Bank Holiday Bants

Well hello all – how are we this fine April’s Day? I hope we all enjoyed our bank holiday weekend?

I wonder, if like me, there was some slight gnashing of teeth and beating of bosoms on Monday night at the prospect of having to return to work? Was their perhaps some overdramatic sulking and wailing at having to set alarms and knowing that they actually had to be heeded rather than gleefully ignored? Anyone else weeping into their new orthopaedic neck cushions (Aldi’s finest) because they were unwilling to give up on the life of casual freedom and unstructured frivolity they’d carefully cultivated?

Just me?

(Side note – whilst you may smirk at my old lady neck support cushion, which admittedly is a hideous shade of off cream and does smell a little odd, you might want to bear in mind that my headaches have dissipated radically and I’m pretty sure I’ve slept so deeply the past few nights I might have actually been dead. Nurdees to you).

To be honest, we shouldn’t really be surprised at my possibly overdramatic reaction and the return to scheduled living. Whilst I don’t exactly hate my job, be warned that if you show me the tiniest bit of freedom, I’m chomping at the bit for a life of unemployed luxury. I am definitely a lady of leisure at heart. Still, despite the slight cloud on the horizon, my days weren’t spent entirely full of moping.

Admittedly, Friday didn’t go quite as energetically as initially hoped. I did have plans (such plans) as TMM was unfortunately not allowed the Friday off and I wanted to achieve lots in his absence. I didn’t. Instead, I painted a couple of storage boxes and watched Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (still an excellently trashy film) Mulan for the very first time (I got VERY BEHIND getting down to business to defeat Huns) and binged the entire first season of Marvels: Agent Carter (because Peggy Carter is life and I need to start preparing for the new Avengers film). TMM came home to find me very much as he’d left me, though I had at least made it downstairs onto the couch which is something to be proud of and definitely more than achieved on previous bank holidays spent on my own. (There was that one time he came home from work to find me in bed, in my pants, eating cold pasta out of a take out tub with my fingers. There has definitely been some personal growth since then).

Thankfully, TMM hadn’t expected too much from me and was happy enough that I’d put clothes on and managed to feed myself. He took me for a leisurely jaunt round the village to get me my daily requisite of fresh air and we finished the day by successfully making a fantastic chocolate Easter nest for my Padre.

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Look at this! It’s so fancy!

Saturday was a little more adventurous and we made it all the way to Manchester to visit dearest papa. He was dashing and dapper as always and we treated him to a light hipster lunch in a local café and a good natter. I came home with an excellent Easter haul, including chocolate eggs, pants (Harding Family Tradition – Easter Knickers. Everyone laughs but I swear to god Easter Kecks are one of the best annual customs) and a fantastic A4 framed portrait which now sits in pride of place on the new shelves. (TMM has decided in his wisdom that he wants to start a family gallery, so if you have any handy dandy painted portraits of yourselves, send them our way).

Family visiting continued on Sunday and we went for a rather spectacular Sunday Dinner at TMM’s sister. It’s a trait of the TMM family to prepare plates of food the size of the Himalayan mountain range and then demolish them like snakes unhinging their jaws whilst still maintaining excellent conversations and wrangling children/dogs with casual ease. (There’s still some contention amongst our friends as to whether anyone has ever actually seen TMM eat. We’re all pretty sure that we’ve seen the plate of food in front of him, and then an empty plate about 5 minutes later, but nobody knows what happens in the middle). It’s fascinating for me, one of nature’s slowest eaters (I’m basically a cow, I like to be constantly but leisurely chewing all the time) though it does inevitably mean I finish last and there’s usually something left on my plate because my stomach can’t cope with the amount of glorious chow that’s been presented to it. It’s the curses of being a weedy, lazy child in amongst a healthy and dangerously sporty crowd, but I don’t think they hold it against me. I held my own quite well this time though, and any lingering dismay at my failure to finish was quickly hidden under the chocolate cornflake cake the size of an oven tray absolutely drowning in mini eggs and maltster bunnies I made for pudding.

It also can’t be said I squandered the long weekend in my typically couch potato-y way. TMM was not to be dissuaded by the drizzling weather and over two days managed to make sure I got more day light than my poor pale, winter shrivelled body was prepared for. He’s got some ordinance survey maps of our local area on his phone and dragged me out to enjoy the beauty of nature with him. We walked for HOURS; literally a million steps (read: about 20,000) and to be brutally honest I’m surprised I survived. To be quite honest though (and don’t tell him this) I rather enjoyed myself and it was nice to get a bit of fresh air and do some exploring. I may have done a little whining and huffing, but it was only to be expected, and I think it would have confused us both if I’d gone for it whole heartedly.

We also tired our hand at a spot of geocaching (verb- to ferret around in hedge rows and fields looking for hidden treasures following maps and coordinate, or ‘treasure hunts for grown ups’) which was rather exciting, if a little damp, and spawned a new, slightly risqué game called “Geocache or Poo Bag?!” We had a 60% success rate, which considering it was our first and the fact most of them had been originally placed in 2014 is rather good I think. Admittedly, there weren’t quite as many super exciting treasures as I had hoped for (mainly there were pieces of paper with notes and such like from previous hunters), but we did rather enjoy ourselves. It’s also got TMM’s groove going and he’s already started following numerous different geochache instagram accounts (a lot of them look a tad more exciting than ours). Expect further updates as his passion develops…

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The secondary discovery of the walk; I promise I’m excited under all those layers.

Honestly though, I do have to admit that a lot of this really pales into insignificance because I got to play with puppies this weekend.

