Adulting Volume #476

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Considering how long I’ve actually been waiting for summer, I feel like we haven’t really been utilising it all that efficiently now it’s here. Whilst we have spent the last few weekends bbqing hard (so much tasty fish), we have pretty much been in bed by 9pm every night after work. It’s like we’re under some kind of bewitchment and like true sleeping beauties, have spent a majority of our free time snoozing. I do find there to be something fundamentally pleasing about going to bed whilst it’s still light outside (I think I like to pretend that I live in one of those dreamy places where it never truly gets dark but just moves through various bruised pastel shades of dusk that turn into tomorrow) but I’m pretty sure it can’t be classed as living life to the fullest.

Still, we’re slowly getting used to this whole adulting lark and I suppose we have to take it one step at a time. First step – doing chores, Second step – staying up late, Third step – conquering the world. So whilst we have seemingly been struggling at Step 2, we’re doing our level best. This week we’ve been attempting to complete real life chores like real life grown ups. Now I am fully aware that most chores are something that should be done regularly in order to ensure your house is continually clean and whatnot, but I’m not going to lie – that’s not how it works with us. Landry and dishwashing etc. are obviously done on the regular (otherwise we’d have no plates or pants) but there are some things I just cannot bring myself to care about unless I really have to.

Hoovering is 100% one of these things. Little sessions, like just sucking up some fluff or the odd bit of soil accidentally walked in I can just about survive. Vacuuming the whole house (one of those proper hooverings where you sit on the floor so you can properly see all the fluff and make sure you’re getting it, and when you use all the attachments to clean all the ceiling corners of spider webs) is literal torture to me. I hate it with a passion. I occasionally think I wouldn’t mind it as much if we had one of those old fashioned hod-a-durs carpet rollers that just fluffs everything about (my grandma used to have one and it holds a fond place in my heart) but we don’t and as it is I definitely DO mind having to do the vacuuming.

Our Henry Hoover (Henri as we’ve originally christened him) is an actual fucker and spends the whole time he’s out doing everything he can to enrage me. He likes to get tangled up and fall over, wheezing smugly, or get caught behind door frames and just peer out at me like a little bitch. My language (as I’m sure you can tell) is never more choice then when I’m trying to clean. I have to listen to aggressively upbeat late 90s dance tunes at an unhealthily loud volume just to be able to complete one room without having a full blown breakdown. White/cream carpet is actually the devil (especially when you’re already lazy and prone to living like a slob) and having pets, a penchant for walking everywhere but never taking your shoes off and the ability to create tiny bits of paper that scatter everywhere make it almost unbearable. (Thankfully we managed to finally convince the landlord to get rid of the bathroom carpets. I still get flashbacks to those horrors). I’ve already made TMM promise me that when we own our own house it will just have laminate flooring throughout. Or maybe just no floors altogether. We’ll just have suspended walkways so far off the floor I won’t be able to see the dust and fluff and god knows what else that accumulates.

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Look at his self-satisfied smirk. God I hate that machine.

I think what really gets my goat is the fact that you spend your hard-earned leisure time putting all this work in and then within 20 minutes there’s fluff, spiders and mud all over the floor again and it’s all I can do to raise my eyes despairingly to the heavens and not have a hissy fit. This is why I’m still trying to convince TMM to let us hire a cleaner. It might be wasteful and bourgeois, but it also would mean that I don’t have to do it. I’ve tried to convince him that we’d be helping the economy and keeping people in employment and that WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO DO IT ANYMORE, but so far he’s still resistant. Damn him.

However, it’s not all been vacuum cleaner related toil and trouble. We have been using the long days and warm weather to make more of a concerted effort to tame the garden. TMM definitely takes more after my Mother and her green thumb than I do (she’s already promised to save him a wood pile for chipping which has pleased him no end) and he’s been taking good care of the various greeneries she’s gifted us. The greenhouse has been cultivating fruit sprigs and vegetables sproots beautifully and after a furious weeding session, we’ve managed to successfully move a potato plant and some raspberry vines to the outside boarders. Hopefully by the end of summer we’ll be able to gather in a small harvest and class the whole things as a win.

After being inspired by such joyous little greens bits and how neat everything looks, I spent Saturday morning vigorously ripping up dead pampas grasses and crusty heather bushes that had taken over the path by the backdoor with vicious severity. Considering the plant bed itself is no more than a few inches deep, there was a lot of sweaty exertion and unladylike grunting whilst removing all the unnecessarily dug in root balls, but I emerged muddy and victorious. Rather than look to replace them with something similar, we went instead for the classic Groundforce plan of just artfully gravelling the hell out of it. After 2 shopping trips (3 bags of gravel covers nowhere near as much as one would expect) and an unhealthy amount of hefting from TMM, we got everything in place. There was a slight hiccup about halfway through the whole exercise, when we’d both taken turns shovelling out excess soil with what can only be described as the “wrong tool for the job” I was firmly of the opinion we’d made a dreadful decision and should have just stuck with the little pathway of horrors. However, we powered through and by the end of the day, it looked rather lovely and I was resolutely won over with our hard work. As Mother says, there’s a goodness in gardening; an old fashioned healthy warming of the soul that tires the body but quiets the mind and looks pretty nice to boot.

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A little lavender, a little Buddha and a lot more gravel than anticipated…

I also finally achieved my Surviving the Dentist badge and successfully got my very first filling. Now I can’t imagine anyone particularly enjoys going to the dentist and I an definitely no exception. I have previously had mildly harrowing experiences involving oral care – due to my inordinately tiny mouth (no jokes, I can’t even fit a full chupa chup lolly between the two top rows of teeth) I had a mental framework brace inserted which was supposed to stretch out my upper jaw and widen the whole pallet area. Spoiler – it didn’t. What in fact happened was it cut into the soft fleshy skin and in retaliation, the soft fleshy skin ended up swelling and growing right over the bloody thing. Cue lots of whimpering and straw based meals. When we went back to the orthodontist, he was fully geared up to shout at me for not brushing my teeth properly and being a whiny little teenager until my Mother helpfully pointed out the immense amounts of swelling and acute pain I was in. After much flustered apologising, there was a flurry of cutting and blood and general ickiness as the contraption was removed and we made the executive decision that my piranha like jaw and wonky teeth were fine as they were. And there, good reader, ended any good feelings I had regarding the dentist chair. HOWEVER, in this, the 27th year of our Ebear, I got over myself and returned to the oral hygienists fold.

