Friday, 20 June 2008

Why I may not be too fragrant for the next week....

My shower is broken. No, let me rephrase that my shower is very broken. It leaks and it has made a damp patch on my ceiling. Imagine the picture, I like taking pretty pictures of my house but even I draw the line at the lunar landscape currently in formation on my hall roof.

So, I got my DH to ask at work for a plumber. He came home yesterday with a name and a number... that's all, one little forename and a mobile number. And this man is going to see my ensuite? Worse than that, he has to pass through my bedroom to get there?

My instructions (for me from DH, don't go thinking I have any authority in this house; it's why I want a cat.... except the cat would be more in charge than I am...) were to ring Jimmy the Plumber and arrange a meeting. It was only as he answered and I said "Hello, is that Jimmy the Plumber....." that I got a dreadful feeling. I desperately wanted to say it in a Scorsese way, you know, a New Yoik gangster way, a "I'm ready for you to mess wid my pipes but you better not want to play with my stopcock" way In a Sopranos way rather than just a piping soprano voice.

No, he's not a gangster, just a nice guy who happened to see the funny side of being Jimmy the Plumber (I had to tell him; I had to spill the beans) and axed for his protection money when he knocked on the door (well, rang the Cuckoo doorbell, but that just lowers the tone) . Jimmy has looked at my loose sealant. Jimmy says we need to get it re sealed, but can we leave it a week to dry out? No showers for a week? We do have a bath..... but the last time I had one I think I was pregnant and I'm not sure it was with the Princess. I may just have to learn a whole new language of bathing for the week;

night time baths, not showers,

foam bubbles not cream (or creme, I only buy the best) gel, and perhaps, just perhaps,

a glass of wine and candles...... Am I available next Friday, Jimmy?........ oops, perhaps not.......

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

I can prove that there is more than one way to skin a cat....

My technological wizardry is about as good as my ability to resist a cream cake (you know, the Waterfields caramel doughnut with the sticky caramel icing, the vanilla scented cream that oozes out with one bite and the solid white chocolate medallion on. The sort of cake you have to reach for in times of crisis like forgetting to put the cat out, putting a cup down on a table without a coaster and , well, generally, anytime) so when my DH rang from work with the simple instruction; 'e-mail those pictures to me', I was ready.

Two weeks later I finally sat down to send them. Technology cannot be rushed. If the computer can be bolshy so can I.

First attempt; g mail. I attached all the files (16 pictures). No good. Too much information and my computer said no. ( I had a boy in a class last year who communicated by Little Britain. Computer said No was his favourite, Want that one came a close second. Having never seen the programme I was baffled but pigheaded enough to want my own way. I never grew up past 7 years old.)

Second attempt, the default e-mail on the puter. No good. It dates from the days of dial up connection, doesn't pretend to know me and wouldn't cross the street to send an e-mail for me if it wanted to, which it doesn't, it being an inanimate thing and not, as I am inclined to believe, a malicious sentient being with a voice like the Kit car. 2001 has a lot to answer for.

So I sat and thought. A decent cup of tea, all those free radicals, it works for Doctor Who, why not me?

And I stumbled across the answer. I got a new e-mail address. This is my third in as many weeks. I now have two addresses in two separate parts of the cyberspace. What will I do if my two selves ever meet? Will the vortex collapse or will I just have to introduce myself; Angel jem, meet Angel Jem.

And will it mean I miss this week's first of three parts.... The Doctor dead? Nuclear holocaust? Rose's new hairdo? How can I survive?

Monday, 16 June 2008

I am so cut out for a life in the army as a Gunner......

I have never wanted to be in the army, really, but I do think I make a good Gunner. You know what I mean, I am gunner do this and I was gunner do that and we're gunner meet up for coffee... someday. My gunner list is getting bigger by the day.

Apart from getting my blog boogie back I want to do so much around the house, to get crafty with wool, material and paint and I am gunner find the time..... someday.

But I don't do everything I hope to. Time's winged chariot and all that. (good title for a book; I thought of it first, hands off) And that's fine because that's where my life is.

So I'll catch up with some old news. We went to York during half term week and really enjoyed it. We stayed at a lovely cottage on a farm, where there were hens and cats and dogs wandering freerange and, best of all for my three, 4 free range children who were ready and willing to play. We didn't get as much done as we had planned, but that was fine. They played and it was just like something out of Enid Blyton, with masses of children disappearing off into the wilderness to emerge when the hunger struck. Lovely, really.

We visited York three times, for the NRM where they were celebrating (mourning?) 40 years since the age of steam, for Jorvik and its sister atraction, Dig and for the Yorkshire Museums, the one at the Castle and the one in Museum gardens.

We all had a fantastic time, and we were especially impressed with the offers at the museums. If you are a UK taxpayer and you sign the gift aid declaration, you get unlimited free entry to the museums for the next year. Whoopee! There's a day out in the summer planned!

And the picture of the week? This is a toilet seat at the archaeological hands on centre, Dig. Yes, those are bits of pottery and bone buried in the resin. Mmmm, interesting.

What's bred in the bone will.....

Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!

You drink everyone under the table.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

A brag about the weather and my washing line...

Look at the blue sky!

Just look at it!

What you can't see it?

What? The quilts are in the way?

Oh, Those quilts! They're just two quilts I picked up in Barnardo's for £6 each....

