Sunday, 31 August 2008

In my 'favourite names for shops' feature I need to tell you about the renamed Beauty shop in our local shopping centre. That is thornhill, so stretching it to call it a centre. Anyway, the beauty shop is now called 'Realistic Beauty'. Imagine the interaction between client and receptionist:

Hi, what can you do for me?

I am sorry, madam, you are a really ugly old trout and there is no product, no treatment, nothing on this earth that would make you anything approaching beautiful.

Oh. Goodbye then.

I think beauticians need to be anything other than realistic, don't you?

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Today was our first day of summer, a beautiful day, and this evening I took a stroll across the park and picked some blackberries on a patch of wild land near our house, and it was idyllic. Could have been anywhere in the countryside. Birds tweeting, then someone belched on the other side of the hedge. Anyway, it was lovely to be out and admiring the sky, and to be warm enough to sit outside without a sleeping bag on. The alarming fact I found out from the park noticeboard is that each Thornhill resident throws away half a tonne of litter a year. Now, I did a little calculation to help you visualise that, and measured a banana skin I was about to chuck out of the window. It weighed 54g, but lets call it 50g for ease of calculation. A tonne is 1million grams, so that means that each person in Thornhill, each man, woman and child throws the equivalent of 10 000 banana skins PER YEAR on the streets of Thornhill. Now the maths is getting even rougher, but thats coming up to 30 bananas eaten and their peels thrown on the streets EVERY DAY. Now, there must be a big family of chimpanzees who never come out durign the daylight for that to be mounting up. Obviously it is not all banana skins, some people throw away cigaratte and crisp packets, judging by my front grass most days. But you get the scale of the problem. And if I can solemnly swear that none of my family throws any litter (apart from apple cores into bushes, and nowadays with the food bills soaring I eat everything except the stalk) so there must be some other family out there throwing away our quota of 120 banana skins a day ( or equivalent). Maybe they include fly tipping in this litter figure? A fridge here or there would help get you up to that half a tonne target. A burnt out car would be a majot coup and save on eating bananas for years. If we threw 120 banana skins a day on the street outside our house we soon wouldn't be able to see out. That's if we could move off the toilet. I do see a fair bit of litter around, but not of this magnitude.

A is all better after her recent tummybug which prevented her and R coming on a coach trip to Monkey World with the Thornhill Community Association. It was cheap - £7.50 including entry for H and I. It was a long day, but a pleasant day, H was keen to find out about monkeys and interested in their behaviour, and spent ages playing with a girl she met on the roundabout who came from Cornwall. Weird isn't it, to meet someone who lives in Cornwall on holiday in Dorset? i don't know where I thought they went - I guess I thought they stayed in Cornwall all the time and served ice creams and cream teas from their back gardens to make a little pin money.

Today we reached the second pasta jar treat and went to Manor Farm, which H, R and I hadn't visited for a couple of years. We used to go all the time, as we had a season ticket for a couple of years, and it was lovely to go back and see some improvements and enjoy the old favourites, milked the cow, held the chick and duck and fed the calves from a bottle. Also sat in the Victorian school lesson and did all the things we always did when we went, like those silly animal jigsaws in the barn, looking for the eggs and washing your hands a million times.

I got up and was at the farm shop by 7.30am, then home from Sainsburys before 9am, a very satisfying time to go shopping. R and H then visited a chandlery (in Chandler's Ford, interestingly) and mended the rudder and went for a sail, while A and I baked healthy muffins ( A spat hers out - too healthy for a cake!) and visited our local library, which is great for large print Westerns and small print Mills and Boon. We chose a range of reading matter for H, who has a huge appetite for books of all kinds, and I picked up 'A thousand Splendid Suns' which R is now reading, he just described it as 'gripping'. Then after a picnic lunch we did the farm, then had a beach barbecue at the sailing club, with a couple of bargain drinks from the bar, much cheaper to drink there than at a pub, and the girls found crabs on the beach while we relaxed! Phew! Tonight we have to play Scrabble as R always wins and he won by a huge margin last night. His opening word was 'RENAL' to which I prefixed 'AD'. Later in the game he suffixed 'INE'. Good team work eh?

