Springtime for Ebears (and TMMs)

It’s just going to be a quick blog this week, dear readers, but try not to be disheartened. In my quest for topics over the past few days, I’ve been given/come up with a couple of rather good ideas for future posts, meaning that even though this one might be lacking, you’ve got lots of things to look forward to.

 (I’ve also been UNHEALTHILY OBSESSED with “Feel It Still” by Portugal and find myself typing the lyrics to that automatically when trying to write anything, so you might just get that at some point. #sorrynotsorry).

There does seem to be rather a lot going on at this time of year though, and there is a somewhat frantic air of preparation everywhere I go. Spring, although not quite sprung yet (gosh darnit) is on the horizon and the promise of lighter evening, fluffy lambs and not having to wear 2 pairs of thick sock all the time is a pleasant balm for my soul. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, someone that could be defined as a “winter” person. I get very angry when cold (like hangry, only temperature related) and can often become enraged if not continually swaddled in numerous blankets. I remember one particular occasion when we went team camping in early May. It was pretty wet and windy for most of the day and we all retreated to bed rather early. After all getting rather hysterical and falling asleep like children, I woke up completely furious and almost spitting with rage when it turned out the air bed had gone down and the cold had seeped in. Despite wearing about 48 layers, being in a sleeping bag the size of a small space craft and surrounded by four other people I was absolutely freezing. It might not surprise you to know we gave up on that holiday rather earlier than anticipated (and perhaps not unexpectedly, one of the lads has never come camping with us again).

I just do not thrive in chilly climes and feel that everything would be better if it were warmer and lighter all the time. Admittedly, I don’t do too much better when hot (I get sweaty and lazy and flump about like a giant clammy caterpillar) – there really is only a small grouping of temperature where I’m truly happy. Still, I’m definitely ready to be too warm rather than too cold now, and could do with everything just hurrying itself along. Snow and frost is all very well and good for about two days. After that it loses its charm and unless I can view it safely from my comfy chair near the radiator, I am firmly “not about it”. 

We’re entering the dying months of winter now though, and with The Almanac guiding us gently through the turbulent ravages of these final moments, things are starting to look up. TMM has hoed the garden beds (somewhat frivolously as he gets bored with weeding rather quickly) and the seed potatoes are sprouting rather terrifyingly on the windowsill. There’s buckets full fruity promise (strawberries, chillies and tomatoes) and at this rate, we shouldn’t need to buy vegetables until autumn.

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“Oh, the barnyard is busy in a regular tizzy,
And the obvious reason is because of the season
Ma Nature’s lyrical, with her yearly miracle
Spring, Spring, Spring”

The bright sunshine and long afternoons still seem rather far away though, and poor TMM seems to have developed the winter death virus that’s going round with ardour. After spending most of last week valiantly trying to hack up a lung and going to bed at about 7pm complaining of weak limbs and aches, it all came to a head at the weekend. Not only did we have a super Lazy Saturday in an attempt to try and help him recover (TMM leaked noxious fluids out of every face orifice and knocked back Covonia like it was going out of fashion, we both napped through the rugby and I didn’t put trousers on all day) Action Sunday was cancelled after a trip to Asda proved to exhaust all of the poor boy’s energy resources. His adorably sulky little face as he sat on the couch, lamenting his inability to take any good photos of nature/breathe without sounding like Darth Vader, only perked up after I made him watch the Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer is a rather stunning chap) and two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He’s on the road to recovery now though, cheering his way happily through Bullseye (he’s actually 70) as I type.

It’s for the best really, because I don’t think I make the most supportive nurse. Our attitudes to sickness survival are diametrically opposed which can make sympathy a little difficult to share. I am of the mind-set that when poorly, one should always try to take time off for recovery and douse up to the eyeballs with all the medication available. TMM comes from a much more robust family (his attitude to sickness and pain is oddly reminiscent of the Blank Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and tried to muscle on through the phlegm, shivers and dizzy fits. I also am completely useless at caring for myself most of the time, and as such surely can’t be expected to sufficiently look after anyone else. How we didn’t starve is beyond me.

He’s mostly back on full form though this week, which means I don’t feel too bad about leaving him for the annual work’s conference this Friday. I am usually not one for enforced partying/work related fun/anything where people might want to talk to me, but I am actually feeling rather positive about this one. I’ve spent all week tanning and breaking in my new heels (how people where fancy heels on a daily basis astounds me) and only have packing to do now before we go. I haven’t actually settled on an outfit yet (and probably won’t until about 15 minutes before we go down for the meal and my room mate makes an executive decision on my behalf) and I’m still a little touchy about the awkward life choice I made regarding my hair cut (shaved side panels are all well and good when your hair is a little longer and you look a bit edgy. When it’s already short, you (meaning me) end up looking a bit like a horsey faced butch lesbian. Which is fine if that what’s you’re going for. It is not, however, what I was going for). Alas, there isn’t much that can be done at this stage except lots of screwing my eyes up whilst lying in bed and willing my hair to grow faster. Worse things do happen at sea though, and I’ve definitely had far worse looks (shout out to that time my mum cut my hair with a migraine and ended up making me look like a jellyfish). With enough lippy and a shot of tequila I won’t even remember the hair and will inevitably be found on the dance floor grooving embarrassingly to My Humps by Fergie. And if that’s not something for you to tune in and read about next week, I don’t know what is.

