Mele Kalikicraftmus

I mean, I know I said all that last week about not being big into Christmas and all, but I do have to admit to getting a bit carried away this weekend. Since we’re having Mother, Robin and her boyf over to ours for the festive period (possibly the first time we’ve actually properly hosted for more than 1 person and for more than 1 evening), we decided it might actually be the time to make some effort. Previous years have seen us either not really making much effort (we always aim to have a tiny Christmas sprout) or not bothering to decorate at all. I think when you’re out living as a real life grown up but without children, the sparkle can dull a little bit and it’s a lot easier to see only the trials and tribulations (and almighty costs) instead of the joy and excitement. When you’re inviting other people though, it could possibly be considered a tad rude to force them to not celebrate the season just because you can’t be arsed with the stress. To that end, TMM and I have decided we’re going to go for it. Now, we’re not going wild, though this is mainly because we already have so much stuff and I literally do not have the time, energy on inclination to move all of my normal tat to replace it with Xmas tat. Also because I know that if I Go For It (note the use of capitalisation) and it doesn’t look like something out of Country Living December Edition (which is obviously won’t) I will lose all hope and try and bin everything. Instead, we will just go at about 65%, which will still allow us to be 50% more festive than previous years but won’t end in a stroppy ceremonial Christmas bonfire.

We have obviously (as per last week’s post) already been adopting new seasonal traditions (book flood anyone?), but we’ve also been reverting to some god old fashioned ones, which leads me nicely into our first adventure of the weekend. No matter how non-Christmassy we’re feeling, we do always agree that if a tree is to be purchased, it must be real. Previous years have found us with teeny weeny little shrubs from local garden centres (or occasional Tesco) propped up on cabinets and weighed down awkwardly by our 5 oversized baubles. This year however, TMM decided that it was time for us to go big (not childhood big, where all Christmas trees appear to be about 30 ft. tall and as wide as Santa’s waistline) but of a grown up height. He rearranged the living room to make room and dug out the flyer offering £5 off from the local Christmas Tree Farm and everything was gung ho until we realised that whilst our house and dreams were big enough to accommodate a 6 ft. tree, the new car was not. I was fully prepared to give up and go back to the little league, but TMM was not to be deterred. “I’ll just carry it!” he says, with a hearty attitude and somewhat manic look in his eye.

And Reader? Carry it he did.

Decked in our new gear (Primark jumper and new expedition coat that turns me into a member of East 17, we set off on Sunday mid morning. Now the walk from our house to the next village along typically takes me about 40 minutes (though usually because I am trudging grumpily and muttering under my breath about stupid public transport), but I do have to admit that it wasn’t quite as bad as normal with TMM’s positive attitude. Making it to the farm in record time, we turned up the drive and were met by two high viz wearing youths who smiled at us with bemused smiles, obviously concerned that we hadn’t realised we’d forgotten our car. Undeterred, we skipped merrily into the fields and started manhandling tress with gay abandon. Not being too arsed by the general look of the thing, we made our selection within about 2 minutes and TMM dragged it over to the netting machines. Much to my chagrin (and despite my offer of a whole £5 if he threw himself through it head first, which alongside being in a carwash with the windows down is one of my all time big dreams), TMM refused to net himself and instead focused on getting the tree trussed up. I think he mightily impressed one of the workers who basically just stood aside and let him do his thing with a cheery “you should get a job here”, and he had it paid for (with discount) and over his shoulder in the blink of an eye. As we departed, one of the youths from the gate broke out into a cheery smile when he realised what we intended, wishing us a very Merry Christmas and 100% convinced that we weren’t going to make it. TMM is a true hero amongst men though, and in less than 2 hours after setting out we’d made it back to base camp with only one stop to delayer. I documented the whole thing hilariously on Instagram, partly to distract myself from my own burden of the coats (which were also very heavy thank you very much) but mostly to show the world what an absolute legend he is. Nearly every car that drove past heralded either a smile or a face of disbelief and I actually think we might be village famous now #lifegoals

Side note – I would also like to point out that I did try to help, but it was decided very quickly by all parties that I was more of a hindrance than not (I ended up looking a lot like Grandpa in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; one finger on the tree and a big cheesy grin).

Once we were home (again, can I point out how it took us less than 2 hours to travel that far with baggage) it only took a few minutes of furious sawing and a quick vac (of both the pine needles on the floor and the ones that had coated TMM’s back) to get it settled. By the afternoon, it was most gloriously bedecked in all of our oversized baubles (I don’t know why we don’t buy normal sized ones), including the Oxford globe, the York bell jar and our little wooden cut outs from Prague. I am quite proud with the classic and understated approach we’ve taken to it, and TMM is happy we haven’t used tinsel (which he believes is the devil’s work). As of the time this was written, it is still upright (if leaning slightly to the left) and Bucky has remained mostly unarsed by it, except as somewhere to hide whilst he decapitates and devours the mouse population of the village (such lovely presents to find).

