Monday, 23 February 2009

Today the NHS was on top form, with no queue for the car park, a 15 minute wait for the correct injection, and the tea trolley came round while I was waiting, and I was offered a sandwich lunch. I was in school for a planning day so shot there after dropping girls off, and then to hospital and then back to school, then back to get girls, for a Bitterne tastic errand run. Library, as usual the surly customer service you get to know and love at both Thornhill and Bitterne libraries, when the librarian looks annoyed at you for interupting her life. Sadly no dry cleaners any more in Bitterne, so I lugged my coat and the odd assortment of very heavy shopping around with the girls lugging the light bits. Luckily there is a new piece of play equipment in bitterne to help ease the monotony. Here goes:
library books, including my heavy novels as I have found an author I like! Rose Tremain.
a bag of peat free compost for growing orange pips in
a 3l bottle of lemonade
one pink coat
a loaf of bread and packet of weetabix
some medicine for our sick neighbours (not very heavy)

A did her promise at Rainbows tonight, so that's 2 girls sworn into guiding and destined to follow their mother into eating cheap jam and spam burnt with dumplings round a fire. I have many many happy memories of guiding, but many many more which involve being cold, damp and dirty. Actually, they are mostly positive, and guiding is the reason I am such an expert on adventure sports, having taken part, through guides, in potholing, canoeing, abseiling and rock climbing, pony trekking and cycling, and having visited Spain, Andorra, Paris and Holland.

Which links nicely to my subject of adventure sports - namely skiing, in which I am now world famous and seen regularly on Eurosport. We spent the last week in Engelberg, a town in the mountains of Switzerland, which I can recommend as a holiday resort in the summer too - as long as you don't know the exchange rate and don't think about what you are spending. We flew way too early on the outward and inward, so two Sundays in a row had to get up at 3 or 4am. Yuk. Flights great, although A was subtly sick on the flight home, but we had split seats so I was miles away tucked neatly in between an obese American man and the window over the wing, so a great view of the de icing operation at Zurich, but little breathing space.

Our accomodation was spartan, think youth hostel rather than The Berkeley - well it is 'Fab Feb' after all, so in the spirit of post consumerism we went for the cheap option in going with a Christian group and sleeping in bunk beds. However, the food was fine, the kids were unexpecetedly entertained each day for an hour before tea with a kids club, and half an hour after tea with a film - Happy Feet - I caught the last bit and its a message film bigtime! Whoa!

The girls' ski lessons coincided with ours, which was good as it meant we had to leave A sobbing in a heap in the snow and shouting about her skis falling off while we learnt to side step up a hill. Then in the afternoons we did some practising, the nursery slopes were across a car park from our hostel, which meant we could ski along a path and down the slope, or in fact ski across the car park! After just one day we were taken on some real skiiing adventures, down trails through woods with heavy snow fall - I honestly never imagined we would be doing anything other than snow ploughing down the nursery slope all week. I expected Mr Tumnus to pop out from behind a tree. So quiet and beautiful but cold, and some really steep turns leading to comedy moments when all 7 of our beginners class skied off into a field, followed by some good skiers who thought that was the way to go as so many of us had gone that way! We had some bad times, mainly feeling like we were at the start of that programme 999, expecting to hear Michael Burke voicing over: 'The family of hopelessly ill equipped and inexperienced skiers set out to achieve reaching the top of a T bar lift and skiing across a ridge to get a cable car home. Sadly, their youngest child kept falling off the lift into snow deeper than she was tall and it took an hour to get her up the lift, with her parents unable to control their own skis as they tried to help.' That kind of thing. Still, all alive, only bruises to show for it and most of them were from the sledging - H and I went back for more, it was brilliant fun falling off. I really didn't like going on chair lifts - I made the girls sit completely still and ranted at them for as much as turning their heads. Not so keen on the cable car either - don't look down - or up at the spindly cable attaching it. But got the hang of the rush to get your skis etc in - as R said before, just like getting the girls and bikes on a train. Easy. Ha. We went up on three cable cars to the top of the mountain one very sunny day to admire the views and watch the black run brigade. Also had my first experience of tubing - or Ringos - which was like sledging only safer. We all mainly enjoyed practising what we learnt over and over again on the handy nursery slopes near 'home' - H can do great turns and so can R and I - whilst A goes for the downhill record by pointing her skis at the bottom of the slope and heading straight down, regardless of other people, bumps or anything as dull as turning. I REALLY REALLY loved the whole week and R said he would choose skiing over a summer holiday every time! Which is great cos so would I! I am trying to work out how we could wangle another ski trip this year and am looking for a job in the Alps! As a ski instructor, obviously. It was such fun being out in the cold and working so hard on concentrating and the girls loving it - it was all I hoped for. Apart from the bunk beds.

