sleep, I am going to tidy up the wreck that is my kitchen and disappear under the duvet...Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, 17 December 2004

Busy, busy

This week has passed in such a blur I dont know my a**e from my elbow at the moment.

After having the parents for the weekend, Monday was our monthly Board meeting and the powers that be had decided that I should join the meeting to take the minutes. Oh joy. That started at 5pm and finished at 7pm and that was followed by "drinks and nibbles" in the boss's house.

Tuesday was spent at home writing said minutes and going to the hospital. Wednesday was what passes for our Christmas Party at work. Chinese Karaoke Restaurant. Do I need to say more? Actually, cheesy though it sounds it is a complete riot and for the first time in ages I spent the whole evening laughing like a drain!

Thursday was a mad dash into Kingston to do some more Christmas shopping. I still haven't finished which is a bit of a bugger. Completely stumped as to what to buy mother in law and Goth niece.

Tonight was another mad dash to Tesco to stock up on supplies for tomorrow night's dinner party with good friends. Red pepper and butternut squash soup, Beef Wellington layered with mushroom pate and cranberries, and mango pie. I've made the soup, the pate and cranberry jelly stuff so that's the fiddly stuff out of the way. Will be making the pie later.

Tomorrow it's up early to walk The Lurchers, get my hair cut and go pick up a rescue dog who is staying with us overnight tomorrow, en route to her new home in France. Then finish off the preparations for dinner, wrap presents for friends and make myself presentable for dinner.

Sunday I have to drop said dog with a friend who is taking her on the next leg of the journey to Folkestone.

Sunday afternoon I am going to collapse in a heap and not surface until the alarm goes off on Monday morning.

Tuesday, 14 December 2004

Sound the All Clear

Just about this time two years ago I was diagnosed with Follicular Thyroid cancer. Not the best Christmas present ever.

Today I've been to the hospital again and they don't want to see me again for a year. I don't have cancer any more. The best Christmas present ever!

Monday, 13 December 2004

That went better than expected.

Had the parents up for the weekend. This event is usually fairly fraught as my step-father has quite high standards when it comes to a house being spotless. And mine isn't. I could make lots of excuses as to why it isn't...and here are a few of them: It's an old property; we have 14ft ceilings; we have two dogs; no carpets to hide the dust and dog-hair, just waxed floorboards; 2ft underneath the floorboards is earth...creates dust. etc etc. So although I have what I feel are valid excuses for my flat not being spotless, they are, of course, not in the slightest bit valid and the main reason is that I'm just bone idle and hate housework with a passion. There's always something more important to do.

Don't get me wrong, we're not complete slobs living in a filthy hovel. I do just enough housework to keep the place ticking over and I do insist on a spotless toilet. I just don't seem to get round to doing the "extra" stuff, such as getting rid of the cobwebs high up in the ceilings or pulling out the bed and hoovering behind it, or cleaning the tops of the cupboards. Everything in our flat never seems to have a permanent place to live and so get moved around a lot without actually being put away. It is such things that my step-father always seems to spot and just has to mention. So these visits are preceded by a major spring clean and a certain amount of trepidation. One such visit had me in my bedroom in tears and vowing that he would never ever be welcome in my home again...he hated the music we played, the card games we played, the flat was a mess - there was dust on a pipe 14ft foot up a wall in OH's workshop.

However, he seems to be very relaxed and chilled out at the moment so the weekend passed with not one sarky comment - although I don't know what was said in private mind you! We had fun, played silly games, lots of nice music and my cooking was praised. Only two small things...I took the turkey out of the oven to rest, only to find just before serving that, contrary to all outward appearances,it wasn't actually cooked. Oh, and I made a sherry trifle and forgot to put the sherry in it. Cest la...I can cope with such things!

Tuesday, 7 December 2004

A Little Magic

On Sunday, evening I watched a film on the TV. It was Miracle on 34th Street with Richard Attenborough. A bit of a schmaltzy film but perfect for the mood I happened to be in at the time. If you don't know the gist of the film, it is basically about proving that Santa Clause does exist. The "real" Santa Claus appears in a department store and has to convince a little girl, as well as a court room, that he is the real Santa Claus and that he does really exist. Of course, this being filmland, the world is convinced and the little girl does get what she most desires for Christmas - a father, a baby brother and a lovely family house in the country.