Mind you, there is a sting in the tail. They must have been owned by a dog because there is felted hair all over them so I not only had to wash and dry the blasted things but to stroke them all over with my hand covered in sellotape.

Thrift comes at a price.

And as I stroked all the dog hair off, all I could think of was this....

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

What a half hour in the garden is for...

Yes! Don't you love it when you get a result! I had a spare half hour today (OK, so I was supposed to tidy my bedroom, but it wasn't raining and you take your pleasures when you can in England) and I spent it very well indeed in the garden, transforming a small patch of my earth from this....

to this.... (apologies for the difference in tone; I know the before is actually a better colour, but the after is neater)

and here is the pathetic flower currently sole occupant of this bed.

I was so guilty that, with my spare half hour when the Princess was at a party I had to go to the garden centre and get some bedding plants. Watch this space...

No not THIS space!

Mind you, gardening is a long term commitment. The other corner of my garden looks like this...

Yes, that is ground elder in there. Loads of it. I am as we speak blasting it with glycophosphate and pulling out every bit of root I can find... well, not literally as we speak. I was doing it 10 minutes ago until the rain began and I dived for cover in the 'puter room.I'll continue with my work tomorrow.

But in the meantime I am feeling successful.

When I was newly qualified as a teacher I treated myself to this valuable piece of advice and I have lived by it ever since.

I don't seek the fancy car (any old Porche Carrera will do) or a mansion of a house but I do seek for healthy children, a patch of tilled earth and to be a force for good, especially on a small scale, because big scale goodness doesn't fit in around the school run and bathtime. I get my pleasures where and when I can, whether it is the half hour pottering, the playing frisbee and football or the coffee drunk whilst reading a new book (I have a new handbag; it's lovely and red but too small for a book. It won't last long, I promise) and I am entitled to feel successful when I have achieved my ambitions; an empty laundry basket, a weed free patch, the sound of three giggling monkeys telling each other rude words. I feel successful because I have friends who I know I can call on at a moments notice, that I have good relationships with all my relations (There's a rarity, according to the papers) and that I have the love of a good man whom I love deeply. Nothing too expensive or hard to come by, but good enough for me.

And to help me feel good about my success, I will watch this tonight. 6 figure salary? Nein danke!

Monday, 9 June 2008

Knitting is better than nothing...

Last Saturday I had a half hour to spare so I visited the local Oxfam bookshop. Devotees of second hand bookshops will know that shopping in them is less about finding what you want than finding what you need. You can walk into a SHB wanting the newest novel, or a book on gardening, or just to browse and can exit with what must have been someone's collection of knitting books from the 30's or 40's with a book on embroidery and an illustrated Hans Christian Andersen without breaking into a ten pound note.

I love old craft books. It strikes me that, like that wonderful French magazine, Marie Claire Idees, they presuppose a level of ability and pre-knowledge that is missing from most English craft magazines. Where we get numbered and full colour illustrations to explain often simple steps (as if every reader were a beginner) old books know that they can mention a particular stitch or step and the reader will not even need to think about it.. they have the language of craft and they aren't afraid to use it. Whether it's because every child (oh, who am I trying to kid here, every girl) had the techniques intravenously fed to her through her schooling or because the basics were covered by a grandmother or mother who modelled the process I don't know. I do know that the books are somewhat lacking in kerb appeal compared to the all-singing, all-dancing books available today but that, for all that, they have a charm of their own.

And I love the things that they contain. Who, for instance, would really want to knit a swimming suit? But both my treasures of the weekend contain a whole range of garments for swimming, including a rather tasteful pair of father and son trunks. I couldn't resist the bikini, complete with knitted over skirt. Good for St Tropez, non?

And the knitted underwear caught my eye, too. Wool vests, I can understand, but the pants seem a little.... optimistic, I think. Or just plain scratchy.

And when I read the description for the teenagers' camiknickers, I just had to snort with laughter. " When a schoolgirl begins to grow older she longs for lovely underwear in contrast to her more austere schoolgirl clothes. Here is a charming camiknicker with picot edged shoulder straps....." Fashionable, stylish, warm... Janet Reger it ain't. It probably can't even be found in the new style M&S, home to thermal knickers for as long as I care to remember. Although, knitted in cashmere...... and I love the quilt. Who says that home style changes? Aren't quilts always in?

But, then, as I read the books from cover to cover and back again, I began to get a strange sense... was it Deja Vu? I grabbed for my pile of catalogues....

No, it was Boden! Change the hair style, tweak the clothes ever so slightly... and watch the change! (no, it is not really going to change, you have to keep scrolling down. I wish I knew how to do magically merging pictures. I'm betting somewhere out there on the web is a company that can do it, but if you think I had the time or inclination to find it... well, you don't know me very well do you?)

Yes, I thought, you could use these patterns and not look like an extra in We'll Meet Again (I used to love that programme), in fact, you could look really good, quirky, cute..... at least, if you have a 34 chest you can. The closest to my size are all categorised as "for the mature woman" and feature models who, frighteningly, look like the Queen Mother, God bless her, in her later years and not as she must have done at the time.

I'm only 40, I'm not ready to be mature, I still want to live my life and do all those things I'm planning to..... and if I find some decent crochet cotton, a pair of linen pillowcases and the space to make some picot edging for them so much the better.

But the highlight of the books this weekend is a mystery.... is this Vivien Leigh? Or just a very good look alike?