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To be honest, I might just go with this look. I think it works for me.

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To Date or Not To Date; how to avoid pitfalls in the pursuit of love, straight from the voice of inexperience

So this week I went out to the team and asked for inspiration on ideas for blog posts. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve been struggling a bit creatively and finding engaging topics to write about that are not only interesting for me but also enjoyable for you guys to read can prove to be a little tricky. Thankfully though the team came through and like the very helpful engines they are, they provided me with a corker of a post. “Shit dates and how to get out of them” was the tagline and I have to say, I’ve taken to it surprisingly well.

Now my track record for dating is pretty limited and since I’ve been with TMM for 7 years, any memory I’ve had of foraying out into the dating world has long since been lost to the mists of time. I barely left the house when I was younger (why go and talk to boys when you could stay in and read – am I right?) and The Man Muffin and I didn’t actually start going on any dates until we were already going out. Our relationship started after I told a friend I though TMM looked delightfully like Aaron Taylor Johnson (sighs dreamily) and she basically dragged me and forced a conversation. After that, all it took  was one ill timed yet enjoyable kiss on St Patrick’s night, a few brief occasions of awkward longing stares across crowded rooms and a serious drunken pep talk from a house mate who told me in no uncertain terms to “go over there and hold his hand” during a “Pounded” night (£1 a drink in the local student bar) and we were pretty much done. Within a few months it had blossomed into meeting the parents, moving in together and that was pretty much it for us. We’ve never looked back and any dates we go on usually end with us getting overexcited about going to a posh restaurant and having to go to bed early because we’re tuckered out. #players

Look at those love struck young fools. There was no way we weren’t going to end up together. Though it’s a shame we both look better in the pictures of us with other people…

However, whilst that is super great for me, it doesn’t really provide any data on how to cope with the whole “dating scene”. To be quite honest, if some reason TMM cruelly deserted me and I had to date now, I’d have already moved into my mum’s shed, adopted 16 cats and taken on the nomclature of Sister Christen Dover, embracing the monistic lifestyle with vigour. 

Still, never let it be said that I back down from a good challenge (note – this is complete lies and undoubtedly has never been said about me. I back away from challenges All The Time, but I strive to be better for my readers). To that end, I’ve been given permission by some of my more experienced friends to talk about some of their adventures, and these will be what we’re going to use as our referential case studies. Buckle up people, this is about to be a “this is what you could have won” look into the world of disastrous dates. 

The first example comes to us fresh from the weekend on behalf of Snooker Toes (the code name he chose out of the options I gave him). He’s nicely allowed me to make a few comments on his experiences (though I’ve promised to be nice this time round). Anyway, he seems to have a habit of attracting ladies whilst going about his daily chores (last time was at the bank) and this time he had gone for an eye test and started making friendly conversation with the lady showing him the frames (“hurrah” goes the cry from the Greek Chorus in the side-lines). He went in straight for the smooth guy approach – “You have my number, you might want to use it” (impressed silence from the Chorus) and by lunch time she’d messaged him back and they were chatting away. For a week they went back and forth, but here’s were old Snooker Toes started to spread the seeds of discontent. “TBH I was already questioning it because we didn’t seem to have much in common…I though I might as well arrange a date because it’s not always about liking the same thing and the first impression was good”. (Some of the Chorus are starting to fidget). Now, whilst it some red flags have already been raised, I think it’s important to respect not only his commitment to the dating cause, but also his positivity levels. A few virtual messages are no match for an actual face to face conversation and the human connection. Unfortunately though, this was not the case for this particular date. After some post-date evaluation, I personally think the setting might have been a slight issue. Typically a first date should be somewhere local that’s easy enough to get to (and easy enough to get away from), somewhere with signal in case your date is a killer and you need potentially rescuing, and an activity that allows for interaction but not continual and consistent scrutiny. Snooker Toes chose to ignore this dating staple though (much against our urging over a curry the night before) as he had a hankering to see the sea and suggested the beach. (Half of the Chorus have packed up and gone home). Now, living as we do smack back in the middle of somewhat grey and rainy country, this meant a two hour journey in a car with a practical stranger only to end up somewhere wet, windy and rather woeful. A rainy trip to the beach with pals can be a laugh. The same journey with a first date was not. Whilst he was quick to state that she was not a horrible person, she was apparently a fan of inane thoughtless chatter and after constant, endless talking about literally every thought that entered her head, Snooker Toes was forced to admit defeat and was so mentally exhausted he had to take a two hour nap when he got home – which was my favourite part of the whole endeavour. He was more than willing to admit that it was more than likely a bad case of nerves and that whilst it wasn’t as awful as it could have been (nobody threw up or said anything horribly racist) I think the main thing to take away from this is the importance of planning. Making friends is easy and meeting people at work is pretty much all sorted out for you, but deciding to focus all your attention on one person (someone who you are, consciously or subconsciously, pinning a lot of hope on, be it for a quick shag or a lifetime partner) requires forethought. Something that showcases you in your best light whilst simultaneously allowing you to get a good read on your date. It’s hard enough working out how to be yourself without having to worry about anything else.