Whist we doing the tree however, it was pretty clear that we really don’t have enough decorations for anywhere else in the house. Our minimalist approach has left us with one box of random bits and bobs and a couple of stockings and that’s about it. Somewhat reluctant to go out and spend money on crappy plastic ones, TMM suggested we have a go at making our own. I’m all into my pom poms and origami at the moment, which gave us some ideas, and a quick google suggested salt dough could be the way forward. Now salt dough is a staple from my childhood and for anyone who’s never done IT, you’re really missing out. Super cheap and easy to make, non toxic (quite important considering how much I insisted on eating when younger), and very simple to decorate; it’s the perfect idea to keep kids and craft adults happy. All you need is 2 cups of plain flour, 1 cup of salt and enough water to bind it together and hey presto; you’ve got your dough. What more can you want? TMM suggested we make some nice little pendants using some stamps that we had, and after a slight hiccup (I couldn’t find the stamps and was fully prepared to cancel Christmas as a whole until TMM found them hiding under the couch), we were set to go. It was surprisingly easy and within the hour, we have enough bits for four garlands spelling Merry Christmas in various languages (points if you can identify them), a couple of festive animals and a big gay pendant with our initials because we are in love and also ADORABLE. 3 hours in the oven on a low heat and they were baked to perfection and we’ve been gradually tying them up as and when we’ve had time. I’ve also decided some pom pom bunting couldn’t hurt and I’m just waiting for a free evening to get a couple knocked out in seasonal colours, and I’m hoping to make some little paper trees and cranes this weekend whilst TMM finishes off the wrapping.

All in all, I don’t really think I can keep claiming the title of Grinch this year. With our early start on present shopping and decorative preparations, we’re pretty much fully immersed. All that’s left is a rendition of Santa Drives a Pickup Truck (my most fave xmas song) and a night in with White Christmas and Muppets Christmas Carol. Is this what being a functional and prepared adult in December feels like? Apparently it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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Birds, Beasts and Unexpected Relatives

Devon Blog

Gosh, it’s been a while since we’ve been here, hasn’t it? I am a whole two weeks behind on blogging (the shame), but to be honest I’m surprised this hasn’t happened more regularly. My track record for keeping at something isn’t that great – especially when it’s self-imposed/self-motivated. However, The Neens has expressed her displeasure at my lack of blogging, and what The Neens wants goes, so I’m back on the blogging horse. It is good though, because the two weeks off has given me a little bit of material to go off and I return to you with the good wholesome quality content you like to see.

I was actually off work last week (lucky me) for the Great Pendlebury Expedition of 2018. TMM’s Mum was celebrating her birthday, and it was sneakily decided that we would take her on a surprise holiday as a family. Everything was pretty much decided early in the year and all that was left to do was to get her down there none the wiser. TMM’s dad cleverly managed to whisk her away, promising her a week of calm in Devon, and we even went to visit her the night before to take her a present and wish her a pre-emptive happy birthday aka we bald faced lied to her face which brought me out in panicked sweats. It went off without a hitch though, and Saturday morning saw 8 adults, 3 teeny tots, 3 dogs and 4 cars full of suitcases haring it down the motorway. It was supposedly planned that our journeys would be staggered so that TMM’s Mum wouldn’t know what was going on, but as always with the best laid plans of mice and men, I think it was only by the skin of our teeth that we avoided bumping into them,

The main body of the convoy met at Gloucester services at sparrow fart in the morning (TMM got me up and in the car by about 6am and let me tell you, I was grouchy). We got to the services about half an hour before anyone else and had a nice little breakfast and a wander round the absolutely beautiful farm shop (everything in their is glorious and outrageously expensive, so of course we bought tons). Just as we were finishing up, TMM’s sister arrived with her husband, little one, sizable baby bump and 2 dogs and then by the time they’d got themselves sorted, TMM’s brother, wife and 2 little ones had arrived and we all had a quick catch up before heading off again.

We did our best Italian Job impression down the motorway (TMM got a bit overexcited and was referred to as a “boy racer” more than once – especially hilarious considering it has previously been stated he is a grandma driver) and pulled up at the allocated meeting point of the beach car park with time to spare. Whilst everyone bundled up, a pair of binoculars were handed round and we scrutinised every unsuspecting couple on the beach below. What I had imagined would be a short jaunt to the bay and then a slow motion run into ach other’s arms actually turned out to be a bit of a Monty Python sketch when it turned out the beach was a lot longer than anticipated and en masse we approached numerous people who turned out not to be the droids we were looking for. There was even a mild concern someone was going to report us for just stalking random people. Eventually though, the collies were released and hared up the shoreline to our prize. As we slowly made our way along, dragging children who were far more interested in digging, TMM’s Mum realised who we were and boke down into fits of totes emosh tears. This in turn made me tear up a little (this woman beat breast cancer with nary a tear shed, yet was clearly affected by her family) and then there was a mass hugging session and a lot high pitched chattering.

