Holiday Highlights

I had a plan to make notes during my recent holiday so that when it came to writing my blog I wouldn’t have to try and remember all the details. Of course I didn’t record anything but hopefully my memory won’t let me down too much. My memory along with my eyesight has diminished over the last few years. During my holiday someone alerted us to a fleeting wonder of nature (it could have been a shooting star or a passing dragonfly or something else, I can’t recall the exact wonder now) and I totally empathised with a fellow camper who scrabbled around to locate her glasses, only to find them a moment after the wonder had disappeared from view. Her comment that she misses loads while she is looking for her glasses will be familiar to all those who are in or have been in the twilight zone between needing glasses on occasions but managing much of the time without them. Going into anywhere with a menu and having to ask someone else to read it for you is another common feature of this twilight zone.

Onto the holiday highlights which I will list together with some tips for future reference. For those of you who don’t know where I’ve been, here is a summary of the destination. Accommodation = tents in woodland. Facilities = a shower block, toilets and a cabin with a cooker and sink about 300m from tents. Clientele, aka fellow campers = a mixed bunch of families.

1. By chance, my neighbours for the holiday were excellent in many ways. Goldilocks and Thespian managed to be both easy going and incredibly organised. This was great for me. Camping next to them provided good company and easy access to bits and pieces I needed but had failed to pack. Can opener, 10ps for showers, kitchen roll, wipes, aloe vera, etc were produced from their tent like items from Mary Poppin’s carpet bag. Tip – Camp close to someone who appears to be well equipped. Signs of this are a trailer and a range of boxes and shelving. Avoid campers, such as myself, who arrive with most of their stuff in carrier bags. This indicates rushed, last minute packing.

2. By chance, I poured boiling water over two of my fingers and sustained a rather nasty scald. The initial hour of pain, the inconvenience of having to shower with a carrier bag over my hand and the trickiness of washing up with one hand could have been a lowlight but it proved to be very positive. Firstly, I was given lots of attention. Some fellow campers even thought I should go to A&E with such a shocking injury. (They were no doubt impressed at my resilience). Following this I was offered various lotions and dressings from several different people. Pixie became my main supplier of plasters and threw in some tlc for free (the plasters were free too). Whenever there was a lull in conversation I nonchalently moved my hand around until someone asked how my fingers were or even better asked “Ooo, what have you done?”, which gave me the opportunity to regale them with my tale of folly (I didn’t hide the fact that I had caused the injury by lifting a handleless pan of boiling water with a tea towel). By the end of the holiday everyone knew. Tip – Make the most of injuries. Thespian sustained a rib injury but rarely mentioned it. He could easily have winced to get attention each time he stood up or used it as an excuse to take a break from wood chopping. His moniker is based on a revelation about his successful youth acting not on his performance at the camp.

More highlights will be published tomorrow. I am about to get ready for another wild night on the town! 


Zumba goes on holiday and the trouble with Melanie

Having missed three Monday Zumbas in a row I was expecting to be top of the non compliance* table but there were some zumba-ites at the session tonight who I hadn’t seen before. If they have been there in the previous three weeks I expect they thought I was the new one and were impressed at how well I was picking up the moves. I did feel quite experienced in their presence. Watching the olympic athletes has shifted my perspective of wonderful woman and therefore of myself aswell. Since starting Zumba I have been completely amazed at her ability to carry out all the zumba moves, including adding the arms, inbetween feet, skips, the reach and jumps (all of which I miss out except the reach which I love) whilst at the same time calling out instructions and encouraging words and never getting out of breath. Prior to my olympic viewing I was of the opinion that very few people could do this and the majority of people would be nearer my level of fitness than hers. It seems I may have misjudged our positions in relation to the wider population. The other day I watched women swimming 1500m, cycling 40km and running 10km and then 5 minutes later they were being interviewed with no hint of breathlessness and appearing full of energy! Hundreds of other athletes have similarly appeared to have far more energy after their events than I have before I start any physical activity. My thinking was wonderful woman in top 10% of fittest people in the world and I’d be amongst the other 90%. Now I’m thinking there is 90% fittest people above my 10% of others. That maths might not make sense but in simple terms, wonderful woman is not so unique in her amazingness but I am more unique in my speed at becoming breathless. 

I will be going on my annual camping holiday later this week and I am very pleased to announce that I have secured a Zumba instructor to run a Zumba session at the camp. whoop. whoop. At this time I do not know if I will have the capabilities to blog from camp and so the outcome of the Zumba session may not reach my blog for some time. I am hoping that I will be reporting that I dazzled my fellow campers with my interpretation of the Zumba moves. I have been partly motivated to set up the session because of my confidence that I will impress everyone there and I will be secretly very annoyed if anyone outshines me.