Sadly my tomatoes seem to have suffered something and I have had to harvest most of them as those left on turn brown and rot. Is it too much rain? Probably. Still, have had some tasty ones and got lots going red on the windowsill. Judi (who has an allotment) said they had the same problem, so not just me.

Haven't we had a busy day? I still need to have a time to do my 15 minute a day German, read my bible and journal and watch the DVD about Psalm 23 that I have found very helpful. I am also reading a book about life coaching and am supposed to spend half an hour a day on that. The last two nights I have struggled to get to sleep, but hope tonight things will change.

I read a book about the Kindertransport, and the experience of Jews in Germany never fails to shock or offend me. Would I have taken in some refugee Jewish children? Yes, I think I have to say that I would. But how hard it would be for them to live with us! Still, with me learning German at such a rate, should it ever be needed again, I will be able to offer them das Fruhstuck and Eine Tasse Tee mit Milch. This is a great German word combination: Die Tasser is a cup. Die Untertasse is a saucer. An 'undercup'. That is one of the things I like about German, how sensible it is to combine words to make new ones that make perfect sense. Worrying now I have given cups and breakfast the wrong gender, but sure they can cope with being a woman when they should be a man.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Yesterday my banana was ruined by being next to a sharp edged yogurt pot, I did eat it but about a third of it was mush and its skin was cut through. I really need a knitted banana protector. Alpaca wool would be nice, or dog fur, if you could contact Libby Crandon senior for supplies. Or Libby Crandon junior, as I hear they are getting a Staffordshire bull terrier to fit in with the neighbours.
Had reason to look through our web search history for yesteday, which threw up some interesting angles. I had asked R what he was doing on the computer, and his answer was
'looking at epoxy resin'. And he really was!!! That and little bits of metal for mending bikes and boats, about 10 of the sites visited were called things like 'Boatyard bits' or 'Bikenuts'. Man, that is a guy with a serious internet addiction problem. I was cunningly trying to hire a car and do a pick up in Southampton and drop off at Gatwick for a upcoming and complicated trip abroad. However, the car hire companies have clearly caught on to this trick and charge you a tank of petrol ( ish) on top, presumably for them to drive it back again? It was a good idea while it lasted, but sadly we are back to the train/cycle option ( put girls on train, us cycle).

I read in one of the cycling magazines in our bathroom that a guy has managed 126mph on a bike. He was on the M40, and I don't know if that was holding on to the back of a car or from a standing star, or on a shopper, or what, but it gives me something to aim for as I cycle down the hill from Bitterne to town. Today I cycled to and from St Denys, uphill on the way home, St Denys being at sea level (what kind of idiot would buy a house on a floodplain, eh?), Thornhill being at altitude where sickness sets in, and above the tree line. Well, maybe not but clearly one of the highest points for miles around as we have our very own cancer emitting mobile phone mast behind H's school playing field. None of this NIMBY business round here! If you want a mobile, you take the risks, damn it! ( What kind of an idiot would buy a house under a mobile phone mast?)

Tonight was my favourite programme, the Secret Millionaire, not so much evidence of Christian charity as is the norm, but a fab moment when the guy got the cheque when he muttered 'God works in mysterious ways'. I had to go to Tescos tonight, despite us having a frugal end of month as less than no money left, we also had less than no food. I did very well in purchasing exactly the right amount of goods to last til after the weekend, and getting to use my £5 off voucher. Tescos were recently voted the most ethical supermarket in an online survey. Well, maybe that is stretching the truth a little, but every little helps, say Asda. Shame there was not a secret millionaire offering to pay for food bills at checkout number 7.