The week itself was full of delightful beach walks (though I do have to admit to being a grump because boy was it cold), board games and a lightening speed trip to Exeter in which TMM and I somehow managed to spend about £100 in ten minutes. I do have to admit to struggling slightly with the early mornings (the bedrooms were all on the bottom floor and the living area directly above them, and tiny children appear to have the body mass index of Indian elephants), and proved myself to be the laziest person there by getting up after every one else every single day. To be honest though, nobody else really had a choice because they had children, but still.

It became very clear as well that I have very much of a Victorian mind set when it comes to children – they are lovely to see but when they cry it makes my butt clench. Now don’t get me wrong, I love those little critters to bits; their giggles sound like angel choirs, their tiny grabby hands make my insides warm and freshly washed adorably curly baby hair could probably solve all of life’s woes, but my God, when they cry! It’s like the siren for the end of days – just the most heartbreakingly devastated wail that vibrates down to the bone. I mean, honestly, what have they even got to cry about? They don’t have to work, they are actively encouraged to take naps and they can literally shit themselves and somebody will clean it up. (As pointed out to me, you don’t know true parenting until you’ve cheered at someone else pooping). I’d give my left arm to be in their tiny and sensibly velcroed shoes. This holiday has made it abundantly clear though that I am meant to one of life’s cool aunts. I will swan into their lives, dispensing timely wisdom and an unhealthy amount of sugary goods, and once they are over excited and hoped up on e-numbers, I will give them back and return to my blessedly silent cats and long lie ins.

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We watched The Incredible 2 whilst away and it was abundantly clear to all that I am Edna; charmed by children but best kept separate from them. Also, tell me that isn’t me in my Velma costume.

Instead, I am on the noble and valiant quest of trying to convince TMM that we need a bearded dragon. The lady who had put us up in one of her beautiful barn conversions also had an absolute menagerie and invited guests to help with the morning feeding round. We descended on the first morning at 10am sharp to help feed her 4 alpacas, 2 donkeys, 1 fully grown cune cune pig (called Tom) 3 piglets, 2 geese, 10 guinea pigs, 1 rabbit, 7000 brightly coloured birds and a multitude of chickens, ducks and turkeys (called Nigella and Paxo). We were followed on our rounds by a rather loud-mouthed guinea fowl and also got to have a stroke of a bearded dragon called Fluffy and tortoise called Shelley. I was understandably overwhelmed with animal fuelled joy and should really be applauded for not elbowing the children out of the way more regularly. After narrowing it down though (alpacas and donkeys being too big for out current abode), I’ve decided a reptile is my only available avenue. (I have previously tried for bees, pygmy goats and birds, but TMM has sensibly pointed out that living in rented accommodation with a cat is not really the best environment for any of those). I have helpfully been pricing up costs and allocating sections of our house for the dragon, much to TMM’s chagrin, and am hoping to have a new member of little family early in the new year.

Overall, I think it can be classed as a success though, and I do hope TMM’s mother enjoyed herself as much as she deserved to. Now that’s done though, it’s all about the downhill scramble to Christmas, so prepare for some festively panicked ramblings over the next few weeks…

Warm up to the Weekend

whitby blog box

So it’s the warm up to the team trip to Whitby this week. In honour of TMM’s birthday on Tuesday, and what is now being referred to as Woo’s ‘Funeral for Youth’ (she’s not taking her retreat from the her 20’s in particularly good cheer), we’re taking a jaunt to the coast. We’ve been meaning to visit Whitby for ages but somehow have never managed to get round to it until now. The real world has cruelly taken over much of our free time and our adventures have a taken a bit of a hit, but we are nothing if not resilient and we made sure this weekend has been in the diary for weeks.

Woo has already demanded a repulsively early start (5am!)to ensure that we squeeze as much time out of the trip as possible, and as such I’ve already had to start giving myself pep talks. Once I am awake, I am happy and I can go from in bed to ready to go in 8 minutes, but that actually process of opening my eyes and admitting consciousness can be a challenging task. I’ve also had to allow a truce with Wilson and promise that I won’t take any photos of her napping in the car. Nobody deserves to have to get up that early and then try and avoid hilarious photos of their sleep face. (Also, it’s more than likely I’m going to be squished in the back because I am not the tallest and also one of the only members of our team that doesn’t get travel sick. I suspect the passenger seat will be in deep contention between TMM’s long legs and Wilson’s threats of vomit, so any attempts to take photos won’t work out as well as they have when I’ve been rocking the co-pilot’s seat).