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PUPPY PILE

Oh. My. Lord. I mean, I love a puppy as much as the next girl, but good god were they cute. I have never actually been in the vicinity of such tiny pups before and it’s probably good because I was completely useless and unable to do really anything except fuss them and take a ridiculous amount of photos on my phone. I’ve been trying to convince TMM to let me have one (I was not above trying to hide one under my jumper on the way home) but he’s annoyingly sensible and keeps banding about weak excuses like “we have full time jobs and wouldn’t be home to look after it enough” and “we live in rented accommodation and aren’t allowed”. I’ve happily said I’ll give up work and hide the dog whenever the landlord turns up, but so far it’s not going in my favour.

Still, I am not to be dissuaded and I’ve decided that if I am not destined to be a proud puppy parent, I can at least pressure my mother into it. I basically managed to force a cat on her when I was 18 through a carefully constructed campaign of blanket social media cat coverage (emails that said “CAN I HAVE A KITTEN” 7 millions times on the hour, every hour), repetitive bullying and really annoying whining, so I’m pretty sure that I can recreate the conditions now.

To support my puppy petition, I’ve even made this handy and completely impartial pros and cons list to help her decide:

Pros
Great company – dogs have endless and undying love to give
Exercise – the dog can take her for walks along the local beaches and make sure she’s staying healthy and fit
Soft – they are so cuddly
Safety – the dog would protect her from any dangerous marauders who might have devious designs on her or her property
Socialising – everybody wants to pet a dog, so it’s a great way to make friends (and influence people)
Comfort – especially whilst her house is still in such disarray from the recent floods, the dog can provide a warm body and give her plenty of hugs and furry dog kissed.
Adorable – I mean, it’s a dog. Come on.

Cons
None. There are literally no cons. Puppies are great.

I mean, I can’t she how she can argue against this logically, rational and well thought out argument. Puppy anyone?

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Now That’s What I Call Life Tunes

So today’s blog comes to you directly from the local climbing gym. Worry not though couch fans, I am not the one climbing. I have tried climbing previously and whilst at one point I was actually able to drag myself up the wall and hang rather uncoordinatedly from a jug (check my knowledge of technical terms definitely not spotted on a reference board on the far wall), I was completely unable to get down again. Turns out that whilst I might not have a great fear of heights, I am terrified of falling and smacking onto the floor dramatically.
I am here in true spousal support of TMM whilst he gets back into the habit. He’s not been climbing for a while but he’s on a bit of a personal improvement bender at the moment and is doing regular climbing and daily yoga like a right millennial. (I am mainly turning into a potato so it’s good that one of us making the effort to be the best us we can be). Admittedly I do feel slightly panicked about being surrounded by agile, healthy people in various stages of hipster dress throwing themselves about the place with gay abandon, but I have brought my book, blanket and chocolate biscuits so I’m doing well.

Climbing

Much action – so wow. Just look at those back muscles.

After last week’s blog, I’ve been thinking a little more about music and the connection it has to every aspect of life. Everyone has a personal playlist – songs that resonate with you for a specific (or non-specific and yet completely unexplainable) reason. Half of the time, I don’t think you actually realise what your songs are, and trying to pin down a particular favourite or the anthem to your life can be rather challenging – especially under pressure and especially if like me you suffer with severe choice anxiety and can’t make a decision to save your life. (If anything important was left up to me, the whole world would have ended up like a dusty Miss Havisham before anything was decided).
To overcome my debilitating issue and bring to you a snapshot into my musicality (which you know you are all invested in) I’ve stolen a standard formula of questions, designed to pry and prod into my sound based subconscious. I would like to encourage you all to share some of your answers and your chosen tunes, but remember folks – this is a judgement free zone…
Let’s start with an easy one shall we?
MOST RECENTLY LISTENED TO
“Paradise” by George Ezra
I’ve heard this one a couple of times in passing the last few weeks and whilst I had a fleeting fancy, it didn’t massively attract me. There was one lyric though “if it feels like paradise running through your bloody veins” that caught on something in my head, making to me a do mental double take every time I heard it. I was flicking through YouTube suggestions Tuesday night, and being the curious little soul that I am, I took the time to actually listen to it properly. Since then I’ve barely listened to anything else. I’ve been singing it quietly and completely out of tune practically non stop, and I can’t help but do an embarrassing little shoulder shuffle any time its on. George Ezra has a wonderfully individual voice that resonates happily through you; there’s something so warm and summery about him, and I can’t help but think this is the perfect song for the start to spring.
GUILTY PLEASURE
“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson
I’ve said this one specifically, but pretty much any song by her is a secret fave of mine. She is painfully tweeny bop and I love her whole heartedly. I challenge anyone to turn the radio over when this song comes on (which it does surprisingly more often that you might think). It’s silly fluff with some excellent synth work and rest assured that I will belt it out every time it comes on my shuffle. I think it’s possibly I might be slightly influenced after watching Steve Kardynal do a version on chat roulette and laughing myself sick. (If anybody hasn’t seen this, I recommend you watch it immediately – ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAQhG59zqZc ). If you want a frivolous bit if fun, you will be hard pressed to find a better example.
ON REPEAT
“Feel It Still” by Portugal. the Man
You may remember this song from previous blog posts, such as “Springtime for Ebears (and TMMs)”. This song has spoken to me on basically every level and is now my personal theme tune. I didn’t really know anything about Portugal. The Man until this song and am very late to the bandwagon, but since it’s been making the rounds I have been all over it like a fat kid on cake (no offense intended to fat kids or cake). I’m lucky enough to work in an office where we can have the radio on and every time it comes on, I have to immediately stop what I’m doing to draw everyone’s attention to it and have a little shimmy. The “Post Man Song” as it’s been christened by my team is basically my calling card these days.
MOST EVOCATIVE
“Sing Sing Sing” by Benny Goodman
I love me a bit of swing. Jazz swing, electroswing, you name it – I am all about it. I went through a phase a few months back of being completely and uncontrollably obsessed with the song; I must have played it coming on 12 times a day. How TMM survived I’ll never know.
**Side Note – Poor TMM and sister Romo know all too well my obsessive nature and also my not so secret love of jazz – Robin and I used to share a bedroom and I refused to have anything other than Jazz FM on the radio for years. She used to wait until I’d fallen asleep before changing the station because she is pure of heart. I do think she might have a little PTSD when it comes to a trumpet solo though.
There’s just something about “Sing” that just drips with decadence though; it encourages visions of glamorous evening dresses, glittering champagne flutes and late night dancing. Considering it is from a time of such struggle (to put it mildly), it manages to encapsulate joy effortlessly.
FAVOURITE
Gerry Rafferty
I’ve cheated here by not picking one specific song, but I refuse to believe someone can have a single song that is their favourite at every moment of there lives. Your choices are as mutable as your mood and therefore too fluid to pinpoint, but I do admit there are some that always speak to you. Pretty much anything by Gerry Rafferty does that for me. His voice is possibly one of the most perfect things to ever exist and I will not hear a word said against him. There’s something so haltingly effortless about the way he sings and I’d be hard-pressed to name one song of his that I don’t love. I’ve been late for work one more than one occasion because I’ve refused to leave the house until “Baker Street” has finished. I spent a lot of time listening to him whilst reading Harry Potter the first time round as well, and there’s a neural connection there now that links the two of them eternally in my head. (I’ve done this before – listening to Texas will always remind me of my Nancy Drew books and Maroon 5’s “Songs About Jane” album is the soundtrack to the Montmorency books by Eleanor Updale). It’s not really surprising to know that my musical tastes are irrevocably linked to my reading habits, but I like to think if ever I am old and grey and unable to find joy in a lot of the things I do now, Gerry Rafferty’s music will always speak to my heart.

