Vacation musings and tourist information (see the US twist there)

I woke early this morning with blog thoughts running through my mind so I decided to get up straight away and start writing. I was feeling chirpy and bright as I came downstairs but within seconds I was confronted with a problem that I have created and don’t know what to do about. A few weeks ago I was really pleased when Martin and Melanie started bringing a new friend home. They all got on so well together. Often I misjudge the appetites of Martin and Mel and prepare too much food. Rather than let the food go to waste I was happy to let Theragen come in and finish it off. At some undefined point Theragen took more control of the situation and began turning up first thing in the morning and then hanging around most of the day. Of course Martin and Mel are always pleased to see her but I was (and still am) concerned that she is spending too much time here when she should be with her own family, who may well be fretting over her long absences. She has moved on from waiting at the door. She just wanders in and helps herself to food. A few days ago I started turning her away and refused to let her in the house. That’s when her true nature became apparent. She isn’t content with accepting what she is given. She is demanding and determined. As I am typing, I can still hear her yowling intermittently outside. I can’t see her because I am avoiding looking out of the window in case I catch her eye and she takes that as a sign of me weakening and renews her yowling with greater zeal. My brain tells me that she looks well fed and cared for and doesn’t need food from my house but those yowls and steely eyes are nearly breaking my resolve to ignore her. Guilt isn’t helping me be strong. I know now I should never have welcomed her in and given her the impression that she could become one of our family. I’m sure she doesn’t understand why I am suddenly denying her food that was given so freely just a few days ago. Mel and Martin are showing no interest in the situation at all and, after a quick hello sniff, they have gone off, leaving Theragen and I at stalemate.

That is the situation I’m in right now. Hopefully if I concentrate on writing I won’t be drawn to open the door. So…… a weekend in the Peak District. The visit was dual purpose. A chance to take my mother away and a chance to see a friend’s artwork on display. I did have some concerns over the combination but apart from my mother’s expected question – “What’s it meant to be?”- on seeing Patsy’s creations it worked well and meeting Patsy gave my mother plenty of content for conversations with my sister when she returned home. This was warmly greeted by my sister who was becoming a little tired of repeated conversations about what would happen at digital switchover and my mother’s concerns that my sister would not have sufficient knowledge and skills to retune her Freeview box. (She did). 

Patsy gave me a private artist’s tour of her sculptures. I felt very special, especially when other visitors passed by and were just ‘listening in’ rather than being ‘specially selected’. It was great to hear Patsy’s thoughts behind her creating. It definitely increased my interest in and connection to her work. It is Patsy who has been asking for photographs on my blog. I think she should add a recording of her talking about her pieces for the listeners among us. Written thoughts would be good but Patsy’s passion comes out in her voice, and she has a nice accent. I won’t be more specific about her accent because too many clues would make it easy for some readers to guess her real identity.

After the artist’s tour we went on a tour of coffee shops in the large village/small town. There were five of us altogether – Patsy, Patsy’s daughter, Patsy’s friend (Paulette, who I had not met before), my mother and me. Finding an open café which could accommodate us all proved impossible. We ended up in a pub. Now this may sound stereotypical but my expectation of a pub in a Peak District village which is hosting an arts festival is that it will be a bit posh. This one wasn’t. Half past five on a Saturday afternoon and we were sat at a table next to a group of people whose loudness was fuelled by alcohol and lots of it. One of their party, a burly man adorned with tattoos, took it upon himself to become our waiter and delivered an assortment of tea pots, milk jugs and cups from the bar to our table. Patsy and Paulette engaged in conversation about tattoos with him, including what tattoos he had below his waist. This is where I would have made my excuses and left him at the bar but the next thing I saw was Paulette looking in his mouth and ‘ooooing’. It turned out that he had a tattoo on his inside lip which had intrigued Paulette. After my initial surprise at her actions (I had classified her as about my age and a bit posher so it seemed out of character) I could see how curiosity could lead to this, which is probably better than my motive for doing such things ie.drinking too much alcohol.

All is quite outside. Theragen may have given up for the time being, fingers crossed. I feel safe to venture into the kitchen and get a cup of coffee now. If Theragen is there, her hopes will rise that I have gone in there to open the back door. Oh, I can feel the angst building up at the thought of it. If she is still there I will take a photograph ready for tomorrow’s blog which will also feature the car driver story.

Tourist Information

1. Do not believe the tourist information assistant at Matlock Mining Museum if she tells you that the Park and Ride bus from Matlock to Matlock Bath illuminations stops in the car park next to the gardens where the illuminations are. I believed her (after she had just given my mother a free ticket to the illuminations because she is a blue badge holder due to mobility difficulties) and we ended up walking half a mile!!!! from a different car park. Then half a mile back!!!!!