Now considering we are only going for 3 days (Friday-Sunday), our itinerary is pretty packed (and thus I can accept the need for such a god-awful departure time). TMM has voted for a walk to Robin Hood’s Bay (Wilson and I have both already raised suspicious eyebrows about the amount hiking that is going to be involved, but we’ve been promised a pub lunch so we’re letting it slide for now) and Jonbles has arranged a trip out whale watching on the coast which I am rather looking forward to. Whitby used to have its own Whaling Company in the 1700s, and Whitby boasted one of the most successful whaling ships in the whole of the British fleet at one point. Thankfully we sharn’t be going out with harpoons and designs on blubber, but hopefully we’ll get to see whales going about their casual day to day business.

Since Whitby is also a ‘Gothic Hub ™’, we shall of course be involving ourselves in all kinds of gothicy doings. If I’m being honest I’m not 100% sure what being gothic involves per se, but I can say with certainty we shall throw ourselves into with gay abandon. If Woo’s Youth Funeral doesn’t show willing, I don’t know what does.
I for one, am very taken with Whitby Abbey and shall petitioning for a visit there at some point. The Visit Whitby confidentially declares it to be a real “must visit” and I am not one to argue against such a source. Apparently its gothic splendour and atmospheric backdrop was a key inspiration for Bram Stoker whilst writing Dracula, and my literary soul demands we pay tribute.

Speaking of, TMM and I have been mightily into the spirit of things (loving these puns). TMM decided he couldn’t go to Whitby without ever having even owned a copy of Dracula and therefore treated himself to a shiny new version a week ago.

TMM’s Instagram post was rather excellent, the little Nosferatu popped up and waved.

He received it, rather fatefully, just in time to start reading whilst waiting for his blood test the other morning. Because he is a fantastically innocent angel, he didn’t even question his choices until he was already there are receiving slightly concerned looks from the surrounding pensioners, who I imagine were all turning up their collars and thinking garlicky thoughts. It was only afterwards we realised that he’d made a grave (ha) error in not taking some false pointy teeth, or taking a phone call whilst in the queue loudly announcing that he was just getting breakfast.

We’ve been getting a bit obsessed with the general genre though and have watched a ridiculous amount of similarly themed things over the past two weeks. A friend gave us access to her Netflix account under the strict prevarso we watch The Alienist – a psychological thriller drama set in late 1800s New York based around a selection of gruesome murders and the ragtag team that come together to solve them. I am happy to report we did so with both vigour and gusto, and since have been unable to watch anything that’s not either been set in the turn of the century not steeped in mythically gruesome deaths. We snuggled up on the couch to watch Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman which was pretty but acutely lacking in plot or any acting ability (ass Woo pointed out, this does seem harsh on Hugh, who is very lovely, but it’s so true). I remember being much more impressed with it when I was younger (and obviously distinctly lacking in taste) but it did fleetingly rekindle my teenage crush on Richard Roxborough. It was clear though that as a film it should have come in a boxset with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which succeeds in being stylistically wonderful and completely bereft of any worthwhile substance or storyline.

We followed this in pretty quick succession with Nosferatu (we provided our own hilarious commentary and then both fell asleep before Count Orlok had even revealed his true nature), Stonehurst Asylum (loosely based on an Edgar Allen Poe story and the second film we watched where Kate Beckinsale got to wear fancy outfits and look beautifully quivery whilst simultaneously punching someone), Lime House Golem (which inspired a somewhat bemused conversation about whether Bill Nighy has ever looked any different or if he’s been approximately 60 for as long as anyone can remember) and finally Sleep Hollow (which is pretty much worth it for everyone’s hair).

With this back catalogue safely under our belts, TMM and I are pretty much ready for anything Whitby can throw at us, be it death, devilry or delightful Gothic architecture. Let’s just hope the early start doesn’t do me in…

The Ivy – The Commoners Guide to Eating Posh

Blog Ivy

Picture, if you will, two weary travellers. Wandering aimlessly under the baking sun; their skin is pink, their limbs are heavy and their nerves a slightly frayed due to encroaching hunger that is unstated by the raspberries they had for breakfast in the car. Lost, they have been wandering Cambridge for hours, buffeted by the inordinate amount of school groups (curious, on a Saturday) and tourists who are rampaging the streets. There is also the gradual realisation the perhaps visiting a city where each attraction is hidden by large, unerring wooden doors bearing unapologetic slogans like “No Visitors, Only Students” or “£13 per person for entry” was possibly not the best choice of destination when their pockets are a little tighter than normal.

