Friday, 27 February 2015

February Funny Friday

Groucho Marx once said that he wouldn't care to belong to any club that would have him as a member and, generally I'd probably agree with that (mostly because no sane person has ever asked me to join their club ...) but there ARE exceptions.

There's a group of blogger who once a month come together to caption a photo that one of them has submitted.

Last month Angela from Sanity Waiting to Happen asked me if I fancied joining in (she is clearly insane ... just saying ...).  

Did I? DID I?? Well, yes, I did ...

Anyway ...

We all need to post this at the same time which is 10am Eastern Time. Got to say, that threw me a bit as we are on Greenwich Mean Time but a quick google assures me that we are 5 hours ahead and so I need to post this at 3pm. Hopefully this is right and I've scheduled the post for that time (hence my practise scheduling last week!).

Today’s post is this month’s Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month. Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Funny Friday  150 X 150.jpg

Here’s today’s picture. It was submitted by Sanity Waiting to Happen     http://www.angelaweight.com

13 - Sanity Waiting to happen.jpg

I've decided to call this cat Simon because, well because I've never had a cat called Simon ...

1. So you call and you just expect me to come running? Buy a dog lady - I'll get back to you later ...

2. Having spent some time checking out the back of wardrobe Simon concluded that C S Lewis was mistaken and it seemed far more likely to him that Narnia might be up here.

3. Simon decided a tactical retreat was in order while the humans argued about who exactly had eaten a hole through the centre of the chocolate cake.

4. As you can see, I am neither up nor down - 'If only he'd thought to ask a cat' Simon mused then that Grand Old Duke could have given ten thousand men the day off.

5. Simon had absolutely no idea who had flushed the dog down the toilet again and what's more he didn't wish to discuss it ...

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile:

The Bergham’s Life Chronicles (http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/)
Baking In A Tornado (http://www.BakingInATornado.com)
Someone Else’s Genius (http://www.someoneelsesgenius.com)
Confessions of a part-time working mom (http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/)
The Momisodes (http://themomisodes.com)
Sanity Waiting to Happen (http://www.angelaweight.com)
Juicebox Confession  (http://www.JuiceboxConfession.com)
Cluttered Genius (http://www.clutteredgenius.com)
Stacy Sews and Schools (http://stacysewsandschools.blogspot.com)
People Don’t Eat Enough Fudge (http://peopledonteatenoughfudge.blogspot.co.uk)

Incidentally, a previously unknown known fact.

For ages I misread Angela's surname as Wright when in fact it's actually Weight which means that Sanity Waiting to Happen is probably like a really clever play on words incorporating Angela's surname unlike the name of my blog which is basically FACTUAL.

BUT if I WERE to rename my blog in a really clever way based on my surname (which is Mac for those not in the know) then maybe I'd call it 'What lies beneath' or 'It's a Cover Up' or something like that which isn't really a clever play on words at all ... and doesn't actually incorporating my surname ... or... or sound quite as good as Angela's actually ...

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Packing Tips And Other Useful Stuff (no, not really ;-)

Linking up with Ann from Help!! I'm Stuck!! for things I know this week. Also, linking up with The Lounge where this week we are freestyling!

I just read a Facebook status from a fellow blogger - actually, she's not a FELLOW blogger, she's a lady with one of those mega blogs that I don't even aspire to because they look like FAR too much hard work ...

Anyway, the status update read:

'Best packing tip... GO!'

And she's so far had over 80 fricking replies!!


You know what my latest update said?  Well, no, you don't so I'll tell you ...

'Complete panic with much screaming and some bad language when I couldn't turn the hot tap off!!!
Then I turned it the other way ... I should have been an engineer or something ...'

And you know what I've got??

One solitary 'like' - One ... ONE!!!

Anyway, to return to the point ...

Most of her replies said things like:

Yes! Roll your clothes into matching outfits, including accessories, and stuff them into those a4 size glad bags.' (that  one got 5 likes)

'Pack a light change of clothes in your carry on in case of lost luggage.' (6 likes for that one)

Lots of them said use zip lock bags (whatever they are) for your toiletries and use plenty of tissue paper between layers ....


Get real people, you don't need ANY of that stuff!!

You know what MY holiday essentials are?

1) Protective head gear (for those times your daughter exits the awning at the same time you enter and BREAKS YOUR BLOODY NOSE!

2) A sick bag and blindfold for when you take the cliff path Lamorna and you get 90 % of the way there and the bloody cliff path has crumbled into the sea and there is a 4" ledge to walk along for several feet with a 200ft drop to certain death with no barrier AND SD won't even entertain the idea of turning back because he can SMELL the coffee from the little cafe at the harbour.

3)  Proper sun cream to avoid having to stop at a little shop in the middle of nowhere to buy blue kids stuff that turns your daughter into a Smurf.

4) A large basket to hang over your arm as you cycle through the country lanes so you can pick up the potatoes that fall off the back of the tractor that just thundered past you scaring the shit out of you and take them back to cook over the gas ring (I recommend slicing them thinly and kind of TOASTING them) - as I once said, don't think of it as picking stuff up off the road, think of it as foraging or vegetarian road kill or something ...

5) Toilet roll (self explanatory really ...).

6) A local dialect book (in my case that would been Cornish) so that when they say things like 'Heller' you don't confuse them with posh gits from Bloomsbury and think it some kind of greeting when in fact what they actually said was that your child is the devils spawn.

7) A variety of hair pieces to save you time and to ensure that you always look perfect groomed ...  Actually, I confess - that ISN'T really one of mine (but don't you just LOVE how it blended in seamlessly ...), it was in fact a packing tip from a member of the TOWIE (The Only Was Is Essex) cast but it COULD be a real time saver for SD and I don't you think??

So yes, I think that about covers it and I am of to pop my very useful tips onto that bloggers thread, I'm sure she will be MOST impressed and I hope you have found them useful too ...

Last night SD and I passed this lovely little cottage in the country with a small field in front of it containing 5 sheep.  Now I have a love/hate relationship with sheep as you will know as in, used to love 'em/now hate 'em but it did look like such an idyllic set up and it set me musing ...

