Friday, 21 December 2007

Orville, Cuddles and Keith Harris once again impressed us with their panto at Fareham, with Cinderalla. On the way home, R told me that Sacha Wareham, the Cinderella, was one of his former pupils! How's that for a claim to fame? H and I had a great afternoon, we went on the coach from Eastpoint and the whole experience was just £6 each, as we had funding from the toddler group I used to help with. That included an ice cream, vanilla, in a tub with a little spoon hidden in the lid. Nice touch.

Really, it is a fabulous panto, has everything you could long for in a panto, how many other ways can I put it? Just go see it! I am a big fan of Keith Harris, he is a recycling legend. All the old jokes being reused.

We had our housegroup recycling of presents this year, where I managed to get rid of a book on old villages and that amazing 'luxury' nightwear set which I won in the Daily Echo, and that could have fitted 2 of me in. We came away with a music stand, which is a genuine scoop for R, and two Percy Thrower gardening books which suggest a relentless work regime in the garden all year round. Last year we got a slow cooker, so we defintely do better from these things than we give to them.

I just checked out the top 100 babies names lists, and found that my 2 are still in the top 25, at number 16 and 23. In the years of their birth they were both in the top 10. Ruby is now number 1 for girls, with it a definite number 1 in Wales, presumably after Ch Ch called her baby Ruby. There are more Ashtons than Andrews these days, and thank the Lord not too many Ryans - never ever call your child Ryan, unless you intend for them to spend most of their days in trouble. Sorry to all the lovely Ryans out there. I have never met you.

Hey, with my mobile phone I got a perfume sample set and a voucher for a proper bottle, and I got it today - it costs £33 to buy, but to me - nothing! I have an unlimited texts contract and R has the new phone, and our monthly mobile bill is a third less than last year. All that and I will smell like an air freshener every day.

Yesterday was the bowen family hair cut festivities. R kicked off in the morning with a trip to 'Hair At Number 72' or whatever its called. I like that they don't bother with the pun, that usually hairdressers and chip shop owners think they have to do. 'Hair Today', British Hairways, The Codfather, A Salt and Battery - you know the genre. Then I was on at 3 and the girls on at 4 at The Hair Emporium, which is in Woolston and comes recommended highly. Sadly the Bingo hall just down the street has shut, thus leaving the east of Southampton without handy access to the glorious game. Still, we have a bowling centre in Bitterne, and if you want to go just tell me and I will explain the free game offer on the internet. Did I mention it before?

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

A pheasant, wrapped in plastic, was being carried through St Marys at about 12 noon today by an older gentleman. Now that is not a sight seen every day. Was it a pleasant pheasant? No tongue twisters about plucking, please! My brother is cooking a goose this Christmas. For myself and his wife, the two vegetarians at the meal, he is cooking Veggie toad in the hole. The toads he is cooking were entirely vegetarian, snacking on pond weed.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Yesterday at The Quays we had the leisure pool to ourselves, well, apart from one incredible couple and their daughter (I assume). The man had lots of tip top tastic tattooes, normally hidden but in just his trunks one could see them all (he may have had more under his trunks but I didn't pry). The lady had the most immaculate and thorough make up, like the ladies on the perfume and make up counters in John Lewis or Debenhams. You know, how they layer their mascara and manage to keep everything perfect with no smudges. This is probably tricky in the perfume bar in John Lewis, but imagine how hard that is to do when you are swimming with a 3 year old? Amazing woman. If I had been wearing a swimming hat, I would have taken it off to her.

Speaking of trunks, previous to that swim, A had been in the creche and I in the lane swimming pool, sharing a lane with an older man, who had chosen those unfortunate flesh coloured trunks which make you do a double take every time you get to the end of a lane ie. is he wearing any trunks? I remember our lovely friend Helen's husband Andy (he is lovely too btw), saying he was looking forward to being a dad because dads could get away with wearing Speedo brief swimming pants rather than baggy surfing shorts. They have 2 children, but I have not been in contact to ask about the swimwear choices.