Eventually, after trudging past cafes, restaurants and eateries packed to the gills; after pressing their noses sadly against the windows and eyeing piled high plates of food on their way to other people; after being so dehydrated that they had resorted to threatening to spit in each other’s mouths to provide any kind of moisture, a metaphorical light appears on the horizon. Coming to a stop outside an unassuming dark green shop front to gently berate each other for having let it get to this stage, one gestures to the darkened doorway with only a slight hint of exasperation and says “what about here then?”

Up a step, they are greeted by a smart young lady in a starched white shirt behind an imposing lectern housing a computer screen. She stands just to the right of a sizable wooden door with an artful stained glass window and to her left hangs a rather dramatic deep red velvet curtain. She smiles candidly at our heroes before asking softly “reservation?”

“Err, table for two?” Is the somewhat querulous response. She narrows her eyes just a fraction and looks down at her computer screen. From somewhere behind her appears another lady, this one with added blazer, who whispers something quietly in her ear. It is here, dear reader, that our weary wanderers began to get the sneaking suspicion they had stumbled on something a little beyond their usual fare. Indeed, the internal warning sirens were sounding and a couple of sharp glances were shared between them as another lady appears off the street, pushes her way through and flippantly remarks over her shoulder to the door woman and friend as she slips through the door that she was there to meet people. The sliver of restaurant viewable for the brief second it took her to get through afford a mere flash of finery and the impression of chandeliers.

Suddenly the burgundy curtain swishes aside and a third lady appears; this one wearing a smart red dress and fancy heels. She smiles and inclines her head, before slipping behind the lectern, palming some menus and shepherding our duo through the door.

On the other side, they are met with a sight to behold. What they had originally expected to be a single room with a couple of tables turns out to be the size of a banquet hall and positively dripping with opulence. Beautifully tiled floors in dark blues and mustard yellows sit below dark wooden tables and walls artistically crammed with photos and paintings. Waiters and waitresses in full regalia (waistcoats and ties) move quietly and swiftly round with huge trays balanced precariously, and burly men in suits circle silently, smiling beautifully at guests.

The pair huddle together and hurry to follow their guide, nearly tripping each other as they stare, open mouthed at the two bars that could have stolen from a 1935 gin joint, resplendent with crystal glasses, mirrored fittings and bottle displays that could have easily doubled as a potions store. After what seems like an inordinate amount of time, they are invited to take a seat at a sweetly tucked away corner table. They fall somewhat chaotically onto the plush couches and take the proffered menus with only slightly trembling hands.

“Any water?” Asks the hostess. Our wanderers share panicked looks at being asked a question so promptly without any chance of preparation and after a moment of hesitation nod frantically.

“Still or Sparkling?” Is the next query which results in yet more overwrought looks, before the safer option of still is plumped for. Finally left to their own devices for the first time, our champions take a moment to properly absorb their surroundings; the salt and pepper shakers that appear to be made from gold and the casually placed wine bucket at every available corner before bursting into stifled giggles and muttered suggestions that they are definitely not posh enough to be where they are. They both suddenly hush when their server returns with a glass bottle of water that she carefully pours into the prepared glasses. As she walks away, there’s a flurry of panicked whispering regarding potential costs of bottled water vs dehydration. Turning to the menus, they hold hands tightly under the table in preparation of expenses. The mains cause a conjoined wince, and the wine list is discarded immediately, but the sandwiches are perused with interest.

By the time a new waiter appears; a swarthy man with curly dark hair and an intense unblinking stare, our duo are prepared to order. A pair of peach and elderflower lemonades are first, followed by an order for eggs benedict and a truffled chicken sandwich.

Here, dear reader, we must take a side bar to discuss the hereforto unknown wonders of truffled chicken. Initially unsure, I (for yes, the heroes you’ve shared this journey with your friendly neighbourhood Ebear and TMM) chose it under supervision and boy, was I rewarded. Two rounds of fried bread, chunks of perfectly tender and ridiculously tasty chicken, salad dressed in some kind of delightful dressing and pre salted chunky chips. The food of the gods.

By the time the meals arrive, our wanderers have settled enough to enjoy their environment and appreciate how it is to live like one of the rich and famous. Surrounded by fancy people with laughs like braying horses and neck scarves galore, they tuck into their food with relish.

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Sadly, small but unapologetic signs declared “No Photography Allowed”, but worry not. It did not stop our intrepid heroes who gladly broke the rules to take a sneaky photo of this super fancy knife with a silver fly on the handle (though it’s clear a life of covert observation is not on the cards considering how blurry this is).