Playlist

Love a little cover collage.

HISTORY
Bruce Springsteen
I have a lot of history with the Boss. He might not know it, but he’s shaped a lot of my life and my tastes over the years. I remember sitting on the couch in my old house with my first kitten prostrate sleepily across my lap listening to “Born to Run” on vinyl for hours. Mr B let me borrow the vinyl long after I moved out and it still has the same goose pimply effect now as it did the first time I played it. We went to see him live at Old Trafford not long after I became enamoured, and it’s still one of the best gigs I’ve been to (though that might partly be due to the fact we were stood in front of a very tipsy Scouse couple who were drunkenly telling their absolutely mortified son about how he was conceived to one of the songs). Seeing him live at Glastonbury (well, seeing half his set before being dragged away to cover my shift on the gates) was spectacular, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more in love with the image of him standing centre stage, doused in spotlights and physically steaming in the rain. A more vivid rendition of “The River” I don’t think there will ever be.
SUMMER SONG
“Rather Be” by Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glyne
2014 was a pretty great year for summer tunes and this one is just phenomenal. The moment this starts, my eyes close and my heart rate slows and there’s images of soft sands, blue skies and warm breezes. This was one of those perfect moments; a song that lasted throughout the year and no matter how many times it was played, it was never overdone. Very much like “Waves” by Mr Probz, this is a definite anthem and the combination of classical overtones and pop beats just solidified it as a song of a generation. Admittedly, I think it’s charm was somewhat tempered by its usage on the M&S advert, but much like Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross” it will survive.
MAKES YOU DANCE
“Cobrastyle” by Teddybears
I first heard this on season 1 of Teen Wolf (which was a surprisingly excellent show with a pretty top notch sound track) and it is just such a powerhouse of a track. I literally have no idea what any of the words are but by god I don’t let that stop me from trying to sing along. It’s got such a funky sound that it really is impossible not to dance. I’ve never heard anything else by them and I honestly can’t say I know a single thing about the band but if this song is anything to go by, I imagine they’d have a pretty great back catalogue.
SURPRISED
“I Spent the Day in Bed” by Morrissey
Now typically I am not a fan of Morrissey. I find a lot of his music quite droll and though I don’t know him personally, I can’t imagine we’d get on that well. Still, this song is possibly the most relatable song I have ever heard. I often want to spend the day in bed and am thoroughly behind any song which suggests it’s a good idea. The fact that’s it’s a battle cry against the sensationalist media culture and has been described excellently by The Guardian as “a typically existentialist, Eeroreish song” only helps to further concrete it as something I rather peculiarly like. Don’t tell Morrissey though, I don’t want him thinking I’m impressed by anything else he does…
FIRSTS
MEMORY“I Saw Three Ships” by Maddy Prior
I love Maddy Prior, with a deep and uncontrollable passion. The Christmas album she did with The Carnival Band is a firm favourite in my family (I’m pretty sure we all have a copy of the CD, all slightly battered and well loved) and I performed many excellent river dance shows for my folks to this particular classic.
CD “Space Cowboy” by Jamiroquai.
I remember buying this at Fopp with my hard saved pocket money clutched in my hand. I felt like the coolest kid ever because whilst my peers were all into Steps and 5ive, I was shattering the constraints of my generation and listening to hip and groovy music that my older sister liked. Admittedly, whilst I do enjoy Jamiroquai, he’s not really the boundary breaker I imagined at the time, but I’m proud of younger me for branching out a little. I’m still not sure if it’s better or worse than Robin’s first ever CD – PJ & Duncan “Stepping Stones”
GIGThe Eagles at the MEN Arena with my family / The Feeling at the Academy 2 with my friends
My family are rather into their music (a lot of them are disgustingly talented and play in their own bands) so my musical upbringing was varied and eclectic. My uncle Mike bought us all (there must have been about 8 of us) tickets to go and see the Eagles when I was about 13 and I remember being almost overwhelmed by how good they were. There’s nothing quite like seeing a group who are so talented in the flesh and I still remember in vivid clarity watch Joe Walsh rock out fantastically.
The Feeling were my first gig without the safety of a grown up, and I spent hours trying to find the most suitable outfit, ensuring I managed to look trendy and yet was still able to stand up without complaining about blisters at the end. Even now I spend too much time struggling to find gig appropriate clothing, but mainly now it’s because I want to make sure that I’m warm enough to wait in the queue outside but then cool enough when it gets to the sweaty dancing time (it’s such a hardship being so sensible). They (and The Frey who were supporting) were brilliant though, and I’m still sure they were one of the best gigs I’ve been to.
If nothing else, I do have to say I’ve enjoyed listening to this playlist whilst writing my blog – there’s something rather joyful about the roller coaster of memories and emotions that come with flicking through each song. Don’t be afraid to tell me some of your selections, I love to learn about people and I promise not too be too judgemental about your choices…honest