The idea of first dates always remind me of the scene from Scrubs where adorable girl nurse Elliot talks about how to hide her volcano of crazy whilst going out with her new beau. I’m in two minds really and would appreciate your input. Is it better to go all in; crazy cannons blazing and stand proud knowing it could all end in crushing defeat and a night crying into a tub of Ben & Jerries’ and self-loathing? Or is it best to start out behind a mask of normality and drip feed your crazy in gradually until it’s too late for your partner to escape – let it all bubble through until they’re trapped in the lava of your lunacy?

I think it’s ideal to suggest the first, but our second example maybe argues against the point. This one comes from the first year of University and my transatlantic soul sister Jbear. She came over to the UK for a year and was transfixed by the skinny, pale, childlike boys we call our own here in dear old Blighty. There was one in particular we spotted in the first few months who peaked her attention; a sort of Noel Fielding type in a red leather jacket two sizes too small, a mullet Rod Stewart could be proud of and a lackadaisical approach to everything except his music. Anyway, she kept a weather eye on him for a few weeks and eventually I received a text saying she’d invited him back to hers and to stand by for a status report. Once again, I think this could be where things started to fall apart. First dates should NEVER be held in either of the respective dater’s homes. This can only lead to disaster. Remember people, some where local, somewhere with signal and somewhere with something to do.

Anyway, the next thing I heard was about 9am the next morning when I received a somewhat unexpectedly detailed text. Apparently after bumping into the Mop Top at the pub, Jbear had invited him back to hers for something to eat. She had left him safely in her room, gone to rustle something up and when she’d returned, laden with delicious and nutritional plates of food, she discovered that he had made himself comfortable and gone into full on “naked man” mode.  Thankfully I have never been unexpectedly faced with a strangers junk all up in my personal business, because I literally do not know how I would react in that situation. (Note – it is not appropriate first date etiquette). Jbear, bless her heart, was as polite as could be and told Sir Knickerless that she was not really into buying what he was selling and that it would be best if he got dressed. She was then forced to endure hours of excruciating awkwardness when he Didn’t Leave. That’s right folks, this kid’s metaphorical balls were so big that he was happy enough to have his somewhat unsubtle offer of sex rejected and then still feel comfortable enough to hang round. Now, kudos to him for thinking that it was still worth trying to build a relationship, but I think at that point any self respecting person would just ducked out. Not him. The best thing was, when I received the text, it wasn’t just an update, it was a plea for help. Mr “let me introduce myse-OH LOOK here’s my penis” was still there, helping himself to Jbear’s dwindling tea collection. After laughing myself practically sick, I rushed across campus and turned up to find a red faced and practically withered Jbear, a content and apparently oblivious date and a couple of other housemates who’d been dragged in for moral support. We all sat there, in Jbear’s tiny room, for a fantastically awkward few minutes before some one suggested a walk. Now, you’d think at this point, Noel Fielding’s less attractive and infinitely less socially conscious younger brother would have said his goodbyes and made his way home.

If only.

An hour later found us traipsing round the local woods, alternating between trying to fall far enough behind Captain Cock-a-boo  to die a little and power walking ahead and trying to lose him in the trees. Eventually, Jbear made the executive decision to just cut him loose and made up some tale about having something planned for the afternoon that he was not required for. He sloped off, a little hurt I think that we had shaken him off, and we retired to the flat to laugh, weep and then nap off the stress of the whole dating experience.