I have started learning German, in advance of visits planned to the German speaking countries of Europe as part of my strategy to take over the world. I did it at school, but can only tell you to go round the corner, I have a brother. So am now learning how to order a coffee. Not much use either as I don't drink it. At the school I first worked at there was a caretaker who had a very distinct moustache which reminded one of Hitler. He told us that his mother worked as a chambermaid in Berlin in 1936. I think he made it up (well, I hope he did) but you have to hand it to him for making a joke out of his facial hair. Few men are brave enough to do that.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Sarah T came round yesterday and brought me some flowers, now she tells me she is knitting a bag. I shall commission her to knit me a vase for the flowers to go in. Today I went to the hospital to be told that my radioactivity was still a risk to mankind and so I have decorated the lounge. If I carry on this way I will be starting on next door. I listened to the Olympics all day and was surprised to hear the standard reached in ping pong. I never got off the radiator in the pingpong room at school long enough to play. And the Dutch won the women's hockey. Good on them. I was surprised also to see that my hockey teacher, Miss Bedford, was not featured in the British team (male or female, she was one of those teachers you were not sure about). No, I liked her, although she was strict and had a reputation, she somehow let me into the school hockey team. It is more an indication of the lack of enthusiasm and skill in the 120 or so girls in my year group than a endorsement of my skill. I played HB - no that's a pencil lead. LH, That was it. I gave up when Ursula Collignon hit me in the teeth with a stick during a sponsored hockey day. Anything I did for the school hockey team was purely accidental, whatever the outcome, the ball always looked shocked when I managed to get near it. I was spectacularly bad at netball, not helped by the teacher calling my name out wrong in the register on the first day, christening me 'Gay Kibbs', for which I have not yet forgiven her. Anyhow, I played the rubbish position near the back where it doesn't matter if you never touch the ball, and that ball used to laugh out loud if I caught it. So imagine my distaste and horror when some weird members of our church, asked me, a few years back to play netball, in my own time, for fun. I hope they went off and joined a netball playing cult. I don't think Jesus ever commanded us to play ball games.

Now, like most people who are not nobility, I struggle to 'get' the modern pentathlon. None of those sports are modern, and only the aristocracy can afford guns, horses and fencing lessons for their children. Absolutely the most elitist sport in the games, surely, if you need a pony, a fencing kit and a gun - not even the Crandons have all that lot in their garden, although if they stretched their family out a bit they could enter Jeremy on a llama. No, I think it is the most stupid event, worse than pingpong and should be dropped before more members of the royal family think the Olympics was designed for them. And what was the even like before it was dubbed 'modern'? Fencing is hardly a modern sport, is it, what did it replace, jousting? No, the modern pentathlon should involve skateboarding, kite surfing, that stupid sport where people run up walls and jump between buildings, and two others I have yet to make up, they are so modern. Spitting, maybe, or pancake tossing? And lawnmowing, that should be the national sport.

Competitions looking up! I entered a competition to win theatre tickets and a shopping spree for R's mum, Granny Mary, and was a runner up, so she and a friend are going to the Rose Theatre in Kingston upon Thames.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

I am not sure I gave you the full run down on Norfolk. We had the dubious honour of staying 3 nights on a campsite in Snettishham. Sounds like a sneeze. Looks like one too. The campsite had a clubhouse which meant two night of bad rock anthem covers til midnight. It was very tightly packed in camping, where the person in the caravan next door rolled over, you did too. In fact, the man in the caravan next to our campervan died the first night we were there, and we wondered if a hitman had got the wrong address. The guy actually died in hospital, not in the caravan adjacent, which proves the theory that hospitals are bad places to go to because you are more likely to die there than in a caravan park in Snettishhhmann. Atchoo. Apart from getting off to that great start, the weather was the usual inclement mix we have got used to on camping trips, and the Saturday am was spent in Tescos cafe, followed by me sleeping in the campervan in a carpark while the rest of Family Bowen mooched round the shops and bought an umbrella. R then took the girls swimming to a concrete shocker of a building on the sea front that looked like an iceberg but in grey and blocked the view for all the residents of Hunstanton. The sun then came out and we played on the beach, but my bag went bobbing off when I put it down to take a photo for a family. Tide comes in quick as it is so flat. The tide also goes out as far as Holland, so don't ever take a ferry, just head for the Wash and get walking at low tide. Perhaps Worksop's tourist information person could work wonders on Norfolk. Until then, take my advice, don't go. Unless you are keen on funny shop names, in which case, go now, my friend. One of my favourites was 'fudgetastic' which sold fudge. Not so good was 'FUNKtional clothing'.Yep, put me off too. Clothing can not be both funky and functional, so give up trying, oh dear people of Hunstanton.

