Monday, 30 May 2011

Monday Meanderings

Hello and welcome back - I'm typing this in the hope that Blogger is behaving itself today.  I have about three posts which need editing but for some unfathomable reason once I've edited then Blogger refuses to let me post them.  Sigh.  Ah well.  Shall keep trying.

I've not much to say for myself today really.  The black dog is biting my arse again - vicious little git - and I find myself wanting to make a camp in the living room, with the duvet slung over the sofa and the chair and hide in there with a hot chocolate, my crochet and a good book.  I shall have to try reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeallly hard not to let this post descend into a 'woe is me pity-athon'.  Please forgive me for being a little self indulgent.  I blame ..erm.... hmm.... actually I can't find anything to blame.  Which makes depression all the more difficult to understand. 

I have everything I have ever wanted/needed in my life.   Wonderful, caring, gorgeous, sexy man who treats me like a princess - check.   Beautiful, happy, healthy children - check.  Job - check. (blah!).  Painfully small but very homely home full of the people/things I love - check.   So why can't I just be happy?  Answers on a post card (or the back of a diazepam packet) please.

Ugh.... what was I saying about self-indulgence?

Moving on.

I've been ho-way the Sunderlan' (ahem. Visiting Sunderland) since Thursday to see a rather sexy man band with my daughter and some friends.  We've had a fantastic time and saw them on opening night and second night - both from front barrier positions.  Rah! 

We were page 3 girls on Saturday.  The Mirror sported a pic of us on their page three posing with home made banners.  What a laugh!!  Made even funnier by the first text I received on Saturday morning to be from my ex-husband letting me know that fact.  I could sense the disapproval from all of those miles away!! hahahaha.  Ahem.

We had camped overnight which I hope goes some way to explaining our dishevelled appearance!!  Bet the boys were drooling over their branflakes when they spotted that little number whilst doing their press reviews!!  Not.

Camping was actually a lot better than I expected.  I'm old.  And arthritic.  And I don't do camping.  I need my creature comforts.  Like a toilet.   And it made the bones of my arse (yes they're under there somewhere) ache.  But apart from that - bouyed up by hot chocolate made on the camping stove at 3 in the morning and 27 layers of clothing - it was ok.  Would I do it again?  um...  in a heart beat!! 

Here's some pics:

Neil Tenant from the Pet Shop Boys - brilliant brilliant - got the place rocking in no time.


Smiley faces on front barrier - B stage

Ok now that's out of my system I won't mention them again ..... until I got to see them in Birmingham at the end of June.  Isn't it odd that at the same time I'm posting my Take That pictures I'm looking for day tickets to Sonisphere to see Slip Knot??!!  hahahahah.

See you soon!!! 

Friday, 20 May 2011

Faff-about Friday

Hello dahhlings


It's been a pretty pleasant day today here in the Black Country.  I've been crashing around the house. Crashing is the right word -  I forgot to mention but I've been signed off work for this last week with Labrynthitis which I think has stemmed from the virus I had to celebrate the Royal Wedding with.  Labrynthitis isn't pleasant at all.  It's an imbalance/infection in the middle ear and gives the effect of one having imbibed rather too many G&T's without having had the pleasure of actually reaching that state.  The anti biotics are working on the infection and the imbalance will right itself over time I guess, suffice to say I haven't strayed very far from home for fear of colliding with more random strangers than usual and having to explain why I am walking in a crab-like manner.  I know where I want to go.   I can see my target in front of me and fixate on it as my goal... but then I find myself taking a rather round-about route to get there.  Tis most disconcerting! 

Rather than procrastinating my day away, I've been taking lots of photographs of old clothes.



Just having a little pause there so that you can come to terms with the truly rollocking time I have in my rock'n'roll lifestyle.  Nope - I don't know how I cope with the excitement either!