Down to Heathrow with a bump - Granny Mary was picking us up and had suffered a puncture(not personally) and our car was suffering from brakes making a bad smell and smoke and not working. The RAC (Clubcard points paid for that!) came to our rescue within minutes and carted R off to a garage that work on Sundays, for new back brakes to be fitted so we could drive home in comparative safety.

I meant to tell you about the weird band we saw - well, actually we were trapped in a cafe while they played all around us - very loud rock anthems played on brass instruments and drums by young people in fur coats who all clearly loved their music, and had been spotted by other of our party at other cafes. They were really loud, but an interesting experience, and great to see a gang of young people loving making music together for no particular reason other than fun. As you can imagine, not A's kinda thing. The other guests on our trip were mostly fun, mainly families, about 7 or 8 girls ranging from 5 to 12 which meant H and A had a perfect selection of playmates at all times, and some really nice teenagers, who all hung out together and were nice to everyone, giving me great hope for the future. The only annoying thing about the set up was the boring evening meetings, which involved a lovely guy playing classical style to 80s Christian songs while adults limply sang along. Luckily I only went to 2 and a half, as had headache and tummy ache, (can't believe I am finding a positive slant when I felt so rough) and just had to leave the last one as I couldn't sit through another talk on 'How to talk to your friends about your faith'. The talks were based on the Purpose Driven Life, a book and philosophy I have no time for at the best of times, let alone on my holiday. Somehow the one meeting I did attend in entirety I was in the drama, which I fundamentally disagreed with, as it suggested that someone should give up pottery classes to 'serve the Lord' in 'ministry'. AARGH. However, I got a number of favourable comments about my delivery of the lines, which buoys me up in my quest to take part in a panto with the hope of an Oscar still there in the wings.

So here I am back to 'normal life' with the prospect tomorrow of another £750 injection in my derriere. And 7 loads of washing in states of drying around the whole house.

Monday, 9 February 2009

I am sure you were about to ask, so will tell you and save you the bother of you asking how it went at the hospital this week! I went today for injection number 1, however, no one had ordered the injection, so after hanging around with some sick looking people I went back to work, and have to do the 4 day trips to hospital the week beginning the 23 feb, which is also when I start my new job, so not so ideal. Still, the receptionist, nurse and doctor all said sorry and I felt a bit sad and deflated as I had got all ready for this week being a hospital week, and hanging around the hospital which I have come to know so well I could work as a Friend - you know, the old guy who stands by Burger King and shows you the way? That could be me! Walked past a disconcertingly labelled door today - 'discharge lounge'. Does everyone sit around comparing discharges in there for fun? Door shut, but nothing seeping under it, so hurried by and hope I never need to find out. Its a bit like the Thornhill leg club, for people with leg ulcers to get together? Nice! Why would you want to hang around and compare discharges? Yeuch. I thought about being a doctor once, when R was in hospital having his gall removed ( he's gall-less now) and the doctors just turned up once a day, shuffled papers around and sloped off. However, I read the posters on the corridor walls about stoma care and that put me right off a career change into medicine. Bleurgh! 

Managed 20 lengths easy front crawl last night, didn't feel too bad at the end of it, it is becoming comfortable rather than a death wish. Was planning a run tonight but the weather is so bad I would be better off swimming from my front door.

Looked into being an aerobics instructor. There is a course which I could do, but I realized I would have to listen to and select music tracks for my routines, and my music knowledge stops in about 1991, so they would have to put up with Witney,  Janet Jackson, the pet shop boys, etc etc etc and I don't own any music, so would have to be in the itunes store all the time downloading military band music and muddling them all up.