(Admittedly, I did have to have pep talks from no less than 3 family members and TMM had to buy me a curry as a pre-emptive reward, but whatever).

To be honest, it probably could have gone better but at least it’s over and done with now. I think I thoroughly annoyed my dentist who kept asking “does your mouth not go any wider” and then tried to winch it open when I replied in the negative, obviously believing I was a big fat liar pants. More fool her when my jaw strongly resisted and I nearly bit her with the bounce back. By this point she finally realised that I really do I have the tiny mouth of a vole. There was also a slight schism of exasperation in the room when I couldn’t stop swallowing during the teeth watering section (I’m assuming they were cleaning, but it honest just felt like that were jet washing the back of my throat for lolz) and nearly burst into hysterical laughter when the nurse kept accidentally sucking up my tongue with the mouth hoover. I refuse to be cowed though, because I’m pretty sure that subconscious swallowing when being forcibly drowned is a pretty solid reaction and she should be happy I didn’t just cry.

Anyway, the whole ordeal was thankfully over with within about half an hour and all I had to contend with was Numb Mouth. I have capitalised this because whilst it wasn’t quite American Youtube comedy video bad, it certainly wasn’t great. My boss even had to go out and buy me squeezy baby proof yoghurts to eat (which I did terribly unattractively) after she noticed my sulky face and the bemoaning of my inability to eat the leftover curry I’d brought for lunch. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but losing control over half of your face is fun for about half an hour and then just feels like the worse kind of bodily betrayal. Especially when people keep coming over and expecting to have a serious conversation with you. I spat on many people. Soz not soz. Still I made it through the day and have regained full use of my mouth and not swallowed the filling so I’m definitely counting the whole things as a win.

So whilst it may be true that we have the late night staying power of two overtired toddlers and can’t properly look after a house for toffee, we’re clawing our way through adulthood and that’s alright. Next stop – world domination.

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I Have Walked 500 Miles

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*A little note before we start – Today’s post is sponsored by Levels by Avicii which I have been listening to on repeat since Monday and BuckMiester, the world’s most passive aggressive cat. He is currently sitting unashamedly brimming with rage by the foot of the armchair I had to kick him out of in order to be able to plug in my laptop, giving me shifty side eyes and throwing “hella shade” whilst simultaneously refusing to move out of stroking distance. Just because he’s miffed doesn’t mean he’s going to do himself out of a good fussing.*

The Time Line of out current relationship. Disgusted bat pose > accusing eyes > grudgingly allowance of neck tickles.

In general though, I’m pleased to say things are looking up. Regarding my weekly weather update that I have appear to have been unthinkingly giving you all, (and which I’m sure you’re all terribly invested in) I’m happy to say we had a whole three (3) days of summer over the weekend. Saturday was, in fact, so warm that I sat on our front wall for most of the morning chatting to TMM’s mum whilst he and his dad tinkered with Hans. I then proceeded to go through a further two (2) outfit changes to ensure I was baring as much skin to the sun as was safe and socially acceptable to do so. Whilst this pleasant weather unfortunately didn’t last (I am writing this post interspersed with sad, sepia moments of me staring forlornly out of a rain soaked window) I have been promised by various news sites to expect some more nice weather as soon as May, so that’s something at least.

Speaking of Hans (the devil’s chariot as I have unkindly christened him), you’ll be glad to know he is now up and running again, though he is still very much for the rope. I have made the executive decision that, whilst I don’t drive, I deserve to be driven in comfort and it’s time for a new car. Poor TMM has been swept along without consent and whilst I think perhaps he would have been fine to keep Hans or look at another second hand car, he’s coming to terms with the security and sensibleness of getting something that, if not brand new, at least comes with a warrantee. We’ve been looking into the various routes on how to do so without bankrupting ourselves, feeling very grown up all the while, and even have what could loosely be termed as a “plan of action” regarding the whole shebang. Thankfully we’ve got a rather good network of supportive parents, mechanically minded friends and neighbours with an obsession for cars and hopefully between the lot of us, we’ll manage to go into summer in a car likely to make it across country for our various road trips, rather than leaving us stranded in the middle of a busy road (which has happened to us on more that one occasion. Let me tell you, you haven’t known awkward British embarrassment until you’ve broken down at a set of traffic lights or on a steep hill off a roundabout and had to be pushed out of the way of angry honking motorists).

Our lack of car has meant our weekend has been rather sedate though, for want of a better word. It’s weird to think that there was a point in my life when I didn’t have ready access to a car and yet managed to fill my weekends with ease. Now, there has been a slight and irrational undercurrent of confinement and I think both TMM and I have felt at a bit of a loose end. We tidied, we lazed and we watched most of the London Marathon with twin expressions of amazement and slight panic – I can’t even comprehend how people can do something like that. It simultaneously seemed to be one of the longest weekends of doing nothing whilst being over in the blink of the proverbial. The biggest thing we achieved (just behind fixing Hans and just ahead finishing my most recent upcycling project) was walking to visit our Pet Old Lady Molly and take Benji, the World’s Most Ridiculous Dog out for his daily jaunt.
You might have thought after watching a literal f*ckton of people push themselves to the limit of physical endurance on one of the hottest days of the year would have motivated and encouraged me to take to such an endeavour with vigour. If that is the case, I think perhaps you don’t know me quite as well as you thought. In the car, the whole event takes roughly 40 minutes from start to finish (and 30 minutes of that is spent helping shake Molly into her trousers and discussing the sad lack of corporal punishment in today’s society – her opinion, not mine). Without the car, it takes 700 hours apparently. It’s strange because when I was younger, I used to love going hiking with my family. We had official walking boots, matching cagoules (literally the coolest) and every walk typically ended with me threatening to cry if I had to give up the stick I had inevitably adopted along the way to be my designated hiking staff. These days, I have the boots, an actual hiking stick with a handy camera on the end and a partner who is desperate to explore and yet the love for walking has gone. Admittedly (and if I am being honest with myself) it wasn’t quite as awful as I’m making out, and it was nice to get a bit of fresh air and smash my step target three days in a row for the first time ever, but I definitely don’t think I’m going to be signing up for any marathons any time soon.