You know those FB quizzes?  Yes, I know YOU know BP ;-) - they kind of suck you in don't they?

I mean, who DOESN'T want to know which book you should read based on your zodiac sign or which Hogwarts house you belong in or how much you have in common with Taylor Swift or which Telly Tubby you are ...

So, I thought, how about ....


I know, I almost choked on my own saliva when I came up with that one!!!

I'm torn between two, mine would either be:

Sylvester - no, NOT Sylvester sheep but after Stallone ie RAMbo  OR ....

Bloody hell, can you believe I've actually FORGOTTEN the other one ....  It was REALLY good too, even better than Sylvester.  I KNEW I should have text it to myself ...  I shall text myself now to remind myself to ask SD to remind me what it was I forgot ...

What would YOUR sheep name be?  Can YOU come up with any FB quizzes as good as that one?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

I Did It MY Way ...

I've always been know as the 'Arty' one.  You know, the one who maiden Aunts talk about in loud whispers out of the corner of their mouths at family gatherings with exaggerated lip curling and much head nodding in my direction.

'You know - Sarah ...  That one over there ...  The inappropriately dressed one ...  Freakishly tall ...  Yes, THAT one - the 'ARTY one ....'

Anyway, I've kind of run with this.  I accepted from a very early age that I was never going to be the clever one or the one least likely to embarrass you in public or even the COOL one.

My lot in life was to be the 'Arty', 'Freakishly tall' 'Inappropriately dressed' slightly 'Embarrassing' one and I like to think I've embraced my calling wholeheartedly.

I'm fairly sure that SD, my children and anyone who's ever had the misfortune of being seen in public with me will agree that the one thing I am NOT is a half hearted person.

I've exposed myself to many of my neighbours.  I've dressed inappropriately on many occasions most notably at formal dinner parties and school events and, more recently on a trip to Tesco Express with Miss Mac on a late night dash for emergency chocolate.

It was late and cold and Gus needed a pee.  Now in MY book there is no earthly reason why I shouldn't wear Miss Macs Funky Monkey aged 12 dressing gown out whilst I walk the dog.  It makes perfect sense to me.  It's thin enough to fit under a jacket.  It has a hood so my ears don't get cold and, best of all, it has a ZIP!!

I consider it bloody ingenious to have a zip on a dressing gown don't you?  Those damned cords are ALWAYS coming undone at the very moment you are having a peaceful cup of tea in the garden and your neighbour comes out to hang the washing don't you find ...

Anyway, the main bonus of having a zip on a dressing gown is that you can tuck your hot water bottle into your leggings, zip your dressing gown over the top and it holds it in place.


Generally ....

I'd managed to sneak out with funky money on and hot water bottle in place without Miss Mac noticing due to the fact that I'd craftily put my coat on over the top while she wasn't looking.

All was going well, the chocolate was purchased and we were on the home straight.  In profile I may have looked a little rotund but no one seemed to have noticed.

Chocolate in one hand I passed some money to the lovely young man on whom Miss Mac has a slight crush.  And, as he returned my change he dropped it!

In my haste to catch the falling coins I lurched forward resulting in a loud sloshing noise, my leggings lost their grip on the hot water bottle and it slipped from it's snug position and due to the lycra content of my leggings plummeted to groin level where it hung, swaying in the breeze like an over sized apron of flesh resting on my thighs.

We looked at each other this young and handsome cashier and I ... he glanced at my groin ... I looked at his ....


I was powerless.

My hands were full.

Miss Mac had run sobbing out into the night.

A queue was forming behind me.

I turned slowly, hanging my head in shame and left the building the heat of the hot water bottle scalding my legs as it bounced noisily  and apparently joyfully  with each step under the watchful and horrified gaze of 7 strangers.

So ANYWAY - as well as all THAT, did you know I write poetry??

It's TRUE!

And I bake!

Now I make a pretty mean cake (in a GOOD way) but I have to admit, I'm totally shit at icing.  My attempts were once described as from the ... school of cake decorating - Actually, I CAN'T tell you the word because when they said it I had no idea what it was so I had to google it and I then spent the next hour trying to erase all the links to it from my computer just in case it broke down and I had to take it in for repair.

What I WILL tell you is that the word begins with a B, ends in an E and has a couple of K's in the middle (now hopefully like me you will have no idea what this word is).

So, the whole point of this post was to show you how I've combine my amazing skills with a little help from Frank ...

My Way

And now, the cakes are here
And so I face the final icing
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've beaten eggs
I sieved each and ev'ry item
And more, much more than this, so now please just bit'em

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, there's been much tension
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each masterpiece, oh god, I hope you like'em
And more, much more than this, so now please just bit'em

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
You'd bitten off more than you could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
You ate it up, didn't spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of carnage
And now, as tears subside, I survey the damage
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no not me, I did it my way

For what IS a woman, what HAS she got?

If not her cakes, then she has naught
To express herself through butter cream and fondant fancies
The record shows, I took the blows and did it my way

Yes ...  this was MYYYYYYYY way ...

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

From The Archives - Things YOU Wouldn't Do ...

Anyone that's been reading my blog for a while has probably already seen this post so feel free to walk on by if you have.

Now today is a bit of a funny day for me.  Not as in funny ha ha, just a bit .... Hmmm ...

It occurred to me that it might be a bit of a Hmmm day for you too and it might just do you good to have a laugh at my expense.

I also found myself googling burlap just now and, as Joe will tell you - ain't nobody got time for one of those crappy crafting posts which I wont finish anyway so instead, I bring you THIS!!!

Things YOU Wouldn't Do

Yesterday after a conversation with a friend, I suggested that my next blog post could be something along the lines of the things I've done that normal people probably wouldn't.

When he said 'That would be an incredibly long blog post ....' I have to admit to being slightly affronted!

Bloody cheek!

How dare he.

How dare he be so ...

So ...

SO. ...


I'm FULL of great ideas.

That's why Thursday evening found me straddling a sheep as it repeatedly smacked the crap out of my face with it's bony little head.

Remember I told you a couple of weeks ago that we were going to get a cute little lambykin to keep the goat company?