Maybe it was because of the mood I was in at the time but I began pondering how wonderful it would be to have something to believe in. Something with a little magic to take us away from our humdrum everyday lives. How nice would it be to know that Santa really does exist? I long for something to believe in, a little magic to look forward to.

My melancholy mood deepened a little further today. On the Common we have a memorial that commemorates those that lost their lives in World War 1. Over the years the names have been worn away and we have been trying to find that list of names so that we can reinstate them on the memorial. We have finally succeded and found a handwritten list of names in a local museum's archives. Today I had to type out the list so that we have a permanent computer record. The list includes their names, rank, decorations and how and where they died. Seeing the names of these boys, for that is what most of them are, and the places they died - Killed in action at Ypres, Killed in action at the Somme etc, brought home to me the reality and the sadness of the war so much more than any television programme has ever done.

I wonder if they believed in anything? Was there any magic for them in their short lives? I think probably not.

Saturday, 4 December 2004

The day out that nearly wasn't

Big day out today. We had tickets to see the All Blacks v The Barbarians at Twickenham, so much excitement at home this morning. As we were walking up to the ground, OH gave me my ticket and put his back into his pocket. He threw away the ticket-size confirmation stub that comes with the tickets. We push on through the crowds and as we approach the gate, OH gets his ticket out and swears. Very loudly. He was holding in his hand the ticket-size confirmation stub. His ticket is languishing in a bin some 1/2 mile away from the ground. So we turn around and fight our way back through the hordes to try and find the right plastic bag out of the hundreds that they hang up on the route. Do you know, we found it! Stuck to a container that had once held mushy peas so it was a bit green but at £53 a ticket, he didn't really care!

So in we go and find our seats and get settled. Now the seats at Twickenham are tiny and leg room is fine for a five year old but not so much fun for adults. Especially the 6'6" man behind me who had to keep apologising for kneeing me in the head. And the 6', 16st man sitting next to me who had the pockets of his coat stuffed to the brim with stuff that kept digging in my leg. I hate being that close to strangers.

One of the things you can buy on the way to the ground is a "ref-link". It's a small personal radio thingy that links you directly to the ref's microphone so you can hear what he is saying and the game consequently makes much more sense. These ref-links are only meant to last for the duration of one match but you can usually use them for 2 or 3 if you're lucky. So being the cheapskates that we are (they cost a fiver a time) we took along one that we bought last time we went to Twickers about 18 months ago. Except that the powers that be seem to have twigged onto this and they've changed the frequency so our ref-link didn't work. Not that that seemed to matter too much because the two guys sitting behind us gave us quite a good running commentary. Until it became obvious that they didn't have a clue what they were talking about and weren't exactly paying too much attention to the game as they were talking too much. Still, they redeemed themselves somewhat when the they said they quite fancied Wales for the 6 Nations this year. I forgave them much after that.

The nice thing about rugby matches is that there is rarely any violence in the crowds. It doesn't matter which teams are playing or who has won, there's always a friendly atmosphere. Once the game is over and you've made your way down the zillion steps, you can pootle out of the ground out of whichever gate takes your fancy with very little hassle. People spread out so there's never a queue to get out. However, some bright spark somewhere has decided that the crowds need controlling. So having descended the steps tonight, we're met with a solid wall of people trying to get out of the same gate. I wouldn't have minded but the gate not 10 yards from the one we were being shoe-horned out of was completely empty! I asked one of the policeman why we couldn't go out of that gate and was told that "we have to keep the crowds separated". Why? "Beacuse that's what we've been told to do". Oh, OK. The consequence of course is that those of us who have ground to a halt are starting to get somewhat peeved. You can easily see how tempers could flare and violence break out. Smart move bright spark.

Thursday, 2 December 2004

Who's Bill!?

We received our first Christmas Card today. It was addressed to Angela and Bill. Gerry and I are still trying to work out who Bill is.