Today I and Judi cooked cheese scones, soup and lovely date and apricot flapjack like slices. yum. It was fun cooking with Judi, then Sarah T (one of my blog fans!) and the rest of the Galbraiths came to eat the goodies. Sadly, guys, you missed out on the best bit which was the apricot and date things which were amazing, but not cool enough before you left. Ha! All the more for me. Yummy.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Today I was in my home prison - I can actually go anywhere, but not near any children, and as there are a whole bunch playing with go karts outside our house all day, it is pretty much house arrest. We crept out after dark, like something out of the Thriller video - glowing and bodypoppin down to the House house, for a glass of orange juice and lemonade. I was glowing, R was bodypopping. Did you not know he could do it? He is hoping it will be one of the new sports at the 2012 Olympics, along with Darts, so he can win many medals without needing to alter his physique. It was a great day to be at home with a tv. Saw the amazing fuss made over the 100m men's world record of 9.69secs. I can run down to the Coop, which I estimate at 100m, in less than 10 seconds and no one has given me a medal. Maybe its because I don't wear gold shoes. I thinks some of these Olympians are also rans. I pointed out to R that at at push, I could do 2 lengths of the pool in under a minute. And again, no medals for me. He explained that the pool they are using is twice as long as BLC. More fool them, I say. I would try and get away with doing the short course and see how long it takes the officials to catch on.

Anyway, on a serious note, seriously, about the Olympics, I have some observations to make with regard to sports and class. Now, one of the first medals was won by a Toff on a horse, going sideways, and the chap was called Hugo Biffer Spencer, or Horatio Digby-Plaid. William Fox Pitt. That was actually his name. Now, there was some boxer from Manchester, by the name of Joey, I think. And there's a fab cyclist with the great name of Bradley Wiggins. I can't see a Mancunian called Joey getting on a horse, or William Fox Pitt getting in a boxing ring, can you? And I just love to imagine their converstion should they have been sat next to each other for the flight over. Bless them both, they would have needed a translator. Yet there they were, both representing their country in sports that could not be further apart if they tried.

Enjoyed watching the pursuit racing from the velodrome. And also the funny race where a chap on a moped goes round first, and they have to chase him, like a greyhound, then he sneaks off and they go for it to see who wins. I think its called the Kyran race. I will know more next week as R buys cycling magazines A LOT ( hint for Christmas present) and I like to read them. In fact, I also write to them, and have had two letters published, one the star letter, for which I won a bike light. Not a gold medal. One fun thing about reading his magazines (sailing ones too) is that I don't have a clue what most of the words mean, so I read without any idea of the meaning. You should try it, its fun! I did it with a knitting pattern a couple of weeks ago. I am saving it for Sarah T, who is good at knitting. One of the patterns is for a knitted banana protector, which I like and which would make a good stocking filler for Christmas ( hint!).

As well as watching the Olympics, I have been decorating all day, we have done all the preparation and two layers of undercoat on the walls. so its all looking good. Jo Hayles usually does the honours for us with cutting the ribbon and declaring newly decorated rooms open, so will try to book her for when she has finished in Beijing. Now, which event would Jo be doing? Beach volleyball? Archery? Heptathlon?

Thursday, 14 August 2008

For someone who has spent 3 days and nights within 4 lead lined walls, I have found quite a fair sprinkling of news for you. Firstly, a confession. While at the Milchards I noticed a book that I wanted to read while in my hospital prison, and asked Abbi if I could borrow it. It turned out it was already borrowed from Loz, and Abbi intended reading it on her holiday. But she finished it super quick so I could read it while in hospital. Bless her! So far so good. I read it all on the first day. It was as brilliant as I hoped. I stayed up til 1am to finish it. Now, this morning the Physicist came and tested all my belongings for radioactivity, and the book (secret double borrowed) was in the radioactive bin! So, now I have just been on Amazon to buy a copy to give back to Loz which is not going to damage her unborn baby and, if you and Abby keep quiet, SHE WILL NEVER KNOW about this dupliticous (sp) deception. So shut up! If she asks, just look innocent.