Due to high hunger levels and a small yet undeniable fear someone was going to realise that our couple were 100% not posh enough to be there and kick them out, the plates were clean within a rather small timeframe. Due to unfortunately unexpected circumstances and somewhat limited funds, there was no time for desserts (though the delightful looking Rum Baba with Chantilly Cream was noted and will be enjoyed again in the future). However, before dropping the cash and hightailing it out of there as fast as their £10 Primark pumps would carry them, both our explorers braved the crowds of Cambridgites to visit the facilities.

Typically, I have to admit, I barely visit toilets in the outside world, because I have the bladder of a camel and a definite fear of being kidnapped. This time though, it was definitely worth the risk, if only for the apparent million mile walk (I still have no idea how this place actually fitted behind such a demure shop front) lined with beautiful botanical drawings. The full size wall mural of a tropical bird was much appreciated too (I tried to take a photo of this too, but was scuppered when someone suddenly appeared at the top of the stairs to stare at me judgingly).

The obligatory toilet selfie – it smelt freaking amazing in there.

Soon though our heroes emerged, blinking and slightly shell shocked, into the bright sunshine. Bellies full, pockets significantly lighter and lives enriched, they strode hand in hand, off towards the horizon.

Driving Miss Crafty

craft blog

Well we’ve only bloody gone and bought a new car! (About time too I hear you call). Hans von Manschaft has beeped his last and as of last night he has gone to the big garage in the sky (he’s not, he’s gone to the Hyundai garage as a part ex but you get what I was going for). Instead we now have a super swanky little motor that’s full of effortless chill – just like us. It’s got tinted back windows, as our gangsta lifestyle demands, DAB radio and a ton of buttons (which I have obviously already touched). We originally were going full the most bog standard model they had (it was basically a box with wheels) but somewhere along the line we ended up with a “Premium SE” whilst managing to stay completely on budget. We’ve got electronic windows, AC and headlights that tilt in the direction you’re turning (which we have been very wowed by). It’s also SUPER SHINY and very white which we were both unexpectedly taken with (though I expect that will remain as such for about two days. So many dates to the car wash though). We did turn down the extra fancy waxing and car mats for another £350 (much to the chagrin of the garage) because we’re not that precious or rich, but TMM already has designs on Amazon Prime options to ensure the inside stays as fancy as it is for a fraction of the cost.

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Look at all those buttons, it’s like a little present just for me and my pointy fingers

TMM was the most brave during the whole situation, and I think provided a soothing balm for the young man who was dealing with us in the face of Woo, who we brought along as our enforcer and money man. She made a name for herself at the last garage when she proceeded to completely destroy the chap who was somewhat poorly trying to sell us a car. She basically beat him into verbal submission, and I think he was close to tears when we left. She has no time for anyone’s shit and, !)as such, is now in charge of all grown up aspects of our lives. She proved herself invaluable whilst we navigated the somewhat choppy waters of car sales though, and definitely has her face up on a couple of salesroom back walls with a big red BEWARE plastered across it. In fact, her response to this very paragraph was “DAMN RIGHT, LOOK OUT DODGY SALESMEN, I AM ON THE LOOSE!”. Be afraid, be very afraid.

This time was much better for all though, and I think Woo and young Blessing (our salesman) built up a good relationship of lightly fond exasperation. There was a slight fission when he went out to inspect Hans though. The previous guy had just given him a once over and offered us a set sum. For Blessing, ever the professional, this wasn’t sufficient. He took his iPad and his earnest nature and got all up in Hans’ grill. TMM had nicely mentioned the somewhat temperamental nature of the parking break and incessant beeping beforehand in a casual sort of way, but there was still a lot of panicked rolling when he came to try and park it. We enjoyed a little giggle too when he came back in with wide eyes and told us in no uncertain terms how scared he’d been and that temperamental was not the way he would have chosen to describe it. Still, it all went through smoothly and we now have a lovely new little Hyundai I10. It is just a slight change from the somewhat canal boat sized Passat. I think after The Duchess had been replaced with Hans, we’d just planed to keep upgrading to bigger and bigger cars until we were just trundling along in a tank, but common sense won the day. Our road has minimal parking and as much as it’s nice to have, we don’t need a boot the size of a barge. Poor TMM was a little cut up at the thought I think, but I’ve promised him that we’re just doing this to save money for our dream cottage in the country. Small cars now lead to big dreams later on.