My annoyance with Melanie’s actions came to a head this week. For some time I have excused her behaviour as a one off, then a two off, even a three off but she has got into a pattern and I have had to assert my power by introducing a strict door policy. No matter how many times Frodo and I have explained to her that bringing guests into the house without our permission is not acceptable she has carried on doing it. I think one guest may have been in more than once but to be honest I have no interest in getting to know them. I just want them out as quick as possible. She has been free to come and go as she wants but now the door will remain locked until she gets home so that we can check she is alone before letting her in. I don’t like being so controlling but the latest incident pushed me to it. I knew something was going on in the hallway by the unusual noise she was making and when I investigated, there she was, laid next to a frozen-in-time frog. I’m getting used to this now and didn’t even bother screaming. I just stomped into the kitchen to get a receptacle to put it in for its journey back to the wildlife area. While I was gone it unfroze and by the time I had got back it had hidden itself somewhere in the pile of footwear. I then had to engage in a game of cat and mouse aka human and frog for the next five minutes. Melanie, meanwhile, had taken herself off to the living room for a cat nap. Frog, apparently unharmed, hopped off into the grass when I released him back to the wild. As with most of my household policies I have already begun to let it slip. The inconvenience of having to answer the door each time Melanie wants to come is unfortunately as annoying as the uninvited guests. She also caused a stir earlier this week when she jumped out of the loft window, slid down the roof and got temporarily stuck on top of the upstairs bay window. To cut a long story (that involves a plank of wood, Frodo, Son, a ladder, three neighbours, a bag of dry cat food, me and half an hour) short – she got back in the house via the loft window. Her brother, Martin, has had a less eventful week.

Stats news – Switzerland has joined my growing list of country views. Who can it be??? 

As previously mentioned, I am on holiday later this week so if no blog posts appear for a while don’t panic. I will be back with a mega blog about the amazing holiday I’m about to have.

* com·pli·ance

the act of conforming, acquiescing, or yielding.
a tendency to yield readily to others, especially in a weak and subservient way.
non compliance is the opposite.
On-line dictionaries are marvelous.

Olympics 2012 medal table full information

Olympics 2012 medal table full information can not be found in this blog post. In an attempt to catch some passing trade (someone might google a search term that matches my blog) I have used a title which lots of people might be googling. Tactics. A reader has alerted me to a site that records global rankings of web pages. Mine has risen from 7,417,550 to 6,259,488 this week!

I don’t have much interest in the Olympic medal table myself but I have found the events and interviews I’ve watched very emotional. I’ve shifted from stifled sobs, which were greeted with incredulous cries of “are you crying?” from D1 and Son, to streaming tears which are greeted with raised eyebrows between D1 and Son and tutting. Without taking anything away from the amazing athletes, my children’s reaction is probably based on my tendency to cry regularly at things I see on TV, including a recent episode of the Simpsons.

Last night I utilised a variety of vegetables to cook up a delicious soup to be eaten later this evening. In their pre-soup state the vegetables looked past their best and it crossed my mind to dump them in the compost bin, knowing that if left another day they would be too far gone to be used. I was tired, having already completed the evening meal cooking, washing up and emptying bins events but I dug deep and found the strength to pick up the vegetable peeler and give the soup my best shot. All the years of training I’ve put into cooking paid off and I was rewarded with a gold medal soup (based on one judge’s score). During the selection of the vegetables the recurring question ‘how green can a potato be before it poisons you’ came up. My mother’s answer to this is “just eat it” and I suspect I unknowingly ate many green potatoes as a child. However I am cautious about eating them nowadays and extremely cautious about feeding them to my offspring. A couple of weeks ago I finally got round to googling the question when I was faced with some slightly green potatoes as I was about to embark on a planned meal of jacket potatoes. Worryingly I discovered that some potatoes can contain a poisonous substance even if they haven’t turned green! Reassuringly it is extremely rare that anyone dies from potato poisoning. Armed with this information I went ahead with the planned meal after cutting off the greenest parts and all who ate the meal are still living. I must get around to clearing out the food cupboard and make some decisions about how long past the best before date something needs to be before it should be thrown out.

Another unanswered question I have is “what is the best way to fold a fitted sheet?” I imagine two people would have more success in folding it flatter with the sides evenly tucked in, than one person would but I can’t imagine anyone in my house, other than myself, folding a fitted sheet. I am on my own when it comes to folding bed linen. My current preference is tucking corners into corners but I think with more practise the folding of all four flaps inwards would produce a tidier finish. I must admit I don’t get much practise due to a ‘one day off, wash, dry, on’ technique. Fold in half and roll is quick but looks very messy.