2. Do not assume that the cordoned off area for people with disabilities will have any seating in it. I did and we ended up standing for an hour. Go early and get a seat in the other areas!!!

3. Do not expect too much from the ‘unique parade of illuminated and decorated boats’. Expect ten pretty boats with lights on and you won’t be disappointed.  

B&B Owner Advice

You won’t get excellent on tripadvisor if you serve a full breakfast with mushrooms and without tomatoes to Rose’s mother when she specifically requested a full breakfast with tomatoes and without mushrooms.

Online Art Exhibition – “Stuff” by Rose

This is an extra to my usual blogging (which I will resume this evening) and is in response to a reader request. For sometime now Patsy has been telling me that she wants photos on my blog. This morning I have made a concerted effort to locate a digital camera with charged batteries, vacant storage space and a lead to connect it to my laptop. Previous attempts to do this have ended with one of the following. Camera phone with no lead; non digital cameras; digital camera with no battery and either no correct size working batteries in house or no lead/plug to recharge built in batteries; digital camera with no free storage space because D1 or D2 has stolen the memory card or they have filled all space with what appears to bands on stages (they clearly didn’t get a front row position and so the dots in the distance could be anyone) and an abundance of miscellaneous people. I am too scared of the consequences I might suffer if I delete any of these.

But today all I needed was in the right place at the right time. I thought some before and after photographs might help readers/viewers get a clearer feel of what it is like in my home. So here they are. If it works as I plan there will be numbered photographs followed by brief descriptions.

Photograph 1

ImagePhotograph 2

ImagePhotograph 3ImagePhotograph 4Image

Photograph 1 – Book shelf immediately AFTER I tidied it. It was intended to be just for books but there was nowhere else for the other bits and pieces that I might need easy access too. There are a couple of the cameras mentioned earlier on there.

Photograph 2 – Bay window AFTER bedroom was tidied. The curtains were cleverly moved so now when they are drawn the stuff disappears – like magic only its still there when the curtains are opened. Similar artworks have been created fourfold in the garage.

Photograph 3 – The shoe collection in the hallway AFTER Froddo tidied it. He’s gone for the ‘piled’ look as opposed to the original ‘spread’ look.

Photograph 4 – The garden path AFTER Froddo spent days last summer (summer 2011 that is) sorting out the garden. I have no other words I can add to that.

Oh they are all after photos. I am going to have another reshuffle of the book shelf right now and then that photo will turn into a before one. Now I have the equipment I will be adding photos on a more regular basis for the visuals amongst you.

High maintenance, pushover, flaky…….its all good.

Oh my goodness, it’s been two weeks since I last blogged. This means I’ve fallen short of my own expectations but I did console myself by identifying with Phoebe in an episode of Friends that I saw earlier this week. She describes Monica as being ‘high maintenance’ and Rachel as being a ‘pushover’. They both take this negatively and insist that they are not. When they tell Pheobe she is ‘flaky’, she agrees.  She doesn’t take it as positive or negative, she just accepts that that’s the way she is. So – I miss blogging for a few weeks, hey I guess I’m flaky too. I did get a bit teary later on in that episode when Chandler admits he thinks Monica is a bit high maintenance. Monica is straight into denial again until Chandler tells her its because she’s passionate etc, etc (he does quite a long speech but I can’t remember all the details, probably due to my flakiness) and ends by saying that it’s one of the reasons they are so good together because he likes maintaining her. Oh how perfect.

I’ve missed several Zumba sessions lately, too. Flaky, flaky.

Interestingly, I have had four views from the US whilst not posting and another person has reached my blog while searching for ironing. Maybe if I wrote ten blogposts about ironing then didn’t blog for a month my ratings would be boosted. Oh, that wouldn’t work because all the people who only read when I post a new blog wouldn’t be viewing. Flaky thinking.

Well, so much has happened in two weeks its hard to know where to start. One big change is that D1 is now living in university halls. Froddo and I helped her moved in and all seems fine except I am a little concerned over the toilet facilities (or the lack of them). It appeared that there was just one toilet for about eight rooms and it is down a flight of stairs from the rooms/kitchen corridor. I wanted to ask the boys in the kitchen if they could shed any light on the toilet situation but D1 was totally against this idea and became a little irate when I tried to investigate further by wandering around the corridor trying to work out what was behind each door. Following the advice I was given at camp, I suggested she invest in a bucket. That did not go down well either. She has since told me that there is another toilet off the corridor and at least one en-suite room. This could be true or she could be making this up in case I ring the accommodation office for information and if the toilet I saw is the only one she might think I’ll start making a fuss. Of course I wouldn’t do this even though I would be tempted to. I have got the message that this sort of thing is seen as parental interference rather than concern for a fellow human being. In my experience, practical issues, such as having to walk down a flight of stairs to use a toilet shared by eight + people in the middle of the night, are not highlighted to concerned parents. Everyone talks about alcohol, drugs, junk food, study stress, financial difficulties…….. but toilets, not so much. 

