Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cluedo Collusion!

It had all gone quite smoothly really. Considering that not a single Christmas preparation had been made by any adult until a week before Christmas.

Somehow, miraculously, every present arrived safely through the chimney, the mince pies and Christmas cake got made iced and decorated, the turkey hit the table on time and enough alcohol was consumed to make a merry Christmas for all. And apart from Father Christmas giving Tinkerbell Mushroom and Gymnast some size 8 to 10 underwear, instead of aged 8 to 10 he did quite well really. It's an easy mistake to make. Especially when you have been up all night. I know how he feels. I too was up until 5 a.m. on the night of 23rd... It happens at this time of the year...

There were sadly one or two blips in the proceedings, due to the lurgy hitting the household at a very inconvenient time, which sadly put various ones out of action for a few hours in the lead up to Christmas day, and then Sensible and ED on the day itself.

But...when we had drunk and eaten merrily for a few days and the last of our Christmas guests had all gone home, we sat down to play Cluedo.

Well... that was after we had got the set out.

"The revolver card's missing" said Sensible.

Being a man, Hubby seemed to think that that would not allow us to play the game.

"Can we not just take the revolver out of the equation?" I asked. A general concurrence spread round the room, and Hubby conceded that this was perhaps possible.

"These aren't the right cards" said ED. They belong to another game.

"Shall we play something else?" Said Hubby. "We really need a new set."

"Give me five minutes." I said,rushing to the computer.

I ran off some game cards from the Internet and came back into the room, seriously pleased with myself at my ingenuity.

Hubby doled out the cards to everyone.

"Oh" said Sensible. "I've got the revolver card."

We put the revolver back into the game.

Hubby doled out the cards again....

And then we finally played.

Tinkerbell Mushroom got the hang of the game very well indeed. And her asking several times if one or other of us had Professor Plum simply added to the entertainment.

As for the older three colluding on the evidence I raised an eyebrow.

"Look Mum" said ESOS, "If there is a real murder case, and the Spanish Police have some evidence and the British Police have more "different" evidence, do you think that they withhold the information from each other? Absolutely not. It just makes the whole thing more efficient."

You could course call it cheating.....

But that would be boring....

In the meantime........................

I wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a VERY VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR.....

Monday, December 17, 2007

A varied occupation!

Ever short of money and always willing to try my hand at something new, I decided to take the advice of Meredic who suggested to me earlier this year, that as a qualified teacher, I might do some supply* teaching. I thought about it. I looked at the state of our bank accounts. Again.

And then I decided that it was actually a very good idea.

And so when the fourth CRB** check for me this year finally popped through the letter box I ventured forth into a school to do my stuff.

Yes. Well......

They are not likely to send you to Roedean now are they? THEIR teachers don't have days off sick...... They work full time.

Only the schools with, shall we say "challenging" individuals require plenty of supply teaching.

And so it is that for much of the last four weeks I have been teaching in a school with boys who seems to think that detentions and homework are virtually synonymous, and whose teachers frequently look as if they might need a gin and tonic by 10 a.m.

In fact, as I walked out of the staffroom the other day, with a cup of black tea in my hand (tea being my preferred beverage, and in particular black tea) I bumped into the head. She looked into my cup. I smiled and went on my way. It was only afterwards though that I thought that perhaps I should have reassured her that it was in fact black tea and not whisky.....

Thankfully, my really crazy moments in the classroom do seem to be diminishing as I actually get to know the students. They are nice kids really. A little rough around the edges, and good training for any would be teacher. Keeps you on your toes.

And..... thanks to Sarah who is willing to have Gymnast and Tinkerbell Mushroom at some unearthly hour in the morning... I have been able to leave the house in time to get to the schools on time.

I got confused last week though.

A different school asked me to go in.

The kids sat down when asked.

They got on with their work.

They didn't throw anything across the room.

And no-one got a detention all day.

Teaching is a varied occupation.



*Substitute Teaching
**Criminal Records Bureau - Used to check people when working with vulnerable types. I now have four of these, as you need to have one for each different situation that you are checked for, even though the information comes from the same place. I have one for my stage school, one for the fostering team, one for the supply teaching agency and one for the local primary school, so that I can go on school trips with my youngest two. It keeps a Government department in full time employment, so we are all doing them a big favour really.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

AWOL!

So where has she been?

That Sally Lomax woman.

Two weeks without posting.

It's unheard of..

Oh... She's probably run out of bank accounts to talk about.

Got bored with blogging....

Got a new blog somewhere?

Been offered a big writing contract?

An acting job?

ALL WRONG.....

Life is not nearly as exciting as that.

However, I did get home from work a week last Saturday, and find a parcel.....

From Beccy!!

Some of her lovely handmade jewellery. It was for winning a competetition of hers, and it's beautiful.

Thank you Beccy!!
x

p.s. I'll tell you what I've been doing in the next installment...... Sorry not to have been on any of your blogs recently either.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bankers

I need to transfer some money from one account to another.

Easy job.

I do it by electronic transfer using the phone. It is the same bank, different accounts, so it goes in immediately.

Cash transaction really. Simple. Bank Account A to Bank Account B.

Then I realise that actually it is not a good day to do it, and so ring the bank again.

"Can I transfer some money from Bank Account B to Bank Account A please?"

"No, sorry. Bank account B is the wrong type of account. To do electronic transfers you need to have the accounts linked."

"But it's the same bank. I have simply moved the money from one pot to another, and now I want to move it back again."

I'm sorry but to transfer money into Bank Account A which is a particular type of account ... (and a different particular type of account to bank account B)... you will have to link the accounts first, and then transfer the money."

"How long will that take?"

"About four days."

"Can I do it another way?"

"You can do it in person at the branch. Move the cash.

Nearest branch is 12 miles away and we are now out of opening hours anyway.

"So why can't you do it now?"

"Because the system doesn't let me."

"But it was less than half an hour ago that I moved the money, and now I realise that there is a cheque going through on the account from where I have moved the money and if I don't move it back there won't be sufficient funds to pay that cheque, and then you will bounce it."

"Yes."

"And then you will charge me."

"Yes it will probably incur a charge if there aren't sufficient funds in the account when the cheque is presented."

Do they teach these people to speak bankese I wonder when they join the bank?

"So what can I do?"

"Well, you could phone us when you get charged, and we will probably remove the charge, as you have phoned us to alert us to the problem."

"But you can't stop that happening now by simply transferring he money back into the account?"

No.

"But I transfer money from bank account to bank account all the time and I never had this problem before."

"Yes but......" ............Bank account B needs to be linked to bank account A to do this type of transfer. You have said that already I think....

Now of course, had I known that I would need a degree in banking to run very meagre funds in different accounts I would perhaps have taken one....

On the other hand, life is quite short.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Singers Anonymous.

It all started in primary school.

It was a typical audition. Dear "Miss" Lavender, our teacher, played the piano. It was in the days when, with no keyboards available, her back was necessarily to the class.

I did my song.

No-one told me to stand up, so I didn't. Being a law abiding student.

When the person who went after me was singing, the teacher turned round half way through and asked her to "STAND UP YOU SILLY GIRL. HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO SING SITTING DOWN?"

I wanted to put my hand up and tell her that I too had been sitting down.

But I didn't.

I sat quietly, like a mouse, and accepted my fate when I was told that my voice wouldn't make the choir.

I knew it to be the case of course anyway. My father, who has a lovely singing voice had told me that I wasn't a singer. My brothers 8 and 12 years older than me, constantly reminded me that I couldn't sing.

I never understood it though.

You see, my speaking voice has been my trademark. Throughout my life I have been praised for it, have acted with it, passed exams that needed "speaky type" things for it, and have been paid many mars bars worth of cash on occasion to use it for voice overs.

I used to say to my Dad. "I don't understand why I can't sing, when the same instrument provides my speaking voice."

"We can't all do everything." He would say. "You have a beautiful speaking voice"

I have sung of course over the years. In my way. I sing loudly at the children's Harvest Festival Services and Carol Services to the annoyance of my children. I sang children's songs when acting with my Theatre in Education Company, and I sang dozens of nursery rhymes to the children when they were little.

But Karaoke?