Yes - it's free listing on ebay this weekend and I decided that enough was enough.... I have ridiculous amounts of clothes and shoes and bags simply hanging around the house, cluttering up precious space in our room and it's time to get brutal!  I used to trade on ebay quite a lot but it became such a faff!!  The constant photographing, thinking up witty descriptions for sale items, responding to buyer queries and... worst of all - packing it all up and posting it off!  Yawn. What a nightmare.  In fact - what on earth am I thinking of?!!  I must have about 40 items to list - it will take forever!

On the plus side however, it will be nice to see the old Paypal account swell again.  And I could get the bug for selling again couldn't I?  I have a divorce to fund after all!

I'm such a home-bird y'know.  Yes it's nice to go out and about and do things but I think I'm happiest when I'm here pottering (crashing) around our little home.  I'm relishing my time here today because this time next week I shall be standing on a (probably) cold, wet Sunderland pavement outside the Stadium of Light, and gearing up to do battle for front barrier with thousands of other like-minded Take That fans.  What on earth was I thinking?!

Random pics for today are of Minnie-cat.  She of the imperious nature and snub nose which makes her look like she's pouting all the time. 

Just as well my seedlings don't need any room to grow isn't it?!  Bloomin'animals!  Potty the lot of em.

I thank you.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Wanted: A Considerably Tighter Bottom.



I've had what's known in the trade as "one of those days" today.

It started well enough.  Coffee and the freebie paper in bed, being generally lazy, kids gone to school/college, and us planning what to do with our non-worky day.   Bliss. 

Me Man and I want a puppy.  A border collie pup to be precise.  We're keeping an eye out for rescue dogs of course but as I've wanted a dog of my own for the last 25 years and as I've waited so long, I really do want to stick out for for a puppy so that I (we) can experience the joys(!) of puppydom.  We check regularly online and in the local papers but they are soooooo expensive.  We're talking £200 minimum and up to £450.  There's no way we could afford (nor would contemplate) spending that much money so we're continuing to look.  We were poring over this morning's local paper and lo and behold, there were some Border Collie pups being advertised at £100.  Being a tad excited I called the given number but no reply.  So I text with the standard 'buying a pup' queries.  About ten mins later I got a reply saying that yes, she had two little boy pups left, wormed, not vacc'd as yet and still with Mum.... did I want to come and see them?   Do the bears sha-la-laaa in the woods??!  Mr B nearly had to stop me bouncing up and down on the bed in excitement.    Alas it all fell apart in the response to my next query "Great  - where do you live?"

"Lampeter in mid-Wales".

Flippin LAMPETER??!!  Two and a half hours away... and considerably longer for us as we don't have a car!!  Why advertise in a paper so far away?!  Gutted was not the word.  Oh - and as a parting shot after I told her we would have to decline because of logistics she responded "Oh we were in Wolverhampton with the pups just last night".

Well thanks.

Thanks a bunch.


So anyway... on the agenda for Mr B today was threatening Harriet (Honda) with a lump hammer  mechanics of a delicate nature which included technical stuff like "taking the carbs off".  Harriet is his beloved Honda VFR 400.  She's very pretty but incredibly petulant and has worked approximately once in the 14 months we've been together.  I despair.  He has the patience of a saint.  The carbs have been on and off more times than the drawers of a Lady of Ill Repute.   She still refuses to budge.   Mardy mare. 

The Lady of the House (ahem  - that's me, don't ya know!) decided to have a baking day.  I had some fresh peaches in the bowl - which were absolutely fine, - but were just at the stage where if you looked at them a bit funny they'd threaten to burst into penicillin.  So I ran at them with a big knife and taught em a lesson.  They turned into these!  Scrummy peach and vanilla muffins!