It has been a bit of an eye opener money-wise though I think. We’ve never done loans or finance or the like before, and it’s a bit of experience. TMM is most distrustful of all big companies (he’s basically a recluse who should really be living in a forest somewhere with a giant beard and a pet wolf) and I have no idea how anything in the real world works, so it took a lot of research, grown up conversations and soothing stories of positive experiences from friends to get us to this point. We’ve only ever had one big expense before and that was buying our first car with student loan money. We’re in the thick of it now though and our credit scores will hopefully soon reflect it (I am mildly ashamed at myself for even writing that. Who have I become!) The point is, whilst we’re not quite as JAMmy as Teresa May might like to suggest (see what I did there – political humour gone mad), we are also going to have to learn to cut back on our somewhat more unnecessary expenses. Whist we are both lucky enough to have full time permanent jobs, we’ve also got a lads lads lads holiday to Prague with my mum planned, and a new sudden liking for coconut water (super tasty, super expensive), so I think it might take a judicious sprinkling of restraint when it comes to the weekly shop and our trips to Primark. Still, I’m not too concerned; we’ve lived on less quite successfully before, so we can definitely do it again.

Perhaps what has come at just the right time is the formation of a new working partnership between myself and Woo and the soon to be grand opening of our Etsy shop. We have been threatening to do it for the longest time, but with the resurgence in my crafting activities (I’ve finally finished the wall piece of Woo after promising her it for about 3 months) and Woo getting her garage hopefully cleared out and converted to a workshop, we have finally decided to take the plunge and just see what happens. I’ve gone a bit wild recently on pompoms (so bang on trend) after having to power craft a little present for our friend Wilson after realising somewhat belatedly that it was her birthday on Friday and we hadn’t got her anything (HAPPY BIRTHDAY HoneyBadger!). She is terribly on trend in a sensible, grown up, Pinterest kind of way, but she loves a good pompom and a splash of colour so hopefully she’ll be taken with what we’ve got her.

img-20180612-wa0010672072023.jpgDo you like a pompom? Could you see such a garland festooning your house? Come to us for all your bunting needs!

Over time, we’re hoping to be able to get rid of a lot of backed up craft that’s currently taking over my living room, treat ourselves to all sorts of new craft projects and fun toys (metal engraving anyone?), and any monetary profit will be an added bonus. We’re maintaining a sensible and professional outlook at the moment, but expect us to be world famous entrepreneurs this time next year. Just saying.

Birthday Bonanza

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Well that’s it folks, I have officially joined the 27 club. My birthday has come and gone and I am now firmly in the realm of “being responsible” and definitely no longer young enough to accidentally commit a crime but still avoid jail time (which is an irrational but very specific fear I have. My mother has promised that if, god forbid, I should end up embroiled in an accidental life of crime and sent to the Big House, she’ll come bail me out with a file baked in a cake and a Thelma and Louise style getaway – hopefully sans the cliff dive – but I’d rather just try and avoid the whole thing altogether if possible). As I pointed out to a colleague, if I were a rock star I could totally die now and join the hallowed halls of the Forever 27, though thankfully I’m boring as sin and highly unlikely to shuffle off this mortal coil through excessive drug use or car vs. tree related incidents. I’m pretty much planning on seeing this year out in the same style as the old one.

As always though, I’ve had an excellent birthday haul so kudos to all who we’re involved. You’ve all done very well and should give yourselves a nice pat on the back. Admittedly, I may or may have not started opening some presents on the previous Monday, but I did have to go to the dentist and gifts were coming through the letter box with tempting regularity, so I don’t really see how I can be blamed for getting carried away. Also, I’m a grown up now, and can open my presents whenever I please, so there. I would like to thank my dad and his lovely lady friend for their promptly posted and delightful gifts which made me smile after having to go and be super brave with hygiene specialists.

I also had to open some presents early when we went to see TMM’s clan (because I wouldn’t see them on the day and it would have been rude not to show my gratitude) and as per they excelled themselves present-wise (not to rub it in but I am 100% their favourite child, soz not soz). I got not only a yummy tea, but also a fancy box of Ferrero Rocher (TMM successfully demonstrated how he’s been unhealthily influenced by my family by not being able to help quoting “you’rr spoiling us ambassador” every time I offer him one), charming gin related paraphernalia, bath bombs, summer wreath kits, a puppy fuss (the last one now since all the puppies have gone to their new home and not one of those homes was mine, boo hiss) and a snotty kiss off beautiful baby Thea.

My work colleagues also did extremely well, but to be honest I didn’t give them much option as I had very handily provided a laminated and regularly updated daily countdown from around the 163 day mark. Whilst the Friday wasn’t the most enjoyable of days (stupid busy work), the gift giving was top notch and the presents were smashing. Some of you may have already seen Leroy the Llama mug, who is now my designated tea vessel of choice, though he provides much hilarity when he pokes my eye every time I get near to the bottom of my brew. I also got Sydney Sloth the phone holder who has helped with finger cramp, and a selection of others joys including but not limited to; a lovely framed print of a flamingo among pigeons, fancy neon coloured booze (my favourite kind) and some rather gorgeous lilies that proved themselves to be almost fatal to some old dear on the bus home. I also got two books from my boss (who requested a special shout out, so word to her) that give the definitions of lots of weird and wonderful words that have had us in fits of laughter when we probably should have been busier doing what we’re paid for. We have educated ourselves though, and have some excellent new words to add to our vocabularies, such as “Kinabra – the Greek word for the stank of a billy goat” (please note, the italics are a direct quotation) and “Kakopyge – someone who has ugly buttocks” (pg. 136 of The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Words by George Stone Saussy the 3rd). Sadly none of us have managed to shoehorn them into a telephone call yet, but we’ll keep trying.