Well. What a mistake that was. Every time I got up to sing a song that I THOUGHT I knew, to a backing track that I definitely didn't know, I failed dismally, and of course reinforced my opinion and everyone else's that singing was just not my thing......

So then..........

I recently started going along to some acting workshops. As my last dramatic exit off the stage in March had made me vow never to return again to an Am Dram Society, I took a brave step. I dusted off my Equity Card and got in touch with some kind people at the theatre in Cheltenham who run courses for professional actors. I sent in my CV, half doubtful as to whether or not I would have had enough experience to be accepted. But they did. Accept me that is.

And it has all been going very well. I have really enjoyed myself over the last few weeks.

Then.......

Next on the list was the singing workshop. "How to pass a singing audition".

I quaked with fear. I had to prepare a song.

This was "Singers Anonymous" BIG TIME.

I had to do it. I had to overcome my fear.

I chose one.

"Maybe this Time", from Cabaret. Brave choice considering it was made famous by dear Liza Minnelli. But, in my wisdom I decided that I would and could do it. I grabbed my singing teacher for ten minutes in the break at my Stage School on Saturday. "You can sing. " she said. You just need to learn how to support your voice. She got me to belt it out like no tomorrow. I wasn't sure that I could do it......

Then in the afternoon, I grabbed another singing teacher, who said that
I could sing too, and that ideally that for the long term I should work on it in a lower key..... And that I should sing more....

Singing teacher number one very kindly offered me a lesson prior to the workshop. I set off, backing track in hand, determined to crack this singing thing..........

And in true Sally style, Hubby had the new car so I was driving ED's mini...And.... um... the clutch started slipping.

I rang Hubby. My singing teacher happens live in place where Hubby works. "You'll be fine he said. Carry on, and we can swap cars, and you can go home in the new one...."

I struggled on for a few more miles and then......... made the decision to return home, before I couldn't. Bar having to drop it back down a hill, so that I could get it going again, I managed to get it as far as our house, where the clutch went completely, just in front of our door......

It was fate.

But I didn't get my singing lesson.

Hubby got home with the other car, in time for me to get out to my workshop.....

The first two hours were brilliant. We had an amazingly "tolerant of 'non proper singing actors' " MD running the evening, and he got us to sing notes that we didn't even know existed..... He said that he very much likes actors singing, because they put across songs well, and people can understand what is being sung. He said that on the other hand, when opera singers sing, you need sub titles, even when they sing in English...

Then it was solo time.

My heart was in my mouth.

We had almost got through the group. It was 9.20, and the workshop was due to finish at 9.30. Maybe there wouldn't be time for my song after all... In fact, I could walk out with my head held very high, and everyone would have known that I COULD sing. I had just sadly, run out of time....

"Sally?" said the the MD.

I stood up. I was shaking. I dropped my music. I dropped my backing track. Not that I needed it of course, as we had pianist. I picked up the music again. I walked over to the keyboard.

"I need to have the melody line" I said. "Otherwise I have no hope."

"Shhh, said the MD. Don't tell them that" (Them being 'the others'. "Tell me. I'm your friend."

I whispered, in a stage whisper. "I need the melody line..."

I announced to the audience before I started that like many others in the room that night I too was a recovering non singer....

And then I sang.

Then he made some suggestions, and he dropped it down three keys for me.

And I sang again.

He told me to "belt" the last bit.

So I did.

I sang the whole song for a third time.

In tune.

Dramatically.

And VERY loudly. Incredibly loudly. I shocked myself.

I got a big clap.........

They said it was brilliant.

It was of course a room full of actors, so we are habitually overly nice to each other......

But I did do it...........

And then then I shook for the next three hours.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Dressing up............

A few year's back, one of the local Churches decided that to counteract Halloween they would provide a firework display and evening of fun for the village.

A great idea indeed. All the villagers are invited each year. Entry to the event is free and then there are pay as you go fairground type activities for the kids. It is a good night, the fireworks are excellent and everyone has a good time.

Well......... nearly everyone.............

One of the conditions of the event though is that you are not allowed to dress up in anything remotely Halloween oriented, because that is against the ethos....

Nine year old Gymnast fully understands of course. Her best friend's Dad is one of the organisers, and she wouldn't want to offend best friend who freely gives us all Divinity lessons on every visit to our house. It's handy for me, because despite having attended very heavily Church oriented schools, I clearly missed out on large parts of my divine education, especially the bits that said that no works of literature involving any witch or wizard should enter the house. And in particular any works of literature that involve a boy with the initials H and P.......

Seven year old Tinkerbell Mushroom is less convinced. Why shouldn't she wear her witch's hat and highly garish orange wig? It was actually quite a long time ago that we used to burn witches at the stake after all............ and she's not exactly planning on following Satan's gang, raising the dead or slaying vampires. She is just simply dressing up........

Hubby meanwhile was organising a drinks night and meeting for the parents of the Air Cadets.*
He rang one of the parents. The Air Cadets had been invited to a Halloween party at another Squadron, leaving the venue free for the parents' meeting. Parent on the phone was seriously not impressed. Their son would NOT be attending the party, and because the meeting was on that particular night - being the most convenient for all concerned, they would NOT be attending the meeting either, because clearly a large amount of devil worshipping was about to go on, given the date of the meeting and the location of the cadets.

Oh........................

Halloween over, Christmas came up in the conversation.

"Best Friend doesn't believe in Father Christmas" said Gymnast. "Oh?" I mused idly. So who does she thinks gives her Christmas presents then?" I said.

"God." said Gymnast.

I looked at her incredulously......................

Now don't get me wrong. I am certainly not an aetheist, and I do believe that God gives.......... in more mysterious ways....... But where in the Bible does it say that he dons a red cloak and wraps his presents in fancy paper?

A friend of one of my brothers as a little boy wasn't even allowed that much. His parents stopped whoever it was that left the presents at Christmas from even entering the house.........

The little boy had no presents at all. Now excuse me, but where again was the Sunday School lesson that said that you had to be mean to your children? I think I missed that one too........

And where does it say that we cannot dress up, have some make believe and do some acting? Is "make believe" not the way to explore life in an innocent and harmless way?

Besides, depriving kids of certain things "for their own good" has never shown to have great results as far as I am aware. My mother didn't allow us biscuits in the house when we were growing up. I now love biscuits.... And have a serious problem in leaving a packet half full. In fact, I think I need to go to biscuits anonymous.

Then there was a boy from a strictly vegan family who was in ED's in primary school a few years back..... And he has, it has to be said been known to be spotted in town more recently with a milk chocolate bar in one hand and a burger in the other...........

For any Christians reading this. Please don't get me wrong............... I am not anti Christian in any way. But I am equally not sure that we shouldn't allow our children to have fun - as children.....

In the meantime I'm off to negotiate with Father Christmas, as he might need to do more of the present giving than us this year. Things being a bit tight. I'll let you know what he says......


*Being that we only have the five children, we are very good at being available for every vacant secretary ship and chairmanship that is ever needed. A few year's back I seemed to be in charge of everything imaginable. It was the MUG sticker on my forehead that did it..... But gradually I have learnt to pull back and no longer put my name forward first. It took great skill and learning and bravery on my part and a bit of therapy, but finally I got there. "Mugs Anonymous" won their battle with me............. Not because I'm mean, or lazy..... But......... I do get tired. And I am quite busy in normal life! Hubby however, who was a bit slower than me in coming forward in the first place has recently managed to land himself both Secretary and Chairman of the Air Cadets as well as Treasurer of his chess club....

p.s. Have just discovered that Chris B, one of my very first blogging friends, has awarded me a "You make me smile award!"



Thank you Chris!! I'm honoured......

And I pass the honour onto Enidd and Alice Band......

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Silent World.

It was half term. They were all off.

Tinkerbell Mushroom was speaking. I could see she was moving her mouth, and there was a vague noise that sounded like speech, but what she was saying, or why she was saying it was beyond my comprehension. I looked at Hubby in desperation. He translated in a very loud and clear voice - I presume. I heard. Just.

Sensible came in. Realising the current state of her mother's ears, she just smiled. Sympathetically. She gave me a cup of tea.

"I can't hear anything".

"I know." She mouthed.

Living in a silent world when you are used to full hearing is quite scary.