Volume 2 – Attack of the Molly

And now, back by popular demand – more exploits of everyone’s favourite terrible twosome…

The adventures of Molly and Benji Volume 2

In this week’s instalment, Molly drops the bombshell that she needs to be taken on a grand tour of Morrisons and TMM and I are the chosen ones (cue much whimpering and murmured cursing). I do have to say though, it did not go quite as badly as previous excursions have done. Nobody died, no children were beaten, no old men were chatted up. I even did a live Twitter feed of the whole event because a) I am all about that social media presence and b) I didn’t want to forget any of the excellent one liners she threw out.

I think one of the major saving graces was the fact that The Man Muffin borrowed a wheelchair form his work which succeeded in the dual purpose of allowing Molly to think she was in control of proceedings whilst actually being wheeled past any distractions at top speed. Previous distractions have included:

“What’s that?”

“An Egg Peeler”

“Do I need one? I think I do. Get me two.”

And my personal favourite:

“What’s that, I like the packaging”

Points at a row of condoms

“Erm, something for the bathroom I think, you probably don’t need any, oh look, hand soap!”

Now obviously, and because I am still a child at heart, I had to have a quick go of the wheelchair to make sure it was fully functional. Cue ten minutes of hysteria at the end of our road.

wheelchaireI was going to add a hilarious video here, but unfortunately WordPress can’t handle it. so you’re going to just have to imagine it.

Once I have tested all the equipment for health and safety purposes, we turned up at Molly’s slightly earlier than promised to make sure she was actually up and dressed (Molly is not a morning person. Do not expect her to be dressed before 4pm). Thankfully, she was fully clothed and even had her coat on (though she told us she was keeping her slippers on because they gave her feet some room to breath), and we took the dog out for a ten minute walk and clung to each other a bit for moral support before diving fully into the breach. In order to save time, TMM backed the car down to the front door (It’s a weirdly L-shaped house so the main door is about half way down the garden) and we all enjoyed the age old dance of “Now Molly, you sit in the front” “I’ll sit in the back-” “No Molly, get in the front” before basically man handling her into the seat and clicking in her seatbelt before she could escape. Once safely in and back onto the road (with only a slight grating  as the car bottomed out over the lip – which TMM had great joy pointing out didn’t happen when he was alone in the car) and proceeded to chunter happily to herself in the front seat, occasionally dropping in our names to make sure we’re paying attention e.g. “gosh Eleanor, look at that giant horse poo!” (I mostly just hummed loudly in agreement seeing as she can’t actually hear anything anyway). We did also have to take minor detour due to a road closure which meant she got to go past the road where she “met her waterloo” as she’s taken to calling it. The story goes that when she was in the bloom of youth, she was cycling to a friends house (but had been advised by her parents to get off at the pub at the top of the hill and walk the rest of the way as it was quite steep). So she and her pal peddled – quite a distance I might add, only to get to the pub at the top of the hill and for Molly to realise her breaks weren’t working. Her friend stops, dismounts and turns to see Molly go straight past her, gaining speed rapidly and screaming about her faulty breaks. She manages to careen down the bank at quite a pace and smashes straight into the front of a greengrocers window with a rather dramatic bang. Thankfully she was moistly unharmed (she likes to tell us every time that she was glad of her “natural padding” which according to the Doctor “saved her bones”) but the whole thing brought out the bomb brigade who thought she was an explosive dropped by a German plane.Anyway, back to the story at hand. We arrived with no incident at Morrisons and TMM swiftly set up her chariot and deposited her in it. She found the whole situation terribly exciting, but wasted no time in making us promise repeatedly that we hadn’t stolen it from someone who would try and reclaim it by beating her round the head with pair of crutches. Once she was safely ensconced, we wheeled her in and she got her game face on. You can tell because she gets a bit miffed with everything and continually tries to force us to pick stuff up that she can buy as a present (we ended up with half a lettuce and two Bavarian slices). We’d barely made it down the fruit aisle before we’d had to stop a shelf stacker and ask for peaches (though it turned out that we got nectarines so who knows if that counts as a win) and had a five minute tête-à-tête with a previous carer who’d cornered us by the potatoes (Molly didn’t have a clue who she was but wasted no time in introducing us to her and having a good natter).