It’s important, I think, in this tricky labyrinth of love, to take some key points from these examples. 1) Make sure to have an escape plan. Having an evacuation route is not defeatist, it is just practical. Be it a friend with a mobile phone and handy excuse, a prior engagement or just a ballsy attitude and the ability to cut your loses and run, you want to have the safety net in place. 2) Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. A spontaneous trip to the beach or an impromptu invitation of tea might seem like a good idea at the time, but it will not necessarily stay that way. There is a reason lots or people go bowling or to the cinema on a first date. Ignore the wisdom of those who have gone before at your peril. 3) Remember that even if it does all go pear-shaped and you end up feeling lacklustre, lovelorn and lonely, if you just give it a little time you will have a great story for someone’s blog. And lastly, I think we can all agree that the moral of these misadventure are that if you have to take a nap afterwards just to recover, it definitely didn’t go according to plan…

What IS it about those Crotchety Old Men?!

Happy Nearly Christmas my festive little Sprouts!

Once again I have to apologise (surprise surprise) for being a week behind on blogging (though it was touch and go whether or not I’d get this one posted). Fighting against Christmas colds, hangovers, present prep and the most ridiculous period of busyness at work (WTF? It’s Christmas? Go away!) has left me with very little time to call my own and even less to call blogging specific. Which is just rude really. Still, I am returned for now and will give you one last chapter before the festive season truly kicks in.

I did struggle a lot to think about what to blog this week. I think being so busy with everything else has just turned my brain to mush, rather than giving me inspiration on what to write about.  It’s been complete madness, but I hasten to add; an acceptable kind of madness. The kind that leaves you constantly achieving and with slight levels of hysteria, rather than the type that overwhelms you and makes you sit and stare at a wall for hours on end terrified of how much there is to do and how much you can’t do it.

Admittedly, I shouldn’t really make it sound so bad when it’s poor TMM who’s been in charge of the wrapping extravaganza that’s currently in progress in our living room. We now have practically every present (there are still one or two either in transit or waiting to be put together) and they are scattered in loose family piles all over the floor. I have mainly ensconced myself safely on the couch with a gold pen and the festive labels and left TMM to fight with the temperamental tape dispenser and countless rolls of seemingly sentient paper. He’s done very well over all (there’s only been one minor injury and two small huffs) but there’s still about 20% to go so who knows how the rest of this week could go down.

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The worrying thing is, this is 3 days in and it actually looks much better than it did…

You’ve got to find coping mechanisms from the Christmas Chaos how you can though, and I’ve mainly found respite by going on a reading bender these last couple of weeks. TMM set me onto Jo Nesbo, a Scandinavian crime/thriller writer who he’s been trying to convince me to read for a while (he’s regretting that now I can tell you). Very much in my typical fashion, I started reading with the intention of just finishing one book and seeing how I felt but ended up desperately bingeing the entire series and am now 9 books in and devastatingly obsessed.  Typically I shy away from particularly graphic scandi noir crime thrillers so I’m actually quite surprised how obsessed I’ve become with these. I nearly had palpitations watching Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and we’ve had to limit my viewing of The Tunnel to one episode every few days because I get so panicked about the high levels of peril. These books (based on the Harry Hole series – those of you who’ve been paying attention will have seen the recent film “The Snowman” with Michael Fassbender which is based on a book in the middle of the series) are really no different and have started to get particularly violent – The Leopard (the next one to the Snowman) is particularly gruesome and there’s interviews I’ve read with the author in which he’s stated that even he thinks he might have gone slightly too far. Still, I’ve found them so addictive I’ve been unable to stop. Poor TMM has had to put up with my ranting and mild stresses throughout the last few weeks and has done so graciously, even when I made him buy a second copy of one book so we could read them at the same time, overtook him on the series and spoilered him for character deaths.

This, in fact, is one particular bugbear I have with Mr Nesbo. Like JK Rowling and the writers of Spooks, he belongs to that school of writer who aims for “realism” in his books and thinks you can achieve this by killing of main characters. I would like to set the record straight once and for all – this is not on. Mainly, I choose to read because I am looking for a distraction from real life. I want something that takes me away from my own world and submerges me in another, full of adventure and excitement that I want but am too lazy and awkward to actually aim for. What I do not want is sadness and death of characters that I have become attached to. I especially do not want it to happen MORE THAN THREE TIMES! Seriously, it’s a good job Nesbo isn’t on Twitter otherwise he would have had as a severe and unapologetic diatribe as I could have sufficiently written in 218 characters. I’m not reading for the heartache of reality. I’m reading to escape all that, and if you could stop killing off all my favourite characters in cruel and unusual ways, I’d very much appreciate it!