It's VERY scary.

Of course, I knew that it was only a temporary hearing loss, due to the ear infection, but there is always that element of doubt.......

I lay there in bed thinking that I really ought to get up. While I did, various thoughts were going through my head, and within minutes I had re planned my whole life strategy according to how it would be if this hearing loss was permanent. Not that I'm dramatic or anything. Even though I was accused of such, by an offspring or two...

I returned to the doctor.

He said something.

"Sorry? I can't hear you."

It's only three days since you went on the medication. It will take five to ten days." he explained, in a lightly terse, slightly impatient way. Well, as much as I could tell through my swimming pool hearing.

"But I didn't expect to go deaf." I said.

He said something else.

"Sorry?"

"YOUR EARS ARE JUST FULL OF STUFF. IT WILL GO. "

"Sorry? I can't hear you. Can you repeat that please?"

"YOUR EARS ARE JUST FULL OF STUFF. IT WILL GO. "

I was clearly not a priority case. I was a one of many invisible forty somethings on his list that day. His lack of sympathy and understanding didn't go down well. My ears hurt. I felt miserable. I couldn't hear and I hadn't slept for four nights.

I thought about television dramas involving doctors.

Images of caring doctors, smiling and empathetic came to mind. I wondered if bedside manner had been invented by actors and that in the real medical profession there is no such thing.....

Hubby had come down with me for some moral support. I muttered to him as I left the surgery. Words of TLC, bit of bedside manner and any other label that I felt should go with a doctor's position were mentioned.

Of course.......Being on the harder side of hearing at that time, my words in whispers probably came out.....

VERY LOUD.

When I got home again, I got a call from the surgery.

The Doctor wanted me to call him the following morning. To give him a progress report.......

Well either guilt had set in.

Or maybe someone in the surgery had heard me muttering.

That's MUTTERING by the way.........

............................p.s. I can hear again now, and the pain's gone........ He was right. As it turns out.....

They must be a nuisance for doctors really. Invisible forty something women.......

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

17th October and Teenagers....

Well doesn't time fly when you are enjoying yourself?

A year ago today I sat down and wrote my first blog.

78000 words later and I'm still here........

Still in the Forest of Dean too, unlike the predictions of last year.........

The only thing is that I'm running out of stories on banks and stuff.

Well, I must be.

Mustn't I?

At least I can write about the teenagers!

Monday, October 15, 2007

An apology.....

I have unwittingly offended and upset people with the post that I put up today.

It was not intended to offend. It was intended to laugh at me.

I'm sorry that I clearly got it so wrong and for any hurt that I may have caused.

Please accept my apologies.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It's over to Enidd's...

To read me today, you will have to go to Enidd's blog!

And for all those who didn't make it as far as Enidd's, it is now put on here as well, unchanged and with the introduction, as put on Enidd's site.

Win Win!

Sally is delighted to be a glogger* on Enidd's site, and honoured that Enidd chose the person with whom (Enidd and she have discovered over a number of posts on both blogger's sites) she shares a mutual hatred of banks, to be one of her representatives during her long earned holiday. Sally's problems with banks are possibly different to Enidd's, as Enidd's hassles stem from them not allowing to use her own money, whereas Sally's hassles are due to them not allowing her to use their money. Sally sees that this purely as a matter of pedanticism on the banks' part and that either way, banks stink. Enidd of course tells the tales of Stalin, Fluffy and The Man. Sally's cast list includes a cast of thousands of children, a man by the name of Hubby and a dog who is mad. Sally's lifelong ambition is to be on Enidd's list of "humourous blums" on her Eggroll. She hopes that one day she will aspire to such heights. Enidd does of course write in the third person, and Sally normally writes in the first. But in honour of Enidd, as she is a guest on Enidd's blog, and when in Rome one should after all do as the Roman's do, Sally is today writing in the third person. Sally has tried in her spare time to give up the habit of capital letters, but after several attempts has failed miserably, and has now decided that in essence, you can take a blogger away from their capital, but you can't always take the capitals out of some of those slightly more stubborn and a little more awkward *gloggers.
*glogger: Guest Blogger.

It is just another ordinary morning: A call at a ridiculously early hour from a call centre; a letter from the bank, demanding money, that they had in fact already had; a wet shirt in the washing machine needed by ED (Eldest Daughter), now, today, not tumble dryable (of course), and so with the only option available to iron dry; and another letter from a different bank with yet another charge, unfairly administered in Sally's humble opinion. The boiler, still broken, isn't warm. In fact the whole house is very cold. This, coupled with ironing dry a very wet blouse, dealing with a call centre first thing, dealing with post, that is post from the letter box, not the writing sort, puts Sally in a seriously bad mood. Had it been the "writing" sort of post it would probably have put Sally in a good mood, as writing often has that effect on her. But sadly it is the mail variety. And not that male variety either.

Once the children are all at school, she starts with the banks. "I paid you on the right date, many many mars bars worth of cash." Sally explains to bank number one (that is the bank who very kindly, a few years back, bought Sally and Hubby's house for them and said that they could live in it, as long as Sally and Hubby paid this thing called interest. Sally shows a lot of interest in the interest, but it seems that the bank definitely has the upper hand on such interesting matters). Bank number one has a look at their computer screen. Something that Sally thinks banks seems to like. They come back to Sally after a few moments. "Yes Mrs. Lomax. In fact, you are right. You did pay us. We have now put a note on your account and reversed the £40 charge. Sally had not even been aware of this particular charge, so although grateful and relieved, is also slightly annoyed that it had been there in the first place. Still, onwards and upwards, £40 in the right direction, the day is getting slightly better.

Next call. Next bank. Big grumble. Big moan. Had been working. Had been busy. Had forgotten to check accounts. Had forgotten to transfer some money at the relevant time. All sorted now........ blah blah blah....... "ALL RIGHT Mrs. Lomax........ On this occasion, as a gesture of goodwill, as we banks are fundamentally good natured Quaker types, who are seriously, really, honestly into making people's lives so much easier, we will refund the £39 to your account." "Thank you so much.......grovel......grovel some more.....grovel some more." "However, Mrs. Lomax......." There then follows long lecture about how Sally should run her account from her on in..... Grovel some more. Put phone down. Day getting slightly better. Now £79 up. Sally's next call is to the people who are hopefully to be supplying her new boiler. Ironically Sally discovered that due to the enormous quote from British Gas earlier this year, that it it is almost as cheap to get a range style cooker which will do the heating as well, instead of an ordinary boiler, which due to the many radiators that need heating, needs in fact to be two boilers and, due to the regulations having changed, need to be moved to the cellar. The range has the added advantage of being allowed to go where the existing boiler is in the kitchen, in the fireplace, will look very nice indeed, and will not leave a very big hole in the kitchen to be subsequently dealt with, and also paid for. As such, although Sally is not a golfer, to coin a golfer's phrase, it is a "win win" situation.

Always fighting the pennies however, and these are actually the pennies of a very kind MIL (Mother in Law) this time, as she has kindly offered to pay for said device, Sally asks the inevitable question: "Can you better that quote please? We are trying very hard to get it within x number of mars bars.." "I'll ask the boss", says person on the phone, "but I wouldn't hold your breath." Sally holds it for a second, and then agrees with the man on the phone. She does however have another idea. "Some dealers were offering £220 worth of cooking equipment to go with the range. I saw it on the internet. Are you?" "That offer ran out on 1st October." Says helpful man on end of phone. "But that was only a week ago", says Sally, and it has taken you eight weeks to complete the quote. "Yes well, the offer comes from the supplier. There isn't much we can do about that. Sally ends call, and then calls the supplier........ Bit of checking at their end. Get another phonecall from the range dealer. They will honour the promotional pack.

As she adds up her day's gains, it seems to Sally that sometimes, hassle, whilst irritating, is after all an essential part of life. The total gain for today's hassles is £299. Better than working thinks Sally.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Memory

"Did you call ED's school about the AS levels?" said Hubby on Monday evening. ED is away at the moment, on a French A'level trip to France. She had left a list of stuff for us to do in her absence, as time had run out before she had departed. The call to the school was one of those things....

"I didn't realise that 'that' was on my 'list' of jobs to do," I retorted back, thinking of the million and one things that I did need to do, for everyone, not just ED.