(I would like to reiterate this statement pointedly to my best Woo. Not only is she generally insistent that I join her in all kinds of hideously active hobbies, she is now threatening to fake her own death after I stupidly shared my absent-minded musings that if she died I would have to run a marathon in her honour as it’s on her bucket list.)

Through all of our trekking cross country and confused carless wanderings though, the highlight of my weekend was going to see My Dad Wrote a Porno live on Friday night. For those of you not in the know, this title might seem a little alarming (as well it should) but I definitely recommend it to ALL. It’s a free podcast feature Alice Levine (of Radio 1 fame) and her friends, Jamie and James (cute but slightly confusing) and does exactly what it says on the tin. Jamie is “fortunate” (note my use of sarcastic quotations here) enough to have a father who decided, somewhat rashly I think, to give writing erotic literature a go, and did so with what can only be described as relish. As any good millennial would do, Jamie told all of his friends and decided to do a weekly podcast in which he reads it out loud, in all of its graphic detail, and then proceeds to completely tear it apart for #bants. It’s pleasing on so many levels; including but not limited to the way that poor Jamie is constantly reminded of his personal shame, the vigour in which he approaches the various accents (and boy are there many) and the very relatable way that both Alice and James absolutely corpse about the place with laughter after practically every sentence. It’s unknown if Rocky Flintstone (the nom-de-plume given to Jamie’s dad/the author of this fabulous fiasco) is particularly satirical in his choices or just completely unknowing about how a women’s genitalia works, but either way it’s great for a giggle.


Pre Porno stage – you can just about see the top of the heads of the absolute granny legends who took up half a row

The live show consisted of a reading of the “lost chapter” of one of the Belinda Blinks novels (of which there are, somewhat alarmingly, many) and included various references to hilarious in-jokes, a short yet extremely comedic lecture on the positioning of a women’s cervix (it makes sense as to why this is very much needed when you listen to the podcast, I swear) and some truly terrifying audience participation (which may or may not be exactly what you’re thinking).

However, in an unseen and rather heart-breaking turn of events, poor TMM, who had been looking forward to the show for months, was too poorly to go (cue much sulking on all of our parts). In his honour I refused to enjoy myself too much and when I got home we binged a couple of episodes of the podcast (interspersed with my retelling of the best bits from the show) to cheer him up. He is mostly recovered now thankfully, and we’ve been girding our loins with glee for the new series of the podcast, which is due out in a couple of weeks. Just enough time for all of you Porno virgins to catch up…

This weekend brings the promise of car shopping (hooray), hopefully a new fridge (we did call the landlord like typical grownups and he did the typical landlord thing of fiddling with it, humming and saying he’d get back to us) and at least one (read – 76) cinema trips to watch the new Avengers film – which I am dangerously excited about. I am so excited I almost don’t want to go and see it because I don’t know if my gentle geek heart can take what it’s going to dish out, but TMM has promised to stand by me and not walk away in embarrassment even if I ugly cry (this will undoubtedly happen). The good news is that Mother is continuing to allow me to oversee her education of the Marvel universe (how grudgingly I can’t tell over WhatsApp, but she is providing thoughtful commentary so I’m feeling confident) and this means that even if (when) TMM gets bored of me wanting to see Avenger – Infinity Wars for the millionth time, I will at least get one more viewing with her (soz not soz MotherBear).

I will leave you here to ponder on your interest (or lack thereof) in dramatic superhero adventures/patriarchally written pornos and report back next week with further insight into my week and an updated weather report. Stay Classy San Diego.

Wedding Bells and Techical Hells

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THE SUN IS SHINING, THE BIRDS ARE SINGING, and I’m rescuing confused wasps left, right and centre. (Unlike nearly everyone else I know, I have a lot of love for a wasp. I feel that they get a lot of bad press for just living their lives and I relate hard to their spikey nature and urge to sting anyone who looks at them funny). Whilst there have been a few near misses with the weather, we have had at least two days of mostly blue skies and warmish sunlight so far this week, and I’m starting to feel mildly hopeful that winter might soon be over. Obviously I’m not getting too excited; no doubt next weekend will herald blizzards and terrible conditions to punish us all for getting too hyped up with the sun we’ve had, but I’m embracing it whilst I can.

Admittedly, my positivity has taken a slight knock these last couple of days though. Once again, Hans von Manshaft has deemed it necessary to give up the ghost. Poor TMM left the house on Wednesday morning to go to work only to discover a glaring alarm light and large puddle of brake fluid on the pavement and very much not in the car where it was supposed to be. Considering I don’t even drive, cars are very much the bane of my life and I am resentful that after all the money and attention we’ve given to Hans, he still thinks it’s appropriate to break every couple of months. I can’t help but feel soon might be the time to heed Mr B’s advice (“should have got a Dacia”) and send Hans off down the river in a flaming Viking boat. Until then, I am once again a complete and total “Bus Wanker” (opposed to usually, when I’m only part time) and poor TMM has had to resort to begging lifts from kindly work colleagues by doing his best puppy dog eyes.