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Just a little light reading

The main attraction for me though, as I once again am slightly embarrassed to admit, is my love of crotchety old men. I don’t know what is about them but every single time they become one of my favourite characters. Harry Hole is, admittedly, a little young for my typical type (at the fair age of only 48) but his sarcastic outlook, inability to not do the right thing (much to his chagrin) and heavy mental and physical scarring pretty much fit the bill. It’s like my inexplicable but uncontrollable love for Lewis (TV show) all over again. Give me an aged, wrinkly, bitter old copper over a youthful heroic type any day of the week. I’d rather Samuel Vimes than Batman, Robbie Lewis over Peter Parker and pretty much any of the old cast members from any of the Star Treks (in real life or as their characters) than the sexy new young’uns. It’s definitely starting to become a bit of a problem though, and it was only compounded last night when we went to see the new Star Wars (which was excellent) and I spent the whole time being shamelessly in love with grumpy old Luke Skywalker. I mean, Oscar Isaacs is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but why would I fancy his reckless and flippant Poe Dameron when Luke is in the background growling about everything and letting his beard flow magnificently in the wind? It’s not that my fascination is gender specific either. There are some truly excellent female characters in this new addition to the franchise and whilst I love them all, how can I focus on them when you’ve got Leia stomping around slapping people all over the place like a cantankerous little ewok? Those Skywalker siblings are the definition of “great hair, don’t care” and I would happily watch a 3 hour film of them just doing their thing, minus all the dramatic and political plot arcs.

It’s not like it’s a general fancy either. I may be odd but I am particularly in my strangeness. It can’t be just any type of cranky crinkle and just nasty old meanies are no good – I want good intentioned but world weary grouches; grizzled with just a hint of sarcastic charm and preferably a bonus young sidekick they can continually gripe at. I’ve tried to reason it away and diagnose it but there’s just no hope. It might be peculiar but it’s just how I am and if nothing else it surely bodes well for TMM. I mean, if I love him now in the flush of youth, I am going to just adore him when he’s 70.

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.

Creepin’ It Real for One Whole Year

I’m a little late in posting today, but I’m sure you’ll let me off. Halloween is a busy time of year for everyone (read: nutters who love to dress up) and the tidying up and facial cleaning can take a while.
Before we get into the dark and twisted details of my All Hallows’ Eve (get ready for some blow by blow accounts and a really unhealthy amount of pictures) I’d like to take a minute to wish you all Happy 1 Year Blogiversary! As of last Wednesday, my blog is officially one year old and I would like to be the first to congratulate you all for sticking with me. It’s been a semi regular and somewhat bumpy ride, but we’ve done it together and that’s what counts. If I were one of those excitable and committed types, I’d be offering the first 5 people who comment some kind of reward as a little bonus, but as it’s me you’re mainly going to get what you get every week – a like on your comment and a little internal squee.

On to the main event now though – Welcome to Halloween Time!

Sadly, we don’t have any team plans this year (I’ve been assured it’s because we’re all poor and in the middle of moving/decorating or other such life tasks, and NOT because we’re all too grown up and sensible for themed fancy dress parties) so I’m a little put out in that regard, but I’ve not let it hold me back too much.

This weekend TMM’s sister invited us to the newly created yearly tradition of The Pendlebury Pumpkin Party, which went down a storm. We got to traverse a maize maze to pick our own pumpkins (I got two because I couldn’t help myself), carve our competition entries and then enjoy a home made stew and dumplings. Baby Thea looked spectacular in her pumpkin outfit and inveigled her way into the pumpkin parade very sneakily. I think Jenbob was slightly miffed that Papa Pendlebury won with his Brain Sick pumpkin (though it turned out that he’d already been practicing in the week prior – never let it be said they’re not a competitive family), but he wore his homemade Pumpkin Garland of Champions with pride which did have us in hysterics. I’d give the whole day a solid 5 stars and am going to start researching ideas for next year now.

The Pumpkin Parade

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Trick Or Treat Yo’Self


Pendleburys’ on the prowl

Tonight, in true anti social and British fashion, we’ve retreated upstairs and turned the light off so as not to attract any unwanted trick or treaters. It’s not that I’m against the practice necessarily, more that I resent giving away my hard earned sweets to unknown “youths”.

Instead, I’ve overcompensated on my lack of party plans and seasonal spirit by going a bit hysterical at work.

Thankfully, I work in an office that, whilst not being my dream career, are willing to have a bit of a laugh and let me dress up occasionally. Admittedly however, I do think we may have gone slightly overboard this time round. Initially nobody really seemed to be very motivated by the idea of dressing desks and I was prepared to let the holiday pass by. However, after some pointed comments by the higher ups, there started the low mumbling of ideas and teams started to huddle sneakily in corners discussing themes. By the end of the week, complete Halloween chaos reigned and things were getting competitive. We spent 3 days cutting out hundred of bats to paper the walls with and buried everything in mountains of cobwebs. I gave myself numerous paper cuts making a full size terrifying tree and haunted house silhouette for the window and we even printed out hilariously witty and personalised grave stones to go on our laptops. Admittedly, when it was revealed that we LOST the best dressed desk competition, I very nearly flipped my chair in an uncontrollable rage and had to be calmed with a kinder bueno and the whispered promise that our desk was loved by all. My delicate and easily bruised artistic temperament cannot take such affronts, but I’m coming to terms with it now. As someone said, ours was so good it was beyond any trivial award, so I’m letting this one slide.