Besides, it had been a busy few days. Loser Cruiser, back from the menders, cleaned with the help (or not) of Tinkerbell Mushroom, Gymnast and friends, and looking for the first time in its short Lomax life like a semi respectable car, starting first time and driving beautifully, had gone to find its next owner. An owner who hopefully would be more appreciative of its strengths, and less damning of its weaknesses.

The only problem was, that with Loser Cruiser being sold on Sunday, it left us with just one car, as we are getting a replacement car............but I am not picking it up until this Friday. One car to use as a family: ED's mini, which much to my horror, I discovered, after throwing every document in the office around in search for car registration documents of Loser Cruiser, that its MOT had run out in July..........

Finally found registration documents of Loser Cruiser. We had actually bought the car after all. Kept cool. Sold car. Gratefully accepted cash, even though it had cost us dearly in the four months that we had owned said car to get it back into proper state. We had certainly made a loss over all.

And then, when the buyers had left, went into a panic and a bit of a rant about how we didn't now have a legal car to drive and that it had to be booked in at the EARLIEST opportunity so that we had at least one car to drive..... legally.

Hubby pragmatically pointed out that although it was a bit of a crisis, in fact it was no different to how it had been for the last two months.

"No", I protested. "Ignorance is bliss. Even if it doesn't stand up in law."

And so, finally, with the car booked in for an MOT, with some loser cruiser cash in the bank, and with much juggling around of family commitments, to get them to places without normal modes of transport until Friday, things calmed down again in the Lomax household.

Sitting on the table was ED's folder with AS level results within.

On top of said folder was handwritten note...........

Unmistakeably my handwriting.

"Call Ed's school first thing Monday morning to sort this out."

It had been on my "list".

Clearly...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Middle Years.

"I need to have a chat with you." I say to hubby as he gathers up his laptop and heads off out through the door on his way to work.

It's a chat that has been waiting for at least three months. There are a million and one things that we need to sort out. Little things. Some big things. Things that need input from both of us. But between the chauffeuring of the kids, the washing, the work, the committees and various other commitments, talking to each other is, on a scale of one to ten........................minus five thousand.

"Yes", says hubby, "but not now, I'm on my way to work."

"You did say that you would take a day off, just to talk."

"I can't take any days off in September" he says.

"Can I book a day in October then?"

"Yes, that should be fine."

Meanwhile, will someone please tell me why I probably had forty classes teaching me how to give birth, and was even offered classes fifth time round, (as clearly nature had changed in the previous 20 months), why we were given midwives, health visitors and regular support in child rearing for the first five years of the children's lives, five times round, but, just when it starts to get really challenging, interesting, impossible to deal with.................

Everyone has disappeared off the face of the earth?

Health visitors? Where are you now?

Don't you know that I could bring up fifty 'four year olds' standing on my head reading a story backwards with funny voices and strange accents, whilst mopping up the spills and baking a cake all at the same time?

But it's now that it's got 'tricky'. With three teenagers and a nine and seven year old...

So where are you?????

I guess you'll be back when our teenagers are all grown up and dealing with their own teenagers, and we are old.

Fortunately though for all the health professionals, anyone aged from forty to sixty five disappears from the G.P.'s computer screens.

Saves a lot of wasted time for doctors.

Lucky really, for them.

p.s. Meanwhile I have discovered on signing up to an American website that I can lose seven months without even blinking.

In fact, this particular website insisted that I was still 44, despite putting in my DOB.

It doesn't work for all of you.... But my DOB is 12th May. Now in the USA, when I write 12/5 that reads as 5th December....... So I'm still 44 in the USA...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not quite the perfect mother............. and Happy Birthday ESOS!

I had been suffering from a serious case of broken down car syndrome.

'Loser cruiser' as the children so politely call it, breaks down with regular monotony, usually at the most inconvenient times. Late as I am, I actually hate to be late, and so when on Friday last I made Gymnast late for gym yet again, due to permanently disabled automobile, which needs to be fixed just long enough again so that we can sell it, I threw a wobbly, and told lots of people about it.

My lovely friend Headless Chicken came to my rescue, and yesterday she gave me a present. A very funny Sue Townsend book."What's this for I said?" "Because you're my friend, and I wanted to cheer you up."

Well thank you HC, it did.

Meanwhile, it was ESOS's birthday party last weekend, it being his 15th birthday today. Two friends came over and stayed for the weekend, and, being a mother, and therefore of completely the wrong generation, clearly elderly and with absolutely no idea about "who's a nice boy to go out with" nowadays, I made the mistake of possibly thinking that Sensible quite liked the look of one of said boys.

I made the bigger mistake of mentioning it to ESOS when, unbeknown to me, Sensible was nearly in earshot.

So as I said the famous last words "so don't say anything to her anyway will you" as I finished off my little gossip, she came into the room. "Don't say 'what' to me?" She said. "No, not you" I fibbed, badly. It was ED." "Don't say what to ED" she persisted.

HELP.........

"Well...." Think quickly Sally. Never very good at telling fibs I knew that I was by this time blushing and stammering............
"I think ED fancies someone.." I lied

"Who?" She said, expectantly.

"Oh, no-one in particular I said.

"So why do you think that?" She said.

"Oh..... just the way she's been lately."

Change subject quickly Sally...

Later in the car, collecting ED from dancing, I started to tell her the whole tale. Unfortunately, she missed the bit that I had used 'her' as an excuse, and so, when Sensible told ED that "Mum thinks you fancy someone", ED told Sensible that it was Mum, who thought that 'she', Sensible fancied one of the boys at ESOS's party.
By this time it was a bit like one of those children's stories where everything gets a bit out of hand and escalates to the point of.............

AAAAARRRRGGGHHHHHHHH...................

Nearly 24 hours later Sensible went off to school, STILL not having forgiven me for my misdemeanours.
Meanwhile, both Gymnast and ED are home from school today with a tummy lurgy......

Lovely.

Much of course to Tinkerbell Mushroom's disgust.

"You never listen to me" she said.

I had been washing up and hadn't heard her latest rant about, "Not fair, off school, why can't I stay at home and have a nice day off...."

Huge house with huge mortgage for huge family, is of course made for servants. And so when, as often, I am in servant mode, washing up in the scullery, you do miss bits of the vital conversation, as, said house was very sensibly designed so that the skivvies like me don't hear all parts of the speech.

Came out of scullery. "You see, you never listen to me." She protested. "Sorry TM, I was in the scullery." "All the other mothers listen when they are in their sculleries." She said.

We went upstairs to get dressed. She wasn't talking to me.

Just then I noticed that there were 500 beads on the floor. I gave her her socks to put on, and started to pick them up.

"I love beads" I said.

The irony is completely lost on her and finally she is distracted.

"Did you have beads when you were little Mummy?"

At last I can see a reason for all those craft sets that are given to us year on year. There is light on the horizon.

Happy Birthday ESOS!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And today's challenge is....

Being a late person, I do like to get there early sometimes.

When I arrived a whole day early for a meeting to do with my stage school though, it was possibly a bit over the top.

I called Hubby and groaned. "You'll never guess what I've done.....It's tomorrow"

Five minutes later, he called me back. "It's ED's and ESOS's orthodontic appointments tomorrow."

My turn to groan. This meeting was really important for me.

"I'll take a day off."

I was very effusive with gratitude of course, and the big advantage to Hubby needing to take a day's leave the next day would mean that I would be able to stay for the whole meeting, instead of having to leave early, in time to collect Tinkerbell Mushroom and the Gymnast. Although I did wonder to myself a little. "I'm sure that the orthodontic appointments were the day after my theatre school meeting." I said. "No", said Hubby. "I have just rung up and checked the times.... As you asked me to...." "O.K." I said.

Of course I was forty miles from home, a whole day early for a meeting, and with several hours in hand before I needed to pick up any children, so I decided to go to Cribb's Causeway*. It being just down the road from where I was.

The thing is, which road it was down was possibly a little debatable.

Being slightly directionally challenged, so to speak, I decided it was on the M5. After a couple of miles I thought that maybe it was in the other direction on the M5. Pulled into the services. Checked a book of local maps in the shop. Found out which exit it was on and then came off the motorway (was fortunately very near an exit), and returned to junction 17 where I needed to be.