We’re also currently contending with a broken fridge, which was a bit of a kick in the teeth after we had just stocked it full with the weekly shop. TMM has manfully defrosted the whole thing (there’s cool boxes of miscellaneous freezer surprise tuppawears all over the place) and we’re desperately clinging on to the faint hope that it might have just been a blocked fan. To be fair, if it is in the final death throes, it is really not the end of the world. We live in rented accommodation which, whilst not being the best for everything, does mean that broken household appliances actually fall under someone else’s remit. The only problem is that we had to speak to our landlord not so long ago to get the washing machine replaced, and being the nervy little buggers we are, there’s the slight concern he’s going to think we’ve started trashing the place for lols. However, I would rather end up with a new fridge than not, so if it’s not fixed by tonight, I’ll be pulling up my big girl pants and giving him a call.

Though if I’m being honest, it might have to wait until the weekend because the house is currently a pigsty and I can’t have anyone coming round to replace anything when I can’t even remember the last time I vacuumed…

On a much more chipper note, we did have a very lovely weekend attending the wedding of TMM’s younger brother. We are now officially the only unmarried and childless pair of that family group. Coincidentally we are also the oldest, which possibly says a little about our mental ages, so the baton falls to us to start actually (and in all grown up seriousness) planning our own nuptials. Though we sharn’t be planning the children (we’re definitely sticking to cats). Whist I am not the best wedding guest you could ever want (Introverts and Social Anxiety R Us), there’s always something nice about attending the ceremony, and I teared up at least 3 times throughout the day – which is definitely a winning sign. Everybody looked beautiful and TMM’s sister once again excelled herself at the flower displays and buttonholes. (She’s already been volunteered to do ours, thought I’m not sure if she knows it yet). I also felt slightly smug when I got a little thank you in the speech for doing the place settings and somebody whispered “she handwrote all these?!” in amazement.

TMM, I and baby Thea looking our best

TMM and I also excelled ourselves on the dance floor, which I think was a surprise to all involved. Admittedly, I love a good boogie as much as the next person, but I was quite content to sit on the side-lines this time. However, TMM took part in (and lost) a few drinking competitions with his sister. A foolish endeavour as everyone involved soon realised. She is actually a demon when it comes to pints and has never entered a contest she didn’t smash. Consequently he was a lot more easily influenced by the lure of the banging tunes. By 9pm, I had being lassoed and wrangled in and I actually don’t think we stopped dancing until 1.30am. Sensibly though, I has transferred to flat shoes early on in the evening and woke up the following morning with feet as fresh as a daisy.

It did become abundantly clear though that the TMM family share one very specific trait (other than having the worst luck with cars) – trying to keep them in one place for more than 5 minutes is like trying to keep hold of a bag full of eels. They’re basically weasels in people suits; adorable, but as tricky as hell to keep track of. TMM kept dragging me into dance circles before vanishing through doorways and reappearing twenty minutes later on the opposite side of the building deep in conversation with someone. His sister seemed to have some kind of teleportation device and popped up for the beginning of every song only to disappear and leave people bewildered and dancing with the faint outline of where she’d just been. The groom, doing his best groomly duty, managed to be in every conversation group I saw whilst also successfully wrangling various tiny dots who were zooming around the dance floor with all the gay abandon of, well, a kid at a wedding. I shared many bemused and slightly hysterical glances with the respective partners of the TMM clan each time we lost one of them, though Nan Pat did reveal with much glee that she used to do the very same thing to her husband, so at least we know their keeping up family traditions.

Poor TMM was slightly worst for the wear the next morning (he’s not used to such hard-core partying) and spent most of Sunday napping whilst I did a bit of DIY and finally dyed my hair. I’d been keeping the pink until the wedding because I’d, completely incidentally, managed to get it to perfectly compliment my dress for the occasion, but after 3 months with one colour I was starting to push the limits of my comfortableness with commitment. However I am now feeling fresh and funky with my new lagoon/atlantic blue shades. Though I do have to be honest, the general shape of my hair is somewhat less than satisfactory. I’m currently in the horribly awkward stage where it’s not long enough to do anything with, but not short enough to be cute and punky and I’m left looking a little bit like Wendolene from Wallace and Gromit. I’m having to keep firmly reminding myself that I need to stick it out, because if I get it cut I’ll only end up in this situation again in a month or so. Better to push through now and come out of the other side a stronger and more stylish person, rather than shy away from an inevitable event. Hopefully it won’t take long to grow out and soon I’ll be able to model a fashionable and adorable bob in all the colours of the rainbow.

In honour of the happy couple though (and in continuing from last week’s hilarious post), I’ve done a little digging in the Royal Imperial Dream Book to find some topical snippets. (I’ve decided I want to really get my £5 worth from this book, so you might want to strap in for a lot of these little epilogues over the next few weeks). Please excuse the dodgy camera angles – I was in charge of my own photography and you can very much tell.

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Drunkenness. This one kind of makes sense. Everyone makes friends when drunk, and whilst TMM might not have felt so chipper about it the morning after, I think on the night it sounds about right.

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Wedding & Weeping. This one felt suitable for all aspects of my week, and I thought it was handy they were right next to each other. Somewhat unsurprisingly, to dream of nice things such as weddings results in sadness and despair, and to dream of crying is actually a positive omen. Either way, I’ve got a bit of good and a bit of bad to go off.

The Chronicles of Molly, Volume 3. The Return to Village Fair

Today’s post comes to you, rather differently than normal, from the front seat of the car after an aborted jaunt to Lyme Park. We’ve treated ourselves to a long weekend and as a last hurrah of freedom, we thought we’d go for a nice walk in nature. As it turns out, it probably would have been best if we just hadn’t bothered. After realising one of my wellies had a hole in it, yet another flashing check engine light alert, and a fit of hysteria based on the cold/the fact I’m not a Lady from the early 1900s with a huge house, masses of money and a line of attractive RAF officers in my wake, we decided it was probably best to start for home. I am in fact writing this section with my socks off, blowers on full blast and in aghast at a man who’s just run past in short shorts.

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Here lies Eleanor’s sock. May it be forever fondly remembered and dry before she has to get out of the car and try and hop anywhere.