LOOK! Just look at the craftsmanship that’s gone into that

As well as desk decoration, I have once again been maddeningly enthralled by the opportunity to dress up myself. As per EVERY time I have a fancy dress engagement, I have to spend at least a week prior furiously pinteresting ideas and watching how to videos on YouTube. This is then typically followed by a week of panicking because I can’t find/make the exact item/prop I want that would complete my idea and then at least 2 nights in front of the mirror trialling out various options and inevitably having at least two breakdowns. Considering that I only usually end up wearing the costume for 6 hours at the most, it could be considered slight overkill. This time has been no different. I started with 4 ideas (cracked doll, sugar skull, Cheshire Cat, pop art), narrowed it down to 2 (doll and pop art) decided I’d go for a completely different one altogether (fish hooked mermaid) bought all the stuff for that and then had a complete meltdown at the length of my hair and ended up being a bleeding mime instead. Whatcha’ gonna do?


TMM dealt with the whole event very calmly as he does, and only had to talk me through one weeping fit (personal growth!) which is good. He is probably very secretly pleased that it’s all over now and he doesn’t have to listen to me stomping about in the bathroom muttering furiously to myself and avoiding fake blood scabs stuck on every surface. I however, am a little sad that I’ve got to put away the face paint and FX make up for another year. It might have been challenging getting there, but the outcome wasn’t so bad.
And so, we turn the page on Halloween for another year and prepare to batten down the hatches and hunker through the complete Christmas chaos that is about to be unleashed. When one festive season finishes, another prepares to panic you blind…

The Freedom of Being a D*ck

I’m a little behind this week as I recover from the seasonal sniffle that seems to be making the rounds rather aggressively. Whilst I am usually quite cocky about my immune system (which considering how lazy, unhealthy and prone to complaining I am, is surprisingly strong), I was struck down when I least expected it. The culprit? My small yet totes adorable niece, who proceeded to give me ALL of the snotty kisses last weekend whilst clambering over me in an attempt to keep a sensible baby eye on her mum at all opportunities, but I am loathed to hold her too accountable. She been struggling for longer than I have with this cold and has mostly been dealing with it with the stoic reserve of a solid little baby bundle.

I however, unlike Thea, have not dealt with it well. At all. In fact, I have lamented my fate loudly and with much sorrow, and even had a sick day last Wednesday so I could lie about in my stitch onesie with tissues shoved up my nose. So poorly was I that I was unable to blog, craft or do anything remotely useful and consequently I am terribly behind on all my life plans. WOE. However, I am now (mostly) recovered, though still marvelling at the amount of snot that one person can produce, and getting back on track.

SIDE NOTE – Saying that, TMM had to go to bed last night at 7pm because he was fevered and shaky, so whilst it seems I might be on the mend, poor Muffin might be looking down the barrel of the sickness cannon.

Fighting off the dreaded mucus monster was not the only blow that was delivered last week though. On the Thursday that I’d gone back to work (but definitely should not have done) – people even commented on how much of a minger I looked) I managed to lose the stone from my engagement ring.

Broken Ring

It’s like something from the Pink Panther only with less David Niven and more sadness.

After moaning my way through the say, sweating and snotting all over the place like some vile blob creature, I finally made it to home time and sloped off to the shop to pick up some essentials and wait for my ride. It was all fine until I was standing on the steps, keeping a weather eye out for Hans von Manschaft (VW extraordinaire) when I caught sight of my ring and realised glaringly that the opal that should have been set in place was missing. For a minute it was all I could do to stand outside Aldi with a bag full of chilli ingredient’s and the complete inability to do anything but stand and stare at the little empty gap. Then followed (in quick succession) intense panicked searching of my bag, my pockets, the surrounding floor area and the path I’d taken round Aldi. Once it was clear I wasn’t going to find anything (damn Aldi and their speckled linoleum floor choices) I trudged back to my post in the car park and hunkered down. TMM turned up not long after and before he’d even got a hello out, had to put up with me fluctuating between raucous nose blowing and pathetic whimpers (which he did very well). As he pointed out between gently patting my sweaty head and handing me tissues; it wasn’t something I’d done on purpose, it was unfixable, and at least we were now even (he’d caught his ring between a cabinet and wall at work and smashed it to pieces – though it did basically save him from an unexpected finger amputation).