I didn't tell the family about my directional challenges. The getting the meeting time wrong by a day was enough of a family hoot for one dinner time.

So, this morning, I set off again for my meeting, and Hubby set off to the orthodontist's with the older two.

When Hubby rang me though, a little later, to tell me that they had got to the orthodontist's a day too early, I did, I confess, smile a little.

*Shopping Centre outside Bristol

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Husky voice sees husky dogs


I had sat very quiet for a while on the broadcasting front.

In a Pavlovian sort of way I had found that the very thought of doing anything for the radio brought back that wave of tiredness that I had felt towards the end of my run on my show. At the time I gave up, my life was incredibly busy and Sally stressful, stress always being a subjective thing, and as such, the thought of picking up a microphone was, well exhausting.

So when Forest of Dean Radio asked me if they would cover the "Dogs at the Lodge" dog show at Beechenhurst I felt positively comatose at the thought.

But I remembered that I actually I would very much like to do more broadcasting, preferably paid, and that as such it would possibly be a good idea to get on the headphones and record some stuff.

Then I did have a bit of a major panic attack though as I thought that I had probably in the six months away completely forgotten how to broadcast. Or at least use the kit. Technology and I not always being the best of friends. But worse... I had visions of myself frozen and tongue tied and unable to interview anyone. Actually, could I still talk?

I thought it would be a nice family day out though. Nice day. Beechenhurst in the Forest. Beautiful countryside. Perfect family location.

ESOS aged 15 next week looked at me strangely.

Sensible aged 13 declined a little more politely.

Tinkerbell Mushroom and Gymnast said that if the others weren't going nor were they.

So we started to set off. "Wait a minute Mum. I'm coming" said Tinkerbell Mushroom." Found shoes, Did hair. Went towards the car. "Oh actually Mum, I will come." Said Gymnast. Found shoes, did hair went towards car.

"Oh actually Mum"

.....no.... not really....

ED was out, so she didn't come, and despite it being a dog show, the dog wasn't invited, partly because she hates the car and partly because it would have been too much to handle in conjunction with trying to make a radio feature, and, well, mostly because she isn't trained too much. Well umm not at all really. She's a very beautiful Border Collie though, and I was struck by a memory of childhood where my mother put in our Old English Sheepdog into a local village dog show, and, much to the disgust of the locals, despite the mud on his fur (he'd just been for a walk) despite the fact that he hadn't been trained to do any of the show doggy stuff, and despite the fact that his coat was on the matted side of matted, he won. Pure natural talent clearly.

So...not wanting to embarrass anyone, we left her at home....

I had checked the kit at least fifteen times to make sure that I remembered how to record on it. Then I listened after each interview I did, to check that I was still able to speak reasonably intelligently. Well, ok. Reasonably.

And then I went up to the important person present. Mr Ken Hames. Of real television fame. Being on important business he was off shortly to catch a flight, but he did talk to me. Thank you Mr. Hames... And now, having given out awards to nice Forest of Dean doggy people, he's gone to do some more of his great work with disabled people in Scotland.

And I found out that I like Husky dogs too. They are big of course. Very big. But so very pretty. And very useful if your car breaks down and you need a lift to the shops. ED, having only just got used to the Border Collie after a year, having grown up with a pathological fear of dogs, took a dim view when I expressed my new found love.

Although, they must eat a lot. So the point of the lift to the supermarket would be slightly eroded, given that all the food on the three wheeled bicycle truck would be theirs. Oh well........ the thought was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Nice stuff....All for me...

I was just trying to pack to go on holiday, when I got a call from L'Occitane.

I stopped and thought. Why on earth would they want to call me?

Well, it seems that one clever person in the organisation had spotted that they are one of my marketing sponsors. Astutely though they had also spotted that I had never actually written about their products. Or anyone else's for that matter. But, kind astute gentleman offered to send me some samples to try and then write about.

Well, let's face it bloggophiles. There isn't much money in this blogging business, so when someone actually thought that my writing was good enough to expose his products, by way of sampling first, how could I resist?

I got back from holiday.

No parcel.

And I really was in the mood for some nice cosmeticy things to try too......

They contacted me again. I explained that I hadn't received it. They told me the tracking number and suggested that I checked with the local post office.

Then a miracle happened. I cleared up my paperwork in the room we call "the office". It's supposed to be a dining room as well, but as it hasn't had a clear table for a very long time the eating has only happened on the kitchen table instead.

As such, it took me a good 8 hours to clear. I probably had a year's worth of backlog to decipher, and mostly throw away. It's now spotless. Really spotless. No-one is allowed to even leave as much as a coffee cup by the computer desk. In fact, if they try to leave the room without their belongings, the entire room will become subject to a Harry Potter type spell, and everything that they touch will multiply by a hundred times, blocking their exit until offending item is taken out with them.

So this is how I found the card from the postman.

It had been put onto "the pile" on our return home, not due to be unearthed until October 2008. But by special dispensation it was released from circulation and taken down to the post office, whereupon I discovered the L'Occitane parcel. Or to be correct perhaps that should read: "Whereupon I discovered L'Occitane".

It smells divine. All of it.

They have obviously been spying on me though, because they clearly know that one of my favourite pastimes is to have a luxurious bath.

I can now put rosemary, orange, rose, grape and almond into my bath. Some of the bottles are pretending to be shower gel, but as I am a bath person I will uncover their true identity and use them in the bath. Unless of course a jet style shower company would like to sponsor me too, and is willing to fit one into our house so that I can write about those too? Of course they would have to fit the boiler first too, as the heat may be a little lacking. And in order to be completely genuine in my praise of said boiler, it would probably need to be a range in the kitchen. That would just about do it.

And maybe a French holiday to try out the L'Occitane range in situ, given that it is called L'Occitane en Provence? That would be nice.

Meanwhile, I now have very nice lavender smelling feet and coconut smelling hands. There's some Shea Butter in the foot and hand creams which will probably help me to retain my Portsmouth tan at least. In fact that is probably why they call the range L'Occitane.

I now keep smelling my hands as I sit here. It makes me look slightly demented really. Anyone spotting me would probably look slightly strangely at the woman sitting in her office constantly smelling her skin.

Which is why of course they gave me another pot called Precious Cream. It is named especially after me, because I am very precious and .... special. And young looking forever now.

But, just in case the other members of my family get ideas about using these creams and gels, don't think that I am going to be generous with them.

No. These were sent to me. For me to try out.

All for me..........

p.s.But you can get some too if you really want. They are all here.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Recycling!



It was time for a declutter.

Now, in our house, this is a relative word.

So when three very large bin bags of, too small, too unfashionable and too disgustingly worn out clothes, finally got to the recycling bank, it wasn't without enormous complaint from Tinkerbell Mushroom and Gymnast.

All summer I have winced as they have got themselves dressed into their favourite togs, not noticing, being 7 and 9, that they made themselves look like children something similar to a pre Victorian orphanage.

It's not helped of course by the fact that people, very kindly, knowing that we have five children, give us all their recycling. It is very kind of them, but, even with five children, there are limits as to how many bin bags full of second hand clothes, not quite the right size or shape, that we can deal with.
"If you don't want them, given them back, or give them to a charity shop" the kind people always say, as they give me another four tons of cast offs.

Never being one for waste, I always accept gratefully, smile and stuff it into already crammed full drawers.

Occasionally, someone gives you something accidentally, and asks for it back, as happened just over a year a go. Fortunately, being the thrifty type, I still had said garment, and although it took some digging to find it, amidst clean and dirty washing, bedding, crisp packets and toys and sweet wrappers, I eventually unearthed the missing item and gave it back to kind benefactor.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want "hand me downs". I am actually always genuinely grateful.
It's just that due to the indelible ink labelled "guilt" mark on my forehead, I am seriously unable to sift through the bags, take what I want from them, and give the rest away. I always feel that if it is given to us, as a kind gesture, we should use it, however ridiculous, large or unfashionable it might be.

And of course, aged 7, the more ridiculous, large and unsuitable it is, the better. which is fine, most of the time. But sometimes, just sometimes, you want your children to look reasonably nice.....
And, you want to be able to see them just so without a huge battle of the wardrobe first.