Cute little lambykins grow people - cute little lambykins bloody grow!!!

Not only had that cute little sucker almost doubled in size in the last two weeks - she is now slightly bigger than my dog Gus and twice his weight but she had also been out in the field and suddenly wasn't quite so people friendly.  Added to which she was extremely pissed off at having her ears tagged that morning.

A couple of weeks ago when she had been cute and cuddly and tried climbing out of the pen so I could scratch her behind the ears it had all seemed like such a doddle.  She was going to sit on my lap on the way to the farm while I told her tales of how lovely life was going to be as she frolicked in the paddock with her soon to be big sis the nanny goat.

Cue reality check!!

I got into the back of the van and opened my arms for a woolly little bundle of fluffiness and Will (who's bastard sheep it was) heaved this thrashing mass of pissed off mutton with flailing legs into my arms.


I grabbed a hank of oily wool in each hand and looked into it's mean little eyes - 'GET OFF MY EFFING FOOT YOU BASTARD' I crooned lovely in it's fluffy little ear.

It headbutted me.


It headbutted me again.


It headbutted me again, shat on my foot and then SAT on it!!!

Will (the bastard)  had been watching all this with great amusement eventually stepped in and said 'try this' as he whipped her head around to the side and appeared to almost insert it up her rectum.

I tried it.

She headbutted me.

'Ok, try THIS' he said not even trying to control his mirth and he picked up one of her legs and held it under her belly.

I tried it.

She headbutted me.

'Hang on' said Will and he disappeared for a couple of minutes and returned with a paper feed sack.

He popped it over her head and half her body.

'That should calm her down he said'.


Then she headbutted me.

Next followed the longest 20 minutes of my entire life as we drove to the farm.

I was hanging off my seat with my legs clamped around her fat little belly.  One hand gripping her wool so tightly my hand still hurts, the other holding the bag over her head as she shouted really loudly in my ear and smacked me in the face every couple of seconds.

SD of course thought I was making a fuss about nothing!!

Ive no idea what the people in the car that pulled up beside us at the lights thought but I could see them all looking on in opened mouthed horror at this screaming harpy in the back of a van who appeared to be riding a large thrashing, paper bag as it bleating frantically and she shouted 'keep still you little fucker unless you want me to shove your head right back up you arse again!'

And if your day has been a bit Hmmm then hopefully this has helped  ....

Monday, 23 February 2015

Regrets? I've had a few ...

There are many things I would change if I could go back in time.

I'm not of the opinion that one should have no regrets. If you have regret you have lived. Maybe not always wisely or even well but you have lived.

A life with no regrets suggests to me that you took no risks, never considered that you made mistakes and, well, we ALL make mistakes don't we?

So yes, I would change many things were I given that time again.

But we aren't and so we live with those regrets, make peace with ourselves for the mistakes we have made and, if we wish to move on, we try to find ways to forgive those who have mistakenly or even deliberately hurt us.

There are times where I allow scenarios to run through my mind.

If I had said, done, been something other than myself.  If I had been able to predict what would happen as a result of my thoughts, words, actions ...

How differently would things have turned out?  How would my life have been different?  How did my behaviour affect the lives of others?

I don't know the answers, I just have the scenarios, a projected interpretation of my own mind based on the way I wish things were.

Today may seem like an odd day for such reflection.

Today is my eldest son's Birthday.

Today Big D turns 31.

He's not 31 yet, he was born at 12:20pm just in time for lunch which is fitting really as he does and always has loved his food.

I was 17 when I became pregnant with big D.  It wasn't something I planned.  It wasn't something I had ever considered.  I wasn't one of those girls that people would ever have thought would become pregnant at such a young age.

Becoming a mother so early meant that there were many things I didn't do.

I didn't go to University, I didn't even take my A'levels until Big D was at school and I went back to college.

I didn't travel or spend my 20's clubbing with my friends.  I didn't have a string of inappropriate relationships or learn to drive a car or even sleep until lunchtime if I felt like it.

I didn't do any of the things that I wish so much for my daughter (well, other than the inappropriate relationships!).


I don't regret a single moment of being Big D's mother.

I wasn't made to be a mother.  I wasn't that child who played with dolls, the one who tucked her babies up and pushed them around in a child size pram.  I had given no thought to becoming a mother even when I knew it was going to happen I still couldn't conceive how it would feel.

Big D was born 3 weeks early.  A tiny 5lb 9 1/2oz baby with a low temperature that meant he was whipped away to spend 6 hours in a specially heated incubator within minutes of his birth.

I didn't have that overwhelming sense of love you hear about when I first saw him.  I didn't feel an instant recognition when he was placed in my arms.  I did feel an overpowering sense of responsibility.

I knew that it was my job to take care of him.  I didn't question it and I never resented it.

Big D was a text book baby.  He woke and ate every 4 hours and slept between those times.  He was happy and contented, such an easy baby to look after.

For the first couple of months of his life I held him, fed him, changed him, winded him, bathed him.  I did all the things he needed me to do for him to survive, for him to be comfortable and I felt very little other than responsible.

There was a moment when all of that change.

When I looked at this tiny human being that I had helped to create and my heart cracked open and so much love poured out that I was totally overwhelmed.

I remember sitting with him in my arms, tears pouring down my face as his little face screwed up with pain from colic wishing that I could take that pain away, that I could bear that pain for him and feeling so damned guilty that I hadn't until that moment realised just how much I loved him.

Nothing has changed since that moment.  I've made some terrible mistakes as a parent.  I haven't always been the mother Big D deserves.  I have regrets, there are things I wish I could go back and change.

There are things I wish I'd done, things I wish I hadn't done, things I wish I'd done differently.

There are things I will always regret.

But I don't ever regret having Big D in my life.

Having him undoubtedly changed the course of my life.  There are things I haven't done, places I haven't been people I haven't met ...

None of them matter, none of them could compare to the joy, the love and the sense of rightness that being Big D's mum has given me.

Being his mum is a blessing and a privilege and I love him so much.

Happy Birthday Big D

Love always

Mum xxx

Saturday, 21 February 2015

I Like A Bit Of Stuffing

I'm going to do something I've never done before with this post.