Look at my beautiful things. LOOK AT THEM.

TMM did his level best to spoil me rotten whilst adhering to the proviso he wasn’t to get me much. He not only made me pancakes in bed, he didn’t make me move until about 3 o’clock and then treated me to a new Lush face mask, some Primark jeans, a showing of Deadpool 2 (with Ben and Jerries’ ice-cream!) and a lovely Starbucks lunch. (This in itself was fun because I had hibiscus iced tea which is simultaneously the most hipsterish thing EVER and the tastiest drink I’ve had in a long time. The lovely Barista lady was a complete doll too, and did my a nice little happy birthday message and got my name right (though the more I look the more it looks like Eleanour, but still the first bit is right and that’s what usually throws people). I also got taken to the stage version of Thoroughly Modern Millie which was excellent (if questionably racist in sections) and have consequently spent the last two days fake tap dancing around the house, saying “oh terrif” with unnecessary amounts of enthusiasm and telling TMM how thoroughly modern I am. Admittedly, he’s been doing pretty much the same thing as he is definitely a modern woman, so its worked out well.

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It’s nearly Eleanor, so we’re definitely accepting it as a win.

*Speaking of, if anybody missed our Eurovision dress up last week on my Instagram last week, you really need to go and have a look. TMM went as Conchita (the winner a few years ago, with the amazing eye makeup and perfectly sculpted beard), and I have to say I have never been more proud of my make up abilities. TMM is a pretty hunky looking chap, it can’t be denied, but I literally don’t think I’ve ever seen a more attractive woman. His cheekbones take highlight like a champ and I found myself staring dreamily at his profile whilst the light glinted of them. It was like Xena Warrior Princess with chest hair. I couldn’t even bring myself to be annoyed at how pretty he looked, because I was too busy being deeply in love with his beautifully shadowed eyes and cow-like eyelashes.

Team were as good as they always are and newest edition Yoga Martin BBQ’d like a master (I’m pretty sure the BBQ was planned anyway, but I’m just going to assume it was in honour of my birthday and give him my birthday kudos blessing like the magnanimous delight I am). Turns out I am now all about barbequed fish like you would not believe and having it three times in two weeks is really as good as you could want it to be. There was much hilarity with axe throwing (which I definitely not good at), archery (which I watched from the side-lines shouting out helpful safety tips), air rifle shooting (which I enjoyed but hit absolutely nothing with) and I left with twice the amount I’d birthday cake I’d arrived with, a delightful doodle book/wonderfully pleasing coloured pencils and a date to walk with llamas in June (YASSSSSSS).

In true Indian wedding style (the perks of having a far flung family) the celebrations will continue throughout the week, and I know I’ve still got a My Hermes (family couriers of choice) parcel on its way from dearest Neens. We’ve also planned a trip to visit Mother and the rest of the Welsh Massive at the weekend too, though admittedly Hans the Devil Chariot is still beeping endlessly so we might be slightly frazzled (read – murderous) by the time we get there. It’s definitely worth it though, because I have siblings to squeeze, cousins to cuddle and a game of Cards Against Humanity or two to enjoy.

Now before I sign off, I thought I’d just leave you with some fun facts and notable events from my date of birth (other than the obvious *twirls*) that might help you in a pub quiz one day.

1) 1536 – The Execution of Anne Boleyn (cheery)

2) 1885 – 1st mass production of shoes by Jan Matzeliger in Lynn, Massachusetts (this fact pleases me immensely and I’m not sure why)

3) 1897 – Oscar Wilde released from Reading Gaol (Reading as in the place, not the act, which confused me more than it should have done for a minute)

4) 1928 – 51 frogs enter 1st annual “Frog Jumping Jubilee” in Angel’s Camp, California (I mean, why not)

5) 1939 – Birth of James Fox (phwoar)

6) 1948 – birth of Grace Jones (who terrifies me ever so slightly)

7) 1962 – Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday, Mr President” to John F Kennedy (My Mother did a great rendition of this down the phone to on my birthday)

8) 2018 – Meghan and Harry get married (you might have seen it mentioned briefly on the news)

9) 2161 – Syzygy: 8 of 9 planets aligned on same side of sun (something to look forward to)

I hope you all get at least one of those stuck in your head for next year in honour of me. TTFN.

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.

spring 2

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