And then of course there is the problem of the nostalgics.

"Oh, that was her first dress.

That was his first sleep suit."

Or, "That was his first nappy...."

Oh, OK, slight exaggeration.....but you get the gist.

In short we have accumulated clothes for seventeen years, waiting for the next child to fit them. Now, given that fashions probably rotate every twenty or thirty years, if I keep them all long enough, I could probably clothe all of our grandchildren too. And the entire street on which all of them will live.

But really, it was time for a thin down, for, despite my new year promise to reduce items by ten a day, I failed miserably once the first month was over.

And so, I steeled myself. I stuffed it into bags. I was ruthless. Hard. Unmoved and untouched as I rid myself of clothes from mine and the younger children's drawers.
The relief was enormous.

Tinkerbell Mushroom complained to ESOS.

"She's thrown away ALL my clothes.

Everything.

I have nothing to wear."

The mutterings were faintly reminiscent of someone who should be a good few years older than her, but, I have to say, it did strike a chord.

For, once all the unsuitables were gone. What was left, was tasteful, pretty, suitably sized............. but a little on the ....errr.......minimalist front perhaps.

And so, being the last of the big spenders, and always insufferably broke, we went to the tailors, at Tesco and Tesco and Sons. And for just £30, bought what could only be described as an almost completely new wardrobe.
I am forgiven...

I'm now off to watch yesterday's "What not to wear." And then there might be a few more items that hit the recycling bank before Christmas.......

This time, just mine.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Communication is a wonderful thing.

I was just getting to the bottom of my favourite post holiday job.

The mail.

You know how it is. All your favourite people writing to you. Loan sharks, insurance companies, banks. Not to mention the 655 emails offering me things to enhance parts of my body that I didn't even know I had.

Then, the phone rang.

"Can I speak to Mr. Lom-m-max please?"

"I'm sorry, he's not available. Can I help, I'm his wife."

"Is that Mrs. Lom-m-m-ax?"

"Yes, I believe so."

Having established that he was from Talk Talk, he then proceeded to take every piece of available personal information from me needed to rob my bank accounts of their overdrafts, before telling me why he was calling.

He informed me that we had an amount outstanding on our account.

I explained that I had paid the bill in full on 25th July, prior to going away, by internet banking. (I'm beginning to like internet banking. If you get it right, you can nearly get away without talking to call centres. It's not quite as good as my tin pot method, but it's a compromise...)

"But the last direct debit we received on this account Mrs. Lom-m-max was in May."

"Yes, that's because I pay you directly by internet banking."

Communication in these communication companies is a wonderful thing.

"So do you not want to set up a direct debit?"

"No. I prefer to pay you the way I do."

"But there is an outstanding balance."

"I think that you will find, that you are probably sitting on my payment for for the statutory three weeks before processing it. That is how it is shown on the bill every month. I'll go and check my accounts, and if you haven't been paid, I will pay you. If you have, then I'm sure that you will find it just in time for the next bill, as always." (Or perhaps I should have said, "Once you have gained as much as you can from the high interest account that it is currently sitting in...")

"But would you prefer to set up a direct debit anyway?"

"No..........

.............Thank you."

They had been paid. I checked.

Their days are numbered though I fear, for as I walked over the road to buy some milk, I met a man who was working out where cable networking could be put in our village.

Eat you heart out Talk Talk. We might be able to get cheap telephones and internet connections soon!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Holiday Basics

It was one of those " is this really worth it moments". You know, the sort of moment. One that lasts about three hours.

The moment when, whilst packing the grips, having had to empty out whatever was being stored in there first, as the ones that you used to use for going on holiday have seemed to have done a Houdini act to other foreign places this year on children's school trips, and those that have come back look as if they have done three rounds in the garden with the dog, and the moment that you realise that whilst it makes for minimalist packing, not liking any of your clothes on your body does mean that what you are about to wear for the next week is not what you would ever choose, in a sane moment, to wear. And then you realise that that is what you always wear, and that 90% of the other stuff sits in your wardrobe, or maybe in the clean washing pile in the spare room. Untouched for most of the year. Which of course is why it's untouched in the spare room. Because you don't ever wear it.

Then there is the moment when you pack up all the food from the cupboards, so as to not have to spend money on all the basics on arrival. The only trouble is that it means that you have to sit amongst said "basics" in the car. And you sort of wish that maybe, just maybe, you were just a little bit better off. Not lottery win better off necessarily. Although, at that moment that would be nice. But, just enough, so that maybe, just maybe, you could eat out on holiday, and not have to sit amongst half used cabbages and lettuces for two and a half hours in the car. You see, basics for us doesn't just mean salt and peper, tea and coffee and a pot of herbs. It means everything and anything that we can transport. Which is quite a lot really.

Amidst all this was the car problem.

It had finally been recovered from the great car graveyard in the sky at 3 p.m. on Saturday. By hubby and me. Earlier that day he had rescued ED's mini from the garage, but needless to say, that was a just a "tad" too small to take six of us on holiday. That is six, not seven, as the seventh member was not present. She is on holiday in Portugal, with friend's family. Eating out and ignoring the supermarket bogofs for two weeks.

I happened to mention to hubby as we got back to the house with second mended car that day, that I really wondered if it was worth the effort. Given that it was quite a lot of effort. Really.

Hubby, being in stiff upper lip military mode, told me not to be so miserable, and that if "you go with that attitude, then you won't have a nice time."

Ok, I felt like saying. We've tried the, "not got enough money for anything remotely luxurious". The "I know, let's eat cous cous again tonight, because we have it in the cupboard from when they were selling it as a "buy one get six free offer." The "let's have our anniversary at home for the first 21 years of wedding anniversaries", and the "let's save a bit of money by using the tea bags off the clothes line." (Oh, ok, slight exaggeration... We do drink loose leaf tea, I know. And they have some very good offers on the cheapest brands most of the time).

And yes Hubby. Sadly, you are right. With this approach to living, I do frequently lose all notion of "sense of humour mode".

Quite a lot of the time.

So in terms of marks out of ten for observation on "how drudge wears you down", it's a straight 10 out of 10.

But..... on the other hand, you haven't tried the:

"Drape her in jewels, take her out for nice meals at the finest restaurants, take her on expensive holidays, and let her go to the supermarket without having to buy the bogof's and the "nearly at the sell by dates", and lingerie that isn't the "buy two pairs , get one free set of granny knickers from Tesco" approach, and seen how that might affect the sense of humour part of the brain now have you?

No.

See?

I didn't say that of course. I just looked moody for a little while and carried on packing and stuff. And besides, to be fair, had it not been for a benevolent brother who has lent us a house by the seaside this summer, for the second summer running, we wouldn't have had a holiday at all this year, even with bogofs.

So thank you BB.....

So, we stufffed all foodstuffs, seven grips, an extra grip for towels and bedding, duvets, sleeping bags, dog bowls, food bags and children into the car.

Then we went to find the dog. Said dog has pathalogical fear of cars and so was hiding, very well indeed, in an upstairs bedroom.

As we finally pulled away from the drive at 6.40, I did feel like going on holiday after all.

And as we turned back to the house at 6.50 to pick up all bits that we had forgotten, buy a lottery ticket (so as to give fate a chance of changing) and some sweets for the journey, it felt even more like a holiday.

Well.... the sort of holidays that the Lomaxes always have.

They always start with a bit of a "trip back to the house" followed by fifteen incidents of sibling friction an hour, and thirty "are we nearly there yets."

Yes.....

By 8 p.m. I could definitely see a good Lomax family holiday coming up.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Award from John G!


In retaliation/ thanks for being called an honorary girl, John G has awarded me an award:

I'm now officially a Rockin' Man Blogger?!!


It has taken a while to get it on my blog, because 'twas awarded whilst on hol, where I had no ability to upload pix.


But here it is....................


Thanks John!


I'm proud to be the holder of such an award!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

They really are people!















I've often wondered.

When you meet people, virtually, so to speak....

Are they really real?

Are they who they say they are?

Or are they really three legged transvestite monsters.

Well they are see. I know. I knew that Headless chicken was real anyway, because she lives near me. But as for Meredic..........

