28 February 2017

At The Double

Paul walked to the local shop this morning while the sun was still shining.  I opted to stay at home and do some baking.  The doorbell rang just as I was up to my eyes in flour but I was expecting a parcel so I ran downstairs to answer it.  It was Mr Irish.  Our friendly neighbour doesn’t open his mouth when he speaks and I just find it so difficult to understand his Irish brogue.  He sports a full beard and resembles a short-sighted ferret peering through a hedge.

“’Tis a fine day begorrah mumble mumble mumble ... before you leave?”
“Um, we don’t go for another two weeks.”
“Bejaysus mumble mumble mumble didn’t want to miss you.”
“Don’t worry, we will be sure to see you before we go.”

He is such a sweet neighbour, he furnishes us with old newspapers to take back to France to light our woodburner and lets us fill his dustbin with our rubbish on the day we depart.

When Paul got home we decided to do some Tai Chi with Nancy.  Paul set up his laptop and we got ready to do the nice slow and graceful movements with Nancy.

“This is going too fast.”
“It’s the one we always do.”
“The music isn’t tinkling.”
“I’m sure it’s right.”
“Nancy’s trousers are blowing so fast in the breeze she looks like she’s going to take off.”
“I’ll check it.”
“I can’t keep up with her.”
“Oops, I pressed the wrong switch.”

26 February 2017

My Weekend

We have just got home after a two day sojourn to Shropshire.  On the way we called in to the NEC Birmingham (my first ever visit to this massive exhibition centre) and I had lots of fun exploring the hundreds of caravans on show.  (They are very glitzy these days with all mod cons – showers, microwaves, etc.)  I was in and out of them until my knees gave way from stepping up and stepping down.  We then drove on to our county house hotel in the little market town of Shifnal.

We chose this hotel as it is close to RAF Cosford where my daughter is currently stationed.  It was a bit like Fawlty Towers although we grew quite fond of the place by the time we left.  Our room was quite spooky, dark wood panelling, fireplace, creaky floorboards, big draughty sash windows.  It was the first time I had seen a Corby trouser press in many a year.  I thought I would take a luxurious bath in the huge bathroom tub but there was no hot water.  The manager was very apologetic and blamed Storm Doris.  Dinner that evening was a quiet affair, we were the only people in the restaurant!  Service was excellent though.  Breakfast was an impressive buffet, Paul almost managed to flood the entire show when the orange juice dispenser fell apart in his hands. Pietr, our waiter, was also very confused when I enquired how big the haddock was for breakfast.   

On Saturday we met Kat and took a tour of the RAF Museum.  The collection of aircraft is housed in two massive hangars and is certainly very impressive.  Paul was like a kid in a sweet shop. It was very moving reading the stories of airmen from World War I and II.  There was a letter from a pilot to his parents asking them to send him some spare underwear.  Two weeks later he was shot down and killed.

I joined Kat in a Red Arrows simulator, I had a moment of terror when the doors closed on us but in actual fact it was no different to being rattled around on the number 55 bus to Swindon.  The G-force was minimal.

I will leave you with a photo of me embarrassing my daughter by trying on her ice hockey kit.

22 February 2017

South Paw

My husband has just accused me of having a left handed moment.   It’s true that it’s not just the obvious difficulties like writing cheques, using scissors, putting belts on upside down etc.  Being left handed represents a whole lifetime of awkwardness.   Social kissing - I always go for the wrong side and crash noses.  I have a tendency to drink the wrong glass of wine at the dinner table, or eat the other person’s bread roll.  I always insert bank cards into machines the wrong way round and often have difficulty with locks. 

It wasn’t until I was well into my adult life that I discovered that it wasn’t like this for everyone. I hadn’t realised that everything in the world is designed for right handed people.

Paul has long realised that my mind is wired slightly different to his.  If I’m not having a blonde moment then I must be having a left handed moment. I’m in good company though, kangeroos are left handed.