I'm going to SCHEDULE it!!!

I'm actually going to schedule it for 11:43 today because I'm far too impatient to wait for more than an hour.

The reason why I'm scheduling it will become clear later this month and I hope to god it work because otherwise I'm stuffed ...

Anyway, yesterday SD took me out for the day and he took me to Poundstretchers - I know, I am TOTALLY spoilt!

Actually, Poundstretchers has been a bit of a revelation to me, It's like Poundland and Liddl, seriously, don't turn your nose up until you've tried them.

So anyway, there we were in Poundstretcher buying Dentifrice au Flour for Renforce les dents and Gout Tres Frais which is basically toothpaste which you can also grout your bathroom with as well if my translation is correct at 50 frikken pence for a 100ml  tube (that's for Colgate peeps!) and I'd thought I was getting a good deal buying it in Poundland where it's only ...  well, It's a POUND isn't it!

Now please don't tell me that you've never picked something up in Poundland and asked how much it is because seriously, I WILL NOT believe you ...

Poundstretchers sell everything and I mean EVERYTHING!  You can actually buy TINNED HAM in there, I didn't even know that tinned ham had been produced since the 70's and I seriously considered buying some as a homage to my childhood.

They also sell stuffing.

Now as the title of this post suggests, I like me a bit of stuffing.

Yesterday they seemed to have had a shift around with the stock and so SD and I took one side of an aisle each as we scanned the shelves for that elusive sage and onion mix.

The aisles in Poundstretcher are fairly narrow.  SD and I collectively aren't particularly deep (I did debate if that should be wide but concluded that that would only matter if we faced up and down the aisle in which case I would take up several more inches than SD with his snake like hips) but back to back even our  our respectively shallow buttocks were definitely grazing each other.

Suddenly there was this NOISE - I was going to go for an analogy here - you know, the noise was like a ...  well, whatever ...

The noise was in fact exactly what it sounded like.

A HUGE fart - seriously, someone let rip like a like a lit match had just be thrown into a box of live fireworks (kudos for analogy please ...) the shock of it sent me head first into a stack of chicken and mushroom pot noodles while SD whipped round looking at me accusingly.


We both looked to the far end of the aisle where a solitary elderly TINY man dressed in beige stood totally unconcerned and apparently oblivious as he perused the Frey Bentos pies.

Could it have been him?  Was he totally unaware of the five gun salute that had just emanated from his backside? Was he perhaps deaf and had assumed it was a SILENT fart and no one would notice? Were his buttocks not still vibrating from the force of so much wind blasting past them?

How the hell had such a tiny man produced such a explosive sound or, had he in fact DEFLATED after expelling such a vast quantity of gas ...   Had he been a much LARGER man before the fart and was he like one of those vacuum packs that butchers put meat in which shrink as you extract the air ...

AND, if he was - what would happen if he farted again, would he actually be sucked, beige mac and all up his own anus???

These questions (and many others) were left unanswered as SD and I mutually (and silently) shuffled sideways up the aisle until we could make our escape and head for a restorative coffee.

By the way, much as it pains me to admit it SD was right ...

He was right that I shouldn't wear my slippers in the garden ...

I don't think I'd ever even owned a pair of slippers before I stole SD's (which I then owned and they were technically slipper sock type things anyway) and ruined them by wearing them in the garden ..

Anyway, to cut a long story short - wore mine in the garden - they got wet - now they stink (which is EXACTLY what SD said would happen!) and I think I'm going to have to bin mine and steal his again ...

Also - Big D just phoned me, the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello - hello - hello ...

Big D: Why did you say hello 3 times?

Me: Because it took you ages to answer

Big D: I didn't answer, I called you remember?

Me:  I mean it took you ages to answer when I said hello

Big D: You're weird

Me: If I am I got it from my children

Big D: You don't get things from your children, THEY get things from you

Me: That's blatantly untrue - every single one of my children has given me nits at some point!

Big D: Bye then ...

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Five Things I Love About You

Is the title of a blog post I read the other day.

I know,  I could EASILY come up with five things I love about SD, actually, I could probably come up with fifteen or fifty or maybe even fifty five at a push ...

But I'm not going to because frankly, it would bore you ...  and you would think I was smug ...  and if SD ever read this then he would DEFINITELY be smug ... and then I might have to kill him ...

One thing I DO love about SD though is  his understanding of CREAM!

Now one of my pet hates is it when you go out for a meal, you dress up especially wearing something with an elasticated waistband so you can stuff your face with impunity (and everything else they have on the menu) - you order triple chocolate cheesecake WITH cream and when your longingly anticipated desert turns up you get this artistically drizzled trickle of cream over the top like a frigging cow has accidentally pissed in the direction of your pudding.

Cream teas - that's another one that gets me!

If I've paid a fiver for a cream tea I want:

a) TWO bloody scones NOT one please (and I 'd like it plain NOT fruit!) and

b) Enough clotted cream to sink a battleship (and seriously, don't ever try palming me off with that disgusting squirty stuff!) - I want it to ooze out of the sides every time I take a bite and land in a big dollop on my lap whereupon I WILL scrape it off my lycra clad thigh, spread it back on to my scone and eat it because where cream is concerned I HAVE NO SHAME!

Anyway, as I said, SD understands cream despite being a bit of a health and fitness freak and we agree that if you're going to have it then a 50/50 ratio of cream to pudding is about right which I  think is a pretty good basis for a relationship don't you agree?

The other thing that I think is important in a relationship (and I AM an expert in relationship matters - I've even considered setting myself up as some sort of relationship consultant or something as you will see if you care to pop over and take a look at this post) is having the same views on romance.

I know, I know, you're thinking, 'not another bloody Valentines posts, she's already brought us a crappy crafting post on chocolate roses this week - enough is enough!'  Actually, having made about 3 dozen of the bloody things I'd be inclined to agree with you!

'But it's Valentines Day on Saturday ...'  I want to bleat pathetically (and yep, well, this is my blog and I'll bleat on write about what the hell I like ok ...).