One of my other ambitions is kite surfing, and I looked into the lagoon  (not literally) where we are going sailing in Portugal in the summer and they do kite surfing courses there. Will earn to sail first. Read the opening pages of 'Mirror sailing from scratch' and got lost in the first line, which went something like this:

Move the transom from the gyb across the halyards and the shrouds being careful not to hitch in the main sheet or the vong. 

I think its one of those things you have to do, and no amount of book reading is going to help.

Still no TV, but do now have a car stereo after 3 months without one, so can listen to the radio if in need of a media fix. I listened to some fantastically eloquent Aussie called Mary Lou telling the world a fascinating personal story about the fire - she was captivating. The guy in the studio cut her off before we found out what happened to her cat.

I didn't know they had cats in Oz. I guess I thought they had possums or koalas as pets instead.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Yesterday was a good gym day. Due to the sleet and rain and cold Ang and I opted for a day at the Health club rather than our monthly cycle ride, and I put her through her paces in the gym. Another of my ambitions is to be an aerobics instructor so watch out world... Athletes amongst you will be pleased to hear that I managed 4km in 25.00, which means I am well on target for a. running 5k at all, and b. running it 'sub' 30 mins. Anything above that is embarrasingly walking speed and what anyone can manage in the Race for Life. Not going to set a target time yet, but will be pleased to beat Paula's track 5000m pb.

Did an easy bike to warm up, and some weights, then did my 20 lengths of front crawl, which involves gulping lots of water and constant adjustments of my hat and goggles which feel like they are about to fall off all the time. I feel like a character from Chicken Run in that hat. Felt a bit weak and hungry after all that so didn't spend too long in the steam room and jacuzzi, as feared fainting and being kicked under the bench and not noticed till the cleaner came in. I splashed out on a lunch for us both at the Club.

Went to Aldi for shopping that night, me and lots of Polish and Asian men seem to like shopping there. I was disappointed not to bump ito throngs of Vineyarders stocking up on cheap Bratwurst and Schnapps, but I know the Gales are going to Farmfoods, and the onus is on people to keep shopping ethically and living on benefits levels. Good luck! I find Aldi a very ethical store - multicultural and no excess packaging. No excess of anything, except power tools.

The Gibbs grandparents visited today, and we have Grandad Paul and Nanny Jackie coming tomorrow. Grandparents are like buses, clearly. H asked: 'Do we have to have grandparents all weekend?' Yep. We cooked a roast ( pigeon, roadkill, v cheap) and then drove to Furzey, which was still covered with a pristine inch or so of snow! How cool is that? We go so much, in all weathers, but especially in the summer, so fabulous to see it in all seasons. The pond was frozen over so I got the skates out and practised my routines. R is not too good on the catches after the triple salchow, hence my damp trouser bottoms. Arriving home, A and I made cheese scones for tea (very cheap - main ingredient flour) while my dad and R had a joint effort to get a fire going with the kindling we had collected around Furzey. Free winter fuel! Am going to go out in Telegraph woods with Josh and his chain saw tomorrow and get some logs. I could jog there, and then carry them home on my back to help my endurance training. I wonder if there is a 'World Strongest Woman' contest? And if so, why is it not shown on Channel 5 between Christmas and New Year?

The TV rule has been amazing - neither girl has watched any since Monday, which is their TV addict day at friends' homes. They haven't really even asked about it. Caused quite a conversation at school with mums who clearly thought it was an impossibility to not watch TV all day. But a good conversation, challenging I think, in a good way. Don't know what we have been doing instead, but H is getting good at speedstacks.

We had another fun housegroup this Thursday! Three in a row! It was our money talk, which we haven't done for 18 months, but did do a year before that, it involves us divulging our income, giving, saving, debt, and being able to ask each other reasonable questions and set ourselves little targets for things to do in the next few months. It was great, as usual, and although the content is confidential I CAN tell you that the Houses have got planning permission for their communal hot tub on their front grass, and the Whitmore/Crandon plan for a helicopter pad and storage facility is going ahead - although it takes a chunk out of the Houses' back garden. A small price to pay for avoiding public transport at all costs.