After that we had to have a two minute pit stop whilst she and TMM had to discuss the strangeness of cucumbers and I had to fall back and have a fit of silent hysterics before we made it over to the cake section where she asked us just to leave her to live out the rest of her days. It was here that she also got a bit distraught about watching me carry the basket and summarily ordered me to go and get a trolley – on the way back I could hear her and TMM discussing cakes from 3 aisles over. Catching up, I followed the pair of them at a sedate pace, avoiding idiots who insist on veering across lanes and cultivating an intense anger towards other shoppers who clearly should not have been allowed to be in control of any kind of machinery, whilst Molly guided the ever suffering TMM over to the bread section so she could be righteously disgusted by garlic bread.

 

MollyLook how invested they are in their cucumber study!

Nearing the end of the list, we picked up the pace a bit and TMM narrowly avoided crashing into a rack in his attempt to swing Molly round into the pet food aisle. I sneakily grabbed a box of cat food pouches (because Bucky refuses to eat canned food – he is such a snob) and Molly picked up another 74 packets of dog food treats (regardless of the fact she still has about 600 on the side in the kitchen). Briefly distracted by a pair of roller-skates in a shiny box that we were loathed to deny her (could you imagine the hilarity) we then spent a good ten minutes circling on the hunt for bars of household soap, which I didn’t even know were still a thing. She got two packets of 3 just to be on the safe side. Who even knows what she does with them.

The till proved to be a trial for all. She was deeply hurt that we paid for our own cat food and took it as a mortal insult that made her frown so hard she could barely see past her own eyebrows. She then proceeded to gesture me over so she could loudly tell me to be careful of the lady in front of us because she looked like she might punch us. Which, whilst might have possibly true, was still rather uncalled for and I had to laugh loudly over her in the hope the woman wouldn’t actually hear. Paying itself involved all sorts of hiccups. Firstly Molly didn’t hear what the young gentleman behind the till said so did that awkward old lady thing of scrunching up her face and going “EH?” repeatedly. She then had fun counting out individual notes, including an old fiver which of course is no longer legal tender, resulting in the guy behind the counter getting hella teenage boy awkward and TMM and I furiously digging through our wallets to find a replacement whilst Molly stared on in confusion. We had to take a minute out to explain that the paper notes are no longer accepted and she got a bit fractious before we promised to take it and get it exchanged (awkwardly, I put it in my wallet, forgot all about it and then tried to pay for something in the pound shop later before TMM confiscated it).

On the homeward stretch, the door in sight, we were foiled from escaping by the flower section. We’d passed them on the way in, but I think she’d been letting the idea percolate all round the shop so she could definitely decide she wanted some (after we’d paid). TMM had to dive back into the self service checkout, refusing to take her money and instead doing a proper big flirt which makes her giggle for a good minute afterwards. That hurdle successfully navigated, we made it back to the car and began wrangling Molly back out of the chair (she kept asking if she could have it, and I think was prepared to tie herself to it in protest if TMM hadn’t distracted her and managed to throw it in the back). I had a split second of fear when I thought someone had absconded with our trolley before realising I’d left it on the bank and it has rolled off down the car park and I had to chase it like a saddo whilst being laughed at by passing drivers.

Thankfully, we managed to get all the shopping, the wheelchair and Molly back into the car and make it out of the car park before anything else happened, though there was a slight concern when Molly cackled about being so excited she was going to wee herself. There was a twitch in the corner of TMM’s eye, but we were soothed by the fact she was wearing at least 5 layers of clothing and usually only threatens urination for lolz.

Finally making it back to base camp, things were going well before Benji bounded out of the house like a dog possessed and tried to knock her over about 6 times before he was dragged unceremoniously back and I managed to throw her into the house. Benji, although being a dog of mature years, has all the grace and poise of a mucky 6 year old child on a sugar high. He has the desperate urge to be basically in you, and will whine desperately if he is denied this. TMM had to basically tackle him to the floor and then sit on him until Molly was safely seated. Once we’d managed to calm them both and put the shopping away (TMM naughtily forgets the cakes but I am forced to take the half a lettuce at knife point – which I think might still be in the back of the car) we stopped for a drink and Molly had a restorative cigarette and told us repeatedly how happy she was and what a good time she’d had, which I do have to admit warms the cockles throughout all the embarrassment.

Thankfully nobody died, cried or got arrested so I think we can chalk it up as a success and hopefully that’s it now until the Christmas fair, but now she knows we’ve got access to a wheelchair, who knows!

 

 

May your May be as Marvellous as Mine

Isn’t May just the greatest? The sun is (occasionally) shining, the bank holidays are rife and my birthday is soon!!! Not that I’ve been given everyone daily updates on just how close it is (10 days)…Considering I’m 26, I think I may possibly be far too excited about birthdays. I was reading some blog inspiration posts and one of them suggested I do a wish list for my birthday. I’m not sure if I’m quite up for that this time around, but I promise I won’t let you forget it’s coming!

May Tulips

 “March winds and April showers bring forth May Flowers”

 In other news though, Hans von Manschaft has finally made it back from the doctors to drive once again after having his tubes cleaned and his looms replaced and who knows what else. There was a slight fear he may not recover, and I told TMM in no uncertain terms that if this is the case, he is not allowed to pick the next car. We will be buying either a tank, a smart car or a motorbike with a side car and he will be forbidden to put his cursed fingers over any of it. However, after much lamenting and poor Martin the Mechanic spending most of his evenings and free time on it, Hans was returned to us and we can now glide down the motorway at the recommended speed and not have to worry about any slight inclines hindering our progression.