Long time readers will probably have seen my Purple Donut Of Love post from last year with it's represational art (most of which fell off) and my empty biscuit tin - if you haven't then you can read about it here or, if you can't be bothered then THIS my friends is last years Valentines card:


and (shortly) after ..
With and without the purple donut of love, the pink ... umm, heart?? and detachable balls ...

 Très romantic don't you agree?

I think SD was worried about how he was going to top that one this year, I mean I berated him  talked about it SO much and was SO completely gobsmacked appreciative he knew he was going to have to pull something special out of the bag this year to compete.

So he had a chat with a year 7 yesterday who has come up with a prototype for this year's card:

I am indeed blessed ...

Oh, and I almost forgot!

I promised Stephen (and anyone else who expressed an interest) my wannabe Wookiee photo so here it is:

Wouldn't YOU be proud to be seen with me in public??

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Rubbish Tuesday

It's been a while since I joined in with Roan for Rubbish Tuesday.

This is what Roan has to say about Rubbish Tuesday:

My idea was to have a place to post 'old things'. Anything old
and/or deteriorating such as, but not limited to, old houses, barns, outbuildings, old cars, rusty things, antiques, interesting junk, or it can be something in pristine condition, but just old.

Last weekend I helped a friend clear out a shed in his Mothers garden.  

She has recently moved into sheltered accommodation and there was 40 odd years worth of junk and treasure to wade through.  Most of it really was junk or things that were past saving but, mixed in with this were some real treasures some of which I'm helping to clean up to sell and some which he was kind enough to say I could keep.

My post today is about THIS  particular treasure:

I was so excited to find this cider crate, we also found a wooden Coca Cola crate which my friend is keeping for himself.  I will try to get a photo of it at some point.

Wooden crates have become very popular over the years with interior designers and this has filtered down to the average household but to discover an original tucked away in a shed is an amazing find.

the original metal fixings are rusted but still strong

inside you can still see the marks where
 the cider bottles were
There is a little damage to the base of the crate

Now I'm a bit of a google addict, I like to know things, I'm interested in things and so I did some homework on this crate and the origins of Coates cider.

I found this article which I am lifting in it's entirety as it gives an excellent account of Coates Cider and it's founder Revers Coate.

Coates Cider

Altogether now "Coates comes up from Somerset, where the cider apples grow"

"It's more than 75 years since the famous Coate's cider was first made in the village of Nailsea near Bristol - and a quarter of a century since of a century since production ended".
For people living outside the West Country Coate's cider meant cartoon yokels announcing in rich Wurzel accents that "Coate's comes up from Zummerset", where the zider apples grow" in a TV commercial. It was an inspired marketing move, especially as the jingle was based on the popular "We Come Up from Somerset" by the great Portishead songwriter Fred Wetherley Coate's did indeed come up from Somerset and it was Redvers Coate, the company founder who did as much as anyone to move Somerset cider from the fields and into the cities.

Redvers CoateBy the end of the Great War, cider was in decline. In 1887, Parliament had banned the traditional practice of paying farm workers in cider (two quarts a day) and the growth in French wine drinking was hitting sales hard. Coate, a graduate of Bristol University was looking for a job in 1924, a time when Gloucester, Devon and Herefordshire ciders were being nationally marketed but Somerset products were scarcely known outside the county.

He knew little about cider making so worked unpaid for a year at the Long Ashton Cider Research Institute before borrowing enough from family, and friends to open a cider works at Nailsea. He was just 23 years of age.

The staff comprised Coate, foreman Charlie Higgins from Williams Cider, Backwell; Cooper Sid Summers, cellar man Jack Allsop, clerk and later company secretary, Frank Matthews, Bill Baker and a man called Iles.

Redvers Coate had installed the most up to date equipment in his one sheds, including three glass lined vats holding 10,000 gallons each. The expensive gamble paid off at the end of the first year, Coate's cider took three first prizes at the National Cider Competition.

There were problems, of course. The new company was beginning to build up a market in local pubs when the big breweries extended the tied house principle from beers to ciders as well. That meant Coate's having to negotiate new contracts with the major suppliers. Apples were bought from local farmers who usually made their own ciders, but they had to be persuaded to grub out centuries of old trees and replace them with new varieties.

But by the start of the Second World War, Coate's was beginning to make a name nationally Sales rose in wartime thanks to beer rationing and Coate's was soon employing up to 125 staff at busy times. Every day at 12.30 p.m., there was a tasting session when the product was checked against previous years' ciders and against competitors' drinks. It was that kind of quality control which led to a Brewers Exhibition Champion Gold Medal and further growth to become the second largest cider producer in Britain.

By 1956, Coate's was enjoying a record year and the Showering brothers of Shepton Mallet, who had really hit the jackpot by selling pear cider (perry) as trendy Babycham, took over the company. Redvers Coate, then chairman of Somerset Cider Makers, stayed on as managing director as ShoweringsCider Tankardtransferred all cider production to Nailsea and invested in new buildings and machinery on the 13 acre site.

"For the first time in the centuries of long history of cider making, it can be said that never again will one vintage Somerset cider apple be wasted" said Showerings boss Herbert Showering. Redvers Coate described the merger as "a dream come true for me" and added: "This is a really big event in the history of Somerset cider". "We shall now see to it that good advertising and marketing support is used for Somerset cider which is one of the world's most natural and healthy drinks".

Production and staff both doubled and by the 1960s, Coate's was exporting worldwide and buying apples from more than 1,000 Somerset farmers. Redvers Coate retired in 1969 and two years later, Showering merged the company with Gaymers and Whiteways. Then, in the early 1970s, production was switched to a new plant at Shepton Mallet employing just 70 people. By 1975, the Nailsea factory was closed and the site was eventually sold to Marconi Avionics.

Redvers Coate, master cider maker, died at his home in Abbots Leigh on June 13 1985, after a serious illness. He was 84 years of age.

He had lived and developed the cider orchards in Manor Road.

Isn't that a great story?

So far all I have done is give the crate a clean with a stiff churn brush to get the cobwebs and dirt off but I'm hoping to restore it a little.  I don't want to take away any of it's charm or make it perfect, just to clean it up, maybe find a way of bringing out the colours of the wood and the lettering and then to find the perfect place for it in my home.