20 February 2017

The Big Painting Challenge

I’ve just got home from Devizes, a nearby market town, with the ingredients for my latest project – some Annie Sloan chalk paint in Emperor’s Silk.  I have an old lacquered pine dresser in France that is just screaming out to be ‘up cycled’.  The paint is very bright (fire engine red?) but the plan is to add some dark wax to give it a deeper, antique finish.  I’ve never done it before so it may or may not work.

Last night I watched BBC’s Big Painting Challenge presented by Mariella Frostbite and some Reverend guy.  I almost wish I hadn’t.  Last week the group of amateur artists had some rather uninspiring still life subjects to tackle – a teddy bear and a clarinet.  They all stood at their easels and dabbed away with their brushes. The finished works were rather dubious but you could see what it was meant to me.  Except for Jennifer.  She knelt on the floor and stared at her canvas for about an hour, then splodged some paint on, dragged some hair extensions through it and completely ignored the brief.  The judges shook their heads and tut-tutted.  Each week one painting is picked by members of the public as their favourite piece and that contestant is then exempt from being sent home. They chose Jennifer’s painting so she didn’t get sent home.

Last night’s episode showed the artists huddled in a bus shelter in the pouring rain trying to produce painted canvasses of Hastings Pier and seafront.  Their attempts were not great but the rain didn’t help.  Again Jennifer got down on the ground, ignored her mentors and used hair extensions to create pattern.  When the wind blew her canvas off the easel she couldn’t decide which way round the painting was supposed to go.  She certainly didn’t seem to be worrying about perspective .  Once again members of the public were asked to vote for their favourite piece.  Guess who?  Jennifer!

I hope she manages to last the course.  Her work adds a little bit of excitement against some of the predictable ‘nice’ paintings.

19 February 2017

I'm Off To Sunny Spain

We don’t actually leave for another three weeks but I found myself singing “Oh, this year I'm off to sunny Spain Y Viva espaƱa...” at the top of my voice in the shower this morning.  My musical ability is atrocious so I only ever sing in the shower or in the car when I’m alone.  The last time I was forced to partake in a karaoke session people covered their ears and looked at their feet in embarrassment. Yes, I’m looking forward to the trip.  I’m hoping it will be more refined than my 1977 trip to Benidorm (that was the year Elvis died).

Next weekend Paul is taking me to Birmingham!  There is a show on at the National Exhibition Centre (something to do with camper vans!) and then we are driving over to the RAF Museum at Cosford.  I have been trying to convince Paul and daughter Kat (unsuccessfully) that I should visit Cadbury World while they check out the airplanes.  

There’s no real chance of me becoming a cultured person is there?

A cultured person can be someone who is an eclectic reader, who watches well-written classic films, and who has a refined appreciation for art. Also, to be cultured is to be educated about the world and its languages, to understand world politics, and to be well-read in world history.

17 February 2017

Spring Is In The Air

Spring Tulips - a gift from my friend

I’ve just got home after a trip to the supermarket to stock up on supplies.  Youngest daughter is home from base for the weekend and is due round for Sunday lunch so roast chicken with all the trimmings will be on the menu.

The weather is much milder, the sun is out, and I can definitely smell spring in the air.  February is a fickle month and I know this spring like weather can disappear in an instant.

I was fitted with some new, expensive hearing aids last week.  They are almost invisible so I can tie my hair back now without feeling too self-conscious.  Unfortunately the automatic volume was tuned a little too high and each time Paul spoke to me I asked him to stop shouting.  I jumped out of my skin whenever the ‘phone rang and every clattering noise in the kitchen made me wince.  I could probably have heard a pin drop.  I got them adjusted by my audiologist yesterday and the sound quality is now excellent.  I can even hear the clock ticking.  Technology has improved considerably since I first had to wear hearing aids as a young woman.  I just wish I could get them to translate foreign languages for me.