D1’s move from home has cut down the number of ‘leaving bits of toast in the butter’ suspects. To be fair she has always been an outside suspect due to her frequent complaints whenever she lifts the lid off the tub and finds brown crunchy bits in there. Son is also an outside suspect as he very rarely butters toast. I am very particular about having uncontaminated butter so I know it’s not me. That leaves Froddo as number one suspect. He doesn’t out-rightly deny its him but when questioned he says things like “I don’t think it was me” or “What makes you think it was me?” and his tone of voice hints that any discussion about it will lead to an argument. Perhaps coincidently, the butter is toast free for a couple of weeks after it’s been drawn to his attention.

In other news from the kitchen, Son was almost caught up in an unusual situation. We were away from home for two days with D1, leaving Son home alone. Having failed to wash up the breakfast dishes on the morning we left and Son’s tendency to eat cereal for both breakfast and evening snack, the situation arose where there were NO clean bowls in the house. No doubt he would have broken his cereal habit and turned to some other food rather than attempt to wash up. After many years of trying an array of rota systems, payment by results and hours of negotiating I gave up trying to engage my children in household tasks quite a while ago.

I wrote the preceeding section of this blogpost whilst babysitting. Baby was sleeping. I was not ignoring him whilst I concentrated on writing. I save that for when I want a break from Froddo. When baby was awake he enjoyed several games of ‘grab the glasses’. I was so enamoured with his giggles that I instigated the game sometimes. As someone whose glasses often fall off anyway, I didn’t mind Baby throwing them to the floor. I do hope if he tries it with someone else they take it in good spirit. With hindsight it may not have been the best thing to encourage him. Find of the day was a cannister labelled TREATS. I only meant to have a quick peek inside but the sight of hundreds (that might be a slight overestimation but there were lots) of assorted sweets and lollipops made me giddy and before I knew it was unwrapping a toffee wrapped in shiny blue paper and popping it in my mouth at great speed. I quickly put the lid back on. For a moment I felt that rush of excitement and guilt I’d felt as a teenager when my friend and I raided the alcohol cupboard when we were babysitting. We were asked back so I assume the parents never realised a centimetre of drink was missing from each bottle of spirit.

Next installment will feature a weekend in the Peak District and the camarderie of car drivers.

To complain or not to complain

I am investigating the phrase ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. If I get a boost to my viewing stats I shall conclude that it does. If they remain at the extremely low level they have been at since I last posted almost two weeks ago, then I shall conclude ‘out of sight out of mind’ is more apt. 

During my abstinence from blogging I have spent much of my time ‘sorting’ stuff. My hoarding/untidy house has been covered in previous blog posts and I won’t revisit the topic now except to say that the same amount of stuff, minus about 2%, has been shuffled around the house and some has made it to the garage/halfway house on its planned journey to the bin. I have managed to compress the stuff in the house so that it takes up less space. An achievement which has not impressed my family, who are still urging me to ‘get rid of it.’

I have also been in dispute with Virgin mobile who have no business sense whatsoever. Due to my misunderstanding of their terms and conditions I have inadvertently paid them £100 for a service I haven’t used. Several phone calls and emails have been exchanged but my pleas for them to demonstrate that they see me as a valued customer have fallen on deaf ears. They appeared not to see the logic in refunding my money and retaining myself, Frodo and D1 as customers. I pointed out that within 6 months they will have lost more than £100 when we shift to another company but all such appeals to common sense were met with repetition of the clause in the terms and conditions which indicates I had made a mistake.  I eventually gave up after hearing “It states in our terms and conditions…….” for the 35th time (or thereabouts). Now I am committed to carrying out my threat and the hassle of changing to another company and having to get a new mobile number. Frodo has fully supported me throughout and will be shunning Virgin too.

In contrast, Tesco were very apologetic when I selected the wrong wine for the ‘meal deal’ and had to pay £16 instead of £10. They refunded my money when I returned the items and sent me a £10 giftcard with an apology for the ‘upset and embarrassment’ I had suffered (their words not mine). 