This week I have been ruminating about mugs and how different households deal with them after they have been used. In our house they are used for one round only (a round being a single cup or 2 cups from same teapot brew) and it doesn’t take long for a large number of mugs to join the washing up queue. I was recently re-alerted to the fact that some people use the same mug for a second round of drinks. This is what my mother does, sometimes with a swill and sometimes without, between mid morning drink and lunch. It seems other frequent tea drinkers often use the same mug. Why I don’t do this I don’t know, especially given the tardiness that surrounds washing up in my house. Rodney made me feel better about the accumulation of unwashed mugs though by observing that it looked like we’d had lots of people round. That was enough to deter me from making a resolution to increase the frequency of my washing up.

Other stats news – 2 US views again today. Almost every time I visit my blog, I play out a scenario (internally) where I get a comment from an overseas reader and squeal with excitement. Comments so far have elicited ‘ooos’, lots of grinning and a temporary increase in heart rate but no squeals yet.

Welcome Canada and New Zealand!!!!! Hi Germany!!!

Two more countries have appeared in my stats this morning! I hope Canada and New Zealand will be become regulars and they may be the first overseas viewers to comment!! My geographical knowledge has increased through the Canadian view and I now know that Canada is not only one big chunk of land. There are lots of little islands too. On the World map this produces a very striking highlighted area and Canada could well be the most interesting country in terms of map aesthetics. Germany I have an inkling who you are : )

My challenge for the day is spending £3.30 in 5ps.

Move on, some things shouldn’t be dwelt on.

I have finally got round to blogging. My weekend was spent gardening, washing, shopping and tidying (four ‘ings’ I won’t be dwelling on). My journey to Birmingham last week was enhanced by the purchase of a satnav and there will be more about this later. However by sharing some of today’s events I am hoping to clear my mind of them so I will record those first.

D2 is back home for a few days with her boyfriend, Rodney. This morning a fun filled day trip to the seaside lay before us. Tonight a day of mixed emotions and family disagreements lies behind us. Everything was going well, sun shining, a walk along the seafront, pleasant conversation over a fish and chip lunch (including bread and butter and a pot of tea). Then the disagreements started. It was one of those situations where each person feels their wishes are paramount and they get so caught up in the pursuit of achieving what they want, that they try to influence those around them into supporting their quest. Personally, I resorted to pleading and manipulation which led Frodo to accuse me of being selfish and irrational (not in those exact words but that’s what he meant). D2 refused to listen to any reasoning and took full advantage of her superior financial position to continue the tense situation we’d created. It began with a kind gesture from D2 who gave Frodo and I a handful of 2ps so we could join in the thrill of trying to win more 2ps and the uber-thrill of winning a fridge magnet! Immediately Frodo thought he knew better than me and wandered off to find a machine that showed more promise of success than the one I’d chosen. D2’s 2ps were insufficient to push the fridge magnet over the edge but it was closer. 10 maybe 20p would do it. I managed to locate Frodo, dashed across to him and through begging got a few 2ps before dashing back to my machine. 2ps fell and were recycled with a carefully timed action but to topple the fridge magnet more were needed. My joy at seeing Frodo appear beside me quickly turned to despondency when he informed me that all his 2ps were gone. There followed a heated debate on whether we should change a pound coin into 2ps. I was at Frodo’s mercy – I had the cash but needed to guard the machine. A little girl had been playing the machine next to me and I was sure she’d have no hesitation in jumping in and taking the prize that I’d spent time and money setting up. Frodo at first argued against changing the pound and questioned my judgement about how likely the fridge magnet was to fall. I pointed out that I can make my own decisions and he must have sensed that his continued refusal would put me in an unpleasant mood so he finally went and changed the pound. We shared the 2ps and to my delight the fridge magnet fell after about 20p. I was convinced that this had unsettled the collection of 2ps and so played on. Frodo, who was trying for a fridge magnet opposite me, was getting frustrated because I wouldn’t help him and then suddenly we were both out of 2ps and both on the verge of a big windfall. Frodo put up less resistance this time before changing another pound. We both got our windfalls and proceeded to plough them back into our money making venture (money losing venture as it turned out). By now another fridge magnet was creeping close to the edge which made it very hard to turn our backs on the machine but without any cash left the chance of even one 2p dropping was pretty remote.