Now that a new car is off the table (touch ALL OF THE WOOD), it appears my desperation to save has slightly taken a back seat. Last weekend I was convinced we were going to have to spend all our savings and we were going to be put even further behind our schedule of getting a house, a wedding and more pets (meaning we then went and bought a £30 Chinese because we were sad). However we were saved from having to dig deep into the gold hoard, which of course meant I then went and had a hair cut, new glasses and a new(ish) phone. Clearly I do not understand the concept of being frugal at all. However I do look fabulous so there is that.

Going along with my stylish new lady haircut, I’ve been trying to continue in the vein of being a bit more grown up. I’ve still been exercising (though somewhat more sporadically). I even researched and did my own personalised circuit routine (and laminated it!) though Jesus Christ does it make my thighs hurt like an absolute b*tch! I better end up with legs like Wonder Woman by summer. I also cleaned the kitchen to within an inch of it’s life last weekend. I mean, there were different sponges, various vacuum attachments and every spray bottle of cleaning fluid I could find. I do feel a little sorry for the neighbours who had to put up with my flinging open the windows and singing along to some early 2000s classics like Sum 41 at the top of my voice whilst scrubbing various sides down, but by the time I was finished it was almost sparkling. Admittedly, it probably took a little longer than it should have done, because I really do DESPISE cleaning and had to take regular five minute breaks to lie on the floor and wail a bit. Depressingly, the oven is already splattered with food again (seriously, wtf man? It’s a vicious cycle of never ending mess. How do people cope?!) but I’m trying to view it in a Budd-istic fashion as a metaphor for the circle of life. Or something like that anyway. It’s either that or cry.

We’ve also had a little bit more free time recently as poor Molly has had to go in to hospital. She’s had another fall (as old people do. Notice, once you’re over 60, you don’t fall over, you “have a fall”) which is her second in two months and when Ross went round last Monday, he found her mostly non-responsive and a little delirious. The ambulance was called she was pronounced severely dehydrated and suffering from an infection and she must have been feeling awful because she didn’t even flirt with the paramedics. Usually she’s all over medial professionals like a rash – she once slapped a nurse’s arse and asked us if we thought she could become a lesbian, and she’s tried to kidnap more than a couple of visiting doctors. It’s such a shame because she’d been feeling a lot better recently and was so happy – partly due to her snazzy new hair cut I think. Anyway she went straight into the hospital and since then we’ve had sporadic updates on her progress (apparently she was due to have a liver scan – though if they can even find it they’ll be lucky. I’m pretty sure it’s just a pickled little whiskey-soaked prune by now) so we’re going to go and do a drive by this evening to see if she’s back in. Hopefully she’ll have been released for terrorising the staff and be back to her arm chair and Benji dog before she knows it.

However, this does mean that we’ve had no time limit on our activities this weekend for the first time in a few years, so we decided to go for a nice long drive down to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. This way, TMM got to hammer the car (we actually got over 70 miles an hour. It was like being in a rocket), and we got to utilise our National Trust cards a little further afield. The Abbey itself was absolutely glorious, even if Ross was a bit miffed because we somehow managed to miss the one day of summer in Stoke and hit all of the drizzle). We’ve been binge watching Vikings recently too (an awesome program full of superbly attractive people, excellent hair styles and gratuitous use of axes), so we were already in a suitably historically mind-set – Ross had to stop me from pillaging the National Trust shop in true barbarian fashion and annoyingly said I wasn’t allowed to shave a tonsure on his head (such a spoilsport).  

We discovered that Fountains Abbey was set up by 13 monks who’d been expelled after some disputes in the early 10th century and were basically adopted by the Archbishop of York and allowed to set up a new Abbey. They seemed like a pretty rough and ready lot and were excellently self sufficient – and I mean who doesn’t love a rebellious monk? The Abbey sits alongside Fountains Hall (which we didn’t actually get chance to go and see) and it sprawls fantastically alongside the River. I’ve got a bit of a thing about old buildings – I always feel slightly overwhelmed by them and though I’m not a believer in auras and things like that, I can’t help but try to imagine the stories of the lives of the people there. I got a little bit melancholic this time too, looking at the great halls. I anthropomorphise everything, and I felt a little bit heartbroken at the prospect of such a magnificent building having lost it’s true purpose; from having once been filled to the rafters with Gregorian chants and religious fervour to being a tourist attraction. That being said, there was still a quiet splendour about it and we enjoyed poking around every nook and cranny and trying to imagine what it must have been like in its prime.

 Fountain Abbey

 Me doing my best monk impression. Demure and understated as always.

We also had a turn around the Studley Royal Water Gardens which were created by John Aislabie (a disbanded Politician who moved next door to the Abbey and thought he might as well set himself up some fancy buildings and gardens from which to view the Fountains land). It’s got ornamental lakes, mini temples, follies and a selection of hidden little lookouts and that whilst beautiful in it’s own right, I found it oddly narcissistic and almost gratuitous sitting next to the hulling ruins of the Abbey. Still, we enjoyed sauntering round and watching a rather large swan display his dominance by fluttering his HUGE wings at various screaming small children. There were also a couple of rather posh statues, one of which was a naked man apparently taunting a tortoise with a sausage. We were all a little bemused by that, but that’s seemingly what those old politicians liked. Overall though it was an excellent day and I would definitely recommend it for anyone.