I had been inspired by Poohtle's award-winning Fig and Date Loaf see here ~~~~>  Poohtle's place    and unusually for me I had all of the ingredients in the cupboard thanks to the local health food shop and their knock-down prices shelf.  So I gave that a go too.  Whilst I was too darned impatient didn't have enough time to soak the fruit overnight, I gave it a good few hours stewing away in a nice strong bowl of Tetley.  It's turned out really nicely - apart from the fact that I left it in the oven too long and the edges are a little on the "spongey" side.  A good old slather of butter and no-one will be any the wiser.  Apart from you lot.  Shush now!! 

A couple of weeks ago I made James Martin's (swoon) cola cake.  My Mum had tried a piece of this delectation when she went to her hairdressers and declared it to be the best cake she'd ever tasted.  Well what a challenge!!  I located the recipe on the t'interweb and duly gave it a go.  It's a bit of a faff, but it didn't turn out too badly.  The longer you leave this cake the better it seems to get - although I would suggest consumption  prior to it growing tentacles or hair.  When I made it, I followed what I thought was the right recipe only to find out that the measurements for the liquid ingredients had been listed incorrectly.  I shoved a bit more flour in however and it turned out fine. 

Well today I decided that I'd have another go to see what it was like with the correct measurements of ingredients.  Clever me found the You Tube clip of James Martin actually preparing the cake  and I followed his destructions to the letter, whisking when he did, stirring when he did and pouting seductively when he did.  The mixture had the consistency of slurry.  I'm not kidding.  Consistency?  There WAS no consistency!  However looking at James' bottom as he put the cake in the oven James' version as he puts the cake into the oven proved THAT looks like slurry too.   And I played it back a few times to check.

SO... who was I to question?  I poured the mixture into the loose bottomed cake tin, whacked it into the oven, and went off to regale the chickens with my tales of woe and to inform them that as I had depleted our egg stock with my bakeathon then they needed to kindly get a move on with production.  Well....When I got back to the kitchen (waylaid en route by Mr B who wanted me to push his button) (ok then - Harriet Honda's start button) I noticed this.......

Doesn't bode well does it?

Holding a chair in front of me (think lion tamer) I opened the oven door.

And this had happened.

The peach and vanilla muffins didn't escape either! 

I can only say that my bottom isn't as tight as it used to be.  Bloody antique cake tin! It's let me down once too often.  The scrap metal man will be 3 whole pence better off tomorrow when he picks up the tin from the bottom of my drive! 

Ah well.

The cola cake eventually set/cooked/whatever and a load of chocolatey-splodge dumped on top disguises the worst of it. My son still loves it.  It will be eaten along with the spongey tea bread.

Not so sure about these though.  The result of a 'nearly end of cooking time telephone distraction'.

Oh, and whilst I think about it - If you're reading this blog James Martin, you can darn well come and clean my oven!!!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Weekend Catch Up

Hello my lovelies.

Yes I know it's Tuesday and the weekend is no'but a distant memory but it's the first chance I've had to sit and upload some photos that I know you'll all enjoy seeing.  This will be a picture heavy post but I make no apology for that - I do hope you enjoy them.   :)

We spent a really lovely hour or so on Saturday afternoon with my brother and sister-in-law visiting Stone House Cottage Nursery and Gardens, near Kidderminster.

Stone Cottage Garden, is one of those places that could be described as a 'hidden gem'.  Indeed one could be forgiven for simply driving past the entrance to it, completely unawares, as although it is now sign-posted as an RHS recommendation,  it is reached by a little 'off road' track from the main road. 

Now I don't know too much about the history of the place so I'm going to link to THIS FEATURE when the garden was featured in the 'GARDEN' magazine in September 2010.  It's also been featured in Country Living magazine and in other glossy garden mags apparently, as the clippings were on show at the garden entrance. 

I have a thing about 'secret' gardens and this beautiful little place fulfilled my passion for a) being nosey(!), b) my romantic notions of fanciful images of fairies (no there weren't any but it's certainly the type of place where I KNOW they exist!!!) and c) my love of plants, gardens, trees, flowers, nature, romanticism, etc etc.   I quite liked the place - does it show?!!