Meanwhile D2 had been having a field day. She had two wristbands, a keyring, a badge and a fridge magnet all for less than a £10 stake. She wouldn’t divulge exactly how much she had put into the machine but when asked if it was £10 she responded ‘not that much’. Prompted by this success she had moved on to a 5p machine and had an ‘exchange this for £1’ disc in her sights. I found myself repeating Frodo’s lines “You’re wasting your money” “It’ll take pounds to fall” “Come on, leave it”. D2 was triumphant though and with a resounding clatter the disc and lots of 5ps fell. Rodney, who had taken the role of neutral observer throughout the whole episode, was given the task of taking the disc to the kiosk. Disaster almost struck as he returned minus the disc and without £1, not realising the disc had a monetary value. Luckily the cashier handed over the pound when he went back. It appears he has less experience of seaside amusement arcades than my family do.

So is my mind clear now? Yes, I think it is. I wouldn’t be noticeably happier with another fridge magnet and now I am away from the arcade I know it is not the place to make money. Despite the differences of opinions, Frodo was there when I needed him and doesn’t appear to be holding a grudge that I wasn’t there when he needed me and a good friend of mine will be getting an unexpected gift that she can display on her fridge : )  I can move on.

Back to the newly aquired satnav. It did the job of providing directions to our destination perfectly and by some technological wizardry it gave lots of other information too. In fact I spent much of the journey informing Frodo what shops, petrol stations, attractions etc etc were within 5 miles of whatever location we were in. I felt I’d found a soulmate as it bleeped whenever Frodo went over the speed limit. My usually lone voice ‘you’re doing 75’ was preceded by a confirming bleep. Satnav wasn’t quite up to speed in every department though. The claim that it would detect traffic congestion and recalculate the route was true but this function didn’t kick in until after we’d been stationary in traffic for five minutes. Sometimes human eyes are better than modern technology. I should have had more faith in my senses the following day when they told me it was sunny and very hot. Instead I chose to dress for the cloudy 18 degrees predicted on bbc weather and the walk around Birmingham was dominated by the search for shade. 

The hotel lift was another example of technology v human in the ‘which is best?’ competition. Here is the scenario – hotel entrance on ground floor, hotel reception on 3rd floor, our room on 6th floor. Shall we walk up or use the lift? We chose the lift and pressed to go up to 6. A man asked if we were going up or down and when we said up he stopped and said “I’ll wait I’m going down“. The lift actually went down to the ground floor so we pressed 6 again and it went back up to the 3rd floor where we were confronted with the same man about to get in again. We had to admit that we had been down and were now going up. He waited again. The lift went down to the ground floor again! I frantically pressed 6 several times in an attempt to bypass another stop at the 3rd floor but it was to no avail. The lift stopped at 3 again! We were saved the embarrassment of meeting the man again – he may have taken the stairs or may have been going up and down in the adjacent lift. This experience didn’t deter us from using the lift again and we met several other people in there who had been up and down randomly before reaching their destination floor.





Hang on in there

Well, my publicity campaign did indeed generate more views. It remains to be seen whether the new readers will return and push my ‘all time views’ ever closer to the million I’m aiming for. I’m not sure I can rely on my international audience to add to the total. There have been no US views for over a week. Perhaps they are in London for the Olympics and showing up as UK views.

As those who have been with me from the start would testify, I rarely leave my readers without a blog for more than four days and so I am squeezing in this short one to assure the newcomers that I only miss blogging twice weekly in exceptional circumstances. I have just got back from visiting my mother and will be attending interviews tomorrow before venturing to Birmingham for a few days. Hence I can not justify spending time blogging. In light of this I will double blog at the weekend. I am sure a journey into the centre of Birmingham with the AA route map I am about to print off will be quite an adventure. Previous journeys I’ve made with AA route maps have been full of surprises.

I do hope you will all ‘hang on in there’ just as I did yesterday. On a day trip to Knaresborough it seemed a good idea to walk down to the river. The walk down  involved navigating a steep path which had steps in bunches of 4 or 5 every few metres. I’m not over fond of steps but these were a welcome break from the ‘slope’. Using a shuffle type movement I managed to stop my legs running away with me, although the shuffle did turn into a totter a couple of times. This would have been stressful enough had I been alone but having convinced my mother that it was a good idea to walk down to river, she had reluctantly agreed to attempt the descent with me. I used my best acting skills to portray ‘jolly’ whilst inside I was moaning to myself  that this walk was no fun. About halfway down an elderly lady passed us and passed on information about an alternative route, the road, was boring but easier and she would be returning by road on account of her bad knees. Later I was to find out that her bad knees were better than my good legs. There was a clue that this was the case as she soon disappeared out of view because she was going twice as fast as us. My mother and I eventually reached the river and had an ice-cream before I set off to collect the car from the car park at the top of the hill. I passed the path and walked along to the road way. In hindsight the path with its handrail and bends would have been a better choice. The road way had no steps and no handrail just a slope, a very steep slope. A very, very steep slope. 2nd gear steep and long, very long. By the time I’d almost got to the top I was repeating ‘you can do it’ to myself. Earlier I’d heard Bradley Wiggins on the radio saying that when you feel you can’t go on, you can. There’s always another step in you. I don’t think that is true but I did have enough steps in me to get me to the top. My legs hurt. (They never do that at Zumba). I returned to collect my mother and then we drove back up the hill and there walking briskly up  the hill, almost at the top, was the lady with the bad knees! I wonder if she regularly tricks people into taking the ‘easy’ way.