I think I was actually most stunned about how affected I was and it’s hit me rather hard. I’ve always been attached to “things” (I love more by the Hoarder code than Buddhist teachings) and have been known to cry over the loss of the most stupid things, but sitting and staring the gap where the stone should be has made me realise quite how much I’d invested into this little ring. I’m not a huge romantic (you may have guessed, it’s not like I’ve said it a MILLION times), and I’m not really majorly fussed by marriage. It’s not that I’ve ever been strictly against it, but I didn’t spent countless hours as a little girl planning my dream day (I was far too busy planning my life as a famous author). Even now, it’s not the wedding that really bothers me. Don’t get me wrong, I will marry the absolute crap out of TMM, but the whole ritual of the thing has never appealed. Yet, realising I had damaged the one thing that was a physical representation really shook me up.

TMM has not allowed me to wallow in my sadness though. We’ve gone through the various stages of loss – Despair, Anger, Silkiness ((so much sulkiness) and he’s been very supportive the whole way through. We’ve already been on two day trips to various vintage barns and I’ve told him that if worst comes to the worst, I am willing to accept a full size brass diving helmet and a non-working gramophone as a replacement.

I just really think these would perfectly reflect our love. Also I want to see Bucky in the helmet SO BAD.

He’s also taken me to Primark this weekend for a new cardigan (and shirt…and makeup) and brought himself a SPECTACULAR corduroy jacket that just screams Brokeback Mountain. (He’s under strict instructions not to wear it with his corduroy trousers though, because I don’t think I can love a man who wears a full camel coloured corduroy suit). We also went for a lovely walk around our old stomping grounds at Keele on Sunday too. Now that TMM is a totes profesh photographer (like every good Action Man, he comes with his own removable attachments including: official camera bag with pockets, 2x tripods and cameras of varying sizes), we go out all over the place so he can practice his skills. He, very complimentary, wants to take lots of photos of me so he can trial everything out. I, very unhelpfully, am the worst model ever and cannot stand still for more than 2 minutes. To that end, most of the pictures he takes are accompanied by at least 3 others of me being an absolute tit.

Face 4

Strike a pose

It’s made me realise though that this could just be who I am as a person. At the ripe old age of 26, I now know who I am. I have come to the conclusion that I am never going to be one of those Instagram girls with perfect contouring, shiny hair and a fantastic cleavage. I mean, it’s not through lack of trying, but it’s just too hard. I would rather spend an extra ten minutes in bed that try to shape my eyebrows and I get panic sweats trying to order a McDonalds, nevermind travelling the globe in a tiny bikini and letting stranges goggle over my arse. However, I am able to pull a truly awful face at a moment’s notice and I can throw down some mad shapes like an epileptic llama. You want a girl that can gurn like a good’un? I’m the one for you. Need someone to do a little impromptu dance number in the middle of the forest whilst you set your gear yp? You’re looking at her? Want a Facebook montage full of perfectly edited yet ridiculously hideous faces that will make you laugh yourself silly? You know who to call.

Let’s face it, I’m never going to be able to keep it straight for that long, and why bother when I look so hilarious otherwise? As someone pointed out, there’s a certain safety in looking like a complete berk. The worse you look, the funnier the pictures are and you end up achieving the perfect “bad” picture without even having to try. This way, I can tick off “approval from others”, “all of the likes on social media” and “helping TMM with his hobby” in one fell swoop and I didn’t even have to put any effort in. It’s a pretty good life lesson for self confidence as well. It can be really hard sometimes to look in the mirror and deal with trying to make your face look presentable when all you feel like is a pile of poop. Your hair is a mess, your eyeliner is wonky and your complexion is blotchy like a 3 year olds painting and your self esteem plummets before you’ve even left the house. This way, you can go out there, pull a stupid face and post a photo whilst having a giggle and within minutes you’ve got people telling you it’s hilarious. The barrier or your self-confidence is well and truly broken because, let’s face it, you couldn’t look worse if you tried and if people like you when you look like that, they’re going to be happy with you no matter what.

A couple of classics

 

 

 

 

 

All You Need is Love (and banter) …do be do be doo

Alternative Title for this week – “Heart Shaped Confessions of an Unromantic Weirdo”

So I actually found this week’s post surprisingly hard to write (though picking the photos was most definitely not). TMM features in most of my blogs in some form or another (to be honest, it would be hard for him not too seeing that’s he’s basically the main character in my life), but I’ve never really focused on him specifically. It’s weird, especially considering I find it (possibly too) easy to share things about myself that others might deem a bit too much information, but in writing this I felt like I was revealing something really private. I’m not sure if it was perhaps that I didn’t know if I would be able to do justice to him, or because selfishly, I didn’t want to share all the things I felt with anyone else.