Tortiose.jpg

 But what’s the message?

I think we’re becoming quite regular on the National Trust scene now, and we might have a couple of other little day trips out planned next week, because it’s my BIRTHDAY WEEK (HURRAY) in case you’d forgotten. People keep trying to tell me that having a whole week of celebration is overkill, but they’re idiots and I don’t need their negativity in my life. I think a week is the prefect amount of time and means I can do my visitations and treat the whole thing like an Indian wedding. I categorically refuse to work on the day of my birth as it is and haven’t since I was old enough to skive (I only had to do that once, thank god because I’m such a nervous rebel), and I’m not about to start now. I’m excited because this means that not only can I have some proper lie-ins (TMM and I have wildly differing opinions of what constitutes a lie-in. He thinks 10am is late enough whereas I know that it doesn’t count unless you’re still in bed by lunch time), I get to do a little camping in the homeland, see various family folk, go and see the first Harry Potter film with a live orchestra AND get a weekend trip to Hay on Wye with the team. We were hoping to go abroad because I am desperate for sun, but we’re all skint and some of us (JON) haven’t sorted our passports. Still, I sharn’t be at work so I’m definitely not complaining. I am looking forward terribly to welcoming in my 26th year with a restrained and classy bang.

Photo Credit – @r_h_pendebury 

My Sunday Scene – Sunshine, Screws and Sanding

Now I must start today’s post with a little apology, as I have been somewhat remiss in my writerly duties recently and left you all sadly lacking in blog posts. I would like to be able to give you valid excuse for my absence; like how I was too busy fighting deadly ninja bears or coming up with a plan to end world hunger, but mainly I was a bit busy and lacking in any kind of inspirational spark. This week I will be much better though and keep you all thoroughly updated. You’ll no doubt be proud to hear that I’ve been continuing in my action plan of regular planking, cross training and watching Fast and Furious. My motivational work out wall has some new members (shout out to Vin Diesel’s tank top and Gal Gadot who is just repulsively perfect) and I feel their patiently encouraging stares as I sweat my way unhappily to fitness. We’re going to be taking on the Press Up Challenge next week (oh joy, oh rapture), though I think there might be a couple of false starts with that one. I can’t even remember the last time I tried a press up, and with my weirdly locking elbows there is the slight concern I might get into a position and then never be able to get out again. Still Ross assures me there is at least one wash board ab hiding somewhere in my noodly body, and hopefully I’ll be able to keep going until I can see it.

Motivation Wall.jpg The Motivation Wall. There are some bonus pictures round the fireplace and a lovely shirtless one of Captain America that is stuck to the inside of the kitchen cupboard door – providing motivation whilst preparing lunches 😀

Continuing in my action vibe, I’ve been very social this weekend. We had Granddad Pendlebury’s 80th birthday party on Friday night, and we were out until 1am (which was a shock to the system for both of us) having a jolly old time. Saturday was spent in Manchester for a friend’s birthday with a good rabble of people. We visited many lovely bars, had many lovely beverages and I spent a good hour or so deliberating the merits of selling body parts for money in order to fund my dream of becoming a stinkingly rich Contessa living on the coast somewhere. I often forget how much I miss Manchester and it’s nice to be reminded of what a lovely city it is now and then. Even though I was born and bred there, I still sometimes get a bit panicky about having to wander around with that many people (god I’m such a wimp), but after a little “What Would Stu Do” chat (curtsy of my ridiculously social dad), and a hipster pub or two, I’m back in the groove. We were home slightly earlier than the previous night (read about 9pm), but I still had to have a good 12 hour nap to recover for all the excitement.

I also branched out to carpentry as well this week. After replacing the diaphragm on the toilet (fyi – don’t google diaphragms on the work pc), and changing a tyre, I’m now convinced I’m the new improved Handy Andy and can turn my hand to pretty much any task. This time, I made the executive decision that we should make a coffee table from scratch. There were a selection of influences leading to this – mainly the fact that our original coffee table had a rather disturbing lean (one leg was making a desperate bid for freedom in an upsettingly creaky manner) and that Pinterest encouraged me to believe that hipster DIY is clearly a far superior choice to buying something. After much deliberating, we decided pallets were the way forward and I then spent the next three weeks bullying The Man Muffin to bring some home from work.

Cut to a few days later and I’m pinning things left, right and centre and bombarding my friend Em for guidance over what kind of drill I want and which make of electric sander will work best. She was very supportive and I am now the proud parent of a Black and Decker Mouse sander and a lovely blue driver drill (you can tell it was pay day, can’t you?). There were emails flying all over the place with various tutorials and pictures requesting TMM’s approval and the weekend was set aside (weather pending) for our creative endeavour.

The fun started when, possibly true to form, we got outside on the Sunday morning, tooled up and raring to go only to realise the pallets we actually had weren’t quite the same as the ones we imagined we had, and our original plan was gracefully thrown out of the window. Somewhat depressingly, most of the things Ross and I attempt start with four hundred years of planning and end up with a slapdash half an hour of panic and the table wasn’t really much different. Still though, I don’t think it came out too badly in the end. I spent about 2.5 hours sanding the pallets down (I had, quite literally, all of the fun with that – my hands went numb at one point and I had to be forcefully told to take a break), TMM did some lovely painting (and got it all over his nice new jeans *facepalm*) and then was a fun five minutes trying to match up wooden pegs with drilled holes that did not go anywhere near as smoothly as we imagined whilst Bucky serenaded us loudly (and unhelpfully) from the kitchen. We persevered though and everyone got to use the new drill, nobody cried and we now have a lovely new table (with wheels) and limited storage space (so we can’t continue to hoard crap) in pride of place.