Turned out not to be so short after all. Now I have to go pack.

Confession Time

Last night I embarked on a new publicity campaign. As a result I may have several first time readers so I have complied a NAQ list which they may find useful.

What is a NAQ list? A ‘never asked questions’ list.

Do I have to pay to read any of the blog posts? No. I spend hours of my life writing blog posts with no expectation of monetary reward. I am rewarded by positive feedback and a reason for not doing various household tasks.

Do you like getting comments? I love getting comments. If you identify with anything in my posts and would like more information or words of wisdom please ask via the comments. I am happy to offer life coaching with no expectation of monetary reward too.

Should I read the blog posts I have missed? That is entirely up to you. However some stories are linked so you may well gain greater understanding and enjoyment by reading the posts in chronological order beginning with the first one.

Do you ever identify people in your blog? Not by name but you may recognise yourself or someone you know. I use carefully selected alias’.

A new feature for today’s blogpost is The Quiz.

1. Are 10 jaffa cakes better than one?

2. Are 10 Rose’s chocolates better than one?

3. Are Zumba moves easy to do?

4. A spouse sees a banana skin on the worktop and asks “Is this finished with?” Is it more or less likely that in the future the other spouse will put banana skins in the bin?

Answers at the bottom of the page.

Yesterday was a momentous day for me. I left my employment of 6 years, leaving behind a tiny pile of stuff which I had been unable to find a new home for and my two work mugs. Leaving the mugs was not intentional and I am quite annoyed with myself because this oversight will have added to the ‘too many mugs for the cupboard’ problem. On the rare occassions when I emptied the dishwasher, the good feeling I had that I was being a team player and ‘doing my bit’  was always lessened when I had to balance mugs on top of each other in the cupboard. The mug cupboard plays an integral part in my first confession. I’m not proud of what I did but I do feel justified in my actions. People I work with see me as being a nice person and may be shocked by this revelation but I feel now is the right time to confess. One day, a couple of years ago now, a work colleague, A, spoke to me in a way that showed no regard for my feelings. This has happened to me before in life and my reaction is to shrug it off or grumble to myself about the person. This time though an opportunity to engineer a little karma presented itself. As I emptied the dishwasher I spied A’s mug, lifted it up and located it in the far corner of the mug cupboard. I even moved the rarely used mugs out  of the corner to get A’s mug in there! Then I piled all the other mugs from the dishwasher in front of it. Some people may be thinking that it was an immature, petty act but in my mind justice had been done. In fact the sense of rightness I felt did inspire me to use the same strategy on a subsequent occassion, involving a different person. I contemplated using it at least twice more but couldn’t match the mug to the person. Should you find yourself in a similiar situation you may consider employing the same tactic to eleviate feelings of unfairness. I wouldn’t condone over-reaction though. I feel confident that my actions and the actions of those who upset me were evenly balanced. I have never tampered with a colleague’s lunch even though I could match the food in the fridge to the people concerned. 

Another thing which I believe work colleagues are unaware of is my part in the disappearance of 3 tuna wraps from the staffroom. Just a few weeks ago, I called into the staffroom at about 2.30pm and the three wraps, left over from the canteen lunch, were on the table. My good manners dictated that I should eat only one and leave the other two for anyone who had seen them at lunchtime and planned to return to eat one at the end of the working day (3.15pm). My greed, supported by my ‘not bothered’ manners, was stronger and soon the plate was empty. These kind of things make me question my whole perception of myself. I pride myself on being on honest but how can I be when I sneakily eat three tuna wraps at guzzling speed because I know I am cheating others out of an end of day treat? I suppose I just have to accept I do bad things sometimes. Thankfully I am due to leave for my mother’s very soon so I will not have time to share the many other bad things I have done.

Rose’s suggested answers

1.No. You will feel a bit sick after doing it. I’d say enjoyment level peaks at 4 or 5 in one sitting. The novelty of finding different ways to eat them will keep you going past this point. Without accurate written recording you will probably end up repeating some of the ways and then you’ll feel annoyed that the rationale behind your continued consumption is meaningless. Even with written recordings the ways could be well over 10. For instance nibble round edge clockwise then pop whole of middle bit in mouth could be adapted to nibble round edge anti-clockwise then pop whole of middle bit in mouth which could be adapted to nibble round edge clockwise then eat jelly then pop rest in mouth etc etc.