We got chatting about my birthday tonight, as my slippers are broken and I normally can depend on Granny M and M and S - but R says she already has a present for me! And my mum brought one down too! ( on re- reading, it sounds like our granny is a Rap artist - she is not). So, slippers would be great. But am going to try to superglue them later. With my foot out, of course! I got thinking and remembered that in 1999 R bought me a tennis racquet, and I was going to learn, but the courses kept being cancelled so I never did. I thought I might get it down from the loft, but R said that in about 2004 he took it to work and has no idea where it is. And I allegedly agreed to this plan. Bah! Like I agreed to his throwing the sewing machine out to the dump because I hadn't used it lately. Well, my tennis bat was waiting for this moment, well, post May 4 when another of my ambitions is to be an accomplished tennis star. That will have to wait now. I also have decided that I would like to wear a proper triathlon person's outfit rather than have to wear a tankini for a cycle ride. May put a Wanted on Freecycle but unlikely I fear...

I had a go on my racer on Thursday. Road bike is the correct term. Well, I was wobbling about so much the road was optional, more time in the gutter. It has toe clips but I only put one foot in as was concerned re stopping. You go a lot further per pedal, but you look a moron and your back aches. Well, that's me - you may not get any more metres per revolution, you may look great and your back be tickety boo, but I have never seen you on one.

Still got gallons of chicken curry in the fridge if you are interested, plus now joined by R's great 'Roast dinner soup' and 30 eggs. There was a miscommunication (my fault) with the shopping list I gave R, so he bought 12. I meant 1/2 of an egg, as we are economising I thought we could cut down. I bought 6, the milkman brought 6 and then my dad brought 6 and some leeks. So, leek omlette for me all week.

Friday, 6 February 2009

I do spend a long time carefully composing for you all, that's composing, not composting, which I don't do at the moment, sadly as I want to get the compost heap dug in to avoid the furry creatures living in it which I fear happened last time we were doing it. A Brownie mum said 'I saw you in the Echo' and asked when the team were going to start on the garden ( again!). I am a minor celebrity having been in the Echo twice. Anyway, the designer is coming next Friday ( has been ill so been delayed) to show me the draft designs, but , and its a big one WE DO ALL THE WORK. So don't expect a garden from the Chelsea Flower show to be suddenly visible from our kitchen.

So much to tell you, that's why they are so long! First of all, my new job starts after half term, as an INFANT TEACHER!!! Ha Ha! I am deadly serious, which I fear will not go down well with 5 year olds. Luckily for me I have a handy Infant in my pocket at home, so can try out my jokes on A and she laughs discerningly. I will be doing 3 days a week in year 1 whilst someone is off long term being ill, so inderterminate length of time - til Easter at least.

Now, the February money thing is going well - or was until R went a bit wild yesterday and bought a train ticket to Cosham instead of cycling because it was raining. And the car had MOT and service, which I have divided by 12 as it is an annual cost. We have done really well with food, R made a big lasagne which has lasted 3 meals, and there's a vat of chicken curry in the fridge which will do 2 maybe 3 meals. We do like doing such batch cooking, but its been great to see what a difference it makes to our outgoings. Despite the car and train expenditure, we still have £35 to last til Sunday which is for bread, milk and fun money, but I will use some of it on buying next week's shopping.

On Saturday we had a quiet day at Furzey (sorry you missed it). Which was all going well until R texted to ask where the car key was ( I got a lift so he could have the car). The answer was in my bag next to me. So, he got the girls on the bikes and cycled to swimming, then to Netto where he did the shopping and loaded up panniers and a basket and got girls and shopping home. No mean feat when you consider he also had A on her cross bar seat on his bike. Wish he had taken a photo. He did so well I am going to ask him to do it again this Saturday.

If I believed there was a Sod, I would be cursing his law for sending snow for the first time in 19 years or whatever it is, in the year we have planned to go on a skiing holiday, at great expense and with great preparation and excitement. And we could have hires some skis from Sod and skiied down to the Coop. As it was, we had a fun commute on Monday, with R and Rob G taking a detour from getting to their school to take me to mine, and then on Tuesday both I and the girls had a day off, so we went to the park and did the kind of things you do in the snow when you are 7 or 5. What bliss! We also cooked soup and banana bread, learnt Spanish ( H made a powerpoint) did some maths and didn't watch any TV! It was a lovely day, but did make me realise that all my dreams of home schooling (being a great thing I want to do at the end of the holidays) would dull a bit after about one day. You see, the holidays are fun and the girls are lovely, because its the holidays, and if it were everyday it would drive me round the bend and they would be climbing the walls.