We’ve actually had a rather early start (in my opinion) because it was becoming increasingly clear that we couldn’t actually do anything in good conscious without giving the house a good cleaning. We’ve gotten rather lax these last few days and the kitchen was starting to resemble a bombsite. TMM was terribly rude and completely disregarded my suggested plan (which focused around me staying in bed and napping whilst he fixed everything. He would then return to me where upon I would say in my most surprised tone “oh gosh, you tidied everything without me? What a shock, you should have woken me!” and then we would laugh like some 1950’s advert) and so I was ceremonially turfed out of bed before 10am. Shock horror. We have had a terribly good weekend though, including the best nerd!gig ever, a large selection of tasty cocktails and a nice wander round around the Manchester Christmas Markets.

Let’s be honest though, the reason you’re all hear is to find out how Village Fair-ageddon went with Molly. Honestly I can say things turned out better than expected, but that’s not really saying much considering how cringe worthy the last one was. It was thankfully over within two hours, but I still had to have a sizable drink and a nap in a darkened room to recover.

The event itself was 2pm-4pm and we’d planned to leave ours just before 2 and run the dog out before we went. Turns out though that Molly wasn’t down with that and she rang TMM at 1.49pm to remind us that the fair was starting in ten minutes and in order to make sure we didn’t miss a single second she would be waiting by the front gate for us. Bear in mind, her front gate is actually quite a distance from her door and involves at least three steps and a lot of slippery pavement, so this was quite a threat. Usually she doesn’t even make it to the first step by herself, but for the Fair she was willing to throw herself outside of her comfort zone with gay abandon.

By the time we got there (within five minutes), she’d struggled down that path under her own steam and was hanging onto the gate for dear life, bent double and weighted down by three huge leather handbags and a rather fetching cloche hat. Thankfully she was wrapped up in a bright red woollen coat (avoiding any concern of pneumonia) and looking for all the world like a little crunched up garden gnome. Now, due to her inability to walk any distances, we actually have to drive her the length of three detached houses from her gate to the village hall at the end of the lane. TMM typically drops us off and goes to park the car back outside her house (as the carpark at the hall itself fits four small cars at a push) and I chaperone her initial entrance. This time though, we’d barley made it past the first house before we had to turn back because she had gotten herself in a tizzy and was convinced she’d left her blue handbag in the house. Rather than let her escape the car and try and tackle the hunt for it, I went back to the house and bravely fought off Benji who was hysterically hyperactive and basically tried to climb me like a tree. I searched high and low for the missing bag, forced to shove Benji off the couch, my leg, the chair and anywhere I was actually trying to look on numerous occasions. I managed to find one handbag (the brown one she typically takes shopping) but the blue one was nowhere to be found. I rang TMM to query this and heard her chunnering away in the background whilst TMM tried to explain my dilemma. Taking the bag I’d found back to the car to double check it wasn’t the one she wanted, it turned out that she already had the blue handbag, safely tucked inside one of the other ones as it had been all along.

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The seemingly endless walk from the gate to Molly’s front door. I imagine it was a little like a scene from “Everest” for her trying to make it up here.

We all pile back in to the car and thankfully make it the 100 feet to the village hall without any other distractions. TMM deposits us by the front door and executes a picture perfect turn to get back out whilst I gently shepherd Molly up the ramp and into the hall itself. She shuffles through the little coat room ante chamber and takes a good minute to stand smack back in the middle of the doorway. I’m still unsure if this was to allow her to properly evaluate the layout and formulate her plan of attack, or in order to give everyone already there a chance to bask in her arrival – local celebrity that she is. Before we even make it to the first table (cakes) she’s been hugged by three people who’ve all loudly introduced themselves and who, I’m pretty sure, she remembered none of. By the time we make it to the stall itself TMM has thankfully returned and we manage to divest her of all the bags so she can at least lift herself up enough to look over the table edge. It’s something we’ve got down to a fine art by this point – trying to wrangle all the bags, pay the correct amount (with no change because all she ever seems to have is notes) and keep an eye on the wily old girl before she brandishes her stick threateningly at someone and falls over. Considering she can barely walk normally, she can get a right turn of pace on when she sees someone she wants to shout at.

Before we’ve even finished getting ourselves past the first table, she’s got us cramming the biggest of the leather bags with a whole plate of flapjacks, a bag of chocolate fridge cake and a bundle of mince pies for us (she asks us what we want at every single table, and gets quite offended if we don’t manage to distract her quickly enough). Canned goods is next and Wendy, bless her heart, tries to shepherd Molly along and encourage her to not spend all of her money on tins of salmon. Alas, it is to no avail and we leave this one with tuna, peas and two chocolate oranges.

The next hurdle is the jam table which I really do think might be the bane of my life. I get rather peeved about this particular section as the two who staff it see Molly and her purse coming a mile off and can’t help but rub their hands together. Unlike Wendy who is loathed to take money from her, these two are more than happy to encourage Molly to take seven (7) jars of jam and chutney, knowing full well she’s still got cupboards full of the stuff at home. One man pauses just behind me and asks in a low whisper if she plans on leaving any jars for anyone else and I tell him that he really is best getting in there quickly before she her second round. We load down the bags with jars and TMM pays whilst I try and stop Molly barging her way through to the Tombola table. I am still surprised there wasn’t a throw down here the way she kept shoving at the old gent in front of us. I’m unsure if she doesn’t understand the etiquette of waiting your turn or if she’s just decided she’s too old to be arsed waiting around for others. I manage to distract her long enough for the man to get his prize and move on and then we all have to have a go at taking a ticket and trying our luck. Thankfully we won (she gets incredibly fractious if we leave a table without something) though the prize of a multipack of cereal boxes did leave her rather baffled.

Eventually we make it out of there and guide her past the book/calendar section without too much fuss. (She loves, LOVES, a calendar. There are at least four on the go every time we go round and rarely do any of them show the right date). We take a brief respite with the man who sells cards (hand drawn scenes from Keele – very lovely) though there is a slightly bit of confusion when Molly tries to buy some for herself and some for us at the same time we’re trying to buy some for ourselves and there’s cash flying all over the place. Molly gets bored of this and moves onwards swiftly to the decorations table and I sacrifice TMM to settling up and hunker down to discuss the merits of Christmas Crackers with her. Annoyingly I cant help but talk to her like she’s a child sometimes which must come across as horribly patronising, but I can’t seem stop myself. Either she doesn’t care or just thinks I’m a complete dick, but regardless we get along all right. We barter for a while over the crackers and end up purchasing a box of six small ones (rather than the 12 she was initially dazzled by). I’m pretty sure the crackers from last year are still under the stairs, but what the hell.