Whilst on my trip to London I was twice saved from making myself look foolish by complaining unnecessarily. The first incident took place at the self service checkout in a Tesco Express. I tried unsuccessfully five times to insert my debit card into the card reader and after checking the various orientations I was convinced the problem lay with the card reader. Before I could summon a checkout operative, my companion (Will) stepped in and immediately spotted that I was not inserting my card into the card reader slot after all but into the space between the reader and the holder it was in. Ooops. Shortly after this my travelcard failed to open the barrier to the underground station. Again I tried removing and reinserting it and was ready to summon a tfl worker when Will stepped in again and informed me that I was trying to enter through an exit barrier. All’s well that ends well though and the travelcard worked perfectly when inserted in the entrance barrier.

My sense of fun and my sense of what is acceptable were in battle during the London trip. Will, along with my other companions, played the bogies game in the Olympic Park (here’s a link for anyone who unfamiliar with the game.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mblkUZgOwPQ&feature=relmfu ). I was disappointed that it didn’t raise many smiles, although Will and friends were at times giggling furiously especially when one middle aged man joined in with a “bogey” before disappearing into the crowd. I knew if I joined in my companions would enjoy my participation and for some reason it seemed like a fun idea but I’m sorry to say that on this occasion I kept my ‘bogies’ to myself. Another example of society’s norms curtailing the freedom of an individual. Maybe next time I’ll break free.

 

 

Where to go?

Holiday Highlights – Part Three

6. I was delighted to discover that my ability to squat unaided and return to a standing position without falling over remains intact despite not being put to use for many years. ‘Squat’ is one of the Zumba instructions that I adapt. I do a semi squat so as to remove all embarrassment of a ‘topple over’ or a ‘stuck in squat’, neither of which are Zumba moves. However whilst camping, squatting became more appealing than lonely walks to the toilet block in the early hours, especially as it was also a long walk and more than once I had to jog the last few metres to get there before my bladder began ignoring my pleas to “hold on we’re nearly there.”  Several of my fellow campers were surprised I’d been consistently using the toilets and spare buckets were offered to me as gifts. I accepted one but the thought of having to deal with emptying it the next day and with no means of bleaching it or even disinfecting it was enough to stop me using it. My reservations about using the bucket were greeted with “it’s only wee” (which it would have been) but that did not make it acceptable to me. What if that bucket somehow found its way to a tie dying activity or even worse, was used as a vessel for carrying washing up? Despite it having FISH written on it and so being easily identifiable I was not going to take any chances. It soon became apparent that weeing in the woods was a common after dark activity and so after a few days I gave it a try. It was one of those situations where failure to carry out the whole routine successfully would have incurred very undesirable consequences. I undertook the procedure knowing that if my squat wasn’t low enough ‘splashback’ would occur and I’d regret embarking on this alternative venture. I also believed that returning to a standing position, without wobbling and inadvertently putting a steadying hand onto the freshly dampened ground, would be a challenge. To my relief everything went smoothly and my visits to areas off the beaten track became a nightly occurrence.

On balance it was a positive move, largely because the several minutes stress and inconvenience of getting to the toilet block was replaced by just a minute or two of stress which ended when all clothes were back in place. Twinkle* did create some extra unease when I overheard her talking about finding a spot by torchlight, turning off the torch and relieving herself in darkness. Then mid flow noticing another torch beam heading her way and having to call out that she was there. From then on I walked deeper into the woods and only stopped when I realised if I didn’t stop it would have been nearer to go to the toilet block. For me it would have been a Bingo panic moment. The anxiousness building up with just one number to go and worrying that I won’t be brave enough to call out. Then the number comes up and the indecision of whether to call bingo, here or yes goes on too long and the moment passes as the next number is called. In the woods scenario this would translate to embarrassing discovery. Thankfully I was never discovered.

7. There were more holiday highlights but life is moving on so no more will be recorded here. Look out for my book ‘Crazy Camping’ which may be published one day. It will include a tribute to a camp warden whose loyalty to the campsite cannot be doubted. His fear that disappearing toilet paper and 10ps being forced into shower meters will lead to an end of civilisation as scouts know it may come out as being over -zealous but personally I found it endearing and forgive him completely for thinking I ripped the sticker off the shower meter in a deliberate act of vandalism.

Non – camping content. In the past week or two I have been on two nights out. Both very enjoyable, both in disco type environments and both raising the question “how many times is it appropriate to ask someone to repeat what they said before you nod and smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?”  

*Twinkle named after the twinkle in her eye, not her twinkles in the wood.