I'm hoping that someone might have some pointers on the best way to go about this (I'm thinking you might have some ideas Emma Kate ...) because it really does deserve to be treated with a little respect having survived so long and having been so unloved.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Sometimes I Text Myself ...

I've mentioned before that I often text snippets to myself as the basis for blog posts.  I've also mentioned that I often forget what the hell I was talking about ...

On my phone at the moment are the following:

Existential crisis


Bob Marley

The bollock of knowledge

Toilet roll

Source material

Eloise the damned


Beautiful South

Princess Leia - and a beer for the Wookiee

And, to be honest, I can't really remember what most of them were originally about ...

In order, I think Miss Mac was banging on about having some kind of existential crisis when she received her English Language GCSE result.  She had been predicted to get an A/A* when she took it several months early before Christmas and was distraught when her grade came back and it was a B.

Now I'm not too unhappy with that, it's a real shame that she didn't get her predicted grade but a B is a good pass and, as she plans on doing English as an A'level it will make the GCSE superfluous at some point anyway.  But I think it was a wake up call for her that a subject that she should have excelled at didn't give her the expected grade.  As it happens her paper is being sent back for re grading as her school believes it should be an A so we shall see and there is always the option to re-take in June if she wishes.

Panda is I think something to do with Miss Mac's cat Bear (he of little brain) who was so called because Miss Mac thought he looked like a panda bear cub when he was a kitten.  Now I promised Holly a photo of Bear so she could see how like her cat Spud he was:

This is Spud Hollys' cat (photo pinched from Hollys blog that you can find here)

And this is Bear (who incidentally I once knocked out with a Spud which makes them even more similar! You can read that story here if you like):

slightly fuzzy but this is Bear with Eddie

Bob Marley was something to do with Miss Mac saying that Bear was like the Bob Marley of cats he was so laid back (I still miss that annoying little sucker ...).

So, The Bollock Of Knowledge ...

Hmmm, well I can't recall the exact conversation I had with SD but it was something along the lines of him being a geek (something he strenuously denies declaring that he is far too charming, funny and good looking to ever be considered a geek ...) and his small planet like brain ( his words, not mine).  But seriously, we were debating where he keeps all this stuff, he knows so much stuff about ...  Well, so MUCH stuff!  You can see for yourself the direction that conversation took ...

Toilet Roll - SD and I were at the supermarket the other night discussing the merits of various toilet rolls as you do.  He's a buy it in bulk type where as I prefer something with a little more quality.  I've tried getting it through to him that if you 'buys cheap you buys more' but he doesn't believe it.  Anyway, it's my toilet roll and my bum that it's for so I go for the good stuff.  After some (slightly heated) debate SD grabbed the pack I insisted on with a kind of impatient swinging motion and, as the pack swag forward the force shot 3 rolls of 4 ply out of a previously unseen hole in the bottom of the pack and they sailed up the aisle like skittles taking out a toddler and crashing into a display of valentines chocolates at the end (one of those things where you really HAD to be there ...).  I laughed lots, SD and the toddlers parents (he was FINE) not so much ...

Source material, ummm, yep ....  Well that was parents evening last week ...

Now I try REALLY hard at school event not to do, say or wear anything too embarrassing but I often fail (see here and here - there are other examples ...) so I looked in my wardrobe for inspiration in the vain hope that there would be something suitably sober hanging there, there wasn't really and as was pointed out to me, people have certain expectations so I shouldn't really disappoint them anyway.

So, I was chatting to her Geography teacher who was banging on at great length about stuff.  So much so that my mind started to drift a little.  He spent quite a lot of time talking about the importance of source material and I hadn't had any tea before we left ...  and it was getting late ... and all I could think about was tomato sauce and how I could really go for a hot dog right now ...

Eloise The Damned - guessing this was back at 80's night and this was playing:

Burp - no idea at all ... not one ....

Beautiful South - back to 80's night and a song I love partly because despite spending almost no money on it, it has what I consider to be one of THE BEST videos ever.  Check it out here:

Princess Leia and a beer for the Wookiee - Hmmm, SD's friends love to party and invariably this involves a fancy dress theme.

SD is hanging out for a Star Wars theme so he can go as Princess Leia - I KNOW but he reckons I get to be a princess the rest of the time so it's his turn and to be honest, he probably WOULD make a great princess Leia so I don't have a problem with that.  My problem is that he wants me to be his Wookie:

Because he says I'm the right height but mostly because he wants to order a drink at the bar and say 'and a beer for the Wookiee'

So yep, that's what I've been texting myself lately - does anyone else do that?  Do you remember what the hell you were talking about?  Have you knocked over any small children with toiletries lately, been likened to a tall, hairy humanoid from the planet Kashyyk, eaten a hot dog?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Chocolate, Crafting and Crates

I don't usually write crafting posts, mostly because I never finish anything.  I've got a load of half finished projects ranging from box make overs to my bathroom which is still all white rather than the sophisticated grey I intend it to be one day.


I'm going to share something with you that I DID finish!

I recently found a blog called The Pin Junkie  basically it does what it says on the tin.  She's addicted to Pinterest.

I actually joined Pinterest about 2 years ago but I've never pinned anything or even actually logged in.  I figure I have a big enough Internet addiction without adding that to it.

Anyway, The Pin Junkie throws a party once a week where people link up posts that they've pinned (I think that's how it work anyway) and I have been looking through them.


Seriously, I'm in awe.

Ok, to cut a long story short (ish), Miss Mac is on the Prom committee.  The idea is to raise as much money as possible toward their Prom to bring down the ticket prices for each person.

So far I've made a shed load of cakes and they also had other fundraisers over Christmas.

Now Valentines Day is coming up next week so when I saw this idea for making chocolate roses I thought great, looks simple enough, lets give it a go!

All you need is:

Wooden skewers - I got a pack of 50 bamboo flower sticks from Poundland.

Coloured tissue paper - I chose pink rather than red but you could do them any colour.

Florist tape - or any tape really but florists tape looks a little more authentic (top tip - rather than trawl through town looking for the stuff try going into an actual florist's to get some ...)