Jo and I are very much kindred spirits in our adoration of anything like this. We were in our element gazing and sighing wistfully at the romantic follies and prettyfullness. (What do you mean that's not a word?!). 

Anyway - time for me to shut up rambling and show you some pics!  Enjoy!

Wisteria scrambling up the clocktower on the car parking area.

The entrance to the walled garden.

Hmm... which way shall we go?

Definitely this way!

Cow Parsley - such a delicate, frothy wild flower

Aliums.... I must plant some more of these stunning flowers for next Spring

Follies a-go-go!

Hidey places to sit and watch the fairies go by!

Jo and I weren't too impressed by Charlie's observation that it looked like a scene from The Shining!

Ah look - one of the Border Collies keeping an eye out for miscreants!

Jo and Charlie - "What's in there then?"

Is someone locked in the tower?

Jo must have gone in to investigate! She doesn't 'do' heights so probably got up to the third step!!

Don't be silly brother dear - you don't have enough hair to be playing Rapunzel!

Gasp!!  A secret door!!

I love the mysticism of forests - tut - I could have cropped the wire fencing out !!

I think this was a summer house - It's a little down at heel now but in it's day I do hope that there were some amazing parties thrown in here - well I know I would have done,  were it mine!!!

A mural of the walled garden.... Actually I'm not altogether sure that we should have been in here!  Oops!!

A view up to towards the house

An absolutely beautiful rambling rose - almost like a dog rose but such a gorgeous deep red colour it was almost burgundy.  Stunning!

Another wisteria covered folly to hide in...

and sit under wisteria confetti as the petals drifted around

We couldn't find a label identifying this tree blossom but it's scent was absolutely divine.  The seed heads give me an inkling that it's related to a magnolia

Sigh.  Just something so lovely about this!!

Thank you for posing so nicely Mr Bee!

So there you have it.  If you are in the area it's so worth £3 to get in - and probably reductions for RHS members.  It's such a quirky little place.  There are ducks and chickens and guinea fowl. Sadly the folly where the chickens live was subject to a mindless arson attack a couple of weeks ago so it isn't looking it's best right now but I do hope that it will be sorted out because it would be a shame to let it go to ruin.  We also saw a little railway track there so although I saw no evidence of the train - perhaps in the Summer months the train runs around the perimeter of the land for children to enjoy. 

See you soon!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A Saturday Afternoon Ramble & A Perfect Storm

Grab your walking boots and hiking stick cos we're going on a bit of a ramble today.  It's ok though.  You don't have to do any hard work - the only rambling I'm doing is here on my blog.  I have too much 'stuff' trapped inside my poor little head and have to let some of it escape.  So this post may just be a stream of consciousness rather than a properly planned one with a specific theme, colour co-ordinated photographs and "matching underwear" (so to speak!).  

The hens are out causing havoc in the garden.  I've moved my tiny chard seedlings to a safe place so that they can't be chickenated.  The sweetcorn is definitely 'hatching'!  I'm so pleased as I really thought that by leaving the seeds out in the freezing shed over winter had killed them.  The same cannot be said for my tomatoes and peppers though - there are definitely no signs of life there and so I shall replant some new seeds in to the compost so that it doesn't go to waste.  Planting them a couple of weeks later won't make much difference now that growing season is well and truly here.  I'm sure they'll make up their growth in quick smart time.

Now then.  I have a 'thing' about boxes. (Ok bear with me here - I told you it was a ramble!!).  I hate throwing them away and try to find various uses for them where I can.   A case in point are the lovely strong little washing powder tablet boxes.  I've used some of these in the past for craft storage to good effect.  We use the pouches of cat food (Aldi's own - £1.99 for a box of 12!) to feed the three moggies and these pouches also come in decent sturdy little boxes.  One of my huuuuuge annoyances is the fact that the recycling men won't take cardboard boxes. Cereal boxes, cat food boxes, blah blah blah - we flatten them out and hide them in with the freebie papers we accumulate during the week - and they just weed them out and leave them in a soggy heap at the bottom of the recycling box.  Have you ever heard anything so daft?! So a flattened bit of soft cardboard is more difficult to recycle than a two inch thick glossy magazine is it?!  GAH!! 