Haul

The sum total of our haul from this year. Thank God.

The next table is that one that every good village hall fair has – the random shite table. This keeps her entertained for a good 10 minutes and I only make it away without a cuddly toy, glittery butterfly candles or fake crystal flower vases by the skin of my teeth. We also bump into Gladys (cheery neighbour form across the street) and have a quick chat whilst Molly picks up every item on the table and tries to work out if it would do Benji for a Christmas present. Spoiler – Benji is a dog and is not interested in wooden puzzles or bath soap, so that debate ended with limited results.

Finally we encourage Molly to give it up as a lost cause and take a seat at one of the tiny cramped tables and have a warm drink. TMM ushers her down whilst Gladys and I sort out tea and cakes and eventually we’re all seated and able to take a breather. It doesn’t take long though and before I know it Molly’s got her grumpy face. This happens every year without fail, because it works her up terribly that doesn’t recognise half the people who’ve turned out and this starts her on the standard rant. She thinks it’s shameful how the local Keele people don’t take the time to come and patronise these things, and they should all be given a kick up the backside with a pair of winklepickers (her punishment of choice). She’s seemingly unaware that the reason she doesn’t recognise anyone is that most of the locals she’s thinking about are dead, but we haven’t the heart to tell her that, so we all just nod along and Gladys and I share a pointed look over a tea cake.

Before long though, various old ladies in aprons come by to fuss over her and my face starts to ache from smiling at each one of them whilst Molly introduces us all like we haven’t met before (we have). There’s a complete flurry of excitement when Jean from down the lane appears (her husband recently passed away and poor TMM had to have an excruciating phone call with her because Molly wanted to know how he’d died approx. 2 days after it had happened). Jean has brought along her two sisters though (Hilary and Valerie) which brightens everything up no end and they all chatter on happily as old ladies do. Eventually things start to wind down and the sisters leave whilst TMM goes to fetch the chariot. I gently lever Molly out of her chair and we make three or four pit stops on our way to the door (which, I would like to point out, is less that 5 feet away from our starting position) in which time Gladys has done a runner and TMM has come looking for us because we weren’t where we were supposed to be. There is a slight highlight though – as we’re leaving TMM overhears an old doctor gentleman (who I think I might have been hopelessly in love with in his youth) tell his wife that he nearly complimented me on my nice green hat before he realised it was hair and how embarrassing would that of been. I kind of wish he had to be honest.

We finally manage to get her to the door and there is one heart stopping moment where she stops and does one final sweep of the room and I am terrified she’s spotted the vicar who’s sat at the other end. Molly has what I can only describe as “serious beef” with him and I don’t think I’m strong enough to try and stall any thinly veiled insults about his weight at this point. Previous meetings between the two of them have included such classics as “do you think he’s might be pregnant? It looks like twins” and “if I popped him with a pin I bet he’d go off like a balloon”. Apparently he’s promised to go round and see her and still hasn’t made an appearance (I wonder why) and the vendetta is brewing. Thankfully though, her eyes gloss over him and I whisk her out of the door and into the car before she can do anything. We make it back to the house just in time for a heavy hail storm and it’s like a scene from Noah’s Ark trying to get her back into the house with all of her bags whilst trying to keep Benji from killing either of them in his excitement. Eventually though, we drop her off into her arm chair, help her go through all her purchases and make our escape before it gets too dark.

Overall, we’ve definitely had worse, but I am immensely grateful that we don’t have to do it again until next year.

Something to write home about…

So over the last few days a lot of politics has occurred and once again nobody really has a clue what’s going on, which doesn’t really make much of a difference to how everything usually is. Still, record numbers of young people went out to vote so it can’t be all bad. I remain mostly detached from the situation (I research, I vote, I still despair), but I am now at least a little less cynical towards the voting public. The fact that UKIP have no seats has instilled a small light of faith within my soul.

On a slightly more personal note, we’ve had new flooring in the bathroom(s) and finally the dreaded carpet is no more. HOORAY! I can now leave the shower and not have to cringe at the feel of shag-pile under my wet toes. I have smooth, stylish linoleum to look forward to after my next shower, and I’ve also realised (somewhat sadly) it means that cleaning will be much easier. Everything will be delightful and wipe clean and  I will actually be able to remove splodges of escaped hair dye rather than trying to smush it about and sighing exasperatedly. This is just another step towards my big house cleaning overhaul and I have to say, considering how much I hate it, we’re not doing too badly. The upstairs is nearly done now (still got the back room and the jewellery to do, and we also need to rearrange the bathroom(s) after the flooring) but I’m feeling V POSITIVE. LOOK HOW POSITIVE I AM (so positive). TMM I think is feeling slightly less positive due to my rather hysterical mania, but he’ll be happy enough once it’s done I’m sure. I’m also in full swing with the bedroom gallery wall I’ve recently decided I desperately need in order to compliment my upcycled bedside cabinets. One giant tropical print (+ homemade frame) is just waiting for hooks, and I’ve got 5 smaller prints (frames to be sanded) on their way. Hopefully everything will be in place by next week’s post and you’ll be able to see my new paradise for yourselves.


 New Floor. Check out that artful slate design. Though it would have been nice if the fitter had at least pretended to clean up after himself.

 In other news, you may have noticed our new Instagram account too (because we have been flogging that horse like there’s no tomorrow) @curiousreads. For those of you who haven’t (a bit rude), we’ve decided to join the hipster masses and make our own “bookstagram” – an instagram account that allows us to display our deep love of books through my English Degree and TMM’s pretty decent photography. In order to get our “social media presence” out there, TMM has had a bee in his bonnet and has not allowed me to rest on my laurels. I’ve been churning out reviews left, right and centre, and we’ve even roped in some friends to provide some guest opinions too.