Well, I can now confirm that he exists too. And he can confirm that I exist. And we can both confirm that Headless exists.

And none of us are three legged, transvestite monsters.

We can even confirm all our first names:

Sally, Meredic and......... Headless.......

Thanks for visitng us Meredic.....

Hope to see more of you soon!


(Am now in Portsmouth for a few days.... more on that soon....)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hey! I Rock!






Dearest Akalemalu has told me that I rock!

Well thank you Ak! You rock too!

And in return I am to tell some other people that they too rock. But, if I nominate you, please don't feel that you to have to pass it on, unless you want to of course. You can of course though display one of the very colourful awards on your blog...I think that many of my blog chums have already been told that they rock, but I will nominate some bloggyites anyway. If I mention you, but you have already had a Rockin' Girl Blogger award ........then, have another! After all, there is no limit on the amount of Oscars you can pick up, so why not Rockin' Girl Blogger awards too?


And so, this evening's awards go to:

Enidd, who despite a move to California recently has still managed to keep up her blogging to its wonderfully high and very witty standard.

Beccy (who I think has probably had this already??) who never ceases to amaze me at the speed at which she produces blogs.

Wendz, who is poignant, clever and witty and who, like me I think, wears her heart on her sleeve.Lisa, who cooks clever stuff, does clever spinning around and stuff at amazing times in the morning, as well as having children and work to do.

Headless Chicken, who entered the blogging world with a bang and is a bit of a star.

Alice Band, who seems to be telling my my life story in a better and funnier way than me!
And last, but not least, the most recent blogger of all.......

Little Gymnast, of Gymnast fame on my blog, who at the tender age of nine has started her own blog, and writes and posts unaided. I know that she's mine, but what a star!
Enjoy.....

P.S I understand that this is a girl's own award. But, if no-one tells, I think that I will also include Meredic and Iggy and John G. Just for today, you understand, you three can be honorary girls. For the sake of the award only now, so don't go getting any ideas. We can't all be girls all the time.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

On the island of the Forest of Dean


Shhhhh..... in a rare moment in rain soaked summer holidays of not being needed by anyone to do anything, I've sneaked in to the computer room early enough for it not to be inhabited by teenagers or younger.

It's been an interesting few days......

ED and Sensible went to school on Friday morning. Both were finishing school for the summer at lunchtime.

Hubby left for work at around 8.30 a.m.

ED had planned to go out for the afternoon and bring some friends back later on as part of a birthday celebration. Sensible had planned to spend a caffeine filled afternoon in Starbucks with friends. ESOS, Gymnast and Tinkerbell Mushroom were at home, having already broken up from school.

All were expected home early Friday evening.

Then the rain started.

By the time the roads were seriously flooded and Sensible was on the bus home and ED changed her plans to stay overnight in Gloucester, Hubby, who had left work early so as to hopefully get home, was bravely facing the Malvern waters in seriously old car, only to be stopped by said waters with Noah's Ark style force. The only problem was that unlike Noah's Ark, or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, "Old Car" did not look after him until safely home. Instead it stopped, dramatically, a few miles out of Malvern.

He had been on the road for three hours by this time and had gone no further than a couple of miles. His persisitence had only been so apparent due to Sensible being stuck on the bus out of Gloucester and looking as if she might be in for an overnight stay on a public bus.

Meanwhile I was stuck in the Forest of Dean, which often very nearly an island in its own right, actually became one, as all waters from all sides engulfed us with good measure.

Suddenly Gloucestershire, as far away from sea as you often get in England, was, to all intents and purposes, an island.

The only problem was, that Hubby was on one island in Malvern, Sensible and ED were on another island in Gloucester and we were on a third one in the Forest of Dean.

Looking bedraggled and seriously in need of kind charity, some lovely people took pity on Hubby and took him in for the night. The RAC who were off rescuing fifty thousand other cars
too weren't able to get to Hubby for a few hours.

Sensible walked in to the house 11.15 p.m. Amazingly, despite having sat on a bus for seven hours, having got off the bus a couple of times to use loos in people's houses and run back to the bus to get back on it again, despite having had no food in this time, she walked in as if she had just come home from school on the bus as normal....

Where did she get those genes?

Meanwhile, on the other end of the sensible or not teenage spectrum, ESOS still wanted to go and get Harry Potter from Waterstones’ at Midnight, in Gloucester…

"Mum, the roads are obviously clear enough to get through to Gloucester now", he said. Sensible got through."

It had been a planned event..... And he looked so sad...... And it had been a horrible few hours worrying about everyone.....

"I'll try" I said, as we piled into the car, knowing that the chances of getting more than four miles down the road were seriously unlikely.

Ten minutes later we turned back into our drive. The only problem was that as went to turn off the road, half on, half off, the car "cut out". With a dodgy fuel gauge and a tendency to run out of battery every so often, the combination does leave a little to be desired sometimes in automobile technology.........

Sensible, ESOS and I managed to push big heavy bus onto the drive, just inside the gates.

ESOS, being fourteen, was still disappointed about the excursion to fetch Harry P...

Now don't get me wrong, I had some sympathy, but it was wearing................ thinnish shall we say?

Next morning Hubby phoned the RAC again. "Call back at 2 p.m." they said.

2 p.m. "Sorry, it's going to be Tuesday before we can rescue you. Can you leave your car there, and we'll collect it and deliver it to your local garage?"

Having just got my car going again, by means of a petrol can, a jump start off ED's mini (Sitting on drive awaiting her driving lessons) and ESOS, who having got over the Harry crisis, seemed to be more knowledgeable about car engines than me, I went out. Braving the waters of Gloucestershire and Malvern, to nobly rescue Hubby, I took Gymnast and Tinkerbell Mushroom with me.

Half way along the route, the car stopped. Thinking that it was the same age old problem of needing jump leads again, I flagged down a passing motorist.

It didn't go.

I called Hubby whose saintlike strangers who had taken him in for the night gave him a lift to where I was. We tried to jump start it again. We called the RAC. Small children in the car. Half an hour they promised.

Said Goodbye to the Saint and waited.

A few people came by. Each one helped to try to jump start it. No chance. Car was clearly hot. Hubby tried clever things involving puddle water and stuff to replenish the parts that needed refreshment. No joy.

Four hours went by. I Spy, Number plate games and all the imaginable word games in the universe had run out....

As had the water. It had gone in the car along with some puddle water.

We were considering drinking the puddles.....

As it costs a second mortgage to call the RAC on a mobile phone (will someone PLEASE tell these people that we need a landline to call? It is ONLY the phone companies who are benefitting from the 0800 numbers) we called ESOS, who rang again. Eventually, after much persistence on his part, they rang me. "Sorry", they said. It will be another 8 hours or so at least. Can you make your own way home?"

Called friend (Headless Chicken's Husband), who performed a Knight in Shining armour rescue and got us home.

10.30 p.m. Saturday evening we arrived home, 38 hours after hubby had left for work the previous morning.

ED finally got home on Sunday, with our Harry Potter books. Meanwhile, seizing a very rare clear road moment and a willing friend's mother who came to collect her, Sensible had gone again... party at a friends house. Re-emerged four days later, having got through more floods with friend's mother this time.......

We did get a letter from the RAC today though.

Apologising for any inconvenience.

Will make sure that I tell them about the 0800 number nonsense though. Grumble, grumble.........

p.s. Other than losing two cars, and a few hours of worry, we haven't done too badly in all this really. The house is up high and our children are all safe....

There have been some real horror stories with all this weather. We do count our blessings.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

There are no rules to being utterly irrational when it comes to pets.

MIL is visiting.

Selectively incontinent senile pacifist cat disgraces himself.

Again.....

In the children's playroom.

"You are going to have to take a managerial decision over this one", says MIL, whilst explaining to Tinkerbell Mushroom the dangers of toxocariasis.

MIL leaves to return home, and I go into deep depression. Well, yes of course I know the dangers of having an animal in the house who feels free to adopt certain rooms as his bathroom. And yes, I can see that it is purely selective, because he never "goes" where he sleeps or eats. And yes, I know that he was a stray that we adopted three years ago, that he didn't belong to us in the first place and that he isn't an ideal pet, or even proper cat material.