2. No. You will feel a bit sick after doing it. I’d say enjoyment level peaks at 4 or 5 in one sitting. (Extra advice re: Rose’s chocolates. Eat your favourites first. If you save them it is possible family members will eat them while you are out).

3. Some are easier than others. Squatting is quite hard. Focus on what you are good at. So during squat moves ignore instructions like “Stick those bums out as far as you can” and wait for “Make them big” (my bum does this on its own). ‘Skip’ is really really hard. 

4. Less likely. I don’t know a word that describes these semi sarcastic hints and pointless questions that are used to make a point but I do know that such things make people feel got at for rare and minor infringements and then they purposely begin leaving banana skins on the worktop. Even when they get as far as automatically opening the bin lid they remember the pointless question and put the banana skin on the worktop. To support this answer there is evidence that the question “Where are your car keys?”, asked by spouse who doesn’t actually need the keys, leads to car keys never being put in the box that spouse has designated as ‘the box for car keys’. Similarly, tuts and sighs and kicking of shoes left in the hallway leads to even more shoes being left in the hallway.


Hoarder trauma

It has been a difficult few days for me. As I prepare to leave my place of work I have had to face the task of emptying my cupboard and storage boxes. Days one and two were spent in mental preparation with a few token gestures towards the impending sorting such as throwing away pieces of paper with scribbled writing on.  I couldn’t decipher what I’d written (though I did spend several minutes trying but admitted defeat when my attempts came up with possibilities such as ‘spine put in every banana, do it today!’ I wonder if that job ever got done). On day three I started with a system – a pile for definitely keep, a pile for definitely go and a pile for ‘not sure will look at again later’. This proved not to be particularly helpful as the third pile contained almost everything from the cupboard and boxes. I tried the same system for a second time but again the amount in the third pile far outweighed that in the other two. At this point Happy and Jolly (not real names but real descriptions) looked into my room and seeing them prompted an outpouring of emotions from me and a description of the hopelessness of the situation I was in. I almost immediately regretted this as they began questioning my motives for keeping various items, not just those in pile 3 but also in the definitely keep pile. They used the stealth of lions to corner me. I could not convince them that one day I would need the small piece of black card to mount a photograph on or that I would get round to reading the leaflet about French resources that I got in 2010. Each time I held up an item, ready to justify keeping it, Happy and Jolly responded with “bin” “bin” “BIN”. I felt the panic of a zebra, knowing that I was being outrun. After I’d refused to bin a few items and put them in the keep box, they started asking me what was in the keep box, demanding a precise answer. When I couldn’t provide one they went in for the kill “See if you do want that piece of black card you won’t remember where it is, you don’t even know what’s in the box”. I politely informed them that actually I was fine sorting my own things out and didn’t require their help. They left with a handful of bits for the bin.

By day four my anxiety levels were rising. Frodo would not be happy if I took lots of stuff home and as I am trying my best to get rid of stuff at home even I could see this wasn’t a good option so I had to dispose of stuff. At work, this is the time of year when everyone has a clear out and trips to the recycling bin added to my nightmare. Clearly some people have no compulsion to keep things which might be used one day. Surely they will need scrap paper, tatty books and cardboard boxes, not to mention 5cm long pencils which might be useful if by some chance there is a pencil shortage and felt tips, some of which might work even though the three they tested didn’t. It took great resolve for me not to rescue some of these discarded items (well I did take a few books which I intend to take to the charity shop). My satisfaction at not adding to my stuff was short-lived because a colleague ‘kindly’ brought me ex-display posters because she “couldn’t throw them away”. I will keep these not because I think I’ll ever use them but because someone gave them to me. On day four I was joined by my room mate who is successful in limiting his stuff to what he currently uses and he has a working area that scores 10 for orderliness. When I shared my predicament with him and pointed out pile three, his response was “Chuck it, just chuck it”. This suggested to me that he was oblivious to the complexities of my inner turmoil so I continued my quest without drawing his attention to it again. Several hours later he observed that I wasn’t getting very far because I was “moving things from one place to another”.  I managed a weak smile and refrained from unleashing my pent up anxiety on him. He came very close to being astounded by me screaming “So what!” “I don’t care!” “I can move things about as much as I like!!! What’s it to do with you?” 