Authorial intent. Thats what I was thinking about when doing my lengths. As in, the old and infirm were doing their Aquafit or whatever it is called, when they paddle around in the shallow end waving their arms around, slowly. Anyhow, on this occasion the instructor had chosen the track 'Get into the Groove' by Madonna for the routine. Was that Madonna's intent when she recorded the track all those years ago? Did she have in mind elderly gents with bigger boobs than her gesticulating in the shallows of municipal pools across the land? I doubt it.

Twice this week A and I have had reason to be at Playshack, which used to be Krazy Kingdome, in Hedge End. Today we had a longstanding date with the lovely Andrea and Sophie, good friends and soul mates who always bless us. On Tuesday it was a last minute receipt of an invitation to a birthday party from one of A's nursery mates, and that was a good time too. Weird how we never go to such places and then manage 3 in a week - on Sunday we were at Marwell Barn for our NCT Christmas get together. That was fun too - in the winter these indoor play places come into their own. There is one in town that I have not been to yet, if you would like to invite us, that would be great thanks.

Made some mince pies tonight, well, constructed them, I made some of the pastry and froze it last week, and I strongly recommend the practice for ease of rolling. The rest of the pastry (puff) I purchased. I have decided to give teachers, play school etc all mince pies instead of buying them little gifts, although we had alreay bought Mr Curtis (H teacher) his present. I don't want to ruin it for him, but it is from Vistaprint, so that may give you some clues.

Also went to Tesco today, which was quiet beyond belief. Think Marie Celeste. Not what I was expecting, I was anticipating elbowing the crowds to get to the milk, and as it was I had to hunt people down to bump into to make the place look busy. I have been doing online shopping, but I wanted to get stocking presents for the girls, and I think did a great job and accompished my mission. Am hoping that my Tesco points will mount up so much that I will be able to go on holiday next year on them. Tescos have a better return than Sainburys. After 10 years with Sainsburys, we have just about enough points to get 2 of us to Paris on Eurostar, but when I mentioned Paris to H she said she would like to come to see where the Aristocats lived and to go to Eurodisney. I have told her before she can go there when she is 18, as often as she likes, but I don't think I have heard the last of it. I'm too miserable for Disney. All that pretend smiling and posing next to stupid cartoon characters. Yuk.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

One of our recent wins was a family ticket to Beaulieu, and as we had a bigger family than usual today (looking after 2 extra kids, age 9 and 6) we bit the bullet and went. Despite the lashing rain and wailing winds, the children had a good time. We went on the monorail, twice, before they shut it due to the high winds. We went on the 'Wheels' 'Hi tec' ride, twice, it was inside and warm. We sat by the fire in the palace dining room. It was inside and warm. The palace bit of it was nice, it is lived in by some aristocrats and seemed like a home, and the 'butler' didn't mind the children all lying on the floor in front of the log fire, drying out bits of their wet and soggy clothing and skin. He asked the children if they would like jobs as maids, and told them it was 12p a week wages and they could only go home once a year. He was so convincing that H wanted to apply for the job, and when he told her to write in the visitors book she thought that was how you applied. I kept telling her she would not be able to go to school, see us, go to Fuertaventura again, etc etc, but she adamant she going for it. We sat on a old double decker bus and it was dry, if not warm. We mooched around looking at old cars and motorbikes. Oh I am so glad it was free, there is no way I would have paid to go in and look at some old machines. There was even a bit about the spark plug. The whole place is awful. R kept telling me I would have seen it differently if the sun had been shining, which I agree, would have helped, but no, it was still a ghastly place full of cars which I find unappealing. Women don't watch Top Gear for the cars. They watch it to see Hammond being the cheeky chappy who is cute and still alive despite the odds winning over the two old frumpy long haired guys. Anyhow, the staff were friendly, and the gardens would have been good on a sunny day, but really, how did Lord Montagu get away with building that concrete gargoyle in the middle of the New Forest? The architecture of the place is breathtakingly awful. It is like a university refectory, but worse. Think Coventry Catherdral meets Tescos. Prince Charles opened the 'cutting edge' Wheels ride 20 years ago, and they must have blindfolded him to get him past the concrete without imploding.