But he's a pet. And although I have always thought it absolutely bizarre that people become quite so attached to their pets, I suddenly begin to see their point.

There are no rules to being utterly irrational when it comes to pets.

Admittedly it was possibly a bit over the top of my mother for instance to go into full dress mourning for five years after the departure of our old English sheepdog. My Dad must have felt a bit left out really.

I ring my friend. She has two cats who live outside. They have a farm. She has said before that she would be willing to rehouse the pacifist cat, but when push came to shove I didn't have the heart, and so he stayed again for a few more months.

I pluck up the courage and I arrange to drop him off the next day. I tell the children , quickly squashing any ideas that it might be the type of farm that Phoebe in "Friends" parents use, and that they will be able to visit him.

The next day comes. It is ED's birthday.

"I need to see PC" she says, “before I go to school. To say goodbye."
Seizing the opportunity I say, "Would you prefer that he didn't go today?" I say. "I can rearrange it."

"Yes please she says."

Relieved, I phone my friend, and we rearrange the handover for Friday.

He's been good since Monday.

Yes. I know.

It's only Wednesday now. And it's not been raining. He's definitely worse in the rain. He doesn't like going outside in the rain. Trouble is that he won't use a litter tray either, unless its in a central area of the house that isn't cold or anywhere near any food or sleeping quarters.

But it's a bit of progress.

Maybe by Friday he will be completely cured of selective incontinence and will be able to stay? Maybe it will stop raining forever?

No.... I know.

Cat pee does smell. The dressing up clothes and hubby's trunk in which they were housed have been ruined. A dozen books have been ruined, not to mention Sensible's shoes and countless toys.

Hubby is not a cat lover. Actually he and his whole family hates cats. PC was a concession to that lifelong hatred. But he let us down. The contrary animal!

I fear that I will have to make that journey on Friday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Happy Birthday ED!!


ED is 17 today!


That is 17 on 17th of the 7th month of the 7th year!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY ED!!!!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Invasion!



"I'll go up on the roof this evening and sort them out." Says Hubby.



I nip into the local town and and do my bit by buying some stuff that should work.

Call ED to tell her the news that although since she left this morning the house has become invaded by black and yellow mini monsters, mostly hanging around outside her window, that she doesn't need to worry, because Hubby is on the case and will have them gone in no time.

The location of the nest of said uninvited guests appears to be on the roof.

"He can't go up on the roof", she protests. "Mum. Tell him he can't go up on the roof."

Undeterred, Hubby climbs up onto the first level. Then onto the next bit of the roof. Then onto the top. I'm inside the house at this point.

My mobile rings.

Hubby.

He's fallen down I think. He's lying in the drainpipe with one leg still on the roof.

"Sal, can you come outside?"

"Why?" I say.

Yes, he has definitely fallen off, I think again. I know he has. From top to bottom, and now having managed to survive, he is paralysed, unable to move and needs me to get an ambulance.

I rush outside to see the extent of the damage.

No sign of Hubby.

"Where are you?" I call.

"I'm up here. On the roof."

I look up into the skies and there is hubby, a dot on the horizon.

Huge house with huge mortgage for huge family is three stories high of course, with 9 ' high Georgian ceilings.

It's a long way to the top.

"Can you just direct me to where that hole is? You know? The one in the lead flashing just above ED's window?"

I direct him.

He sprays generously telling all unwanted guests on roof to disappear forever and never come back to darken our rooftops again.

We agree that the job is done. I then go inside to wash the blood spots off my hands, while he climbs off the roof again.

Five minutes later, no sign of Hubby.

I'll call the ambulance first I think. That way it can be making its way here, and I'll waste no time.

Something stops me and instead I go outside again. Still no sign of Hubby anywhere.

Go to the front of the house. He's climbing down there.

Eventually he gets back down.

We go into the garden to inspect the progress of the departing wasps.

"I didn't mean that hole in the flashing", says Hubby. "I meant that one."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pobol Y Cwm Wallpaper


It was just another "drive everyone over the age of 12 to the next bus stop in dressing gown" day for hubby. Fortunately, my call wasn't until 11.30 a.m. in Cardiff, so I had time.

"So where are you going?" Asks Tinkerbell Mushroom.

"I'm going to be in Pobol y Cwm for the day." I say. "It's a Welsh t.v. programme."

"So will I be able to see you?"

"Hopefully" I say.

"So, I can watch you on telly, today?"

"No, not today" I say. "In a few weeks."

A look of disappointment crosses her face as, being not far removed from the age when you still think that the actors are inside the box in your living room, she had clearly thought that she was going to be watching me live on TV when she came in from school.

It makes me nervous having to be somewhere 50 miles away at a certain time. My driving, never very good, becomes erratic and, despite being a persistently late person, I allow so much time, leaving just as I dispatch the youngest two to school, that I arrive an hour early.
As I walk into the BBC Cardiff studios, I get the distinct impression of dèja vu. Remembering though that Torchwood and Dr. Who are made here, I feel slightly relieved.

That's why I think.

I sign in and explain why I am here.

"Do you know where to go?" Says the security guard?

"No", I say.

So they get a runner who runs me through a rabbit warren of corridors. I stare like a tourist at the in built street set, and then realise that I am supposed to look professional, and try not to look to obvious. Too late for that really.

Being an hour early I ask if there is anywhere I can get a coffee or tea while waiting. The runner directs me back to the restaurant. By reception. It is seriously touch and go finding my way back there, and on my way back to the green room I am even more at a loss, so I look pathetically at a couple of seemingly helpful types and get redirected back to the right place.

Not being a Welsh speaker of course, I couldn't actually say any lines even if the opportunity were there and so I am background, which in acting terms is sort of equivalent to being wallpaper. Of course, on actual paper you are referred to as an artist... A serious exagggeration!

In truth you are a tool that the artists use. Essential, but no more significant that a piece of moving wallpaper.

A few more wallpapers arrive and we all chat.

Then we get bussed out to a location.

Then we chat some more.

Then it's lunch time.

They haven't got to our bit yet. So, we are bussed back to BBC Cardiff, taken to the restaurant to eat lunch.

Then we get bussed back to the location again.

In the bus are some of the main characters. They all speak Welsh to one another, but if you ask them a question in English, they switch so easily that you feel highly inferior. In this little Principality are a whole nation of bilingual speakers, who over the years have occasionally got a little cross with the way we manage things here over the border, and we in turn have sometimes previously treated their Welsh speaking habits as a little bit of a joke. But in truth I am in awe. My O'level French is pretty poor and my German worse, so to hear people converse completely naturally in two languages is sickeningly admirable. Here, these people get directed by the director in one language, act in another, and speak quite happily in either.

I ask another Welsh speaking wallpaper, who has just asked a question in Welsh to someone else who was previously speaking English, how they know that that person speaks Welsh. I think it must have been by some form of telepathic communication, because there was nothing else to suggest otherwise.

"Of course, you understand that we switch to Welsh, so that we can talk about you, don't you?" he says. We all laugh, and it is funny, but the biggest laugh is on we English of course.

At about 3 in the afternoon, they say that they need someone to walk across the room in a dressing gown, this being a hospital location.

Practically gagging by now to do something, I volunteer to make myself look especially unsexy and do said job.

"Ooh very sexy" says one of the other wallpapers.

Very not of course. But I do my bit and am quite happy.

The strange thing about doing a job like this, is that for a whole day you are put in incredibly close proximity to people that you have never met before, and in a short space of time you get to know their entire life stories, warts and all.

I also discover that Pobol y Cwm means "People of the Valley". So at least I have learnt some Welsh for my day's efforts.

At the end of the day, like true luvvies, everyone kisses everyone else goodbye. Of course, we will probably never meet again, but it's sort of the way its done, so we do it before wending our way back up the motorway, avoiding the Heddlu with any erratic driving and back home again.

As we leave, one of the actors thanks us.

I have done a few bits of wallpaper work over the years, but I have never ever been thanked before by one of the main artists. It may seem a little thing, but bear in mind that these people are making this half hour show day in day out from 9 til 7 , 8 , 9 every week day of the year.

They see hundreds of wallpapers.

It was a small and unexpected gesture.

So nice and so charming...

It made my day.