The day at work ended with a very small ‘not sure will look at again later’ pile and a half full bin of stuff I’d chucked. The boxes of things to keep are in my car boot and will stay there until Frodo is out and then they can join the other stuff in the garage. He’ll never notice.

The only thing that has caused me concern this week apart from trials and tribulations of clearing out my cupboard is being shunned by two work colleagues, who I’ll call Ronnie and Ellie. One drizzly day I passed Ellie walking to work and without hesitation I pulled up in my car and offered her a lift, which she accepted. We indulged in some pleasant chit chat on the short journey and as we parted she thanked me for the lift. The next day, a sunny day, I passed her again and once again stopped and offered her a lift. She pointed out Ronnie who was crossing the road a few yards away and said she would walk with her. Of course I immediately said Ronnie could join us. My offer was rejected. Yes, rejected. Ellie said something about nice and sunshine and lovely day to walk. I was taken aback and wondered if I’d misheard so as Ellie and Ronnie met up on the other side of the road I waved across to them. They waved back and then kept on walking! Later when I saw them at work I brought up the subject and they were keen to reassure me that their actions were nothing to do with me personally but that they liked to walk. Ronnie actually came up with some complicated reason that involved not realising it was me until I’d driven off. I am shocked that someone would choose walking rather than five minutes in a car in my company. In an attempt to prove how outlandish their behaviour was I began asking other colleagues what they would have done in the same situation. Bizarrely “walk” was a common response. In fact it was the only response other than one person who giggled nervously. However,  I was reassured when I asked myself the question – I pretended I was someone else – and got the answer “Get in the car with you, definitely”. It was said with a big smile too.

Zumba Update

Zumba news first. My jump problem has been solved – I have translated ‘jump’ into Rose-speak where it means ‘bob’. Its not an exact translation, the knees and upper body move but the feet stay in contact with the floor but its close enough to get me by in Zumba world. Lunge, reach and kick kick 1,2,3 are my favourite moves at the moment. Inbetween feet remain elusive. Tonight I achieved red and sticky level. I was aiming for ‘glistening’ which wonderful woman models every week but, as in all things Zumba, there is quite large gap between what she accomplishes and what I do. I’m not sure what Miss Burrell would have to say about my sweaty state. She often shared the words ‘Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow’ with her class of juniors (of which I was one) and I still have a mind battle between sweating is a good thing and Miss Burrell will be disappointed if I sweat. I was in awe of Miss Burrell throughout my time at primary school. Not only did she know loads of things, she also had a brother who lived in Canada and she owned some astounding pieces of coral! Each year she brought the coral into school and we awaited this event with great excitement. I don’t think she ever sweated.

Saturday night was Hen Night. It created another footwear dilemma for me. I was going to wear my sparkly, highish heels or my pretty Asda non-bargains but was saved from what would have been a painful mistake because I couldn’t locate them easily. It is likely that they are under the bed but tidying of other rooms in the house has added to the amount of stuff under there and pushed the original stuff out of arms reach. D1 suggested I wear a pair of D2’s flat but cute shoes. I tried them on and reasoned that, although they were too big and were slipping of my feet with each step, as the night went on my feet would sweat and stop the slipping. I was right! By the end of the night they were a perfect fit and I felt justified in having a self satisfied smile to myself when others were standing barefoot, 4 inch heels in hand.

I settled on vodka and coke as my drink for the evening. My drink of choice c1980 was vodka and lime, no lemonade just lime. My knowledge of spirits and their partners at the time was limited to vodka and lime, gin and tonic and port and lemon. So I got used to a drink which doesn’t make any sense to me now. Anyway, back to 2012 and a bar in a street of bars. The Moulin Rouge Hens were looking very glamorous. (I’ll let the reader decide if I joined in the fancy dress theme). I was approached by a man who used one of my ’80s chat up tricks. He pretended he thought I was one of his son’s teachers, just like I used to pretend I thought people were my friend’s brother. We had a little conversation during which he pointed out his 18 year old son and even tried to include him in his ruse by saying his son had said I was his science teacher. He was pleasant (though a little tipsy, I believe) but not producing a ‘I’d like to spend my evening chatting with you’ feeling in me so I wasn’t in the least disappointed that the hens were ready to move to another bar. I was pleased I didn’t have to resort to my 80s tactic of popping to the ladies with the words ‘I’ll be back in a minute’ and then on leaving the ladies relocating to the opposite side of the room. I won’t go into any more details of my night out but when I accepted a swig of the cocktail that was being passed around the hens I knew I had to stop indulging in vodka and coke immediately. The cocktail had been concocted by mixing the dregs of  the cocktails left on our table by the previous occupants. Oh dear. What would Miss Burrell say?