Now, the title of the book is actually 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' and it is by the same author as The Kite Runner. Khaled Roussin or similar. Sorry. I can't spell Dhal right either. That's the author, not the lentil dish. Phew. It is a fabulously brilliant story, set in Afghanistan, a terrible tale of war and poverty and oppression of women, but brilliant,brilliant, brilliant. However, until just now, I thought it was called 'A Thousand Splendid Sums'. Which I though was an odd title, as it was not at all to do with maths. So, now I am put right and thought I would mention it in case you had made the same mistake. Doubtful.

Hey! On a brighter note, I went to see Mamma Mia and liked it so much I am going again (when I am allowed to enter places of entertainment - Monday 25 August), will ask for the DVD for Christmas - actually, Mary, you can write that down NOW and save asking me! and it goes into my top 3 films with Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge. It is not unnoticed that these are all the film as musical genre, by those of you with an eye for such detail. Mmm. Lots of films are not eligible for my ratings because they are 18s, or even 15s, or because they feature Americans speaking too fast and I have to have the subtitles on to catch the gist of the dialogue. I went to see MM at Esher cinema with the lovely Granny Mary, who is not a frequent cinema goer (last time she was at Esher cinema there was an orchestra and Pathe News). She was among friends, as MM is one of those films that older ladies who don't go to the cinema make an exception for. You know the average age of the audience is retired when people clap at the end. I knew how they felt. It was brilliant, but there is no point clapping because they are not there on stage, its just a film! When I went to see Romeo and Juliet at the cinema, I really, nearly cried out 'No don't do it!' at the point near the end where if I told you it would ruin it for you but you know, the whole thing with the poison). Then I remembered that it was just a film, and however loud I shouted, it would not change things. But I think that is the mark of a good film, if you are so immersed in it you actually want to change the course of events. Does anyone else feel that way?

Between Monday morning and this morning I watched lots of Olympics, did some Sudokus and logic puzzles, prayed, read my bible and read WAY too many celebrity s**t magazines, kindly donated by a couple of friends who had saved them up for a few weeks. So if I am called upon to be a contestant on the Weakest Link ( I guess it works like jury service- surely no one would apply freely?) I will not stumble on the name of Nicole Kidman's new baby - Sunday Velvet or was it Andrex Puppy? Brad and Ang's twins - KNOX AND VIVIENNE??? who do they think they are? Famous? Characters in a Dr Zeuss book? I can tell you when Blake Fielder Civil is due out of gaol (too bloody soon, why not lock up his Missus too, eh?) and what Katie Price thinks of most things in the world, where Colleen went on holiday, and how Mrs Beckham has learnt that the Americans don't understand her and want her to smile more. I know where Catherine Z J went on holiday, the state of Madge's marriage (don't ask) and that Peaches Geldof collapsed in the toilet of her flat in Kings Cross.

The view from my room was a little bleak. I saw a pigeon, once, and some people in an office across the way. The nurses and care people had to shove my food in quick and close the door to avoid being contaminated by the powerful rays of radioactivity shooting from my body. When I was allowed visitors, they came for 20 minutes each and had to sit behind a screen to avoid their ovaries being shrivelled up by the powerful beams emitting from my person. I felt a bit like a baddie from a Star Trek episode. It was quite odd, being the baddie, but I felt very calm and saw it as a blessing in disguise and tried to make the most of the time to be quiet and rest. Having the scan this morning was odd, in that you have to lie so still, but Radio 1 was on and it was making me want to giggle so badly. So I had to really try hard not to listen and to think of anything else. I did a very good job of being scanned, as I have to go back for another go tomorrow, so they must have liked me. When the scanner comes down right on top of your face, it feels a bit like you are Indiana Jones, doing the rolling out just as the door comes clanging down trick.

For just over a fortnight I have been on a really restricted diet, with no dairy or eggs and no salt, so pretty much a vegan with no tastebuds. It was really hard at times, if very virtuous, to watch the girls and R eat fish and chips and ice creams on the beach while munching on a packet of sunflower seeds. Now, I am not really a big cream eater, but the treats I had today were scones with jam and cream and nachos with sour cream. Isn't that weird? Clearly, our bodies NEED cream and mine was crying out for a backlog. Yum yum yum. Eating the restricted diet in hospital was really dull, with boiled potatoes and veg being the main offerings I could have. So I got visitors to sneak up Burger King chips. Well, if you are going to be ill you need a few perks!