 

Just look at the action going on right there. I’ve even got gloves

 Seeing as how we are now two pieces of furniture handmade up, I’ve (somewhat punch drunkenly) told TMM that from now on we can just make everything we need and live like Tom and Barbara in the Good Life. I’m not too sure that I’ve thought through the logistics of that particularly thoroughly, but I’ve got a pair of denim dungarees, a new tool belt on the way and a bucket load of gumption – so what can go wrong?

 

I got Bills, I gotta pay…so I’m gonna run, run, run, runaway!

Happy Tuesday folks!

Or not as the case may be. Let me tell you, Tuesday’s are actually my most hated day of the whole week (as most of my colleagues hear from me regularly). You see, unlike a Monday, which is blatant in it’s suckiness, Tuesday sidles up and hits you when you least expect it. With Monday, you’re ready to hate it and can go into the day fully prepared to be grumpy and bitter about the whole situation. Tuesday though, Tuesday is all like “oh hey, at least I’m not a Monday, am I right?” and pretends to be great, but then BAM, it’s halfway through Tuesday morning and you’re losing the will to live because it’s not even like it’s halfway through the week and you didn’t realise but there’s still so long to go and Tuesday is just cackling in your ear.

Though with all that being said, Tuesday is Blog Day, so I shall endeavour to try and find amusing anecdotes to bring some joy to the worst of days. This week’s post is going to herald yet more adventures of “Eleanor Tries to Adult”, so strap in.

This new set of problems started after yet another depressive episode of looking at my bank account a week after pay day and realising I’m already walking the tightrope of poverty. It was dedcided (read – I decided and bullied Ross into helping) that it was time to look at … The Bills (dun dun duuuuuuun!)

Jesus Christ, could I enjoy anything less? Like, why is this a thing I need to do? I don’t understand?! There’s suppliers and tariffs and packages and I literally have no idea what any of it means. It’s only by sheer force of internal pressure that I didn’t do what I normally do (which is just to throw it all up in the air and try and rationalise paying extra money for less stress.) But no, not this time. I am fed up of being overdrawn and I need a new couch that doesn’t collapse whenever someone sits on it, which I feel shouldn’t be too much to ask at the ripe old age of 25. This year is the start of better eating, better moving and better billing. I mean, I say that whilst slumped in my chair making my way doggedly through a packet of cheesy Doritos, but it’s the thought that counts.

There have been excel spread sheets drawn up (fully coloured-coded, obviously), various websites trawled through, a couple of mini panics and one incidence of lying on the floor and wailing pathetically. The Man Muffin and I are well known for our tendency to jump straight to anxiety and try and bury our heads in the sand, but I have to say I think we’ve done alright this time. We spent last week at the dining room table with a laptop, a printed out spread sheet and twin looks of pure terror, but we did manage to pay all the bills that were outstanding, which is a definite start. This week is going to be dedicated to researching better tariffs and doing every possible thing we can to save money. I’m not sure how well it will go as I HATE using the phone and TMM is well known for his security related panics (he’s a superstar, but he is a delicate blade of grass in the onslaught of relentless aggression of companies demanding details), but it’s got to be worth it.

I have been looking into “uSwitch” recently (check me and my bad grown up self put) which does seem to be almost suspiciously easy. Ross is going to have to be in charge of what we actually need to change (because as slightly ashamed as I am to admit it, I still don’t really know what we actually have/need to pay for – I live in a world where the water and gas is brought magically into the house by fairies), but I am going to be on hand for IT support, brow mopping and the occasional face slap when he becomes hysterical. Though if it as easy as the internet says, hopefully too many slaps won’t be required. I will update you as to how it goes and whether we end up victorious and rolling in our saved pennies, or going on the run and living in my mum’s shed so we don’t have to pay anything ever again (don’t tell anyone, but I’m secretly hoping for the latter).

In more positive news though, I am now able to plank for a whole 60 seconds (though good lord does it hurt) and I have cross trained for a total of 30 minutes. Ross is like some weird exercise Hercules and has been doing regular early (SO EARLY) morning slots – though there is nothing more hilarious than seeing him cross train in his pants and granddad slippers. At the rate this is going, we’ll be bronzed and buff for when summer comes, and (hopefully) will have even saved enough money to go to a beach somewhere and display ourselves.  

 cross trainer

The dreaded cross trainer and the pair of abandoned slippers…

We’ve also had some pals down this weekend, which was totes the loveliest. We chatted, we escaped a locked room (through much high pitched giggling and panic), watched a whole season of Ex on the Beach (simultaneously the worst and best program of all time) and then drank a disgusting amount. I was somewhat outraged that even though 6 bottles of wine were consumed by others, I suffered one of the worst hangovers after 1 bottle of Radlers (basically slightly alcoholic lemonade) and 1 glass of Caribbean Twist (slightly less alcoholic juice) which I nursed boringly throughout the night. I am obviously now made of much softer stuff than I was during my wild years of University, where hangovers were something to be laughed at and Sundays after binges could be spent being action. This Sunday I mainly got emotional at Nigella Lawson preparing a feta salad, took a trip to Aldi looking like something out of a teen zombie movie and then went to bed at about 9. My rock and roll cannot be contained.

 Escape

Look, you can barely even see the hysteria in our eyes!

Things are looking up though (considering it’s STILL Tuesday). The sun is shining more often than not now, I’m still cooking at least 3 times a week and it’s just under a month until the April Bank Holiday. One should never sneeze at the small things.