Post camping Dos and Don’ts

The reason there was no blog last night is that I went on a date with Frodo. A situation which Son found very puzzling. I think because it is such a rare occurence but it may have been because he couldn’t understand our choice of date partner. This night out was the filling in a ‘night out sandwich’, the bread being another visit to the 10 house on Thursday evening and a hen night tonight (whoop, whoop*). There was an empty pizza box on the table when we arrived at 10 house which was removed within 5 minutes, confirming my initial assessment of a 10. This contrasts to a 5 house where removal can take up to 5 hours or a 3 house where 5 days is more common. Hoarder house on TV – 5 months to 5 years.

My thoughts this week have often strayed to a campsite in Leicestershire where a group of ‘like-minded families’ are camping. The mad and the brave who have not packed up early and already left will be leaving the site tomorrow and taking home an array of mud splattered soaked possessions and some wonderful memories. Having been in a similar situation myself on several occasions I know how easy it is to act, or not act, without thinking and the consequences of this can be a source of future stress. In light of this I am going to share my advice in the form of Dos and Don’ts. These are not intended to be a set a rules despite the commanding tone of the title. Do and Don’t are more suited to a title than ‘These are some things you might want to do or not do if you think they are good ideas but they don’t mean you have to do them’. If you are one of the ‘June’ campers, I’m not trying to take control of your post camping routine so don’t react badly and ignore the advice completely because you are thinking that you are capable of making rational decisions without the interference of smug Rose who has spent the last ten days sleeping, cooking and relaxing in a dry house whilst you have been experiencing rain with only the precarious protection of a tent and a tarp. I will include a PC (possible consequence) or a LC (likely consequence) based on personal experience for some of the Dos or Don’ts. My advice is aimed particularly at campers who have had no access to laundry facilities and where the campsite site falls into the natural woodland and field category rather than neatly mown grass pitches serviced by concrete footpaths. For overseas readers (Ooo I liked writing that) – it has been raining heavily across the UK and Leicestershire has had some heavy downpours. 

1. Do expect strange looks and mutterings from non post campers at any service station you stop at on the way home. They will be trying to work out how anyone could get in such a dishevelled state. Remember most people at the service station would find it hard to believe anyone would choose to live in a quagmire for a week.

2. Don’t bring up the incident where your child left the tent zip open and the precious dry area in the porch was encroached upon by lashing rain. LC – this will be turned on you and the conversation will centre on what are percieved by your family to be worse crimes eg. when you dropped a sausage into the mud (the fact that you washed it and then offered it as edible will be seen as a negative so don’t try and use this fact to redeem yourself) or when you failed to put the coco pops in a secure place overnight and they provided a midnight feast for squirrels (the fact that you offered weetabix as edible alternative will be seen as a negative so don’t try and use this fact to redeem yourself).

3. Do begin washing as soon as possible on arrival home. No amount of wishing will produce a laundry fairy. The washing will remain in a stinking wet state until you wash it. 

4. Don’t waste time rinsing pairs of socks that resemble mud pies. PC – you will start crying as the emotional strain of failed mud removal overwhelms you. PC – you will give up before getting the socks ‘washing machine ready’. PC – you will get the socks ‘washing machine ready’ and wash them, only to find they look exactly the same post-wash as they did pre-wash. LC – socks will end up in the bin sooner or later so Do throw them out at first sighting (if this at the campsite do it there and then).

 5. Don’t put things straight from the car into the shed/garage without being sure they are dry. Even if you have good intentions of checking them ‘tomorrow’ or when ‘it dries up’ don’t do it. LC – the checking will not happen and the next time you see the items will be two days before your next camping trip. Tents and sleeping bags will go mouldy. 

6. Do leave some items in the hallway if you want to carry out an investigation. LC – No offspring will put them away but they may regularly complain that stuff is in the hallway. (btw. the gas cannister left in our hallway by Frodo is still there – day 16)

7. Don’t get overwrought by sorting out the wet, muddy, smelly items. PC – fixating on these items can cause reckless actions eg. you find a squashed piece of cake/crumpled pieces of paper/sticks in the car boot. Without thought and in the context of over-fixation their significance plummets to zero and they are effortlessly sorted by being thrown in the bin. Hours, days or even weeks later, a child will ask “Where is that piece of cake I was specially saving for when we got home/that picture I spent a whole day working on at camp/that special stick I carried around all week at camp. With thought these items would be given the priority they deserve.

8. Do take a shower break and a tea break. PC – You will get through the aftermath of camping with fewer tears, shouts, mishaps, sighs and problems than if you didn’t.

*whoop, whoop. Not sure what this means but my facebook knowledge suggests it is the correct response when anticipating a wild night out.