Now that the first week is done with, I’m allowed to calm down a bit and we’re going to aim for 1-2 reviews a week, rather than 1-2 a day. Half the work is already done in that TMM has already got an excellent stock of photos prepared, and we’ve put together a rather repulsive number of stock #s that can be copied and pasted onto each post to draw in the punters. However, this does mean that, somewhat peevishly, I’m left to cobble together some thoughts to match the books that we can get out there. 

I sound somewhat bitter about this and I honestly don’t mean to. I love writing. I mean I really LOVE it. I have over 50 notes on my phone – a technological advancement from the countless number of notebooks that are still scattered over 3 houses (mine and my respective parents’) and it is rare I go through a week without writing something. Admittedly that sounds a bit better than it is – in no way am I the Ernest Hemingway of my day. I might have hundreds upon thousands of ideas but getting them on paper (electronic or otherwise) can sometimes prove a little tricky. I like to think that my strengths lie in the quality and not quantity of the work. Not to toot my own trumpet, but I’m great at short snippets. Single lines pop into my head that suggest a novels’ worth of hilarious content. Whole plot arcs spring, fully formed if not at all fleshed out, to the forefront of my mind and beg to be marked down. Characters for stories I don’t have, or stories for character’s that don’t belong to me sit patiently, waiting to be allowed to do something rather than just hang about in the dark waiting room of my mind drinking lukewarm tea and flicking through outdated magazines.

To succinctly put it, I’m great at writing single scenes, completely in detail (often with stage directions and everything) that have no place or setting, and just float about, popping up now and again just to remind me not to forget them.

Now, whilst it can be quite annoying for me, and is really starting to take up too much room in people’s cupboards and my phone’s memory, it has never been a huge problem. I’ll never be a great novelist, but I might eventually get around to publishing something small. I am happy in the, possibly somewhat fatalistic notion, that there’s no rush and I’ll get there eventually.

However now that I’m being but to the test, I’ve realised that the trouble with the whole situation is having to do what I do to a deadline. Writing to a time constraint (be it mine or someone else’s) isn’t the greatest, but I think that’s more due to my natural butterfly like nature of fluttering around rather than a lack of ability. Typically, the urge to write (which is strong within me) arises at the most inopportune moments or places; just as I’m about to drop off to sleep, in the back of a car late at night, walking home from work. However, the moment I try and set myself down to write something with intent and purpose, my brain is immediately blank and all that can be found within is bubbles bouncing around like an early 2000s windows screen saver. When you’ve promised to update a weekly blog though, or agreed to provide numerous book reviews, this isn’t really acceptable.

I am fighting to combat this though; another one of my #NotAResolutions. This very blog has been good encouragement to try and break this sporadic writing habit, instead forcing me to write something once a week (no matter how much like garbage it is). This new bookstagram is hopefully going to be another useful technique – if I can write a 20-30 word review on command, I’m almost half way to being able to write a full length novel! Sometimes, admittedly, the whole process does still find me sat on the kitchen floor staring at my phone with a rather ferocious frown, muttering petulantly about “how it’s just like homework and I’m a grown up I shouldn’t have homework anymore”, but I think I’m getting better. Like most habits, repetition is key, and If I can (mostly) keep a weekly blog going, I can definitely do an bookstagram. Honest.

 

Look how profesh this Bookstgram Front Page is!

 

 

Fully Booked – A weekend of being busy and bookish

Happy Tuesday to one and all! I hope you enjoyed the Bank Holiday and aren’t too upset to be returned to your original schedule. I have been repulsively productive this weekend (I think I might have had a mini breakdown) and completely blitzed the en-suite and the bedroom. I vacuumed ceilings with various attachments, I washed curtains, I found bank statements from 2007 (why?!) and threw out two bags of rubbish. Poor Ross was drafted into assist with the bedroom, but I did treat him to a Primark shop and take him to watch the new Guardians of the Galaxy in a cinema with reclining seats (say whaaaaaat), so he really can’t complain too much. I also spent yesterday making stencils with my new laminator (Lexy) and painting tropical patterns all over our bedroom cabinets, because who doesn’t want jungle chic in their bedroom?

Cupboard

Getting closer to becoming a Wild Thornberry one stencil at a time

We also had some good news in the arrival of nephew numero uno, Stanley Andrew Darby Pendlebury (weighing in at a tiny 6.02). There have been some adorable pictures and even though he was super early, everyone is doing fine. We’re going to visit him later this evening, so prepare for more photos. In the meantime, please enjoy this gem:

Babies

Sister Robyn looking adorably perplexed to see her new brother in situ.

I also spent a majority of yesterday listening to The Red Necklace as read by Tom Hiddleston, which I have to say is just delightful. I haven’t really done that many audiobooks (ignoring my fascination with PG Wodehouse tapes at bedtime) but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the superbly talented accents of Mr Hiddlescake whilst doing my afternoon DIY.  I definitely think I might have to find some more to enjoy, especially whilst doing my craft projects. In the meantime though, I’ve got my HUGE list of new books to get through, and in honour of that I’ve decided to do a Pre Book Review for you all to enjoy (you’re welcome).

Ten books. Ten pre-reading opinions. Ten further posts seeing if they lived up to my expectations. Boom. Say hello to a million blog posts about my massive book lust. I mean, let’s face it, there’s another 21 books that I’ve not even mentioned that I’ll want to review as well…you might want to strap in.