Partly, I think it was probably because I am not the world’s biggest romantic – notions of overtly public displays of affection or dramatic declarations of desire are about as far from my ballpark as it is possible to get. As much as I enjoy kittens and make up and crying at Love Actually, I’ve never been fond of being a girly girl – hearts and love songs and small stuffed teddy bears have only ever made me feel a bit bilious. I’ve only ever really wanted a steady and reliably solid type of relationship; the kind where you can shave your legs in the shower whilst your partner brushes their teeth and you talk about what you want for tea. Desperately passionate flings full of desire and drama just seem a bit like fireworks – bright for a minute, but over depressingly quickly.  I want happy contentment and low level constant banter and with TMM, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it.

Contentment

I mean, if this isn’t a prime example of perfectly suited contentment, then I don’t know what is.

I mean, I don’t think we’re perfect (though we’re pretty close, come on now). We’ve argued over IKEA flat-pack furniture just like everyone else.  He’s thrown a tub of butter in my general direction in a fit of pique, I’ve binned a pair of his chinos without telling him (because they were hideous) and we’ve spent far too long panicking we’re not good enough for each other. It can’t be denied either that sometimes he drives me completely insane. His inability to put things back where he found them (JUST PUT IN BACK IN THE CUPBOARD DUDE) and his incessantly British need to apologise (which he wouldn’t need to do it he just PUT STUFF BACK IN THE CUPBOARDS) makes me want to spit like an angry cat sometimes.  His crippling bouts of self doubt sting me like they were my own and his limpet like sleep grip sometimes makes me want to smother him.

sleep.jpg

This is him pretending he’s an adorable princess when he sleeps. Do not believe the lies. He is a deadly sleep octopus. Also – #bonusbucky

But on the other hand, I don’t think I have ever met anyone who’s heart is so big. I know people say this all the time about plenty of people, but I solemnly believe my claim to be true. I mean, he won a Heart of Gold award at University, so it’s obviously just not me who thinks it, but I’m the lucky one who gets to see it every day. He is generous to a fault, an excellent creator of Dad Puns, has wonderfully broad shoulders, a most pleasing jaw line, and without a shadow of a doubt is one of the most truly decent human beings I have ever had the privilege to know.

I remember the morning of his graduation (his, mind you, not mine) when he drove all the way to town to pick up some more pink hair dye for me because I’d had a paddy that my hair wasn’t the right shade and locked myself in the bathroom in tears. He didn’t complain or shout, he just went out, bought the hair dye, shoved it in my hands and hugged me until I’d calmed down. It might have helped that my hair looked fabulous in all the photos, but over the years he’s spent far too much time dealing with my hair related dramas and has never once made me feel bad about it.

We’re both pretty crazy in ways that don’t necessarily compliment each other, and sometimes we get stuck in these vicious spirals of passive aggressive pity that feed off each of our insecurities. At least once a week we can be found huddling together and gently patting each other in an attempt to reason away our anxieties, but at least we do it together. He’s attended my counselling session with me without ever once complaining though it is clear to see he’d rather crawl up his own arse most of the time. He’s listened to me rant and rave and he’s let me try and talk him down when he’s been stressed and he’s made it so much easier to be mental and proud than I thought I ever could be.

He’s also gone above and beyond more times than I can count. At New Year, he dropped everything to drive me down to be with my mum and step dad during the last few days of his illness. He sat in the waiting room with me every day and offered support without a shadow of protest; speaking to family members he didn’t know, making brews and holding hands whenever he could. The best thing was though, he did it not out of loyalty or the goodness of his heart, but because he saw Mr B as family. He’s taken my clan into his heart, let them pull and push him as I do, and been grateful for the opportunity. It can be hard to make your way into a new family, but we’ve managed to find two set of people who match and it’s a honour to be part of it.

On a slightly lighter note (though maybe not for him) he’s also cleaned up my vomit after I’ve made a  bit of a drunken tit of myself, and unlike me, has hardly ever held it over my head. Even though I spent most of the night sobbing uselessly and chundering like a champ, he emptied the buckets (that’s right, buckets plural) without complaint and slept on the couch when I sprawled unhelpfully across the bed, even though he needed to be up early for a rugby match the next day.

hero

Thankfully, I haven’t got a picture of him emptying my sick buckets. Instead, he is he proving himself once again to be a hero among men – sewing sleeves onto my Halloween costume circa 2015. Also – check that jawline.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I think he’s such a genuinely swell guy it’s time I let the world know. There’s no roses or cupids, no gushing barbershop quartet and no dedicated poems, but the intent is still there. We make a pretty good team, and although I still panic that one day we’ll run out of things to talk about, or something grown up will rear it’s ugly head, if we’ve made it this far without killing each other, I’m pretty hopeful for the future.