Anyway..... here's what I did with the last batch.  My Honesty seeds are just beginning to peek through.

And in these cardboard loo roll tubes, hopefully baby leeks are forming!  I can transplant the whole tube directly into the ground to ensure they get a good start on the straight and narrow!! ;)
Plastic milk bottles are another annoyance. It's such a waste! And there are only so many that you can keep around the house for watering things with!!   Dudley Council will only recycle tins, glass, paper/mags (but not cardboard, obviously!!) and garden waste.  Whilst I know that we're lucky to have such a service, why they cannot extend this to plastics is anyone's guess. 

What about you lovely readers?  Have you any bright ideas for re-using/recycling everyday packaging?  I have a fear of becoming like Mr Trebus who was featured on a Life of Grime some years ago - remember the old Polish guy who would never throw anything out?! That's me that is!!

On another tack... I escaped last night!!  (Not from the loony bin I hasten to add.) 

Mr B was spark out on the settee, DD was out with her friends and DS was upstairs attending to matters of a highly important nature, i.e.  brutally assassinating all manner of zombies and alien life forms which dared to cross his television screen from his Xbox.   A normal Friday night in the Pod then?  I felt a little restless and couldn't put my finger on why that was.  I ventured out into the garden to sit for a while but still felt like I somehow couldn't settle.   I went through here.....

And just stood for a while... watching.    It was completely still.  Completely and utterly quiet in all directions.

I stood for the longest time, just breathing and being.   I had bare feet and the nettles are out in force so I couldn't stray out onto the path, but it didn't matter.  It was so peaceful just standing there, watching dusk fall across the field.  The hedgerow birds chuntered noisily to themselves as they settled down for the evening, and a male blackbird bustled about, kicking up a cacophony of  shrieking every so often, scaring the life out of me each time he did so!

Eventually, as it grew more dim, my ailing camera couldn't cope with the light levels so I can't share with you any pictures of the two tiny bats which were zipping around just over head height.  Minnie cat came out with me and sat on the path for a while, her white coat looking ghostly against the darkening surroundings, before she went off to terrorise the local vole population.

Eventually, lights were switched on in the houses over the way.  They reminded me of those little tealight houses you see at Christmas' their windows lit up with a cosy orange glow.  I really must get a better camera!

Best of all though was watching a strange deep purple cloud holding low over Wychbury Hill, like a darkening bruise.  I thought it was just night drawing in, until the most brilliant flash of lightning lit up the skies beneath the cloud, followed by a deep grumble of thunder.   The air was electric and suddenly energised and the band of pressure I had felt around my head for the last hour or so became quite pronounced. I smiled to myself.  Now I know why I was feeling so restless.  I stepped back into the garden and locked the back gate and marvelled at quite how dark it had got in such a relatively short space of time.  The "purple bruise cloud" was travelling quite quickly and was almost over the top of our house.   Mr B had come out looking for me to check that I was ok, bless him.  He looked at the skies and at the ensuing lightning which was racketing around over the rooftops and asked me whether I'd "been out doing your Wytchy dances in the fields"!!  He knows me so well!  And so followed the rain, plopping fatly here and there to begin with, instantaneously becoming torrential within seconds.  I stood there for a while letting the rain plaster my hair to my head and breathing in the cleansed air.  My son wandered downstairs to ask whether we had heard the thunder, looked at my grinning wet face and, shaking his head, wandered back upstairs again.

I watched the remainder of the storm ricochet around the field and back with a towel on my head and a cup of coffee steaming in my hands, feeling completely calm again.    It's the simple things in life isn't it?