Foil cover chocolate hearts (the original post uses Hershey Kisses but I couldn't get them) - Sainsburys are selling little nets of these at £1 for 10 but I decided to make my own.

Artificial leaves - or, if like me you are a cheapskate prefer a more authentic look and have a bay tree in the garden then snip off some leaves, they keep their colour and freshness for several weeks after being cut (yes, I did say WEEKS), are a fairly similar shape to rose leaves and they smell nice too.

To make the roses this is what you need to do:

Make your chocolate hearts if you aren't using ready made ones.  Do this by melting chocolate in a heatproof bowl over water ensuring that the bowl doesn't actually touch the water (no idea why this is important but apparently it is).  I bought some great  Fin Carre chocolate from Lidll, it was 35p (seriously!!) for 100g which made about 10 chocolates.  It may be cheap to buy but it's pretty good chocolate, a little sweet but still good quality.

I also bought a silicone chocolate mould from Asda for £2.

I made 10 yesterday and then realised that the batteries on my camera had run out so I had to recharge them before I could take photos, I may have eaten one or two (or 8) chocolates while I waited ...

Then wrap the chocolates in foil - if anyone knows where to buy coloured foil then please let me know but the ordinary household silver stuff is fine:

Then cut a square of tissue paper approximately 8cm square and place the heart in the middle.  Gather the tissue paper around it and then, with the pointy bit of the heart at the top, get the wooden skewer and place it inside the tissue paper resting in the top groove of the heart (all will hopefully be clear in the photo!).  Gather the tissue paper around the skewer and tape into place with the florist tape.  Continue the tape right down to the bottom of the skewer and break off:

The shape of the heart up side down makes a pretty good rosebud 

The original post says to incorporate the leaves as you wrap the skewer but I found this a bit fiddly and so added them after:

And voila!

Really simple to make and they cost very little  - I spent less than £6 in total in including the silicone mould (but excluding the chocolate) and I have enough of everything (except chocolate) to make loads more.

They aren't perfect but I got better the more I made and I'm pretty pleased with they way they turned out.

I reckon that Miss Mac and friends could sell them for £1 each at school and raise a good amount of money toward that Prom.

Oh, and if you are wondering where the crates come into this - well, I've decided to give that a post of it's own.

I'm going to link this post up with Ann from Help!!  I'm Stuck for things I know this week.

Now Valentines D

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Freda's Story - And Now To Work part 2

This is the second part of the story of Freda's working life.

Part one can be found here

And the other parts of her story so far can be found here:

The Early Days

My Parents

School Days

The next part of Freda's story which I will post next week centres around her travel from holidays here in England to visiting the Vatican.

Once, we were on duty, from 6pm to 6am. Our sleeping quarters were right on the top floor of our warehouse at Eastgate. Not an ideal place, but we accepted the situation. I must add, we spent most of our time playing cards and afterwards would send out for fish and chips. Mr Sutcliff (the chip shop owner) would keep them back for us and no coupons were required. There was much laughter and thankfully we were never called into action, only when practice runs were arranged and everyone had to know what to do. I had my moments.

On one occasion the alarm went and we all reached for our helmets and boiler suits. Now I was quite plump and they had picked out the biggest suit for me. Alas I was short too and with the long legs and arms of the suit, I had great difficulty in running to my place. The warden in charge took one look at me and said “You, girl, go back to the shelter, as you’re no good to me like that!” It was a grim Freda that night and caused quite a bit of laughter. But that’s the way it was. Later my sister cut and stitched the arms and the next practice night went better.

Looking back on those evenings, they were some of the pleasantest nights of the war. We were on duty one Christmas night and though we all moaned about it, it had to be done. The evening turned out better than we thought. My Mother, bless her, cooked a large chicken, and we did roast potatoes in the oven that was in the room that was used as a canteen. With mince pies that the girls had brought, we had a real Christmas evening. Luckily there were no sirens that night.

Another memorable night, we were woken by a continuous noise early on in the evening. Looking out of the window, we saw tank after tank and lorries full of men trundling up over the hill and onto the A38. This went on for ages. Little did we know it then, but we found out later they were on their way preparing for D-day and the Normandy landings. One night I shall look back on with some pride.

And so the war went on, and the factory followed the fortunes of our boys who were called up so quickly. It was amazing. They all came back except one and he was not killed by enemy action, he was accidentally shot on the shooting range whilst they were practicing. We all mourned for Ivor.

 We went through some hard times when the order books were empty and we all got a bit worried about our jobs. It was then Mr Besley, one of our favourite bosses, called us together and put the situation to us. I can still remember his closing words at the meeting.

 He said, “We are in this together. All I ask is that you put every effort into the work and we shall get through this crisis.”

It must have inspired all concerned because a few months later we were on our way up.

The management had got it together and orders were coming in and we survived.

After the war, nylon and terralin came on the market and the factory took on the new product and threads were produced for the fishing net making industry. It was an exciting time and soon we were making and supplying nylon and terralin threads to the net making firm at Bridport Gundry, who were known as net makers to the world. It proved beneficial to both mills, as with only a few miles between us, it meant that threads could be delivered quickly. At that time, there was quite a lot of business between the two places, Bridport and Taunton, and many exciting and important issues unfolded.

One memorable occasion was the world cup in 1966. The goal nets used at the Wembley venue were made at Bridport, but most importantly, the twine used in this making was ‘twisted and thrown’ at Pearsells in Taunton. The men involved in the spin and throw actually believed they were entitled to a cup final ticket but of course, that never happened. But it was a blow when they heard the directors were there. Ah well, you can’t win them all.

The nets at Wimbledon too started their life at Pearsalls and we made and produced mending twine for several Scandinavian countries. It was good to be involved in this new and exciting product and so the firm prospered.

I was involved in the making of surgical sutures and spent quite a bit of time on the braiding machine that produced them. Three nights a week, I worked with the night shift worker, Len, preparing the machines for the night run. I worked from 6 until 8, it was quite an amazing time and I became quite an authority on sutures as my day job was involved with the sutures too. I remember when I started at fourteen, there were only about thirty heads making sutures and after the Second World War there were 400 or more producing sutures and we made and supplied them all over the world and I felt a sense of involvement which gave me quite a kick. This might sound a bit over the top but I was young and enthusiastic and wanted to know as much as I could.