PRE-BOOK REVIEW

5 books I am most looking forward to reading:

1)      Nigel – My family and other dogs by Monty DonI love Monty Don. Like love him. It’s my fascination with Kevin Whately (Detective Inspector Lewis) all over again. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about slightly saggy tired looking old English men that really works for me – it’s like some kind of soothing fascination. I will happily lose hours to Gardener’s World and watching Monty potter around with a complete lack of urgency and a following of adorable doggos. My adoration only really started last year, though I have been aware of him for a while, but it has blossomed rather fantastically. I think it partly helps that I have one memory that really sticks with me of watching RHS flower show one year with the family and hearing Robin ask what his last name was – because she though his first name was Montydon. It left us all in hysterics and still brings a smile to my face whenever I see him.  Now typically I am not too interested in biographies, but I’m willing to waver that for dear Monty. The fact that he’s played on a Gerald Durrell title only adds to the joy, as the Corfu Trilogy (starting with My Family and Other Animals) is one of my favourites and anything that plays homage to it can’t be bad. I’m expecting great things from this book, and I hope I shall be able to tell you it delivered.

2)      Rivers of London Series by Ben AaronovitchI read the first one these a few years ago and remember being completely engrossed by it. The basic premise is something I can always get behind – Urban Fantasy according to wikipedia, and this was so engagingly written I think I flew through it in about two days. The plot focused on a young police officer who (amongst plenty of other things) has to search for and stop some unknown entity who is turning people into twisted murderous versions of Punch and Judy. Now I despise Punch and Judy with an unequalled passion; there is literally nothing about the puppet show that works for me at all and I will go on a rant about them if required. Still I think that element added another level of grotesque fascination to my reading, so I’ll be interested to see if Mr Aaronovitch can maintain the attraction in the later books. The covers alone are pretty pleasing too, so I have high hopes.

3)      LumberJanes (a comic)I can’t actually remember what introduced me to this originally. It was probably a Buzzfeed article, but it made such an impression I ordered it directly afterwards. I still haven’t had chance to look at it though, and it’s been sat on my “To Read” shelf for about 3 months now. It is set around a summer camp for “Hardcore Lady Types” and five scouts of varying levels of awesome – it’s basically everything I’m looking for in life. It’s had excellent reviews and has been described as both accessible and girl friendly in a typically male dominated medium, so I am prepared for it to jump right to the top of my favourite comic list. I’m hoping to be able to pick this up pretty soon, and it won’t take me very long to read so I shall provide a post review asap.

4)      Catch 22 by Joseph HellerI remember really enjoying the film when I saw it a couple of years ago (I think I could totally forge passports in a bathtub) but I’d never really thought too much about the book. Whilst in Hay on Wye though, it was one of those books that seemed to pop up in every shop and after hearing Woo talk about wanting a copy, I felt slightly overwhelmed by the urge to give it a go. It’s a pleasingly weighty copy, so it’s one I’ll probably save for a holiday or a week off, but I’m looking forward to it and I’m hoping that it will please me as much as the film (even if I have committed the heinous sin of watching something before reading it’s primary source).

 5)      The Prince and the Zombie by Tenzin WangmoI found this one on a tucked away on a shelf in a corridor in another Hay bookshop. It was one of those ones that just caught my eye whilst I was reviewing something else and I almost didn’t look at it properly. It drew me back though and I’d turned to pick it up before I’d fully made it into the other room. The blurb speaks of a young prince sent to capture a zombie endowed with magical powers and the difficulties he faces in overcoming the zombie’s powers and completing his task. There was something about it that really appealed to me, but I still don’t really know exactly what. I think I’m secretly hoping this might be my magical book (because every good heroine starts her story with a magical book that leads her to adventures galore) so we shall have to see…

5 books with the most attractive covers – they always say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but who really isn’t drawn to a book with an interesting cover?

1)      Memoirs of a Midget by Walter de la MareThis is one of those books that you look at, then double look at, then put back but keep in the back of your mind and proceed see in every shop you go in afterwards. I almost didn’t get a copy, but thankfully the choice was made for me and I was bought it as a birthday present. It’s a little startling in it’s title and it’s cover is pleasing in it’s simplicity – hopefully the story will follow through.

2)      Mister Memory by Marcus SedgewickTMM picked this one up and gave it to me with the tagline “this one looks pretty. Buy it if you like it”. So I did. The woman behind the till spoke about how beautiful the cover was too, so it really had to be on this list.

3)      The Virgin Cure by Ami McKayI’m always drawn to books with Victorian style fonts and this one was no different. I mean, this book looks like it’s going to have it all – sex, violence, kick ass Victorian ladies. What’s not to love?

4)      The Dark Secret of Josephine by Dennis Wheatley – We actually got this one from a pub in Warrington about three years ago. We were on a day out drinking with a friend and we’d gone into a pub that had shelves of books behind the seating area in true hipster fashion. Anyway, I can’t be presented with a bookshelf and not look at them, and this one stuck out with a elegant blood red leather covering and neat gold lettering. So I nudged and wheedled and prodded and did my best puppy dog eyes and eventually TMM went to the bar and after some smooth negotiating and a bit of a bemused bartender, we got two books for £7. Nice.

5)      Welcome to the Night Vale Joseph Fink & Jeffrey CranorI have been meaning to listen to the podcast for ages, but the cover of the book drew me in and I purchased it before I ever got round to the audio book. I’m a bit torn as to whether I should read it first or listen to the audio version, so I might just end up doing both at the same time and fully immersing myself on weekend.

So that’s my top ten , but I’ve got high hopes for all of them. I’m about half way through Monty’s now and going strong, so you should start to see my post reviews coming through soon. Until then, try not to miss me too much.

Book list

But first, let me take a #shelfie…

In Order: (top row L-R) The Prince and the Zombie by Tenzin Wangmo, The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch, The Dark Secret of Josephine by Dennis Wheatley; Nigel; My family and other dogs by Monty Don

(bottom row L-R) Welcome to the Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, Memoirs of a Midget by Walter de la Mare, Dead Interviews edited by Dan Crewe, The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay, The Mill Girls by Tracy Johnson, The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgewick, Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, The Franchises Affair by Josephine Tey, Waiting for Robert Capa by Susana Fortes, LumberJanes by Stevenson/Ellis/Watters/Allen

(Not Pictured) The Eyre Affair Series by Jasper Fforde; The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; The Empress of Ireland by Christopher Robbins