The pictures of the various Montagues all show the same inbred weird look that only the aristocracy can pull off in their offspring. Give them a helpful name like Ralph - thanks dad - can you imagine that in the school register. Ralph Montagu. What were they thinking? They don't swim at Bitterne. Anyhow, all the Montagu males seem to marry models, thus giving their offspring half a chance of eyes that point in the same direction and a forehead with less of the slope. I am guessing they are related to Prince Charles, hence his unswerving gaze on opening the futuristic ride, avoiding having to comment on the overzealous use of concrete in the building works going on around it.

OK,OK while I am here this I do not get. Lord Montagu in the New Forest, owns most of it, can put up concrete carbuncles all over his back garden and make a pile out of it. My friends Keith ahd Gillian move up to another serfdom, Northumbria, where their house is built on estate land, owned by the Duke, and they have to ask for his permission - and pay him a fee - to tack a conservatory on the back of their home. Right now, I am going to look into becoming a republic. Forget the Queen and her patronage (of Whitworths tapioca btw) and lets get this country going somewhere. We will never make any progress in the world while we have Dukes and Lords and so on ruling us. Keith and Gillian, rise up and build a conservatory without telling him. Everyone, boycott the dreadful Beaulieu motor museum in every way you can.... people, we can overcome!

Have you heard enough? Don't go there. If you have little boys in tow, or probably big ones, let them go on their own. Go into the village and have a cream tea instead. Probably served by a village wench whose son is the actual heir of the estate. Why oh why, when the royal family let the female offspring inherit the title, do the Montagues have to keep going til they get a boy? What is that all about? Just don't go there.

Last night we went into the city centre where we pootled about the German market, which is staffed by genuine Germans. We then watched the carnival, which included some of H's friends, so we waved wildly at the right moments. It was quite fun, a good atmosphere, and we went down to the park where the new boat the Queen Victoria is waiting to have a bottle of Pomagne smashed across her bow by someone who looks like a horse. When we got home we had macaroni cheese in front of the fire, and I rang my mum, who announced that she has already booked a cruise on the new Queen Victoria boat. Look! More of these royals! I can't get rid of them! Even potatoes are named after them - Jersey Royals, King Edwards - Maris Piper was probably a duke or something - sandwiches - named after an Earl. Damn you all. From now on I will eat pasties only. But, argh! they come from Cornwall which is a Duchy itself. There is no escape.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Thatchers Children. Thats me and R. Two people in one day made indentical comments when they heard R was fitting a new bath and basin -slaving away with his plumber's mate Josh, all day Saturday, and then this afternoon tiling walls and floor - ready for the comment? 'I thought the council did that for you.' Ha bloody ha. Where did we go wrong? We believed the lies of the great PM, the right to buy, the property ladder being the thing to be on. We got a mortgage, we ( well, OK R) do all the DIY god can send to keep wattle and daub together. But we bow to the superior knowledge of all those who know that you should just call the council and a man will come and do it for you. Seriously, I am really wondering where we went wrong and why on earth we didn't stay in rented accomodation when we had the chance. We had a lovely 2 bed terrace in Sheffield, the rent was £180 a month which was cheaper than the rent on the one bedroom flat we had had the first year we were married (that was £240). The landlord was not a real person, but a solicitors round a back alley in a bit of Sheffield we never went to. But, to his or her credit, they did send a man whenever we asked, for double glazing I recall. We had a back yard, which was what you had in Sheffield, and we shard it with the junk shop next door, which meant that when we had our youth group round for housegroup, or had a party, there were plenty of chairs to sit on. I grew my first courgette in that yard. It had an outside toilet, used by the ladies from the Petit Hair Salon, which was the front room of our house. On Saturday mornings our ounge ( upstairs from the salon) smelt of perming fluid. Our house was so near the main road that people on double deckers could wave at us as they passed. We could look out of the window and see what the chip shop opposite had ready in the warming cupboard. There were two stabbings or shootings in the newsagents across the road while we lived there. And it snowed every winter, thats 3 grim freezing up north winters that I survived. Sometimes I almost miss it.

Anyhow, B and Q have got a bit more cash in the till thanks to us, and as we are the reason they continue to trade, I like to keep them going. Supporting local business, that's me.