On a very special day quite out of the blue, my foreman and works manager recommended me as a supervisor and I took on a new role. The machines I knew well were moved to a little original factory built in 1816 by a man called George Rowlinson who came to Taunton during or just after the Luddite rebellion. He first went to Exeter with a Mr Heathcote. I haven’t heard what exactly happened but Mr Heathcote went on to Tiverton and established a factory there on the banks of the River Exe. Mr Rowlinson came back to Taunton and built a factory on Tancred Street, It had quite a piece of land in front of it and cottages were built for workers with two rooms up and two rooms down. The
toilets were shared and built within the area, not ideal but that’s how things were in those days.

It was amazing that families were brought up in these little buildings. During the second world war the little factory was taken over by the government. Stores and buildings were erected to house firemen who had suffered in the blitz in London and other cities.

Now back in use, I was put in charge of the top floor of this historic building and I spent many happy years there. It was quite an event when it was decided to build an extension to the factory on ground joining the existing one.

And so in the seventies the new factory took shape and was officially opened and new and modern machinery from Italy was installed. Soon they were up and running. It was good to be involved in such a project.

 Later I was made the training officer for the firm which meant that I dealt with all the new intakes. This was quite varied as some were older folk but the most interesting ones were young folk straight from school. Being with these young folk and assessing their potential was very rewarding and very helpful to the works manager. I soon set up a rapport with them and some settled more quickly than others. We were very keen to help backward teenagers but we were always able to fit them in somewhere.

I had a couple of challenges one of which was with two severely deaf boys. I am pleased to say they both turned out as excellent workers. Having a deaf mother, I was able to communicate with them well.

Later I was put in charge of Women’s Welfare and Accidents, so all in all it made my day to day job interesting.

With such a challenging job, the days went quickly and it would be very difficult to write down the many events that happened, some serious but quite a lot funny. Humour was abundant always. As you can guess, the factory always produced quite a range of characters and we had plenty of those. They made the working day very rewarding, gave one a lift sometimes when things were a bit grim.

One of the most satisfactory incidents took place in the seventies. The factory received an order from Syria for thousands of pounds worth of surgical sutures. It was one of the biggest orders ever received and the finished product revolved around my department. There was a penalty clause in the contract that the order had to be finished and delivered within a limited amount of months. A challenge indeed! I remember, with other members of staff, meeting the Syrian rep. who had placed the order and much to my surprise, the boss had told them my department was the finishing department and a lot depended on how we tackled it. He seemed quite impressed and presented me with a brass plate, made in Damascus. It still has pride of place over the mantle piece in my dining room.

He also gave gifts to other members of staff who were involved, but secretly I knew I had an excellent choice.

And so began the great push to get the product going. My team of girls were just great and I have always thought along the lines, “if you can work up enough enthusiasm, it rubs off on others” and it certainly worked for us. We managed to finish the contract with three weeks to spare. It was exciting to see the van being loaded. It was a very big one as the Syrians wanted the whole of the consignment to be delivered overland so that meant a long journey. Then something happened to give us all a shock.

Dockers went on strike!!! Our van full of exports was at Dover waiting for official documents from the Syrian embassy. The driver knew that whilst his van was in England, the penalty clause was still held. Luckily, he used his initiative to phone the Syrian embassy, telling them he was taking the last ferry out and telling them to fly the documents over to Calais. This they did and the van started the journey and a lot of relieved sales officers and directors breathed a sigh of relief. We waited for a few weeks to hear of the consignments arrival. One morning the boss came to my department with a big smile on his face, to tell my department the load of surgicals had arrived at the appointed place in Syria.

What a day that was! A tray of glasses of sherry appeared and we all shared the good news. Our efforts had been appreciated. It is at times like this that make your working day worth while and more so when you are deeply involved. I must add that the team of girls that worked under me at that time, were superb and had given everything to get this big consignment to its successful conclusion.

All in a days work!

Many months later, I received a letter from 10 Downing Street signed by Mrs Thatcher, the Prime Minister at that time. The letter informed me that I had been awarded the B.E.M (British Empire Medal) which was a very big honour indeed and such a surprise.

The letter also said it had been awarded for my services to industry, very exciting, but I thought whatever I did it was part of my job, never-the-less a big honour.

The letter stated I was to tell no one so I had to keep the secret for many weeks. Then one day, the Managing Director Mr Darley called me to his office to ask me if I had received the said letter. It was a big occasion and the news spread through the factory.

The only disappointment was, that it was a civil occasion and instead of the Queen presenting it, the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset had the honour. But I did get a letter from Queen Elizabeth, which I still treasure.

 It was a lovely occasion and I was able to invite all my girls, who worked so hard for me, and other friends and relations. A splendid meal was served, with champagne of course. My minister, The Rev’d Paul Hulme, did the devotions and read the citation. An exciting day and I received many cards and gifts and a special meal given by my church.

All of my social life was centred around the Temple Methodist Church and I was a keen worker in the Sunday School. Very rewarding it was too, and I loved being with the children 80-100 of them.

My dear friend Lilly Chidgey produced pantomimes. She wanted the children to know that the good Lord was with them in their fun and exciting things as well as being a follower of Christian belief. I helped in all the pantomime productions – there were 28 of them and very popular they were. Coaches came from all round Somerset to see our productions. I must say, they were very good and the children involved still remember these times today as some of the happiest times. I taught most of the dances and the singing. We made quite a bit of money for church projects. People would queue to get tickets. They were very hard to get but we had full houses all the week of the production and we kept going all through the war time days.

 Many interesting things happened, numerous funny ones and worrying ones too but
all in all, it is a time I remember with pride. So my social life was happy and very fulfilling
and it was grand to be involved in so many things with lovely friends but my working life
went on just the same.

My Father had died at the early age of 49 and left my dear Mother devastated.

My sisters married and were lucky in their chosen loves, both reaching their golden